Search

February 2017
M T W T F S S
30 31 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 1 2 3 4 5

US Army

The 94th Infantry Division, 301st Infantry Regiment, at Orscholz

 

The 94th Infantry Division
 301st Infantry Regiment
 At Orscholz
 
In the 1990's, I located the 94th Division Association and got their newsletter of the 301st Infantry Regiment.  The newsletter, was named the "Hoodlum News" and is published by Robert Cassell, "C' Company, 301st Battalion.  Hoodlum was a vintage 1930's and 40's vintage word, not used much anymore.  I searched for John Meacham's name in the California phone directory and found him.  I called him in 1993. John wrote to me.  It started: Dear Ed "When you called yesterday and I heard the name "Ed" along with the New York accent it took me back, in an instant, over some 50 years to my memories of your Uncle Eddie. 
 
On 9 February 2002, I telephoned John Meachem.  I told John that I was calling because February 2nd was the anniversary of Eddie's death.  John replied, "Edmund, I miss him too, and still see and talk to him in my dreams at times.  You would not believe what memories and feelings I got when you first called me.  Your voice is a lot like Eddie's and of course you both have that New York accent to your voice. Instantly it took me back many years to World War II."  When I put down the phone I was almost in tears. John did write about the war.  He told me: "Your invitation for me to write about your Uncle Eddie in World War 2 energized me to write my own autobiography, because it is something I want to leave for my 5 kids, 17 grandkids, and now 6 great-grandkids.  Another reason for writing this is, maybe it will help me forget some of the bad memories of the war.  I am sorry Ed if my time line of memory is somewhat confused.  I remember our combat as a series of movie "stills" with no connecting time line to put them in the right order."
 
Being a soldier was not new in the Meacham family.  His family went back to the American Revolutionary War, his Dad to the Great War of 1914-18, where in the A.E.F. he was wounded and gassed and suffered physically long after the war.
 
John's memories of Eddie gave story the human touch; it would not be story derived from totally from cold official reports.  The reason I had to ask John about Eddie in the war was that when we were together he rarely talked about the war.  We would be having a beer and Eddie would tell me.

World War II. 1943

Eddie completed Morris High School in the Bronx, in 1943.  He enlisted as a high school student and was told he would be assigned to the signal corps, something that interested me very much, the Army never kept its promise.  His Basic training was at Fort Dix, New Jersey.  They assigned him to glider infantry training until he transferred joined the 94th Infantry Division at McCain.  Eddie did not want anything to do with gliders, neither as a glider infantryman nor a glider pilot. For a while he was guarding German prisoners in Kansas.  The prisoners had a difficult time in comprehending the vast size of the United States.  So much land around them blunted their visions of escape.  Before going overseas, He had a close look at the enemy soldier.  They looked like his family and friends.
 
Eddie's best friend was John Meacham.  John was tested by the army and qualified as a candidate for the army's A.S.T.P. Engineering program.
 
Jokingly the A.S.T.P. was called "Always Safe Till Peace."  The program was cancelled (the army needed infantry) and John went to the 94th at Camp McCain Mississippi in 1944, just as the division returned from maneuvers in Tennessee.  Now they both were part of the Battalion Headquarters Company (301st Bn HQ) Ammunition & Pioneer Platoon (A&P)
 
John realized quickly that Eddie was more "worldly," maybe because he grew up in the more rough and tumble streets of New York City.  This difference did not keep them from bonding because the training was a life experience so different than the one they just left behind.  Both Eddie and John personality wise, were not very outgoing; plus they had other traits in common. Eddie was quiet and observing of people and surroundings.  They became close because they each looked to the other for physical, mental and moral safety.  Bonding was an imperative, without a friend, who else could you depend on for help?  There was no Mom, Dad, or close relative to turn to and certainly your Sergeant was not going to be Daddy.  Our reluctant discussions about our lives, dreams, and other very personal things left us thinking as to how brave they were to share such private thoughts with a stranger.  We told each other things about ourselves that their wives and family would never know.  Combat would bring the relationship even closer, because injury and death would be with us all the time.  When someone feels there is a good chance they may not survive, it is the only way to leave some of themselves to the world, even if only in the memories of their buddies.
 
If you asked Eddie who did the fighting in the army, his answer would be, the infantry, but it was only one-quarter of the army.  Infantry casualties in this one-quarter used up more men as replacements.  Support troops are three-quarters of the remainder of the army.  Only one man in ten-saw combat.
 
In the States, due to the 94th's training casualties and transferees, replacements were combed from Air Corps Cadet washouts, draftees, stockades, transferees from signal corps or ordinance, etc.  If you could shoot a rifle and walk, you went to the infantry.  Infantry turnover in men never ended.  The 12-man squad was the smallest unit in an infantry division with a Sergeant as leader.  Three squads plus a weapons squad (light machine guns and mortars) made up a platoon with a Lieutenant, and a Staff Sergeant.  Three platoons, plus a heavy weapons platoon and a headquarters group made up a company with a Captain, First Lieutenant, and a First Sergeant.  In addition, a company had assorted runners, cooks, clerks, etc.  Three companies and a Headquarters Company (HQ), made a battalion (about 800 plus men), three battalions a regiment and three regiments in a division commanded by a general.  An Army corps is made up of two or more divisions.
 
   
Eddie Filush, Camp McCain, Mississippi.   Eddie On Right With Pipe Smoker.
 
Captain McKee, Company Commander, was a West Point graduate and a fine leader.  Lieutenant Shoush was the Platoon Leader.  Platoon Sergeant was "Slim" Wier from Pennsylvania, an experienced coalmine dynamite man in civilian life.  Slim and a red face Irish Sergeant were buddies, both were big and physically very strong.  Their barracks fun was play wrestling sometimes crashing through the barrack walls. Eddie and John avoided these wrestlers because even a friendly slap could knock each of them halfway down the barrack.  The Squad Leader was Bill "Wee Willie" Wheeler from New York.
 
German speaking Harry Behnke was from New Jersey, but was born in Hamburg, Germany and came to the U.S. as a child with his parents.  No matter how bad the situation Harry was always smiling and whistling.  Frenchy from Detroit, not only spoke French, but German.  "Bitchen" Beach from Chicago was older and an alcoholic and earned the name by his constant bitching and griping about everything, just the opposite of happy Harry.  Shirley Amos Mayfield (called SAM.), 35 years old from Alabama, married a girl when the outfit was stationed in Kansas.  All the 18-year-olds would discuss how a man as old as 35 would be getting married?  Later, Sam was made a lieutenant by battlefield promotion.  Wolffrank annoyed some of the squad because he was always showering and cleaning his teeth, one could say he had a compulsive disorder.

1944

Training at Camp McCain ended In July 1944.  They earned the Expert Infantry Badge, a $5.00 pay raise for making so many 25-mile marches and qualifying with different weapons.  All this would soon be put to use in Europe.  They thought.  They packed up and traveled by train to Camp Shanks New York.  Eddie got a pass to New York City to say good bye to his folks. 
 
From Camp Shanks the 94th traveled by train down alongside the West bank of the Hudson River to New York City where they boarded the liner Queen Elizabeth I, without setting foot on shore.  The Red Cross was there to give each soldier a small bag with a bar of soap, a toothbrush, and a new razor.  Army soap was brown soap.  Also in the bag was a paperback Perry Mason Mystery, however, there was no book trading because all 15,000 men on board got the same paperback.
 
Keeping the thousands on the ship organized, with a minimum of confusion, colored tags were attached to shirt buttons identifying each soldier's place of sleeping, eating, and drinking water.  Eddie and John were packed in with seven others into a hot stateroom 175 A that could only boast a bathtub with salt water.  Bathing in salt water did not make you feel clean.  The only solution to combat heat fatigue in the stateroom was by staying topside.
 
Twice a day meals were set up on trestle tables in a makeshift mess hall at the bottom of the ship's swimming pool.  The British were not like their French cousins in providing a menu with a variety of foods.  Breakfast was an unknown boiled fish and supper the same with a small boiled potato.  Toast and marmalade were served with both meals.  Being on a ship did not get them out of guard duty, they had to guard the fresh water points to see that no one filled their canteen except during authorized water times.
 
Active German U-Boats made crossing the Atlantic dangerous.  To help guarantee a safe passage, ships were blacked out at night, open portholes were closed, and there was no smoking on deck after dark.  Turning off lights, opening portholes and catching outside air with a cardboard scoop stuck in the porthole reduced cabin heat.  After a five day crossing, the Queen Elizabeth docked in Firth of Clyde, in Scotland.  Travel to southern England was by train.  At their new base the army issued new equipment and a M 1 carbine.  John kept his old carbine.  Training included firing several German weapons, and lectures on what to do if captured.  The instructor told that their training in the States was not valid in real warfare.  For recreation and a change of diet, Eddie and John went a local restaurant where they wanted to try a real English crumpet, but instead were served apple pie.  Maybe the English thought the G.I.'s would like the American apple pie more than a crumpet.
 
The 94th Division departed England on September 8, 1944, 94 days after the D- Day invasion.  The Division landed at a temporary seaport used for the D Day landings off the Utah beach.  From there they boarded small landing craft and went ashore twelve miles from the intended landing zone so they had to hike back the 12 miles.  Each soldier carried 165 pounds of equipment, ammunition, and supplies on their backs and enough stuff for another soldier.
 
Before permanent ports were established, army supplies were carried-in by soldiers.  The extra 80-85 lbs. was made up with extra ammo, uniforms, shoes, rations or equipment such as machine gun barrels, mortar tubes and other equipment that would be expendable.  The most they ever carried was the normal load of M1 ball (regular ammo), which was 106 lbs. in the case, but by taking the bandoleers out of the case they could manage two cases of ammo per trip.  Some loads such as cases of cigarettes were not so heavy, but so bulky that they were hard to handle on their backs.  Eddie and John made the march okay, but they saw many big 200 ponders drop over, and these were men who had never shown any physical distress during their training.  John said "Maybe Eddie and John would have dropped out, but they were too frightened, for all they knew Hitler himself might be just over the hill waiting for a couple of stragglers".  Anyway, for some reason, the army was mixed up as usual and the division could not be assembled for several days.  Finally there were enough trucks available for them to load up and move to the outskirts of Lorient in Brittany, France.
 
The 6th Armored Division was relieved by the 94th at Lorient and St. Nazaire in Brittany where they contained the Germans from 10 September 1944 to 10 December 1944.  For the first 106 days of combat, the 94th was involved in a holding action around St Nazaire and Lorient called "the forgotten front."  There were submarine bases in the pocket with more than 25,000 or more German troops and Kriegsmarine (Naval Troops) - bypassed by the allied armies as they swept through France in their race toward Germany.  The pocket - though cut off - was nonetheless dangerous.  The actions of that 106-day period consisted of reconnaissance and combat patrols rather than large-scale assaults.  Most of the combat occurred in an area around the Brest-Nantes Canal West of Blain and Bouvron called the "Spider" - formed by ten roads that radiated out from a hub.
 
In an abandoned submarine campsite near Hennebont there was a large sign in gold letters on black written in Japanese.  The writing had this saying! "Life Is More Precious Than Treasure"  At least one Japanese submarines must have visited the German U-Boat base. 
 
The A&P squad rode to Lorient standing in the back of a cable's truck (windshield down), suddenly the truck slowed, someone yelled 'look out!' everyone ducked except Eddie, who gave a loud wha—UGH!  The taught wire caught Eddie's throat and the force threw him over the tailgate onto the road.  Eddie's throat was bruised and he had trouble talking.  It was lucky that when he was thrown out of the truck and landed on the ground he did not break his back or neck.
 
Their platoon leader, Lt. Shoush, highlighted their first night of combat in the Lorient sector when he shouted in a very agitated voice "I can see luminous watch dials of the German patrols in our company area."  Quickly the men formed a diamond combat formation, and went charging off over the hedgerows chasing luminous dials that their brave platoon leader thought were enemy soldiers.  For some reason, Eddie recognized the luminous dials for what they were and he whispered to John "They are chasing fireflies."  So they sat down and watched the charge of the 1st Battalion Headquarters Company run over the fields. After this fiasco, Lt. Shoush was not endeared to Eddie and John's inaction.
 
The A&P platoon men were keeping close to the hedgerows when they moved, but Eddie and John decided to walk across a field.  When they were halfway across, they noticed bees or hornets flying around them, and all the troops on the other side of the field waving and shouting at, "Get down, get down."  It quickly dawned on the two that the bees hitting the ground nearby and kicking up dirt.  Were small arms fire aimed at them.  They picked up speed to reach the other side of the field for protection under the hedgerows.  In France fighting alongside a Free French company who used captured German Mauser rifles, it was enough to bring one out of a sound sleep when that fire started up near you.  You could hear the supersonic bullet going by before you heard the crack sound from the rifle. 
 
Congratulations came to Eddie and John from Captain Mckee, for being the first in the company to receive the Combat Infantry Badge for being under enemy small arms fire and a big $10 a month raise.  But, unfortunately their was no badge or pay raise; the next day the Captain told them that it did not count because it was not the enemy shooting at them, but their allies, the Free French.  Either the French could not tell an American from a German or they just had the urge to kill.
 
 Combat Infantry Badge
 
Speaking and singing their fluent German, Harry Bhenke and Frenchy, would torment (have fun) at night outside Lieutenants Shoush's tent. The next day, an upset Lieutenant Shoush told everyone in a nervous voice, "The Germans had infiltrated their area during the night." (Lieutenant Shoush was the same officer who sent the unit chasing after fireflies.)
 
The Germans watched from the hills around Lorient as they setup the three 37 mm guns.  They blew up the three guns with three shells from a 88 mm gun on a 60 ton Tiger tank.  The 37 mm's were replaced with 76 mm guns so then they were given three 1 1/2 ton Dodge trucks that overheated badly with our loads.  The drivers on the GMs were "Red" Logan and McCoy.  The trucks and drivers never went up to the front lines.
 
"Bitchen Beach" on guard duty one night, heard some men coming back from town and called "Halt," No reply.  Beach with his whiskey burned out vocal cords managed only a low hoarse voice. "Halt," still no reply;  "Halt or I'll shoot," with no reply.  Not one of the returning drunken revelers could hear his burned out voice.  Beach opened fire.  The men, feeling no pain from the booze started firing back at Beach at point blank range and the rest of them laid low in their foxholes.  Results, no hits no foul, no harms.  One night a sentry did think he heard something near their foxhole and threw a grenade into their area, they awoke promptly.  Again no harm done.  There was an abandoned village (except for a barber shop) called Hennibont right between the German and American lines.  Laughingly they dared each other to get their haircut in the village.
 
Trading liberated army white bread for French black bread in the nearest village was another pastime.  What was in the French bread, God only knows.  Their alcoholic beverage was not aged French wine, but the local whiskey called Calvados, made from apples.  A Frenchman with a Calvados 'still' made from an old car radiator a copper pot all mounted on a wheelbarrow could move when they moved.  Calvados from the still that was just cool was considered aged and ready to drink.  Just as important, their 1st Sergeant replaced the first platoon leader Lieutenant Shoush by battlefield promotion.
 
The Germans were on the run in mid-1944, but in December 1944, they counterattacked.  It came as a total surprise when, on December 16, 1944, thirty German divisions--a quarter of a million men strong--roared across an 85-mile Allied front, from southern Belgium to the middle of Luxembourg.  The losses on the first day were massive; in some places, the Allies were outnumbered ten to one.  "The Battle of the Bulge"--the single biggest and bloodiest American soldiers have ever fought--in which nearly 80,000 Americans were killed, wounded or captured in a test of courage and endurance.  More than 500,000 American troops were on the move; many were barely out of high school -- 18, 19 years old.  Many had never seen combat, but they turned the tide.
 
On Christmas Eve 1944 fate stepped in, the British troopship S.S. Leopoldville carrying 2,300 men who were part of the American 66th Panther Division was in the English Channel.  The Leopoldville was a converted Belgium liner and was torpedoed by the German submarine U-486 five miles from Cherbourg.  It took 2 hours for rescue boats to get to the ship and by that time 840 of the 66th Division men had frozen and drowned.  The Belgian crew abandoned ship and left the Americans to their fate.  This incident was kept secret for 50 years.  The 66th was scheduled to go to battle in France but with the sinking, they were sent to replace the 94th in Lorient.
 
The army command decided after the 66th suffered both a loss of men and morale; it would be better to have them in a quieter sector to replace their losses before putting them into a frontline position.  By New Years Day, the 94th moved out and began its trek to take over positions in the Saar Valley, then held by the 90th Division.  Transportation to the Saar Valley was by railroad boxcars called 40 and 8's (40 men or 8 horses).  The army's idea of taking good care of the troops was by feeding them suppers of "C" and "K" rations.  Their boxcar got a case of lunches of eggs and bacon and that is all they had to eat for all the men.  Because of only eating eggs and bacon many of the men had diarrhea.  The only latrine they had was the open boxcar door.  Later, staying in a stationary position for a while gave them a chance to eat three regular meals.  The K rations had a cat food sized can of egg and bacon for breakfast.  Sometimes breakfast was powdered eggs, canned bacon and toast.  Powdered eggs and powdered milk were sometimes doctored by the cook with vanilla or pineapple extract.  The flavoring made the powdered milk drinkable.  Three little hard tack crackers, an envelope of coffee mix.  Each meal included a few Walnetto candies, packets of sugar, and three cigarettes.  Lunch was honey and peanut butter sandwiches, cheese, and lemonade that would not dissolve.  Supper was Spanish rice and mystery meat stew.  The C rations were about the same, but had a soup can sized main dish of stew or dog food or something similar; a second soup can with about the same stuff, and cocoa.  One meal had a bundle of olive drab toilet paper and a book of matches.  When bivouacked at a location, slit trenches were dug for latrines.  (In the states in training we had a canvas "fly" that provided some privacy, but not over seas).  The closest thing to a bathroom was the slit trench with a nearby roll of paper on a stick.
 
Without proper winter clothing and boots many men would freeze in coming January and February.  The lightweight Olive Drab (OD) field jacket was more windbreaker than winter jacket.  A regular OD long sleeved shirt, and pants, and another OD shirt and pants under that.  Underwear was long Johns, cotton undershirts and shorts.  Combat boots were made of "inside out" leather, rubber soles, and cuffs with two buckles on top of the shoe to replace the old style leggings.  They did not have combat winter clothing or boots.  There was a mystery as to why fighting in freezing weather they never got winter clothing.  Was the winter clothing somewhere in the transportation pipeline?  Eddie 's answer was the rear echelon had the stuff.  General Patton said his troops had winter gear but for sure they knew the Germans had their winter overcoats and "jackboots".  The "jack boots" had insides of valuable rabbit fur insoles that prevented frostbite.  The G. I' s learned to "liberate" the jackboots from German soldiers who no longer needed them.  Sadly, this foot saving liberation was not learned till after the Saar River crossings.
 
As close buddies, Eddie and John shared a foxhole.  When they stayed in a sector for a time they would enlarge the hole it was sleeping six, had electric lights (from spare truck headlights) a radio using parts from our mine sweepers (John knew about radios) and stoves from liberated German barracks.  After all the work and improvement, Regimental Headquarters finally threw them out, but before they left, they drove nail holes into their roofs so Regiment Headquarters got the drips for their efforts.  During this period there was little real active combat, some patrol action and they got shelled every day.  The Germans would bring their 20 mm antiaircraft guns on barges up the river and fire into their areas each day.  Eddie and John and the squad setup and maintained ammo dump for the battalion.  They would ride a truck into Vannes and pick up ammo at the division dump and take it to their battalion dump and keep it in small piles scattered around the fields so in case of a direct hit only a small portion would be lost.  On one of the trips, Eddie and John decided to go into a French bar.  The experience was more than they imagined when going in the door!  They were drinking liquor that is banned in the U.S. because it contains wormwood.  It had its effect. John finally had to try to explain to the barmaid that they had to get back to our their unit.  John did not speak any French so he tried to pantomime a soldier; he walked back and forth as if he was on sentry duty and the barmaid finally showed comprehension.  She showed John the restroom as she thought he was pacing with a full bladder.  Eddie finally agreed they should leave, so he got off the bar stool and headed for the door, he missed the door and walked into the wall and bounced backwards.  John figured poor Eddie was drunk, so John got off his stool and walked into the wall on the other side of the doorway and bounced backwards.  The bouncing did not sober them because the next morning their shoes were mixed up and they had roaring hangovers.

The Battle of the Bulge

When the Battle of the Bulge started, the 94th was the only division in Europe that was near full strength, and had some combat experience, so they were pulled out of the line.  A laundry truck came by and washed their uniforms. (That Sunday they went to church services in long underwear and helmets, even the Chaplain.)  And then they were loaded on trains and sent to the Bulge.
 
What about food?  The gourmet meals on the train trip to the Bulge were "K" rations of cheese and crackers (Lunch units).  When the train stopped in a station next to a train carrying 10 in 1's (Similar to the now famous MRI rations) many of the men jumped off and started loading food onto their own train.  A guard on the ration train was yelling and finally fired off a round.  Of course the soldiers on the train then fired their rifles in off one or more rounds.  The lieutenant was yelling, "You men stop right now, I'm going to tell the Colonel."  So off he went to tell the Colonel that they were stealing rations.  When the lieutenant came back someone asked what did the Colonel say?  He replied, "The Colonel said he did not see or hear anything."  They had better food the rest of the railroad trip.
 
The 94th got to the Saar- Moselle -Triangle under an ever-increasing blanket of snow. Only the roar of XX Corps and the 82nd German Corps Artillery that bellowed empty threats at each other across the Saar River broke winter silence.
 
1945 - Trier
 
Major General Harry J. Malony, commanding the 94th Infantry Division replaced Major General James A. Van Fleet and his 90th Infantry Division On 7 January.  The section was known by various names, Saar-Moselle-Triangle or the Siegfried-Switch Position or Line or the Southern end of the "Bulge".  While they moved to the frontlines they existed on "D", rations, a high calorie, high energy chocolate bar that tasted terrible and gave them diarrhea.  The Saar-Moselle-Triangle was formed by the confluence of the Moselle and Saar Rivers with the ancient city of Trier at its apex.  The double line of a riverfront and the village of Orsholz made an ideal anchor for the Siegfried-Switch line. Capturing Orsholz would unhinge the enemy's left flank anchored on the Saar River.  Orsholz was situated on a hill some four hundred feet high and was surrounded by massive pillboxes set in an arc roughly a quarter of a mile in front of the town.  Terrain was wild, broken and heavily wooded.  The first attack on the German Siegfried-Switch Line was at the heavily defended village of Orsholz that ended in debacle for the Americans.
 
Ten miles below Orsholz, the 94th's, 301st and 376th regiments were dug in over a ten-mile stretch across the base of the triangle that faced the Siegfried line. 
 
Facing the 94th was the veteran German 11th Panzer Division nicknamed the Ghost (Gespenster) Division for its celebrated ability to appear and disappear without warning.  It had been active on the Russian front in 1943.  Under the command of General Major Wend von Wieteraniem, age 45, the Division had distinguished itself in Russia, in heavy fighting.  In the spring of 1944, the remnants of the Division left Russia and moved to southern France to refit and form a part of the Nineteenth German army.  The 11th Panzer Division was moving from a rest area in the vicinity of Bitburg in der Eifel, when it was ordered into the Saar-Moselle-Triangle with orders to reestablish the position of the German 416th Division immediately.
 
Before the attack on Orsholz started, Harry Behnkie and John were sent out as scouts.  John could never understand why they were picked as scouts.  They went from the woods up the path later followed by B company to the antitank ditch and dragons teeth were they could see some of the village houses across the fields (later turned out to be pill boxes disguised) but they had no way of crossing the trench.  Plus Behnkie jumped over a log and slammed the butt of his carbine down and it went off sending a round into the air.  They reported back to Battalion Headquarters they saw nothing to indicate that Orsholz was really a fortified town except for the trench and dragons teeth (there would be no tanks or armor in the attack).  Did the Germans hold their fire because they did not want to fire on a two man scouting party or maybe they were not paying attention?

24:00 January 19

On the 19th at approximately 2400 and the early minutes of the 20th, they left Obertunsdorf with "B" Company as point, 1st Platoon of "D", "A" Company, 2nd Platoon of "D", the "C" Company as rear guard, and the Battalion Headquarters group somewhere in the middle of the column.  They marched all night with men and equipment slipping and sliding on the frozen ground and snow.  It is possible that the guides became lost.  Weather and confusion had already set in.
 
Eddie with Company "A" reached the area in front of the forest; the tank ditch and dragon teeth lay ahead.  Eddie was able to help a soldier with a badly wounded leg, but he died in Eddie's arms There was no chaplain in battle to give last rites.  Men died both quickly and slowly.  The best that Eddie could do then was to stay quietly in place during the day and night of the 20th and day of the 21st, almost 2 days, Iaying and freezing in the snow.  To show any movement meant certain death from German snipers and machine gun fire. Eddie watched one G. I. crawl for cover behind a log and a ping from a sniper bullet in the head killed him on the spot.  Not moving was constantly on Eddie's mind, and he would do it for two days and nights. Freezing cold, darkness, isolation and an enemy well entrenched was not a happy thought.  What did he think about during all the hours of lying in the snow freezing?  Nature is not friendly, it’s an adversary, and yet you must admire the beauty of it and also you must admire the danger.  It is so efficient as a danger

24:00, 20 January 1945.

The night of the first attack on Orsholz, a patrol was sent out to take over the town without rifles, these few men were to "sneak up" on the Germans and take any strong points with knives and clubs only.  The only thing heard from that night patrol was some rifle and sub machine gun fire early in the morning before dawn.  Since the night patrol did not have firearms the Germans must have killed them.
 
The frontal attack on Orsholz took place on 20 January at 24:00 hours; the 301st Battalion began its march through the woods.  When the lead group of the 301st passed through the tank obstacles and were half way across the open ground, German machine guns opened fire instantly catching the infantry in a withering fire pattern.  All surprise for the 301st was gone.  The Germans had superior camouflage; pillboxes that looked like houses, bunkers and had felled trees to form a massive network of criss crossing logs above and around them.  Another 301st attack was launched against Orsholz at 1500 hours preceded by heavy artillery fire.  When the artillery stopped the advancing G.I.'s ran into anti personnel mines.  Hidden machine guns raked the 301st' riflemen and casualties grew.
 
Another attack was launched at 17:55 hours just before dark but again the Americans came up against mines, booby traps, machine guns, rifle fire and accurate enemy artillery fire.  On the 20th the 301st attacked again.
 
As the attacking battalion, the 301st wore only field jackets in the freezing weather.  The night of the 19th, the weather was bitter cold, 5 degrees F., and snow, already a foot deep, coming down so thickly they could not see familiar landmarks.  Both the weather and the enemy would kill you.  When hit you could go into shock and in that temperature you could freeze to death before medics or litter men could help.  It was a death warrant if you were wounded and did not get immediate first aid.  This happened to wounded men cut off from their units. Wearing white camouflage was a must.  The men fashioned crude camouflage from sheets, curtains and tablecloths taken from empty houses.  The word was passed among soldiers that the house wife's volunteered their bed linens to help the American troops, that the sheets were given to them by the people of Belgium to help with the liberation of their little nation.  Either way, in war it did not matter how they got the material.  Not being seen by the Germans was one way of staying alive. 
 
When the German 88 shells hit the ground and trees, the hit G.I.'s did not crumple and fall like in the Hollywood movies.  Bodies were tossed in the air, whipped around, hit and thrown into the ground hard with their blood splattering everywhere.  G.I.'s standing close to the wounded found themselves covered in blood and flesh of their friends, and that's a pretty tough thing for anybody to see, and they were no exceptions to that.  Shell fragment wounds are more destructive than bullet wounds as shell fragments tear-off irregular chunks of flesh.  Their spinning tears at the body much more than the "clean" holes those bullets make.  You had to have a strong stomach to work on these kinds of wounds; even surgeons had trouble dealing with bad wounds.  Their surgeon got drunk the first time he saw a wounded man back in Lorient and stayed drunk the whole war until he was killed in action in the Saar-Moselle-Triangle fighting.  Probably a pretty conscientious doctor, one that really tried to help his fellow man and just could not live with the effects of combat and seeing the really horrible wounds that shell fragments inflicted.  Eddie had just sulfa powder and compresses to dress a wound when no medic was available.
 
The A&P platoon issued 1/4-pound block of TNT with a short fuse and cap to each soldier to blast frozen ground to help in digging foxholes.  The "B" and "A" companies tried to make their approach towards Orsholz.  Eddie was following "A" Company while John was following "B" Company.  They were both fitted with their pack boards with 50 lbs. of TNT in 1/4 lb. blocks for destroying bunkers and blowing holes in the frozen ground if needed.  After "B" company was cut off the rest of the Battalion tried to force their way through and ran into the minefields and heavy machine gun fire from the town.
 
Before the attack, reconnaissance patrols were sent out several times where they got up to the anti tank ditch in front of Orsholz Oberleuken road but no further.  Then a carefully selected group was armed with knifes and axes to slip through the woods to the rear of Orsholz and silently kill the German sentries.  The patrol slipped into the deep forest and was never heard from again.
 
For the attack, Eddie and John were split up. Eddie went with Company "A" with a pack board of explosives and John went with Company "B".  Canteens were left behind because they interfered with the pack boards and banged and clanked. Same for the mess kits.  Eddie carried his first kit aid and ammo pouch on his pistol belt with 30 rounds plus 15 rounds in the carbine.  They were loaded with ammo and cloth bandoleers for the attacking line company infantrymen.
 
Eddie usually did not see the enemy soldier in combat, as the "lines" were sometimes 100 yards apart.  His trick was to keep out of sight and still shoot at the enemy when his head popped up, you shot and he shot back.  Depending on who had more fire power, infantry could advance by either getting up and walking forward firing all the time or move forward by jumping up and running a few yards and dropping down again.  It was not so much a western cowboy gun duel, but more like a child's game of Hide and Seek, but there is no yelling "Ollie Ollie Oxen Free."  At the end there were just those that lost their lives.  In a village, it was very startling to walk around the corner of a house into an enemy soldier.

21 January 1945

After daylight on the 21st John was pinned down by machine gun fire and laid in the snow all day until dark and could not get out.  He didn't know what had happened to Eddie with "A" Company.  John was pinned down during that day with 50 lbs. of ¼ lb. TNT blocks with caps attached on his pack board.  His main thought with that many explosives attached he tried to stay out of the line of fire.  Normally TNT would not go off when hit by a bullet, but with caps attached it is a different story as the caps are sensitive to heat, shock and cross eyed looks.  He felt as if it was sticking up about like the Washington Monument, but there was no way he could get it off without raising himself up into the line of MG fire that was covering the field in front of the dragons teeth and ditch. John did not run (Either because he was brave or was too scared to move take your choice and he will always deny it).  John admits he wet his pants the day he was pinned down all day.  After dark he was able to crawl out from the little hummock of dirt and weeds he was hiding behind and get back to the original jump off point in a farmhouse near Orsholz. John thought.  "If I live through this and get warm, have enough to eat, and can sleep when I want I will never complain about anything again as long as God allows me to live." 
 
Besides everything else, the outcome of Iaying in the freezing cold for so long was that Eddie had frozen fingers and John had frozen toes.  The air bursts over the demolition team is to keep the German heads down or inside their pillboxes while the team has a chance to blow up the dragons teeth before the German mortars search for them.
 
The 94th troopers in the tank ditch were killed by German mortar fire.  The incoming mortar shells were almost inaudible except for a "whisper" sound; easy to not hear when other things were going on.  Machine guns sounded like a kid with a stick on a picket fence, The German 88's had no sound incoming till the shell exploded with a deafening explosion. 
The A&P Platoon in Action drawing by William Foley Co. "G" 302nd 94th Division. For this story. Copyrighted
 
The G.I.'s could not go on, but fell back, some ran. John would have probably run too if he had not been paralyzed by fear.  John's main memory of the attack itself was when he was laying in the snow and the guys ahead of him.  Those that had not been cut down or stepped on a mine broke and ran back, many were shot when they panicked got up and started to run.  One guy with a BAR started running towards the village, firing as he ran, but only got a few steps before he was cut down.
 
John did not know whether to get up and run too, or to just lie there.  I decided to just lie there behind the hummock. Pinned down, John stayed there all day till dark the next night (that is where he froze his feet, in spite of what Patton said).  John was thinking "If I live through this and get warm, have enough to eat, and can sleep when I want I will never complain about anything again as long as God allows me to live."  Throughout the nights of the 20th and 21st, German artillery pounded the troops in the woods.  Enemy shells crashed into the treetops and burst showering down deadly shell fragments.  The 301st was being whittled away.  The G.I.'s in the open during the day who had not frozen to death or been riddled by the almost constant machine gun and artillery fire, crawled back into the woods.  Brave stretcher man attempted to venture out to bring back wounded, but were repeatedly driven by heavy enemy firepower.  The Orsholz attack was abandoned.
 
Eddie saw one medic break down in tears because he could hear wounded calling out for help and had no way to go into the minefield to help.  The G. I. 's restrained him from running out into the minefield.  One fellow fell down with hysterical paralysis, no wounds or injury, but just fell down limp and could not move any part of his body.  Another soldier went blind from the same cause.  Eddie was talking to one soldier when he just slumped to the ground right in the middle of a word.  He was hit by a real small shell or mortar fragment right in the back of the neck below the rim of his helmet.  The wound was hardly visible, but it cut through his spinal cord and caused instant death.
 
After the debacle at Orsholtz the question arose why such a blunder was made in sending one battalion without armor or artillery against the fortifications at Orsholtz.  John didn't stayed in a house with the stove.  I think most of the guys in the building were from Co "A".  After the men left the house was when Ed and John got together again and were able to find out where we were and how we got through the days and nights of the attack.  Eddie didn't know where John was during this time, but when he finally got back he and John happily met once again.  Neither knew if the other had survived.
 
When he returned to the rear, Eddie saw the big six by six 2-1/2 ton trucks being loaded with bodies piled in like cordwood by graves registration men.  Harry and John were ordered out without Eddie.  He was attached to a different company or different assignment.  By the third day, John was pulled out again to carry the radio for Colonel Hagerty who came down from Regimental Headquarters to take over command of the Battalion.  John did not get to see much of what was going on but he and the Colonel heard reports from the radio at the forward Observation Post (OP).  (John had a hard time with the Colonel, who instead of using proper radio procedure or "code words" and grid locations he would grab the microphone and announce, "This is Colonel Haggerty up on the hill by the big one limbed pine, etc etc.")
 
John became a radio operator for 2 days when Colonel Hagerty came down to run the battalion.  Before John met Eddie at Camp McCain, he was in a communications platoon where he used radio procedures.  John carried the radio and would hand him the telephone piece or relay messages.  They went up to the forward observation post and John got a good view of how artillery worked.  He could see where some German MG sites were located and see our artillery try to quiet them.  Could hear the "corrections" radioed in from the artillery spotter and how they could correct the fire to finally hit or quiet the machine guns.  "Two clicks East, one click short." etc and just walk the shells to the place where they were needed.  While John was doing radio for the Colonel, Eddie was with the A&P platoon.
 
Eddie and John carried many wounded from the combat area back to the medical aid station at Battalion Headquarters.  The remnants of the 301st battalion pulled back for rest and replacements.  They stayed in an abandoned schoolhouse for a couple of weeks and then trained the new replacements as best they could.  Many of the replacements were dead within two days.  One thing quite noticeable was that in combat the veterans always stood a much better chance of surviving.  You either very quickly gain a sense for the right cover and actions or you were among the casualties.
 
Wolffrank, the clean freak, was setting up booby traps, when a replacement soldier put his rifle butt down on the trip wire. Boom, Wolffrank was wounded and the replacement killed. Eddie remembered getting replacements (the army changed the name from "replacements" to "reinforcements"; sounded better)  When asked where they got their training they would say "I was an air force cadet." or "I was in clerk school to become a company clerk."  Some had no idea of how to use their weapons and most were wounded or killed right away.  Sad to send men to there death without a chance of surviving.  It seemed if you develop a "combat sense" after a while; while the replacements did not have this "feeling" of what and where the safer places were located.  They did not know nor had the instinct to take cover where it was necessary.  You had to think like the enemy would think, The German's were fighting on ground they knew better than we did and would say to themselves.  "Lets set up a machine gun or mortar to cover that ditch or patch of woods."  So with a little experience you would not take cover in those obvious places but would find a spot that was not so outstanding to the enemy.  I had groups of replacements all wiped out at one time because they did not realize that where they were in a location that would draw fire.
 
I can remember one time on the Saar crossing when we bringing up ammo to the front and bringing back wounded (we even brought back German wounded, but if on the way we would find an American that needed help, the German was pitched into the river.  Human life means little when surrounded by so much death) John had a carrying party of four new replacements and climbing the cliffs they said they could go no further and stopped in a slight meadow shelf on the cliff side.  I told them, "No!  Do not stop here it is covered by fire."  But they stopped anyway, while John went on a few hundred yards to rest.  Of course artillery fire came in on that nice meadow and the replacements were all killed.  Eddie asked John if he killed the German in the barn doorway.  No, he was already dead, just caught in the crack of the door but I did kill the mortally wounded German in the pen being eaten alive by a hog.
 
Ordered to set up a forward ammunition dump, Eddie and John would be picked up later.  They sat and waited and waited but no one came to pick the up.  A few days later they found themselves with a ton of ammunition and they had been by-passed by the whole combat army.  Soon the rear echelon troops started moving in around them.  When they ran out of "K" rations they went to a nearby rear echelon ordinance company and asked the Company Commander if they could eat with his company.  They ate in the company with catsup, dishes and mess tables and couldn't remember when they ate so well.  Boy, did those rear echelon soldiers have the best of food! Finally, a truck from their outfit came and picked them up and took them to the right place.  The planned pick-up was late because the unit had been ordered to move forward and had no time to pick them up as planned.
 
After the final crossing when we were supposed to stop and rest and Patton sent the outfit on the mad rush to the Rhine must have been the time when Eddie and I were abandoned with all the ammo in a village and no one came back for us for some period of days.  We did not have any food with us and were bumming meals from other outfits passing through.  Finally some M.P.s came up and planted a sign that said, "Entering a combat zone; Put windshields down and watch for enemy action" or something like that.  Eddie knew then the company must have run off and forgot about them.  Finally the trucks came back.  Often, when the unit was in a village or town, there was no time to set up a field kitchen and feed the men a hot meal.  But then there were the haunting sights of starving children picking through their garbage for something to eat.  One time when they saw a six-year-old girl looking for scraps of food for her little brother, they lost their appetite.  They always made sure there were leftovers for the children.
 
 
The second assault on Orsholz was with a full regiment plus battalion artillery, air support and supposedly tank support.  They went back into the assault lines and where attached to another regiment.  The tanks all ended up stuck in the mud when the lead tank led the group into a swamp.  The tank commander ordered the infantryman to guard his tanks, but the privates rebelled and told him to guard his own tanks as they had other things to do.  This time Orsholz was captured.

On 22 February

 
XX Corps' 94th Infantry Division crossed the Saar in the Serrig and Taben areas and, during the following day, expanded its bridgeheads against light resistance by infantry, several local counterattacks, and artillery and mortar fire.  Elements of the 10th Armored Division, which was also assigned to XX Corps, crossed at Ockfen.

23 March 1945

They reached the Rhine River at Ludwigshaven.  One night the A&P Platoon was carrying Mermite Cans of hot food to one of the companies that had been cut off for a while when their captain came up with a Weasel (a vehicle about the she of a jeep with tracks and was able to float and drive over snow, mud etc.).  So they loaded the cans onto the Weasel and thought their carrying days were over.  The Weasel went about 50 yards; hit a mine; lost a track and they were back to the pack boards.
 
On another night, Eddie and John were sent out with pack boards of TNT and John carried a bangalore torpedo across his back to blow up one of the German roadblocks.  They waded across a small stream that was covered with a skim of ice and started down a road that would take them to the one of their rifle companies that held up by the roadblock.  About half way there all of a sudden they heard hobnailed boots coming down the stone road from the other direction.  They knew Americans did not use hobnails so Eddie and John dove into the bushes along side the road and watched a platoon of Germans march by down the road from the direction they were heading.  They never did find out where they came from or where they had go net.  They never found the rifle company either or where they went wrong and ended up behind German lines.  Combat was often like that.  You did not know where the enemy was or where your lines were supposed to be.
 
In the Alsace-Lorraine section of the French German border, Eddie and John were up early on sentry duty in a small town.  They saw this old bent over man slowly walking towards them as he neared he stopped, looked up and at them.  He then moved a bit faster towards them and in English, exclaimed; "Some days I am German, and some days I am French, but today I woke up and I am American".  Both the French and German armies have invaded each other through that section for centuries and the old fellow thought that whatever Army was in control gave him citizenship
 
Another time after Orsholz, they were back in the rear area getting replacements when the Mess Sergeant went to Eddie and John and ordered them to sleep in the building used for a kitchen that night because someone was breaking in and stealing food.  Eddie and John rolled out their bedding on the kitchen floor and went to sleep.  In the middle of the night they were awakened by noises that turned out to be prowlers rummaging through the food.  Jumping up and pointing their carbines they yelled, "Halt.  They turned on a flashlight and found the Company Commander and his Executive officer pawing through the food.  A Captain outranks a Mess Sergeant so they never reported the intruders.  John believed the Mess Sergeant knew that back in France when they were holding Lorient that Eddie and John were raiding the kitchen on a regular basis.  They took supper K rations and white bread.  The "K" rations had a chocolate powder like Nestles so they had a mug of cocoa before going to steep or coming off of guard duty.  The stolen white bread was traded in the nearby village for French black bread.  They wondered why they had any teeth left, as the black bread was full of grain hulls, stones and everything else imaginable.
 
The 94th crossed the Moselle and Saar Rivers around March 5th and severely damaged the German 11th Panzer Division.  When crossing one river their trucks were held up in a small town that was being hit by mortar and machine gun fire.  Eddie, the truck driver and John dove into a building and went down into the cellar.  A combat Military Police (M.P.) was near by and he dove under their truck.  Eddie and John stuck out their heads and out and yelled, "Get out from under the truck it's loaded with ammo".  The M.P. literally swam out from under in the muddy roadway and joined them in the cellar.  On the Saar River crossing they were ordered to take their ammo to the town of Serrig on the East side of the river.  They took the trucks to the nearest pontoon bridge and found K could not handle trucks, foot traffic only.  So they were directed to go downstream a couple of miles where a vehicle bridge had been established.  John was riding in one trucks and Eddie the other.  So they went down the river and crossed and started back up stream to Serrig.  The only problem was that the East side of the river, except for the two bridgeheads, was still in German hands.  Eddie and John were riding in two trucks with big stars on the hood and all of a sudden all the Gls around us were wearing gray uniforms and coal scuttle helmets.  They looked at us and we looked at them and we both were thinking the same thing.  We must be in the wrong place.  Only one German lieutenant was alert enough to draw his pistol and point it at us.  Eddie could see the wheels turning in his head, "Are we wrong or are those Americans wrong?  Eddie and John never tried more in their lives to look like a German soldier.  Anyway no shots were fired and they got through okay.
 
At the Saar River crossing the A&P ammo trucks were sent to a road opposite Serrig where were held up on the road down to the river.  When they walked forward to see what the hold up was on the road there were half tracks stuck there and machine gun bullets bouncing off the sides.  One funny thing, when the shells started falling, Eddie, the rest of the squad jumped into a building by the road, and the combat MP dived under our ammo truck.  They stuck their our heads out of the door way and informed the MP that he had taken cover under 2 1/2 tons of ammo and explosives.  He quickly changed his mind about using the truck for cover and he seemed to "swim" out from under in the mud of the roadway and joined us in the stone building we were using for shelter.  After that is when the trucks were sent south or downstream to the other bridgehead. 
 
Bridges were a problem in crossing the Saar River.  When they tried to cross to Serrig Bridge it would not take ammo trucks so they were sent down to Tabin and crossed there and went up the East bank to Serrig.  The problem was that all they had were the two bridgeheads so as they drove up the East bank they noticed that all the "GIs" standing around had German helmets.  They drove through there in two 6X6 trucks and a trailer all loaded with ammo and demolition material and not one of the Germans fired or tried to stop us.  I do remember one German Lieutenant pulled out his pistol, aimed at our truck, but did shoot.  I think he was confused and did not know if he was in the wrong place or if we were.  All they did was try to look as if they belonged there and knew what they were doing.  Many times during the combat phase there was not a real line that divided the German troops from the American.  Just kind of a mixed up situation with both army's kind of infiltrating each other and no one knowing exactly where the lines were.  Modern combat was mostly done on small squad or platoon level even though the generals had fine maps with marks showing larger combat units, but did they really know what was going on in these small units?
 
The Germans on the steep cliffs of the Eastside of the Saar River could watch all the American movements.  Eddie and John had to supply the rifle companies up on the Miff top with ammunition, food etc. along with dodging the shells coming in to town.  They climbed those cliffs twice a day with full packs and brought back wounded.  If our litter were empty they would pick up German wounded, but if they saw an American they would leave the German for another litter.  On one trip John was taking some replacements up with him but they pooped out part way up the city and had to rest. J ohn told them to keep going for another couple hundred yards as where they wanted to rest was under German observation.  They just could not go on and stopped and lay down.  The Germans would not waste mortar shells on a small moving troop, but when the replacements stopped and laid down a shell whistled in killing them all. (That's where the part of being combat wise pays off.)  After the Saar crossing, the German army had had enough and started giving up by units.  Here on the Saar crossings John got his Bronze Star.  John said it also is a lie, because the citation says he volunteered for the duty of taking ammo up the trail and bringing back prisoners and wounded.  Hell! John said "He never volunteered for anything in his life".  Eddie received his Bronze Star later on after the war.
 
They captured a concentration camp but most of the able body prisoners had been moved out by the times they arrived, except for the old, the sick and infirm who were left to die.  The American Medics could not save many of the prisoners because they were beyond any help.  One brand new first lieutenant in their battalion goofed and got a medal for it.  He was supposed to leave with his company (they were long out of captains) to take a small village at daybreak.  He miss read his compass and got lost.  By mid morning he was past the village and at the German Regimental Headquarters.  He captured the headquarters by surprise and then went back to the village he was supposed to take from the rear.  Another surprise and a village captured with no casualties.  He got the Silver Star Medal just one below the Congressional Medal of Honor) for that.

22-24 of March

The battle for Ludwigshafen was from their entry into Ludwigshafen on the Rhine River.  Eddie, Harry and John (the unholy trio) went into the main building of I.G. Farben Co. and sat in the president's office with their feet up on the desk. Suddenly the phone rang and Harry, who spoke German, picked it up, it was the employees of the plant down in the bomb shelter.  Apparently, when the Americans attacked the plant blew their air raid siren and none of the German civilians knew the Americans were that close.  Harry tried to tell them that they were all prisoners of war and they would not believe that he was an American.  Finally they sent a woman worker up to the office to check on the story as they still thought Harry was kidding them.  Harry told them all is kaput.  They finally came up, and were sent home and told the plant was closed for the day.  There were still a few German soldiers in the city that were sniping at us.  So they borrowed some bicycles and electric carts and went looking for snipers.  When the German soldiers saw the crazy Americans riding bicycles and shooting at snipers they figured the game was up and surrendered.
 
During this drive they captured a large castle, called the Schloss Bubingen.  They thought.  The courtyard was unoccupied until a trap door opened and gun fired burr up, burr up, burr up.  There was a German soldier down there with a burp gun and he did not want to come out.  So one G.l. dropped a hand grenade down the trap door when the trap opened and more burr up, burr up.  Now it was time for Eddie and John to go into action as they had the explosives.  They took a 50 lb box of TNT blocks, inserted a can and a short fuse, lit the fuse and had another G. I. lift the trap door as they pushed the explosives into the cellar.  There was a big boom and the whole side of the riverbank caved in and the German soldier, the castle all went down into the river.  Luckily they ran fast enough to not go down into the river with the castle.  After Ludwigshafen the whole outfit was tired, tattered and torn so they were pulled back to let fresh troops through.  They were put in truck convoys and here is where they saw some sights that haunted them.
 
When the Battle of the Bulge was over, they were trucked out on a spring day, a day when the bright sun showered the landscape of Orsholz as they once again passed by Orsholz, that place of death for the 301st Battalion.  The grass in the pastures was starting to grow and the trees buds were blooming, and above were blue skies and puffy clouds.  The sun melted snow-covered battlefield.  Here in the middle of all this beautiful day to be alive, they saw their friends and comrades and the enemy scattered in the fields.  The Americans were still in their white makeshift snowsuits, no one had been able to recover the bodies because of the frozen snow and the mines.  Their hearts were broken and tears came to their eyes as they left the scene.  John said "It seems like you're in this deadly struggle under miserable conditions and the whole universe is united against you."  Later, the 94th dead lying in the fields would be buried in the military cemetery at Hamm.  American boys from another World War, buried in a Foreign Field.
 
One day Eddie and John were up on the front lines at one of the rivers when an American P-47 fighter plane came down out of the sky with a dead engine.  The pilot landed with his wheels up in the vineyards that lined the ever.  Unfortunately, he picked a spot that was between the Americans and the Germans.  The Germans started firing at the plane of course and they started firing at the Germans.  They were able to give the pilot enough covering fire that he lumped out of the plane and ran to Eddie and John.  He was so grateful to them that he gave Eddie his fleece-lined boots and John his fleece lined mittens. (Maybe that is why Ed froze his fingers and John froze his toes.)
 
On the way back from Ludwigshafen, some blown bridges on the Autobahn stopped the convoy.  Overhead they could see what they thought were American P-47's circling around. Big radial engines, tapered wings etc.  They did not know that the Germans had the FW-190 with radial engines and tapered wings All at once those P-47s dived down and turned on a lot of little red lights along the wing edges and their convoy was pretty well shot up both by the Germans and our own planes. Each truck had a .50 caliber machine gun on a ring mount on the right side of the open driver's cab.  They all grabbed one of those guns and started firing back at the planes (Fat chance of ever hitting one!).  As the planes swept over the convoy from back to front and you followed with the machine guns the next thing you knew you were starting to shoot into the truck in front of you.  Luck was with them, there few personnel casualties, but many shot up trucks.
 
Right after leaving Ludwigshafen the 94th had it's last battle.  In their travels through an empty town, John left his cup and Eddie left his underwear in a house.  Later when they went back, the cup was scrubbed and the underwear was washed and pressed.  In an empty town!  The 94th was pretty well cut up and I think had lost all combat effectiveness by the time we reached the Rhine at Ludwigshafen and that was really our last combat till the war was over except for some light patrol action up in the Ruhr Valley at Bad Krefeld.  When the war was over they moved across the river to Velbert, which was their last station (as an outfit) in Germany.  Then to Czechslovakia.)  The G.I.'s were not supposed to have cameras so they were ordered to burn all cameras, guns, binoculars, swords, long kitchen knifes, etc. that were found by house and person searches.  The big pit full of expensive cameras, twin reflex's were splashed with gasoline and set on fire, as well as collector quality guns.  John remembered a twin set of Colt cap and ball revolvers with engraved actions and sculptured grips complete with bullet redid, powder measure and cleaning tools all in velvet lined feted case.  John tried to talk the "powers that be" to spare the sets but no luck."  He learned his lesson; he hid anything he wanted to keep.
 
In early April they were pulled out of Ludwigshafen on the West side of the Rhine River and were sent North to Krefeld on the west side of the Rhine in the Ruhr Valley near Essen.  In Bad Krefeld, Eddie and John and the rest of their squad were assigned to a two story stone building.  Upstairs was a bathroom with a coal fired water heater and a great big old-fashioned bathtub.  Having not bathed for several months they were somewhat ripe with itchy fungus in groins, armpits, etc.  With a tub filled with hot water they each would soaked for hours (It seemed like hours).  Also, the house was interesting in that it had been the home of a German engineer who had a complete collection of German language Zane Gray western novels on his bookshelf.  John did not learn till much later that Germans were very interested in the old American west and cowboys.  They stayed in the house until V.E. Day.  They always tried to stay in houses with bathrooms.
 
Near the end of the war the army used poor judgment in opening the gates to the labor camps that were filled with French, Dutch and Polish, etc. prisoners.  The Germans used these prisoners to staff their factories.  The released Displaced Persons (DP's) all had one thought before going home, to kill Germans.  The DP's stole guns, knives and clubs and used them on the German civilians.  The army had two wars on their hands, one against the Germans, and the other to protect the German civilians from the DP's.  They finally rounded up the DP's.  During this time there was not much combat action.  They would go up into some of the tall buildings and take their rifles and shoot at the German soldiers across the river.  The river was about a mile wide at this place so they never did hit anything, but after several shots, one would come close enough to the Germans to make them run for cover.  Some fun? 
 
After V.E Day (Victory in Europe) they were moved across the Rhine River to Velbert, North of Essen.  There they stored their ammo in an air raid bunker.  Ed and John were on duty one night as sentries they figured no one could get into the bunker because they put a bunch of benches and barbed wire with tin cans across the entrance and went to sleep.  Little did they know that was the night the Officers (top brass) were going to make an inspection?  They got chewed out by a very angry and scratched up colonel.  (What else could he do? Fire them?).  While dumping a truck load of German mortar shells in Velbert, Slim" Wier was killed when the shells blew up with Slim and German POW prisoner helpers.  Sergeant "Slim" Wier was one of the barracks wrestlers back in the States that crashed through the barracks walls with the big Irishman McGee.
 
In Velbert the young guys first met girls, but the snag was that, Velbert was in the British Occupation Zone.  Therefore, when they were moved out some of the young guys thought they were leaving their true loves behind, but most of the girl friends were more attracted to the British soldiers because they knew they would be staying.  There were a lot of tears and gnashing of teeth over the lost loves.  Velbert was really the first "civilian" town they were stationed in for any length of time.  They got the streetcars working and the local brewery fired up, and they all liberated some End of vehicle for their own use.  John had a three-wheeled miniature panel truck with the engine mounted on the single front wheel.  John doesn't remember what Ed had to drive around, but they all had something to save their tired feet.  Velbert suffered little damage from bombing or shelling.  Essen was destroyed, but the suburbs survived pretty well.  Of course Velbert had their war industry.  There were two factories in town, one was the Stanley Tool Works and the other was Yale & Towne Lock Co.  They all wondered why the town was spared maybe because of the two American factories located there?
 
Soon this was declared a British occupation zone. So they were told to pack up.  The British moved in without a kitchen so for a they fed a Welsh regiment.  Then when their kitchen moved in ours moved out, so they ate with the British for a week.  They learned that British Army tea tastes just like American Army coffee; they could not drink either one. 

14 June 1945 to 19 June 1945.

From they were they were enroute to Sedlice (12 miles North of Strakonice) Czech Republic and 36 miles Northwest of their next stop, Kremze. (Kremze was 140 miles West of Holic and Vrbovce, the place of Origin of the Filus/Filush ancestors.  Had Eddie been able to go to Vrbovce, he would have met Filus/Filush relatives.  They gave the local beer hall in Kremze a name just for fun.  Their barracks was the local beer hall with a Ping Pong table and beer on tap in their bunk room a soldiers dream!  They slept on a raised stage like structure on wooden cots or beds.  The Czech kids would come around and play table tennis with them, and almost always beat them well.  They take tennis; both table and court type seriously in Czechoslovakia.
 
One night in Kremze Eddie put a young porcupine in the bottom of John's bed sack. John saw him wiggle and was able to get him out before getting stuck by a quiver. They kept the porcupine as their house pet.  They were separated from the Russians by an eight-mile de militarized zone.  Those who tried to visit the Russians allies were usually sent back stark naked.  The Russians would strip them of all weapons, uniforms, watches, etc. and turn them loose.  Ed and John figured that when they got out they would buy a ship load of cheap watches and sell them to Russians.  They were paying hundreds of dollars for a watch and $100 for a carton of cigarettes.  But, they could not send home any more money than their base pay plus 10 percent.
 
While in Czechoslovakia, to pass the time waiting for discharge points, John taught under educated soldiers to read and write.  Enough "points" meant going home.  Young Czechs girls who swam in the river amazed them.  The girls could stuff a bathing suit under the hem of their dress, wiggle around a little and then pull the dress off and leave them in the bathing suits.  They soldiers kept looking, but none of girls ever slipped.  Since the kids were having good time swimming, the soldiers picked a secluded spot on the river, stripped naked and jumped in.  The water was right off snow covered peak and about 33 degrees.  They never could understand how the kids stood the cold water, but they seemed to enjoy it.
 
One day, a G.I. walking through the Czech village was attacked by an angry goose.  A goose is strong can and can do a lot of damage with both their wings and bill.  Retaliation, the G.l. shot the goose with his 45 pistols.  The dead goose caused uproar with the villagers; the goose was part of the wealth of the village.  The Army issued the G.I's orders not to shoot Czech livestock.  The Czech families raised many geese, partially to pay a national tax of four geese per year.)
 
Eddie was shot in Czechoslovakia before they moved to Kremze.  They were stationed for a while in a town where they stayed on the 2nd floor of a two-story schoolhouse.  Eddie and John were sitting on the floor (no furniture) with their backs against the wall.  Sitting across the room was a truck driver named Red Logan.  Red had a .25 caliber automatic pistol.  The small 25 caliber automatics did not have an extractor.  In other words, if you pulled the slide back a round could still be in the chamber.  The gun depended on the gas pressure to throw the expended shell out. Apparently Red took the magazine out of the pistol, pulled the slide and when no shell came out assumed the gun wasn't loaded. (This would work with an army .45 calibers automatic).  Red pulled the trigger and the remaining jacketed bullet hit Eddie on top front of the foot.  Fortunately the .25's did not have much power so the bullet entered above the toes and went up to the ankle and stopped.  Eddie was standing in a flash and when his wounded foot hit the floor he collapsed.  Eddie yelled out " I'm shot".  The bullet had traveled under the skin and flesh and messed up a lot of the small bones in the foot.  Red Logan handed the automatic to a soldier sitting next to him, so he was left holding the smoking gun.  Red's mental ability was not great, but he was smart enough to get rid of the gun and the blame.  The poor soldier left holding the automatic was ordered to stand court martial but it was found that the shooting was accidental.
 
Eddie was taken to an army field hospital.  While he was there a (nearby?) German munitions dump with delayed time explosives blew up creating quite a stir in the hospital tent.  He talked about the tent catching fire and the soldiers trying to get out.  His medical records were lost and it was after the war he had to prove his wound to get a government disability pension John remembered back to Camp McCain when Eddie had his first foot problem.  When they were having the last parade before leaving for New York and France, the unit was in a large formation ready to march past some general and assorted big wigs.  They had fixed bayonets on the rifles and carbines.  Ed and John were next to each other in this giant formation somewhere towards the middle.  They knew they could not be seen to well, so instead of standing at attention they were slouching in place.  Eddie put the point of his bayonet on the ground (he thought) and crossed his arms and relaxed on the butt of the stock.  Unfortunately, the sharp end of the bayonet was not on the ground but on the toe of Eddie's boot.  With a loud "ouch" Eddie jumped up in the air with two cut toes and an embarrassed look.  No real harm done but they heard from the brass about it.  The Sergeant said "keep quiet, Filush", you should not shout when you are in formation or words to that effect. 
 
John received his Bronze Star Medal in Czechoslovakia.  He remembered because he was in a parade in Pilzen and he had the medal pinned on by a Czech officer who kissed him on both cheeks, just like in movies about the French army.
 
 
The Russian Allies in Czecholslovakia had a road through the 94th's area giving them the opportunity to steal anything not tied down.  When some of the American troops tried to visit them, they were stripped of weapons, uniforms, watches, ID and vehicles and were sent back on foot.  Some stole gas from the motor pool and tried to drink it and were found deathly ill along side the road.  Also, the Czechs would pay us $100.00 for a carton of cigarettes and re-sell to the Russians; we got our money in the Russian invasion scrip, just like ours except for the seal color. 
 
Eddie's Christmas Card From Paris TO The Folks
 
All in all, most Russians I met were really uneducated and ignorant about the world.  Some seemed to be Asian, not European at all. Lots of rumors in the service.  Mostly of the type of "I knew a guy who had a cousin that talked to someone and he said - - -" John learned one thing about "Uncle Joe's" troops was that they would pay anything asked for a watch.  Eddie and John were planning to ship over a whole boatload of $1.00 pocket watches after the war since the Russians seemed to think the louder the tick the more valuable the watch.  From Czechoslovakia, they were put on trucks, and then trains to go to one of the cigarette camps set up, in France to process the troops being sent home.  They both had their turns at a pass to Paris.  John got his Bronze Star Medal before Eddie.  This counted for discharge points. Eddie had more army service than John so they both had the same number of discharge points.
 
Eddie and John now rode in regular passenger cars instead of boxcars.  The tracks were still tom up from the fighting so the trains stopped at dark and they stayed in little camps set up along the backside where they ate and slept in a bunk.  Each camp tried to entertain the troops, often with discharged German army band members.  The Germans tried to play some of Glenn Millers music, but they did better with their own "Lili-Marlene", a somewhat melancholy tune.  It was German song borrowed by the British troops in North Africa and later US troops.  In the mornings after breakfast they got back on the trains and eventually the train would move.  Generally, the train would be held up because the only hot water for washing and shaving was in the engine's boiler.  So the troops would run up to the engine and draw off a helmet full of hot water as the fireman was trying to get up steam to move.  Boy those French train engineers got really excited and shouted and waved their arms about.
 
Soldiers returning to the States were sent to camps named after cigarette brands.  Eddie and John went to camp Chesterfield; others went to Lucky Strike, Camel, etc.  Chesterfield was an abandoned German airfield in France.  They were put into another division over their protests, so finally they were allowed to wear their 94th patches on the right shoulder.  During the stay at Chesterfield they had a commanding officer that was quite G.l. He had them fill the round bomb craters they had been using as garbage dumps and latrines and dig square holes as the Army manuals says.  After some days of this someone (Not Eddie or John for a change) defecated in front of the commanding officers office.  That defecation hit the fan; 24 hours guard duty on the latrines and a lot of chewing out and gnashing of teeth.  Eddie and John did think up interesting amusements while they were in France waiting to go home.  The camps they were sent to had a number of movie theaters on the base.  Each night one theater would be closed for cleaning or repair.  Eddie and John would go to one of closed theaters and stand in front of the door, hiding the closed signs.  When a long line gathered to see the movie they would walk away. (Small things amuse small minds).
 
From France they boarded a Liberty ship on, January 1946.  The ships hold had bunks stacked five high, but they did not know how many men were on board.  The Head was literally at the head of the ship and had holes in the covers for toilets. Seawater ran in the troughs all the time.  Here their great amusement was to light a wad of paper with a match and float it down the trough under the backside of a sitter.  More fun, looking at every one jump up onto their feet in turn as the burning paper passed by them!  This amusement did not last long they soon hit a North Atlantic hurricane and the ship broke down.  They tossed about for 10 hours with no power and almost everyone onboard was seasick and scared.  John tried to get Eddie to come and eat with him, but when he got one look at the creamed beef on toast he hit the rail and heaved over the side.  They had several broken arms and legs during this trip because they were still under blackout conditions as not all the German submarines had been accounted for.  The entrance and exits to the holds were on platforms about four feet above the decks and with narrow ladders leading down.  The ladders were not aligned with the double curtained doors so men would come out the door, miss the ladder and fall to the deck.  Finally guards were stationed at the doors and guided the men to the ladders.
 
After 10 days, they finally saw the lights of New York City and in landing were surprisingly greeted by the Red Cross with of all things, fresh milk. (They had not had anything but powdered milk for almost three years.  They were sent off to Fort Dix (Where Eddie had been inducted into the army it seemed a life time away) and after a couple of days an announcement was made that anybody wanting to be discharged in California would be flown to Fort MacArthur, if they did not have more than 25 pounds of baggage.  John dumped everything he owned and got in line for the plane.  He boarded a C 54 Transport that had no seats, but it did fly to California in two days.  That was the last time John saw Eddie in uniform.  As you know he did get to visit Eddie one time and John's Mom and Dad visited them also.
When they got back home they kept hearing about "Kilroy was here" They never saw a Kilroy sign, but they did see the same drawing on a walls with the motto "Clem was here".  Maybe Kilroy was in the Pacific and Clem in Europe.
 
John and Eddie met long after the war at Eddie's home where they sat all night in the kitchen and talked and talked and talked.  After fifty years memories are not too clear about that period in their lives.  Most of it, the killing, and the lost buddies had to be wiped out to save their sanity and all trust in mankind" John made friends with a man who was in the German army and was captured and kept in a prison camp in Russia.  They both agreed that once you hear the bullets snap and zing past you that you are never the same.  The combat soldier more than anyone else owes it to his brothers on either side to be friends now and in the future".  There was reunion in Munich of the 94th Division and the 11th Panzer Division several years back.  The old soldiers sat and drank beer like long lost friends.

In Memoriam-The Squad

Edward 'Eddie' Filush, 14 June 1924 - 2 February 1991, Fairfield, CT. Shirley 'Sam' Mayfield, + February 1993, Roanoke, VA. William Wheeler, +October 1993, Lake Park, FL

Coca Cola Cartoon Post Cards From WW2

The American Humour in war

 
 
 

Received from Eddie MAUL

 

Edward Filush

Cannon Company

301st Infantry Reiment

94th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Northern France

Battle of the Bulge

Rhineland