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US Army

Christmas Eve has Special Meaning

Christmas Eve has Special Meaning
 

On the night of December 23-24, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, "E" Company, 333rd Infantry Regiment of the 84th Infantry Division, was defending the rear near Marche, Belgium.  The company was ordered to move out along a ridge line near the village of Buissonville, west of Marche, to investigate reports that the German spearhead was coming that way.

 
While the company waited on the ridge, a combat patrol, mostly the second platoon (10 or 12 GI's), was sent across the fields and entered the outskirts of the village.  Two mini-patrols were sent off in different directions, while the rest of the group set up a 30 caliber machine gun outside the first house and spread a "daisy chain" of eight mines across the road.
 

I was on the two-man patrol that went up one road, an about 200 yards along the road we heard Germans standing by a camouflaged tank and talking.  We quickly headed back to where our guys were and gave them the news.  The second two-man patrol had gone along the main road, and about 300 yards down it, they discovered a long line of German tanks and armored vehicles, with the German troops standing in the middle of the road, smoking, talking and taking a break.

 

The patrol leader radioed this information back to the company commander, hoping he would tell us to withdraw.  Instead words came back we didn't want to hear—wait for further orders.  We spread out beside the road figuring our small patrol had no chance against what looked like a battalion of Panzers.  After about 15 minutes we heard commands given, and motors starting, then the column started down the road, headed for our lone 30 caliber machine gun and pathetic "daisy chain".  They came closer and closer, and just when we were ready to start firing, we got a "miracle."

 

In the dark we hadn't seen a side road splitting off about 50 yards away.  As the head of the column approached with motors roaring, all of a sudden they turned left and headed up the hill away from us, saving us from certain annihilation.

 

When they had all passed, we radioed back to the Company Commander Officer, and got the welcome words, "Come on back" and took off over those field like champion sprinters.

 
A German tank destroyed at Buissonville, Belgium
 

Reading the Official Military History of the Ardennes in later years, I came to realize that we had run into the Assault Detachment of the 2nd Panzer Division, and that our little drama was noted on page 436: "The appearance of this force was responsible for reports reading American Headquarters shortly before midnight that Company "E" of the 333rd had been trapped in Buissonville."

 

We almost were, but for that hidden side road.  Needless to say that through the years, Christmas Eve has a special meaning for a small group of GI's from "Easy," 333rd.

 

SOURCE: Bulge Bugle, February 1997

Jack HYLAND

Dead January 27, 2005

"E" Company

333rd Infantry Regiment

84th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium