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US Army

Herbert H. Adams and the Battle of the Bulge

 

 Herbert H. Adams and the Battle of the Bulge
 
Submitted by Christian W. de Marcken
 
The following are the comments made by Herbert H. Adams, who was a Machine gunner of the 3rd Platoon, Company "D", 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium.
 
The von Rundstedt Offensive, also called the Battle of the Bulge, started at 5:30 AM on December 16, 1944.  At that time the 82nd Airborne Division was resting and rebuilding its ranks, it had landed behind the enemy lines on September 17, 1944 in the Netherlands, and had suffered heavy losses.
 
The Division was in an old French Military Complex located at Sissonne, north of Reims, France.  During the night of December 17, 1944 Colonel Tucker was called at the 82nd Airborne Headquarters and told to be ready to move North by early morning.  Typical of the Paratrooper attitude, nothing would slow them down, they could not wait for trucks to be assigned to them; they Non Commissioned Officers went to the local SHEAF Motor Pool and literally kidnapped three hundred drivers and trucks, which were loaded with men by 7:00 AM on December 18, 1944.  Thirteen hours later they were in Werbomont, Belgium, that night a defense perimeter was set up around this little town, while Company "D" hiked eight miles to Rahier.
 
Herbert remembers that on Christmas day the men were give a choice of being fed or resupplied with ammunition, which were brought to the front lines by little "Weasels", these were tracked vehicle, which had no cover.  These were also used to bring back injured soldiers to the U.S. Evacuation Hospitals. The travel path of the Division during the Battle of the Bulge was as follows: From Sissonne, France to Bastogne, Houffalize, Werbomont, Rahier, Cheneux, Trois Ponts, Lierneux, Bra, Fosse, Grand Halleux, Sougne-Remouchamps ( Two weeks of rest.), Saint Vith, the Siegfried Line, Malmedy, and finally Schmithof and Bergstein in Germany.
 
The 2nd Battalion took part of the fierce battle of Cheneux, Herbert remembers being tired and hungry, the snow and the cold were awful, as they rested for a few minutes he could not find a dry place to sit, so as bad as it may seam, he sat on a German soldier, who had just been killed, his body was still warm.
 
Company "D" took the high grounds around Fosse, Belgium, the Germans suffered heavy losses.  Then on January 11, 1945 the Division was sent to rest for a weeks in Sougne-Remouchamps, where Herbert and his squad were housed at the house along the AmbleveRiver owned by Mrs. Bechaimont.  Mr. Bechaimont and their two oldest boys were prisoners in Germany at that time.
 
A picture showed the AmbleveRiver crossing Sougne-Remouchamps, where Herbert had placed a cross showing the house he was in during that week, his comments on this card were: "This Town was covered with snow when I last saw it in January 1945."  Luckily on one of the cards Herbert's Belgian Mother wrote her name and address with comments: "Souvenir of time here by our good American Friends in January 1945" Herbert added: "My Belgian Mother's Town and place "X"" In the address location the lady of the house wrote:

Mr. & Mrs. Bechaimont

12 Rue de la Reffe

Remouchamps, Province of Liege, BELGIUM.

Red cross is the house of Bechaimont's family
 
On January 26, 1945 the Division was moved to Saint Vith, it attacked the Siegfried line.   Herbert Adams' wife Beverly mentioned that her husband must have had a Guardian Angels sitting on his shoulder because as the Paratroopers were assigned to support an Armored Division, they would ride on the tanks as these were heading for the front lines.  One day as Herbert and his squad were riding a tank, a German shell fell close to the tank, killing and injuring all the soldiers except Herbert Adams.  Still today Herbert shakes hid head in disbelieve, he cannot understand how he came out alive.
 
On February 5, 1945 Company "D" was relieved from combat, somewhere in the Ardennes, we were told to walk back along a stream in total silence and to make sure not to light up a cigarette for fear of getting spotted by the Germans, who were occupying a position parallel to our travel path.  Unluckily after roughly one hour a soldier lit up a cigarette, immediately the German stared to shell our area.  A shrapnel hit the pocket of my right leg, where I had ammunition; it tore the flesh off of my right leg, this injury was bad and it took a few days before I landed in a hospital in Paris, France.  At that time I had no feelings in my toes, my feet were frozen.  For the second time my unit was not aware of what had happened to me, so the After Action Report listed me as "Missing in Action." and Beverly was notified by the Defense Department that I was missing in action.
 
Herbert was in Paris for two days, from Paris he was shipped to the 164th General Hospital in Cherbourg, France; where he was very lucky to have a young American Doctor, who had been stationed in the Aleutians, he had dealt with numerous cases of frozen limbs.  Herbert H. Adams credits this Doctor for saving his feet, by forcing the soldier, who had their feet frozen, to walk.
 
Herbert explained that his feet were completely black, at one point one of his feet literally blew up, the fluid spread one of the attending nurses, the smell was unbelievably bad, so he was moved to another tent, unbeknown to Herbert this was the V.D.  Ward, the Nurses in the Venereal Disease Ward were not too compassionate towards the patients and there were not much communication between the Nurses and the patient.  This particular Nurse gave a shot to Herbert, this hurt him very much, he grabbed a hold of the Nurse and asked why she was treating him this way, and showed the Nurse his swollen black feet.  The Nurse realize she had made a terrible mistake and apologized, she asked Herbert where he was coming from, she was surprised to hear that they both came from the same area of Maine.  She was from the Farmington area, which is eighteen (18) miles west of Norridgewock. Maine.
 
The Doctor, who had practiced in the Aleutians would place the frozen foot of a soldier in a five gallon bucket, lance the foot, then would make the soldier walk.  One soldier refused to walk, the Doctor called a Military Policeman and told him to fix bayonet and to shove the bayonet in the fanny of any soldier refusing to walk.  Only when the soldier could not walk any more, would he be placed in an ambulance and brought back to the Hospital, where the foof was massaged and maybe lanced again.  Every soldier treated by this Doctor recovered and did not loose a limb.
 
As the soldier's health progressed some of them were give a "three day pass" to Paris.  Herbert was one of them; while in Paris, he met members of Company "D" 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, these men were scheduled to head back to Germany that afternoon.  Herbert found a way to reach the area where the trucks were waiting way before any one was there, he climbed in one of the trucks and hid; before departure time the members of Company "D" piled up in the trucks and a Lieutenant had a "Roll-call", obviously Herbert staid very quite.  When he reached the "orderly room" in Germany, Captain Adam A. Komosa said: "Sorry Adams, we cannot take you back, you are AWOL = Absent."  With Out Leave, Herbert pulled out his three day pass, which had not expired.  The Captain felt that if a soldier was ready to go this far, he should close his eyes and take the soldier back into the unit, with no other question asked.  For the third (3rd) time poor Beverly was notified that her husband was missing, this time the 164th General Hospital had listed him an AWOL.
 
Herbert remembers jumping during a big parachute exercise before leaving for Cologne.  Then his unit was moved by rail to reach an area where it was to cross the Rhein River.  He remember being part of the Paratroopers, who liberated the Wobbelin Concentration camp and seeing all the bodies of the prisoners, which were tortured by the Germans in this camp.
 
Company "D" met the Russian troops at the Elbe River on May 3, 1945.  The War ended in Europe on May 8, 1945.  Shortly after that the 504th Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division was sent back to Reims, France.  After a while the Regiment was sent back to Berlin, Germany, where it was assigned to an outpost, with instructions to guard a bank full of "Counterfeit" dollar bills; since the soldiers were told it was German counterfeit money, they would used it to light their cigarettes; it did not take long before the Military Police came with trucks and long pickup to take all the money out of the bank, it was only at that time that Herbert and his fellow paratroopers found out that it was real U.S. currency; however one soldier, who originated from Alaska, always stuffed his pockets with money, which he managed to send back home.  After the war he told Herbert Adams that all this money allowed him to purchase a boat in Alaska.
 

Herbert remembers getting in trouble while in Berlin.  One day he was with a buddy at the BrandenburgMonument when two Russian Military Policemen started giving Herbert and his friend a hard time.  Luckily the Russians did not know English, so Herbert told his buddy to head for one side of one of the large columns, while he would go on the other side, during this maneuver the two American paratroopers hit the Russians on the head and grabbed the Russian weapons, and took off in a hurry.

 

The next encounter was worse, this time two American Military Policemen took custody of Herbert Adams and his fellow paratrooper, who originally was from Alaska.  Herb carried a very small German 22 caliber pistol attached to one of his ankles.  This was an unusual weapon, it had two barrels and it could fold so as to conceal the pistol.  Herbert and his buddy knew they were in trouble, so Herbert took out his pistol and threatened the MPs, who at first laughed the whole incident off.  After Herbert had shot the first shot, the two Military Policemen knew better, they decide to cooperate and hand over their 45 Caliber pistols.  Herbert and his buddy told the two MPs to drive around the block and that they could retrieve their weapons near a monument.  By that time the two paratroopers had disappeared.

 
The next thing worth mentioning is the fact that Herbert's unit was sent to a camp in Southern France called "Lucky Strike".  From there he boarded a Liberty Ship and was heading back to the good old Unites States.  The ship ran into a storm, it had to wait at sea for three days before being allowed in to BostonHarbor.  From there he was sent just before Christmas 1945 to Camp Edwards and Fort Devens.  Herbert Adams and five other soldiers took off for Maine.  During that time all their personal belongings were stolen.
 
He was finally discharged on December 30, 1945.
 

Herbert H. ADAMS

"D" Company

504th Parachute

Infantry Regiment

82nd Airborne Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium