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US Army

A 424th Anti-Tank Crew Saved Our Lives

 

 

A 424th Anti-Tank Crew Saved Our Lives
 
Frank Jordano and I moved up on line with Company "B" of the 112th Infantry Regiment – 28th Infantry Division on November 11, 1944.  We were in the furthest north outpost of the 28th Division on the Schnee Eifel ridge.  Each night we would go on patrol and make contact with the Division which was located just to the north of us.  I remember the night of December 11, 1944 when we went on patrol and met the men from the 424th regiment of the 106th Division for the first time.  There was almost a half mile gap between the very north outpost of our 28th Division and the south outpost of the 106th Division – No wonder the Germans could walk right through us.  Our foxholes and outposts were around the town of Lutzkampen, Germany.
 
Of the 200 men in our Company "B" – 112th Regiment, there was only 25 of us who made it back to the 82nd Airborne on Xmas Eve. – The Germans pushed through "C" Company on our right on December 16th our company lost contact with the rest of our division on that day and we retreated with the 424th Regiment of the 106th Division for the next 7 or 8 days.  We lost over 100 men (killed and wounded) the first day and the rest during the retreat.
 
The 25 of us who survived owe our lives to an anti-tank crew that was with the 424th Regiment of the 106th Division.  On December 16th from 5:30 a.m. to noon we lost over half of our men.  About 2:00 p.m. about 60 Germans surrendered to us and we sent them back to battalion with 2 guards.  However, the Germans had pushed through "C" Company,112th Regiment, on our right and they ended up recapturing the 60 Germans we had just captured as well as the 2 guards who were with them.  About 5:00 p.m. December 16th, the second wave of Germans hit us and they were led by 5 or 6 tanks.  The lead tank had a flame thrower which terrified our men.  We had only rifles to defend our positions and when the tanks were about 200 yards from the outpost which Frank Jordano, our 1st Sergeant and I were in, we suddenly heard an Anti-tank gun firing from our left.  It knocked out all 5 tanks and the Germans coming on foot turned around and did not attack any more that evening.  The next day as the Germans started their attack again we began our retreat with the 424th Regiment of the 106th Division.
 
We learned a few days later that the Anti-tank crew from the 106th Division.  When the war was over, one of the men who was with us.   George Knaphus, decided he wanted to find out the names of the men from the 106th Division who were assigned to this Anti-tank crew.  After much research on his part he located one of them – a fellow by the name of Herbert J. Novotny.  Herbert told Knaphus the head man or leader of the anti-tank crew was a man by the name of Paul Rosenthal.  However, he learned that Rosenthal was killed in a later battle, so we never did get to thank him personally.
 
Twelve men of Company "B" who survived the Battle of the Bulge held their first reunion in 47 years at my home in June 1992 and in our memories of the war we all recalled the night we were saved from the tanks by the men of the 106th Division.
 
At 9:00 p.m., December 16, 1944, a few of us from "B" Company, 112th were still in our positions near Lutzkampen.  Our 1st Sergeant Ralph McGeoch, sent Frank Jordano and myself on a patrol to go up to the 5 burning German tanks and see if we could find any of our men who were still living.  As we approached the burning tanks, we could smell the awful smell of burned flesh.  Most of the men in the tanks were not able to get out when they were hit by the men of the 106th Division.  We saw several of the charred bodies hanging from the turret's of the tanks.  We found a few of our men who were wounded and still living.  We helped them back to a building near our CP, but the next day when we retreated all of our wounded (about 50 men) were left behind and captured by the Germans.  I do not know what happened to them.  We had no way to bring them to the rear as our rear reserves had all been driven back or captured by the Germans.
 
Source: The CUB of the Golden Lion: Oct – Nov – Dec 1992

By Sgt Charles A. HAUG

Company "B"

112th Infantry Regiment

28th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium