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US Army

The Weather on 16 December 1944

The Weather on 16 December 1944 

 
I was 19 years of age and I was a Private First Class.  We rode in a halftrack and sometimes pulled a 57mm artillery piece.  My position was that as ammunition handler, but in all reality, I was an armored infantryman. 
 
The weather on December 16th, the day of the German attack: 
 
The weather in Luxembourg was overcast and certainly flyable.  I was on a road block detail between Mersch and Echternach, Luxembourg, and remember the mass confusion that took place that day.  Nobody knew for sure if there was a major attack or not.  We weren’t prepared.  As I recall the weather was flyable before the attack and our spy planes could have seen the Germans buildup if they would have looked.  As an example, the Germans flew a light plane over our positions in Luxembourg.  Every night about 10-11 pm, we called him “Bed Check Charlie.”  He was looking for lights and any info that would help the German cause.  He flew without any lights at all, and was at a low altitude for better observation. 
 
This went on for at least a month before the Bulge broke out.  They might have had night vision stuff then, but they were doing it on a nightly basis.  I don’t remember seeing our planes at all in our area.  They were all busy bombing the German cities. If they have strip bombed the German border they would have eliminated lots of our problems then. 
 
I never could understand how the Germans could get the buildup they did without our knowledge.  I blame our leaders for that serious mistake.  We were not prepared for the German attack. 
 
My division was the 9th Armored Division.  We were spread out over a 75 miles front.  Combat Command “A” was in the Luxembourg area, Combat Command “B” in the St Vith area and Combat Command “R” in the Bastogne area.  When the Germans attacked, our Division Commander, Major General John W. Leonard, lost control of the situation because of the distances involved.  The Germans started calling the “Phantom” Division because we had troops all along the front. 
 
Combat Commands “A” and “R” were assigned to Patton’s 3rd Army, and Combat Command “B” was assigned to Hodge 1st Army.  We got hurt badly and had to withdraw to France before the Battle was finished.  There was no excuse for us not having more force ready for a counter attack.  We were asleep and paid a heavy price for it. 
 
It has been my pleasure to speak to many schools, churches, service clubs, etc. about the war, and every time I seem to learn more. 
 
Source: E-mails received from Donald BEIN, March 26 & 29, 2011
 
Picture: Donald BEIN 
 

By Pfc Donald H. BEIN

"HQ" Company,

9th Armored Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium