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US Army

Some Nice, Clean Pajamas

Some Nice, Clean Pajamas
On January 5, 1945, we got orders to move up to the Battle of the Bulge.  I was a rifleman.  We walked part of the night of January 6th and got a few hours sleep in a barn.  Then we were picked up by a convoy of open trucks.  We rode all day in a blizzard up through Luxembourg City and Stopped in Bastogne.  My squad moved into a shed, got a stove, (some) straw and got thawed out good.  The next morning we had only K rations but a cook in an engineer outfit ran us all through his chow line for hot cakes and hot coffee.
We were taken in trucks again, I think toward Wiltz, Luxembourg, and we got into a pine thicket and spent the night on the snow.  Four of us got together with our four blankets, put one down and three on top of us.  My legs had no feeling the next morning but after we saddled up and starting walking my feet started sweating.  Good shape, huh?
We ditched our packs in a school yard and joined four tanks of the 6th Armored Division and we headed into the woods.  We were walking between and behind the tanks.  They were killing and wounding a lot of Krauts and we moved pretty good for a couple hours and the Kraut artillery was going over our heads.  Then we came to a draw and machine gun fire wounded three or four of our guys, so the rest of us hesitated a little, till we could see Krauts getting out of their foxholes and trying to get behind us.  Some of us started pouring lead into them and they ran back and jumped into their holes.
The tanks had got ahead of us so we circled back around through “K” Company and the Kraut artillery had pretty well messed them up.  We kept moving pretty well again for a while, and then a bunch of Krauts got out of a trench in front of me and surrendered.  Sergeant Wood told me to take them out, and when I got them out of the road, Colonel Bell had a bunch he was holding and told me to take then all back to the MPs.  The prisoners started stringing out, they were wanting to get out of there as bad as I was, so I got in front of them and had two walking wounded GIs behind them.
We got almost to the village when a shell lit right in the prisoners, one couldn’t get up and one ran by me with his hand blown off.  I didn’t feel anything but looked down and my pants were torn and blood was coming out.  A piece of shrapnel had taken a chunk out of the calf of my right leg.I   was able to stay on my feet, round up the prisoners and limp into the village.  A couple of MPs took them and pointed to the aid station.
I walked into the aid station and stood my rifle in the corner.  The medics cut my pants and boots off, sprinkled sulfur powder on the wound and bandaged it.  After a while a jeep pulled up, loaded up with wounded, then called for someone who could walk.  I went out and they put me across the hood of the jeep with my sock foot stuck out in the cold air.  They backed up, waited for the shelling to ease up then took off. (There was a platoon of riflemen at the windows of the aid station watching for an attack.)


I got pretty sick back at the collecting station then was taken by ambulance to the 35th Evacuation Hospital in Luxembourg City.  A blond nurse brought me a pair of pajamas and told me to put any clothes I didn’t want in a pile.  I didn’t want any of them as I’d been in them over three months.  She got a kick out of the stuff she found in my pockets - Nescafe, sugar cubes and other treasures.   A surgeon cleaned my wound there and the next morning I was handed my purple heart and sent to the Hospital in Metz.  My wound wouldn’t heal so they sent me on back to England to a General Hospital.  They were able to graft over my wound and I was discharged just a week before the war ended.

Source: Bulge Bugle, May 1994

By Robert C. CATLIN

"L" Company

359th Infantry Regiment

90th Infantry Division


Battle of the Bulge,