US Army

We Never Got To England

We Never Got To England

 
This was a day I will never forget and it was probably the longest day in my life.  The 80th Infantry Division had moved up from Central France to join the Third U.S. Corps along with the 26th Infantry Division and the 4th Armored Division to attack the southern portion of the Bulge area.  It was a long, cold ride in open trucks with no blankets or overcoats and we spent almost two days without stopping.
 
At that time we had about 15-16 men in our squads and we attacked Ettelbruck, Luxembourg, on December 22, 1944.  We fought there for three days, losing many men, all officers and all of our automatic weapons.  This attack was called off because of the cost in men and on Christmas ve, we again loaded on open trucks to join with the 4th Armored Division on their attack into Bastogne, Belgium.  This was another long, cold night.
 
Early on Christmas morning we moved out and we were immediately fired upon.  A burst of burp gun hit me in the neck and ear, took off my helmet and shredded the towel wrapped around my neck.  Medics patched me up and we continued through the thick woods deep on the right flank.  Tanks were on the road on our left, but we could not hear them; the air was so heavy and the snow swirling about.  We had sniper fire from the rear, right flank and from the front.
 
Artillery fire and mortars shattered the trees about us, but we kept moving forward into the attack, losing many more men.  About 1/00 p.m. a tree burst hit me in the thigh and opened my leg up.  A medic patched me up, gave me a sulpha powder and morphine and said to hike back to the aid station, which was five miles.  No stretcher bearers were getting through the waist-deep snows and the enemy had closed in behind our lines.  Three of us started back, but without our weapons.  One man had his heel shot away and the other had been hit in the back and none of us were bleeding, it was so damp and cold and the deep snows.
 
We found wounded men, trying to get to the aid station, that had been shot and killed by snipers and their equipment gone.  We had a few fire fights, but when we returned fire the enemy melted away in the woods.  The medics had no blankets for the wounded, we had no overcoats, shoe pacs or any of the needed camouflage clothing.  If wounded you walked out, if you stayed you froze to death.
 
No fires were allowed and no buildings were seen by us at any time.  After a P-47 sprayed us we reached the aid station about dark.  We were checked out and placed in ambulances to travel to an air-evacuation hospital near the French-Belgium-Luxembourg borders.  We were told we would be flown to England and probably to the USA.  We all fell asleep in the warm ambulance and all of us had severe pain from frozen feet and legs, and did they ever sting.
 
We were placed on stretchers and put aboard the plane after a change of bandages.  About 500 feet up three German fighters fired a short burst and hit the plane.  But, we were lucky.  They evidently saw the air strip lights and realized that this was a medical area and flew off.  One engine was out, the plane was on fire, some of the men and nurses were wounded, or killed, and the co-pilot was out of commission.  The pilot was wounded, but brought the plane around and we landed back on the air strip.
 
We were back mobile again and helped remove the dead and wounded.  Ten minutes later the plane exploded.  I was moved to an operating area and I sat in a chair while a doctor gave me seven shot of Novocain and opened up my thigh to the bone.  I sat there and watched him.  Today, I would have probably passed out!  We never got to England.
 
Source:Bulge Bugle, May 1998
Edgar E. BREDBENNER Jr

"B" Company

318th Infantry Regiment

80th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium