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US Army

From Utah Beach to Czechoslovakia

From Utah Beach to Czechoslovakia

 
When the Allies planned the invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe, they chose the Normandy Coast of France for their landing sites and they were code named, Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha & Utah.  The English, French, Canadians and others landed on Sword, Juno & Gold and the Americans landed on Omaha and Utah Beaches. 
 
I went ashore on Utah Beach and the beach was secure and the fighting was a few miles inland.  We were near the town of St Mere Eglise.  We fought in the hedgerows, towns and villages and fought our way to the huge Nazi Submarine Base at Brest, France.  The artillery fired on this base from the land, the Air Force bombed it from the air & the Navy fired on it from the sea.  After much fire power the base surrendered. 
 
I was in the 16th Field Artillery Observation Battalion.  We were the eyes and ears of the Field Artillery.  We fought our way thru St Lo, up to and thru Paris and to the border of Germany.  On December 16, 1944, Nazi Field Marshall von Rundstedt made a counter-attack on a 60 mile front in this area.  He came thru with the 5th Panzer Army, 6th Panzer Army and the 7th German Army.  We were right in the center of this attack.  I was in the area of St Vith and Bastogne.  They really clobbered us.  Thousands of Americans and Germans were killed in this breakthrough later known as the Battle of the Bulge. 
 
It took General George Patton two days to bring in the 101st, 82nd Airborne and the 26th Infantry Division to help reinforce our position.  One Paratrooper asked me “where was the front line?”  I told him he was standing on it.  The Nazi’s destroyed much Army material & killed many men.  The German High Command sent an ultimatum to our General McAuliffe at Bastogne and told him to either surrender or be annihilated.  General McAuliffe sent a reply with one word “Nuts”.  The Germans did not know what to think of or understand the word “Nuts.”   This was American slang for, in no way will we surrender. 
 
The Weather was very cold and the fog was over the whole battlefield.  The Nazis pushed us back from the German border, back thru Belgium, Luxembourg and into France.  The fog was so thick; we could not tell if an American Sherman tank or a German Tiger tank was coming toward us.  One week after the Bulge started, the fog began to lift and the sky was clear again.  At this time the U.S. Air Force sent hundreds and hundreds of fighter planes over the front lines and they flew thousands of sorties, destroying supply lines, gun emplacements, infantry, tanks and everything they could see.  At this time we began to hold our position and slowly, very slowly we began to advance again toward Germany.  The Nazi SS Troops captured the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion.  Our 16th Field Artillery Observation Battalion was to meet up with the 285th, regroup and form a new battalion.  This never happened.  The SS herded over 100 men of the 285th into a snowy field and machine gunned them down in cold blood.  This was not war; this was murder.  This was known as the Malmedy Massacre.
 
On January 25, 1945 we were at the same position we were when the Bulge started on December 16, 1944. 
 
I was on an observation post in the city of Koblenz, Germany and ten Catholic Nuns came up to me and in perfect English asked me to tell them when the war would be over.  How would I know? 
 
I watched the Army Engineers build a pontoon bridge over the Rhine River.  The river was fast, deep and over a mile wide.  It was scary to watch our heavy Sherman tanks & heavy artillery guns being pulled by large Prime Movers and Army trucks loaded with supplies and soldiers cross this bridge.  The bridge held and supplies and men continued to cross the Rhine River. 
 
I was at the liberation of a Nazi Concentration Camp.  The sights we saw were horrible and the smell was only a smell that can be made by torture and death. 
 
We fought our way through Nuremberg and the smell was anywhere.  We zigzagged back and forth thru Germany and Sudetenland and fought our way into Czechoslovak Russian Army here.  This is where we heard the war over on May 8, 1945. 
 
It was exactly nine months from the time I went ….. until we met the Russians in Czechoslovakia and I was whole time.  In closing, I want to say “Freedom is not America……,
 
Source: Bulge Bugle August 2011
By Pfc Francis Keith DAVIS

"A" Battery

16th Field Artillery Bn

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium