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US Army

350 Miles in Bitter Cold Weather

350 Miles in Bitter Cold Weather
 
As I grow older, memories of dates, places and names fade, but vivid in my mind was the coldest couple of days that I ever experienced. 
 
When the Germans broke through our lines in the Ardennes, the 87th Infantry Division was in the Saar Valley.  Word came through that we were to move out of our position around Gros Rederching, France and proceed to the Ardennes. 
 
We were also advised that the Germans were dropping paratroops and otherwise infiltrating our lines with troops dressed in American uniforms.  This made for some anxiety and meant that steps had to be taken to assure that when we asked for the password that the response was authentic.  We did wonders with the passwords by asking for names of ballplayers, names of suburbs of cities if the person responded that he was from such and such a place.  Anyway, I was selected to be the advance party to pick out a bivouac area for the battalion. 
 
I was assigned to be the jeep driver along with Lt Leonard (I think) and a radio operator whose name escapes me.  He was the only smart one of the three as he slid his feet down into a GI sleeping bag.  I wore GI winter underwear, the OD uniform, GI sweater, field jacked and overcoat.  Underneath my helmet, I wore my wood knit cap pulled down over my ears. 
 
With the windshield down over the hood we had no protection from the bitter cold, piercing wind.  The weather was sub-zero and the wind felt like sharp knives.  The roads were slippery and when we made our first relief stop, up went the wind shield which was a small help.  This trip was around the 23rd of December during the coldest winter that Europe had experienced in quite a few years. 
 
Along the way to Belgium, we stopped over at an airbase in Reims, France.  Why, I don’t know.  The Air Section had flown separately and was already there when we arrived.  The Air Corps treated us like conquering heroes. They gave us the best Christmas dinner and took us on tour of the base showing us some German jet engines crated up to be shipped to the U.S.  Still not thawed out, we continued our journey and ended up near Tillet, Belgium, in a forest for our bivouac area.  We had completed our drive-over 350 miles in bitter cold weather, slipping and sliding and freezing cold.  I don’t think that I stopped shivering all the time we were in Belgium. 
 
Source: Bulge Bugle August 2009
 
 

By Cpl Kenneth R YOCKEY

 

"HQ" Battery

336th Field Artillery Bn

87th Infantry Division

 

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium