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December 2019
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US Army

Hindrance en route to the Bulge

 

Hindrance en route to the Bulge
 
Our company, Cannon Company, 289th Infantry, of the 75th Infantry Division, almost did not reach the Bulge.  We left the French coastal area east of Le Havre on December 17.  We arrived in southern Holland the second afternoon.  We spent two nights there.  We were called out of our billets the second night before we got into our sleeping bags, and were told that the Germans had attacked in Belgium, and that we would leave early the next morning for the Liege, Belgium, area to meet the portion of the division, which came up by train. 
 
We left early the next morning and arrived at a big farm north of Liege in early afternoon.  The building was in a large square with the family coat-of-arms over the main entrance.  The front and sides were two stories high, and the rear was one story.  Both sides, front to back, were stables with haylofts overhead.  Some of us moved into a vacant stable on the left side.  he rear corner was a chicken house, and then a gate to the outside, then storage space for farm equipment, and then storage area for grain.  The owners’ home was just inside the main gate, two stories high, plus a basement. 
 
About 4:00 p.m. a motor went directly overhead.  It sounded like a motor in a metal barrel. Twelve minutes later another went over, and they continued to come every twelve minutes.  Either the, third or fourth was below the very low clouds, and we could see flames coming off the back. That confirmed that we were hearing buzz-bombs. 
 
We went out every twelve minutes to try to see another, but they were up in the very low clouds.  We had been up all-night the previous night, so most of us were in our sleeping bags by about 7:00 p.m.  I was in mine, but not yet asleep.  Suddenly another came very loud for probably two seconds, and there was a huge explosion. The door to our stable slammed against the wall. 
 
We went out to see what had happened.  It had blown a lot of the roof off, and some of our men who were bedded down in the haylofts, got roofing tile in on them.  No one was hurt, so we went back to bed after the next one, and I don’t know how much longer they came.  The next morning we went out the back gate.  The motor and small amount of the thing which still existed were within a few feet of the back wall. Some of the men said later that they found bullet holes in it, and assumed that was the reason it lost altitude. 
 
One of our men who collected statistics upon everything, said many years later he stepped off 137 yards to where there had been a tree the previous day.  All that was left was a stump a little larger than you could reach around, and about knee high.  If the tree had not been there, the buzz-bomb would have hit the back wall.  If it would blow the roof off from over 130 yards, think what it would have done where I was bedded down probably thirty yards from the back wall, and many of the men were closer to the back wall. 
 
We left that afternoon before the time they had started coming over the previous day, and the guns were on the line before morning. I wrote about the buzz-bomb once, and I went poetic.  You know the poem-song, “Trees”.  My version was: “No forest green, no grove no clump Is half at beautiful as that stump.”
 
Source: The Bulge Bugle February 2015

By Cpl Harold F SHADDAY

 

"Cannon" Company,

289th Infantry Regiment

75th Infantry Division

 

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium