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October 2020
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US Army

Night Attack Patrol

Night Attack Patrol
 
Somewhere in the Bulge our platoon was ordered on a night patrol.  Its purpose was to infiltrate the enemy, have a fire fight if necessary and take prisoners for intelligence purposes. 
 
It was a dark moonless night which was ideal for night patrols. The platoon was headed by 2nd Lieutenant #####.  We readied our weapons and took care that our equipment didn’t rattle while going towards the German lines.  Actually we were to find out exactly where they were.  This was the first platoon of “A” Company 347th Infantry Regiment. 
 
As we proceeded in a double file we were headed in an easterly direction but I noticed that we were slowly turning in a more northerly direction.  As we continued to veer off in what I felt was the wrong direction I became more and more convinced that we were off our mark.  We were going north not east!  This patrol started about 1 or 2 a.m. and we moved slowly and as quietly as possible.  We were in an endless pitch black barrel with no recognizable land marks. 
 
After a bit I edged my way up to the platoon leader and indicated to him that I thought we were moving in the wrong direction, I received a curt and unpleasant answer, "I have the compass and I know which way we’re traveling" 
 
I returned to my position and thought "you’re so damn smart it’s OK with me that we are not going in the direction of the enemy I’ll live another day."  Having been on other night patrols I had some idea about the drill.  We usually contacted the enemy within some yards between them and us and then the place would erupt in small arms fire with tracers from us and them giving a fireworks display in the night - I did not like to see these tracers.  There usually was a lot of ammo expended but few if any casualties on our side.  We’d break off and return - at least we knew where they were even though I don’t think many if any rounds hit their mark. 
 
Our march in the dark continued.  Lo and behold the next thing we heard was a strident "Halt" in English with its request for the password.  Luckily the correct password was given and we were admitted back into our lines. 
 
Here we had been up all night with the only perceived result was that we had successfully made contact with some unit of another battalion that luckily hadn’t opened up on us in the dark. 
 
After some time of receiving directions from the friendly unit’s men and officers we were shown the way back behind the lines to our unit.  This had been a night in which we hadn’t fired a single round, marched for hours, scared the hell out of a sentry of another American unit and almost got shot by friendly fire.  On the trek back to our unit we were cold and hungry.
 
I didn’t know whether to condemn our leader for his stupidity or bless him for keeping us out of harm’s way.  In any case we and our unit would have been better off if we had stayed in our fox holes catching some sleep on and off in our miserable holes
 
Source: The Golden Acorn News 2001 and The Bulge Bugle February 2006

By S/Sgt Henry W. MOOSEKER

 

"A" Company,

347th Infantry Regiment

87th Infantry Division

 

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium