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US Army

Counterattack at Moircy

 

Counterattack at Moircy
 
James served as a forward observer in “I” Company, 345th Infantry Regiment, 87th Infantry Division.
 
By nightfall we were coming into the Belgian village of Freux Menil. It was there that we got the message that the First Battalion up ahead of us had encountered fierce enemy resistance at Moircy. Soon it became clear that the Germans were counterattacking and trying to overrun the First Battalion troops. Lieutenant Colonel Robert B. Moran, commanding officer of the Third Battalion, quickly deployed his companies astride the road running through Freux Menil and along which the enemy was coming toward us from the north. Captain Nichoson’s Company ”I”, with which I was working, was assigned the position on the left and west of the road. That put us just northwest of the village in a snow-covered open field.
 
In preparing to meet the German counterattack, Captain Nichoson called his platoon leaders and me together to give us our instructions. At that moment, a horrendous explosion tore into us. In the instant before unconsciousness, in what could be likened to a stop-action strobe effect, I saw a brilliant orange-yellow fireball with chunks of black in it-then nothing. When I started regaining my sense, I was still on my feet. In fact I was reeling and staggering aimlessly about. The return of consciousness was slow and labored, like struggling to wade through deep mud. My first thought was that it was a shell. Then, that there would be another, and I’d better hit the dirt!
 
Apparently contact with the snow helped speed up my lethargic mental processes. I jumped up and looked around in the dim, semi-light of that snowy night, thinking, “Hey, I’m not injured! Where is everybody?” The group of men to whom the captain had been talking was all spread out radially like petals of a daisy. The first man I got to was T/Sgt. Keith Mericle, dead with a gaping hole behind his right ear. Next was Lieutenant Rerich who was bleeding all over from multiple wounds. I got him to his feet and pointed him toward the aid station. He staggered away in that direction. Then I came to Lieutenant Lee Scott who had been knocked out but had only a cut across his face where the force of the explosion had blown the edge of his helmet. I repeated to him what Captain Nichoson had been saying prior to the explosion and then sent him back to his platoon to get ready to meet the approaching Germans. The next was Sergeant Don Campbell who came to quickly. He, too, was sent back to get his platoon ready. Then there was Sergeant Frank McFarlane who was likewise able to return to his platoon. I stayed at the place of the disaster so they could find me if needed.
 
A short time later I saw a shadowy figure approaching me from the direction of the village. It was the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Moran. I recounted the whole incident to him. We found the muzzle of a shattered carbine and verified that it ended in “6-6-6-6”-the last four digits of the serial number of Captain Nichoson’s carbine. Captain Nichoson’s helmet was collapsed front to back-flattened. Captain Nichoson was between the explosion and me. I had been standing directly behind him when it happened. The captain was dead and had taken the brunt of the explosion.
 
Company “I” did help to stop the counterattack and, to this day, I don’t know if we won because of what had happened or in spite of it. I feel that the men of Company “I” in Freux Menil and the First Battalion in Moircy were proven that New Year’s Eve, 31 December 1944.
 

Source: Website 87th Infantry Division, November 23, 2001.

http://87thinfantrydivision.com
 

By 2nd Lt James R Mc GHEE

"A" Battery

334th Field Artillery Bn

87th Infantry Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium