Some things stick in the mind, embedded so
that they never go away. The night before my company was committed I was sleeping in a
hole in a patch of woods with about seven or eight guys from C Company, my company being
HQ1, a heavy weapons company. My very best friend, Richard Reed, a red headed,
good-natured Irishman from St. Louis was huddled up next to me and all of us were trying
to keep warm out of the deep snow outside our foxhole. Lucky me, I was sleeping on the end
and had nobody to huddle up close to on one side. Sometime during the early morning,
C Company moved up on line and left me sleeping by myself, not waking me at all. It was
dark as pitch, except for the moonlight on the snow, outside the woods, when I woke up. I
raised up to see out of the hole and couldn't see a single thing moving nor did I hear any
noise whatsoever. I crawled out of the hole, in near panic, scared as hell !! I thought
for sure I had been left there. As I crawled around through the snow, I fell into another
hole, felt a warm body and just crawled under the blankets and went back to sleep. To this
day, I don't have any idea who
was in that other hole.
Just before daylight, my company moved up into position and
I was sent out as forward observer with the Platoon Leader and Platoon Sergeant.
Naturally, I carried the radio. Our artillery began laying down fire and it seemed they
would never stop. When they did stop, the Germans opened up with their 88s about time the
rifle companies jumped off. Our mortars were laying down
smoke but we couldn't really see where we were hitting. A Company, which took off over our
observation post, was cut up pretty bad. During all the 88 fire, our CO got hit and our
platoon leader was called to the rear to take over the company CP, leaving the Sgt. and
myself alone. A Company reached their objective but asked for permission to withdraw. I
had to relay messages
through my radio to Battalion and Battalion ordered them to hold until further notice.
After what seemed like an eternity, A Company was finally given permission to withdraw to
the IP. I think all the other companies were allowed to withdraw at the same time.
Our mortars laid down smoke for A Company to withdraw and
after they had cleared our observation post, we withdrew. The Sgt. and myself went to the
Battalion CP. A few minutes after getting to the Battalion CP, our company commander came
in asking for help for some guys back down the road. Three guys were laying in the road,
all wounded from 88 fire, and one of them had an arm hanging on by just a thin piece of
skin. We got them out on stretchers as fast as we could. It was the most ghastly sight I
had ever experienced in my young life. I never knew the names of the guys on the road.
My best friend was killed that morning and I never felt the same since. I saw a lot of
dead bodies after that but nothing ever affected me like that first day. Richard's wife
had a baby while we were aboard ship going to England. His wife sent him pictures and he
was one more proud father but he never got to see his son. I know this happened many times
over during the War but I only had one best friend. I had every intention of going to see
his wife and son after the war, but I could never think of what I would say, so I never
I know this isn't much but it is the thing that sticks in
my mind and will until the day I die.
Hq1, 193d/194th Glider Infantry Regiments
17th Airborne Division