When Doves Cry


It was the morning of January 4, 1945, a day forever etched in the mind's, of the men of the 550th Infantry Airborne Battalion (IAB). The day marked the unit’s first day of fighting during the Battle of the Bulge, as they made their way to the small town of Renuamont,  located about 10 miles west of Bastogne. The 4th of January would also be the high-water mark for the Battalion since that evening a vicious German counter-attack would lead to the destruction or capture of most of B and C Companies.  The following is our interview with Gene Tennison of A Company.
Prior to marching off toward our objective, I remember intelligence reported that the enemy was dug in two miles away from our departure point. Based on this information, we nonchalantly ambled along to our objective and suddenly everything happened at once. The Germans were firing on us from several directions and in a very short period of time their were allot fewer of us. There was a great deal of confusion, and those of us who were left didn’t know what to do or where to go. To make matters worst, the weather was frighteningly cold and the snow was up to our knees.

My buddy and I took cover by laying in a shellhole, we were surrounded by a forest of snow covered pine trees. I focused all my attention and energy on trying to anticipate what was going to happen next. Then, oddly, I heard the sound of a crying new born baby. The sound was a "wa, wa, wa." I knew a new born baby could hardly survive in this kind of environment but that was exactly the type of sound I heard. So we just waited, and the noise got closer and closer. Finally, we could see that the noise was coming from four men carrying a stretcher through the deep snow. A figure was slumped in the stretcher and the first thing I noticed was an arm dangling off the stretcher twisting around and around in mid air, hanging by a thin shred of flesh. It became apparent that the sound was coming from the patient on the stretcher. When the stretcher arrived near our position, the man stopped making that sound. I took the place of one of the stretcher bearers and we waded through the deep snow to an area where they were moving the wounded. As we went along, he began to say something "who’s with me?" and then I told him who we were and then he asked again "who’s with me?" and I again told him. Then he said "Oh God, I just wish I could see just one more time." His eyes were plastered with mud and blood. A few minutes later, we got him to the area set up for the wounded, it was filled with my buddies. He died shortly after the medic examined him.

I remember that prior to the Bulge, he would always tell me that after the war, he was going to take me to Boston (his home town) and show me what Boston baked beans were really all about. Unfortunately, I was never able to make that trip with him.

  1. Written by Patrick O'Donnell.
  2. Multiple Interviews with Gene Tennison.


  1. A Bolt From the Blue, by Justin Buckeridge.