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Reporters 1945 Dispatch Takes Veterans Down Memory Lane
On January 7, 1915 the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment with G Company and a section of Headquarters 3rd Battalion machine guns in the lead attacked the Germans in Thier Du Mont, Belgium.
   Two days later, Russell Mill, a war correspondent attached to the First Army, visited the Company C.P. and interviewed Captain Wilde. Recently contacted, Mr. Mill granted permission to reprint his dispatch which appeared In the January 20, 1945 edition of the New York Herald Tribune.


Airborne Division Drove Nazis Out By Silencing One Gun After Another
by Russell Hill, by Wireless to the Herald Tribune C right 1915, N. Y. Tribune Inc.

WITH 82nd AIRBORNE DIVISION, Western Front, Jan. 9 (delayed).—The paratroopers of the 82nd Division are in the same foxholes they were or-dered to evacuate on Christmas Eve. "It took us five hours to get out of here and five days to fight our way back,” they said ruefully. They obviously would have preferred to stay in their positions and take on all comers, as the 101st did at Bastogne, rather than carry out the first withdrawal they had ever undertaken.
   When they left, the Belgian civilians went with them, stringing along the winding roads with their horse carts, bicycles and baby carriages. It was not a very merry Christmas for them. They went far to the rear, and left their cattle behind. When they come back they will find that farm boys among the parachutists have been milking their cows for them. It was not

so much that the paratroopers wanted the milk, it seems no farmer can bear to stand by idly while milk dries up in cows' udders.
   Taking their present positions the second time was harder for the paratroopers than at first, for the Germans had time to dig in. They were firmly established on a long wooded ridge that rises abruptly from the river at Salm Chateau and slopes down gradually to the west. There is another shorter ridge beyond which is connected with the main one by a low saddle, and this saddle is bare of trees.
The Germans on the ridge had their 88's placed on the edge of the ever-green forest covering that lovely field of fire as the airborne men began to move across the saddle. The 88's fired at point-blank range, as though they were machine guns. Less plucky troops would have fallen back. But this division has not had any practice in those tactics. They took on the 88’s with machine guns and bazookas.
   Once, one of those mean, long-barreled German guns opened up at 150 yards. An officer asked for machinegun fire on the German piece. Private William T. Kenny, of Baltimore, obliged and forced the German crew to take cover. Then another paratrooper stood up with his bazooka and dropped two rounds right on the position. You can still see the German gun at the edge of the clearing, and two frozen Americans lying where they were killed by that gun.
   A similar story could be told of how each one of those guns were silenced, as they had to be before the airborne soldiers could get onto that ridge. Once they had a foothold it was not so hard. Another unit passed through the first, and another one through it, and so the ridge
was taken.
   That first night on the ridge was not pleasant. The men had nothing with them but what they wore. Their blankets had had no time to catch up with them. Their old foxholes were there but were half filled with drifted snow. So they lay, wet and shivering,
and munched cold rations.
   They feel better now, for they know all the tricks that enable men to make themselves comfortable wherever are. They have cleaned out their foxholes, which are covered with spruce boughs, slates from abandoned huts nearby and earth and snow. They have blankets and rations and cigarettes and their Christmas mail caught up with them.

* * *

   Russell Mill provided some background information about himself, He relates that initially he covered World War II in the Mediterranean. In October 1911 he moved to Spa, Belgium and located at Hotel Portugal which became the unofficial head-quarters for the correspondents in that area. Each day they went forth in jeeps and visited whichever division was involved in the fighting. On October 19, he was wounded in Aachen and sent to a hospital in Paris. He missed the Ardennes break-through but by New Year’s Eve was in Brussels and soon after back in Spa.
   Author of the following books: Desert War, Desert Conquest, and Struggle for Germany, he is currently editor of Radio Free Europe, Washington, D.C.

—Joe Kissane,
New York Chapter


FALL 1975  


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