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James R. Allardyce - B Co.

On September 17 – 18, 1944, A and B company’s were sent into Nijmegen from De-Ploeg. We wanted to travel light so we stashed our packs in a forest before moving to Nijmegen.

As B Company moved towards the city about twilight, our route of march led us to within sight of a German troop barracks where we could see soldiers loading into trucks. We watched the Germans load and drive off while we lay silently hidden until the area was cleared.

The darkness became intense as we moved into Nijmegen proper. A German S.S. guard post was knocked [out] by the point of the column in front.

At this point I could hear tanks moving in a nearby street. In the pitch darkness a jeep-like vehicle drove up between the two lines of the advancing column which clung to the edges of the streets.

The two occupants of the vehicle finally realised that they were in the midst of troops and said something that sounded like, "WHO IST DERE?"

Everyone was stunned at first; could it be friendly Dutch underground helpers or German officers?

This indecision gave the driver time to turn around and start racing back from where it came before we started firing.

Was it friend or foe? To this day the question is still unanswered.

A German SS reconnaissance unit was sent to find Americans who had dropped from the sky and were invading the city.  We hit the Germans at a traffic circle in the city.

In the darkness we were intermingled with the Germans. I could hear American and German voices all coming from the same area, but I could not see anything.

Bill Askern and I were to set up a machine gun facing the traffic circle.

Suddenly out of the darkness came a rush of people at us.

Bill said shall I start shooting?

Was it the SS or some of our own troops?

In a micro second my mind registered, "NO HOBNAILED BOOTS!"

So I answered, "HOLD IT!"

It proved to be our own paratroopers who had been lying in the darkness with the Germans side-by-side.

When morning came I saw the results of the night fighting. In the streets around the concert hall were damaged German trucks and the bodies of dead German SS troops.

Captain Millsaps sent me and Bobby Mills to look for food in the German trucks. Bobby grabbed a body under the tail gate of a truck to pull it out of the way so he could get inside the back of the vehicle. To the great surprise to me and Bobby the body sat up and pleaded, "KAMERAD!"

The only food we found were a few ripe tomatoes which we playfully threw to other paratroopers.

It was easier to raise the dead that morning than find food for our hungry paratroopers.

For the next several days, we fought off strong German attacks.

Morale improved on January 7th, 1945, as the 508th went on the offensive.

In a bloody and costly assault, Their-Du-Mont Ridge overlooking the Salm River was captured.

Thereafter the 508th fought through the heavily defended Siegfried line and the cold, deep snow of the dense forest of the Ardennes, all the way to the Ruhr River, and the end of combat for the regiment.

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