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
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?"
stunned at first; could it be friendly Dutch underground helpers or German
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
Was it the SS or
some of our own troops?
In a micro second
my mind registered, "NO HOBNAILED BOOTS!"
So I answered,
It proved to be our
own paratroopers who had been lying in the darkness with the Germans
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.
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
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
In a bloody and
costly assault, Their-Du-Mont Ridge overlooking the Salm River was
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.