On September 17th.
1944, the 508th parachuted into Holland. I was HQ1 light
machine gun platoon sergeant.
After weeks of
fighting in Holland, we marched 22 miles carrying all of our equipment to
the town of Oss, Holland, where we met trucks that moved us to Sissone,
France. Sissone was great, we billeted in an old French Artillery post
with dry beds and hot food.
Following a few
weeks training replacements, we were alerted to prepare for a quick move
to Belgium. The Germans had launched a surprise attack of 12 divisions of
infantry and armour through the lightly defended Ardennes woods.
divisions tried heroically to defend the area.
They were the newly
arrived and untried 106th Infantry Division, the combat
experienced 28th Infantry Division and the 7th
On the morning of
December 18th 1944, the 508th loaded into large open
trucks and headed for Werbomont, a small Belgium village located at the
junction of two main roads.
[It was] a long
cold ride with cold rations and very short rest stops.
In Belgium, we
marched and maneuvered for several days while planners tried to find the
best defensive positions from which to stop and destroy the rapidly moving
By late December 23rd,
the 508th was deployed in an 8 mile salient, stretching from
the main battle positions to Vielsalm. The 508th mission was to
provide a corridor of safety for the severely mauled and desperate
survivors of the over run infantry divisions and the hard-pressed 7th
Armored Division. The nose of the 508th salient rested upon the
Salm river bridge at Vielsalm.
Battalion, supported by my machine guns manned the tip of the salient.
By dawn of December
24th , hundreds of vehicles, tanks, armored cars, command
vehicles, and jeeps, with desperate men fleeing destruction or capture by
the Germans passed through the 508th corridor to safety.
HQ1st machine guns
were covering the Salm river bridge under continuous enemy Artillery fire.
In the afternoon, a U.S. fighter plane dropped a bomb on our position and
buried our assistant platoon leader.
We managed to dig
him out and get him evacuated, also two mortar platoon forward observers
were wounded and evacuated.
position was becoming increasingly perilous. It was vulnerable to being
cut off and destroyed by fast moving German forces.
Late in the
afternoon of December 24th, the 508th was ordered to
withdraw to the main positions.One platoon per rifle company would stay
behind to provide a covering force.
We spent Christmas
eve night executing the withdrawal, fighting strong German combat patrols
and traversing densely forested snow covered hills.
morning, the 508th was fully committed to developing a strong