SEIZING THE ROER RIVER DAM
The resultant lull in combat gave us a chance to care
of our engineer equipment. Finding that
all nine of our mine detectors, one per line squad, were lost or inoperable,
our supply sergeant requisitioned replacements for them all. Upon receiving this request, the battalion
S-4 required us to submit a Report of Survey explaining the need to replace
each of the mine detectors. We’d never
had to do anything like this before in battle!
I had to admit that we had been sloppy in our supply discipline, but I
didn’t want to get involved in the agony of writing out a detailed Report of
Survey. Fortunately, one of my sergeants
said, “Captain, there’s that combat engineer company over on the
Deployed on our division left flank, was the 505
Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division facing the deep
ravine of the
When the Germans had been pushed back from the Bulge, it was time for our 78th Division to attack again. Our goal was still to seize the Schammenauel Dam and prevent the Germans from blowing it to flood valleys downstream, blocking further advance of Allied forces in the north. The 310th and 311th would start the attack to clear our south flank while the 309th would hold in the north, prepared to repel counterattacks. Our combat engineers would open routes through our minefields and breach through the German mine fields. The snow was still on the ground, about a foot deep, so we issued white snow-capes to our men and built sleds to move heavy loads over the snow.
For several weeks, we had used our engineer bulldozers to clear snow off the roads inside our perimeter around Lammersdorf, Bickerath, and Simmerath. During the night before the attack, we lost six bulldozers to mines clearing routes to the lines of departure. German prisoners captured in the subsequent attack said they’d become so used to hearing our bulldozers clearing snow, which had mistaken our approaching tanks for bulldozers and were surprised when we attacked with tanks!
The 311th drive
south of Simmerath began with British flame-throwing tanks from Squadron B,
The 1st Battalion, 311th Infantry, had to toil through at least two feet of snow and in 20 to 25 mph winds across a large open area to reach Eicherscheid. Meanwhile, a Kraut 88 antitank gun on high ground by the town entrance picked off our tanks like ducks in a shooting alley. Having a terrible time getting the wounded out through the deep snow, some medics used doors as sleds on which to drag out the wounded, many of whose faces were frost bitten on the windward side. When our troops reached the town, they found the Kraut soldier who had been firing the 88 antitank gun draped dead over its breech with his head split open. At 0500 the following morning, the Krauts counterattacked, kicking our infantry out of Eicherscheid briefly until we retook it the next day.
The 3rd Battalion, 311th Infantry, attacked Huppenbroich southeast of Simmerath on the other side of the hillside. In trying to clear the narrow winding road into Huppenbroich, our men ran into snow too deep to remove. Meanwhile the infantry got caught in mortar fire, suffered in a number of casualties while inflicting even heavier casualties on the defending Krauts. The battlefield became cluttered with enemy dead in frozen and grotesque postures. Finding it urgent to get the casualties out and to resupply the infantry, we changed our approach--my farm boy engineers improvised makeshift sleds and used captured German horses to haul them out loaded with casualties and back in loaded with ammunition. This is a beautiful example of engineer initiative in support of the infantry in every way possible--further evidence of the unbounded ingenuity of the American soldier!
Meanwhile on 30 January, Lieutenant Colonel Richard
Keyes’ 2nd Battalion, 311th Infantry was driving east through “Little Aachen”
(Kesternich), where the Krauts had strengthened their defenses during the past
six weeks. Using barbed wire, mines,
booby traps, and ingeniously placed machine guns fired by string from adjacent
buildings, they stubbornly defended their hundred plus buildings with automatic
weapons, rifles and grenades. Many
antitank guns and two feet of snow in freezing weather also blocked the
way. Keyes’ men crawled forward at 0530
through the crunching snow under heavy rifle and burp gun fire. Infantrymen carrying radios deliberately
assaulted each house, radioing back house numbers as they advanced. The death toll was high, and countless
In intense action on 31 January, Sergeant Jonah E.
Kelley of Company E of Keyes’ 2nd Battalion won the sole Medal of Honor awarded
in the 78th Division in World War II.
Kelley was a brave and uncompromising squad leader, the first to enter
every building his squad assaulted in Kesternich. Time and again his squad attacked windows
spewing machine gun bullets. Kelley was
wounded in one advance and his squad fell back.
Refusing to be evacuated for treatment, Kelley charged the enemy
position with machine gun in hand. Hit
in the right arm, he continued despite being hit again. Using his left arm, he fired time and again.
After killing a number of Krauts, including two snipers, he was killed while
rushing an enemy machine gun nest that he had knocked out. Of sixty boys in Kelley’s high school
The attack continued throughout 31 January when we
lost more tanks. Of fifteen tanks
starting in the attack, only eight remained. My engineers were at the East End of
Kesternich when Lieutenant Colonel Keyes had difficulty getting his tanks to
advance southeast toward Einruhr. When
Keyes couldn’t reach three
The three tanks moved six feet forward and stopped, going no further. Infuriated, Keyes ran out again to the lead tank and banged on the turret with his helmet. When the turret opened, he took out his .45 pistol, cocked it and stuck it in the tank commander’s face as the small arms fire and 88’s continued hitting all around. This time the three tanks moved down the road as directed. This story spread like wildfire throughout the division, in which our attached tank destroyer battalion enjoyed much greater respect than our attached tank battalion did. Even though the tank destroyers lacked the overhead cover of tanks, they had larger guns and were more aggressive. We found we had to mollycoddle the tanks, and the infantry had to prod them before they would go forward. In two-and-a-half days of fierce fighting under Colonel Keyes’ superb leadership, the doughboys of his battalion had battled from house to house, cellar to cellar and rubble heap to rubble heap. The Stars and Stripes report on the battle aptly referred to Kesternich as “Little Aachen.” Their dogged determination resulted in a costly victory that won the battalion a Presidential Citation. Col. Keyes was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his inspiring leadership.
On 3 February, the 1st Battalion struggled across the
Our failure to help the infantry at Dedenborn led us to develop another one of our battlefield inventions. Turning again to my trusty motor sergeant, DeFriese, I had him fabricate iron H-frames to support 12-foot planks in quickly assembled footbridges. He made one H-frame for each squad so they could have them conveniently on hand for hasty stream crossing. An H-frame consisted of two vertical 2-inch pipes held together by a 2-foot transom that could slide up and down the pipes. The pipes had small footers to spread their loads on the stream bottom. Holes in the pipes permitted pinning the transom at proper height. We nailed the heavy 12-foot boards spanning between the H-frames together where they overlapped. Ropes held the pipes vertical and rope hand rails steadied men crossing. (See Signal Corps photo.) First Sergeant Glenn Titus passed my instructions to fabricate the H-frames on to Sergeant DeFriese.
During this period, the Air Corps sent a group of pilots to the 78th Division to experience the ground situation. Shortly after we took Kesternich, several of these aviators came forward to see the front line. A lone German tank stood with its turret blown off at eastern end of town, still manned by a headless German soldier. As I moved up the street checking for mines, I saw noticed the aviators walking boldly down the middle of the street in their enticingly warm mukluk boots. Suddenly a stick of enemy mortars came in; making them hit the ditch. I still recall reflecting then on how unfair it was for these “flyboy tourists” to wear so much better protection against the cold than our miserable ground soldiers!
About this time Rip Repinski, an A Company engineer recently promoted to lieutenant on the battlefield, was back on Rest and Recuperation (R and R) from the front. Sitting at a bar, he got into an argument with an air force major. Knowing the pilot led a crew of only two to five men compared to his engineer platoon of 40 men, old Rip looked the major straight in the eye and said, ”Major, a lieutenant in the Engineers is equal to a major in the Air Corps!”
As our Division turned north toward Schmidt and
Schwammenauel Dam, the cold weather of the two previous months gradually gave
way to the mud and slush of early spring, causing the poor roads in the area to
collapse under the weight of heavy support weapons, armor, and supplies. Adequate replacements had been received by
late January and morale was excellent.
On the other side of the line, the Germans were not in so good a
position, except for terrain. Naturally,
their morale had fallen with the failure of their
After taking Kesternich, the 311th drove toward
Ruhrburg down in the
We’ve moved again and occupy a house partially shattered
by artillery fire. Though it cannot keep
out rain, the floor is dry and we can “black-out” our room at night. We moved in with an antiaircraft crew,
so they are now enjoying our radio and hot chow. This war brings out the good in men who find
that selfishness gains them little, but good fellowship and helping the next
man pay off big. Here we are taking
these fellows in and even supplying them clothes, while they swap with us
cognac and yarns about their days in
Early in February, newsreels about our 303rd
Engineer’s demolition of pillboxes in the Siegfried Line appeared on the
screens of theaters in the States and
On 5 February, V Corps directed the 78th Division to plan for a 311th Infantry task force to cross the Roer during the night of 6-7 February near Ruhrburg and attack northeast to secure the south end of the Schwammenauel Dam. But the plan was abandoned when reconnaissance supervised by the Assistant Division Commander, Brigadier General John K. Rice, revealed the Roer was too swift for crossing in boats and enemy observation of the entire area from protected concrete pillboxes could inflict frightful casualties. Upon first hearing of this scheme, I had examined the terrain across the Roer and found the routes to the Dam were far too steep and rugged through easily defended dense forests for further consideration. I wonder whether I would be here today if this hare-brained scheme had been implemented with my company providing its usual combat engineer support to the 311th Infantry!
After seizing Ruhrburg, our regiment drove north
toward the key town of
Soon droves of scared and dazed prisoners came streaming back from the front. Our magnificent infantry had blasted all traces of conquering supermen out of them. Meantime, Generals Eisenhower, Bradley and Hodges came into our area to visit General Parker. This was obviously the big push!
At 2230 hours on 6 February, the 3rd Battalion, 311th Infantry received orders to take Schmidt with the help of company A, 774th Tank Battalion. Heading towards Schmidt, they found the sky lit with flashing enemy shells and barrages of artillery and mortars. About a thousand yards from the edge of town, they encountered bitter resistance. Their lead tank was destroyed and the heavy armor pulled back, but the infantry moved in against heavy machine gun fire. Firing machine guns from their hips, the I Company men continued to advance. Kraut gunfire killed many and others died stepping on mines.
Meantime my company received a novel contraption to clear tank mines from the main road into Schmidt. It consisted of a medium tank pushing a pair of huge steel rollers to detonate mines in its path. The four rollers in front of each tank track were about eight feet in diameter and three inches thick. Our men guided this contraption in the dark of night up the road to Schmidt through heavy snow and ice. Suddenly the heavy rollers slid into a ditch and the tank became stuck. This battlefield experiment failed miserably, and we never saw the contraption again.
We became quite adept at detecting enemy mine fields visually along the roads. We’d sit up on a jeep’s right front bumper so the driver could see past us on the left while we swept the road and roadsides with our eyes. As combat engineers, we knew the best locations for minefields were generally where they could tie into steep places or other obstacles blocking easy passage around them. Enemy mines buried in our sector had usually been emplaced several months before. As they weathered, they tended to settle into the ground in patterns that we could discern in the grass as we looked across the fields. In the roads, we could detect mines more readily in the pavement. Sitting above a front wheel that would explode any mine it rolled over motivated us mightily to see every mine! Fearful of removing by hand mines that could be booby-trapped, we often tied ropes to the mines and backed off about thirty yards to pull them out. Few did explode.
While riding on my bumper toward Schmidt, I saw the trace of a minefield crossing from one side of the road to another. We stopped the jeep and an infantry jeep halted right behind us. My jeep driver and I were standing beside our jeep looking at the minefield when BAM! I woke up in the ditch with my ears ringing! I felt myself carefully all over to see whether I had been hit. Looking at my jeep driver, Crouse, I asked,” How are you?” He said, “I’m all right, Sir--and you?” I replied “I’m okay too!” When we looked up, we saw the infantry jeep behind ours was no longer there.
As we looked around we found an enemy mortar had landed on the far side of the infantry jeep and blasted it over our heads to our side of the road, throwing out its occupants and wounding them badly. Grabbing the two infantrymen, we jumped into our jeep and rushed them to an aid station about a half-mile back. I had a headache, my ears were still ringing, and a little blood was seeping out of one ear. It was about a day before my ears stopped ringing. When I mentioned this some time later an officer asked, “Why didn’t you apply for a Purple Heart?” Not looking for any decoration, I was just glad I was still alive in one piece and happy I didn’t get a bullet or shell fragment in me! These were what I feared most. However, I did taste what it was like to be knocked out by a mortar. My hearing has never been very good since then, and it’s been made worse by exploding demolitions, artillery, and riding around in helicopters--normal hazards of the military profession!
The next day when we drove along the same road, I saw a column of about forty German POWs (Prisoners of War) marching to the rear with a couple of GI guards. Suddenly an incoming shell landed about thirty yards away. The GI guards dropped to the ground for protection, but the Germans just kept right on walking, not even flinching. Those Germans had been under so much of our artillery fire that they knew when it was close and when it wasn’t, but their American guards hadn’t been under enough to know the difference. Our artillery was always plastering the Krauts. I wouldn’t be surprised if we fired twenty to fifty shells for each German one that came in on us.
On 7 February, our regiment’s northward drive into the toughly defended stronghold of Schmidt would have made a good movie setting. Having rebuffed a couple of previous American attacks, Schmidt looked like a tank and vehicle graveyard. The bodies of dead Krauts lay all around, some missing ring fingers that scavengers had already reached. Tanks hung over edges of cliffs. Other paraphernalia of broken weapons, occasional overcoats, and cartridge belts remained where their owners had dropped them. Minefields were also there--one large one covered the northwest approach to town. Elements of four German divisions were defending Schmidt--the 85th Infantry, 9th Panzer, 3rd Parachute and 3rd Panzergrenadier. As mortar and artillery fire fell on the town, the 311th doughboys dashed forward, hitting the ground, jumping up for another dash, hitting the ground again, firing as they advanced. Krauts on the far side of Schmidt scurried out of town so fast their overcoats were flying over their heads. Godfrey Stallings in K Company of the 311th Infantry described his company’s attack as follows:
My company was to make the main direct assault on this village… Our approach was to be across a wide-open space from the edge of a forest where we were to rendezvous with tanks. Tanks always make a lot of noise when they move with their motors roaring, treads clanking and squeaking… The enemy found out we were in the woods behind the tanks . . . and began a heavy barrage of artillery shells into the woods where we were waiting… Boy! Those artillery shells were knocking down trees, plowing up the ground, and shrapnel from the exploding shells was flying everywhere, causing casualties… I fell down beside a large tree seeking as much protection as possible. A shell cut the top out of that tree … the top slid down the tree trunk and almost pinned me to the ground. Our captain, realizing we would be cut to pieces if we stayed there, jumped up and started ordering us to move forward out of the woods. We started the attack across the open area on foot … Everybody seemed to be firing everything they had and I do mean everybody was shooting… We didn’t have much protection in the open area. Just blades of grass, weeds, and depressions in the ground left by tank tracks. Our best bet was to keep moving forward. One group would shoot while another group moved forward. They would hit the ground and shoot while another group moved up. It was sort of a leap frog action. When you ran forward, it was a zigzag pattern and when you hit the ground you rolled to spoil the aim of any enemy shooting at you.
When the leading tank got almost to the edge of the village, it was hit by antitank shells and set on fire. Seeing this, the other two tanks wheeled around and started back toward the woods. Seeing the attack faltering, Captain Ferry (my company commander) ordered everybody to start moving toward the village again and kept the attack going. We finally made it to the edge of the village and the house-to-house fighting began… Two of our guys started running toward a house when a hidden machine gun opened up on them. One guy fell to the ground and the other guy dived through an open space that had once been a window or door. Spotting smoke from the machine gun firing at them, he lobbed a hand grenade that took care of the situation. I thought the guy that fell to the ground had been hit, but he had stumbled over a piece of wire that probably saved his life… Whew! What a way to earn $64.80 a month as a private first class plus $10 a month for my Combat Infantry Badge!
Finally our 310th and 311th Infantry regiments gained possession of Schmidt, which had stayed the military might of our allied forces for several months. Some military writers have estimated this town was worth at least five divisions to the enemy.
While the 310th went through Schmidt and on to capture Harscheidt, the 311th moved toward the dam, following the curving north shoreline of the reservoir.
Just after we captured Schmidt, I was ordered to lead
a daylight patrol to look for a good site from which to launch assault boats to
ferry infantry across the lake behind Schwammenauel Dam on the
In our drive for the dam, Dad’s division artillery was given enormous artillery support from Corps and Army artillery. At one point, he was coordinating the fires of 26 artillery battalions, including 155-mm guns, 8” howitzers, huge 240mm howitzers, and even a British rocket battalion. This concentration of firepower of nearly 300 artillery pieces was one of strongest artillery concentrations in First Army history.
We spent the following night standing by to undertake
an assault crossing, but the order never came.
Instead, I received instructions to provide a patrol to inspect the
Schwammenauel dam once we reached it. We
had to be sure that the Germans had not prepared it for demolition to flood the
About mid-morning on 9 February, radio operator Joe Grimaldi was with the commander of the 1st Battalion, 311th Infantry, when they reached an exposed hilltop overlooking the dam. He reported that as they were watching their troops assault at the hill on their left, a tremendous explosion erupted near the center of the dam, carrying water and debris up several hundred feet. Shortly thereafter, there was a second, lesser explosion on the dam.
As our 311th Infantry reached the final approaches to the dam on the afternoon of 9 February, the 1st Battalion, 309th Infantry passed through them and slogged down the final way to the dam. The shell torn road behind the advancing doughboys was strewn with burned-out tanks, jeeps, wrecked trucks, and dead horses.
The 1st Battalion, 309th Infantry had spent the previous four days preparing for the final assault on the dam. Lieutenant Phelan and his engineer patrol had worked with them, studying aerial photos and blueprints of the dam. Built in 1934, the earthen dam was 188 feet high, 1000 feet long, and 1000 feet thick at its base.Directly under the road leading across the dam was a massive concrete core. Running lengthwise inside this core was an inspection tunnel that we visualized could be packed with demolitions, with the Germans waiting for the opportune moment to press the button and send it sky high.
One hour before midnight, the leading riflemen of the 1st Battalion, 309th broke out of woods at the bottom of a steep hill, and there was the prize--the Schwammenauel dam! Enemy flares from the far side of the river lighted up the area. Machine gun fire spattered all around. The crash of mortar shells mingled with the whip-cracking reports of flying lead. Registered-in 88’s whined over the dam to burst at knee height among the doughboys. As the battalion drove forward to seize the dam, they heard the unmistakable, dull rumble of demolitions. Fortunately, only the valve house exploded--not the dam itself. Meantime German resistance at the gatehouse was overcome only after the Krauts had succeeded in damaging the intake valves and jamming them in an open position. The damaged intake gates and blown outlet valves indicated a thorough German demolition plan had been executed!
As the firefight raged unabated at 2300 hours, Lieutenant Phelan’s patrol started across the four hundred yard exposed roadway atop the Dam. German flares revealed them almost immediately, and machine gun fire from high ground south of the dam drove them back. It seemed every available enemy weapon was aimed at the dam. Phelan later said, “It was like a ten-minute artillery barrage repeated every ten minutes; between shell explosions, we heard the burp-guns.” Dad’s division artillery had lined up every piece of artillery within range to support seizure of the dam - approximately forty-three battalions of all calibers. Within a few minutes, thirty of these battalions were firing a “time-on-target” concentration. It was truly impressive to watch it hit along the German side of the river. This intense fire covered the area a half mile east and west of the dam and 200 yards inland to the south, momentarily illuminating the river and dam.
Phelan’s patrol tried again at midnight. Dashing a thousand feet across the dam through rifle fire and bursting artillery, they found the spillway inaccessible. Sliding down the two hundred-foot face of the dam to a tunnel entrance on the enemy side, they slipped into a six-foot causeway, surprising and capturing six German machine gunners and riflemen. Within a few minutes, the patrol reached the tunnel entrance, and the engineers entered to make their inspection, while the doughboys took up defensive positions at the entrance. Groping their way through the inspection tunnel in the very bowels of the Dam, the engineers knew that an already lighted fuse could be burning closer to a mighty charge. Nervously but quickly, they searched for explosives set to blowup the dam, scouting for wires and fuses, any shred of evidence the dam was mined. It was a ticklish job, but it had to be done. Phelan later told reporters, “We expected to be blown to bits by hidden charges.”
Lt. Phelan’s patrol returned to the 1st Battalion CP
at about 0300 hours. Incredibly and much
to everyone’s surprise, the dam itself had not been prepared for demolition!
The logical place for explosives in the tunnel contained no prepared
charges! The Germans had not mined the
structure. A bridge across the
sluiceway and the control houses on the far side had been demolished. The control to the penstock tunnel was also destroyed,
sending a thirteen-foot diameter stream of water gushing out of the
reservoir. It would take several days
Meanwhile, Staff Sergeant Ed Naylor from our 303rd Engineer S-2 Intelligence Section led another reconnaissance party with a bomb-disposal sergeant from Army and seven infantrymen to the gatehouse. They blasted its door open with a bazooka and returned about 0400 to confirm that the outlets had been blown and water was rushing into the valley below.
On the following morning, 10 February, the 303rd Engineers dispatched the following message:
“THE GREAT DAM THAT HAS SO LONG IMPEDED ALLIED OFFENSIVES ON THE WESTERN FRONT, HAS NOT, AND WILL NOT, BE BLOWN -- THE OFFENSIVE MAY PROCEED ON SCHEDULE.”
By blowing only the valves in the underground flume
and keeping the great structure intact, the Germans created sufficient flooding
Following seizure of the dam, Major General C.R. Huebner, V Corps commander, dispatched a commendation to our 78th Division stressing the strategic importance of our accomplishment, “Without which further contemplated operations against the enemy on the northern front would have been impossible… Although the 78th Infantry Division is relatively new in combat, you have given ample proof that in future operations you will add new honors to those you have already achieved in this…”
An interesting sidelight on the dam appears in a footnote in the U.S. Army’s The Last Offensive stating that German General Von Manteuffel had said that Hitler ordered the dam destroyed, but Manteuffel had forbidden it. (The dam now impounds the central body of water in a very popular recreational and resort area.)
Today one of our company comics brought humor into our combat scene. Joe Deller, a farmer lad from Maryland, found a German Army horse and hitched it to a dilapidated wagon. He was hilarious rigging the horse with scraps of rope and leather and trying to control it when it didn’t know the meaning of “Whoa!” After falling once through the wagon, Joe clambered back up undaunted and drove the wagon down the street shouting, “Rags! Scraps! Any old junk!” (12 Feb 45)
Today I turned down a chance to take a week’s pass to
England because they have just taken my executive officer, Lieutenant Phelan,
from me to give him command of A Company.
Having no one to take over in my absence, I don’t want to be away from
the company that long while it is engaged in active operations. I’ll wait until we have trained a new
executive officer. Instead, I’ll take an
overnight pass to
Last week I got my pass to
Few people could speak English, so my French came in
handy. I took a streetcar to the
Citadel, an ancient fortress overlooking the city from bluffs above the
That night I went to officers’ mess and managed to dine
at a table with three attractive Army nurses.
It was a pleasant experience eating with ladies for a change, exchanging
casual banter. After dinner, we went our
separate ways. On my way back to our
truck, I chatted with a cute Belgian blonde walking beside the
In seizing the approaches to Schmidt, our infantry did
an outstanding job of overcoming many pillboxes defending this stronghold. Fortunately, the Krauts did a poor job of
defending the approaches to these pillboxes.
They could have strengthened their pillboxes considerably by putting
antipersonnel mine fields around them so we couldn’t get in close with
bazookas, flamethrowers, and satchel charges.
They should also have dug in more defending infantry outside the
pillboxes who could see and shoot 360 degrees around their positions. Years later in
Despite these limitations of pillboxes, I still
believe in field fortifications. Our
army and most armies after World War II were afflicted with what I call the
“Maginot Line disease,” thinking the Maginot Line just didn’t work and
therefore fortifications are no good. In
fact the Maginot Line did work, forcing the Germans to outflank it. If the Krauts had defended their Siegfried
line intelligently, we would have had a much harder time cracking it. It takes fewer men to defend a mile of front
with fortifications than without them, freeing more men for counterattack. That’s all a fortification is, a means of strengthening
your defense. It’s not a primary means
for killing the enemy. In making it more
difficult for the enemy to get to you, it does its job. In helping to devise the most effective
defense of Western Europe against the Soviet Pact during the Cold War, I was
convinced that a firm conventional defense for
While we were tidying things up after seizing the dam, I had occasion to administer company punishment to several men for minor infractions and discovered a most suitable penalty to impose. It involved disposing of dead German army horses decaying on the battlefield. Whenever I wanted to punish a soldier, I’d make him take his shovel and bury one of the dead horses. This chore was distasteful, but useful. What would be better company punishment?
Having fought continuously since mid-December, we
understood that once we closed on the Rhine we would halt for a rest while the
big attack across the
we encountered Eggleston in the chow line, we were all amused and intrigued by
our leader’s action. Here was our
few weeks after VE (Victory in
Here we are perched high atop a bluff overlooking the
As we regroup after taking the dam, I realize how much of the credit for the real work in this war should go to the doughboys. I shall continue to do my best to see that my engineer company supports them to the fullest! For example, we engineers are now helping to clean up the battle area by burying dead horses and cows. (26 Feb 45)
In the two months since December 9th, the 78th Division had held the north shoulder of the Bulge, cleared more than thirty-five square miles of Siegfried Line defenses, captured sixteen towns and taken 2,700 prisoners. In the process our 303rd Engineers had placed about 28,400 antitank mines and 3,500 antipersonnel mines, gapped many minefields, and blown up numerous pillboxes.
With the seizure of Schwammenauel Dam, the
We would soon take part in a drive on which the eyes
of the entire world would focus. This
drive revealed that the