The events to be described in this note start with the first day of conflict, for the 3rd platoon of the 347th Regiment antitank (AT) company 87th Infantry Division, on December 13, 1944 in the Saar valley of France. Up until now the only important thing we had done was to leave our duffle bags in Metz.
Near the town of Saarunion, France we set out with a truck load of GI’s (the 3rd platoon) to establish the site for a gun location at a cross roads near the front lines. In the cab, besides the driver, were our 3rd platoon leader Lt. Meyers and platoon sergeant O’Neal. I believe Sgt. O’Neal was regular army and an experienced soldier. We stopped near the crossroads and Myers and O’Neal walked towards a building down the side road. The next thing we heard was that a bouncing betty mine had apparently been tripped killing both Lt. Myers and Sgt. O’Neal. Here we are sitting in a truck near the front lines with no commanding authority. After wandering around the area for more than an hour someone finally contacted headquarters and they sent up a new Lt., I believe he was from the medical staff. I must admit that during this time I did explore a nearby house, where a chapel in the back had been destroyed. In the rubble I spotted a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) and decided to check it out. Using a long rope I pulled the gun free and out to the road. On examining the gun I found it be useless and abandoned it. In a way you may not consider that this was a day in combat but the loss of our leadership and the shear fear of not knowing what to expect introduced me into my first day of combat.
As an epilog to this story I want to relate how we were treated as we returned to camp. Being the first ones to see combat, everyone was very happy to see us but everyone was also saddened by the loss of Sgt. O’Neal and Lt. Myers. As an aside my chief nemesis on KP in the states, mess Sgt. Stokes, put together a great meal and after that we climbed into a hayloft for some much needed sleep.
Previously published in
The Golden Acorn News