This event occurred about a week before we were sent to intercede in the “Battle of the Bulge” but I would like to relate it in support of the brave men who died there where by fate it could have been me.
At the time of this event I was a member of the 347th Infantry Regiment’s Anti-Tank company and we were protecting our front from German tanks in the small village of Walsheim Germany.
The evenings were getting cold and the nights were very black. We had prepared our foxholes along the perimeter of the forest and we could hear the German tanks moving along the edge of the forest on the opposite side (click on map). As usual we had three soldiers per foxhole and kept our heads down during the day as the Germans had us sighted in from information obtained by their observers to our rear.
This event really covers the night of Dec. 21 and the next morning. Our squad left the forward area that evening to be replaced by the next squad that included my friends Loughlin, McGuire and Kennard. It wasn’t long after we had reached our rear location when someone (I don’t’ remember his name) came storming into the area claiming that something was happening at our forward positions. He wasn’t sure what it was but he was very frightened.
Since our squad was still available we were prepared to return to the forward area to check out the problem. As I mentioned, it was a very dark and foreboding night and our sergeant refused to lead us back to the front. A brave corporal, possibly Cpl Bell, volunteered and we started back up the narrow road to the forward site. As we got closer we stopped to listen to what sounded like voices from above. Someone suggested that it was only the guys talking to each other from their foxholes. We were scared and suspicious and some of us claimed that the voices were German voices and that we should get out of there as soon as possible. The corporal agreed and we quickly headed back down to town to explain what little we knew.
The next morning, December 22, we attacked back up the hill with considerable fire power and quickly overcame the Germans. The Germans had mounted a so called “tiger” patrol” and had overrun our forward outposts. The sad time came when we had to go around to find our dead and wounded compatriots. In the foxhole I had vacated the evening before, my friend, Harry Loughlin was found dead. This day, December 22, 1944 was Harry’s 18th birthday, and he died for his country in a foxhole in Germany in which by fate I could have been in. Unfortunately my other friends, ex-sgt’s William McGuire and Thomas Kennard, were also found dead near their foxholes. I was the first to reach Sgt. McGuire and the image of his face still remains with me to this day. I recalled the many days I had spent with Bill, in Fort Jackson, learning words by quizzing each other from a dictionary. At our reunion in 1999 I met Jerry Coughlon, a member of our 3rd platoon, who had been in the foxhole with McGuire when the attack occurred. Jerry was wounded but survived to tell the horrific story of the worst encounter our AT company had in the Saar.
A week later we made the tortuous trek with the 3rd Army to fight in the “Battle of the Bulge”.
Previously published in
The Golden Acorn News