infantry

Oct

19

1944

Belgium: US troops stuck on the Siegfried Line

A wounded US soldier is attended to during fighting in the heavily wooded Ardenne region, Autumn 1944.

After that tragedy they began to probe every inch of ground with trench knives, gently working the knives in at an angle, hoping to hit only the sides of mines. This way they came upon many devilish little mines handmade from cottage cheese-type crocks and sealed with wax. Their only metal was the detonator, which was too small to be picked up by mine detectors.

Oct

17

1944

Germans civilians caught in Battle for Aachen

GI M1919 machine gun crew in action against German defenders in the streets of Aachen on 15 October 1944

Unfortunately, that was not all. Terrible things happened: Three Americans came to search the house for German soldiers. They were most friendly and polite. The commanding officer, a young, handsome, adorable boy… Yes, I was young! And then the unthinkable: they combed through the house and the factory… but they did not find anything, of course. The situation eased. They stayed for a while to discuss the situation.

Oct

5

1944

Audie Murphy gets second Silver Star in three days

US Army mortar team in action.

But the Germans are full of surprises. Before night, my company is pinned to a hillside. The krauts, who usually choose elevations for defensive stands, have fooled us in this instance. They have dug in by a dry stream bed at the base of the slope. Trees, cut and arranged in haphazard crisscross patterns, completely conceal their positions. They let us move over the hilltop, and then tear into our ranks with rifle and machine-gun fire. Mist gathers in the lowland, further hindering visibility. Crawling over the slope on our bellies, we try to pry out the enemy locations. But the camouflage is perfect. There is but one thing to do. I borrow a walkie-talkie radio and start maneuvering a patrol down the hill.

Oct

3

1944

The defence line stiffens on the German border

German citizens prepare the defences in the Vosges region, overseen by the Wehrmacht.

Shortly before complete darkness, I ordered to pull back and only kept outposts on the clear hills outside the woods, facing north and northwest. A patrol confirmed our concerns from late afternoon. The opponent had practically encircled us; Some houses were in flames in Ramonchamp, situated some five hundred to one thousand meters south of us in the valley. One could clearly hear the bustle of vehicles and voices in the clear night. We were surrounded.

Sep

29

1944

One man’s valiant attack wins the battle

A Vickers machine-gun team of 7th Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, 59th (Staffordshire) Division in position in a field of corn at Someren in Holland, 21 September 1944.

Still completely ignoring the heavy spandau and mortar fire which was sweeping the area, once again he crossed the wall alone to find out whether it was possible for his platoon to wade the dyke which lay beyond. He found the dyke too deep and wide to cross, and once again he came back across the wall, and received orders to try and establish his platoon on the enemy side of it. All this time the area was subject to intense cross machine-gun fire and mortaring.

Sep

28

1944

Italy – hilltop attack and room to room fighting

Sherman tanks of 26th Armoured Brigade, 6th Armoured Division, lined up on the road north of San Benedetto, in preparation for the final push to Forli, 27 September 1944.

I called to one of my soldiers, “Give me your Tommy gun!” I put that over the top and tried to make sure that I’d finished him off. He fell partly behind the door, so I then had to fire the Tommy gun through this rather thick door. A rather brave German soldier, only just visible around the doorway, dragged the officer away out of sight, and so that was that. That was how close the contact was there.

Sep

1

1944

The ‘Great Swan’ through France into Belgium

Sherman tanks of Guards Armoured Division entering the outskirts of Arras, France, 1 September 1944.

[E]arly in the morning, the French population came to life and offered us any drinks we wanted. It was a party atmosphere. The French called us all ‘Tommy’. We realized we were now in the battlefields of the First War which our fathers had known so well. A common joke was ‘Come away from her, she’s probably your sister.’

Aug

30

1944

Heavy casualties as assault on Gothic Line begins

An M10 tank destroyer of 93rd Anti-Tank Regiment passes infantry of the 5th Sherwood Foresters during the advance to the Gothic Line, 27-28 August 1944.

At that time we had to count the cost. I had lost one platoon officer, I didn’t know I’d lost the other one. I got the chaps in some sort of defensive positions. Getting behind these brick walls in the ruins, just to protect ourselves from this machine gun fire. There was certainly more than one machine gun. But they had us in their sights.

Aug

29

1944

US reconnaissance patrol holds off Panzer troops

US Army Pfc. Edward J. Foley of the 143rd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division cleaning his Springfield M1903A4 sniper rifle, near Valletri, Italy, 29 May 1944

The Germans poured in the barn but didn’t harm the tank driver and didn’t spot me. They didn’t take the wounded man because of his leg wound. Two hours went by before the forward advanced troops of the 3rd Division came into the barn. Paul Blackmer, Louis Weiner and David Pritchet were captured. Koch died of his wounds.

Aug

23

1944

Normandy: the British breakout begins

Cromwell OP tanks and Humber scout cars of 5th RHA, 7th Armoured Division, climb the hill into Lisieux, 23 August 1944. On the right is a Royal Artillery battery commander's half-track of 51st Highland Division, and in the centre a wounded Highlander shot by a sniper is carried to safety.

This was the real thing. This was the Breakthrough. We saw the remains of a retreating army. Burnt-out vehicles that the RAF had caught, abandoned vehicles that had broken down, derelict vehicles that had run out of petrol, dead horses, broken wagons, scattered kit and equipment.