infantry

Dec

19

1944

Screaming Eagles of 506th PIR arrive in Bastogne

This dead Yank was felled while fighting with fellow soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, to drive Nazis from a heavily wooded area near Bastogne, Belgium, where Germans were entrenched. (original Signal Corps caption)

Men were left at appointed posts to guide any others who might find their way back. Orders came out to hold the village at all costs. Strong points were lined around the northern section of the village. In buildings and good protection the men of the Company built their strong points.

Dec

18

1944

US 23rd Regiment holds the line against 12th SS

German troops in a 'Schutzenpanzerwagen' during the Ardenne offensive.

The snow-covered area to the rear of the house became the beaten zone for countless tracer bullets. Tank fire crashed around the building. Artillery fell without pattern in the snow. The night was ablaze with more noise and flame than I had thought possible for men to create. Here was a ‘movie war’. Here was Armageddon.

Dec

16

1944

Hitler launches surprise attack in Ardennes

A Nazi soldier, heavily armed, carries ammunition boxes forward 
with a companion in territory taken by their counter- offensive. A scene from a captured German film. Belgium, December 1944.

With nothing on our left and out of sight of our platoon on the right, it felt almost like we were against the entire German Army. I was horror-stricken. There was no thought of running away or surrendering. I had an absolute conviction to fight to the death, while being certain we would be killed.

Dec

9

1944

Action in Italy – Captain John Brunt VC

A 25pdr of 266 Battery, 67th Field Regiment in use as a mortar near San Clemente, 2 December 1944.

Wherever the fighting was heaviest, Captain Brunt was always to be found, moving from one post to another, encouraging the men and firing any weapon he found at any target he could see. The magnificent action fought by this Officer, his coolness, bravery, devotion to duty and complete disregard of his own personal safety under the most intense and concentrated fire was beyond praise. His personal example and individual action were responsible to a very great extent for the successful repulse of these fierce enemy counter-attacks.

Dec

7

1944

377th Infantry – Street Fighting: Schiller Strasse Style

Impressions of the bitter fighting on first battalion's front in the vicinity of the hotel in a Fraulautern suburb.

The Jerries tossed out concussion grenades as the Gis appeared in the driveway. Lt Hardy and Pfc. Ernest L. Goolsby tried to dig a hole through this wall with the pick. Two grenades tossed at them failed to go off. A third was tossed, did go off, but caused no damaage out in the open, except for Goolsby’s face when he smacked the solid wall as he suddenly struck out for cover. Lt. Hardy called back for a charge to blow a hole in the building. By this time it was late afternoon, and engineers with a beehive charge did not arrive until after dark. The charge was set, and the hole blown, setting the house on fire.

Dec

1

1944

‘Dead tired’ on the front line in Holland

A Bren gunner of the 1st Gordon Highlanders in action near Nieuwkuik, Holland, 6 November 1944.

Sentries were posted in pairs to punch each other awake. I leaned with my chin on the Bren butt, staring blearily into the darkness. My head nodded. My forehead fell on the back-sight. I jerked awake and punched my mate on the arm, above the elbow. The sudden pain woke him. So it went on for two hours.

Nov

26

1944

US 116th Infantry Regiment on the ‘watch on the Roer’

A U.S. Infantry anti-tank crew fires on Nazis who machine- gunned their vehicle, 
somewhere in Holland." W. F. Stickle, November 4, 1944.

Outpost guard duty was a dreaded chore that befell us too often. Changing of the guard had to be performed after dark. We almost tiptoed as we made the rounds patrolling or traveling to outpost duty. The single-cart dirt path was under German surveillance during daylight and was zeroed-in night and day. Intermittent mortar and artillery rounds kept us alert as we traveled the road. It was never safe to use the path, even at night. We were told, emphatically, that when a Very light pistol shot was fired, we were to freeze in our tracks. We did as we were told.

Nov

15

1944

The cold hard wet slog continues across Holland

Infantry and carriers of the 15th (Scottish) Division

Another time a heavy German gun pinpointed us, and began to drop enormous shells around Company Headquarters, ranging us carefully. Craters were steadily torn up, slowly creeping closer, until they were straddling us. Our croft was not strong. At length we fled, and in the nick of time, tumbling from the cellar with no dignity at all, map-cases flapping, wireless headphones flying; the lot of us. The next two shells were direct hits. The croft caved in on itself and the cellar ceiling gaped at a smudgy November sky. The big gun stopped…

Nov

13

1944

A US Army patrol sets out to get prisoners

An American patrol in the Hurtgen Forest in late 1944.

As the squad leader, I was next, a buck or staff sergeant, carrying an M1 rifle, bandoliers, grenades, and a knife. At this period during World War II, there was little chance that today’s infantry squad leader had come off the boat with the same grade. A squad leader directed and led eleven men. He was combat experienced and had come up through the ranks, by attrition.

Oct

25

1944

One Day in a Very Long War

Men of 2nd Platoon, D Company, 39th Infantry Regiment in action during the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest

The four engines revved up to their maximum 8,800 horsepower and then, at fifty-second intervals, the planes slowly started off down the mile—and-a—half runways. Though the thunderous pounding of piston engines was heard instead of the whine of jets, the Superfortresses were very much the ‘Jumbos’ of their day, dwarfing other bomber types and with extremely slender wings whose slight swaying seemed altogether inappropriate to the task of getting even the four massive engines airborne let alone the rest of the enormously long plane.