AT Mines were buried in the snow-covered roads by T/5 Henry KollerCpl John Schaffner

December 21, 1944. I was sent forward to have a look around and found several dead German soldiers in the snow. I was not at all comfortable with that and was happy to have not found any live ones. The enemy had apparently pulled back after we had cut down their advance group the night before. All that day was spent digging and improving our defensive perimeter. We were given some warming time off and on inside the stone building being used as a CP.

At one point I was detailed to guard two German prisoners that were brought in. I never learned the circumstances of their capture. One, an officer, spoke good English and warned us that the German army was coming through us and would kill anyone in the way and push the rest into the English Channel, so we could save everybody a lot of trouble by surrendering to him right then and there. At one point a Sherman tank came along and was set up in front of our CP and fired a few rounds across the field and into the forest at some distant soldiers running from tree to tree for cover.

That night, after the initial attack, I recall being in my foxhole waiting for the Germans to come at us again. The realization came to me that I was involved in a real risky business. The area was lighted by the flames of a store of fuel drums bumming throughout most of the rest of the night and reflecting eerily on the snow-covered ground. The only sounds were that of the fire and the crying for help from the wounded enemies who were laying out there just out of view. I stayed in the foxhole all night and never did discover what finally happened to them, apparently their people abandoned them. Later I heard that one of our medics went out and checked on them and did what he could.

Over the years I continue to feel some responsibility for their fate since it was me who called for the fire on them when they approached the crossroads. Responsible, yes. Sorry, no. It was them or me. A lot of things go through your mind when you think that it is your time to die and I can clearly remember laying in that cold hole in the ground that could shortly be my grave thinking that I had not even experienced being in love yet. I definitely did not want to die in this strange place. I prayed to God, Jesus, and every other deity that I could think of, for help. In later years I heard the expression that, there were no atheists in foxholes. You can believe that.

Battle of the Bulge - US 3 inch gun (76.2-MM)Randolph Pierson

December 21, 1944. Maj Parker looks bad, really tired. He hasn’t had much rest or sleep in five days. We all are getting fatigued. It shows in the eyes. At 0530, our first serious attack began. About two platoons of enemy infantry in the forest east of the perimeter, supported by light mortar fire, seemed to be testing our defense capability.

By daylight, our 105-MM and heavy automatic weapons fire had forced the enemy to withdraw. Only a single mortar continues to deliver interdiction fire into our positions. About 0800, Maj Parker dispatched the 87-CRS light tank to find and neutralize the mortar position. In a short time, the tank returned to the CP. The noncom tank commander reported to the major that the mortar had been neutralized. He then produced 5 German soldiers books to identify the enemy unit attacking us and as proof of his kill.

This second firefight proved to the enemy that we were here and planning to stay. So far, so good. No American casualties! About 2000, the major asked me to man an observation post for the remainder of the night. He expected an enemy build-up during the night and needed a forward observer to adjust harassing fire. The walk to the OP was dark and frightening. The OP I manned was 800 or 900 yards east of our perimeter. I was alone except for my EE-8A field telephone, my .45 caliber pistol, and my freshly-sharpened boot knife. I wished I was back at the CP.

Pfc Harold J Kuizema

December 21, 1944. Fog, Snow and Cold persisted. The next few days we were busy trying to dig our foxholes as deep and we could. We dug them around the house. Weather conditions being what they were, the ground did not cooperate with our efforts very easily. There were two of us in each foxhole and we lined them with an army blanket. Sad, but true, I do not remember who I shared my foxhole with. We were mainly concerned with surviving at that time. One of us was always on guard and so it was not a very social time. Keeping alert was crucial to survival. The feeling were ones of constant fear. Prior to my army experience, I was firmly established in my belief in God. I cannot say I thought about that a great deal. We were kept very busy with an attack occurring twice every day – one attack in the morning and another in the afternoon.

The truck, just behind us, a half-track with a machine gun mounted on it, was intermittently spraying the area with machine-gun fire to flush out any snipers Illustration - The Bulgewho might be in the area. Fulfilling our duties, surviving, and keeping warm was high priority. I know the prayers of my family and church followed me.

Cpl John Schaffner

December 22, 1944. Very early, in the dark, in the morning, the Germans attacked again and we were subjected to small arms and mortar fire off and on all day. At one point mortar rounds were landing real close to my foxhole and I was feeling very exposed with no helmet to crawl into. I could hear the mortar fragments smacking into the ground all around me. Most of the rounds were falling farther in toward the buildings. I saw one hit the roof of Capt Brown’s CP. It must have been during this time that Maj Parker was wounded by a fragment. I’m not sure about that. I didn’t witness it.

There was a GI in a foxhole next to mine who would not fire his weapon. When I called him to fire he just looked at me. I didn’t know him and don’t know his fate either, I could not understand why he was not willing to help himself and the rest of us. I have read since that this is not an unusual occurrence. There are always a certain number who will not squeeze that trigger, even when their life is threatened.

Late in the afternoon, several tanks were heard approaching our position. Thankfully they were ours. They rolled out in the open and fired their big guns into the German positions and I thought, no problem now with all this help the day is saved. It got quiet again. And then the tanks left. Looked like we would be hung out to dry but it did stop the enemy attack for a while. Thanks, tankers. Too bad you couldn’t stay for dinner.
After dark, I was moved in closer to the CP and dug another hole along with a GI named Randy Pierson. One of our guys made a run from hole to hole tossing everybody something to eat. I caught a box of wet-or-dry cereal and ate it dry. The two of us spent the night in the hole. One of us would sleep an hour and the other keep watch and then we would alternate. This was the only kind of rest that anybody got. We had dug our hole reasonably deep and then further fortified it with some fence rails that we crisscrossed in front of it.

I was sure that we would be attacked that night. I had 30 rounds of carbine ammunition remaining and a knife that I placed on the ground where I could reach it. I prayed that it would not be necessary. It got very cold that night and the enemy did not attack. Another very long night. At the time the weather was our worst enemy but then in the morning things changed and weather took second place.

Randolph Pierson

December 22, 1944. The most horrifying time of my life started at 0230 when I detected vehicles moving some 2000 M East of me. We fired a heavy artillery concentration into what seemed to be an infantry assembly area. This fire mission caused both vehicles and infantry to move in my direction. To counter this movement, we fired 4 or 5 more concentrations, each one walking about 400 M closer to me. Finally, my Observation Post area was crawling with enemy infantry, moving furiously to stay ahead of the exploding shells.

To my dismay, this walking barrage was soon delivering ground-shaking tree bursts directly over my head. I was not detected by the preoccupied enemy infantry as they passed me, but my EE-8A was blown to bits. I lost contact with Battalion Hqs! Direct fire from our 105-MM howitzers, the 3-inch AT guns, coupled with automatic weapons and small arms fire caused the German infantry to withdraw about one hour later. It was still dark. This time the enemy infantry passed over my position while in retreat. Fortunately, I, again, was not detected. Later, when I felt somewhat secure, I decided to try to return to the perimeter without getting killed. As I was about to leave my hole, I heard a noise. Then a German helmet fell into the hole, followed by a sweaty-smelling, heavy-breathing body. With my adrenaline flowing, I frantically stabbed and sliced until there was no movement. Exhausted, I remained under the warm, bleeding body for quite some time. Desperation finally drove me to work my way back to our perimeter. I thanked God that I was not shot by, either friend or foe during the journey.

My arrival at the perimeter was about 0600, only minutes before the start of the second German attack. This attack lasted almost one hour and I was pressed into service as an ammunition handler for a .50 caliber machine gun position. Another unnerving experience! Upon my arrival at the CP at about 0800, I was warmly greeted. The guys thought their barrage or the enemy had killed me. When they noticed my bloody uniform, they thought I had been wounded. Reports from the perimeter advised Maj Parker the perimeter was secure, but we had sustained WIAs.

At 1155, Maj Parker received permission from Division to disengage and withdraw the 589-FAB troops to Manhay to draw new supplies from the 3-AD. The Major declined to leave, although the scarcity of ammunition concerned him. During the afternoon, Maj Parker sustained serious wounds, shell fragments in the chest. That night, over his objections, he was evacuated in a half-track.

Cpl John Schaffner

December 23, 1944. It seems that the Germans had come closer. Each time our perimeter got smaller and were ready to end it. The fog would roll in and out giving us limited visibility. I Illustration Battle of the Bulgewould fire at anything I saw moving around in the range of my hole. This weather was tough on use but I think it was to our advantage from a defensive point of view. I am sure our enemy was not able to determine exactly what he had to overcome to take the crossroads. Whenever he came into view we would drive him back into the fog. Our ammunition was running out. I had one clip of carbine rounds and could find no more. Word had come around that when the ammo ran out and the Germans came it would be every man for himself to escape if you could otherwise a surrender was prudent. We were apparently surrounded but the Germans were taking the easiest route, the hard surface roads. That left the fields open.

Late afternoon, probably after 1600, the final assault came. Mortars, small arms, and fire from tanks. I was in the stone building, sitting on the floor with my back to the wall. Harold Kuizema was with me. This room must have been a kitchen at one time because I recall a wood bumming cook stove and a GI who I didn’t know trying to heat something at it. Something big hit that wall and exploded it right over our heads into the room. It must have hit high or it would have gotten the both of use.

As it was it filled the room with debris and dust. That was all the motivation we needed to leave there. To wait for another one never crossed my mind. We, Harold and me, went to the front door. They were coming and we were going. It was that simple. Some of our people were going to the cellar. I didn’t like that idea. So once outside, I crawled to the road and the ditch. There were some cattle milling about on the road, and much smoke so I got up and ran through the cattle to the ditch on the far side and once again dropped down to avoid the German fire.

On this side of the road was a snow-covered fields very open, but it was away from the attack so that’s the direction that I took. Not far into the field, Harold went down. As I got to him I saw two GI’s approaching from the other direction. It was apparent that Harold was not going any farther on his own so between the three of us we moved him the remaining distance to the shelter of the woods and into the company of a patrol of infantrymen from the 82-A/B.

When we reached the shelter of the woods and I looked back at the crossroads the whole sky seemed to be lighted by the flames from the burning building and vehicles. Our wounded man was evacuated and I received permission to tag along with these 82-A/B GI’s which I did until late sometime the next day (24) when I was able to locate some 106-ID people. There were some vehicles from the 589-FAB with this group that were not with us at the crossroads and one was loaded with duffel bags. Mine was even with them. Another miracle, clean underwear and socks.

Battle of the Bulge - IllustrationRandolph Pierson

December 23, 1944. The first round of the pre-dawn German Artillery preparation landed at 0430. It was from a German 88-MM gun. The enemy had moved artillery within range of the crossroads. We had no capability to return fire. We could only hunker down, curse, and wait for the inevitable. Automatic arms fire was coming from the north and south flanks of the perimeter for the first time. The German infantry had moved through the forest in an effort to flank us. This forced a corresponding change in our defense lines and weapons emplacements. This turned out to be a determined attack.

It lasted until about 0945, almost 5 hours. Five hours under direct fire is an eternity in close combat! We took casualties, both KIAs and WIAs! Why do we continue to fight? Why do the guys in the other units continue to fight? They are getting killed too! It doesn’t make sense! It’s like everyone has a death wish. We all know what the outcome will be, yet we don’t quit!

At 1600, the third attack of the day started. The Artillery preparation was more vicious and gut-wrenching than before. This experience is impossible for me to describe. It affects people differently. Some break and run, only to be cut down by shell fragments or small arms fire. Others, like me, dig in and mentally try to block out the mayhem which surrounds us.

Advance elements of the 2.SS-PD and the 9.SS-PD were using armor to exert tremendous pressure on our defenses from both the south and east. Our heavy weapons were their prime targets. They are losing Panzers, but we are losing the battle of attrition. The entire top floor of the CP building had been shot away by the time darkness fell. Only a fragment of the sturdy stone east wall still stands. Several of us took refuge in the undamaged root cellar.

By 1700, enemy infantry probes were coming fast and furious from all points of the compass. We were finally surrounded! Completely surrounded! It is the beginning of the end. About 2 hours after the final attack started, Capt George Huxel, the only remaining officer, entered the root cellar. His message was brief and to the point, we can no longer deny the enemy access to the crossroads, we have more than fulfilled our mission, we must now make a decision, based on 3 choices, (1) Stay, fight, and die, and accomplish nothing; (2) Lay down our arms, and wait to be captured or killed; (3) Risk death or capture by trying to withdraw and fight another day. He then advised us that he could not make the decision for us, each man must make his own.

When asked what he was going to do, he advised us he would try to make his way through the enemy lines at dusk. Then move northward hoping to find the territory occupied by the 82-A/B. The captain then offered to lead anyone who wished to follow, however, there were no takers. He concluded, it has been an honor to serve with you. I hope we will all survive and serve together again. He then left.

This information triggered much discussion among the eight or nine GIs in the cellar. There is no consensus of opinion. The top floor of the building is on fire. I made my decision; I gathered my gear and left. The trip across the open ground, stumbling, falling, and being exposed to enemy fire was another nightmare. The four hundred yards from the CP to the tree line of the forest seemed like miles. Without any idea what awaited me in the distant tree line, I continued to crouch and run, determined to reach cover. Winded and wounded I finally made it! In the dense forest, under the cover of night, I turned in the direction I thought was north. Limping from the pain of White Illustration - Battle of the BulgePhosphorous burns and struggling against the deep snow, I fought my way deeper into the forest. I never once looked back!

Pfc Harold J. Kuizema

December 23, 1944. Somehow that afternoon a piece of stray shrapnel from one of the shells hit my thumb while I was in my foxhole. The wound was jagged and bleeding, but comparatively minor. I went to the CP for First Aid and there saw men with faces blown off and pulling teeth out of their mouths. I also observed a German prisoner being interrogated by one of our officers (he was using one of our group as an interpreter).

While in the CP, a group from the 82-A/B joined our group. They had come on foot and their eagerness to get into battle impressed me. Where are the bazookas? they said. They were gun-ho to get into action. The action came in the form of some direct hits to the house and a fire started! I ran out of the house and started across the nearby field. I was flat on my stomach trying to get under a fence when I was wounded in my left thigh by a nearby shell that exploded. My left leg was numb. I tried crawling beyond the fence but realized I would need help. A medic nearby gave me some First Aid using my First Aid kit. Dusk was upon us and night was drawing near. John Schaffner came to my aid and with another person I do not know helped me across the field into a wooded area – it seemed like miles. While in the woods we met up with some troops from the 82-A/B who met us with .30 caliber machine guns. They halted us and we shouted ‘AMERICAN’. They then directed us to the aid station. There a jeep was ready to take other wounded on stretchers out to a Field Hospital and since I could sit up they got me in the front seat and included me in their load.

Pfc Harold J. Kuizema

December 25, 1944. The Field Hospital was like a large garage. We were lined up on the floor and the only treatment I received for two days was a dressing change for my wounds. The wounded were cared for according to the severity of their injuries. Many were much more seriously injured than I was. The Germans as well as Americans were cared for here. Some staff found it very difficult to care for the Germans. It was an unusual Christmas for all of us. December 26, 1944. From the Field Hospital I was transferred to a Castle that was converted into Illustration Battle of the Bulgea hospital in Liège, Belgium. Next was a train ride to a newly set up hospital in Paris, France, where I stayed for one week. My next stop was a hospital in England. The ambulance that transported me to the Paris Airport went by the Eifel Tower and I was able to see it from a window in the ambulance. I was transported by a C-47 to the hospital where I stayed for four months for treatment for my leg wound as well as a bad case of frozen feet.

Epilogue

Randolph C. Pierson

Two days after leaving the crossroads, I was captured, asleep in a haystack, by an intelligence patrol of the 82-A/B. At that time, American troops in this area were very paranoid about German saboteurs dressed in American uniforms infiltrating their lines. I was suspected of being a German spy and hospitalized for burns and frost bite in a medical facility for German POWs. Subsequent investigation proved me to be an American T/4 from the 589-FAB.

Early in Jan 1945, I was released to the 106-ID and then assigned as an enlisted man Forward Observer for the XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery in the 592-FAB. On Jan 24, I and two close friends, T/4 Delbert Miller and Sgt Barney Alford, from the 589-FAB, traveled to Stavelot, Belgium to receive direct promotions to 2/Lt. As an officer, I returned in late January to serve as an Artillery Forward Observer with the same Parachute Infantry Regiment (82-A/B) that had captured me in the haystack after I left the Crossroads. In Apr 1945, I rejoined the 106-ID which was being reformed in France. In Jun 1945, when the 106-ID was returned to the States, I transferred to the 9-FAB (3-ID) and served with that unit until June 1946 in the European Army of Occupation.

Barney Alford, Resume

I was at Parker’s Crossroads with my gun crew from the beginning to the very end. My gun was covering the road to Houffalize and we took part in the skirmishes and the final battle. We were ordered to man our gun constantly and to be ready to fire at any enemy units that came into our field of fire. As you know there was only occasional intense action and we were involved in it all. I happen to be one who came out of it and makes my way back to our line of defense in the 82-A/B sector. I The Bulge Illustrationwas able to do this due to several things that took place during the last day of the battle.

When it became apparent that we were going to be overrun by the enemy, Capt Brown came by our gun and told us we would be on our own, but to hold as long as possible. We did hold, but it became very obvious that it was being killed or captured. I urged my gun crew to follow me. Some did and a few stayed. During the final barrage, the enemy was firing smoke shells (probably phosphorous) that produced smoke mixed with the fog. Taking advantage of this cover and protective cover such as equipment, farm sheds, and road ditches I was able to cross two roads and make my way into the forest. On the way, we passed some buildings where some of the men decided to take cover. I never saw any of them again.

As I made my way through the woods I ran into other GI’s that knew where the 82-A/B lines were. When we got close enough to be challenged, the troops on the front line seemed to know we were American and didn’t give us a hard time. After being questioned by an officer, he asked what he could do for us. We all asked for food. He said he could take care of that, and led us to the rear area where we saw big GIs garbage can on a stove – it was full of C rations. We all said this was the best C ration that we had ever eaten. After we ate they led us to a barn filled with soft hay and told us to get some rest as we would be moving out early the next morning. The officer said we would be fighting with them until the Hqs got things straightened out, then we would be assigned to other units.

The sleep we got that night was the best we had for many days. We were told the next morning that we had slept through a barrage that had lasted for hours. We guessed that we had been softening up the enemy to move forward the next morning. We did move out with the 82-A/B and stayed with them for a few days. The confusion associated with the last days at Parker’s Crossroads and the intensity of the firing, the dense smoke and fog really had a lasting impression on all of us. Since we were surrounded we hardly knew which direction the enemy would come from. I still do not know how any of us came out of that battle alive. I know I must have had a guardian angel that protected me and led me to my safety. The sad fact is that many did not make it.

For those of us that did make it, we were able to gain pleasure in helping pinch off the Bulge. We then helped kill Hitler’s dream. Later, I was called to a ceremony, during a lull in the fighting, and received a battlefield commission, 2/Lt, and a Silver Star. I did not think I did anything to deserve it. I was just doing what we were taught to do.

During the commissioning ceremony, T/4 Randy Pierson and T/4 Delbert Miller received also battlefield commissions to 2/Lt. These two men also received the Star awards, recommended as Silver, but graded down to Bronze for reasons unknown.

The Bulge - IllustrationEldon Miedema, Resume

The battle at Parker’s Crossroads was very confusing. The weather was cold and foggy. It was difficult to tell what was happening. I was disturbed by Maj Goldstein because he kept shooting off a German machine pistol. I thought he should not have used it for it could have gotten us killed by our own men, but it didn’t. I helped shoot up a German bicycle patrol one night. They were all killed, except for a German medic. I took him prisoner and was reprimanded by Lt Jefferson.

I shot two Germans that were in the back of my prime mover going through the barracks bags. I remember Maj Goldstein taking Jim English (I helped carry him to the half-track) and other wounded Americans, along with two German Prisoners of War on the half-track. I never saw Maj Goldstein after that. As the Germans closed in an 82-A/B and I went into a barn to release livestock and then jumped out a window to head out. I went in the wrong direction and ran into the Germans. I was taken prisoner.

After being taken prisoner, I, along with 12-14 other Americans were marched all night and questioned by German officers. The next day we were marched to Houffalize, Prüm, Gerolstein, and ended up at Stalag I 2-A, Limburg.

Charles F. Jacelon, Resume

(Excerpts from his ‘How Parker’s Cross Roads Happened’ Dec 5 through Dec 23, 1944) December 19, for the next couple of nights we traveled with an AAA group which was heading for France. After that Maj Parker reported to division headquarters in Vielsalm. He was told to bring the battalion to Vielsalm the next day. We returned to the battalion on the road between Salmchateau and the crossroads at Baraque de Fraiture. We proceeded to the crossroads, past the crossroads a few hundred yards, to a large open field on the left, west side of the road, and bivouacked there. This was the road to Samrée.

Early the next morning we started out for Vielsalm. I was driving the lead jeep with Maj Parker in the passenger seat, as we entered the point where the two roads actually cross. A Dodge army truck came speeding toward us from the direction of Houffalize. Maj Parker yelled ‘whoa’ and I stopped the jeep. The Major got out and asked the driver of the truck where he was speeding to. The driver said that a German tank attack was heading our way from Houffalize. By this time Maj Goldstein had walked up from his jeep which was the second vehicle, and he said ‘You know, we came over here to fight a war and this looks like a good place to start’. Maj Parker said ‘I was thinking the same thing, Major, set up for the defense! of this crossroad’ Goldstein said, ‘I am going to ask my big friend here with a tracked vehicle and a dozer blade, to dig me some gun pits’. This is the true – verbatim – conversation that led to the story of the crossroads.

Illustration Battle of the BulgeI believe that initially, Maj Parker entered the building that became Capt Beans CP. This building had a bar, and while Maj Parker was doing his planning and map work by flashlight, someone handed him a bottle of beer that had been found in the basement. Maj Parker drank half, then handed it to me, saying, ‘here driver, I want you to have some of this’.

A young woman resident rushed in to get something from a drawer or cabinet and Maj Parker said to her ‘You do not have to leave, we will protect you’, her reply was, ‘Boches come, I go’ (Krauts back – I leave), and she left. The guns were emplaced and a sentry, John Schaffner, in a foxhole, was in front of the howitzer and the quad .50s local machine-guns in a turret on a half-track.

In the middle of the night, the sentry reported that a German patrol on bicycles was examining the Daisy Chain, a string of antitank mines tied together in a line so that it could be pulled into place across a road in front of the lead enemy vehicle. At that time the howitzer and the quad .50s guns fired blindly, and when the volley ended our sentry ran back to the command post. When the mist and the night lifted we found dead and wounded Germans. I did not know of Maj Parkers’ wounding or of the death of the Sgt reportedly conversing with Capt Bean. I remember a GI truck on fire speeding through the crossroads from Samrée toward Vielsalm. I remember that on the evening of December 22, Maj Goldstein told me to take a forward observer sergeant to his unit in Manhay about ten miles away. We had a pleasant ride, found Manhay completely deserted and as we returned to the crossroads the German tanks (which overran our position the next day) were blasting an American tank that was bombed out in the first action a month or two before.

When the German tanks stopped firing I drove to the crossroad, turned left and drove a hundred yards or so to the CP, and turned into the yard. That night there was sporadic firing around the perimeter, and during December 23, we fired carbines and rifles which was all we had left at the tanks and soldiers too far away to be hit. Late in the afternoon, the tanks moved across the field between the Vielsalm and the Houffalize roads. As our CP started to burn down around us I could see no alternative to surrender, so with several others, we walked past the head of the tank column into captivity.

John Gatens, Resume

The main theme in all the stories about Parker’s Crossroads has been about the three Howitzers. I feel by now that everyone knows that there are actually four Howitzers to a firing battery. In the article, ‘The Incredible Valor of Eric Fisher Wood’, Section Illustration Battle of the BulgeChief, Sgt Scannapico’s Section No. 3 is mentioned in the Saturday Evening article. It is unfortunate that he was killed. Also, Section Chief Sgt Barney Alford’s, Section No. 2 is mentioned.

In our own unit history, St Vith, Lion in the Way, Section Chief Sgt Johnnie B. Jordan’s Section No. 4 is mentioned in the Saturday Evening Post article. There are also other references to these sections. Nowhere, including the story about Parker’s Crossroads is the name of the Section Chief named for Section 1. For the record, I would like to get into the record Section Chief Sgt George Shook, and Gunner Cpl John Gatens, and tell you my story about Section No. 1. In the story ‘The Incredible Valor of Eric Wood’, it states that Section No. 4, which in reality was Section No. 1, was the only piece in the entire battalion which could reach the oncoming tanks. In a direct fire situation of a 105-MM Howitzer, the gunner like me, has complete control of the firing, because he has to set all elevations and traversing actions.

In the case of the tank mentioned in that story, I had traversed and set the elevation to my satisfaction. I missed on the first shot. Sgt Shook, standing behind me, hollered I was a little high. I lowered the elevation and gave the command to fire. It was a direct hit. We fired another round for effect and scratched one German tank. Truly a deed that warranted recognition for the No. 1 Section.

When march orders were given by Lt Eric F. Wood, Sgt Shook was nowhere to be found. This left me as second in command with double duty as Section Chief and Gunner. Now to Parker’s Crossroads where we ended up on Lt Wood’s march order while he, unfortunately, disappeared. We ended up at the Crossroads without and officer in command of my section. Another error that has been compounded over the years is the placement of Section No 1 gun site at the Crossroads. In St Vith, Lion in the Way, it shows my gun in the corner of the crossroads of the Regné – Houffalize quadrant pointing toward the Manhay-Samrée quadrant. The error is that my gun was actually directly across the road, in the corner of the Manhay-Samrée quadrant, with the Howitzer facing towards the Regné-Houffalize quadrant, exactly across the road from the tank and the two buildings.

That tank of the 3-AD, shown in front of the buildings, came to that point the second day we were there. We were happy to see a tank in our area. As they pulled up one of the crew jumped out, walked to the corner, and looked down the road towards Regné. Being targeted by a German sniper, he suddenly hit the ground with a bullet hole in his head. Unfortunately, he was wearing only the soft tanker’s hat. We fired a few rounds into the woods along the Regné road and never heard any more from that direction.

Maj Parker visited my position at least three times. He was always in good spirits and giving encouragement. He would leave saying, ‘don’t worry, we will be leaving here soon’. Little did we know that he had ignored the order to Illustration - The Bulgedisplace northward toward Bra-sur-Lienne, as described in the story, the Alamo Defense loss of this crossroads junction would have given the Germans freedom to move in all directions, to flank or penetrate the 1-A line.

The most unusual fire mission I received was from Maj Parker. At the time I had no idea what he was doing. The story ‘The Alamo Defense’ explains that Maj Parker knew a powerful enemy Armored Infantry force lay four miles west of Samrée. Maj Parker told me to turn my Howitzer around, approximately 180 degrees. That was done with difficulty since we were dug in. In that direction, there was a house. He gave me the elevation and then said, I want you to come as close to the peak of that house as you can, without hitting it, and we will fire. I looked through the sight, as well as the tube, and asked my No. 1 man to confirm, which he did. I told Maj Parker we were ready at which time he gave the order to fire. We fired four rounds.

There is another accounting of this action in the book St Vith, Lion in the Way. We also had a few encounters we acted as Infantrymen. Capt Brown (another courageous man and great leader) cautioned us that there was a group of Germans on bicycles near a Daisy Chain of AT mines that had been placed on the road. He told us when the order to fire was given that we should fire down the road. Boy, when those quad mounted .50’s opened up, so did we. The roar was deafening. The order was given to stop, then all night long you could hear men in pain, calling for help. As much as I knew that they were the enemy, I had to feel sorry for them.

Around mid-afternoon on December 23, we started to receive an artillery barrage. It was light at first, then got heavier. Capt Brown warned of an infantry attack after it lifted. With that order, I ran across the street to the building where the crew was trying to get warm. Before I got to the door the shells were falling all around us. The house was hit and burning. The shelling stopped. The German infantry was all around and a German tank had its gun stuck through the door. A German officer ordered us out or the tank would fire. That was the end forme and the collapse of a great stand known as Parker’s Crossroads.

Sgt Scannapico section No. 3 was dead, Sgt Barney Alford (later to become a Lt) and Sgt Jordan section No. 4 escaped and were able to give their accounting of the battle. Section No. 1 was captured and was not able to give their accounting. So we became to be the three guns in any and all articles. This is my story as I lived and remembered it. I hope it is of interest to those that may read it.

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