Battle of the Bulge - Illustration

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 would 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 right over our heads into the room. It must have hit high or it would have gotten both of us.

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 were 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 GIs 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 this 82-A/B GIs 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 was not with us at the crossroads and one was loaded with duffel bags. Mine was even with them. Another miracle, clean underwear, and socks.

Randolph 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 Phosphorous burns and struggling against the deep snow, I fought my way deeper into the forest. I never once looked back!

Illustration - Battle of the Bulge

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 groups as an interpreter). While in the CP, a group from 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 gung-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. On December 26, I was transferred from the Field Hospital to a Castle that was converted into a hospital in Liège. 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.

Illustration Battle of the Bulge


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 frostbite 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 was 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 covers 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 GIs 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 the 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 - Illustration

Eldon 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.

About some coffee for Doc Snafu, or, why not? help EUCMH to acquire the items in the wish list below.
Thank You

Previous article1/9-IR – 2nd Infantry Division Krinkelt-Rocherath – December 17/18 1944 (Maj William F. Hancock)
Next articleUS 3&1 Armies Junction – January 1945 (Bulge)