Harold Lindstrom's Remembrance continued....
I thought to myself, "Boy they are certainly giving us close support. The Germans must be about right on top of us".
Later Joe Pat Ward walked up to where I was digging and asked for some volunteers. He said some men had been hit by artillery and help was needed to carry them out. We should leave our weapons so could pass as unarmed medics who should not be fired upon. The guys were not quick to volunteer. Joe Pat started to "volunteer" us on his own and looked at me and said, "How about it, "Lindy"." I went. I felt naked walking without a weapon. It was quit possible that the Germans wouldn't see that I was not carrying a weapon and acting as a medic. I didn't have the white arm band and white helmet band with large red crosses on them that identified a medic.
As we approached the area I saw a combat boot lying in the path. I thought it must have been an awful explosion to tear a guy's combat boot off. When walking by the boot I was shocked to see a bloody stump of a leg sticking out. We walked on a little further to a small clearing in the woods. I was horrified with what I saw. There were many dead and wounded men scattered throughout the area - mangled bodies, pieces of flesh, pieces of clothing , weapons and equipment all over. The most shocking part was I knew these guys. We had been together since Camp Breckinridge. I didn't know some very well but knew who they were. The medics and unarmed "volunteers" like me were among the wounded helping which ever way possible.. I just couldn't imagine an artillery barrage could do so much damage. It had been our artillery so maybe was worse than the German's. These poor guys were out in the open and didn't have any warning to take cover. It looked like the men were hit with shells that exploded in the air above them. Such type shell explosions rain shrapnel down on them. It is the most effective kind of shelling. The shell were either exploded by hitting the trees above them ("tree bursts") or were shells equipped with the new kind of timer ("proximity fuses") that explode in the air when close to the target.
I was told to help carry a wounded sergeant out. I think it was Ellis Van Atta. He was very bloody below the waist and very much in pain. He screamed and cursed when we tried to pick him up and put him on a stretcher. We hesitated when he screamed but didn't know how else to put him on the stretcher so went on with picking him up. We tried to be as gentle as possible but he still screamed and cursed. He continued to moan and curse when on the stretcher and we walked while carrying him. Each step we took shook him a little. There were 4 of us carrying him. James La Brusciano was one of the others. We tried to walk as carefully as possible but it was impossible to not jar him ever so slightly when we walked. He was heavy and we had to step over fallen branches, trees, and debris. I was extremely frightened while carrying him through the woods. What if the Germans were there and started firing upon us. I felt naked without any weapon to defend myself. We carried him a long ways to a clearing where there was a half
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track waiting. We put him on it. Funny what one thinks about in such a situation. This man was bloody below his waist, primarily near his crouch. I wondered if his "tool" had been shot off. When back in the States one of the F Company sergeants was "busted' when it was found that he had contracted V.D. during one of our "short arm" inspections. I thought if this were the man and he had been hit down there the would never have such a problem again. He was the only one I helped carry out as everyone had been carried out by the time I got back to the area. I then went back to where I had been digging in. Everyone was gone! Some one in the woods called out to us, "Follow me." We were very edgy and didn't know if he was one of us or a German who could speak English. We panicked. I picked up a weapon that had been left behind in a foxhole. La Brusciano was with me. He told me to shoot if the man opens his mouth again. The caller turned out to be one of our men who lead us to where the the rest of the guys had moved to. After that artillery barrage the rest of the guys pulled back farther up the hill.
Roy Mitchell also was in the process of digging in when the artillery hit. He heard someone hollering and looked up to see an officer running wildly toward him. He was hollering, "Fellows, we need a lot of help. Many men have been hit." Mitchell dropped his shovel and weapon and went to help. Joe Pat also helped. He tarried a wounded man across an open field to a large brick house with a court yard. They walked a long ways - about 3 miles. A man from one of rifle platoons, Ronald Pruitt, walked along with his B.A.R. rifle to give them protection. His twin brother, Donald Pruitt, was one of those wounded in that artillery barrage. Donald was the man who became engaged to the Bury Port, South Wales, girl about a month before. Joe Pat and those with him also found no one back in our digging in area when they returned. They panicked. Ronald Pruitt sprayed the woods with his B.A.R. and they took off running like rabbits to where the rest of the men had moved to.
Those recorded as killed in this engagement are Cpl Curtis Smith, Pfc Calvin Cummings, Pfc Jesse Allison, Pfc James Haddad, Pfc Robert Duffy, Pfc Herschel Sissom, and Sgt Clarence Clashman. Those recorded as wounded are T/Sgt Bernard Tierney, Pfc Donald Pruitt, Pfc William Penna, Sgt Lyle Francomb, 2nd Lt Lamar Monroe, S/Sgt Alfred Leight, Pvt Jake Officer, Pfc Thomas Darlington, S/Sgt Ellis Van Atta, Pvt Max Martel, Pvt Dennis Profitt, Pvt Bell McGrady, Pfc Dan Fergus, and Pfc L.V. Barnes. Two of the men recorded as wounded, 2nd Lt Lamar Monroe and Pfc Dan Fergus, were from our 4th Platoon.
We walked from there to the edge of a woods overlooking a valley in which La Fosse was located. I was walking behind Logan as we approached the edge of the woods. The Germans began shelling us with their 88's. We hit the ground in our tracks when the first shell landed - I hit the ground behind Logan. Another shell landed directly ahead of Logan. It was so close that I felt the concussion and dirt
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flew up on us. I looked up and saw Logan's back covered with frozen dirt pieces. We were not harmed. Apparently we were in a blind spot - far enough away to not be hurt from the concussion and close enough so that the shrapnel flew over us.
We then set up defensive positions in that area overlooking the valley. We initially dug slit trenches but they gradually became more and more elaborate. We stayed here 4 days and received numerous intense German Artillery fire. This stimulated our digging and our slit trenches became dug cuts that were large enough to accommodate 2 guys or more. They were about 4 ft. deep with dirt piled up around the edges. We even made roofs over our dugouts. We placed small tree trunks across the top and piled dirt over them. This roof provided minimal protection from shrapnel - would not protect us from shrapnel flying down on us due to tree bursts or close hits. We dug gun ports through the dirt sides. Digging and constructing these dug outs not only made good protection - it provided therapy. We were doing everything possible for our protection and kept our minds off the danger and misery. These "fancy" dugouts gave us some protection from the cold. The roofs kept the snow off us. It snowed quite often and the dugouts became covered with new fresh white snow. The new snow cover blended them into the surroundings - became well camouflaged.
I shared a dugout with another mortar man. I think it was O.V. Martin. We both had either rifles or carbines. Joe Pat and Logan shared a dugout. They had the machine gun that the supply sergeant gave us to replace Logan's mortar which he left behind on that side hill Christmas Night. Most of the German shells landed and exploded further up the hill behind us. They must have thought we were farther up the hill or something. Some were pretty close though - almost right on top of us. We could hear the shells going over us. We couldn't hear those that landed almost on top of us. A lot of the German artillery was fired with their 88 mm guns. They were very accurate but their shells traveled in a flat trajectory so flew over us and exploded against a rise in the ground surface behind our dugouts. It was easy to spot exactly where a shell hit. It snowed quite often so the ground was usually covered with clean white snow. The shell explosions left shallow holes and dirty blotches in the white snow. Many hit trees so there were many broken branches and parts of trees on the ground.
Our American artillery was awesome. Both the Americans and the German's fired intermittent barrages with pauses in between. The barrages would last about several minutes with a lapse of 5 to 10 minutes in between. I could hear ours going over toward the German lines. First I heard the rumpled explosions of our guns firing in back of us - it kind of sounded like a severe thunderstorm. They were far enough away so their explosions weren't sharp. Then I heard the shell going over. They sounded like many giant
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whistles. They exploded on the hill across the valley where the Germans were. Maresca thought they sounded like freight trains crashing into a mountain. After dark their many explosions created an awesome sight. There were so many explosions that they formed a solid sheet of fire in many colors (white, purple, red, and others) across the sky. There was a short lapse of time for the sound to reach us after we saw the flashes but when it did it sounded like a thunderous roar. Our American was much more intense. I wondered how the Germans could survive. They would have to be very well dug in or would all be killed or wounded.
While here Joe Pat, Logan, and others went back to that open side hill where we were initially fired upon by that German tank to retrieve the equipment we left in our panic to crawl out. They found Logan's mortar. It was damaged and not usable. German machine gun bullets had hit and smashed the screw mechanism that adjust the fire direction and distance.
There was no road through the snow and trees to move supplies up to the 2nd Battalion which included F Company. A road was made with bulldozers December 27. They pushed aside trees, snow, and what have you. We were dug in and positioned in a defensive line between Grandmenil and La Fosse. 3rd Battalion was on the left of 2nd Battalion either in or in front of Grandmenil. We, F Company, were the part of 2nd Battalion that adjoined 3rd Battalion so were possibly closer to Grandmenil than La Fosse. 2nd Battalion was supposed to adjoin 1st Battalion on its right. However there wa s a 1000 yard gap between the two. About 1:00 A.M. December 28 the German 2nd Battalion, 23rd Regiment, 12th S.S. Division, came through this gap and advanced to within 500 yards of the 289th'Regimental Headquarters at Briscol. The Headquarters had to move to Erezee.
About December 29 Joe Pat told us about-it. He said the Germans had attacked an area on our right during the night before. They surprised some of our men in their foxholes and slit their throats. We should be very alert so it wouldn't happen to us. Gosh! now I had that to worry about also. The nights were very long this time of the year. It started getting dark about 4:30 PM and remained dark until about 7:30 AM. That night after Joe Pat told us about the Germans infiltrating I became very worried. I almost started to panic. O.V. Martin and I were in the same dugout. We took turns standing guard and sleeping. We changed every hour as we were very tired and could not stay awake much longer. During my watch I became very nervous. I began to imagine that there were Germans hiding behind about every tree near me. The snow covered trees and surroundings became kind of spooky. I frantically crawled from one dugout porthole or window to another. I feared that someone was sneaking up on my "blind side". I could not get around fast enough. O.V. Martin who was taking his turn sleeping was awake and watched me. He said, "Lindy, why don't you settle down. There are other guys on guard on
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both sides of us and all the way down the line. You have no choice but trust that they will do their job." The Army referred to this as the "buddy system". We depended on each other to do his part. We were told over and over when in training that not only our lives but our buddies' depended on how we conducted ourselves when in combat. O.V. went on to say, "You can't fight this War all by yourself. All you can do is watch your area and do the best you can. You have to accept that if your number is up there is nothing you can do about it except be ready." Gosh! that man made sense. I started to pray again. I asked God to help me. I could not do it alone. I prayed that I be willing to submit myself into His hands. There were too many things happening that I had no control over. From now on I would accept His plans for me. I could see from the way things had gone so far that there was no way to predict if, when, and how I would be hit. I would do what I could in accordance with my training to protect myself and be a good soldier but my survival was in His hands. I promised that if He should see fit to let me come through this War, I would be a good Christian the rest of my life. I guess one is not supposed to bargain with God but I did. I promised to go to church every Sunday if He should see fit to let me come through this alive and in one piece. That prayer helped. I felt a calm go over my body. My soul and my body became two different things sharing the same place. My body may become wounded or killed but my soul could not be destroyed or eliminated. I sort of became a third person just looking out from my body. I still had emotions and feelings but somehow lost the urgency about my survival. I was able to control my emotions.
The gap between the 2nd and lst Battalion was partially filled with the 112th Infantry Regiment that was temporarily transferred from the 28th Infantry Division to the 75th Infantry Division. It was able to establish contact with our 1st Battalion but was never able to establish contact with us, the 2nd Battalion, so a gap still remained on our right in which the Germans could pass through at will.
Much of the description on the units involved, battle positions, and movements are from the 75th Division combat history on file in the Washington D.C. Archives. Very seldom I knew where we were and what the local or overall battle picture was. We were briefed prior to an attack. We were told what to expect such as how many enemy there were supposed to be in the village, woods, or hill concerned. The names they gave us or we saw on road signs were foreign and hard to pronounce so didn't register very well. They didn't with me, that's for sure. What's more I really didn't care very much. I was mainly concerned about whether or not I would get through it OK. Most of the time I responded to simple dog like commands such as "move out", "dig in", "hold up", "set up firing position", "keep your head down", "move forward quietly", and other direct little things like that. Not until about two weeks after we entered combat that I knew that we were fighting in the
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Battle of the Bulge, the largest single battle representing American soldiers in history. Not until after the War did I find out that the 75th Infantry Division played an important role in stopping the furthest German penetration into the huge bulge in the American lines.
These Remembrances were taken from Harold Lindstrom's, A Veteran's Story of World War II,
Lindstrom, Harold R., Age -' 1, Height 6"-) III")", Weight 164 lbs. Born Alexandria, MN. Attended elementary 8 grades In country school and high school in Alexandria. Upon high school -,graduation completed 12 month Jr. Stenographer course at Minnesota School of Business, Minneapolis, MN. Drafted and inducted into Army at Ft. Snelling, MN., 13 April 1943. Received Air Force basic training in Atlantic City, NJ. Assigned to Flight C, Squadron 8, 718 Training,- Group, 72 Wing. After basic training,, transferred to Wrightstown McQuire Air Force Base. Ft. Dix. NJ. Worked in general office as ration clerk. Passed the qualifying test for ASTP while there and approximately November, 1943, transferred to City College of New York Campus for ASTP. processing. From there was assigned to Clarkson College, Potsdam, NY, December, 1943 for college studies in the ASTP Program. Upon completion of one quarter of college courses, March, 1944, was told that ASTP Program was discontinued and would be transferred to the Infantry. Transferred to Camp Polk, LA, where was processed and assigned to a unit in the 75th Infantry Division. Was assigned to 4th Platoon, F Company, 289th Infantry Regiment. I was an assistant 60 mm mortar gunner. Transferred with the Division to Camp Breckinridge, KY, April, 1944. Received basic and advanced infantry training at Camp Breckinridge. While there was offered position as clerk in Regimental Hqs but turned it down to be with my buddies and where the action was. Shipped out with Division to Camp Shanks, NY, for embarkation on 14 October, 1944. Boarded H.M.S. Franconia and left NY 21 October, 1944 for Liverpool, England. Received further training and orientation while stationed at Camp Harbor near Bury Port, South Wales until December, 1944. Boarded the Leopoldville to cross the English Channel to LeHavre, France. The Leopoldville was torpedoed on its next crossing taking 800 men of the 264 Infantry Regiment, 66th Division, with it to the bottom of the
Channel. Camped in field near Freville, France, 5 days and entrained for Belgium. Entered combat along with 75th Division in the Battle of the Bulge. First fired upon either Christmas Eve. 24 December. or early Christmas morning. 25 December. Was in almost constant combat until 25 January. Fought in La Foss, Grandmenil, Bech, Vielsalm, and Grand Halleux, Belgium areas. Along with F Company was transported by truck and rail to Ribeauville, France, and entered combat in the Colmar Pocket at Holtzwihr, France. In combat almost constantly until 8 February- when Colmar Pocket was eliminated. Fought in Holtzwihr, Andolsheim, Appenwihr, Hettenschlag, Heiteren, and Logelheim, France areas. Along with F Company, was shipped to Vreehoven Holland, and relieved the British 6th Air-Lansing Brigade near Houthuizen, Holland, 1 February. 1945. Crossed the Mass River-at Venlo, Holland into Germany 5 March. Fought in Moers. and Duisburg Germany areas until 21 March when transferred to 289th Regimental Hqs at Moers, Germany. Served as court reporter in summary court of military government section for German civilians. While in military government section the acting summary court judge and my superior, 2nd Lt John F. Fox, noted I had a hearing loss. On 17 May, 1945, was sent back to hospital where it was determined that my hearing loss was too severe to qualify for military service. It was damaged while in combat. Transferred to and from several hospitals and eventually on 14 July, 1945, embarked to Boston, MA, from Cherbourg, France. Ended up in Hoff General Hospital, Santa Barbara, CA, from where I received a Medical Discharge 4 November, 1945. Had a PFC rank upon discharge.
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