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Retracing the Paths of my Uncles part 6

Discussion in 'Philosophical Musings' started by cincibuck, May 23, 2017.

  1. cincibuck

    cincibuck You kids stay off my lawn!

    The Ardennes Forest is filled with pines, so thick that as I walked through a small portion on a sunny day, it was dark. To top matters off, 1944 was one of the worst winters in Belgian history. The roads and the woods were covered with thick snow. The American supply line had failed to keep up. Most troops lacked overcoats, boots, and white uniforms. They eventually took to cutting holes in the middle of bed sheets and pulling the sheet over their head as make-do camouflage.

    Uncle Cliff's unit, the 75th Infantry Division, no more than arrived in Belgium then they were pushed into the front lines. By now the German's had penetrated about sixty miles into Belgium on a front forty miles wide. Some green units, such as the 106th Division, collapsed or ran.

    Leadership broke down. One brigade of the 106th fought well, but the colonel in command of their sister unit, a unit they counted on to support their flank, lost communication with division headquarters, panicked and surrendered, causing a huge gap in the American lines.

    German special operations forces also contributed. Wearing captured American uniforms and using captured tanks and jeeps they went about the American sector, turning road signs, cutting phone and communication lines, ambushing small units. They didn't do that much physical damage, but they had a great impact in creating fear and doubt among the American troops .

    One of Uncle Cliff's clearest memories was of a patrol along one of the highways. He was driving a half-track, his lieutenant sitting in the passenger seat. One soldier maned the 50 caliber machine gun and three more soldiers had rifles. They came upon a Sherman tank at an intersection. The lieutenant and the tank commander began to talk, the lieutenant asking if the tankers had seen anything he could report. Uncle Cliff claims the voice of the tank commander didn't sound American. The machine gunner popped off, "Ask him for the password." The lieutenant continued to converse, "Ask him for the pass word. We're supposed to make sure they know the pass word!" The lieutenant kept on with a calm manner and finally ended the conversation, turned to Uncle Cliff and said, "Get us the hell out of here, slow and easy."

    "But you didn't ask for the password, sir, you're supposed to ask for the password," said the machine gunner.

    "You want me to take on a tank with a pop gun? No I didn't ask for the password. I'll report him as soon as we get back to headquarters. In the mean time my job is to try and get us all back home, not killed"

    I was probably ten or eleven when I first heard him tell that story. His war had been over for eight years, yet every time he told that story you could see the strain in his face and hear the fear in his voice.

    PTSD wasn't born in Vietnam, it lives within all soldiers in all wars.

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    Mr.Blonde and AKAK like this.

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