This series is comprised of excerpts from the journal that my grandfather, Michael Sturey, kept during his time in Europe during World War II. In it, he chronicles his thoughts about what he saw and felt, as well as his experience with one of the greatest military confrontations of all time: The Battle of the Bulge. Read the previous installment HERE. Enjoy these words as much as you enjoy the freedom he defended with honor. – Wilbert R. McGuire
Dec. 5, 1944
Our stay in England is over, we boarded a boat in Weymouth and headed for the coast of France. This trip too was uneventful, but the English Channel was rough.
We climbed aboard on or about the 10th of Dec. landed in France on the 11th or the 12th we were in Belgium.
Coming back to the 10th of December, on that day we were all in good spirits over going to the front, but still a little shaky at the thought. The morning of the 10th we headed up the Seine river and debarked at La Harde. We immediately set out by truck to our bivouac area, which was still in France.
It was dark & raining cats and dogs. On the 11th of December, we slept in a huge chateau. On the 12th, we had everything in readiness for combat.
The morning of the 13th we headed for the German border. We passed the Dragons Teeth, the first line of the German defense, at or about 9AM we entered the Hurtgen Forest near the town of Gey.
Gey was still in German hands. We fired our guns on the town that night. We dug fox holes than placed heavy logs over the holes for protection against heavy burst & time firing.
That first night wasn’t too bad. A few German shells did land in our area but inflicted no casualties.
On the 3rd day, we helped capture Gey and fired on the retreating Germans to the Roan river.
The German counter attacked many times, throwing many shells in our area. We were dug in very good, with good shelter of logs over our heads.
Then, on the 5th day of battle, the German air force strafed us. Fortunately, no one was hurt. That night, “Bed Check Charlie” whom we nicknamed (it was a single German plane flying our area each night at about 2200 hrs.) came over and dropped some flares over our position and also dropped a bombs. Still no casualties.
The next morning, Dec 6th, while “A” battery was eating chow, a lone German plane came by strafing the woods & road. Our ACK ACK opened fire on the plane, more German planes appeared & hell broke loose.
One of our boys in the chow line was hit by shrapnel, which came from an ACK ACK firing at the German plane. He was killed in action, our first casualty, as I passed in the chow line I could see some meat which apparently was a part of his brain laying on the ground, he was hit directly in the head.
I don’t think he ever knew what hit him.
That same day we received more enemy fire on our position. The following day we moved to a new position only a few hundred yards from the enemy. At our position, we buried a German.
He was a good German because he was dead.
On the 18th we lost 3 of our men, one man lost his leg, the other body injuries, received just above our kitchen while walking through the woods. The area was booby trapped.
The same day, the 18th of December, we received news of the German breakthrough just south of us about 60 miles. We were told to pack up & get ready to move, we were packed in a few moments and started our journey back to Belgium, day and night toward the Germans who were moving towards us at a rapid pace.
Other artillery units were with us. We were now attached to the 83rd infantry division & given orders not to retreat.
A few miles (5 miles) from the Germans we placed our guns, registered on a crossroad and waited for the Germans to show up. We were in a cellar in a castle or rather a house owned by some French people. A barn was next to the house.
Our forward observers spotted the Germans coming along. We let them have it with round after round from our guns.
I didn’t sleep for three nights and days.
We moved a little closer to the Germans & established a place in a chateau, it was getting cold out doors and looked like a lot of snow. I finally had a good rest with sleep. Of course, our officers always had sleep. They thought nothing of the E.M.
In this chateau, they had whiskey & cognac. I’m glad now that I didn’t go out to be an officer when Frank Spinoso & I were asked.
Our officers are greedy.
To Be Continued…
Read the next installment of this incredible insight into a soldier’s mind both in and out of combat during World War II HERE.