Experiences in World War II
From Omaha Beach to the Malmédy Massacre
Howard E. Nixon
6 April 1923 - 29 December 2001
When we got to England the fog came in at night and was so thick you
could only see about 50 feet. You could hear a car coming but didn't see it
till it was there. They also drove on the left side of the road and it took a
little getting used to. We went to a few dances while we were there too.
The Jerry [German] bombers came over every night and bombed. The window
rattled and the ground shook. They tried to shoot them down from the search
lights. Somehow they seemed to be able to dodge in and out of the search
lights. They had air raid shelters and at times we ran for them. All sorts of
people in there - soldiers and old women. Some were knitting, reading, and some
were pacing back and forth wringing their hands. Some just sat there quietly,
others smoked a blue streak. Lots of smoking. Finally the all clear
They had everything closed up at night so no light could show anywhere.
And when the fog came in also it was worse. One guy walked through a big bay
window. There was lots of pubs (beer taverns). This was the first part of June,
One day some girls came and set some tents up and I wondered what they
were for. I soon found out. Soon there was men lined up and the line was
getting longer. Well, the colonel came by and it didn't take him long to figure
out what was going on. That was all for that.
Finally they sent us outside of the town close to the English Channel and
we were there a few days. We picked our ambulances up brand new. Mine had 5
miles on it. We water proofed them with a gun full of waterproofing gook around
the spark plugs, battery, distributor cap, and there we left one little hole.
We sealed the doors and windows all but the window on the driver's side. And
then we put a flexible pipe over the tail pipe so it stuck up about 5 feet
above the roof. And I said, "What in the world is this?" I found
We had gas masks and had been trained to use them. Also there was gas
repellent clothing - even socks. We had all that on before we left and then
they said, "Take it off. You won't need it." They said Roosevelt told
Hitler that if he used gas we would drown him in it. That was a relief.
|Joe Robinson and me
with his ambulance - No. 17
Although one night in France we were parked and the gas alarm sounded. On
went the masks, but it turned out that it was fresh mown hay, which smells like
a certain type of gas. False alarm.
We sat there in the woods a couple of days waiting.
It seemed like everyone had a buddy. Joe Robinson from Indiana and I were
close buddies. He was a big guy and me smaller, yet we had much in common -
from farm backgrounds, brought up Christian.
On the morning of June 6, 1944 I woke up early to an awful roar. I looked
and saw the sky full of planes - thousands of them heading for France. It was
just a steady stream. It wasn't long and we could hear booms over 20 miles away
across the channel. The invasion had begun.
We were an ambulance outfit so there was nothing we could do so quick
until they go inland a few miles.
The 82nd airborne and 101st airborne dropped behind the German lines. It
worked to some extent, but not 100%. The Germans had 2 big guns. One on each
side of Omaha Beach. They had to be silenced and eventually they were. The
beach had to be cleared of mines. So many soldiers got slowed up. There were
cliffs on one side of the beach and they had to get to the top of them. They
used grappling hooks thrown up 75 to 100 feet and scaled the walls. They got up
there and drove the Germans back, but ran out of ammunition. They then used
captured German guns. Our soldiers heard the sound of German 88's and fired on
one and killed some of our own men. Also, some of our planes missed the target
and killed several of our boys.
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© Copyright, Howard E. Nixon, 2001.
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