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An Ambulance Driver's
Experiences in World War II

From Omaha Beach to the Malmédy Massacre


Howard E. Nixon

6 April 1923 - 29 December 2001

They hammered St. Lô night and day. By this time the dead started to smell. The town was nothing but rubble. I'll never forget one thing. I came by the rubble and debris that had been cleared by bulldozers. There was a woman on a pile of rubble with her head in her hands crying in dispair. Nothing left of her house and family maybe. I couldn't stop. I had wounded with me. I would have liked to have stopped and at least given her a hug. That scene has stayed with me forever.

We couldn't do much for the wounded. Getting them to a field hospital as quick as we could was best. If a medic could get to them quick enough they had a chance. He stopped the bleeding and disinfected the wound. We had to loosen a tourniquet at times or give them a shot of morphine.

I had a pistol - a German P-38 Walther. I never had to use it though. One wounded German that I was hauling told me that we were fighting on the wrong side. That we should be fighting with the Germans against the Russians. I said, "I don't think so."

One time I had a load of wounded Germans and I thought I'd do a little target practice. We got them out and I took a few shots and they turned a little pale. And then I realized that they thought that I was going to shoot them. So I herded them back into the ambulance and they were relieved.

At times we had to stop and hit the ditches. The shells and bombs were too close for comfort. The Germans and I hit the ditch - both huddled together. I don't know whose shells they were - ours or theirs. The Germans said, "Yah, that was close."

It was nothing to lose 200, 300, 500 men in a battle. The replacements were coming in every day. If they lived through the first week and smartened up they had a chance. Smoking at night, lighting a match, getting out of a fox hole to talk to a buddy all were things that had to be learned to hard way.

Finally the Battle of St. Lô was won with great cost on both sides. We had them on the run. Or did we? They stopped again.

They shifted our ambulance company all over the front. We got moved from one division to another. Where the fighting was the hardest - there we were.

All through the war I was with 10 different divisions, including the French; the 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, 29th, 28th, 4th, 2nd, 30th, 35th, 9th Armored and the French.

There was a man in the 28th that went A.W.O.L. at St. Lô. Different units tried to get him to go back to no avail. He could of went without penalty, but nothing doing. They caught up with him and shot him at the stake. His name was Eddie Slovak. As far as I know he was the only man shot for cowardice.

Hitler had a division of top notch men - Super Men - they were supposed to be. Hitler Youth, the S. S. troops. They were supposed to be better than anyone else. They took no prisoners. And I don't believe we took many of them either. But we medics and ambulance drivers were supposed to try to save lives. So we tended them too.

I hauled an S.S. man. I have to tell this part because it's part of war. He was shot between the eyes and still alive. During his ride I heard a squishing noise and all his brains had gushed out on the ambulance floor. I stopped and shoveled them out on the ground and then dropped him off at the aid station. He was still alive. But I doubt that he survived.

One S.S. man I hauled was in real bad shape. I doubt that he survived either. I had his records and was supposed to drop them off with him at the aid station. But I was in such a hurry that and forgot to give them to the company commander. I still have them.

The Germans had a new Weapon - the V1 rocket, which they launched on London and terrorized them. I also heard a few fall myself in France.

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© Copyright, Howard E. Nixon, 2001.

Address comments to:
Howard's son Pat Nixon or his daughter Cindy Guernsey at the following email addresss:
nixon748@cox.net nixon748@cox.net or cindyguernsey@chartermi.net cindyguernsey@chartermi.net.