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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 had pill box fortifications on the Siegfried Line too. I remember one of the guys singing, "We will hang our washing on the Seigfired Line." I thought, "You bet."

We went north to Aachen and they fought to take that town, and fought some more. They finally took the town at a great cost to both sides. It was the first city in Germany to fall. There were something like 5000 casualties on each side. And there was nothing left of the town except one cathedral still stood.

A German shot an American rifleman. The German came up to look at him. The G.I. filled the German with bullets. He toppled over and they both died in the same hole.

Some got to the point that they couldn't take it any more. One of the guys said, "I can't take any more. I can't go back. I can't take any more." The lieutenant grabbed him by the shirt and said, "You will go back. You gotta go back. There's nothing more." He went back. He died.

From there (Aachen) I went to the Hürtgen Forest, or Hurtgen Forest - a heavy forest region with hardwood and mostly pine. The nights were cloudy and darker than pitch. You could look up and see just a little light between the tops of the pine and think that you are pretty close to the center of the road. One of the roads was mined, but just the road was cleared. My assistant driver - Sergeant Padget sat on the fender and said, "Right. Left. Right, " but we made it. A jeep wasn't so lucky.

By this time it was well into October and getting colder. There was several battles there, or may I say there was one continuous battle. The Germans backed up now in Luxemburg and Belgium. I was back and forth on the front from North to South even down to Bastogne. November and December came with the cold and rain and a little snow. The mud was thick. It was miserable. The poor guys that dug a fox hole in shallow ground got wet. Then they tried to get dry.

Now it seemed to me that the Germans were getting both younger and older. We saw more 15-17 year olds and 40 year old men and older. Why didn't they just give up? But no, they were on German soil. They still had fight left in them and lots of it.

Our planes tried to keep bombing, but the weather was cloudy and a hindrance. We had more equipment and supplies than the Germans did, but ours had to come from a long distance.

We had what we called the "Red Ball Express." It was a convoy of 2 1/2 ton trucks. Most of the drivers were black, who hauled supplies. I used to hate to meet them on the road, especially at night. They would hog the middle of the road and about drive you into the ditch. The best thing to do was to wait until they went by.

By this time we were in the Ardennes. Gasoline was in short supply. The Americans kind of sat back and built up their replacement. The pine plantations of the Hürtgen Forest and the Ardennes were literally torn apart. About ten foot up on the trees there was nothing left but splinters. It had been bitter fighting there. The 4th Division was there at the Hürtgen Forest and not many of the old soldiers were left. There were mostly new replacements.

By this time it was December and they moved us to Malmédy, which we sometimes spell as Malmedy. So we were back and forth around the towns of St. Vith and Stavelot. We were with the 2nd Division. Malmédy is practically on the border of Germany and Belgium. We were in a field just outside the village. There wasn't much going on. The lines were just held. Once in a while a wounded was taken to a field hospital in Malmédy. It was on a hill. We were a couple of miles from the front. One night I was sleeping in my ambulance and I heard a noise. The door opened real quiet. I couldn't reach my gun and so I lay still. They shut the door quietly again. Probably Germans on patrol.

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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.