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
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
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
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
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© Copyright, Howard E. Nixon, 2001.
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