Experiences in World War II
From Omaha Beach to the Malmédy Massacre
Howard E. Nixon
6 April 1923 - 29 December 2001
One night Lawrence King and I were invited with some girls to play cards.
They took us up to their parents' house - supposedly - up a dark stairs. The
old folks were there all right, but also a young man - a big guy about 25 years
old. He stood behind the stove with his hands folded behind his back. He just
stood there. He never said a word. I thought, "What's a young guy doing
here?" I am sure he was a German soldier. We played cards for a few
minutes and then Lawrence and I looked at each other and said, "I think
it's time to go."
A few days went by and somehow 4 of us got a room in a hotel. Some old
folks run it along with a daughter and a young son. They were German. They had
a son who was a soldier in the German army. They had hid pictures of Hitler
under the mattress. It was around the 14th of December. One night we heard a
noise on the stairs. When we investigated we found a pan of cookies. We took
them down stairs and thanked them. They set a coffee pot on the stove and we
shared the cookies. Then we gathered around the piano and sang Christmas
carols, each in his own language. A fun night. They had a young son about 14
years old. I think that he was giving information to the Germans.
The next day, Dec. 15th, they shipped us 6 up to the front. Something was
going on. We were in an old house. Whoever had it was German. He had lots of
pictures, including his picture taken with Hitler. There was an old World War I
I didn't know what was up, but I was about to find out. Not a single
American soldier knew what was about to happen.
Some P-47's that flew over the lines told the commanding officer of a
build up, but they wouldn't listen. Hitler figured he could capture supplies
and gasoline and he was right. Some supplies were set fire to, but not all.
The 2nd Division had been in continuous combat since June 7th and we had
just come from the Hürtgen Forest. So they had more replacements than old
soldiers with combat experience.
Bradley and Eisenhower had no idea that an attack would come in the
Ardennes. But it did.
By this time I was getting another attack of homesickness. Around 10:00
p.m. all hell broke loose. They started shelling from both ways; 150
millimeter, howitzers, screaming meenies, 88's. There we were in the middle of
it. They hit a truck outside the house and it burned.
I thought of home and how I'd thought that I hadn't been treated right
and maybe a little abused. Well, those thoughts were gone now. They were
replaced by with a longing to see Mom and Dad and my girlfriend Betty. I
thought of how I'd worked hauling hay, digging potatoes, filling the silo,
fixing fence, going after cows, doing chores, milking 4 or 5 cows morning and
night and all of the other things I'd done.
The shelling kept on without let up. "I've had it," I thought.
"I can't take any more. I've come clear from the beach in Normandy, the
hedge rows, St. Lô, Paris, the Hürtgen Forest, the Battle of Aachen,
and now this. I didn't know it but this was the beginning of the Battle of the
The tears rolled down my eyes and I prayed, "When will this
end?" I dug out the black Bible that was starting to get worn and I said,
"What shall I read?" I thumbed through it and it fell open to Psalms.
I thought, "Hmm, what does it say?" In the dim light I read the 91st
Psalm. It said, "A thousand shall fall by your side and 10,000 at your
right hand, but it shall not come near thee." I felt relieved. I went to
sleep a little.
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© Copyright, Howard E. Nixon, 2001.
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