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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

Pappy Paden and I slept in the same bed that night. The next day, December 16, 1944, he was dead along with many others of our outfit. The artillery kept at it all night. The first thing in the morning - just daylight - the infantry started coming past us in no orderly fashion. They said, "It's too hot for us up there." We got the heck out of there as soon as we could.

The Germans had broken through. I stopped at headquarters and evidently they didn't know that the Germans had broken through. They said, "We have to evacuate the field hospital in the old school house on the hill." I went to the field hospital - the battalion aid station - which was an old house on the outskirts of Malmédy. In the aid station a wounded Englishman was singing, "We'll hang our washing on the Siegfreid Line."

 Howard with ambulance
Me and my ambulance in November, 1944, at Manchove Forest in Belgium. You can see "Cadillac" written on the door under my arm.

I got ready to take my load of wounded when L. M. Burney said, "Nick, I'll take this load." I said, "No it's my turn." But he insisted. I went back to headquarters. He took my load and he got captured and shot at the Malmédy Massacre. It would have been me if I had taken that load. I think of that often.

Just after I left Bill Schupp and Bill Chasteen, a couple of guys from my outfit, pulled up to the same aid station and were captured there. Although I didn't know it then I was just ahead of the Germans.

When I got back to headquarters it seemed as if the captain had discovered a few things. Captain Denzel was in a terrible hurry. There was no saluting. He said, "Just grab some gasoline and get out of here. Meet me in the town of Huy," which was about 20 miles to the west. I sure didn't argue. Away I went.

I went through the town of Malmédy. There on the crossroads directing traffic was an M.P. I thought, "What in the world is he doing here at a time like this?" The M.P. directed me to the left. We got out a little ways and ran into infantry on the crouch going up the hill. Ken Weber said, "We better turn around," and I thought so too. I headed back where we had come from - past the M.P. and out another road. I made it.

If I had went 300 more yards I would have been captured. It turned out that the Germans had soldiers dressed in American uniforms all behind our lines. They had changed road signs and tried to cause confusion. That M.P. was a German trying to get us into a trap. Later they found him out and shot him where he stood.

Joachim Peiper was the commander of the SS division that had broken through. They were at the crossroads just outside of Malmédy where 4 or 5 roads come together. They had captured 140 or so American prisoners. They herded them into a field. Some of my outfit were there; Burney, Anderson, Monk McKinney, Scott, Samuel Dobbins, and others. The Germans opened up on them with machine guns and killed most of the prisoners. The ones that were still alive they shot with a pistol. Dobbins and Anderson played dead and laid there in the mud and snow until night fall and then crawled away. Anderson was shot through the foot.

Samuel Dobbins later testified at the Nuremberg trials It tells about him in the book, "A Time for Trumpets." Pappy Payden and Lieutenant Gunther were killed in a jeep. Kaley and Carter came through Malmédy at night. They didn't know about the massacre. Carter heard some moaning and groaning of some. He said, "I'll get out. Come back and pick me up." We never saw him again. Some of the other ambulances were somewhere else when the German attack hit and were out of the fighting.

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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.