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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

Shell or shrapnel. There was no way a man could use pressure points. You didn't have enough time or hands. A tourniquet was the only way most of the time.

In some of the battles over 1,000 men were wounded, killed, or out of commission.

The medics had a time keeping the morphine warm. Most kept it in their underpants or under their arms. The blood plasma was another thing. One medic put it on the jeep engine since he had no antifreeze. He would run his jeep every half hour. He finally fell asleep. His jeep stalled and froze the plasma. And so it goes.

By this time we were liberating prison camps. What a sight. Those still alive could barely walk they were so starved. Eating pea soup with maggots is not very appetizing. Although the prisoners said that there was some protein in the maggots.

When the Germans took prisoners they took away their shoes and clothes and other valuables. Only one time I took anything from the Germans. It was a watch. It happened to be a French watch and he got it off a Frenchman. He kind of smiled a little. Then I discovered it needed a key to wind it and he didn't have that.

After the Rhine the Germans kept backing up. About April 6 - I was 22 years old then - we were half way across Germany. Some Germans started surrendering when they got a chance. Others were captured. There were long lines of prisoners going back to the rear. Still Hitler wouldn't admit defeat. We kept going. The Germans came out of the woods by the thousands. Young men and old men mostly.

We finally reached the Russians and shook hands with them on May 7th. They were a surly bunch. The next day, May 8th, 1945, the war was over. That night lights went on for the first time since landing on the beach. How bright. We breathed a sigh of relief. That night I slept like a baby. At that time I was in Pilzen, Czechoslovakia. The Russians set up road blocks and said, "This is as far as you are going."

After the war I and a doctor went into Russian territory to deliver medicine to displaced persons. They were in a fenced in enclosure and what a pathetic sight. Arms gone. One leg gone. Others hobbling around on crutches.

Then I hauled patients to Nuremberg. There was a good highway called the Autobahn. I didn't need 4 wheel drive any more. So I removed the front drive shaft. Then I could just sail smoothly without any vibration.

There wasn't a lot to do. We were waiting to go home, but there was talk of sending us to Japan. I didn't like that, but then we heard of the atomic bomb.

I don't know how many wounded I hauled, but it was steady for a year. (June '44 to June '45).

Ambulance #19 had 5 miles on it when I got it in England and it had about 20,000 miles on it when I turned it in. We left the ambulances in a field along with hundreds of other vehicles. I said good bye to old #19.

We sat around for a while and then finally shipped us to Marseille, France. We got on a Liberty Ship and sailed out of the harbor, past the Rock of Gibraltar and on the way home.

We came to New York and the Statue of Liberty showed up. What a beautiful sight. From there we went to Indiana. And then on my way home on a train.

We started getting closer to home. I started walking back and forth. I recognized going by Tustin, then Hobart. Some old guy wanted to know about the war, but I was so hyped up that I couldn't talk to him.

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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.