WW II STORY
16th Field Artillery Observation Battalion Battery “A”, 3rd Army, 8th Corps
I was in the 16th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, Battery “A”. We were the eyes and the ears of the Field Artillery. We fought our way from Utah Beach to the border of Belgium and Germany at a place named AUW, Germany. Not a town, just a place we were in the winter. Our area was considered a light fighting area. The heavy fighting was North of us at Cologne, Germany and south of us in southern France.
We were fired on by German Artillery, German infantry was very close. The Germans fired Buzz Bombs over us frequently. A Buzz Bomb in an unmanned airplane that flew very low and is filled with flammable liquied and shrapnel. We could hear the motor as it flew over us and when the motor stopped, we knew it would crash in seconds. We had three land close to us, but no one was injured. Buzz Bombs killed and injured many Americans.
We were in the Hurtzgen Foest in the Sniffel Mountains. The snow was deep, the ground was frozen and we didn’t have winter clothes. On Dec. 16, 1944 Nazi General Von Runsted made a break through on a fifty mile ront. He came through with the 5th and 6th Panzer army, and the 7th German Army. He had brand new “KING” Tiger Tanks, new heavy artillery and thousands of infantry, most dressed in white camoflage. Auw, Germany is in the center of this onslaught. We lost much equipment and pulled back to St. Vith, Belgium. We were overpowered there and retreated back to Bastogne. At Bostogne, the Germans had us surrounded. Many of the American solders were killed, wounded, or went insane from the constant bombarding.
When the Battle of the Bulge started, it was cloudy and very foggy. We could hear tank treads coming toward us, but could not tell if it was a Nazi Tiger tank or an American Sherman tank. General George Patton ordered the 101st, and 82nd Airborne up the Bastogne to help. However, they could not jump from the planes because of the fog. They were brought up by 6x6 Army trucks and it took them two days to reach us. A Paratrooper asked me where the front line was and I told him he was stainding on it. Somehow our 16th FA OBsn “A” battery escaped Bastogne encirclement.
Three of us from a Sound OP came upon a Belgium farm house in the midddle of the battlefield. We went inside and there was a Father, Mother, and two children, a boy and girl about seven or eight years old. The mother gave us some soup and black bread and we gave them som candy. This was Christmas Eve. We sang Christmas songs: Jingle Bells & Silent Night. The words were different but the music was the same.
We were wet and cold, but we dried off that night. We could hear machine guns rattle and artillery shells bursting all night. We didn’t get much sleep, but we got warm and dry. We left the next morning and the family didn’t want to see us go.
We found some of our outfit. The 16th was badly shot up and the 285th FA Obsn BN in the same area was badly shot up. The two Observation Battalions decided to form one unit, so they could be more effective in the war. This did not happen. The Nazi SS Troops captured a Battery of the 285th FA and herded them into an open snowy field and machine gunned them down in cold blood. This was not war, this was murder. This is known as the Malmedy Massacre.
The clouds and fog started to break up and the Air Force flew thousands of Sorties over the area. They bombed tank positions, Artillery positions, machine gunned Infantry Troops and supply lines. We watched C-47 planes fly low over the battlefield and drop by parachute food, guns, gasoline, medical supplies, we were out of everything. We began to hold our own and gradually fought our way back to Auw. On January 30th, 1945, were were at the same location we were at on Dec, 16 1944.
Up to now we were liberators, from now on we will be conquerors. Over one million men fought in the “Battle of the Bulge”. 600 Thousand Americans, 500 Thousand Germans, and 35 Thousand English, French, Canadians, and others. This is the largest land battle ever fought by an American Army.
We fought our way to Koblenz Germany, crossed the Rhine River, was at the liberation of the “Ohrdruf Concentration Camp”, the first camp liberated on the Western Front. Fought through Nuremberg into Czechoslovakia, met the Russian Army and on May 8, 1945 was V.E. Day. The war in Europe was over.
From the time we went ashore on Utah Beach, until we met the Russians, I was on the front lines the whole time. I know that Freedom is not Free.
Keith Davis at Auw, Germany just before Dec. 16, 1944 and just outside C.P. Bulge started over this ridge.