WW II STORY

16th Field Ar­tillery Ob­ser­va­tion Bat­tal­ion Bat­tery “A”, 3rd Army, 8th Corps

Serve Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By F. Keith Davis

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.

Sub­mit­ted by F. Keith Davis

Keith Davis at Auw, Ger­many just be­fore Dec. 16, 1944 and just out­side C.P. Bulge started over this ridge.

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