Military history

10 RESTING, RECOVERING, AND REFITTING

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MOURMELON-LE-GRAND

November 26-December 18, 1944

At 0400 November 26, Easy arrived at Camp Mourmelon, outside the village of Mourmelon-le-Grand (nearby was the village of Mourmelon-le-Petit), some 30 kilometers from the cathedral town and champagne center of Reims. Mourmelon had been a garrison town for at least 1,998 years—Julius Caesar and his Roman legions had used it as a campground in 54 B.C. The French Army had had barracks there for hundreds of years, and still does in the 1990s. Located on the plain between the Marne River to the south and the Aisne River to the north, on the traditional invasion route toward Paris (or toward the Rhine, depending on who was on the offensive), Mourmelon was in an area that had witnessed many battles through the centuries. Most recently the area had been torn up between 1914 and 1918. The artillery craters and trenches from the last world war were everywhere. American Doughboys had fought in the vicinity in 1918, at Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood.

The transition from front line to garrison duty was quick. The first day in camp featured a hot shower and a chance to launder clothes. The second day the company had a marching drill; the next day there was a regular retreat formation with cannon firing and inspection. On November 30, the mail caught up with the men, boosting morale 100 percent.

One might have thought that after more than two months on the front line, the paratroopers would have wanted to sleep for a week. But after one or two experiences of that miracle that is a soldier's night sleep, the boys needed a physical outlet for their energy and some nonsensical way to release the built-up tension. On December 1, everyone got a pass to Reims. So did the men of the 82nd Airborne, camped nearby. The mix was volatile. Although Reims was crawling with M.P.s, because it was Eisenhower's HQ, there was plenty to drink, and thus plenty of drunks and plenty of men who wanted to fight.

"What's that eagle screaming for?" an 82nd man would ask his buddies when they encountered someone wearing the Screaming Eagle shoulder patch.

"Help! Help! Help!" was the reply. And a fistfight would start. On December 4, all passes to Reims were canceled because, as one trooper put it, "the boys won't behave in town."

Division tried to work off some of the excess energy by ordering 5-mile marches, parades, and lots of calisthenics. It also organized games of baseball, basketball, and football. It borrowed football equipment from the Air Force, flown in from England. Tryouts were held for a Christmas Day Champagne Bowl game between the 506th and the 502nd; those who made the team practiced for three hours and more a day. For other entertainment, Division set up three movie theaters, and opened a Red Cross club. The chow was superb.

Several days after arrival at Mourmelon, the men got paid in the mess hall at the conclusion of dinner. Sergeant Malarkey drew his pay and had started out the door when he noticed a crap game in progress. A hot shooter had piled up a big bankroll. Malarkey thought he could not possibly continue to throw passes so he started fading the shooter. In a few minutes he had blown three months' pay. He left the mess hall thinking how dumb he was—not to have gambled, but to have lost everything without once shooting the dice himself.

Back in barracks he ran into Skip Muck. There was a dice game going on. Malarkey asked Muck if he intended to get in it; no, Muck replied, he was tired of being broke all the time. Besides he only had $60 left after paying off his previous gambling debts. Malarkey thereupon talked him into a $60 loan and got into the game. In fifteen minutes he had built himself a bankroll of French francs, British pounds, U.S. dollars,  Belgian francs, and Dutch guilders. (The arguments about the exchange rate around those crap games were intense; somehow these guys, most of whom had hated—and mostly flunked—math in high school, figured it out.)

Malarkey took his money over to the N.C.O. club and got into a game with some twenty players. He threw $60 of U.S. money into the game—the amount he had borrowed from Muck. He won. He let it ride and won again. And again. And again. On the last throw he had $3,000 riding. He won.

He was afraid to leave the game with more than $6,000, which was damn near the whole company payroll. He put the large francs in his pockets and stayed in the game until he had lost all the American, British, Dutch, and Belgian money. Returning to barracks, he gave Muck the $60 plus a $500 tip. He still had $3,600.

The men were put to work improving the barracks. The most recent occupants had been two divisions of German infantry plus several squadrons of light cavalry. German orders of the day, propaganda posters, and the like were on the walls. They came down, the leavings of the horses were cleaned up, bunks were repaired, latrines and- roads improved. "And thru it all like a bright thread," the 506th scrapbook Curahee declared, "ran the anticipation of the Paris passes. Morning, noon, and night, anywhere you happened to be you could hear it being discussed."

Division policy was that the men would go into Paris by companies, one at a time. The ones who made it came back with tales that topped those their fathers told after visiting Paris in 1918-1919. The ones who were waiting discussed endlessly what they were going to do when they got to the city.

Some individuals got passes. In a couple of cases, they were wasted. Dick Winters got a pass,- he went to Paris, got on the Metro, rode to the end of the line, and discovered that he had taken the last run of the day. Darkness had fallen, the city was blacked out, he walked back to his hotel, got in well after midnight, and the next day returned by train to Mourmelon. "That was my big night in Paris." Pvt. Bradford Freeman, from Lowndes County, Mississippi, got a pass to Paris. Forty-six years later he recalled of his one day in the City of Lights, "I didn't care for what I saw, so I went back to camp."

There appeared to be no hurry about getting to Paris, as the general impression was that the paratroopers were going to stay in camp until the good campaigning weather returned in the spring. At that time they expected to jump into Germany, on the far side of the Rhine. The impression was reinforced when General Taylor flew back to the States to participate in conferences regarding proposed changes in organization and equipment of the American airborne divisions. It became a certainty on December 10, when Taylor's deputy, Brig. Gen. Gerald Higgins, flew to England with five senior officers from the 101st to give a series of lectures on MARKET-GARDEN. Command passed to Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, the division's artillery commander.

Veterans were returning from hospital, new recruits coming in. Buck Compton rejoined the company, recovered from his wound in Holland. Lt. Jack Foley, who had hooked up as a replacement during the last week in Holland, became assistant platoon leader of 2nd platoon under Lieutenant Compton. The men, Foley remembered, "were a mixture of seasoned combat veterans, some with just Holland under their belt, and of course green replacements."

The replacements, eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds fresh from the States, were wide-eyed. Although the veterans were only a year or two older, they looked terrifying to the recruits. They were supposed to have handed in their live ammunition when they left Holland, but almost none had done so. They walked around Camp Mourmelon with hand grenades hanging off their belts, clips of ammunition on their harness, wearing their knives and (unauthorized) side arms. To the recruits, they looked like a bunch of killers from the French Foreign Legion. To the veterans, the recruits looked "tender." Company commander Lieutenant Dike, Welsh, Shames, Foley, Compton, and the other officers worked at blending the recruits into the outfit, to bring them up to Easy's standard of teamwork and individual skills, but it was difficult as the veterans could not take field maneuvers seriously.

By the end of the second week in December, the company was back to about 65 percent of its strength in enlisted men. Officer strength was at 112.5 percent, with Dike in command, Welsh serving as X.O., and two lieutenants per platoon plus a spare. Put another way, the airborne commanders expected that casualties in the next action would be highest among the junior officer ranks. Welsh was by now the oldest serving officer in the company, and he had not been at Toccoa. Only Welsh and Compton had been in Normandy with Easy; Welsh, Compton, Dike, Shames, and Foley had spent some time in Holland.

It was the N.C.O.s who were providing continuity and holding the company together. Among the N.C.O.s who had started out at Toccoa as privates were Lipton, Talbert, Martin, Luz, Perconte, Muck, Christenson, Randleman, Rader, Gordon, Toye, Guarnere, Carson, Boyle, Guth, Taylor, Malarkey, and others. That so many of its Toccoa officers were on the 506th regimental or 2nd Battalion staff helped Easy to maintain coherence. They included Major Hester and Captain Matheson (S-3 and S-4 on regimental staff) and Captains Winters and Nixon (X.O. and S-2 on battalion staff). Overall, however, after one-half year of combat, Easy had new officers and new privates. But its heart, the N.C.O. corps, was still made up of Toccoa men who had followed Captain Sobel up and down Currahee in those hot August days of 1942.

Many of the men they had run up Currahee with were in hospital in England. Some of them would never run again. Others, with flesh wounds, were on the way to recovery. In the American 110th General Hospital outside Oxford, three members of 1st platoon, Easy Company, were in the same ward. Webster, Liebgott, and Cpl. Thomas McCreary had all been wounded on October 5, Webster in the leg, Liebgott in the elbow, McCreary in the neck. Webster was practicing his writing: in his diary, he described his buddies: "120-pound Liebgott, ex-San Francisco cabby, was the skinniest and, at non-financial moments, one of the funniest men in E Company. He had the added distinction of being one of the few Jews in the paratroops. In addition, both he and McCreary, ancient men of thirty, were the company elders. McCreary was a light-hearted, good-natured little guy who, to hear him tell it, had been raised on a beer bottle and educated in the 'Motor Inn', Pittsburgh."

According to Webster, "the gayest spot in the 110th was the amputation ward, where most of the lads, knowing that the war was over for them, laughed and joked and talked about home." Webster was right to say "most" rather than "all," as some of those with million-dollar wounds wouldn't have given a nickel for them. Leo Boyle, in another ward of the 110th, wrote Winters: "Dear Sir, Now that I've got this far, damned if I know what to write!

"After two experiences I can say it isn't all the shock of the wound that one carries away with him. It's the knowledge that you're out of the picture (fighting) for sometime to come—in this, my case, a long time.

"I don't expect to be on my feet before Xmas. I do expect to be as good as new some day. There is no bone damage, just muscle and tissue damage and a large area hard to graft.

"And Sir, I hope you take care of yourself (Better care than I've seen you exercise) for the reason there are too few like you and certainly none to replace you." He added that Webster, Liebgott, Leo Matz, Paul Rogers, George Luz, and Bill Guarnere, all also residents for varying periods of time of the 110th, had been in to see him.

Forty-four years later, Boyle wrote, "I never became fully resigned to the separation from the life as a 'trooper'—separated from my buddies, and never jumping again. I was 'hooked' or addicted to the life. I felt cheated and was often mean and surly about it during my year-long recuperation in the hospitals."

Liebgott requested, and got, a discharge and a return to duty. So did McCreary, Guarnere, and others. As noted, this was not because they craved combat, but because they knew they were going to have to fight with somebody and wanted it to be with Easy Company. "If I had my choice," Webster wrote his parents, "I'd never fight again. Having no choice, I'll go back to E Company and prepare for another jump. If I die, I hope it'll be fast." In another letter, he wrote, "The realization that there is no escape, that we shall jump on Germany, then ride transports straight to the Pacific for the battle in China, does not leave much room for optimism. Like the infantry, our only way out is to be wounded and evacuated."

Webster went to a rehabilitation ward, then toward the end of December to the 12th Replacement Depot in Tidworth, England. This Repo Depo, like its mate the 10th, was notorious throughout ETO for the sadism of its commander, its inefficiency, chickenshit ways, filth, bad food, and general conditions that were not much of a step up from an Army prison. Evidently the Army wanted to make it so bad that veterans recovered from their wounds, or partly recovered, or at least able to walk without support, would regard getting back to the front lines as an improvement. Jim Alley, wounded in Holland, recovered in hospital in England, went AWOL from the 12th Replacement Depot and hitched a ride to Le Havre, then on to Mourmelon, where he arrived on December 15. Guarnere and others did the same.

Webster did not. He had long ago made it a rule of his Army life never to do anything voluntarily. He was an intellectual, as much an observer and chronicler of the phenomenon of soldiering as a practitioner. He was almost the only original Toccoa man who never became an N.C.O. Various officers wanted to make him a squad leader, but he refused. He was there to do his duty, and he did it—he never let a buddy down in combat, in France, Holland, or Germany—but he never volunteered for anything and he spurned promotion.

Excitement ran high in Mourmelon. Now that Easy was in a more-or-less permanent camp, the men could expect more mail, and could hope that Christmas packages would catch up with them. There was the company furlough to Paris to anticipate,-with a lot of luck, Easy might be in Paris for New Year's Eve. And there was the Champagne Bowl coming on Christmas Day, with a turkey dinner to follow. Betting was already heavy on the football game, the practice sessions were getting longer and tougher.

The future after Christmas looked pretty good, from the perspective of a rifle company in the middle of the greatest war ever fought. There would be no fighting for Easy until at least mid-March. Then would come the jump into Germany, and after that the move to the Pacific for fighting in China or a jump into Japan. But all that was a long way off. Easy got ready to enjoy Christmas.

The sergeants had their own barracks at Mourmelon. On the night of December 16, Martin, Guarnere, and some others got hold of a case of champagne and brought it back to the sergeants' barracks. They were unaccustomed to the bubbly wine. Martin popped a few corks; the other sergeants held out their canteen cups,- he filled them to the brim.

"Well, hell, Johnny," Christenson said, "that's nothing but soda pop, for Christ's sake!"

They drank some of the world's finest champagne as if it were soda pop, with inevitable results. A fight broke out, "and I have to say I was in it," Martin admitted, "and we tore every one of those bunks down, and nails sticking out, I ran nails into my foot, hell it was just a battle in there."

First Sgt. Carwood Lipton came into the barracks, took one look, and started shouting: "You guys are supposed to be leaders. A bunch of sergeants doing all this crap." He made them clean up the mess before allowing them to sleep it off.

That same night, Winters and Nixon were the only two battalion staff officers at HQ. The others had taken off for Paris. Pvt. Joe Lesniewski went to the movies at one of the Mourmelon theaters. He saw a film featuring Marlene Dietrich. Gordon Carson went to bed early, to be ready for football practice in the morning.

Winters and Nixon got word by radio that all passes were canceled. At the theater, the lights went on and an officer strode onto the stage to announce a German breakthrough in the Ardennes. In the barracks, Carson, Gordon, and others were awakened by the charge of quarters, who turned on the lights and reported the breakthrough. "Shut up!" men called back at him. "Get the hell out of here!" That was VIII Corps's problem, First Army's problem. They went back to sleep.

But in the morning, when the company fell in after reveille, Lieutenant Dike told them, "After chow, just stand fast." He was not taking them out on a training exercise, as was customary. "Just stand by" were the orders. Dike told them to kill the time by cleaning the barracks. Evidently what was going on up in the Ardennes was going to be of concern to the 82nd and 101st Airborne after all.

Hitler launched his last offensive on December 16, in the Ardennes, on a scale much greater than his 1940 offensive in the same place against the French Army. He achieved complete surprise. American intelligence in the Ardennes estimated the German forces facing the VIII Corps at four divisions. In fact by December 15 the Wehrmacht had twenty-five divisions in the Eifel, across from the Ardennes. The Germans managed to achieve surprise on a scale comparable with Barbarossa in June 1941 or Pearl Harbor.

The surprise was achieved, like most surprises in war, because the offensive made no sense. For Hitler to use up his armor in an offensive that had no genuine strategic aim, and one that he could not sustain unless his tankers were lucky enough to capture major American fuel dumps intact, was foolish.

The surprise was achieved, like most surprises in war, because the defenders were guilty of gross over confidence. Even after the failure of MARKET-GARDEN, the Allies believed the Germans were on their last legs. At Ike's HQ, people thought about what the Allied armies could do to the Germans, not about what the Germans might do to them. The feeling was, if we can just get them from out behind the West Wall, we can finish the job. That attitude went right down to the enlisted-man level. Sgt. George Koskimaki of the 101st wrote in his diary on December 17: "It has been another quiet Sunday. . . . The radio announced a big German attack on the First Army front. This should break the back of the German armies."1

1. Rapport and North wood, Rendezvous with Destiny, 422.

The surprise was achieved, like most surprises in war, because the attackers did a good job of concealment and deception. They gathered two armies in the Eifel without Allied intelligence ever seeing them. By a judicious use of radio traffic, they got Ike's G-2 looking to the north of the Ardennes for any German counterattack (no one in the Allied world thought for one minute that a German counteroffensive was conceivable). Six months earlier, on the eve of D-Day, Ike and his officers had an almost perfect read on the German order of battle in Normandy. In December, on the eve of the German attack, Ike and his officers had a grossly inaccurate read on the German order of battle.

The Allies were also badly deceived about the German will to fight, the German material situation, Hitler's boldness, and the skill of German officers in offensive maneuvers (the American generals in the Allied camp had no experience of defending against a German offensive).

The result of all this was the biggest single battle on the Western front in World War II and the largest engagement ever fought by the U.S. Army. The human losses were staggering: of the 600,000 American soldiers involved, almost 20,000 were killed, another 20,000 captured, and 40,000 wounded. Two infantry divisions were annihilated; in one of them, the 106th, 7,500 men surrendered, the largest mass surrender in the war against Germany. Nearly 800 American Sherman tanks and other armored vehicles were destroyed.

The battle began on a cold, foggy dawn of December 16. The Germans achieved a breakthrough at many points in the thinly held VIII Corps lines. Hitler had counted on bad weather to negate the Allies' biggest single advantage, air power (on the ground, in both men and armor, the Germans outnumbered the Americans).

Hitler had also counted on surprise, which was achieved, and on a slow American response. He figured that it would take Ike two or three days to recognize the magnitude of the effort the Germans were making, another two or three days to persuade his superiors to call off the Allied offensives north and south of the Ardennes, and then another two or three days to start moving significant reinforcements into the battle. By then, the German armor would be in Antwerp, he hoped.

It was his last assumptions that were wrong. On the morning of December 17, Eisenhower made the critical decisions of the entire battle, and did so without consulting anyone outside his own staff. He declared the crossroads city of Bastogne as the place that had to be held no matter what. (Bastogne is in a relatively flat area in the otherwise rugged hills of the Ardennes, which is why the roads of the area converge there.) Because of his offensives north and south of the Ardennes, Ike had no strategic reserve available, but he did have the 82nd and 101st resting and refitting and thus available. He decided to use the paratroopers to plug the holes in his lines and to hold Bastogne.

Finally, Eisenhower blasted Hitler's assumptions by bringing into play his secret weapon. At a time when much of the German army was still horse-drawn, the Americans had thousands and thousands of trucks and trailers in France. They were being used to haul men, materiel, and gasoline from the beaches of Normandy to the front. Ike ordered them to drop whatever they were doing and start hauling his reinforcements to the Ardennes.

The response can only be called incredible. On December 17 alone, 11,000 trucks and trailers carried 60,000 men, plus ammunition, gasoline, medical supplies, and other materiel, into the Ardennes. In the first week of the battle, Eisenhower was able to move 250,000 men and 50,000 vehicles into the fray. This was mobility with a vengeance. It was an achievement unprecedented in the history of war. Not even in Vietnam, not even in the 1991 Gulf War, was the U.S. Army capable of moving so many men and so much equipment so quickly.

Easy Company played its part in this vast drama, thanks to the Transportation Corps and the drivers, mostly black soldiers of the famous Red Ball express. At 2030, December 17, Ike's orders to the 82nd and 101st to proceed north toward Bastogne arrived at the divisions' HQ. The word went out to regiments, battalions, down to companies—get ready for combat, trucks arriving in the morning, we're moving out.

"Not me," Gordon Carson said. "I'm getting ready to play football on Christmas Day."

"No, you're not," Lieutenant Dike said. Frantic preparations began. Mourmelon did not have an ammunition dump, the men had only the ammunition they had taken out of Holland, there was none to be found. Easy did not have its full complement of men yet or of equipment. Some men did not have helmets (they did have football helmets, but not steel ones). The company was missing a couple of machine-guns and crews. The men had not received a winter issue of clothes. Their boots were not lined or weatherproof. They had no long winter underwear or long wool socks. They scrounged what they could, but it was not much. Even K rations were short. When Easy set out to meet the Wehrmacht on the last, greatest German offensive, the company was under strength, inadequately clothed, and insufficiently armed. It was also going out blind. As not even General McAuliffe knew the destination of the 101st as yet, obviously Colonel Sink could not brief Captain Winters who thus could not brief Lieutenant Dike. All anyone knew was that the Germans had blasted a big hole in the line, that American forces were in full retreat, that someone had to plug the gap, and that the someone was the Airborne Corps.

Weather precluded an airdrop, and in any case it was doubtful if enough C-47s could have been gathered quickly enough to meet the need. Instead, Transportation Corps, acting with utmost dispatch, gathered in its trucks from throughout France but especially in the area between Le Havre and Paris. M.P.s stopped the trucks, Services of Supply forces unloaded them, and the drivers—many of whom had already been long on the road and badly needed some rest—were told to get to Camp Mourmelon without pausing for anything.

The process began as darkness fell on December 17. By 0900 on December 18, the first trucks and trailers began arriving in Mourmelon. The last of the 380 trucks needed for the movement of the 11,000 men of the 101st arrived at the camp at 1720. By 2000 the last man was outloaded.

Just before Easy moved out, Malarkey went into a panic. He remembered he had $3,600 in his money belt. He asked Lieutenant Compton for help; Compton put him in touch with a division fiscal officer, who said he would deposit the money, but if he did, Malarkey could not get at it until he was discharged. That was fine with Malarkey; he handed over the money and took the receipt. He climbed into his trailer with the happy thought that after the war he could return to the University of Oregon and not have to wash dishes to pay his way.

"We were packed in like sardines," Private Freeman remembered. Captain Winters used a different image: "You were just like an animal in there, you were just packed into that trailer like a cattle car." As the trucks pulled out, Carson thought about the football practice he had been anticipating with relish, contrasted it with his actual situation, and began singing "What a Difference a Day Makes."

The trucks had no benches, and damn little in the way of springs. Every curve sent men crashing around, every bump bounced them up into the air. It was hard on the kidneys—relief came only when the trucks stopped to close up the convoy—and on the legs. The trucks drove with lights blazing until they reached the Belgium border, a calculated risk taken for the sake of speed.

As the truck-borne troopers were on the road, VIII Corps command decided where to use them. The 82nd would go to the north shoulder of the penetration, near St. Vith. The 101st would go to Bastogne.

The trucks carrying Easy stopped a few kilometers outside Bastogne. The men jumped out—a tailgate jump, they called it— relieved themselves, stretched, grumbled, and formed up into columns for the march into Bastogne. They could hear a firefight going on. "Here we go again," said Private Freeman.

The columns marched on both sides of the road, toward the front; down the middle of the road came the defeated American troops, fleeing the front in disarray, moblike. Many had thrown away their rifles, their coats, all encumbrances. Some were in a panic, staggering, exhausted, shouting, "Run! Run! They'll murder you! They'll kill you! They've got everything, tanks, machine-guns, air power, everything!"

"They were just babbling," Winters recalled. "It was pathetic. We felt ashamed."

As Easy and the other companies in 2nd Battalion marched into Bastogne and out again (residents had hot coffee for them, but not much else), uppermost in every man's mind was ammunition. "Where's the ammo? We can't fight without ammo." The retreating horde supplied some. "Got any ammo?" the paratroopers would ask those who were not victims of total panic. "Sure, buddy, glad to let you have it." (Gordon noted sardonically that by giving away their ammo, the retreating men relieved themselves of any further obligation to stand and fight.) Still, Easy marched toward the sound of battle without sufficient ammunition.

Outside Bastogne, headed northeast, the sound of the artillery fire increased. Soon it was punctuated by small arms fire. "Where the hell's the ammo?"

Second Lt. George C. Rice, S-4 of Team Desobry of Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division (which had fallen back under heavy pressure from Noville through Foy), learned of the shortage. He jumped in his jeep and drove to Foy, where he loaded the vehicle with cases of hand grenades and M-l ammunition, turned around, and met the column coming out of Bastogne. He passed out the stuff as the troopers marched by, realized the need was much greater, returned to the supply dump at Foy, found a truck, overloaded it and the jeep with weapons and ammunition, drove back to the oncoming column, and had his men throw it out by the handfuls. Officers and men scrambled on hands and knees for the clips of M-l ammo. The firefight noise coupled with the panic in the faces of the retreating American troops made it clear that they were going to need every bullet they could get. Lieutenant Rice kept it coming until every man had all he could carry.2

2. Rapport and Northwood, Rendezvous with Destiny, 462.

As Easy moved toward Foy, the sounds of battle became intense. The 1st Battalion of the 506th was up ahead, in Noville, involved in a furious fight, taking a beating. Colonel Sink decided to push 3rd Battalion to Foy and to use 2nd Battalion to protect his right flank. Easy went into an area of woods and open fields, its left on the east side of the road Bastogne-Foy-Noville. Fox Company was to its right, Dog in reserve.

Sounds of battle were coming closer. To the rear, south of Bastogne, the Germans were about to cut the highway and complete the encirclement of the Bastogne area. Easy had no artillery or air support. It was short on food, mortar ammunition, and other necessary equipment, and completely lacked winter clothing even as the temperature began to plunge below the freezing mark. But thanks to 2nd Lieutenant Rice, it had grenades and M-l ammunition.

The Curahee scrapbook spoke for Easy, for 2nd Battalion, for the 506th: "We weren't particularly elated at being here. Rumors are that Krauts are everywhere and hitting hard. Farthest from your mind is the thought of falling back. In fact it isn't there at all. And so you dig your hole carefully and deep, and wait, not for that mythical super man, but for the enemy you had beaten twice before and will again. You look first to the left, then right, at your buddies also preparing. You feel confident with Bill over there. You know you can depend on him."

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