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Don Bennett's War

Chapter 13 - St. Diè

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When we got across with little trouble, a patrol was sent out and reported no enemy in the immediate surroundings, we proceeded up along the edge of the valley toward the small town of St. Diè. We could hear our artillery passing over our heads and exploding ahead of us in this town. Two Germans came running out at us, throwing down their rifle and yelling "prisoner". At sundown we arrived at the top of a hill overlooking St. Diè. There we saw the small remaining machine gun fort which our regimental commander had defended in World War 1. It was a great moment for him. From that vantage point we could see St. Diè and two other towns in another valley burning from our artillery barrage. It was dark again and we hiked up to higher ground. The last steps up the mountain into the snow were weary steps for me and I had been carrying this heavy B.A.R. and a good load of ammunition 1,242 rounds.
We were told to bed down for a while but we found it impossible to find a place flat enough to lay down on the snow laden steep hillside. While stumbling around in the snow, I slipped, but when catching myself my helmet was jerked off and I could hear it banging down the hillside many seconds afterwards. With no apparent plan, we trekked down the mountain and camped on the edge of the woods about a half mile from St. Diè. We got about two hours sleep and then got up and started to dig in. I dug a hole about three feet deep, four feet long, and two feet wide - just big enough to lay down double up. During the day I picked away with my little shovel and dug an extra hole into one end of the hole, big enough for my head and shoulders to be protected if a shell should explode overhead. I then camouflaged it with fir boughs.


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