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Don Bennett's War

Chapter 25 - Confusion & Horror

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We traveled for a couple hours through the black night, with no one saying much. After many turns and passing through many small villages, the trucks using only pin point lights, we stopped out in the middle of nowhere and we started out afoot. We had a couple replacements in our squad with us now, they were green and scared. We hiked on through the night and came on to a village. We wandered back and forth through town and were finally told to fall out and take a snooze. We just got settled down in a hay barn, when we were called out and had to move again. We were in the wrong town. We got in to the next town just before jumping off time, 6:00 a.m.. At 6 o'clock we began to move on through town, and at that time was started one of the biggest barrages of artillery fire I ever heard - they (our own) were preparing a way for us. There was almost a continuous sound of shells bursting ahead of us. As we moved through the town, we could tell by the cautiousness of our men, the deathlike, unmoving countryside, and the tenseness, that we were entering enemy lines. As we moved out in the country, dashing a few yards at a time, enemy shells began to burst around us. That day I felt that the shells couldn't hit me. We slowly made our way to a highway a few hundred yards from another town. A few shells hit near by and we soon jumped for cover in the ditch alongside the road. I laughed when a spent shell fragment came bouncing across the road and hit me. Lieutenant Rosa wasn't as fortunate. A burst threw him up against a wall of a house and shell shocked him, as he was entering the town. The Second Platoon was having a fight at the edge of town, and we could hear the German machine guns chattering away. They drove the enemy out without our help and we all entered the town. Our platoon slowly entered a house, but found only some supplies and rifles which the Germans had just abandoned. The house turned out to be a priest's house, and we went through the house and got a few souvenirs. Others discovered some wine and cognac in the basement, but only a few tasted it, fearing poisoning by the Germans. After eating some K rations, we were again on our way, this time over an upland. Our mortars had a target and so set up and fired a few rounds. A little while later we captured a farmhouse and saw what remained of a German who had received a direct mortar burst. the biggest piece we could find of him was his hand and part of an arm. The rest of him was splattered all over the ground and wall of the chicken house. Small strings of his flesh hung on the chicken wire and small specks of him stuck to the truck in the back yard. The house was partially demolished and we could tell that the Germans had just hurriedly departed. On the stove was a large kettle of warm mashed potatoes and a lot of their personal belongings were left behind. As we started on our way down the road, we saw a bloody section of a skull lying in the street in front of the house.
We captured the next village by nightfall and spent the night guarding and interrogating prisoners. The Battalion and Company Commander tried to find out who, what, and how many of the enemy were just here.

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