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A day at the front

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by Eva1777, Jan 26, 2016.

  1. Eva1777

    Eva1777 New Member

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    a lot of war movies tend to go about the battle and defeat or victory. But a year is a long time!
    Was there a fight to win every day? Or were there holidays people kept to?
    Besides, what was a day at the front like?
    I'd really need as much information as you can spare.
    Did the German ground forces sleep in tents? In conquered buildings? How did a daily routine go? Food and beverage? Relaxation? Sleeping?.....???
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The 30th infantry division thread over on the Western Europe subforum gives some day to day accounts at the division level and mentions some of the smaller subunits as well as neighboring ones. It's a good place to start. There is at least one WWII vet who still posts here fairly frequently. The WWII vets are noted by having their names in blue at the bottom of the page if they posted today. If you click on the wwii vet link at the bottom it will also give you a list of them who are members. Searching their posts may prove useful. The "what granddad did during the war" forum may also prove useful. Elinor Florence has posted some very good blogs that may help as well although they deal mostly with British or Canadian experiences.
     
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  3. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    In my many interviews with 327 soldiers, from day to day all they knew what was in front of them (what they could see)

    Depending on where they were, mostly they complain about the cold and wet.

    Don Rich was almost killed several times by being careless. Once sitting on the edge of his foxhole at Ophuesden to eat because he was tired of no control. They dropped a mortar round on him. His buddies left him for dead. Another time he was watching ju88s bomb bastogne and was memorized until he say snow spraying up at him.

    There weren't celebration victories.

    When they (327 not 506) captured Carentan, the enemy countered and they were in a bloody battle at Montmarten en Graignes soon afterwards and pulled back. Then went to Meautis until relieved.

    At Son/Best they hammered the enemy on D+2 and had to clear them out again the next day on a long march to Veghel. Arriving at Veghel and got hammered by 150mm shells in the churchyard causing massive casualties. The next day they cleared the area at Erp of the artillery and immediately left for NW of Veghel.

    At Ophuesden the had lines broken by tanks and then obliterated the group that broke through. Then days of massive attacks of Germans throwing themselves at them. Going to reserve they got hit with artillery and then went just east of Ophuesden and took a tank attack with flame throwers. They couldn't understand the objective and moral suffered. After living like rats in mud for 2 months they got a few days in France where there were suicides.

    Exhausted they loaded for Bastogne, got into Marvie and took a large unsuspected tank attack with heavy casualties. Turned very very cold and snowy. Nearly froze. Got bored and saw an enemy come out of the woods and drop his drawers. They shot around him getting him to run one direction then another, laughing before letting him off. Then they realized....there must be more of them and only 5 of us.

    Dec 23/24 they were overrun by tanks, literally over the foxhole. Then more freezing.

    Jan 1st week, very heavy fighting at Champs.

    Next week very heavy fighting at Foy (note, not only 506)

    Next week extreme casualties at Noville and Bourcy and dealt with tanks and this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqHuOMFZKCo

    Chaplain Cosby got command to lobby they be taken off the line as the guys weren't "Bitching anymore" They didn't care about living or dying.

    At Alsace they had some relaxation but locals would do attacks on them. They never knew who to trust.

    Dusseldorf, lot's of shelling and some interaction with locals.

    Hitlers Hideout and Gold Egg, lot's of drinking.

    Remember most of these guys were basically kids, not killing machine. Many were traumatized. Looking through morning reports the number of "combat exhaustion" cases were incredible.

    The concentration camp at Landswerth traumatized them.

    Communion was popular...under fire.

    No celebrations. At the end a thankfulness to be alive.
     
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  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I doubt they put tents up while in combat, using them only when in bivouac or garrison. Artillery was a major concern and soldiers mostly dug foxholes in locations where they would be in direct contact and observation with the enemy. The Germans were known for using locally obtained wood and construction roofed bunkers if possible and if time allowed.

    My friend that served with the recon troop of the 30th ID dug a hole every night that they could not find a structure or (preferably) a basement to sleep in, even though he was not usually in direct contact with the enemy. One night near the end of the war, when they were driving across Germany, they decided to stop in an apple orchard near a large home. They knew the war was nearly over and thought it would be safe to sleep without digging a hole to lie in. During the night, they were hit by artillery aimed at the house, inflicting the only damage the entire war on their halftrack. They huddled under the vehicle near the tracks and front wheels, cursing themselves for being so lazy by not digging in. He said they did not let that happen again.
     
  5. Ilhawk

    Ilhawk New Member

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    Again, it depends on the unit. Some were pretty constant at the front. Even in reserve there was a lot of danger from artillery. Boredom was a big problem. No celebrations. Buddies were hurt and/or died. The German's tended to try and make buildings they stayed in undesirable by defecating in them. The smell of sauerkraut was also hard on the guys. At Ophuesden for the 327, the smell of decaying bodies was revolting. At first they allowed the German's to pick up dead, but they would use the time to get precise locations for artillery or actually set up mortars...so it stopped.

    At Bastogne (Marvie), Pulitzer author Louis Simpson left his post and wandered toward the enemy areas. He came back talking about all the campfires and how they wouldn't make it out alive there were so many. Some historians doubt this, but I've read other such accounts.

    Believe it or not, a number of 327 guys felt sorry for the Germans at time. They were repeated ordered to throw themselves out the 327 with disastrous results, even with tanks. The guys got sick of it. Also they didn't think it was always a fair fight as they had Garand's and a lot of the enemy fought with bolt action rifles. Repeatedly they said the enemy seemed quite arrogant.

    They dug a lot and would argue with officers. Colonel Bud Harper was nicknamed "Dig Em Deeper Bud". They cleaned weapons a lot.

    They were heavily depressed after Holland. After Bastogne they were worse than depressed. Numb. The most poignant thing I learned was how conflicted they were. When they got to know some German locals, they liked them as they could identify with them more than British, French, and Dutch. Then they saw Landswerth and truly were traumatized and conflicted because the people they were growing to like did something so heinous.

    I came away from writing the book with two thoughts I didn't expect.

    1. They were young and immature. Basically kids. Not brave tough soldiers in general. Personal notes I've read show great insecurity, even at the Battalion Command level. Col Rouzie's notes are fantastic.
    2. They were greatly traumatized and I believe they were most traumatized with the knowledge they were likely in some way responsible for a buddies death.
    3. They had no big picture.
    4. They hated the army and today the though of US troops in action depresses them and brings back the trauma.

    Keep in mind the 327 saw a tremendous amount of fighting.
     
  6. bronk7

    bronk7 New Member

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    cold, hot, hungry, miserable, wet, tired, tired, tired, bored....they'd moved to a new location, and have to dig in and set up crew served weapons....clean and check weapons....eat something, go get supplies be it food-water and/or ammo....maybe try to get a little rest- a few minutes, an hour....at night, you would have to stand watch, and some would have to go out on patrol..
    tired, tired, .... the patrol leader would give all instructions necessary...then out they went.....come back from patrol or watchers would try to get some rest...if moved to a new location, that might change very quickly, and they have to move again, and dig again,.......moving...moving....waiting waiting .....move ...dig in...wait....boredom...
    during the day, The Germans would have to adhere to camo, movement, and dispersal discipline because of the Allied air superiority...always trying to get any sleep/rest whenever possible
    sometimes they would stay in their fighting holes all day....
     

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