Pvt. Bernard H. Guthrie
Bernard Guthrie served in the 106th Infantry
Division in Europe during World War II and fought the Germans in Belgium.
"We were ordered to pull out and enter Germany to attack a town, and the 9th Armored would relieve us. We marched in the freezing rain and under mortar fire. I hit the ditch alongside the road and froze dry about three times. We got to the town and started to move in when German Tiger tanks came in the other end, so we had to let them have the town."
Two days later, his division was on top of a hill, firing down on the Germans, who then found a higher hill and fired back.
"Now word came down that we were going to surrender," he wrote. "This was not a popular decision. We all felt mad and ashamed."
After their surrender, the Americans were taken to a German prisoner of war camp. After six months on a diet of turnip soup and black bread, Guthrie had lost 50 pounds. He had been accused of sabotage, threatened with a firing squad and sent to a camp run by Hitler Youth.
"I had found that I could live through things that I formerly would have believed impossible," he wrote. "I had the confidence of survival and the ability to lead and command. I was able to handle responsible positions. I also learned that you don't accomplish objectives by yourself, but you have to depend upon others to be part of your plans." North County Times - Escondido,CA,USA
There were no TIGER Tanks in our area. Every GI thought he saw a Tiger Tank. The nearest Tiger Tanks in the German Army were in Joachim Pieper's infamous unit that went through the lines about 12 miles north of any 106th unit. They hit the 99th Infantry Division (as I recall it).
If he saw tanks it probably was the 423rd Regiment that he was in. The tanks that hit us were coming in from Schonberg. Although I do know there were some tanks in the 422nd area near AUW bei Pruem. - The left flank of the division. Those German units would have come down and around the 422nd Regiment to my (423rd) north. It also follows (The only town that the two regiments were ordered to attack was "Schoenberg." So I guess we are back to guessing (422nd or 423rd).
The 424th were south of us on the more flat land being attacked by the 62nd Volksgrenadierdivision. We were hit by the 18th Volksgrenadierdivision ( Also some speak of SS. If there were any it was but a few and I don't recall any history of a SS Unit). There were some SS sprinkled amongst the ordinary German Divisions - (mostly as "watchdogs) on their own men. I have never seen any history of a complete SS unit that was in our area in force.
Actually what most of the 106th GIs (Tanks) saw that looked like "Tigers" were the German Self Propelled (armored) Anti-Tank gun. They had no "turret" that revolved. They aimed the gun by traversing the treads. I can see why some would think they were tanks. We didn't - to my knowledge - get a lot of German recognitions sessions. I can't even remember one session where our officers sat down and said "This a Tiger Tank (Mark VI)- this is a Mark V Tank. This is a self propelled, armored, anti tank gun... Think back, we were not really well tutored in a lot of things.
Also he didn't go six months on turnip soup and black bread. (admitted - it was no picnic) A lot of the guys talk about being a POW for 6 months. The Bulge started Dec 16 1944 - the War was over May 5, 1945 (That's five months in my book.) Most 106th soldiers were captured on Dec 19. A small unit held out until Dec 21 (that was a motor pool in the 422nd area - which also included some Infantry who had migrated that way).)
I was captured December 19, when most all the 422nd and 423rd were captured. I was liberated Friday April 13, 1945 (4 months). There were a few in camps further north and east that were liberated the last of April. I never argue with a guy who said he was a POW for 6 months (Hell, it seemed like a year.)
It's not worth worrying about - but you do hear some wild stories. Those were bad times and the mind played tricks - no doubt about that.
Comment from John Kline, 106th Division Association
Page last revised
James D. West