John L. Hall
How I avoided capture
Ordered to take three trucks, proceed to St.
Vith to pick-up our daily supply of rations. Was exposed to
artillery fire on Skyline Drive and at AUW. Picked up our supplies
and started return trip to Service Co. C.P. Did not make a proper
turn at Auw and ran into the 14th Calvary Area. Turned back to Auw
and was in the lead truck with my driver named Decker. We were
forced to halt. Other vehicles were in the road, one Jeep was 81st.
Engineers and a three quarter ton carry-all was 590th Field
Artillery My truck received small arms fire thru the Cab.
We left the trucks and took shelter in a farm
house where there was personnel from 423rd. Service Co, 81st.
Engineers, 589th Field Artillery and 14th Calvary. Trying to set up
a defense, a machine gun was taken from one of the Jeeps and set up
on the second floor. For better observation, a hole was punched thru
the roof. 'Could only locate the enemy by an occasional movement, as
their camouflage was good against the snow. It was decided to Fire
the old barn across to the East side of the road thinking German
Riflemen must be using it. After firing, the enemy was seen leaving
the area. Some members from 81st Engineer and I, alternating with
machine gun and rifles, picked off some of the enemy. I was using a
rifle borrowed from Wm. Devine; the rifle was on loan as I was only
armed with a 45 automatic. (The above information can be verified on
pages 33 and 34 from the book "ST Vith, The Lion in the Way" by Cpl.
Dupuy, also "A Time for Trumpets" by Charles MacDonald, p.111). Then
four tiger tanks hit us. Eight rounds of 88 Ammo came into the
building. There was no way to combat this adversity. The stairs to
the ground floor had been damaged. Some of us jumped out the back
window to the ground. The Field Artillery Captain who had assumed
command was at the corner of the building with a white handkerchief
tied on the end of a rifle barrel, trying to surrender.
Several of us decided, we would make a break
for the woods below the building. We could not re-enter the building
without being exposed to machine gun fire from the tanks. The lead
and rear tanks also had a field of fire to the woods. There was a
barbed wire fence between the building and safety of the woods. One
soldier was shot as he slowed to climb over the fence. One or two of
us at a time took a chance and dived under the fence; came up
running and made the safety of the woods. Do not know how many did
not make it.
Eight or ten of us got together and decided to
by-pass Auw and make for the road leading West back toward St. Vith.
When we got to the road we found that Germans had control. Back
tracking and staying in the woods, so we would not be exposed to
gunfire, we went Southwest and located a 589th Field Artillery
Battalion group in the vicinity of Laudesfeld.
I was with various outfits the rest of the
Battle of the Bulge.
On December 16, 1944 we were to draw rations for 3207 men.
December 26, 1944 there was 68 members of the 423rd Infantry accounted for.