We left the house after about an hour and helped clear out the rest of the town but had no trouble. We stayed for a few hours in another bombed house, trying to dry out our clothes and get our dirty equipment cleaned up. Then we pulled out again, dashing our hopes of spending the night, safe and warm in a building.

Wards led our platoon, or what was left of it, out of town on what developed to be another "draw fire" patrol. We moved down a deep ditch until forced out in the open for better vision. I had no more than stood up when zing! a bullet whistled over my head. I ducked into the ditch, raised my head and zing! another one breezed over. I crawled through a briar patch (not easy with a BAR, gas mask and ammo bag) and stayed in the ditch.

It was getting dark rapidly, and we finally turned back to the north of Rott after encountering enough snipers left behind to convince us we didn't want to stay too long. By the time we reached our company, which was staying in a deserted house about one-quarter of a mile north of the town, it was dark, but with a good moon. Our squad managed to get into a small pillbox near the house and spend the night, cramped, but safe and fairly warm. During the night, one of the guards outside shot himself in the foot -- everyone believed intentionally.

At the crack of dawn we were again on the move, our squad, with Crabtree and, I think, Compton, out in front as scouts. We had gone only a few yards from the pillbox into some woods when Crabtree dropped to his knees and began waving Allen up -- krauts ahead! And then they flushed like a covey of quail, practically under our feet. One German was not more than 30 yards from me, and I remember no feeling at all, more than almost a contempt, when I realized I was looking right down the sights of his rifle! I stepped behind a big tree, knelt down and looked around the other side -- the German had turned and started to run. I raised my BAR, took careful aim (he looked like a barn door in the sights) and pulled the trigger......nothing happened! A second later Craft's rifle cracked and the German was dead, along with one of his buddies. Rifles were popping everywhere and when we finally let up there were about four dead Germans and several prisoners. None of us had been hurt. I found that my ammo, wet from the night in the hole, and covered with muddy water, had jammed my gun. All that time and I was defenseless!

The next day or two were more endless hours of marching on wet, blistered feet. The Germans had pulled back and kept out of sight. I think it was about Dec. 18 that we crossed the German border at Wissemburg, unopposed and moved up into the mountains and the outer defenses of the Siegfried line. We pushed on, up and down hills, until after dark, and then were told to dig in for the night. Again I was lucky. Our squad was placed at extreme ends of the bivouac area as outposts.

During the night, German 88mm shells poured into the main company area and many men were wounded. We were far enough forward to go untouched.

In the morning part of our platoon was sent up Hill 503 to investigate a castle, which was thought to be a German observation post. There were not more than eight men on the patrol but when the rest of us went up to look for them a short time later, we found them with nineteen prisoners! Not a shot had been fired; the Jerries simply came out of the rocks with their hands up. For two days we stayed at the castle, dug in around its sides, drinking water from the meager drippings off the rocks. No other source was available, though we got K rations and our first mail since we had come overseas showed up. I got one letter, from Nellie Lipper.

From Ed DeFoe, December 18, 1991

Ref: Page 14 MUD & GUTS

Yes, I certainly remember about the guy who we thought shot himself in the foot. It was during the attack and I found a slightly used fox hole, jumped in, and suddenly this guy landed on me but he left his foot or leg hanging out. I hollered he should pull it in and he said he wanted to get shot in the leg. I made him get out and we both took off. He was the same guy who the next day the medics hauled away. Maybe that was when he got the idea.

From Ed DeFoe, December 18,1991

Ref: Page 15, MUD AND GUTS

You were right about those BAR's....even if the wind was blowing the wrong way the thing would jam. I know Fererra had one and he carried a shaving brush and a tooth brush to try to keep it clean.

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