It was one of the days and nights before we were taken out of reserve in which I recall two other instances worth repeating. The first was
in the line of fun; the other in the line of duty -- duty, at least, in the warped mind of the First Sergeant we had.
Entering one of the burning villages, our company was resting in a church building. The roof was gone and the building itself badly shelled but as a whole intact. After we had rested a few minutes from the march, we began exploring the deserted town, watching the buildings burn and crumble, looking thru the ruins for souvenirs. In one place we came across the place where a GI had been wounded. All of his equipment was right where he had been when he was hit -- his belt and pack had been cut off, his helmet and raincoat still there. We knew he had been a brand new recruit because all his stuff was spotless and new. It was here I got a "replacement" for my worn out raincoat.
But to the fun -- exploring one of the cellars, someone found a huge barrel of wine. Not satisfied with drinking a few glasses in the cellar, what did they do but roll the barrel a block or so up to the church! From then on the boys proceeded to get more than happily drunk. Highlight of the afternoon was a solemn marriage performed by the platoon medic -- dressed in a salvaged summer straw hat, a priest's robe, carrying a swanky cane. The "bride," DeFoe, the "groom" was Black. The ceremony was performed in all the solemnity the tipsy "priest" could muster. When the move-out order came an hour later, the "groom" had a hard time staying ln the road -- and he wasn't the only one!
From Ed DeFoe, October 30, 1991:
Ref: Page 41 MUD & GUTS
I guess you are the same Clayton from the service...as no one else would remember the "Wedding"! I had forgotten that episode but what I do remember is when we left that church we came outside and there was a basement without a building...and on the floor of that wasted concrete was a pile of "turd" that was really, really large, like really big...and you called a couple of us over and pointing it out said, "Man! I hope we never run into the Kraut who did that!"
From Ed DeFoe, December 18, 1991
Ref: Page 41 MUD & GUTS
Ah, yes...the church "wedding" deal....I wrote you about that...well, it wasn't the first time or the last that I made a damn fool of myself!!
That same night we moved into a woods, several hundred yards off the road. It was necessary for us to keep only two or three feet apart to keep from getting lost in the darkness. After we all had become thoroughly lost, we were told to dig in for the night. Crabtree and I had just started to break the ground for our hole when our squad was told we must go back to the road and bring out hot chow which had arrived in a Jeep! We finally found the road and started back with about ten huge cans -- two with coffee, two with pancakes, a garbage can full of messkits (Crabtree and I had it) and the rest of the food. We slipped and fell in the mud, stumbled over logs, got lost and backtracked, swore and sweated. By the time we found the company we had spilled one whole can of coffee (the most important thing to tired men) and every thing was even colder than when it arrived in the Jeep.
Within an hour the company had eaten and the good sergeant, because we had growled so much about having to get the stuff, said we would also take it back. So off we went in the darkness again, the mess kits just as heavy as before. When we got back to the road we found the other companies had gone out to the road, a platoon at a time, to eat and had finished hours ago. We were so mad we were fit to be tied. When Ray and I got back to our "hole" we said a few words for the sergeant sleeping (by then) in a dugout, rolled out our bed rolls and went to sleep -- no foxhole, no all-night guard ! We just didn't give a damn if the Germans did come and kill us....they'd get the sergeant, too, wouldn't they!
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