Category Archives: World War II

D-Day June 6, 1944: Before, During, and After

To mark the momentous occasion of the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing, the blog post below was taken from my father-in-law’s journal. It describes some of what he experienced as a US soldier in World War II, in the lead-up to D-Day, on D-Day, and after D-Day.

Eighty years ago today, my father-in-law stormed the beaches of Normandy. Just a year or so prior, he and my mother-in-law had arrived in the US after a four-year odyssey through Europe in their effort to escape the Nazis.

Soon after arriving in New York, he was drafted into the US Army and, along with more than 150,000 fellow Allied soldiers, stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

He helped to liberate untold numbers of towns and villages in France, as well as untold numbers of fellow Jews in Concentration Camps.

To my husband, Peter—the son of two Holocaust survivors—D-Day is a sacred day. This blog post is dedicated to him. 

Many of us in the baby boom generation are concerned that succeeding generations have learned little about the incredible heroism of the generation before us, the “Greatest Generation.”

It is our responsibility to ensure that the stories of the generation that saved our freedom are passed down to our children, our grandchildren, and to the generations beyond.

In the words of the songwriter Graham Nash:

“Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by…”

Here, then, is a portion of my father-in-law’s incredibly courageous story, in his own words, of how he helped keep freedom alive for all of us.

I was in the US First Army, VII Corps, Signal Intelligence Service Unit, under the command of General Omar Bradley.

The US First Army had three corps. In May of 1944, the three corps were placed geographically right next to each other running north-south along the British coast, facing the English Channel. The III Corps was 20 miles or so north of us; we, the VII Corps were in the center; and another corps, I think the V Corps, was south of us.

What we were trying to accomplish was to locate German signal stations. This was done by using trucks which contained large receivers connected to huge antennas. Those radio receivers were manned by experienced operators in eight-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 52 weeks a year, continuously searching, listening to and monitoring the facing German Army radio transmitters across the Channel in France.

My section was the nucleus of the SIS Company (Signal Intelligence Service). Every one of our twelve men had a rank, no privates or PFC’ s. We had captains, 1st and 2nd lieutenants, we also had some warrant officers with us and the rest all non-commissioned officers from master sergeant down to me, by then already a corporal (and later a Tech Sergeant).

In May, 1944, experienced radio operators joined us in England, coming from their victorious North African campaign against Rommel’s Panzer Corps. In North Africa, these radio operators had gained valuable experience on how to analyze and determine the enemy’s transmissions.

We established our operations in the vicinity of the Bournemouth in south England, right on the coast facing the Channel. There we were able, already prior to the D-Day invasion, to receive German signals. Our direction finders were sending out radio emissions, similar to radar. From the way our signals bounced back, we would determine the distance and the direction of the German stations.

Being that we had one Army corps north of us and one south of us, we were able to locate German army locations. We then telephoned in those directional findings to VII Corps Intelligence headquarters, which then could coordinate and pinpoint a German location. If the returning signal was strong, it meant that the signal came from a major German outfit like a regiment or division. So we could detect almost every location facing us and we could determine its importance.

VII Corps headquarters, in turn, would inform the 8th Air Force Command, located in our neighborhood. Almost immediately they would send out planes to bomb and destroy the enemy areas we had detected.

After we located an enemy radio station, we received their messages either in code or cipher, all of them in Morse Code. Our section was for de-ciphering, de-coding and analyzing these messages. After I translated the German messages into English, we derived their meanings and intelligence, by examining maps of the area, captured materials and any other available references. (Our section was called the crypto-analyst department.)

This was a very reliable way to find out where the enemy was located and what their intentions would be. The German positions were well hidden and camouflaged, so they could not be discovered by our observing piper cub planes. Besides, it was very risky for us to send our airplanes over enemy German territory, for danger of being shot down. Also, if it was too dark or foggy, there was no way we could discover Nazi positions from above.

Around the middle of May, 1944, rumors started to fly around that a big move was imminent. We were given more intelligence instructions, and now, also, more combat training and pep talks too. However we were never told when and how we were going to go into action. I didn’t get any more mail, neither from Mami at home, nor from London.

However, I kept writing to Mami almost every day. After I came home from the war, I found out that, from the beginning of my time in England in early 1944, my letters to home arrived heavily censored by the US military. But then, from about the middle of May until long after the invasion in June, 1944, all of my letters were held back altogether. That is when Mami got scared and thought that I might not be alive anymore. She had heard about the invasion from the newspaper reports. She knew that I was attached to the First Army and that we were in the invasion, so she feared the worst. And when she stopped getting letters from me, she became even more upset.

At the end of May 1944, we were alerted and transported to a nearby English port. We were told not to bring all of our equipment along because it would be too heavy. We then boarded a small destroyer. We stayed on that ship at the port for a while, until June 4, when we sailed into the English Channel, getting closer and closer to the French coast.

By then the English Channel was jammed from wall to wall with all different types of ships and boats. I remember seeing huge warships and flattop aircraft carriers, cruisers, patrol boats, attack boats, destroyers, submarines, even small motor boats, ferries, freighters and oil tankers which were converted into troop ships and cruise ships too. Every one of them was stuffed with troops from all of the allied forces. We were at all times required to wear steel helmets, ammunition belts and uniforms, all ready for action, and we were all looking very serious and anxious.

The entertainment we had on the ship while we were waiting in the Channel, was playing cards with rather big stakes and shooting craps and occasionally getting high on liquor, which our boys succeeded to bring aboard against army regulations. But our officers didn’t pay much attention, and they got drunk every day themselves.

The sober ones, like me and most of my immediate group, mostly Jewish, went into long sessions of discussions. And we played chess and other games.

The weather was lousy with rain and fog. We were shivering from the cold and the excitement too, most of those days.

But on June 5, we saw the skies clearing up, the stormy rain was abating, and we got more nervous and tense in anticipation of the danger to come.

I only slept in intervals the night of June 5 to 6th. At about 4 o’clock in the morning, I was awake anyway, when I heard some increasingly ominous noises from all sides and a lot of airplanes flying overhead. I jumped out of my bunk and climbed upstairs. There were a lot of flashes of light and thunder, and what seemed like the biggest lightning and thunderstorm ever. But, actually, it was the cannons from our ships and from the English shore opening up against the French Coast where the Germans were located.

The Germans in turn had automatic mechanical batteries. They were shooting from the French Coast at the Allied ships in the Channel. In fact, there were so many of our ships, that wherever an explosive came down, it always hit a ship and a lot of our soldiers got wounded and killed right there on the boats.

On our ship, I knew right away the danger, but I didn’t want to go back down to my bunk. Instead, stayed on top of the boat, but I lay down flat behind the ship’s offices, which was a slightly safer location on the boat.

Some of my friends, Sgts. Feinstein and Siegal, went up front to look at what was going on. Another bomb fell down and shrapnel penetrated through the ship’ railing. Marty Siegel was immediately killed. Feinstein’s left arm was blown off. They were both brought back to England, where Sid Feinstein also died.

I observed the entire action. It was a horrifying experience, a tremendous view of real war. We watched the entire initial beach landing from our deck on the boat. From five o’clock AM on, a large armada of American and English warplanes came from the English Coast. The sky was full, like a big swarm of mosquitos and we saw those unending big flashes caused by our bombs hitting the French Coast. I can’t imagine how the Germans must have felt when all that fire came down on them from the sky.

Our parachute troops from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions jumped down from overhead planes behind enemy lines, and they were quite successful with their surprise attack, although many of these troops were killed or wounded. Many of these parachutists got stuck in the fields, many were shot down, and many just hung on trees and church steeples until the succeeding infantry troops came in to rescue them, if they were still alive at that point. Those parachutists, when rescued, then started to fight all over again.

Our army and the other allies (mainly British and Canadian) came ashore on landing ships with their flat bottoms opening up towards the beaches, just as the ships approached the shoreline. Our troops had to get out into the very cold Channel waters which were at least waste high, and sometimes much higher. We had to slowly wade through the rough waters, holding our rifles high up overhead so they would not get wet. All the while, the Germans were bombing, strafing and shooting our troops even from the moment that our ship captains opened the front of the landing ships. Then, once the troops made it to the shore, the Germans continued to bomb and shoot our soldiers, and many of our boys were severely wounded or killed right there in the Channel waters or on the beach.

Fortunately for my troop detachment, we were not among the first allied assault wave on the Normandy Beaches. Instead, we were transferred from our transport ship to an LST (Landing Ship Transport) in the early afternoon of D-Day. As our landing boat approached the shore, the front of the boat opened up, and we jumped into the rough Channel waters. Wading through deep water, up almost to my shoulders, I was holding my carbine rifle high up in the air.

When we hit the beach at about four o’clock in the afternoon, the first allied assault wave had already cleared the beach and most of the German fortifications at the top of the beach. But it was still quite dangerous, with some bombing and shooting still going on in and around the landing beaches.

It was a sandy beach and innumerable soldiers of all kinds were laying there, some wounded and crying out in pain, but most dead. There were also a lot of dead German soldiers on or near the beach. We joked that they were “good soldiers”, because they were dead.

As we marched inland from the beach, we picked up some souvenirs, some pistols and medals, from the dead German soldiers. But then we were warned by our officers and by the military police not to pick up anything at all because some of the stuff could be booby trapped.

We were guided into the nearby hedgerows, all the time being strafed and fired on by machine guns, artillery fire all around us to the left, the right, above us, behind us, in front of us, there was shooting going on for about twenty-four hours and still our forward troops pressed on all the time. We had with us the 82nd Airborne and the 101st Airborne Division.

The 1st Infantry Division landed; the 9th Infantry Division too, and the 3rd Armored Division, a tank division under the command of the Jewish General Maurice Rose, who was later was killed in a forward action in Germany.

The section where the VII Corp invaded was called Utah Beach, near St. Mere Eglise in Normandy.

The next morning after D-Day, we set up our big antennas and started operations to receive messages. In the meantime, our navy brought over our trucks that we had prepared in Bournemouth, and we were set up for complete operation within about 48 hours.

Our operators started to receive messages from the enemy front, from the different units of the Germans facing us. We were busy practically 24 hours a day. There were always some technicians on duty, then we would analyze and decipher and decode these messages.

The other translator we had with us was a teacher from Philadelphia, also Jewish, Sgt. Frost. His knowledge of German was not entirely faultless. He was from Chicago. His parents who had come from Poland advised him to learn German, just in case, but his German was not too perfect. So, many times, when he tried some translations, he had to come to me for assistance. Every once and a while when he started to break a code, there was some missing interpretations, so with my total knowledge of the language I knew where a certain meaning would fit in. The whole exercise was a tremendously interesting sort of crossword puzzle, except we didn’t play this game with letters or with words. We played with entire sentences which were of enormous and exciting importance.

The military campaign went on, and our troops proceeded further and further inland in Normandy. What we had first was only a small perimeter southwest and north of Ste. Mere Eglise, but soon we expanded further. Other beachheads were formed and joined together like a jigsaw puzzle. We took some more towns and this perimeter expanded from a beachhead into the occupation of the entire Normandy peninsula.

When I was off duty, I started to look around in the vicinity of our bivouac area. One day I got my jeep and decided to go to Ste Mere Eglise. We drove on, and I was joined by Warrant Officer Bernholz and Harold Wolfson. On the way we noticed again many dead animals, cows, chickens, pigs and horses. Being that they were laying around for almost a week, it was a terrible stench. We had to hold our noses and it was an awful stink. But at least the soldier corpses had been removed and buried by now.

Ste. Mere Eglise was occupied by our 9th Infantry Division. Sgt. Wolfson met his younger brother at Division Headquarters there. He had come in with the first shock waves unharmed. The two brothers cried in relief and it was a wonderful reunion. We drank some wine and celebrated this good fortune.

We found out where the new mayor of the town was. The old mayor had collaborated with the Nazis and was arrested and killed. The Free French underground forces had given this new man the charge to be the mayor now. Warrant Officer Bernholz and Sgt. Wolfson expressed their desire to get some postal stamps. Until the invasion, Southern France was occupied by the Germans too, like Northern France.

Southern France, a few years prior to that, about 1942, had made a pact with the Nazis and there was an unoccupied France then under the leadership of Marshal Petain, a traitor and collaborator with the Germans. He formed, with other opportunists, the so-called “Vichy” regime. Their excuse was that it was necessary to save Southern France, which however was later occupied by the Germans anyway. The Prime Minister was Laval. Therefore, all the currency of the original French Republic was changed and also there was a new issue of “Vichy” stamps, which had the pictures of these collaborators, Petain, Laval, Girand and other leading functionaries who were nothing but “Quislings”.

These stamps, of course, once the allies had occupied France, would be discontinued. So we thought it would be a good deal to get them now.

We knocked on the Mayor’s door. A heavy-set man greeted us with a big smile and asked in French what he could do for us. Fortunately, I could speak almost fluent French, which I had learned many years before, after being in France for a little while long before World War II started.

I explained to the Mayor our interest in stamps. He invited us in, and his wife served us tea and bread with jam. He said, “Well, if you are stamp collectors, I will surely want to help you. That is the least we can do for your success to liberate us from the “sales Boches” [“dirty Germans”]. The post office is closed, since there is no mail going in and out nowadays, and with this war going on, who needs stamps anyway. When we open up the mail service again, we surely won’t use Laval and Petain stamps anymore. “Grace a Dieux”, so you can have them if you want.” He gave us a big bunch of keys, pointing out which key would open the post office.

So we walked over to the post office, unlocked the door, opened drawers and removed quite a lot of sheets of these stamps. Not just single stamps, but whole sheets of it. Later when our APO (army post office) started to operate, I sent those in big envelopes to Mami. She sold them soon downtown in New York for whatever she could get. This was rather sad, because by now those stamps would have increased many times their value. But this too is past history, Mami sorely needed the money at the time.

Also, because of my knowledge of the French language, I had a chance to go quite often, with the jeep that was assigned to me, to exchange our K-rations and the C-rations for real food. These rations contained powdered coffee, powdered milk, powdered eggs, spam, a small pack of cigarettes, hard tack and some dried figs and prunes. We exchanged these “exotic” commodities with the French peasants. I brought back fresh eggs, chickens and some French apple wine, and the famous apple brandy called “Calvados”.

I made acquaintance with the two pretty daughters of the resistance mayor. I still have some correspondence from them which was sent to Mami from Ste. Mere Eglise; the letters are still in existence since 1944.

In one of my excursions, which I did quite frequently on my off time, I had the jeep available again. I had my own driver and Sgt. Wolfson came along too, and we ventured forth toward Cherbourg. By then, the entire Normandy peninsula was already liberated by the allied soldiers, except that the Germans had held on to the Port of Cherbourg, which they defended heavily for another week.

Cherbourg is a large seaport. As we were sitting in our jeep on the road to Cherbourg, we had some refreshments, which we had gotten from the French, again for the exchange of our chocolate bars and a few cigarettes.

As we were relaxing there, we perceived martial music. Soon a US Army band marched by in step and then a large US Army formation followed. By then it was the middle of June and it was very warm. Still they all wore OD woolen dress uniforms, schlepping along all the equipment on their backs. Although perspiring profusely, they kept on marching in real tight formation.

One of our fellows nudged me and exclaimed “No question about it. This must be the Third Army under Patton.” General Patton was known as a strict disciplinarian. We, ourselves, were then dressed in sloppy Army fatigues. We were quite dirty since we had not had bath since June 6. We didn’t wear the full helmets, only helmet liners which were light weight. Some of us were bare headed. This was not the case with the Third Army. They had to be in full dress uniforms. They even wore ties. That’s how we saw the Third Army marching out from Cherbourg. It was a heroic sight, but a bit ridiculous all the same.

Now we had already two armies on the Normandy Peninsula. Our fighting troops had eliminated all the German pockets, so the entire Normandy peninsula was cleared.

By the way, I might want to mention that the natives, the Normans [i.e., the Norman French] that lived in that particular part of France, did not favor the American invasion. They claimed that under the Germans, it had been very peaceful. When the Germans arrived there, they didn’t offer any resistance and they let the Nazis fraternize with their daughters and even with their wives, and it was all very pastoral and polite.

The Normans exchanged trinkets with the Germans, and nothing was really destroyed. The real destruction came when the Americans attacked, and many of the Normans’ houses, villages, animals and crops were heavily damaged. They absolutely didn’t appreciate the Americans.

Our two US armies and an English army then prepared for the next phase; i.e. to drive the Germans further north and eventually out of the rest of France. Until the middle of July, 1944, not much happened. Our operators received quite a lot of radio signals, and every once in a while, our infantry caught a German soldier, whereupon they would call me right away to interrogate him. I was the only one in my entire company who spoke a fluent German.

I was driven by military police to the prisoner of war camps and I started to question German army prisoners. This happened quite often. I still remember these incidents where I would ask them to hand over to us the “Schlusseltafel” (the key table for the solution of their changing daily codes). Most of them, of course on German army orders, refused to give them up or had destroyed them already. But I did find some sensible fellows who hadn’t destroyed them, like they were supposed to, but handed them freely over to me, because I had promised them that I would give them a good meal with schnapps and cigarettes, and I would also see that they would get favorable treatment. These were the smart ones.

During the entire campaign, I interrogated maybe a hundred of them. Every one of them denied having been a Nazi. They all claimed they had only acted under orders, and that they had no sympathy at all for the Nazi Regime.

One prisoner of war I spoke to was from Bavaria. He found that my German accent was similar to his. He asked: “How do you speak such an excellent German?” I said: “I learned it back in Vienna where I was born. I was 25 years old when I had to leave, and that is how I know German.”

He then asked me, very politely: “Sergeant, will you permit me one question? How do you feel fighting against your own Fatherland?” Then I really let him have it! I told him how, as a Jew, I was thrown out and I now was so glad to come back to take my revenge.

It was July 25, 1944, when once more I ventured out with our jeep with some other fellows to look at the countryside. As we drove on a narrow dirt road through a forest, all of a sudden we discovered there were a lot of GI’s hidden behind the trees with their faces blackened, and carrying leaves on top of their helmets, their big cannons and tanks heavily camouflaged. The military police stopped us and said, “Where the hell are you going? You are not supposed to be here. We are about to start another big attack, it is imminent. You’d better get back because you are not fighting troops anyway.”

We turned around as quickly as we could. Within about twenty minutes we heard this tremendous bombardment with hundreds of allied planes knocking the hell out of the Nazis. This then was the breakthrough of St. Lo. This breakthrough was accomplished by sending in our crack divisions against the Germans who were forced out of the bottleneck of Normandy. The famous war columnist, Ernie Pyle got killed there by our own bombs. Our Armies then filtered out in all directions into France proper.

Within a few weeks we advanced very far, spearheaded by Patton’s Third Army into the center of France. We were soon near Paris. Our US troops did not go into Paris first. We let the French, under De Gaulle, do it. The First Army went south of Paris to Melun and Reims and then towards the Belgian border.

Now, all this sounds very easy. We advanced and advanced and advanced. However, we suffered a lot, even our own noncombatant company had quite a few losses. We were observed and shot upon everyday by artillery and overhead by the German Stukas and Yaeger airplanes. They would bomb us and strafe us often. Every time we advanced, we had to gather up all our equipment. When we stopped at a new point, we had to erect our antennas and re-establish our communication connections, so we could receive and transmit the signals.

We had to be very near the front all the time. These German radio emissions were not too strong. The closer we got to them, the clearer our reception would be.

We were quite successful. Decoded and translated messages and important intelligence was going out from our company to VII Corps headquarters every day and I was quite helpful. I was not too well liked by some of my colleagues in my immediate section, and I sometimes suffered more jealousy from my own Jewish fellows than I had from the non-Jews.

If there was a problem to solve, I sat with the paperwork for hours. I just wouldn’t leave it alone. I had to finish it up and not wait for the next shift, while the rest of our section would have their eight hours shift, pop out, have their chow, and later on they would disappear into the towns to fool around, get drunk and fraternize with any available shiksa. If I had a task to do, I just stayed with it until I solved it, even if it took me a whole night.

I didn’t feel like working in a union shop, punch the clock after eight hours and you are finished. I had a job to do and I did it, until I finished.

Now, a short re-capitulation of our advance into Germany. As we had taken the Port of Cherbourg and thereby enabled the Third Army under General Patton to join our First Army, we were able to drive through St. Lo in masses. Our VII Corps, with the 1st and 9th infantry and the Third armored divisions, which were our usual divisions in most of the campaigns, attacked northeast in an attempt to make a juncture with the British and Canadian forces, and to thereby cut off the retreating German 7th Army.

With Allied artillery and air pounding the fleeing German troops, enemy losses were very heavy. The roads were strewn with the wreckage of hundreds of tanks and thousands of vehicles. Further east, the allied air attacks also destroyed large number of barges and ferries loaded with troops attempting to escape eastward across the Seine River.

After we crossed the Seine River at Melun, we came into the battlefields of World War I, places famed for the glorious fighting of the American troops in the previous World War I in 1917 and 1918. There were places that we hit again like Soissans, Chateau Tierry. We passed the fortified cities and the VII Corps dashed quickly in with their flying columns, so that the German Command did not know where to expect them next. German motor convoys were often overtaken as they tried to escape to the east. Railroad trains loaded with troops, supplies and vehicles were surprised and destroyed by our armored spearheads.

Everybody in France saw that the German army was in chaos. There was no safe place for them to reorganize short of the German border.

On August30,our troops were the first to cross the international boundary into Belgium. Long columns of German motor vehicles and horse drawn equipment were fleeing from the west towards Germany. This was the famous German 7th army, retiring under orders to occupy the Siegfried Line to keep the American forces out of Germany.

Our artillery and airplanes pounded these long columns, and the German retreat became a smoking ruin. Elements of twenty enemy divisions were captured and killed as they moved straight into the fire of our troops.

Our own Company, the 3251st Signal Service Company followed very closely. We moved across the Belgium border with them, through Charleroi, Liege and towards the Ardennes. The enemy had planned to hold a defensive line on the frontier to keep the Americans off the sacred soil of Germany, but our rapid advance disjointed such ideas. We were there before the enemy could do anything about it. German mine fields and strongly defended road blocks slowed our advance momentarily, but no definite organization of defense was encountered.

The lack of German first line troops was apparent. They were using home guards, composed of high school boys and very old veterans. They involved their retired security, auxiliary police, military police and even training units in a vain attempt to stop the advance of American fighting men.

While we were in Liege and later in Verviers, I found a chance to go out once again (I always had my own jeep and my own driver) to explore these liberated Belgian towns. I searched for and found some Jewish survivors who invited us into their homes. They cried for joy to have Jewish American soldiers finally join them.

Only then did I hear for the first time personally about the terrible crimes that the Nazis had committed against humanity, against the Belgians but mainly against the Jews. The occupation in these places was very drastic. Many of the Jewish people had been evacuated into Germany and then into the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, etc.

I contacted our mess sergeant who was a Chinaman from New York, and I implored him to save the food that was left over after the meals, to hold onto it for a few hours at least. Then I invited the Jews I knew to come to our mess area with small pots and pans. They picked up all the food that otherwise would have been thrown in the garbage.

Our mess sergeant was sort of hesitant to do this at first. “It is against orders”, he cried. However, I was able to convince him that this was a really good deed. In order to compensate him for his cooperation, I would ask these Jewish escapees to clean the kitchen, mop the floors, wash the pots and dishes, and prepare everything for the next meal. Everybody was happy; the cooks, the K P’s (G. I. kitchen helpers), the poor DP’s (displaced persons;) but I was the happiest. I had accomplished something worthwhile, a mitzvah maybe. I didn’t deprive the American army of any essential supplies and I helped those poor people to survive for the next few weeks.

 In September of ’44, we were able to penetrate the Siegfried line in quite a few places and we were advancing through the defense fortifications towards Aachen.

A few days later came the time of Rosh Hashana. We formed a group of about twenty-five to attend the religious services. We had some tallesim and sidurs with us. One of our sergeants, Lou Frost, conducted the services right in the middle of the Siegfried line. It was quite emotional and we had tears in our eyes while intoning our prayers. We were fortunate to conduct those services on German soil for the first time since Hitler came to Germany. I assumed this, since our VII Corps troops were the spearhead of the US Army penetration into Germany proper.

In Stolberg, which was a suburb of Aachen, after a few days of street fighting, we were able to establish our headquarters there. Our cavalry by then had infiltrated the pill boxes of the Siegfried line, deep in the forests.

But then we had to stop our advance. There were supply problems beyond the control of the Corps. So the advance had to be held up temporarily. We were going so fast across France and Belgium, that this advance could not be sustained. Ammunition shortages developed; food and fuel for our fighting troop ran out.

Although we had captured quite a lot of German rations, it was hardly enough. Our Corps, as usual, was leading the 1st US Army, but we had outrun our supplies and our drive was stalled.

The German air force reappeared for a few days of very heavy activity. It was at the beginning of October, 1944. They came over and did some damage, but our anti-aircraft destroyed quite a lot of them.

Then a very bloody battle started for the possession of the Roer River. The Germans were trying to block us because the Roer River had a big dam. They thought they could open it up, and then a lot of water would be released to flood the area and block us altogether.

Finally, our air force came over. It was on a clear day and they began a systematic reduction of the defenses. For five consecutive days, the enemy launched counter attacks, and a lot of people got killed, but finally we were able to capture this obstacle too.

In the beginning of December, there was very little action. Some of our troops were released and went back to Belgium for rest and re-organization. I too went back to Liege for a few days. We had some USO shows there and I met my new Jewish friends once more, until I had to return to the front on about December 10.

The front became very quiet and we were trying hard to search the airwaves for enemy radio transmissions but we couldn’t find anything. We were told by headquarters that the Germans had started a “funkstille” which is complete transmission silence. They wouldn’t send anything at all because they didn’t want to give away their movements and their plans.

Then we heard rumors, all of a sudden, that the German patrols had infiltrated into our rear areas. We were very confused and embarrassed because we still couldn’t receive any signals. So we were not aware of what the German plans were.

Enemy air force now came over quite often and was active with bombing and strafing. Then we heard that some German parachutists were dropped behind the American lines, they were dressed in American uniforms which they had captured.

This was the Battle of the Bulge.

[My father-in-law’s journal describing his experience during WW II continues for many more pages. I will provide more of his story at a later date.]