Letter from the front line, 7th Armored Division

Letter from the front line, 7th Armored Division

S/Sgt Michael DUBY's son

My father

My father, was a member of the US 7th Armored Division and a participant in the Battle of the Bulge (S/Sgt, Anti-Tank Platoon, Co."C", 38th Armored Infantry Battalion). I have a letter he sent home to shortly after the Battle was over, giving some first hand accounts of it.

A little background

A little background, dad was a S/Sergeant in the Anti-Tank Platoon of "C" Company, 38th Armored Infantry Battalion, 7th Armored Division, U.S. Army. He sent this letter to our mother some time after the Battle of the Bulge. Time took its toll on the letter and we can't make out the exact date on it or it's envelope. We know it was written and mailed in March,1945.

Letter to my mother

Dear Honey - I thought you might be interested in a little late but personal account of the breakthrough into Belgium. Shells a poppin and blood and guts tales are a dime a dozen these days. With many apologies in advance for any close ones that may sneak into these stories while I am not looking, let me tell you of a few almost bloodless incidents of the Bulge. First, I warn you that all I know is what took place within ear, eye and rifle shot of our immediate position and that is damn little. Do not expect any point, moral or startling revelations, none are included. We were in a little farmhouse at a crossroads between Recht and St.Vith.

The fat old doll, her husband and her hunch back sister jumped at the crash of each incoming shell. With every bang we assured them there was no reason to worry. American, we would say in unison then look at each other and smile. The civies knew that we were lying but the fact we made a joke of it kept them from getting panicky. This was old Germany or new Belgium. These people were German. On the walls were pictures of husbands,brothers and sons all in the uniform of the German army. Outside in the surrounding hills there was a good portion of a very real German army.

Having about 15 GI's in the kitchen made the folks pretty nervous. The fact that we had an anti-tank gun and a machine gun set up in back yard didn't help the civilian nerves. It was fear more than hospitality that caused them to bring out bread, jam and jellies and to sit up all night making coffee for us. The conversation was carried on in German, french and gestures, mostly gestures. Every so often the old doll would ask if it was safe in the cellar. She pronounced cellar with a hard c "kellar goot" she would ask. We found out later that her mother and her little daughter were down there afraid to come up.

We changed guard on the hour for the night. In the morning artillery started coming in from all directions. We could see fires burning in St.Vith. Our job was to stick it out at the crossroads. At about 3 in the afternoon we saw a German patrol working its way along a hedgerow about 100 yards from our position. Our 50 caliber machine gun took care of them, still it didn't take a Houdini to tell we were getting warm. Our officer decided we should move. We left our open and spotted position in favor of a wooded hill top about 75 yards away. When we went after our equipment that was scattered around the farmhouse the old gal asked "you slappen (sleep) here tonite".

As a joke our gunner replied "no the jerries slappen here tonite". It was no joke. In the woods we booby trapped the trees with grenades and trip wires to protect us from more patrols. Then we sat out one hell of a night. Four of us were on an outpost sitting in a ditch under a telegraph pole. Shells were coming from and going in any direction you would care to point. They landed in the woods, on the road a few feet from us and they cut the wires over our heads. We could watch the buzz bombs go by, jerry was sending over 3 or 4 an hour. They misjudged one, it hit the hillside across the way. Those bombs make a real flash. We heard shouting that sounded German during the night but it came from down in the valley. We didn't worry much about it.

When daylight brought the road in sight again we watched an American peep come up it. It made a left turn past our position. A few seconds later one of Runstedts boys came by on a motorcycle. He made a right turn. He was going too fast for us to get a shot at him. I guess we were all too surprised anyhow. The direction he came from was supposed to be our lines.

The next vehicle was an American ambulance still coming from the same direction. A jerry halftrack was next. He made a mistake. He pulled off the road. One of our tanks sitting in the woods had a beautiful position covering the field in which the Germans parked. A few rounds from the tanks 75 fixed that track. The tankers chased the surviving Germans around the field with bursts from their machine gun. The last we saw of them they were running coat tails flying. Back at our friends farmhouse we picked up 4 "Hitlers Children" and a brand new German halftrack without much struggle. The tankers drove up on them unexpectedly and I guess scared them into surrendering. The crossroads was still open that afternoon when the company came through and we had some extra passengers on the hood of our track when we pulled out. We got paratrooped too.

In Aywaille Belgium we got paratrooped one night. We had felt fairly safe because we had left the middle of the bulge and were now on the outskirts where it was logical to think that danger could come from but one direction. This was quite a difference from being completely surrounded as we had been on three different occasions earlier in the week. We were dozing in our sleeping bags. The guards were posted and all was quiet except a fellow from Texas who was insisting you can get milk from a bull. We have come to the conclusion that anything can happen in Texas. Suddenly from down the road came the rattle of a tommy gun and other small arms fire.

Outside the door of the house we in came the unmistakable sounds of men falling and helmets clattering on the pavement. Above all this we heard the guards shouting "paratroops"! In the darkness of the room we grabbed each others shoes and weapons. We hit the door ready to start shooting. There was nothing to shoot at. Lordy, it was dark. Well when the excitement died down and the paratroops rounded up we had two straw dummies that "bed check Charlie" had dropped. I still can't figure out why they dropped dummies and not the real thing. Before I get writers cramp I think it would be a good idea to call it quits on this letter.

Give my best to one and all. Your husband