Taking the Bulge - WWII Memoirs

Taking the Bulge - WWII Memoirs

 

1rst Lt Richard K. BLANKENNAGEL

January 1945

"Toward the end of January, the enemy's salient had been considerably reduced. Orders were received on January 24 for an attack in conjunction with the First Army offensive. After detailed planning and reconnaissance the date of the attack was set for January 30.

The objectives were Wirtzfeld, Rocherath, and Krinkelt. These were the towns from which we had withdrawn from on December 19, after holding the vital location for three days. By 1120 hours both the 1st and 3rd assault battalions were engaged in fire-fights with well positioned enemy along the west edge of the twin towns. Although frequently halted by mines or deep snow, parts of two medium tank companies moved with our assault battalions.

The 1st Battalion entered Rocherath while we still were pinned down west of the edge of Krinkelt. Captain Rogers finally could stand still no longer. He charged across our front screaming for us to charge the town. As one, we got up and, shouting and firing our rifles, we ran into Krinkelt. My platoon knew the boundaries of our objectives and fierce house-to-house fighting began. Captain Rogers was so pleased with our progress that he came to the position where I was directing the troops. He called to me and as I turned to join him, I caught a glimpse of a black object. I quickly hit the ground and the black object whizzed over me and hit Rogers. It was a rocket from a German panzerfaust weapon, fired from a second story window. I ran to Rogers and saw that he had been killed instantly. I looked around me at several figures lying on the snow-covered street. One of them was Private Sharp, a full-blooded American-Indian. He had been with our company since the landing in France. He was a university graduate, a talented poet and Rogers' personal runner. He had turned down all offers for promotion preferring to remain a Private. When I leaned over him, he said, "Please Blank (my nickname), put something under my head." I took off my helmet and placed it under his head. I then shouted at my squads to move off the street. During this time the German gunner had reloaded his panzerfaust and threw another round. This time I was less fortunate. The round landed near me with a thunderous explosion, blowing me off the road and knocking me senseless


I have no idea how long I lay by the road. When I got up, I saw only one figure, our company radio operator. Both our troops and Germans were wearing white over-clothes for camouflage. The radio operator no longer had his radio and was mumbling something about not being able to see. I could hear the fighting as I took his hand and started into the village. I knew that "L" Company was to be on our left, so I moved in that direction. Neither of us had our weapons nor were we wearing our helmets. As we moved east through the village a voice in German asked what I was doing. The German soldier said, "Get out of the street! Don't you know the Americans are in the town?" I responded in German (I was fluent in the language because both my parents were German immigrants) that I was taking a wounded man to the rear.

I was sufficiently alert now to realize that "L" Company had not yet taken this part of the village. I took a side street heading south where I could see some American troops. When they saw me they raised their rifles and began to shoot. I pressed my body into the doorway dragging the radio operator with me. I pulled out my handkerchief and waved it shouting, "I'm Blank!". The response was "Blank was hit a few blocks away." I shouted back to them, "Come and see for yourself ! ". They did and were overjoyed when they saw us. They were certain that we had been killed. Under the direction of their squad leaders, they were fighting furiously. A couple of them took us to a room in a building that had been secured. It was then that I realized I had been hit in the right arm with shrapnel from the panzerfaust rocket."