Donald Wallace's account of the Battle of the Bulge

394th Infantry Regiment, 99th US Infantry Division

Donald Wallace: On the morning of December 16th there was a barrage that went on for the longest time. It lighted the horizon over the trees and,since nothing could be heard overhead in the way of passing artillery, we didn't think that it could be ours. It was weird. We were billeted in and around a big house serving as 3rd Battalion Headquarters up the rise from Bucholz Station where L Company was. (394th Infantry, 99th Division) Sometime during the couple of hours (it seemed about that long) that followed I tried to start a fire smolderng embers of a fire from the night before with a can of gasoline taken from a nearby jeep. (Stupid thing to do) A flame crept up the spout and, spilling the fuel, my hand and arm caught fire. I rolled over it to douse the flames. Blisters formed all over my left hand (I was a southpaw) and in order to be able top fire my carbine, I had to bite open the blisters. I left the line from Elsenborn Ridge on January 4th with sebsequent blood poisoning. I remember (in a hospital in Liege) telling the nurses that I didn't feel right about being so muddy and dirty and being put in a bed with clean sheets. (I know that that sounds stupid,but these things stand out.)

During the daylight hours of the 16th of December I had to carry messages from the large house down the road to Bucholz Station to L Company (Did I neglect to say that I was a company runner?) It seems as though it must have been about 500-600 yards. There was rifle fire and sometimes a single artillery shell would be lobbed in as a psychological ploy. On one of my trips to the station, I was within 15 or 20 feet of going beneath the railroad overpass at the station, and one of these exploded on the overpass. The concussion tore my helmet off and knocked me to the ground. A close call and I thought about how lucky I was.
Sometime during the day of the 16th there was quite an artillery barrage layed on L Company and the Btn Headquarters. We had dug slit trenches, but ran into a box car (It was low to the ground without its wheels.) just because that "felt" better. The barrage lasted awhile and no shell ever hit the box car, but the noise was shattering and continuous. It was also very scarry when I realized that I should be in a foxhole. Afterward we examined the box car and noted that shrapnel had torn through the thing, sll along its side down to less than two feet above ground level. Again I felt lucky.

During the night we pulled back into the forest. Word came down the German paratroopers in GI uniforms were infiltering the area, and I delivered the message that everyone was to remain perfectly still and that they should shoot anything that moved. A short time later I was told to deliver a change of password. I said, "but they'll shoot at me!" (It was my turn and the message had to be delivered.) The forest was so dark and so very quiet. Every step I took I thought, "God, I hope I don't step on a twig!" (The snap, you know.) I was scared. Suddenly I heard, "Halt!" I recognized the voice and I remember my response to this day. It was,"Don't shoot! It's me, Wallace!" The guys all knew me. We had been together since Fannin. I delivered the change of password and felt lucky again.

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