Pete House - 106st Infantry Division

590th Field Artillery, A Battery

The patch of the 106th Infantry Division (Golden Lions).
I was in Field Artillery and did make one patrol, on the night of 17 December it was my first and only patrol. We were not given any special equipment such as wire cutters and flares. We carried our standard issue M1 carbines. Thank goodness we did not encounter the enemy. First, I must explain we artillery men were not trained nor equipped to do patrols. Second, we had lost our battery commander, Capt. John Pitts, the day before to German shelling. The leadership of the battery apparently fell apart after that. We did fire the guns when requested but that was about all. Many of our top non-commissioned officers simply did not display any leadership.

The Battle of the Bulge supposedly began on 16 December at 5:30. In fact the Germans had steadily increased both their firing and patrols since we took over the positions on 10-11 December.

It is certain that the Germans knew where each of us was sleeping, where all our weapons were etc. After all this was Germany. And our government left a family stay in the village of Oberlasched to take care of the livestock. We know that they were in contact with the German Army and many of our phone lines were tapped.

We stayed in Oberlasched all day 16 December receiving much counter battery fire (Germans shooting at our gun positions to try to knock us out. Early on 17 December we moved out to the west. We pulled into position twice and fired. That night we pulled into a position somewhere. Several of us were told to go on a patrol to catch prisoners and find the German line. We had no real instructions, no compass, no map. We went down a trail into the woods for a while and decided this was stupid and returned. I didn't even report to anyone but joined a buddy in a fox hole for the night.
The next day, 18 December I was sent to our battalion headquarters where I joined a group to select our next gun position. This had been a job that I felt I was well qualified for as I had done it in the States. That afternoon the battalion went into position just east of Oberlashad. We fired several times. Sometime that night we pulled out of that position, drove through Oberlashad, and stopped somewhere in a field. The order was given to destroy all our equipment and be prepared to fight our way out on foot. After most of the gear was destroyed the order was given to get back in our trucks and move on. Of course much of the equipment could not be repaired. Besides we only had three rounds for our howitzers. This time we did not have enough trucks to pull our guns so one was hooked to the weapons carrier (3/4 ton pick-up truck) in was in. We joined a column ( I believe it was behind 1st Battalion 423 Infantry) moving very slowly mostly stop and go. I had good night vision so was leading the weapons carrier. The driver could not see me and almost ran over me several times. I got mad and told the driver to get in back and I drove from then on. After daylight 19 December we were told to go up a hill on the left and put the guns into firing order. I wondered where we would get the ammo to fire. Some time later all hell broke loose. The Germans had us zeroed in and were hitting us from all sides. I found a stream bed to hide in.

After the barrage lifted, one of the guys from one of our gun crews came by and said we were surrendering. We both ran to get away. We arrived in a clearing with a number of high ranked officers. I believe one was our battalion commander, Lt. Col. Vaden Lackie. He told us that the regiment was surrendering and we could try to escape if we wished. About twenty of us took off towards the west. After what seemed like hours we were moving through the woods over a crest when hit by fire from the road below. I don't know how many were killed. We surrendered and carried two of the wounded. Thus ended my so called combat career.

By the way my battery commander told me he was promoting me to supply sergeant several hours before his death.

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