Our Good Friend Peter Thomas

Peter Thomas

Peter Thomas

Young Peter Thomas U S Army

 

 

 

This is a story by Peter Thomas ( used with permission)

     Battle of the Bulge……by Peter Thomas

Our 1st rest period since D-Day came during the 1st week of December 1944. We left the miserable Hurtgen Forrest and went to Spa, Belgium for showers, hot food, and new uniforms.  It was Heaven. I remember I took my socks off and they stood up by themselves.  We told the Green troops relieving us. There’s nothing but old men and young boys out there.  How wrong we were. On December 16, 1944, the Germans broke thru with a massive attack and the Battle of the Bulge began. During those few days in Spa our beloved Sgt. Stamborsky came back to us. He had been wounded in Normandy and had the chance to go home but wanted to rejoin his outfit; He said: ”I knew you guys couldn’t win the war without me.”  He was killed during the 1st week of the Bulge.
We lost 19,000 soldiers in that bitter cold battle. Out of the fog and snow,  three German Armies crashed thru our lines on a 50-mile front. 1,900 pieces of heavy German artillery bombarded the Ardennes. 250,000 German Soldiers and 1,000 tanks attacked, shells shrieked overhead, mortars and machine guns fired searchlights stabbed thru morning dawn.  V1 bombs dropped from the sky.  It was a complete surprise, and we were unprepared. We climbed into trucks and headed for the Ardennes. After a few hours of creeping through the dark, we saw something we had never seen before—American Soldiers streaming to the rear, retreating. We went into that unbelievable Hell. The cold was unbearable. The wind cut like a knife. Our buddies in the sky couldn’t help us. The fog was too thick;  to fly.  We couldn’t dig foxholes the ground was frozen solid the roads were like ice. It was the worst winter in Europe in 20 years.. our 1st Division had fought the Germans in Africa, Sicily, and Europe. We made our stand, and there was no retreat.
On December 17th word went through the line that Kamp Gruppe Peiper ( part of the 1st SS Panzer Division) had executed 120 American prisoners in a field in Malmedy Belgium.  That made us more determined to beat the enemy- we fought like demons. On Christmas Eve, six of us spent the night in an old barn, Being a minister’s son, I was able to recite from memory Luke 2,  My Buddies said it made them feel like they were at home for Christmas. So many Memories.
Trucks were coming up from the rear with Cooks and Clerks- noncombat soldiers. They were taking out into a snowy field and taught how to fire an M-1 rifle, then sent into battle.  I knew most of them would be killed. I remember standing on a frozen road directing tanks and trucks. A jeep came up followed by a convoy. I noticed the lead vehicle had the occupants rank hidden; it was Gen Omar Bradley.  He said to me ” How long have you been here soldier?” …I said ” about five hours Sir,” He said, ” There’s a German sentry box about a mile down the road would you like it?”  I replied  ” Yes Sir” he sent a jeep back for it. What a relief to get out of that wind. I remember one of the 1st days of the Bulge…I was left at a crossroads to direct traffic An American soldier ” Hey Joe, Where is the 16th “?  I told him I didn’t know. At that moment one of our jeeps came up- the soldier left. About an hour later a vehicle pulled up with that soldier in the back. ” Did you let this “Kraut” through”?  I said, ” he’s an American”   “like hell he is”  I hadn’t noticed he was wearing a WW1 overcoat.  A group of English speaking  Germans was dropped behind our line to kill and sabotage.  They were shot as spies.  The night before they died, German Nurses sang Christmas Carols to them. Hearing Silent Night in German is something I’ll never forget I remember on Christmas Day the skies cleared and our bombers and fighters planes came to help.
We saw the 1st German jet Streak across the heavens. We all felt we were lucky that the aircraft wasn’t available earlier in the war.  On December  27th, I was hit by German Shrapnel.  The wounds were not life threatening, and I rejoined my platoon in a couple of days.  The middle of January stopped the German advance.  The enemy was on the run.  If we hadn’t succeeded, the war would have gone on for years. As we moved forward in early January 1945, we saw hundreds of our dead, lying in the snow. That memory will stay with me Always. How can we ever forget what they did? I am so proud to be a Member of the 1st Division MP Platoon- the finest group of men I have ever known.
Our Provost Marshall was Colonel Tom Lancer- The Best Officer I have ever known.   We did our Job-followed orders. We were dropped off alone in a recently held enemy territory, in snow, rain, and mud for hours; we had been shot at by snipers, shelled at crossroads by 88’s, strafed by enemy planes, we took German Soldiers back and guarded our Military Installations. Our Contribution could never compare to the front line infantryman, but we were vital and necessary, and yes we did help win the war. “No Mission to Difficult …No Sacrifice too Great   Duty first”. in closing, I submit this Article about the MP’s  from Stars and Stripes Magazine published just after D-Day   I am Proud to have been part of the 1st Division MP Platoon.
written by Peter Thomas, typed for this website in complete form, by C.W.  ( used with Permission )
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