On October 18, 1944, I arrived in Denmark at the headquarters of 4th Company, GrenReg 115 (47th VolksGrenDiv). I had traveled with a rear- guard from the training ground in Wildflecken.
I took command over an SMG group. Equipment and training level were insufficient. The young soldiers had only gone through eight weeks of basic training. On November 9, 1944 we were put on trains and sent off to the western front. We disembarked in bright daylight in an open field somewhere near Düren. We were very lucky indeed that no enemy bombers were in the area flying at low-altitude because of the rainy weather conditions. Since I had already gained combat experience in southern Italy, I was assigned to the advance guard. We drove a small truck to the city limits of Stolberg. There I experienced the shelling of Düren. The earth was shaking and this impact could be felt all the way to Stolberg. After dusk we relieved a unit I didn't know and we ourselves were relieved by midnight. It was our bad luck that our arrival in the area coincided with a beginning American offensive. The inexperienced regiment was in way over their heads.
The regiment consisted of only two battalions; usually there are three. At night we arrived at a castle or maybe a forester's house and spent some time in the farm-buildings. The next morning enemy tanks attacked and we didn't even have one measly grenade-launcher. We ran out of the building and dug in in a hedgehog position so that we could defend ourselves to all sides. Nothing happened, however. A reconnaissance group detected that we were behind the enemy's main-combat line. We left at dusk, the objective being to reach Merode. After a few hundred meters we captured six Americans who had been busy laying cable for field-phones. Subsequently, we came under heavy mortar fire and the company was split up. We had wounded men to contain with and we advanced very slowly. At dawn we reached a German advance post, a listening post in the Marienbildchen area. We got permission to stay in Merode for the following day and night. We also got food, finally. The livestock was bleating in the stables. In the afternoon a woman approached me and asked me to help her taking care of the animals. I was happy to help. One cow had already died, others were wounded. Since I myself am a farmer, I was 20 years old at the time, this showed me again how cruel and pointless war is.
The next morning a defensive position was established in the direction at Schönthal. The Laufenburg had already been taken by the enemy. Around noon of 11/24/44 we learned from a wounded prisoner that an attack was planned for 1 p.m. – 1 battalion was scheduled for that time. We were running out of time. We had to retreat in the face of such an immensely superior American force. At 4 p.m. we had to surrender, right at the wooden tower (Point 224.9). There was no way out. They came at us like birds of prey. Watches and such were very much sought-after items. But the Americans overlooked a hand-grenade in the pocket of my uniform coat. I dropped it and it may still be lying somewhere on the ground in the forest today. Before we could be taken away soldiers from Merode arrived, carrying food. They walked straight into captivity with full food containers. The containers were emptied-out right before our yes. And we were so hungry. We had eaten our iron ration long ago. Now we had to march to Merode, hands up in the air all the way. Military police had also arrived in Merode.
I came to the U.S. in April 1945, in May 1946 it was back to France. We were eventually transferred to French authorities, which was a bitter experience! I worked for a nice family in southern France, agriculture, and was released in March 1948.
A painful time with many hardships was now over. I still praise the Lord that I have survived the war, especially given that three of my brothers fell in Russia.