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The Fight at Malmedy


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Here is a Bronze Star and Purple Heart pair I just picked up at the Max.Pfc Vabolis was killed on 25 December 1944 in the now known infamous place...Malmedy. He was a member of Roosevelt's ''SS''...the 30th Infantry Division. He was involved in the brutal and vicious fight in Belgium. ..still battling the perpetrators of the 17 December Malmedy Massacre. .. Kampfgruppe Peiper .

The 23, 24 and 25th of December. ..the 30th did receive Friendly fire from US Bombing runs, but I do not think we shall ever know what actually happened to the Private.

''If ye break faith with us who die, We shall not sleep ".

 

 

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Taken from:

Story of A. P. Wiley of the 120th, Co. M:

 

We were informed that the Germans would probably attack early the next morning and we should keep our 100% alert all night. It was decided around 10PM by Capt. Reaser, Company Commander of "K" Co., that we would move further up the hill and this should improve our ability to stop any attack because we would not be in a position to be overrun by tanks. We started the move about 11PM and by midnight we were in our new positions and digging in for the night. Shortly before dawn it began to snow and within a couple of hours we had about two inches of snow on the ground. Our new position gave us a good view of the entire Malmedy area as well as the crossroads at the house and Paper Mill. Sometime during the day it was decided to pull the rest of "K" Co. out of the Paper Mill and have them dig in along a railroad track to our left.

 

Late in the afternoon Capt. Broussard informed me that the 1st Section had left four jeeps and trailers at the house when they pulled out and had not removed the distributor caps and rotors that would have made it impossible for the Germans to use the jeeps had they occupied the house. I decided it would be best if Cpl. Bramlett (transportation corporal) and I would return to the house after dark to disable the jeeps.

 

About 10PM Cpl. Bramlett and I left our positions and moved to our left along the railroad track and down through some woods to the creek that ran through the valley below. By this time there was about three inches of snow on the ground and it was cold. We waded across the creek (the water was about four feet deep) and up the bank into the back part of the Paper mill. We waited for a few minutes to get over the shock of the ice-cold water then we moved to the front of the Paper Mill to a point where we could observe the house across the street. We could not see or hear any activity from the house so we ran across the street to the courtyard where the jeeps and trailer were parked. Cpl. Bramlett went to work as quickly and quietly as possible to disable the jeeps. I moved across the courtyard and into the back entrance to the house. I then moved through the first floor rooms and out back where our machine guns had been set up but I found no evidence that the Germans had ever occupied any of the area around the house. I worked my way back to the courtyard and by that time Cpl. Bramlett had completed his job of disabling the jeeps so we started back to our positions.

 

We had to wade the creek again and worked our way back up to the railroad track and back to the foxhole Mike O'Hara and I had dug the night before. I had to get out of the wet clothes and get my combat boots off because my feet were freezing. I borrowed a couple of G.I. Blankets from a tank destroyer outfit and spent the rest of the night wrapped up in the blankets in the bottom of our foxhole. Needless to say I did not sleep a wink all night. By daylight my clothes were frozen so I had to build a small fire using some beeswax tablets the Army had issued and managed to thaw out my clothes and boots. We had a top over three fourths of our hole made of limbs off of the trees and the dirt that came out of our hole so the fire in the hole was no problem because beeswax tablets gave off no smoke as they burned. We had no combat operations on the 23rd of December due to the fact that the Germans had pulled back south of Malmedy and never tried to break through our area again. Of course we did not know this for sure so we remained on 100% alert all day.

 

Later in the afternoon the cloud cover cleared away over our area and in a little while we heard the engine noise of quite a few airplanes headed our way. We recognized the planes to be American B-26 medium bombers and we were really excited, however, our joy turned to total disbelief when they started to drop their bombs in and around our area. Because of our location on top of the hill overlooking Malmedy we had a grandstand seat at what was happening. Our bombers were not very accurate with their bombs but in a few seconds they had destroyed a small section of Malmedy and the "M" Co. kitchen suffered a direct hit on the house they were in and we lost our mess S/Sgt. Hargrove and several other kitchen personnel were wounded. All of our kitchen equipment was buried under the debris and the total for the bombing was seven G.I.s and about fifteen civilians killed. Needless to say we were bitter about what happened and no one had any explanation as to why this happened.

 

Malmedy was a beautiful town of some 15,000 people that had been spared the destruction that occurred to so many European towns and cities. Later that evening we received some information that had been reported to Army Hdqrs. Malmedy had been captured by the Germans.

 

December 24th dawned bright and clear as we remained in our positions. Around noon my Company Commander sent his jeep to pick me up to report to "M" Co. Hdqrs. I asked Mike O'Hara to go with me and we reported to the Command Post in the center of Malmedy. Around 2:30 PM, after the meeting with Capt. Broussard, Mike and I retired to another room in the three-story house that had a wood burning stove so we took off our combat boots to warm our feet. We had been there about five minutes when we heard a "swishing" sound that kept getting louder and louder. We thought some German rockets were coming in so we grabbed our boots and headed for an interior hallway that had no exterior windows. About that time there was one hell of an explosion and dust and debris flew everywhere. We sat down and put our combat boots on and about that time somebody ran into the Command Post and yelled that our Mortar Platoon had been hit by a bomb. This time it was twelve or fifteen American B-24 Bombers that had bombed Malmedy and their accuracy was deadly. The loud explosion we heard was the house next door that suffered a direct hit. This was a three-story house that was flattened even with the ground. I never did know if there were any soldiers or civilians in that house but for sure no one survived. As soon as we had our boots on we took off down the street about a block where our Mortar Platoon was located. We came to a pile of debris that had been a three-story house and someone said the 1st Section of the Mortar Platoon was in that house. It was obvious that there would be no survivors so we worked our way around to the back of the house to see if there was another way to get into the basement because we were sure that is where they would be. It was hopeless but we did find one man who was still alive but he died in about five minutes. The bomb must have had a delayed fuse because the men we could see were blown up under what had been the first floor of the house. The Mortar Platoon lost fourteen men in that one house but they did not suffer because death was instantaneous. It was beyond our belief that our own planes could bomb us two days in a row. Most of the bombs landed in and around the center of Malmedy and the destruction was terrible. The final count was something like thirty G.I.s killed and four hundred civilians killed and wounded.

 

Mike and I decided that we could not be of any help so we grabbed a jeep that someone had abandoned and returned to our hole in the ground. This had been one terrible Christmas Eve - one that will never be forgotten by the ones who were there.

 

We did not sleep much that night and when Christmas Day dawned it was bright and clear. Our first order of business was to borrow a skillet from an anti-tank crew nearby and to fry a one-pound can of Wilson bacon we had been hoarding for the occasion. We fried the whole can of bacon and the two of us ate every strip. We had a visit from the Regt. Chaplain while we were eating our bacon, however, we did not share any of our bacon with anyone. The Chaplain brought us Christmas Greetings and I do think he understood why we did not share our bacon.

 

Sometime that afternoon word was passed down that Army Hdqrs. failed to pass on the information about the first bombing of Malmedy. These two blunders in the higher commands of the 1st U. S. Army cost a lot of lives and we could just guess what the reaction would be at home when they received the telegram informing the families of those killed on Christmas Eve, 1944. We remained in our positions and continued to improve our defense area and we dug alternate gun positions so we could move in any direction to meet an attack.

Always Buying...Medals...Patches...Wings... Singles or Groups...Top Cash Paid!!!

My Website...http://www.purpleheartsnorthcarolina.com/

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Bulge items are a special interest of mine. This group speaks volumes. Thanks for sharing, TB.

Crapgame: His name is Kelly. Used to be a Lieutenant, pretty good one too-

until someone gave him orders to attack the wrong hill. Wiped out half a company of GI's...

Somebody had to get the blame so he got picked....

Oddball (Laughing): Oh man, I don't like officers...

Crapgame (Laughing): Neither does he, so relax!

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Thanks for sharing Robert, I knew there was an interesting story behind the pair.

 

Here's a map of the Bulge on the 25th Dec...

 

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Thanks.

Always Buying...Medals...Patches...Wings... Singles or Groups...Top Cash Paid!!!

My Website...http://www.purpleheartsnorthcarolina.com/

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Friendly fire KIA's are a very sad part of american history. Bless you for preserving this veterans history!!

Please Remember the Following Service Members who have passed on!

 

Manley S Webb- 1925-2006 US Navy WW2

James W Boutilier - 1921-1983 US Navy Seabees WW2

Russell W Haight - 1876-1953 Spanish American War, Cuban Pacification, Mexican Border War NYNG

Lt Colonel William H Warren 1921-2014 USAF

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Unfortunately the friendly bombings probably occurred more often than we would like to think. Sad story for a brave American.

 

This group will be another somber piece in your PHs awarded on Christmas day collection.

 

Gary B

ANA LM #1201868, OMSA LM #60, OVMS LM #8348

 

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  • 2 months later...

Well done

 

Rest at peace soldier.

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
I HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND IT IS DAYLIGHT
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

Have you Hugged a Clown Today?

You Cant Get A Sun Tan On The Moon..





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Very Interesting!

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Forum Member #1691 since September 2007

Served in the US Army from 1960-80

First Sergeant (Retired)

Vietnam 1967 with 7-15th FA ~ [8"/175mm Gun] First Field Forces

Vietnam 1968 with 1-30th FA ~ [155mm] 1st Cavalry Division [AIRMOBILE]

President & Historian 30th FA Regiment Association ( WWW.HardChargers.Com )

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 30th Field Artillery Regiment in 2018

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  • 7 months later...

Robert, thank you for sharing such a sobering, moving story. I hope you don't mind me resurrecting this thread, but I recently acquired the officially engraved Purple Heart to a Tec 3 of the 105th Medical Battalion. The 105th was assigned to the 30th ID and stationed at Malmedy when this this soldier was killed. He was mortally wounded and died of those wounds on 26 December 1944. In researching this soldier, I found his death described in the book "30th Medical Department Diary" as follows:

 

The bomb hit about fifty feet behind the building in which Medical Supply was located. Tec 3 Henry D. Waters, Co. "A", 105th Med. Bn. was filling his truck with gas when the bomb hit. A fragment from the bomb hit him and he was brought immediately to the Clearing Station where he died. Cardwell was getting ready to go to fill his Jeep, but first decided to take the top down. During that time the bomb fell. If it hadn't been for his decision he probably would have been with Waters. A fragment of the bomb was analyzed, and it was said to be an American bomb. After the bombs were dropped three P-38s were seen flying away. I wish that our Air Force would realize that we are fighting on the same side.

A sad and preventable end for this soldier from Wilson County, TN.

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Have you ever noticed that people who are brutally honest seem to take more pleasure from the brutality than from the honesty?

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