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Glen A. Davison
Headquarters, G-2 Section, 3AD
From "Dear Mom," a booklet of his letters published by the author in 1946


Mons, Belgium
September 5, 1944

Dear Mom,

During the last two or three days, it looked as though you might be minus a son. We have just been through one of the darndest battles we have had so far. It was thrilling while it lasted, but after it was over it was more chilling than thrilling to think about. It could have come out a lot differently if the Germans had known how little the force was that opposed them.

Our division had been battling to the east towards Metz, France, one afternoon last week when suddenly a Cub plane started circling our column. It landed, and an officer from Corps came hurrying into the General's car. The sealed orders he carried proved to be an order to break with the enemy ahead and to turn ninety degrees to the north and head for Mons, Belgium. The command radios started cracking and within an hour the stupendous task of wheeling the entire division had been completed, and it was streaking north for its new objective.

This change of direction resulted in one of the most confused, but important, battles so far in this war. The German 7th Army had withdrawn from the Paris area and was heading north for Belgium, where they were to turn east to the German border and the Siegfried Line. We had no inkling of this and they were under the impression that the closest Americans were battling towards Metz.

In a lightning thrust the Combat Commands of our division had driven north and had taken Mons without too much resistance. They were camped in and around the city, and our headquarters was a few miles to the south where we pulled into a large chateau for the night. The First Infantry Division had been out-distanced in the mad dash north and was still about twenty-five miles south of us yet when darkness closed in.

About the first hint we received of the impending clash of the two forces was a captured map that showed routes of advance of the German army that led straight thru our Command Post. You can imagine the uproar it threw the camp into. The chateau was located in a patch of trees with open fields on all sides. We knew that our regular security guards couldn't hope to cope with what was to come, so we radioed to the commands to send additional forces. The reply was that they were already fighting like hell and couldn't get thru to us. We knew that the infantry was too far away to be of help, so it was up to us to stick it out. Every man that could be spared from his regular duties oiled up his guns and drew additional ammunition. I volunteered to help and was given a job as Sgt. in command of an out-post.

I was given two men and shown the area we were to cover with our guns. A small creek ran along the edge of the woods. From the creek to a wooded area about seven hundred yards away was an open wheat stubble field. Along the main highway that crossed the creek was a high hedge for about a hundred yards. From there on it was open to our fire. We grabbed shovels and shelved off the creek bank on the far side from the camp. Working like mad, we dug deep and wide. We set up a 50 caliber machine gun and one of 30 caliber, made three handy stacks of our hand grenades and placed our small arms handy. We had an M-l, two carbines and a pistol. We tested the field of fire and then sat down to wait out the enemy.

An hour passed and nothing happened. Two hours passed and still nothing unusual. We passed the time enlarging our fort so that it would accommodate our bed-rolls. It was just like kid games where we had built forts to repel the kids from across the tracks, and when we had finished I sat behind the parapet and let my thoughts wander back to those days. We had drawn straws for shifts on watch and the others were in their sacks. We had had a hard day and even the promised excitement couldn't keep their eyes open. The night was pitchy dark, for the moon had not yet risen.

My thoughts were suddenly jerked back to the present by a burst of heavy firing down the highway behind me. I crouched behind the smaller machine gun and waited, hardly breathing. Then thru the hedge I saw a flaming vehicle come careening up the road. I yelled to the men in the next post and asked if it was German. "Yeh, Jerry half-track!" came back the answer! About thirty yards beyond the hedge the flaming hulk came to an abrupt stop, and I could see men jumping from all sides of it. They were silhouetted in the flames and were a perfect target. One figure started directly towards me but turned and dashed away up the ditch. Swinging the "thirty" around, I sent a burst of tracer winging towards him. They were low, so I pulled down and sent the pink streaks swinging up and through him. He faltered in his stride and crashed forward. Swinging the gun to the left, swept the glowing hail to bear on the second runner. He too went down in a heap and lay still. Then the "track" blew up in a huge mushroom of flame and smoke. It burned for twenty minutes, and it must have been loaded with signal flares and ammunition for periodically it spouted colored lights like roman-candles and sky-rockets.

The flames died out and again all was quiet. The boys curled up in their sacks again and were soon snoring in unison. I was left with my thoughts and they weren't very pleasant. I had just killed my first humans. Then I thought of all the things I had seen in England and France that these people had done, and I almost reveled in the fact that I had helped avenge those things. Never again would I worry myself over killing a German.

About two hundred yards in front of our post a dirt road cut thru the wheat field parallel. The moon had risen and this road and the bank on the far side of it made a black streak across the light colored field. I don't know what brought me to attention but I noticed a dark, moving blotch coming towards me from the dark streak of the road. Then I made out several other dark objects behind the one I had first noticed. Crawling over to the boys, I shook them awake. Quietly we prepared our guns and trained them towards the advancing splotches. When we were ready, one of the fellows challenged. The moving figures stopped and then started forward. Taking up my carbine I gun-pointed at the forward figure. At the crack he half rose, in a regular movie style, and pitched forward. The boys opened up on the others with both machine guns. The Krauts yelled bloody murder so we let up and yelled for them to come in. Instead of doing so they started back the way they had come. All except the one I had nailed with the carbine. So we opened up again and this time when we stopped they came in on the run with hands over their heads. There were fourteen of them. The devils must have been attacking from all sides for every other gun in the CP was soon chattering and the dull "brump" of hand grenades could be heard here and there.

It was still going on as I dozed off to sleep. It must have been about three in the morning when Horsey Morris woke me. He had a finger to his lips and he motioned to the dark strip out in the field. Again there were figures out there, so we opened up with everything we had. The figures crouched and ran towards the road where they seemed to disappear into the open field. Things were quiet again when my turn came to stand guard.

I kept watching the spot where the runners had disappeared, for it still puzzled me. Suddenly I noticed what appeared to be the head and shoulders of a man at the very spot where they had vanished and I knew the answer. All along the roads at about hundred yard intervals, all the way from the beach at Isigny were zigzag fox-holes used by the natives when planes came over to strafe. The Jerrys had holed up in one. I took a pot-shot at the head and it ducked out of sight. Not a minute later though a slug zinged into the dirt in front of me. It was followed by the spiteful crack of a rifle and I saw the guy duck down again. When one or two of them would raise up, I would give them a couple rounds and vice-versa. The slugs they sent were mostly high and I could hear them whanging into the bank or the trees behind me. On the bank behind our dugout were several of the fellows sleeping. The slugs were ripping right in amongst them. I yelled several times for them to get the hell out of there. They just mumbled and went back to sleep. Finally I gave up trying to move them, for every time I yelled it was a signal for more shots from the Krauts. When morning came there wasn't one of them that had been hit, but you should have seen their faces when they saw all the holes in the tree's around them.

About dawn Heaton spotted two Germans crawling out to the man I had dropped during the night. He yelled for them to come in but they continued to drag the man out. They had no medical insignia on them so Horsey took his M-l and put a slug thru the helmet of one of them. A beautiful shot it was, for it was about two hundred yards and it was still too dark for sighting. We opened up with both machine guns and sent a hail of lead over the head of the remaining man. Then we yelled for him to come in. We were surprised to see several others rise up from the dark, strip, and come in with him. They said the guy was wounded that they had been trying to drag back so we sent them out after him. I didn't realize what a carbine slug could do until I saw this fellow. The slug had hit the hip and opened his leg up all the way to the knee. We wrapped him up and sent him back to the medics. He was weak from exposure and loss of blood but the meds said he would live.

When daylight came the guys who had been dueling with me raised a white flag and came in. There were ten of them.

All day and all the next night the fight went on and more and more prisoners piled into our cage. Our tanks shelled the woods beyond the camp and more hundreds came out. Some tried to take off across a field. They were out of small arms range so thought they were safe. They went in twos and threes so that the artillery wouldn't shoot at them. About the fourth group started out when an artillery man decided to put a stop to it. He bore-sighted on a spot just ahead of the three men and when they reached that spot he pulled the lanyard. There was a crash of flame where the men had been. When the smoke and dust cleared the field was empty. Three more Krauts had died for Hitler. That put a stop to the crossing the field.

We witnessed one act that showed the sportsmanship of the Yank and the courage of a German soldier. A wounded German, well within small arms range, was trying to crawl away. From over the far hill came another German wheeling a bicycle. The boys opened up on him from the next outpost and slugs were kicking up dust all around him. He came right on, never faltering. When he neared the wounded man, the fellows stopped firing. He picked up the man and placed him across the cycle. Then he took off the way he had come and there wasn't a shot fired. I heard one of the fellows say, "That guy's a man even if he is a Jerry. You can't shoot a bird that will do that."

On the morning of the third day the infantry came up, and we were ordered on towards the Siegfried Line. Our headquarters consists of about three hundred men, yet we had killed more that two hundred of the enemy and had captured more than two thousand of them. Knocked out a hell of a lot of their vehicles too.

The job ahead should be a lot easier now. This army that had tried to pass thru us was intended to man the concrete pill-boxes of the West Wall. Five of their generals and forty thousand men will never fight there, for they ran into the first team of the First Army: the First Infantry and the Third Armored Divisions.

Well, Mom, it's time to move on, so will end this. Can't send it now, but it will come later.

Goodbye and all my love,


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