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WORLD WAR II - Background

Brevard Davidson McKay, 34 898 791, Private First Class, United States Army
A Company, 1st Battalion, 345th Infantry Regiment, 87th Infantry Division

The information on this page is drawn from the research of B. D.'s son, Lt. Col. Eugene "Gene" McKay, US Army, Ret., supplemented by histories of the period. I have always been interested in relating the valor of one man with the overall situation.

Note that the service record of B. D. McKay in the Army perished in a fire. His son Gene attempted to retrieve a copy of this record, which would have been helpful for this research.

The Few (With One Fewer), The Proud, The Marines

Before the war, B. D. was in the 21st Battalion of the Marine Corps Reserve, and was called up on August 10, 1944. He went to Basic Training in Norfolk, VA. He was discharged on December 20, 1940 for hardship because the Corps paid him too little to support his family.

Citizens Become Soldiers

Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. The United States entered World War II by declaring war on Japan and Germany. General mobilization began, and B. D. was eventually called up again, this time for the Army. Going from a declaration of war to total war took some time. America did not have a large regular army, and was simultaneously fighting on two fronts, the ETO (European Theatre of Operations) and the CBI (China-Burma-India) theatre which covered the Pacific war. In 1943, the United States began to build the invasion force for Europe. It would be led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ambrose describes the mobilization of America and their liberation of Europe: "That the GIs were there in such numbers, and so well equipped if only partially trained, was the great achievement of the American people and system in the twentieth century and equal to the greatest nineteenth-century achievement, the creation of the Army of the Potomac. In 1864 and again eighty years later the American democracy gathered itself together and although sorely tested by three years of war was able to provide the men and materiel Grant and Eisenhower each needed to carry out a war-ending offensive."

Gene McKay: The procedure used was to form a division which consisted of mainly "green" forces, usually the upper tier of the division was formed first. It would then enter a training period that would last for a year or more. As time passed, the division would be filled out with all the people and equipment needed. The 87th moved into the Tennessee training area late in 1943 which would have been the "graduation" exercise, but the division would still not be completely filled out. During the first half of 1944 the fill out would have been completed and the division made ready to be shipped to the theater (ETO).

B. D.'s draft notice (which is not extant) arrived on January 14, 1944 and he apparently left for the replacement center to begin his active service on February 4, 1944.

Gene McKay: The picture shown here was dated January 10, 1944 and written on the back was "left for camp on Feb 4". There is a letter to Mom dated February 4, 1944 from Area B, Group 43, Individual Station Replacement Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The next letter found was dated March 1944 from Company D, 15th Battalion, 5th Regiment, Fort McClellan, Alabama.

Gene McKay: We do not have a date when he joined the 87th Infantry Division at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. There is a train ticket and letters talking about Mom's trip to Alabama in mid-May 1944 so he would have gone to Fort Jackson after that time. The first troops of the 87th Infantry Division departed Fort Jackson on October 9, 1944 and the last elements closed at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on October 11. 1944.

Ambrose points out that, after the D-Day invasion and consolidation of French territory: "Roughly half the reinforcements flowed from the States to France - usually Le Havre - organized as divisions .... The remainder of the men were not organized at all. They were simply privates on their way into the battle wherever they were needed." B. D. was in the middle wave of the mobilization: his division would not participate in Overlord, but at least he was in a cohesive division and not simply a replacement. B. D. said that his own experience with the Marines, however brief, helped him, since he was less green that most of the troops.

Across The Ocean

Gene McKay: At Camp Kilmer the Division completed the requirements for oversea shipment and the following Sunday, October 15, 1944 and the following day trains took troops to the ferry slips at Jersey City, New Jersey. The ferryboats shuttled the troops to the Queen Elizabeth, which was fully loaded by midnight on the 16th.

Gene McKay: At 6:30 am the Queen Elizabeth sailed from New York Harbor and on October 22nd dropped anchor in the Clyde River midway between Gorick and Greennock, Scotland. B. D. was a member of A Company, 1st Battalion, 345th Infantry Regiment of the 87th Infantry Division, which disembarked on October 23rd. Boarding trains, the Regiment traveled to a twenty square mile area of English Midlands around the villages of Biddulph, Leek and Peover Hall. The Regiment stayed in the area for about a month, having Thanksgiving dinner on the 23rd of November. They again boarded trains on the night on November 25, 1944 to Southampton, marched through the streets, arriving dockside the following morning. Their ship left Southampton and they arrived off Le Havre, France that evening. The next morning they went over the side into LCIs (Landing Craft, Infantry) which ferried them ashore. From there motor convoys took them to the Regiment's bivouac area in the apple orchards of St. Saens, near Rouen. Life in the tents of the Red Horse Assembly area was miserable because of the rain, fog, cold and mud.

Metz And The Saar

(Following are excerpts from the Headquarters report of the 345th Infantry Regiment, dated 11 January 1945 signed by 2nd Lt. Gilbert Procter, Jr. as unit historian. It was classified "Secret" until declassified by the Adjutant General Downgrading Committee on 4 December 1946.)

Movement orders came down on December 3rd and the first truck convoys moved out early on the 4th. The troops of the 345th Regiment marched down to the little road junction of Critot where they boarded "40 or 8 cars" which were named because in World War I they were designed to carry 40 men or 8 horses. From there it was a two day trip and the regiment pulled into Briey, France at 1730 (530pm local) on December 6th. From Briey they were moved by truck under blackout conditions during the night to Longeville, a small town in France about one mile east of Metz. From there they began to hear artillery and machine fire from the front nearby. The mission was to relieve 2nd Infantry, 5th Infantry Division and to contain the four German occupied forts located north and west of Longeville that had been built in earlier centuries as part of the defenses of Metz.

B. D. drew a panel about the leaflets in a war cartoon. The 87th Division was in the Metz area starting around Dec. 8,1944. The 87th first entered combat around Metz on Dec. 13, 1944. I have found very little about the fighting around Metz and the Saar area. Patton mentions the 87th was in action in the middle of December. He says that he "visited the Command Posts of the 4th Armored, the 26th, and the 87th. The 87th was taking over from the 26th and one combat command was in fighting, and apparently doing well. Later it turned out that it had not, in fact, done as well as was first thought; however, it was a good division." The 345th is not mentioned, and Patton mentions the 346th as being in action on the 19th. At the same time, this was the first combat these soldiers had ever seen, so the comment about their not doing as well as thought is not surprising. How green the 87th was is illustrated in a story reported by Ambrose, where the 87th was replacing the 26th in the line: "'So there we sat and shivered in the rain and darkness while contact patrols were sent back to try to lead the relieving company up to us,' Lieutenant Otts of the 26th remembered. 'Finally, just before midnight, they arrived - fresh and green. We had been afraid to talk above a whisper for fear of bringing a mortar or 88 barrage in on us, but they came up talking loudly, wanting to know where their foxholes were, shining flashlights, and making quite a racket.'". (This does not tell what unit among the 87th relieved what unit of the 26th.) Ambrose says, "If a replacement survived the first few days, he had become a combat veteran, but still with a lot to learn."

Again, from the 345th report:

The 1st Battalion was the first to arrive and by 2330 (1130pm local) on the night of December 6th and A (BD's unit) and C Company relieved E and F Companies of the 2nd Infantry Regiment. During the night other elements of the regiment moved into their positions and within hours C Company reported the surrender of Fort Plappeville. In the interim 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 345th took positions opposing Fort Jeanne D'Arc and Fort Driant. On the 8th of December, B Company reported the surrender of Fort St. Quentin and by 1610 (410pm local) all forts except Jeanne D'Arc were in the hands of the 87th. By 0600 (6 am local) on December the 26th Infantry Division relieved the 87th and the 345th Regiment moved by truck to the vicinity of Gros Rederching in the Saar and dug in for the night. That night the 1st and 3rd Battalions came under intermittent enemy artillery fire.

Gene McKay: The division still had not been in combat and initially they would have been assigned as a reserve force or in an area of little activity to let them "get their feet on the ground". When the division arrived in France, it was assigned to Patton's Third Army without Corps assignment. On Dec. 4, 1944 they were assigned to III Corps, still part of the Third Army. They stayed part of III Corps until Dec. 11 1944 when they were assigned to the XII Corps. Their initial combat near Metz was as part of the Third Army, XII Corps until Dec. 21, 1944 when they began their move towards the area around Bastogne.

Again, from the 345th report:

A general attack began from that area began on the 16th with 1st Battalion jumping off at 1045 hours taking their immediate objectives in relatively light fighting. On Sunday morning, December 17th, the 2nd Battalion moved out from their bivouac area at 0930 through heavy woods west of Medelsheim running in the direction of Seyweiler. 2nd Battalion ran into heavy resistance and suffered very heavy casualties, but achieved their objectives. On the morning of the 19th, 1st Battalion relieved the 2nd in Medelsheim.

On the night of the 22nd the 1st Battalion reported difficulty getting telephone wire to their forward Observation Post (OP) at the tip of the woods overlooking Seyweiler. Patrols reported receiving machine gun fire from a pillbox and strong outpost near the OP. An attack of the strong point was ordered and after considerable fighting the position was taken, but at a high cost with several killed and wounded, including three of the Battalion's officers. The same afternoon orders came down from division that the 100th Infantry would take over the position and the 345th would move to the vicinity of Cutting, France. By 1600 (4pm local) on the 24th all elements of the regiment had closed and it look as if the men would have warm, dry billets for Christmas.


B. D. always said he spent Christmas Eve, 1944, in a manger. Gene McKay: At his point they where assigned to the XV Corps, Seventh Army because they were going against the Bulge in the Northern Center flank which was in Seventh Army's AO (Area of Operations). Their initial combat mission in the Battle of the Bulge was to secure the St. Hubert-Bastogne road and the high ground beyond. This fits with Dad's cartoon about spending Christmas eve near St. Hubert. According to the Center for Military History, "The 87th assembled between Bertrix and Libramont on Dec. 29, 1944, advanced the next morning to carry the Corps left wing north, cut the St. Hubert-Bastogne road and seize the high ground beyond". So, the division was around St. Hubert between just before Christmas until the attack kicked off on Dec. 29. For this offensive starting on Dec. 29, the 87th was assigned to Third Army, VIII Corps. On Jan 14, 1945, they were assigned to Third Army, XII Corps and on Jan. 25, 1945 to Third Army, VIII Corps which they were part of for the balance of the time BD was with the 87th. Also, Ambrose mentions that the cooks tried to make a real Christmas meal, with turkey, for the troops. B. D. was fortunate to be in a rear area on Christmas Day, as getting this meal up to the firing line was somewhat problematic.

The Battle Of The Bulge

In both World War I and World War II, Germany made one last, desperate push and punctured a hole in the Allied lines. In World War I, they broke through the Allied lines in Operation Michel; in World War II they broke through in the Ardennes forest. In both cases, this was their last sustained, successful attempt before the collapse of the German fighting forces.

In the World War II, the Germans decided to push through in the Ardennes forest, in the area where Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Germany come together. This was Hitler's last major Western offensive operation in 1944. Gene McKay, who traveled in the area, describes it as "the terrain was very hilly and wooded which made it poor for armored (tank) operations. Hitler had chosen the Ardennes for the breakout because it was lightly defended and the German Army was able to achieve initial surprise and success. However, primarily due to the terrain and weather and somewhat to the determined resistance of our forces in the area, the Germans were not able to maintain their schedule. This in turn allowed the Allied forces the time needed to reinforce the area and stop the German forces."

The story of the Battle of the Bulge concerns the First Army (Commanded by Lt. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges), which was operating in Luxembourg and Belgium near Bastogne in the Ardennes forest. They bore the brunt of Hitler's attack. Eventually, St. Vith fell, and the Germans advanced and surrounded the 101st Airborne at Bastogne. The Germans controlled Houffalize, a key city north of Bastogne. They advanced both north and south of Bastogne until that city was surrounded. The Germans advanced past St. Hubert on into Belgium.

Lt. Gen. George S. Patton Jr.'s Third Army, of which B. D. was a part, was operating to the south of this area, near Metz and the Saar. Patton was able to disengage from his combat operations in this area and come to the aid of the First Army by pivoting ninety degrees to face north, and attempting to contain the southern flank of the bulge.

At this point, the 87th, the Golden Acorn, was held in reserve. Up until now, they had seen only limited action. Owing to their inexperience, the commanders were reluctant to commit the 87th to combat. The developing situation, however, meant that all units would see action. After getting into position, they were thrown into the battle.

Patton discusses the tactical troop movements which accomplished his goals in the Battle of the Bulge, including the 87th. "The 11th Armored and 87th Infantry were to close southwest of Bastogne at 2400 on the twenty-ninth [of December] and to attack in the direction of Houffalize in the morning, passing through the left elements of the 101st Airborne." (Houffalize is north of Bastogne.) Patton then goes on to say "I learned more about the action of the 11th Armored and found that it was quite bad". After this advance towards Houffalize, the 87th was ordered to be part of an attack on Diekirch on January 17. This is why they took a sharp zag southeast through Arlon and up to Diekirch (this loop may skirt enemy territory, or simply use the best roads available for rapid movement). Consider the accomplishment, that this forced march of at least 60km was done in three days, in what Patton calls "hideous cold", with full combat gear. (Probably the march was over 40 miles. I do not know if mechanized transport was used, but from B. D.'s cartoons contrasting the popular perception of troops riding in trucks to his own experiences on his feet, I doubt it.) By January 25th, the army was progressing into the hills east of the road north from Diekirch to St. Vith. Once this area was taken, the army turned east into Germany.

MacDonald shows that the 87th and the 11th were released to Patton: "Eisenhower saw a pressing need for more divisions. ... [The situation] left him with only two divisions not yet committed: the 11th Armored Division, just arrived from England, and the 87th Infantry Division, which the Seventh Army had pulled from the line by extending the sectors of the other divisions. Yet so long as the Germans continued to attack, Eisenhower was reluctant to commit these two divisions." With more information about the unfolding battle, "Eisenhower telephoned his headquarters to direct release of the 11th Armored and 87th Divisions to General Patton." Also, MacDonald says, "Close along the Arlon highway an experienced [division] had entered the line," so the long loop around Arlon by the 87th may very well have been to skirt enemy-held territory. MacDonald, in his discussion of the December 30th action, says "the inexperienced 11th Armored and 87th Infantry Divisions lost heavily, particularly in junior officers", such as company captains like Cpt. Kromer (discussed below) who was killed on the 30th, "but so did the Germans."

Universally, all who experienced the Battle of the Bulge remember what Patton called the "hideous cold". In one of his war cartoons, B. D. mentions it. Ambrose says: "Every veteran I've ever interviewed, from whatever side, agrees that this was the coldest they had ever been...." Ambrose also discusses the severity of the cold: "Nights ranged from zero degrees Fahrenheit to minus ten and lower. Men without shelter - other than a foxhole - or heat either stated awake, stomping their feet, through the fourteen-hour night, or they froze."

B. D. also had several anecdotes of his experiences besides the cold. One time, his entrenching tool broke as he was digging a foxhole. He had to scrape out some kind of cover with his bare hands and the fragment of the tool. (Entrenching tools were small, collapsible shovels carried on the belt.) Another time, he talked of looking for his bayonet and encountering a Tiger Tank. (I do not remember many details of either of these stories.) B. D. also spoke of the infiltrators behind the American lines. English-speaking Germans would put on captured American uniforms and wander around trying to create confusion by changing road signs, giving false orders to troops, etc. (Almost every account of the Battle Of The Bulge mentions this.)

Ambrose quotes Private Lester Atwell of the 87th division, who recounts what attacking over the open, snowy fields was like. "We started out. Then there came the long, wild scream and crash of German artillery, and then the double line, thin-looking without overcoats, indistinct in the swirling snow, wavered and sank down flat, then struggled up and went on, heads bend [sic] against the wind. This was 'jumping off,' this cold, plodding, unwilling, ragged double line plunging up to their knees in snow, stumbling, looking back." As Gene McKay's photos show, the 87th had to advance without cover towards enemy positions in wooded areas.

B. D. frequently told me about the town-to-town fighting, and "taking the next town". Ambrose relates what this fighting was like: "If the Germans held the town, the GIs would spend the first hours of darkness digging foxholes in the frozen ground, in the woods nearest the village, and the remainder of the night stomping in the foxholes, staying awake to keep from freezing - and then have to move out on another attack in the morning."

Again, from the 345th report:

On Christmas at noon all companies had a turkey dinner and spirits were high. However, things were going badly up north as the Germans had begun their offense in the Ardennes (the Battle of the Bulge) on the 16th and had already driven 50 miles into Belgium and continuing westward. The division was assigned to 15th Corps of the Seventh Army and ordered to proceed at once to an area several miles northeast of Reims, France. At 1630 (430pm) on Christmas Day, the regiment began its move, but at least they had had their Christmas turkey by then.

After closing near Reims, there were about three days of comparative rest. Reims was only 15 Kilometers (about 9-10 miles) away and the men trucked in for showers and clean clothing. It was also a period to catch up shots to guard against typhus and to receive replacements to bring the companies up to strength. On the 28th orders were received to be reassigned to Patton's Third Army and to prepare to join the push (attack) on the south side of the bulge. The regiment would move about 12 miles southwest of Moircy and wait for further orders. Again, orders came to move and the regiment arrived at the bivouac area about five miles out of Libramont along a road to the southwest.

The troops were trucked to point in the rear of Libramont at 0600 on the 29th to be in position to attack. A Company led the attack with B, C and D following. By 1030 the Battalion Command Post (CP) had moved to Freux Menil, a small town about 5 miles from the line of departure. About this time A company came under enemy fire in the outskirts of Moircy. At 1800 (6pm), 1st Battalion occupied the town after heavy fighting; only to be counterattacked by the Germans an hour later and the battalion was forced to withdraw from the town so that artillery fire could be brought against the enemy forces. On the 31st, 1st Battalion retook and held Moircy.

Gene McKay: However the victory had been a costly one because of the high number of causalities that included Captain Kromer, Commander of A Company. My father was Captain Kromer's radio operator had spoke of him as often as anyone I remember in the past. He thought the world of the Captain. The picture of Captain Kromer shown here was taken while A Company was still in the Metz area before they went to Belgium and was sent to me by Chuck Stout who was also a member of A Company at the time of Captain Kromer's death.

(Following are excerpts from the Headquarters, 345th Infantry Regiment report, dated 6 February 1945, signed by unknown-the last page(s) are missing. It was classified "Secret" until declassified by the Department of Defense Directive 5200.9 on February 5, 1969.)

On New Year's eve the 345th Infantry was notified that the 347th would pass through their lines and the 345th would become the division's reserve. At this time the 1st and 3rd Battalions were located in the vicinity of Moircy and the 2nd Battalion near Remagne. On New Year's day the 1st Battalion was pulled from the line into reserve positions around Ronde, and the first phase of the Battle of the Bulge had ended.

On the 3rd of January, the 345th received orders to relieve the 346th and protect the left flank of the division and continued in the mission for the next four days. During this time extensive patrolling and the security mission were conducted in and around the St. Hubert area. On January 6, the 1st Battalion took over an area from the 347th in the area of Bonnerue, a small town about 2000 meters from Moircy. A Company moved in and occupied wooded positions about 300 yards from Pironpre, near Bonnerue.

Fighting continued in the area with considerable artillery fire and tank lead counter attacks made against various elements of the 87th. Terrain and towns changed hands as the fighting went on in the harsh, freezing January as the division moved forward into Tillet on the afternoon of the 10th. Operations continued in the area and January 14th found the 1st Battalion in Spirmont. The Germans had been routed and the regiment's drive to the north was completed.

On January 17th the regiment began its move to Luxembourg where the regimental headquarters was set up near Hemstal. The regiment was in the defense with their line stretching along the south bank of the Sauer River from Echternach westward for about 7000 yards (a little more than 4 miles). Echternach marked the southwest corner of the bugle, so the regiment had fought on both ends of the bugle. The regiment remained in the defense, sending out frequent patrols, until the 24th when the regiment received orders to move out. Heading north, they moved in the vicinity of where the breakthrough had begun on December 16th. During this period operations were conducted in the Houffalize-St. Vith area. By the 27th/28th of January, A Company, 1st Battalion was attacking the town of Heuem, reporting taking it about 1630 (430pm) only to be driven out again. It was not until about 2015 (815pm) that the town was finally in their hands.

Gene McKay: He did not like to tell "war stories", but I do remember he spoke of Metz, Thionville, Ettelbruck, and Bastogne. Of course that does not mean he was actually in each of those cities or town, but was along that axis of advance towards Bastogne. It was at Ettelbruck his Company Commander was killed. Dad survived the Bastogne ordeal that ended just after Christmas 1944. However, he was wounded in the vicinity of Koblenz, Germany in late January 1945.

After the Battle of the Bulge was over, and the Allied lines had been restored, the Third Army and the 87th Infantry Division continued on towards Koblenz, Germany. In fact, the 87th Infantry Division was credited with the capture of Koblenz.

Evacuation

Gene McKay: Some where between the 28th and 30th of January, BD was evacuated with frozen feet. After leaving the front, he would have traveled through the evacuation channels back to England. When sufficiently recovered, he began the homeward journey aboard the ship Charles S. Stafford and made his way to the Charleston (South Carolina) Army Hospital. The dates of his travel back to Charleston are not known, but he did recover and was discharged from the Army on July 6, 1945 returning to his family waiting in Pageland, South Carolina.

War Stories

B. D. was reluctant to discuss his combat experience. He did not like telling "war stories". When I look back to the years I spent with B. D. in the early 1980s, he probably opened up to me as much as anyone while we were "playing war". With regret, I can remember extremely little of what he told me. I was simply too young; at 10 to 12 years of age, I was interested in "playing" war and the G.I. Joe toys of the time, and did not have the adult ability to take war seriously.

I remember B. D. showed me a book of Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe cartoons once. (I do not remember the name, but it very well could have been Up Front.) I remember the two sitting under a tree in the rain and complaining it leaked. Mauldin's humor was gritty and the cartoonist focused on the plight of the infantry. I was too young to appreciate this style of humor.

He told me the story of his foot being frozen several times, but I have only the most dim memories of it. He was the radio operator for his company, which was under fire. He stayed at his post all night, calling in artillery and air support, standing in freezing water.


Background Information

Very briefly, B. D. mentions many different weapons, ammunition, and vehicles in his assorted writings and cartoons.

A projectile weapon, whether a small arm (rifle, pistol, etc) or a gun on a railroad car, is generally referenced by the barrel's diameter, the bore of the weapon, in either the English or metric system. Metric measurements are usually in millimeters. English measurements are usually in calibre, where a calibre is an inch, so many calibre measurements for smaller weapons are decimals representing a fraction of an inch. Like batting averages, the units are understood and the word "calibre" rarely mentioned.

Pistols were rarely used by the infantry in the ranks, but the most common pistol was the .45 calibre (the famous "Colt 45"). The M-1 rifle, and the smaller M-1 carbine, were both .30 calibre weapons. The .30 calibre machine gun was predominantly used against infantry. The larger .50 calibre machine gun was used against armored vehicles, whether from aircraft or mounted on armored vehicles.

B. D. references the ".88", as a German round. He must mean the German 88mm gun. This gun was versatile, used against infantry, mechanized cavalry, and aircraft; it could be mounted on a vehicle or concealed in a gun pit. (The word "gun" is reserved for artillery pieces; small arms such as rifles are not properly called guns in military parlance.) America did have a 70mm cannon, a light artillery piece. Each division at this time had a cannon company assigned to it, along with regiments composed of infantry companies.

[Note: I need to look up what the "cannon company" was assigned to; likely the regiment. The 345th would have its own cannon and BD would be talking to regiment HQ for local artillery support]

The "Tiger Tank" was a successor to the Panzer, and was the standard German heavy tank at the time B. D. fought. (It carried an 88mm gun. The Panzer IV had a 75mm gun, but with a much shorter barrel for reduced accuracy and range.) The American Sherman tank was not as powerful, but America's air superiority effectively neutralized the Tiger Tanks.

Panzers were smaller and faster, and effective on the Eastern Front (as far as tank battles went, since holding the gains the tanks made was a different issue altogether); the Tiger Tank was heavier and packed more firepower, but slower, which was better suited to the Western Front.

Resources

Books:

Books about World War II are infinite. The Battle of the Bulge, however, is one area about which not much has been written. Only one narrative account exists (that I can find). Many broader books mention the battle in passing. The 87th played such a peripheral role that it is hard to find any mention of them.

  • Ambrose, Stephen E. Citizen Soldiers. New York: Touchstone, 1997. [General account of the life and times of the men who became soldiers and fought through Europe. One of the few books that concentrates on what happened after D-Day. Shows the general experience.]
  • Arnold, James R. The Battle Of The Bulge. Sterling Heights, MI: Osprey, 1990. [Glossy paper with lots of pictures. Good maps. Does not mention the 87th specifically.]
  • Keegan, John. The Second World War. New York: Penguin, 1989. [Good one-volume military history of the war by a tactical historian, good counterbalance to Citizen Soldiers.]
  • MacDonald, Charles B. A Time For Trumpets: The Untold Story Of The Battle Of The Bulge. New York: HarperCollins Perennial, 2002. [Reprint of the 1985 narrative account of the battle, by Army historian MacDonald, who participated in it. The only such narrative I have ever been able to find.]
  • Patton, George S. War As I Knew It. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1947. [Includes some information about the Battle of the Bulge, but Patton broadly discusses the entire war. B. D. had this book. It discusses divisional movements through Belgium in great detail.]

Web sites:

(The web's account of all aspects of the Second World War is more than any human being could ever study. These are interesting primary sources.)

Remembering Capt. Kromer

In case the web page above ever vanishes, this is the account of Cpt. Kromer that is referenced. Note that Hart was in Company A, the same company as B. D. (who was Cpt. Kromer's radio man, and always spoke highly of him).

By Earle Hart (A-345)

Captain William Annesley Kromer was killed on 30 December 1944 while leading his infantry company in an attack on the village of Moircy. He was the commanding officer of A Company, 345th Infantry Regiment.

Having just completed a 350 mile redeployment from the Saar battlefront to the south, Captain Kromer's company was the lead element in the Third Army's counterattack against the German offensive in the western sector ten miles from Bastogne. Captain Kromer was a very special man, a courageous leader, a fearless soldier who left his mark on every man who served with him. Captain Kromer was only 27 years old when he was killed and though he was very young, he had earned the admiration and respect of every man who served in combat with him.

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