Merry Christmas from the USAES History office

Engineers on the Muse – Christmas 1944

Candle and hollyOut along the Muse on Christmas Day, Major General Harmon’s 2nd Armored Division moved into the attack position.  There were two task forces moving out of the village of Ciney, to support the movement down the main road N-36.  At the town of Hamois, Lieutenant Arch Taylor and his 3rd platoon, Company A. Engineers, had been guarding a bridge starting on December 20th 1944.

On December 25, they received an order to blow the bridge, because G-2 posted a report that the enemy was approaching.  LT Taylor and his men set the chargers to destroy the bridge.  Just before they turned the key, a detachment of MPs arrived and told them to abort the mission.  It bridge was needed for American armor units moving south. One of the engineers replied “Well, glory, hallelujah, maybe the tide was turning out here.

Taylor pulled his men off the bridge and they went to the top of the hill and watched the elements of MG Harmon’s division roll their tanks across the bridge and on to the battle. They had been retreating long enough, and it was time for the Americans to take the offensive.

The Engineer company commander, Captain Gamble, had promised all his men a hot Christmas dinner on this day.  He meant well, but it did not work that way.  When Mess Sergeant McCarl, and Lieutenant Frank Hayes left the CP with the kitchen truck they fully intending to drive to all the company positions with the meal.   The truck ran into enemy fire as it came into the area and it had to turn back.

The men had cold K rations on Christmas day.   This was the same as all the days before.  LT Taylor’s men could only consol themselves with the news they might be relieved.

This was the Christmas story repeated across the front lines in 1944.  The soldiers could only keep warm that night with thoughts of peace and the dream they would come home.

Source: The DAMNED ENGINEERS by Janice Holt Giles Studies in Military Engineering number 1

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