Wwii Letter, 6th Armored Division. Battle Of The Bulge, Bastogne. Tiger Tanks.
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Wwii Letter, 6th Armored Division. Battle Of The Bulge, Bastogne. Tiger Tanks.:
This isalong and very containing a vividly detailed account of the combat experiences of the soldier who wrote it.
This 12 page letter was written inGermany inMay 1945bya combat soldier in the 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division.The letter contains a thoroughly detailed account of this soldier's experiences in combat throughout the 1944-45 campaign in Europe. There is content about fightingon the outskirts ofBastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, fighting against German Tiger Royal tanks, fighting against S.S. troops, and much more. There is content about air attacks, shelling, about makingattacksand suffering heavy casualties, about tanks being destroyed, sheltering in a ditch filled with freezing water, German snipers, taking prisoners, and much more.
In addition to a great deal of excellent frontline battle content this long letter has good content about Omaha Beach in Normandy a few weeks after D-Day, including segments aboutGerman air attacks there, and also about witnessing the funeral of General Theodore Roosevelt. There is also content about this soldier's voyage across the Atlantic early in 1944, with segments about firing and dropping depth charges at German U-Boats, rough seas, and more.
This is a truly extraordinary letter.
*** The soldier who wrote this12 page letter was wounded inlate December 1944while his division was driving toward Bastogne.He spent only a short time in hospital,until early January 1945. He was hospitalized again, for trench foot, during fighting in the Rhineland.
The letter was written by Pfc. Carl M. Bunker, who served in combat in Company C, 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division.
CarlBunkerparticipated in agreat deal of combat, beginning in Normandy in 1944.Hewasin combat almost continuously from Normandy in 1944 until the conclusion of the war in Europe.Heserved throughout the1944-45 campaign in the 9th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 6thArmored Division, 3rd Army.
There is excellent content in this 12 page letter. Bunker wrote the letter in late May 1945, immediately after censorship regulationshad beenlifted. He wrotethis letter in orderto provide his parents with a thorough account of his experiences in combat in the European Theatre of Operations. The content of the letter is outstanding.Bunker describes his arrival in Normandy, at Omaha Beach,a few weeks after D-Day. There was a German air attack his first morning in Normandy.Bunkerwitnessed the burial ofGeneral Theodore Roosevelt:
"They finally got tired of me in England so they put me on a boat one cloudy day, sailed past the Isle of Wight and came in on Omaha Beach the next day, D plus 25, in assault boats. They were firing 155's off the beach and there was a C-47 field on top of the cliff that overlooks the Channel. There were a lot of concrete pillboxes and minefields strung along the cliff, and barbed wire was all over the place. A lot of boats had been sunk for a breakwater, among them a cruiser which was used as a lightship.
There was a very rough storm a few days after D-Day, and it tossed huge boats high up on the beach, completely out of the water. We spent the morning a few hundred yards off the beach, and early next morning Kra_t planes came over and dropped bombs. The ack-ack was throwing lead in all directions but the right one.
From there I went to Ste-Mere-Eglise, where I later saw Gen. Roosevelt buried. When I arrived there the front was only four miles away. Kra_t planes wereover most of the nights, and once in awhile during the day. They strafed the road next to us one evening and hit a few fellows in another outfit."
Bunker then describes his further movements. Late in the Normandy campaignhe was assigned to the battalion with which he served for the remainder of the war, the 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division. There is good content about combat action that took placein September and October 1944. Bunker explains that his battalion suffered very heavy casualties in the Argonne Forest, and that he experienced his first enemy shelling there:
"The first artillery I had coming my way was in Alsace-Lorraine, in the Argonne Forest, on Sept. 23. There were pillboxes and deep zig-zag trenches all through the woods which were built for the last war. Five days later we were relieved by the 35th Inf. Div. and we moved back to Art-sur-Meurthe, France. The 35th lost the ground we had taken so the next day, Oct. 1, we jumped off to retake the ground. Late that night, when we were relieved by the 80th Div., we had just about half the men we had started with. We attacked again on Oct. 8th and 9th but I don't remember much detail.
About the 15th we went on a patrol to locate the radio that was giving fire direction to the 'Ghost Gun' which was firing into Nancy. We never found the radio, but we did find the operators, and the gun quit firing."
Bunker describes the fightingin November and December 1944, including the fighting at Metz. There is good detail of the fighting. Bunker describes heavy German shelling and states thatmany American tanks were destroyed. Bunker spentone night being shelled while lying in a foxhole filled with mud and icy water. He describes heavy fighting. On one occasion he was sheltering next to a building when a German 88 mm. shell blew out the other end of the building.
"We had rest from then until Nov. 8th, when we jumped off on a drive that was to finish the war by Xmas. We made a successful drive to the Maginot Line, but on Xmas I was in Metz and we were still at it.
The 12th of Nov. we took a small town after crossing a blown bridge, and about 2 dozen of us went on to the next town with the tanks to protect them from bazookas. We secured that and then went on to get a railroad crossing. Then the party really got rough. They threw everything at us from .30 cal. to 155 mm, and from all directions. We finally moved back and received direct fire from .88's all the way. I stopped to rest beside a brick building and a shell blew out most of the other end. Our tanks were being knocked out right and left.
We drew back to hold the first town we had taken and dug in in a muddy field. A sniper with a burp gun kept spraying us until a light tank was sent down, and it silenced him. The artillery fired a final protective line for us all night, and the rounds were a few feet above our heads and the fuses were dropping pretty close.
To make things more pleasant it rained and snowed that night, so we laid in mud and ice water all night."
There is a long segment about fighting from late November 1944andinto December. This includeda river assault to takea town held by S.S. troops. Bunker writes that the worst experiencehad beengetting caught in a wooded area by an artillery barrage, and having to endure tree burstswithout havingany foxholes for cover:
"On Nov. 25 we had another nice day. The night before we took a town and moved up into a woods where we spent the night in huge craters and trenches. When we got up we found the Kra_ts in the next trench, which was about 20 yards away. What a nice mess we had for the next 48 hours. The Kra_ts tried every combination they know, flak, mortars, direct and indirect fire, tank fire, burp guns. They knocked out several of our tanks, and hit quite a few men. What made it bad was that we were getting a lot of tree bursts and we had no holes to get into. All we could do was lay flat on the ground and hope nothing came our way.
On Dec. 4 we were getting low on men. We had about 20 to put on the line out of 60, but we were to cross a river and take a town that had 90 S.S. men in it."
Bunker then describes the fighting around Bastogne in late December and early January. He himself was slightly wounded in late December during the drive to Bastogne, and was off the line for a short time. He returned in time to participate in a fight in January against German Tiger Royal tanks. The German tanks had quickly destroyed numerous American half-tracks, tanks, and a tank destroyer:
"For Xmas we were in Metz. From there I went to the hospital and the outfit went to Bastogne. Jan. 1 they went into Bastogne, which had been secured by the 4th Armored. And then into the woods which overlooked Warden northeast of Bastogne, which was a part of the Ardennesforest. I rejoined them there on the 13th, and we stayed until the 19th, when we took Warden and the next three towns beyond. On the morning of the 21st we lost seven half-tracks, one TD, and two tanks in 30 minutes by cross-fire from two Tiger Royal tanks."
Bunker then describes the drive on the Siegfried Line and the push into Germany in early 1945. Bunker was off the line for a brief period with trench foot:
"From there we pulled south and started to drive into the main Siegfried Line near Clerveaux on the Our River, between Luxembourg and Germany. We caught a lot of artillery there and it took several days to getready for the assault. We finally made it... By then my feet were in sad shape so to the medics I went, while there the 6th joined the 7th Army in the south and drove to the Rhine, rejoined the 3rd Army, went across the Rhine through Frankfurt an Main, and passed on through Seitz, south of Leipzig, toward Dresden.
I rejoined them at Mittweida, which is near Rochlitz, Germany, a few miles from Dresden. We spent several days on outposts there and then drew back to guard a large railroad bridge... We went out with a platoon of light tanks every other day to patrol the ground we withdrew from, and took a few prisoners each time, which the Russians chased toward our lines.
We would run up the the outskirts of Mittweida and the tanks would open up with their 75's and 37's and machine guns, while we fired the 30's and 50's from our tracks. The civilians probably thought we were crazy, because we did the same thing every day and never got any fire back."
There is still much more. Early in the letter Bunker describes the voyage from the United States to England in early 1944. German U-Boats had been encountered and depth charges had been dropped:
"I came over on a French transport. Name - Columbie. It was a big convoy. For escort we had P.B.Y.'s and a blimp partway, and the rest of the time we had destroyers and cruisers. There were several subs chasing us and we dropped several depth charges and fired the five inch gun on our stern a couple of nights."
There is more. An absolutely outstanding original WWII letter.
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