RHINELAND AND ARDENNES
The company was in Briey, on 15 September, when the Rhineland Campaign started. Bivouaced in a
veritable quagmire, the men worked in mud up to their ankles, slept in pup tents erected over the slimy ooze, ate
in the open while the rain poured down incessantly. Mud. And mud. And more mud. Still the rains came. The
mud grew muddier. Deeper. Stickier. Dirtier. Trucks mired to their hub caps, often struck hidden obstacles in
the black goo and hung up on inundated stumps. Men tugged, pulled, pushed, hauled, heaved, and kept the
trucks rolling. They toiled in mud up to their knees. But maintenance and repair was a must which could not be
ignored or stopped for a single minute. The drive of the Division depended on vehicles running and artillery
firing. Ordnance kept them supplied in spite of hell, high water and mud.
A captured German blowtorch which Cpl. George Nease was operating blew up in his face. The
flaming gasoline sprayed him, setting his clothes on fire, and burned furiously about the helpless soldier. He
screamed in agony. Sgt Monken dropped his work at a nearby bench and rushed to him, throwing him quickly
to the ground, rolling him over and over, extinguishing the fire. But Cpl. Neases burns were so severe he was
evacuated to the States and given a Medical Discharge. To Sgt Monkens prompt action he owed his life.
On the 23rd of September, the company marked up a half year of overseas service. There was no time
to celebrate. The work, hampered by the rains and the mud, was pilling up. Ordnance men worked far into the
night in a desperate effort to keep em rolling.
The company was forced to move to a new bivouac area on the 20th. The mud had become
impassable, and any work accomplishment impossible. Into Giraumont Ordnance rolled and bivouaced in an
iron mine being operated by the French.
Here hot showers were available and part of the company was able to sleep indoors. The friendly
French mine workers acted as guides to the interior, taking many of the men deep into the bowels of the twin-
shaft mine to inspect the 1atest in mining equipment.
It was in the vicinity of Briey that the company suffered its first battle casualties. A truck carrying the
automotive inspection team was enroute to the 2nd Battalion, 358th Infantry, with a half dozen men. The road
was clear of debris and without traffic. The afternoon was unusually still. Suddenly, above the noise of the
pulling motor the dreaded sound of the swishing whistle was heard. There was no time to dodge or to seek
safety. The German 100 mm shell scored a direct hit. The front end of the truck was demolished. Shrapnel and
splinters of glass sprayed everywhere.
Miraculously the two men in the front seat remained unscathed! In the rear of the truck, shaken up and
startled, Ordnance men took stock of themselves. Tec 3 Parr and Tec 4 Loutsenhiser had very slight facial
scratches from the shrapnel. Beyond that nothing! It was a completely freak accident, scoring a direct on-the-
nose bulls-eye on a single truck roaring alone over a deserted highway!
It was for results accomplished during this period that Brigadier General Ernest A. Bixby sent the
following commendation to the company some months later: