Memories of a 19 year old Polish American
Company E, 272nd Infantry
I was in 1st
Squad, 3rd Platoon of Company E. On April 14, 1945, information was
received that a large Battery of 88 millimeter (mm) Anti-Aircraft (AA)
guns were in the area of Beersdorf. Patrols from the 2nd Battalion
verified the information.
was a forward scout for our platoon walking on the high ground of the railroad
tracks while to the right our infantry and tanks were firing at the enemy
approaching through a deep valley. Suddenly, to my surprise, I saw a
person move the cover of a manhole between the tracks. Out
from the manhole emerged a Polish displaced person. Being that I
spoke fluent Polish, I asked him what was he doing in the manhole?
Receiving no satisfactory answer and considering him no threat, I told him to
leave the area. He insisted on accompanying me to fight the Germans.
After threatening him with bodily harm, he got the message and left.
In the meantime, we were
receiviing small arms fire from a town to our left and returned the fire. Plans
were made for the 2nd Battallion to attack the positions. Co B 777th
Tank Battalion and Co B 661st Tank Destroyer Battalion were sent from
Combat Team Reserve to support Company E and F in the attack.
At 1530 hours, an intense
Artillery preparation was begun by the 880th Field Artillery Battalion.
At 1805 hours, the Artillery fire was lifted and Company E and F attacked
abreast, preceded by the Tanks and Tank Destroyers. As we approached the
enemy we received heavy fire from Panzerhausts being used as aniti-personnel
weapons. Our attack was a huge success.. The German positions
were overrun, 474 prisoners captured, including three officers and three
women. Thirty six dual purpose 88 mm AA guns, capable of firing at
either ground or air targets, were taken.
was a 19 year old Private first class rifleman. All of this was quite a
sight! Walking on the high railroad tracks, watching the tanks and
infantry men firing their weapons and approaching the Germans through that
deep valley. To me it was picturesque scene of battle probably like only
Hollywood could make but it was real war!
When I approached a
building, a German officer emerged, surrendering to me. He was one
of three who gave up to me. In my mind it was hard not to pull the
trigger but he had surrendered and patience on my part governed the
circumstances. Later on I went inside and saw three wounded female
soldiers who were crying and in a state of shock.
My squad was to take that
officer and other prisoners to a place of detention. During the march
the officer asked me for a cigarette. I don't know if he recognized me
as his captor or not but he sure didn't receive a cigarette - only a hard
stare! In my mind, I remembered that he or other German soldiers had
mistreated my relatives and other citizens of Poland during their regime of