99th Infantry Battalion (Separate)

Dear 30th Division WEB manager,   I  was part of First Army's special forces. We came to 30ths aid at Aachen Gap and then they came to our aid at Malmedy. I thought that our story on Malmedy may be of help to you on your Web site.

I was part of First Army's special forces. We came to 30ths aid at Aachen Gap and then they came to our aid at Malmedy. I thought that our story on Malmedy may be of help to you on your Web site.

I am a 99er of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate) [we were the Viking Bn. speaking Norsk (Norwegian) and English] we saved Malmédy with the 291st Combat Engineer Bn. 526th Armored Inf. Bn. & 120th Inf. Reg. of 30th Div. Our monument is on Avenue de Norveig in Malmédy. I was Corporal (HK) Harold K. Hanson "A" Company Clerk and am now the President of the 99th Battalion (our official WEB site www.99thinfantrybattalion.org ). I publish and write with my Son the 99th's Newsletter in April and November each year (45 to 90 pages). For your use to make your Web story on the Bulge more complete concerning the Northern Shoulder of the Bulge which was most crucial to Hitler's objective of splitting the Allied Armies. I send you my write up that is in as many Soldier quotes as was possible. You have mine and the 99th's permission to use it, If and Only If use quotation marks and fully attribute it to the 99er quoted and/or the writer, citing the 99th November 2007 Newsletter, & the 99th books from which the quotes came. For being allowed to use this, the only price is adding sentences that the 230 page English translation (21.6 centimeter by 27.8 centimeter or 8.5 by 11 inch) of the 99th Battalion book by Gerd Nyquist can be purchased from the 99th Battalion contacted through the WEB site for $70 mailed to the USA and $90 mailed to Europe and a LINK to our WEB site http://99battalion.org/ OR http://www.99thinfantrybattalion.org .

The 99th was spread looking for the Germans dropped behind allied lines (captured 2 of them) from Spa to 3 miles (4.84 kilometers) north of Bastogne on the 16th before the size of the attack was understood. Company "A" was spread that far and I plus a jeep driver covered the whole distance that day before attacks size was understood. I got the signature of every "A" so they could be paid and morel kept high on Lt. Col. Harold D. Hansen's order. On the 17th General Hodges ordered Task Force Hansen to Malmédy to save the town and 52 men of the 291st Bn that were brave enough to stay and call First Army headquarters for reinforcements. My Company "A" commander Captain Eugene (Gene) Svarstad raced and beat the German forces to Malmédy from where he was 3 miles north of Bastogne. The following the 99th story in the Battle of the Bulge from the November 2007 99th Newsletter Quote: "To give you, our Newsletter readers, a little more information on the little known and seldom told or reported accomplishments of Task Force Hansen (consisting of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate) at Malmédy, 526th Armored Infantry Battalion with us and at Stavelot and a company of towed 3 inch guns from the 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion), I give you below stories & quotes from several 99th soldiers which we have published separately in many of the 99th's yearly April & November newsletters combined with quotes from books about the 99th.

Nearly everyone that has researched with any care the story of the northern shoulder of the Battle of the Bulge knows of the curse made by German spearhead commander Lt. Col. Joachim Peiper "The Damned Engineers!" made in reference to US Army's 291st Combat Engineers commanded by Lt. Col. David Pergrin. In response to Lt. Pergrin's call to 1st Army Headquarters stating that he and 52 of his men were the only allied forces still in Malmédy, Belgium and were setting up road blocks as if they had a division or at least a regiment with them, 1st Army commander Lt. Gen. Courtney H. Hodges formed Task Force Hansen commanded by Lt. Col. Harold D. Hansen of the 99th Inf. Bn. (Sep.) ordering them to proceed immediately to Malmédy and hold the Northern Malmédy shoulder of the Bulge at any cost. We of the 99th believe that Lt. Col. Hansen was placed in command because Lt. Gen. Hodges knew that in capturing the first German city Aachen in October 1944 when the 30th Division coming from the west and north and the 1st Division coming from the south could not close the escape and re-supply highway going through Würselen from Köln (Cologne) to Aachen, Lt. Col. Hansen and the 99th closed it. This was done in a battle the 99ers refer to as "Nine Days in Hell!" because the German forces held all surrounding higher ground around the highway to be closed and blocked.

When the men of the 99th were given the orders to get to Malmédy as fast as possible they were told don?t bother to pack just grab your weapons & ammunition because it should just be a few days. The 99th was not relieved from its front line duty in the Bulge for 31 days. 1st Lieutenant Ray Helle, who was in command of the 99th's Company "B", the first to arrive in Malmédy before midnight on December 17th, said that you never saw such an awful looking bunch of month old beards because nobody packed and brought their razors. Lt. Helle swore that his beard was the scraggliest and worst looking of them all.

On page 562 of General Omar N. Bradley autobiography "A Soldier's Story" he printed the July 24, 1944 organization chart of the U. S. First Army and with the 16 Divisions of First Army there are listed separately four special forces battalions as follows "RANGER BN., RANGER BN., TANK BN., 99th INF. BN.". The 99th is the only Battalion specifically identified and named in this entire First Army organization chart.

On page 470 of "A Soldier's Story" Omar N. Bradley wrote "As the enemy drove deeper into the Ardennes searching for an unblocked road north to the Meuse, Hodges extended his line in a frantic effort to contain him. If Sepp Dietrich's panzers were to break through that wall and drive on to Liége, Hodges would probably have been compelled to slacken his grip on the Malmédy shoulder. And it was there that he saved First Army by holding the enemy's main force to a draw." The units of Task Force Hansen along with the 291st Combat Engineers are proud to have made it possible, along with the later arriving forces of the 30th Division, for General Bradley to say that General Hodges saved First Army at the Malmédy northern shoulder of the Bulge. These infantry soldiers proudly can all say we were crucial to saving First Army along with many other units that I have not named that deserve credit equal to ours. For example the 99th Division has many times been bad mouthed for having been over run but the time delays they forced on the German attackers, which the 99th Division bought with their blood and lives were also crucial to allowing our defensive positions to be established from Malmédy to Stavelot and allowed ours and the other counter attacks to be fatal to the objectives of the German Ardennes offensive.

In addition the 99th Infantry Battalion holds the publishing writes from the deceased authors family to the English translation of Gerd Nyquist's book "Bataljion 99" making small printings twice (under 600 total copies). The book was written largely in quotations from 99th veterans. 154 of the 99ers answered Gerd Nyquist's questionnaire about their World War II experience with the 99th. From this Gerd Nyquist went to individual interviews with 99th veterans selected from the 154 before writing her book. Below I have included quotes from Gerd Nyquist's book section on the Ardennes placing them in brackets that look like { } this.

Below is a Quote from a November 2001 99th Newsletter article on the Battle of the Bulge written by 1st Lt. Ray Helle. The sections in square brackets [ ] were added by a group of the following 99ers Harry Andersen "B" Co., Roland Asleson "B" Co., Owen Voxland "C" Co., Morten Tuftedal "A" Co. 99th historian, Harold K. Hanson "A" Co. & Harold's son Harlan Hanson (Readers note that Ray, Roland & Owen have died since this was written.):

"[Our 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate) was organized by Presidential Proclamation signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in April 1942. A "CONFIDENTIAL" authorization from Headquarters - Army Ground Forces was issued by Lt. General McNair to the commanding general - Second Army on 10 July 1942. Personnel must be Norwegian Nationals (aliens or aliens with first papers) or United States Citizens of Norwegian extraction who can read and speak Norwegian. The final authorized strength of the 99th battalion when over seas in Great Britain was 931 enlisted men and 70 Officers.]"

Gerd Nyquist's book; {In the Fall of 1944, Hitler began to plan a big strategic campaign, which became his last one, an offensive at the allies through the Ardennes and with Antwerp as a target. He never got to Antwerp and his last offensive has been called the "Battle of the Bulge", according to the picture drawn by the offensive line on the map.}

Gerd Nyquist's book; {If it were to be shown on a school map of Europe, hanging down over the black-board in a Norwegian classroom, the teacher would use the pointer and draw it in between Belgium and Holland, then in an angle down toward Basel. And the teacher would state, "This is how far the allies went into Europe from the time they landed in Normandy; they pushed the Germans all the way here."}

Gerd Nyquist's book; {But if one looks at this frontline from a birds eye view during the week of the 16th to the 25th of December, one notices all of a sudden how it bulges. There is a deep bulge going west.}

Gerd Nyquist's book; {On the 12th of December, Hitler informed his generals about his plan "Wacht am Rhein." He talked for two hours from a manuscript, which described the plan in detail. None of the generals believed that it was possible to get to Antwerp; one of the reasons was that their army was short on gasoline. But the concentration of troops toward the front line had been undertaken secretly and Hitler assured the generals that the weather was then the best possible to enable them to hide their preparations; it rained and snowed and the thick cold fog covered the landscape and the mountains. In addition, the allies would not expect the Germans to be where they were. He was right. The allies knew part of the German plan. But, they were not well prepared, and they had only a few or untrained forces there. They also calculated, wrongly, that the Germans would not undertake any kind of offensive to the west, since they lacked gasoline. The allies underestimated Hitler, right there and then. Strategically, Hitler's plan was a masterpiece.}

Gerd Nyquist's book; {The Allied Headquarters were located in Spa. But before the intelligence officers managed to send out its newest report on the evening of December 15th, reporting that the "enemy's reinforcements continue to arrive" the Germans [attack] marched into Belgium.}

Gerd Nyquist's book; {On the 16th of December, General Bradley had 31 divisions spread over a front of 200 miles (322 kilometers). The biggest concentrations he placed north of the Ardennes, 16 divisions in all, and 10 divisions south of the Ardennes. Between these two big concentrations of troops stretched over 40 miles, he had five divisions. This is where the Germans attacked.}

Gerd Nyquist's book; {The attack came early on the morning of the 16th and it came, in its tremendous force, totally unexpectedly and suddenly to the badly protected American front [in the Ardennes]. The Germans advanced far to the west already on the first day and they started to bombard Antwerp and Liége with V-1 and V-2 [rockets].}

Quoting 99er 1st Lt. Helle, commander of Company "B": "Battle of the Bulge: When the Battle of the Bulge started the 99th battalion was spread out from Tilff, Belgium in the north to an area just (three miles) north of Bastogne. Their mission, to patrol roads looking for enemy paratroopers who may have dropped behind our lines."

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Erling T. Hunstad of "D" Company (deceased): "While we were in Tilff, we had a great time; we played football and lived as if we were home, because the people lived in the cellar. But all of a sudden, the order came to get ready: light pack."}

99er 1st Lt. Ray Helle; "On December 17th the 99th battalion was ordered to Malmédy to assist the 52 men of the 291st Engineers who had elected to stay in the town. They had mined the trees alongside the road leading out of town and were ready to blow down the trees over the road if the Germans tried to go through to Malmédy. The only intact [99th] unit not on patrol was one platoon of "B" Company. The Colonel's orders, "Pack light. Don't even bring a razor. We are leaving right now". Which, we did. Shortly after leaving the chateau, which housed "B" Company, it was flattened by a "Buzz" bomb. The bombs, which droned by on an hourly basis, were at window level of the chateau, which was based at the top of a hill. Every time one went by everyone held his breath waiting to see if it went off course enough to hit the building. One did and we were lucky to have been ordered out of there."

99er 1st Lt. Ray Helle; "The convoy to Malmédy consisted of Battalion HQ, "B" Company HQ. (Headquarters), plus Lt. Clarence Trosvig's platoon. MP's led the way with their lights flashing trying to clear the road of the hundreds of trucks trying to make their way to the rear. The men on those trucks were not a happy looking group. They had been outnumbered by seasoned troops and had taken a terrific beating. They all wore the same expression, dazed bewildered and exhausted."

Gerd Nyquist's book; {There was chaos along the roads, because some advance toward the town, while others fled. At the same time the Germans were on their way.}

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Gerhard Groven of "HQ" Company (deceased): "We had anti-tanks and I was on one of them, and suddenly, we drove into the ditch in the dark and the whole battalion left us behind."

"And there we sat. We didn't know where we were; we didn't know where we were going. We knew nothing. Of course, we couldn't just remain there; we had to winch our way out. But we couldn't get the tank out of the ditch, because there was a tree between the truck and the cannon. So we had to cut it down."

"Early in the morning, a farmer came with a bucket of milk. He had been milking out in the field. He lived somewhere nearby. He took one look at us and said something in French, which none of us understood. He added something then he pointed down toward his farm. So we let him go. Soon afterwards, he came back; he must have run both ways and he carried an ax. He cut the tree down for us. We didn't have too many rations really, but we gave him what we had. He was happy, too. There should have been an ax in each anti-tank, but someone had taken ours. - We winched our way out of the ditch and finally, we found a person who knew which direction the battalion had taken."} Here ended Gerhard Groven's quote.

Gerd Nyquist's book: {In all this confusion, we will excerpt the most important data concerning the big battle} [with Task Force Hansen dates and data inserted.]

{December 16: The Germans open the Ardennes offensive.}

[December 17: The lead elements of Task Force Hansen Lt. Clarence Trosvig's platoon from the 99th's "B" Company arrive at Malmédy before midnight and Major Solis' task force from the 526th arrive at Stavelot between midnight & 3AM and engage tanks of the German spearhead forces. The German spearhead commander Lt. Col. Peiper mistakenly concludes that what is reported observed to him at Malmédy must be near division size in force.]

{December 18: The Germans advance and are already positioned 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) inside the allied positions [or lines].} [Major Solis task force, from the 526th defend and set fire to the very large allied gasoline reserves at Stavelot preventing their capture by the German Spearhead of SS Lt. Col. Peiper.]

{December 19: The Americans regroup their forces to get reinforcement to the Ardennes. Patton takes over command of the south side [move to relieve Bastogne].}

{December 20: Montgomery takes over the command north of the Ardennes, [the 1st & 9th U. S. Armies at Noon]. The Germans are now only 15 miles from Liége after having captured [or advanced past] Stavelot.}

{December 21: St. Vith in the Ardennes falls to the Germans.} ["B" Company of the 99th withstands and hurls back Hitler?s last gasp effort by Hitler's favorite Lt. Col. Otto Skorzeny to break through Malmédy for the road on to Spa, then Liége & ultimately Antwerp.]

{December 22: The 101st American Airborne defends Bastogne, by now surrounded.}

{December 23: German troops from the 5th German Armored Division are poised five kilometers (3.1 miles) from the river Meuse at Celles.}

{December 24: The weather clears temporarily and the Allied Air Forces were brought into action against the German offensive.} [The 99th & other allied forces in Malmédy are attacked on three separate days following Christmas Eve by allied bombers. No Merry Christmas just K rations and getting bombed by our own planes.]

{December 26: The Americans arrive at Bastogne with supplies.}

[December 27 & 29: Units of the 99th conduct raids against German positions.]

{January 2, 1945: The offensive has gone over to the Americans; Patton and Montgomery are pushing forward inside the German force from the north and south.}

[January 6: The 99th assumes front line patrol duties at Stavelot and participates in the later pushes south to close the bulge.]

{January 16: The 1st and 3rd Armies establish contact with each other and the Battle of the Bulge is [essentially] over.}

[January 18: The 99th Infantry Battalion (Sep.) was finally formally relieved after 31 days on the front lines of the northern Malmédy shoulder of the Battle of the Bulge.]

[Again quoting 99er 1st Lt. Helle,] "Once in Malmédy we did not have to wait long for orders as Col. Hansen knew exactly where he wanted us. We wound up at the end of the road leading out of town. Not far from the spot where the Germans massacred 70 or so prisoners. The platoon dug in and set up a roadblock. We could hear German armor moving all night. They seemed to be circling the roadblock. What ever route they were taking they certainly had our attention that night."

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Sergeant Claus Høie of "HQ" Company deceased, "The 1st Army Headquarters were in Spa. And when we were sent in a hurry to Malmédy, the roads were an unholy mess. The traffic went in both directions. As soon as we arrived in Malmédy, a soldier told us about the massacre."}

99er Claus Høie; {"We were the only troops there with the exception of some Engineering troops who had set up roadblocks, so that the German war machinery was unable to turn north; they had to go west."}

99er Claus Høie; {"Colonel Hansen, who had not received any directives, tried to get instructions from the 1st Army. After all, we were the 1st Army's reserve troops and it was impossible to establish contact. So he said to me, "Take a driver and drive back to Spa and find out if you can obtain any kind of information." At that time, the Germans dropped down a lot of soldiers who were supposed to cause a lot of confusion; they dropped them down in American uniforms. They had trained Germans who spoke with perfect American accents and put our uniforms on them, then dropped them by parachute in order to create complete confusion, make a mess of traffic and send fake messages. That's dangerous business."}

99er Claus Høie; {"It was afternoon when Colonel Hansen asked me to go, and this driver, a really courageous fellow, and I left. Darkness fell while we tried to find the road in between everyone who was coming down the road. We finally arrived in Spa at mid-night."}[the 18th of December.] Here ends this portion of Sergeant Claus Høie's quote.

[Quote from Charles B. MacDonald's book "A TIME FOR TRUMPETS" "Faced with German troops only a few miles short of the headquarters town of Spa, Hodges during the 18th moved his head quarters to the rear to another watering place, Chaudfontaine, just out side Liége, the site of his rear headquarters. There were lingering reports that headquarters of First Army panicked, but those appear more a misrepresentation of soldiers hurriedly packing and getting out of town than a reality. Hodges himself, for example, and the principal members of his staff waited around the Hôtel Britannique into the evening expecting a visit by the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, General Gavin. When Gavin failed to arrive, they left around 10 PM. That hardly looked like a panic."]

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Sergeant Claus Høie of "HQ" Company "Not a soul was there; the place was deserted. And this was the Headquarters of the 1st Army. The only thing we managed to find was an Air Force troop, so we talked to them and they said, "Everyone left here yesterday." It was impossible to imagine that there was a war going on; everything was so quite and peaceful an dark. So we turned around and started on our way back and now everything was in complete confusion, as a result of these Germans in American uniforms arriving in American jeeps. The guards stopped everything that came by. Whether you looked like an American soldier or an American jeep, the suspicion remained that you were in reality a German."}

99er Claus Høie; {"So they started asking all these strange questions like, "What's the nickname of the Brooklyn Dodgers? ", questions which only a native born American would be able to answer. We finally returned to Malmédy. That was my assignment, to try to find out what was going on. No one knew what was going on. The 1st Army Headquarters had dissolved into thin air." There was a lot of trouble and work finding out who was really whom. Many in the 99th Battalion spoke broken English [with strong Norwegian accents] and they were taken for Germans and imprisoned by the Americans [not aware of our special force]. There was a funny story about a General who was hurrying to get back to the unit and an MP arrested him, holding him for 12 hours, because he could not answer which division some baseball team or other played in. He was under suspicion for being a German in disguise, because of his Norwegian accent. In reality, he had no interest in baseball."}

99er Claus Høie; {"I found out that there was an enormous gasoline depot south of Spa, enormous, and if the Germans had found out and gotten hold of it, they would have had enough fuel to get all the way to the English Channel [at Antwerp]. The depot belonged to the American Army and it was practically unguarded."}

99er Claus Høie; {"I think the worst time we experienced was in Malmédy. There we were mostly alone."}

99er Claus Høie; {"Thinking about it, the Germans going toward Antwerp throwing everything they had and we holding this little corner of the front line, that?s where our battalion had its worst battle. And it was at Malmédy that the Germans carried out that dreadful massacre. For instance, that Sep Dietrich, he didn't take prisoners. He [Sep Dietrich's SS Lt. Col. Joachim Peiper] just lined up 200 American soldiers and shot them. I remember one survivor who came into town and told us about it, but I couldn't believe that it was true, but later we saw that it was true, of course. I saw some of these officers when they were brought in. It was gruesome; they were totally covered in snow. They had been under the snow the whole time. It is awful to shoot prisoners. But both sides did it every so often, since they became so furious. In this instance, the Germans didn't want any prisoners; they were in such a hurry. The Americans are also guilty of doing this every so often. It happened, even if someone surrendered and this was one of the toughest battles ever."}

99er Claus Høie; {"For a short time, we were part of Montgomery's command at Malmédy when the American Army was divided. It was Christmas and terribly cold and lots of snow. The Americans tried to bomb Malmédy, even though there were no Germans there; they bombed us; it was sad."}

99er Claus Høie; {"I have no doubts about the 99th Battalion was lucky. Here we're holding Malmédy and the Germans had a force of a [1/2] million men. If they had decided to go north, they could easily have overrun one battalion. There is no doubt about it; we could not have kept them back. They drove over whole divisions in this battle; they could just as easily have over run 1,000 men who were trying to hold the road through Malmédy. By pulling the Headquarters out of Spa, they had probably expected them there. I don't know where the Headquarters were, but they must have pulled them back to another place. It was a panic situation. It was unbelievable, unbelievable, because the front was so lightly manned by us. And the Germans arrived with their most experienced forces, tough Panzer divisions through this weak line."}

99er Claus Høie; {"The Germans wanted to go to Antwerp. I do believe the German generals knew from the beginning that it was insane, but Hitler was determined to do it. I believe they tried to argue with him. It is in the nature of the military that you perhaps say that something is impossible, but you receive your orders to do it, and you try your best. The Germans were good; they had better tanks than us; they had an experienced army, but they never could have done it. Never."}

99er Claus Høie; {"They couldn't do it. But consider what it cost. Them and us."} Here ends the quote of Sergeant Claus Høie.

[Again quoting 1st Lt. Helle,] "How the rest of the battalion made it to Malmédy is a mystery to me. They had to find their own way, which was not easy because Germans were all over the place. Company "A" had to race to get around in front of a German column, which was driving between them and Malmédy. (Note to our readers, look at a map of the German forces penetration on the 16th, 17th & 18th and consider that on the 17th "A" Company 3 miles north of Bastogne gets the orders to go to Malmédy and arrives in Malmédy on the 18th & 19th which the maps appear to draw as an impossibility.) The rest of the battalion one way or another made it so the entire Battalion wound up in Malmédy."

Interview by his son Lee Humble of 99er Jim Humble. Remarks & editions by the editor are in brackets like these []. Quoting Jim Humble; "We didn't have too many guys wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. We had the advantage- the big Railroad embankment in front of us. It was a perfect setup - two iron rails in front of you on top. Before the action started, I was on top of the railroad embankment and walking around - a shell, grenade, or what ever exploded in front of me? I saw the explosion, but I didn't hear it. I saw the dirt fly in the air, so I got the hell out of there. It happened several times. When it's close enough, believe it or not, people won't hear it. I think it happened to me two different times. I didn't hear the one that hit me. One time I was lying in an open field getting sniper fire. Me and Swenson, was his name. He was lying behind me in a dead furrow; a cloud of dusts went up beside him, not too close, about 30 feet or something. "What was that?" he asked. That would have been a mortar, but that was the only one we got. So, we got out of that all right- Remember me telling you about the guys dressed up as Zeut Suiters? They had these GI hats- clothes hanger wire was used to make them stand up like a hat. Then we had cleaning rods for our rifles and the Germans had link chain. Of course he got hold of a couple of those and had them as key chain - I wonder what became of him? He was from New Jersey- Swede Christiansen, they called him. We had a Clifford Iverson too, from Brooklyn, [New York]. - He had skin grafts. At that time they took little pieces of skin to cover the wound, whatever it was from when he was a civilian. They took all these from his chest, and he looked just like an alligator. There was an Arnie Samuelson he was from New York too. We were the ones who wrote to Hershey's Chocolate. We wanted some candy. Never got a response. ... We wrote to Frank Sinatra and told him what we thought of him [The 99ers opinion of 4F Sinatra was universally BAD thinking him to be a shirker that paid off a doctor to get a 4F and even if legitimately 4F, believing that he should have been in U.S.O. entertainment troops like Myron Floren, the later famous accordionist with Lawrence Welk, that entertained members of the 99th in France, but who's bad heart from rheumatic fever did not permit him to participate in physical education classes at Augustana college, he attended with a couple members of the 99th.] - It was a way of spending an evening, I guess. Everybody chuckled then - maybe it didn't get through censors we all signed it "We weren't allowed cameras in the outfit" They didn't take any chances on that. That I can understand."

99er Jim Humble: "We left Tilff, Belgium when we got called to Malmédy on December 17th. That was the Battle of the Bulge. We were going in and everyone else was coming out. We knew there were huge problems up ahead. All the service companies were coming back. They were plugging up the roads, and we could tell they were not combat troops. They were frantic - Yeah, it was utter confusion. We got into Malmédy, and we got all mixed up in the convoy, but the whole outfit got back together again in Malmédy. We found each other. That was our #1 mission after we got into town. I think we spent a night or two in a house on the North side of town, or the East side? I don't know which. We were up in the hills there checking and patrolling around and then the word came down that the Germans were going to hit us on the other side of town in the morning, and they did. In the meantime, we moved across town and were ready for them - The Railroad tracks, that's where we set up (our defense) - the Germans had scouts out too on the other side of town from the Railroad tracks. We shot two of them off a motorcycle. One was German and the other Italian. Poor devil, He was conscripted or something - and forced to go. A woman came out of a house and pointed us out to the German. She got shot too - She was Belgian - She got a bullet through the hip area and one through the arm that piled up flesh. I wouldn't think it was fatal - the Italian was not dead. The German was, but I don't know how much that Italian had to go on? He kept saying, "Me Italiano, me Italiano!" "

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Sgt. Morten Tuftedal of "A" Company (still living, in a Chicago suburb) who was 3 miles north of Bastogne: "When we drove toward Malmédy that night, we drove against the current, because the Germans were pushing forward towards us. We met American troops who were suddenly chased by Germans. We didn't see the Germans yet, but our own troops were coming toward us. At a roadblock, we were stopped and questioned by the guard as to where in the world we were going. When we replied: Malmédy, he said we had to be pretty stupid."}

99er Sgt. Tuftedal; {"When we got to Malmédy and set up roadblocks, we discovered many Germans walking around in American uniforms and speaking American like everyone else. It was total chaos; no one knew who held or had what."}

99er Sgt. Tuftedal; {?We were standing guard at a place where we were separated form the enemy by a mound, three meters high (about 10 feet) at a railroad track. We put up barbed wire (with various types of explosives which were electrically charged for detonation.) We had to do it at night. That particular job fell to Sergeant Arne Goa from Stavanger and me. We prevented the enemy from infiltrating that area. But there were big losses on both sides, and the German tanks came all the way down to the railroad embankment. We were afraid that they might come through, because we had a lot of supplies stocked behind us. We destroyed some of them ourselves, so that the Germans would not get fresh supplies."}

[Again quoting 1st Lt. Ray Helle;] "The next morning [18th Dec.] two Germans on a motorcycle, with a sidecar stopped to talk to a woman right in front of the spot where the platoon was dug in. The woman pointed to the platoon's position and everyone opened up killing all three instantly."

99er 1st Lt. Helle; "The next day [19th Dec.] 3 Germans in a captured jeep with two American prisoners sitting on the hood attempted to drive through the roadblock. The Americans on the hood spotted the men dug in alongside the road, dove off the hood shouting, "Shoot them, they're Krauts!" The platoon responded quickly killing one and wounding the two others. The Germans were identified as members of the 1st SS Division."

99er 1st Lt. Helle; "At this point I had no idea where the rest of "B" Company or the battalion was located. We could only sit tight and listen to the constant drone of German armor moving somewhere in front of us. However I did manage to find a regimental HQ in town where I could go in and check the situation map. Puzzles me to this day how I could walk in and out of that HQ without being challenged but I was able to keep track of what the Germans were doing and kept an eye open to see if they were headed in our direction."

99er 1st Lt. Helle; "On December 20th the "B" Company platoon changed places with a company from the 120th regiment. The move took place after midnight and we discovered we had moved in with the rest of "B" Company so we were a complete unit again. They were dug in on a railroad trestle [large long railroad topped earth embankment], which made an excellent defensive position. The front line was well armed with both 30 and 50 caliber machine guns."

[The evening of the 20th six men from the 3rd Squad 2nd Platoon of "A" Company went on patrol to locate enemy positions. They ambushed 3 Germans and after a close quarter fight killed one and took two prisoners. A knife cut in the hand wounded one 99er. One of the prisoners was an officer of the 1st SS Division. The squad had trouble getting thru our lines since the 291st Engineers were not told about the 99th patrol. After being questioned by an officer from the 291st and alerting him to a large number of tanks and other vehicles moving towards the railroad embankment, he had one of his men take the patrol to the CP (command post).]

99er 1st Lt. Helle; "I found a room with a window on the second floor of the CP and was assured it had a good view of the whole defensive line. We moved the CP up to the second floor and waited. I had a look at the situation map before we changed places and knew a German column was headed for the underpass of the railroad trestle" [large long earth embankment]. "In the meantime a classic textbook battle was looming. The Germans led by Hitler's favorite Lt. Col. Otto Skorzeny were seasoned hand picked veterans of the 1st SS Division. He went into the Bulge with 4,000 men. How many he had left at this time I do not know but I am sure that he outnumbered "B" Company. The Germans went into battle with the advantage of knowing where the main strike would be and when it would take place. On the American side was a reinforced company of the 99th Battalion, "B" Company [reinforced with 2 anti-tank towed guns of the 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion]. Also seasoned troops with an advantage of a good defensive position. Who would win? Only time would tell and it became a waiting game."

[Staff Sgt. 99er Roland Asleson wrote of the Battle of the Bulge story about his "B" Company 1st platoon actions prior to the German attack at the railroad embankment and elsewhere around Malmédy, Belgium as follows:]

[Quoting 99er Staff Sgt. Asleson; "1st platoon of "B" Company arrived in Malmédy on the 19th of December." (The very first from "B" company to arrive got there before midnight on the 17th.) "The truck brought us up, dumped us off and took off quick-like. One of the 251st Engineers walked by, so we asked him where we were and what was up," (he told us) "the first we heard of the break-through" by the Germans.]

[Staff Sgt. Asleson; "I was told to take a squad and go up the east road, beyond the road block, which was set up on the railroad crossing. We were brought up so fast all we had along is what we were wearing, good thing we had overcoats. The ground was frozen, so no foxholes" (could be dug.) "We moved all night" (long, just) "to keep as warm as possible and" (we could risk making) "no noise and" (we got) "no sleep. We were also told to capture" (German soldiers), "anyone of them, if possible and/or to report back if a large unit was coming."]

[Staff Sgt. Asleson; "One day a GI came riding down the road on a bicycle using" (just) "one foot, he saw us and said 'GI's?' We said 'Yes'. He had been wounded," (and) "left for dead. Later on" (he) "made his way to a farm house. The Belgium people took care of his wounds, as best they could, hid him from the Germans, for some days, they then gave him a bike, and showed him the road to Malmédy."]

[Staff Sgt. Asleson; "The next day an American jeep with three (3) Germans came down the road and stopped at a house which was across and a little below us and were talking to a lady who was sitting in the open window" (of the house) "talking. We shifted over to get a better field of fire, got in the prone position," (laid flat on the ground) "waiting for the lady to leave and get out of the field of fire. Next thing we knew, she pointed up at us," (so) "we immediately opened fire, we killed two, wounded one and also wounded the lady. We took the wounded German to headquarters and got a medic for the lady. They" (the Germans) "thought Malmédy was in their hands."]

[Staff Sgt. Asleson; "Our next move was to the railroad tracks" (on top of a very high, maybe 10 to 14 foot, embankment) "We dug in between the railroad tracks, which wasn't easy with the tools we had. We had two man foxholes, at night one man rested and one was on post" (watching for the Germans). "We tried two hours on post and two hours resting, but found it was too long and shifted to one hour on and one hour off. During the night there was "no smoking" (when you puffed 'drew air through' a lit cigarette the burning end could be seen from a very great distance & smokers were shot and killed making this mistake) "or talking or moving around outside the foxhole. Sound carried a long ways at night and also movement could be detected quite a ways out, it was clear and" (very) "cold out."]

[Staff Sgt. Asleson; "On the afternoon of the day before the attack took place, the Battalion Commander" (Lt. Colonel Harold D. Hansen) "called me in and told me to send out men as a listening post, they should not go out so far they couldn't make it back and" (they were) "to get back as soon as they heard any noises."]

[Again quoting 1st Lt. Helle;] "Then it happened [very early morning before dawn December 21st], Sgt. William (Bill or also known as Smitty) Smyth [pronounced Smith or you were headed for trouble] who was on outpost [in front of the 99th's lines] called in to say an American Lieutenant in a jeep, followed by an M-4 tank was coasting down the hill and they were about to hit a mine. [Smitty was one of the three 99ers, the other two were Pfc. (Private First Class) John H. Anderson (Tacoma, Washington) and Pfc. Ralph I. Norby (Sidney, Montana) sent out by 99th Battalion Commander Harold D. Hansen and Tech Sergeant Roland Asleson to ensure the 99th could not be taken by surprise with a German attack. Ralph Norby told this story to his son Thomas Norby many times over 50 years and said that Sgt. Asleson did not wish to make this dangerous listening outpost assignment naming a 99er of his choosing so Dad's (Ralph's) story is that he drew his name out of a hat. When he wrote to the 99th Thomas Norby said that this outpost duty was still so very fresh in his Dad?s memory.] Before he (Smyth aka Smitty) could get an answer the jeep hit the mine. Sgt. Smyth called in [that] the Lt. was calling for a medic in German and came back to our lines." [With rifle & machine gun fire combined with mortar, tank and German 88 artillery fire coming down, what seemed like everywhere, they could couldn't get back strait to their squad or platoon or in one case not even to another unit of the 99th.]

[Ralph Norby was the one at the 99th's 1995 reunion and told the story of finally being able get back to the American lines even having to crawl in order to do it, but these Americans who's position he crawled back to were not 99ers. He told of being required to stay with these American strangers of an artillery unit until another 99er could identify him as a 99er and not a German soldier disguised in an American uniform. I remember Ralph saying that he could not get back to report to Sgt. Asleson until long after the battle was over. I (Harlan Hanson) remember Roland & Smitty putting their arms around Ralph's shoulders and saying we're sure glad you made it, we thought for sure you were dead.]

[Quoting 99er Ralph Norby and his son Thomas who wrote about his Dad telling of his duty at Malmédy; "Apparently quite a convoy of trucks and tanks came by and the men could hear German being spoken so they knew they were in deep" (trouble). "Smitty said they had better 'Get out of here' so off they went". (This happened after Smitty sent the radio message back to the 99th) "Ralph got separated from the other two and wandered back through the fighting to an artillery unit after some time". (Harlan Hanson remembers Ralph saying at Denver in 1995 that this time getting back seemed like it took forever under the fire that was coming from both the Germans & the Americans.) "and (Ralph) yelled 'Norby, B-Company! Germans!' He told them where he had seen the convoy and they proceeded to shell that direction. Ralph was standing too close to the front of the big guns and the concussion" (of the first shells being fired) "knocked him on his can" (GI slang for behind). "He couldn't hear for a long time afterward and now is pretty much deaf in that one ear. Smitty got back to his unit and said 'I guess we lost Norby' since Dad had not returned. They were pretty happy to see him when he did get back." [Harlan Hanson remembers Ralph saying that he thought it was a 99th officer, maybe a Lieutenant, that identified him for the American artillery unit but neither Ralph nor anyone else at the 1995 Reunion could identify who it may have been. Smitty indicated at the 1995 Reunion that things got so tuff out their as they (the three 99ers from the outpost) tried to return, that all three got completely separated and each returned to a different place in the American lines.]

[Again quoting 1st Lt. Helle;] "The moment the jeep hit the mine our mortar platoon filled the air with flares. Looking out the window I could see a large number of Germans headed for the road underpass through the railroad trestle [large long earth embankment]. They were also running past the side of the building the CP was in. Seems that the CP did not have so great a view. When the flares exploded and the advancing German troops came into view, the dug in infantry opened up with rifle and machine gun fire. The 99th held their ground and fired with deadly accuracy halting the Germans surge just short of the railroad trestle [embankment]. The Germans kept trying with the help from a tank who sprayed machine fire along the trestle [embankment]". [The Germans kept running toward the railroad embankment screaming in English "SURRENDER OR DIE!"] "The stubborn defense bought enough time to enable the artillery to get into action. I had been informed by the artillery the only way they would give us fire was for us to supply them with map coordinates of the place we wanted hit. This was something new and Lt. Trosvig and myself needed time to figure out what was going on. What we did not realize at the time [was that] the 99th was taking part in another first. The artillery had developed a new shell and was using it for the first time. This new shell exploded before it hit the ground spraying everything below it with shrapnel." [These were the super-secret proximity fused POZIT or VT artillery shells which up until the Battle of the Bulge had been restricted to anti-aircraft fire far behind the front lines or in England to ensure there was no risk of this deadly new technology falling into the hands of the Germans.] "Once this new shell was put into use it destroyed the Germans capability to [successfully] finish the assault [capturing their objectives of Malmédy, the road to Spa & on to Liége] and they withdrew leaving many [dead and] casualties behind." [Lt. Helle told his fellow members of the 99th many times that he felt certain that because of being so outnumber "B" Company could not have held were it not for the use of these new POZIT shells which inflicted many more casualties than the standard shells inflicted.]

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Julian Flaaten of "B" Company (deceased at age 99 June 7, 2007): "I don't want to mention any names - But in Malmédy, when we had dug ourselves in the first night down by the railroad line - we assumed there were Germans out there in the dark, and one of our sergeants comes, making a lot of noise. Gunnar Langen then says, "Quite! There are Germans out there." And this sergeant replies "IT SAYS IN THE BOOK THAT YOU CAN SHOUT YOUR ORDERS IN BATTLE!" He was regular army, IT SAYS IN THE BOOK!!"}

99er Julian Flaaten; {"In Malmédy, I almost lost my life, because someone heard something and requested artillery fire and it exploded too early. I remember Martin Westvang: he played the piano well; he was in the trench I was in, and just as he stepped down into the trench, he received a splinter from a grenade, which destroyed one of his hands. I remember the bone splinters sticking out of his sleeve. And Christian Nelson was also killed right on the spot."}

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Norman H. Gilbertson of "D" Company (deceased): "What happened during Christmas, 1944 at Malmédy is the biggest dogfight I have ever seen or dreamed about seeing. It was inconceivable. It was the breakthrough. - They arrived the next morning and our Battalion STOPPED THEM! They had four American tanks, which they had captured and used them against us, plus four Tigers. In the afternoon, a whole squadron of B-24's, Americans bombed us. Near Malmédy (Baugnez or N-23 at five points) there was a big massacre. Near Malmédy, the Germans had taken a whole bunch of prisoners & they massacred them. Drove by them in a tank and shot them. But a couple of them got away, or was there only one? (Actually 28 survived). He fell when the others fell and pretended he was dead, and the Germans walked past everyone lying there, kicked them. If they moaned, they shot them, and lay there all day in the snow. In the evening, he came back to camp and told us the story."} [Medics from the 99th Inf. Bn. (Sep.) and the 291st Combat Engineers were the first to treat and to talk to survivors of the Baugnez massacre, which occurred just south of Malmédy.]

[Again quoting 99er 1st Lt. Helle;] "What decided the outcome of this battle? I have to say it was time, about 30 or 40 seconds worth [of time]. The prompt and efficient way our defense sprung into action made the difference. Also the fact that the 99th had no intentions of letting the Germans push them out of their foxholes. Lt. Col. Skorzeny rode into the bulge [at the start] with 4,000 soldiers selected from the 1st SS Division. He walked back to Germany with 700 thoroughly defeated men. He [and SS Lt. Col. Joachim Peiper] came at us [Task Force Hansen] with their best but they were not good enough [at either Malmédy or Stavelot].

(Note to our readers; we believe that you can still find on the Internet the article by Lieutenant John V. Pehovic of the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion we published with permission in the November 2005 99th Newsletter, which tells the story of the 12-hour period in Stavelot from midnight the 17th of December until 1200 hours (noon) the 18th of December. This is when the 526th denied the German spearhead commanded by Lt. Col. Peiper and possibly other German units access to one of the large gasoline supplies in Europe. It can be argued that to a large degree the fate of the German 1944 Ardennes offensive which was to run out of fuel was to a large degree determined here.)

99er Jim Humble; "On December 21st, the Germans attacked toward Malmédy, They had some American equipment. I know they had a jeep -. I didn't see more than a couple tanks. One of them got hit by the cannon that sat under the overpass there, and he pulled back. Our own guns were not big enough to knock them out. The Jeep got knocked out, and there was a German lying behind it all day, I don't know if he was wounded or what, but he lay there. Maybe he was dead - they were coming across the field about the same time, the men and the equipment - 2,500 troops maybe. I suppose we knocked off several hundred of them. The damned fools came across there yelling, "Surrender of die!" You know who was going to die. They were right at the base of the embankment - grenade throwing distance - the pressure was on those guys to do something - They didn't have any choice, either they go ahead or get shot from behind - it was mostly an Infantry charge. Yeah. The Infantry with a few pieces of equipment to back them up - they wanted the road through Malmédy moving up - to Liege."

99er Jim Humble; [At Malmédy] "Colonel Hansen was told that he should send someone to the Railroad Embankment and tell Company "B" not to leave their position at all costs. Colonel Hansen told him (a 30th Division Officer) that they didn't have to be told because they would leave only if they got an order from him to do so. He never did send anyone. That's where the shell exploded in the bank, in front of me. I couldn't have been more than 6 feet from it. It hit into the bank and I was standing on top, Somebody saw me. I was reconnoitering, I guess. I spent Christmas Night sleeping in a potato bin."

99er Jim Humble; "My last Military Action was going out on patrol. We were supposed to capture some Germans up in the hills - to get some information. It was the opposite side of town from the railroad tracks out to the (Northwest) on December 29th. I waited just a bit too long? Well I shouldn't have been where I was. It was my duty to carry the machine gun. The guy I took the place of was either sick or hung over? It was Alfred Ronning? we were in an old brick house there. Most of the action was over except for getting bombed by our own planes - The Germans reported that they had recaptured Malmédy. This was intentional, they figured that Malmédy would get bombed, and it was three times - Civilians got hit. The Belgians didn't really hold it against the Americans - it was inadvertent."

99er Jim Humble; "It must have been about Noon - we gathered in the morning and went on this hike and wondered what we were supposed to do. Combat drill more than anything else, I guess. I was carrying a 30caliber machine gun, providing covering fire as we withdrew - All of a sudden I felt something. I didn't hear anything. I was lying flat on the ground. The only reason I knew that anything was wrong was when I looked back my right leg was sticking out to the side. It had been hit by a piece of shrapnel and broken in two at the thigh - I started crawling back to our lines, and got stuck under some barbed wire. Trying to get myself loose, I discarded my canteen that was hooked on the wire. I also got rid of my 45 automatic. Throwing those out of the way, I then yelled for help. Three guys came back. One was Leonard Costello." (Lee: My Dad, Jim Humble, is very proud of his Purple Heart and his Combat Infantryman's Badge, for actual Combat Veterans. He was also awarded the Bronze Star.) "That is when I was put on the hood of a Jeep. I didn't have anyone to shoot at when we pulled back, but I was looking for anything that might pop up. I had my machine gun ammo belt tied to the trigger area, which made it easier to carry. Leonard was a character. He came aboard at Camp Shanks, New York. He was left there by some other outfit, when he didn't make it back on time. So he got chucked onto us. He was a real screw-up - I don't know specifically why, but I got him - I thought he was an okay guy, and we got along. We had this under-standing. When he got back on pass, "Get back for Reveille & when we call roll and I won't say anything." "I can remember when one of the guys came back to get me, they had these sulfa tablets, and they gave me this cold coffee I was supposed to drink to get them down. It tasted terrible. I never did drink coffee in the Military. When they got me on the hood of the Jeep, they put this form on my leg to keep it from flexing. I went back to an Aid Station. There they stuck me into an Ambulance with 5 other GI?s. We were all on stretchers. - We had a hell of a rough ride; I could feel the bones grinding in my leg. It really didn't hurt too much, but I could tell it was rubbing, and the other guys were in there groaning? We went to a tent, and there were two Germans there. When the buzz- bombs went over, these two young guys, they were smiling then - We went from there to a two-story schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was full of GI's on cots. I got a penicillin shot every three hours for 7 days. Back in those days, it hurt. Those guys would come around with the shots; they'd hear it, "You SOB!" I went from there to Paris and got on a plane to England - on an old C-47? From the second week in January until March 1, I was in a Hospital. I got to see everything there. They had female Nurses; they had to absorb a lot of guff when they came walking in. Some of the guys were feeling pretty good. The fellow next to me wasn't a very big guy. He was with the 82nd Airborne his name was Carrol. "Have no fear Carrol is here." He was flat on his back on a bunk. On the other side of me was a guy; he got hit by a 50 caliber. Strafed from a Thunderbolt, I guess? It had taken all the flesh out of his thigh. I'm sure he lost his leg. They were trying to save it, but they didn't have enough blood vessels left? The guy across the isle from me - He had both feet shot off. They were trying to stretch the flesh down over the end of the bone. It was wrapped up there with weights hanging down. He was miserable"...

99er Jim Humble; "There was a medical Corpsman who always followed a Doctor around, the Doctor called him an Embryonic Orthropod. They were just starting Orthopedics. I can still remember what the guy looked like; he was a big fellow and kind of fat. He did all the "spade work" for the Doctor."

"There was a pin put in my leg ... I was in this contraption with weights, and the dang pin had to break. That is why my one leg is shorter. The muscles pulled it together - the regular pins were about the size of a pencil lead, the one I had was an eight of an inch in diameter, a good sized one. Then the darn thing broke?then they threw a cast on me all the way from my ankle to my armpits. They had a piece of wood cast in so they could carry me - I remember after I had it on for awhile, it started to itch. I wasn't the only one who had that problem. We had coat hangers straitened out, and we were digging (scratching) down there. I was then flown to Preslett, Scotland, where I got on a C-54 and flew to Pennsylvania, That is the place where I got my firsts taste of real Milk for years. I thought that was pretty nice. It came from the Red Cross I guess. We then flew to Topeka, Kansas, and I stayed there until September 7th. Then I got in a Cab and went Home to Oakland, CA. [to] see Mom (Greta)."

Quote from the 99er Group; [At dawn the next morning the 22nd of December the 3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon of "A" Company was sent out on patrol out past the paper mill and over to the hills on the left since movement was spotted in both areas. Except for some children who pointed to some houses near a draw everything appears in order until we saw some bodies laying in front of one of the houses. There were 9 American medics with their hands tied behind their backs with wire. Several were shoot thru the forehead with additional wounds to their bodies. Due to possible booby traps we did not move anything except to record their names etc., and turned this information in for graves registration with a sketch of the area. We could hear vehicles moving in the distance but could not see anything because of the terrain, trees, un-level ground etc.]

[During this period of time after Skorzeny's attack Malmédy was bombed on three different days by American Army Air Force bombers destroying most of the city and inflicting many casualties both military and civilian. The greatest number being suffered by men from the 30th Division to whom Task Force Hansen was now attached. More snow was falling and it got even colder making life even more uncomfortable for some of the 99ers that had been living in foxholes for more than two weeks counting the missions before Malmédy. The next several days were spent on patrols and upgrading various sections of our line of defense. Many wounded Germans came into our lines to surrender since they needed treatment and/or could no longer tolerate the cold. Christmas was just another day in your foxhole eating a K ration. We would get Christmas dinner later. Many patrols were being sent out to be sure a counter attack was not being organized.] [Again quoting Lt. Helle,] "The expected counter attacks never came." [Our biggest risk came from the repeated attacks by the American bombers.]

[On the 27th of December at 1600 hours (4 PM) "C" Company sent a commando raid to the town of Hedamont. American artillery concentrated their fire on the town prior to the surprise attack. The opposing enemy units and their positions were identified. One prisoner was taken and some 30 Germans were killed with out suffering one injury in "C" Company.]

[On the 29th of December "B" Company raided the town of Otaimont with fixed bayonets but the enemy was no longer there, but were still close enough to lay down a heavy concentration of machine gun and artillery fire to harass the raiders. "B" Company was fortunate to come out with extremely light casualties even though their escape routes were zeroed in by the enemy.]

[During the period from January 1st thru 6th while still on the front line of defense on the out-skirts of Malmédy the 99th Battalion (Sep.) was doing extensive patrolling. Enemy artillery and rocket fire was fairly heavy but there were few injuries. During the night the enemy Dressed in white camouflage suits and raided forward positions of the 99th but without success even though they had skis. Having been trained as ski trooper mountain soldiers primarily at Camp Hale & also Camp Carson, Colorado probably contributed to our success in repelling these raids. Our winter equipment from this training did not follow with us overseas. However, many of our 99er men knowing the value of winter camouflage from their training and knowing that Army Green stands out like a sore thumb against the snow were able to improvise makeshift camouflage using white sheets taken from empty rooms in hotels, the hospital or homes of Malmédy or from other white material.]

[On the evening of the 6th of January the 99th Battalion moved to the vicinity of Stavelot after our positions around Malmédy were taken over by units of the 30th Division. Our new 99th position was in a pine wooded area and our thin line was in shouting distance of the German defenses. Our patrols were out all the time and had frequent clashes with the Enemy. Each raid by units of the 99th was pulling in more and more artillery fire and screaming meemies.]

[The snow was deep and the night's bitter cold. Many of the enemy were well prepared with white camouflage and skis. They had direct artillery support for their positions. Our first offensive action was in an area called Chevehosse on the 10th of January. The 2nd Platoon of "A" Company attacked driving the enemy back from their positions, killing or wounding many of the enemy plus taking many prisoners. The next day, 11 January, the same sector had to be attacked again by the 2nd Platoon "A" Company because the enemy had reoccupied the area. The platoon was pinned down by heavy concentration of combined machine gun, mortar and artillery fire. The fighting was fierce with hand-to-hand combat taking place until a point where the platoon could withdraw. Our platoon casualties were heavy but no one was killed.]

[On the following day, 12 January, the 2nd Platoon of "A" Company with much needed re-enforcement attacked this same sector again taking many prisoners who provided valuable information. The enemy had many outposts and were well fortified to prevent patrols from infiltrating across the bridge to Thieux. Through constant artillery and mortar fire from the fanatical Germans the 99ers attacking continued to advance driving them from their foxholes with a steady fire of grenades, rifles, machine guns and mortars. With this concentration of fire our attack killed or took prisoners and finally knocked out the German command post.]

[Later on this same day, the 12th, the 119th Infantry Regiment of the 30th Division attacked from the vicinity of Malmédy on the 99th's left flank to help stabilize the area. Our heavy weapons Company "D" helped their advance by firing 50 caliber machine guns and 81mm mortars at the enemy positions. The Germans knew the terrain we were in and shelled our positions with great accuracy, and because the area was so heavily wooded tree bursts from enemy mortar and artillery was devastating, causing many casualties.]

[On 15 January the 517th Parachute Regiment attacked up along our right flank. Therefore, with the 517th on our right flank and the 119th on our left flank, these units took over the area that the 99th had been defending, controlling and advancing from. Though the 99th pulled back we supported the attacking units with 81mm mortars and 50 caliber machine gun fire from our heavy weapons "D" Company. For the next several days the 99th put out many patrols looking for by-passed enemy units and for men missing from the 99th Battalion (Sep.)]

[On the 18th of January, after 31 days of continuous fighting, living in snow covered foxholes at often sub-zero temperatures, and being under observation and unrelenting artillery fire from the enemy, the tired and bearded men of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate) were formally relieved from their front line positions.]

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Roy Carlson of "HQ" Company (still living, Danbury, WI): "It was the Air Force that got us out. It had been foggy and it snowed, the weather cleared and hordes of airplanes showed up."}.

99er Roy Carlson; {"The Germans had made this last attempt, and we defended and fought against them, but they kept returning time and again. We were waiting for the Air Force; we always cooperated with the Air Force, but they had been unable to fly as a result of the fog. We were under constant pressure, day and night, day and night."}

99er Roy Carlson; {"There I stood watching the planes coming, observing them liberating us and the flag. Sometimes they were hit and I counted. Some parachutes opened, some did not. In those days, I knew how many men were in each plane, so I could see how many were about to do all right, how many were not. One gets these strange feelings in a war. Some of the planes were 24's (Douglas B 24 Liberator) another one a 17 (Boeing B 17 Flying Fortress). Different size. They help us and gave their lives for us. There has always been a sort of rivalry between Infantry and Air Force about which one received the most honor."}

99er Roy Carlson; {"But I appreciated at that time. They saved us. They knew we were in trouble."}

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Peter M. Pedersen of "A" Company (deceased): "What I remember most is that I wore the same clothes for 30 days strait. The only thing I could change a couple of times was a pair of socks."}

Again quoting what 1st Lt. Ray Helle wrote; "The business of the bearded men was complete embarrassment to me. I had the wimpiest looking beard in the whole battalion and I could hardly wait to shave the damn thing off."

99er 1st Lt. Ray Helle; "The Belgians [at Malmédy] have since [in 1994] put up a monument in the area of the railroad trestle [embankment] honoring the men of the 99th Battalion for their stand which halted the Nazis in their final desperate attempt to keep the "Breakthrough" alive [on the northern Malmédy shoulder of the Bulge with the attack of the famous and infamous Hitler's favorite Lt. Col. Otto Skorzeny.] The street [along] which the monument stands has been [re-] named ["Avenue De Norveig" meaning] Avenue of the Norwegians. Well earned I would say."

On page 492 of "A Soldier's Story" published in 1951 General Omar N. Bradley wrote, "G-2 estimated enemy casualties in excess of 250,000 for the month long battle, of whom more than 36,000 had been taken as POWs. More than 600 of his (Hitler's) fast-dwindling supply of tanks and assault guns lay rusting in the Bulge." And on page 494 Bradley wrote, "U. S. casualties for the month-long battle totaled approximately one forth of those we had attributed to the Germans. Of the 59,000 we lost in battle, 6,700 were listed as dead, another 33,400 wounded. The remaining 18,900 were counted as missing though most were presumed to have been captured when cut off on the German breakthrough." [With many more years for research we quote also from Charles B. MacDonald's book "A TIME FOR TRUMPETS" published in 1984 "Among the 600,000 Americans eventually involved in the fighting - including 29 divisions, 6 mechanized cavalry groups, and the equivalent of 3 separate regiments - casualties totaled 81,000, of which 15,000 were captured and 19,000 killed. Among the 55,000 British - 2 divisions and 3 brigades - casualties totaled 1,400, of which just over 200 were killed. The Germans, employing close to 500,000 men - including 28 divisions and 3 brigades - lost at least 100,000 killed, wounded and captured."

The following is by me 99er Harold K. Hanson: "My personal story for just before and during the Battle of the Bulge or German Ardennes offensive of December 1944 begins on December 15, 1944. Just before this Lt. Colonel Hansen had ordered the clerks to get all the members of the 99th Battalion paid because he wanted to maintain the 99ers high moral. To do this each company clerk of the 99th's five battalions had to type the appropriate pay role records and get the signature of each soldier in that clerk's company. I my case it was Company "A". I was at Tilff, Belgium but Company "A" and it's many squads and larger groups were spread all the way from Tilff down to just 3 miles north of Bastogne. I have a photo of myself standing in front of a building in Tilff with snow on the ground that must have been taken near this time. The assignment was to find and capture the Germans in American uniforms that had been dropped behind the American lines. Company "A" of the 99th captured two of these Germans on its mission. I had finished the necessary paper work and typing the day before when Col. Hansen had given the order to get the men paid, so early in the morning on the 15th I and a jeep driver, whose name I cannot remember but may have been Bennie Moland, climbed into the jeep and took off all over Belgium from Tilff to Bastogne to find and get the signature of every member of Company "A" so they could be paid. The men were at cross roads, installations, buildings and towns all over the map. Boy do I wish that I still had that map. I lost many personal items such as the letters from my wife when I turned in my small little lap field desk expecting to get it back when we arrived in Norway. The army never did give it back to me, and who knows, that map might have still been in there if the jeep driver did not have it. As the crow flies in a straight line Tilff to Bastogne must have been about 45 to 50 miles, but our trip down and back hunting for everyone all over the map must have covered nearly three times that mileage. We left around 7 in the morning and did not get back till after dark. Just one day later and we would have been right in the midst of the German attack. Our survival with only a jeep and the firepower of two M1s would have been in serious doubt. For us to have survived had we been doing it on the 16th would have taken a miracle like the one that brought the 99ers of "A" Company that were 3 miles north of Bastogne safely north and a little west up to Malmédy traveling on the 17th and 18th bypassing around and keeping just ahead of the advancing German spearheads."

"Unlike some clerks in larger unit, we clerks with the 99th Battalion combat special forces always drew outpost guard duty elsewhere and on the front line just like any other member of the 99th on the line. However this duty was nothing in danger compared to the probing patrols of the of the 99th's combat squads such as Sgt. Tuftedal's and others mention before. I and John E. Olsen, who was known as 'peepa' John, (the way we said pipe in Norwegian) because he always smoked a pipe, when we got to Malmédy on the 18th we were given outpost guard duty some miles east of town. John worked in the kitchen for the cooks and he kept fires in the stoves keeping them hot. For this duty we were given a jeep but no radio and no phone. We were told to take up a position out there and if anything big was happening to let the 99th battalion headquarters know about it. Well, we pulled our jeep up next to a building to give it some cover and took up our positions where we thought we had a good view. In the middle of the night somewhere between 1 and 3 AM and airplane came over our position. It dropped parachutes which suspended their flares in the air for quite a while, but right after we see these flares in the air that are lighting things up like it was daylight, we hear TUFF, TUFF, TUFF repeating many times all around us. It was the sound of many smoke bombs going off all around us and in just an instant it went from what seemed like day light to almost not being able to see our hands in front of our faces. I told John, you get on one side of this big tree and I'll get on the other side with our backs against the tree and that way who ever or ever it is won't be able to come and get us from behind. So there we are wondering how in heck we are supposed to let anyone know if this mess turns out to be big. What chance is there of getting back to the jeep next to the building and what chance is there of getting back to the 99th in the jeep and not being blown to bits trying what seems now to be a very bad idea. But nothing more happens, and when dawn begins to break we see hanging in the trees further out around our position straw packed dummies suspended from parachutes. Now we are wondering how many real Germans in American uniforms, who can speak English, came down from that plane with the straw dummies? So we got into our jeep and headed back to the 99th and report, all of these goings on to battalion headquarters. With this experience behind us we were a lot more cautious on our future outpost assignments." Unquote from the November 2007 99th Newsletter.

 

99er Jim Humble: "We left Tilff, Belgium when we got called to Malmédy on December 17th. That was the Battle of the Bulge. We were going in and everyone else was coming out. We knew there were huge problems up ahead. All the service companies were coming back. They were plugging up the roads, and we could tell they were not combat troops. They were frantic ?  Yeah, it was utter confusion. We got into Malmédy, and we got all mixed up in the convoy, but the whole outfit got back together again in Malmédy. We found each other. That was our #1 mission after we got into town. I think we spent a night or two in a house on the North side of town, or the East side? I don't know which. We were up in the hills there checking and patrolling around and then the word came down that the Germans were going to hit us on the other side of town in the morning, and they did. In the meantime, we moved across town and were ready for them?The Railroad tracks, that?s where we set up (our defense)?the Germans had scouts out too on the other side of town from the Railroad tracks. We shot two of them off a motorcycle. One was German and the other Italian. Poor devil, He was conscripted or something?and forced to go. A woman came out of a house and pointed us out to the German. She got shot too?She was Belgian?She got a bullet through the hip area and one through the arm that piled up flesh. I wouldn't think it was fatal?the Italian was not dead. The German was, but I don't know how much that Italian had to go on? He kept saying, "Me Italiano, me Italiano!" "

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Sgt. Morten Tuftedal of 'A' Company? (still living, in a Chicago suburb) who was 3 miles north of Bastogne: "When we drove toward Malmédy that night, we drove against the current, because the Germans were pushing forward towards us. We met American troops who were suddenly chased by Germans. We didn't see the Germans yet, but our own troops were coming toward us. At a roadblock, we were stopped and questioned by the guard as to where in the world we were going. When we replied: Malmédy, he said we had to be pretty stupid."}

99er Sgt. Tuftedal; {"When we got to Malmédy and set up roadblocks, we discovered many Germans walking around in American uniforms and speaking American like everyone else. It was total chaos; no one knew who held or had what."}

99er Sgt. Tuftedal; {?We were standing guard at a place where we were separated form the enemy by a mound, three meters high (about 10 feet) at a railroad track. We put up barbed wire (with various types of explosives which were electrically charged for detonation.) We had to do it at night. That particular job fell to Sergeant Arne Goa from Stavanger and me. We prevented the enemy from infiltrating that area. But there were big losses on both sides, and the German tanks came all the way down to the railroad embankment. We were afraid that they might come through, because we had a lot of supplies stocked behind us. We destroyed some of them ourselves, so that the Germans would not get fresh supplies."}

[Again quoting 1st Lt. Ray Helle;] "The next morning [18th Dec.] two Germans on a motorcycle, with a sidecar stopped to talk to a woman right in front of the spot where the platoon was dug in.  The woman pointed to the platoon's position and everyone opened up killing all three instantly."

99er 1st Lt. Helle; "The next day [19th Dec.] 3 Germans in a captured jeep with two American prisoners sitting on the hood attempted to drive through the roadblock. The Americans on the hood spotted the men dug in alongside the road, dove off the hood shouting, "Shoot them, they're Krauts!" The platoon responded quickly killing one and wounding the two others. The Germans were identified as members of the 1st SS Division."

99er 1st Lt. Helle; "At this point I had no idea where the rest of  "B" Company or the battalion was located. We could only sit tight and listen to the constant drone of German armor moving somewhere in front of us. However I did manage to find a regimental HQ in town where I could go in and check the situation map. Puzzles me to this day how I could walk in and out of that HQ without being challenged but I was able to keep track of what the Germans were doing and kept an eye open to see if they were headed in our direction."

99er 1st Lt. Helle; "On December 20th the "B" Company platoon changed places with a company from the 120th regiment. The move took place after midnight and we discovered we had moved in with the rest of "B" Company so we were a complete unit again. They were dug in on a railroad trestle [large long railroad topped earth embankment], which made an excellent defensive position. The front line was well armed with both 30 and 50 caliber machine guns."

[The evening of the 20th six men from the 3rd Squad 2nd Platoon of "A" Company went on patrol to locate enemy positions. They ambushed 3 Germans and after a close quarter fight killed one and took two prisoners. A knife cut in the hand wounded one 99er. One of the prisoners was an officer of the 1st SS Division. The squad had trouble getting thru our lines since the 291st Engineers were not told about the 99th patrol. After being questioned by an officer from the 291st and alerting him to a large number of tanks and other vehicles moving towards the railroad embankment, he had one of his men take the patrol to the CP (command post).]

99er 1st Lt. Helle; "I found a room with a window on the second floor of the CP and was assured it had a good view of the whole defensive line. We moved the CP up to the second floor and waited. I had a look at the situation map before we changed places and knew a German column was headed for the underpass of the railroad trestle" [large long earth embankment]. "In the meantime a classic textbook battle was looming. The Germans led by Hitler's favorite Lt. Col. Otto Skorzeny were seasoned hand picked veterans of the 1st SS Division. He went into the Bulge with 4,000 men. How many he had left at this time I do not know but I am sure that he outnumbered "B" Company. The Germans went into battle with the advantage of knowing where the main strike would be and when it would take place. On the American side was a reinforced company of the 99th Battalion, "B" Company [reinforced with 2 anti-tank towed guns of the 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion]. Also seasoned troops with an advantage of a good defensive position. Who would win? Only time would tell and it became a waiting game."

[Staff Sgt. 99er Roland Asleson wrote of the Battle of the Bulge story about his "B" Company 1st platoon actions prior to the German attack at the railroad embankment and elsewhere around Malmédy, Belgium as follows:]

[Quoting 99er Staff Sgt. Asleson; "1st platoon of  "B" Company arrived in Malmédy on the 19th of December." (The very first from "B" company to arrive got there before midnight on the 17th.) "The truck brought us up, dumped us off and took off quick-like. One of the 251st Engineers walked by, so we asked him where we were and what was up," (he told us) "the first we heard of the break-through" by the Germans.]

[Staff Sgt. Asleson; "I was told to take a squad and go up the east road, beyond the road block, which was set up on the railroad crossing. We were brought up so fast all we had along is what we were wearing, good thing we had overcoats. The ground was frozen, so no foxholes" (could be dug.) "We moved all night" (long, just) "to keep as warm as possible and" (we could risk making) "no noise and" (we got) "no sleep. We were also told to capture" (German soldiers), "anyone of them, if possible and/or to report back if a large unit was coming."]

[Staff Sgt. Asleson;  "One day a GI came riding down the road on a bicycle using" (just) "one foot, he saw us and said 'GI?s?' We said 'Yes'. He had been wounded," (and) "left for dead. Later on" (he) "made his way to a farm house. The Belgium people took care of his wounds, as best they could, hid him from the Germans, for some days, they then gave him a bike, and showed him the road to Malmédy."]

[Staff Sgt. Asleson; "The next day an American jeep with three (3) Germans came down the road and stopped at a house which was across and a little below us and were talking to a lady who was sitting in the open window" (of the house) "talking. We shifted over to get a better field of fire, got in the prone position," (laid flat on the ground) "waiting for the lady to leave and get out of the field of fire. Next thing we knew, she pointed up at us," (so) "we immediately opened fire, we killed two, wounded one and also wounded the lady. We took the wounded German to headquarters and got a medic for the lady. They" (the Germans) "thought Malmédy was in their hands."]

[Staff Sgt. Asleson; "Our next move was to the railroad tracks" (on top of a very high, maybe 10 to 14 foot, embankment) "We dug in between the railroad tracks, which wasn't easy with the tools we had. We had two man foxholes, at night one man rested and one was on post" (watching for the Germans). "We tried two hours on post and two hours resting, but found it was too long and shifted to one hour on and one hour off. During the night there was "no smoking" (when you puffed 'drew air through' a lit cigarette the burning end could be seen from a very great distance & smokers were shot and killed making this mistake) "or talking or moving around outside the foxhole. Sound carried a long ways at night and also movement could be detected quite a ways out, it was clear and" (very) "cold out."]

[Staff Sgt. Asleson; "On the afternoon of the day before the attack took place, the Battalion Commander" (Lt. Colonel Harold D. Hansen) "called me in and told me to send out men as a listening post, they should not go out so far they couldn't make it back and" (they were) "to get back as soon as they heard any noises."]

[Again quoting 1st Lt. Helle;] "Then it happened [very early morning before dawn December 21st], Sgt. William (Bill or also known as Smitty) Smyth [pronounced Smith or you were headed for trouble] who was on outpost [in front of the 99th's lines] called in to say an American Lieutenant in a jeep, followed by an M-4 tank was coasting down the hill and they were about to hit a mine. [Smitty was one of the three 99ers, the other two were Pfc. (Private First Class) John H. Anderson (Tacoma, Washington) and Pfc. Ralph I. Norby (Sidney, Montana) sent out by 99th Battalion Commander Harold D. Hansen and Tech Sergeant Roland Asleson to ensure the 99th could not be taken by surprise with a German attack. Ralph Norby told this story to his son Thomas Norby many times over 50 years and said that Sgt. Asleson did not wish to make this dangerous listening outpost assignment naming a 99er of his choosing so Dad's (Ralph's) story is that he drew his name out of a hat. When he wrote to the 99th Thomas Norby said that this outpost duty was still so very fresh in his Dad's memory.] Before he (Smyth aka Smitty) could get an answer the jeep hit the mine. Sgt. Smyth called in [that] the Lt. was calling for a medic in German and came back to our lines." [With rifle & machine gun fire combined with mortar, tank and German 88 artillery fire coming down, what seemed like everywhere, they could couldn't get back strait to their squad or platoon or in one case not even to another unit of the 99th.]

[Ralph Norby was the one at the 99th's 1995 reunion and told the story of finally being able get back to the American lines even having to crawl in order to do it, but these Americans who's position he crawled back to were not 99ers. He told of being required to stay with these American strangers of an artillery unit until another 99er could identify him as a 99er and not a German soldier disguised in an American uniform. I remember Ralph saying that he could not get back to report to Sgt. Asleson until long after the battle was over. I (Harlan Hanson) remember Roland & Smitty putting their arms around Ralph's shoulders and saying we're sure glad you made it, we thought for sure you were dead.]

[Quoting 99er Ralph Norby and his son Thomas who wrote about his Dad telling of his duty at Malmédy; "Apparently quite a convoy of trucks and tanks came by and the men could hear German being spoken so they knew they were in deep" (trouble). "Smitty said they had better 'Get out of here' so off they went". (This happened after Smitty sent the radio message back to the 99th) "Ralph got separated from the other two and wandered back through the fighting to an artillery unit after some time". (Harlan Hanson remembers Ralph saying at Denver in 1995 that this time getting back seemed like it took forever under the fire that was coming from both the Germans & the Americans.) "and (Ralph) yelled 'Norby, B-Company! Germans!' He told them where he had seen the convoy and they proceeded to shell that direction. Ralph was standing too close to the front of the big guns and the concussion" (of the first shells being fired) "knocked him on his can" (GI slang for behind). "He couldn't hear for a long time afterward and now is pretty much deaf in that one ear. Smitty got back to his unit and said 'I guess we lost Norby' since Dad had not returned. They were pretty happy to see him when he did get back." [Harlan Hanson remembers Ralph saying that he thought it was a 99th officer, maybe a Lieutenant, that identified him for the American artillery unit but neither Ralph nor anyone else at the 1995 Reunion could identify who it may have been. Smitty indicated at the 1995 Reunion that things got so tuff out their as they (the three 99ers from the outpost) tried to return, that all three got completely separated and each returned to a different place in the American lines.]

 [Again quoting 1st Lt. Helle;] "The moment the jeep hit the mine our mortar platoon filled the air with flares. Looking out the window I could see a large number of Germans headed for the road underpass through the railroad trestle [large long earth embankment]. They were also running past the side of the building the CP was in. Seems that the CP did not have so great a view. When the flares exploded and the advancing German troops came into view, the dug in infantry opened up with rifle and machine gun fire. The 99th held their ground and fired with deadly accuracy halting the Germans surge just short of the railroad trestle [embankment]. The Germans kept trying with the help from a tank who sprayed machine fire along the trestle [embankment]". [The Germans kept running toward the railroad embankment screaming in English "SURRENDER OR DIE!"] "The stubborn defense bought enough time to enable the artillery to get into action. I had been informed by the artillery the only way they would give us fire was for us to supply them with map coordinates of the place we wanted hit. This was something new and Lt. Trosvig and myself needed time to figure out what was going on. What we did not realize at the time [was that] the 99th was taking part in another first. The artillery had developed a new shell and was using it for the first time. This new shell exploded before it hit the ground spraying everything below it with shrapnel." [These were the super-secret proximity fused POZIT or VT artillery shells which up until the Battle of the Bulge had been restricted to anti-aircraft fire far behind the front lines or in England to ensure there was no risk of this deadly new technology falling into the hands of the Germans.] "Once this new shell was put into use it destroyed the Germans capability to [successfully] finish the assault [capturing their objectives of Malmédy, the road to Spa & on to Liége] and they withdrew leaving many [dead and] casualties behind." [Lt. Helle told his fellow members of the 99th many times that he felt certain that because of being so outnumber "B" Company could not have held were it not for the use of these new POZIT shells which inflicted many more casualties than the standard shells inflicted.]

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Julian Flaaten of "B" Company (deceased at age 99 June 7, 2007): "I don?t want to mention any names. But in Malmédy, when we had dug ourselves in the first night down by the railroad line, we assumed there were Germans out there in the dark, and one of our sergeants comes, making a lot of noise. Gunnar Langen then says, "Quite! There are Germans out there." And this sergeant replies "IT SAYS IN THE BOOK THAT YOU CAN SHOUT YOUR ORDERS IN BATTLE!" He was regular army, IT SAYS IN THE BOOK!!"}

99er Julian Flaaten; {"In Malmédy, I almost lost my life, because someone heard something and requested artillery fire and it exploded too early. I remember Martin Westvang: he played the piano well; he was in the trench I was in, and just as he stepped down into the trench, he received a splinter from a grenade, which destroyed one of his hands. I remember the bone splinters sticking out of his sleeve. And Christian Nelson was also killed right on the spot."}

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Norman H. Gilbertson of ?D? Company (deceased): "What happened during Christmas, 1944 at Malmédy is the biggest dogfight I have ever seen or dreamed about seeing. It was inconceivable. It was the breakthrough. ? They arrived the next morning and our Battalion STOPPED THEM! They had four American tanks, which they had captured and used them against us, plus four Tigers. In the afternoon, a whole squadron of B-24?s, Americans bombed us. Near Malmédy (Baugnez or N-23 at five points) there was a big massacre. Near Malmédy, the Germans had taken a whole bunch of prisoners & they massacred them. Drove by them in a tank and shot them. But a couple of them got away, or was there only one? (Actually 28 survived). He fell when the others fell and pretended he was dead, and the Germans walked past everyone lying there, kicked them. If they moaned, they shot them, and lay there all day in the snow. In the evening, he came back to camp and told us the story.?} [Medics from the 99th Inf. Bn. (Sep.) and the 291st Combat Engineers were the first to treat and to talk to survivors of the Baugnez massacre.]

[Again quoting 99er 1st Lt. Helle;] "What decided the outcome of this battle? I have to say it was time, about 30 or 40 seconds worth [of time]. The prompt and efficient way our defense sprung into action made the difference. Also the fact that the 99th had no intentions of letting the Germans push them out of their foxholes. Lt. Col. Skorzeny rode into the bulge [at the start] with 4,000 soldiers selected from the 1st SS Division. He walked back to Germany with 700 thoroughly defeated men. He [and SS Lt. Col. Joachim Peiper] came at us [Task Force Hansen] with their best but they were not good enough [at either Malmédy or Stavelot].

(Note to our readers; we believe that you can still find on the Internet the article by Lieutenant John V. Pehovic of the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion we published with permission in the November 2005 99th Newsletter, which tells the story of the 12-hour period in Stavelot from midnight the 17th of December until 1200 hours (noon) the 18th of December. This is when the 526th denied the German spearhead commanded by Lt. Col. Peiper and possibly other German units access to one of the large gasoline supplies in Europe. It can be argued that to a large degree the fate of the German 1944 Ardennes offensive which was to run out of fuel was to a large degree determined here.)

99er Jim Humble; "On December 21st, the Germans attacked toward Malmédy, They had some American equipment. I know they had a jeep?.I didn't see more than a couple tanks. One of them got hit by the cannon that sat under the overpass there, and he pulled back. Our own guns were not big enough to knock them out. The Jeep got knocked out, and there was a German lying behind it all day, I don't know if he was wounded or what, but he lay there. Maybe he was dead  ? they were coming across the field about the same time, the men and the equipment?2,500 troops maybe. I suppose we knocked off several hundred of them. The damned fools came across there yelling, "Surrender of die!" You know who was going to die. They were right at the base of the embankment?grenade throwing distance?the pressure was on those guys to do something?They didn?t have any choice, either they go ahead or get shot from behind?it was mostly an Infantry charge. Yeah. The Infantry with a few pieces of equipment to back them up?they wanted the road through Malmédy moving up? to Liege."

99er Jim Humble; [At Malmédy] "Colonel Hansen was told that he should send someone to the Railroad Embankment and tell Company "B" not to leave their position at all costs. Colonel Hansen told him (a 30th Division Officer) that they didn't have to be told because they would leave only if they got an order from him to do so. He never did send anyone. That?s where the shell exploded in the bank, in front of me. I couldn't have been more than 6 feet from it. It hit into the bank and I was standing on top, Somebody saw me. I was reconnoitering, I guess. I spent Christmas Night sleeping in a potato bin."

99er Jim Humble; "My last Military Action was going out on patrol. We were supposed to capture some Germans up in the hills?to get some information. It was the opposite side of town from the railroad tracks out to the (Northwest) on December 29th.I waited just a bit too long? Well I shouldn't have been where I was. It was my duty to carry the machine gun. The guy I took the place of was either sick or hung over. It was Alfred Ronning? we were in an old brick house there. Most of the action was over except for getting bombed by our own planes?The Germans reported that they had recaptured Malmédy. This was intentional, they figured that Malmédy would get bombed, and it was three times. Civilians got hit. The Belgians didn't really hold it against the Americans?it was inadvertent."

99er Jim Humble; "It must have been about Noon. we gathered in the morning and went on this hike and wondered what we were supposed to do. Combat drill more than anything else, I guess. I was carrying a 30caliber machine gun, providing covering fire as we withdrew? All of a sudden I felt something. I didn't hear anything. I was lying flat on the ground. The only reason I knew that anything was wrong was when I looked back my right leg was sticking out to the side. It had been hit by a piece of shrapnel and broken in two at the thigh? I started crawling back to our lines, and got stuck under some barbed wire. Trying to get myself loose, I discarded my canteen that was hooked on the wire. I also got rid of my 45 automatic.  Throwing those out of the way, I then yelled for help. Three guys came back. One was Leonard Costello." (Lee: My Dad, Jim Humble, is very proud of his Purple Heart and his Combat Infantryman?s Badge, for actual Combat Veterans. He was also awarded the Bronze Star.)  "That is when I was put on the hood of a Jeep. I didn't have anyone to shoot at when we pulled back, but I was looking for anything that might pop up. I had my machine gun ammo belt tied to the trigger area, which made it easier to carry. Leonard was a character. He came aboard at Camp Shanks, New York. He was left there by some other outfit, when he didn't make it back on time. So he got chucked onto us. He was a real screw-up? I don't know specifically why, but I got him?I thought he was an okay guy, and we got along. We had this under-standing. When he got back on pass, ?Get back for Reveille & when we call roll and I won't say anything." "I can remember when one of the guys came back to get me, they had these sulfa tablets, and they gave me this cold coffee I was supposed to drink to get them down. It tasted terrible. I never did drink coffee in the Military. When they got me on the hood of the Jeep, they put this form on my leg to keep it from flexing. I went back to an Aid Station. There they stuck me into an Ambulance with 5 other GI's. We were all on stretchers. ? We had a hell of a rough ride; I could feel the bones grinding in my leg. It really didn't hurt too much, but I could tell it was rubbing, and the other guys were in there groaning? We went to a tent, and there were two Germans there. When the buzz- bombs went over, these two young guys, they were smiling then? We went from there to a two-story schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was full of GI's on cots. I got a penicillin shot every three hours for 7 days. Back in those days, it hurt. Those guys would come around with the shots; they'd hear it, "You SOB!" I went from there to Paris and got on a plane to England on an old C-47? From the second week in January until March 1, I was in a Hospital. I got to see everything there. They had female Nurses; they had to absorb a lot of guff when they came walking in. Some of the guys were feeling pretty good. The fellow next to me wasn't a very big guy. He was with the 82nd Airborne his name was Carrol. "Have no fear Carrol is here." He was flat on his back on a bunk. On the other side of me was a guy; he got hit by a 50 caliber. Strafed from a Thunderbolt, I guess? It had taken all the flesh out of his thigh. I'm sure he lost his leg. They were trying to save it, but they didn't have enough blood vessels left? The guy across the isle from me? He had both feet shot off. They were trying to stretch the flesh down over the end of the bone. It was wrapped up there with weights hanging down. He was miserable"...

99er Jim Humble; "There was a medical Corpsman who always followed a Doctor around, the Doctor called him an Embryonic Orthropod. They were just starting Orthopedics. I can still remember what the guy looked like; he was a big fellow and kind of fat. He did all the 'spade work' for the Doctor."

"There was a pin put in my leg ... I was in this contraption with weights, and the dang pin had to break. That is why my one leg is shorter. The muscles pulled it together. the regular pins were about the size of a pencil lead, the one I had was an eight of an inch in diameter, a good sized one. Then the darn thing broke?then they threw a cast on me all the way from my ankle to my armpits. They had a piece of wood cast in so they could carry me?I remember after I had it on for awhile, it started to itch. I wasn't the only one who had that problem. We had coat hangers straitened out, and we were digging (scratching) down there. I was then flown to Preslett, Scotland, where I got on a C-54 and flew to Pennsylvania, That is the place where I got my firsts taste of real Milk for years. I thought that was pretty nice. It came from the Red Cross I guess. We then flew to Topeka, Kansas, and I stayed there until September 7th. Then I got in a Cab and went Home to Oakland, CA. [to] see Mom (Greta).?

Quote from the 99er Group; [At dawn the next morning the 22nd of December the 3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon of "A" Company was sent out on patrol out past the paper mill and over to the hills on the left since movement was spotted in both areas. Except for some children who pointed to some houses near a draw everything appears in order until we saw some bodies laying in front of one of the houses. There were 9 American medics with their hands tied behind their backs with wire. Several were shoot thru the forehead with additional wounds to their bodies.  Due to possible booby traps we did not move anything except to record their names etc., and turned this information in for graves registration with a sketch of the area. We could hear vehicles moving in the distance but could not see anything because of the terrain, trees, un-level ground etc.]

[During this period of time after Skorzeny's attack Malmédy was bombed on three different days by American Army Air Force bombers destroying most of the city and inflicting many casualties both military and civilian. The greatest number being suffered by men from the 30th Division to whom Task Force Hansen was now attached. More snow was falling and it got even colder making life even more uncomfortable for some of the 99ers that had been living in foxholes for more than two weeks counting the missions before Malmédy. The next several days were spent on patrols and upgrading various sections of our line of defense. Many wounded Germans came into our lines to surrender since they needed treatment and/or could no longer tolerate the cold. Christmas was just another day in your foxhole eating a K ration. We would get Christmas dinner later. Many patrols were being sent out to be sure a counter attack was not being organized.] [Again quoting Lt. Helle,] "The expected counter attacks never came." [Our biggest risk came from the repeated attacks by the American bombers.]

[On the 27th of December at 1600 hours (4 PM) "C" Company sent a commando raid to the town of Hedamont. American artillery concentrated their fire on the town prior to the surprise attack.  The opposing enemy units and their positions were identified. One prisoner was taken and some 30 Germans were killed with out suffering one injury in 'C' Company.]

[On the 29th of December ?B? Company raided the town of Otaimont with fixed bayonets but the enemy was no longer there, but were still close enough to lay down a heavy concentration of machine gun and artillery fire to harass the raiders. "B" Company was fortunate to come out with extremely light casualties even though their escape routes were zeroed in by the enemy.]

[During the period from January 1st thru 6th while still on the front line of defense on the out-skirts of Malmédy the 99th Battalion (Sep.) was doing extensive patrolling. Enemy artillery and rocket fire was fairly heavy but there were few injuries. During the night the enemy Dressed in white camouflage suits and raided forward positions of the 99th but without success even though they had skis. Having been trained as ski trooper mountain soldiers primarily at Camp Hale & also Camp Carson, Colorado probably contributed to our success in repelling these raids. Our winter equipment from this training did not follow with us overseas. However, many of our 99er men knowing the value of winter camouflage from their training and knowing that Army Green stands out like a sore thumb against the snow were able to improvise makeshift camouflage using white sheets taken from empty rooms in hotels, the hospital or homes of Malmédy or from other white material.]

[On the evening of the 6th of January the 99th Battalion moved to the vicinity of Stavelot after our positions around Malmédy were taken over by units of the 30th Division. Our new 99th position was in a pine wooded area and our thin line was in shouting distance of the German defenses. Our patrols were out all the time and had frequent clashes with the Enemy. Each raid by units of the 99th was pulling in more and more artillery fire and screaming meemies.]

[The snow was deep and the night?s bitter cold. Many of the enemy were well prepared with white camouflage and skis. They had direct artillery support for their positions. Our first offensive action was in an area called Chevehosse on the 10th of January. The 2nd Platoon of "A" Company attacked driving the enemy back from their positions, killing or wounding many of the enemy plus taking many prisoners. The next day, 11 January, the same sector had to be attacked again by the 2nd Platoon "A" Company because the enemy had reoccupied the area. The platoon was pinned down by heavy concentration of combined machine gun, mortar and artillery fire. The fighting was fierce with hand-to-hand combat taking place until a point where the platoon could withdraw. Our platoon casualties were heavy but no one was killed.]

[On the following day, 12 January, the 2nd Platoon of "A" Company with much needed re-enforcement attacked this same sector again taking many prisoners who provided valuable information. The enemy had many outposts and were well fortified to prevent patrols from infiltrating across the bridge to Thieux. Through constant artillery and mortar fire from the fanatical Germans the 99ers attacking continued to advance driving them from their foxholes with a steady fire of grenades, rifles, machine guns and mortars. With this concentration of fire our attack killed or took prisoners and finally knocked out the German command post.]

[Later on this same day, the 12th, the 119th Infantry Regiment of the 30th Division attacked from the vicinity of Malmédy on the 99th's left flank to help stabilize the area. Our heavy weapons Company "D" helped their advance by firing 50 caliber machine guns and 81mm mortars at the enemy positions. The Germans knew the terrain we were in and shelled our positions with great accuracy, and because the area was so heavily wooded tree bursts from enemy mortar and artillery was devastating, causing many casualties.]

[On 15 January the 517th Parachute Regiment attacked up along our right flank. Therefore, with the 517th on our right flank and the 119th on our left flank, these units took over the area that the 99th had been defending, controlling and advancing from. Though the 99th pulled back we supported the attacking units with 81mm mortars and 50 caliber machine gun fire from our heavy weapons ?D? Company. For the next several days the 99th put out many patrols looking for by-passed enemy units and for men missing from the 99th Battalion (Sep.)]

[On the 18th of January, after 31 days of continuous fighting, living in snow covered foxholes at often sub-zero temperatures, and being under observation and unrelenting artillery fire from the enemy, the tired and bearded men of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate) were formally relieved from their front line positions.]

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Roy Carlson of "HQ" Company (still living, Danbury, WI): "It was the Air Force that got us out. It had been foggy and it snowed, the weather cleared and hordes of airplanes showed up."}.

99er Roy Carlson; {"The Germans had made this last attempt, and we defended and fought against them, but they kept returning time and again. We were waiting for the Air Force; we always cooperated with the Air Force, but they had been unable to fly as a result of the fog. We were under constant pressure, day and night, day and night."}

99er Roy Carlson; {"There I stood watching the planes coming, observing them liberating us and the flag. Sometimes they were hit and I counted. Some parachutes opened, some did not. In those days, I knew how many men were in each plane, so I could see how many were about to do all right, how many were not. One gets these strange feelings in a war. Some of the planes were 24's (Douglas B 24 Liberator) another one a 17 (Boeing B 17 Flying Fortress). Different size. They help us and gave their lives for us. There has always been a sort of rivalry between Infantry and Air Force about which one received the most honor."}

99er Roy Carlson; {"But I appreciated at that time. They saved us. They knew we were in trouble."}

{Gerd Nyquist's book quoting 99er Peter M. Pedersen of "A" Company (deceased):  "What I remember most is that I wore the same clothes for 30 days strait. The only thing I could change a couple of times was a pair of socks."}

Again quoting what 1st Lt. Ray Helle wrote; "The business of the bearded men was complete embarrassment to me. I had the wimpiest looking beard in the whole battalion and I could hardly wait to shave the damn thing off."

99er 1st Lt. Ray Helle; "The Belgians [at Malmédy] have since [in 1994] put up a monument in the area of the railroad trestle [embankment] honoring the men of the 99th Battalion for their stand which halted the Nazis in their final desperate attempt to keep the "Breakthrough" alive [on the northern Malmédy shoulder of the Bulge with the attack of the famous and infamous Hitler?s favorite Lt. Col. Otto Skorzeny.] The street [along] which the monument stands has been [re-] named ["Avenue De Norveig" meaning] Avenue of the Norwegians. Well earned I would say."

On page 492 of "A Soldier's Story" published in 1951 General Omar N. Bradley wrote, "G-2 estimated enemy casualties in excess of 250,000 for the month long battle, of whom more than 36,000 had been taken as POWs. More than 600 of his (Hitler's) fast-dwindling supply of tanks and assault guns lay rusting in the Bulge." And on page 494 Bradley wrote, "U. S. casualties for the month-long battle totaled approximately one forth of those we had attributed to the Germans. Of the 59,000 we lost in battle, 6,700 were listed as dead, another 33,400 wounded. The remaining 18,900 were counted as missing though most were presumed to have been captured when cut off on the German breakthrough." [With many more years for research we quote also from Charles B. MacDonald's book "A TIME FOR TRUMPETS" published in 1984 "Among the 600,000 Americans eventually involved in the fighting ? including 29 divisions, 6 mechanized cavalry groups, and the equivalent of 3 separate regiments ? casualties totaled 81,000, of which 15,000 were captured and 19,000 killed. Among the 55,000 British ? 2 divisions and 3 brigades ? casualties totaled 1,400, of which just over 200 were killed. The Germans, employing close to 500,000 men ? including 28 divisions and 3 brigades ? lost at least 100,000 killed, wounded and captured."

The following is by me 99er Harold K. Hanson: "My personal story for just before and during the Battle of the Bulge or German Ardennes offensive of December 1944 begins on December 15, 1944. Just before this Lt. Colonel Hansen had ordered the clerks to get all the members of the 99th Battalion paid because he wanted to maintain the 99ers high moral. To do this each company clerk of the 99th's five battalions had to type the appropriate pay role records and get the signature of each soldier in that clerk's company. I my case it was Company "A". I was at Tilff, Belgium but Company "A" and it's many squads and larger groups were spread all the way from Tilff down to just 3 miles north of Bastogne. I have a photo of myself standing in front of a building in Tilff with snow on the ground that must have been taken near this time. The assignment was to find and capture the Germans in American uniforms that had been dropped behind the American lines. Company "A" of the 99th captured two of these Germans on its mission. I had finished the necessary paper work and typing the day before when Col. Hansen had given the order to get the men paid, so early in the morning on the 15th I and a jeep driver, whose name I cannot remember but may have been Bennie Moland, climbed into the jeep and took off all over Belgium from Tilff to Bastogne to find and get the signature of every member of Company "A" so they could be paid. The men were at cross roads, installations, buildings and towns all over the map. Boy do I wish that I still had that map. I lost many personal items such as the letters from my wife when I turned in my small little lap field desk expecting to get it back when we arrived in Norway. The army never did give it back to me, and who knows, that map might have still been in there if the jeep driver did not have it. As the crow flies in a straight line Tilff to Bastogne must have been about 45 to 50 miles, but our trip down and back hunting for everyone all over the map must have covered nearly three times that mileage. We left around 7 in the morning and did not get back till after dark. Just one day later and we would have been right in the midst of the German attack. Our survival with only a jeep and the firepower of two M1s would have been in serious doubt. For us to have survived had we been doing it on the 16th would have taken a miracle like the one that brought the 99ers of  "A" Company that were 3 miles north of Bastogne safely north and a little west up to Malmédy traveling on the 17th and 18th bypassing around and keeping just ahead of the advancing German spearheads."

"Unlike some clerks in larger unit, we clerks with the 99th Battalion combat special forces always drew outpost guard duty elsewhere and on the front line just like any other member of the 99th on the line. However this duty was nothing in danger compared to the probing patrols of the of the 99th's combat squads such as Sgt. Tuftedal's and others mention before.  I and John E. Olsen, who was known as 'peepa' John, (the way we said pipe in Norwegian) because he always smoked a pipe, when we got to Malmédy on the 18th we were given outpost guard duty some miles east of town. John worked in the kitchen for the cooks and he kept fires in the stoves keeping them hot. For this duty we were given a jeep but no radio and no phone. We were told to take up a position out there and if anything big was happening to let the 99th battalion headquarters know about it. Well, we pulled our jeep up next to a building to give it some cover and took up our positions where we thought we had a good view. In the middle of the night somewhere between 1 and 3 AM and airplane came over our position. It dropped parachutes which suspended their flares in the air for quite a while, but right after we see these flares in the air that are lighting things up like it was daylight, we hear TUFF, TUFF, TUFF repeating many times all around us. It was the sound of many smoke bombs going off all around us and in just an instant it went from what seemed like day light to almost not being able to see our hands in front of our faces. I told John, you get on one side of this big tree and I?ll get on the other side with our backs against the tree and that way who ever or ever it is won?t be able to come and get us from behind. So there we are wondering how in heck we are supposed to let anyone know if this mess turns out to be big. What chance is there of getting back to the jeep next to the building and what chance is there of getting back to the 99th in the jeep and not being blown to bits trying what seems now to be a very bad idea. But nothing more happens, and when dawn begins to break we see hanging in the trees further out around our position straw packed dummies suspended from parachutes.  Now we are wondering how many real Germans in American uniforms, who can speak English, came down from that plane with the straw dummies? So we got into our jeep and headed back to the 99th and report, all of these goings on to battalion headquarters. With this experience behind us we were a lot more cautious on our future outpost assignments." Unquote from the November 2007 99th Newsletter.