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Veterans Share Their Memories: Herbert W. Ridyard, May 27, 2004

February 7, 1945. The attack on Sinz [?] in the Siegfried Line. My machine gun squad was located on a hill above Sinz for four days in the heavily wooded area in a foot deep of snow. We were having trouble with water in our foxholes, so they sent one of our squad back for a rest each night. When it was my turn, I found that they were going to send me back to a rest camp for 48 hours. I received my only shower in eight months, took all my uniform off, and dusted us down with DDT, gave me a big meal, rest and everything. Then they sent me back to company headquarters in the town of Wachern [?]. There I saw G Company getting lined up for the attack the next day. My captain asked me to take two replacements back to my position. The platoon leader gave me a walkie-talkie. It was pitch black; I was to follow a wire up to a hill where the second platoon was waiting for the morning. In the middle of the night, the US artillery bombardment started, and the Germans returned the fire. Shrapnel was coming pretty close, so we went to seek a dugout position somewhere. We stayed in a dugout till morning when G Company's rifle company attacked Sinz [?].

I received a phone call on my walkie-talkie to come to the edge of the woods to look at a burned-out house. They told me that was where I should bring the second platoon. So I told a lieutenant and we started down the hill in broad daylight. The snow had melted, so I could see the black boxes that were mines. I told the lieutenant so we walked through the minefield. Why the Germans didn't blast us I don't know. When I got to the town, the sergeant that sent me the message said you weren't supposed to come until tonight. Immediately I felt that I had made a big mistake, but I told the captain that we were there and he was thrilled. He immediately told the colonel that he had four more machine guns, so they immediately positioned us in the town. Much later, I reflected upon what would have happened if we had come through the minefield in the middle of the night, and what if the snow had not melted.

The next day, the captain asked me to go to my platoon and see how they were doing. They were in the woods outside of town, and the Germans were shelling the road. Here I am 19 and I was supposed to go through that shelling to get to them. There was a wall about three feet high on the enemy side of the road. So what I did was, I would run about 20 feet and flop down, I would wait for the next shell to land, and then I would start running again. I did this about four times and when I got to a house where there was some protection. Unfortunately there were three dead Germans that were chopped to pieces by artillery, and they smelled, so I couldn't stay there. I kept going until I got to the wooded area and found Sergeant Colvin. He told me that the first platoon were all okay. So of course I had to go back through the artillery barrage to get back to the captain. My best friend, John Gardy from Philadelphia, was killed in the attack in the woods above Sinz by German tanks, who ran over his foxhole. One of the hardest things I had to do after the war was go see his mother. She was very sweet and nice to me, so it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.

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  October 26, 2011
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