23rd Dec. It seems that the Germans had come closer each time our perimeter got smaller, and were ready to end it. The sequence of events on this day I cannot accurately recall but I was in and out of foxholes and, on occasion, running into the shelter of the stone building for a warm-up (or thaw-out). The fog would roll in and out giving us limited visibility. I would fire at anything I saw moving around in range of my hole. This weather was tough on us, but I think it was to our advantage from a defensive point of view. I'm sure our enemy was not able to determine exactly what he had to overcome to take the crossroads. Whenever he came into view we would drive him back into the fog. Our ammunition was running out. I had one clip of carbine rounds and could find no more. Word had come around that, when the ammo ran out and the Germans came, it would be every man for himself, escape if you could, otherwise a surrender was prudent. I never heard this as an order directly from an officer but it did not take a genius to assess our situation. We were apparently surrounded, but the Germans were taking the easiest route, the hard surface roads. That left the fields open.
Late afternoon, probably after 1600, the final assault came. Mortars, small arms, and fire from tanks. I was in the stone building, sitting on the floor with my back to the wall. Harold Kuizema was with me. This room must have been a kitchen at one time because I recall a wood burning cook stove and a G.I., who I didn't know, trying to heat something at it. Something big hit that wall and exploded it right over our heads into the room. It must have hit high or it would have gotten the both of us. As it was, it filled the room with debris and dust. That was all the motivation we needed to leave there. To wait for another one never crossed my mind. We (Harold and me) went to the front door. They were coming and we were going. It was that simple. Some of our people were going to the cellar. I didn't like that idea. So, once outside, I crawled to the road and the ditch. There were some cattle milling about on the road, and much smoke, so I got up and ran through the cattle to the ditch on the far side and once again dropped down to avoid the German fire. On this side of the road was a snow covered field, very open, but it was "away" from the attack, so that's the direction that I took. Not far into the field Harold went down. As I got to him, I saw two G.I.'s approaching from the other direction. It was apparent that Harold was not going any farther on his own so between the three of us we moved him the remaining distance to the shelter of the woods and into the company of a patrol of infantrymen from the 82nd AB Div. When we reached the shelter of the woods and I looked back at the crossroads, the whole sky seemed to be lighted by the flames from the burning building and vehicles. Our wounded man was evacuated and I received permission to tag along with these 82nd AB Div G.I.'s, which I did until late sometime the next day (24th) when I was able to locate some 106th Division people. There were some vehicles from the 589th with this group that were not with us at Parker's Crossroads and one was loaded with duffel bags - mine was with them. Another miracle, clean underwear and socks. (I still have that same duffle bag.)
BACK TO CROSSROADS