Posted by: philipmartin | January 3, 2010

Another Scene from the Battle of the Bulge

Here’s another photo from the collection of Frank Wayne Martin. Dark and grainy as it is, it shows a quiet moment during the cold, cold midwinter engagement known as the Battle of the Bulge. In this terrible battle, in which some 19,000 American soldiers lost their lives, the Germans attempted a dramatic counter-offensive in the heavily wooded Ardennes Mountain region of Belgium to try to to halt the Allied advance. From mid-December into late January, the two sides clashed in desperate fashion.

During the back-and-forth engagements, some German troops disguised as Americans managed to penetrate through the Allied lines to try to cut communication wires, change traffic signs, and such.

According to Wikipedia:

Checkpoints were set up all over the Allied rear, greatly slowing the movement of soldiers and equipment. Military policemen drilled servicemen on things which every American was expected to know, such as the identity of Mickey Mouse’s girlfriend, baseball scores, or the capital of Illinois. This last question resulted in the brief detention of General Bradley; although he gave the correct answer — Springfield — the GI who questioned him apparently believed the capital was Chicago.

Frank Wayne Martin was pulled into the fighting with the rest of the Lucky Forward scouting unit. Martin recalled in his World War II memoir, Patton’s Lucky Scout, how on several occasions he encountered groups of disguised German soldiers on some of his scouting missions.

How did I know they were actually Germans? They were all shaven. They had well-fitting uniforms, with their helmets on straight, and polished boots. No GI unit ever looked like that in combat, especially if they had to use foxholes! My suspicions were confirmed when they started talking in German when they thought I was out of earshot.

Here is a photograph of PFC Martin taken during that period. In this photo, he is standing (on left) holding a binocular case in one hand, while the other hand has a grip on a small calf.

The fellow toward the back, in the knit cap, is “Doc” Kidd, the medic assigned to the Lucky Forward scouting unit. The other two soldiers are unidentified.

Frank Wayne Martin, author of Patton's Lucky Scout, at the Battle of the Bulge

Frank Wayne Martin (left), "Doc" Kidd (in knit cap), and two others during the Battle of the Bulge

Photograph from the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 or January 1945. Photographer unknown.


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