March 8, 2020:

During the Ardennes campaign my grandfather was an infantry sergeant in the 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 334th Regiment, of the 84th Infantry Division, often called the "Railsplitters". He would never talk of his war experiences, ever. Recently I found this description of one tactical engagement fought by Company E in a memoir called Fortune Favored the Brave, a History of the 334th Infantry 84th Division, by Perry S. Wolf, pp 145-6. Wolf presents his narrative as Tough Doughboys Kicking Ass. I believe my grandfather and others experienced a different reality. There are pre-war photos of my grandfather smiling. To my knowledge there are no postwar photos of him smiling.


From a wooded assembly area deep within the heart of the Ardennes on 22 January, Easy Company moved out in a night attack. Although the men were veterans of many battles and knew well the enemy they were about to engage, they were glad to be moving after spending cold, miserable hours in foxholes.

We had gone only a short distance when our supporting tanks were forced to fall back because of icy roads and deep snow drifts. Easy Company men then realized that this next battle would be typical of the Belgian battles: thick woods with the Jerries holding more favorable positions. It was snowing much harder now and the infantry continued·the attack down each side of a heavily mined road.

From distant high ground we drew artillery fire, and the battalion commander decided on an alternate route. This route afforded us excellent concealment but carried us through heavy woods and deep snow. Sixteen hours after our jump-off we found our way into Beho, arriving at 0100 on 23 January.

We barely had time to eat a "K" ration and get partially thawed out before we pushed off again at 0500. Weary, cold, and hungry doughs were ordered to continue the attack after spending over 20 hours exposed to the elements of an Ardennes winter.

Our orders were to dig in on the high ground about a 1000 yards outside of Beho but before we re~ched this ridge, we were fired upon by German outposts. Lt James V. Morgia, the executive officer and acting company commander, ordered an immediate attack. The Germans were completely surprised and were unable to man their previously dug positions. The second platoon actually bypassed some Germans who were sleeping in the buildings of the Mansion Neuve Monastery. These were easy prey for our riflemen, although in the darkness it was difficult to distinguish them from our own men. Everyone was shouting and orders could be heard in both English and German.

We ran into machine gun fire from tanks and infantry forcing us to withdraw into a barn. About twenty Germans in the barn fired at us, but our surprise and superior power forced them to retreat via the near door toward some tanks. Even though these Jerries were armed with automatic weapons, in the confusion that followed they were afraid to fire, and chose to follow their tanks. Meanwhile S/Sgt Walter E. Wright crawled into the barn after neatly disposing of a well concealed machine gun nest firing only thirty feet from were he was lying. He scored a tree burst directly over this enemy position with a rifle grenade. Small arms fire came into the barn from three sides. S/Sgt William H. Lumpkin Jr. had his steel helmet shot from his head while placing his BAR man at an upstair window. We won the first phase of the battle by occupying the enemy's positions; however, our company was disorganized. The second and third platoons had lost their platoon leaders, Lt Marvin W. Jamison and Lt Clyde S. Laurant Jr.

Sergeants resumed command and we reorganized, treated our wounded, and set up a defense for an expected counter-attack. The Germans counter-attacked twice, first with infantry and then with tanks. The first attack was repulsed with rifle and BAR fire. As BAR's barked from the second story windows, enemy tanks begain using their 20mm high explosive shells in the second attack on the stone buildings. The intense small arms fire proved ineffective, and we received a terrific shelling. Three enemy tanks were forced to retreat because of our accurately observed 105mm fire. The situation was so precarious at one time that the forward observer destroyed his radio. Pfc Robert E. Epley ran back to Beho to get the badly needed artillery support which came just in time to force the retreat of the battered German units. These numbered between 200 and 400 infantry troops and three tanks before the retreat.

We dug in on the ridge and manned outposts until dark.