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1944 Entries

October to December 1944

Soldier with a sketchpad in European city 1940s

Bob Tompkns sketching in Luxembourg City. He is in the Grund, part of the lower city, which the soldiers referred to as the "Gulch." Robert Tompkins Collection, Ghost Army Archive.

Oct 1. Sun Had dinner with a wonderful Luxembourg family tonight. On our way to a movie when they called us in. Home made ice cream and cake. Wow! It was terrific. Sherry, shlutz and upper Moselle wine. Getting up at 4;45 tomorrow to leave on problem near Metz. Just taking flash equipment.

Oct. 4 Yesterday afternoon Lt. Gray and I spent great part of afternoon at 344 FA Hq. at Coutance until telephone could be put through. Had coffee and doughnuts at RC. About fifteen minutes after we left village two German shells landed about 100 yards from Headquarters. Supposed to set up a couple of batteries today in front of heavy artillery. Tentative problem called approximately Drian at 6 P.M. Watched wonderful show put on by 12 P 47's [Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft] strafing Maginot Fort on right flank of Metz. We stood on a hill about 3/4 miles away from fort. Planes came down in long dives. ACK ACK all around them. They then would open up and we could see their rockets and 50 cal. Tracers streak out in front of them. Then they would disappear behind the trees, and then roar right over our heads and then go back again for another crack. Could hear the roar of machine gun fire.

Oct. 5 Thurs. 6 Shells landed off to our left flank about 600 yards away last nite.

Oct. 6 Last nite 1-2-3 Platoon fired Flash Equipment several times. Had to leave guard 10:30 to go out and pick 3rd Platoon up. Has been continuous thunder of artillery today. P 47's strafed again. Took Lt. Gray down to Div. CP this afternoon. Going back for mail at Luxembourg with Gray tomorrow morning.
Oct. 7 Successful trip.

Oct. 8 Sun. Watched F.A. [field artillery] Battery fire German 100 mm at Metz.

Oct. 9 Mon. Leave bivouac for Luxembourg 9:30 AM. Arrive 11:30. Lead convoy home- had dinner at Hotel Cravat.

Oct 10 Week's extra duty for being over hil . Eating according to rank. Shit runs high. Would like to shit on every officer in this damned Company. Going on reconnaisance with Momma Gray tomorrow.

Oct. 11 Left 8:30 south to Mars - Letours and then down to Pont A Mousson. Crossed Moselle came up East bank about 12 k from Metz, then took bridge shielded by smoke screen and returned by way of Belgium. Three Countries in one day.

Oct. 19 Stood 9 hours straight guard.

Oct. 21 Sat. Saw first robomb [V-1 pilotless buzz bomb] a few minutes ago at chow. Headed in S.S.W Direction. Hell of a noise. Might be headed for Metz.

Oct. 25 Saw second robomb about 8:45 this morning. Just a tiny speck in the sky. Going S.S.W. Motor cut off. Heard nothing after that. Whoops! just heard explosion. Must have been it. Probably 10 miles away. Another one at 1:45 about same direction. Saw what must have been a Jerrie plane circle City twice this noon. Looked like J U 88. [Junkers Ju 88, a German twin-engined multirole combat aircraft] Another robomb about 2:30.

Oct. 26 Two more bombs about 6:30 and 6:45. Seem to be low - noisy as hell.

Oct. 28 Around 3 A.M. this morning a couple of shells were thrown into town probably by Nazi railroad guns. Hit right next to heater outfit and knocked out a half truck. Two civilians reported killed.

Oct. 29 Sun. Went for walk this morning. Bill, Paul, Sac - took a roll of films and did a couple of sketches. Beautiful day, first in a long time. 9:30 P.M. Jerrie just came in over our building and then a few seconds later we heard about 10 bomb explosions. Couldn't see anything. Looks like they are gunning for headquarters.

Oct. 30 Mon. Took Lt. Holeman into Verdun for payroll - 110 miles round trip. Colder than hell. Louie from 3132 says push is on. Start within next three days. Hope so.

Nov. 3. Fri. Back at Metz. Line has been so static that they have set up barbed wire all front. Put up 105 Howitzer in old emplacement deserted yesterday. Setting up flash equipment. Ready to fire tonight. Expect long Siege. Six months ago today left the dear old States. It's muddy as shit by the way, and very cold. If this isn't our last job, I guess maybe then your Butch was all wrong about Christmas. Will it ever end!

Nov. 7 Election Day. Our kitchen is set up in railroad station-in Batilly. We're now eating with C Bat. about 1/2 miles down valley. Squads alternate firing and guard every day. Rain, wind and mud make for horrible existence. Our hut is leaking like a sieve. Everything is soaked. Don't see how attack can start in this weather. Was scheduled to begin a couple days ago. Hope to God they went for the mail. That's all there is to look forward to. It would be great to know that Dewey had won, however, have my doubts. Probably won't know until at least the end of the week.
Nov. 8 Rec'd bad news. Spent horrible night on guard. Cleared today. Just been stuck for hour and half. Good news. Leave for Luxembourg tomorrow, Thank God. Soaked to skin. Is pouring again. Thinking only of my Sweet Darling and home. 9:30 P.M. Have fired twice this evening. 8:40 and 9:27. Can plainly hear machine gun, mortar and rifle fire about a mile away. Artillery shakes the hut. Must be attempt crossing on the river. Beginning of large attack to circle Metz. Simulated 949 F.A. 20 corp. 193 F.A. Group.

Nov. 9 Thurs. Arrived back at Seminary at 1:00 P.M. after tearing down dummies and having to push one truck up the hill. What a hell of a trip. Terrific gale, cold as hell and just a few minutes ago it began to snow. Got back just in time. Can be
recorded as my most miserable week in the army.

Nov. 15 Wed. Luxembourg becoming a living hell at night. Last week 5 G.I.'s were found dead, in the Gulch. Shooting every night. Boys arriving from Front for rest. Get drunk and spray street with machine guns. Five civilians killed the other night. Still many collaborators working under cover of darkness. Several Signal Men and 406 men were awarded Bronze Star today. We paraded down to field where General Doran made awards.

Three soldiers sit on stone wall

From left, Bob Tompkins, Bill Blass, and an unknown soldier. Photo taken in Luxembourg City. From Robert Tomkins Collection, Ghost Army Archive.

Nov. 16 Thurs. 9 P.M. Jerry just came in over city - wandered around. Some flak went up. Sound disappeared then we saw light flash on and off at various points around the city. Looked very much like signals. All clear 15 minutes later.

Nov. 17 Robomb just came over very low and loud. Cou1d see light of a rocket on tail. Hell of a noise about 9:30. 10 o'clock another raid alarm. Heard no planes this tine.

Nov. 18 Two more air raid alarms this evening about 45 minutes apart. Heard no bombs fall. Probably just Jerry reconnaisance.

Nov. 20. [Marlene] Dietrich put on a show here today. Really swell. Nearly knocked her down as I was coming down the hall.

Nov. 21 Several Jerries flew over tonight - little flak. Tied 406 0-0 I Star.

Nov. 22 [Bernard] Parke shoots [Bernard] Bier in Hall of Seminary with Army 45. [Parke was drunk.]

Nov. 23 Thanksgiving Day. Beat A Co. 13-6 Starred again. Pappy won goose. Luxembourg Stadium.

Nov. 24 Last night about 5:00 robot came over very low, shook entire building. This morning about 9:15 another, further away.

Dec. 1 Two years in the Army today. Beat A. Co. again 13-6 Feel like I had a steam roller go over me tonight. Alerted to go on reconnaisance. Won't leave until tomorrow. Only a matter of days now until L.B. arrival Wow!

Dec. 4 Mon. Three separate air raid alarms this evening. Planes droned overhead. Heavy A.A. tracers lit sky. Went down to shelter for 1/2 hour during movie air raid. Could hear real AA outside "Until we meet again" Terribly fidgety last couple days. L.B. due very shortly - my Sweet Darling is my constant thought.

Dec. 6 Wed. Have funny hunch tomorrow is the day We'll see! Air raid siren just started. More A.A. Fireworks on display.
Dec. 8 Fri.
Lt. Gray end 1 left at noon on simulated reconnaisance for billeting 75 X-290 who have supposedly just landed Charbourg. (Actually still in England) Company still follow to simulate division on Sunday. Went over to main road from Arlon Belgium, then cut back N.E. about 15 miles from Luxembourg. Went to Junglingster. Gray questioned by couple Colonels and we had discussion with 83rd man. Said we should try schnopps and get down to Luxembourg some time. Also that we had missed all the hedgerow fighting. Went to see mayors of small towns about billeting. Sleeping on top floor of converted school house in little village near Junglingster. Sore as hell because this way there may be added delay in receiving word from Babe.

Dec 9 Found billets in Eschweiler about 7 miles from front. Drove in driving snow this morning. Cleared a little this afternoon. Had 3 cognacs in small cafe few hundred yards from here this morning, and got dozen eggs. Gray got stuck with another Colonel this afternoon. It's really getting to be a joke. Boys arrive tomorrow at 2 P.M. Col. Schraeder said we'd get mail. Thank God. I don't feel quite as fidgety as I have the past week and I think it's an indication. Terribly anxious to get word.

Five weary soldiers in cold weather gear

From Robert Tomkins Collection, Ghost Army Archive.

Dec. 11 Men arrived yesterday afternoon from 3 P.M. on. Waited with Gray at fork for three hours. Froze. Went on mach convoy about 9:30 — snowed hard. Led convoy over route second time around after Robinson's driver was blinded. Nearly smacked into Shil [Art Shilstone] with jeep. Returned 12:30 A.M. frozen. Eating chow in hall downstairs. Took Gray down to Div. C.P. this afternoon. Reeder simulating 2 Star General rides in Staff car. On Guard tonight. lst Platoon putting up Dummy Artillery. I know for sure that L.B. has arrived and on pins and needles waiting to get word. No telling when it will come through with this set up.

Dec. 12 Tues. This afternoon went on a reconnaisance for simulated attack with Sac [Norman Sakowitz] and Gray and went up on hill overlooking Moselle River and looked through binoculars at Germany on other side still held by Jerries. Heard small arms first and then drove through artillery installations. Cold as a bitch and Gray made me furious. Gets more like an old woman every day. Towns all evacuated in that area. Eerie and ghostlike. Third Platoon killed two deer today. Will have venison tomorrow.

Dec. 14 No word yet! Yesterday morning drove out to Mosell again with Van, Roy and Ray followed [Lt.] Stapp with Shil, [Paul] LaHive and Goozy [Sgt. Guzik]. Dropped them off outside Maternach and they went on for reconnaisance. We met them on hill overlooking river after they shot deer. Got word about 5 PM that we were leaving to return to Luxembourg. Took McGill and picked up signs and then pulled out at 8:25, drove blackout all the way - dead tired when I got back - arrived about 10 P.M. Went back to Eschweiler this morning to pick up lister bag. Crossed air strip and saw 3 Star Generals C 47 -— Also cracked up P 38 and two wrecked JU 88's. Practically off my nut waiting word from Babe. 11 more shopping days ‘till Christmas. HA. HA.

Dec. 17 Sun. Suddenly alerted about 4 o'clock. Germans reported counter attacking heavily around Eschweiler area. Reports spy Three German divisions on this side of river. Supposedly only 8 km out of Luxembourg. All trucks have been dispatched to Factory Section loading all special equipment in case we must puli out. On guard at main gate tonight. Worried and really low tonight. No word yet. Nothing seems to be right. Shit!!!

Dec. 18 Mon. On guard, Last night, had about five air raid alarms. Several Jerries were constantly flying over. Two dove out of flak over our building in power dives. One came in very low over south part of city.

Dec. 20 Wed. Suddenly realerted. Told to pack everything - ready to move out - 80 Div. coming into town. Civilians going wild in fear of Germans returning. Loading belongings on trucks and wagons. Bringing out their rifles and pistols again. No news yet from Babe.

Dec. 21 Thurs. All ready to leave for Doncourt tomorrow; situated in old French barracks in Maginot line. Wondering if we'll ever come back here. Several Jerries wandering overhead tonight. Lot of A.A. Still no word from Babe. Got drunk last night. Killed a bottle of champagne tonight but it didn't help.

Dec. 22 Fri. Left Seminary at 9:36. Arrived outside Doncourt about 11:00 French Army Post. Pink and yellow stucco houses. E M in large building - 2 Platoons to a room. 67 men on guard. About 3 inches of snow on the ground. Temperature about zero. Maginot pillboxes all around us. Planes overhead at night occasioned by A.A. fire - Report brought plane down last night. Playing orderly and valet with other jeep drivers to the officers - bastards!

Dec. 24 Sun On guard tonight - Christmas Eve. No Christmas rations for tomorrow. Several trucks left today, destination unknown. Stapp went back to Luxembourg. Hear we are going to Metz area soon. Paul insists I'll get word today. It would be a wonderful Christmas present. Fellows cut big tree for our room.

Dec. 25 Mon. Had a swell little buffet supper last night and a song fest before going on guard. Had champagne and brandy but it seemed to help the blues. Clear as a bell and plenty of air activity - strafing and bombing off to East and N.East. Drove fellows to church this morning and took the rest into Doncourt and gave villagers our rations. Got pretty tight on that terrible schnopps. Had dinner at 3:00. Feel pretty low tonight. Reminiscing of last year's Christmas with Babe. Things look blacker tonite than they have for a long time. Jerries still raising hell north of here. Can't help thinking of those poor guys in the foxholes. Moving over to the barracks in the morning. Still no word from Babe.

Dec. 26 Levy, Brogdon and a couple A Co. boys brought in two escaped Jerry prisoners from out on the road to Doncourt this evening wearing GI clothing. Seckel first went down to question them - one bad his face bashed in by a civilian. Drove out on that same road this afternoon in jeep. Lucky I wasn't picked off.

Dec. 29 Left Camp at Doncourt yesterday at 1:30 P.M. arrived Verdun about 3:15. Cold as
a bitch - loaded tools on trucks. Ate 4 rations without getting warm. Left leading convoy at 5:20 for Gravelotte and Metz. Arrived Metz about 8:00 briefed by Captain Seale - simulating 87X "B" Co. 87 Q.M. - "B" "G" "D" Cos and Heater making up Division. Sleeping on 3rd floor - no heat - no glass in windows- Temperature about 20 deg. All bridges blown up over Moselle and canals. Baileys have replaced them. Outskirts pretty battered up. All large buildings still intact. Put out signs this morning. Will put the rest of them out tonight.


Dec. 30 No mail yet from Babe. Possibly today. Feeling greatly relieved and very happy today. Trucks went out to secret area this morning then returned. Gray and I removed signs. Had shower. May move out tonite- nothing definite as yet.
Dec 31 Sun. Left Metz at 9:00 this morning and returned to Verdun on very slippery road. Light snow last nite caused slippery condition. Set up here similar to Doncourt. Two stoves. Stone floor is pretty cold though. Tonight is New Year's Eve altho you'd never know it. Rumors are that entire outfit will return to Metz shortly for permanent base. Six letters from Babe today but all November. Still waiting for THAT letter that will give me all the details. Jerry just came in over town and very heavy AA barrage opened on him. Looks like hot spot and these damn buildings are right next to railroad yard. G.I's shooting it up tonight. Small arms fire all over town.

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