He Never Talked About It, But My Grandpa Went Through Hell in WWII
A few weeks ago we moved my Grandma into her new living situation. During the process, I found some old pictures of my Grandpa Roy. I never got a chance to know him that well as he died from lung cancer in the 80's. I was very young at the time. But I did know he fought in the Army in World War 2. Whenever I asked my dad about what Grandpa did in the war, he didn't know. Grandpa never talked about it. As far as I got was he was in European Theater and was in the infantry. Well I found some documents that gave me a little more information.
In a pile of old, tattered, yellowed documents I found one that told me what I needed to know. It was his honorable discharge papers from 1945. It showed that he was active duty from 1943 through the end of the war. He was in the 109th infantry and fought during the Rhineland Campaign. Great, I had something to go on!
The Rhineland Campaign was the advance of the Allies into German soil. My Grandpa's infantry was one of those first onto German soil. During this time, the famous "Battle of The Bulge" took place. It was Hitler's last offensive, and it was one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.
Searching further, I looked to see what part the 109th had in the battle. It turns out they, along with the 110th, were hit the hardest. They were spread thin across a line and were able to fend off superior German forces. Their losses were great, and it was a very bloody battle. Here's more information that I found from a Library in Hampton.
The most noteworthy of the 109th Infantry's achievements during World War II came while the Regiment was resting in the Ardennes sector — considered a quiet sector early in December, 1944. It was then that von Rundstedt launched his vicious, well planned Battle of the Bulge. The unsuspecting 109th Infantry was hit by an entire Yolks Grenadier Guard Division as well as elements of a panzer division, parachute division and other crack German units. Although suffering great losses, (so great were the losses that the Division became known as the "Bloody Bucket Division" by the Germans who saw so many of our wounded troops wearing the red Keystone patch) in three days of bitter fighting, the 109th Infantry completely destroyed the 352d Yolks Grenadiers, at the same time holding its own tactical unity. The 109th had blocked von Rundstedt in the North and doomed the German offensive in the Ardennes. When the tide of battle turned on Christmas Eve, the battle-weary 109th soldiers attacked, threw the enemy across the Sure River, and retook several towns on the original front. Then started the drive into Germany and the final Allied push of World War II.
My Grandpa Roy was shot through the hand. He received a purple heart. He never talked about the war, and seeing what he must have gone through, I understand why.