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Foxhole buddies

Two GIs in a foxhole, that was the norm for the BAR man and his assistant, the ammunition bearer. And that is the way we were, knowing that the German Infantry’s 12th Volksgrenadier Division scouts and riflemen would soon be advancing toward our rifle squad of 10 men.

We were in a waiting game that started at daybreak Dec. 16, 1944. We were in our sleeping bags when we were awakened by artillery shells opening holes of the dawn in our squad’s tent. We were awarded the luxury of a tent even though we were front line troops because we were the one squad that was in reserve for all our other squads on the front.

The rest of my story is about the buddy I shared my foxhole with, Thomas Frownfelder. Tom died at the age of 69. His wife sent me the following letter, 13 days after Tom died.

Dear Ray:

We received your letter of April 4 and should have answered sooner.

Tom has battled diabetes for the past 20 years and this past year or more has had many ups and downs. When your letter came he had very little response, but did remember the day seemingly well.

He went to be with his Lord Sept. 17, 1992, after being in the hospital since Tuesday noon that week. We had cared for him at home.

As to answers to your questions, he said he was inducted at Fort Custer on March 27, 1943. Basic training was at Camp Wolters TX. In July, he went to Camp Maxey. He was in the engineering course at John Tarleton College at Stephensville TX. He went overseas in September and was captured Dec. 16, 1944, at Losheimergraben. On April 16, 1945, he was liberated at Falling Hostel, Germany. He was at Stalag VI G, Roosrath, Germany, and was there Christmas Day. He had noted actual dates in “Battle Babies,” by Gen. Walter E. Lauer: Dec. 23, 1944 through March 7, 1945 – Stalag IX B Falling hostel, Germany, March 10 through April 16, 1945.

A letter May 26 states he had yellow jaundice and was to be delayed coming home. From a scrapbook his mother kept for him, it states they got a phone call June 22, 1945, stating he landed at Camp Shank NY, from England, where he was hospitalized at Seventh General Hospital in London since his release from the German prison camp on April 16 until the middle of June. On July 26, 1945, he arrived home for a 30-day leave from Lovell General Hospital at Fort Devon MA. Tom was discharged Feb. 3, 1946, and he said he came straight home from Boston.

He didn’t think his squad leader was Crall. He was in 3rd Squad, B/394. He was an ammunition bearer and you were a BAR man.

There are articles in this scrapbook that are pretty detailed, written when he was on leave in 1945. I know he didn’t have a lot to eat (cabbage soup), which was broth and a little cabbage and black bread. He also said there were no baths for four months. He tried to escape and was beaten. He said they bandaged his wound because he couldn’t reach it, but he took care of it later and others.

Tom has gotten the Checkerboard for a long time but I have not looked at the last few issues. After Tom lost his eyesight after cataract surgery didn’t go well about two years ago, he lost interest.

If you have other questions, maybe the scrapbook has the answers.

Lola

My foxhole buddy’s last words to me were, “I’m hit.” This was after a single or a battery of burp gun bullets hit Tom. The barrage of bullets came our way because my gun, the BAR was the heaviest armament of our rifle squad. After a round of bullets from my BAR, the German guns zeroed in on our foxhole, hitting Tom.

Tom was wounded fairly seriously. He was liberated at a hostel in Germany and was treated at two Allied hospitals, one in London and the other at Fort Devon MA.

There is no stronger relationship in an infantry rifle squad than for a BAR man and his assistant to be foxhole buddies.

Raymond Perisin
13333 Maverick Trail
Homer Glen IL 60491

Last modified Jan. 30, 2013

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