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Those blasted German strafers

Those blasted German strafers

     They put my name in a hat and I was selected to go on R&R to Leige, Belgium, for a rest. What a laugh! I found another GI who befriended me. I believe it was Miller, who later was killed on a night patrol. We arrived in Leige in early November 1944, and Miller and I decided to walk down the street. All of a sudden we heard a swoosh — it was a German fighter plane strafing the streets. We ducked in a doorway but a civilian wasn't so lucky. He was hit and later women came out to clean up the street. Later we went back to the front lines. Story later on.

     We were in Elsenborn about one mile from Krinkelt and Rocherath where the Germans were. Again as I was standing out of my foxhole I heard a large roar. A German plane was then firing rockets at the tanks in front of me.

     I believe every AAA and tanker was shooting at him. He did a wing-over and bailed out — that was his death knell. He was a target for everyone in the front lines. He lasted about five seconds and as he went overhead about 500 feet off the ground I could see he was limp. He landed about 600 yards distant and a squad went out to retrieve him.

     The next day as I was again looking around I heard a rat-tat-tat of a machine gun and a German plane came swooping down trying to hit one of our artillery spotters in a J-3 plane. The J-3 went down the treetops and into one of the firebreaks in the forest. The German plane shot up — he had overshot the J-3 who was now climbing out of the firebreak. We all cheered and the German plane came in for another dive and missed the J-3. He then took off and the Piper Cub came over our heads and we all waved to him. He wasn't more than 300 feet off the ground when we all waved. He waved back and again we all cheered. He landed behind our lines, safe and sound.

     Another time in December 1944, I went to the Company CP to get some fresh chow. As I was walking back I saw a German fighter plane come near the road, his guns blazing away. I set down my mess kit and dived into a snow pile beside the road. He was aiming at the ammunition dump near me but he missed. I picked up the mess kit and went jogging down the road — looking for my foxhole. As I was going across the field I could see the plane strafing the men in their foxholes. I saw a nice foxhole and prepared to jump in. It was a latrine. Good thing it was cold, about 20 degrees below, and all refuse inside was frozen. I straddled the hole and the plane with its guns blazing and battering flew overhead. I picked up my mess kit and then found my foxhole. I went into my foxhole and the German fighter plane with its guns firing went overhead. I lighted my stove and sat down in peace. I smiled and ate, oblivious to the plane, safe and sound in my hole.

Harold Helfrich C/395

St. Petersburg FL