Memories from Reuel Long……
EPHS Board member and WWII War veteran Reuel Long wrote about some memories of the Battle of the Bulge for an article for the August 2007 issue of The Bulge Bugle, the official publication of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. The reprint of his article for the Winter 2013 issue of The Prairie View was considerably edited. Below is his in its entirety. The daring and endurance of American troops during the month-long fighting in the snow-clad mountains and gorges of Luxembourg in sub-freezing weather are legend. A year after this article appeared Reuel was contacted and interviewed by the History Channel for a 10-part series on General Patton entitled “Patton 360.” The series aired in 2009 and Reuel appeared twice in segment 9.
Remembering Another Enemy: Cold Weather by Reuel Long
Although the information we had received about the Battle of the Bulge from articles in the Stars and Stripes was old and sketchy nevertheless the situation must have required help from our division, as we headed north in trucks on January 6, '1945. We were always kept in the dark by our company commanders as to where we were headed next, except the immediate objective of hill, town or stream as we departed Monneren, Alsace-Lorraine, France.
We kept track of any major towns or cities that we passed through, however, and, when we reached the City of Luxembourg, we knew we were nearing the fighting and reasoned why we had been pulled back from our foothold across the Saar River in December, This must be something big, and as we continued north after spending all night in the truck sitting up in what was below zero weather, we started to see our ambulances coming back from the front. I recalled seeing a road sign point directions to the Town of Wiltz and of St. Vith, which I later learned had been flattened by a battle in which the 7th Armored Division had heroically held up the German advance for a time to enable American defensive positions to form farther in Belgium, back in December.
Our division was evidently going to strike the enemy on the left flank of his salient into the American positions. I remember our trucks moving up the road with a steady stream of ambulances moving down the other side as we could now hear the noise of battle near the front. It was here that General Patton later wrote that during that afternoon he drove through the 90th who stood up and cheered as he passed. These men did this in spite of spending a great many hours in trucks 6 degrees below
zero and in spite of all the wounded coming down the other side of the road.
I didn't see the general, but feel certain this is the place he wrote about, figuring he passed through the 90th ahead or behind our particular truck. We stayed the night in a farm house that had just been liberated by other American forces that we would soon be relieving. The warm accommodations were welcome after two bitter cold days in the truck.
The father of this family in Luxembourg brought out an all-wave table model radio that he had kept hidden from the Germans, and our squad gathered around it to listen to BBC and other broadcasts, including Nazi propaganda broadcasts in English. Somehow I ended up sleeping on the living room rug instead of in the hall, which was a big treat. Actually, we grew to become thankful for just little things, like a clean drink of water, or warm water to shave in. The next day we had a festive celebration dinner of chicken procured by our squads' backyard "recon" crew) and dumplings.
The farmer, his wife and his 15 year old daughter ate with us. He spoke little English, but we enjoyed sharing his jubilation of liberation. It was a fine dinner all around and made us feel very satisfied. We stayed again through the night and moved out the next morning. I had gotten rid of the bazooka, but found a different responsibility with my new mobility, that of taking turns being the "point" man for the squad. When in the lead, you had to be very alert for any movement or sounds up ahead, but with the ground now completely covered with a white blanket of snow, it was easier to detect the enemy. We still just had our leather boots and our feet were cold all of the time. Foxholes were harder to dig, and even though strapped to our sides, the water in our canteens would always be frozen by morning. We were getting three square "K" ration meals per day though and used the cartons to make a fire, to melt our water. After digging our two-man foxhole at night, and spreading down our raincoats on the ground, each having one blanket, we placed one doubled under us and one doubled over us for what
warmth we could get for one hour of sleep. At daybreak, a normal day would include, since we were already dressed, of thawing our water and eating our "K" ration breakfast. Our latrine was a slit-trench, and we had soap and ice-cold water for our hands. We now had wool gloves with leather palms and stocking-cap style helmet liners which would pull over our ears. Following breakfast our squad leaders would receive instructions about our objectives from our platoon leader, a 2nd
lieutenant. We made certain our little cardboard fires were out and then folded up our blankets in our little combat packs, attached our shovels to our belts, shoulder-strapped our rifles and got ready to move out. If there was no enemy fire, leaning up against a tree lent support to the various paraphernalia that you had to carry. The M-1 weighed 9 pounds, extra ammunition, two grenades, canteen, pack, shovel, bayonet and helmet must have weighed at least 20 pounds, making it almost easier to walk and get all those things on a synchronous motion than to try to stand still in one place.
Then we reminded whoever's turn it was to be point or scout, and upon command we moved out, almost always in single file with about 15 feet between squad members, as an average distance, which varied according to terrain, enemy location, etc. Advancing through woods, up a road or through an open field was always a cautious affair, looking to see what might be in the next group of trees, over a small rise or behind a hedgerow, particularly troublesome because they were usually built partially
of stone, with a thick hedge on top to obscure your vision. The Germans were to use the hedgerows to good advantage as we were soon to learn in the Battle of the Bulge. Advancing up a hill was also a grueling ordeal, moving cautiously or quickly as the conditions dictate. The mental stress was more tiring than the physical strain though (I thought). And even though you didn't find enemy for hours or sometimes a full day, several "breaks" a day besides lunch were necessary and welcome, unless of course, the enemy was encountered or an incoming shelling attack was experienced. All the "break" had to be was a drink of water, an extra "K" ration dog biscuit, a cigarette for some, where possible, or a stick of gum to provide a few minutes away from the concentration of advancing. Often times there was a few extra minutes for lunch, other times on the move it was eaten later in the afternoon, sometimes on the move, and other times, of necessity, skipped entirely. The Battle of the Bulge was fought largely in overcast weather and there was about an average of 8" loose snow on the ground, depending on the area, and the temperature probably averaged about 20 degrees overall, although
usually not windy.
This website is dedicated to the memory of Ernie Shuldhiess.
Ernie next to the Historic Riley - Jacques Farm House
The Historical Society is also deeply grateful for the work of our Founding President, Helen Holden Anderson. Helen passed away on October 13, 2009. Helen is the author of Eden Prairie - The First 100 Years. This book was recently republished and can be purchased through the City of Eden Prairie or the Historical Society.