Service Branch: U.S. Army
Rank at Separation: Corporal
Combat Action: WWII - Europe
Home Town: Lincoln
Military Specialty: Infantry Rifleman, Military Police
Unit: 3rd Army unattached; 783rd Military Police Battalion
Decorations, Citations, and Awards: - American Campaign Medal Ribbon w/ Battle Star, European Campaign Medal Ribbon w/ Battle Star, WWII Victory Ribbon
Anyone who has been in the military for more than fifteen minutes is familiar with the phrase, “Hurry up and wait.” For Scotty Kaufman and his fellow 3rd Army Replacements, enduring twenty-some weeks of Basic Training, Advanced Infantry Training, crossing the North Atlantic, and the Repo-Depot in England had all seemed like one long string of
“Hurry up! Hurry up! Hurry up!” and “Wait…Wait…Wait…” Finally, they were in Seine, Belgium waiting (again...with the waiting!) for their 3rd Army unit assignments. It was December 15, 1945, and they had made it just in time…just in time, it turned out, for the onset of the fiercest German counter-offensive of the War…the Battle of the Bulge.
Seine – he was in Seine. The Belgians pronounced it “sè n,” but Scotty thought that being “in-sane” was a better description of his surroundings.
“We found ourselves holed up in a chateau. So many of our wounded soldiers were brought there, I'll never forget their pain. There were two kitchen butcher blocks pushed together to perform amputations with so few medications to properly ease their pain. It was unbearable to hear. The next day, all hell broke loose, that's when the Battle of the Bulge campaign started.
”Our lieutenant passed the word…the Germans were coming. We had to get out of there. We were never told what unit we were assigned to. We figured we were going to be assigned to a unit close to the front. Leaving the chateau, we rode with anybody that would give us a ride. We stopped 3 or 4 times. We were in artillery range…there was so much confusion. Since we got rides from anyone we could, I got separated from the bunch I was with. We heard that the Germans were in American uniforms and spoke English very well. So, we didn't know whether we were talking to Americans or Germans. In many places, there were no road signs, because the Germans had taken them down or, worse, turned them around so they pointed in the wrong direction.
“We finally got to Leige, a big city, where we took a pounding from German V-1 rockets and artillery. We holed up in an old cement factory, 3 – 4 stories tall, with no windows. It was cold as hell. We brought our wounded in on stretchers to the first floor and covered them with blankets. They screamed all night in pain, but there wasn't a dammed thing a guy could do about it.
“For almost 2 weeks, the buzz bombs would come in day and night. They sounded like motor boats. As long as you heard the motor, you knew it was still up there. If you heard a click, the engines had stopped, and it was coming down. They packed quite a punch. When they hit, you'd come up off the ground. Right over the hill from our position was a catwalk from the cement factory to a building across the street. Sometimes, we could watch the V-1 rockets from there, but we were careful not to expose ourselves. At night we would put blankets over the doorways to keep what little heat we had, but the rocket blasts would blow the blankets off. Those V-1's were bad news. At night, we could go under the street to get warm, but we stayed alert.
“Finally we saw American tanks coming through the streets. If the Germans had come through our line, there's no way we could have held them back. It was cloudy and snowed, so our airplanes couldn't fly for days. Finally our planes appeared, only to be followed by German jets. I'd never seen a German jet before…didn't even know they existed, but they burned so much fuel they couldn't stay up very long, and weren't effective.
“Our Sergeant came to us and said, ‘Soldiers, you're outa' here.’ That's because we were the only ones left in that cement factory. After several days, we made our way out. We were put on a plane, and headed for London. It was a miserable and life changing battle. The sights never leave you, and the soldiers’ pain and suffering breaks your heart.
“Germany finally surrendered, and to a man…we celebrated!”