Bed sheets for Bastogne.

Talk about your new shoes, new car, or UFO's!
Post Reply
billryan
Video Poker Master
Posts: 4097
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:20 pm

Bed sheets for Bastogne.

Post by billryan »

Sometimes it's the little things that mean the most.
In December 1944, the men of the 101st Airborne were rushed to the vital crossroads town of Bastogne. Their mission was to slow the advance of the German offensive that had shocked the allies and seemed like it would split the Allied armies in two and trap hundreds of thousands of Americans behind enemy lines with no supplies and little hope of escape. Almost all of the massive amount of supplies the army needed came from the Dutch port city of Antwerp and there was precious little between the Nazi Breakthru and that port.
Rushed into action, the 101st arrived with little winter gear and their khaki uniforms made them stand out on the snow-covered ground. Almost immediately, the townspeople stripped their bedlinens and curtains and soon many of the paratroopers were wearing bedsheets as camouflage.
By the time Patton's Third Army arrived to relieve them, most of the sheets had been destroyed, were bloodied, or used as body bags.
John O'Hanlon was a commander in the 101st and realized how many of his men's lives were saved by these sheets so when he got back to the States he began assembling bedsheets to replace the ones lost in the battle. By 1947, he had sent over seven hundred sets of linen to the town.
In 1957, O'Hanlon took his wife to Europe and they retraced his activities.
While in Bastogne, he was recognized by a man who insisted they come to his home. Above the fireplace was a photo of O'Hanlon and a magazine article describing his quest to repay the townspeople.
After the war, millions of dollars poured into Bastogne to help to rebuild it, but it was the bedsheets donated by the grateful people of America that meant so much.

Indy70
Forum Rookie
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:50 am

Post by Indy70 »

"Nuts"

advantage playe
Video Poker Master
Posts: 1352
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2017 11:38 am

Post by advantage playe »

billryan wrote:
Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:37 am
Sometimes it's the little things that mean the most.
In December 1944, the men of the 101st Airborne were rushed to the vital crossroads town of Bastogne. Their mission was to slow the advance of the German offensive that had shocked the allies and seemed like it would split the Allied armies in two and trap hundreds of thousands of Americans behind enemy lines with no supplies and little hope of escape. Almost all of the massive amount of supplies the army needed came from the Dutch port city of Antwerp and there was precious little between the Nazi Breakthru and that port.
Rushed into action, the 101st arrived with little winter gear and their khaki uniforms made them stand out on the snow-covered ground. Almost immediately, the townspeople stripped their bedlinens and curtains and soon many of the paratroopers were wearing bedsheets as camouflage.
By the time Patton's Third Army arrived to relieve them, most of the sheets had been destroyed, were bloodied, or used as body bags.
John O'Hanlon was a commander in the 101st and realized how many of his men's lives were saved by these sheets so when he got back to the States he began assembling bedsheets to replace the ones lost in the battle. By 1947, he had sent over seven hundred sets of linen to the town.
In 1957, O'Hanlon took his wife to Europe and they retraced his activities.
While in Bastogne, he was recognized by a man who insisted they come to his home. Above the fireplace was a photo of O'Hanlon and a magazine article describing his quest to repay the townspeople.
After the war, millions of dollars poured into Bastogne to help to rebuild it, but it was the bedsheets donated by the grateful people of America that meant so much.
Great story BR !! reminds me of the accounts where good Germans hid Jews in there homes to protect them at there own peril !! Thank you Bill Ryan !!!

olds442jetaway
Video Poker Master
Posts: 5894
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:08 pm

Post by olds442jetaway »

Excellent read. Thanks

billryan
Video Poker Master
Posts: 4097
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:20 pm

Post by billryan »

The heroic stand by the 101st is legendary, but there are many other stories from The Bulge that need to be told.
As an example, the Nazis were on a strict time table for the entire operation. The timetable called for them to seize Bastogne within 36 hours. The 101st held out for four days but what is lost is the heroic small unit actions that delayed the main Nazi attack on Bastogne for two days, giving the 101st time to get to Bastogne. One incredibly compelling story is that of the all-black 333rd Field Artillery Battalion
that was assigned to the 106th Division.
While the 106th was a brand new, raw Division with no combat experience, the 333rd was combat hardened and considered one of the top Artillery commands in Europe. When the Nazis attacked with overwhelming force, the American front mostly collapsed, and part of the 333rd was ordered to stand and hold at all cost. They used their powerful 155 mm guns to great effect, causing several tank battalions to abandon their road march and seek shelter in the woods. Unfortunately, they had no infantry support and eventually they were overrun with many killed and the rest taken prisoner. Soon after their guns were silenced, the position was attacked by American aircraft unaware that there were American POWs in the area. A number of Americans were killed in the attack but eleven members escaped in the confusion.
The nazis who captured them were SS troops who practiced racial superiority and felt the black GIs were subhumans, not worthy of being treated as enemy combatants. Rather than continue with their assigned mission, the SS commander ordered a manhunt for the escaped Americans. The black GIs found shelter in a nearby farm but many of the residents of this section of Belgium were German natives and they were soon betrayed. The Americans were taken out to a field, bayoneted, with their tongues cut out and then run over with tracked vehicles. While theses same SS troops machine gunned a couple dozen POWs the same day, they seem to have taken time to torture these men.
As horrible as this was, by diverting hundreds of the best nazi infantry from their mission, it weakened the Nazi attack on the village of St Vith where the remains of the 106th teamed up with remnants of some other units made their final stand. The unexpected resistance at St. Vith delayed the nazis long enough to allow the 101st to dig in and establish their defensive perimeter.
The fate of the American POWs at Wereth was mostly obscured by the larger POW massacre at Malmady but in recent years, it has become better known.

Post Reply