After the huge losses in the Hurtgenwald Cota now wants to see with his own eyes the condition of the remainder of the divisions that fought there. This applies to material and men. He knows that a lot of lives were lost, and that this has had a severe impact on the moral of the men. As to supplies: winter has come extremely early this year, and Cota wants to know if there are enough winter outfits for the new recruits who have to replace the fallen men.
Moreover he is proud to pin a medal for bravery on the chests of two men this afternoon!
After breakfast he leaves for Munshausen . Cota arrives at 11.00 with two Harleys and three jeeps. Cota in the second jeep, In the first a GI with a .30 and some extra men, the last jeep also carries extra men.
The staff is lined up outside the building and after a hearty welcome they go inside, where coffee is served, to Cota’s surprise with a piece of cake!
He starts by reading the morning reports. After that he discusses the situation with HQ. It is even worse than he thought : winter uniforms have only sparsely come in, and are not suited for these conditions. Ammo has recently been delivered, but only half of it was the right calibers! Mail comes in regularly, There’s enough food, but everyone looks forward to thanksgiving dinner tonight. Real Turkey from the US! That and the Show gives the men’s moral a boost, which is needed badly: they don’t look forward to train yet another group of young men who replace their lost friends.
Meanwhile business goes on in HQ. A courier from the patrol unit comes in. He informs HQ that not only have they succeeded in taking two (wounded) POW’s, but he also hands over a bag with vital information about German positions! Meanwhile the front seems not as quiet as hoped for! After a radiomessage an armored unit, including two tankdestroyers is send out to check out the situation in Hosingen. Fortunately this appears false alarm and a messenger is send to get them back.
At 11.30 Cota pays a quick visit to the Combat Engineers in the sawmill. Apart from the fact that he is eager to know how they are getting on, he’s also got a problem they may be able to solve: His orderly had slipped over a patch of wet snow and dropped one of his footlockers . Perhaps during his visit the engineers could fix the nasty crack that is in it since.
In the street they hear a piano playing and men singing! That’s a good sign!
At 12.00 Cota leaves HQ to inspect the hospital. There are not many wounded. The number of casualties was high, and a lot of badly wounded have been transported to better equipped hospitals away from the front. He talks to the head nurse: here ,too, shortage ! Bandages, sulpha, sheets, instruments and most of all: morphine! The two Germans that were brought in this morning don’t speak English. Yet Cota would like to interrogate them later this day. After a stroll though the camp he goes to lunch, which is served at 12.30
At 13.00 there’s roll call. Cota is happy to pin the medals on two brave men!
After the ceremony he goes back to HQ. Just when they get there a message comes in: There’s real business going on near the Our. The Germans show a lot of activity, and orders have come in to shell their positions. The armored unit is send out once more!
13.25 Cota decides to have a talk with the quartermaster in order to get a view of the worst problems.
On arrival the postman joins them. The QM is happy to be able to tell that transport of food is OK. And enough Cola, fags, booze for the men to relax. What really worries him are uniforms : not enough and not warm or comfortable! The men take jackets from deceased Germans: right color, comfortable and warm! The boots are even worse. They don’t resist the water for a long time and in winter conditions with a lot of snow this means cold wet feet. Cota promises to take action. The postman really makes him happy: mail comes in regularly, though not everyone uses V mail yet, the letters and parcels from home arrive rather fast and those for Thanksgiving are numerous! His job is a nice one today! Happy faces everywhere!
After this inspection Cota decides to drop by at the armorer to look into the ammo problem. A group of fresh recruits who have just received their arms is ready and leaves.
Cota is not too happy with what he sees and hears at the armorers. He goes back to HQ.
One of the Germans can be interrogated. The other is still in too bad a condition. A Luxemburg Interpreter will translate.
It appears that they know nothing of the contents of the bag, the German tells a story that it was dropped there by a fleeing officer, who was afraid of getting caught with it. Cota cannot decide whether it’s true. The German is very young and upset. Cota orders HQ to continue tomorrow.
Quite a day! The turkey is smelling that good that Cota decides to have a look in the kitchen how things are going on. He is quite glad to hear that enough fresh food is available, and that thanks to the turkeys the men are in better spirits than ever! The sight and smell of the turkey make Cota decide that he will stay for dinner. Besides: the Show will also be worth watching !
For Cota, too, the Hurtgenwald has provided a lot of stress and doubt: was his decision to hold on for that long a good one? And what if these men with all the new replacements would get seriously engaged in a fight like the Hurtgenwald again? Paris seems such a long time ago. Berlin and Home even further!
Time to let go and relax for a while!