Christmas, 1944 – Remember the Bulge? On Christmas Eve, our hospital – with big red and white crosses on the roof – was bombed and strafed in the light of a bright moon. The anti-personnel bombs killed two of our boys and wounded about 40; 27 seriously. It occurred as the O.R. was changing shifts. One of our fellows, Taylor, was brought to the evacuation tent but was so badly hurt he wasn’t moved any further. When Mike and I ran over there carrying an oxygen set, we found Donnelly giving artificial respiration. Suddenly the roar of a plane was heard, lights were put out, everyone – docs, medics – hit the floor except me. I bent over Taylor’s head and chest, covering as much of him as I could with my own body. Then I yelled, “Get back here and give this guy more artificial respiration,” but it was no go. Taylor was dead, and I had been cradling a dead man in my arms. We had slept in the same hut in England and now he was beginning to get cold.

Back to the O.R., where a cook’s guts had been torn in many places. He was on the table a few hours, and eventually pulled through. There was no question as to whether it was an accident; the design was deliberate – many hospitals in the area getting the same treatment that same night. On New Year’s Day a buzz bomb came howling over the area, landing on a house about 20 yards from the furthest hospital tent. A few houses were destroyed and all our supply tents were blown down, but none of our men were hurt. I was in the operating room and when that familiar putt-putt sound got closer and closer I was in the operating room. I hit the floor in a hallway. It was during an idle spell and no patients were in the O.R. I thought, “Here it comes” and waited to get blown to bits. Instead the concussion blew out half the windows, sucked locked doors open, and spread the seams of the building. We all got busy fixing up; putting instrument cases back along the walls; preparing for a possible rush of patients, but only one Kraut was wounded – his intestines hopelessly shredded. He died and we didn’t weep for him.

I recall my first intimate experience with the buzzes. I was in the mess tent, eating and looking at some guy’s photos. We heard it coming and jumped on the tables as we sensed death approaching. The poles shattered; the canvas was torn with hundreds of bomb fragments. When I realized I wasn’t dead I looked around for casualties – none. So I started picking up the photos, my body trembling uncontrollably. For months and months we lived under the regular threat of those machines. Many boys dug foxholes in their tents. Many times when they’d be buzzing over every 15 minutes, I would sleep with my helmet on. One night we counted over 65. Another time I was reeling a patient in when we heard one close. We ran for our helmets, but when I saw the poor guy on the table I stuck mine over his head, held him tight, and waited.

Again outside the theatre of the O.R., hearing a hot one I rushed in, saw a guy on the table, and asked “Kraut or Yank?” To weak for a reply, I bent over him. After it passed, I looked at the card – German. Yet if I had known it, would I have done the same thing? I don’t know. It was during these months that even a truck going by made us jump. Some boys went to pieces and had to be sent back for resting treatment. Patients begged to return to the front rather then sweat out the buzzes. All the while Liège was being shattered bit by bit. The people were being driven crazy by the damn buzzing. Many left the city.