Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3

Segment 4

Segment 5

Segment 6

Segment 7

Segment 8

Segment 9

Segment 10

Segment 11

Segment 12

Segment 13

Segment 14

Segment 15

Joining the National Guard

Slope, Tsak, and selecting men for the platoon

The Voyage to England

Small arms and a stolen Jeep

Don't shoot him, Slape

First German attack on the I&R Platoon

Aunt Mildred

Can I have your ring?

Annotation

Lyle Bouck joined the National Guard [Annotator's Note: Missouri National Guard] at the age of 14. Growing up during the depression in St. Louis was difficult, but he did not realize much of it. He joined the National Guard while he was in grade school because he could get a dollar for a drill period. Bouck's father brought him and his brother, who was five years older than him, to join the 138th Infantry Regiment [Annotator's Note: at the time part of the 35th Division]. Bouck was athletic and had no problem keeping up with the other members of the regiment. They played softball and baseball. He could keep up and was accepted by the others. The regiment went to camp for two weeks after which there was an athletic program which Bouck liked. The following year they went to camp again. The third year they were sent to camp in Minnesota. When they got back from Minnesota they were informed that the division was to be mobilized. Bouck was in his first year of high school and he asked his dad if he could go because by that time, there had been an organizational rearrangement in the military. During those years, Bouck was an armorer and artificer, a weapons specialist. The supply sergeant had him in the supply room. In 1941, when the regiment was reorganized, there were a lot of promotions but the supply sergeant did not get one. In order for the supply sergeant to get promoted he would have to transfer to the wire communications section. He did so. That left Bouck as the only person in the supply room that had any knowledge of it, so he was made the supply sergeant. That way, when they were mobilized, Bouck got 60 dollars a month instead of the 18 dollars a month he would receive if he had been drafted. Bouck's father gave him permission to go if he would return after his year was up to finish high school. Bouck was sent to Little Rock , Arkansas to Camp Robinson. Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7 December [Annotator's Note: 7 December 1941]. Bouck's first year was up on 23 December. When the war started, everyone's duty was extended for the duration of the war plus six months. Bouck was not able to return home and finish high school. He stayed with the 138th Infantry in Little Rock, Arkansas. Bouck was sent to Fort Benning for a motor maintenance course. While there, the division was mobilized and sent to California. He was pulled from the course and met his division in California. The division boarded boats and shipped out for about three days after which they were informed that they were going back to Fort Ord [Annotator's Note: in Monterey, California]. Bouck's regiment was pulled out of the 35th Division, creating a triangular division of three regiments. The 138th Infantry Regiment was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington and from there to the Aleutian Islands. The Aleutian Islands were miserable, so Bouck applied for OCS [Annotator's Note: Officer Candidate School]. A travelling board of officers went to Cold Bay to interview the soldiers who applied for the course. Out of 32 men who appeared before the board only four were selected. Bouck was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia and joined OCS Class 57. The course began on 26 August [Annotators Note: 26 August 1942] and Bouck graduated on 26 October. When he arrived he did not know what was going on. The men were lined up and Bouck was called out by Lieutenant McGuire [Annotators Note: unsure of spelling], his platoon leader, and ordered to drill the platoon. He graduated fourth out of a class of 220. After graduation McGuire told Bouck that he knew that he would graduate because he looked like a high school kid. The top ten percent of the class were retained as instructors. Bouck stayed at Fort Benning as an instructor for about two years.

Annotation

Lyle Bouck was the youngest graduate in his class. He was 18 or 19 years old and the average age of the OCS [Annotator's Note: Officer Candidate School] students was 21 or 22. After his two years of instructing were up he was sent to Texas to join a regular outfit. He feels that the two years he was retained at Fort Benning [Annotator's Note: Fort Benning, Georgia] gave him time to mature. Bouck does not recall it being difficult giving orders to men older than he was. He liked the military and was attracted to the discipline and schedules, so he did not have any problems at OCS. Bouck was sent to Camp Maxey [Annotator's Note: Camp Maxey, Texas] with two other men. One was assigned to the 393rd, one to the 394th, and one to the 395th [Annotator's Note: 393rd, 294th, and 395th Infantry Regiments, 99th Infantry Division]. Bouck was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 394th Infantry Regiment as a weapons platoon leader. About a month later, Bouck was assigned as range officer of a rifle range where he conducted range firing. The new regimental commander showed up to see how things were going. The new commander was named Kengla, a huge man who chewed cigars. The men called him King Kong Kengla behind his back. Bouck reported to him and was told to go about his duties. That night Bouck got a message to report to regimental headquarters the next morning. He was to see Robert Kriz [Annotator's Note: US Army Lt. Col. Robert Kriz] who was the S2 [Annotator's Note: Intelligence Officer]. Bouck had heard the name before but did not know who the guy was. After reporting Bouck was questioned. He was informed that during maneuvers the I&R [Annotator's Note: Intelligence and Reconnaissance] Platoon had messed up so bad that the regimental commander had been replaced by Kengla. Bouck was told that Kriz was to form a new I&R platoon and he wanted Bouck to command it. During the next month he and Kriz went through the regiment's records looking for ASTP [Annotator's Note: Army Specialized Training Program] personnel who had recently been taken from college campuses and assigned to infantry units. They, Bouck and Kriz, were looking for people with high IQs and people who had been in college. They selected about 120 individuals. They interviewed them, then picked 32 men for the platoon and interviewed them again. The chosen men were told that they did not have to take the assignment and that they could return to their rifle companies if they liked. All of the men picked stayed in the I&R Platoon. Kriz gave Bouck a training schedule. At first the training was a clumsy operation, but after time the I&R Platoon became a special group. By the time they were ordered to go overseas they felt confident that they could do any task. Bouck spent 24 hours a day working to form the group. Slape [Annotator's Note: Sgt. William Slape] had joined the regular army and acted like a regular army guy. Bouck selected him to lead the platoon. He does not remember any of the other platoon members except Tsakanikas [Annotator's Note: William Tsakanikas, also known as William James] who was a scout and jeep driver. Tsakanikas was a Greek who was very aggressive and Bouck wanted him around. The other platoon members had been chosen by their high school scores. Bouck lost four platoon members whose names he did not know. One of the men he lost was Carlos Fernandez from El Paso. He was with the regiment during the action at Lanzerath [Annotator's Note: A battle on 16 December 1944 after which the surviving members of Bouck's I&R Platoon were taken prisoner] and not with the platoon. He always had a few people back at regiment. The platoon did a lot of training in patrolling and observing, then they reported on what they had seen.

Annotation

The training also helped Lyle Bouck. It was new to all of them. The purpose of an I&R Platoon [Annotators Note: Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon] is to get information about the enemy, the terrain, and about your own forces and bring that information to regimental headquarters. The name of the platoon is Intelligence &Reconnaissance. When the division [Annotator's Note: 99th Infantry Division] headed east, the men knew they were going to Europe. During the summer of 1944 the I&R platoon was constantly training. Bouck was very physical and he wanted his men to be as well. From Camp Maxey, Bouck was sent to Camp Miles Standish near Boston. Bouck had a friend from Company C [Annotators Note: Company C, 1st battalion, 394th Infantry Regiments, 99th Infantry Division] named Matthew J. Reid. While at Camp Miles Standish, Bouck and Reid went to Boston and visited Reid's parents’ house. They went on a Sunday. It was Bouck's last home cooked meal for over a year. Aboard ship, Bouck was embarrassed to see the quarters that the officers were in, knowing the conditions of the enlisted mens’ accommodations. Bouck got violently ill on the second day. During the trip, Bouck was assigned to teach map reading. Bouck landed in Liverpool, England. They were given a bag lunch and put on trucks, then on a train to London, and finally to Southampton. During the trip the men were told not to give the local civilians any of their food. During his time in England, Bouck made it to London once. It was so foggy that he did not know where he was. He had dinner at a hotel that was hard cheese and hard sausage. While there, there was an air raid. Bouck saw a lot of bodies and a lot of bricks. Bouck had no thought of whether he would survive or not. They shipped over to Le Havre and landed in the rain. They were ordered to pitch pup tents which Bouck thought was silly. After one night they were loaded onto trucks and brought forward. Bouck arrived in the Ardennes in early November [Annotator's Note: November 1944]. The weather was cold and rainy with snow sometimes. By Thanksgiving they were snowed in. Bouck had a field jacket, an overcoat, combat boots, and his regular uniform. He does not recall specifically how that dealt with the weather.

Annotation

Lyle Bouck did not meet many civilians in Belgium. Someone higher up had gone through the towns and villages and ordered everyone to leave except two or three people left to tend the livestock. The civilians Bouck met were distant but not uncooperative. The I&R Platoon [Annotators Note: I&R Platoon, 394th Infantry Regiments, 99th Infantry Division] had good quarters in the building next to regimental headquarters while in Hunningen. They had a lot of potatoes to eat. Everyone in the platoon ate more potatoes there than anywhere else. Kriz [Annotator's Note: US Army Lt. Col. Robert Kriz] would tell Bouck when and where he wanted patrols to go. Bouck would coordinate with the line companies to let them know when and where they were going. On his first patrol, Kriz was the leader. Bouck thinks that he was not supposed to be. Kriz had been wounded in combat in North Africa. Bouck and Kriz took a group of men from B or C Company on a combat patrol into Losheim. Bouck's job was to bring up the rear. The patrol got into Losheim around midnight. The Germans figured out what was happening. The men on the patrol shot a number of Germans and captured four of them. The prisoners were brought back and used to show the platoon what interrogation was all about. This way they knew what their job was. Kriz taught Bouck everything he knew. Kriz was an inspiration to the platoon. He was quite an individual. The platoon went out on patrols constantly. Bouck led them half the time and Slape [Annotator's Note: US Army Sgt. William Slape] led them when Bouck did not go. The platoon did not lose anyone during all of these patrols. There were times when they got trapped and sometimes brought German prisoners back. The patrols never went far past Losheim, so Bouck had no idea what was coming. When Kriz brought Bouck to Lanzerath he told him that the right flank was exposed. The 2nd Infantry Division was being pulled out and replaced with the 106th Infantry Division. Until the 106th could occupy their positions, the right flank of the Regiment, Division, and Corps was exposed. Kriz brought Bouck out to find a place for the platoon to be assigned for a couple of days. The I&R Platoon took up its position on 10 December [Annotators Note: 10 December 1944]. They ended up being in position for a week. Kriz and Bouck had driven out to the woods on the outskirts of Lanzerath. Kriz showed Bouck where he wanted the platoon set up. Bouck was told to fortify their position with logs even though Kriz did not expect any action there. The platoon was to be relieved in a few days. Bouck went back to regiment and got Slape. Bouck brought Slape out to the position and told him what Kriz had said. There were already some foxholes there, they just needed to be reinforced.

Annotation

Lyle Bouck and Slape [Annotator's Note: US Army Sgt. William Slape] went back and got the platoon members who were to go into the positions overlooking Lanzerath. Bouck had the men dig and reinforce foxholes. He had brought axes and saws to work with. Bouck wanted every foxhole covered with logs. The platoon worked on their positions from the tenth [Annotator's Note: 10 December 1944] to the 16th. Bouck went into Lanzerath, where he met the TD unit [Annotator's Note: part of 2nd Platoon, Company A, 820th Tank Destroyer Battalion]. They had been put there to protect the town. Bouck was uncomfortable being sent out to hold positions. That was not what his men were trained for but he knew that they could do it. The platoon was armed with carbines [Annotator's Note: carbine, caliber .30, M1], M1's [Annotator's Note: rifle, caliber .30, M1, also known as a Garand], 45's [Annotator's Note: pistol, caliber .45, Model 1911] and they had a section of machine guns. On the second or third day, Bouck went back to ordnance and got a jeep with a .50 caliber mounted on it. Bouck had gotten acquainted with some of the ordnance guys. He had given them some souvenirs he had. When Bouck picked up the jeep, he asked where it came from and the ordnance men told him not to worry about it, just take it. Bouck dug the jeep in. It did not have a good field of fire, but they did a lot of damage with it. Bouck had his men tie grenades to the fence that was in the field in front of them. The grenades had wires attached to them so the pins could be pulled from their foxholes. These booby traps soon became inoperable when they froze up. Bouck does not know what the temperature was, but he knows that it was cold. The platoon built a log cabin behind the tree line for guys to use if they got their feet wet. The guys in the platoon alternated sleeping in the cabin. Bouck could not see much of the town from his position. He could see the tops of some of the buildings, but he could not see the road. Bouck was comfortable with his position. He was satisfied with what his men had done with their positions. On the nights leading up to the attack, the platoon could hear engines. They reported the sounds to regiment, but Bouck does not know what was done with the information. The sounds made Bouck suspect that something was going on, but had no idea that it would be to the magnitude that it was. Bouck did not know that the guys from the field artillery observation unit where there. The first Bouck heard from them was after the firing started. Springer [Annotator's Note: Lieutenant Warren Springer, Battery C, 371st Field Artillery Battalion, 99th Infantry Division] arrived on the same route that Bouck and Kriz had driven. Springer showed up and told Bouck that he was an artillery observer and thought he could help them. Bouck told him to get into a foxhole and see what he could do. That was the only contact Bouck had with him. Prior to the attack, Bouck had sent Vernon Leopold back to regiment. Leopold feels that Bouck saved his life because he was a German-born Jew and if he had been captured, things would have been very bad for him. There were worse days after 16 December. After going through it, Bouck does not know how they all survived it. Bouck does not know if Vernon Leopold would have had it any worse, but appreciates that Leopold sees it as Bouck saved his life.

Annotation

On the morning of the 16th [Annotator's Note: 16 December 1944] Lyle Bouck was surprised by shelling. They could hear the guns firing before the shells started hitting out ahead of their position. Bouck thought that the shells would hit them. The shells then began falling behind them, then out in front. The shells were being walked over their positions. The foxholes were covered with logs and that protected the men. There were several tree bursts. Shelling is frightening because it cannot be seen. People who live through shelling survive because they were in good cover or just lucky. It is devastating. Bouck knew that the shelling was not just spoiling fire, but something bigger. He knew that something was up. Bouck called back to regiment. He talked to Lambert [Annotator's Note: US Army Technician 5th Grade Robert Lambert] and Kriz [Annotator's Note: US Army Lt. Col. Robert Kriz]. He had lost wire communication but his radio was still working. Bouck was informing regiment what was happening, but did not ask permission to pull back. The shelling was terrible. When the shelling stopped Bouck went out to check on his positions. He told his men to keep an eye out because he was sure that something was about to happen. About 45 minutes to an hour after the shelling stopped, Bouck first saw Germans entering the town [Annotator's Note: Lanzerath, Belgium]. Bouck saw the tank destroyer unit [Annotator's Note: part of 2nd Platoon, Company A, 820th Tank Destroyer Battalion] pull out sometime between the last shelling and the arrival of the Germans. When Bouck saw that he wondered where they were going. He had no contact with them so he could not ask. Bouck ran into a civilian on the top floor of a house. He had gone up with Slape [Annotator's Note: US Army Sgt. William Slape] and Creger [Annotator's Note: US Army Private John B. Creger]. They found a man talking on a telephone. Slape wanted to shoot the man, but Bouck said no. Bouck wanted to interrogate the man, but the man spoke no English so Bouck made the man leave. Bouck felt that it would be coldblooded murder to shoot the man. The man was not a soldier, but was obviously an enemy. The man had been in the same room that Slape and Creger were to use for an OP [Annotator's Note: Observation Post]. The room had a good view of the east side of the town. Slape saw the Germans entering the town first and told Bouck. Bouck told Slape and Creger to stay where they were. He then went back to the platoon's positions. The next thing Bouck recalls, he ran to the left front of the platoon where Robinson [Annotator's Note: US Army Private 1st Class Jordan Robinson, known as Pop], Silvola [Annotator's Note: US Army Private James Silvola, known as Siv], and McGehee [Annotator's Note: US Army Corporal Aubrey McGehee, known as Schnoz]. Bouck told McGehee that Slape and Creger were trapped in the town and that he wanted them to go get them. About the same time, Slape and Creger slipped out of the back of the house and hid under some cows in the barn.

Annotation

Slape and Creger [Annotators Note: Sgt. William Slape and Private John B. Creger] were trying to get back to the platoon. At the same time, the men Lyle Bouck had sent to get them got into a gunfight with the point of the German column and got cut off. They then headed north in an attempt to get to the 1st Battalion [Annotators Note: 1st battalion, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division] lines. Bouck and Milosevich [Annotators Note: Private First Class Risto Miliosevich] went out to see who they could help. The three men Bouck sent to get Slape and Creger got cut off in a railroad gulch and were shot up and captured. Slape and Creger got across the road and met up with Bouck. The group then made their way back to their platoon positions. During this whole time Bouck could hear firing coming from the town so he knew that the Germans were in the town. Bouck got a hold of Tsakanikas [Annotator's Note: Private William Tsakanikas, also known as Sack, changed his name to William James after the war] who wanted to fire on the Germans that Bouck and the others could now see on the road. Bouck had alerted the platoon and just before they opened fire they saw a girl talking to the German commander. Bouck thinks that the girl told the German where Bouck's positions were. The Germans hit the ground and the girl ran back in the house. Years later Bouck was told that the girl, who was one of a set of twins, had told the Germans that Bouck's men went another way. Bouck does not know the truth. Bouck had gone back to Lanzerath and met the girl. The girl spoiled Bouck's ambush, but Bouck does not know how successful they would have been anyway. When Bouck's men opened fire he could see about 15 or 20 Germans. Bouck had reported by radio what was going on and had been told that reinforcements were coming. At the time, he still did not know what was coming. The first attack started with a line of German skirmishers walking up the hill. When they got to the fence, the platoon opened fire. It was a slaughter. The fight lasted about eight or ten minutes. To Bouck, it is hard to imagine the look of the bodies in the snow. As far as Bouck knows, no members of his platoon were hit during the fight. When the Germans started up the hill they looked almost like they were on parade. The fence stopped the attack. Bouck does not remember if he was scared during the fight. The second attack started just like the first. Tsakanikas opened fire with the .50 [Annotator's Note: .50 caliber machine gun] then Slape fired the .50. Milosevich and Slape were in the same foxhole. There was so much going on that Bouck cannot tell exactly who was doing what. There was a lot of firing. The second time the Germans came they were stopped. Bouck thinks Kalil [Annotators Note: Private Louis Kalil] was wounded during the second attack. Kalil's teeth had been driven into the top of his mouth and his face was all ripped up. Kalil had his face bandaged up and was firing during the third attack. Before the third attack the Germans dragged their wounded off of the hill. Bouck let them.

Annotation

Lyle Bouck was all over the place during the fighting, but does not recall where he was or when. Kalil [Annotators Note: Private Louis Kalil] was the most seriously wounded. Bouck did not fire much because he was too busy trying to figure out what to do and what was going to happen next. The platoon's ammo was very low. It appeared to Bouck that they were not going to get any help. Bouck was trying to figure out how to get his men out when the third attack started. Bouck was on the radio when it was shot out of his hands. He was stunned, but not hurt. By the time the third attack began it was clear to Bouck that they would not be getting any help and could not stop what was coming at them. They were hopeless and helpless. Bouck did not know how he was going to get his men out, but he was determined to. At the time, Tsakanikas [Annotator's Note: Private William Tsakanikas, also known as Sack, changed his name to William James after the war] wanted to go. Bouck decided that anyone who wanted to go could, but he had orders to stay so he was staying. Bouck planned to pull his men back when it got dark. They were still planning to pull back when the Germans came up out of Lanzerath and hit them from the side. Bouck had not seen them. Bouck does not know whose foxhole got knocked out first. The foxhole that Bouck and Tsakanikas were in was in the middle of the line. Bouck remembers looking out of the back of the hole and seeing motion. He knew it was not his men. Bouck had his carbine which had a 16-round clip. Bouck had gotten one of the guys in ordnance to weld two clips together for him so he had 32 rounds in the clip and one in the chamber. All of the rounds were tracers. Bouck opened fire at the figures in the tree line then slid back down in the hole. Moments later a barrel of a gun came into the hole. Bouck thought that Tsakanikas was in line with the gun, so he pushed Tsakanikas. As he pushed Tsakanikas the weapon fired and hit Tsakanikas in the face. Bouck though Tsakanikas was dead. He does not remember how he and Tsakanikas got out of the hole. The Germans asked in good English who was the commandant. Bouck said that he was. The German was asking Bouck questions when someone opened fire hitting the German and hitting Bouck in the leg. It seemed to Bouck like there was no firing when the Germans picked up him and Tsakanikas. One of the Germans helped Bouck hold Tsakanikas and get them out. They headed out to the fence which was full of wounded Germans. Bouck does not remember crossing the fence. The German escorting Bouck ordered him to halt.

Annotation

The guard spoke to Lyle Bouck in German and stuck the barrel of his weapon against Bouck's stomach. Bouck heard a snap that he believes was the sound of the trigger being pulled but the gun did not fire. The German made Bouck and the man holding up Tsakanikas [Annotator's Note: Private William Tsakanikas, also known as Sack, changed his name to William James after the war] to continue on. They were taken into a building. Bouck sat on a bench right inside the door. Bouck was holding onto Tsakanikas even though he thought he was dead. Bouck later saw Slape [Annotator's Note: Master Sergeant William Slape] in the building. Slape thought they could escape through a back door, but Bouck was not going to leave Tsakanikas. There were also a number of German wounded in the building. Time was moving by very slowly. Bouck thought of his Aunt Mildred who was a palm reader. One time she read Bouck's palm and told him that if he lived to be 21 he would have a long life. Bouck had two hours to go before his 21st birthday. When the clock struck midnight, he turned 21 and thought that they could not get him now. Bouck felt like he had failed when he was captured. He thought that he should have done something more. Joachim Peiper [Annotator's Note: German SS Standartenführer, or Colonel, Joachim Peiper] stood right next to Bouck in the building but Bouck did nt know who he was at the time. Peiper was trying to question the German officers present. Peiper stuck a map to the wall with two bayonets and he and the other Germans were pointing at the map and talking, but Bouck did not understand what they were saying. Early the next morning Bouck and the others were moved. The Germans allowed Bouck to go over to Tsakanikas and talk to him. Bouck said a prayer over him and told him that they would see each other when the war was over. The Germans took Tsakanikas out on a stretcher and put him on an open bed truck. Bouck and Slape were taken out as well. There were men from other American units who were now POWs there as well. The prisoners were all marched to a road junction where they were offered some food.

Annotation

Lyle Bouck did not like the taste of the food. The men were marched to a town east of Losheim and put in the basement of a building. The only platoon member Bouck remembers being there is Slape [Annotator's Note: Master Sergeant William Slape]. Bouck was talking to a number of 99th Division men he did not know. The next day they were marched further east and stopped by a large pillbox. The prisoners were brought into the pillbox one at a time. When it was Bouck's turn he realized that it was an interrogation room. The interrogator was a good looking young man with two large guards. The man asked Bouck his name, rank, and serial number which Bouck gave him. Then he asked about Bouck's unit and Bouck told him he did not know. The German had Bouck put his hands up on the table. He asked Bouck about his ring and Bouck told him it was from Fort Benning, Georgia. The German had Bouck take off the ring. He informed Bouck that he too had been at Fort Benning but did not get a ring and asked Bouck for his. Bouck gave it to him. Bouck knew he would take it anyway. Bouck was then taken out of the back of the building. During the first several hours he did not think that they would survive. Bouck was put on a train full of wounded, people getting sick, and people who were dying. They had no food, water, or latrine facilities. The train was a 40 and eight meant for 40 men or eight horses. When the men in Bouck's car counted off he was number seven out of 82. The men alternated lying down because there was not enough room. They had to do this until Christmas Eve, about a week. During the entire time the men were not given any food or water. Bouck's leg was still bleeding but never got infected. During the train ride, the car in front of Bouck's took a direct hit [Annotator's Note: from a bomb dropped by an Allied aircraft]. There were bodies all over the place. Bouck learned years later that Kurt Vonnegut was in the car ahead of the one that had been hit. Bouck's car rocked back and forth so hard that he thought they had been hit. During the raid, Bouck and the others were not too functional; their brains were not working properly. Bouck was taken to Hammelburg.

Annotation

Lyle Bouck was not put in any work detail and was in an area containing only officers. He is pretty sure that he hooked up with his friend Matt Reid at Hammelburg. The Germans gave Bouck a bandage for his leg which started to heal in three or four weeks. Bouck and the others were put on box cars in Nuremburg and taken to Hammelburg. At Hammelburg there was one side of the camp for officers and one side for enlisted. Bouck knows that Reid was there. The men were put in barracks and given one briquette of coal per day to heat the room. Their big decision at the time was whether to burn one piece of coal per day or save it up and burn three at a time. As a group they decided to save up the briquettes until they had seven and would burn them on Sundays. Bouck thought about escaping twice, but never made an attempt. The Serbs were in a compound next to Bouck's. One day a message was received from the Serb side of the fence asking if anyone was from Saint Louis. The prisoners knew that Bouck was from Saint Louis and asked if he wanted to respond to the message. Bouck did and found that there was a hole in the fence between the two compounds and that they could pass between the two if they timed the searchlights. The Serbs wanted Bouck to come to their side because one of them had a brother living in Saint Louis. To give himself something to do Bouck went over to the Serb compound and was taken into a hut. Inside he was given some bread and jelly. He met the man whose brother lived in Saint Louis. It did not go any farther than that. Bouck never went back. Years after the war Bouck got a call at his office from the brother of the Serb who he had talked to in Hammelburg. Bouck and the man got together for lunch one day and then he never heard from the guy again.

Annotation

Lyle Bouck thought about escaping twice. Reid [Annotators Note: Bouck’s friend Matt Reid] and Bouck were on a detail going into town to get bread. They thought that there might be some way to escape but they decided not to. They decided to go get the bread, go back to the camp and accept that they were POW's. The second chance they had to get loose was later on in March after they had been liberated from the camp by the 4th Armored Division in Hammelburg [Annotator's Note: the largely unsuccessful attempt by elements of the 4th Armored Division to liberate the Hammelburg prisoner of war camp on 26-28 March 1945, known as the Hammelburg Raid]. The prisoners were marched from Nuremburg to Munich. Reid and Bouck decided that when they reached the river they were going to escape when the group got to the bridge. Bouck decided to cross the river to see what was going on and they ended up getting captured by some SS troops. Reid looked at Bouck and told him that they would not be attempting any more escapes. Bouck agreed. The SS troops got them back with the group. They wound up on a train. The train pulled into Dachau; they stayed in the boxcars for two days. There seemed to be a lot of water around. The trains were then taken to Munich. From Munich they went to Moosberg. During the Hammelburg Raid, Bouck thought initially that the front lines of the war were converging on the camp. The guys immediately began to pray and consult their Bibles. Someone then pointed out that it was not the front lines converging, but rather an armored column that came to liberate them. The next thing they did was to leave the room they were in. They heard firing but could not see. The first thing Bouck saw was an American tank; it knocked down a fence by the Serbian compound. Some German soldiers had gotten down into a trench and there was firing going on. Reid and Bouck ended up outside of the compound. It was late in the day by that point. They were next to a group where someone was doing a lot of talking; the conversation was that they had enough tanks to take some of the officers, but not all. The decision was made to take field-grade officers. Bouck and Reid promoted themselves on the spot and got on the second tank in the column as they were parked at that point. The tankers gave each person an M3 machine gun [Annotator's Note: M3 submachine gun, also referred to as a grease gun]. About an hour later they left. The tanks always seemed to stop and people would hop off of them and reconnoiter. Bouck had trouble seeing what was going on. The first tank in the column ended up suffering a direct him from a concealed gun emplacement. The fire from the tank put out enough light to make the guys nervous. Bouck and Reid jumped off of the tank and Bouck got hit in the left leg. Bouck thought he was bleeding to death. They were crawling along an area that contained sapling trees. As they got up near the first tank, they opened fire on a group of German soldiers who were illuminated by the glow of the burning tank. They had hopped on a tank that was near the front tank that was burning. They milled around the tanks and it began to get light again. The tanks were pulled up into a farm area. There were a lot of wounded men who were put into a barn and a giant red cross was put on the barn. They were then draining gasoline from some of the vehicles because they needed it for the tanks.

Annotation

They were putting the gas into the vehicles that were selected to make the rest of the trip. Lyle Bouck recalled seeing someone signaling everyone to start up the vehicles so they could go. About that time, an attack was sprung on them. The SS had them surrounded. They shot the crap out of them. Reid and Bouck lived through that. The SS lined them up and they were trying to figure out who the tankers were and who the liberated POW's were. Next thing Bouck recalls is walking back to the prison camp. The recaptured men were put into a gymnasium and fed coffee, bread, cheese, and sausage and it was fantastic. Bouck is not sure where that generosity came from. Within the next hour they were in a column going out of the building and they started heading down a roadway. Bouck noticed American and German vehicles that were knocked out. They were put on boxcars that had straw and they could only fit 20 men per car. From there they returned to Nuremberg. Bouck had numerous instances where he looks back on them and realizes he is lucky to be alive. Bouck started to get really sick when they got back to Hammelburg. Bouck was feeling sick, but he was not sure why. Bouck was finally liberated. He remembers someone poking their head in and asking if there was anyone there named Boke [Annotator's Note: they misspoke his name]. Bouck was beckoned to go outside and it turned out there was an American jeep sitting there with Kriz in it. Somebody had an idea where Bouck was. Outside of the fence on the far end of the prison camp, Bouck saw a guy with a 99th [Annotator's Note: 99th Infantry Division] patch on. The man was in the 393rd regiment. Bouck asked the man if he could help him; he wrote a note to Kriz at Regimental Headquarters with his name on it. Kriz appeared the next day, waiting in the jeep for Bouck. He handed Bouck a helmet, helmet liner and a pistol belt. He told him to get in the back of the jeep. Bouck jumped in the back not knowing what he was doing. Bouck was then given food from the trailer that was hooked up to the jeep. They were warned to use their judgment so that they did not eat too much food at once. That was the last thing that Bouck recalls. Then they drove on out of the camp. The driver pulled off on a roadway that appeared to lead to a house. An old German couple came and answered the door. Bouck entered the house with the driver to ask for directions. Pretty soon someone started beating on the door and they instructed the German couple to open it.

Annotation

There were two black soldiers at the door yelling that the Germans were coming. Lyle Bouck and Kriz [Annotators Note: Major Robert Kriz] got into a jeep and within half an hour they were back at regimental headquarters. There were some guys there that knew Bouck. Bouck had some quick visits with them. The guys gave him orange juice and soup. Bouck ate it all, but quickly threw it up. They got the regimental surgeon, Gillespie. He put a flashlight on Bouck's fingers and eyes and they told him he had Hepatitis and needed to go to a hospital as soon as possible. Bouck was taken to a field hospital. They tried to give him a transfusion but they were having trouble doing it. A guy who was in a bunk near Bouck got up and put the needle in and they got plasma in him. In the next couple of days Bouck ended up at another hospital and then in Reims and was told he was near the building where the papers were going to be signed to end the war. Bouck looked out the window and saw all of the high ranking officers signing the peace papers. They got Bouck on a fat free diet and he was eating pretty good by the time he got back. They took Bouck to Paris to an airport and put him on a plane back to the United States. The plane landed in New York then Bouck was put on a train to Springfield, Missouri. Bouck enjoyed the fact that the war was over and that he was home and alive. While Bouck was making trips back and forth to the hospital in Springfield, someone came in and said that they needed someone from Saint Louis to go to Saint Louis and help with the Victory bond drive. They needed people to promote the bonds. Bouck agreed to do it. He met a lady named Runde who was in charge of the entire thing. She instructed Bouck to go to a group of people and promote the bonds. During that two weeks Bouck proved himself and they asked him to stay another two weeks. Bouck ended up staying there for three months. Bouck got out of the army on 1 January 1947. One day 23 years after the war, Bouck was in his office and his secretary informed him that a John Eisenhower was on the phone for him. Bouck recognized the name of course, but did not know who John was. Bouck got on the phone and he identified himself as John Eisenhower, the son of the President. He was gathering information to write a book on the Battle of the Bulge. Eisenhower wanted to call Bouck to talk about his experiences. Eisenhower wrote his book entitled The Bitter Woods.

Annotation

The project by John Eisenhower kick started Lyle Bouck's initiative to contact his former comrades. Bouck has been interviewed for many books since. If there was one person responsible for starting it all it was John Eisenhower and his book. There was an awards ceremony for Bouck and some of the members of the platoon in 1981. There was a man who was a friend of a friend of Bouck's. His name was John Warner. Warner wrote a letter telling about the I&R Platoon [Annotators Note: I&R Platoon, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division]. He said out of all of the people who are recognized for fantastic feats during World War 2, the story of Bouck’s I&R Platoon needs some attention. John Warner started investigating and through his contacts he was able to get the platoon recognition from Washington. Bouck could not believe they were doing it. Pretty much everyone from the platoon was there. Bouck received the DSC [Annotator's Note: Distinguished Service Cross]. Bouck could not believe they were getting that kind of attention. It was incredible. Bouck thinks that it was well deserved and he is glad that it happened. It got the guys who deserved recognition some credit. [Annotators Note: The interviewer and Bouck have a conversation as to the destination and use of the interview.]

All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You will be purchasing the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only specific clips. Please contact the Museum at digitalcollections@nationalww2museum.org if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to two weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address. See more information at http://ww2online.org/faqs.