Segment 1

Annotation

Corbin discusses the Battle of the Bulge, the Hammelburg Raid, and the book The Longest Winter [Annotator's Note: The Longest Winter by Alex Kershaw].The interviewer has also interviewed the survivors profiled in the book.Corbin was at Hammelburg and is one of only 25 who escaped. He was a forward observer for Battery ‘A’, 909th Field Artillery Battalion, 84th Infantry Division. They had just been inserted into the line east of Aachen, Germany. On the day after Thanksgiving 1944, Corbin went up to the line to relieve his counterpart there. He had been asked to pick up the padre [Annotator's Note: padre is military slang for chaplain] and bring him out with him.They drove to the edge of town then realized that they had gone too far and missed their turn. As Corbin was backing up a mortar round landed right next to the vehicle, but it was a dud. They ducked under some buildings until the mortar barrage ended; then they got back in the jeep and drove to their headquarters.Corbin went into headquarters to talk to Lt. Hendrickson [Annotator's Note: unsure of spelling]. Hendrickson was nicknamed the "Judge" because he been a lawyer back in Texas. Hendrickson was a very calm and cool fellow. He took Corbin up to the third floor to show him where the base registration points were that needed direct fire. Corbin noticed that Hendrickson was very nervous. Hendrickson pointed out to him that the Germans had a hull down [Annotator's Note: a tank that is in a pit or revetment with only its turret exposed above the ground level] Tiger tank [Annotator's Note: German Mark VI "Tiger" heavy tank] about 3 quarters of a mile away and told him to watch out for it.Corbin could see German soldiers walking on the top of the hill from his position.The German Tiger tank let go with an 88 [Annotator’s Note: 88mm shell] at Corbin's position. The 88 sounds different than other artillery shells. The 88 round struck the second floor of the building. Corbin was on the third floor. Corbin wasn't concerned with shells passing over his head but was disconcerted about them going under his feet. About 30 minutes later another mortar barrage hit Corbin's position and took the roof off of his building.There had been a tank outside of Corbin's building that got knocked out by the 88. That night, he was informed that a pill box had been captured 50 yards ahead of the forward elements. His position was right on the edge of the Siegfried Line.Corbin wanted to get inside the pill box. That way he could call fire in right on top of himself and would be protected by the walls of the pill box. Captain Walsh, Corbin's liaison officer said no, but Corbin talked him into it.Corbin had a fellow with him who had been kicked out of another battery, and who was training to be a forward observer. The men were picked up by a runner who was to guide them to the captured pill box. When the runner got there he asked Corbin if it was alright if they took a short cut to avoid a German sniper; he agreed.Corbin learned that there was a 400 yard gap in the lines between the 104th Infantry Division and the 84th Infantry Division. To patrol the gap, the 104th division would send patrols on even hours and on odd hours the 84th division would send out a patrol. This gap is where the runner was leading Corbin. The runner went ahead to check out the route. Suddenly, a firefight broke out. He thought he was dead but moments later the runner returned. When he reached the top of the hill he saw a foxhole with a machine gun position and two riflemen in it. He said good morning to them as he passed.They could see the pillbox 50 to 60 yards to their right. As they started walking toward it the heard a guttural voice yell out "hands up... come out." Corbin had recently read in the Stars and Stripes that when German soldiers wanted to surrender they would yell out the only English words they knew. Thinking that the German wanted to surrender, Corbin drew his 45 [Annotator's Note: .45 caliber pistol]. When he pulled out his pistol the German shot him. The shot didn't actually hit him, it hit his field jacket. They had walked into the German lines and had gone to the wrong pill box. He then became a guest of the Third Reich. 

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