Segment 10

Annotation

[Annotators Note: Robert Walter was a platoon sergeant in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division.]Robert Walter feels that one thing people do not realize is how the weather affected them. They lost almost as many men to the weather as they did to the Germans. It was the worst winter since the early 1900s. The snow was very deep and ever present. Walter thinks that the weather in the United States at that same time was just as bad. It was the worst weather in a century. Walter was used to the weather. The ones he felt sorry for were those taken out of rear area jobs and put on the front line. They were so hard up for manpower that they went into Paris and got Air Force guys and clerical guys and gave them rifles. They did not last one day on the front lines. Some got frozen feet and others shot themselves in the foot. Walter does not blame them because they did not know how to survive in those conditions. Walter does not see how the men who were thrown on the front helped them at all. It was disastrous. If they did help then Walter expresses his appreciation. Being from that part of the country [Annotators Note: Walter is from Ohio] Walter was used to living with the weather. The weather would be freezing rain and then it would be so foggy they could not see. Then it would be a light snow and a heavy snow. Walter lost two men one night because of the snow. Two men in the same foxhole fell asleep. To stay warm they made foxhole burners out of cans stuffed with dirt and gravel then filled with gasoline. It snowed the night the two fell asleep and covered their foxhole. The next morning they were found dead. They had suffocated. Most of the foxholes that Walter occupied overseas had been dug by someone else. Walter always had three men in his foxhole. The one he occupied on the crest of the hill was about six feet long and five feet deep with a step on each end. It already had logs and brush over the top of it and got covered with snow. It looked like a hump of snow. When they stood in the deepest part of the hole they could look out of it over the terrain. Walter was wounded moving around in that area when he was hit in the back of the hand by shrapnel. Walter does not know who dug the foxholes he occupied. He just knows that they did not dig any until they got to the point where they were chasing then Germans. Then every night they had to dig a hole. One night they were on top of a hill and the ground was frozen. Each soldier carried a quarter pound of dynamite with them and some of them used the dynamite to dig their foxholes. It was comical.

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