During war the most unusual things can happen at most the dangerous situations. This particular story is about the 2nd infantry regiment during the Battle of the Bulge. The moment is described in the book: A foot soldier for Patton “The story of a “Red Diamond” infantryman with the US Third Army” by Michael C. Bilder
The 2nd infantry regiment crossed the Sauer river near Diekirch in January ’45. Early February they found themselves south-west of Echternach, again preparing to cross the Sauer river, this time east into Germany. Michael C. Bilder was sent on a patrol along the Sauer river one night: “We knew the Germans were on the other side preparing their defenses for our coming assault. We heard noises in the brush on their side of the river pretty close to the shoreline, and I couldn’t resist calling out sarcastically in their own language, “Are you Germans over there?” To my complete surprise they actually answered. “Yeah, we’re here,” one replied in German. It was dark and I couldn’t tell whether or not there was a full squad of them”
They were only with three, so they didn’t consider to open fire. Bilder asked the Germans what they were doing so close to American lines. As their excuse they told him that they thought they were still operating well within their own lines. Then they asked him how it was that he could speak German so well. Bilder’s parents were from Germany and he learned to speak German in his own house as he was growing up. At one point the meeting took a more humorous turn as each side tried to make the other surrender. “We’ll give you some delicious strudel. You can finish out the war in safety” Bilder half thought about it for a second before responding “Why don’t you come over here and surrender to us? We’ll give you some delicious lemon cream pie.” They entertained each other for a moment, before they both slowly backed away from the riverbank.
Soldiers were always worried when it comes to surrendering. They never knew what kind of treatment they’d receive once they became a POW. Bilder later reported the enemy activity but didn’t mention their unusual meeting.
Lucky for the 2nd infantry regiment they didn’t make the initial crossing over the Sauer river. This was up to the 10th and 11th regiment of the 5th infantry division.
A monument for the 5th infantry division that crossed the Sauer river here in February ’45 under heavy enemy artillery fire. It was a hard task for the 10th and 11th infantry regiment and they paid dearly for it! I visited the site in July 2014, you can read about my summer trip in the Bulge here!
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