August 18, 1944 - Assigned to Co. L. 8th Inf. Reg., 4th Infantry Div.
(Excerpt from an e-mail interview conducted by students of the Newman High School)
The winter of 1944-45 was said to have been one of the worst recorded in northern Europe and it had a very marked effect on events that occurred during the Battle of the Bulge.
Prior to the Bulge, my 4th Infantry Division had been engaged in a very bitter and costly battle in the Hürtgen Forest.
The weather was cold and wet; there was no way to stay warm or dry. Many suffered from what was called "trenchfoot." The feet and ankles would become numbed, swollen and infected after wearing the same soaked footwear day and night. Casualties from this condition became numerous and they were in addition to battle wounded that had to be evacuated from the frontlines to rear area hospital facilities. The normal complement of our Company was 130-135 men. Unfortunately, between battle casualties and the added "trenchfoot" losses, our company was reduced to 57 men. This was typical in our 4th Division as well as many others.
In early December, we, along with the 28th Infantry Division, were relocated to a "quiet sector" in the Ardennes so that we could lick our wounds, re-equip and take on needed replacements. The winter snows had begun and it was in this situation that all hell broke loose on December 16th when the German assault began.
~~~ Mark Clarke ~~~