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Testimonials: H.G. Leonard | March 31, 2001
I am sitting here watching the seventh big and measurable snow storm to hit the State of Maine this year and it is hard to believe that they forecast another similar event for Sunday and Monday two days from now. It reminds me of the heavy and wet snow late in December and on into January and February 1945 when the krauts had nine of us penned up on a so called farm detail in Ste. Vith, Belgium. Fortunately, we escaped on hands and knees (because of frozen feet) on March 8th. We heard that the Germans had retreated across the Remagen Bridge on March 10th, so without the guards we had been freed.

I came into the 80th from a replacement area in the hedgerows in time to get through Ste Lo and on to Argentan and in the Falaise Gap, then on to Chalons sur Marne. We juts kept moving. Sometimes on a German motorcycle and when that ran out of gas we kept on in a an enemy half track. Then on up and through Bar-le-Duc and Comercy and onward to St. Mihiel and up the line along the banks of a canal and the Moselle River. At Pont-a-Mousson we really ran into tough going. We had set up a defense on the high ground and at night the Company Commander (Capt. James Farrell) called us back to his dugout to get the orders for the River crossing. It was a real nasty experience with a great loss of men. It was a long road through Betricourt, Letricourt and on toward Nancy.

I do recall activity in the area of Sivry, Mt. St. Jean. We seemed to be just holding ground for a few days and maybe somebody would remember the Leonard Foxhole Furnace that I built using our 81mm Mortar Ammo Canisters. A few of us had some great meals (roasts, etc., and coffee). We were crossing the Seille River when two aircraft came down out of the clouds strafing the River. I took a hit across the left knee, but kept going with sulphur powder and bandage and lots of stiff legged pain.

Up until I had been hit in the knee I had always made a practice of being out front of our mortar squad, but the knee made me slow down, so instead of being behind the squad, I stayed up front as the leaders, but at a slower pace and as we were moving on either side of a road going into Faulquemont a motorized German field gun (or small tank) came around a bend in the road ahead and let go with an 88mm. The shell and I both got to the same spot at the same time. Fragments now in the left hand did me in. Back to the aid station, then on to Bar-le-Duc to a field hospital. After a month I pleaded to go back to the 3d Platoon, H-Co., 317th. They did get me back, but the medic at St Avold said I would have to go back. That was the night that the Battle of the Bulge began and on the way to the hospital we met the Panzer Tanks, Infantry, etc.

So, here I am in Norway, Maine, complete with all body parts, but all kinds of aches and pains from the above episodes. If you are an H Company man from the end of August through December 1944, you must have had a meal Leonard’s Foxhole Furnace.

H.G. Leonard
March 31, 2001

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