An absolutely harrowing first-person account of the 94th Infantry Division's bold campaign to break through Hitler's "impregnable" Siegfried line at the end of World War II Eighteen-year-old William Foley was afraid the war would be over before he got there, but the rifleman was sent straight to the front lines, arriving January 25, 1945-just in time to join the 94th Infantry Division poised at Hitler's legendary West Wall. By the time Foley finally managed to grab a few hours sleep three nights later, he'd already fought in a bloody attack that left sixty percent of his battalion dead or wounded. That was just the beginning of one of the toughest, bloodiest challenges the 94th would ever face: breaking through the Siegfried Line. Now, in "Visions from a Foxhole, Foley recaptures that desperate, nerve-shattering struggle in all its horror and heroism. "Features the author's artwork of his fellow soldiers and battle scenes, literally sketched from the foxhole Look for these remarkable stories of American courage at war BEHIND HITLER'S LINES "The True Story of the Only Soldier to Fight for Both America and the Soviet Union in World War II Thomas H. Taylor THE HILL FIGHTS "The First Battle of Khe Sanh by Edward F. Murphy NO BENDED KNEE "The Battle for Guadalcanal by Gen. Merrill B. Twining, USMC (Ret.) THE ROAD TO BAGHDAD" Behind Enemy Lines: The Adventures of an American Soldier in the Gulf War by Martin Stanton
An absolutely harrowing first-person account of the 94th Infantry Division's bold campaign to break through Hitler's "impregnable" Siegfried line at the end of World War II Eighteen-year-old William Foley was afraid the war would be over before he got there, but the rifleman was sent straight to the front lines, arriving January 25, 1945-just in time to join the 94th Infantry Division poised at Hitler's legendary West Wall. By the time Foley finally managed to grab a few hours sleep three nights later, he'd already fought in a bloody attack that left sixty percent of his battalion dead or wounded. That was just the beginning of one of the toughest, bloodiest challenges the 94th would ever face: breaking through the Siegfried Line. Now, in "Visions from a Foxhole," Foley recaptures that desperate, nerve-shattering struggle in all its horror and heroism. "Features the author's artwork of his fellow soldiers and battle scenes, literally sketched from the foxhole " Look for these remarkable stories of American courage at war BEHIND HITLER'S LINES "The True Story of the Only Soldier to Fight for Both America and the Soviet Union in World War II "Thomas H. Taylor THE HILL FIGHTS "The First Battle of Khe Sanh "by Edward F. Murphy NO BENDED KNEE "The Battle for Guadalcanal "by Gen. Merrill B. Twining, USMC (Ret.) THE ROAD TO BAGHDAD" Behind Enemy Lines: The Adventures of an American Soldier in the Gulf War "by Martin Stanton
World War II combat veteran William A. Foley Jr. is a painter and muralist whose work has been shown in museums, art galleries, and government buildings. Mr. Foley's war art can be seen on He lives in Dallas, Texas. This is his first book.
A Rifleman in Patton's Ghost Corps
1 Combat on the Siegfried Line It was the 25th of January, and we were more than twenty cold and miserable recruits in each truck, bouncing around in our replacement convoy. We had begun losing trucks as one or two turned away to follow faint tracks that paralleled signal corps'' wire strung everywhere. A convoy of huge 155mm Long Tom cannons passed us on their way somewhere--maybe going north to support Patton as he helped squeeze the Germans from the Bulge. As for me, I sat and shivered uncontrollably like everyone else, alternating my Hail Marys and Our Fathers with memorizing the serial number of my second- or third-hand M1 rifle. Why is it that half a century later I can remember "2506819," but can recall so few faces of the men I knew? "No conversation took place other than short exclamations of acute discomfort or to pronouncements of the need to remove a leg wedged between someone''s pack and another man''s rear end. Occasionally, a man desperate to relieve himself would pick his way to the tailgate. With one hand holding on to the seat back and the other digging out his penis, he would cause the truck following to back off a bit. Before dark, our truck and one other pulled over, and a white-clad man materialized out of the snow, barking for everyone to fall out on the roadside. Stiff-bodied, groaning recruits dropped by twos from the lowered tailgate; many sank to their knees, unable to stand after the cramped accommodations. We were told to toss our barracks bags in a three-quarter-ton truck. Finally, we struggled into line and began moving through the snow as the trucks backed around. The men watched the trucks take off the way they had come. The snow absorbed most sounds and made our voices sound strange. We had not seen any sunlight since Scotland. It was difficult to pick our way along the wheel ruts of the occasional traffic passing us--the gray light made everything look flat and foreboding. We knew where the road lay buried by following the strands of communication wire strung from trees, poles, and fence posts. Noncoms (noncommissioned officers--corporals and sergeants) fielded questions from the curious, newly arrived soldiers. Broken trees off in the fields appeared as gray silhouettes, along with the shapes of abandoned vehicles and tanks. The falling snow became heavier, and noncoms increased the distance between each of us about fifteen yards, so any shells hitting near would claim fewer of us. There was an obvious difference between the noncoms and us: Faces half-wrapped in scarves revealed raw, weather-beaten flesh. Their equipment and uniforms were caked in mud, but their weapons were clean. The sound of boots crunching through frozen snow was the only sound now. And then my heart almost stopped, as off to the right sudden stabs of yellow light shot skyward, followed by a terrific concussion of sound--the loud, flat sound of cannon. Their projectiles made impressive rushing sounds as they climbed to the dusky overcast. We stumbled along, all eyes on the dimly seen guns and prime movers way off in a field bordered by woods. Some moments later, from miles to the north, came the sound of the shells detonating in several heavy and deep crumping sounds. This certainly brought home vividly the connection between our present location and the absolute certainty that the front line was near and that the German army was dug in three or four miles away. What could be a stronger introduction to the reality of what faced us than that demonstration? The question was forcibly answered within a couple of minutes. More artillery salvos off beyond a forest were followed by sounds of Crump! Crump! Crump! We stopped in our tracks to allow some self-propelled cannon to turn into a field. Farther on, we were introduced to the war''s best cannon (not American), as the shells of 88s ripped through layers of wind and swirling air, constantly changing the pitch of sound. It was not unlike a great mile-long canvas being ripped from one end to the other by a giant hand. The shell from that long tube traveled like a rifle bullet; and depending on the distance of gun to target, from the moment it was first heard, a man had roughly a second or so to drop to the ground. But if the cannon was a few hundred yards away, its shell would arrive instantly, the sound of the cannon following the shell''s impact in a double bang. This evening''s introduction proved to be a mere demonstration as the shells traveled several miles and detonated a half mile or so to the rear. This was the two-second-warning variety, and noncoms had everyone up and moving as fast as legs would move through snow and the icy wheel ruts. The shells continued streaking by overhead for a time. Closer and louder thuds and flashes of light down the road toward the front increased this excitement. Moving toward this new revelation was an unpleasant sensation: It was one thing to have shells detonate to the rear, but to be marching toward them was distinctly depressing, and men wondered whether they would be required to march directly into it. The shells dropping to the front were (according to one noncom) 120mm mortars, the largest of either army. Several brilliant explosions close together revealed a town several hundred yards ahead, and our line was stopped and ordered fifty yards or so off the road. I found a seat on the ice-encrusted running board of what had been a truck. If the shelling moved up the road toward us, I could burrow underneath this rusting remnant. The other men squatted, watching a building on fire through the snow. There we remained until the shelling suddenly stopped. The noncom hesitated a minute before shouting instructions that if the shelling would resume, once in among the houses, we should take cover in the nearest building and then form up on the street the moment it would stop. He added that he was responsible for everyone, and anyone getting lost would answer to him. On the road, we doubled-timed into town along with traffic, which was moving again. This was the first German town that I ever was in, with France and Luxembourg a few miles to the rear; the town was Wochern. We moved along past trucks and jeeps in the street, and others were parked beside buildings and down side streets. Soldiers were moving in and out of houses and barns as they unloaded trucks. A wall stopped one tarp-covered six-by-six so that other traffic could get by. The six-by-six was pointed in the direction that we had just come from, and as I moved along between it and the wall, I saw GI boots stretching out of the back. I did a double take, because in the dim light it took a few seconds for me to realize that these were the mud-caked boots of dead soldiers. One limb was black, shriveled, and footless. The next man behind me closed up and I indicated to him what I had just seen. He turned to look, gagged, and then vomited against the wall as the line of replacements tried to squeeze past him. This was another graphic introduction to no-man''s-land. After this sudden glimpse at the reality of what we were getting into, we were assembled in a courtyard in front of a building that may have been a school. We were told to drop our packs in the snow and to file inside a large room with olive drab blankets over the windows. A lamp illuminated the interior. Following us in was a tall, thin officer who identified himself as a chaplain and informed us we were part of the 94th Infantry Division, XX Corps, Third U.S. Army, with Gen. George Patton commanding. We were going to line companies of the 302d Regiment. He told us the expected, "Come to me with any problems you might have," and then he proceeded with a brief history of the division including its training and combat record. He kept it brief, and then another officer broke us down into groups; noncoms led their group out to where we assembled at our packs. We were told to locate our barracks bags in the truck and bring them to our packs. We were to stow most of our gear in the bag and were told what to carry with us to our rifle company command posts. Then our group followed a noncom to a house a few streets from our briefing. This was the command post of G Company. We entered from the rear into a stove-heated cellar. There, sitting at a table illuminated with candles, sergeants and a couple of officers were smoking. Men were sitting or sleeping on shelter halves on the floor. Gear and overshoes were scattered everywhere, with weapons leaning against the wall. The men at the table looked us over. They asked us when we had last eaten and took us out again to a barn in the rear. The barn''s interior was also warm and filled with the smell of food and kerosene. We had dropped our packs in the cellar and had our mess kits at the ready. The cooks were friendly and generous with seconds. The food was hot and tasted good after the cold trip and march. While we washed out our kits in GI cans filled with hot water, one soapy and the other clean (or nearly so), we heard several explosions nearby--six or eight in a row. A cook told us that regular shelling occurred most every day and night. The Germans knew this town was used as the regimental units'' headquarters, plus supply dumps for most everything except artillery shells. Often, mortar fragments hit men as they moved between buildings. The mortars dropped in without sound or warning, in contrast to the rounds of artillery shells that usually could be heard rushing in, giving a few seconds of warning before detonating. The hot food brought on drowsiness: But sleep would not come that night or the next. We were taken back to the cellar, grabbe