Surviving the weather and obtaining food
Ray Aebischer recalls...

Weather

Had we been living in heated and air conditioned homes, the weather would have been the same as any other year. When we weren't in barracks, such as England and Mormelon, France, our base camp, where we lived when we weren't on line, in combat.

Living in fox holes, or not having anyplace to sleep but the ground, made the living quite miserable at times. In Normandy, being June-July, the weather was pleasant; maybe a little chilly at night. Sometimes we were in homes or buildings, but usually it was in a fox hole.

In The Netherlands, September 1944, great weather, really no problem. I was only there six days, so I can't say about the latter months. Bastogne, miserably cold. A heated building would have been wonderful, but that didn't happen. We were a few miles outside of Bastogne, Foy. Noville, Cobru, that area, some snow on the ground, holding the line, making some patrols.

Not having the thermal boots available today, it was difficult to keep warm. Some men got frozen feet; had to be evacuated. If we stayed in one place long enough, we dug large fox holes, put logs over the top so if German artillery got us with a direct hit, the shell would explode on top of the logs.

There were plenty of logs in some of the woods from artillery and mortars. Otherwise, we dug individual fox holes.

Ray Aebischer


Food


For food, we generally had fairly good re-supply. When we didn't, we scrounged food where ever we could find it, farms, homes, sometimes German rations.

In Normandy, at first, before the action got hot and heavy, the French people were so elated over being liberated, they came out with wine, cheese, bread, you name it. Some of the men drank too much wine, but that was the exception. We tried to carry it around with us, but that had to be abandoned; too much of a load.

In the Netherlands, Eindhoven to be exact, we had carried in our own rations, however, here again, the people brought us all kinds of food. As we went toward Veghel, we had to rely on our own rations. It wasn't in my unit, but some men got into a jam factory; had a feast.

Bastogne. I wasn't there in December '44. Still in the hospital in England. I rejoined Fox Company on Jan 1, or 2, '45. We had rations re-supplied. I recall one incident, where we slept in a farm house, just for the night. The owners had left for safer places, but there were chickens, so we got our little stoves and gorged ourselves on eggs. I hadn't seen a real egg for so long, I think I ate a half dozen or so, maybe more.

Later, in Germany, on our way to Berchtesgaden and Austria, we had our own rations, but still managed to get some better food from homes, stores, anywhere. As the war drew to a close, the German civilians were quite hospitable, shared what they had, which wasn't much. Of course, as you have probably heard, there was always for bartering with cigarettes, chewing gum for food, and quite a few other things I won't go into.

In one case, in Berchtesgaden, we confiscated a tractor trailer delivering groceries to an orphanage. The civilians gathered around begging for food, but we escorted the truck to the orphanage so the children had something to eat.

Ray Aebischer

Personal Photographs


Shoulderpatch of the 101st Airborne

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