One reconnaissance trip made an indelible impression on the Allies. Two soldiers had been sent ahead to scope out the area. They were to verify if it was safe to proceed ahead. The red brick buildings in the town provided protection and a vantage point where Germans could be observed. Anyone could be in the area but the town would be a good place to camp at the end of the day. With a slight sense of foreboding and a premonition to beware of what was ahead, the scouts advanced. Building by building the American soldiers hid in the shadows. It seemed deserted. There was nothing obvious yet. Finding a hedge along one side of the town, the soldiers advanced and then quietly looked through the green wall.
It was on the northernmost part of the city that they spied a section with scattered debris on the ground. Amazed at finding German guns and tanks in the center of town could only mean one thing. Germans were close by. Using a pair of binoculars the two Allies searched closer and spotted gray German helmets, military jackets and cigarette packs on the dusty ground. Off to the left side almost hidden from view sat a group of German soldiers eating lunch
The soldiers froze and decided to return to base. Moving back around the perimeter of town the soldiers hoped to alert the men that the Germans could be completely caught off guard if they organized quickly. Without any hint or suspicion of what the scouts had discovered the Allies began shooting and welcoming the soldiers back to camp. Getting the excited cries of the men to quiet so they could report took some time. Once in camp the report of Germans hiding in the town was relayed to the commander. The men hastened to get everything ready and a confrontation was about to occur.
The unsuspecting Germans were completely caught off guard. Grabbing up guns and racing to get into tanks that could blast away at the invaders, the enemy made an attempt to defeat the Allies. At the end of a strenuous day fourteen tanks had been confiscated and 4400 Germans were killed. It was a real victory for the Allies. For the two scouts realizing exactly how many soldiers had been in the area showed them exactly how fortunate they had been. How they managed to escape unnoticed was a miracle indeed.
2. SAFETY FROM GUNFIRE
Another incident that occurred along the trip to Germany happened when another group of soldiers were checking out the territory closer to the Netherlands. Five or six soldiers were sent ahead giving the Allies a greater advantage in surprising the Germans. Many Germans had already confiscated Allied tanks and replaced their German uniform with borrowed Allied jackets. With this new tactic the Germans could get very close to the Allies before being discovered. By the time the soldiers determined that Germans were not what they appeared to be it was often too late.
A Canadian sergeant went along with the expedition since he could understand German. He would be able to warn the group of any possible threat or overhear any strategies that were being planned. On this particular day, the soldiers methodically worked their way around the marketplace. Just as they moved from one building to the next a German soldier spotted the group. Shots rang out from all sides and men hastily climbed into the empty tanks and prepared to shoot the GIís. Working hard to put enough distance between them and the enemy, the soldiers pressed on towards the camp.
The Germans made it safely to their tanks and were determined to not let the Americans get away. The huge 88 mm canon was pointed directly towards the departing soldiers. Mortar shells quickly were loaded, the firing pin released and boomed out in the direction of the departing soldiers The German engineering was far behind the construction of the American tanks and that gave the Allies one advantage. German tanks could only shoot in one direction and only after the first shot had been fired could the direction of the tank cannon change. This one small factor gave the Allies the opportunity to stay out of range and make it safely back to camp.