Heroes: the Army
"...The first thought was that these people were members of the 1st Battalion with whom we were coordinating. Much to everyone's surprise and dismay, the shout "1st Battalion", was answered with a burst of fire from counterattacking German forces..."
Richard L. Riemer
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. L., 406th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: Sgt.
- Birth Year: 1923
- Entered Service: Joliet, IL
Boslar, Do You Remember?
By Richard L. Riemer
(This story first appeared in "Love Notes", the newsletter of 406-L.)
Boslar and Friendly Fire
It was late afternoon as we, the members of Co. L, 406, arrived at the outskirts of the town of Boslar, having crossed the Roer River that morning and having advanced the 4+ kilometers (2.5 Miles) to Boslar.
Shortly after our arrival, we learned that the Company was to give up its "reserve" role and go "on line" as the link between other units of the 3rd battalion on the right and elements of the 1st battalion of the 406th on the left.
The Company moved out of town along the main east-west road and, after a few hundred yards, made a left turn and moved down a long gradual slope.
Our 2nd platoon was about half way down that slope, some hundred yards or so from the road, when we were told to stop while the exact position that we were to occupy was determined.
Early evening was upon us with its accompanying darkness and, as we lay in the open field that we had been led into, we saw, on the ridge line in front of us, a line of soldiers appear.
The first thought was that these people were members of the 1st Battalion with whom we were coordinating. Much to everyone's surprise and dismay, the shout "1st Battalion", was answered with a burst of fire from counterattacking German forces.
Because the third squad, of which I was then the Assistant Squad Leader, was lying totally exposed without any cover whatsoever, it was decided that we should make a dash back to the "natural fortification" and cover of the road embankment some hundred yards behind us so as to be in a position to take up the fire fight and try to stop the counterattack.
Another surprise! From behind us we came under machine gun fire from some of our own forces.
We hit the ground, pinned down between "the devil and the deep blue sea." We couldn't move either way!!
Our medic, with a big white circle and the red cross on his helmet, was finally, after a half hour or so of terror, able to work his way close enough to the road and our own forces, to identify himself and to secure a "cease fire" so as to permit our people to escape to the road.
Upon reaching the safety of the deep road embankment, we counted noses. In addition to our medic and this writer we had three other uninjured squad members plus one with his arm almost severed and one with 13 machine gun bullets from the shoulder down. Others were thought to have been hit but no one knew how many and how severely. No one else was known to have come out.
Our squad member with the bad arm was escorted to a local medic while the rest of us attempted to carry our more severely wounded comrade back toward battalion headquarters. Our "patient" was about 6' 3" and weighed in at about 215 pounds.
Progress was difficult and extremely slow.
After a few hundred yards, we met two men from a local unit carrying a door for use as a cover for their fox hole. We were able to "commandeer" the door for use as a makeshift stretcher and we began to make a little faster time although the door turned out to be perhaps, the thickest and heaviest in all of Germany.
Battalion headquarters turned out to be located about three quarters to a mile to the rear and it was about ten O'clock before we reached that haven and were able to turn our patient over to Battalion medical personnel.
We were then debriefed by Battalion S-2, who was dumbfounded when advised of the area to which we had been led. We weren't where we belonged and had been located, as we well knew, in front of our own lines. Apparently, none of the people behind us knew that we had moved out in front of them, and, thus, as they saw the counterattacking German troops on the ridge line and then saw this group of men rushing toward them, they opened fire since, from their point of view, we were the enemy.
Battalion knew nothing of any of the rest of our Company and had no radio contact with them. We all feared the worst. About midnight, we heard a commotion and were pleasantly surprised to see, coming down the stairs, into the headquarters building, all twelve members of the second squad of our 2nd platoon, all safe and sound.
The story told by that squad was as bizarre as our own. That squad, at the time of the counterattacking German forces were identified, found themselves next to an abandoned German trench. The entire squad moved into the trench and began to move laterally down that trench to avoid the advancing enemy. They were successful in vacating the area where the Germans crossed over the trench and then continued to utilize the cover afforded by the same. When the trench ended they found that they were outside the perimeter of the counterattacking forces and they proceeded to carefully make their way back to our area of operations and to Battalion Headquarters where we were reunited.
Early the next morning, we were awakened and told that the counterattack had been repulsed and that we would be taken back to Boslar to rejoin our unit. Upon reaching the town, we were overjoyed to find the remainder of our company and a final head count accounted for all but two additional members of my 3rd squad. We then revisited the area of the counterattack and our encounter with "friendly fire" and we found our two missing men - both killed in action.
----- Richard L. Riemer
(Editor's note: Attempts were made throughout the text of the following story to place full names to the men listed in the story. For the most part, this is an educated guess and some names may very well be mistaken in their identy. The names were all taken from the division history book: With The 102d Infantry Division Through Germany, edited by Major Allen H. Mick. Using the text as a guide, associations with specific units were the basis for the name identifications. We are not attempting in any to rewrite the story. Any corrections are gladly welcomed.)
Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...
United States Army, 102nd Infantry Division
102 Infantry Division
History of the 102nd Infantry Division
Attack on Linnich, Flossdorf, Rurdorf - 29 Nov -- 4 Dec 1944
Gardelegen War Crime
The above story, "Boslar, Do You Remember", by Richard L. Riemer was published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 52, No. 4, July/October 2000, pp. 10-11.
The story is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of the 102d Infantry Division Association, Ms. Hope Emerich, Historian. Our sincerest THANKS for the 102d Infantry Division Association allowing us to share some of their stories.
We would also like to extend our sincere THANKS to Mr. Edward L. Souder, former historian of Co. F., 405th Regiment. His collection of stories of the "Kitchen Histories Project" series entitled, Those Damn Doggies in F, were responsible for bringing the stories of the men of the 102nd Division to the forefront.
Original Story submitted on 2 November 2004.
Story added to website on 5 November 2004.
September 5, 2002.
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