This Week's Story

Audie Murphy stands atop a burning tank destroyer firing a machine gun and blocks an enemy attack at Holtzwihr.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Audie was a foot soldier! part two

January 26, 1945 Lieutenant Audie Murphy and his men of Company B stumbled through a dark forest in southern France. When they reached the edge, they tried to dig foxholes. Their picks and shovels could not break the frozen winter ground. They waited. Support had not arrived. Audie called battalion headquarters and was told, “Hold your position.”

He checked his surroundings and saw ahead open fields and then the village of Holtzwihr. Woods lay behind and on the sides. Hours passed.  During the afternoon, the Germans began lining up and six of their tanks moved to circle and trap American forces.

Two American tank destroyers had arrived during the night. When the German tanks began moving, the American tanks tried to go into firing position. One slid into a ditch and became stuck with its gun pointed uselessly. The crew climbed out and ran to the rear forest.

White shapes started across the field towards Audie and his men. They appeared to be about 250 enemy foot soldiers in snow capes.

Audie called headquarters, “We’re being attacked. Get me artillery.” He gave the co-ordinates so artillery could fire, and mark the

German positions with smoke shells. As grey clouds lifted, fighter bombers could come in. Audie grabbed his M1 carbine and began firing. Enemy fire hit the second tank destroyer and killed three of its crew. The rest crawled out and escaped. The turret was smoking.

There was now no escape for Audie’s company. The German tanks had opened fire. Soon Audie was the only officer alive, out of seven; and from 128 men who began the drive, 40, at most, were alive. Audie yelled to his men, “Pull out.” They hesitated. What was he going to do?

He yelled to one of his men, “Keep the men together and go back! I’m staying with the phone and calling in artillery.”

He continued shooting with his carbine, until he saw that the burning American tank destroyer had a good .50 caliber machine gun and cases of ammunition. Its range would be almost a mile or more. He dragged the field phone to the top. The machine gun was working. He began spray shooting with it. The German tanks had veered away, sure that the burning tank had been destroyed. As Audie continued shooting with the machine gun, white shapes began toppling to the cold winter ground.

Enemy fire was hitting Audie’s tank, but the enemy could not see him clearly. As he stood on top of the tank for one hour, smoke and spurts of fire from his tank swirled around him. He stopped only long enough to reload the machine gun or send artillery directions.

His field phone line went out and he slid off the tank and limped away exhausted. His hands and arms were unscratched, but his right trouser leg was soaked with blood. The Germans had stopped shooting at him. When he neared the woods, he heard the tank blow up.

He found his men and told them, “We’ve got to go back.” He organized a successful counterattack. For Audie, it was one more day of World War II, fought the only way he knew how to fight: with his will and skills committed to protect the people he was responsible for. That could be his platoon or country.

This is Barbara Steiner. Part three is coming soon. Visit the website: www.thisweeksstory.com.

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