6:31 | Rufus Dalton was at the Maginot Line bouncing mortar shells off an old citadel. His unit was suddenly pulled and sent to take Patton's place in the line after the general was summoned to the Bulge. Once they got there, a fierce ten day battle ensued due to the last major German offensive, Operation Nordwind. Part 1 of 2.
Keywords : Rufus Dalton mortarman Maginot Line France citadel Bitche George Patton Battle of the Bulge Operation Nordwind German Presidential Unit Citation Rimling Forward Observer (FO) sniper Republic P-47 Thunderbolt artillery
Rufus Dalton was called up from college where he had enlisted in the Army Reserve. It was 1942 and he was eager to get into the war. Basic training was in sweltering hot Alabama, where everyone suffered prickly heat.
It was taking so long to actually deploy to Europe that Rufus Dalton toyed with the idea of volunteering for the paratroopers. Finally, the orders came and he shipped out in a convoy for Marseille. From there he moved north to the Vosges Mountains, ready to join the fray.
After his basic training, Rufus Dalton was put back in college in the Army Specialized Training Program, or ASTP, where he was to get an engineering degree and serve later. It frustrated him so much that he got hives. He wanted to fight. Finally, that program ended and he joined an infantry outfit and became a mortarman.
The weather was miserable as winter approached in 1944 in France. Rufus Dalton had thrown away his blanket because it was constantly wet. As his unit advanced a few hundred yards at a time, he had to tear down his mortar emplacement and carry everything forward where a new round of foxhole digging and tree cutting would commence.
It was a tree burst that wounded Rufus Dalton. A piece of shrapnel penetrated his helmet, but not his head. He was only out of action for a day and then it was back to constant German counter-attacks as the GI's took hill after hill.
Rufus Dalton well remembers the first bath he got after going into combat in France. It was the end of November and the water was pumped from a cold creek. When you got clean and got back to the line, the hazards were much worse, as a loader on his mortar crew found out.
Rufus Dalton and his radioman had braved open fields with German artillery taking shots at them and now they were at the front. They were a forward observer team for the mortar platoons. They weren't there for long as a German offensive broke through some of the line and men filtered into the town of Rimling. Then the Germans came for that. Part 2 of 2.
While staying in winter positions near the Maginot Line, FO Rufus Dalton tried going out on patrol, just to see what it was like. Nervous is what it was like. In March of 1945, it became a game of chase the Germans for the men of the 100th Infantry Division. It was at the city of Heilbronn that the enemy turned and made a stand. Part 1 of 2.
It was a fierce week long battle for the city of Heilbronn. Even though they were only delaying the inevitable, the Germans weren't beat, yet. Forward Observer Rufus Dalton went into the demolished city looking for a rifle company he was instructed to find. It was an eerie setting with the city in flames all around him. Part 2 of 2.
The action was just about over when mortar Section Leader Rufus Dalton and his men holed up in a German house. He had seen a house burn from a German rocket so he ordered his men to dig foxholes, which they weren't crazy about. Then the war was over. After a bit of occupation duty, he went home on the same ship as his brother.