Editor’s Note: The Chestertown Spy has teamed up with the C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience at Washington College to share the stories of local residents who experienced World War II, either on the Home Front or as Veterans. Students and staff have already interviewed over a hundred people about their experiences during World War II. Each installment presented in The Spy includes an audio clip of an interview, along with the corresponding transcript. You can find more audio clips and interview transcripts at storyquestproject.com. If you have a story or artifact to share, please contact Deputy Director of Starr Center, Pat Nugent, at email@example.com or 410-810-7161.
Joseph Doherty: Battle of the Bulge Mortar Squad
You have to be an infantryman in WWII to understand this one.
The mortars would be set up at such an angle that the mortar shells wouldn’t go straight out, they’d go up in the air and come down on the enemy. You know, [there’s] a technical term for it. And generally, the mortars, as I said before, were behind the riflemen. Pretty far back – well, not far back, but a football field or so, half a football, whatever.
When the Germans broke through on us on December 16th, the one mortar squad, one mortar platoon, of one of our battalions, was forced – it’s almost unheard in this kind of situation – were forced to raise their mortar almost 90 degrees. German rifleman were on top of them, and the only way to stop them was to hit them with mortars. Well, the guys were about from here to the end of this room coming at you, so you’re trying to have that mortar come down on him and not on you.