Repost.....

.... no words tonight, folks...... I have been too sick over the past two days to sit at the keyboard for any length of time without coating it with a thick sheen of mucus from my hyper-frequent sneezes to do anyone any good....... but still, I have been reading.... and I stumbled upon this missive from September 2007 tucked away in the archives, and I thought it fitting.......

..... and so, since I am sick, please humor me........ and so, I give you "Shelled" from 2007......

…. during the course of my latest travels, I visited many beautiful and intriguing places…. but really & truthfully I only had one true mission for this trip…. and that was to visit a tiny German village that sits just across the border from Luxemburg where my Grandfather was captured on December 16th, 1944…. Actually, it was the whole reason that we visited the Ardennes & Low Countries instead of doing like we usually do and just hitting Scotland…….

…. So after a restful day and night in Bastogne, the whole family, sans the Mother-in-Law, daytripped out in Duncan’s Mercedes to try and find Winterspelt…. with me navigating in the front passenger seat…..

… the Michelin map that I had was a bit old, and it wasn’t long before I realized that the easiest way to the dot on the map was by taking B-roads instead of the looping, interchanging, dull-as-hell motorways…….

…. And it did make for a more interesting journey – taking those roads less traveled….. and we spent the better part of two hours speeding through the rolling countryside of Luxemburg dodging cows, tractors, and logging trucks….. at one point, we took a right instead of a left and ended up winding down a steep gravel road through thick forest and crossing a wooden bridge at the bottom of the hill that spanned a small stream…. which, as luck would have it, that little creek represented the border….

…. and as we slowly climbed out of the creek-bed & rattled across the rickety bridge, we were then in Germany….. and Winterspelt sat half a mile away on the top of the nearest ridge…..

… there wasn’t much there, really…. a row of farm houses, a catholic church, a hotel, a pub & restaurant, a pre-school…… not even a gas station…… there was a roadsign though… pointing the way towards St. Vith…… I took a photo….

…. My Grandpa’s name was Carl Hull and he was 20 years old when he was captured… he died in 1988 and I only remember a few of the stories that he told me when I was a kid….but I always remembered the name of the towns where he’d been when he was overseas….. I guess that I was just curious about the war and tried to pry the history out of him…. But either way, I always remembered what he’d told me…. each little story stuck in its own little way…..

…. He told me that he was captured at daybreak on the 16th of December by a group from the Volksgrenadiers…. All between the ages of 16 & 17…. He claimed that their ages were the only thing that saved him and the rest of his mortar team….. that if they’d not been ‘children’, they’d have killed them instead of taking them prisoner……. Looking at the facts now, it seems hard to imagine that a 20-year old is much more or less of a child than someone of 16, but those were the words he said…… and he was there….. I have a much longer lens to see things from, I guess…… and truly, I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be there…….

…. He said that he’d been wounded in the foot by shrapnel just before the daylight of his capture… no blood, just a smashing wound that broke the arch of his right foot…. And that they were marched 90km eastward to the small town of Limburg, Germany and held at Stalag 12…. And there they remained until the Russians liberated them in April of 45……he said that he’d used an M-1 rifle with the bolt taken out as a crutch while he marched through the snow……. he said that when he landed in France he weighed 196lbs…… and when he made it back to Great Britain he weighed 98lbs……

… it was strange to visit there……

…. We parked and headed our separate ways once we’d arrived…… I made a bee-line straight to the church and snapped a few more photographs…..

….. he’d said that they’d been hit first during the initial push and had fallen back into the village from their pickets….. and later they were forced to evacuate from there as well…… and were captured after running out of ammo and mortar rounds in a ditch on the outskirts of the village…..

…. The church intrigued me more than any other building, actually…. It was built from the huge stone blocks that are typical of the mid 1880’s style, and it was pockmarked high and low by shrapnel-scars….. even though every other building was newly-spackled, newly-painted, or newly-built, it was obvious from the tears and abrasions on the church that this little village had seen serious shelling once upon a time….…… there were few people on the streets as I walked around, but I found the church’s door to be unlocked…. A catholic thing, evidently, leaving the church doors unlocked at all hours so that wandering people could meander in and pray….. so I walked in and sat down at a pew….

… everything everywhere was calm, serene, clean, and quiet…….from the pews to the Saints…. to the flowers at the lectern….. it was a typical country-church that one might find in a thousand villages throughout Europe…. And yet it mesmerized me more than any of the grand cathedrals that I had visited before…… a simple place where – no doubt – my young Grandpa had been long, long ago…. scared, angry, and resolute…. more scared than anything, I suspect.....

…. my goodness…… I could write more, I guess, but I don’t feel like it…… my inspiration has been silenced for the night……… but it’ll be back in the morning…..

…. But I will post the photos of Winterspelt tomorrow….. with no words…… there is no need for words, really….. it is just a place…. A church with a few buildings surrounding it…. but I was there….. and I will show you guys what I saw……

...... I guess that I've just had Patton, Hodge, and The Battle of The Bulge on the brain today.......... and, of course, the cold............

.... I feel another sneeze coming on!.......

by Eric on February 26, 2010 | Bullshit (3) | TrackBack (0) | Ummm, Ok....
Bullshit So Far

Thanks for the excellent re-read.
It will be a very good day when your own book is in print.

Hope you feel better soon.

Bullshitted by Jean on February 27, 2010 03:04 PM

Hope you are feeling better. That was a damn good post. We need to remember those guys, and what they did.

Bullshitted by Cappy on February 27, 2010 03:06 PM

Gesundheit. And just for you: A legend holds that it was believed that the heart stops beating and the phrase "bless you" is meant to ensure the return of life or to encourage your heart to continue beating.

Keep on beating and writing!

Bullshitted by vw bug on February 28, 2010 07:13 AM