Combat Interview:
Sgt. Rhinold Mruzinsky and T/5 Bernard Connolly
Battery "D", 203rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion
Battle at Baraque de Fraiture, Belgium
("Parker's Crossroads")
December 20-23, 1944

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Hatlem Photo:  Baraque de Fraiture
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Transcription Notes

This is an interview conducted by the 4th Information and Historical Section of members of units of the 7th Armored Division’s participation in the Battle of the Bulge. The interviews are now in the National Archives (Record Group 407; Box 24097). This interview was partially typed and partially hand-written. The sentence that begins “At about 1000, Sgt Mruzinsky took his track about 300 yds” is the final typed sentence in the original; all after that is hand-written. The name of the interviewer was cut off on the copy sent to me by the National Archives. The mis-spellings of the original have been retained.

Note that there is a third map, showing positions of Division Trains at and west of Marche, Belgium (to Rocehfort, Belgium). This map is not included here, since it is not directly relevant to the events at Baraque de Fraiture.

The Interview
Map 1 Map 1
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Interviewer ____ Historical Section, 7th Armored Division
Interview with Sgt. Rhinold Mruzinsky and T/5 Bernard Connolly, 2 January, 1945
Btry D, 203 AAA

At about 0100, 20 December, D Btry, 203AAA was given the mission of establishing a road block at the road junction of N28 and N15, about 4 miles south of Manhay. The first road block was set up about a mile south of the road junction, on route N15. By 0400, four half tracks (two M-15’s and two M-16’s) were in position. (see overlay) The day was misty with visability limited to about 1000 yards. At 1000, a peep with men from the road block picked up a PW in a civilian car about 5 miles down N15 from the road block. At 1600, the men on the block heard firing believed to be from a 20mm from a patrol or column of undetermined strength. coming up the road. One M-16 was hit in the turret but not damaged anf no one was hurt. Sgt. Mruzinsky decided upon a withdrawal to the road junction to a more favorable position, and while the two rear half tracks covered the road with fire, the first two pulled back up the road and were followed by the other two. The M-16 covering fired 4,000 rounds of 50 cal. and the M-15 fired 10 rounds of HE. Here at the road junction, they set up their half tracks in the positions shown on the overlay. Also at the junction were three 1-5’s from the 3rd Arm’d Div., about 60 infantrymen, stragglers from the 106 Inf Div., 20 truckdrivers fighting as doughboys. Later during the three day stand other units joined the group at the crossroads. These were 3 Arm’d cars from the 87th Cav., a small co. (80) from the 82nd Div. and 7 Med. tks from the 3rd Arm’d Div.

21 December
At the cross roads, a Capt Brown, FA officer from the 106 was organizing the defences. He set up the diefences and worked out a scheme of firing for each gun where by the guns would alternate firing to save ammunition. The guns on N15 South of the cross roads were setup with one

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M-16 and a 105 on the right of the road facing south. One M-15 was on the road with an M-8 mounted 75 How just to his left. The M-16 fired during the night to draw the enemy while the other guns remained silent. The noise of vehicles could be heard during the night to the south. At about 0500, a bicycle patrol was heard coming up the road, laughing and talking. They appeared to be headed for the gun that had BEEN FIRING during the night. In the darkness and fog they approached to within 20 yards of the position of the the M-15 when they opened fire. There was a horrible scream. “Give it to them again” ordered the Capt (Brown) and they fired another burst. After this one there was silence. When it became light, about 10 German Em and two officers were found dead and four lay wounded. During the morning, other Germans (about 15) came in and surrendered. Included among these were two medics with red cross brassards, armed with burp guns.

At about 1000, Sgt Mruzinsky took his track about 300 yds down the road to reconoitre and saw nothing. In the meantime, a man infront of the house on the corner used as a CP was killed by a sniper from the woods to the NE of the road junction. The woods in that direction were sprayed from the H/T. Mruzinsky took his track down N28 to the E to look for an outpost that had been placed there the night before. They went down spraying the roads on both sides – then stopped and called. There was no sign of the outpost so they went back. On the AM of the 21st, the H/T in the middle of the road facing south was moved to the right of the road. That afternoon motor and 88 plus S/A and M/G fire was received, but it was too foggy for it to be accurate. That day a 2nd Lt. with an M-8 tried to get through N28 toward Vielsalm for help but was knocked out. A little after 1600 two Med Tks (3rd AD) arrived and the two tks, and two M-16 H/T’s sprayed both sides of the road down N28 toward Vielsalm for about 1/2 a mile. One M-15 from junction sprayed the wooded hillside SE of junction to stop S/A fire from that location. After this – at about 1630, things quieted down.

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The night of 21-22 was quiet except for S/A fire. At about 0600 another M-16 from the 203rd arrived with ammo, rations and water. About noon, a co. of Inf from the 82nd Airborne arrived from the N.E. They had been pinned down by the fire from the cross roads the night before. At about 1500, the fog lifted and artilelry and mortar fire became accurate. One of the first shells knocked out one M-16 at 1500A and another M-15 was knocked out at 1700. There was constant mortar fire during the afternoon that an an artillery officer believed to be from American 81mm. Shells dropped in until about 2300.

The night of Dec 22-23 was clear. Two J. U. 52’s were seen flying over the positions and red flares were seen to the N. E. Noises of tanks, horse drawn vehicles could be heard to the SE. An Inf patrol captured 2 PW’s and 1 German Capt. and the information was given that 20 SS men plus 10 in reserve were to attack the next morning.

On the 23rd the mortar and small arms fire continued. With snow on the ground, the men made excellent targets. The Co. from the 82nd was short of ammo. All men from the gun crews that were manning the guns were placed as Inf outposted to the NE. At about 1300, 7 Md Tks arrived from

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down N15 and took up positions around the cross roads. It was quiet until 1500. Then a heavy barrage began that lasted about 1/2 hour. The 2 M-16’s answered the fire to the W. and SW. Most of the mortar fire came from the S. Another barrage started at about 1630 and lasted until 1700 when an attack by Inf and tks was launched. In one particular spot, T/5 Hesse Cook saw three large tanks, a tractor drawn 88 and about 50 men.

Most of the men drew back to the house at the cross roads which was hit and the hay mound the adjoining stable caught fire at 1700. At 1730, Capt Hucksell (106 Div) said to wave a white flag to surrender and a white shirt on a rifle was waved but was shot off. They tried again with a white blanket but it only drew fire.

They saw that it would be impossible to surrender and there was only the alternative to stay there and burn or try to get out and chance getting shot. The Capt (Brown) said – Everyman for himself – Get out as best you can or get burned. The entire house was covered by S/A fire. Some of the men got out by letting the cattle out of the burning stable and running between them. Cook was hiding surrounded by Germans all wearing American overcoats. He escaped by standing up with them after a burst of mortar fire, and

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walking away.

Of the 29 men from the 203rd AAA, 11 returned, one is known dead, 4 are in hospital and 13 are Missing in action.

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