The following information is from an e-mail 9 February 2007 from Hans, regarding his experiences with the Reconnaissance Platoon of Headquarters Company of 23rd Armored Infantry Battalion.
In his e-mail, he made reference to pictures that he sent, but I do not have sufficient web space to show these pictures. Thus I have removed those references from the text below. At some point, I hope to transcribe the text from the documents that were in the pictures and post that text here.
I have also put the names of people in bold.
My name is Josephus Johannes Jansen, born in Venlo, Holland on March 4th 1923. Now I am living in Gilze, Holland. I was only known as “Hans” in the reconnaissance platoon HQ.comp, 23rd Armored Infantry Battalion. When the 7th Armored Division was moving into Holland near the town of Weert I tried to join the American Forces as a volunteer, in which I succeeded. In the woods near the town of Deurne I was attached to the reconnaissance platoon. My officers were Lt. Col. Robert Rhea, Captain Burton Pierce (0-1318338) and Lt. R.E. Sartwell.
As a native of Holland, my knowledge of Dutch and German was valuable to the Unit, as I could also be an interpreter. Therefore I was placed in the jeep of Captain Pierce. His driver was called “Lightning”, because of his fast driving. Captain Pierce became my hero. In all cases he was number one, the more dangerous things he always did himself, without taking his driver. Many times he said to me: “Hans, are you coming along? If you are scared, you don’t have to.” Even if I was, what could I say...
I went with the unit to Overloon, de Peel, Meijel, Ospel and Nederweert. Later we went to Eckelrade, near Maastricht for a rest period. At Eckelrade I was contacted by a Captain of the Royal Dutch Navy. He promised me an officers training for the Royal Dutch Navy in England. I didn’t really want to go, but I went anyway. When arriving at the Navy’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, I was told that the training of officers had been cancelled. I felt misslead. I returned to my unit in Eckelrade where I reported to Lt. Col. Rhea.
After the rest period we went to Setterich, Germany, nearby Aachen. On December 16th we were sent to St. Vith. On the 21st of December the Germans broke though our lines and we pulled back on Vielsalm. On December 22nd I got wounded and was transferred to the US hospital (in a school) in Huy.
I had no dogtag and no other papers to identify myself. All I had on me were some Germans articles. Therefore they thought I was one of Skorzeny’s men who were behind the American frontline. I was declared PoW (Prisoner of War) with all the consequenses. The staff of the hospital treated me very unfriendly. As it was just before Christmas, everybody was given presents, except for me, I got nothing.
I was desperate and very afraid to be sent to a prison camp, so I asked for a chaplin. He came to talk with me and he gave me some cigarettes. He promised me he would contact the right people who could help me. Some days later Capt. L.A. Frelier (0-1308132) FID HQ MIS ETOUSA came to visit me in the hospital and questioned me. A few days later the matter was cleared and I was treated like a baby.
On January 18th 1945 I was flown over to England to the 141st General Hospital Plant at Devices. After three months I had recovered enough to take on some duties in and outside the hospital: in the PX, assistent MP and prisoners guard.
On May the 20th 1945 I left the hospital and I had to report to the Dutch Military Autorities to join the Dutch Army. So to my regrets I had to leave the Americans to go to a Dutch Military camp. Instead of enlisting in the Army I went sailing as an apprentice officer in the Dutch Merchant Navy. In 1978 I retired from here as a captain. With my ship I have visited the USA many times. Whilst reading your website I also found the sad list of the men killed in action, many died on the 22nd of December 1944, the day I got wounded.
Active overview of all pages at the 7th Armored Division web site