It was only on the 22nd of December that Frisky completed the move from Dole (Y-7) to Tantonville (Y-1). The Battle of the Bulge was raging to the north, and almost due east of Tantonville, at Hagenau, a German tank column broke through the lines and was heading toward the base. Fighter-bombers intervened and knocked out five of the lead tanks, and nine approached closer than 35 miles away.
The night after Christmas, after many “red alerts” that didn’t result in anything, a lone German plane strafed the field from one end to the other, only slightly damaging an engineering truck. This caused many to do their best to hack (deeper) foxholes out of the frozen mud. Guards were told to be on the lookout for enemy paratroopers and many men carried their guns to work with them too.
The last week in 1944 was a tough one for morale in the 371FG. A lot of pressures, a lot of worries were accumulating amidst the miserable winter weather. “Takeoff if you can see the end of the runway,” were the orders from headquarters with the pressure of countering the enemy’s offensive (and another one about to begin). Inspections and maintenance long overdue due to the difficult split ops with skeleton ground crews at Dole were catching up on the airplanes and mechanics as all tried to put enough ships in the air to meet the mission tasking.
Add to that the crude living conditions, and the lousy food – “C” rations and captured German canned beef ’til it came out their ears. Then there was the bone-chilling cold, which penetrated multiple layers of clothing. Add to that only a trickle of mail that caught up with the frequent moving unit and the absence of any Christmas packages. It’s understandable how Frisky could be singing the blues. But fortunately in the new year, things would soon be looking up…