SSgt. Horthon L. Peterson
I was assigned as a replacement to the 5th Army, 45th Division, 179th Regiment, on January 20, 1944. After a few days, the 179th was detached from the 45th and attached to the 1st armored division, and on January 22nd, made an amphibious landing on Anzio.
The landing caught the Germans completely off guard, and we went inland about five miles, made our foxholes, and awaited orders. Some rangers joined us, and some paratroopers also landed.
Two days later, hell broke loose on Anzio Beach.
We were barraged with shells firing overhead on the beachhead. For us in the infantry, it was like sitting under the grand finale of a July 4th fireworks display. There were shells from boats, planes, and artillery overhead. A few weeks after our landing, we were attacked by the Germans; they were approaching from all directins. And we were forced to abandon our positions. I ran down the bank of Mussolini Canal for about two miles. There were only a handful of us from Company G that weren’t captured.
There were months spent in foxholes, which were about half a block apart forming the front line. There were one or two of us in each hole. I was alone most of the time, as I was a squad leader. We did our best to sleep in the daytime; at night, we’d sneak out of the foxholes, one hole a time, to get our food ration. One man would call out to the next, when it was his turn to go.
The food rations were dumped, by jeep, in a ha[hazard pile by a tree or some other object that we could use as a landmark. This information would also be passed from hole to hole. The food was “K” rations in a waterproof box, about the size of a Cracker Jack box. It contained three meals, after being mixed with water.
It was bitter cold; my feet would burn inside wet socks that had become half-frozen. We were cold, wet hungry, and even too exhausted to keep awake under the endless firing of the German guns.
On half a dozen occasions I was instructed to go on patrol with 5 or 6 other men looking for the German front line, and also for telephone wires lying on the ground. We would tap into these wires, and run a line back to headquarters.
There were many land mines in this No-man’s-land between us. If we made it through the next patrol, we would use this as a path to go up and back the ext time. Most of these patrols were hands and knees in a single file about 12 feet apart. Two of my men were Indian, and very adept.