On December 16, 1944, the Germans launched their last great offensive against the Western Allies through the Ardennes Forest of eastern Belgium. It would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. Three German Armies attacked a long a 50-mile front. American troops manning the line were thrown into confusion. Even the high command was stunned. Stabilizing the line was first priority and many of the units available were African American. One of them was the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion.
From the battle emerged a multitude of heroes and villains. The brutality rivaled that of the Eastern Front; no quarter was given. Incidents like the Malmedy Massacre became well-known. On the afternoon of December 17, 1944, over 80 GIs who had been taken prisoner were gunned down by men of the 1st SS Panzer Division.
Some escaped to spread the story, which led to a steely resolve on the part of American troops. But later that night another massacre occurred that received little attention during or after the war.
Eleven men from the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion were taken prisoner after taking refuge in a Belgian village. They surrendered peacefully to a squad from the 1stSS, and marched out of the village. Upon arriving in a large field along the main road, the men were beaten and finally executed.
The remains of the 11 troops were found by Allied soldiers six weeks later, in mid-February, after the Allies re-captured the area. The Germans had battered the soldiers’ faces, cut their fingers off, broken their legs, used bayonetts to stab them in the eye, and shot at least one soldier while he was bandaging a comrade’s wounds.
The troops killed were:
- Staff Sergeant Thomas J. Forte, service #34036992. Buried Henri-Chapelle plot C, row 11, grave 55. Awards: Purple Heart
- T/4 William Edward Pritchett of Alabama
- T/4 James A. Stewart of West Virginia, Service number 35744547. Buried Henri-Chapelle, plot C, row 11, grave 2. Awards: Purple Heart
- Cpl Mager Bradley of Mississippi
- PFC George Davis of Alabama, service #34553436. Buried Henri-Chapelle, plot D, row 10, grave 61. Awards: Purple Heart
- PFC James L. Leatherwood of Pontotoc, Mississippi
- PFC George W. Moten of Texas, service #38304695. Buried Henri-Chapelle, plot E, row 10, grave 29. Awards: Purple Heart
- PFC Due W. Turner of Arkansas, service #38383369. Buried Henri-Chapelle, plot F, row 5, grave 9. Awards: Purple Heart
- Pvt Curtis Adams of South Carolina, service #34511454. Buried Henri-Chapelle, plot C, row 11, grave 41. Awards: Purple Heart
- Pvt Robert Green
- Pvt Nathanial Moss of Texas, service #38040062. Buried Henri-Chapelle, plot F, row 10, grave 8. Awards: Purple Heart
Curtis Adams was a medic. Thomas J. Forte was a mess sergeant.