Vets Remember: Bob Conroy

A private in the 83rd Infantry, Bob Conroy discusses the sound of bullets.

Transcript: We went through Belgium. Other than the fellow that lost the battle to the tank, the unit stayed pretty well together psychologically. We finished there and went into another battle. It was a three-day battle. Non-stop. Limited food. A fantastic battle. It was in the woods in defensive indian style. We were right behind a small hill. You could hear it going on. You could hear the German machine guns. They had a "bbrrppp" sound. And there were four of them right about 100 yards in front of us. And you could hear ours. We had some lights in-action and we had some heavies in-action in the woods. And the heavies go "bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum" and you have two pairs of them. And they have a rhythm to them, sort of like a symphony. And as we were listening we could hear one of the guns get knocked out. You hear the one on the right just took up a double beat until the replacement crew could come in and pick it up again. The bullets are whizzing through the trees over your head and, in that particular situation, I was along side of the captain and he was begging to get into it. I didn't share his enthusiasm, but we went on through that battle. Lasted three days. We didn't have much anything in the way of food and we didn't have anything in the way of sleep.

 

On the death of his comrad Gordon:

Well, Gordon knew he had been hit, hit bad. A machine gun at close range writhes at it shoots, and so he was riddled, almost like a sewing machine, up through the middle. We knew that he was in bad shape. We had only a couple of options. One of which was to try to get him back to base, but we were, as far as both of us could determine, we were cut off. The Germans had overrun our position and we were in the foxhole by ourselves. We couldn't hear any action or any noise from our own guys. If you called out for a medic, a medic couldn't come. We knew that the cold weather was going to do him in, in about a couple of hours. We had the option of trying to go back to the bridge that we crossed and hopefully find an aide station back there. But we figured the Germans had that territory and I couldn't carry him without getting locked off. So basically, we both knew he was going to die. And once we realized that, the question came up as to what could we do about it. We had no morphine. We couldn't ease it. And so, I tried to knock him out. They took off his helmet, held his jaw up, and just wacked it as hard as I could. Because he wanted to be put out. That didn't work. And, so I hit him over the head with a helmet. And that didn't work. So we stayed together until he died, which was about a couple hours later. I put my overcoat around him. And when I found out that the Germans that smelled quite fragrant when we had wounded them earlier in the day, were not just lacking in sanitation. The smell that you don't see in the movies is the smell of hot lead going through a body. And Gordon stank the same way the German camp prisoners stank, just horrible.

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