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Cliff Pratt


MP Pratt was stationed with the Military Police during the war. The following is from a talk he gave to students in Belgium.


My Experiences in Belgium


As related to the students at the Institute of St. Joseph in Bastogne, Belgium.


I was a “paratrooper” in the 17th Airborne Division. I was 19 years of age at that time. After finishing the parachute jumping school I was assigned to the 17th Airborne Division. For some reason that I will never understand I was assigned to the Military Police Platoon. This assignment kept me out of the very front line Infantry Companies; but, our platoon still had several men wounded and killed.


During the Battle of the Bulge we entered Belgium on the first part of January in 1945 and as I remember it the first Belgian town that I saw was Morhet. I also remember the towns of Neufchateau, Flamierge, Heropont, Houffalize, Steinbeck, and Hardigney. I remember it as being a very cold and dangerous time. We did not have the equipment or clothing that we should have had for this type of weather and the conditions under which we had to exist. Many of us had frostbitten feet. If we would build a fire the enemy would see the smoke and “shell” the area from which the smoke could be seen. I lost many friends during this time and I still do not like to talk about this time or even think about it.


By the 26th of January we had pretty much pushed the Germans back to where they were prior to the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge.


We then entered Luxembourg and I remember the towns of Eschwiler, Wiltz, and Willerwiltz. Pushing the Germans back across the Our River was accomplished and we moved back into France

(Chalons sur Marne) to regroup and re-equip for the final airdrop into Germany at Wesel on March 24th 1945. I remember thinking many times about how horrible “War” is and did we really need (as Americans) to be involved in a European war? But after we got into Germany and I had the experience of seeing the Slave Labor Camps and the Concentration Camps I changed my mind and said to myself, “Yes, this war had to be fought and these ‘hoodlums’ that could treat their fellow man so cruelly for no good reason had to be stopped.” I remember that right after the war was over we had three American cemeteries in Belgium. If any of them are still there, I would appreciate it if your class would pick one grave of any American soldier and decorate it. This young man was probably not much older than you folks are right now and he gave up all that life had to offer him so as to free your country (and Europe) from the likes of people that could do such terrible things to their fellow human beings.

Official website of the veterans and descendants of the 17th Airborne Division.  World War II US Army paratroopers
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