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As the David Webster character begins to appear with more frequency, a narrator should have been used to introduce him as a Harvard writer,bent on experiencing the war as a private. It should also have been noted that Web was joining Company E for the first time, because he voluntarily transfered there from HQ Co. 2nd Bn. (with which he jumped in Normandy), in order to see more action. Having one of the soldier characters narrate as Lip does in Episode 7, or as Webster himself does in Episode 8, would be perfect. Perhaps the Winters character should have narrated Episodes 2, 3 and/or 4?
Various equipment details in Episode 4: Buck Compton appears at the dartboard, wearing the first real officers' style overseas cap that I saw in the series, soon to be followed by Sobel wearing another at the airfield. Good details: the round slap box quick release devices on the front of the modified main chute harnesses, decent looking chutes, first aid kits, oilcloth arm brassards, and modified Griswold bags. The helmet nets have slightly too large a mesh for Holland era, when 1/4" mesh Brit made nets prevailed. But-those are nearly impossible to find these days. It would've been nice to see a few pair of M43 goggles on the helmets.
One gaff in the aifield scene which many people have commented on, is the line where Bull Randleman tells a replacement to "lose the reserve (chute) we're jumping low." The Market-Garden drop was a high drop, with average exits from 1,200 to 1.500 feet. This provided ample time to deploy a reserve chute in event of a main malfunction. By WW2 combat jump standards, 350-500 feet would be a low drop, with 800 feet about the average. Drops from over 1,000 feet were considered high altitude combat drops.
Many of us missed any on-the-plane or out the door jump shots, as well as total absence of Flak on the Drop Zone. This gives the false impression that the drop went totally unopposed. A voiceover narrative should have explained that the 506th had to initially attack SOUTH along Hells Highway, from the Son DZ area-in the opposite direction of the ultimate objectives, the bridges to the north. This was in order to link up with British Guards Armored vehicles in Eindhoven. The Brit armor was driving north from the Belgian border and elements of the 506th spent one night in between Son and Eindhoven at Bokt, before moving-in to Eindhoven. Also, two 88mm guns and some small arms fire took a toll of members of F, H and I companies on the approaches to Eindhoven. The film makes it look like the 506th walked-in unopposed. All these things could have been explained in just a few seconds by a narrator, and they really need to be explained. BTW, members of the much maligned F Company were the ones who captured those deadly 88's and destroyed their crews with rifles grenades and 60mm mortar fire. But there was evidently an agenda to ignore F Company throughout the series.
The scenes of liberation in Eindhoven included the shaving of the heads of female collaborators. The type of activities shown were more typical of French reprisals than what the Dutch did. The Dutch calmly trimmed the locks of those women as the crowd applauded or cheered, but they did not chant nor did they rip the clothing of the women or paint swastikas on their heads. The French did stuff like that-the Dutch showed more restraint and more class. These women were then banished from town, to roam the countryside looking for shelter, unlike the male collaborators, who were executed.
The above photo shows an actual reprisal haircut in progress in Eindhoven. You will note that the accused is stoically
accepting her punishment and that her clothing is not ripped open.
Facial expressions in the crowd are more amused than angry.
In his book, 'Four Stars of Hell', 501st historian Lawrence Critchell wrote:
"The collaborators were routed out of their houses for a long delayed retribution. The girls were mostly young and sensual-featured, and they went undemonstrably to have their hair shorn. They seemed to accept it as an expected fate. There is always something to be said for both sides in these cases-as anyone who has seen German prisoners shivering in the snow can testify-and the Dutch crowds who watched the tonsorial adminstration of justice displayed none of the sickening and almost animal glee that French crowds showed on similar occasions. They were amused, that was all."
No doubt, the version shown in the film was Hollywood-ized for sensationalism, again with hopes of appealing to an underrated audience. (Let's hit'em with the Jerry Springer version, to make sure they get the point!)
Elements of Company 'A' and Company 'E' hopped onto British Cromwell tanks and headed NE out of Eindhoven, to test enemy strength east of Hells Highway. They encountered German Panzer forces near Nuenen, and were turned back. I wrote some time ago that there were not enough war stories in Ambrose's book to fill ten hours of film. I was wrong, because events like the Bull Randleman bayonet fight, which took less than one paragraph to tell in the book, can be expanded to half an episode on the screen. Likewise for the Bastogne episode which followed Medic Eugene Roe for the entire hour. Now I'm curious to know if Bull really fought that German in the barn in the presence of Dutch civilians and if it happened at night as shown. In the book, Ambrose states that a German followed Bull into the barn after the close tank encounter, and was presumably dispatched soon after (in daylight). Perhaps some E Company authorities can shed light on this? We do know that Bull got left behind in Nuenen and presumably a group of volunteers did form up to return and search for him.
At least the improvised German armor was shown off to good effect in this episode, especially the StuGIII, with 6 bogey wheels, and the tank-hunting vehicle which looked too small to be a Jagdpanther but too large to be a Hetzer. It looked good anyhow. The amount and duration of the shooting there was again amplified from what actually took place. E company's time at Veghel and Uden was completely deleted from the series. Once again, a narrator could have easily accounted for those missing time periods, as well as setting the stage for Episode 5. Although the 'Island's'relationship to Arnhem is mentioned, there was no real explanation of where it is located, relative to Eindhoven, nor how Easy Co. wound-up there, in October, 1944. The narrator should have mentioned that the 101st was still under British command, and was sent north for prolonged real estate-holding duties as regular infantry troops.
Although the fact was not highly publicized, this episode was directed by Tom Hanks. The action takes place on the large dike embankment near Randwijk, Holland, which is about seven miles southwest of Arnhem. An alert viewer will notice that the date of the opening scenes is late October, and probably wonders why the jump of over a month since the previous Episode ended? The flashback story to the dike battle which is shown as the Winters character types it, lets the viewer know that
this engagement happened earlier in October. But there is no explanation given as to Where the company had shifted to since leaving Nuenen, When, and Why. Just a few words of narrative could have given the necessary overview of the basic tactical situation.
I DID like the device of recalling the battle as Winters typed it. This would have been perfect, if only the audience had a grasp of the geography and an understanding of what context the events happpened in. All the lay viewers I talked to were quite lost as to context, by this point of the story. This includes some pretty knowledgable history buffs who don't specialize in 101st research. They were outright annoyed by this lack of clarification, because they also were confused about what took place.
During all the months of post- production delay, before the series finally aired (we're talking the better part of a year), I thought the producers would have been smart enough to have some private pre-screenings for vets and lay viewers alike. Not only could outright mistakes have been caught and corrected, but subtitles or voiceovers SHOULD have been added to clarify and prevent viewer confusion. Once again, with the monster big budget involved, I can't believe they didn't do this. I had assumed they WERE doing it during all those interim months. The self-congratulatory mood (which still prevails), must have been so strong that the producers were convinced that their product was too good to be improved upon. Regarding this episode, they probably also didn't want to (or couldn't) tamper with the artistic license of Mr Hanks' filmmaking. But these context matters could have been explained BEFORE the Episode began, either at the end of Episode 4, or in lieu of the vets shown talking generalities at the beginning of Episode 5. A little clarification would have gone a long ways and would've been much appreciated by most viewers. With the addition of that, Mr Hank's episode would have been near perfect, with the exceptions noted below, which are mostly the fault of the script writers and the tech advisors.
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Dick Winters' Lone Sortie
In real life, Captain Winters encountered a lone German just beyond the perpendicular dike after his solo run, and the 2 enemies sighted each other in time for both to take offensive action. They exchanged hand grenades. But Winters instantly realized as he tossed his, that he had forgotten to unwrap tape from around the spoon before pulling the pin and tossing his. This of course prevented the grenade from exploding. Then, he ran up atop the dike before the German's grenade exploded and fired from the hip, killing the German with his M-1 rifle at pointblank range. Although the German was crouching to avoid the anticipated grenade blast, he wasn't caught totally unaware. People who went back and re-read Ambrose's book after viewing the miniseries version, have asked, why did this scenario need to be changed? Although Winters shot the man, he did NOT gun him down rather cold-bloodedly as shown in the film. Sure, war is ruthless, but this is the difference between beating an opponent who has a chance to fight back, and the rather unsportsmanlike act of killing a surprised opponent who dosn't have a chance to respond. Does it make any difference? You bet. Especially to a man of principle like Dick Winters, who no doubt has had bad memories of killing a man from spitting distance ever since. Under the circumstances, if Winters had confronted an unsuspecting enemy as shown in the series, he still would've been forced to take him out as shown
(because of the company of enemy troops just beyond). But in fact, it didn't happen that way. Perhaps this was changed to avoid showing Winters making any kind of human error, re: the grenade? A prime example of Winters' idealism is shown a few minutes later, in the true incident where he forced Liebgott to escort a bunch of prisoners to the rear with only one round in his rifle.
The ensuing fight scenes were well-staged, and Webster's self disgust at muttering a cliche "They GOT me!" when he was wounded, would have been much better understood if the audience knew about his background as a Harvard writer. This character did comment that Nuenen was the birthplace of Van Gogh in the previous episode, to which someone made a sarcastic comment about 'useful' information being taught at Harvard. But the average viewer would not remember that, nor realize Webster was the same character wounded in the later episode. I didn't realize WHO was portraying Webster until seeing him wounded in Episode 5, and I was LOOKING for him. After identifying which actor was portraying him, I was able to go back and spot him when re-watching most of the previous episodes. That reinforced my opinion that I had seen that character,and even heard him speak in earlier episodes, but still didn't know who he was until halfways through the series.
Another factual mistake surfaced in Dale Dye's Colonel Sink dialogue after this battle ended. The Sink character comments that Major Oliver Horton was killed. Nixon says: "Major Horton is DEAD?" Sink says: "They hit 2nd Battalion C.P. in force-he was organizing a defense." Only problem with this is, Horton was in THIRD (3rd) battalion when killed near the Opheusden railroad station, and was visiting H company of that battalion when fatally wounded.
For those who don't know: 1st Battalion had A, B, and C companies. 2nd Battalion had D, E, and F companies. 3rd Battalion had G, H, and I companies.
The 2nd battalion, of which Easy Co. was part, did not have their C.P. in Opheusden, or anywhere near where Horton was killed. This is a script mistake which could have been avoided by having a historian read the dialogue for accuracy before it was given to the actors.
If military advisor Dale Dye really knew his stuff about the organization and history of WW2 parachute regiments, he would've caught this error and refused to speak such an inaccurate line. Or at least, he'd have corrected it, to read properly, before speaking it.
The 1st and 3rd battalions of the 506th were facing west and fighting off hordes of Volksgrenadiers at Opheusden, while E Company foiled the diversionary attack of the reduced SS battalion on the right rear flank of the 506th at Randwijk. An account of Major Horton's death can be found in my 2nd book, as well as in George Koskimaki's 'Hells Highway' book.
The Night Rescue of Brit Arnhem Survivors
During the first ten days after the 17 September landings near Arnhem, the British Airborne lost over 7,000 men in killed, wounded, and missing. They had unknowingly descended upon the 2 panzer divisions of the IInd SS Panzer Corps, which were refitting after their summer retreat from Normandy. The bulk of the Brit survivors of Arnhem withdrew across the Neder Rhine river in late September. But over 120 others, along with a handful of downed Allied flyers, were hiding on Dutch farms some miles west of Arnhem. These fugitives lived for over a month in constant terror of being discovered by the Germans, and were near starvation. Their leader, Colonel Dobey (a.k.a. "The Mad Colonel of Arnhem"), swam across the Neder Rhine to arrange for a daring night rescue of his comrades by the 101st Airborne. This involved crossing the water barrier in darkness and quietly ferrying the Brit survivors to safety on the south shore. It had to be accomplished with stealth to avoid alerting German forces on the north shore. A mass disruption
and major shootout with the krauts at that point would've caused the entire rescue to fail. This was a complex plan, with phase lines, flare signals, diversionary artillery fire, registered artillery support if needed, artillery liasons from the 321st GFA, flank security from G/501 PIR, etc. But the main American contact troops were members of Easy 506th. This humanitarian mission of mercy was among their most important accomplishments of WW2. As a result of its success, over 120 Allied troops were salvaged from destruction. Very little of this was explained in the series, which devoted only five minutes to the entire subject, probably because there was no shooting involved.
The E/506th participants, known as the "covering force", received a Battlefield Citation for this accomplishment. Walter Gordon sent me a copy of the Citation in 1976, which lists the following names: Lt Frederick T. Heyliger (Commanding), 1st Lt Harry Welsh, 2nd Lt Edward D. Shames, Sgt Robert F. Mann, T/4 John McGrath, T/4 Charles E. Rhinehardt, Cpl. Walter S. Gordon, Cpl Francis J. Mellett, T/5 Ralph Stafford, Pfc Bradford C. Freeman, Pfc Walter L. Hendrix, Pfc Gerald L. Flurrie, Pfc Edward A. Mauser, Pfc James A. McMahon, Pfc Wayne A. Sisk, Pfc Robert E. Wynn, Pfc Siles E. Harrellson, Pvt Lester Hashey, Pvt John C. Lynch, and Pvt David R. Pierce.
The citation, signed by Colonel Sink, concludes with the words:
"So well organized and executed was this undertaking that the enemy never knew an evacuation had taken place."
Walter Gordon was really proud of this rescue and he seemed to consider his participation in it one of the best things he had accomplished in WW2.
As an incidental piece of information, the first American soldier known to cross the Neder Rhine to the enemy shore in this sector, was Lt Ronald Speirs. He was still a member of Dog Company at the time (10 October, 1944.) The fearless lieutenant swam to the German side of the river and later returned the same way, with an enemy bullet in his butt. This legendary officer was awarded the Silver Star for this action in 101st Airborne General Orders #11, dated 12 April, 1945.
In the scene at battalion HQ before Winters departs for Paris, a reference is made to "those chumps in the 5-0-Deuce." Too bad that was the only time the 502 PIR was even mentioned in the entire series. The viewer should bear in mind that the only 2 Medal of Honor recipients in the entire WW2 101st Airborne Division were members of the 502 PIR. If I remember right, the 501 got mentioned twice in the series.
There were several other errors in Episode 5, which I'll address briefly. When the troops were in Mourmelon on 17 December, watching a
movie and an M.P. interrupted to tell them of the German Ardennes offensive, the dialogue runs: "Elements of the 1st and 6th SS Panzer Divisions have broken the line in the Ardennes forest." The M.P. also alludes to two American units which were forced back along the south shoulder of the Bulge, the 4th and 28th Divisions. These units, which were more or less in front of (east of) Bastogne, were probably mentioned for that reason.
There was NO 6th SS Panzer Division. There was a 6th SS Panzer ARMY, of which the 1st SS Panzer Division was a part. But that ARMY was on the north sector of the Bulge ( Elsenborn to St Vith ) area. The only 6th SS DIVISION, was the NORD SS mountain infantry division, which was on another front at the time. The Panzer Army facing Bastogne when the Ardennes offensive began, was actually the 5th Panzer Army of Hasso von Manteuffel, comprised of regular German Army-not SS troops. SS troops from the 6th SS Panzer Army, mainly the 1st and 12th SS Panzer divisions, were sent south in January of '45 to join in the siege of Bastogne. This mistake in the dialogue is PISS POOR, and should never have been made. Again, it is the result of not having a historian proofread the script for historical inaccuracies. ONE READING by someone in the know could have eliminated such mistakes. Steve Ambrose should have taken time from his busy schedule to proofread the script for historical accuracy, which would also have prevented mistakes such as this (but then, maybe not).
When Hollywood starts mentioning specific units, they get into trouble. In SPR, there is a line about a "recon element of the 2nd SS", which should have read 17th SS. The 2nd SS Division, 'Das Reich' didn't reach the Normandy front until two weeks after the story ended on 13 June. God help us, we'll have to live with these bad lines forever, and audiences 100 years in the future will still be deriving false information from them. I also think of the fine film 'Patton' wherein Karl Malden's General Bradley mis-spoke a line to Patton's George C. Scott, when briefing him on the plan for Operation Cobra. Bradley speaks of the "St Lo-Pierre road", when he should have said St Lo-PERRIERS road." Big difference, but that was the actor's fault and not the script writer. In this case, the dialogue should have been limited to: "German Panzer Divisions have broken the line in the Belgian Ardennes forest."
The trucks used to transport 506th troopers to Bastogne from Mourmelon were actually open-backed semis, with 4' high railings, not as shown in the film.
Upon debarking at night west of Bastogne, matches are tossed into holes containing gasoline. Sure it was cold, but NOBODY I've talked to who was there saw such an outrageous breach of common sense in the face of an encroaching enemy, whose precise whereabouts was then unknown. Whose idea was that? Is this another Dale Dye gem? I can't believe that the USMC, or any other fighting organization would start up big fires and give away their positions to the enemy at night, no matter HOW cold it was.
The WW2 101st vets have also puzzled over the many hand signals used by actors in the series. I have to suspect that those are Vietnam era USMC devices brought to the series by Mr Dye. You can also see a lot of that in Saving Private Ryan. Pee Wee Martin of G/506th
told me recently that he was totally puzzled by all of the hand signals used in these films. The only hand signals he recalls using in WW2 was the raised open hand by a scout-(now called a 'point-man'), to signal the enemy is in sight, and a raised clenched fist, pumped up and down to mean "start doubletiming."
Getting back to the episode at hand, LTC Strayer is shown, in an officers' overcoat, with information that he has just returned from England. Sink says :"Better get yourself some O.D.s, Bob." Bad line. He no doubt already had ODs on under his coat-or at least the officers wool shirt and pants equivalent. What he needed at the time was a M43 combat suit. Sink would NOT have said "better get yourself some M43's, Bob", but he MIGHT have said "Better get yourself a Combat Suit, Bob." The REAL reason for Strayer's absence since late in the Holland campaign was never explained, and I question if he in fact did return in time to resume command at the beginning of the Bastogne defense. Dick Winters, as a captain, was basically running 2nd Battalion during Bastogne.
There is also a scene where troopers are taking ammo from retreating infantrymen. In real life, most of those infantrymen refused to give away ANY of their ammo or grenades. Where they were going, they wouldn't need it, but yet they refused to let the paratroopers have it. Also during this scene, you can notice that the actor portraying Babe Heffron is noticably taller than the Guarnere character. The actor's face is a pretty good match, but in real life, Babe Heffron is SHORT. Bill and Babe frequently travel together and anyone who has met them can tell you that Guarnere is a head taller than Babe. If nothing else, you'd think they'd have cast a short actor to portray Heffron. As it turned out, Robin Laing did a great job of imitating Heffron's accent and impatient personality. In the foxhole scenes, where he's sitting down, he looks great.
This reminds me of the casting in 'A Bridge Too Far', wherein Sgt Dohun, played by James Caan was huge in comparison to his captain (Legs Johnson). In real life, it was quite the opposite "Hell, I'd have made TWO of Dohun", Legs says.
So in BoB, some characters DO bear a great resemblance to the real life men they portrayed, but that is not always the case. Don Malarkey has commented that the actor who portrayed him did a great job, "but he doesn't look anything like me."
As this episode closes, the end piece written narrative alleges that Easy moved into the woods near Bastogne without artillery or air support. The air support aspect was true (until the weather cleared on 23 December), but the artillery statement is wrong. The 321st GFA Bn, which officially provided artillery support for the 506th PIR, soon set-up near Savy (west of Bastogne) and registered their 75mm pack howitzers on the north perimeter. Thus, they were able to provide fire missions not only on the Foy area, but even much farther north, in support of 1st Bn 506th at Noville. For the first four days that the 101st was at Bastogne, the main problem was a limited supply of ammunition for the artillery. But that was corrected after 23 December when aerial resupply began arriving, including gliderloads of 75mm pack howitzer ammo. More on this in my critique of Episode 6.
The Winters character does have one of the best lines in the series as Episode 5 is about to close: "We're Paratroopers lieutenant, we're SUPPOSED to be surrounded." With that line, and the vision of veteran troopers going forward into the cold, dark unknown, when all others in the area are retreating, we get the inspirational theme music. This scene speaks volumes as to what the WW2 101st Airborne was all about.
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Although this episode gives long overdue credit to the plight of combat medics with its focus on Medic Eugene Roe, it is another example of how Hollywood could make an hour episode out of a character who is only mentioned a few times in Ambrose's book, and then, barely. Another reason this was done is that Easy Company was not in much combat for the first fourteen days it was at Bastogne.
On a recent visit to the National Archives, I looked at the official company by company casualty rosters for the 506th during the Bastogne period. These official casualty reports (which are subject to errors of ommission), list casualties for E/506th from 18 December to 31 December, 1944 as: KIA-none, MIA-none, 1 Seriously Wounded in Action (SWA), and 3 Lightly Wounded in Action (LWA). At least two names are missing from those lists (see J.Julian and J. Welling info below).
One killed and five men wounded in 14 days is not an indication of heavy fighting or heavy losses. Presumably an even larger number became frozen feet cases during this time period. So Easy suffered in the severe weather conditions, but so did all the other rifle companies of the 101st Airborne, and most of them saw more contact with the enemy as well.
The After Action Report for Easy during this time period lists 1 SWA: Cpl. Gordon, Walter S. Sr, 13099280, 24 December, 1944, Mississippi.
The 3 LWA listed are:
Cpl. Carson, Gordon F, 12130792, 21 December, 1944, New York
Pfc Eggert, Walter F. 36614595 28 December, 1944, Illinois
and Pvt McCauley, Carl F. 35808113 25 December, 1944 Indiana.
To this list, Ambrose adds the name Pvt Welling, James, ASN:6657485, WIA on 21 December.
Although Lt Harry Welsh was shown being wounded near the fire, with Winters and Nixon present, Welsh was then a member of HQ Co, 2nd Bn and no longer in E company. This is logical, as neither Winters nor Nixon were in the company either by then. All 3 of these officers were on the 2nd Bn staff when Harry was hit on Christmas day.
I couldn't locate the name of the trooper shown being badly wounded in the throat on the patrol on these rosters. Since then, helpful visitors to the Forum have identified him as Pfc John Julian, ASN: 34806849, from AL, SWA on 21 December, 1944, and later classified as DOW on January 1, 1945. (DOW="Died Of Wounds"-the DOWs were later simply counted with the KIAs) Julian 'slipped through the cracks' in not being listed on either the 18-31 December 1944 casualty roster or the one for January, 1945. His name is totally absent from both of those lists as though he didn't exist. This may have happened because his date of wounding and the date his remains were discovered (presumably January 1st), overlapped 2 different casualty periods. However, I can't understand why he wasn't initially listed as SWA or MIA on 21 December 44? This most likely happened due to the confused, chaotic situation at Bastogne, further aggravated by the horrible weather conditions. At any rate, Pfc Julian is buried at Hamm, Luxemburg, in the same cemetery as General George S. Patton. Judging from the above, I'd say it's also a pretty good bet that other men who were wounded or killed at Bastogne do not show-up on the official rosters as well. Julian DID get listed in the divisional history (RWD), with 506th KIAs, as well as in the 506th regimental history book.
When I stated earlier that Easy saw an average amount of action, compared to the 26 other rifle companies of the division, Bastogne is a prime example.
Of the other 506th rifle companies at Bastogne in the first 2 weeks, Company 'A' lost 15 KIA, plus 3 DOW (Died of Wounds), plus 7 MIA, with 43 SWA and 13 LWA
B Co. lost 4 KIA, 1 MIA, and 13 SWA.
Company 'C' lost 13 KIA, 3 MIA, and 37 SWA.
These high 1st Battalion losses were mainly the result of fighting beyond the geographic limits of the rest of the 506th, at Noville, Belgium.
In 2nd Bn. rifle companies, Company 'D' lost 1 KIA, 1 DOW, and 5 LWA.
Company 'F' lost 2 KIA, 1 DOW, 6 SWA and 9 LWA.
In Third battalion, Co. 'G' lost 1 KIA, 5 DOW, 10 SWA and 4 LWA.
Company 'H' lost 1 KIA, 3 DOW, 6 MIA, and 37 LWA.
Company 'I' lost 2 KIA, 2 DOW, 2 SWA, and 12 LWA. So in the first two weeks at Bastogne, Company E had the lowest casualty rate of any rifle company in the 506th PIR. During the next period, in January, E Company's casualties soared, but even then, they finished in the middle, as to comparative losses with other companies.
I cite the above for two reasons:
1) to explain why Episode 6 was centered around the activities of one character, and
2) to put E Company's Bastogne experience in perspective. If you think what they experienced was terrible, realize that literally all the other rifle companies of the 506th had more men hit by enemy fire during that late December time period. Average losses in companies of the 501 PIR were even higher than those of the 506th. This is not surprising as the 501 was placed east of Bastogne from the onset, which was the obvious direction most of the enemy forces were approaching from.
Hollywood vs.Reality-Another scene shows a wounded man given a shot from a disposable morphine syrette, after which the medic writes a red 'M' on the wounded man's forehead in his own blood. This was to prevent the wounded soldier from being overdosed by other medical personnel who might not otherwise know that morphine had already been administered. In real life, the practice was to pin the empty morphine syrette to the front of the wounded man's jacket. It was generally thought that 3 syrettes administered in quick succession would be a fatal dose. But writing the info with blood is more dramatic for the camera. Again, sounds more like a Vietnam era practice than WW2.