Man honored by Cripple Creek
Known for his reverence for the Army, Jeffery was honored by the city of Cripple Creek and the Gold Camp Victorian Society in June 2008. Paul Harris, the city’s finance officer, interviewed Jeffery and told his story at the ceremony. Harris shared the interview with the Courier:
The 76th Infantry Division arrived in Europe in late 1944. On Dec. 16, 1944, the Germans launched their last major offensive in the West — the famous Battle of the Bulge and Bud would find himself in the center of that Bulge. On the first day of the offensive, fighting was at close quarters and German SS troops lay dead only a few yards away from Bud’s position. After days of fighting, Bud and his unit had destroyed many German tanks with their cannons and in the process, many of Bud’s friends had been killed.
To the north of Bud’s position, the German army had initiated an attempt to break through the Allied lines with the objective of seizing the critically important harbor at Antwerp. The American forces at Bastogne had been surrounded by the Germans and were cut off from supplies and reinforcements. There were insufficient Allied troops close enough to come to their aid. General Patton pulled some of his best units away from battlefields to the south where they were already engaged and told General Dwight Eisenhower that the Third Army, including elements of Bud’s 76th Division and the 101st Airborne, would get to Bastogne to relieve the weary U.S. troops.
Bud’s division began a 48-hour march through freezing temperatures, snow and ice-covered roads. Reaching Bastogne, they fought their way into the city and were immediately surrounded by the Germans.
Bud and his crew fired their 155 mm howitzer until they ran out of ammunition. Bud then picked up his M-1 rifle and continued to fight the Germans as a foot soldier. Bud fought inside the city of Bastogne until January 1945 at which time the Germans were pushed back and the original American lines reestablished.
For his bravery in taking part in the desperate fight to save Bastogne, Bud and the other members of the 76th Infantry Division were awarded a special commemorative Bastogne medal by the exiled King of Belgium. Bud proudly displays this rare award with his other medals in his home. However, the battles were not over for Bud and the 76th Infantry Division.
After Bastogne, the division soldiers began fighting their way into Germany. Moving to the Rhine River Valley, the 76th took over the line from Boppard to St. Goar and crossed the Rhine River at Boppard, on March 27, 1945. The 76th Infantry drove east and took Kamberg in a house-to-house struggle. A new attack was launched on April 4th and the 76th reached the Werra River the next day. The attack continued in conjunction with the 6th Armored Division until Langensalza fell and the Gera River was crossed on April 11th. That same day, Bud and his company came across and helped liberate the German concentration camp at Buchenwald. He has carried the horrors of what he saw at that extermination camp quietly within him all these years.
On April 14-15th, the city of Zeitz was captured after a violent struggle and the 76th reached the Mulde River on the 16th, going into defensive positions to hold a bridgehead across the Mulde near Chemnitz until victory in Europe was achieved. When the war ended in May of 1945, Bud found himself in Cheimntz, a small city near Dresden, Germany. He had survived countless battles and endured many hardships. Bud was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge. He still has a large piece of a German artillery shell, which was removed from his leg and is displayed alongside his medals in a frame at his home.
For his efforts, Bud was awarded nine medals from the countries of France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. He also received eight American medals, including the Purple Heart.
When the war ended and all of the losses of the original 354 Field Artillery Battery C were added up, Bud was one of nine people out of original 38 who survived the war.