Wooden Bullets
Fernando Acevedo asked about the Germans using wooden bullets. Below are two accounts which confirm that both the Germans and Japanese used wooden bullets...

From Robert Hemphill (L/275) Yes, I can confirm the wooden bullets used by the German SS Storm Troopers. We had not been at Phillipsburg more than two days when we were sent out on another patrol to check out some Germans on top of a nearby mountain. I don't know where we were or how many of us were there.  Check with our good platoon sergeant, Richard Becker. He would know and remember. At that time neither we nor the Germans knew who was behind whose lines. We circled the mountain about half way up not knowing we were between the large group of Germans on top and their pickets or outpost near the bottom. This is important.

I had an eye operation near the camp at Marseilles before coming to the front where I arrived with a patch over one eye. I had taken the patch off before we went on the patrol but could not see good enough to distinguish the soldiers at the top of the mountain. Others would say to me that the Germans were dressed in white winter suits. I do not believe any of us had seen these suits before. While we were standing around looking and not seeing we heard a series of Burp-gun blast. Next we saw this German in his black helmet running up a trail on the mountain below us. He was running full tilt shouting, comrade, comrade. Everytime he shouted the burp-gun would blast. It was in the hands of a tall lanky GI from our Co. Headquarters (name forgotten) who was following the German by 20 or 30 yards.  I think he shot the top out of two or three trees.  As we all know those burp-guns were great for entertainment but not much of a friend in battle. I carried a BAR which slowed me down a bit in the snow but I could hit what I aimed at. The BAR was from the WW-I era, the burp-gun fresh out in the 1940's. Here again Richard B. would remember the GI's name. They ran out of hill climbing ability and/or he ran out of ammo and I believe the German was captured, probably among our first.

Our circle of troops slowly moved up the mountain. When we reached the top no one was there but us. We must have been spread too thin permitting the Germans to slip through. Coming back down the mountain I first checked out the German's outpost or picket foxhole for booby traps and/or mines. I learned a lot from this SS Winter Soldier about winter foxholes. The temperature was near zero and we were all without winter gear. There were fir or cedar trees everywhere. Boughs from them were made into a 2 or 3 inch mat for the foxhole floor and others covered some of the walls. It was a big hole. Maybe two men were in it.  I found the wooden bullets in this mat on the floor of the foxhole.  The 7mm slug was bright purple made of some hardwood. In discussing it with the others there, it was said that purple was something that causes severe pain in a wound. The wooden slug was designed to split into splinters and go in every direction as it passes through the body. It creates a wound that could not be operated on and left the man to slowly die of pain. The idea was to have a SS Trooper or two in the company showing off his bullets. Possibly demonstrating one of them on some poor soul from some other country or even Germany who had been less than respectful of the Fuhrer. I have not heard the part about the covering the wooden bullet wounds with wax. Would this be to hide it?

This wooden bullet was one of my trophies from the war. Another, was a German helmet with a bullet hole in it. Helmets were good for scrapnel but not too good for bullets. I found it in a German Jeep sized duck amphibian type vehicle which was in a ditch but not in too bad of shape. The third trophy was a Gold Cross with the SS emblem in the stone in the center. I got this when I was moved back to Regimental Headquarter and the 275th were in positions overlooking Saarbrucken.  A group of German POWs were brought in to the POW compound which I was guarding. They were told to empty their pockets before being taken in for interrogation.  I helped myself to this poor souls SS metal which would have been given to him by der furer. No loss of sleep has been experienced from my liberation of this metal. We would say as we entered a town, "Are we Liberators or Conquerors?" The Liberators took care of the people and Liberated very little else. The Conquerors took whoever and whatever they pleased.  Most GIs were Liberators.

The group of POWs in the compound were put in the two-room building in the room closest to the German lines when the German artillery started shelling the compound area. We moved the POWs into the rear room including the SS Trooper who had been pointed out to me by the S2 folks. We were all on the floor.  I positioned myself sitting on the floor with my back against the partition wall  with the SS Trooper near me and to my left the open door was to my right, 88 shells popping all over the place.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Germans were shelling the compound to give the SS'er a chance to escape. Nothing was said.  I kept the slack taken out of my M1 rifle trigger and finger tight. He understood this.   When the shelling was over I took a look outside and found a window about 15 feet behind my position that had been hit in the frame on the side, leaving about a three foot hole in the brick beside the window.  It made me think if that shell had been six inches to the right it would have gone through the window and hit the other side of   my brick wall square in the middle of my back.  If it had gone through it would have been goodbye Bob. If I still had my trigger slack tight it would also have been goodbye SS'er. If my rifle had not gone off, the SS'er would have been out the door and down the road to his lines. I will never forget the hate and meanness in that man's eyes. We were eyeball to eyeball which is unusual. Usually it is two or three hundred yards.

From Bill Donofrio, (E/274) Don't know if it would help those asking about it, but  for what it's worth, the Japanese used wooden bullets against GIs in the Aleutian Islands. Several of our first platoon, E/274 guys served there before being reassigned to the 70th. They told us about the wooden bullets. One of them, PFC Trinidad Munoz, gave me one. The casing was brass, but the bullet itself was made of wood. (About the size used in a carbine.) The rationale for its use was that upon impact, the bullet would splinter, making removal of the the pieces difficult and possibly cause infection. Unfortunately I gave the bullet to someone interested in WW2 stuff just a few years ago...Also, sorry to say, Munoz was KIA.

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