Friday, April 18, 2014

Occupation Duty in Cologne before the Drive to the Elbe River and VE Day, 1945

 

Occupation Duty: Nazi SS ‘Werwolf’ Guerrillas & German Civilian Resistance

Occupation Duty in Cologne for the 82nd lasted from April 18 – 25, 1945. It entailed searching its assigned sectors for enemy personnel, arms, ammunition, explosives, and attempts at sabotage. Camps were set up for Displaced Persons and PoWs. Total Prisoners of War arrested and detained in camps numbered 653 – most of these had changed into civilian clothing. Source : Author Unknown, “After-Action Report 82nd Airborne Division April 1945”  p. 4 – 5.

It was a dangerous time being somewhat reminiscent of the occupation of Naples 18 months before in October 1943; primarily due to the potential for booby traps. However, this was worse since the enemy had not retreated, but was still present, active and able to perform subterfuge, and assassinations, in addition to planting fresh bombs.

Even prior to the occupation by the 82nd booby traps had been discovered, unfortunately in some cases after they had detonated. For instance on the night of 26/27 of March, 1945:

“…four enemy approached under cover of darkness and clubbed a driver in a division motor pool. The enemy then proceeded to booby-trap six vehicles, causing one of them to blow up.” Source: Winton (G-2), “Annex N0. 4 G-2 Periodic Report, No. 191” , April 6, 1945,  p. 1

Numerous cases of attempted and successful sabotage were recorded by the 82nd Airborne.  Two examples of incendiary sabotage had been discovered on April 8 by the 505 PIR:

“Two buildings set for incendiary destruction were located in the 3rd [Battalion] area on 08 April…The buildings were of normal wood frame construction, and adjacent to each other...One set-up consisted of approximately five (5) gals of German fuel product, the container set upon a block of TNT which was capped and fused and taped to a white phosphorous grenade. A fuse lighter was set on the TNT fuse, and a wire attached to the ring leading out of the building. A roll of primacord had been placed nearby...The other set-up had about (10) gals of fuel. The same type of explosive was wired to the side of the container, and a block of TNT, not fused, taped to a phosphorous grenade was on top of the container...All equipment, except the fuel, was American.” Source: Winton (G-2) & Katz (assistant G-2) “G-2 Periodic Report, No. 195” , April 10, 1945,  pp. 2 –3

During the occupation, Company D of the 82nd’s attached 307th PIR Airborne Combat Engineers dealt with many acts of sabotage and their prevention:

“The company…found itself busy with deliberate acts of sabotage from persons still loyal to the cause, such as dealing with a fire at the railroad station in Lovenich which appeared to have been started deliberately and having to guard a large switch plant at Brauweiler from sabotage.” Source: Turnbull, P., “’I Maintain The Right’: The 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion in WWII”, 2005, p. 167.

German time bombs were also of concern due to the extensive damage and large scale loss of life they had incurred during past campaigns and the fact that they were being discovered in rear areas. One such device was the German 21-day clockwork delay igniter (J-Feder 504) pictured and described below:

Sabotage device

Schematic of German Time Bomb  Found on a Railroad Bridge Across the Rhine River. Source: Winton (G-2) “Annex No. 2 to G-2 Periodic Report, No. 197” , April 12, 1945,  p. 2

Another act of sabotage was a booby trap with a signaling component intended to alert German troops to the presence of the trap. It was described in detail by a captured German 16th Parachute Regiment engineer who was concerned that it would be used in the Cologne area:

“When a house was booby trapped, a broom was left lying about near the entrance. No particular plan was followed: the broom could be either RIGHT or LEFT of the doorway or path, would NOT point in any particular direction, or be stuck in the ground, but would, whilst serving as a warning to German troops, give the impression to anyone else that it was there only by chance. The type of broom preferred was the besom type, i.e. a bundle of twigs at the end of a handle (witch’s broom!). If no such broom was available, a bundle of twigs would be tied together, like the bottom part of such a broom, or an ordinary long handled sweeping brush would be used.” Source: Winton (G-2) “Annex No. 2 to G-2 Periodic Report, No. 195” , April 10, 1945,  p. 1

Within the same timeframe an unrelated, yet intriguing tactic employed by the failing Nazi regime was the use of Japanese agents in France to spy on the western Allies:

“During the past few weeks, a number of Japanese nationals have been circulating in France. Carrying Chinese passports, they are operating throughout the front as agents of the German Secret Service. There are many Chinese in Germany, most of whom have never been molested in any way. The Germans even allowed them to send their passports to Switzerland for renewal which the Chinese in Berne gladly did, thus preventing the Chinese in Germany from getting in touch with the clandestine government in NANKING. Of late, however, the Nazis have stripped some of the Chinese of their papers in order to equip Japanese for their trip into France and espionage work. The German idea is that neither the French, Americans, nor English know the difference between [Japanese] and Chinese in appearance; it would therefore be easy for a [Japanese] to pass as a Chinese since hardly anyone in France speaks Chinese or Japanese.” Source: Winton (G-2), “Annex N0. 4 G-2 Periodic Report, No. 191” , April 6, 1945,  p. 1

Many of the acts of sabotage, subterfuge, and assassination in the Cologne area had been organized and executed by the Nazi resistance movement run by the SS and called the “Werwolf”. The activities and organization of the Werwolf will be in covered in detail in a subsequent post. Suffice it to say for the moment that the movement largely failed in its primary objective to incite  and wage a long term guerilla war. However, somewhat contrary to popular opinion among Allied soldiers at the time and even today, it had been active beginning in 1944 and continued to be so well into  the post war period until at least 1947, and did meet with a certain measure of success at least on the basis of individual actions. Source: Biddiscombe, P., “The Last Nazis: SS Werewolf Guerrilla Resistance in Europe 1944 – 1947” 2004

It carried out a large number of sabotage acts behind Allied lines both on the eastern and western fronts. The Werewolves specialized in cutting communication cables, laying booby traps,  setting demolition devices, and assassination of Allied soldiers as well as Germans collaborating with the Allies. The Werwolf organization was such a menace behind Russian lines, that whole divisions were specially trained and committed to their liquidation. A similar force was later instituted by the western Allies known as the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). Source: Ibid.

“Only in mid-April [1945] was it admitted [by the British Political Warfare Executive] that the Werwolf was not entirely spontaneous, but that trained commandos were being sent into the enemy rear surreptitiously.” Source: Biddiscombe, P., “Werwolf!: The history of the national Socialist Guerrilla Movement 1944 – 1946”, 1998,  p. 143.

In Cologne:

“…by March 1945 [Werewolves consisting mostly of Hitler Youth] had begun to organize river-crossing operations. Such Werewolves crossed the Rhine in rubber boats and terrorized Cologne, where they may have been responsible for a number of knife attacks against U.S. soldiers. A Wehrmacht officer familiar [with the Werwolf organization in the west] estimated that [the Werwolf leadership in the area had gathered] almost a hundred young volunteers who were clothed in Army-cadet uniforms and ‘were very keen’. These boys specialized in pouring sugar into gas tanks of Allied vehicles, although, by mid-March, [their leader, Schneider of Koblenz] had also obtained explosives from the Army and was planning sabotage on a grander scale...After the Allies smashed their way across the Rhine, they overran the bases of operation for such raids, and in the process they encountered considerable clusters of Werwolf guerrillas.” Source: Biddiscombe, P., “Werwolf!: The history of the national Socialist Guerrilla Movement  1944 – 1946”, 1998,  p. 63

Biddiscombe (2004) reported further:

“It seems likely [that Werewolf agents circulated] at night through the dark streets and bunkers of Cologne, threatening [German] people and stuffing Nazi leaflets under doors of alleged [Allied] collaborators.”  Source: Biddiscombe, P., “The Last Nazis: SS Werewolf Guerrilla Resistance in Europe 1944 – 1947” 2004, p. 119

Not all sabotage and assassination attempts were attributable with certainty to Werwolf activity in Cologne, nor other areas of Germany in these final stages and during the post war period. Ordinary German citizens themselves were reported to have been perpetrators, making it difficult to distinguish organized Werwolf activity from a general unorganized German civilian resistance to the presence of the Allies on German soil.

“The American journalist Martha Gellhorn, reporting from the Rhine Front in March 1945, claimed that local Germans were like chameleons who changed their colours according to the hour of the day. ‘At night,’ she claimed, ‘the Germans take pot shots at Americans, or string wires across the roads, which is apt to be fatal to men driving jeeps, or they burn the houses of Germans who accept posts in our Military Government, or they booby trap ammunition dumps or motorcycles or anything that is likely to be touched. But that is at night. In the daytime we are the answer to the German prayer, according to them.’” Source: Biddiscombe, P., “Werwolf!: The history of the national Socialist Guerrilla Movement 1944 – 1946”, 1998,  p. 283

“A Dutch interpreter working for the Allies in Cologne reported in March 1945 that although the city’s inhabitants cheered the Americans, ‘in their hearts they hate them. They will do anything to get the Allies out of here. Some Germans may have hated the Nazi’s, but they are still Germans.” Source: Ibid.

With this reaction in Cologne, it is not surprising that scattered reports of Werwolf and other disorganized, sporadic German civilian resistance activities followed the western Allied forces in their advance eastward to the Elbe River until the end of the war and ultimately into the immediate post war years.

“THE WEREWOLF ORGANIZATION IS NOT A MYTH” reads one detailed entry in the 82nd Airborne's G-2 Intelligence Notes No. 7, dated 14 May, 1945. the document describes their numbers, methods, and personal characteristics for identification purposes.

During the the occupation of Cologne the 82nd suffered a total of 29 men KIA, 50 MIA, and 170 wounded or wounded in action. Some of these were due to enemy saboteurs and assassins. In turn the 82nd took 819 prisoners and killed an estimated 378 enemy. Source : Author Unknown, “After-Action Report 82nd Airborne Division April 1945”  p. 6.

 

The Elbe River Attack and Advance to Cutoff the Land Grabbing Soviet Juggernaut

From the end of the 82nd’s stint in Cologne, events moved extremely fast. The Division was relieved of its occupation duty and sent northeastward on an unknown mission which General Gavin was sure would turn out to be an uneventful and anticlimactic end to the war. Unbeknown to all but the highest leadership, he and his men were in for quite a shock.

Beginning on April 25, over a period of two days, the units of the 82nd were sent from Cologne via train to the railhead at Lehrte  or via truck to the truckhead north of  Weyhausen, in Map 1 below.

 


View Approx. Route from Cologne to Elbe River, Germany in a larger map

On April 28 General Gavin received welcome orders that the 82nd would attack across the Elbe River and seize a bridgehead. It was the beginning of the 82nd’s last offensive of the war and a fitting end becoming of the 82nd Airborne and its men who always had harbored a desire to play some part in the end of the war and not to go out with a whimper. In the days that followed, their wish and much more - both good and bad - was granted in full measure.

During the night of April 28/29 three patrols from the Division Reconnaissance Platoon crossed the Elbe River, one of which encountered stiff resistance. By dark on April 30 the 505 crossed the river at four places and established the bridgehead against moderate resistance in the vicinity of Bleckede, Germany. Source : Author Unknown, “After-Action Report 82nd Airborne Division April 1945”  p. 4 – 5.

Elbe

The Attack Across the Elbe River at Bleckede was Spearheaded by the 505 PIR Source: Annex No 5 to 82nd Airborne Division Historical Narrative For April 1945 Elbe River Crossings and Bridgehead Established 30 April, 1945

During the night of April 30/May 1, the 82nd built up sufficient forces from the 504 to attack across the bridgehead and expand the territory gained. On May 1 the 504 with the 505 achieved their objectives.  On May 2, the 325th GIR joined in the offensive and moved through the 505 PIR lines. That was the last day the 505 saw action in the war. By noon on May 2 the 325 GIR captured Ludwigslust and the 504 captured its objective of Doenitz. Source: Langdon, A., “Ready: A World War II History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment”, 1986, p. 128

By the end of April the number of prisoners taken in Elbe River attack was 606 with 102 estimated enemy killed. Conversely, the 82nd suffered six men KIA, eight MIA, and 57 wounded. Source : Author Unknown, “After-Action Report 82nd Airborne Division April 1945”  p. 6.

In early May with the continued offensive another 15 men were KIA, four MIA, and 69 wounded. On May 2, the number of prisoners was initially over 1000, but increased enormously when the Germans surrendered en masse to the 82nd, as did vast numbers of displaced persons, and Allied PoW’s. Source : Author Unknown, “After-Action Report 82nd Airborne Division May 1945”  pp. 4 –7.

The German 21st Army Group Surrenders to the 82nd Airborne Division

In the late afternoon of May 2, the German 21st Army Group was  under attack from the Russians some 10 – 20 miles east. The advancing Red Army posed a dire threat to the cornered Germans.  The Wehrmacht  leader, General Tippelskirch, left with no choice, offered to surrender to the the western Allies, but not the Russians.

General Gavin wrote about the proffered German surrender:

“At about 2100 hours Lt. General Tippelskirch arrived at my CP in Ludwigslust and after some discussion unconditionally surrendered his army to the 82nd Airborne Division. He too desired to stipulate that his army would surrender on the ground where it was and that upon cessation of hostilities this division would accept his troops as their prisoners. This was rejected and he was told that his army would be destroyed by ours in conjunction with our Russian allies and that his unconditional surrender would be valid when his troops were physically within our lines and not until then. An added paragraph stipulating this was added to the unconditional surrender, which was signed at about 2200 hours.” Source : General James M. Gavin, “After-Action Report 82nd Airborne Division May 1945”  p. 2.

With his emotion and pride in the men brimming at this climatic end of hostilities, General Gavin further added:

“This ended for this division approximately two years of very hard and costly combat, combat in which many lessons were learned, lessons that were applied and paid handsome dividends in the closing days of the fighting. The combat discipline of the units of the division, their appreciation of the need to drive ahead, and their willingness to drive ahead, regardless of their physical condition, particularly in the infantry regiments, was never more apparent. Once his initial covering forces along the Elbe River were overrun, the German was never given an opportunity to offer an organized defense, and the lives saved and complete victory achieved were far beyond any measure of value in terms of sweat and labor.” Source : Ibid.

Subsequent to this the 21st German Army of approximately 144,ooo men surrendered to the 82nd Airborne by marching into their lines in a mad dash to avoid capture by the advancing Russians.

The ETO Firefighters

“[After the Battle of the Bulge] The role of the 82nd, beyond jumping into combat, now stood well defined in the minds of higher commanders. The division’s reputation had grown so that it – along with a few precious others like the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 9th, Infantry divisions; the 101st Airborne Division; the 2nd and 4th Armored divisions – would be used wherever decisive action was needed, theater fire fighters.” Source: Booth T., “Paratrooper: The Life of General James M. Gavin”, 1994, p. 281.

The 82nd Airborne had made a fast and furious assault on the 21st German Army Group positions, but not only to quickly defeat them. The Russian forces to the east had been under orders from Stalin to capture as much territory as possible. In northern Germany they were advancing rapidly westward with the goal of grabbing Denmark before the Allied forces under the slow moving  Field Marshal Montgomery could close the gap. Assessing the situation and determining correctly that Montgomery’s characteristic snail paced plodding advance would allow the Russians to reach and capture Denmark, General Eisenhower ordered General Ridgway  to attach his 18th Airborne Corps to Montgomery’s 21st Army in order to rush forward and stop the Russians. Ridgway chose the 82nd Airborne Division for the task of attacking across the Elbe River and advancing to the Russian positions. They succeeded in reaching the objective with their oft quoted and well deserved speed, valor, and √©lan. 

 

Germany in DefeatBGermany in DefeatA

Germany in Defeat – Soldiers and Civilians March West Toward the 82nd Airborne Lines; Away From the Russians Source: ‘The All American Paraglide’ European Final VE Day May 1945, Author’s Collection

82ndAbnPAraglideGermany 

VE- Day Headlines Source:  ‘The All American Paraglide’ European Final VE Day May 1945, Author’s Collection

SicilyPOWs

82nd Paratroopers, PoW’s Since the Sicily Jump on 9/10 July, 1943 Were Among Those Liberated Source:  ‘The All American Paraglide’ European Final VE Day May 1945, Author’s Collection

Linking up with the Russians

On May 3, contact with the Russians was made by the 87th Cavalry Squadron at 9:25 AM. A short time later the 82nd airborne Division Reconnaissance Platoon made contact with the 8th Brigade of the 8th Russian Mechanized Corps at Grabow, Germany at 10:25 AM. Source : Author Unknown, “After-Action Report 82nd Airborne Division May 1945”  p. 3.

The 82nd Airborne Assigned to Occupation Duty Yet Again…

From May 4 to 19 the Division units were assigned sectors to systematically search. All persons were screened and assigned to camps set up for Displaced Persons and for Prisoners of War. Lines were set up between the Russians and Americans.

During this period several events of note took place in the 82nd’s zone of occupation:

  • On May 7 a funeral service was performed for 200 of the approximately 1000 bodies found at the Wobbelin concentration camp near Ludwigslust. German civilians from Ludwigslust buried the people and all townspeople were forced to attend the services.
  • Meeting between General Dempsey British 2nd Army and General Greshin Commander of the Russian 49th Army.
  • Formal dinners and visits between the Russians and the 82nd. Source : Author Unknown, “After-Action Report 82nd Airborne Division May 1945”  p. 4.

 

The Dark Legacy of the War… The 82nd Liberates Wobbelin Concentration Camp

Wobbelin

Inmates Suffering the Horror of Wobbelin Concentration Camp near Ludwigslust, Discovered on May 5, 1945 Source:  ‘The All American Paraglide’ European Final VE Day May 1945, Author’s Collection

LudwigslustGraves

Citizens of Ludwigslust Ordered to Bury the Dead of Wobbelin in the Town Square Park in front of Ludwigslust Castle, May 7, 1945 Source: ‘The All American Paraglide’ European Final VE Day May 1945, Author’s Collection

Formal Meeting with the Russians at Grabow

Gen Gavin Meets the Russians

Above Left: 82nd Troopers meet Russian Soldiers. Below: General Gavin attends a Formal Dinner on May 18 Hosted by Russian General Souprounoff of the 385th Infantry Division. Source:  ‘The All American Paraglide’ European Final VE Day May 1945, Author’s Collection

On May 19 the 82nd Airborne relieved the 8th Infantry and 7th Armored Divisions of occupation duty. Evacuation of PoWs remaining in the Division’s stockade began on May 27 with approximately 22,000 people leaving each day until May 30. On June 1, the 82nd began moving back to its bases near Reims, France by rail and truck. The British 5th Division relieved the 82nd at 12:00 Noon on June 1. Source : Author Unknown, “After-Action Report 82nd Airborne Division May 1945”  p. 4.

VE Day May 8, 1945 and Celebrations

The end of the war had  come swiftly. Soon after the 82nd Airborne’s discovery of the hidden atrocity that was the Wobbelin concentration camp, General Gavin met with the Russians near Grabow, Germany on May 5. Victory in Europe Day (VE-Day) was decided only two days later. Early on May 7 at SHAEF forward Headquarters in Reims, France German General, Alfred Jodl signed the unconditional surrender of German forces to the Allies. The war in Europe officially ended on May 8 and the German surrender went into effect at 11:01 AM on May 9, 1945. Source: Booth T., “Paratrooper: The Life of General James M. Gavin”, 1994 p. 296

Arch Of Triump Germany 45

The Arch of a Paratrooper Boot Smashing the Nazi Reich Source:  ‘The All American Paraglide’ European Final VE Day May 1945, Author’s Collection

On May 8 celebrations broke out everywhere although there was mostly an air of fatigued relief rather than enthusiastic exultation. For the troopers of 82nd units stationed at the bases around Reims they began with a formal military parade in Sissonne that took a decidedly undisciplined, yet joyous turn as recorded in the 82nd Rigger account “Our Outfit”:

Our Outfit 78 Part 5

Our Outfit 78 Part 6

Excerpt describing the VE Day Celebrations held by the 82nd Parachute Maintenance Company (from “Our Outfit: The Story of the Parachute Riggers of the 82nd Airborne Division” unpublished  manuscript p. 78) Source: Author’s collection.

In subsequent days the 82nd Airborne made exhibition jumps for the Russians as part of the ongoing VE Day celebrations.

“During the festivities of the 82nd Airborne, and the Russian Fifth Guards Cossack Division, (after contact was made), following the surrender of the entire 21st German Army to the 82nd Airborne Division, three of the riggers grabbed the chance to make some exhibition jumps for the Russians. These men were Sgt. Walderman, Tec 4 Cook, and Tec 4 Dan Bost who is undoubtedly one of the most ‘jump happy’ persons in the world today. He has made over 150 jumps, over 40 of these in the Army; and 30 of these being static line jumps. As a civilian, Bost made exhibition jumps as the ‘Bat Man’ and as ‘Malfunction Drops’. After joining the Army, this well liked fellow became a fine soldier, an excellent combat photographer, and a good maintenance man. Flying to Ludwigslust, Germany these three made a couple of static line jumps. They then prepared to make the thrilling free jump for the Russians.

Climbing to the height of 2000 feet, in one of the ever present C-47’s, they jumped. Waldo and Cooky dropped further than usual for a free jump, but Dan wasn’t satisfied with this. He pulled his famous ‘Malfunction Drop’ by trailing a confiscated lace curtain above him. Using cool judgment and daring audacity he dropped to below 500 feet before opening his chute.; then landed easily, exactly in front of the Generals present. The famous Russian Cossack General, lieutenant General Tchuporkin, was so overcome by the extremely breathtaking feat that he rushed out onto the field. While Dan was still climbing out of his harness, the General kissed him on both cheeks, then pinned his own Russian Guard Medal, for bravery and excellance (sic), on his jump jacket. This was the first Russian medal ever presented to an 82nd Airborne Division man and is a just tribute to this outstanding person.” Source: Author Unknown, “82nd Airborne Division: 82nd Parachute Maintenance Company” Section 1 Unit History, Date unknown, p. 14.

“Our Outfit” also recorded the jump made by Dan Bost and colorfully captured the atmosphere surrounding the celebrations:

Our Outfit 101Pt 1

Source: “Our Outfit: The Story of the Parachute Riggers of the 82nd Airborne Division” unpublished  manuscript p. 101. Author’s collection.

 

Dan Bost General Kiss

Source: “Our Outfit: The Story of the Parachute Riggers of the 82nd Airborne Division” unpublished  manuscript p. 102. Author’s collection.

The continuous Victory in Europe celebrations were understandably favorites of the press at the time. Later after the war General Gavin reflected on the price of the victory, and its necessity:

“So we had come to the end of the war in Europe. It had been costly. More than 60,000 men had passed through the ranks of the 82ndAirborne Division alone. We had left in our wake thousands of white crosses from Africa to Berlin. And when it came to an end, there was not a man in the ranks of the 82nd Airborne Division who did not believe that it was a war that had to be fought. The powerful Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe had rampaged across the face of Europe, living off the land, looting and destroying as they went, and sending to concentration camps those who did not meet the standards – political, racial, or whatever they were – of the super-race. More than six million human beings had lost their lives and the hands of the executioners of Hitler’s ‘final solution.’ And even then the gas ovens were being enlarged when we overran the concentration camps.” Source: Gavin, J. “On To Berlin: Battles of an Airborne Commander 1943 – 1946”, 1978, pp. 289-290

The Clark Brothers Visit One Last Time

During the period of victory celebrations, Henry and Bill had the chance for another visit before the end of their roles as soldiers serving in the Allied occupation of Germany. It was the fourth and last time they would see one another in the ETO and for the next seven months when on December 16, 1945, Henry arrived back home. Henry wrote a letter home to his sister, dated July 13, 1945 about the visit :

“Dear Doris,

…I stayed all night with him [Bill]. That night two yrs previous [the night of July 9/10, 1943] he had jumped at Gela beach Sicily.” Source: Henry Clark Jr. Letter dated July 13, 1945

The date of this visit came on the night of July 9/10, 1945. It is notable that the Clark brothers’ last visit in the ETO occurred on the 2nd anniversary of Operation HUSKY and the 82nd Airborne Division’s first combat jump.

Henry gave further details of the trip to visit Bill in his letter:

“…I have just completed a trip from Weisbaden (sic) to St. Quenten (sic) in the Frankriech [name for France in the German language] an return, a trip of 761 miles which is quite a trip by jeep. The trip was made by myself and my buddy Jarboe. The purpose of being to visit our brother and his friend. We scored both purposes. The trouble being we only had two day’s [to visit]. We left W-baden [Wiesbaden] at 4:30 AM arrived in Reims at 1:00 PM and St. Quientan (sic) at 3:00 PM. In order to do this we were hurdling over the asphalt at 60 miles per. [hour] all the way.” Source: Henry Clark Jr. Letter dated July 13, 1945

Henry drove with his friend Jim Jarboe back into France to St. Quentin to visit one of Jim’s friends a 1st. Lieutenant and pilot stationed there. Bill and Jim had struck up a friendship when Bill visited Henry at his station outside of London  on his six day furlough after the Normandy Campaign. On their way to St. Quentin they swung by Bill’s base near Reims to see if he could come along for the trip.

 

View Wiesbaden - Reims - St. Quentin in a larger map
 

In his wartime memoirs, Henry wrote more extensively of the trip and visit:

“Jim Jarboe and I planned a trip to visit one of his friends at St. Quentain (sic) France. The first sergeant gave us the ok to go. We left early in the morning in an Army jeep. On the way we decided to pick up my brother Bill stationed near Rheims. When we got there he had some kind of duty to perform but he pulled his rank on one of his buddies and got off. Soon we were on our way to St. Quentain (sic). We arrived early in the afternoon and located Jim’s buddy, a 1st. Lieutenant (pilot) and they had a nice visit. I enjoyed a visit with my brother. Later we got to eat with officers. We stayed the night there, next morning we started back. Along the way we stopped to eat with another outfit and picked up a nurse who asked for a ride to Rheims. It was almost dark when we came to an M.P. road block where the road went through an airbase. As we stepped out of the jeep a big French civilian truck ran the road block. The M.P. pulled his forty five and emptied the clip into the back of the truck. We hit the ditch while the bullets flew! In the darkness a forty five puts out a good muzzle flash. The ‘frog’ driving the truck never stopped. We wondered what he had in that truck. That was the highlight of the trip. Jim and I dropped off my brother and the nurse. We got back to Wiesbaden late that night.” Source: Clark, H. “The War I Never Fought: ‘Memoirs of a Rear Rank Rudy’” 2001 pp. 111 – 112

While Henry returned to Germany, and the drudgery his post-war  unit, Bill met with an uncertain future where every “point” of service he had earned made a precious contribution toward granting him an early release from the Army.

© Copyright Jeffrey Clark 2014 All Rights Reserved.