Chapter 6

 

Chapter 6

 

We were moved to the city of Arnhem, In the Netherlands. In  early September of 1944 one of the greatest Armada of planes and gliders ever assebled was sent to bomb and drop troops on Arnhem and Eindhoven to rout the German Army out of Holland. Arnhem was the Headquarters of the German Army on the Western Front and a lot of screwups were made by the American Army. They had used the Dutch Intellegence which was was one of the best in Europe for information. When the American Army got a report  from the Dutch Intellegence that there was a large quantity of  German Panzers in Arnhem they dismissed it as being eronious. It just couldn’t be. But there was a report that the informer was looking out the window at a  German Panzer that the American intellegence finally came to their senses. This German Panzer division was supposed to be somewhere else and had come to Arnhem to rest and refuel. Too late to stop the plan, All of those planes were flying in on Arnhem and all of those Germans down there. I guess this was one of the SNAFUs of the war. The City of Eindhoven was bombed that same day by the Allies and Paratroopers from the 101st. Airborne Division were dropped to liberate the city. I talked to Wim Onstwedder who lives in the city of Best,Netherlands in 1993 and he said he remembered that day. He was 10 years old and he said the dust was so thick in the early afternoon from the bombing of the airfield at Eindhoven that it looked like midnight. The sun was complete blocked out. Best, is a small city near Eindhoven, But in those days he lived with his family in Eindhoven. He could remember the Americans rumbling down the streets of Eindhoven in tanks and other vehicles and the Germans running for their llives..

But the Allies paid a high price for their Victory of Arnhem because of the German Panzers that were in the City.

We were there to plan for a crossing of the Rhine River and that would open a path to the rich Rhineland and the Industrial heart of Germany. Through the Rhur Valley and on to Berlin. Arnhem was selected because of the river that ran through the city and there were dikes on each side of the river for flood control similar to the Rhine River at Duisberg. These dikes were quite high and you had to climb up quite a incline to get to the top of them. We were practicing with large boats that the engineers had provided. They were in halves. You would lock two together at the middle and you had a substantial boat. The Rhine River was quite wide and was running very swiftly. If you put a boat in the Rhine you could find yourself several hundred yards down stream in a couple of minutes. This was no stream to fool with. Most all of the bridges had been blown by the Germans in retreating and this was the only way we could get across the river at Duisberg.

We practiced carrying the boats to the rivers edge in Arnhem and across and on the other side we would practice on the way back. We did this for several days. We also had a sandbox of the layout at Duisberg and we studied that also with great detail as Pete and I had a role in this crossing. When we arrived at the rivers edge Pete and I were to go across in a skiff operated by an engineer and lay a telephone line to a small building that was shown on the sandbox. This was supposed to be the Command Post after we crossed the Rhine. We would carry a reel of wire and two telephones and install communications between pre-determine points.

The family that we billeted with were very nice people and the lady would wear wooden shoes and go out on the sidewalk and scrub the doorstep so clean you could eat off of it. We always used the back entrance and never were in their quarters unless we were invited to do so. Sometimes she would make us tea and a cookie but they didn’t have a lot of food to eat so that was not very often. We had our own mess hall down the street and we would bring her little girl something from the mess hall when we had something for desert like cookies or something we could carry easily.. It was a nice city and they  had a coal mine there and we would go there and take nice hot showers. There was plenty of good hot water and I would stay under the shower for what it seemed like hours.

We missed the nice showers that we had in basic training and we went weeks without a real shower. We took what we called a Whores bath. We would heat water in our steel helmet and wash as well as we could under the circumstances. Our feet was the most important part of our body. If you contacted trench foot you was out of business. So we tried to keep our feet dry and would wash a pair of dirty sox and put them inside of our shirt and let them dry by body heat.

Sometimes we would go back several miles behind the line and the Army would have a portable shower set up and they only had clean underclothing, But we would select a pair of undies that fit us and take a shower and put our dirty clothing back on as they didn’t have any clean ones so close to the front lines. But you felt refreshed even though you looked dirty from the outside. Sometimes we would get a chance to shave and some of the fellows would have long beards and I know now where Bill Mauldin got his inspriation for his cartoon of Willie and Joe that was published in the Stars and Stripes. If you looked too bad, The Sarge. would say, So and SO get a shave. We had been issued polyester type pants and we wore those over a full OD wool pants and shirt. Also we had a thermal underwear suit. The polyester pants would keep you wools clean as they were somewhat water proof and wind breaker. Mine began to look like leather I had worn them so long. So now we were preparing for what we hoped would be our last big push of the war.

We had heard that the Germans were really dug in on the opposite side of the Rhine and it may be no easy task crossing in assault boats. That was why we were doing a lot of practice and studying the sandbox with great detail.

We were getting our gear together and Pete and I had selected a reel of W-130  wire and had tested it so there would be no problems after we laid it. We had two kinds of wire. W-110 which was a larger diameter wire and there was about a half mile on a reel. The W-130 was a smaller wire and there was about a mile and a half on each reel. We would only use the smaller wire when we were on the move and when we had secured the area we would replace it with the larger wire as it was stronger and more durable. The reel that we would carry had a spindle that could be put through the reel and a handle would be pushed on the other siide of the reel and it turned freely when two men were carring it , One on each side. We had selected two good telephones and we were ready. There is no wrath like an Officer picking up a telephone and it not working.

This was big business, As Colonel Porter  our Battilion Commander would be using these phones and we wasn’t taking any chances that they didn’t work. If a tank or artillery knocked out a line that was one thing, But shoddy workmanship was another and a lot of mens lives were at stake in this action.

We said farewell to our friends in Arnhem and the people we billeted with. At nightfall,We climbed into the big 2 1/2 trucks  and were off toward Duisberg and the Rhine River. This was Friday evening March 24,1945. We were driving well spaced  as not to make too much noise so that the Germans on the other side would not hear us approaching. We passed the batteries of heavy artillery in the rear, They were 240 mm Howitzers and had a very long range. Next we passed the batteries of 155mm Howitzers which had an intermediate range and then the batteries of 105mm Howitzers up front with a shorter range. They could shoot about 10 to 15 miles with charge 7 and I had trained on those in Ft. Sill. With all of this artillery in place we knew this was going to be a big push. The Army Intellengence had been studying this area for weeks.

Finally we were getting closer and the trucks stopped and we all got out and started marching toward the Rhine. We didn’t want to take any chances that the Germans would hear us moving up. Even though the Rhine had large flood dikes on either side and would muffle some of the noise, There would be some lookout posts that had equipment that could pick up noise and everyone could tell a tank from a truck. We got field smart early, And they were as smart as we were in this respect. We could tell if an artillery shell was ours or theirs by the noise it made travelling through the air. Sometimes an 88mm would hit and you would never hear it. We marched on toward the Rhine and finally came to a railroad and that was as far as we would go. You could see the high dikes from the distance as they formed a silouhette against the sky. The men were told to dig in and bed down for the night. Those poor men had to dig a fox hole before they could bed down. The Sargeant told Pete and me we didn’t have to dig in as we would be some of the first out in the crossing and we found a small shack that the railroad switchmen used and lay down for what we thought would be some sleep. Most everyone was on edge as we didn’t know what lay ahead tomorrow. It was getting late in the evening so things had settled down and it became very quiet. I suppose everyone was doing a lot of thinking.

About 1:00 AM all Hell broke loose. The Artillery started booming away and you could tell the larger guns from the smaller ones. You couldn’t sleep very well so you would lay there and think which of the guns were firing. This barrage went on for the remainder of the night and we got little sleep. We were up at the crack of dawn ready to move out. Maybe eating something out of our K ration that we had strapped to our gear. We moved up the dike on our side and down to the water and sure enough there was our skiff ready to pick us up. The Engineers must have worked all night because there were many boats like we had trained with at Arnhem with big outboard motors mounted on them. The  Engineer operating the boat wanted to get going as he didn’t want to be too long in one spot. We loaded our gear in and he took off up river as the current was so swift that we just seemed to glide across sideways to the other side. The boat never did straighten out across the river but was just pointed upstream. We were across in a matter of minutes and without any major fire from the Germans. It sure was good to get your feet on solid ground. If we had gotten in that river we would have been goners for sure.

Once on the other side of the river we had to climb up the dike and go over to the building that was our objective and install the telephones. That was foremost on our minds. We got to the top of the dike and was stopped by all of the other troops who was laying on the ground at the top of the dike. If they weren’t going we weren’t going. There was something that had halted their progress. We peeped over the top of the dike and there was four or five German tanks down in the field near where Pete and I had to go and they were out of gas and was shooting at everything that moved. We were pinned down for the time being. An Officer came down the line of soldiers and said, There would be a Staff Sargeants permotion and a Silver Star for anyone that would take a bazooka and knock out those tanks.  He must have gotten a taker, In a couple of hours the tank personnel surrendered and we were on our way. The Artillery had lifted and we found ourselves bypassing our previous objective and moving through the fields at a very rapid pace. The area was peppered with shell holes and a lot of dead Germans laying all over and the wounded ones calling for vasser. Some laying with their insides  falling out and they were trying to hold them in. We looked and passed on, We were told not to stop for anything as there was people in the rear behind us that would take care of the wounded and that included our guys as well. We were moving fast and came to a small town where we took cover and stayed for the night. We had gotten a good foot hold now and the Germans were retreating rapidly. The tremendous barrage of artillery had surprised the Germans and they had been caught unaware. I talked to one of the prisoners as we had to guard some of them  and he made motions with his hands about all of the shells falling and shaking his head.

We were laying wire and providing communications for  our line Companys and Battilion via Headquarters Co. We were now out in open country and you could see for miles as the terrain was pretty flat. One day Pete and I was out in one of those fields repairing a line and the Germans started laying in some artillery on us. We were caught out in the open and we really was scared. We had no place to go so we just hit the ground. We started crawling toward a fence row a few hundred yards away. We came upon a foxhole and he and I jumped in it. This foxhole was for one man but we managed to use all of it. Soon the firing stopped and we went to a ditch that had trees growing on both sides and walked down the ditch and crawled out to the line and repaired it. The Germans were close and as we would go into one side of a city they would go out the other side. We had them on the run. But they would run then set up again and blast us with those 88’s from a distance away. One afternoon late, Our rations were delivered and we had placed them on the ground beside the door of the house we had selected for the night. And all of a sudden the whole roof was blown away by an 88. There must have been a foreward observer watching us and decided to take a shot. No one was hurt but we got showered with a lot of slate from the roof. They were so close that we could see their muzzle blast in the late afternoon.

By now the Engineers were building a pontoon bridge across the Rhine and  the big Sherman tanks were beginning to come across. They would be spaced so as not to put too much weight in one place. We would watch them rumble across and the pontoons would sink down in the water as they moved across. It was quite a feat to hold the bridge in that swift current. Steel cables was used to hold the bridge in place and they had been tied to objects on shore to keep it stable. The engineers would inflate large ballons with helium gas and put them up about 1000ft to keep the German planes from bombing the bridge.  There was anti-craft guns placed around the bridge and at night when a plane would come over and try to bomb the bridge they would open up and it was a sight to behold. All of those tracers going up into the sky looked like the 4th of July back in the States. What a fireworks display.

We had another friend that would fly over the area every night. We would call him bed check Charlie. The plane had an unusual sound and you could identify it by the drone of the engine. It would fly quite high and I suppose he was looking for some activity on the ground. We were under blackout restrictions at night and was careful not to use any lights. Bedcheck Charlie would fly over the new bridge that had been built every night and drop a bomb trying to hit the bridge but the plane was more harrassment than anything. He couldn’t get near the bridge for the large ballons and the Ack Ack was positioned well away from the bridge so he would drop the bomb in hopes of a lucky hit.

There were a lot of snipers harassing us. There is nothing like a sniper to keep you uneasy while you are out  in the open They would climb up in the tall Church Steeples and shoot at us. One day a sniper shot one of our guys in the back of the neck and killed him. This really irritated Col. Porter. He climbed up on the front of a tank and the driver took him to this Church and the gunner blasted the steeple off of the Church and they found a young kid in a Gernan uniform with a snipers rifle in the debres. There were some die hards but most of the regular soldiers would surrender when they knew they didn’t have a chance. Some of the SS were diehards and would go into a town and change into civilian clothes. You could always tell because of their age which was hard to conceal. many of them were picked up by the Army and questioned.We pushed on, Walking from town to town flushing out the Germans.

Every town we came to had a street car or some large vehicle blocking the entrance to the city. Our tanks would push them out of the way so our vehicles could get through. We always had a tank batillion attached to our outfit and they would blast out the opposition and we would move in and hold it. We also had artillery and anti tank Batillions attached. The tanks were mobile and could move in on the target. If the situation called, The artillery would set up and blast away until we had reached our objective. If tanks were in our way, The anti-tank people would move in and blast the tanks. I wasn’t always that easy but it sure helped.

We were working our way toward the rich Rhur Valley and the Industrial Heartland of Germany  We proceeded through Oberhausen and Mulheim and a lot of small cities that were very close together and we were walking through them all. They say the infantry fights on its feet and we certainly were getting a taste of that. We would hole up for a day or two in a town and then push on. Meanwhile we would  be looking for some cognac and and other goodies. We never would drink while we were on the move but if a place it was declared a holding situation, Guards would be posted and we could relax for a couple of days without immediate danger. We would look for wine, champagne and cognac to wet our whistle. Sometimes we would find a bottle of 4 star cognac and that was for sipping. We had taken some of the fight out of the Germans and now it was just a matter of time until the German Armys would know they were beaten.

We were in a holding position a few miles from Essen, And  were just holding what we had gained. We were doing our job of keeping communications in order. Tanks were very active in the area and was breaking the lines and so Pete and I went out half way and work both ends of the lines. We would watch the P47s dive bomb the tanks and they were so close that we could see the 500# bomb drop and there would be a big boom. Soon the Ack Ack (Anti-aircraft) would open up and that pilot would corkscrew up for higher altitude and get out of range of the German guns. There was a squardron of P51s in the area and they would be camouflauged and in the ready position. They were covered by a camoflauged screen so they couldn’t be seen from the air and had a large four blade propeller you could always tell a P51 when it was flying by the drone of that Merlin engine and they were very fast. I used to walk around them and think what it would be like to fly one of these planes. The B17s were very active and would be flying so high that you could hardly see them. They left tell tale vapor trails and you could see a small ring of vapor circling the 17’s and that was their fighter escorts  but you couldn’t see the planes they were so high. It sure looked beautiful on a clear sunny day in march. By this time the B17s would be flying on bombing missions deep into Germany and back with a fighter escort. The P51s had been revised with a new engine and added fuel tanks and could now make the round trip with the bombers. The air activity where we were had began to lighten as the German Luftwaffle began to run short on gas.  The P51’s really shot up Europe. Railroad engines would be setting on the tracks all shot to pieces. You could see the big holes in the sides and the tanks would explode with the steam. They really had a field day. They were used against tanks and vehicles and also personell It was one of the fastest  and one of the best fighter planes of the war. The pilots would roll those 51s and come in on a strafing run like nothing you would ever see again.

We were in a holding position in a small town outside of Essen. When we moved in the Company Commander said, He wanted one particular telephone line dug in as it crossed an open field and he didn’t want any tanks breaking the line. The line would be laid across the field diagionally and dug in. man, Can you see us out with our shovels digging a trench burying that line underground?  It was late in the afternoon and we would be there all night and we still wouldn’t have it finished.

Lester Hogancamp from Marshalltown, Iowa was our platoon Sargeant. We laid the line and as we were moving along I seen an old horse drawn plow leaning beside an old building. I told Hoagy that if we could hook up that plow to the weasel with which we had lain the wire  I could handle the plow and we could plow a furrow across the field, lay the line in the furrow and come back the other way and cover it up.He looked at me like I was a Comedian. He said, Can you handle that plow ? I said , You damn right I can I have walked many miles behind one of these things. We went over and found some wire and hooked the old plow to the weasel and started across the field. The plow was running too shallow and we set the angle so the plow would dig deeper in the ground and went back and started over. It worked great. Here we were out plowing across that field with Hoagy driving that weasel and me holding that plow. We laughed about that,we wondered what the Germans were thinking about us out there plowing in the field at dusk.

One of the fellows walked behind us putting the line in the furrow. When we got across the field and the line had been placed in the furrow we started back filling up the furrow and the line laying in the bottom. He had to report to the Company Commander that the line was dug in and i’m sure he took all of the credit for that. My buddies and I used to call Hoagy the Marshalltown Hero. One day he was standing by a window looking out and an artillery shell exploded nearby and broke the window. A small piece of flying glass hit Hoagy on the cheek and he got a Purple Heart for that. It surely was a small band aid situation but he went to the Medics and he had spilled his blood. We used to say, They handed out Purple Hearts like stew in a chow line.

The German resistance had picked up as we were now getting into the heart of the Rhur valley. The big Krupp industrial complex was in Essen and Alfred Krupp was the largest supplier of Munitions, Tanks, Artillery and Weapons for the German Army. If this was lost the Germans were out of business. They decided to make a stand to protect this asset. Planes were bombing the city daily and our Artillery was pounding them also. You could see the B17s flying over and soon you could hear the rumbling of bombs exploding and it sounded like thunder off in the distance. day after day we pounded the city and the fighters were doing their job also.

One day Lt. Clouse, From Cleveland, Ohio, Said to Pete and me, We are going on a reconissance. He got a jeep with a driver and Pete and I were sitting in the back with our M1s riding down the road toward a small city. We were on the outskirts when we seen all of these soldiers lined up laying on the ground. He told the driver to proceed and I thought there was something funny about all of those soldiers laying on the ground back there. We were about a quarter mile past them now. All of a sudden bullets started hitting around us and the driver  stopped the jeep and we bailed off and hit the ground. We were behind the line.

Soon the Lieutenant had realized what we had done and he jumped in the jeep and started it turned it around and yelled for us to jump on. We jumped on and got out of there with bullets smashing all around us. The front line troops had opened up to help cover our retreat. I bet they thought what a bunch of rookies we were.

The Lieutenant said, He was sorry fellows I guess I didn’t realize where we were. We just forgot about it and glad someone didn’t get hit. We ran into these crazy situations all of the time. Just glad to get out with our skin.

One morning two Nuns came walking through our lines carrying a white flag and wanted to speak to the Commandant.. They said there were many people that had been driven into an Iron Ore Mine from all of the shelling on the outskirts of the City of Essen and they had no food, water or bathroom facilities. The Germans made them stay inside and wouldn’t let them come out even for bathroom duties.

It was decided to mount an all out drive and push the Germans out of Essen. The artillery and the bombing increased and one morning we were told to move out and we were on the push to capture Essen. On our way we passed many dead animals  in the fields. Also dead civilians and dead German soldiers that had been caught in the bombing and artillery fire. We came to the Iron Ore Mine and all of the people was coming out and relieving themselves along the road without any modesty at all. The situation was so bad  the Medics had to lime the area to keep diseases down. We were marching nearby and it was terrible. I have never seen such a pitiful situation in my life and to think the German soldiers did this to their own people. There were old people, young people and children. They had a bewildered look in their eyes as they must have endured a lot of pain and suffering.

We pushed on toward Essen and the resistance was beginning to lighten up a bit. We began to capture old men and young boys in uniform and with weapons but they didn’t seem to have any food as soldiers usually do. They looked tired and haggard and was very glad to surrender. We would line them up and they would be stripped of everything but their clothing. We watched them very closely as there has been known to be a few fanatics in some of these groups and we weren’t taking any chances. They were marched off to the rear and I don’t know what ever happened to them. Probably to a temporary prison camp and shipped to a more permanent one until the war was over. We moved into the city of Essen. I remember how beautiful the green hills were and the grass was growing and the flowers were starting to bloom and the trees budding out. The time was early April and a lot of time had passed since I had joined the 79th in Hatten and Rittershoffen on January 17th my birthday. There were times when we didn’t know what day of the month it was. We made our way through the city or what was left of it and there was destruction everywhere. There was hardly a house that didn’t have some damage and some were craters from a direct hit from the bombs that had fallen. There were white flags hanging from just about every window and there was no people to be seen. They had been told that the Americans were very cruel and they were afraid until we showed them we meant them no harm.

We bedded down for the night and guards were always posted. Two guards at a time in the combat zone. Passwords were used and it was kind of a tense situation. No one of the civilian population was allowed out on the streets at night and few soldiers. If you didn’t have business you better stay inside. You could get shot by your own men if you weren’t careful.

We fell out one morning and marched to a large house in the middle of the city. It was very large and had a high Iron fence around it.We were all lined up like we were going to do some close order drill. The order was parade rest and everyone assumed that position. The Company Commander, Captain Sam Westerfelt and two soldiers one on each side of the Captain marched up the walk to the house. The Captain with his regulation.45 side arm and the two soldiers with slung M1 rifles walked up to the door and the Captain knocked. We soldiers could see what was happening from where we were standing. A man answered the door and  a couple of minutes later the man came out with his hat and coat on and walked in front of the captain and the two soldiers to a waiting army jeep.

The Captain asked the man to sit in the back of the jeep and they drove away.

That man was Alfried Krupp. The date was April 11,1945.

I was within 20 feet of him and we all got a good look at the man who had provided the tools for so much death and devistation.

Captain Westerfelt  had bestowed upon Headquarters Company 3rd. Battilon, 313th Infantry Regiment,  79th Infantry  Division the Honor of witnessing the arrest of Alfried Krupp.

 

( A note about the Krupp family )

 

From 1857 to 1968, members of the Krupp dynasty, the worlds largest manufactuers of armament and ammunition, dominated the German city of Essen. When the drums of German conquest rolled in 1870, 1914 and 1939,it was Krupp factories that provided first Prussia and then the German empire with field guns, shells, tanks, battleship armor and floatillas of submarines – always at immense profit to the house of Krupp.

Arndt Krupp (died 1624), the first member of the family to settle in Essen (now in West Germany), arrived before a plague epidemic and bought large tracts of land from the fleeing natives.

Although Arndt and the four generations of Krupps who succeeded him grew wealthy, the familys rise to international significance did not begin until Friedrich Krupp (1787-1826) founded the dynastys cast-steel factory in 1811. Friedrichs son, Alfred, was born on April 26, 1812, in Essen. Although he was eccentric, had difficulty sleeping and was suspicious of everyone, he succeeded brilliantly in the art of casting steel and was the Krupp responsible for the beginning of the munitions business. Known variously as Alfred the Great and the Cannon King. Alfred perfected his technique by manufacturing rails and seamless steel railroad wheels. Then he turned to guns.

In 1851 his cast-steel cannon was the senseation of Londons Grystal Palace Exibition. In the Franko-Prussian War of 1870, the Prussians largely owed their triumph to Krupps field guns, whose accuracy and range easily outperformed Napolen III’s bronze artillery. Almost overnight Krupps guns became a status symbol for 19th-century nations.

In many ways Alfred Krupp was the founder of modern warfare. But he was also the first industrial to introduce sick pay, a free hospital for his workmen and their families, pensions,and homes for retired workers. By the time of his death on July 14, 1887, he had armed 46 nations. As much as any other individual, he had set the stage for World War 1.

Alfreds son, Friedrich Alfred Krupp, was born in 1854. He shared his fathers uncanny business sense and remarkable gift for management and tripled his own fortunes in a seven-year span. Public outrage over events in his private life plauged him, however, and he committed suicide in 1902, leaving his teenage daughter, Bertha (1886-1957), an heiress.. Because it was unthinkable for Germanys most martial industry to be run by a woman,The emperor himself found Bertha a husband, Gustov von Bohlen und Halbach (1870-1950), a prussian diplomat. The emperor gave the bride away, and as a surprise for the newlyweds, he had the grooms name changed to Gustov Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach. The couple was thus granted the privilege of passing on not only the family fortune but also the Krupp name to their eldest son.

In World War I Gustav Krupp provided many memorable contributions to Germanys arsenal One, named in honor of his wife, was the 98-ton Big Bertha howitzer that shelled Liege and Verdun. Because the Germans lost, the war was, on the whole, bad business for Krupp. But with the money earned from a pre-war agreement with a Brittish manufactuer of artillery shells (which placed him in the akward position of having profited from Germanys war dead) and with subsidies from the German government, he began secretely arming Germany. He helped finianced the Nazis so-called “terror election” of 1933, which tightened Hitlers grip on the reigns of government. As president of Germanys equivalent of the United States Chamber of Commerce, Krupp expelled all Jewish industrialists and became one of the countrys most ardent Nazis.

Meanwhile, the Krupps oldest son, Alfried (born on August 13,1907, in Essen),  had been a member of the Nazi elite since 1931. He devoted his time to improving an anti-aircraft, anti-tank, anti-personell 88-millimeter gun, a weapon that was first used in the Spanish Civil War and, a decade later, became the most famous artillery piece in World war II

Even before 1939, the extent of the familys wealth had been staggering. Now Alfried augmented this empire by seizing property in every country conquered by Germany. When Robert Rothschild refused to sign over his French holdings to Alfried, Rothschild was sent to Auschwitz consentration camp and murdered. It was incidents of this kind, together with his exploitation of slave labor, that put Alfried in the prisoners dock at the Nuremburg war-crimes after the war. The Nuremburg tribunal sentenced him to 12 years in prison and ordered him to forfeit all his property. However, in 1950 Krupp was granted amnesty by the United States high commissoners in American-occupied Germany and all of his holdings were restored. He rebuilt the family firm and by the early 1960s was worth more than a billion dollars.

Then the family suffered two blows from which it would not recover. Short term notes for money borrowed from Eastern European firms came due during Germanys recession of 1966-67. The only way Krupp could meet these commitments was to give up sole control of his firm, opening it to investments and selling stock. At the same time Alfrieds only son, Arndt, named after the familys founder, decided he did not wish to take over the family business and renounced his succession rights. Alfried died on July 30,1967, the firm became a corporation in January 1968. The dynasty that had ruled for almost four centuries had come to an end.

 

With the development of improved ammunition, such as the armor-piercing shell and the proximity fuse, artillery played broader roles in combat. During both wars, armies used artillery as major weapons against tanks, airplanes, fortifications and massed troop formations. Rockets and guided Missles, were the next generation.

We knew that we had shut down Hitlers war machine and it wouldn’t be long until the war would be over. About a year later back in the States, Look magizine published an article on Alfred Krupp and on the cover was a picture Of Captain Westerfelt, the jeep driver and Alfred Krupp sitting in the back of the jeep just like I had seen on that morning of April 11,1945 in Essen Germany.

It had been over three weeks since we started our push across the Rhine and now here we were in Essen the Heartland of Germany. The people started to mingle on the streets forging for food. There were a few shops but they didn’t have much to offer. It was too late to plant crops and there was no gasoline to operate any cars that they may have had. The German Army had stripped the land of everything to feed their Armies.  Most all of the livestock had been killed or stolen, About the only thing the people had was potatoes and they may get a late crop of that. There was no game of any kind. No wild animals. Hardly a bird could be seen. Devistation everywhere. The buildings had fallen in on the streets and we had to wind our way through the city to move on with our vehicles and tanks.

Soon we were relieved and we travelled to the City of Hamm Germany for a rest. We knew that the war couldn’t last much longer. We relaxed in Hamm and got some good kitchen food from the mess hall and that was a treat since we had been eating K rations and 10 in one rations when we could get them for the past three weeks.. Now this mess hall food was tasting pretty good. Jack Jaber a jeep driver who was from Johnstown, Pa. he said, When the war is over I am going to fire this .50 Calibre machine gun in celebration. It had been mounted on his jeep all across Europe. Finally VE Day in Europe, We were all celebrating and congratulating each other. The war was over, We could go home. That evening after dark, Jack went out and opened up with that .50 cal. machine gun and everyone ran out thinking the war had started again. He almost was court marshalled for that action. Colonel Porter chewed him unmercifully and threatened a court marshall. The end of the war constituted a quiet Zone and no one fired a rifle unless in the line of duty. Poor old Jack really felt bad about that as he didn’t know and the war was just declared over. We stayed in Hamm for a couple of weeks and one morning we fell out and we were told that  the 79th was going to the C.B.I. Theatre of operation. (China, Burma, India.) Damn, I thought we would be going home. We stayed in Hamm for a time and were doing police duty around the city and wore MP helmets to keep the peace until the Military Government could get established and help set up local Governments again. Time passed by and we were told that there was an advanced party setting up for us to ship out to Burma. More time went by and then in August we heard the war was over in Japan.

The 79th Division was deactivated almost immediately in Europe and we fellows that had not been over seas very long would be transferred to the 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) for Army of Occupation duty in Germany. We were to proceed to Aschauffenburg, Germany to join the Big Red One. I didn’t know where this would take me but I was sure of one thing, I wasn’t going home.

We younger men said goodbye to our 79th Division associates and proceeded to Aaschaffenburg. When we checked in there and was a lot of younger fellows were there from different Divisions. Some were from the 102nd, 3rd and others. We were short timers in the European Theatre of Operation and we were selected to do Army of Occupation. The old timers would be going home because they had been in action for months.

We were billeted in a large building near the railroad station. By now the trains were running on a limited basis and the passenger trains were loaded with people going to different places and to their homes if they had any homes left. Germany lay in shambles. People who had escaped to other countrys away from the war was beginning to come back and find their families and pick up the pieces of their lives. There was barely any food and what there was had found its way to the black market. We were told early on not to eat any of the civilians food, but we would scrounge potatoes and make french fries. We had found a factory during our move across Germany that was filled with shortening and we had carried a carton of that with us and would make french fries during the evenings. I had found a stone crock full of eggs that had been preserved in salt and they were nice and fresh so we would have fried eggs and french fries. But now we were told not to eat any of the civilian foods. We had our own mess hall and plenty of food and that was all we were supposed to eat.

During mess small children would stand at the garbage can and rake out any food that we may not have eaten and put it in a can. You would feel so sorry for those poor little kids, and we used to take more food than we wanted so we would have something for the kids at the garbage can. Pretty soon the mess sargeant got wise and stopped that practice as he was having problems getting food to feed the troops. We stayed in Aschaffenburg for about six weeks doing nothing. maybe patrol ocasionally and we wondered why we were kept here with nothing to do. We had been on a fast pace getting to this point and now things had slowed down and we were beginning to be bored.

When we hit the combat zone our pay had been increased by $10.00 dollars and we were issued a Combat Infantry Badge and my monthly pay went to $62.00 per month. I was permoted th P.F.C. and my pay went up another $7.00 and I was at $69.00 per month less the $10.00 per month I was having deducted for War Bonds so had a few dollars to spend. During the war we were given cigarettes and accessories but now all of that had changed and I had to buy my cigarettes and toilet articles at the Army PX.  We had changed our Division insignia and now wore a 1st Division patch on our left shoulder and  was allowed to wear our old Division patch (79th) on our right shoulder.

Soon the 1st. Division would leave Ascauffenburg and I moved to the the city of Bamberg. We would stay here for six months. The 1st. Division would move into areas around Bamberg. The 1st. Division had the 16th-18th and 26th Infantry Regiments and I was in the 16th . I was in Headquarters Company 16th infantry Regiment of the 1st Division The Big Red One had made a name for itself during the war and was a very prestigeous outfit. And it was selected for occapational duty. We were looking at new faces now and our wire teams would go throughout the country side recovering all of the telephone wire that was not in use. The 1st Division would cover all of the American sector of Germany and we were spread out pretty thin. But we were hardened combat troops and we could cover a lot of area. We recovered a lot of wire in our sector, It would be hanging from poles in the city and that kept us busy. At night we would patrol the city as police wearing our white MP helmets and keeping order. There was two men to a jeep and we were armed with a.45 calibre pistol in a holster on our side. We didn’t have much problems as the population was still pretty well subdued from the war. Food was the big thing and there wasn’t much of that. As time passed you began to see more food in the shops and the people began to settle down to the life they had.

The Army began to funnel supplies to the civilian population and things were beginning to look a lot better. One big problem was housing, The Airforce had destroyed many many homes and the large Industrial Cities lay in Shambles. What they didn’t destroy the remainder was flattened by artillery from both the American and German Armies. Aachen, Koln, Stuttgart, Munich,Essen and any city where there was Industry was flat. We drove through Koln before the war was over and all you could standing was the large Cathedral which was protected by both sides because of its History.

Bamberg was a smaller city with not much Industry and didn’t have much damage. It was a beautiful city with the Rednitz River running through the city. Actually Bamberg was on an Island in that the city was encircled with water and you would have to cross a bridge over a river entering and leaving the city. It is late September and the weather was beginning to get cool a night. We had an enlisted mens club and also a NCO club(Non Commissioned Officers)  and we were beginning to get G.I. again now that the war was over. We enlisted men had our own place to hang out and drink beer and a German Band playing  music. We would go there nights and while away the time shooting the breeze and telling tall tales. It seemed almost everyone had a tale to tell. Some about the time they shot the tires off a Heinie motorcycle with two soldiers on it with a .50 calibre machine gun. And there was Billy R Shaw from down South. He would tell a big tall tale and what made it funny was, He believed it himself. he was a BS’er from the word go. You can tell those BS’ers, They like to get a big crowd around and tell stories. Well he thrived on this and I was glad he wasn’t in our outfit in the 79th. He came in from the 102nd division and  was nothing but a Goldbrick.

The wire Sargeant was nothing more than a pup and when he gave Billy R. a Tech.5 rating I took him to task. I told the wire Sargeant that if he was passing out ratings that I thought I deserved one . I was doing all of the work and that Goldbricking Billy R. was just goffing off and got a rating. That made the wire sargeant think and in a few days he told that my Tech. 5 rating was approved and I could wear my stripes. Now I could go to the NCO club and drink beer with the Sargeants and Corpals. This wasn’t my motive but it didn’t hurt either. ,Billy R. was still hanging around the enlisted mens club telling tall tales and didn’t go to the NCO Club as they had his number and he knew it.That club had a lot more class as no one was drunk and loud. NCOs were supposed to conduct  themselves in a Gentlemanly manner, But a lot of them didn’t. I didn’t have the responsibility of a Corpal but I had the rank and the pay. I was beginning to see this as becoming a political situation like in basic training.

When we were in combat we acted on our own a lot and there was no standing reville or retreat and KP and other GI situations to deal with, Now the war was over and we were going GI again. I really didn’t mind this but some of the stripes we had to deal with was beginning to burn my butt. We had some good guys too. and soon I would transfer out of the wire section and go into the motor pool. They needed a jeep driver to run message center between Battilon and Regiment and I took the job. Now I was out of that gang and I had joined a group of really nice fellows. Sargeant Henry F. Clayton of Etowah,Tennessee was the motor pool Sargeant and he was a real nice guy.

I was now running message center from Bamberg to Bayreuth and return. Message center is like being a mail carrier. I would deliver messages to Batillion Hqs. in Bayreuth and return. I really liked this job as I was able to see some new country that we hadn’t travelled through during the war. We were now in Baveria and the people here were very nice. They weren’t hit as hard as some of the other cities and they seemed to be more at ease with our presence. I was bunking with Pete even though he was still in the wire section. We had picked up a German radio and was listening to all of the pop tunes that were current. There were high power radio stations now in the ETO and they were playing all of the old tunes by all of the famous Bandleaders. The station was AFN 9th Army. We had been in the 3rd, 7th and 9th Armies during the war. Now the 9th army was in europe as part of the occupation and set up a powerful AM radio station in Dresden. The station could be heard all over Germany. It was put on the air as a morale builder with all of the old tunes and the new tunes that was coming out.

Johnny McDougald had a great program of music of the oldies at 5:PM and we would always tune in to his program. The name of his program was Bouncing In Bavaria and his theme song was Harry James Trumpet Blues. We would listen to the wee hours of the morning. This was great as it was a little piece of home.

The Red Cross had an installation in Bamberg and they had German workers that would bake great doughnuts and every morning and I would go pick up fresh doughnuts for the motor pool and we would have them with coffee every morning. Life began to lighten up a bit. I had met a lady and was spending some time with her. We would go to the club and have a few beers.  The population was not able to get beer as yet and later they would be able to get 3.2 beer which had less alcohol content. It was not quite time for them to celebrate yet.

I hung around with this Lady quite a bit. She had two children, A boy and a little girl. We would go to outings on Saturday like a fair where there was animals and rides etc. The kids would go on the rides and we would spend the day and as the September air would be cool we would take the children home. She was in her mid tewntys and I was 19 years of age. I would ask her about her husband and she would say, He is off in another city looking for work. I never seen him but she seemed to know his schedule. He may have been sought after by the American Army and was trying to evade them. I remember he came home one night all drunked up and I had to slip out of the apartment after he went into another room. She was always very protective of me. We would go places during the evening and her friend would baby sit her kids.

I was  running my routes every day and seeing her during the evenings. her name was Frau Helga Schmidt. That is all I ever knew of her name. The Army had been gathering evidence against the German Criminals that had executed so many Jews during the war. I had never actually seen one of those camps even though we were very close to them. I had no desire to see them and kept my distance when the opportunity presented itself. The Trial of the Nazi Criminals were to be held in Nuremburg which was only about 30 miles South of Bamberg. We could go to the trials on a selected basis and as no one was interested I could have gone every day. I always seemed to have other things to do.

That was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I could have seen all of those Criminals of Germany on trial for their crimes against Humanity. Anyway hindsight seems to be 20/20. I had seen Alfred Krupp,so I suppose I thought that was enough. After the war I wanted to distance myself as far away from that as possible. I was probably as anxious as the German population was to get away from that and do something else The German people would invite us Soldiers to have Christmas dinner with them as they were very grateful that the war was over.

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