But the raid finally came off, Feb. 25, and in a few days we were back on the track toward home, this time by train (still 40 and 8s) to Weissenberg, north of Munich about 150 miles. Weissenberg looked like a nice little town as we drove through it on trucks. Our living quarters there were going to be in an old medieval castle high on a mountain above the town, about an hour's walk-- straight up. There were about thirty rooms in the huge building, each room about the size of a small house, central heating, a few electric lights, ice-cold running water and semi-modern latrines. A little history of the castle might be interesting: The site was first used by monks in the year 749 AD but the castle as we saw it was built by a German earl during the years 1588-1604. The castle was complete with a deep moat (never filled with water), drawbridge, scores of underground caverns (which we explored by flashlight), watchtowers, a dungeon, and a chapel, which incidentally was built right above the dungeon. The original owner had used the castle as a prison for political and war prisoners. During the Thirty Years War, 1618-1648, King Gustav Adolf of Sweden and his forces tried unsuccessfully for two years to enter the castle. Even to this day it would be almost impossible for infantrymen or tanks, without air support, to cross the moat and gain access to the castle. Before the present war the place had been used as a convalescent hospital for German war veterans and sick children. During the war, however, it contained Russian and civilian prisoners.
....It seemed to us that the castle, with its moat and barbed wire, dungeon and caverns and barred windows, had been intended principally for a prison -- and now we were virtually prisoners in it ourselves. No passes were allowed and the town, if anyone cared for the long walk down the mountain, was occupied by Negro troops and most of the entertainment spots were off-limits to us -- even if we wanted to share them with the colored boys.
After two weeks of solitary confinement (on March 15) we left Weissenberg by train (this time, wonder of wonders, in stripped-down passenger coaches with triple-decker beds) and four days later had crossed half of Germany and the northern part of France to move into Camp Philip Morris at LeHavre, the French port where I landed 17 months ago.
Post-war LeHavre was quite a change from the mudhole I remembered. Instead of tents with dirt floors we stayed in wooden barracks and slept on cots. Post exchanges, theaters, Red Cross clubs were spread liberally over the entire camp and everything was connected by a camp bus service or concrete walks if one preferred to walk. The weather was ideal and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay here but wondered from day to day when "our ship" would arrive. The great day finally dawned on March 26....the 66th Infantry Regiment, first battalion, was scheduled to ship! At 8 o'clock we were at the shipyards and by 10 had boarded the New Bern Victory, carrying 1,300 men, a comparatively small ship on which most of us felt certain we would be stricken with sea-sickness. At 3 o'clock that afternoon we hoisted anchor, cast off the ropes and were towed by two tow boats out into the harbor. A few minutes more and we were out of sight of France. All the months of rain, mud, snow, mountains, pillboxes, misery and death were behind us.
No more guard duty, no more occupation, no more bombed cities. We were going home! The trip across was uneventful. The sea was rough most of the time but only a few of us were sick. I spent most of the time on deck where there was plenty of fresh air, read books, and watched the endless ocean. Seven days later, about 10 o'clock at night, we glimpsed the first sights of New York and from then until 1 o'clock on the following morning, April 4, when we dropped anchor in New York harbor, we never left the railing of the ship. At 8 the same morning, we slid into our dock and began the slow process of debarking. Red Cross workers formed the only reception committee, supplying us with doughnuts, coffee.... and fresh milk, the first we had had since leaving the states.
We moved rapidly then -- from the dock to a ferry, past the Statue of Liberty to New Jersey, by train to Camp Kilmer, N.J., where we stayed for two days before leaving for separation centers all over the country. I went to Jefferson Barracks, Mo, (by Pullman) and on April 9, 1946, I received my honorable discharge from the Army. That night I arrived home at Brunswick -- a free man!
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