75th Anniversary of V-E Day...
A collection of stories from our 65th Veterans...
The following letter was reprinted from “Just Good Stories ...2”.
Where were you when World War II ended? Submitted by: William Farrell, Jr., Springfield NJ
WORLD WAR II - THE LAST DAY
Imagine moving into the concentrated strength of the German Army on the last day of World War II, May 7, 1945. I led a combat patrol deep into enemy territory on that fateful, final day! Our unit was ordered to continue to lead the attack by the Third Army moving deep into Austria on the way to Vienna. We were F Company, 261st Regiment, 65th Division of the Third Army, General George Patton commanding. My outfit was ordered to move out on a railroad bridge at the crack of dawn. The bridge crossed the Enns River. This was Enns, Austria on the Enns River joining the Danube River. Crossing the river brought us to the deepest penetration in Germany.
Being in command, I ordered two scouts out onto the enormous open field where in the far, far distance were heavy woods and low lying hills, With scouts way ahead, I moved out ordering my platoon of 30 infantrymen to follow with wide dispersion among them. We safely crossed most of the fields and came upon a very small village, a little more than a dozen homes. My troops moved systematically onto each side of the rows ready for house to house combat. Like well trained and experienced GIs, they carefully took control, captured a few Germans without difficulty and secured the locale.
Then the most astonishing thing happened- a few natives came out on to the street and placed flowers in front of us- a peace offering. They were also glad to see the American Army because many miles away was the Russian Army coming on. These people preferred the American occupation. Our unit continued on and then before noon received a radio message to return to our base, defend ourselves only- The war was over!
It took some time to return to the railroad bridge but before we reached our destination, the German Army started moving out of the distant woods almost a mile away. Before too long, the open areas had several large columns of German soldiers. They were coming to surrender, according to the peace terms. They could capitulate to us until midnight. There was a road bridge and the railroad bridge over the Enns. By afternoon the enemy was marching to us over the bridges. Before midnight we took 250,000 German prisoners- fully armed! Then the bridges were barricaded waiting for the Russian Army to occupy the area east of the Enns River.
The following day, I met a German officer who could speak perfect English- he said the Russian Army was coming across the rivers to get the Germans. I said, "No." Then he said we should go together to march on Moscow to end the communist threat.
Our mission was accomplished. Our small combat patrol had continued to press the attack to speed the end of the fighting. A most unusual day!
The end of World War II - V.E. Day.
VE DAY – VICTORY IN EUROPE 75th ANNIVERSARY MAY 8, 1945 – MAY 8, 2020
On this day 75 years ago our heroic 65th Infantry Division had completed their 850 mile march in 55 days of combat across Germany and into Austria as the Spear of Patton’s Third Army. While the American people were dancing in Times Square our loved ones, our fathers, surely must have caught a few hours sleep and maybe a little something to drink.
Today we fight another type of world-wide enemy and sadly celebrations around the world have had to be cancelled. We all should pause for at least amount to pay tribute to our brave and heroic veterans who fought to sustain a freedom we cherish. Some never returned home to enjoy the fruits of their sacrifice. To those who lay at rest since that day of sacrifice we especially pay tribute.
To honor the 65th Infantry Division and our beloved veterans who served we wanted to share with you these words that were written shortly after VE Day, 1945. (see below)
2019-2021 President, 65th Infantry Division Association
WAR ENDS IN EUROPE
Excerpt from Just Good Stories- Volume 2
AFTER THE WAR -- OCCUPATION Submitted by Norman Barson, Intelligence Section, HQ 2nd Battalion, 261st
When the war ended, we had been in Enns, Austria, for several days. We were to wait at the Enns River for the Russians to meet us. To all intents and purposes, the war was over. We heard of jeep patrols sent out across the river who drove right past manned German gun emplacements. No attempt was made to fire on our jeeps.
I particularly remember May 7, 1945. I was on duty at the Battalion C.P., responsible for keeping the log. The message came down from Regimental Headquarters announcing the Commander, Colonel Richards, brought me the message, and it was my pleasure to enter it into the log. There wasn't any great hilarity or shouting, but everyone sat around quietly, smiling a lot. There was still a war going on in the Pacific, and we didn't know if we were going to go there next. Still, it was a happy day.
The following letter was reprinted from “Right to Be Proud”.
May 7, 1945
Subject: End of War
To: The Officers and Men of the 65th Infantry Division
Today is a happy day for all of us. And for me it is also a day which I will long remember with pride. I have seen your sacrifice, hard work and willing discipline play its important part in bringing to a successful close the war in Europe. A war which would not have been won without an unprecedented degree of teamwork between our officers and men and among divisions, armies and even nations.
I have watched “fillers” become combat infantrymen and untested officers become battle leaders. I have seen our wounded and counted our dead. I feel with you your deep sorrow for your lost comrades, and I now rejoice with you that their sacrifice has brought peace and justice to the western world. But I realize, as you must too, that this is only a temporary respite.
Our job is not and cannot be done until Japan suffers the same punishment as was dealt Germany and Italy for the same crime. Whatever our coming assignment, whether in the Pacific or elsewhere, I know from your past performance that it will be performed willingly, unselfishly, and heroically.
S. E. Reinhart
Commanding, 65th Infantry
The following letter was reprinted from “Just Good Stories ...Volume 1”.
Submitted by Joseph B Kushlis, 260th
...That day we rolled along the highway leading into Linz. Word had filtered down to us that the war had just about ended. We could sense it. Resistance was almost nonexistent. We were covering ground fast, and we knew teh Russians were not far ahead. Scattered enemy groups, when encountered, surendered without firing a shot. Security precaution had deteriorated to the point where men had laid down their rifles in teh truck amidst field packs and rations. Then suddenly a battery of German 88's, positioned in Linz, opened up on us. We were caught completely off guard. The truck drivers (mostly all colored boys(, on order ran their trucks off the highway, into the fields to make a turnabout and get out of range. So unexpected at this point was the barrage, that one truck driver (ours) was overheard asking the other: "What are those- German shells?" "Brother," came back the classic reply, "they sureazhell ain't rubber balls, because they ain't a-bouncin!" "Let's get outahere!"
CEASE FIRING ORDER COMES AT 1045 ON MONDAY.
FORMAL WORD FROM THE “3 POWERS” FOLLOWS . . .
Reprinted from “65th Division Daily Bulletin” – May 7, 1945
"The war in Europe is over.
The announcement of V-E Day was flashed from the capitals of the “Big 3 Powers” at 2000 tonight.
First announcement of the end of the war against Germany was a secret order which first reached the 65th Division at 1045 on Monday ordering that all troops cease firing as the “unconditional surrender” of all German ground, sea and air forces had been received.
The announcement of the end of the war found 65th Division troops still hammering at hold-out SS forces east of captured LINZ and only a few miles from a junction with Russian forces driving from the east. The rest of General Patton’s US 3rd Army, north of the 65th, was driving through Czechoslovakia at war’s end.
General Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, accepted the surrender at 0141 Monday morning. It was signed for the US by Lt. Gen. W. B. Smith, SHAEF chief of staff. Tomorrow President Truman and Prime Minister Churchill will both speak. Present at the surrender were US, British, Soviet and French military representatives."