Walter E. hughes
My arrival back to the Company was at a good time. We had been relieved and entrained on 40& 8ths back to France. To a place called Laon it gave my foot a chance to heal with the help of Doc. Kane our company Medic. Under his care and on light duty, my feet returned to almost normal. The company received re-placements and the rumors were we would be jumping into Berlin, Heading or the Pacific, Going home, You could take your pick of where the Division was going, depending on who was spreading the rumors. As it turned out we headed toward the Rhine (namely Cologne) again in 40& 8's to take up positions along the west bank of the Rhine, We were opposite a large force of German troops in what we learned later was the Ruhr Pocket. Again the 504 took to the water, with patrols crossing back and forth, and continuous shelling a nd fighting. The War might be nearing an end, but the casualties continued to mount. And on April 8 under a ferocious shelling I woke up on the hood of a jeep being rushed to the cider blue aid station again with shrapnel wounds in my back arm and side. The same shelling got Cecil Curry, Harry Crawford, Al Duhm, Sgt Ed Klescewski, Sgt Alex Miller, and Maurice Bledsoe. Fortunately all of us survived and most were back on duty within two weeks. There would be more firefights on both sides of the River. We were getting to be real water rats. One patrol was described in the Germany Edition of the 504 paper, “Prop Blast” The heading was, PATROL GOES SWIMMING AS BOAT BOTTOM FALLS OUT. They were returning across the Rhine Seven I/Co men, after stirring the Krauts up to a white hot heat. As mortar rounds, and machine guns boiled the river around them, it was nip and tuck and their destiny hung in the balance… When the bottom of the boat fell out. It saved us, stuttered PFC Hughes,(myself) through chattering teeth. It lowered our silhouette a hell of a lot just when we needed a low silhouette most. Later someway, minus a lot of equipment, and looking like a litter of drowned rats the boat load got to the West bank and back to the company. This type of action continued until late April when we were relieved by elements of an Infantry division, and we moved to just South of Hamburg by again those 40 and 8's finally to The Elbe River. With most German resistance spotty the War seemed to be over as Division sized units were surrendering to the 82 nd . It was scary to see thousands of enemy (still fully armed) desperately passing through our lines so as not to be captured by the advancing Russians sometime in the first week of May we made contact with the Russian troops. At first there was some cautious greetings, but then when the booze started to flow, and the enormity of the fact that the War was now un-officially over hit us. It was one big continuous party to see who could out drink the other. But it was over, thank God.
I sat alone by a small farmhouse that still had a white flag hanging from the window, and for the second time since joining the Regiment in England I cried. I cried, for the men who we left behind in Holland, Belgium, France, and Germany, I cried, and thanked God for whatever reason I was spared. I never lost faith that I would survive and return home, but as the reality hit me that, yes the Brooklyn Kid made it. I took out a piece of paper I started writing just after I left the Hospital in Paris, and I finished the last sentence, Dear Mom, I'm on the way Home. The war was officially over on May 9 th and while many of the high Pointer men would leave the Division, I chose to stay and go to Berlin and come home with the division to march in New York. My time in Berlin is a story in itself. But for now my War Remembrances are over. I have covered much but have barely touched it all. my memory has a lot to be desired. I said it before; I served with some of the finest soldiers in the world. The Sgt's and the Officers from Captain Burris down were the reason so many of us survived. They were truly the best, as we say in the Airborne, “ALL THE WAY!”
WALTER E. HUGHES, (THE BROOKLYN KID)
DEVIL IN BAGGY PANTS
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