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POW HOME

'The first time we saw the Yanks, we'd walked out onto the road and there was like a hospital on the corner and we were walking along the road, standing outside the hospital and we saw this tank coming down, me and Taffy. I says, "Here, what's this?"

'He says, "It's a Yankee!"

'And then there was another one behind it and then there was a wagon full of infantry. And then the first tank pulled up and the officer got out and he comes over to us and he says, "We'll be back this way in two hours and we'll pick you up then." But we weren't there then. We'd gone back to see that the woman and her family were all right. We didn't meet the Yanks again till the next day. So we met them twice.'

You didn't like the Russian soldiers?

'They were bloody Mongols, man. They'd shoot at anything in a peaked cap. Queer little bloody fellas! I forget what they were called. Ukrainians?

'At the finish, when we met the Russians and the Yankees we were all in the Market Place. All the village was out and we were standing there. Me and Taffy, the Russians and the Yankees. The Yankees came in one way and the Russians came in the other and we met right in the Market Place. All the bloody village was out around us. They had the schnapps bottle out. Somebody produced a couple of bottles of schnapps. And we were drinking and smoking cigars. And there was a bloke there he could speak Russian and he was like interpreting for us. And the Yanks were there. There was the Yanks, the Russians and me and Ben.'

Just you two out of the British POWs?

'Aye, and the bloody crowd round.'

What was the Germans' attitude to it all?

'They knew it was finished as far as they were concerned, in their section.'

You once mentioned the hospital and the wounded Germans?

'Aye, we went into the hospital. There was some Indians in the village, but we never used to see them. We used to see them marching sometimes. Well, after we'd been in the Market Place, we came up and this patrol of Russians went further up the street and we walked up behind them and we saw them go into the hospital and we went in. Taffy and me. And all the patients were there and this Indian. And there was two or three German soldiers there, wounded, they were in, too. And the Russians wanted to take the buggers and get them out. Take them away. And we still had this interpreter with us. He belonged in Bad Schmiedeberg and there was a Russian--he was a doctor--he could patter a bit of German. And we talked them over into letting them stop there. And then we spotted the Indian. And we went over and he could speak a bit of English. Anyway, the next day, when we buggered off, we remembered about him and we went in and got him, put his coat on and that, got him dressed and put him in the back of the wagon. Aye, we went back with the Yankees, there was three of us altogether.

This was the journey to the Mulde River on the cart belonging to the old coal merchant.

'And then it got dark and they put us in this abandoned house. There
was no lights on and we had no matches so we just kipped on the
floor, somewhere, anyway, on chairs or something. And the next morning we opened this door and there was a lovely bedroom,

Extracts from the After Action Report of the US ARMY's 104th Infantry Division, 30th April 1945

OPERATIONS

The division assumed responsibility for an additional sector to the south, relieving elements of the 69th Infantry Division. All regiments patrolled east of the Mulde River, and contact with the RUSSIAN Allies was continued on the Elbe River. The division defended its sector, checked rear areas and conducted training, maintenance and rehabilitation.

413th Infantry

Continued to maintain defensive position; 1st and 2nd Battalion patrolled in platoon strength motorized to Elbe River. 2nd Battalion contacted RUSSIANS, 118th Infantry Division, at BAD SCHMIEDEBERG (4554). 1st Battalion contacted RUSSIAN outposts at DOMMITZSCH (5650). No resistance going out or coming back.

750th Tank Battalion

2 tanks from each platoon of Company B supported patrols from 1st and 2nd Battalions, 413th Infantry.