VE to VJ Day: Cigarette Camps
Proceeding across Germany and France by trucks and trains, the troops were routed/delivered to railheads and assembly areas located in the three main cigarette camps in Normandy: Lucky Strike, near St. Valery-en-Caux; Twenty Grand, near Duclair; and Old Gold centered on Yvetot. Division headquarters was located at Bois-Guillaume, near Rouen. And at this time various grim facts of life came to the attention of Division personnel. Far from heading speedily home, the Division was to process other troops for shipment to the States, some to be discharged, others to be redeployed to the Pacific Theater.
Supreme Headquarters told the Division that selection for this duty was not a reflection on its combat record or efficiency, but "the contrary is true". The mission assigned was an extremely important one, which if sloppily executed, would bring disrepute on the Army and engender dissatisfaction among the troops being redeployed. It was at this time that General Finley announced [but not all ranks heard it] that in accordance with an overall plan for demobilization issued by the War Department, the 89th together with some twenty additional divisions had been designated to become inactive upon returning to the States.
"The combat days of your outfit in this war are over," General Finley said. "Germany is licked; Japan is on the way out; there isn't enough war left to go around. I shall not try to explain why we are among those to be inactivated, because I do not know. Some of the best divisions over here are included. As good soldiers we must accept wholeheartedly the decision of higher authorities. Also as good soldiers, we will accept the fact that many of us are short-timers in combat and must expect to be transferred to other units to replace high-point men who have a better right than we to go home."
Webmaster Note: In retrospect, I didn't even know this, many ex-ASTPers, like myself, and ex-Air Corps cadets, can reflect on the irony of again becoming prime candidates as replacements, a very likely event without the dropping of the atomic bomb.
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