Remembrances: James Hahs-Sailors Inside Germany
Our Service Company had established a temporary pause area in a meadow after we had passed a stone cliff corner by many miles. As we pulled off the blacktop road into a large grassy meadow, I noted a small arched stone bridge spanning a small stream with no roadway crossing it. For some strange reason I recalled my 9th grade English teacher drumming "The Canterbury Tales" into our nonchalant heads. The book had illustrations and one was the caravan crossing such a bridge. I scored "one" for the teacher for making it stick. We "set up shop" for the duties we performed. The day was a comfortable one and we set about whatever tasks we had at hand. I think we stayed there two nights.
The Engineers had set up a Water Point about a hundred or so yards from out location and were processing water from the stream. This was new to me, but it answered the question about not drinking the water unless it was supplied in five-gallon cans.
Whatever my work assignment was it kept me busy most of the day and I paid no attention to the passing convoys. Evening approached and chow was served. When I went to my bedding spot I looked up and noticed a long convoy seemed to be making a rest stop. I was surprised to see guys wearing sailor hats sitting all over the cargo of landing boats on semi trailers. I walked within hailing distance and shouted a joking remark. "Hey, you swab jockeys! Are you Lost?" Their reply was something in the order of - "We are not lost, we heard that you dogfaces needed a little help so here we are." They were not subject to conversation and did not discuss their reason for being there. The night soon closed in and I rolled up in my f__t sack within a blanket and wrapped with my shelter-half and pulled my tent rope which was entwined through the eyelets in such a manner to form a cocoon which was handy to place under a parked truck, or other shelter, when it rained. I slept soundly and never heard the convoy start up and move on, for they were gone when I awoke at dawn.
I listened and observed for days afterward, and after our Regiment had crossed the Rhine at St. Goar & St. Goarshausen. I saw no boats like those on the semi trailers that evening. Our company waited on the St. Goar bridgehead while the pontoon bridge was being completed. We went up or down stream and crossed on another bridge and returned to St. Goarhausen and set up quarters overnight for the next day. We spent a day in St.Goarshausen and looked, in vain along the banks for any sign of those boats or the sailors with no sign of their presence of being.
This was a puzzle to me for years and years for I never ran across any mention of the Sailors being part of that maneuver. A week ago I visited the STARS AND STRIPES MUSEUM AND LIBRARY, in Bloomfield Missouri, which is only 25 miles from Sikeston (my home) in search of other information and ran across an article including a photograph of these sailors and connecting them with a crossing of the Rhine. Can any of you survivors append this story?. I have sent the article from the Stars and Stripes ahead to the web page in hopes that it may be included with my story. I have previously had two other stories from the Rhine crossing printed in issues several years ago.
In case any of you do not know, Bloomfield Missouri is the birthplace of the Stars and Stripes, started in the Civil War. It is well worth the time to make a side-track visit if you travel through south Missouri.