VE to VJ Day: Occupation

Biggest spectacles of this period were the colorful caravans of displaced persons heading toward home by any possible conveyance: American and British trucks, confiscated German vehicles of all kinds, and horse-drawn wagons. Throngs of Russian, Belgian, Dutch, Polish, Slav and French men, women and children trudged purposefully down the Autobahn, shoving their tattered belongings in baby carriages, pushcarts, and whatever else could be found with wheels. On one occasion, a DP caravan including four camels was sighted near Gotha. All the DPs sported national flags, and the sunlit woods resounded with dancing and homeland songs in a dozen different languages, some sad, some boisterous. Particularly tuneful were the Russian DPs, heading for home atop First Army trucks, waving hammer-and-sickle banners and pumping accordions.

During this period, the 89thÕs GIs also enjoyed good times. Rest and Recreation (R&R) facilities became available. Evenings were taken up with long discussions on the point system and non-fraternization regulation. [Webmaster's Note: That's the official version but, more likely, the GIs (of all ranks) were planning and successfully executing liaisons with young ladies in a new born sprit of internationalism.]

On May 17 came the long awaited orders for movement out of Germany by motor and rail but without many of the special units that had been attached to the Division. There probably never was a wilder crop of rumors than was put out by the Bierstube league on the occasion of the final move out of Germany. There still was a war going on with Japan. Nearly everyone had reasoned the 89th Division would be one of the first to be redeployed from ETO to the Pacific. One school had the Division pegged for shipment by way of Marseille. Some had Antwerp, LeHarve, and other Atlantic ports as the Division's objective. There even was a whispered tale handed down from somebody-who-knew somebody who-knew-somebody that the way had been secretly smoothed to go to China via Russia. Little did the outfit know that it was about to gain a slightly different perspective on the scorned "rear-echelon commandos" who had been supplying it with food, ammunitions, clothing, medicine and other essentials of life during the late winter and spring. The 89th Division was to work side by side with service troops in the communications zone area for most of the rest of its active career!

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