Rhine Revisited by Gregory E Bandlow

Note: Gregory Bandlow is the stepson of Darrel Carnell.

Dawn broke, the air was moist, and a haze enveloped the river bank on the far side. The imposing outline of a castle could just be made out. A sentinel on the far bank, perched high above the river. As we made our way down the river bank to the awaiting boat that would carry us across the Rhine, for a moment I though I could hear the chatter of distant gun fire. No, it was only in my imagination, for I was tying to put myself in the shoes of a good friend of mine, my father, who stood on these same banks 56 years ago almost to the day as he waited for his crossing of the Rhine.

On this glorious morning the river was peaceful. A far cry from the danger that existed years ago. A determined enemy did not wait for us on the opposite bank. As we boarded the boat, my only preoccupation was that of my daughters. I had been given an opportunity of a lifetime, an opportunity to take my two daughters to Germany on a summer tour to learn of their heritage. A heritage that has been given to us, past down to us, for safe keeping by those brave men who crossed the Rhine so many years ago. As I looked around at my two children and my fellow travelers, I wondered how many knew, or even thought of the sacrifices of those young men on the morning of 26 March 1945. They were about to embark a on history making event. We could only learn about that history and relive that history. A point I did not waste on my children nor my fellow travelers. I though how ironic, that of all the places along the Rhine, where we could be crossing, it would be in the exact same location as my father and his division, the Eighty-ninth.

At the time our tour was planned, I had no idea that this was the case. It was only in subsequent discussions with my father prior to our departure that it became somewhat evident that we were going to cross the Rhine in nearly the same location. He asked that I make it a point to be on the lookout for several landmarks. I listened intently as he began to recall the places and the events of his memory. My father had given me a book on his divisional history that I read and studied before my departure. As I stood leaning against the railing of our boat I strained my eyes looking ahead tying to make out anything remotely familiar with the book or his descriptions.

I hope as you read this, it does not bring back bad memories, rather good ones, for know that your efforts and sacrifices were not wasted. Our lives and the freedoms we enjoy today are a direct result of those sacrifices and will never be forgotten.