272nd Infantry Regiment
Lt. Col. Wayne G. Springer,
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Maj. James H. Shelton, Exec. Off. Capt. John. P. Raleigh Lt. Pheron G. Genaux, S2 Capt. Albert C. Davies, S3
Second Battalion History
It was drizzling rain the day the Battalion moved into the
mud of the line east of Honsfeld, Belgium.
The debris of the Battle of the Bulge was everywhere, telltale equipment
strewn throughout the thick woods, and on every trail and road.
GI canteens with vicious gashes torn in the metal, here an aid pouch
empty, its job done, here a packed dropped in hurried confusion.
But mute evidence showed the Jerries paid, too.
Eighty-eights with their guts split open, halftracks, tanks and dead
supermen were there who would never get back to watch on the Rhine.
Our assembly area, where we were destined to spend three
weeks, was a thick woods just 1,000 yards from the German border.
Long-range German artillery occasionally found its mark in our area, but
all were dug-in in every conceivable type of logged-over foxhole, so few
casualties were suffered. Company F had the first casualties while digging-in a reserve
position, when two enemy shells caught a chow line going after seconds.
The flurry over, the men still went after seconds.
“Looks like the rumor isn’t true about us being occupational troops
– we’re going to move up!”
We relieved the 2nd Battalion of the 273rd Infantry the
night of March 2, 1945, moving by truck up the International Highway to the
junction of the Ramschied Road. From
there on, it was a long, hard pull through slippery mud up the steep hill to
Geschied and the frontline foxholes. Men
were tense with expectation, and most spent a night of listening and waiting. Mortar
and Nebelwerfers that seemed to come from a ridge about 2,000 yards to our front
fell intermittently all through the night.
The next day was fairly quiet, with shelling at intervals, and patrols
operated in front of the Battalion sector without incident.
It was a forbidding-looking area, with a large ridge running parallel to
our front a few thousand yards away. Enemy
pillboxes were plotted on our maps, but in the snowy terrain, they could hardly
be distinguished. Observation posts
were in operation, but due to low visibility and snow, very little activity
could be observed in their lines. An
outpost line was established with Company F out on a lone hill 1,000 yards in
from of MLR (Main Line of Resistance) with Company E on a similar finger of
ground to their right. In F’s
sector, Jerry serenaded them with a morning and evening burp-gun chorus, while E
Company in Reschied was plastered on occasion with heavy artillery and mortar
fire. A shell caught some F Company
men digging new positions, so in a little while, one could see a litter squad
hurriedly trekking across eerie white snow and then, slowly returning, bearing
Days passed, and then came the weirdest move this Battalion
ever made. With the 271st Infantry
moving on our left, we received orders at dusk to advance to the vicinity of
Wittscheid in the valley to our front. The
Battalion was preceded by elements of F Company who had moved during the
afternoon. As the main body moved
down in front of Reschied, a wire jeep containing Sgt. Becer and Tec. 5 Cross
ran into a mine and blew sky high, but the troops continued on and down into
Wittscheid in one of the darkest moves we ever made. It was impossible to see the man directly in front, but
contact was maintained throughout, and the organization holed up in Wittscheid
until dawn, awaiting orders. We
were deep in a huge mined area.
Came the dawn and with it orders to retrace our course
through the mined area to Reschied, since new developments on the Division front
now made it possible for us to follow in the traces of the 1st and 3rd
Battalions through the remaining portion of the Siegfried Line.
It was a weary trek back up the hills to Reschied and, as we formed to
move out, all that was in front of us these past few days was in plain view:
numerous pillboxes, cleverly concealed artillery pieces, and fresh tank and
troop tracks galore. During the night, the Germans had decided to pull out and
fight another day – which was a very good idea, so we thought!
We cut our way through numerous roadblocks to Dahlem, the
Regimental objective, which provided to be our base for a comparatively quiet
two weeks. We were then just
beginning to “feel our oats,” and the reinforcements who joined us at this
stage were unlucky indeed because they were “new and we were “old.”
Jerry had withdrawn his forces to the east of the Rhine, as
our next move by motor brought us hard by that great inland waterway.
We were billeted in towns just below the Remagen Bridge, and many men of
the Battalion got on the high ground near the river to watch the bridge traffic
of tanks and men, the greatest aggregation of tanks and men ever assembled to be
used in breaking out of the bridgehead. An
interesting sidelight was a cave of Calvados that was found by one of the better
looters of the Battalion, but that was put under guard of MPs (Military Police).
Ask those “in the know” about a certain Mess Sergeant
who, after a bit of sampling of the cave-locked Calvados, decided he was a
paratrooper and, with a wild yell of “Geronimo,” jumped out a second-story
window. Some fun – no one hurt.
We crossed the river on assault boats, manned by the U.S.
Navy, to Bendorf. This place had
been heavily shelled by our artillery, and looked like a ghost town.
No sleep this night, as plans were made for an attack on Bad Ems on the
Lahn River and for supporting the attack on Fortress Ehrenbreitstein on the
Rhine River. During the night, we
were formed into a Combat Team (CT) that proved to be a formidable striking
force. At 1:00, the Company
Commanders were assembled at Battalion CP (Command Post) and given orders for
the next day’s operation. The
rifle companies were to move by motor to an assembly area and attack Bad Ems, a
large river resort. Then F Company
was to double back to the Rhine city of Lahnstein, cut north, and assist the 1st
Battalion of the 273rd, part of Combat Team 272, in assaulting Fortress
Ehrenbreitstein. In these
operations, moderate resistance was encountered, but when the action was
completed, the 2nd Battalion had turned in its full draw of the CT’s 1,280 PWs
(Prisoners of War). The entire
Battalion was billeted in Bad Ems before dark.
It was while in Bad Ems that Pfc. McNury, playing knight-errant,
attempted to row across the Lahn River, and managed to turn his boat over in
midstream. The passenger swam
ashore, but McNury’s BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) made like a rock and sank.
Reluctantly, we left that very beautiful city for Steeden,
a town further east on the Lahn River. Easter
services were attended here, and then we moved by motor to Sand, a typical cow
town, a distance of 110 miles.
Resistance was light to moderate until we arrived east of
Kassel, although PWs continued to pour in at a high rate.
We relieved elements of the 80th Division just east of
Kassel near the Reichsautobahn at Heiligenrode. This town was still burning, and dead Krauts were everywhere
when we took over. We then began
our long march to the Mulde River, but were held up in the rear of the 1st
Battalion while they were taking Augsburg.
We passed through and cleared Dahleim with E Company and then prepared to
attack Eschrode, which appeared heavily defended.
Enemy armor could be heard in the town and in the woods beyond the town.
Companies E and F were assembled in a large wood on top of a hill
overlooking the town in preparation for the attack.
Enemy artillery zeroed in on us while we were in the woods, but things
quieted down when our own artillery started its barrage, and Company E followed
the barrage into the town and received light opposition.
While in the town, heavy enemy fire was received from nearby woods, and
it was decided that F Company would clear the town of Neuhagen in the woods and
meet the Battalion at Dalheim. F
Company accomplished their mission, and a welcome hot meal awaited their return
to the main route of advance.
We followed the 1st Battalion in their attack on Klein-Amerode.
The road was a winding, twisting affair, through deep woods, with many
loops and horseshoe curves. On one
of these loops Jerry zeroed in. Incoming
artillery would first land on the near loop, then on the far loop.
We left two Jerry tanks and many dead Krauts on the way. The road was full of troops with ambulances racing through us
to the rear with the leading battalion’s casualties. Klein-Amerode was burning as we passed through and swung to
the north to attack Ermschwerd. One
could not see this town because the road leading to it threaded its way through
a deep gorge. E Company, on order,
took the hill on the left of the road, and G Company, the hill on the right, and
both companies advanced until they were overlooking the town.
Battalion CP (Command Post) was established in front of the troops on the
right hill so as to further plan the action.
A very difficult piece of shooting was accomplished by Captain Leybourne,
Battalion Liaison Officer of the 880th FA (Field Artillery) Battalion, when he
fired on the river portion of the town, and then crept back with his fire on the
near side of Ermschwerd. After this
preparation and with the last concentrations of artillery still falling, E and G
Companies both raced out of the hills and through the town, rounding up those
who stayed to defend it.
The Jerries had blown a crater in the road where it was
absolutely impassable due to the precipitous sides.
They hoped to immobilize the assaulting troops, vehicles and armor.
One quick look, and the A & P (Ammunition and Pioneer) Platoon Leader
was asked if it could be negotiated. He
said he’d need a lot of men, but he could get vehicles over it in short order
(which he did). We went on into
town, and about 40 excellent-looking Kraut soldiers were lined up along a fence
under guard just out of sight of the crater.
The look of consternation was plainly evident on their countenances when
the vehicles rolled into town not 30 minutes later.
In the meantime, the enemy had been shelling Ermschwerd at
frequent intervals, and it seemed to be coming from a town or the ridge to the
north of us. Gertenbach, just in
sight of Ermschwerd and to the north of us, possessed a bridge that had not as
yet been blown, and it was sorely needed for a crossing of the Werra River.
We were ordered to attack Gertenbach and capture and hold the bridge.
It was growing dark as E and F Companies moved out on the
open plain to accomplish this mission. The
terrain between the two towns was as flat as a billiard table, with a wooded
ridge on the left and high ridge across the river on the right, a perfect place
for an ambush. Before the two
companies moved out, a company of tanks was requested from Regiment to aid in
the operation, and they were dispatched immediately from Witzenhausen.
In the meantime, with E on the right along the river and F on the left,
the companies moved out using marching fire.
They were immediately brought under enemy fire, halted temporarily, but
kept moving despite the withering MG (machine gun), burp and mortar fire.
Much of the fire was coming from the ridge on E’s flank, and it began
to take its toll. Fine leadership
of all concerned began to pay dividends as the companies kept moving on, and F
Company, under mortar and artillery fire as well as small-arms fire, drove the
enemy from the hill in front. Just
then, there was a terrific explosion, and it was evident that the enemy had
blown the bridge after succeeding in getting its armor on the east bank.
Platoons changed hands that day; Lt. Heilman, E Company’s
2nd Platoon Leader, was hit, as well as his Platoon Sergeant and guide.
A squad leader then took over the platoon, S/Sgt. Marshall.
Sgt. Jack Martin took over F Company’s 3rd Platoon, and Fournier of F
Company Headquarters carried one of H Company’s heavy machine guns for a man
who will never have to worry about MGs again.
Lt. Brown, F Company Executive Officer, sustained a slug that knocked him
down, and he practically had to be dragged to the Aid Station, he so wanted to
return to the action. Meanwhile,
the tanks arrived and the TDs (Tank Destroyers) were jockeying for firing
positions. The noise brought 88
fire into the OP (Operation Post) on a hill just northwest of Ermschwerd.
The tanks moved out through the companies and shot up the town of
Gertenbach, together with artillery, until there wasn’t much left.
The companies turned their backs on the town of Gertenbach while it
lighted the sky throughout the night with its glowing blaze of ruin and was made
completely untenable for future use – a glowing monument to American wrath
once aroused. The companies withdrew, riding the tanks back to Ermschwerd
to rest while licking their wounds. The
men will long remember that day when each man felt that he was the personal
target of the enemy as the slugs cracked overhead or blew up dust at his feet.
A lesson was learned too – never stop, keep moving.
A man pinned down without cover is a dead man.
Jerry’s formula, “Pin with automatic fire, then zero in with mortars
and artillery,” is a deadly sucker’s bait.
A tribute to Company F’s First Sergeant (since killed)
must be noted. A tribute is due
because of the fine display of courage and loyalty to his men shown on that
Purple Heart day on the Werra. Sgt.
Grove walked nonchalantly about under enemy fire and exhorted his men to keep
moving, furnishing an example of bravery that will never be forgotten by those
who saw it. He went back over the
field searching out the wounded so that none need lie unattended.
The wounded couldn’t ride the tanks back, so Sgt. Grove volunteered to
remain behind with a squad of men to furnish protection until the dead and
wounded could be evacuated. Bravery,
loyalty, and personal discipline in the highest traditions of service were
displayed by 1st Sergeant Grove on that never-to-be-forgotten day of battle.
We moved early next day to follow the 1st Battalion across
the Werra River at a site near Witzenhausen where Combat Engineers had bridged
the river. It was a foggy morning
moving down the west side of the Werra River with the high ridge still on the
east side, and many gave thanks for that fog, because that other bank was still
enemy country. The Battalion went
into an assembly area on the east bank of the Werra to accomplish the Regimental
plan of our following the 3rd Battalion and Tanks. While in that position, enemy SP (Self-Propelled) artillery
tried their utmost to knock out the bridge and shelled the hell out of the
surrounding terrain and, of course, us. The
Regimental Commander was on the scene with his Regimental CP (Command Post) set
up with the 3rd Battalion just across the bridge.
It sure was a hot spot for a while.
We were waiting for the Bailey bridge to be completed so
the Tanks and Tank Destroyers could get across and support the advance.
Then, after this was accomplished, we followed the 3rd Battalion for a
while, then branched off to the east and attacked Arnstein.
Despite strong opposition, the objective was taken with a few casualties.
It was here that a German sniper shot another Medic, but he will shoot no
more. Hohengandern was next, and it
looked dangerous, but was taken standing up.
E Company continued on and captured a town further on, named Arenhausen.
The Leine River ran by Arenhausen, and Company E secured the bridge that
led out of town and had to fight fanatics all night to hold it.
The Jerries were dug in on a ridge just across the small river and tossed
hand grenades down on our men and opened up with burp guns at frequent
intervals. Some of the men
protecting the bridge were firing from a Kraut beer hall, and when the firing
died down, really enjoyed the situation, as there was plenty of beer on tap.
The 9th of April found us continuing our advance to the
east against moderate opposition through the city of Heiligenstadt and the towns
of Kalteneber and Bollstedt, typical cow towns complete with odors.
A move 30 miles further east brought us to Battgendorf,
capturing many PWs on the way, five of them in a haystack.
An artillery plane was circling and buzzing the head of the Battalion
column until it became evident that the pilot wanted to communicate with us.
He dropped a note that read that a nearby haystack contained five German
soldiers and that he would circle the stack and point it out.
We sent over a small group of men to the haystack, and out came five
Jerries without firing a shot. This
Air-Ground cooperation is truly a wondrous thing! We set fire to all other haystacks we passed to rout out any
more that might be hiding, but to no avail; they were “Krautless.”
Enemy planes strafed our column as we moved on, but no damage was
We were held up a long time just west of Bad Kösen near a
large Jerry airfield, and the damage noted to German planes and equipment was
terrific. They were obviously
caught on the ground. Meanwhile,
the 1st Battalion had passed through the city of Naumburg, just east of Bad Kösen,
without clearing it, and orders were issued for us to pass through the 3rd
Battalion in Bad Kösen and proceed to the small town of Prittitz. It was another black night as we passed through Naumburg,
still burning from our artillery. We
were rejoined east of the city by the motorized Regimental CP, and there
followed a weird pitch-black move over fields and roads not previously
reconnoitered. Germans had blown
huge craters in the road net leading out of Naumburg, and it necessitated
reconnoitering routes over fields to the main trail to Prittitz.
This was a tedious operation that required slow movement, a game of
follow-the-leader, and closely, too
To Lt. P.O. Genaux, Battalion S-2, was entrusted the task
of guiding the Battalion through the devious turnings and windings.
At one stop, we seemed to be paused too long, so two officers went
forward on foot to see what the hold-up was.
The road was found to turn a sharp right, but was hardly distinguishable
in the darkness. The jeep
containing Lt. Genaux was sitting on the crossroad, so he was asked what was
holding him up. He gave his reply,
the one that endears him to everyone in the Battalion: “It sure beats the hell
out of me.” We moved out, and
without further incident, the Battalion closed in Prittitz.
We learned the next day that Naumburg, through which we passed in the
darkness, was defended by 1,500 enemy troops, which were captured by our troops
that followed us. The Krauts gave up when they found that we were in their
The next day, we proceeded through the large quarries and mines that made this section of Germany industrially rich. Concentration camps were in evidence throughout the area, for the Germans had brought these unfortunates in to do backbreaking work in these huge quarry pits. As we advanced, the gigantic machinery was at a standstill, standing like huge, silent ghosts. We proceeded through Muttchau and liberated several hundred British PWs, who were very happy about the whole thing. Some had been there four years!
Captain Raleigh, Battalion S-1, frequently found himself
going out in advance of the Battalion for billeting purposes.
On one occasion, accompanied by his driver, Pfc. Remsing, and T/Sgt.
Gutknecht, they took the left fork instead of the right and found themselves
approaching Weissenfels from the south. They
were in the act of capturing three enemy soldiers when the enemy was suddenly
reinforced by 20 other Germans. Deciding
that discretion was the better part of valor, and Sgt. Gutknecht allowing that
they were too far forward, they hurriedly withdrew.
Much to this small task force’s dismay, they learned later that
Weissenfels had not been captured and was being held by approximately 1,500
The night of April 13 found the Battalion billeted at
Dobergast, and, towards the close of day, several German planes flew over our
position. All AA (Anti-Aircraft)
guns opened up and shot big holes in the sky trying to knock down the enemy
planes. None were knocked down, but
they didn’t come back.
It was here that a routine patrol was sent out in the
vicinity of Queisau and, in a little while, reported the discovery of an immense
AA installation in a field south of Queisau. This battery had obviously been bypassed by our armor and
didn’t open up, so that the patrol’s report was questioned. When they insisted as to what existed, two companies plus H
Company Mortar Platoon were sent to an assembly area, plus a platoon of the 661
TDs and a company of 777 tanks, support of the 880 FA Bn was assured, and the
724 FA mediums sent along a Liaison Officer for good measure.
A plan for coordinated attack was issued, and F Company
took up its advance position on the rim of an open pit mine, waiting for E
Company and the tanks to attain their positions.
The enemy battery meanwhile had opened up on F Company’s position.
Directly overlooking the Jerry position was a wooden tower that was
within range of the guns, so Lt. Beatty, FO (Forward Observer) with the 880 FA,
climbed the tower with his radio operator and stayed there until he was
satisfied that his artillery was hitting the position.
All this occurred while the enemy 88s were firing time fire over the F
Company positions and a large railroad crane nearby.
After the FO had moved from the town, the Jerries must have realized that
it had been the OP, so they cut loose with withering fire, blasting the
recently vacated target. Artillery
of both Battalions laid in concentrations on the position, lasting 2 hours and
Lt. Hassler, Platoon Leader, F Company, whose patrol
discovered the position, and T/ Sgt. Bailey, formed a sniper team, with the
Lieutenant observing the movement through field glasses and directing Sgt.
Bailey’s fire. “He’s up,”
the Lieutenant would say. The
Sergeant would fire his M-1. “He’s
During the attack, E Company’s T/Sgt. Duncan and S/Sgt.
Jolley played a hot game of “catch” with a Jerry who would throw a
potato-masher grenade back for every one they threw. He would accomplish this by scrambling out of his foxhole
whenever a grenade entered, and toss back one of his, letting our grenades
explode harmlessly in his hole, and then jump back in.
Something happened to his coordination, however, because one time he was
in his hole when the grenade entered and duly exploded.
One hit, no runs, no errors for two sergeants.
The tanks had to swing wide to the right in order to cross a creek and, as they started their assault, supported by the platoon of TDs laying well-aimed fire into the enemy position, Companies E and F moved out on the left over a broad front and were immediately engaged by small-arms fire of every description, grenades, rifle grenades, panzerfausts, and just about all they had. The position was quickly overrun and yielded 474 prisoners, including three officers, four women and 36 Dual-Purpose 88s complete with all fire direction equipment. As the objective was taken, the Regimental Commander viewed the position, congratulating the Battalion Commander and all concerned on the accomplishment of a mission that showed evidence of a well coordinated plan and beautifully executed attack. At that time, the position was burning fiercely, and ammunition in the gun pits was still exploding. As the position was particularly dangerous, it was necessary to require all to withdraw to avoid useless casualties from exploding ammo. The Battalion CT moved back to its previous billets that night with a feeling that they had accomplished a good day’s work.
On April 16, we started the plunging motorized dash that
was to put us in an assembly area for the impending attack on the City of
Leipzig. We arrived in Pomssen
about 2000 after having ridden through spotty and intermittent artillery fire.
We counted on billeting there for the night, but orders were issued to
continue through to Borsdorf, a town just east of Leipzig.
So, at midnight, we started out on one of the weirdest moves we were yet
to experience. A motorized military
nightmare. We had information that
2,000 SS men plus many 88s and MG positions were in the area we were to move
through. It was virgin country as
far as American troops were concerned. No
one had been there. We had
outdistanced and lost contact with the armored units near to us.
We were not only out in front of the entire First Army but out of contact
with Division. Throughout the foggy
night, we were extended for miles in the darkness and, as we passed through the
smaller towns, it was plainly seen that the usual white flags of surrender were
not hanging from the windows as heretofore.
As we approached the small town of Zweenfurth, we were
chilled to the bone by two things: by the cold that comes just before dawn, and
by the sudden and mournful wail of the air-raid sirens of Leipzig that, we found
out later, were warning the population of our approach.
A hair-raising sound, indeed. We
immediately commenced digging-in our defenses in and around Zweenfurth in
preparation for any Jerry action that might follow the warning sirens.
At dawn, the white flags came fluttering from the windows of the
surprised populace of that suburb of Leipzig.
A few hours later, we moved on to our objective of Borsdorf to prepare
for the attack on Leipzig.
On April 18, we sent our Battle Patrol under the competent
leadership of Lt. Blair into Paunsdorf, a small town, almost a part of Leipzig,
through which we would pass in our attack, with a mission to clear it and await
our arrival. The patrol moved out
with a platoon of tanks, met heavy resistance, but soon had everything under
control and captured the town. We
passed through Paunsdorf at 1530 and attacked Leipzig from the east along a main
road leading into the heart of the city. It
was ordered that F and G Companies would take two streets each and move through
Leipzig, keeping contact by radio and of course controlled by the phase lines
that divided up the city. Meanwhile,
the Battle Patrol was in advance of the attacking companies entering Leipzig and
probed the city until they were stopped, held up by fanatical sniper fire.
A platoon of tanks paced each attacking company as they advanced slowly
into the huge city. At times, throngs of civilians seemed unmindful of the flying
steel and dispersed only when one of the tanks’ big guns would speak.
One such crowd of civilians was responsible for Pvt. Coker of the Battle
Patrol being killed, by hindering the patrols’ operations.
By nightfall, after meeting opposition all along the way, we had advanced
to the Railway Station in the heart of the city, the largest railway station in
Germany. As F Company reached the
rail yards, enemy snipers opened up, and a panzerfaust blast killed one man and
wounded two others.
As darkness closed in, the Battalion paused for reorganization and was ordered to send patrols to contact elements of the 2nd Division scheduled to be entering the city from the west. It was a difficult night assignment, but the 1st Platoon of F Company, mounted on tanks, moved out noisily down the dark street, not knowing what awaited them. As the first tank of the column passed beyond the huge stone Railway Station, there was an earsplitting explosion, and hot red fire from a panzerfaust blasted at the infantrymen riding the tank. The blast knocked most of the men off the tank, and the rest scrambled from the now-crippled tank. Another tank fired at the Station, but as the shells only bounced off that fortress like masonry, the tank commander elected to plunge into the building itself and crashed from one room to another, firing at the snipers. This, truly, was “hell on wheels” for the Krauts. In the meantime, the platoon, now dismounted, set up a perimeter defense in a small park in front of the Station, while a patrol was sent back to contact the main body of troops. In the confusion of battle, the patrols missed its road back to the main body and, in the darkness, was ambushed by a burp gun and snipers, killing Sgt. Kelly, but Pfc. Hahn, bar man, turned and cut down the Jerries. Then, wounded in three places, Pfc. Hahn walked back to his platoon, traded his weapon for an M-3 submachine gun, and stood guard over the fanatical prisoners the platoon had collected.
Lt. Brown, Ex O (Executive Officer), with S/Sgt. Findley,
came tearing up the street in their Medics’ jeep, unmindful of the surrounding
danger, found their way to the scene, and proceeded to evacuate the wounded.
When this had been accomplished, the patrol withdrew to the Battalion.
Sleep was at a premium this night, as the Battalion
received orders to move through the city in the still of the night to Phase Line
Five, which was established in the western part of Leipzig. At 3:00 a.m., the Battalion moved lock, stock and barrel
through the dark, still city streets, passed the men who knew what lurked there,
tensed, waiting – waiting for the burst of deadly fire that never came.
During this movement, we intercepted, in the dark streets, a large column
of German soldiers who, in their surprise, made no effort to escape.
Yes – we took them into custody. As
we passed totally blacked-out houses, the inevitable white flags made their
appearance, and again all was well. The
battle for Leipzig was over with the dawn of the new day.
It was truly an anti-climax later and in daylight to move back through part of the city and swing north through gaping and thoroughly beaten throngs of German civilians to the town of Wiederitzsch, just outside of Leipzig, where the Battalion went into billets and enjoyed a long-earned rest. Many bottles of liberated champagne appeared magically, and as we toasted our past successes, we thought soberly of what the future might hold in store for us.