The Final Days

Written by: Thomas L. Watson
Son of 1st Lt. William
of Company B, 369th Medical Battalion

1st Lt. William A. Watson




I found my Dad’s war time diary while going through some of his old papers.  This small green and tattered book only covered the last months of the war but it helped me recreate his story.


  This is a recreated war story of my father, 1st Lt. William A. Watson, during the end of World War II and Company “B” of the 369th Medical Battalion, under the command of Capt. James W. Williams, part of the 69th Infantry Division of the United States Army.  Its’ duty was to tend to the wounded and to evacuate casualties from forward aid stations, saving untold lives. My Dad’s company arrived on European shores in January 1945 and over the next 4 months marched to the Elbe River in Germany to meet up with the Russians. This union would mark the end of the war with Germany on May 8, 1945. Near the end of the war my Dad’s company arrived outside of  Leipzig, Germany and on April 21 entered the Castle Püchau compound formerly occupied by the von Hohenthal family.


   My Dad’s diary completed the story  when he wrote about the final two weeks of the war with the following inscriptions:


April 21, 1945: “Moved to Püchau, quartered in medieval castle of Von Hohenthal. What a lay out! First hot bath in a hell of a long time - Mail coming in - no action. What a welcomed rest. Supposed to contact Russians today - still sweating them out.”


April 22, 1945: “Same place. No activity. Went up on ramparts tonight and watched our artillery pound the hell out of Eilenburg, GR. White flags were hung out twice.”


April 25, 1945: “Quiet - still at Hohenthal. Russians are really slow getting here. Letter from my girl. John Frick visited scene where 70 Poles & Russians were herded into a barn and barn set on fire, those that ran out were shot - May go myself tomorrow - S.S. Troopers - typical.”  


April 26, 1945: “Went to the slave labor camp today- never will I forget the sight. The camp was near Taucha and was called the Tekla Compound. At last Ivan has made contact, not in force though.”


April 28, 1945: “69th got hell for taking Leipzig and meeting Russians ahead of schedule- Time-Life and brass had meeting planned. Radio tells of Germany’s offer of unconditional surrender to U.S. and Britain. Celebrated anyway, got nice buzz on. Three letters from my girl, Jackie.”


May 2, 1945: “Moved to Grosbothen - news of Hitler’s death last night.”


May 7, 1945: “It’s over!! V-E day at last. Corks are popping, 00:41 - 7 May 1945.”

(V-E Day, Victory in Europe, is officially observed on May 8.)