36th Signal Company - Message Center Section

APRIL 1945

Our bivouac at Klingenmunster was a big brick building beside the main highway: all men of the section camped on the upper floors, and our places of business were downstairs. Cpl. Darnell discovered in the cellar several German field phones of a peculiar construction: one could only talk on them if he turned a hand-crank fiercely as he spoke. We found Klingenmunster not unpleasant, for the quarters were quite decent, but nothing exciting - save payday - occurred while we were there.

During the 1st and 2nd of April, the section completed a move to Erlenbach, where we took over two private homes, and commenced to operate a message center for the division CP in nearby Otterburg. During our stay in Erlenbach, we had what is called a "deal". Nearly every man had a genuine bed to sleep in and each house had a fine kitchen; nearly every night, we fried a tableful of fried potatoes. Since we were now out of combat, message center work was less hectic, and the company had the leisure to institute a regular laundry service and open a company bar with quartermaster liquor. Pfc. Marty Weinstein got his photography trailer into shape, and with the assistance of Sgt. White and Cpl. San Roman, was soon developing and printing for the whole company. About half the section was in the grip of the photography passion by this time, and Weinstein served tirelessly as counselor, trainer, technician and printer to them all. Now that we had ample free time, for the first time in Germany, many of the men felt the pinch of the non-fraternization rule, particularly as there were at least ten attractive enemy females within 30 yards of our dwellings.

On 23 April began the final spell of action for the 36th Division. From that day until 3 May, the company moved headlong after the infantry, across the Rhine, through Germany and into Austria. Seldom was there time to size up any town before an advance was alerted to move out for another one. Message center men remember very little of Braunsbach, which was the first stop on the final dash. The advance team which went to Braunsbach on the 23rd of the month made no installation there, but merely liberated some quarters and stayed the night, leaving the next day for Kunzelsau, where they set up a message center with few means of communication, and did routine business until the 26th. The same advance team took off on the 26th, stopping the night in Aalen, and once again making no installation. On this day the men left at Erlenbach closed out their message center, packed up and advanced to Kunzelsau, Advance personnel spent the evening at Aalen photographing one another in liberated civilian clothing. On 27 April, the advance crew moved on to Jettingen, where on the 28th the remainder of the section finally caught up with them, just in time to pull out the plugs, stack the filing-boxes and go to Schwabmunchen. Here a message center was established in a former shoe-store, and the teams selected quarters in private dwellings. Three times, while the CP was operating in Schwabmunchen, the section tried to send out an advance, but each time failed to get the necessary priority to cross a railroad bridge over which all advancing traffic was moving. Finally, on 30 April at 0700, the company set out for Weilheim, where an installation was made in a German barracks. It was in this town that Admiral Horthy, the former Hungarian dictator, was discovered. Several times, while we were operating at Weilheim, attempts were made to communicate with the Division Rear Echelon by Division Artillery cub plane, but the air messenger service failed each time, owing to bum weather.

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