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Saturday, 24 March 2012

Dad's Advance into Germany - Spring 1945: Military Monday

The following is taken from notes that my father John Weston (1912-2003) made on his war experiences.  He often talked about them and I am afraid it often did provoke the reaction “Not the war again, Dad”.  It was only later that we came to realise what a life-defining period it was and I persuaded him to write down an account.  This is his story of his advance into Germany.   

“I served in the RAF Codes & Ciphers Branch and was indoctrinated into the mysteries of Enigma and the One-Time Pad code.  I was seconded to General Bradley’s US 12th Army Group HQ and landed in Normandy in 1944 for the advance on Paris and then onto Verdun and Luxembourg.

The Germans were now using their radios and we broke an incepted signal which spoke of a Col. Otto Skorzeny along with 50 or 60 English speaking Germans, dressed in GI uniforms from GI prisoners of war or dead GIs, had broken through the US lines, near the city.   Their plan was to kill Eisenhower or any other US general.  Anyone moving around that night not giving the correct password (which was Betty Grable), was shot on the spot.    Col Skorzeny got away but many of the others were killed or taken prisoner. 

We cracked a signal from von Runstedt to Hitler, which read, “Our troops are exhausted, we have little fuel, we are retreating”.  After this we moved north of Luxembourg to Malmedy on the west bank of the Rhine. 

On March 7th 1945, there was great excitement in our operations vehicle.  We learned that a railway bridge across the Rhine at Remagen was still intact – the charges had failed to explode. A US infantry battalion rushed across the bridge to the east bank.

General Hodges of the US 1st Army and General Pete Quesdata of the US 9th Tactical Air Force came to our operations truck, asking us to send an immediate signal to General Montgomery, as they wanted to push tanks and more men across the still standing bridge.  I was on duty that night -  it was around 7pm.  Within the hour we had a signal back form Monty refusing permission.  He said it would interfere with his plans to cross the Rhine.  The American Generals’ language was salty – they were mad!  They then asked us to contact Eisenhower back in Versailles.  His reply was “go ahead”.  About 9000 GIs went across to hold a bridgehead.  Six days later the Germans shelled the bridge and put paid to any further movements. 

I crossed into Germany at Trier.  I recall that vividly.  Patton’s tanks were ahead of us and were nearing the Rhine.  His engineers threw a pontoon bridge across and we followed.  I was driving our operations vehicle – there were GIs on the bridge with machine guns, urging me to push on quickly in case of air attack.  We made it and an hour later drove into Wiesbaden to what had been the Luftwaffe’s former HQ. 

One day when I was off duty, I went to the railway station, which had been badly bombed.  Outside I found 12 German cars.  I looked at what I thought was the best, tried to start it – no joy.  So I got word back to the US motor pool and someone came out with a battery, fitted it and I drove away to the HQ.

It was my birthday (April 15th) when I handled one of the last signals Hitler radioed to his generals.  It read, “Germany will never be Russian.  Austria will be German again and Germany will become a great nation”.  This was sent from his bunked where he later committed suicide. 

V-Day arrived.  The GIs went wild, but we took it all quietly, with coffee and doughnuts from the Red Cross post – very very nice!”

See Also:
My Normandy Story & Paris Welcome  

A Meal of 5 Boiled Sweets:  Dec 1944  

Copyright © 2012, Susan Donaldson.  All rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. What good work your Dad did - through family lore, my great aunt worked with Enigma machines around London during WWII (she left Scotland as a youngster and headed for London, but I have no proof of her War work record). She only came back to Scotland to retire to sheltered housing, and she didn't like the quietness of Perthshire much after living in London for 50+ years. I'm so pleased that your Dad left notes and talked about his experiences :-) Jo


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