Elsey, George

Kane, Jim


Lunghi, Hugh

Roberts, Frank



Q: You mentioned that the mess sergeant was a woman. Were there many Red Army women there?

A: Yes, there were several. There was one -


Q: What sort of Russians did you meet?

A: Well, there was - of course, this Russian mess sergeant, and then there was a Russian woman, she was an officer in the group. And then there were some other Russian women that were in support. And I don't know their functions, of course the mess was obvious, she was in charge of cooking whatever food they got or gathered. But the roles of the other women, some of them actually might have participated in the fighting. They had weapons, they were armed. So, I wouldn't be surprised if they hadn't participated in the actual fighting with their troops.

Q: How did they seem to you?

A: Oh, they were very friendly, they were very friendly. And they were, because, as I say, before, the music was going and the harmonicas and concertinas and there was dancing and the Russian men were dancing, and the women would get up and dance, and so it was really a festive occasion, everyone was happy. They were as equally as happy to see us as we were to see them. And there was a good relationship, on a one-to-one basis, there was no animosity, other than the fact that there was that tinged, as I said, with the jeep, that they were superior, their vehicle was better than ours. Other than that, they really - they were just as regular people. In fact, I guess we didn't know what to expect from the Russians, but when you looked at them and examined them, you couldn't tell whether - if you put an American uniform on them they could have been American, I mean, their features were the same, there was no distinctive, feature that would set them apart from anyone else. So, it was enlightening.

Q: Did any actual conversation take place, probably not, but did you actually learn any personal details about anybody or what they'd been through?

A: No, no, very little, very little of that. There was exchanging of gifts like patches, we'd have a patch, some fellas took buttons off their uniforms and exchanged buttons, but there was very little communication with the Russians as to where they were, what they had done, anymore than they had asked us, what our history has.

Q: How did the news of the meeting come out? Did you guys call back to headquarters?

A: Well, Katzabol at that first meeting, when Johnstone came back to where I was, we had the radio jeep, and he sent a message back to headquarters that they'd met the Russians. The Russians had been met and arrangements were being made for a meeting. But now he gave no other details. And when that message was received back at the regimental headquarters, as I understand it, there was not enough information for them to say, oh yes, we've met the Russians, we've linked up. They didn't have any concrete evidence of that in the message. There was a second message came back, that they sent back, saying that preparations were continuing, on going. At this point, this was about four o'clock in the afternoon, Craig's patrol had run into two of our jeeps and we brought Craig to the site where the Russians were. And this was the town of Kremnitz, on the east bank of the Elbe, or Kleinitz, I'm sure - Kleinitz I guess it is. And, so Craig then, being the senior officer, he also sent messages back. But they were getting no response from from headquarters. The first reaction, as I understand it, back at headquarters, was severe - what are these guys doing out there, they weren't supposed to go beyond five miles, they disobeyed our orders, the division commander was very upset. In fact, there was even talk about court martialling people, because they disobeyed the orders. However it was about that time that Robertson, whose patrol was not one of the official patrols, he was an S2 or an S3 I guess, in intelligence, he was in the I&R [sic] group of regimental battalion headquarters, 1st Battalion. And he and three other fellas took off on a jeep and they were supposed to explore the roads immediately in the area of Wurzen, to see what the Germans were up to, the German flow of people, what was happening. Well, he also went beyond his supposed distance, and got as far as Torgau. And of course at that point he had run into some Russians at the bridge. And of course what he did is he piled three Russians in the jeep and drove back to regimental headquarters with three Russians. So as soon as he arrived and word came that they had three Russians at the headquarters, they said, my God, it's true, we've met the Russians. It was his link-up that took place about four o'clock in the afternoon. And that became the official news of the link-up. Now all news of the meeting was suppressed until the 27th of April, because word went back to each of the leaders of the America and Russia and England, so that a simultaneous announcement could be made. So Churchill, Truman and Stalin all announced, on the 27th, that a link-up had occurred, that Russian and American troops had met at the Elbe. And Torgau being a much larger city, they zeroed in on having the subsequent meetings take place at Torgau.

Q: Tell me do things change very shortly after that? When do the dividing lines come down and when did you move back? Tell me what happened next.

A: Well, we returned back to Trebsen on the 27th and shortly after that our platoon, the third platoon, was moved to the radio transmitter station for Leipzig, which they call 'the Sender'. And we were stationed there to protect the Sender, because Leipzig Radio was functioning, it was operating. So we were there to guard the Sender, to see that it remained intact. There were Signal Corps people there that were the technicians taking care of the radio equipment, we were merely there to supply the infantry support and protection. Of course, looking back fifty years, dates get a little fuzzy, but I think we were there at least three or four weeks. It was a wonderful location because there was a building, we had our own rooms, it was great living. Our kitchen mess used to come every day and feed us and we were away from the rest of the company so we were independent. It was 'good duty' as they say. Well, we got to know some of the townspeople because we took whatever food we had left over we would bring in to some of the townspeople for them. I had located an orphanage, well, I guess it was a children's' hospital really. And I went there several times. And we would bring food and candy and whatever for the children. And, so, you know, we tried to blend in with the surrounding community and help them as much as we could, because they had had very little in the way of food or any amenities at all. So, one day though we got word that we were going to have to leave. And we couldn't understand this. They said, well, the Russians are coming in. And this came as a shock to us really because we said, hey, look, we fought to get here, in fact some of our fellows were killed and wounded in gaining this territory, why are we turning it over to the Russians? I mean, I don't understand that. Well, no explanation was given other than the fact that this was from the high command and this is what's to be done. Now, they cautioned us very severely, they said, look, there is to be no leakage of this information to the townspeople. They cannot know that we are leaving and the Russians are moving in for obvious reasons, had they known they would have fled the area completely, they would have flocked out. Because that's one of the things whenever we encountered civilians they always had to say: 'Are the Russians coming? Are the Russians coming? Are the Russians coming?' And we'd say: 'Look, we're Americans, we're here now, don't worry.' So, it was difficult to deal with, and I especially felt concerned about the children's hospital because I didn't know what would happen when the Russians came in, how they would treat the people. But the strange thing was that several days before - there was to be a twenty-four gap or lapse between the time we'd left and the Russians moved in, so there was a twenty-four hour period. Apparently this was done so that they didn't want to have any confrontation with the Russians that might occur somehow. So they purposely had a twenty-four period between our evacuation and their coming in. Prior to that, the Signal Corps had trucks come in to the Sender, and they were loading all of the spare equipment that was in there, spare tubes, whatever spare equipment was in that radio station was being loaded on the trucks and hauled out. They couldn't shut the station down because the station was operating, and the Russians knew it was operating. But what they did do though, is take every available spare part that was there and shipped it back, so the Russians didn't have any spare parts. If anything went wrong, that would be the end of the station, they couldn't broadcast any longer. And I think that, to me, was the first incident of, hey, you know, there must be some distrust here, why are we going to these lengths to do this? And yet this is what happened.

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