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Troopers of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment

 
 

This page is dedicated to Bradley W. Hinchliff

 
 

Tech/5

 Bradley W. Hinchliff of Post Falls, Idaho enlisted into the United States Army on March 25th 1942 from Spokane, Washington. He was twenty three years old at the time, and known as Brad to family and friends. He returned from overseas on September 15th 1945 and was discharged on October 1st 1945 from the Separation Center at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Below is a transcription of Brad's recollections with service company of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The original tape recording was made for his family 50 years after D-Day.

But first look at the pictures Brad brought home from his Army days. The photographs and transcription below come to us courtesy of Brads' daughter Diane.  
 

Tech/5 Brad Hinchliff of Service
Company. 1942
Tech/5 Bradley W. Hinchliff of  Service Company

 
 

New recruit Hinchliff (center) during basic training.
Private Hinchliff during basic training

 
 

Private Brad Hinchliff (right) and friend, kidding around
with their gas masks on.
(More than likely before a full field pack march)
Private Brad Hinchliff during close quarters combat training.

 
 

Private Brad Hinchcliff squared away and ready for field inspection.
Pvt. Brad Hinchcliff ready for field inspection.

 
 

The C-47 delivered the paratroopers and also kept
them supplied during their campaigns.
Douglas C-47 Skytrain

 
 

Private Brad Hinchliff, in jumpgear while
earning his wings - 1942.
T-5 Brad Hinchliff, in jumpgear-1942


 

View of the Nijmegan, Holland railroad bridge in early November 1944. German frogmen were successfull in dropping the center span. The same section of span was damaged (and replaced later) during the German invasion of Holland in May of 1940.
View of the Nijmegan, Holland railroad bridge in early November 1944. German frogmen were successfull in dropping the center span. The same section of span was damaged (and replaced later) during the German invasion of Holland in May of 1940.

 
 

Nijmegan vehicle bridge early November 1944. U.S. Army 3/4 ton truck in foreground.
Photo taken from the south east side of the bridge. To see a 1940 photo of a German pontoon bridge in this same area. Click here and scroll down, the link is on this web site.
Nijmegan vehicle bridge November 1944

 
 

Another (rare) view of the vehicle bridge in 1944, from the south west side.
Another view of the vehicle bridge in 1944.

 
 

Tech-5 Brad Hinchliff sitting on a downed Messerschmitt BF 109 German fighter in Nijmegan, Holland.

 
 

Tech-5 Brad Hinchliff in his foxhile, Holland.
Brad's foxhole in Holland 1944.


 

Tech/5 Brad Hinchliff (third from left) posing with captured German flag taken during the fighting in Holland. The 505 PIR made their 4th combat jump on September 17th 1944 into Groesbeek Holland and were there until November 12th 1944. The photo below was taken while the 505 PIR was at Suippes, France in early December of 1944.
Tech/5 Brad Hinchliff (third from left) posing with captured German flag from the September 17th 1944 Holland combat jump.

 
 


A Transcription of Brad Hinchliff's WW II recollections.

I’ll never forget December 7, 1941. I was on my way into Post Falls* to pick Agnes** up; we were going to a show in Spokane. About half way there I turned the radio on and they announced Pearl Harbor. I couldn’t believe it. I turned around and went back and told my folks and they had a hard time believing it. I went on into Post Falls and told the Dolans about it and they had a hard time believing it too.      *Idaho          **Brad's girlfriend

Well I tried to get into the service. I went to Seattle; I tried to get into the Marines, tried to get into the Navy, and I tried to get into the Army. Nobody would accept me. While this was all going on Agnes moved to Seattle with her parents. Finally in March the Army accepted me...., they lowered their standards. And I always real felt bad about not getting into the Marines or the Navy but looking back, why, the Army was probably the best choice, or the best for me.

They sent me to Fort Lewis(Washington) and then from Fort Lewis I went to Camp Roberts, California where I took my basics. An incident happened down there, which I’m not very apt to forget. I was on guard duty and they had a real tall, slim fella…much taller than I. He just wasn’t playing with a full deck. Long about two o’clock in the morning, why, we’re coming off of guard duty and we’re all lined up. They told us to take the ammunition out of our gun, close the bolt and click it. Well, this tall, slim guy closed the bolt and clicked only but he hadn’t removed his ammunition, left one shell in the barrel. I couldn’t hear very well for a couple of days after that as it damn near took my head off. He was standing right along side of me. I never saw that chap again. I guess they transferred him out or sent him home or something but that’s where he really belonged.

While I was there a call came out for people to join the Airborne Unit and they sent recruiting officers into camp. I signed up for it. The recruiting officer took a look at my leg and the big scar and he says can you tumble. Hell I’d never tumbled before in my life and he says over your right shoulder. So I tumbled over my right shoulder and I made it into the Airborne.

Then I trooped to Fort Benning, Georgia. It was a regular troop train and uh I don’t remember too much about it outside of the fact going through Kentucky, what I thought was a beautiful State. Those long, rolling green hills. I’ll never forget them.

Well, I got to Fort Benning, Georgia and they lined us up outside the train first thing for a short arm inspection. After that we marched to our barracks. I don’t know how many planes were overhead but there’s a great amount of them and fellows were jumping out of them. Down through all these fellows that were jumping came one man whose chute had not opened, it was a streamer. And we didn’t really think too much about it.

Well anyway, the following days were probably the toughest days in my life. They’d rouse us out in the morning and start us out on a run around the airfield. If a guy couldn’t make it and he ran short of wind or flopped over or anything they’d say leave him lay and we’ll pick him up on the way back. This is exactly what they did.

We studied Jujitsu along with everything else. For our first five jumps we packed our own chutes. We came off the jump towers with the chute already inflated. This was primarily to give us landing instructions.

So after we got through training some of us went to Panama some of us went to across the Chattahoochee River, another part of Fort Benning, and I went across the Chattahoochee. I joined up with an organization called the 505th Parachute Infantry. Colonel Gavin was the commanding officer. And I had luck; I ended up in the personnel department. Well this General Gavin er Colonel Gavin was a..well he was just a soldiers soldier is what it boils down to. And in this regiment we had a dog. We called him Max. He was a big boxer. And the parachute riggers rigged a special harness for him and he jumped with the men.

Brad on leave
Tech/5 Brad Hinchcliff on leave.

Earlier in the year while I was home on leave, Agnes and I were married November 19, 1942. Later, she joined me at Fayetteville, North Carolina and I think we had two weeks there before I was shipped overseas. We got a room uh...I think it was a barber. Well we had a room in this barbers house and I mean that’s just it, a room with kitchen privileges. If I remember correctly it was my birthday (April 17th) and Agnes cooked a real nice meal, invited one of the chaps from my company for dinner and he came with a girlfriend. Can’t think of his name. But uh, he didn’t go overseas with us.

We were getting close to going overseas and we knew it. And there’s no possibility of me getting home. Dad got ahold of somebody and I got a couple of weeks at home. We were restricted to quarters the last night I was able to see your mother. I don’t know what I did but I did everything I shouldn’t of done and I met her up at the…I believe it was the USO and we were able to spend a couple of three hours together and then I had to return. I don’t know what I’d have done if the outfit had pulled out while I was gone. I got there in time to throw my barracks bag on the truck and head for the troop train.

We went up to the port of embarkation, New York City. And if I remember correctly we were there for about a week. It seemed like all the meat that they fed us was mutton, mutton for breakfast, dinner, and lunch. One day they marched us down to the docks and we got aboard a troopship. We bunked down that night and the next morning we thought we were still tied to the dock. We looked out the porthole and there was nothing but water in all directions…and a lot of troopships. Well I don’t know how long we were on this troopship but it was quite awhile. We got to the Mediterranean. We had several submarine scares. The destroyers were dashing around dropping depth charges and what have you. And I couldn’t help but think what would happen if I was below deck and we got torpedoed because I was below the damn waterline. There’s nothing more beautiful, then and now, than a destroyer going full bore, flag flying off of the stern, dropping depth charges.

Well our ultimate destination was Casablanca. But in order to keep us in shape why they threw cargo nets up over the superstructure of the ship and we’d run up and down those to keep us in shape. Before we landed in Casablanca they passed out a full combat load and no reason for it. We hit Casablanca and we marched to where we were going to bivouac. And come to find out we were to get off the ship and go directly to the planes and drop in Algiers behind Rommel. But as it worked out, Rommel had left Africa that morning.

Now you’ve heard stories of the Kasbah and you probably have a picture of it in your mind. ____ near as I can tell the Kasbah is just about like you have it pictured. The one outstanding thing that was in my mind was public restrooms. There was no men’s restroom or women’s restroom; you both used the same rest area. Now over there when you dropped your pants why you dropped them over a slip trench, and there’s water running through this slip trench. It’s a far cry to what I was used to here in America.

Well I don’t know how long we were in Casablanca. One morning they loaded us up in a bunch of trucks and we started out. And in the course of our travels we passed in French Morocco a town called Rabat.


Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France.

I suppose we got maybe within a mile of it and it was all white, just what you would expect an Arabic town to be. Had walls around it, everything else. If I remember correctly our next stop was Oujda in French Morocco and there we went into bivouac. One thing I remember about the desert is that it’s hotter than hell in the summertime and colder than hell at night; you couldn’t get enough blankets on to keep warm. Camped in an olive grove and there was olives on the trees and believe me they don’t taste like they do when you get them out of a can. There was also an almond grove and almonds don’t taste like they do when you buy them here in the store.

It’s while I was at this place I was pulling guard duty one morning and the moon was so big and bright you could read a newspaper with it and here I am marching guard duty. I don’t know why but I cut loose with a couple of shots and yelled for the corporal of the guard. When I turned loose with these shots you ought of seen those pup tents come apart. People come a streaming out of them. I got away with it and I kinda often think the corporal of the guard knew what I did.

While we were in this location we were standing in the chow line one morning and we heard a hell of an explosion. One of our trucks had hit a land mine right in the middle of the area where we were camping and it sure ruined the truck.

C rations. That’s about all we were able to eat. We had C rations morning, noon and night. You never got so sick and tired of C rations in all your life.

And there’s a lot of little black bugs over there, beetles like. They’d climb down in the latrine and roll up little rolls of stuff and climb out and take it wherever they were going.

Friend of mine by the name of Tom Fleck played the guitar and another guy, I’ve even forgotten his name now, played something else and every night we had music. And this other chap would sing the “Mexicali Rose” in Spanish and it was absolutely beautiful.

From there we went someplace and I don’t really know where it was at by now. A bunch of us guarded an equipment train is what it boiled down to. Oh I guess we must have been on the train for three days but what they forgot to do was put any rations on for the people guarding this train. As we go through the countryside why, we’d fire at the locals, not any intention of hitting them naturally, but just to make them run. And run they would.

We’re going through a tunnel one afternoon and it was an electric train, had something on the train hit the wires and we stopped right in the middle of the tunnel. But eventually we got to Algiers and we’d had a few rations but we we’re all practically starving there. We bumped into a bunch of limey’s there, English people to you, so they traded us food for a cigarettes and the only food they had was biscuits…an English biscuit. It was very thin and very hard. Well we ate a lot of these biscuits and drank a lot of water and we were in real misery in a very short time because those damn biscuit swelled up on us.

From there we were to go to Sicily and we moved out to a staging area based near an airfield. We had all kinds of equipment piled up and tarps pulled over and beneath it to keep the sun off us. We took a grenade, dumped the powder out of it, and walked down the line here to where some of these guys were in there relaxing out of the sun and so forth and we threw the grenade in and yelled “Live grenade!” You’ve never seen so many people scurry so fast in all your life and we didn’t hang around, we took off.

But one of the things that I remember very distinctly about Africa is the Arabs, you might see a cow pulling a plow or see a cow and a camel pulling a plow, camel and a donkey pulling a plow something of this nature.

We got into the town of Oujda, French Morocco on leave and there we just walked around there’s nothing to see or anything of that nature. We did eat in this town and as I recall we had eggs and something to go along with the eggs but all the women were veiled and that type of thing.

So we went into Sicily. Several things I remember about Sicily very distinctively. One, that’s my first contact with General Patton and I thought at that time he was nothing but a conceited ass. My first contact with him he was standing in the turret of a tank. We got out of the road because if we hadn’t I swear to God they’d have run us over.

We were on leave one afternoon and went into…, I don’t know the name of the town now and we heard music. We went into the building and here was a bunch of locals and a fellow playing a piano and on the piano he had a picture of his wife and two kids. He was really playing to them and nobody else. I don’t now how long we sat there and listened to this man play but he was real good on the piano and he was definitely playing to his family.

Well I don’t remember too much about Sicily.

Anyway from Sicily we went to Italy. We landed on the toe of the boot and headed north. One thing I distinctly remember about this part of the duty, you just couldn’t dig a fox hole deep enough to get away from a strafing airplanes. Scared the hell out of me. I don’t care where you’re at or what you’re behind or how deep you are when they start strafing it’s a whole different ball game.

Well we got up, went through Naples across the Volturno River and pulled back into Naples for our next tour of duty or whatever we were going to do, and we were quartered in what was called the ____building. I was on the fourth floor and you could look out and see Mt. Vesuvius, see for miles. One night I’m sitting there with a candle burning, writing a letter home, and you can see Mt. Vesuvius off there in the distance. All at once beautiful colors started going up and all at once it dawned on me we were in the middle of an air raid and here I am sitting in this building with the lights on and a candle burning. Well I headed for the ground floor of course. I got down to the first floor and most of those buildings over there have a wide courtyard type of thing and like you would have in a motel here you can step out and you can walk the full length of the motel. Well I got to that part of the hotel and I started off in a dead run and the first thing I knew I was waking up. I’d ran into one of these big stone pillars that held up the rest of the building and it just knocked me colder than a ----------.

It’s a funny thing about the people in Naples. Didn’t make any difference if it was 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, 10 o’clock; when the Germans would come over to bomb here these Italian people in their wooden shoes come down the streets would invariably yell “Americano, Americano, wake up wake up, air raid”. And if you were smart you would get up and you would go to the dugout. I remember one time I was standing in the courtyard and the Germans were bombing and you’d hear these bombs coming …boom, boom, boom, boom. And my pant legs were standing out from my legs just vibrating in the concussion. Another time I was in the air raid shelter there and they had candles burning. This bomb went off, I don’t know how close it was but it was tremendous because you could tell by the pressure on your ears. And believe me, the candles in that air raid shelter did not even waiver. They didn’t blow out; they did nothing. They just continued burning very, very …well shall we say calmly? There was actually no indication that a bomb had gone off and this I could never understand. Why they didn’t, didn’t blow out.

One day I heard bagpipes playing and I followed the sound down to the waterfront and here come a bunch of Scottish soldiers off a troopship. This shop was pulled up alongside of another ship that had been sunk and gangplanks had been stretched from there to the shore. And here they came off the boat and those bagpipes where shrilling and those Scotsmen were right in step. It was a very, very beautiful and awe inspiring sight. Looking back I can’t help but wonder how many of those fellows came back.

I don’t know how long we were in Naples it wasn’t too long. We got orders we were going to move out. So we got on the troopship. This time we got on a Navy ship called the Funston. We got fed three meals a day. We went to some port in Africa where we tied up and I suppose we waited there to meet up with the rest of the convoy. Couldn’t get much sleep at night because the Navy was constantly dropping depth charges over the side. Reason was to try and keep the frogmen from coming in and blowing up some of the troopships and so forth that were tied up in this harbor.

Well finally we got moving and there was nothing of real interest until we ended up in Belfast, Ireland. We were quartered in a, well I guess it used to be a, well I don’t know what it was but the accommodations weren’t too good. The first morning we were there why, our cooks were not set up but the English cooked our breakfast for us and they used powdered eggs. And the way our cooks prepared powdered eggs was something you threw into the garbage can. But those eggs were just like fresh eggs. I’ve never had anything like it since or before then as far as powdered eggs are concerned. And we all hung around waiting for the officers to finish their mess and then we went over and took the rest of the eggs that they hadn’t consumed.

We weren’t, oh I don’t know, I suppose we were in Ireland maybe a month, month and a half, two months; something like that. Another thing that amazed me about Ireland; we hadn’t had any meat to speak of or anything out of the ordinary, but we could go to an Irish restaurant there and get steak, potatoes, milk, things of this nature which sure seemed good to us when we’re so far away from home.

Well we eventually got orders to move from Ireland and I was guarding some of the prisoners, American prisoners (prisoners taken by Americans) aboard the troopship. I stepped on one of the cobblestones over there and injured my left foot or I should say reinjured it. I hurt it in a jump in Africa. My foot still bothers me to this day.

WW II transport ship
WW II transport ship, notice the troops climbing the hull on cargo nets
(or sometimes called scramble nets), draped over the side.

We finally got everybody aboard the troopship. Our next stop was England. Well the town we were in in Ireland, it just came to me, it was Cookstown. Cookstown, Ireland. And I did have a week in Belfast, R & R. And I remember walking down a street and passing a Salvation Army place. I went in. Lord they gave me socks, they fed me, everything they wouldn’t accept a dime for and to this day I’ll donate to the Salvation Army any time that I can. Prior to this time, particularly in Africa, we all bought cigarettes that were donated to be given the troops by the unions here in the United States. We bought them from the Red Cross. And as a consequence I’ve had very little use for the Red Cross since then.

In England we went to a town called Leister, Leistershire was the name of the place and there we could get all the fish and chips that we wanted simply by going out and ordering them. It was while I was there that I got a message that somebody was waiting at the front gate for me and they wouldn’t let him in. I went out and there was Hal Hinchliff my cousin. I hadn’t seen him for years and I’ll tell you we sure did a lot of talking in the short period of time that we were together there.

Along came the Normandy invasion. A fellow by the name of Dave Avery and myself were to go in on that invasion and we weren’t to jump we were to go in with the troops. We drew straws to see who would go. Well I stayed in England and Dave went in. 24 hours later he’s back in England with 80 odd pieces of shrapnel in him. Seems as though they were dug in and a German observation plane came over and one of our smart-ass lieutenants went out and took a shot at it. Well an hour later bombers were over and dropping anti personnel bombs. Unfortunately Dave got it. On the day of the invasion I was in a transport kicking out supply chutes. Fellows came back to Lester, England….I don’t know how long I was there.

Next trip was going into Holland. Fellows went in by gliders and with chutes and once again why, I didn’t have to jump, I went in by convoy.** We went to the city of Nijmegen. We set up there and oh I guess we were maybe there about three weeks. We were bivouacked across the Waal River from Nijmegen in a hotel. The name of the hotel translated meant Honeymoon Hotel. Downstream from the Honeymoon Hotel was a car and truck bridge; upstream was a railroad bridge. The Germans were trying to knock these bridges out. On the car bridge, regularly on the hour, he would fire three artillery rounds at this bridge. If you would wait until he’d fired these three rounds and go like hell you could get across the bridge with no problems, same way coming back. One morning I crossed this bridge and at the end of it was this dead Dutchman. Looked perfectly normal, didn’t look like he’d been shot or anything of that nature. Came back by him about an hour later and he was different; somebody had taken his shoes off.

** Brad must have been in the British Convoy that left from the border of Holland and Belgium heading for the bridge at Arnhem.

Well one night the Germans decided they were going to bomb these bridges and take them out. At the height of this bombardment, it was at night, I had my arms around a big pillar in the garage of this hotel and I’ll be damned if some Canadian didn’t get between me and that post. Now I don’t know how he exactly did it but he did.

We notice that one of our fellows was missing, fellow by the name of Spisak, Corporal Spisak. We started looking for him and we couldn’t find him. Well I heard somebody singing amongst all this noise of ack ack guns and bombs falling and what have you and here comes Spisalk down the middle of the road, drunker than a hoot owl, no helmet and every pocket of his combat suit was filled with wine bottles. Somewhere or another he’d found a wine cellar and brought enough wine back for all of us but he consumed a lot of it in the process.

Well the next morning, all before daybreak, must have been about 4 or 5 o’clock, we heard a terrible explosion and the results of the explosion was some German frogmen had came down the river and they planted charges and blew the railroad bridge. So nobody went back to sleep after that. By the way we weren’t sleeping in beds or anything of that nature; it was the floor. But even that was better than sleeping on the ground.

And the next morning we had breakfast, I went to the latrine and all at once there was another tremendous explosion, it picked me up and set me down in what I dropped, and I didn’t hesitate, I pulled my pants up and headed for shelter. The second explosion was they had blown the car bridge. But in the process of blowing it they’d only knocked out about two lanes; it was a four-lane bridge so we were still able to get across it. Come full daylight the British engineers started building a pontoon bridge to replace the railroad bridge. I was standing out on the balcony brushing my teeth and I heard a noise looked up and here come a Messerschmitt 109. He was going to strafe these British engineers. But he was so close to me and came so fast I didn’t have the opportunity to grab my rifle or anything else but he was so close I could count the ribbons on the plane.

Allied bombing damage 1944
Allied bombing damage 1944

Well we moved out of that area and we moved to another area and dug in and so forth and they had what they called a Reichswald in front of where the Germans were at and in between the Reichswald and where we were located somebody mentioned there was an old farm house out there with a bunch of little pigs. Well we hadn’t had fresh meat for a long time so we decided we’d go out and see if we could get some of them. Myself and two other fellows went out looking for these pigs. Well there were no pigs there but hundreds of rabbits. They brought back 20 rabbits with us. We got back just in time to catch our trucks because they were moving to another area. When we moved actually it was B Column, we moved to B Column. Some Dutch woman come out and she saw all these rabbits and she said “Well I’ll cook them for you if you’ve got some butter”. So we had the butter, had washtubs of German butter. She took the rabbits and most of the butter and she came back a couple of three hours later with cooked rabbits and applesauce. I can tell you very truly it certainly did taste good.

Let’s go back to the Reichswald. We received information that the Germans were going to attack that night with tanks followed by infantry. We were told to let the tanks pass and take on the infantry. Sure enough about 10 o‘clock that night we heard the rattle of tanks and crouched a little deeper and I’d already dug my foxhole deeper. Here came the tanks. Well thank God they turned out to be Canadian tanks and the infantry did not follow. They were withdrawing from between us and the Reichswald. The infantry never showed up.

Now we’ll get back to B Column. After we got dug in and so forth, we’d consumed our rabbits why I went on guard in front of the CP. Along about 2 o’clock in the morning I c0uld hear something rustling and we knew German patrols were through this area. I laid down, squatted down and tried to get something sky lighted, couldn’t see a thing. The noise continued on and just about the time I was ready to turn loose with the gun why, out walked a cat; it went meow. I can tell you I was one relieved individual.

Well this Corporal Spisak and I dug in on the reverse side of a hill and we had rather an elaborate deal for us. It was a room we could stand our watch and still lie down to sleep. Well this one night we were underneath an artillery barrage and I’d just come off guard duty and I was laying down just half asleep not complete wide awake and I could see these shells coming, they’d go swoosh and all at once here came this one and he had red yes and a wicked grin on his face and he stopped right over the hole. He said, “Do I stop here or do I go on?” Took off and I woke up in a cold sweat. Well the next morning, came time to go back to eat and we’d been on c rations for so damn long anything else would be appreciated. I asked Spisak if he was going to come back and he said no he didn’t want to. Well the cook had set up in an orchard and I got back there they had fresh eggs, hotcakes, and good bacon for breakfast plus good coffee. I went back and told Spisak and needless to say he was very unhappy about that.

If I’m not mistaken we were invited out for dinner. It seems as though a cow had stepped on a mine and got itself killed. We went back to this big castle, it was along the style of a German castle, and we had our dinner. We had white tablecloths, china plates, and everything was just so so. But in this castle they had these suits of armor and all this kind of stuff you read about and see in pictures and so forth. It was really quite impressive.

They pulled us out after a period of time and we walked 29 miles that day in the rain and stopped and bivouacked in a grove of trees. Their trees over there in this particular area are not like they are over here. They don’t grow wild they’re cultivated. And in between each row of trees there’s of course an indentation. It was raining so hard there was water running down those indentations but anyway that’s were we slept that night. Now while we were on this march out, 29 miles, truck after truck after truck all empty, passed us, going in the same direction. Nobody would stop and give us a lift.

Well I moved out from there into Reims, France. There we were stationed in a cavalry barracks. One afternoon they came through and said “Ok everyone’s restricted to company area.” Then they came through and restricted us to the barracks area. Then they came through and told us about the breakout of the Germans in the Bulge. About an hour later they said, “Ok everybody out.” When we left camp a lot of us didn’t have boots, I didn’t have any rubber boots. We went down and grabbed ammunition and so forth, we grabbed rifles not even knowing if they would shoot or not. But we went through the town of Bastogne 24 hours before the 101st Airborne was trapped there. The 101st received orders to move out the same as we did but they waited until they were pretty well outfitted, had boots and all of the winter wear they needed.

505 chow line possibly in Belgium and on a Sunday, judging by the children's clothing.
Chow line possibly Belgium

Well I wasn’t up there too long; I froze my feet and was evacuated back to Reims. Christmas morning we got strafed by a Messerschmitt 109, no damage was done. Well we stayed there for a while and went back into Germany again. This time in one of the towns I remember quite distinctly was Cologne. It had pretty well been blown to pieces. All that was left standing was a church, the Catholic Church. I was located near the railroad yards. Well while in Cologne some GI found a wine cellar. Unless you’ve been in some of the wine cellars over there you cannot imagine how big this was. It must have been at least a block long, or a block square and it was just filled with wine. Well needless to say we took all the wine we could possible carry. The officers found out about it and threw it off limits and used it as their own private supply. But that evening I got pretty well smashed on German wine. Got up the next morning, took a drink of water and I was just as loaded as I was when I went to bed. And since that time water has not exactly been my cup of tea.

When the Germans finally gave up I was on an ammunition convoy and we went back and picked up a lot of ammunition and things of this nature, and headed back to the front. We pulled into a little town just off the German Autobahn; I can’t remember the name. It was there we found out that the Germans had surrendered. The rear echelon boys were celebrating of course. I don’t think there was a man on that convoy that didn’t even celebrate. He just thanked God that the war was over.

When we started back up towards the front the following morning why here’s all these Germans coming back through, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them. There just wasn’t too much you could do with them other than put them in a field and put a machine gun at each corner and tell them “Ok you bastards you stay there”. And they did.

Two things about this war that really impressed me as far as the Germans are concerned were their weapons and the SS troopers. They were hard and mean and tough, even in captivity. They were still tough and let you know that they were members of the ‘super race’.

Speaking of the German swastika, here I go digressing again, went into one town in Germany. We were fighting in these buildings trying to get the people out of them, the Germans out of them and I went up the stairs in this German barracks and just as I turned I just about feinted. Here was a mural on the wall, a German machine gun and three German soldiers. It was a painting but very, very, very realistic.

Along toward the latter part of the war we got a lot of young kids, I say 14, 15 years old that were captured. I did get near one of those concentration camps in the course of our travels; matter of fact we were one of the first troops in there. It wasn’t a very pleasant sight.


Unknown paratroopers of service company.

We pulled out of Germany, finally, and went back to France. Bivouacked in a great big open field. Well the only thing that really impressed me about the field was the water detail. I was put on a water detail to go get water for the camp. We got the water out of the river. It’s impossible to imagine the human debris and other debris that was coming down that river. We put the suction line in the river and we put a couple of people out at the suction line trying to keep the human debris and so forth from getting sucked into the water truck. We’d get back to camp and we’d fill the Lister bags, chlorinate the water and well, you had to have water to drink so we drank it. But the Lister bags would be just about 25% full of mud and stuff when it was empty.

Well after a period of time there in France they decided they’d ship us home and we went to Marseilles, France for embarkation to come home. We rode in what the Frenchmen call 40 and 8, forty people or eight horses. Now I got involved in a poker game on the way to Marseilles and had a terrific hand; and I bet everything I had or could borrow. The end result was there was one hand in that game a little bit better than mine and of course I lost. I haven’t done much gambling since that period of time.

Well we embarked in Marseilles, France for a trip home. I’ve forgotten the name of the two vessels we went over on and the one we came back on but they were sister ships. There wasn’t much room to move around. We had beds and bunks and everything else set up wherever they could set them up. But the most amazing thing of this trip home was when we pulled into Boston harbor. It was hard to visualize that there were no sunken ships, no blown up buildings, no nothing. Of course the Red Cross was there to serve coffee and donuts. I’m quite surprised they didn’t charge us for them but they didn’t.

Well we went out to some camp. I couldn’t even tell you what camp it was. The group that I was with was told we were not going to get home for at least two weeks because we were supposed to keep the records and get everything straightened out. They did give us leave into Boston and I celebrated. Got a tattoo, another tattoo. Went back to camp and they said, “Well we’ve changed out minds we’re going to put you on the first troop ship out”. So in a short period of time on a troop train we arrived in Fort Lewis, Washington. After a lot of stalling around and so forth they lined us up and said, “ Ok so everything you don’t want throw in this bin.” Well I’d carried it with me for God, many miles, I don’t know why. It was a German blanket; it was white with a swastika, a red swastika in the middle of it. It was beautiful. And I threw that damn thing away 50 miles from home. I’ve often wished that I’d kept that.


 
   
   

(The following took place while the recording was being made.)

Agnes went into the bedroom a few minutes ago and she came back with an old box with clippings, pictures and so forth. And I’m going to put on tape what one of the deals says. (Format read from the original clipping. Most likely from the Spokane, Washington paper or the Post Falls, Idaho paper if one existed at the time.)

“BRAD” HINCHLIFF IN DIVISION WITH MANY “FIRSTS”

Bradley Hinchliff, son of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Hinchliff of East Greenacres (Idaho), expected home September 1st (1945). He has been in active service with the “All American” Airborne 82nd Division since April, 1943, the Division has been in more countries than any division in the European and North African Theatres: French Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, Ireland, England, France, Holland, Belgium, and three times in Germany.

*They captured nearly 200,000 prisoners in five campaigns, or approxi- mately 25 per man. Prisoners included Lt. Gen. Von Tippelekerch and his 21st German army, the first army in history to surrender to a lone American division.

THE FIRST---

***U.S. Airborne Division overseas—April 29,1943;

***Airborne Division to see combat—Sicily, July 9, 1943;

***U.S. ground troops to enter Naples;

***Across the Volturno River in Italy;

***Town liberated on the Western front—Ste. Mere Eglise;

***Across the Douve and Merderet rivers in Normandy;

***Allied troops to cross the Dutch-German border;

***Across the Rhine—September, 1944, Nijmegen, Holland;

***To stop and hurl back Von Runstedt’s forces in the battle of bulge.

***Through the Siegfried line in the Allied spring offensive;

***Bridgehead in Europe—Sicily, July 9, 1943

ALSO:

***The last bridgehead in Europe—Elbe-Bleckede, April 30, 1945;

***The most Airborne invasions—Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Holland;

***More combat days than any other Airborne Division—371

***The first troops to meet the Russians in North Germany- Grabow.

I’d forgotten this publication. I don’t know where it came from. It came from a newspaper in Post Falls (Idaho) is the only thing I can think of.

(Webmaster's note; These firsts were listed in the European Final of The "All American" Paraglide, VE Day, May 1945 edition.)


 
 

End of transcription

 
 




 

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