In Winschoten the Dutch people had their flags out along with the Orange ribbons, and armbands. It was their DAY. I mentioned before we all went to bed early, a somber group, no wild celebration, no dancing or jumping into fountains.We were, it seemed, alone with our private thoughts.
Here all of us in this room were survivors but our folks would not know for weeks that we had survived. Then came the remembrance of our comrades that were killed in action and would never know this day.
About eleven o’clock into our room came Sgt Jack Parr accompanied by a Dutch girl.The two of them woke all of us up with. "What are you sleeping for? Get up an celebrate this great day Have a drink, get happy", and on they went. Well we were not too happy with this and stayed in bed.
The Dutch girl thought she would get us out of bed and get on helping them celebrate so with this she started kicking off her shoes aiming at us. It was pretty exciting for a moment or two shoes flying past our heads hitting the walls. When the shoe bit failed to get us up she noted a dart board with a good supply of darts. Getting a hand full of darts, this boisterous girl, she started flinging them around. None of us wanted to lose an eye so as one we said Jack gather up your girl friend and get the Hell out of here. Tranquility reigned and we went back to sleep.
The next morning a massive bouquet of flowers plus a card of apology was delivered to our house from our visitor of the night before.
In a few days we had the formal word that Germany was KAPUT, finished, war over! This was 8th of May 194.. Finally it was all over so our next thoughts were when do we go home? The regiment waw going to fire a twenty one gun salute to the victory. Our troop was picked for this event, Blank cartridges were readied with most of the charge being removed and the cardboard cup shellacked in place. The day the event was to take place the towns' folk and the regiment were all on hand for the Victory Europe Salute.
The order to fire was given and the guns blasted away to the sound of the windows in the civilians houses shattering. Why did the guns keep firing destroying all the windows? We will never know except that it was the thing to do. Also the Dutch were so pleased that the war was over they did not scream stop.
The guns that fired the salute had to be cleaned and polished and who ever glued the cardboard caps in should have cleaned the gun barrels. What a job.
Most of us were in sort of a dream and soon we would wake up and go back into action. We were able to get a night's sleep without being out in the rain and flooded gun pits, or having an ear cocked for incoming shells.
Just the wonder of being around civilians as wonderful as the Dutch was, I suppose, a start on our future lives. The transformation from combat to a normal life was going to take some time .