Winschoten Holland May, June 1945. The war over and the complete regiment is all billeted in the town of Winschoten. What was the question that most of us wanted to know?
After the complete surrender of the German forces in Western Holland these troops had to be sent back to Germany. This great movement to be carried out by Canadian units guarding the Germans as they marched from Western Holland to Germany. I do not recall how many miles of the march that the 17th RCA were in charge of but I do remember that some of our officers and a other ranks spent some time escorting the long lines of marching men.
The route of this column went right along the road where our guns were parked in Winschoten. Thousands of German troops passed by and we stood beside our guns watching them. Some had horse drawn kitchens others were pulling carts made up from bicycle wheels. All carried packs and most of the groups had their officers marching in front. Some of these fellows still looked pretty arrogant. The rank and file of these prisoners looked fairly tired with all ages and all different units. One group that came along were all Turcomen, their origin was close to China. I will research where the Turcomen came from. The Turcomen were all small in stature, very Oriental in skin color and in overall appearance. We had come up against Turcomen while in Italy so it was not new to see them except in such a large numbers.
When the German started the march out of Western Holland our military authorities gave the German officers permission to carry their small arms but this order was rescinded. Our chaps on this detail had a field day of confiscating revolvers and anything else not of German origin from these thousands of troops.
I asked Boby Cochrane to get me a revolver so the next day he was back with a brand new automatic that he had dug out of hiding in a store's truck or wagon. It was a beautiful gun and still had the shipping grease in the barrel. Our Light Aid Detachment Sgt Hans Lunan confiscated a terrific Italian piano accordion from a German wagon. Boy could Hans ever play that accordion and even better after a couple of Belgium cognacs Stan Scislowski would have been in seventh heaven with all this great loot ready for the taking.
I forget how long the marching column went through Winschoten but it must have been a couple of weeks as there were at least couple of hundred thousand Germans that were on the march.
I wonder if the shoe was on the other foot and we had all been captured if we would have been fed and looked after?. The Canadian Army supplied the Germans with rations and their cooks did the preparation of the meals. That is the way I remember it. Our routine consisted of morning parades clean and polish our guns and equipment and hope for news of when we were going home. Mind you the parties and meeting the Dutch girls was in full swing, Surprisingly most of the girls could speak some English and our fellows were ready to further their education. Depends how you take that last remark???