Holland, December 1945. The great moment has finally arrived! WE ARE GOING HOME! We received the news that on or about 20th December 1945 we were to bid our Dutch friends farewell and leave the town of Winschoten. With many thoughts and emotions we cleaned up the school where our men were housed. Our house which had been home for eight months was cleaned out. Extra civilian things that we had acquired we either gave away or left for the Dutch. We left Winschoten about 5AM on 20th December 1945. I, along with the rest of our troop, trudged along the street in the darkness to waiting lorries. Here we did a roll cal,l making sure no one was left behind that had slept in or failed to show on such an important morning of our lives. The correct answer to the roll call as I made my report to Capt Forbes was, all present and correct sir. Let us get loaded and away all of us were leaving Winschoten. The words parting was sweet sorrow. Oh yes all the girls and friends were left behind.
In one sense the troop were rather somber since we were leaving a place that had been home to us for eight months. The Dutch had been extremely kind to all of usand I must give them a tremendous amount of credit as they with took us to their hearts and homes as if we were their own famiy.
Thank you, good folk, we loved you.
On the lorries, as we pulled away from Winschoten, the mood brightened a bit the further. As we traveled some caught some sleep others wondered how much time would we spend in England before we finally were on board ship for home. Our first stop was the large staging camp at Nijmegen where all were assigned to huts and given orders when we would leave.
Greeting us at Nijmegen were large signs warning us to turn in any small arms like Lugers, P38's, and any other firearms. If we did not turn these weapons in we would be sent to the army of occupation in Germany for a year. This was a very serious thing as most of us had Lugers and other non issue revolvers. Chuck Watson and I had a talk and said we were not going to throw away our revolvers and when the time came to board a ship or leave this camp we would stand together so if one was caught with prohibited firearms the chance would be both would be caught and we then would go to Germany together.
We spent a day or so at Nijmegen and soon boarded a train to Ostend. All along this route the railway workers would have picked up hundreds of revolvers as the fellows really believed we would have a harsh inspection at Ostend and were throwing them out the windows. Chuck and I kept ours.
We arrived at Ostend with no inspection, and finally on board the Dover Queen to cross the channel with a sigh of relief, and one of joy. We were on our way HOME. England then Canada and that cannot happen too soon.