The start of 1945 had Edwin Boone still in Europe with the 415 Medical Collecting Company. The Allied forces were pushing hard against the Germans. Edwin was probably still part of the medical support for Patton’s 3rd Army. His letters are up-beat, reassuring his family that he is fine, eating well & not doing much. January 20, 1945, he wrote “The War News now is sounding awfully good. Maybe I’ll get to see you by “Corn-plantin’” time!” On January 29, he said the snow was a foot deep with talk of the “worst winter in Europe for a good many years, but where I am it compares with a mild winter back in Indiana.” February 1, it had quit snowing & with warmer weather “the snow is practically all gone. And just as I had finished building a new toboggan, too! We built one and used it the last day there was snow. Had a nice long slide, and was really fun, even for an old man!” By February 4 the snow had melted and the rain started again.
He made a Valentine card for his parents.
Later in February, his APO address changed to 339, which connected him to the 9th Army. He wrote from Holland. He told of seeing “some of the war’s desolation” on the trip to Holland. The soldiers were staying in a schoolhouse & subject to regular inspections “just like we had back in the States.” February 11, he tells that he has been permitted to get a room in a private home. He is staying with the Baan family. Professor Baan teaches English in one of the local schools. “I don’t think the folks in America have ever showed the hospitality that these Dutch do.” He says the Dutch people are “very friendly” and are learning English. “They have taken us into their home & can’t seem to do enough for us.”
March 4, 1945, Edwin writes from Germany. He says, “finally we’re getting to see some of the sights that lots of people say they’d like to see. A Germany that has seen some of the ravages of war. I’m sure that these people are beginning to wonder why they ever followed their “leader.”” Allied forces were continuously bombing targets in Germany, causing significant devastation. On March 7, US forces of the 1st Army crossed the Rhine River at Remagen over a railroad bridge that the Germans had failed to destroy.
Later in March he mentions the Red Cross and “making arrangements.” He is working on trying to get home to help take care of his parents.
March 29, they have moved again.On March 24, the 9th US Army forces crossed the Rhine River at Dinslaken. “This part of Germany isn’t so well serviced with electricity as the last area was, but they may have it functioning before long. We had lights, radio & electric irons on the other side of the river.”
May 1, Edwin writes that he took a 3 day pass to Holland & “by the time I got back 8 days had passed.” The Company had moved while he was gone and they had difficulty getting transportation to catch up. He said he spent a night “in a real castle, which is being used as Battalion Headquarters.”
Back home, on May 2, his parents, Alva and Allie Boone, had a sale of their personal property. This is the announcement:
May 6, Edwin writes of expecting the war to be over by the time his letter gets to the folks at home. On May 8, 1945 (VE Day) the Germans surrendered and the war in Europe was officially over.
He changed APO address mid May & connected again with the 3rd Army. He said they had traveled several hundred miles in about a week. “We are located within a quarter of a mile of one of these camps filled with displaced persons Polish, Russian & Italian. It’s certainly an odd assortment of humanity. It’s really pitiful to see so many of these people who have been, either voluntarily or otherwise—mostly otherwise!, taken from their homes and used as laborers here in Germany.” He talks of the point system for discharge from the Army and is frustrated that he has less than half the points needed. Also, he indicates he is not getting much help in trying to get home to help care for his father, Alva.
June 4 he is in Deggendorf, Germany, sleeping in an office building. He’s on 24hr guard duty—2hrs on then 4hrs off for 24hrs at a time. He also writes that he is painting signs. He mentions the sale at home and the eventual sale of the farm. He indicates that even though his father expected one of his sons to carry on with the farm, he’s not sure what he will do when he gets out of the Army. There are rumors of possibly the older soldiers being d/c soon. June 25, he sent a photo home.
July 5 he mentions he is riding with a truck driver all over the area, transporting German hospital patients from one hospital to another. Still talking about discharge points and that he has 3 battle stars, which added to his points. “The fact that I have 3 doesn’t mean that I, personally, was in 3 battles! They are for the arenas of the Ardennes, in Belgium, the Rhineland and Central Europe. We had our Company spread out so we got credit for all of them!”
At the end of July he sent drawings of Deggendorf:
August: He was busy painting and decorating the various clubs for the battalion—the Non-Com’s club Officer’s club and Enlisted men’s club. He considers getting back into painting when he returns home or trying dental work, which may pay pretty well.
Edwin probably contributed to the decor on this wall.
The US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Then on August 10, Nagasaki was bombed. The war in the Pacific was coming to an end. August 14, Emperor Hirohito agrees to surrender terms but the formal ceremony didn’t take place until September 2, 1945.The war was finally over.
Aug 19 Edwin tells of a report that soldiers who were at least 38 yrs old were being discharged from the Army. August 31, he writes from Etampes, France, in process of returning home. Sept 7, from Compeigne, France, he mentions being bounced from camp to camp, while still awaiting the trip home. Sept 12 he is part of the 16th Reinforcement Depot in Pierrefonds, France, continuing to wait. Sept 19, his name has been read off and he plans his return trip on the 21st.
This was the last of Edwin’s letters. He did get home to Indiana and was given his discharge papers at the Separation Center at Camp Atterbury, IN on October 13, 1945. His papers indicate that he departed for the European Theater on October 4, 1944, arriving October 12. He departed for home Sept 28, 1945 and arrived October 9, 1945.
Sadly, his father, Alva Boone, died of pneumonia on October 6.
Edwin returned to Indianapolis with is wife, Pauline. They lived there for the rest of their lives. Edwin did work as a dental technician and continued with art as a hobby. He died in 1980, and Pauline died in 1997. They did not have children.
So, that’s most of Uncle Edwin’s story. I’m sure he was involved in more than just KP, guard duty and sign painting with his time in the Army in Europe during the final stages of WWII. But that’s all that he shared with his family. There is one more tangent to his story to be shared at a later date.
© MJM 2016