Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oldest Military Blogger in Ghent, Belgium

I am stationed in Ghent, Belgium.
It's May 1945.
Hurray!
The War is over!
It's August,1945!
We get leave to go to Paris.
Lloyd, Okie and I get a lift on a Company truck
to Paris.
We meet some Black Marketeers.
They buy everything I carry including my toothpaste.
I keep my B Bag, some socks and 4 cartons of
cigarettes.
They pay us with counterfeit Script!
The ink on the last letter of the Serial Number
is Smeared.
A bartender, later that day points it out to us.
We look over the rest of our ill gotten gains.
All smeared, but hardly noticeable.
The bartender will accept the counterfeit money
if we double the payment!
No Problem!
We do the rounds in Pig Alley including the Follies.
No big deal for a guy from New York who was
familiar to Burlesque.
Astonishing to the others, who decide to stay
in Paris while I want to go back to Scotland.
I get a ride to Etretat, a seaport in France, for
a Boat Train to England.
I spend a couple of days in London and take the
Royal Scot Express with its large windows
and very comfortable seats for a ten hour train
ride to Glasgow,and a bus to Gourock, a small
seaport on the West coast, where I first came
ashore from the S.S. Argentina..
Adda and her family have relocated.
The house is gone and so is most of the street.
It's time to start for home.
The weather turns ugly.
I arrive in Southampton in a pouring rain and
dense fog.
I wait twenty hours for a Boat Train to Etretat.
Southampton train station is jammed with
101st Troopers on leave.
Everyone is standing or sitting on their gear.
An announcement on the PA system tells us
the Boat Train delay will be another 3 hours.
6 hours later, another excuse for 2 hours later.
A huge Trooper jumps up on a nearby booth
and then, onto a counter under the Information Sign.
He pounds the heel of his Jump shoe on the gleaming
counter-top for attention!
Some eyes turn toward the disruption of the unusual noise.
The trooper bellows, above the sounds of the seething audience.

"FORTY EIGHT"

The din in the Terminal seems to mellow.

"FORTY NINE" he oozes out in a loud screeching,
breaking voice, with his arms raised above his head.

Much quieter in Southampton Train Station!

FIFTY!

Not a Sound!

Then starting with a swell:
800 GIs IN UNISON roar their displeasure!

The roar shatters the corners of the terminal,
long and drawn out,starting with a lower register
moan and building to a crescendo,reverberating from
the 50 foot rafters, ending in this emphatic statement

" S O M E S H E E E T "
.
Less than an hour later, I was on the first
of many boats crossing the Channel in a dense fog,
so darn proud to be an American ..

9 comments:

CI-Roller Dude said...

When I was in Iraq, some folks in the smaller villages were making photo copies of American Dollars and using it for currency. They all knew it was fake (black and white) but they said it was the only money they had...

Anonymous said...

The "Freedom" experienced when war
was over...leisure time in Paris "on leave"...
A Freedom none of us can imagine!

The Drama at the Train Station..20 hr. wait plus additional delays turn the 101st Troopers into near panic reaction... apparently resulted in ACTION to remove you from the station.

I wonder, "Did you return to your Division within the allowable Days on Leave?" Who Cares?...and a Proud American You Are ! M

Karen said...

Hello Sol...
Wonderful to read your recollections of such and honorable time...thank you for your service...I'm going to share this with my 82 year old father...He,like you, is quite articulate. Jack was 16 yr old merchant marine during the war...he traveled around the world and transformed from a boy to a man very quicky. K

solfine said...

Dear Karen with a K,
Thank you for your comment about your 82 year young Dad.
Please encourage him to relate some of those experiences with you and yours, lest they be lost forever.S

Anonymous said...

Superlative post, as always - very much enjoy reading about your experiences! Please keep the details and reminisces coming!

Pete
CAPT USN (Ret)

solfine said...

Thank you Retired Navy Captain, Pete.
Your encouragement is not lost on me.
I find comments like yours very well thought out because of the sincerity and a certain earnestness in their content. Please visit again soon.
Solomon

membrain said...

That was beautiful Finnegan. Very poetic. I was hanging on every word.

It's Veteran's Day today and once again I thank you for your sacrifice and your continued service here on this blog.

Up here, it's Rememberence Day in Canada and I'm off to the local Cenotaph to pay my respects to those who served and those who serve today.

Be well Finnegan.

LEST WE FORGET.

membrain said...

That was beautiful Finnegan. Very poetic. I was hanging on every word.

It's Veteran's Day today and once again I thank you for your sacrifice and your continued service here on this blog.

Up here, it's Rememberence Day in Canada and I'm off to the local Cenotaph to pay my respects to those who served and those who serve today.

Be well Finnegan.

LEST WE FORGET.

Anonymous said...

eh... good style :)