A Mystery to Solve

All of the photographs on this site are scans of originals that my father Bernard McKenzie took on his trek across western Europe at the end of World War 2. To this point the descriptions written on the back have been meticulous, detailed in the handwriting of my dad and the vernacular of the times. They’ve also been accurate, both chronological and locations. This blog post has helped me identify the first discrepancy, a photo and description dated far out of sequence. What’s going on? I hope to figure it out as I keep following the trail of photographs back into Germany.

The lazy Moselle River near Wasserbillig, Germany.

Bernard McKenzie, June 22, 1945

While this photo does appear to be of the Moselle River, Luxembourg is on one side while Germany is on the other. The photo is also obviously extremely mis-dated, as my dad was at Camp Home Run in Le Havre, France, on June 22.

Strategic Location of Le Havre

Le Havre played an enormous role for both sides during World War 2. It was a highly strategic harbor for the Germans to protect during their occupation. And it was a critical re-entry point for the Allies, with the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy approximately 50 miles to the southeast. Because of this its native French inhabitants took a horrendous beating at the start, middle, and end of the war.

Le Havre

The Slow Road Home

I’ve seen this stack of photos stuffed inside a shoebox since I was a young boy. My dad would take the box out to show the photos to close friends in hushed tones. They’ve taken on a mythical quality to me, and I’m so thankful I’ve found this outlet to truly examine them closely for the first time myself, and to share them with anyone who’s interested.

Ruins of Le Havre. Enroute to our boat & then the U.S.A.

Bernard McKenzie, June 26, 1945

 

We had stayed at “Home Run” for 5 days. We were sweating out boarding our ship. Here we are leaving “Home Run”–boarding trucks & enroute to our boat.

Bernard McKenzie, June 26, 1945

 

Enroute to our ship. One small sector of Le Havre that had missed our bombs in the early days of the war.

Bernard McKenzie, June 26, 1945

 

Most of us are loaded on trucks. Approximately two hours later we got on the “Marine Dragon.”

Bernard McKenzie, June 26, 1945

Is it the beginning? Or is it the end?

An African-American Navy Band sent the troops off in style.

Negro musicians play as we leave Le Havre.

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945

 

A group of negro musicians played as we left the European Theater.

Bernard McKenzie, Le Havre, France, June 27, 1945

 

Some French civilians and U.S. soldiers watch on as we leave Le Havre.

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945

 

Our “Marine Dragon” that returned us safely to the U.S.A. The gang plank to the right. Boarded this the evening of the 26th–sailed June 27, 1945.

Bernard McKenzie, Le Havre, France, June 27, 1945

The War Machine Bringing GI’s Home

More than 2 million Americans fought in Europe in WW2. Bringing them home was just the next chapter. Learn more about the USS West Point, in the background of the first photo below, which was used to transport troops during World War 2.

Ships & tugs docked at Le Havre. The U.S. West Point in the background.

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945

 

A sister ship of our Marine Dragon.

Bernard McKenzie, Le Havre, France, June 27, 1945

 

This tug is about to take us through the channel ahead. You can see the rope attached.

Bernard McKenzie, Le Havre, France, June 27, 1945

 

The tug at front is slowly pulling our ship out.

Bernard McKenzie, Le Havre, France, June 27, 1945

 

Harbor at Le Havre.

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945

Remnants of Le Havre

In order to be repatriated, Le Havre was destroyed. See Before and After video of Le Havre.

In harbor at Le Havre, France.

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945

 

A dock at Le Havre, France. Our Air Forces had visited here frequently.

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945

 

The congested harbor at Le Havre.

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945

 

Harbor. Le Havre, France

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945

 

In the harbor at Le Havre, France.

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945

Battlefront, Le Havre

The Germans dug in at Le Havre, determined to defend one of France’s largest ports at all costs–the port was very important for them to secure, and very important for the Allies to seize! This is the aftermath of “defending at all costs”. Read more about Operation Estonia.

Harbor view, Le Havre, France.

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945

 

This ship, a victim of enemy shells, still lies submerged in the harbor at Le Havre, France.

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945

 

A submerged ship, a victim of enemy shells. Le Havre, France.

Bernard McKenzie, June 27, 1945