Returning Through a Destroyed Germany

As my dad and his comrades made the beginnings of their way homeward, they encountered remnants of war in the homes of the German oppressor. When the Nazis dug in to protect their homeland, they didn’t have the full support of all the German people, but their actions led directly to the destruction of their own country by the American-led Allies. These images tell a slice of the story of that destruction. See this video of Aachen and this video of Plauen.

Three Regimental messengers near Plauen, German.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945


This German lady has been trying to clear her yard of all rubble. Her home here was likewise bombed but was in better shape than mane of her neighbors in Aachen, Germany.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945


Aachen, Germany (the first large German city taken by American troops of the U.S. First Army) knows well what war is. Our bombers kept pouring it to the Hitler S.S. men who refused to surrender their headquarter city.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945


This once was the town hall at Wasserbillig, Luxembourg. Our 3rd Br. fought their way in and took this town.

Bernard McKenzie, 1945


A small gasoline D.P. near our (unreadable) area. Ration stamps were unheard of.

Bernard McKenzie, 1945


“Take Ten.” Our convoy, homeward bound, would take a ten minute stop every two hours. Business pertinent at that time was taken care of.

Bernard McKenzie, 1945

Ground Covered

Thus far, leading up to a Le Havre departure, my father has moved from Schleiz, Germany, to Luxembourg City, to camp Oklahoma City outside Reims, France, to Camp Home Run outside Le Havre, from the end of May through the end of June, 1945. After being malnourished during his six month POW stint, the journey must have been mentally and physically exhausting. I’m so glad he recorded the journey with these photographs, and especially with his writings on the back.

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Awaiting Redeployment

Our field mess hall at Camp Oklahoma City, France. Our 87th Division was the first unit to be processed here in redeployment home & then to the Pacific.

Bernard McKenzie, June 17, 1945, near Reims, France


“Bo” orients Doc Snipes on the Pacific War. War in Europe was over, but we were all thinking of the Japs.

Bernard McKenzie, June 17, 1945


A soft drinks truck paused briefly to take care of business in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.

Bernard McKenzie, June 17,1945


Trier, Germany, on the Moselle River, was also the victim of our bombs.

Bernard McKenzie, June 17, 1945


Large cities of Germany were not the only ones who saw the havoc of war. This is the view of a small town outside Cologne.

Bernard McKenzie, June 17, 1945

Looking Forward to the End…

American soldiers & not French are boarding this GI vehicle with some of the ruins.

Bernard McKenzie, June 26, 1945


Camp Home Run, once a German held fort, was our waiting place for the boat.

Bernard McKenzie, Le Havre, France, June 20-26, 1945


This picture was taken as our advance party convoy entered the city of Aachen, Germany.

Bernard McKenzie, June 20, 1945


American Cemetery of World War II soldiers. Located in Belgium, just across the German border.

Bernard McKenzie, June 20, 1945


“In Flanders Fields the Poppies Grow…” This snap is but a tiny sector of Flanders in Belgium. Nothing but poppies were visible in the field. A very beautiful sight.

Bernard McKenzie, Flanders, Belgium, June 20, 1945, quoting a 1918 poem by John McCrae


The very busy business cross intersection in the heart of Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.

Bernard McKenzie, June 20, 1945

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.