Civilians Returning Home

 

Civilians (displaced people) crowded the highways. Many would start toward their houses not knowing they may be found in.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945

 

It was either walk or ride a bicycle during the latter days of the war in Europe. Many Germans owned a bicycle.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945, Trier, Germany

 

Displaced civilians (Germans, Russians, Czech, Poles, etc.) were numerous at the war’s end. To expedite their getting home after our transportation–at least our gas–was used. Here a truck of such people homeward bound.

Bernard McKenzie, June 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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A Frightening Christmas Day in 1944

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While attempting to stop the last great German counteroffensive of World War 2 in the otherwise serene forest of eastern Belgium, American GI’s like my father found a blizzard to be an equally savage foe. I walk through snowy woods today and the peace and quiet is startling. At Christmas time in 1944, I can only imagine how artillery shells and gunfire pierced the serenity. In this photo from the Warfare History Network, you can almost see the fear in this soldier’s eyes. The snow was a main factor in my dad’s capture, as he and 3 others driving in a Jeep were captured as they found themselves lost some seven miles behind German lines.

Just Weeks After VE Day, All Seems Quiet in Germany

 

McCormick, a cook, takes it easy in the German sun.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945

 

Harvey & L.B. Kinlow in front of their post office.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945, Germany

 

Chow is nearly ready. All chow hounds “fall in.” Willie & Ferrara prepare.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945, Schleiz, German

 

The main street in our pup tent city. Near Schleiz, Germany.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945

Heading Home Across an Embattled Europe

Our convoy rolling along a French highway toward Le Havre, France.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945

 

French flags such as shown flying here were hoisted in France as the Jerry’s were pushed out.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945

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Jerry’s is a term used by British and American soldiers to refer to Germans during WW1 and WW2, from Urban Dictionary.

 

The routine physical inspection. This particular physical took place at Camp Oklahoma City, France. (near Reims)

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945

 

War is hell! Ask the residents of Le Havre–if you can find any.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945

 

A typical German pill box. This particular one was located near the harbor at Le Havre, France.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945

 

The truck just ahead of the vehicle I was riding in enroute to Le Havre from Germany. Chuck Miller seated and facing my camera.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945

 

Enroute to Camp Oklahoma City, France (assembly area near Reims) our convoy stopped frequently for breaks. We amateur photographers had a lot of material here.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945, near French Border in Germany

 

Vineyards by the acres were a common sight. This flat section of vineyards was nothing like the mountainous ones in the Moselle River area.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945, near Bonn, Germany

 

Willie, Herman Rhinehart, & Peck. Bivouac area near Schleiz, Germany.

Bernard McKenzie, June 1945

Camp Oklahoma City, Next Best Place to Being Home

 

Complete & successful destruction of a Nazi Party headquarters building near Cologne, Germany.

Bernard McKenzie, June 19, 1945

 

A view of the picturesque Moselle River near Wasserbillig, Germany. Our regiment had taken Wasserbillig only after a terrific price in human lives last winter.

Bernard McKenzie, June 19, 1945

 

The cathedral was to have been the chief subject near Bonn, Germany, and while hurriedly passing through, the picture was snapped.

Bernard McKenzie, June 19, 1945

 

This photo, which I’d always assumed was of a sign constructed by a home-sick G.I., pointed the directions of American redeployment camps, or repo-depos.┬áThe camps were named after U.S. cities. My dad was at Oklahoma City.

Redeployment centers near Reims, France, were organized & functioning in these U.S. city named camps . Our Division was redeployed at Oklahoma City.

Bernard McKenzie, June 19, 1945

 

These redeployment camps near Reims served as a funnel to prepare millions of American G.I.’s for military operations elsewhere in the world and to send the luckier ones home. The map below shows the location of the various camps around Reims. The first photo shows the long lines for the “Gourmet Restaurant” at Camp Boston. The second photo is of my dad’s camp, Oklahoma City.

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.

Le Havre’s a Home Run

French girls were on hand at Camp Home Run to make for a less “G.I.” atmosphere.

Bernard McKenzie, June 23, 1945

 

A German-constructed pill box surrounding their old fort at Le Havre, France.

Bernard McKenzie, June 23, 1945

 

A distant view of Le Havre, France. Taken from the top of an old German fort. Church and other buildings in the foreground were relatively untouched–buildings in the background were demolished.

Bernard McKenzie, June 23, 1945

 

Entrance gate to Camp Home Run.

Bernard McKenzie, Le Havre, France, June 23, 1945

 

 

Underground tunnel barracks that we were housed in during our 5 days at Home Run.

Bernard McKenzie, Le Havre, France, June 23, 1945

 

A sector of Le Havre that had missed some bombs.

Bernard McKenzie, June 23, 1945

 

Service deluxe was to be had at Camp Home Run. Here are a few French girls who dished out food in the kitchen.

Bernard McKenzie, June 23, 1945

 

Once a German fort, Camp Home Run was a restful place for American G.I.’s awaiting shipment home.

Bernard McKenzie, Le Havre, France, June 23, 1945