Segment 4

Annotation

Lucien Laborde and the rest of the 115th Infantry Regiment were told that they would be getting about three weeks rest after the capture of the port city of Brest on the Brittney Peninsula. Three days after the battle they got orders to move to Geilenkirchen on the German border. Laborde was ordered to report to division headquarters as soon as they got to Germany. He had been promoted to division as assistant operations officer. This was in September [Annotators Note: September 1944]. They fought through the area of the Roer River capturing town after town throughout the fall. The weather was very cold. There was a lot of snow and there were many cases of frostbite among the men in the trenches. The Battle of the Bulge started south of them. The Hurtgen Forest was also south of them. Labordes division was part of General Simpsons IX Corps [Annotators Note: Laborde means 9th Army. The 29th Infantry Division was part of XIX Corps at the time]. The German objective was to turn toward Antwerp and drive a wedge between the US and British forces. General Simpson’s troops were to block this advance. Laborde’s division was given an area to hold. General Simpson was given the assignment of crossing the Roer River and heading up the Roer Valley. Laborde had a lot to do with the planning of the river crossing. The Roer River was about 150 feet wide because the Germans had blown the damns upriver to impede the American crossing. Laborde visited the area 30 years later and the river was 20 or 30 feet wide where they crossed. They lost a lot of men in the crossing. They got across and captured the town of Julich. At Julich there was a big fort built by Charlemagne. Before the crossing was a scheduled Churchill met with three corps commanders and division commanders who showed him their plans for the crossing. Within two days of the crossing they arrived at the city of Munchen Gladbach. At the time Munchen Gladbach was the largest German city to fall to the Americans. In town the men of the 29th Infantry Division located Goebbels castle and had a big celebration in it. From this point on the German resistance was crumbling. They crossed the Rhine River with no real difficulty other than the problems associated with crossing rivers. They went through the Roer Valley, through Hanover, and all the way up to the Elbe River. They encountered mines along the way but no organized resistance. When they reached the Elbe River they could almost see Berlin. They had the equipment to cross the river and continue their advance but were told to halt. An agreement had been reached at Yalta [Annotators Note: the Yalta Conference] that the Russians would take Berlin. The Russians were still two weeks away. During those two weeks about 90 percent of the German troops in the area crossed the river to surrender to the Americans. They crossed on everything from truck inner tubes to small boats. The Germans were happy to surrender to the Americans because they thought that they would receive proper treatment. When the Germans crossed the river they brought Hohenzollern china and silver with them which they gave to the Americans. Laborde was raised in roast pig country in Avoelles Parish. All of the Hohenzollern china, crystal, and silver was eventually taken to the 29th Infantry Division armory in Baltimore. It had not even been there a week before the State Department showed up and took it, packed it all up, and sent it back to Germany.

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