FISHING WITH TNT
One morning the top sergeant called for me. He said, “Mohar, we’re going fishing” Bring your TNT pack”! Hey! How about that! Several of us went with him on a jeep dragging a trailer with a bunch of rattling 30 gallon garbage cans from the mess hall. Imagine being that optimistic!
We were guided to a stream outside of Salzburg by a German soldier (how did he ever get clearance I’ll never know).
There were civilians sitting on the bridges and on the banks fishing in the sportsmanlike manner the old fashioned way using hook line and pole.
When the Jeep stopped at the edge of the stream, the Sergeant said “Mohar, make up a charge”. So I took out one block of TNT and attached a detonator and fuse .He said, “Toss it right there”. I tossed it into a deep part of the stream and it went off with a swish and splash! There were hundreds of fish stunned by the blast. All hands went into the water and grabbed the fish tossing them into the garbage cans. The civilians came running. They were allowed by the Sergeant to pick up the mutilated fish. I made several more charges and we were finally loaded down with a lot of fish! There was an assorted species of fish. Not many trout.
While we were there at the creek’s edge a pheasant flew up out of the grass. This ain’t no lie! The German soldier quickly took the carbine which was slung on Breese, and with a single shot with a carbine, he brought that Pheasant down! Call it a lucky shot! It had to be because it takes a 12 gauge for me to hit a pheasant on the wing! We were all amazed to say the least. The German soldier told us that he was on duty in the Scandinavian countries. I wondered how come we allowed him to be loose. I suppose he had clearance to guide us to the fishing spot.
Back to the fish story: When we got back to the company area, the fish had to be cleaned! The Sergeant made another call and I was supposed to join the detail to clean the fish! Hell with that! I made myself scarce and never did report for that duty. Fish and I just don’t get along–except for catching them that is. I didn’t, and never intended to eat any of those fish anyway.
That was a Friday most likely and I suffered by fasting eating just the other stuff served.
Catch of fish
I guess it wouldn’t hurt to tell this. I shared the same room with one of my buddies. It had to be spic and span for inspection now that we were in sort of a Garrison duty. We had two single beds almost as if we were in a barracks. We had to have an orderly display of military articles on the bed cover.
Just before chow time at noon, a young German girl came in the room. She wasn’t a beauty .Her face was red with a deep passionate blush. You won’t guess that she asked my buddy to–err – hmmmm– this is delicate–breed her! The Buddy handed his mess kit to me and said, “Wait for me in the chow line”. I heard the military display being brushed from the bed to the floor as I closed the door behind me.
Minutes later the nameless buddy came to join me in the chow line and I handed him his mess kit. He was flushed in the face himself now! I guess it was from running so as not to miss chow! Ha!
He knew I was going to ask him questions, so he just bent over with his butt towards me and said. “HERE, KICK MY ASS”! So I did! Hard!
DISPLACED PERSONS CAMP
In Salzburg there was a large refugee and DP camp quite near our platoon and
Headquarters’ building. I heard that a lot of the refugees were of Slavic origin. I was interested to see if I could actually understand the language. I went to take a peek through the wire enclosure. Larry Corbett came with me purposely to see if I could really speak or communicate with the Slavish people. I found it very difficult to muster up the words I needed except for a greeting. I could hardly speak coherently. It was long time since I heard it spoken. I felt deep sorrow for those poor buggers behind that wire. When will they find their way back to their homes and in what condition will the home be. Bombed out no doubt. Ravaged.
REFUGEES RETURN HOME
Soon there was more activity regarding the refugees. The able bodied men commandeered all sorts of conveyances. I saw tractors pulling several trailers loaded to the gill with refugees. I remember a couple of German army trucks which stopped in front our bivouac. The driver jumped out of his cab and another on the other side opened a hatch on a big boiler attached to the cab. On the front bumper was a pet cock. This truck was a wood burner. A person dumped a sack of small wood blocks into the boiler and closed the hatch with a large wheel operated valve. Then the driver opened a petcock up front and checked whether there was enough alcohol fumes generated to run the engine. The gas lit as if it were a blow torch. The driver turned off the valve and jumped in the truck. He hit the starter and the engine roared normally. The driver yelled something in Croat language “ALL ABOARD”. They zoomed off. There were several large German military trailers being towed behind with refugees loaded shoulder to shoulder destination Jugoslavia.
No matter where you traveled in Germany on these days there were refugees heading home in these German vehicles. I saw one cylinder farm tractors resembling our early John Deeres .Some were colored blue. Horses and wagons were slow but they too were used. The sides of the roads were lined with refugees shoving and or pulling anything that had wheels, going home.
RUSSIAN STAGE SHOW
One other detail for our platoon before we left Austria was to build a Stage for a Russian show which was coming to entertain the troops. I was mostly in charge of the construction. We took the truck out to a sawmill located in the country side to procure some suitable lumber. The pieces had to be strong because the Russians like to do their famous rigorous dance routine.
There was varying degrees of thankfulness for the liberation of the French and even the German people. I was disgusted when we had a hell of a time getting lumber for the stage. The saw mill owner demanded money from us. It was necessary then to get some sort of Military government approval which would guarantee payment for the lumber. The guy could have had his lumber back after we used it. He was a stubborn cuss.
I didn’t get to enjoy the Russian performance for some reason. I’ll bet it was fun. Oh I Remember now! We were going home!