Surrender of German 19th Army and meeting 5th Army and 10th U.S. Mountain Division at Austrian-Italian Border at Resia Pass
Author - Harry Murray Brammer Jr.
1st Platoon - 44th Cavalry Recon. Troop, 44th I.D.
"From there we proceeded on dawn towards the Austrian — Italian border. We passed through about 25 — 35 miles of surrendered Germans. I had not been told what our mission was, nor the terms of their surrender. In other words, the Germans had surrendered; out we were not told the conditions of the surrender. When we were moving down the road towards the Austrian — Italian border, one incident happened where I saw a German Soldier standing guard with his steel helmet on and a Mauser rifle slung on his shoulder. I was driving the jeep at the time. I motioned to him to come over. "Kommen Sie Kier, macht schnell!" (It means come here real fast.) "Geben Sie mir define Waffe." (Give me your weapon). Naturally, he knew the rules of the surrender, but I hadn't been told. I guess one out of every 50 — 100 soldiers was allowed to keep their weapons for guard duty and to maintain order. I told him to give me his weapon. He hesitated, and I ripped it off of his shoulder and threw it across the hood of the jeep. All the German Soldiers sitting around there thought it was real funny and got a big laugh out of it.
So we went on down the road. I was back on the machine gun this time, and here came a whole column of German soldiers, probably 40 or 50 of them marching in columns of 3's or 4's, commanded by an Officer. Immediately, we spotted his pistol. Now remember, eight other vehicles of the 1st Platoon had passed this German Officer and his Platoon of "Krauts." It took the old rear point jeep — Brammer, Chambliss, and Hilgart — to scavenge it, and we wanted that pistol of his, so we stopped the column, told the German Officer to come over and give me his weapon. He hesitated, but not for long. I just untightened the latches on the machine gum, rolled the 50 caliber MG, which you know is a very powerful and long weapon, and aimed it right at him. It wasn't very long, and he unbuckled his belt and handed me his pistol, and we went on. Outside of town, I threw that rifle that I got from that soldier on guard off of a bridge into a great big ravine. Then we moved on through these different towns in Austria. The next sizeable village me moved into was Landeck. The timing that reminded me of that town was one particular young German girl. We must have stayed overnight in that Town. I'm not sure, but she had this medal on a blue and white ribbon. I asked her what it was. She said, 'Eine Mutter Medaille." She said that it was a mother medal. I asked her what that was as I think I had read about it. A German or Austrian woman who had so many babies was given this medal for producing a lot of little Krauts for the Fatherland and Hitler. I made her give me the medal, which I still have today. From then on, we used to approach German girls and asked them if they wanted to earn a "Mutter" medal. In other words, let's go to bed and make out.
After the war, I read that when we were in Landeck, the 1st French Army to the west of us in Western Austria, was moving the same way we were. They were going to try to beat us to the Resia Pass, but finally we got our orders, and we moved out ahead of them. Another incident that developed shortly before we gat into Austria — We pulled into this one town, the only town where another outfit ever beat us into the houses because they got there first, was the 101st Airborne Division. We had passed through them that day.
In many towns, the Germans had built these roadblocks. They took telephone poles and stuck them straight up and down in the ground in the approach to the town. We used to call them the "60 minute delays," 10 minutes to tear them apart and 50 minutes to laugh at them. The 101st Airborne guys had the civilians out, middle-aged men, what have you, taking these poles out of the road. Anyways then we moved to this town, the whole town was filled with the 101st Airborne Division. They were going on a special mission to Berchtesgarden, Hitler's Alpine Retreat. We had to find some place else to stay that night. John Hilgart could speak German the best of anybody in our Platoon, and probably S/Sgt. Norman Wald was second in speaking German. Sgt. Carlson got in our jeep, so it was Marion Chambliss, Hilgart, myself, and Carlson went looking for a place stay. We went out to the edge of town a few kilometers, and we saw this big farm house. We pulled up and out the front door walked 3 to 4 women. They looked pretty decent. I said to myself, "I know where we're going to be staying tonight." Well naturally, we found out that there were several women there, and behind the house in the barn, several refugees were staying there. They has just been liberated. We started shaking hands with the women. One said they were "Francais' (French), Belgique (Belgium), etc. Finally we got to one and she said, "Deutsch." She was German. So we went back and got the rest of the Platoon and moved into the farmhouse.
It was that particular day when S/Sgt. Wald had been promoted to Platoon Leader. He had left the Platoon for a few days to become oriented to become an Officer and get his Battlefield Commission, and that's when Lt. Stanley had left as a day or so before this because his leg had gotten so bad. He could hardly walk from his wound in Amenoncourt, our first battle. So naturally, the 1st Platoon of 28 men moved in, and we really had a ball there. Also near there were some railroad tracks, and the German train had been strafed and partly destroyed by our Air Corps, and there were some box cars there, and some of them had some real good barrels of German rum in them. So there was plenty of rum to drink. Everybody was pairing off with these different women. Actually, I was the first one there. My jeep had gone to find the place. So I picked out one of the gals - I don't know what she was, but she wasn't German. I started hanging around her because I was hoping to get into her drawers. That night about the time I was ready to take her to bed to make out, Sgt. Stines called me, and I had to go on a patrol. Myself, Cpl. T-5 Cletus Cassidy, and I don't remember who else was an the patrol - but it might have been "Buck" Montgomery, and they sent us out on patrol to try to make contact with some French Troops near there. I remember that we got into this one town, and it started to snow. Remember - we were approaching the Alps. We had a devil of a time communicating with these French troops. They couldn't understand us, and we couldn't understand then. We final, found where we were supposed to go and made a liaison contact, and then we went back. When I got back, Sgt. Stines had my "broad." He must have just finished bedding her down, I didn't make out. I'm quite sure Sgt. Stines did. We all had a ball. I remember Norm Ketner talking and - one of the gals was pregnant and everybody was talking about screwing her. Norm Ketner said, "Don't, don't! Leave her alone!" But we were teasing and carrying on about screwing her, but. none of us did!
So, on back to our final mission from Landeck down to the Austrian - Italian border at the Resia Pass. The First French Army was about to beat us, au- they finally gave us orders, and the 7th Army told Our Division Commander General Dean to move his troops on down, so we headed on our very last mission from Landeck. From Landeck, we went to tows of Ried, Pfunds, Stein, and Nauders. That was the last village to the Resia Pass. I remember seeing some German soldiers there who had been wounded, and they had on arm casts that the Germans invented during the war that we didn't have yet. They put than in a cast and put a steel bar from the chest to the arm to hold it in a rigid position. I remember one of the Germans had that type of a cast on his arm. So we get down to the Austrian - Italian border at the Resia Pass. We were the first Americans there. My Platoon was the first ones in the American 7th Army to make contact with the American 5th Army at the Resia Pass. It had been accomplished a day or two before at the Brenner Pass. The 103rd Infantry Division of the 7th Army had met the American 88th Infantry Division of the 5th Army at the Brenner Pass. We were the second group to meet up at the border, and it was my Platoon leading. So we were the very first ones there. When we got to the border of Austria - Italy, the American 5th Army had not gotten there yet. A few hours later, there they came up the road. They were Infantry because they didn't have any vehicles, to speak of, that I remember. Maybe a jeep or two. It turned out to be the 10th Mountain Division, which was the only Mountain Division in the United States Army. This is the outfit that Senator Dole was in. He had been in shortly, and he hat been a Platoon Leader, and when he was crossing a stream in an attack, the Germans opened up on them, and almost cut him in two with machine gun fire. As you know, today, he can't use his right hand and is still paralyzed with.his wounds from World War II.
I remember that there were same border guards, but I don't remember if they were Austrian or Italian. I think they were Austrian. I remember this one woman. Leaning against this Custom House was this Italian 25 caliber Carbine rifle. I was one of the first ones there, and I got it. I was the only one who had captured an Italian Carbine. It turns out that it was the same, identical type rifle that killed President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. My weapon had a missing piece out of the bolt. I think there was even a dumb-dumb bullet in it, which was illegal to use in war. (per the Geneva Convention), I have never been able to fire the weapon. It's sitting down in the basement gathering dust and rust. One of our pictures in Our Division Book shows S/Sgt. Freitag sitting on one of our jeeps at the border. I think he had become our Platoon Sgt. He had replaced S/Sgt. Wald when he got his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. So here's where the 44th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop of the 44th Infantry Division ended the war at the Resia Pass on the Austrian - Italian border right next to Switzerland. That's where we ended the war.
I remember the Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division all had on these high turtle-neck green sweaters and hob-nailed boots. "Was this Army issue?" I asked. He said, "No, not at all.” The sweaters we captured from a German U-boat pen and that,'s where we got all those sweaters. We did wear hob-nails on our shoes, so we could climb mountains."
Another incident I want to tell about is when my 44th Inf. Div. captured the head of the German rocket program, Werner von Braun. He sent his brother to contact American Troops in the area of Austria, where they were after they had left their labs in Peenemunde and other places in Germany. He approached some American Troops that turned out to be the Anti-Tank Company of the 324th Regiment of my Division. The first soldier Magnus von Braun talked to was P.F.C. Fred Schneikert of Sheboygan, who could speak German being from Wisconsin, where there is a lot of German descent people. I met Fred Schneikert when I was working the Sheboygan area as a Goodyear Salesman. I looked him up in the phone book and went over to his house one evening and visited with him and his wife. He told me all about the incident which I an attaching the story out of our Division Book. Fred worked for the Electric Co. in Sheboygan. Later, he retired and moved to Florida. He told me that von Braun had invited him to visit him in Arkansas and also to some rocket launchings. Now the world gets smaller as usual. My son, while a student at Vanderbilt University, met a fellow student Tillman Stuhlinger, whose father was Herr Stuhlinger and was one von Braun's fellow scientists. They became friends, and when my son graduated from Vanderbilt and went on active duty in the Navy, Tillman sold his apartment refrigerator for him.
I forgot to mention an incident when we captured the German scientist; with the "Viper" rocket (author's note: the 'Viper', or in German the 'Natter' is the Bachem BA-349 'Natter', its inventor Eric Bachem) rocket. We drove their German cars around that they had. I remember going trouble netting one into reverse gear. You had to lift up on the gearshift. Then we got done driving them around, we just drove them over a cliff because we weren't going to let the Krauts have those cars, and we couldn't take them back with us."