After V-E Day, we settled into barracks life, except we were in pup tents. Close order drill, parades, physical training, inspections and softball took up our time. Living in the field, the only latrines available were slit trenches, dug by assigned details or work parties.
The 87th Division was pulled out of the Saar Basin on December 23. It was a cold, barren place with copses of woods concealing enemy machine gun emplacements and tanks, deadly for foot soldiers. We were positioned on the right flank of the Third Army. We were glad to go. It was rumored the Germans had broken through the American lines somewhere to the north.
With full pack and rifle, we carefully went over the side of our cross-channel ship and worked our way down the cargo net to a landing craft (LCI) heaving alongside the hull in the long harbor swells of Le Havre. We were instructed to leap in the boat as it fell in the trough. With rifle and full pack added to our body weight, if we landed in the boat as it rose in the swell, you could break a leg.
After several days of what passed for R&R (Rest & Recreation) in Koblenz, we loaded up and climbed on trucks in the late afternoon of March 24 and moved upstream on the west side of the Rhine to the small town of Boppard. We began to cautiously filter down through the moonlit streets toward the shingled beach.
The enduring cold was gradually coming to an end. It was mid-March. The worst of it had been cold feet. They were numbingly cold all the time unless we could capture a village, occupy houses and build fires. If your feet were wet and cold, it was worse. Trench foot with blackened toes could send you back possibly with gangrene and amputation.