It's Maya's first Halloween, and it was sooooo hard to pick out a costume for her. There were so many cute options, but the hat on her Princess Leia costume was what made it the winner. That and the fact that Pete is a HUGE sci-fi nerd and loves Star Wars.
Pete and I went to a Halloween party last night while a friend babysat Maya. Pete didn't have a costume this year, and he didn't want to wear one of his old costumes. I insisted he have some sort of costume, so he agreed to go as the popular internet social site, Facebook. I wrote the word "book" on his face! I stole that idea from the TV show The Office. I had been planning to be Professor Trelawney, the divination teacher from Harry Potter, so my costume was all set!
Our friends Kyle and Meghan had the coolest costumes! Megan made "Wild Things" costumes for the two of them. They were super-shaggy, and had claws and huge wild things masks on sticks. It was pretty amazing. Everyone had cool costumes, but if I was the judge, they would have won the blue ribbon, for sure!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
It's Maya's first Halloween, and it was sooooo hard to pick out a costume for her. There were so many cute options, but the hat on her Princess Leia costume was what made it the winner. That and the fact that Pete is a HUGE sci-fi nerd and loves Star Wars.
Posted by Pete&Laurie at 8:00 PM
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I know my cousin Erica will probably post this to her own blog, but I just have to say that I am in awe of her Halloween costume. She and her husband went as Pee Wee Herman and Jombie, his genie head-in-a-box. She is very pregnant, so that just makes it even funnier!
Posted by Pete&Laurie at 8:51 AM
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I decided to get an ancestry.com account since it's free, and I've been compiling tons of information on both Pete's and my side of the family. At first it was just tedious insertion of information, but it's starting to become a crazy obsession. Last night I was online until 1:00am, and the only reason I came in to bed is because Pete reminded me that it was his morning to sleep in (we take turns on the weekends). I was on a high because found my dad's mother Margaret, and discovered her siblings and parents. I have aunts and uncles I never even knew about!
I've discovered that I am a direct descendant of King Henry I as well as French royalty and tons of the English aristocracy. I've also traced two separate lines from just 100 years ago back to the same people in England from the 1200's. Did you know they stop recording dates of anything previous to 1000 C.E.? Pete tells me it's because they had a different calendar back then. I think its that, and it probably has something to do with the Millennium Project.
I've been going pretty much non-stop on this for the last three days, and I still have loose ends that I'm filling in. It's crazy. I have over 2,000 people on the tree thus far, and there are over 400 hints for more possibilities. Sometimes while I'm filling in names, I have mixed emotions about whether or not I want to find more parents of ancestors. If I find them, that's two more people I have to insert. Dead ends mean no more work, but it also means no more history.
Pete has been a saint and has been tolerating me sitting in front of the computer all day even more than I usually do! Speaking of saints, did you know that Saint Patrick is my great-great-great-great...............great uncle? SO. RAD.
Here's where my genealogy is if you're interested. It starts with Maya.
Posted by Pete&Laurie at 9:25 PM
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Posted by Pete&Laurie at 1:38 PM
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Maya and I took a trip out to visit Melanie and the boys last weekend. Southwest airlines has a ridiculous 2-day sale, and I just couldn't pass up such a great deal!
Maya was unbelievably well behaved on the plane ride. I can't believe how lucky I am. I totally won the baby lottery with her! She was super smiley, and just grinned and giggled at everyone on the plane. She slept for a while, and would wake up again smiling. What a sweetie!
We got in to the airport in Philadelphia late, so Melanie picked us up alone. The next day, I woke up to Brandon standing by my bed peeking in at Maya and me! Melanie and the boys went to schol while Brian went to work, so I lounged about the house and then took Maya for a walk around the neighborhood. It's in northern NJ, and is in a pretty well forested area. All the houses were about a hundred years old, and it looked like something you see from a movie! Very pretty. While walking a cat came running over to us and starting loving all over my feet. He was so nice! Maya thought it was great!
Down the block
The random kitty who we made friends with.
Saturday came, and we decided to go to the pumpkin patch. I wanted to see my old friend from the Army, Karen, so we agreed to meet at a pumpkin patch halfway between where Melanie and she live. On the way there, we saw a huge corn field with corn hanging off the stalks, so we stopped and I grabbed one. I know, I'm such a thief! Nathan and I had fun pulling out the hard kernels and making very attractive false teeth with them.
When we got to the pumpkin patch the place was packed. Karen brought her husband and two kids, and a couple neighbor kids tagged along too. Karen and I did some catching up while sitting in the grass with our babies, and everyone else did the corn maze. When they were all through the corn maze, we hopped on the hay ride out to the pumpkin field. All the kids had fun looking for their pumpkins. Maya just liked playing in the dirt and leaves.
The next day, Sunday, I looked out my window at Melanie's to see five deer munching away in Melanie's back yard. There were two little boys who were having a great time butting heads. It was really neat.
Later on, Melanie and I went out without the boys. First we went to Ikea because they had a baby high chair I had been coveting, and for whatever reason I can't get one shipped to me. We don't have Ikea in New Mexico, so I figured I'd get it while I was there. We saw a squirrel in the kitchen utensils department!
Maya being silly with her Auntie "M"
Next, we headed in to NYC for a day at the museum. When Pete and I came to the city for our honeymoon, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but didn't really have time to see everything. The traffic getting in to the city was yucky, but we had fun looking at all the neat art and taking goofy pictures!
I'm so glad I traveled across the country so I could see some New Mexico art.
Maya liked trying to touch everything. Naughty!
Maya is is a ballerina in the making. Just look at that toe point!
Yeh gotta getcha self some mawble caaahlumns! Like dis one, or that one. Dis one, or that one.
After the museum, Melanie bought Maya an I heart NY t-shirt, and we stopped at got some pizza.
On my last day there, I wanted to go and see Independence Hall in Philadelphia. I figured my plane was leaving out of there, so I may as well check it out. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to go inside :( but I did get to see the Liberty Bell and stroll around outside of Independence Hall.
Before we left, I had to get a Philly cheese steak. I got one from a street vendor right next to the gift shop. It was really good.
Posted by Pete&Laurie at 1:45 PM
Thursday, October 15, 2009
My grandfather on my dad's side, Robert O'Donnell Nicolai, was a WWII hero. One of his many adventures was featured in Life Magazine in 1947. This is that article. My brother Dan typed the whole thing out, so how could I not copy and paste it?! All spelling and grammatical errors are all his fault. ;)
The Great Patrol back in rest camp, tells its story to the author. From the left: Wilbur, Canfield, Nicolai, Frank and Becker. Lieutenant Sims does not appear.
THE INCREDIBLE PATROL
Six Americans take a walk behind the German lines in Holland, spend 24 hours, fire two shots and get back with 32 prisoners.
Last month the 101st Airborne Division fought a brilliant battle to hold the town of Bastogne against the Germans. Before that the 101st had been in Holland where it had been sent during the Arnhem-Nijmegen operation in September. While there six of its men took part in a solitary but bold little adventure which is described in this article by a former newspaperman now with the 101st.
This is the story of a single patrol sent out recently by the 101st Airborne Division. At the time, the 101st was stationed with the British at the Neder Rijn (Lower Rhine), which is the frontline of the Allied wedge in southeastern Holland. Five enlisted men and one officer volunteered for the patrol, which they knew would be thoroughly dangerous. As it turned out, it was fully as dangerous as they expected even though only two shots were fired during the 24 hours in enemy territory. The day after the six came back I met them at a camp in the rear where they had come for a rest and a bath. They wanted to tell their story and I wanted to write it, so this is how we worked. One of them would talk for a while and when one of the others had something to add he would break in. This way we would be able to pass the story around among the men and get a complete picture of what happened.
M/Sgt. Peter R. Frank, a German-speaking interpreter who is from New York City, began the story. It appeared that a number of patrols from other regiments of the 101st had crossed the Neder Rijn to get information about enemy movements. None of them, had been able to take any prisoners for questioning, so Sergeant Frank's regiment wanted to try. By careful planning, they thought, they would be able to do the job right.
At first Lieut. Hugo S. Sims Jr., the only officer on the patrol, had felt he wouldn't be able to get permission to go along. However, Sims had a lot of ideas about how the patrol should be run, so he was able to talk his commanding officer into letting him go. Sims and the other men worked for two days rehearsing their parts in the patrol. They discussed what to take along and what to leave behind, what weapons they should use, whether or not they should blacken their faces. They talked over things like fixing their hats to look like German caps so their silhouettes would look German in the dark, and what kind of radio equipment they should carry. They studied maps and huge aerial photographs of the places they expected to go. They worked hard and all the men did a lot of talking. Everyone had strong opinions about how to stay alive.
the patrol also meant a lot of work for other men. There were listeners who would wait at the radio for the patrol's reports, artillerymen who would drop shells in case they were needed, men who would shoot off flares from time to time so the patrol could look around in the dark. There were men who would have rubber assault boats ready to paddle across the Rijn and who, if everything went all right, would bring the patrol back across the river.
Before they started out, the men reviewed the objectives of their mission. They were to set up an observation post on the Utrecht-Arnhem highway to watch the movements of enemy vehicles and troops. They would try to find out if the enemy had a main line of resistance and where it was. They planned to radio back the information as they went along. But their most important mission was to bring back a real, live German for questioning by intelligence officers.
Here Pfc. Frederick J. Becker of Atlantic, Iowa took over the story. "All of us were a little nervous in the last few hours before the patrol. We all had blacked our faces and we began to look as if we were really going on this deal instead of planning it. I was stuck with one of the musette bags with half the radio in it. One of the other boys was to carry the other half and I was a little griped because I was stuck with the heaviest part. But the other boys had their jobs, too. They had demolition blocks for blowing the railroad we planned to cross on the return trip.
The Patrol was armed to the teeth
"Instead of the steel helmets we had been wearing for the last month or two we work our soft overseas hats. Each of us had our pockets full of extra ammunition plus grenades and honed knives. We were really going prepared. In addition to our regular weapons we all carried .45 pistols. Wilbur was the only one of us taking an M-I Rifle, the rest of us chose the Tommy gun for more firepower. We tried to talk him out of the M-I rifle but we knew it would be nice to have him along with it. Wilbur has the reputation of being pretty accurate with that gun and is famous for never shooting at a man unless he can aim dead center for the head. He doesn't miss.
"After a dress rehearsal in front of headquarters, where Lieutenant Sims checked over our equipment, we decided we were set. Now it was only a matter of waiting for darkness. We sat around for a while and then went in for some hot chow. The cooks seemed to know what was up and the boys in the mess line gave us a few pats on the back. Lots of our buddies came up and wished us well and said they were sorry they couldn't go along. They really were, too. We all tried to act as if it meant nothing at all. After we washed our mess kits one of the cooks came up and gave each of us three K-ration chocolate bars and said when we came back he'd have a swell hot meal waiting. It was getting dark now and we all sat around the S-2 office getting fidgety."
Here Pvt. Roland J. Wilbur, the M-I rifle expert, took over. He comes from Lansing, Mich., where he used to work for Nash-Kelvinator. Now he almost looked like a soldier in one of their magazine ads, sitting there with a grim look on his face, cleaning the M-I as he spoke.
"The S-2 officer wasn't too far from the dike on the Neder Rijn. We took off about 7:39. We rechecked all our stuff and piled into two jeeps. In a few minutes we were up near the area where we planned to cross. We stopped and got out of the jeeps and began to wonder if the clothes we had on were enough to keep us warm. It was overcast and cold and it had begun to rain. We were wet before we had really gotten started. A couple of hundred yards away we ran into the group who had the boats ready to take us across.
"We were awfully careful about reaching the dike because a lot depended on these first few minutes. We knew that a couple of other patrols had been knocked off before they had gotten to the water. Our main hope was that the Jerries weren't on the alert because we were going over a little earlier than the other patrols. We started to go down toward the bank when a whisper from Lieutenant Sims halted us in our tracks. He thought he heard a sound from the other side. After a couple of minutes of shaky waiting we decided to take a chance. Edging down the bank, we came to the two rubber assault boats. Lieutenant Sims and two of the boys carefully slid into one and the rest of us crouched low at the bank and waited with our guns ready in case Jerry should open fire as they crossed. It seemed to take them hours to get across and we could hear every dip of their paddles in the water. We were certain they would be heard and the whole deal would be off, but they weren't. They made the opposite side and crouched low to wait for us.
"Finally we landed. Arrangements were made with the men with the boats so we could signal them by flashlight when we came back. They wondered if we had any idea when it would be and we told them that we hoped it wouldn't be until the next night. We hunched down and told the boatmen to be quiet going back. We could just barely see them as they hit the opposite shore."
Pfc. Robert O. Nicolai, a former member of the Merchant Marine who comes from Midlothian, Ill., now broke into the story. He was given the Bronze Star for his part int he Normandy campaign and is the cocky member of the group.
"All of us started up the bank to the top of the dike, Lieutenant Sims in the lead. Nothing ahead looked like a Kraut, but there was something that we hadn't expected. A little way ahead there was a big pond directly across the route we had planned to take. We decided that it would be better to go around and change our route a little.
"We skirted the edge of the water but found we still had to do some wading in the dark. By the time we passed the pond our feet were slogging wet. Lieutenant Sims seemed to have on a pair of boots about ten sizes too large and they squished with every step he took. Someone said, 'Damnit, pick up your feet.'
"Suddenly the first of our mortar flares lit up the sky and we were all flat on the ground. We cautiously looked around the countryside but there wasn't a Jerry in sight. It was now 8pm and the flares were working just as we had planned. As soon as the flare died out we got up again. About 200 yards ahead we saw a light and a few shadows moving. We held a confab and decided that because we didn't want to take prisoners too early we would alter our course again. We by-passed the light and circled around to the right. Then we heard the unmistakable sound of Germans digging in for the night. It was the sound of folding shovels digging into the earth and the clunking noise they made as they were tapped on the ground to loosen the mud. We now turned left again and as we did someone stumbled into the brush in the darkness. Immediately we stood still as statues and waited. Then we heard the zip of a German flare going up. We hit the ground and froze as more of the flares lit up the countryside. To either side of us we could hear Germans moving around. Now and then one of them shouted to ask what the flares were for. They had heard something and had whole batches of flares ready to shoot off. Each time the flare burned out we crept forward between the two enemy groups. In a half hour, when our own flare next went up, we had covered less than 300 yards.
"Then we crossed a road and found ourselves within 20 yards of a lighted tent. I was all for going in and taking whoever was there a prisoner. I thought it might be a Jerry officer and a good bag but once again we decided that it was best to skirt the area. We went one way and then the other through the fields. Every time we heard activity we edged in the other direction."
Cpl. William R. Canfield of Sleman, Okla. now interrupted the story. "I was a little to one side of the group and suddenly I hard someone blowing his nose. I moved over to the left and saw a group of Jerries stopped for a minute on the road. I asked Lieutenant Sims if I might capture them and take them along but he said not now. I was sure feeling cocky.
"A little later I heard Becker make a noise and as I glanced at him he began to pull himself out of a slit trench he had slipped into. I walked over to him and saw a big, fat Jerry snoring away in the hole. For a moment we thought he might waken and looked down ready to pounce on him if he made a noise. When he remained asleep we went on and joined the rest up ahead. Now we were in a wooded area and we had to be careful of every step. At a clearing in the woods we came to a small road and not ten yards away we saw a couple of Jerries walking down the road with something on their shoulders. Nicolai sneaked along the road and looked more closely. He came back and reported that they were carrying a mattress. A little further down the road we saw them walk into a house with their mattress. We waited but they didn't come out so we figured they must have turned in for the night.
"Farther on we crossed the road and stumbled right into the ammunition dump. Sergeant Frank, the interpreter, went over to check the writing on the boxes. He found they were shells for a heavy 150-mm. Infantry gun which Lieutenant Sims marked down in a little book he was carrying. He also marked the position of the ammo dump and the location of the mattress house. Just as we were starting to make a more thorough inspection around the ammo dump we heard the unmistakable sound of a German Schmeisser gun belt being snapped back. In a second there came another. We stood rooted to the spot, afraid to breathe. The things seemed to come from just across the road. There wasn't much else for us to do but go sneaking back through the area of the sleeping men."
Sergeant Frank now pointed out that he hadn't been too scared when the belts snapped back. He had a story all ready for the situation. Every time they came to a new emergency he would review in his mind a story that might work the patrol out of it. This time he was ready to raise hell with the Jerries for making so much noise with their machine-gun belts. Frank continued: "Now we cut straight across the fields for about two miles. Nicolai was getting hungry and he simply reached down and grabbed a handful of carrots from a vegetable patch and began to eat them. Soon we had enough of the fields and decided that we were deep enough in the enemy territory to brazen it out on the road. When we came to a good paved road we walked right down the middle of it. Just ahead we heard the clank and rumble of a Jerry horse-drawn vehicle. We crawled into a ditch along the road and waited for it to pass. In a couple of minutes we were on the road again.
"Farther on we checked our compass course and started off to the right. We hadn't gone more than 20 yards when I saw Becker throw his hands in the air. Right in front of us was a huge German gun emplacement. The gun pits for the ammunition where there but there didn't seem to be any Jerries. About a hundred yards farther on we came to a strange collection of silhouettes. We couldn't be sure what they were and kept on going until we made them out. It was a Jerry motor pool with all types of vehicles parked for the night. We were all for taking one of the cars but Lieutenant Sims again turned thumbs down. He pulled out his map and noted the exact location. Soon we were on the edge of the town of Wolfheeze and decided that it would be best to work around it. As it later turned out, this was a good thing. The place was lousy with SS troops.
The Germans were often close
"We skirted the town pretty closely and could even smell the smoke from stinking German cigarettes. Now we crossed the railroad which we knew marked the two-thirds point on our trip. We were some distance behind the enemy lines and had the feeling we would be able to bluff our way out of almost any situation that might arise. The last three miles of rushing through the fields was pretty hard. The tall grass slowed us down but it also sheltered us from observations. Nicolai was in the lead, eating carrots again. When he heard the rush of a car going by he whispered to Sims that this must be the road we had crossed so much country to reach. Within a few hundred yards we came out on the road."
Nicolai broke in again: "We all waited a few minutes at the side of the road while Lieutenant Sims brought out a map and checked our location. We were right behind a house that marked the exact spot where we had planned to hit the road. This was only luck but it made us feel as if everything was going according to plan. Lieutenant Sims, looking over the house and the area, decided we might as well occupy the house for cover. We sneaked up carefully, listening for the slightest sound. Becker and Canfield now went through a window and a minute or so later came back to whisper that all was clear inside. But after a conference we decided that this was not so good after all. If Jerry were to see any activity around a house which he knew to be empty he would become suspicious. Becker and Canfield climbed back out and we headed down on the road again. In front Sergeant Frank was carrying on a monologue with Becker in German. This was funny because Becker didn't understand a word of it. We all fell into the spirit of it, feeling we could fool any Germans who came along. Soon one of the boys was singing Lili Marlene and we all joined in.
"After about a mile of walking along the road without meeting a single German we came to a couple of houses. One of them had a Red Cross marking on the front. It was a small cross and the place hardly looked as if it were a hospital. At any rate it looked like the better of the two houses. As Sergeant Frank and myself edged close we could hear what sounded like snoring inside. We walked to the back door and found it open. Int the front room of the house we found two Germans sleeping on piles of straw. They wore big, shiny boots and I was sure they were officers. Sergeant Frank said they were cavalrymen. Leaving Frank on guard I went back outside and reported to Lieutenant Sims. He said we would take the men prisoner and stay at this house. I told frank the plan and he began to shake the Germans. One of them finally began to rub his eyes. He stared at us and Frank kept telling him over and over that he was a prisoner. They just couldn't believe it."
After the dazed Germans had been thoroughly awakened they were questioned by Sergeant Frank. He got all the information he could from them and relayed it to Lieutenant Sims. Sims was now up in the attic setting up the radio with another man. In about ten minutes the men heard him saying into the radio, "This is Sims, Sims, Sims. We have two prisoners. We have two prisoners." They knew the radio was working and everyone felt swell. Soon Sims was sending information about the things he had noted along the way.
After questioning the prisoners Sergeant Frank told them to go back to sleep but they just sat and stared. Frank asked them if they expected any more soldiers in the area. They said that another man was supposed to pick them up at about 5:30 in the morning.
After the radio had been set up everything was quiet until daybreak. The men took turns watching the road while the other tried to get a little sleep. Around 7am, Nicolai reported the arrival of a young civilian at the front door. The civilian proved to be a boy about 16 in knee pants. He was both surprised and pleased to be taken captive by the "Tommies." The men took some time to explain to him that they were not Tommies but airborne GIs. When this had been taken care of Sergeant Frank was allowed to go ahead with his questioning. The boy explained that the house belonged to some friends of his and he had just come over for some preserves. He knew the people had been evacuated and said they might not be back for some time.
The boy went on to say that his older brother, who was a member of the local underground, would also be along shortly. Almost immediately the brother was brought in by Nicolai. He was a slick-haired, effeminate young man and the patrol had doubts about him. He spoke a little English and produced papers to prove that he was a member of the Dutch Underground. He began to tell the men about the various enemy installations in the area. He gave them artillery positions and unit numbers and all this was immediately relayed back over the radio. In the following hours six more civilians were guests of the patrol. They all seemed to know that there was no one home and all wanted something from the house. They were told they would have to stay until after the patrol had left. The civilians were happy to see the men, but they didn't like the idea of having to stay. One of the captives, a pretty Dutch girl accompanied by what appeared to be here boyfriend, wouldn't take no for an answer. The men said she was not averse to using all of her charms to get out, either, but they were firm.
At noon the traffic on the road began to increase. Convoys of big trucks appeared to be heading fro the Utrecht area toward Arnhem. The men observed all kinds of vehicles and guns. Presently an unsuspecting Jerry entered the courtyard for a drink of water. Opening the front door a little, one of the men pointed his Tommy gun at the German and commanded him to come in. The German came in laughing, apparently not quite convinced that the whole thing wasn't a joke. He turned out to be a mail orderly who had lost his way after taking mail to a near-by town. He seemed to be an intellectual type and was very philosophical about being captured.
A picnic lunch in Holland
Shortly afterward the idea of food occurred to everyone in the house. The men in the patrol got out their K-ration chocolate and the civilians began to dig into the little bags they all carried. It began to look as if the civilians had been going to a picnic. They brought out bread and cheese and shared it with the Americans. An hour or so later the German who was supposed to meet the first two prisoners at 5:30 finally showed up with two horses and a cart. The men let him enter the courtyard and water the horses. Then they called out to him, "Put up your hands, you are a prisoner." He didn't seem to understand and it was necessary to repeat the order. Then he answered calmly, "I must feed my horses." Finally he raised one hand and came toward the house, muttering that it just couldn't be true. Now the civilians helped in the questioning because the Germans were not too sure about the names of towns where their units were stationed.
Once the men watching from the windows were tempted to whistle at a passing car. It was driven by a pretty German WAC. The men said that the only thing that restrained them was the fact that their lives depended on it. Because everything had gone so smoothly the men were feeling pretty cocky. They began to figure out their plan for the coming evening. They wanted to capture a truck, a couple of staff cars with German WACs and drive back to Renkum. Along the way they would stop briefly to blow up the railroad.
At 4pm two more Germans entered the courtyard and were immediately taken prisoner. They were very sore, mainly because they had come along the road just to goldbrick away a little time. By this time a big fire had been built in the front room where the prisoners were kept. The prisoners kept the fire going and the men argued to see who would stand guard in the warm room.
As darkness approached the men began to assemble their equipment. Becker was left on guard in the house with the prisoners and civilians while Lieutenant Sims and the others went out to look for a truck. The German mail orderly, who seemed the happiest to be captured, was chosen to help them. He agreed that as soon as Sergeant Frank told him he would help stop the truck by shouting, "Halt Kamerad." As they waited the German said to Frank, "I am happy because the war is over for us." Frank replied that it would all depend on the next few hours and that he would be able to say with more certainty the next day.
Becker reported that when the lieutenant and the others left the house the remaining prisoners looked a little scared. Finally one man came and asked Becker in pantomime if they would be shot. Becker told them that such things aren't done in the American Army. All of the Germans in the house wore the Iron Cross and had seen service against the Russians.
While the men were waiting along the road a whole German company passed on bicycles. As each German rode by he would shout "Guten Abend" to the men along the road and they shouted back the same. One man stopped and asked Sergeant Frank if this were the right road to the next town. Rather than become engaged in conversation, Frank told him he didn't know.
The patrol stops a truck
Getting impatient after an hour and a half, the men decided they would stop the next truck that came along, no matter what kind it was. In the meantime a motorcyclist stopped by the road and went into the courtyard of the house. Nicolai rushed across the road and grabbed him. It developed that he was checking up on the absence of the other men. When Nicolai brought him across the road he saw the mail orderly and rushed up to shake his hand. They were old friends and had served together for years. A few minutes later the men heard a truck coming down the road and told the Germans to step out and shout "Halt Kamerad!" When the truck came all the men shouted at once and the truck stopped. It turned out to be a big five-tonner carrying 15 SS men. Nicolai jumped on the back and herded the Germans off, taking their weapons as they got down. They were all very surprised. At first the driver refused to leave his seat, but after a number of strong threats, namely shooting, he finally got off. He was a tall man and very cocky. When asked to put his hands up he said, "Who says so?" When he was told that he was a prisoner of war he looked astonished and said that it was impossible. As he spoke he put one hand up and with the other drew a pistol, but only to hide it in his pocket. Sergeant Frank took it away.
The driver was told to get back in the truck and pull it off the road. He seemed reluctant and Frank had to hold a gun against his ear while he started the motor. He seemed unable to keep the motor from stalling every few seconds and when he moved into the courtyard he had trouble turning. It was obvious that he was stalling for time. He kept looking at Frank and saying in German, "Jesus, I'm mad. this can't happen to me." He told Frank he was on his way to meet the captain of his battalion. When he was told he was to drive the truck and the men to the Neder Rijn, he said there wasn't enough gas. He was told that if that were true then he would be shot, so he said that there was enough gas for 20 miles.
Now Becker and the prisoners in the house came out and piled into the truck with the SS men. The Americans spaced themselves around inside the truck so they could keep guard. Lieutenant Sims and Sergeant Frank sat in the front with the driver. When they were on the road the truck stalled again. As the driver tried to start the motor an amphibious jeep pulled up and a tall SS officer began to bawl him out for blocking the road. Canfield was off the truck in an instant and had brought the officer inside. As it turned out, this was the captain the truck driver had been going to meet.
Again the sergeant concentrated on getting the driver to start the truck. He worked hard at stalling the motor and had to be threatened before he would drive at all. Finally he got the truck under wan and they set out on the return route they had mapped out before the patrol. Every now and then the driver would get temperamental, folding his arms and saying, "Hab' ich eine Wut!" ("Am I mad!") After a prod or two with the gun muzzle he would go back to safer driving. Farther along the road toward Arnhem he was told to turn off to the right. Shortly the truck came to a muddy place in the woods and bogged down hub-deep. No amount of trying by the SS driver was able to move it. It was now 10pm and the patrol decided they might as well try to make it back on foot.
Now the men regretted having so many prisoners. As they piled down from the truck the SS captain bolted to the side of the road in the darkness. In a flash he was in the woods . Nicolai shouted for him to stop and ran after him. In a moment the others heard two shots and Nicolai's only two words of German, "Hände hoch, you son of a bitch!" followed by a great crashing in the underbrush. Becker also ran into the woods to see if he might help. Following the noise he found Nicolai and the captain. Nicolai was still shouting "Hände hoch" ("Hands highly") and with every shout he would kick the captain in the seat of the pants. When they came back to the truck the captain was cowed and willing to go quietly.
Lining the Germans up in two columns, Sergeant Frank now gave them a little lecture. He said they could just as easily be shot as taken back and that all six Americans were risking their lives to get them back safely. He told them that if anyone tried to escape or made an unnecessary noise he would be shot immediately. Starting out again with the SS captain and Sergeant Frank in front, the column made its way along the road toward the river. As they walked the SS captain told Frank that it was useless to try to cross the Rijn with the prisoners. He said the Americans might as well turn over their guns because they would surely be caught by the Germans along the river.
The captain also asked if he might have a cigarette. He was told he couldn't have one now, but that later he would have more and better cigarettes than there were in all of Germany. The captain said the Germans had nothing against the Americans and he couldn't see personally why the Germans and Americans didn't' get together to fight the Russians and Japanese. We are both white races, he said. Sergeant Frank answered that Russians were also white. Yes, replied the captain, but they are inferior. Finally the captain asked if it were not possible for them to rest a while, or at least to slow down. He was told that he had the misfortune to be a captive of American paratroopers, who just didn't walk any slower. Now as they walked along they constantly heard German voices.
Arriving at the railroad crossing, the patrol decided finally that they didn't dare blow up the tracks with the two-and-a-half-minute fuse they carried. Reluctantly they crossed the tracks and ditched their demolition charges in bushes by the road. Along this last stretch of the road they passed countless houses with Germans inside.
When they came to the town of Renkum the patrol marched boldly down the center of the main street with a great clicking of German hobnailed shoes. It was obvious from the sound alone that they could be nothing but a group of marching Germans. They went through the town without incident and headed straight for the near-by dike. Everyone was feeling wonderfully lightheaded. Arriving at the dike, they had marched right down to the water when they saw a squad of Germans at the river outpost. As they came close Sergeant Frank called out to them in German that there was nothing to worry about. When they stopped two of the men rushed over and told the Jerries to put up their hands. The column moved on, cleaning out two more posts along the river. The six-man patrol now had a total of 32 prisoners.
On the dike Lieutenant Sims gave the prearranged flashlight signal to the other side. Soon the answer came - three blinks. The SS captain, his truck driver and one of the patrol were the first to get to the other side. Part of the patrol stayed behind to cover the crossing while the rest of the prisoners were ferried over. Finally the last three men touched the Allied side of the Rijn. The incredible patrol was over.
Taken just before the patrol left to cross the river. Nicolai is on the far left holding the BAR.
Taken by one of the soldiers in the party of the prisoners from the back of the truck that was taken from the SS Soldiers.
Posted by Pete&Laurie at 7:54 AM