The soldiers who stayed in our house were very sad that they had to leave. They got used to sleeping in a bed and also enjoyed the hospitality of the people. Sometimes they were sick of eating the army food all the time. They would take food to my mother's kitchen and let her do the cooking. One soldier cried when he left our house. Later on we found out that he was badly wounded during combat when he was crossing the Rhine river in Germany. Most of the soldiers weren't too fond of going into the German combat zone. They didn't know how the German people would receive them. But most of the German people were just as glad as we were to see the Americans liberate them from the German warfare.
It was a sad day for us seeing all those soldiers sitting on top of those tanks in full battle gear and loaded with all kinds of equipment. Trucks loaded with soldiers in full battle gear were ready for the frontline pulling heavy artillery behind them. There were Jeeps with radio equipment and other Jeeps pulled light artillery along. Half-tracks pulled all kinds of equipment.
Commanding officers in jeeps with radio equipment were constantly in touch with the column which was slowly leaving our town. This whole war arsenal was suddenly pulling out of our town and it made our streets look so empty. It was a strange feeling knowing they would not come back anymore. Those soldiers had helped us a lot. They put good food on our table, protected us when it was needed and we had enjoyed their company so much.
As their convoys were moving towards the German border we kids went along as far as we could. MP (Military Police) on fancy, shined up Harley-Davidson motorcycles were directing all the traffic so the troops could keep moving. The MP's needed those powerful Harley-Davidson motorcycles as they had to race back and forth to see that the convoys were keeping up with each other. The closer they got to the Siegfried line, the more dangerous it became for us to follow those troops.
Many of the Dutch freedom fighters had joined American army units going into Germany. Most of them were used for intelligence as they could speak the German language. An uncle of mine was with this group and was dropped by parachute behind enemy lines. After that nothing was ever seen or heard from him. For many years he was kept on the missing list until they finally declared him dead. He had a wife and two little sons when he joined the American forces.
As most of the troops and equipment had moved into Germany, the only ones left behind were the administrating and communicating troops. There was a group of soldiers who operated the heavy cannons. Those cannons were always set up far behind the front line. There were about eight of those cannons set up a street away from our house. The cannon operators worked closely together with those piper cub plane pilots. Those pilots had a very important job to do in spotting German targets in their combat zone and then communicate back by radio to the cannon operators how to set their equipment. The pilots of those piper cub planes were always in a dangerous flying zone. They were very easy targets for the Germans to shoot down. Many of those pilots were killed. Fortunately the outside of those planes was covered with a kind of sail cloth. This made it harder for the Germans to shoot them down. I saw many of those planes when they came back from a mission, their wings were just riddled with bullet holes. When those cannons started firing, our whole town was shaking. The soldiers who operated those cannons needed to wear earplugs. The shells that fell out of the cannon were a solid piece of copper. After all the firing was done I always went over there to pick up the empty shells. They were worth a lot of money. People who bought them made all kinds of fancy vases out of them. Those vases sold for a good price on the market.
So long as those cannons were firing from our town we knew that the front line was not that far away. Just a few small units who were connected with the cannons were still around our town. The bulk of all the army equipment was gone. Some half-tracks were still around as they were needed to pull those cannons out of the field. I always hung around the soldiers. We were not allowed to travel in their vehicles, but some soldiers out of friendship took us along anyway. One day I took a ride along in a half-track close to the Siegfried line near the Worm. It was around the area where they had fought to break through the West wall. As we stopped there a Red Cross ambulance truck was picking up the dead bodies from the temporary graves which were made during the combat. The body was put in a large plastic bag and put on the truck for shipment to a very large cemetery. It was in the town of Magraten which is now well-known as an American Memorial Cemetery. During the combat to break through the West wall zone in the Siegfried line area, so many soldiers were killed that the American Red Cross ambulance people were not able to move the dead bodies right away. They had to wait until the combat troops had moved ahead to pick up the rest of the dead bodies.