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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

American Negro Soldiers during World War II

More and more troops came into our town. All kinds of new equipment was parked wherever there was space. Even boats for crossing the rivers were noticeable. It looked like they were planning a massive assault if they started moving again.

The first Negro soldiers I ever saw were the Negro soldiers from the 3223 Quartermaster company. They drove those "Deuce and a half", the 2.5 ton GMC trucks with supplies to the frontline. They always drove together in large convoys and made a lot of noise with those trucks. They would race through our town through those narrow streets so close together that it looked like when the first one would stop the other ones would all crash into each other. Those Negro soldiers were real good chauffeurs. I watched them when they were unloading their trucks. They stacked many boxes of ammunition alongside our streets. After their trucks were unloaded they always took a break together. It was in the late fall then and the days were very cold. So what they did to stay warm was dig small holes in the ground and empty a whole can of gasoline. They would light it and stand around the fire talking, joking and laughing about all kinds of things. I just stood there and looked at them. Their skin, their faces, even the way they talked and acted was so different than the white American soldiers I had met. I was trying to understand why one Negro had such a light skin and the other one was so dark. At that time I didn't see any Negro as a foot soldier in the infantry or in the combat zone. Driving those supply trucks to the frontlines was just as dangerous.

A German fighter plane came spraying down just as they had unloaded their trucks. All of them ran back to their truck and started to shoot at the plane. Most of their trucks had automatic machine guns in front.

World War 2 Truck 

Somehow I noticed that Negro soldiers would never go into our homes as the white American soldiers did. I guess segregation was still a part of the American way of life. I didn't know what segregation was and I had never heard about it. We never had to live with it and that's why we didn't know what it was all about. In our way of life, the Negro soldier was just the same as the white one. To us they were all our American liberators and we wanted to treat them just the same. But it was very noticeable how the Negro and white soldiers kept a distance from each other.

One day my mother noticed a Negro soldier standing next to his truck in front of our house. It was in the winter time and very cold outside. My mother felt very sorry for the soldier and invited him to come into the house. He was very shy and refused, my mother kept insisting for him to come in. Finally he gave in and came into our house. My mother made a nice hot cup of coffee, and while the Negro soldier was drinking his coffee he noticed a newspaper on our table from his hometown, Philadelphia. Just to see his hometown newspaper on our table gave a lot of happiness to this soldier's heart. My mother was always good to all kinds of people and taught me from a very young age to be good to all kinds of people, regardless of their colors.

For more than two weeks the American combat troops had been at a standstill in our town except for frontline duty holding the positions in our next town (Rimburg) which was less than a mile away from us. Rimburg had become a no-man's land. For several days the weather was very cold and rainy, and for the soldiers out in the field the mud was more than a foot deep. With the fog around, there was no visibility at all. In many surrounding towns in our area the people were driven out of their town by the German army. A town (Kerkrade) not too far from us, 30,000 people were ordered to leave their homes. The province of Limburg is divided into North and South Limburg. Where I lived was called South Limburg. The people who lived in North Limburg and impatiently waited for the Americans to liberate didn't know that it was the duty of the English and Canadian troops. The German army evacuated many of those towns, and people were put on trains to settle in the Northern part of Holland in the Provinces of Friesland and Groningen. As the American soldiers were bitterly fighting for almost three weeks around the Siegfried line, nothing was happening around the English frontline. One of the American generals made a comment saying, "If we are fighting, the English soldiers are drinking tea and looking at us". The city of Aachen was only 30 km. away from us. Most of the fighting done during those three weeks to occupy this city was all very close to our area.

CONTINUED: American Troops cross the Siegfried line into Germany
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

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