|Front cover of the 3"x4" book that
Leonard Vierling used as his WWII diary. It is a 1944 German
address/date book taken from one of the German houses that the 506th PIR was in at some time.
|Inside of diary: the dates on the pages do
not match the dates of the events that
Leonard was writing about because he only used this in place of writing paper since
the book was small enough to fit inside his jacket pocket. That way Leonard could
write whether he was walking or riding in French 40 & 8's boxcars or in the back
end of a 6X truck.
On March 10, 1945, I sailed for England from New York on the British transport Mauritania. I think she was the sister ship to the Queen Elizabeth.
Arrived in Liverpool on March 17, 1945. Took train from Liverpool to Southampton on Sunday night, March 18, 1945, and got on a French boat, the Cuba. Sailed across Channel on March 20, anchored in bay at La Havre, and got on tug boat, the Duchess of Fifi, to get to the docks.
We then marched through the city of La Havre (what was left of it) to a Reinforcement Depot. Received our rations and got on a train (French 40 & 8's) on March 23, and went to Mourmelon, France.
On March 24, 1945, was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, HQ & HQ Co, 2nd BN, 506th PIR as a radio operator. Moved up to the front lines with 506th on April 2, 1945, and arrived at Horrem and Dormagen, Germany, near Cologne on the Rhine. Took us a couple weeks holding Germans in Ruhr Pocket across the river.
We left Dormagen on 21st of April in 40 & 8's and headed for southern Germany and Austria. Crossed the Rhine near Heidelberg in trucks and continued the drive through southern Germany, taking town after town. Stayed in a German Village called Wadern near Mannheim and Mosbach for 3 days. We were briefed on a proposed march on foot through the Alps, and it was cancelled later. Thought maybe we would be sent to Japan later on, as the Japs hadn't surrendered yet, nor Europe either.
On April 28th, we moved out of Wadern in trucks and headed for Buchloe and Berchtesgaden, rounding up German prisoners as we went through each city. Stopped at Ausburg overnight. Stayed in Buchloe, Germany several days and captured thousands of Wehrmacht troops here. They were glad to surrender, as they knew the war was lost for them. They were good and hungry, so we fed them best we could. Could see Alps Mts. from here, and it snowed every day.
We left Buchloe and continued to Berchtesgaden, stopped overnight in Sternberg and spent the night in a big house on a hill which belonged to a Nazi family. We bypassed Munchen and moved into Berchtesgaden on May 5, 1945. No resistance here as all the German troops were beginning to surrender in large groups. We (101st) were in Berchtesgaden when the war ended on V-E Day. Seen Hitler's hideout, high in the Bavarian Alps. We celebrated on cognac and champagne taken from Hitler's wine cellar.
We went into the hills and found barns full of cars used by Goering and other high officials in the German Army. I think the 101st found a car belonging to Hitler. The cars were bulletproof, heavy armor, and glass 1 inch thick or more. Other troopers can tell more I'm sure.
Left Berchtesgaden on 20th of May or thereabout, and headed for Zell Am See, Austria, near Innsbruck and Salzburg. Stayed in Austria for about 2-1/2 months as Occupation Troops. Left Austria on August 1st, 1945, in 40 & 8's for France. Arrived in Joigny, France, on August 3rd and were billeted in an old French fort that looked like a prison.
Japs signed surrender on the Battleship Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945. Had 88 points and was waiting to be send home. Some of us got a pass to Paris on Sept. 2, 1945, and seen the Eiffel Tower. In fact, we drank champagne on the 2nd floor. Paid $2.00 a bottle for it. We popped the corks off the bottles, and some of them hit some of the dancers. I think the MP's thought we did it on purpose and asked us to leave. Heck, I never was a good shot, but anyway, we had fun, seen the Arc de Triomphe, Pig Alley (Pigalle, Paris' red-light district nicknamed "pig alley" by American soldiers in World War I), and some other bright spots before going back to camp.
We made another jump from 1200 ft. on Sept. 20, so that we could stay on jump pay.
Left Joigny and the 506th PIR on Oct. 11th, 1945, with other high-point men for Camp Pittsburgh, Mourmelon, France, for redeployment to the States and a discharge.
Arrived in Camp Pittsburgh same day and just hung around and waited for shipping orders. Left there on Oct. 28, 1945, for Marseille, and arrived Oct. 30th at the Calais staging area near Marseille and boarded a ship, Fayetteville Victory, on Nov. 13th, and sailed for the States.
Went through the Mediterranean Sea and the Straits of Gibraltar, and across the Atlantic. Arrived in the States at Hampton Roads, Virginia on Nov. 24th, 1945. Then on to Indiantown Gap Military Reservation on Nov. 26th. Received my Honorable Discharge on Nov. 29, 1945, and got on a train to my hometown of Wilcox, PA.
|Leonard Vierling in 1943 and in 1998: Len entered
the U.S. Army in September 1941,
and took Basic Training at Fort Amador, Panama. He served in the 1st Coast Artillery Corps
from October 1941 to February 1944 and in Panama and Camp Croft, SC, as an Infantry
Training Instructor. Then he took Parachute Infantry Training at Fort Benning, GA.
Leonard Edward Vierling, 87, died Friday, Sept. 17,
2010, in Riverside, Calif. Born Nov. 18, 1922, in Batesville,
he was the third of six children
Vierling was consulted in the making of HBO's "Band
of Brothers" as he was a radio operator for one of the officers