June 23, 2015

1945. The United States First Army Front

"Monsoon Season" in Western Germany

Bill Downs


February 18, 1945

DOUGLAS EDWARDS: We have heard a report from Supreme Allied Headquarters. And now news from one of the Western fighting fronts. For that story, Admiral takes you to the American First Army somewhere in Belgium, Bill Downs reporting.

BILL DOWNS: The entire United States First Army climbed out of bed this morning and let out a groan. Generals getting up from their beds in ruined basements, sergeants rising for breakfast from under haystacks, and the GIs generally throughout the army area took a look at the weather and moaned.

Yes, it's been raining again.

One officer, a veteran of the Southwest Pacific, said: "They should've told us that Western Germany has a monsoon season."

Another GI, drinking coffee rapidly being diluted by the rain, cracked: "What are those guys out in the Philippines going to think of us if this keeps up?"

And someone else said that if the rain didn't stop, they would all be developing webbed feet.

We've had four dry and sunny days over this part of the front. Consequently, today's rain was doubly depressing. Simply standing in a chow line is almost becoming an amphibious operation.

But seriously, this rain is no laughing matter. During the four days of sunshine the flooded Ruhr river was beginning to recede. The lakes behind the Ruhr dams are steadily going down. But any more rain and it may further hinder our movement.

Little of significance happened on the First Army front today. The Germans sent out three extremely large patrols in the Schleiden area, giving them protection by Nebelwerfers and artillery. However, when our artillery got to work, the patrols went back home and nothing came of it.

A prisoner taken the other day said that the Germans have built up a good supply of ammunition on this side of the Rhine, but that they fear to use it right now because of our counter battery fire. This confirms earlier reports that the Germans are preparing for one of the great battles of the war on this side of the Rhine west of Cologne. It may be one of the last great battles for the liberation of Europe.

This is Bill Downs returning you to Admiral.