An Armored Division travels on wheels and tracks. Armored Infantry does most of its combat traveling on half tracks and trucks. The 13th Armored Division was actually on combat duty for less than 20% of the time we spent in Europe. We had lots of transport in other ways with other means. We had to cross bodies of water, ride on roads and rails, and yes, we walked, too. Like life, our experience was found in our journey. Transport and destination was vital.
When we reached our Inn River stopping point we had crossed several rivers upon which we had to find or make our own ways to cross. Our destinations were varied. This story examines some of both. Let’s look at some of the more important.
You can make up your own mind the order of importance of these priorities. As a 19-year old boy I saw them this way:
- A house to live in
- A place for fun
- An objective
- How to get there
Probably a different order than my higher ups, but, think about this, those were the same guys who were against fraternization. You can make up your own mind who had a better perspective, but my important pictures and accompanying explanations are found here.
We deal with covering the four in stories titled: Berg (House), Berg (R&R), and Berg (Transport 1 and 2). Transport is about how we manage to get to our objective(s). Let me start with what I considered to be some of the important places and events around our objective area(s).
Berg was across the Inn River from the nearby towns of Neu-Otting, Alt-Otting, and Marktl. Those towns all had beer joints. We loved beer joints, and had lots of money for beer (more about that in another story to come). You will learn from succeeding stories that beer joints are a major part of Steve and my life’s aspects and ambitions. They set us at a table with friends. There are not many things more important than that.
So, to get this story rolling we need to consider that the Germans had blown all the bridges across the Inn. We needed to get to the beer joints across the river. We had no transport to them until some enterprising boat owner set up his own ferry to cross the river. He cleverly rigged a long cable across the river, set up a line and pulley on the boat and used the current to propel his boat both ways. He used an oar to steer it. How the oar was used determined the direction of the boat. There’s a big message there if you think deeply about it.
The picture below shows him in operation. A group of us are leaving the boat after visiting some beer joints in Neu-Otting. He collected a fee from the local people, but he let us 13th Armored people go for free. I am the guy at the extreme right whose head is almost blocked, but it is me, still sober, getting off the boat.
The other message was a bridge would probably be a better way to cross the river. Guess what? When Steve and I got there in 2017, a bridge had been built. Here it is:
You can see me in this picture, still sober 72 years later. This bridge is approximately where the 1945 Rowboat Ferry did business. Are those Uber cars crossing it?
Here are a few pictures of Marktl and Neu-Otting across the Inn where the beer joints were, and where a lot of other 13th Armored units had occupied before we were told to stop going East.
These towns in this part of Germany and Austria pretty much look alike, as you would expect. Finding beer joints in Germany, however, was not a difficult task in 1945, nor did Steve and I have any difficulty in 2017. One of the pictures below shows us with one of the natives (He’s the guy in the lederhosen), quaffing a few beers in the name of all those who have spent time in similar pursuits.
Another miraculous example of achieving our objectives 72 years later. Only this time in much better circumstance. We are brothers now, not enemies. We crossed a bridge…