Why Opladen? As explained in the Long Meadow story I used the name as an umbrella term for most of my Ruhr Pocket campaign experiences. So, let me start with a sentence taken from my Company Commander’s account about A Company’s arrival near where this story took place. It happened as we were involved in the Ruhr Pocket engagement as the war was winding down. The date was April 12, 1945. The day President Roosevelt died.
Arriving at Opladen Germany, the Company was billeted in an apartment house in the downtown section.
The apartment building was a welcome sight and place. The day before we had crossed the Agger River at nearby Siegberg, and got soaked clear through. It so happened that we needed to wade across the river, up to our necks to set up a protective perimeter so our engineers could erect a pontoon bridge to get our halftracks and tanks across.
The first thing we did when we entered the apartment was ransack the dresser drawers and cabinets to find clean dry underwear. Ours was bad beyond belief, as a result of our river soaking and then our one-day travel to Opladen. Search and search, but all we could find was ladies underwear. OK, so that being our only option, we then took advantage of the apartment’s bathing opportunities, and put on the lady’s underwear. Ours was so bad, we tossed it in the trash.
Most of us packed a backup supply into our musette bags for future use. I carried mine though until our part of the war ended. Who was going to know anyway, and the garments were clean and warm. Comfort is found where one finds it. The message in this story was constant with my way of looking at life, especially Army Life.
What can be done to make life more comfortable? It predisposes one to be in a constant exploration mode, especially when things are either boring or not going in a direction one likes. That characteristic probably has contributed to my somewhat “off the beaten path” behavior that was, and still is, me.
When Steve and I returned to The Ruhr Valley on July 10, 2017 the apartment building we stayed in was in Solingen. I do remember being in Solingen where we stayed this time so the areas on the map. Solingen is in same area where the Opladen Connection stories took place. That’s the best I could do, considering all the factors involved.
I have included a picture of the area in front of Steve’s and my 2017 Solingen apartment experience below.
A word about the map that positions our Ruhr Pocket stories. It, as you will observe, is copied from a Hertz map of that area that I obtained from our car rental agency near Solingen. Originally, I planned to use a very detailed Artillery Spotters map I took from from an Artillery Spotter location, I and another Private captured in that same Opladen area. When I went to look for it, it had mysteriously disappeared.
So, what I have done with this substitute map is show I as it approximates the area we were in 1945. Not pretty but, as good as I could get.
Steve and I followed this map in our 2017 recreation of my 1945 memories of the Ruhr Pocket Campaign. Siegberg was not a part of this map, but was located about 10 miles south of Opladen. It is where my A Company entered the Ruhr Pocket Campaign. The red line is my approximation of where we were for most of our time in the Ruhr Pocket.
The pictures below relate to apartments used in 1945 and 2017…
There are more Opladen Connection stories.