I found out that day that the local underground group used
to meet in their house once in awhile and hold meetings. The
German that slept there used to sit at the same table while the
underground talked about derailing a train or blowing up a
bridge, and the German didn't even know what was going on.
Chuck and I stayed at the farm for about a week, then one
day the boy came back with another guy, and the other guy says he wanted us to go into Rheims for papers and different clothes. We went with him to Rheims and stayed for a few weeks. It really took time to get all the stamps made up for the identity cards.
One day the man came and said the Gestapo had caught 2 of the underground. We were afraid he might talk, so we got ready to take off. Just when we were ready to go, Chuck found out he didn't have the latest stamp on his ID card, so he was told by the underground that he had better wait in Rheims until he got the new stamp. I walked back to the farm in about 5 hours. I was pretty brave by now, since I had my identity cards, so I used the roads most of the way.
I walked up, knocked on the door. The girl I had my eye on, opened the door. She put her fingers up to her lips to tell me not to talk and we went in. There was a German. He stood up, said something in German to me, clicked his heels and shook hands. We sat down and he looked at me kind of funny.
Then the French people told him I had lost my speech and hearing in a bombing in a small village in Brittany. I guess he took the story OK after I showed him my identity card. We sat there and smoked a cigarette or 2, drank some coffee, then around 11:30 P.M. we went to bed.
Every evening, we would go for a walk down through the orchard and sit by the stream. I would sit between the girls and put my arms around them, and the German would sit there and talk French with the girls. He didn't know very much French, but he still tried. This went on for a few weeks until one day he said his outfit was moving out. That sounded pretty good because that meant the Yanks were getting pretty close.
After he left, I could roam around a little more without the
fear of being caught. Then I started helping a little more
around the farm. One morning about 9:30, two of the girls came in and said the Yanks were in town, but I said, "No, maybe, maybe tomorrow." They said, "No tomorrow, today." So I got up and started to get dressed and started to go downstairs, but the girls called me back and handed me a pair of socks and my jump boots which they had hidden from the Germans in case they came in and searched.
When I went out, I met a one-star general, and I found out
his name was General Sommers, and he was with the 80th Division. He looked at me and asked if I spoke English. I laughed and said, "I hope so. I'm an American paratrooper from the 101st Airborne Division." He laughed and said, "what do you want to do? Go with us and get some Germans? Stay here and wait for a while and wait for more troops, or go back to your outfit?"
I told him I'd like to stay here for a few days and help the old man on his farm, then go back and rejoin my outfit. Also get
word back to the States to let my mom know I'm OK. He said, "OK, do as you please," then he asked if there were any Krauts around. I told him that there were about 600 went through the village around 6:30 this morning. They were walking, riding bikes, and riding the horse drawn wagons.
They took a break in the village and took what they could find. They took the old man's two horse and his milk. Also they took chickens. There were about 8 or 10 that stayed back to see if they could find anything else, and they left about 10 or 15 minutes ago. The general grabbed his tommy gun and hopped in the jeep and took off. He came back about 15 minutes later with two Krauts sitting on the hood of his jeep. He took a 3rd one off another jeep and told the men to wait here till he got back.
He wanted to take them into Rheims to question them. I started talking to the Yanks, and caught up on all the news since D-Day. I asked them for a few goodies for the French family that had done so much for me, and they loaded me down with cartons of cigarettes for the old man, and candy, canned goods, and I don't remember what else. But when I took the stuff back
to the house, the French family just sat there and cried, because they never expected anything like that.
Later that day, that general sent word that he was staying
in Rheims that night, so he told the men to stay where they were. A group of guys put up an outpost out in the back of the house, so that evening, I went out to shoot the bull with them.
About 10:30, a dozen people came walking up the road in a
group. One of the guys said, "Hey, look at the target practice
we got." I said, "Hey, hold your fire," because every night
about this time, there's a group of French people that comes into the village from out by the railroad tracks. Just about that
time, a couple of shots went off, and a bunch came running back down the road.
I grabbed a rifle that was laying there and I started shooting. The guy on the machine gun also started shooting. There was some yelling, so I knew we hit one or more. Shortly everything grew quiet and we lay there waiting. After a while, I got tired of waiting and I told the guys to cover me and I crawled up to the fence along the road. I lay behind a tree for about 5 minutes, and then a Kraut, hollers, "Comrade, nix shooten." I told him "come out" and he rose up right across the road from me.