Milky Way

      The time was May 5th or 6th 1945 our third platoon of the cavalry recon troop had passed over the Ens river in Steyr, Austria. The mission given us was to pierce the German lines and linkup with the Russians. In the previous two days we had captured the towns of Wels and Lambach, Austria and freed the 15,000 inmates of the concentration camp Gunskirchen Lager.

         As we passed over the bridge in Steyr the road on the Eastern side divided and we took the right fork. The day was bright, sunny, and warm . Very quickly the terrain became mountainous and forrested. Four or five miles later we encountered a large column of German soldiers, --- cavalry, vehicles, and infantry. Previously, instructions had been given us not to fire unless fired upon. We all began shouting "das krieg ist fertig - das krieg is fertig", and gave them our stock of cigarettes. The Germans were on the way to Steyr so after progressing through their column, we continued on our mission.

         Shortly thereafter we met, and passed, other collumns. While stopped along the road, we looked to the mountaintop on our right. A veritible army of German soldiers, complete with tiger tanks, cavalry, 88 artillery pieces and infantry were "peerng" down at us through binoculars. Had one shot been accidentally fired, I'm certan our entire platoon would have been completely annihilated within 10 minutes. Fortunately no mishap occurred and we proceeded toward Waidhoffen. As we entered the town of Waidhoffen we stopped near a railroad underpass. A German officer was standing in the street. Marvin Eiland and I dismounted and went to him demanding his pistol. He looked at us strangely and said "nein". I said "das krieg ist fertig - pistola bitte". He slowly and reluctantly pulled it from his holster and gave it to me. When we returned to the M-8, Sgt. Fisher rushed over to us and said, "You stupid ##*** ##***, don't you do that again - you'll get all of us killed."

         Well, we went under the overpass, came to an intersection and turned left . The street was on a hill and we stopped midway of the block. We were not informed of it, but at that time Lt. Samuels and the first platoon - who had arrived in the town by another route, were in Rothchild Castle talking with General

          Lothar von Rendulic concerning surrendering. Our troop interpreter, Charlie Staudinger, was born in Stutgart and was negotiating in the German language. General von Rendulic informed Staudinger that every American soldier in Waidhoffen must consider themselves prisioners of war until such time he would be able to consult with his staff and the decision made to fight or capitulate. As we were waiting I began talking with "Ankeles" a bostonian who must have made the gi minimum heighth requirements by ½ inch. Shortly thereafter a "giant" SS tanker in his black uniform came up and began talking. (he must have been at least 6 ft. 4 ) he spoke beautiful, perfect english with that typical british accent. I said where did you learn to speak such perfect english?

         He replied "at Oxford- I am an Oxford graduate." As we were talking about many and various subjects -war, armies, education, etc. Ankeles reached into a jeep and grabbed a "K" ration. Now, there are three "K" rations; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each contain a small can (1/3 smaller than a standard tuna can). Breakfast is brains and eggs; lunch is solid cheese ; dinner is a mixture of spam and potato's. Included also are cigarettes, Nescafe, powdered "tang" like juice, crackers, and cookies. A miniature Milky Way is in the lunch" k". A box of k rations is about the size of a cracker jack box.

         Ankeles opened the box, withdrew the Milky Way, unwrapped part and took a bite. The SSer looked down at Ankeles, grabbed the bar out of his hand, took a bite and while chewing said "good gracious-you Americans have everything - candy bars, cigarettes - just everything"

         I don't have words to describe the look on Ankeles face as he looked up at the SSer finishing off his Milky Way-consternation-anger - amazement - quandary - etc. His mouth flew open, his jaw dropped---- he was utterly speechless. I laughed out loud, and the SSer began to laugh also.

         General von Rendulic finally agreed to capitulate and it was later learned he commanded some 800,000 troops.

         He was later tried at nuremburg and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for the deaths of thousands of norwegians. He ordered the burning of their homes and villages and thousands froze to death.

         As a result of this mission and "escapade", these two platoons of the 71st cavalry recon troop penetrated enemy lines farther east than all other allied armies. Our division is now widely known as "the fartherest east 71st"

----- Mason ( Mickey ) Hardin Dorsey


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