The Shoe Leather Express – In Deutschland Dairyland

(Posted: February 14, 2012)

“In Deutschland Dairyland” can be found on page 28 of Joe O’Donnell’s “The Shoe Leather Express – Book 1:

“Hurry up and wait.” is a service connected cliche, and was a standard cliche practiced in all branches of the military services of the United States.  That is an erroneous statement.  A truer statement; “Hurry up and wait,” was a standard practice in all military services throughout the world, including the German command in charge of the American Prisoners of War.

The familiar morning “Rouse, Rouse” from our guards was earlier than usual.  Arising before dawn, and arranging our gear in semi-darkness, was a common practice; but arising in total darkness and preparing for our day’s march led to total confusion and expectations of a long arduous march.  Our morning roll call was held in total darkness; therefore, with a little help from us, confusing the guards in their count.  The count was either ten POWs too many or one or ten POWs missing.  The frustrated guards, realizing their failures in attempting to get an accurate roll call count, allowed us to return to the barn to await daylight.  We were promised a ration of boiled potatoes if our next roll call was accurate on the first count.

Fortunately our return inside the barn, and the now semi-darkness and the delay in our departure, permitted us to deploy our seek and search for food.  The barn was situated on a side of a hill with our sleeping area at ground level; beneath us was a cellar-like area with one side accessible to the outside through huge doors.  This was the dairy heartland of Germany and we were confined to a large dairy farm.  The cows below us provided our first fresh milk in a long, long time.  With some difficulty, we lowered a buddy to the cow area, and the milking began, with due consideration to the cows being not to milk one cow dry, which would lead the farmer to think that one cow was not producing its quota and would end up in the butcher shop.

The next roll call was flawless, every head in place, and the standing count and the sick count inside the barn matched the guards’ roster.  We now eagerly awaited our potato ration; but again, our departure was delayed – the potatoes were not ready.  This further delay gave us the opportunity to partially strip down and proceed to pick and crush those lousy little grey bastards.  The delay also gave us the opportunity to witness Hitler’s edict to create a pure Aryan Race.  A buxom blonde Fraulein and two German officers entered an adjacent barn and sometime later reappeared at the hayloft opening, and each with a chessy-cat grin on their faces.  We returned our sentiments with the all-American salute; the middle finger extended beyond a clenched fist.

The potato ration was ready; we formed two lines and were allotted two large boiled potatoes.  These potatoes came directly from a vat of boiling water.  We had to turn our knit helmet liner caps inside out and use the cap to receive the potatoes.  We were not permitted to eat the potatoes at a standstill, we had to form into columns and move out.

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