Moenchengladbach, Germany—Then and now

Posted: May 7, 2019 in Uncategorized

On March 4, 1945, the 111th left Alsdorf, Germany, and headed 36 miles northeast to the town known then as Munchen-Gladbach. The Roer River had been crossed at last and things were moving fast. The Allies had taken Munchen-Gladbach only three days before the 111th arrived. the 111th stayed here until the last day of March.

The company clerk, Frank Sossi, wrote about their arrival: “Unless my eyes deceived me, the so-called super-race must have established a new national emblem, for all the homes along the route were fluttering snow-white flags in the wind.” He continued, We shared a pretty good area with the 29th Division QM Company. It had formerly been the city police headquarters.” There they waited for the big push and the crossing of the Rhine River on March 25. They followed the infantry further into Germany and moved steadily east and north for the next month.

We already knew that the apartment building where they lived was still standing, and we had the address in this large city, thanks to two blog friends. Here are the then-and-now photos:

img210 Our home at Munchen Gladbach, Germany, Spring 1945 

Their shop yard was in a police academy quadrangle “that took up an entire city block” and looked like this in March 1945:

img226 Small arms set up in Munchen Gladbach, Germany

It turns out that the quadrangle is directly across the street from the apartment building and is still being used by the police! It was locked up, so we couldn’t get in. For that reason, we couldn’t see the exact same spots as ones in the men’s 1945 photos. But the windows and other building details match so closely that we are sure this is the same place our men worked in for a month in March 1945.

Matt Ottea, John Andrews (drilling), and Bob Hammer working on a 105 Howitzer in Munchen-Gladbach

Lt. Kent recalled that in his role as special services officer, he was responsible for the men’s morale. “Before leaving Holland, I made a deal with a brewery in Maastricht–whereby because of the shortage of wooden kegs—for every four empty kegs I brought them, they would give me one filled with beer….I had my men search through the bombed-out cafes in the area to search for empty kegs. We finally accumulated eight of them, and the second day we were in Munchen-Gladbach, I send a truck back with the empties to return that afternoon with two kegs filled with beer.” The men must have truly appreciated Lt. Kent.

Comments
  1. What a great way to keep up morale!

  2. Jim McCarty says:

    Thank you so much for posting! Would it be possible to also post street names or general locations of these buildings so they could be located on a map? Thanks…

    • Andrea says:

      The street name is Webschulstrasse, in the Rheydt district of MG, near the intersection of Theodor-Heuss Strasse. Google maps will show the place, and our car GPS took us right to the spot. It is a short street. Interestingly, the Google Earth view shows the former police academy as being full of cars. It looks like it was being used as a parking lot, and the locked gates weren’t there. I never thought to look on Google Earth; if I had, I would have seen that the former police quadrangle was across the street from the apartment building!

  3. Tom Sedlacek says:

    Nice article!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks, Tom, and thanks to your father for keeping such a detailed list of every little town and village as they moved through Europe. We couldn’t have done this without him!

  4. Louise Brooks says:

    Are you referring to Fred Kent? It amazes me how recognizable the buildings are today from yesteryear. Keep posting and safe travels.

    • Andrea says:

      Yes, Lt. Kent was your father’s fellow officer, aka Fearless Freddie. What a guy he must have been! Wish your dad a happy VE-Day today, as we head to the place the men celebrated it, also in true Fred Kent style.

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