Day by Day in the Ruhr Pocket ...
14 April 1945
Morning found Hilckeswagen seething with activity. Germans had been surrendering all night and the highway leading out of town was jammed with PWs going back and American troops coming up.
The GIs were advancing so rapidly that the town was frontline in the morning and rear echelon in the afternoon. The PW Collecting Point was moved up at noon and long column of PWs that had marched down the highway out of Hilckeswagen were forced to turn around and march back into the town.
Elements from all three battalions moved into Hilckeswagen that day and a regimental CP was set up in the town in early afternoon.
The factory housing the battalion CP stood in front of a large German ammo dump just before the companies left, two kraut artillery shells hit the dump and set it afire. The ammunition began to explode and hot shrapnel was falling all over the east end of town, knocking holes in the buildings and scaring the wits out of the civilians who thought the war had returned.
M Company's vehicles had used the ammunition dump as shelter and when the place began to blow Lip T/Sgt. William Boucher and Corporal Grover P. Bivin volunteered to evacuate the jeeps and trucks. They worked fast, moving through the falling shrapnel and were able to get the vehicles to safety. Not a single jeep was scratched.
Shells and rockets were still exploding when Captain John Masterpole, Hq, Co. Commander organized the Battalion's CP group into a march unit and led them to the west end of Hiickeswagen where they were out of the radius of the falling metal.
The town was left behind at about 1400 and the battalion marched along the highway in a column of companies with Headquarters trailing. The men could see German artillery falling up ahead on their destination. A report came back from the intelligence section that the battalion's proposed assembly area was under heavy artillery fire and the companies were held up in Krowinklerbrucke.
There was a lot of reconnaissance activity in the evening and it was plain that the fighting in the Ruhr Pocket was almost over. The Germans had been compressed into a small area and were surrendering in wholesale lots.
The companies got some sleep that night. It was probably their first real opportunity to rest since Blue Battalion jumped off from Betzdorf on the upper Sieg River on The 6th of April.