Day by Day in the Ruhr Pocket ...
16 April 1945
By morning all artillery fire had ceased and the companies were waiting for new orders. There was a German department store down the street a few blocks from the battalion CP. It had been knocked open by shellfire and all day there were streams of liberated slave laborers moving noisily up and down the street. Going one way they were dressed in their ragged laborer's clothing but coming back they wore the sharpest in German suits and dresses. It was their big day, and the sudden release from oppression made them seem like little children on Christmas morning.
The battalion's riflemen were expecting to move on in and clean out the rest of the city but they waited till noon, and no order came. The hours went by, slowly,
Finally, just before dusk, the awaited word was received. But it was not an order to attack.
All the Germans had surrendered and the Ruhr Pocket was nonexistent. The job was done. The battalion mounted trucks and rode out of Wuppertal, moving south over battleground that was now peaceful German countryside. It was a warm spring evening and the quiet villages and sleeping fields were more like home than anything the GIs had seen since they crossed the German border on December 12th. The men riding the trucks that night were tired but they were able to really relax.
They may have had no idea of where they were going but they knew one thing for sure. There was no more combat within a hundred miles...