History - 36th Tank Bn.
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On the afternoon of 11 March 1945, with the sun shining bright, we arrived in Venlo and passed along its flag-bedecked streets, where we were to be billeted, reorganized, secure the necessary tanks to bring us up to Table of Organization strength and to receive necessary personnel reinforcements. It was good to be out of Germany and back among friends again. The weather was ideal and we spent our time training, relaxing and remembering. A number of .men were sent on pass to Paris and Brussels and some to England. Large numbers were also sent to nearby Army rest centers, mainly the one at Valkenburgh, Holland. It was at Venlo that the battalion first encountered that ungodly concoction of a drink which bore the name of "Purple Death." Ranging somewhere between TNT and brandy, the liquor made momentary "Supermen" out of lowly PFCs.

Wasting not a minute, our training of reinforcements continued and we even went so far, when no other area could be obtained, to take our tanks up to the Rhine near Ossenberg and teach gunnery by having our new men fire across the river at the Germans. It was at Venlo, too, that we had the sad duty of collecting the property of the men we had lost and sending it back through Army channels to their relatives.

Pre-saging events to come, we made a black-out march on the night of 20 Mareh and a practice river crossing over a pontoon bridge at Grefrath. The march and the general atmosphere of tension was a hint that "big things" were in the offing. It appeared that the time was fast approaching for crossing the Rhine and entering Hitler's inner fortress.

Four days after the joint American Ninth and British Second Armies successful attack on the Rhine defenses and the deployment of two airborne and two infantry divisions on the east bank of the Rhine between Wesel and Duisberg, we moved out of Venlo at 0200 on 27 March and headed for the Rhine. Crossing that river on a pontoon bridge near Wallach, we touched the other side shortly before 0800, 27 March. Advancing to the vicinity of Vorde, Germany, we stopped there at 1000 and the next day, 28 March, we moved to an assembly position near Bruckhausen and a day later arrived in an area northwest of Kirchhellen, Germany, where we remained until 31 March. On 30 March, quite a flurry of excitement developed when Jerry planes came over the area to harass us. For a few minutes, every soldier who was near any kind of weapon was blazing away at German planes.

Late in the afternoon of 31 March, we received orders to march to the vicinity of Westerholt. That objective was reached at 0200, 1 April, and we pulled up to the north, crossed the Lippe canal at Dorsten and in inky darkness struck off to the east along the north flank of the enemy forces trapped in the heavy industrial area of the Ruhr. All during the march as we passed thrQugh the wrecked cities, the streets were lined with the twisted debris of the great plants which had once supplied the material, the weapons and the fuel for the Wehrmacht. Now, eerie light from the burning buildings cast a weird glow on our tanks as we rumbled through the ruined cities.

Throughout the march we could hear guns, first to our left and later to our rear, as our artillery took its toll of the stubbornly resisting but crumbling German Army. At 0700, 1 April, sleepy and dirty we reached Selm, Germany, where we "holed" up in comfortable German homes for some much-needed sleep. It was Easter Sunday and, following services, the men, still weary, went back to sleep, storing up strength for the long march ahead. At midnight we were on the move again and had advanced to the east, through Delbruck and on to Sande where we stopped for several days.

It was during this march to Sande that our battalion billeting party, along with similar parties from CC "B" was running about twenty miles ahead of our reconnaissance into hostile territory. Confident as could be, the small party, searching for a town where the battalion might bed down for the night, continued on, passing through as yet uncaptured towns where their appearance brought forth the customary white flags until they reached the town of Neuhaus. There the story was different and German troops opened fire. Our men cut loose also and hastily left the "hot spot." The result of the affair was several wounded men, one of whom was Lt. Edward Conklin, battalion adjutant, who had been the first enlisted man to be made an officer back at Venlo. "Conk," a favorite of the men of the battalion, was evacuated to the States with an arm injury.

We were getting close to the Elbe' and had thought that we might cross that river and romp in~o Berlin but the Ninth Army had other plans for us. After several days spent at Sande, we received orders on the 4th of April to proceed on another mission - - - to the Ruhr.