MY FIRST DAY AT NEUBIBERG
This story deals with my first day at our new Air Base located near Neubiberg, which was near Munich and now is considered a part of Munich. This story is also very vivid in my memory. the 357th Fighter Group had been selected to be moved to Germany and to be a part of the Air Force Of Occupation. It had been determined that our Group would be divided into two groups, named the First Echelon and the Second Echelon. The First Echelon would be transported to the Neubiberg base by B-17's of the 100th Bomb Group. The Second Echelon would follow by convoy and bring all of the ground equipment to the new base. I was selected for the First Echelon , along with a few others. Our Duty upon arriving was to use German prisoners of war to clean up the base and ready it for occupation before the convoy arrived.
I guess we could say that at this point my story really starts. Upon arriving in Germany, we were issued 45 caliber hand guns (I think this was for show only, as the Germans seemed to be very glad the war was over) and I was selected to clean up the large mess hall. This base was very nice and much better than any to which I had been accustomed. It had been used as the Germans' main base for experimental air craft and had excellent two story barracks, nice hangars and underground tunnels leading to everything. The base still contained some of their jet aircraft and other experimental aircraft. The jet engines were stripped from the aircraft and shipped back to Wright-Patterson in Dayton. This truly could have helped the United States to move their jet plane program forward with some speed.
I can remember one experimental plane that we dubbed the "Push & Pull". This plane had a prop in the front and also one in the rear. I can remember one day when Major Kit Carson challenged the German test pilot to a mock dog fight for a show for the ground crews. I hear that the Germans answer was "Yah, but nix guns". The Push & Pull was very fast in level line of flight, but the Mustang could totally outmaneuver the Push and Pull.
Now to get on with my story- "My First Day Neubiberg": I was dropped off at the mess hall with my trusty 45 and a bunch of cleaning supplies to await the arrival of my German prisoner work crew. Finally they arrived from the prisoner of war camp in a 6 x 6 army truck. All of us had been given small hand books, with various phrases in German, for us to use for communication purposes. I had surveyed the mess hall before they arrived and started taking my group to various areas and assigning them specific jobs. There was a lot of brass in the kitchen area and this was to be "spit polished" with a sort of non abrasive cleanser.
Up to this time everything had gone very well and then came lunch time. We had been told that we should break our crews for lunch at 12 noon and a 6 x 6 truck would bring around army K rations for everyone. So I started looking in my little book on how I should tell them to quit and get washed up to eat lunch, finding nothing, I decided to use hand motions with a little broken German thrown in for good measure. All of the older Germans looked at me as if I had gone beserk and then one young blond German boy (looked like he was around 16 or 17) said to me-"Do you mean that we should quit for lunch".
Well it doesnŐt take me long to learn, so from then on I'll bet you can guess how I commnicated with the group. He could speak better English than I could, being a farm boy from southern Indiana!! The Germans ate those rations like they were steak and potatoes and they loved those little pieces of candy and the cigarettes that were packed in the little boxes.