Waterloo soldier recorded final days of WWII in Europe
by Pat Kinney
on Wednesday, May 6, 2020
This week is the 75th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany during World War II and the end of the war in Europe.
Below are some entries from my dad’s war diary 75 years ago, in Europe in the spring of 1945.
Dad, U.S. Army Pvt. George J. Kinney II, was drafted into the service at age 35; the government drafted up to age 40 during World War II. He had been a military policeman, guarding German prisoners of war at Camp Phillips, Kan. near Salina, where my folks were married in June 1943.
U.S. Army Pvt. George J. Kinney II in Salina, Kan. 1943
But he volunteered to go overseas. He arrived in France in early January 1945, in the closing weeks of the Battle of the Bulge, and served as an orderly on a hospital train, transporting wounded from the front.
At that point my mom, Margaret Ann “Marge” Kinney, was living with my Grandma, Molly Ernster Kinney Byers, on West 11th Street near Washington Street in Waterloo. Mom worked at Associated Manufacturing, making mortar shells. My oldest brother Mike was a year old; he was born March 9, 1944.
Dad (top) and a buddy standing at boxcar door of a hospital train in Liege, Belgium, enroute to pick up U.S. war wounded in Germany
Picking up Dad’s diary entries from there:
March 11, 1945 – Sunday, 8 a.m.: We are now in Aachen, Germany. We are going to start loading wounded soldiers in an hour or so. Heard artillery fire last night. Heavy traffic to and from the front here. Many German prisoners going back. War news good. We are across Rhine.
March 29, 1945: I am 37 years old today. We are in Munchen Gladbach, Germany. This city is in ruins. Quite a few German civilians walking around though. Arrived here from Liege, Belgium.
April 6, 1945: Am back at the 202 General Hospital near Paris. Worked at details and waiting for something to happen. Yanks 150 miles into Germany.
May 4, 1945: Pulling guard duty at 202nd now. My day off. Hitler reported dead. Also Mussolini. Germans surrendering everywhere. Got a physical exam today.
May 8: Well here it is at last. V-E Day. Victory in Europe Day. The Germans surrendered yesterday morning at 2 a.m. unconditionally. The German Army is laying down their arms everywhere. Many German big shots are committing suicide. The 202nd General Hospital will remain here until further orders. That means me too.
Dad ended up at the 16th Station Hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany before getting orders to head for home. He was discharged from the Army at Camp Grant, Ill. Dec. 27, 1945.
In a letter home to Mom from overseas during his service, Dad wrote of the wounded soldiers he cared for: “Some of these boys are so crippled up I don’t think they’ll ever be the same again.”
At right, Dad, at center with a couple of buddies at an Army hospital near Paris. Upper left, Dad in his work fatigues. Lower left, German postage stamps with Hitler's likeness.
Photos from Dad's war diary of U.S. soldiers and a crashed German plane and wrecked German war material