No letter from René on March 17, 1945. Here’s an excerpt from the journal of Dr. Philip Westdahl, describing the 59th’s move from Epinal to St. Avold, France.
On March 17, we finally left Epinal and headed north to take part in the push of the 7th Army into Germany. After 2 months of inactivity it was a great boost to our spirits to feel that we were to be back in the fold once more. None of us regretted leaving Epinal. For me, Epinal spelled retreat and delay in the war’s ending.
Our route north took us through Nancy and into the French province of Lorraine. It must have been quite a sight to see our truck moving along the highway. From time to time during our previous moves, we had acquired various odds and ends of furniture to add to the comfort of living. When the day of departure arrived, we would all do our best to load our odds and ends on our truck to the extent of its capacity. Consequently it was a common sight to see a truckload of officers sitting in overstuffed red cushioned chairs rolling along the road.
Our destination was a small Lorrainian town named St. Avold, about 20 miles south of the German border city of Saarbrucken. We set up our tents on a knoll overlooking the town. The engineers had previously constructed roads according to our ground plan, and we lost no time in starting to work.
On the night of March 17, we received our first casualties from the troops fighting for Saarbrucken.