Jim Colling Adventure Series




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Chapter Six

January-February, 1946

After the holidays, the daily drive to Camp 146 settled into a routine. Colling would pick Elizabeth up each weekday morning, and their day would be spent questioning refugees. Following their initial exchange of information about themselves, their conversations in the jeep and at lunch moved on to joking about the camp’s food, the foibles of their fellow Americans, and the sometimes-humorous answers provided by the Polish DP’s. Colling did not repeat his efforts to see Elizabeth outside their working relationship. He had come to accept the fact that she had no interest in a relationship with an enlisted man, and he made a special effort to not let his disappointment show.

His belief that she was from a different world than his was reinforced one day as they rode in the jeep, when she pointed out some buildings to their right, some distance from the road.

Do you know what’s there?” she asked.

No idea,” Colling responded, without looking away from his driving.

Part of the Austrian Riding Academy. General Patton brought them out under the Russians’ noses. When the weather improves, I’ll go back to riding with them. The horses are wonderful. Do you ride?”

The off-handed way she dropped Patton’s name as if she were personally acquainted with him irritated Colling, and he had to remind himself that he was not being rational as he tried to answer in a level tone, “Sure. I grew up on the farm, remember? Used to ride all the time. Farm horses.”

No, but these aren’t farm horses, Jim. They’re thoroughbreds. Lippizanners.”

Never heard of them,” he replied, trying to stifle his pique.

Seemingly heedless that Colling was becoming annoyed, she continued, “We used to ride all the time back home. I used to love fox hunting.”

That was for high-society people where I come from. In fact, I don’t even know if anybody in Wisconsin does it.”

I’m sorry, Jim. I bet I sounded like some kind of snob.”

Her apology disarmed him, and all he could think of to say was, “That’s okay.”

Would you like to ride with me, when it gets warmer?”

Sure, why not? I promise not to fall off.” And embarrass you, he thought to himself.

You’ll love it. Even though they’re called the ‘Austrian Riding Academy,’ the stables are run by Hungarians.”

A left-over from the Austro-Hungarian Empire?” Colling asked with a smile.

Could be. Anyway, the official line is that they are Hungarians who didn’t go along with the Nazi line. Patton is trying to get them into the United States, but they’re stuck here for the time being.”

Well, if they’ll let a tech-five ride one of their thoroughbreds, I’ll be happy to ride with you.”

She smiled at him, but didn’t respond.

Major Brumerson stopped Colling as they entered the camp headquarters, “Corporal, I understand you speak some German.”

Yessir.”

I need someone to interrogate a couple of tough nuts. We think these Krauts were SS officers, but they keep telling us they were only Wehrmacht non-coms.”

I’d be glad to try and help, sir, but I’m not trained for intelligence work.”

No matter. We’ll give you a list of questions.”

The two Germans were questioned separately, one after the other. Each interview lasted more than an hour. The interrogations were conducted in a room with a mirror mounted on one wall which Colling suspected was one-way glass. Colling worked from the paper Brumerson gave him. He listened to the answers that were given, and tried to ask follow-up questions. Colling found both men to be confident to the point of arrogance, and he understood why the AMGOT staff believed they were Nazi officers.

When he completed the interviews, Colling reported to Brumerson. After handing the major his notes, he said, “Sorry, sir. I don’t think I got anywhere with them.”

Brumerson smiled. “You did a good job, Corporal. Both of them slipped up a couple of times. My boys will have an opening tomorrow that may let us pry more out of them. Thanks.”

Colling saluted and left the major’s office, wondering what part of what the Germans had said would be useful. He could not recall any of their responses that he would classify as out of the ordinary.

Colling was not asked to interview any more Germans in the weeks that followed, but continued to work with the Polish inmates. He also found himself looking forward to, and enjoying being in, Elizabeth’s company five days a week, despite his sense of hopelessness in there being a more serious relationship. On weekends, he caught up on work at Battalion headquarters and the PX. He watched soldiers go home for discharge, and helped process replacements. The new men consisted of both transfers from other units and new recruits out of training. The Battalion was under-strength, but the numbers were relatively stable. Some of the old regulars like Ferguson, Cooley and Delonzo were still with the unit, while others, such as First Sergeant Hornsby, moved on to other assignments. Aside from Major Harris, the Battalion’s officers were turning over rapidly. A new Captain named Mason arrived to replace the commander of Company B. Captain Mason wore a 101st Airborne Division patch and Airborne wings. Within days, he had imposed tough discipline and additional training on the men guarding the hydro-electric dam, and there was talk throughout the Battalion that he would be setting the standard for the rest of the company officers.

The turnover of personnel resulted in an unexpected opportunity for Colling. It began when one of the staff sergeants who had his discharge orders approached Colling to ask if he would be interested in buying two of his tailored gabardine dress shirts. It was known that Colling had cash, and the sergeant thought that Colling would like to improve his appearance. Since the two men were about the same size, Colling tried on the shirts and found that they fitted reasonably well. The sergeant wanted three dollars apiece. He told Colling he had paid five at a military tailor shop outside the gate at Fort Bliss. Colling offered him five dollars for both shirts, and the sergeant accepted. The first purchase led to others, and soon Colling found himself in business, buying tailored uniform clothing from those leaving the Army and re-selling it to new men who had recently joined the Battalion. He also found that some of the old-timers would sell him items near the end of the month, then re-purchase them on payday, so that the same shirts were bought and sold more than once.

Ferguson did not comment on the fact that Colling maintained a rack of shirts and trousers in the storage room where the master sergeant kept his stock of cigarettes, and Colling took it as tacit approval. He was realizing a profit of only two to three dollars on each item sold, but the fact that he had ready money to buy meant that he had first choice of anything that was offered. His position at Battalion headquarters permitted him to be the first to greet new arrivals with a suggestion that tailored uniform shirts might enhance their appearance and impress their sergeants and officers.

He had studiously avoided purchasing officers’ uniforms, even though he received frequent offers to sell from departing lieutenants. He was not in a position to approach new officers to sell items of clothing to them; in addition, Army regulations forbade impersonating an officer, and possession of an officer’s uniform could easily lead to trouble. So it was that when Lieutenant Peterson came to the orderly room one Saturday afternoon and asked him if he could do him a favor and purchase a full set of uniforms from him, his first reaction was to refuse. Peterson persisted, saying, “Colling, I really need you to help me out with this. Lieutenant Spiegel said he’d buy my extra set of olive drabs, but I got my orders and have to leave tomorrow. Meantime, he’s on temporary duty to some kind of a school in Munich for the rest of the week. He agreed to pay me $200 for the complete set…jacket, pants, shirts, caps, shoes, everything. If you can give me $175.00, you can make a quick $25.00 when he gets back from Munich.”

Well, sir, if I get caught with a lieutenant’s uniform, I’m in big trouble.”

It’ll only be a couple of days. Nobody’s gonna find out. I’ll leave a note that he can pick the stuff up from you.”

Sir, I don’t know about this.”

Look, Colling, I know you’re a straight shooter. There’s no rank insignia on the jacket. If anybody asks, tell ‘em you didn’t know it was an officer’s outfit.”

They’d know by the cut, sir.”

Colling, I’m in a pinch here. I’m going back to civilian life, and I won’t be able to get rid of this uniform once I’m back in the States. Besides, Spiegel is expecting to get them. And I could use the cash. What do you say, huh?”

I don’t know, sir.”

Okay, make it $150.00. You get to make a little more, and everybody’s better off.”

Colling hesitated for a moment, then answered, “Okay, sir. But only for you. Don’t tell anyone else about this.”

Peterson brought the uniform and accessories in a B-4 bag and Colling gave him his money. Colling hung the jacket, trousers and shirts in the storage room and placed the caps, shoes and belts underneath the rack. He placed the uniform so that he hoped it would not be noticeable to any of his enlisted customers. As it turned out, Colling found it impossible to sell Peterson’s uniform to Lieutenant Spiegel. Spiegel was reassigned to a staff position somewhere else in the American Zone, and did not return to the Battalion. Colling debated whether or not to discard the uniform, but was unable to bring himself to throw away $150.00 of good money.

Towards the end of January, Staff Sergeant Gambelli, in the course of buying a tailored shirt and trousers, asked if Colling could get one of his German friends to show Gambelli and some of the other men how to use their souvenir Lugers and Walther P-38’s. Colling immediately thought of Zinsmann, and when he inquired, to Colling’s surprise, the German offered to meet them on the firing range behind the kaserne the following Saturday afternoon.

There were more than a dozen Americans at the range when Colling and Zinsmann arrived. Colling had come to act as interpreter, but also out of curiosity. Gambelli had a small crate of German parabellum 9-millimeter ammunition that had been captured sometime in the waning days of the war, and each of the Americans had brought at least one German pistol. Gambelli had three…a Luger and two P-38s. Zinsmann set to work demonstrating how to dismantle and reassemble each of the weapons, with Colling interpreting his instructions. Zinsmann spoke authoritatively, and Colling suspected that the German must have served as a firearms instructor at some time in his career.

Zinsmann next conducted firing practice, watching each of the men as they squeezed off shots at the closest targets down the range, 50 meters away. The German used binoculars that one of the Americans had thought to bring, to check the accuracy of their shooting. Zinsmann made suggestions to each of the men about technique, saying “Gut, sehr gut,” when his instructions were followed.

Gambelli finished emptying the magazine in his Luger and offered Colling a turn. Colling at first hesitated, but Zinsmann encouraged him to try the pistol. Colling found that the weapon handled well, with much less recoil than an Army .45. As Colling reloaded the pistol for a second round of fire, Zinsmann asked, “You have never a man shot, is that so?”

Colling answered, “No, I have not.”

The German continued, “The Luger is a fine weapon. But it is accurate only to about ten meters. After that, it is only with great luck that anything is hit. I would give you the advice that if you ever must shoot a man, that you allow him to come as close as possible before doing so.”

That could prove difficult.”

Not if he does not know you are armed. Conceal the fact that you are armed as long as possible. A man that you must kill will come close to kill you if he thinks you are unarmed. When you do shoot, aim for the center of the chest or the head. Never hesitate once you know you must kill a man. It must be one act to aim the pistol and shoot. Do not think about anything else but shooting him. Do not consider that he is a man like yourself. If you do that, you will be dead. Here, try holding the Luger at your side. That’s it. Now bring it up to shoulder height in one movement, taking aim and pulling the trigger.”

Colling did as the German instructed, raising the Luger and firing it until it became one continuous motion. He fired two more full magazines in the same manner, then joined Zinsmann and the other soldiers in dismantling the weapons and cleaning them as the German instructed. Before Colling left to drive Zinsmann back to Number 8 Trebensallee, Gambelli invited Colling to return to the range the following day and help use up the remaining stock of 9-millimeter ammunition. Colling took the sergeant at his word, and spent three hours on Sunday afternoon practicing with Gambelli’s pistols.

Colling mentioned his experience with Zinsmann, and the German’s advice, to Elizabeth on Monday during the drive to Camp 146. She listened to his description of Zinsmann’s performance, and asked, “Do you think he’s a Nazi?”

Colling thought a moment, then said, “I really don’t know. The other Germans see him as a figure of authority, but I really don’t know.”

If you found out he is, would you be willing to turn him in?”

Sure, if I knew he was a war criminal. If he was just Waffen SS, I don’t think I would.”

Elizabeth pressed him, “But the SS did terrible things.”

Well, like I said, if I knew he committed war crimes, he’d have to pay for it.”

So you would protect him if you didn’t think he did any of those things?”

I didn’t say I’d protect him. Jesus, Elizabeth,…pardon my language.., but I didn’t say that. Why the sudden interest?”

There was a pause before she replied, “I only wondered if you think he’s your friend.”

He isn’t a friend. He’s an acquaintance. Somebody that I was able to get to do work for the Army. He’s just another German.”

They rode in silence for awhile, Colling aware that she was thinking about something. This was the first time that he could remember that she had expressed anything of a political nature. He realized that, in spite of numerous conversations about her upbringing, he had no idea whether her family was Republican or Democrat. Her comments had led him to believe that she had come from at least moderate wealth, more likely upper middle class, but that didn’t tell him whether she would have cast her vote for Dewey or Roosevelt. Colling himself was not yet twenty-one, and any consideration of how he would vote remained somewhat theoretical.

The questions in his mind were not resolved before they arrived at the camp, nor was there any discussion related to politics while they ate lunch, principally because they were joined by the two Polish-speaking AMGOT technical sergeants who formed the other half of the interrogation team, and they wanted to talk only about their upcoming furlough in Switzerland.

That afternoon, however, they had just driven through the camp gate when Elizabeth spoke, “I saw an interview with some soldier in Stars and Stripes where he said the Russians were the best soldiers in the world.”

Could be. Enough of them died fighting the Germans.”

Roosevelt had a lot of praise for the Russians during the war.”

Yeah, I remember.” Colling decided to remain non-committal until he understood what Elizabeth was getting at, and particularly that maybe she was hinting about what side of the political fence she was on.

Elizabeth continued, “Roosevelt didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with the Soviet Union.”

Colling decided to go on the offensive, “How about you? You think the Soviet Union’s okay?”

She flared at his question, “My mother was born in Poland. How do you think I feel?”

I’d guess you probably don’t agree with F.D.R.”

Good guess. Nobody remembers that Stalin invaded Poland at the same time Hitler did. Only Stalin got to keep his half when the war was over.”

Third,” corrected Colling, adding, “Russia only took a third of Poland, not half. But you’re right, they did get to keep it. Part of the deal at Teheran or Potsdam, I can’t remember which.”

And what do you think?” she asked testily.

My family came from Poland, too, Elizabeth. So I know all about the Soviet invasion in ’39. That’s all my uncles talked about. They came from eastern Poland, and the family members that stayed behind now live in the Soviet Union. Fact is, I don’t much like it.”

So you don’t agree with F.D.R.’s opinion about ‘Uncle Joe’?”

My folks didn’t agree with F.D.R., period. My dad voted Republican in every election from 1932 to 1944. He’s a small business owner, and he disagrees with almost everything the Democrats stand for, and I agree with my dad. Does that answer your question?”

What about the Communists?”

They’re the same or worse than the Nazis. They do the same things…burn churches, kill anyone who speaks out against them. But there are lots of people who swallow their line. My mom had a cousin who was a Party member in Milwaukee. He died in January and they sent her his effects. A trunk full of propaganda leaflets he must have saved from before the German invasion of Russia…anti-British stuff and keeping America out of the war. He did a sudden about-face in June of ’41, and started preaching that we needed to go to war against Germany. A week before, he was praising the German army, saying how great it was that they were beating the imperialist British in North Africa. Strictly Party line. My dad told my mom he didn’t have a brain in his head.”

Elizabeth made no further comment, and Colling dropped her off in Kummersfeld wondering whether he had been too outspoken. He had been told by his father when he started high school that it was best to confine one’s political viewpoint to family discussions. There were more Democratic voters in Belle Cors than Republicans, and flaunting one’s politics could be bad for business. This was the first time that he could remember that he had expressed himself to an outsider.

To his surprise and relief, Elizabeth did not mention their political discussion when they next rode together. As time went by, he realized that he still did not really know what political party she might support. He was reasonably certain that she shared his opinion concerning the Soviets, but she had not made any explicit comment supporting either political party. He decided not to bring up the issue on his own. If Elizabeth chose to talk about politics, he would respond, but would not engage in any arguments on the subject.

February brought a series of releases of displaced persons from Camp 146. The Czechs, Italians, and Yugoslavians in Camp 146 had been choosing overwhelmingly to return to their native countries, and many had been leaving in small groups all winter. The Poles and Russians making up the bulk of the population had resisted any repatriation, but now they were being forced to depart, either being placed on eastbound trains, or assigned to other camps established by the UN closer to the larger cities in the British and American Zones. The new camps were said to provide better quarters, with the added attraction that the DP’s were permitted to leave during the day to do paid work, primarily on reconstruction projects.

The decrease in the number of inmates meant that Colling and Elizabeth were less in demand as interpreters. Major Brumerson first reduced their work schedule to three days a week, and eventually told Colling that he would not be needed.

Colling informed Sergeant Ferguson that Major Brumerson had relieved him from his interpreter’s duties, and that he would have more time to devote to his responsibilities at headquarters, but asked if he could continue to serve as Miss Hamilton’s driver on the Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays she would need to be driven to Camp 146. Sergeant Ferguson looked at him with a knowing smile and gave him permission.

Colling’s greater availability at the kaserne proved to be opportune, because the Battalion lost two of its medics in mid-February. They had taken advantage of the Army’s re-enlistment offer, which granted a thirty-day furlough in the States and choice of duty station to anyone who signed up for an additional three-year term of service. Both men had chosen Fort Ord, California, to be near what they believed would be sandy beaches, sunshine and Hollywood starlets.

Ferguson made attempts to replace his medics, but with no result, so that Colling found him complaining one Tuesday morning about the need to provide transportation from Grabensheim to the Regimental aid station in Kummersfeld for soldiers answering sick call.

Colling interrupted the sergeant’s grumbling, “Sarge, what about me holding sick call?”

Ferguson said, “You ain’t a qualified medic, Colling.”

Sarge, sick call is not much different from working a prescription counter in a drug store. You listen to what’s wrong, and either give some medication or send ‘em to a doctor. That’s all Willman and Bradley did when they were here.”

But they gave shots, too.”

I can do that. My dad taught me. I gave shots all the time on my uncle’s farm.”

But not to people, right?”

Yeah, but it’s even easier on human beings. At least you can see the veins when there’s no fur in the way.”

I must be nuts to even listen to you, Colling.”

But what other choice do you have, Sarge? I can do it, give me a shot at it.”

Poor choice of words. Besides, three days a week, you got to drive that Hamilton dame out to the camp. Sick call is in the morning, and you won’t be here half the time.”

Sick call is at 06:00, Sarge. I can ask Miss Hamilton if I can pick her up at 08:30 instead of 07:00. That way, I can see everyone who shows up for sick call, and drive anyone who needs to see the doctor to Kummersfeld. I can pick them up on my way back from the camp in the morning, or when I bring Elizabe…I mean.., Miss Hamilton, back to her quarters in the afternoon.”

Okay, Colling. I’ll go for this if you can convince the Regimental Surgeon that you’re qualified to be a medic. I’ll call and make an appointment for you to see him this afternoon.”

The Regimental Surgeon was Doctor Lewisohn, whose somewhat hurried and distracted manner, Colling imagined, was due to his being the only American doctor in the area. The Regiment’s allotted complement of medical personnel was severely depleted by discharges and transfers.

Colling explained to Lewisohn, who held the rank of Captain, that he had experience working with his father in the family pharmacy, and that he had completed two years of college, majoring in pharmacy. Lewisohn asked him a series of questions about simple diseases and injuries, and how Colling would treat them. The physician quizzed him concerning medications, their uses and dosages. Appearing to be satisfied with the extent of Colling’s knowledge, Lewisohn took Colling into one of the examining rooms and called in a sergeant who was the doctor’s assistant. He made Colling first demonstrate the splinting of various fractures, being careful only to refer to the broken bones by their anatomical names. The doctor was pleased that Colling knew the difference between the tibia and the humerus. The test ended with Colling giving the sergeant first an intramuscular injection of a half-c.c. of sterile saline, then inserting an intravenous needle in the sergeant’s arm. The sergeant had blanched when Lewisohn told him he was about to be a guinea pig, but closed his eyes and extended his arm to Colling. When Colling completed the insertion of both needles on the first attempt, and without incident, the sergeant told Colling that his intravenous technique was about the best he had ever seen. Lewisohn informed Colling that he would be happy to sign any order assigning Colling to the Grabensheim dispensary as a medic, and expressed his relief that someone competent would be able to take sick call and take some of the workload off the Regimental aid station.

Before Colling returned to Grabensheim, he sought out Elizabeth in the Red Cross quarters. He had to give his name to a middle-aged Red Cross matron behind a desk that barred entrance into the female Red Cross billet, who then went in search of Elizabeth. The matron returned to her desk, and a few minutes later, Elizabeth appeared. He explained his new assignment as a medic and asked her if, in the future, he could pick her up at 08:30 rather than 07:00, and she agreed. Only after Colling was seated in his jeep did he realize that she had been wearing a civilian dress, and that she might have been interrupted as she was dressing to go out for the evening.

Colling found himself slightly nervous as he unlocked the dispensary door on Friday morning and, for the first time, announced to the half-dozen waiting soldiers that sick call was in progress. He had spent the better part of the previous afternoon and evening familiarizing himself with the location of instruments and supplies, and making sure that there was a stock of each of the items that made up the Army Standard Drug Stock List. He discovered that the two medics whom he was replacing had done a good job of keeping things in order. The only thing that he found to be in short supply was envelopes of a dozen aspirin. He made up forty of the small envelopes, filling in the printed block on the front of each of the small white envelopes by writing “Aspirin – 5 grains” and “Take two every 4 hours.”

The first two men in line had diarrhea, and Colling provided each of them with a bottle of bismuth subnitrate suspension. The next man was one of the replacement privates who had serious blisters on his feet from poorly fitting shoes. Colling showed him how to lance the blisters with a needle and apply protective tape. He also used a prescription pad to write a note to Staff Sergeant Morton in the supply room, that the soldier needed new, better fitting shoes. Because Morton had decided to remain in the Army, he was actively seeking promotion to technical sergeant, and Colling was reasonably certain that the new footwear would be provided without any argument.

A corporal from C Company presented with a sprained ankle that needed taping, and after Colling had wrapped it, he instructed the man as to how he could do so himself for the next few days, and gave him a roll of three-inch gauze dressing and another of adhesive tape. After filling out a relief-from-duty form for the man to give to his first sergeant, he gave him an envelope containing a half-dozen tablets of aspirin with codeine, and told him to return if the swelling did not come down within a day or two.

Three men had symptoms of gonorrhea, and after telephoning Dr. Lewisohn and obtaining his advice and authorization, Colling gave the men injections of penicillin, and packages of the new penicillin tablets, reminding them that they would have to unwrap them from the foil they were sealed in, and hold them in their mouths to get them to work. He warned them that if they did not follow his directions, they would have to return that afternoon and three times a day for the following five days for a series of injections. Colling dealt with the remaining minor ailments in what he believed was an efficient way, and was gratified to see that the line of waiting men had almost disappeared. Each patient’s complaint, symptoms and treatment had to be carefully entered in the dispensary log, and the same information duplicated on the sick call report. Colling soon realized that this took at least as long as the treatment itself.

The final patient was one of Cooley’s kitchen assistants, a PFC who had taken his place at the end of the line. He came into the examining room bent over, complaining of a severe “belly-ache.” Colling took the man’s temperature, felt his abdomen, and decided to place a second call to Dr. Lewisohn. After a short conference, the physician confirmed Colling’s suspicions, and told him he would send an ambulance to bring the man to Kummersfeld. Colling reminded Lewisohn that he would be on his way to Kummersfeld within the hour, and the doctor agreed that if Colling could bring him, it would save time.

Colling was about to assist the PFC from the dispensary to Colling’s jeep when Sergeant Gambelli appeared, apparently having held back from waiting with the other men. Embarrassed, he complained of having had the “crabs” for some time. After hastily consulting a typewritten instruction sheet left behind by the previous medics, Colling told him to shave his pubic hair and liberally apply DDT powder to his groin area. Colling restrained himself from asking the sergeant if his opinion of Italian women had changed as he handed him an envelope containing a supply of DDT. Colling asked Gambelli to inform Sergeant Ferguson that sick call was over, and he was transporting a sick man to the regimental aid station.

Luckily there was no snow and the road was dry, so that Colling managed to drive the familiar route to the aid station in Kummersfeld in record time. Two medics came out to meet them to carry the soldier inside as soon as Colling’s jeep pulled up. Colling helped them lift the man onto a wheeled litter and push it down the hallway to where they met Dr. Lewisohn, who was wearing a surgical gown. The doctor walked beside the litter, asking questions of the man and Colling, as they rolled the groaning PFC into a room that served as a crude operating facility. After some further examination, the doctor told Colling and those who would not be assisting with the appendectomy to clear the room.

Colling had tossed the dispensary log-book and clipboard holding the sick call reports into the back seat of the jeep, and before going to pick up Elizabeth, he completed his entries sitting in front of the aid station. He noticed an olive-drab Army ambulance arrive, and guessed that following surgery, the mess-hall PFC would be transferred to the 61st Division field hospital near Landsgau, or perhaps even to the general hospital in Munich. The ambulance was still there when he started the jeep and drove to the Kummersfeld Rathaus that housed the Red Cross.

Elizabeth was waiting on the curb. She greeted him cheerfully as she slipped into the passenger seat, and asked, “How was your first day as a medic?”

Not bad. I had an appendicitis I had to bring down. That’s why I was a little late.”

I didn’t notice,” she replied.

Colling went on to describe his other patients, omitting the gonorrhea cases and Gambelli’s problem. She asked what he would be doing the rest of the day while she was at Camp 146, and he told her he would return to the kaserne and check on Tracy’s clerking and how things were going at the PX. He explained that he would have to complete the dispensary paperwork as well, but that he would have that completed in time to drive her back to her quarters.

He was surprised when she asked if he could pick her up at the camp at noon, instead of later in the afternoon, as he usually did. He asked why, expecting her to say that she had made arrangements for a long weekend. But instead, she responded, “It’s Friday, and I feel like having a nice lunch somewhere. There’s that little Gasthaus about half-way between the camp and Grabensheim. Why don’t we try it.”

Colling felt a pleasant sensation in his chest, and answered, “Yeah, sure. I don’t know what the food will be like, but I’d enjoy that.”

I’ve heard the food is fairly good. The Hungarians from the Riding Academy say they eat there all the time.”

His pleasure suddenly dampened, Colling said little for the remainder of their journey together. He dropped her at the camp’s headquarters, promised he would return to retrieve her at noon, and returned to Grabensheim.

The tasks that he had described to Elizabeth took little time to complete once he was back at the kaserne. His final job was to make sure all of the dispensary paperwork for that morning’s sick call was in order. Afterwards, he collected his belongings from the barracks squad room and carried them to new quarters in a room adjoining the dispensary. One of the benefits that the medics had enjoyed was separate billeting, in order to be readily available in case of a medical emergency.

There were two large rooms available. Finding no difference between them, Colling selected the one furthest from the door to the dispensary and moved in. The room was meant to house two, and when he had finished putting his own clothing and equipment in one of the wall lockers, and making sure his funds were as well-concealed as before, he transferred the uniforms that he had been keeping in the storage room with Ferguson’s cigarettes into the second locker. An added amenity of the medics’ quarters was a desk and chair for each occupant. He noted that the room was large enough to accommodate two additional wall lockers, and promised himself he would find a way to add them to the room’s furnishings.

Before leaving for Camp 146, Colling informed Tracy that he would be driving Miss Hamilton at an earlier time, and asked that he convey that information to Ferguson. Any acutely ill or injured men should be sent to the aid station at Regiment.

The Gasthaus Weisse Hirsch was located on the side of a hill, and a walled flagstone terrace had been built to provide a view of a small glen and low, forested hills beyond. There was no outside dining provided during the winter, but the smiling innkeeper seated Colling and Elizabeth at a table next to a window overlooking the deserted terrace. When Colling spoke to the man in German and indicated that he would be paying with American dollars, not Military Marks, his face brightened even more. Colling asked Elizabeth, and she agreed that the choice of food should be left to the proprietor. After bringing them each a stein of beer, his wife and teen-aged daughters started by serving them hot potato-vegetable soup, followed by thick Bratwursten with red cabbage and boiled potatoes. The innkeeper apologized when he brought a tall bottle of Riesling, explaining that his wine cellar was much depleted by the war. That apology was followed by a second, that the lack of sugar and coffee meant that there would be no proper conclusion to the meal. The combination of beer and wine that he had consumed led Colling to suggest that he might bring both missing commodities on their next visit. He asked the proprietor for his name and was told that it was Schuler.

As it turned out, over the following weeks, Colling did bring several pounds of sugar and several of coffee to Herr Schuler at the Weisse Hirsch. Lunch on Friday became a routine for Colling and Elizabeth throughout February, and their return to Kummersfeld and Grabensheim came later with each passing week.

When not driving Elizabeth, Colling found himself kept very busy. There was less time required to oversee the Battalion clerk responsibilities, and the men assigned to the PX required little of his time, but his duties as a medic seemed to grow. He seldom had time to attend movies on Saturday evenings with his friends from the Battalion. And aside from their time together in the jeep and Friday lunch, he did not see Elizabeth. Whenever he started to imagine how she must be spending her weekends, he deliberately put such thoughts out of his mind.

Colling maintained his contacts with the German community. Once when calling on Zinsmann concerning some plumbing repair work that was needed at the kaserne, he found that the German’s apartment at 8 Trebensallee had been refurbished and filled with new furniture. He concluded that the builder was doing well. For the first time, Zinsmann introduced him to a woman whom he said was his wife, and to three young children who were playing on the apartment’s living room floor. Colling had his doubts about Zinsmann’s description of the relationship, since the youngest of the children addressed him as “Onkel Klaus” during the visit.

Colling also continued to visit Frau Bergheim, taking her coffee and sugar and what news of her sons as he was able to obtain through Ferguson’s contacts in Munich. Despite the firmly-held and frequently-stated beliefs of his fellow soldiers, the relationship with the farmer’s widow was devoid of any romantic or sexual interest.

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