My Six War Years - June 26 1940 - June 26 1946
By John F. Osborne As Told To Mary S. Osborne
I was next transferred to another country village where I was billeted in a barn with some other soldiers. My bunk was the upper of two, next to a coal burning stove, and the chimney was close to my bunk. There must have been a leak in the chimney because one morning I awoke in hospital. I evidently had carbon monoxide poisoning, as there was a tent of some kind over me. I don’t remember much about it or how long I was in hospital.
After coming out of hospital I was sent to UNRRA, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, in charge of displaced persons. I was in a small village near one of the German seaports with a small group of soldiers. There were four truck drivers, a mechanic, a clerk in the office, a cook, and an army major in charge.
We lived in a house on the first street in the village. The mechanic was a displaced person, an Albanian, and as we shared a room I got to know him quite well. Our job was to look after the people in a Polish D. P. (Displaced Persons) camp. The drivers picked up supplies and clothing brought by ship from the U.S.A. to be given to these D.P.s.
What was I to do there? I couldn't drive, so I accompanied the drivers to learn. After a while, the Major took me for a test drive, I was driving a British Army truck with right hand steering and the gearshift lever in back of me. The autobahns were pretty scary with no speed limit, the truck had no signal lights, and you drove on the right side of the road, unlike England. I had not learned the hand signals, so how did I signal to turn left? On the way back to the village I was driving along a road with a narrow bridge. We had to cross the bridge, which wasn't much wider than the truck, so with inches to spare I drove through without slowing down. I think the Major was scared and the drivers thought it was very funny when they heard about it. They all had a good laugh but I failed the test and the Major did not take me for another test drive- I think our drive aged him ten years.
I stayed there until I was demobilized and sent home on June 26th, 1946. I had spent six years to the day traveling around the world, but never understood why I was sent to Germany. I did not fit in with army life as I had spent so much time on the ocean without officers or supervision, just doing a necessary and dangerous job.