ERNST ENQUIRER story
June 30, 1945
The 23rd Hq Sp Trs has probably been associated with more Armies and been to more places than any other unit aboard ship. Some of its members landed on D-Day with the First Army. Later, part of the command participated in the Brittany campaign with the Third Army. When Field Marshall Montgomery crossed the Rhine in March, the 23rd was attached to the Ninth Army. Finally, when the war was practically over, this versatile outfit took charge of 100,000 milling Displaced Persons for the Fifteenth Army.
The itinerary of the 23rd sounds like a roll call of famous place names, although modest members of this unit will be the first to admit that they were not entirely responsible for publicizing those once-quiet little towns. They watched the liberation of Cherbourg, drove thru the rubble of St. Lo, could have been cut off by the German counter-attack at Mortain, helped put the squeeze on Von Ramcke at Brest, took the cheers and kisses of frenzied Parisiens, were second into Luxembourg after the 5th Armored Division, shared the cold snows south of Bastogne with the 4th Armored Division (but don’t let a 23rder tell you he relieved the 101st Airborne!), hung around the dreary Saarland with XX Corps, gaped as the 17th A/B flew over to secure a bridgehead on the lower Rhine. One detachment got as far as Pollwitz, a few miles from Czechoslovakia.
Almost any man in this peripatetic unit can toast in six different languages, and talk knowingly of the ETO campaign from the beaches to the Elbe.
Naturally, there have been some exciting moments. For instance, last summer one column was temporarily mislaid near Lorient; or when on 16 Dec the cooks and KPs of the 4th Infantry Division held the Germans just east of Luxembourg’s 23rd Hq; or when the Displaced Persons rioted at Trier because one nationality thought another nationality was borrowing its water while actually stealing its women.
After a month or so mouthing such sweet place names as Boston, New York, Denver, Phoenix and Kalamazoo, the 23rd Hq Sp Trps will possibly down a series of Oriental sourballs including Chofu, Uchidonari, Tomigusuku, Hakonegasaki and Fuchu. Igala desu ka!
Capt Ed Cowardin, the Old Codger from Virginia, got up early in the morning of 2 July to check the outer buoys of Hampton Roads. The GENERAL O.H. ERNST slid by them easily and heaved to for a while off Fortress Monroe. The U.S. shoreline looked like something one could eat. All of the buildings were clean and whole. There were shiny cars on the highways. The harbor did not wear bunting or toot a welcome but we could feel the celebration in our hearts.