Arnold E. Harjehausen

MEMOIRS OF .................


with the 125th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mecz) in World War II




The Commander of Fort Hamilton planned a "New Years Eve Party" for us. About eleven o'clock that night, we put on our winter clothing, field pack, weapons and carried our duffel bag, then loaded into the back of a Truck, Cargo 2 Ton, 6x6.  They took use to the awaiting tugboat on the Hudson River. It was a black, cold, windy and snowy night. They loaded as many of us could stand on the deck, and down the river we went for about an hours ride. Finally, we pulled along side a wharf and unloaded at the Brooklyn Military Ocean Terminal. We walked down a long corridor toward a light and some Red Cross workers met us with coffee and doughnuts, which tasted good. From there, we could see the entrance to a huge ship, The Queen Elizabeth. As you entered the ship, they checked you off the list, and gave you a card with your room assignment and eating times. My room was M-81 and I was assigned to Officers' Dinning Room "R" Deck Aft, Third Sitting, and Table 69. Breakfast was at 9:30 AM dinner at 7:00 PM.  The ships crew was English, so we had a lot of fish, a different type of menu than we were used to. 


The next day, we started down the Hudson River and out to sea. We cold see the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline disappear. The Ile de France had had engine trouble and had to return to port for repairs. They loaded all their troops onto the Queen Elisabeth. This made a total of about 20.000 troops. There wasn't enough sleeping room available so one battalion slept on deck one night and then they would rotate with another battalion. The troops on board consisted of Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, and British. Many of the British talked about moving to New Zealand when the war was over.  


The Queen Elisabeth did not sail in convoy because she was fast enough to outrun the German submarines. When we were South of Iceland, a lone U.S. Army Air Force bomber flew over us to let us know that we not out there all by ourselves.  One night, as we were getting ready to go to bed, they announced that they were sealing all the watertight doors as a precautionary measure. The next morning when we went up on deck, the weather was balmy and warm as springtime. The crew told us that three German submarines had us hemmed in so the ship's Captain decided to make a run for the Azores. The ship then proceeded North to Glasgow, Scotland. As we entered the port area, an English Colonel came on board and welcomed us to the British Isles and gave us a letter written by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, telling us what a great adventure we were about to embark on. 


At Glasgow, we loaded onto a troop train and headed south, through the center of England. We could see the destruction that the bombings had caused the cities, especially Birmingham. About midnight, the train stopped and someone came through calling for Shafer and Harjehausen, so I replied, "here we are".  He told us that we were to get of the train. We asked why? He didn't know, but those were his instructions. They took us to a Quonset hut where we spent the night. The next morning we ate breakfast and an officer took us to Hq. VIII U.S. Army Corps at Bristol England. When we walked in we saw Colonel William G. Eldridge from Oskaloosa, Iowa and formerly of Troop E, 113th Cavalry. He had seen our names on the shipping roosters and wanted to talk to us so he had us pulled off the train. He said that we had plenty of time to get ready for the arrival of the regiment and that they would send a truck company to help us.


While we were waiting to move out, Major Shafer and I were wandering down a hall in VIII Corps Headquarters when we came to a room with maps on all the walls and the ceiling. It looked pretty interesting to us, so we walked in and starting looking around. Not long after that an officer came in and asked us what we were doing. We told him that we were looking at the maps. He said, "Let me see you Bigot card." We told him we didn't have one, and then he asked us how we'd gotten in the room. We told him that we just walked in, and he then told us to get out and proceeded to "chew out" the guard for letting us in.


After spending a few day's in Bristol, we boarded a train for Camp Lobscombe and starting making arrangements for the arrival of the regiment. We signed for the buildings, beds, kitchens, and drew rations.


Chapter 3



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