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US Army Air Force and Manteuffel Kaserne

Although the US Army ground forces passed quickly through Bad Kissingen in the closing days of the war, the first Allied units to move into Manteuffel Kaserne on a semi permanent basis were Army Air Force Units, the Headquarters of the XII Tactical Air Command occupied one side of the barracks, the subordinate, Headquarters of the 64th Fighter Wing, occupied the other half.  Although the troops lived in the former German barracks, the staff operations were located  in the city, by the park area.

Mr. Bill McCaskill of Victoria, Texas was assigned to the 64th shortly after the war and graciously recalled the period with great detail and wonderful photos. We are also indebted to Mr. Jim Culberson for photos and scans related to the period from his collection. His publishing house and photo collection is at : http://www.grafixnpix.com

Bill McCaskill:

I was assigned to the Headquarters of the 64th Fighter Wing as a clerk located at the old German barracks in Bad Kissingen from February 1946 - May 1947 . I think we called it Leopold Kaserne but if you say it was Manteuffel, maybe so! The war was over but many units remained in Germany for a number of reasons. My unit had been in Bad Kissingen for a few months before I arrived and, although some replacements came in, many more solders were going home.

My first job was as a mail clerk and I took the place of a few sergeants and other guys who had already left. Soon, I was handling the US mail, the files and distribution for the command and, before I left, the Secret Documents. We worked down the hill in the town. Our headquarters had a building and further down the road, the XII Tac Air had another building so, as the paperwork, files and reports went back and forth, so did I! All of this was right by the little river in the park area. (apparently Luitpold Park)

Seeing so much paper had a lot of advantages; when a report came in that surplus Army jeeps were being liquidated for $200 at a Frankfurt Depot, I made sure I had my money and trip ticket ready to go before THAT notice was posted. I bought a jeep with only 8 miles on it, had a local German fashion a roof and was off to the races. It sure beat the duty bus or walking all the time. Gas was a problem so I just used it in town but it was a great memory.

I spent so much time with the staff sections of both the 64th and the Xll Tac I came to know many of the officers, I recall the Xll had a general I’d see on occasion; I knew our commander, Col. Henry W. Dorr and the Chief of Staff, Col. Riddle from Texas. One day, I went with Colonel Dorr to see the Nuremberg war trials. I would sometimes drive for him but often, he wanted to drive so .... I was the passenger.  He would attend his meetings and I would guard the car.

As I recall, the barracks was in pretty good shape; it had a roof and heat which was more than you could say for a lot of Germany! We ate in the old German mess hall and although I am sure I did my share of guard duty, fire watch, floor cleaning and kitchen duty, I recall it now as a great time. Living in the other barracks buildings were the men of the Xll Tac Air, an Army Air Force communication unit, a transportation unit and, near the end of my stay, Constabulary troops who no one liked because of all the rules they enforced. My room was just up the stairs on the first floor (HHT / Squadron Staff area), you went past the telephone exchange room and I had a big place I shared with only two other guys.

I think like all soldiers, I wanted something interesting to do during the day, something good to eat and activities at night. This all happened while I was there. In town was a USO center that was open every day and you could read, play cards and games and find other activities. There were American women there as employees and one of them was my regular bridge partner. Very near by was the " Town and Country Club ". This was the enlisted soldier’s club for all of us in Bad Kissingen. It was located in a very formal German building by the river and they had all sorts of entertainment to include traveling bands and special Holiday Shows. And then ... we had our "own" club ...

It was built before I got there, but up in the attic, on the forth floor of our barracks was the "Hey ... Hey! Hi Ho! The Goose Hangs Lo " club. We had a big banner over a professional bar that had been "liberate" from somewhere. I have no idea after 55 years what significance the banner had ... we thought it was funny. Sergeant Major Jahnke was in charge of it and we even had a German bar tender. It was only for the enlisted men of the 64th and the liquor came from the Officer’s Club. They over requisitioned to stock our bar and we were never lacking! The bar had a piano and a record player ... we decorated the area during the holidays.

Bad Kissingen was very beautiful and had been spared any serious destruction in the war. I recall that the railway station was being re-built, it had been hit by a stray bomb when the air crews used Bad Kissingen as the "turning point" following the attacks on Schweinfurt. The people were surprisingly friendly and although we were not supposed to "fraternize", most of us did and had no problems. I loved to play golf and my parents sent me a few sleeves of unused pre war golf balls. I traded these to the pro at the local golf club for lessons and the chance to play and he thought it was great. I spent many afternoons playing on the course down by the river valley and remember some of the lessons to this day! I also played on the basketball team and traveled on some weekends as far as Berlin. I was always amazed at the level of destruction and returning to Bad Kissingen was like returning to another country.

What  money we had, went a long way plus we had cigarettes and other things to trade as needed. First we used old German marks, but then that was forbidden so we used the Army printed ‘script‘ money but the French started a counterfeit operation so all the old script was turned in ... then we received "red stripe scrip " with red threads built into the paper. This made counterfeiting almost impossible. So, to get a local meal or beer was easy enough as the town tried to get things running again. Certain restaurants were designated as OK for troops to use and they did a good business.

The only time I saw long faces was when we tried to "date" German girls and the former soldiers who were drifting back to town gave us dirty looks. This was the only time I ever saw anyone not happy with us.

When I received orders to return to the USA, the rumors were flying that the 64th would soon be leaving Germany. I learned later that they moved to Newfoundland in Canada not too long after I left. At some point, the XII Air Command moved on also.

After returning to the USA, I took some college courses and then into the Air Force jet pilot training program. I washed out at the last "cut" and was offered the chance to go to Navigator and Bombardier School or resign. At that point, my career in commercial radio began!

I graduated from the University of Houston in 1950 and spent my working years in commercial AM and FM radio first in Houston and then in Victoria, Texas. I was both an on air personality and worked behind the scenes, I also worked as a teacher in the Texas school system and now, long retired, still run a miniature golf course. Married for 48 years, I enjoy my children and grandchildren immensely.


Red Cross girls who ran the USO in Bad
Kissingen. Ann, in front, was a ferry pilot
and my bridge partner.

 


Here we are on the fourth floor, the attic, our
own squadron enlisted man's club, the "Hi Ho!". Sergeant Major Jahnke made it all work, to
 include a professional bar with running water
and a beer tap!

 


Here is Julius, our German bartender. He had
the run of the place and would bring beer
to our barracks rooms on occasion. Sergeant
Major took care of his pay.

 


New Years Party 1947 in the Hi Ho Club, from left:
PFC Spesk, Corporals Riley, McCaskill and
White, Sgt Key. In front, Sgt Algis and Sergeant
Major Jahnke.


Here is the Town and Country Club, the
enlisted man's club for all the troops in
Bad Kissingen. It was close to where we
worked, in the Luitpold Park area. A very
nice setting as we get ready for a
Christmas party 1947.
 
Looking back in the other direction in the
Town and Country Club. They are set up
for a traveling band at the party; the bar area
was in the middle of the room.

 Here I am, Bill " Rascal " McCaskill as a
corporal in 1947 at Bad Kissingen, ready
for another day of adventures. Fifty -
five years later, I am still a Rascal and
still having adventures!

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