January 9, 1919 – What about this little town on the Rhine?

The 301st Engineers had come to the end of their march from Flirey on December 18 when they arrived in the town of Brohl, Germany.  What can we learn about this little German town on the Rhine?

1919.01.09

“The town of Brohl (present day Brohl-Lutzing) stretches along the west bank of the Rhine on the Coblenz-Cologne highway at the junction of the Brohl River.  The almost perpendicular sides of the hills to the north and south slope almost to the river-bank, elongating the plan of the town to a thin line, excepting where the Brohl Valley allows it to extend back three or four hundred yards between the hills.  Under normal conditions the civil population is rated at about seven hundred people, but, like all other German towns, the generous supply of Gasthausen and Wirtschaften (hotels) provided a great and more flexible billeting space than would be available in an American village of the same population.

“Unlike the country both farther up and down the Rhine, the river at this point is comparable with the picturesque regions of Saint-Goar and Boppard, for here the level, delta-like stretches that surround Coblenz are again the hills and vineyards which have become so famous for their beauty.  While not unpleasing, the town itself did not quite live up to the standards of the natural setting.  The brick-paved streets are narrow and winding, and with few exceptions the two-story brick buildings set too close to permit a sidewalk, but it has not the quaintness which the old German architecture has given to some of the older and more historic villages.  This, however, becomes an asset rather than a loss, in so far as living conditions are concerned, for adequate running water and sewerage, together with gas and electricity, are rather more to be desired by troops than the discomforts which almost invariably accompany the picturesque.  On the edge of town are several very pleasant residences, and fairly well up the north slope of the Brohl Valley is the rather imposing old castle, Schloss Brohlbeck, built in 1809, which is now being used as a boys’ private school and which adds greatly to the appearance of the setting as a whole.”

– The Three Hundred and First Engineers – A History 1917-1919

Despite the aforementioned large number of hotels and guest houses…..

“The task of billeting was not an easy one, for instead of merely resting for the night, this was to become the permanent station, and the comfort and efficiency of the organization depended much upon the arrangement of the different units.  Such information as could be given by the town officials was incomplete and so inaccurate as to be almost useless; it was therefore necessary to start at once with a house-to-house canvass.  On the whole the population were not unfriendly and no great trouble was experienced in making the adjustments during the next few days, but the majority of the men were forced to sleep on the floor until the time when the supplies and material necessary to build bunks could be secured.  Company “A” was placed in the north central part (of the town).”

– The Three Hundred and First Engineers – A History 1917-1919

 

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