One hundred years ago this week, the first week of May, 1919, Company A left Coblenz and returned to Brohl. They were tired and ready to go home. There were plenty of rumors that they’d be shipping out soon but none were coming true. But it wouldn’t be long before they were making their way back to America.
During my recent visit to the Rhineland, I was able to spend an afternoon in Brohl (now Brohl-Lutzing). All the descriptions of the town from 100 years ago painted a pretty dull picture. There just wasn’t much going on there. My visit proved there still isn’t much activity. But many of the old buildings remain, the streets are still narrow and winding.
In Brohl-Lutzing I was able to again walk in Jay’s footsteps. We (Peter Wever and I) found several of the locations that had been captured in photos from 1919. Several of them are posted here (some have already been shown in previous posts).
Immediately as we drove into town, we noticed the building that had housed the Regimental Headquarters. We wandered around a bit and made our way to that building, now a nice looking antique shop. Across the street was the only business (other than the gas station) that was open in town, a small coffee shop. We (ok, Peter) chatted with her (in German) and told the story of how Jay had been there 100 years before and that the building outside her window had been the HQ. She was a lovely lady and happy to hear the story. I left the print of the 1919 building with her. Not much seems to happen in that sleepy little town but I have no doubt everyone knows that the grandson of one of those Americans from 100 years ago had stopped by.
“The sixth month on the Rhine. Though the desire to go home was as keen as ever, there were some compensating features in remaining on the Rhine. The weather was ideal; the sun’s rays first grazed the ridges surrounding the bowl in which the town was built and descended upon the gray-green waters of the great river, outlining the cliffs on the opposite shore. The spring foliage changed the brown winter landscape to green, the blossoms of the magnolia and horse-chestnut filling the air with their fragrance. In the yards of some of the humblest homes were large masses of lilac.
“In such weather baseball was at its best and the field on the river claimed a large daily attendance. The new large Y.M.C.A. auditorium afforded opportunity for the presentation of really good shows and movies.
“Daily association with the townspeople, even though they were an enemy people and the provisions against “fraternization” notwithstanding, could not but result in friendly relations, and in all fairness it cannot but be said that the treatment accorded the regiment art the hands of the people of Brohl was excellent – whether with ulterior motive or not.”
– The Three Hundred and First Engineers – A History 1917-1919
More photos from 1919 and 2019: