FRANCE — When American soldiers on furlough along the French Riviera, one of the world's most expensive and exclusive vacation spots, heard last night that the war in Europe was over, they had one reaction: “Good! When do we get out of this hole and go home?"
In Nice, the Red Cross club posted a large red-lettered sign over its situation map which read simply: "The war in Europe is over."
Soldiers who read it, who heard the announcement over the BBC or who got the news second-hand from a usually reliable friend, were happy but generally undemonstrative. There was very little dancing or hugging by frontline soldiers in the area. They quietly talked over what it meant among themselves.
At MP headquarters the sergeant on the desk, Julius Lavrentiev of Perth Amboy. N.J., said, "We're going to lock this place up tonight and let 'em tear the town down. That's what we'd like to do anyway."
Capt. William Vezzell, of New York, the MP detachment commander in Nice, had a different idea, however.
"We are pulling in all our mess off on pass tonight the guard around town," the captain said. Most of the MPs at the station didn't expect much trouble.
"They can't get any drunker than usual." they said.
A crowd of soldiers and French civilians at the Place Massena watched two 105-mm. guns fire a 21-gun salute into the Mediterranean.
Pfc Albert W. Leonard, of Kalamazoo, Mich., perched himself on a marble statue of a nude woman in the garden where the guns were set up and waited for the salute.
"I gotta leave on the six o'clock train," Leonard said. "I got 26 dollars in my pocket and I'm going to wait until they fire these damn things and then get drunk on my 26 dollars before the train leaves."
Hopes for Trip to U.S."All I hope." said Pvt. Phillip De Lucas, of Chicago "is that they give us a furlough home before they send us to the Pacific. A month at home would sure make it easier to take."
De Lucas fought with the Fifth Inf. Div. and spent six weeks in the hospital after being wounded at Metz.
With the Nazi capitulation, Americans were thinking about what should be done with Germans.
"I say fix them so they never pick up a rifle again. Better brains than mine have to figure what to do though." said Pfc Tom Murphy, of New York, an 80th Div. soldier. "Even when these German prisoners walk down the street here they walk in perfect step. What can you do with people like that?"
This article appears as it did in the print edition of Stars and Stripes.