WITH KONIEV’S UKRAINIAN ARMY — There was a mad scene of jubilant celebration on the east, and west banks of the Elbe at Torgau today, as infantrymen of Lt. Gen. Courtney Hodges' First Army swapped K-rations for vodka with soldiers of Marshal Koniev's First Ukrainian Army and congratulated each other, despite the language barrier, on the link-up.

Men of the 69th Inf. Div. sat on the banks of the Elbe in warm sunshine with no enemy in front or behind them and drank wine, cognac and vodka while they watched their new Russian friends and listened to them as they played accordions and sang Russian songs.

Russian soldiers, strong and young looking, built a little heavier and shorter than most Americans, inspected American equipment and Americans took the chance to fire the Russian automatic rifle. When the day was over many a U. S. soldier walked back to his jeep in Russian boots while the Russian soldier, he traded with, fought with the straps on his newly acquired GI shoes.

Wears High BootsThe Russian uniform consists of high fitted leather boots. His pants are built like riding breeches of a light cotton material. His blouse is a tunic that buttons to the neck and the cap is an overseas cap spread farther apart at the top than the American one.

If today was not an extraordinary day in the lives of most Russians along the Elbe at Torgau then Russian soldiers are the most carefree bunch of screwballs that ever came together in an army. They would be best described as exactly like Americans only twice as much.

This article appears as it did in the print edition of Stars and Stripes.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now