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Brightwood Boys, The History of the Men from the North End of
Springfield, Massachusetts, During World War II
by Christopher P. Montagna

The Beginning Of The End


On April 21, Adam Montagna departed Sampson for Lido Beach.  Adam was discharged at the Receiving Barracks, Naval Training Center, Lido Beach, Long Island, NY on April 26, 1945.


On May 1, 1945, the headlines in the Springfield Daily News declared, “Hitler Dead, Nazi Radio Announces”.   While the family back in Springfield read the news proclaiming of Hitler’s death, which occurred in a bunker under Berlin on April 30th, Joe Montagna and the members of the 277th Combat Engineer Battalion were crossing the Elbe River.  The shells were flying as they crossed the river in pontoon boats.  After crossing into Darchau the men quickly dug foxholes.  As night fell shelling aimed at the bridge continued until the German artillery piece was disposed of by allied artillery. 


277th Combat Engineers with captured German flagAt three o’clock am on the morning of May 2, the chow truck came rolling over the bridge bearing powdered eggs and coffee like mud.  As the men ate their morning chow, infantrymen came marching along.  After breakfast the unit began the twelve-mile march back to Bleckede.  Later that day, the 277th moved to Neuhaus in support of the 7th Armored Division.  Because of the disintegration of the German army original plans were changed and the companies were assigned maintenance of the division main supply lines.  Large numbers of unguarded German Prisoners of War caused considerable difficulty in the movement of military traffic.  Steps were taken by division troops to clear the roads of Germans.  From this point the 277th was involved in clearing abandoned vehicles, designation POW evacuations routes and general training.