By Wade Jones

Stars and Stripes Staff Writer

From the April 26, 1945 Edition of Stars and Stripes

WITH 83rd INFANTRY DIVISION EAST OF ELBE. April 25 (Delayed).—“American friends! American friends!” were the first words spoken by Russian tankers as communication between Red Army forces southwest of Berlin and U.S. Ninth Army troops on the east bank of the Elbe was established yesterday.

83rd infantry division

Insignia of the 83rd Infantry Division

Russian Lt. Theo Prissjuschnjun, recently liberated from a German prison camp, was speaking by radio to west-driving Russian tankmen only a few miles away when he received the message.

Visibly unnerved and weakened by two years of Nazi imprisonment, he stammered out in reply: “This is the American 83rd Div., this is the American 83rd Div.”

For 27 hours the Russian-liaison officer had sat by the field radio outside of the 329th Regt. CP calling hoarsely to the Russian forces known to be advancing toward the bridgehead across the Elbe, apparently the closest to the Red Army west of Berlin.

When Col. Edwin B. Crabill, of Galak, Va., speaking through the Russian officer interpreter, asked the Soviets whether they could meet us in the town of—at a certain time today the answer was:

“That town is held by the Germans. We are still fighting a war you know, and will have to fight our way to it.”

The interpreter grinned and said “They are kidding us a little—but they are very excited and happy about talking to us.”

Then, the interpreter said he could hear the radioman in the tank tell nearby tanks to keep off the frequency he was using.

“I’ve got Americans here and I’m going to talk to them,” the tankman said. “You other tanks keep off the air.”

The Russian tankman asked for the number of the American outfit he was talking to and the name of its commander. The reply went back:

The 83rd Div. commanded by Maj. Gen. Robert Macon, of Washington, D.C.”

Tanker Relays Information

Over the radio we could hear the tankman relaying the information back to a higher headquarters.

The Russian interpreter here gave our location and asked for the Russian tankers location and the name if his divisional commander. He was informed that a clearance for this information would have to be obtained from headquarters, but that shouldn’t take long. It took a little longer than was expected, for no reply had been received as of last midnight.  

elbe linkup wwii soldier russian american

A Russian tanker embraces and American Soldier after linking up at the Elbe River.

For Further Reading Check Out:

Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945

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