May 10, 2018

A Return to the Battlefield: An Ex-GI Took His New Wife on a Honeymoon Tour of War-Ravaged Europe, Where He Fought in World War II

In April 1947, ex-GI Ernest Kreiling, took his new bride, Jean Vonachen, on a honeymoon tour of war-ravaged Europe, including the battlefields in France, Belgium and Germany on which he'd fought in 1944 and 1945. LIFE photographer Anthony Linck followed the couple as they retraced his steps as a soldier. It's a powerful reminder of the devastation that remained two years after the end of World War II.

Ernest Kreiling served from 1941 until 1945 and was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery in action. Ernest and Jean met in junior high school in Peoria, Illinois and remained married until Ernest's death in 2008.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling tours battlefields with his bride by bike.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling looking over a cemetery with his bride.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling and his bride talking with a French farmer during their tour of battlefields.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling teaching his bride how he washed in socks in stream during the war.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling and his bride visiting with French family he met during WW II.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling and his bride visiting the grave of his best friend.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling showing his bride the hayloft where he spent Thanksgiving 1944.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling walking on platform of train station with his bride.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling and his bride looking at a wrecked jeep during tour of battlefields.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling and his bride touring battlefield where he took his first prisoner during WW II.

Ex-Sgt. Ernie Kreiling gets helmet put on his head by his laughing wife in the foxhole where he first heard an enemy shell during their vacation tour of battlefields were he fought during WWII in North country.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling and his bride riding bicycles past German grave.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling and his bride talking with elderly Frenchman.

Former GI Ernest Kreiling and his bride overlooking valley where he fought during WW II.






























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