COTTAGE GROVE, Oregon
My Eighteenth Birthday was on November 25, 1942
When I got home from school, my mother said Did you stop at the draft board office and sign in.? I had not so I went down to the draft board office and signed my name. A Month or so after that date I received a bunch of papers from the Draft Board. I waited until the last date to fill out the papers. Then, in a hurry, I looked over the papers, and signed every place it said sign here. I then mailed the papers back to the draft board.
It was not long after that when I got a bunch of papers to fill out explaining why I was a conscientious objector. I stopped into the draft office in Eugene and asked Why did I get all these papers on being a conscientious objector? They showed me the papers where I signed that I was a conscientious objector. I told them that every place it said sign here, so I signed. They had me cross out every place I signed, that I should not have...
In March I received notice that I was to be drafted. I told the draft board that I would be out of high school until June. One of the draft board members said that I should be deferred to the June draft roll. Then that person said to put all high school seniors on June draft call.
In middle of June a bus came and took all the seniors in my high school class that was eighteen or older to Portland, Oregon. All of us were given a physical and everyone passed expect two. One had very poor eye sight, and one had a crippled arm.
After the physical we were taken to a large room with all the others that took the physical that day and we held up our right hand and were given the oath. Then they said YOU ARE IN THE ARMY NOW. They said Two weeks at home to close out anything, and report to the train station on July 2.
They lined all of us up and there were two Nurses on each side of the line. Each has a needle and gave each man an injection in both arms. A man in line about five or six men in front of me was getting his injection and fainted. Then the man right behind him also fainted. I felt a little uneasy but got my injections and went on to the buses to take us home.
FORT LEWIS, WASHINGTON
The two week went fast and my folks took me to Eugene and I got on the train to Fort Lewis, Washington. We got off the train in Fort Lewis, and were marched to the supply room and issued Army Uniforms.
The first night when the bugler was blowing taps, I was thinking one phase of my life had ended and I wondered what the future was to bring.
The next morning after roll call, they said that orders were cut for everyone, and we should check the posted orders for where we were to go.
I found my name and it said report to the train station and go to Camp Callahan, California. This was the first long train ride for me.
After the train crossed the mountains from Eugene going south, I saw Mt. Shasta in the far distance. I kept watching Mt. Shasta for a long time, until we passed it and then I could look back and still see it for a long time.
CAMP CALLANHAN, CALIFORNIA Our lapel pin was the Torrez Pine.
Camp Callahan was just north of LaJolla which was just north of San Diego, California. They lined us up at the train station in San Diego, and as they called our names, we were assigned to a truck to take us to the camp.
I remember some of the interest things that happened when I was at Camp Callahan.
I arrived at the barracks as the training battalion was filled out to start the training. Everyone was green in the barracks and it was the first time away from home for most, so it was only natural to set the pecking order. I can not recall making any friend there, as it seemed everyone kept their distance from me. The reason for that was because the barrack bully short sheeted my bunk one night and that made me tell him to keep his hands off my items. Well, to show that he could do anything he wanted to do, he walked up to me and hit me in the nose. My nose never liked to be hit and it started to bleed very much.
The barracks bully was much bigger than me, he was more than 6 foot, and I was 5 foot 8 ½ inches. He was very strong and had a lot of muscle. I do not know how to fight fair with someone bigger than me, so I reached around and pulled out my bayonet. Our bayonets were one of the WWI type; about 24 inches long. I used both hands and hit the bully with the flat side of the bayonet to the side of his head. Well, this did him no good, and he fell to his hands and knees. I stepped over him and sat on his back and put the death hold on his neck. My nose was putting out a good amount of blood, and the blood was running down over his head. When he passed out I let go of him and he fell to the floor in a pool of my blood. My blood was running down my arm and down the bayonet and dropping off the end of the bayonet.
Someone had called the barracks sergeant, and he came running, and when he saw the guy laying on the floor in a pool of blood, he called an ambulance and called for the M.P.s. He almost had a heart attack right there.
The ambulance took the bully to the hospital, and the doctors wasted no time taking his shirt and under shirt off; they just cut them off. Anyone that had lost that much blood was in trouble and they wanted to get the bleeding stopped. Well, after inspection they could not find where the blood was coming from. They washed him down and put him in bed to watch over him. They woke him up every haft hour and checked him out. In the morning they sent back to the battalion.
By the time the MPs got to the barracks I was in the head at the large wash basin trying to get my nose to stop bleeding. The M.P.s made every one else get out of the head, except for them and me. They ask me what happen, and I told them. Both of the M.P.s laughed when I was done. Then when I got my nose to stop bleeding they left.
Next morning I and that guy were before the captain in what is called a summary court marshal. The captain said that he would not allow any fighting to go on among the soldiers. He also said he would make us sleep together if that is what it would take to make us friends. Well, I explained that if that guy got with in arms length of me, I would kill him. Ever time I said I would kill him, he moved farther and farther away from me. The capital did not like me to say I would kill him so it was 30 days confined to barrack except when with the company in training.
The bully never came within arms length of me for the rest of the time I was at the camp.
The training was on 40 mm anti aircraft single barrel, and 50 caliber anti-aircraft machine gun.
The routine was much the same except for a few times that I remember. After we learned about the gun we took turns on the different positions, and when we were assigned specific positions, I ended up as the gunner on my gun. We took turns taking our guns out and setting them up on the cliffs north of San Diego at night to guard against incoming Jap planes. For this we got the American Defense Ribbon.
My gun was very good at hitting the targets towed between aircraft. I followed the book on lining the incoming target on the edge of the large rear site and headed to the small site on the front end of the barrel, then start firing at that moment. Most of the other gunner would not start firing until the target was lined up with the rear and front site, then of course the target was also in front of the shells; To lead a moving target the rear site was to be used to know when to start firing. The rings on the rear site was to line the target as the faster the target was moving the outside circles were to be used to get the proper lead on the target.
One day when we were on in the practice range for the 40s, a black twin boom aircraft came over. It was much larger than a P-38, and did not have the clean lines of a P-61 (Black widow). I called out that was a German Night Fighter. The sergeant really had a day of belitteling me, and kept it up until we got back to the barracks. The next morning after roll call, the captain ask if anyone realized the German Night Fighter that flew over yesterday. I held up my hand, and the sergeant just looked at me as if to say you think you are smart.
I studied the pictures of all the airplanes, ours, Germany, and the Japs. The only ones that I had trouble with was the US bomber B-26 and the Jap Betty bomber. A close look was needed to tell the difference between these two.
Basic training includes a twenty-five mile march in one day. Then jump into the ocean from a pier. Of course, when this is said, I do have to remember the second louie, when he said to take both hand and grab the life jackets at the top and step off the pier. That he did and after he hit the water (about 30 feet down) both his hands came up and he ended up with two black eyes, and also he was washed into the pier pilling. The sergeant said now that you know what not to due, you will take notice more closely. First pull you arms together out in front of your face with you hands pointed up. Next test the wind and jump off a ship, and in this case a pier, on the lee side and you will float away from the ship or pier.
On the mornings when we had our 40s set up on the ocean cliffs, when the sun came up, on a clear day, we could see the Catalina inlands that are off the coast from Los Angles.
In the mornings three P-38s would fly as close as they could to the ocean waves. One morning one of the planes dipped a wing into the ocean and it went in. It did not take long for a bunch of boats to show up where the plane went in. We had to pickup our gun and go back to the barracks, and never did find out if the pilot got out.
Of course, army basic training would not be fulfilled unless there was the desert training. Toward the end of our training we pulled our 40s over the mountains from San Diego, to the desert. The first time I had ever been in a real desert. During the day the sun was so hot you could not touch any metal with out getting your hands burned. At night the water would freeze. One day a unit across the flat was firing their machine guns at a target pulled by an airplane, and the spent bullets were coming down on our position like metal rain.
Then the day came and we were told basic training is now over. They had us take a test. I did not understand half the words on the test, but the answers were to be marked in dots. There were five answers and only the right answer was to be marked. I just marked the one that looked the best not knowing what was what.
I was called into conference and was told that my IQ test that I scored 128 and was in the top five percent therefore I was qualified to go to OCS (Officer Training School). I was told that they needed Officers. I said that I understood that officers did not last long on the front lines. Did they have anything else to select from. Yes, we can give you sergeant rating and you would ship out as a 40mm gunner. I ask where and they said Dutch Harbor. Well I had read the newspaper about the Japs bombing Dutch Harbor. The only city in the United States that the Japs bombed. Also, I understood that it was cold there. After going though the list I was ask if I would like to go to college. I said yes because they dont shoot at you in college.
COMPTON JOUNIER COLLEGE, COMPTON, CALIFORNIA
A truck came and took me and a few others to Compton. We were to have a refresher courses before being assigned to a college for ASTP. (Army Specially Training Program).
I was not a good student in high school, but I did make it through. These courses were way over my head and I wondered if I had made a wrong choice to come.
The Gym was used as barracks and the army cots were stacked three high. There were about 200 soldiers at Compton at that time.
In the morning our drill was on in the football field. The morning sun would shine on Signal Hill by Long Beach. The oil wells were close together and looked like a death forest of trees.
One weekend, some others and I went to San Padro for a beer. There was a copy blackout, because this was the harbor for Los Angles. To get around in complete darkest was not easy, but I did find a beer hall and had our beer before returning to Compton.
The street cars ran in front of our building and we took the street cars to down-town Los Angeles. Los Angles central park was not a place a person would want to go by their selves. We always went with five or six.
Time came when we would be leaving for our college. The orders were posted, some of men were going to Indiana, and then some was going to U of O, at Eugene, Oregon. I tried to get on that assignment, because Eugene was only 20 miles from my home at Cottage Grove.
Finally the orders came for the rest of us to go to Pasadena Jr. College, at Pasadena, California.
PASADENA JR. COLLEGE, West Campus on Lincoln Avenue, Pasadena, California
Our shoulder patch was the lamp of knowledge, and sword of ???.
On the first assembly after we got to Pasadena Jr. College the facialty greeted us and then stated that they only planned for 600 soldiers and 1,200 was sent. They said that did not want to choose who would be returned to an active outfit and who would get to stay at Pasadena Jr. College.
Then they said after considerable thought they came up with a plan that let the soldiers choose the ones to be sent back to an active outfit.
The plan was that anyone who did not get a passing grade plus the bottom 5% of the class would be returned to an active outfit, every two weeks.
These soldiers were already the top of the smart ones. That was not good for me.
I asked where the ones would be sent when leaving. They said Dutch Harbor. Well I turned that down once, so I knew that I had to study and I did.
At the end of the first two weeks, I was not in the bottom five percent; I was in the second five percent from the bottom. I was called in and told not to make any plans because after the next two weeks, I probably would be leaving. Well, after the next two week passed, and I was not in the bottom five percent, I was in the second five percent from the bottom. When I was call in to be given the song and dance they said you know what we are going to say. This happened every two weeks that I was in Pasadena Jr. College. We started with 1,200 soldiers and when we got down to 600 soldiers, I never got out of the second five percentages from the bottom.
Chemistry was one subject that I never did like or master. The Chemistry professor took a disliking to me one day when I took him that he photos he took was nice but I needed help in understanding the chapter that we would have a text on Monday. He said so what you are not going to pass the test and you can go back to a line outfit.
I knew that I was in for it, and so I took that chemistry book and read it from cover to cover, when lights out came Friday night, I took the book under the cover and with flashlight continued reading the book. I read it cover to cover, and Saturday I read it again. The Saturday night I worked all the questions at the end of each chapter. I really did know what were the questions were about, but, I answered out of the book. I good a good nights sleep Sunday, and Monday morning I was going to pass that test. When the professor passed out the test, I looked at it and thought some bad thoughts of the professor. The questions came right out of the chemistry book, only that the questions were on a chapter two chapters ahead of where we were in class.
When the test results came back the professor always handled out the poorest paper first. He had said that he thought that Weldens test would be on top as the poorest grade. Well as he passed out the papers he made comments on each one. I.e. this is one of my best students and he only got 60 on the papers. Finally he came to the last and said Well, here is Weldens paper he got 96, and I know he must have cheated to get this grade. He said that he watched everyone in class including Welden. He could not have copied off the student in front of him because that person only got 48, the ones on his side only got in the low 50s and the one behind had 42. How did Welden get 96, I do not know and he will never tell.
The Rose Bowl was in the canyon below where the West Campus was. To exercise we would run down the hill to the Rose Bowel and around the top seats of the Rose Bowl. One day one of the soldier brought a football, so we chose up sides and played some football in the Rose Bowl. Then each of us could say I played in the Rose Bowl.
Mt. Wilson was up the mountains from Pasadena. One day some of us hitchhiked a ride up to Mt. Wilson. Then we went on to the ski resort that is about Mt. Wilson. On the way back we were at Mt. Wilson and someone suggested that we go down the Mountain on a trail, instead of trying to get a ride back down.
That sounded interesting so we started down the mountain, there were six of us. It was not long until the trail was no longer to be found. The trail down the mountain got steep and steeper and it got to where we could not go back up. Things look bad and the cliffs did not offer any hand holds. So we took off our belts and made a rope out of them. We got down the cliff a little at time until we got to bottom of the cliff, and then we could walk and found a trail that led us the rest of the way down the mountain.
Christmas eve of 1943 the six of us that hang out together went to Hollywood to see some shows that were being put on for the service men. The service men and people at the corner of Hollywood and Vine just kept get more and more, until the streets and sidewalks was crowded from store front on one side to store front on the other side. Needless to say, there was no traffic moving; too many people. After seeing a couple of shows we start looking for a way to get back to Pasadena. The street cars were not moving and the taxi cabs were not moving.
We started walking back to Pasadena when we came to a hotel. We went in to get a room for the night. The Clerk said no rooms. We ask where we could find a room for the night. The clerk no luck, but, if you want to sack out look on the other side of the chairs. We did and the floor was covered with service men. The clerk said if we could find a place to lie down, we could sleep there. We did and in the morning, Christmas day, the street cars were running and we got back to Pasadena.
Toward the end of the term I starting feeling bad on Sunday and by Monday morning I really had to go on sick call. The medical personal took one look at me and said Scarlet Fever. They gave me 8 sodium tablets and 8 sulfur tablets to take. After taking the tablets I was out of it and did not wake up until Wednesday afternoon.
ARMY HOSPITAL-HOTEL DEL ROALTY SISO.
Some time after I was sent to the hospital, my mother wrote me that she received a telegram from the Red Cross that stated Your son is very ill, and isnt expected to live. Well my mother had three sons in the service, Glenn, Richard, and myself. The telegram did not say which son and did not say where it was sent from.
When I woke up and look around, I notice that I was in a large room with beds in rows on both sides of the room. I was told that all these patients were from the ASTP 3911. The Pasadena Jr. College ASTP unit.
Someone rang for the nurse and she came running in and look at me and call the doctor and they started question me on how I felt, and temperate, and blood pressure. The doctor said that he was glad that I was feeling better.
Time goes slow when lying in bed and not feeling very good. Every afternoon Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra was on the Radio we did enjoy their songs. This was when Frank Sinatra was just getting started in Hollywood.
When it came time for me to get out of the hospital, the doctor came and walked with me up to the check out desk. He told me he was very glad for me to checkout, because of the 150 men from ASTP 3911 I was the only one that he thought that he was going to lose.
He explained that Scarlet Fever had some lasting effects, one of which was a romatic fever of the heart. Then he went to a type writer and wrote out an order for me. The order said to the effect this soldier is getting over a very serious illness and in not to be put any strain or physical effect that would cause him to sweat, etc. These special orders are to remain with the soldier at all times.
Then he told me that ASTP 3911 had been terminated, and all the soldiers were leaving on the train that day. I was to be taken to the train station to be with the rest of the unit. I ask about my personal items, and the doctor told me they had been packed and waiting for me at the train station.
The rail cars were just box cars that had windows cut in each side and seat to sit on. It was hot and when we got to Needles, California they stopped the train and we got off and stretched our legs, and got a meal and something to drink.
We were told that we were headed for Texas.
CAMP BOWIE, BROWNWOOD, TEXAS
Camp Bowie had a train station inside the camp, and we got off the train, there were trucks that took us to the other side of camp to a tent city. We were told that this was the replacement battalion for the 13th armed division, and we would be reassigned to the units in the 13th armed division.
To kept soldiers busy there is always close order drill. In Texas the sun shines and its hot and close order drilling can make a soldier sweat, and the wind blowing on our backs made the back seems like it was freezing and the front hot. This was not accord to the orders from my doctor so I would break rank and go over and sit down in the shade. For some reason this did not set very well with the drill sergeants and one afternoon, the sergeant said Welden I had enough of your bull s**, you and the phony order from a doctor I never hear off, and your nose is always running. Go to the first aid office and get something for that nose.
Off I went to the first aid office in the middle of the afternoon. There were two young doctors right out of college on duty. They ask me why I did not come on sick call in the morning. I told them that the sergeant sent me. Well they had nothing to do, so they checked me from head to toe and reported You dont have a cold or sinus problem, you have a bone sticking out inside you nose."
One of the doctors put me his jeep and took over to the hospital and checked me in. The next morning I was taken into an operating room, and put to sleep. In the back of my mind I know that they were working on my nose, but when they put that big pair of pliers up inside my nose: That I could tell. The pliers seems like they were a foot across and big. Then when they turn the pliers and I feel the snap of bone my eyes open up. The doctors said that they were about through and for me to close my eyes. They were right and back to sleep I went.
After a few days in the hospital I was discharged. There was a road around the camp like a big oval; there were buses that came every so often to take the soldiers from one part of the camp to another part.
I left the hospital and down to the road and catch the first bus that came. Around to the text city I went, but what did I find when the tent city was? Nothing, just an open field. So, I catch the next bus and went to Camp Headquarters. I ask them what happen to the replacement battalion. They said they did not know go to the 13th Armed headquarters. I went to the 13th armed headquarters, and they look up my name on the list from the replacement battalion.
They told me that I was assigned to the 223 armed field artillery, and told me where it was in the camp. I took the next bus and found the 223 armed field artillery orderly room; no one was there and nothing in the orderly room. I went to the barracks and there were just empty cots in the barracks no soldiers not equipment. Out to the shop building, I found some live ones.
The sergeant said that he remembered my name on roll call and heard that I had been transfer out of the unit. I ask to where. He said he did not know but everyone who would know was on field excise. Then he asked if I could dive a truck. I said No. Then he asked if I could drive a car, and of course I could drive a car. He said "good, the only difference between a car and truck is that in a truck you have to double clutch." I told him did not know the double clutch. He explained that to double clutch you put the clutch in and shift out of gear, let the clutch in and then put the clutch out again and shift to the next gear. He said that was simple.
He put me in the drivers seat of the last 2 ½ ton truck that was loaded with 105mm shells. Well, it had rained in that part of Texas; not enough to soak the ground, just enough to wet the top couple of inches. That was enough to make me fight that steering wheel trying to keep that truck on the road and follow the truck in front of me.
I had that poor truck going every way possible, down the hills, side ways, backwards, etc, but I did not turn the truck over. When the truck finally came to a stop, the sergeant came and took me over to the 223 headquarters. They said told me that all of my things and papers that been sent up to the regiment and I would have to wait until the field excise was over and everyone returned to the camp.
We were out in the field three days, and of course I had no change of clothes. I was getting to look pretty dirty.
BATTERY B OF THE 666 BATTALION
I was told that I have been transfer to Battery B of the 666 Battalion, and where it was in the camp. I took the next bus off to find Battery B.
I found the orderly room for Battery B and went in and told the Battery clerk who I was, and ask him if I belong there. The First Sergeant came off of his chair and over to me.
The First Sergeant said that he was glad to see me. He said he miss me at the hospital by ½ hours, and 45 minutes at Camp Headquarters, and about 1 hour at the 13th headquarters, but did not go to the field to find me. I said if I had not shown up by the end of that day he would have had to put me down as AWOL.
The training non-comm. was from the National Guard from Mississippi or Louisiana, and this was to be the last group that they were to train. They would go with us overseas.
Training went smooth, but the non-comm.s never liked my little duty orders that I would not give to them.
The first sergeant was one I could relate to. I could type and whenever the office fell behind and getting their work done, the first sergeant would come and get me to help them in the office. Again this did not go well with the other non-comm... Any time one of the other non-comm. would put me on report (doing something that they did not approve of) the first sergeant would discard the report, and that did not set well with them.
One Sunday I went to a movie show in Brownwood, and deicide walk back to camp instead of taking the bus, and I crossed though the residential portion of Brownwood on the way. There was a jeep that came down the street, and I noticed that it was my Captain, Captain Ham Patterson. Well, I though that I might get to ride back to camp with him. He stopped about a city block from where I was and he and lady got out of the jeep and walked up to the corner and down a couple of houses, then the lights came on and curtains came down.
The next morning I was in the orderly room with the first sergeant and battery clerk, when the sergeant was pacing the floor and saying that he needed the captain to sign the morning report. I told the sergeant I probably knew where the captain was. The sergeant had a few words, then said if I could get the morning report signed it was worth a three day pass, or one week on KP is I could not. He gave me the keys to his jeep and a pass for the front gate, and off I went.
The captains jeep was still where I saw it the night before, and around the corner and a couple houses down the street the blinds were still down. All the other houses on the block had their blinds up. I went up to the door and knocked and a lady came to the door. I told her I needed the captain to sign the morning report. Just after she said no captain lived there, Good Old Captain Patterson in a bath robe, opened the door a little wider and took the morning report, signed and handed it back to me, never said one word. I got my three day pass and went to Fort Worth for the weekend.
Our training was on 155 howitzers that were left over from World War One. They were of the single trail gun. Therefore, a trench had to be dug for the spade at the end of the trail. This was a ready heave to move the trail back and forth to change where the gun was pointing.
One day when were field excise, there was a flock of turkeys in our area. We took our netting which was used to put over the gun and used it to haze the flock of turkeys into. A couple had their wings broken so we killed and dressed them and was cooking them over a camp fire, when the captain came by. He told us that was the wrong thing to do. He had someone look up a farmer that claimed the turkeys and pay for the ones we killed.
Our captain had a good heart, and one day when we were in the field, a farmer came by with a pickup load of watermelons. The captain told the farmer he was not allowed in the field with the training soldiers. The captain purchased most of the farmers watermelons for us and told the farmer not to come back.
The first sergeant appreciated the fact that I did not watch the clock and kept at the typing until all the work was done regardless of the time. So one Friday when it was hot, he came and got me, and told me to go take a shower. After I shaved and showered and put on my suntan uniform, I reported to the orderly room and ask what he wanted me to do. He said nothing, it was just hot out there on close order drill and he thought that I would like one step ahead of the rest because every one was getting a weekend pass.
One weekend a group of us left Brownwood, and went to Waco to see the town. When we were walking down a street, we saw a local grocery store that had whole stocks of bananas hanging in front of the store. We had never seen stocks of banana before. We purchased a stock of bananas and hung it from a pole, and was carrying this down the street, one soldier on each end of the pole and the banana stock between them. So little kids were following us, and we broke off bananas and gave one to each kid. They thought that was great.
Time came time for Anti-Aircraft training, and I was one of the ones that was sent out to the training area. We left Camp Bowie and headed to El Paso, and then north up into the sand hills to the Anti-Aircraft range.
The sand hills were actually small mounds of sand, with some scrub bush on top. The sidewinder rattle nakes like to stay in the bush. When we wanted to use a mound we would take a long poll and pound the bush until the sidewinders would come out and head to another place to stay.
We had 50mm machine guns to fire at the targets as they were pulled across in front of our position. This was something that I had done training on at Camp Callahan. When it was my turn to fire the 50mm, I was at home on it and when the target came into range, I had in my sight and was filling it full of holes. The supply sergeant that was in charge of our crew was yelling at me that I was way behind the target. I did not pay any attention to him and continue to finish off firing the machine belts. He had to make sport of me, saying that Welden couldn't hit anything thing. The next morning at roll call the officer of the day was speaking and said the target was full of holes so someone was doing right.
The next day I was spotting for firing, when, I called out to stop the person on the machine gun because he was firing at the airplane instead of the target. I did not know the sergeant was on the gun and when the firing did not stop and came off the mound and run up to the machine gun and told the sergeant to stop firing he was getting too close to the airplane. He said I did not know what I was saying, and increased his lead on the plane. The tow plane took off and did not come back.
The officer in charge of the practice came down and had bad words to say to the sergeant to the effect that he should have had a person at the spotting station who could have stopped the person on the machine gun. The sergeant looked at me as to say keep you mouth shut, and I did. Still I lost a lot of brownie point with that sergeant.
After coming back from El Paso, we received our new howitzers. The split trail type so it made it easier to change the direction of the gun.
There were four artillery battalions training at the same time. There were the 666, 667, 668 and 669. Orders came down for the 669 to move out, and then another, so we knew it would not be long until the 666 got their orders.
Orders came down to pack up the equipment and get ready to move out. The tallies were made as the equipment was packed up. The first sergeant called me in and I helped type the manifest on the equipment. The personal rosters were made up and typed.
The last day in Camp Bowie a beer bust was in the evening, but, I was in the orderly room typing manifests. The first sergeant had the mess hall send food over for us in the orderly room. We did not finish up until after midnight. I went by the rec hall to check if any beer was left and there was none. Then on to the barracks, and I was tried. As, I sat down on my bed, there was a pool of beer on my cot and I sat it. This made me mad, so I took all the drunken guys (which were everyone) and out side they went and they were too drunk to care. Then I threw out all the cots and everything else except for one cot for me to sleep on. Everything was to be packed up the next day anyway. I locked the doors and went to sleep.
The next morning the men were quite mad at me but the doors were locked and they couldn't get in. They really did not have to get in because I had tossed out everything including their personal items out of the barracks.
I did not get up and unlock the doors until it was time to get on the trucks and go to the rail station. I knew what time the truck were to arrive.
Down to the train siding in Camp Bowie we went and got onto the train cars, which again was box cars with windows cut in the sides, and seats nailed to the floor.
We really did not know where we were headed for, but, the engine was a small one and we were not going fast.
The train went east in Texas, then Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama. Our equipment had left the day before we did. By the time our train got to Birmingham someone realized that we were not going to catch up with our equipment. They put a big engine on our train and opened up the railroad, the train did not even slow down when we went though Washington, D.C. New York or any other city.
We arrived in Boston after the ship that we were to be on had left. Our equipment made the ship but we did not.
CAMP MILES STANDIST, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS.
This camp was a holding area for soldiers to be shipped out to England.
I went to a dance Sunday night in the Back Bay section of Boston. Not being a dancer I left early and took a wrong turn somewhere and first thing I knew I was lost and did not know which way to go. Lights were dim not quite out, so I could not see far. Then I saw a jeep coming down the street. I was going to flag it down and ask directions, but, then I saw it was my captain Ham Patterson. The jeep stopped a block down the street, and I started walking toward it; the captain and a lady got out and went into an apartment building. A second story apartment lights came on the then curtains came down. I know it was no use to wait for a ride and finally found a street car and the way to the camp.
New morning the first sergeant was again had the morning report to signed. I told him that I believe that I could find the captain and the report signed for a three day pass. He said OK and gave me the keys to the jeep that he was using and a gate pass. I found my way back to when I was the night before and the jeep was still there. Up the stairs I went and to the front apartment. When I knocked on the door and the lady came to the door. When I said I needed to see the captain, he look around the door took the morning report signed it, and never said a word to me. He just closed the door, and I left.
I got my three day pass and off to see the big city of New York. The buildings tall and I just walked and looked at the buildings. I forget what the fee was to go to the top of the Empire State Building, but I did not want to sent that much and wait in line to go up.
Off of Times Square was the Roseland Ball room that I had heard about. The price was right so I went in the Roseland and watched the people dance for a while. The back to Times Square and I ask Why is everyone boarding up the front of their business? The answer was this was November 2, election day and there will be people and people from one side of the street to the other.
Not giving this much thought I went to a movie, but, when I got out of the movie the people were there from one side of the street to the other side. Then the election result started coming in and rolling around the moving sign on the Times Building. I watched as President Roovelet was reelected. Then I caught a train back to the camp at Boston.
.One evening the girl I was with said that I and all of the soldiers would be leaving tomorrow, because the Neuw Amsterdam was in to take the soldiers.
When I got back to camp I told some of guys to pack their bags because we were headed for a ship tomorrow. They laugh asked me where I got the information and I told them.
After breakfast we were told to pack our bags and we would be headed for the ship. I remember when my name was called to go up the gangway. That was the personal roster that I typed and was thinking at that time maybe I should left my name off of this. That was when I missed spelled my own name and had to make a correction. The correction still on the roster they were using to call each person by name to go on to the ship.
The ship was large, and it ended up with 15,000 soldiers and officers, and 750 wacs and nurses.
Across from the pier that our ship was on, was the fisherman wharf. Some girls that were working on the fisherman wharf lined up on their wharf and were waving to the soldiers. Of course, after the soldiers packed their gear in their assigned place, they went up on the top deck and were waving back to the girls. More and More soldier were on the one side of the ship until the ship start to till to that side so much so to break the gangway away then ship. The ship captain came on the address system and told everyone to spread out and to get away from that side of the ship.
With so many soldiers it would be hard to rotate duties on board. Battery A and C of the 666 were to man the 6 guns that were on the front and rear of the ship. Battery B drew KP duty for the whole cruse.
The pots that they cooked the stew in were big; I had never seen pots that big. The pots were mounted on stand that allowed them to tilt down with a crank, to be washed, cleaned, and filled for cooking. These pots were about four feet across and five feet high. To clean these pots they were tilted down and you could get inside with brush and soap, and the clean water to rinse them out. They could hold a lot of items.
The soldiers were fed only twice a day. There was five sitting in the morning and five sitting in the afternoon. The officers and women were fed three times a day, and their food was a better that the soldiers food.
Seasick come over a lot of the soldiers. It was not serving the soldiers was bad, except when one would throw up just as his food was placed before him. The cooks told us that were on KP the way to keep from getting seasick was to take the center of the large biscuits and pop the pieces into you mouth and swallow without chewing. The soft inside of the biscuits would soak up the moisture inside you and then you dont get seasick.
I found that breaks in work in kitchen allowed me time to explore the ship. The engine was something I had never seen before. The crank shaft and tie rods were in the open, and to watch then work was interesting. The ship was just over 850 feet long and the big engines were driving the ship between 28 and 32 knots an hour. These big ships were called lone runners. No escort ship could keep with them.
Battery B had state rooms across the hall from the dinning hall. These side rooms were originally for a couple, but there was one gun crew in each room (12 men). There were fold down bunks on three sides of the room, three high, and three cots in the center of the room.
One day when we were down in the food storage getting food, I ask the cook about taking a 50 pound cheese up to the kitchen. He said not it was too old and too hard. I like hard cheese, so when no one was looking I took the cheese, and off to our room. I really did not think anyone saw me, but, one of the other guys said he saw me get the cheese, so he got to the officer supply room and got two cases of beer.
When it was lights out and we all were in our room, the beer was broke out and I got the cheese out and took bayonet to cut into it. The cheese was hard, but it was chewable, and beer to wash it down it was good.
We hear foot steps coming down the gangway, so out went the light and everyone hit they bed, when the door opened and in came the first sergeant. He said dont play dumb with him. Where is the beer and cheese? Everyone was enjoying the beer and cheese, when we heard more foot steps in the gangway. Out went the lights and everyone hit their bed, and the first sergeant dive in behind me on my bed. The door open and the lights came on. The officer of the day said, Where is the beer and cheese and what did you do with the first sergeant? Everyone enjoyed the beer and cheese and the whole 50 pound cheese was eaten, even the extra hard part.
One morning we approached a large group of ships. There were ships as far as I could see in each direction. As our ship sallied though the ships they bounced in our wake.
I drew serving the officers and nurses and one day I noticed the Captain come onto a Captain WAC. I could not help to hear what she said back to him. Something likes That sounds interesting by room is 230.
I did not give it any more thought, except when in the morning the first sergeant was looking for the Captain to sign the morning report. Then he looks at me and says I suppose that you know when the Captain is? I told him to try room 230. The sergeant left, but he was back awhile later and said you have to be mistaken, no male personal is allow in that section of the ship. I said I could have told him that, I ask him if he want me to get the morning report signed. He said, yes he would be in the orderly room.
The ship had a lot of gangways and paths, many places you could go if you know how to get there. Down and though the storage holds of the ship and come up in the front part of the ship I went then up to B deck. Then I found the room 230. I knocked on the door and the WAC captain came to the door. I ask for Captain Patterson, and she said he was not assigned to this room. Then Captain Patterson opened the door a little wider and took the morning report and signed and never said a word to me. I took the report back to the first sergeant and return to my job in the kitchen.
As the ship getting close to the Inland of Mann, I was on one of the upper decks, when two airplanes were coming at the ship. They were spitfires British fighter planes. They spit with one going on each side of the ship. I could look down the planes as they went by and could see the pilots. The ship circled and was joined by two other lone runners, and we started up the sea to Scotland. There was a whole flotilla small sub chasers that were protecting the troop ships on the way to Scotland.
The ship dropped anchor in the river Claude. I ask why all the antennae are sticking out of the water. I was told the Germany air force come two weeks before and sank every ship in the harbor.
We had to clean up the kitchen and put thing away so we were some of the last to leave the ship. The ship could not get could to a pier and we went over the side to landing craft.
There were trucks there to take us to Wolver Hampton
The was a county manor about 7 miles out of Wolver Hamptom plus some army steel huts that Battery B stayed in.
Our equipment was on the ships that we passed in the mid Atlantic and we would have to wait until our equipment caught up with us.
I claimed my three day pass and went to London the first week end of December 1944. The buzz bombs were come over and they made a sound like no other. They had a ram jet for an engine. One V-2 hit a couple block down from my hotel. It hit the intersection of two roads and flattened the building on all four corners.
I went into a small café and ask the man for a sandwich. He told me that some soldiers ordered a BLT and ask if I would like a BLT. I said yes. He bought the BLT to me and I tried to take a bit of it. Then I opened it up and told him that the bacon was not cooked. He said that probably why the other soldiers left without eating their BLTs.
On some of the mornings two new British fighter planes would fly over and they had no propellers. They sound like tea kettles. This was the only time I saw that type of jet fighter planes.
Our equipment arrived and we clean the equipment and got ready to move on. It was December 23, and we left for Portsmouth.
More that a million soldiers had walked though the mud at the harbor. The mud was knee deep. We did not get the equipment on the LST went night came and all lights went out. We were assigned to some cots for the night. They were look like a mess, and I did lie down but didnt go to Bed. Then on the 24th of December we finish loading all the Battery B equipment on one LST. Then we waited until night fall to move out of the harbor and start for LaHarve, France.
The fog rolled in and I could not see across the width of the LST. This was a slow bell on the way and when we came next to ships that was anchored because of the fog; they looked black in the gray fog. When the ship got out into the channel the waves started rolling in and not breaking just a large even roll. Then the LST start rocking. On the roll down water was coming onto the deck. Then as the LST rocked the other way, the water would flow across the deck and dump over on the other side. Then water was picked up on that side and the water would flow to the other side.
This rocking made all the young green sailors sea sick, and the ship officers was grabbing the soldiers and posting them at difference posts on the ship. I keep out of their way, but, finally I was picked to go with some others into the hole. The rocking had broke lose the equipment in the hole.
We put a 1 chain on the first tractor and when it came tight; it broke and sent clinks flying around the insides. We found some 2 chain and it held. Then we worked each row of equipment until we had all the equipment tied down again. Years later when I think about this and remember we were exposed to having a hand or leg cut off with all the equipment moving about, but no one was hurt.
Many years later I heard that some Germany E-boats sunk three LST that night with the lost of everyone aboard.
I heard the engine change pitch and speed up, so I went up on the forward deck to see what going to happen. The fog turn extra white and then we broke out of the fog bank. The ship was headed for the beach in LeHarve
The beach was pebble beach and the LST push the front of the ship up on the beach. Then the doors opened up and the gangway went down. There was a small tractor on the beach that pushed some pebbles up and made a run way for our equipment.
Orders came down for everyone to man their equipment and we loaded up on our tractors. I was with the number two gun and as soon and the number one tractor and gun went off the LST, it was our turn.
Battery B formed up and headed off the beach and travel a few miles and stop on a hill side. This was called Red Horse Baker. This is we stopped. The mess sergeant cooked a turkey and we had Christmas dinner there and spent the night there.
.The morning of December 26th B Battery left Red Horse Baker and headed for the War. It was cold and there was ice on the road way. When we came to a small hill the iron tracts on the tractor just stayed in one place. We got off the tractor and pushed and it did no good. We got out our shovels and picks and torn up the road shoulder and put the dirt on the road. Then the tracts could a grip and this continued all the way across northern France. We walked most the way across northern France.
On December 31, we got to a town called Awaille, and stopped there for the night. We back our gun up a small alley to get it off the road. As we put out sleeping bags down, a old woman came out of her door that opened up on the alley. We could not understand what she was saying but understood she wanted us to come into her house and sleep inside her house. She then bought us some hard red apples and made up understand that was all she had to give up.
At midnight on December 31, 1944 all the guns that were in place were fired. This of course, woke up us and someone said, That is something the Germans needed. Then I rolled over and went back to sleep.
BATTLE OF THE BULGE
On the morning of January 1st, 1945, we pulled out of Awaille and went though a narrow canyon, and out are a large plain. Then the captain found a place for us set up on howitzers. We were getting set up, some 109s came over. After the 109s made a couple of runs across our position some P-38s came and chased them away.
After night settled in and in the dark we could see machine tracers and flares all the way around on the low hills that were around the plain. This made a complete circle around us
FIRE MISSION everyone to their post. Then the instructions came over the telephone as to what type of shell, how much power, and range and directions for the gunner. When ready the order came FIRE and the gun was fired. If more that one shell was to be fired, the next order came down.
It never seems like we stayed in one place more than a day are some. We were always doing something, and the weather was snow and. I cannot remember the exact order of some of the things I remember about the Battle of the Bulge. Some are like the following.
One night when I drew 12 to 4 Oclock time to be on the gun, order came down for deflection of 180 degrees. I said Who the hell would give that type of order? Well, a 180 degree deflection would mean that the gun had to be turned around and fire the opposite way that we had be firing. That didnt sound right to me. I knew this was not mistake when I hear on the telephone, God dam it, Welden, when I give an order you follow. Then I know it was the 2nd Louie that was the officer on duty.
To turn the howitzer after it had be fired and the firing that pushed the trails back into the dirt is not easy. I awaken the rest of the crew including the tractor driver. The tractor driver started the tractor and pulled the gun forward to get the trails out of the dirt. Then he pulled the gun around. We then put the gun in fire order, and call back to fire control, Ready to Fire. I dont remember how many rounds we fire at that time but I do know it as soon as we reported ready we got the order to comment firing. That is something that still gives me a second thought about turning the gun around and firing in the opposite direction. We wonder where the front line was it in front or back of us.
FIRE MISSION came late one day, and as soon as the range was given, the order was to commence fire and continue until a stop order was issued. This was the only time we received this order. The order was checked and we begin put shells in and firing. At first we only got about two rounds in a minute, but, we increase this and the gun got hot so between rounds a bucket of snow was tossed in before the shells. Then the gun got so hot that after we put the shell in, then the powder, and shut the gun up, the power was going off by itself. Then we got up to four rounds a minute. After about 20 minutes the order came to cease firing.
We were told that the Army moved a division out and the Germans tried to come though the hole in our front lines. We were told that our firing put out enough shell to stop the counter attack.
The sun broke out one afternoon and after about 15 days without taking off our clothes, the uniforms were getting dirty. One of the men said we should wash our uniforms. He got a five gallon bucket, and filled it full of gasoline. We tried washing on uniforms in the gas but that did not work very well. One of men said put it on the fire and get the gas warm and the uniforms will come clean. The bucket was put on the small fire we had. It was long until the gas was boiling an over the side of the bucket and the fire ran up the bucket and the whole bucket was on fire. Well, we took a long pole use it to keep our uniforms under the burning surface of the gasoline so the uniforms would not get burn. Then we start tossing snow into the bucket and the gasoline went over the top and down in the fire. We did not put a lot of snow in at one time but just fed the snow in slowing. Finally all the gasoline was used up. We took the uniforms out and hung them up to dry. It wasnt long until the uniforms were frozen stiff. The after awhile the ice in the uniforms turned to power and then the uniforms were dry. No smoking was allowed near the men that had their uniforms cleaned.
The snow came and covered every thing. One night we pulled into position, and we dug in our sleeping in fox holds. The snow keep fall and in the morning we had orders to move out. We had everything picked up but was short one man in our gun crew. Where was he, someone said he dug his fox hole over that way. We walk and cross walked though the snow trying to find him. We could not find him. The tractor was attached to the gun and it huff and puff and finally broke the gun lose to get moving. That shacking of the ground woke up the missing man, and he came up out of the snow right where we tried to find him. His warm breath had melted the snow in his fox hole and got him all wet. We had him take off all of his wet clothes and dried him with a towel, and found a dry uniform for him. He was so cold that we put him between a couple of the largest men on the tractor and it took a couple of hours before he was warm.
Some times it is easy to get upset. Fog and snow at night made every thing seems spookier and when the Anti-Aircraft search lights were turned on the low clouds, the beam would bend down and give everything a dim light. As the search lights were moved across the clouds, made all the shadows move in response to the light. When I was on guard at night looking at the moving shadows, I said to myself is that the shadow from a bush or is that a German trying to come into our position.
One night shortly after we receive a tent for our gun crew, I and another soldier was standing in front of the tent, looking down hill to a small village. The German artillery was pounding the small village. We heard a soldier scream, cry, and then ask for someone to shoot him, because he could not stand the pain. Just after that a piece of shell came up and went though the tent between where we were standing. That was the last time I stood up if any shells were breaking no matter how far away they were.
At another time, the V-1 buzz bombs were coming at night. We could see the buss bombs raise in the far distance and come toward us. When buzz bombs fire in their tail went out, the bombs would start down. When one came closer to our position, I was in my fox hole, and another soldier was standing up beside my fox hole. I told him to get down, and he said that bomb was going to hit way over that way. Well, the bombs had one ton of high explosive plus the fuel not used up. The bomb was way over there about ½ mile. The explosion had enough force to knock that guy off of his feet. .
They always manage to get the shells and power to us, but, food that was some thing else. After going to the kitchen truck that was always a long way off, and getting a cold boiled potato for breakfast, lunch and supper plus a cup of something that was called coffee. I was really not feeling good. One morning the sergeant told me to go to breakfast with the first group. I told him to have someone bring me back a cup of coffee. Then the sergeant grabbed the foot of my sleeping bags and gave it a jerk. The army sleeping bags are made to break open so a soldier can get out fast. Well, the jerk pop open my sleeping bag and I was out in the snow. Made me very unhappy, and I grabbed my trench knife and step toward the sergeant and he turn and took off, with me chasing him. He had shoes on and I was bare footed. He managed to out run me, so I went back to my sleeping bag.
Someone did bring me a cup of coffee.
That afternoon the first sergeant came to our gun position, and said he was transferring me from number two gun crew to number three gun crew. The first sergeant has a smile on his face, when he told me that I had scared Sergeant Walter so bad that he refused to come back to the number two gun as long as I was there.
I put my things together and went over to the number three gun. I had on about everything I owed to keep warm, including an army winter overcoat. When I got to the number three gun, the gun sergeant grabbed my overcoat by the collar in both hands, and lifted me off the ground. Well, this I did not like, so I told the sergeant to look down between us and he would see my trench knife about two inches from his heart. He gently let go of me. Then I told him if he wanted anything done ask me in a normal voice, but never, never touch me again, and he did not. I always did what I was asked to do.
One afternoon, I saw three big tanks one a ridge in the distance. A group of us were standing around a small fire to get warm, and I told them, that the tanks looked like German Tiger tanks. Of course, they said that we were not that close to the front line. Then the tanks turned toward us and the flash of their artillery, made me dive for my fox hole. This was a two man fox hole, and we had our pup tent over the laying down fox hole to keep the snow and water out. My tent partner in was in the fox hole.
As the first shell hit it sent dirt down into our fox hole and made holes in our pup tent coming in and going out. My tent partner was laying face down and shaking. I told him to roll over and watch the show of the holes being punched into our pup tent. He and I stated guess when the next shell was going to hit. At least he stops shaking.
There were 32 hits in and around our gun, and other three guns had no hits. All these hits near our gun and nothing important was damaged. The steel poles that held up our netting were cut into, the strap on the telephone was cut, but the tires on the gun did not get hit, and the shell pit, power pit, and fuse pit and none of the men were hit. I did split my lip when I dived into the fox hole.
When the shelling was over an ambulance came looking for the wounded ones. They said that will that many hit on a position they were sure that someone would have got hurt. I was given some salt to wash my mouth and stop the bleeding.
On day when we were moving on the road we received a FIRE MISSION. The officer in charge checked as if they wanted us to set our guns up in the road. The answer was do not block the road. The snow was about two feet deep everywhere, but there was a level area down off the road. The level area did not have any snow on and it had green grass about 4 high.
Down off the road went number one tractor and gun, then number two tractor and gun, when number three tractor hit the green grass, there was a lot popping sound and the tractors and guns started sinking down. This was a frozen mud pond. The number four tractor and the supply tractor pulled the three tractors back up on the road. The three tractors were line up and their lines were pulled out to the number two tractor. Wading out though the mud we were up to our waist. After number two tractor and gun were back up the road, we went out to the number one. By this time the mud was up to our chests. The four tractors could not move the number one tractor and gun.
One of the men said he would go down in the mud and disconnect the gun from the tractor.
He rapped and piece of blanket around his head and down he went. After a short time I said that we should go down and bring him up. The rest said wait he will come up when he wants to. After awhile he did come up. He said he slipped the safety catch but could not break the connection. We hooked up a line in a difference way, and broke the connection. Then the gun was pulled back to the road. Then the number one tractor was pulled back to the road.
There were two lines of foot soldiers moving on the road, one in each direction. The ones in the nice clean uniforms were head to the front line no one was missing in their line. The ones coming back from the front line were dirty and missing spaces in their line.
One of the clean uniform soldier looked at us and said that it look like we came form a hell hole.
One soldier form the other line said that he though they had had it rough, and wonder where we had been.
We had mud from shoes to shoulders and we did look bad, but, the weather was about zero, and it was not long until and the mud was frozen, then a short time later we start breaking out of the mud. The after the mud froze, the mud turned to dust then we could shake the dust off of our uniforms.
The order came down to forget about the FIRE MISSION and continue on the march.
One day they brought a young man to our gun that had a box of fuses with him. The outfit the young guy had on did not quite have the look of army. I had to ask him about himself. Are you in the Army? No, he said that he was 4-F and the army would not let him joint. So he got a job with a defense contractor that made artillery shell fuses. The new fuses he had with him had a five tube radio in the base of the fuse.
These new fuses were design to send out radio waves and when the waves were broken the shell would go off. They also said if we let the Germans capture any of the fuses we would be put in jail or shot. They said if we were about to run over by the Germans we were to put the handle on the side of the fuse box and run because in 30 seconds the fuse box would blow up.
The young man recorded the time, temperature, and a lot of other items, as we used these fuses. He said that there was another man with his company that was with the artillery spotter, recording the result on the other end.
The shell to be used with the new fuses had a couple of nitro-starch pellets behind the ring in the front of the shell. To use the new fuses we had to take out these pellets. We found out that we could take the pellets in hand and light a corner of them, then we would have a blaze that use clear next to the pellet and then blue white and then orange at the top of a 8 to 10 foot blaze. Then we could lay the blazing pellet in the snow and it would keep on burning. One day an order came down to quite burning the pellets because the blaze could be seen from miles away
To me the war consisted taking the rings out of the shell, and putting in a fuse that was call for. The fuses had a setting for super quick, quick or delay action. These were the same fuse and had a screw that was turned to delay, quick or super quick. The time fuse had a wench to turn the time to what was order. The concrete fuse was made to go into concrete then go off. The radio fuse went off when the shell would get within a given distance of any thing. I also had to remove the power from the individual power container and sent it forward for a 7 bag shot, or I was to take one bag out and retie for 6 bag shot, or take two bags out and retire for the base of 5 bags shots.
Any time we stopped for a firing position someone on the tractor would pickup the shells by the ring in the nose and throws the 95 lb over the side of the tractor. The ones on the ground would catch the shell and line them up. The power came in a three container unit and the unit weight about 75 pounds. The fuses were kept in the fuse boxes, twelve fuses to a box.
There were two type of shells, high explosive, and fire shells. The German did not like the fire shell because after the shell went off the power would burn a hole in a ½ steel plate. Fox holes did not good against fire shell with the radio fuse. The shell would go off about 20 feet from the ground and make a cone of fire coming down.
January 28, 1945 Battery B was told to head the German town of Julich
BATTLE OF THE RHINELAND
Julich was across the small river ROER and we were in position in open field on the west side of the Roer River.
The Germans had opened the flood gates on the dams up river from Julich. The wait was for the river to go down before a bridge was built.
One sunshine day we could hear planes in a dog fight high over head. Then we could see flashes of plane wings when they turn. The planes were above 10,000. Then with a P-49 thunderbolt came straight down, and we could hear the big propeller tearing the engine apart, the positions were being tossed out. At about 2,000 the pilot bailed out and his shut open and he drift down.
There were all type of artillery set up and were firing on the town of Julich. The small spotter planes, (Piper Clubs) were like bees over Julich spotting for the artillery, when one of the Piper Club got hit with a 105 shell. A black ball of smoke was where the Piper Club had been.
The river went down after a few days, and the plans to cross over a Julich and start the Battle of the Rhineland. The plains on the west side of the Rhine River.
The first team of engineers that was sent to put a bridge across the Roer was wiped out completely and the general in charge said that was the last time he was going to lose any more engineers putting a bridge across the Roer.
We were told to get an early start on sleeping because you will have FIRE MISSION at 4 AM. At 3:30 we were up and got the shells and power ready for a good fire mission. We were given the range and direction and at 4 AM the small 75mm cannon started then the big and big guns. There were 240mm howitzers and 8 inch land rifles 155 howitzers and the 155 rifles (Long Toms). Four hours every one was firing.
Every building in Julich was laid flat. The engineers had not trouble putting the bridge across after the shelling stopped. Battery B got they march orders and as soon as the 2nd Armed Division tanks cross the bridge we went across. Some of the led tanks had a bulldozer blade to clear the rumble in the street to be used. Some tanks had big round steel wheels that were to break up land mines
Later in life I became friends of Kenneth Cooke at Grants Pass, Oregon. Kenneth Cooke was one of the engineers that built the bridge on the Roer. Kenneth Cooke said that when they as we were watching the equipment move across the bridge they made a comment about the big guns crossing right behind the tanks.
The 2nd Armed tanks were lined up in Julich and we were signaled to pass the column of tanks. When we got to the front of the line of tanks, then four tanks started out and one of the Battery B guns was signaled to follow. Then four more tanks started out and the next gun was signed to follow them.
The gun that I was on was following the four tanks and after a couple of miles we came to a small hill. After going over the hill and as the tanks started down the other side, they were hit with machine gun fire. The tanks stop and started returning fire with their cannon, which was 57mm type. Their shells hit a pill box that was on the side of the hill and just bounced off.
We stopped and the sergeant sent a man up to the last tank, and he got on the tank and knocked on the top door until the tank commander open up and asks what he wanted. The man ask what were we suppose to do. In words that should not be put in print, he made his self known that we were get that gun turned around and blow that pill box away.
Artillery gun crews kept adding to what was issued to them with anything that they found in their travels. The only place to carry the extra items is on the gun trail. All of these items have to be cleaned off before the gun could be disconnected from the tractor. We wasted no time is getting the gun trail cleaned off and gun disconnected from the tractor.
Times like these we fire the howitzer from the tires. We only jacked the howitzer up when it was put into a position to stay for a while. When on the tires the gun would bounce when it went off. Almost all of the times the 155s fire is indirect, and then gun crew would never see where the shells were to hit. This time we could see the target. We actually were on the blind side of the pill box. For direct fire, a device is put into the tube to aim the gun. This was the first time for us to fire direct, and first time to use a concrete fuse.
We fired one shot and smoke came out of the port holes. The gun always made a movement when firing on the tires and we adjusted the aim, and fired a second shot. The top of the pill box blow up on the second shot.
The tanks moved out and we had to reconnect the gun to the tractor, the pickup all of our items that was thrown off when we set the gun up.
Where it the tanks go? We did not know so we continued down the road for sometime. Then finally we met the tanks coming back and then followed the tanks back to where everyone else was.
The next morning twelve tanks were leading the column and all four Battery B guns were following. This must have been quite a site, the tanks all closed up and everyone inside, followed by a Jeep and four tractors and guns with the gun crew sitting on top of the tractors.
The road was on the top of a levee and steep on each side. When the tanks came to a bridge that was out, the tanks just spin around and heard back. The tractors could not spin around with the gun on back. We had to disconnect the guns and then the tractors could spin around, but the guns had to be turned by man power.
After we got the tractors and guns ready to go, the tanks were long gone. The captain in his jeep was leading the column and came to a cross road. The captain and a couple others got out and studied the road for tracts to determine which way the tanks went.
They made up their minds and the column took off and finally we came to a farm house/barn. The farm house and barn was one building with just a breeze way between. No tanks, so the Captain got on the radio and after a long talk, he gave the order for us sent up a defense around the house because that is where we was to stay for the night.
There was a small German village not very far away, and all night there was machine gun, rifle fire in the village. And artillery rounds from both sides were hitting the village. The machine gun tracers were burning out over our position, so we know that the village was just belong the tree line on the end of a field.
The next morning after we had finished our breakfast and was washing our mess kits, someone said look at the column of soldiers coming down the road. Then in a few minutes we looked down the road and no soldiers. This made us uneasy so we move toward our defense positions.
Then an Officer and sergeant came out of the bush that was beside the road carrying a white flag. They came across the field to our position. Then with a smile on their face, they said they know that we had to be Americans because the Germans do not wash their mess kit and flash them in the sun for anyone to see.
The mess sergeant put on some extra coffee, and as the soldiers came by he gave them a hot cup of coffee. One of the soldiers said that this was better than the Red Cross, because the Red Cross never got out in front of the front line.
Later in the morning we got orders to move out. The column left the farm house/barn and went though the village when the fighting to place the next before.
There were dead Germans lying around at difference places, one was laying in a stairway with his feet on the sidewalk. There was an old German women did not pay any attention to our column, because she was taking the shoes of the German soldier.
Someone point out all the American pup tents lying around. He was put down as someone else said that under each of the pup tents would be a dead American. Any time American soldier was killed, the next soldier coming by would put his pup tent over him.
It seems like I was tied all the time, and when the tractor moving I would go to sleep, but just as soon as the tractor stopped I was wide awake.
One afternoon the column stopped in the village square of a small German hill top village. It was raining and storming, then lighting start flashing. We were sitting on a top of a big iron tractor filled with shells and power. I was thinking what would happen if the lighting hit any one of the tractors. Yes, this scared me.
One of our positions was next to a small village, and we had a FIRE MISSION that everyone will always remember. Battery Right ½ minutes and we started firing. This mission lasted for six hours, and it was changed to Battery Right one minute and we kept on firing for another eight hours. The supply tractor was in high gear running back for shells and power. I looked at the shells and said where did these rust shells come from, and where did old power come from. That was a total of 300 rounds for each gun.
All the guns in the section of the front had the same fire mission. The supply section said that the ammo dump ran out of shells and power, so they blew off the door to the old French defense line of tunnels, and that is where the shells and power was coming from.
We were told that the German army that came out of the Battle of the Bulge was pinned again the Rhine River and we were destroying the last of that army.
The first sergeant came by one gun position and told me that the Captain wanted to see me. I and the Captain were really not on good terms so I ask the first sergeant why the hell the Captain wanted to see me. The first sergeant just laughed then said goes to the orderly tent and see the Captain.
I dropped what I was doing and off I went to see the dear Captain. I got to the orderly tent and open the flap and went in. I said to Captain that the first sergeant told me come here, why the hell he want me for?
My words did not set well with the Captain, and he said that this was his office and I should knock and salute him when I was asking to come in. I said knock on a tent? He said portend. So I went back out of the tent. Then I said KNOCK KNOCK. The captain said come in. I went in and did the best I could on salute. Then I said did you want to see me, Sir?
The Captain said that orders had come down to make anyone that had 30 days on the front line a private first class. He said he only had two privates in his Battery so he had orders cut to make the both PFC. I just had to, and I did; I ask him if I should leave the strip with him now or would he rather have the pleasure of taking if off of me in front some one?
The Captain just looked at me and said That will be all soldier return to you post.
The next day the Captain came by the gun positions, and I had a shovel digging the gun. He look down at me and said Welden, I should put you on KP, but, that would be easer that what you doing.
On the last day of February 1045 we were in a small village, when a big German railroad gun, about 180mm cannon was firing. The big shells sounded like a freight train as they went overhead. Originally the shells were landing far away, but, each shell was in line and coming closer to us. We received March Order, and I was picking up my things from my fox whole, when, I could tell the next shell was going to come in close. In
The sound did not move to the right or left or forward or back it just kept come in. I wished my fox hole was deep, and I had my nose on the bottom and could not get any lower. Finally the shell hit so close I felled the heat from the exposition come right though the side of my fox hole. Pieces of the shell hit the tree limbs above my fox hole and came down into my fox hole. I started to pickup a nice shine piece and burned my finger. When I stood up the shell hole had taken the top two feet off of my fox hole, and was about 30 feet deep next to my fox hole. The gun crew said it took three days for me to get any color back to my face. To this date years later and my ears are still ringing. The ear doctor said he could correct the ringing in my ears with a new type of hearing aid. I ask how much and he said about $5,000 per ear. For $10,000 I believe that I can ask people to replete what they said many times.
We moved and moved until we were close to Colene, when we received a MARCH ORDER and then we just keep going. Someone said that the British troops were getting wiped out and we were to go to Holland to save them.
On the way to Holland there was a German Army of Volkstrom (peoples army). The German General had said how to surrender a whole army? The German General said his men only had World War I rifles and nothing else, and he only had young boys under 16 and old men over 60. He was told to have his non com and officers kept their side arms and the men were to stack their rifles.
As we passed the Germans they were 6 abreast in formation. There was only one jeep with two MP with every battalion. The German were to kept their kitchen trucks and supply trucks and look after their selves.
When we got to the Holland border there was an old man standing there with a big armful of bright red tulips. He was giving each soldier a tulip and saying Good Day to each. When our tractor came by him he handed up a handful of tulip to us.
The German general in Holland was faced with the American on this back side, and British on his front, he said he would surrender to the American but not to the British. His surrender was the same as the peoples army surrender.
We returned to the American sector and were on the west side on the Rhine River at Duesdroff. The Rhine River makes a bend there, and we could look south up the river, and north down the river. We were in the open. As the German brought up an Artillery battery they used our position to zero in their guns.
This is where Battery B had two wounded. The tractor driver on number four gun was sitting in a chair by the gun position and an 88 shell hit next to him. The shell granulated and he received many pieces of shell the size of a grain of sand. He was sent back and never returned to the battery. The other was Sergeant Walters. He wound was between his ankle and the tendon. This made a clean hole and not much blood. I pulled out my trench knife and start sharping it. I told him had that look bad and we better cut his foot off above the ankle. He said he did not think it was that bad. When I ask a couple of soldiers to hold him down and I would do the cutting. Sergeant Walters took off and head for the first aid station about ¾ miles down the road. They said he was still gaining speed when he got there. He was not gone for long, and returned to the battery.
I always was amazed as how they knew when to have us move out. On morning after 4 Oclock we received a March order. We were told to leave our netting in place, and no lights and no noise. We moved out and down the road a couple of miles then pulled over and stopped, then at six Oclock the German open up an artillery barrage on the position we had just left.
After time after the shelling shopped some men went back to pick up any thing left. The report was nothing was worth picking up everything left there was destroyed.
We moved into a position that was next to a road that the engineers were building down to the Rhine River. Every day as the B-25 bombers came over to bomb the east side of the Rhine, our orders was the fire on the German Anti-Aircraft guns on the east side. This reduced the Anti-Aircraft fire by the German. One day the German did get to one B-25 and a motor started smoking and it left the formation and turned back.
Everything was being made ready to cross the Rhine, then a flight of bombers came over and I looked up them had dropped their bombs. The bombs looked like big black rain drops. I kept watching the bombs fall and could tell by the angle that they were not going to hit our position, the bombs still was going to be on our side of the Rhine.
The bombs did hit between us and the Rhine River and I heard that an engineer company and another company of soldiers got wiped out. These did so much damage the place to cross the Rhine was changed.
BATTLE FOR CENTRAL GERMANY
We heard that the bridge was across the Rhine and we got MARCH ORDER, then it was hurry up and wait. Finally in the later afternoon Battery B got orders to move onto the bridge which was a set of two tracks laid down on the pontoons. Each of the pontoon had a rifle man on it to shoot any mines that could be floated down the river.
When Battery B was about half way across the bridge, an ambulance got stuck going up the levee on the east side of the river. We were not moving and when I looked down at the black water flowing very fast under the bridge, to me it looked very dangerous.
Then I heard an airplane overhead, the sound of the engine told me it was a German 109. The plane circled and the motor speed up and then the noise of the machine gun came first then the blue white tracers started floating down out of the fog. The angle of the tracers made I assured that the bullets were going to hit up stream and away from the bridge.
Then some one on one of the banks fired at where he thought the plane was. Of course, he was way behind the plane put it seems like all the other 50caliber and 20mm had to get into the act by start firing. All the tracers from these guns made a canopy over our heads. Then when I looked down into the water the reflection the tracers made it look like they all were coming at me.
When they got the ambulance up the levee and out of the way the whole column of equipment continued their way across the bridge.
We moved into an area that the 101st airborne dropped. A lot of the supplies that was dropped for the 101st had holes made by anti-aircraft guns. We picked up some of the supplies for our selves.
After a few days our unit moved south toward the Ruhr Valley. We cross places when our guns had been firing at. Some of the Anti-Aircraft 88s still had they crew lying where they fell. I remember the team of horses that was still attached to an artillery gun. One horse was dead and the other horse was still standing...
The residents came out of their homes and watch as our units rolled by. Out of one house a young girl came running with a handful of flowers. As she was about to throw the flowers to our tractor, I had my carbine pointed at her ready to shoot. When she did throw the flowers they broke a part and then was not bomb inside. Some of the resident saw what happened and I could tell they were trying to thank me for not shooting. They made a motion as to indicate that the girl was not quite mental right.
As we pulled in to a position we received some in coming shells. To heck with the tractor and gun we put our fox holes down first and got in. I found a hole that was started so I just enlarged it for myself. As the shells kept coming in, I kept making my fox hole deeper. Then there was metal in the bottom. To keep my mind off of the incoming shells I clean the metal down of 3 or 4 inches and then realized that the metal was the tail fins of a 500 lb bomb.
After the shelling stop the sergeant got us to start setting up the gun. I told the sergeant that the gun was been set up to close to my fox hole. He made a remark, who cares. Yes, sergeant take a look in my fox hole. He did and he said lets get the gun move away here.
We were on the outskirts ESSEN. Smith said us go for a walk and get away for the gun for awhile. I said OK. We walk from the open field where the guns were, toward where there were houses. We followed the road down and under the railroad, where the town began. After passing a couple of block in which every building was flat. We came to a four story building that look like it had not be touch by the war. All the other buildings for blocks in every direction were completely destroyed, but, this one building did not have any damage.
We have to stop and look at this building, and wonder why it did not have any damage. The some girls were at a window and were waving at us. It was long until every window had girls in them. About that time Smith Well, can you image that, I sure that girl in the second story window is my cousin. Then he asked me if I want to go in with him to talk to his cousin. I said no and continue on down the street by myself.
It was hard for me to believe that this rumble was once houses and building. I kept on walking and then I notice it started to get dark. It was about a little after 3 oclock in the afternoon. . So, I turned around and started retrace my steps back to the gun position. I had gone a number of blocks when I heard voices down the street. I could not tell if these were German or American voices, so I move to side of the street. A couple more block and I hear rifle fire, and bullets came bouncing down the street.
It did take long for me to abandon that street, pick another. But, the street that I picked did not go any where. It was long until I know I hopeless lost. I did not know which way because of being turned around on the end streets that I tried.
I was saved when our guns started a fire mission. I do not know how or why the sound of our guns was difference to me from any other battery. After our guns started firing another battery started firing, but, their sound was different to me. Not have a street to follow I made a straight line toward our guns. Well, in the dark I ran into all type of problems but, I went over them and kept going until I got back to our guns.
Someone asked me where was Smith. I told them he found a cousin and was talking to her that last time I saw him. They said Smith found cousin, dont you know any girl is Smith cousin, and he bereaves cousin make good lovers.
Morning came and we had MARCH ORDER. Smith never got back that night, and he wasnt there when we moved out. As the days went by we wondered about Smith. Then about five days later he came dragging in the gun position. We have to ask what happened. Smith said he had more cousins in that building that he thought possible. Then, when he came back we were gone, and he said it had been up and down the front line and no one had every hear of Battery B of 666 Artillery Battalion. He said that almost passed us again until we started firing, then he know he had found us.
The battle on the Ruhr pocket was when the German army was trapped in the Ruhr valley. The 35th Infantry were in front of us and we were laying down fire every morning. The 35th had three regiments. Each day one regiments go though the other two for a ways and stop. Then the back regiment would have a day off and the next day it was their turn to go... During this time, we were laying a line of time burst way all in front, then a line of super quick burst, the a line of delay burst. The last line would give fox holes for the infantry to use.
One day a sergeant and a couple of other soldiers from the 35th came to talk with us. Of course, it is easy to have a chip on your shoulder. It doesnt matter how careful an artillery gun is operated, there is the chance of a short round falling into your own troops. What surprised us was that they came back to thank us for not having any short rounds. In fact, they said that we were the first artillery company that put the rounds right where they wanted them.
When the Ruhr pocket finally was finished off, we were on our way toward Berlin. We were on a nice big Autobahn (superhighway). Except that the Autobahn was paved with cobb Stones. When we were in the Battle of the Bulge the mechanics welded some steel pikes on the steel trends. The steel tracts and the pikes cause the tracts to get so hot the rubber on the idler wheels to blow apart. Then we had to change the idler wheels before we could travel. The idler wheels are the wheels that run inside the tract and holds up the body of the tractor.
We got to about 50 miles of the Elbe River when we were pulled over and they said the WAR was over.
END OF THE WAR
Some farmers in the small German Village that we were in, came and explain that big old bore hog was tearing up their garden and they said that the former German government took away all of their guns and they had no way to kill the old hog. They ask for some soldiers to come to their place and kill the hog. A couple of soldier went out the farmers house and talked and had some beer and it was about three evenings before the hog showed up again. The soldiers put some light on the hog and shot it dead.
The brought the hog back to the village and the mess sergeant told someone to go get a couple of barrels of red wine. The hog really had a strong oder, but, the mess sergeant butchered it anyway. The sergeant put the hog pieces into the red wine then he put some wood with rocks on the wood to keep the meat under the wine. Every day some one had to take the fat and blood off the top of the wine barrels. After about 10 days the meat stopped bubbling up. The mess sergeant said it time to cook the hog. The farmers were invited in and the hog was cooked, and the farmers brought a lot of fixings. A great feast was had. Actual I never knew if it was the wine or hog that tasted good.
All the time that we were at that small village, we had guards posted around at the cross roads. One night Smith and I drew the 6 to 10 PM guard duty at first post out. When our relief came, Smith said lets walk back and we will get there long before the truck does. The truck had about 10 posts to cover and it would take about 1 ½ hours to make the round trip. We could walk back from our post in 20 or 30 minutes.
As we were walking back Smith said lets cut down this street and it will be shorter. OK and we were walking down the street Smith stopped and toss a pebble on a second story window. I ask what goes. Smith said he want to talk to girl that lived there. The girl opened the window and put her finger to her mouth as to say keep quite. Then she came down and opened the front door. We both went in and Smith went up stair with girl and I sat down in chair to wait for Smith to come down.
After a short time I hear the Captain and the first sergeant coming down the street. Some where the Captain acquired a German Sheppard dog. For some reason that dog never like me. The dog would just look at me and bark. Not like he was going attack me just look at me a bark. Well, the Captain had his dog with him and the first sergeant. When they got close to the house the dog came to the front door and started to bark.
The Captain said that he thought that Welden was in that house. The first sergeant said no way Welden and Smith are guard duty tonight. The Captain said he was convinced that Welden was in that house.
They finally went on and Smith came down the stairs, and said the girl lost the mood because of the noise. The Smith said we better go out the back way. So we went out the back and took the alley back to our billets.
New rubber tract came for our tractors, and there were rubber pads where the old tracts had steel plates. This was to allow the tractors to move faster without the trouble we had with the steel pads.
We were in the area that the British were to have control of and therefore, we got our orders to move out. The new tracts work well, and we made good time. The road south went though the city of Kassel and large city that was bombed and they said 80,000 got killed in a fire storm from a bombing raid. That was six months before we went though the city and order of burned people was still there. That order always made me stomach sick.
As we were travel south on good roads, but our tractor overheated and we had to fall out of the convoy and cool off the tractor. We just had too much junk piled on the tractor and it lost the air to keep the engine cool.
After the tractor cooled off enough for us to start again, we did not know when the rest of the unit was. The tractor diver thought he was hot, and never did like the govern on the engine that would not let the tractor go more that 35 miles an mile. When we came to a long down hill run, the driver had the tractor 35 miles an hour, he put in the clutches out and the tractor picked up speed of about 45 miles an hour, then let the clutches back in. No more govern, it went to pieces. I think that the tractor driver had the tractor up to about 60 miles a hour. If he made an error on the brakes or clutches our gun crew would have been wiped out.
We did finally catch up with the rest of the unit about the time it was to pull over for the night.
New Market was the name of the small village that was the end of our journey. The unit was lined up on the main street, and the captain asked the mayor what building that we could use. The mayor talked some other village men, and then came back and if asked if we had to have one building or if the unit could be split up and use only one room in different buildings. The captain said that would be fine. The mayor then pointed out the buildings for us to stay in.
This was a nice little town with one main street, and a railroad yard. I met a redheaded school teacher. In the evenings we would sit on her front porch and talk. Her father did not speak or understand English. I would give him some cigarettes but he was always there. The girl told me about how she hated the war and the German government. She said that one time the rail yard was full of cars and travelers. The American fighter air plane came over strafing. Many people were in their home for safety, but one woman got hit and died in her arms. She showed me the hole that the machine gun bullets made in the said of their home.
It was time for some R&R and one of the first trips was to the French Riveraire . The battery received three opening to go. First Sergeant posted the notice on the bulletin board. I signed up first and put the fifty dollars down that was required. No one else put up the deposit so I was the only one headed for this trip. A truck came by with some other soldiers from other units and took us to Nancy France. I broke up with rest of the men and took a fast local train car to Southern France. There a army bus to Nice. Nice is a resort city on the French coast.
One day I took a local bus to Monaco. At the border some custom type men came on board and looked at everyone papers. I showed they my seven days pass, and they looked at each other and shook their heads. Then they left the bus, and bus continued on. The bus stopped at the Gaming Palace, and I went into the palace. There were a lot people there and it seemed like the dealers were always taking the peoples money, and not paying out any. I could not understand what was being said so I left and walked around Monaco. Then I took bus back to Nice. At the border some American MP was with the custom men. The MPs ask me for my papers and I showed them my seven day pass. Then they told me that I was not supposed to go into Monaco.
One day I had my picture take on the street by the sea. I still have these pictures. After having my picture taken it was warm so I went to a theater. There was a war movie showing. I was still warm and during the show I was half asleep, when a sound tract of in coming 88 came on. As I was picking myself up from the floor between the rows of seats, I look over the seat in front of me. About half of the soldiers in the theater were doing the same thing as I was. The other half was looking around as to what happened.
About a week after I returned from Southern France and new R&R tour came for three spots. I put in for one of the spots. One of the other soldiers complaint to the first sergeant that Welden went last time how come he getting to go again. The first sergeant said if anyone else put up the $50 to go they would be first before Welden. The soldier said that he did not have $50 to put up for the trip. First sergeant said why not borrows the money form Welden. The soldier did ask me to loan him the funds. I told him that I did not have it to loan. Off I went to Switzerland.
When we cross into Switzerland border they took two by two on the line. The soldier that I was partnered with was a Sergeant Win law B Brakley Jr. We went through customs and converted $50 into Swiss francs. We were told that we could only spend the $50 while in Switzerland. We also received ration stamps to be use if we purchased and food items.
After a couple of hour in Basil, we left by train to San Mortiz with the group. Our hotel was a small hotel next the center of San Mortiz. San Mortiz is a resort town for the rich. There did not seem to be any private homes in the town. There were hotels, small and large, and apartment houses.
After supper we stepped into a small bar room for a beer. As soon as we looked for a booth to set down, the sergeant eyes met the eyes of girl in a booth. He sat down in the booth with her and they both told me to sit down also. The girl that I sat down with was name Heidi. The other girl was Heidi chaperone. I had never seen two people bonded together as fast as the Sergeant and Heidis chaperone. Of course, one look at Heidi and I was take for a ride. It did take long for us to be two couples. The girls said they had to catch the train back to their hotels at 9 Oclock. We made a date for the next day, and put the girls on the train.
After the girls left, the Sergeant said lets down to the Palace Hotel. The Palace is supposed to be one of the best hotels in the world. We walked into the hotel and the carpets were deep and soft. It seems like my feet were on feathers as we walked down the hall way to the Ball Room. When we enter into the ball room, I look around and took notice that the only one in the ball room was American Army Officers and civilians.
The head waiter took one look at us and I could tell he was not pleased with us being there. The head waiter had a small table brought out for us. It was only about 20 across. I look at the menu of drinks and said wow. The sergeant and I order a drink. We were sipping the drink to made it last long, when in came a beautiful woman, followed by two other older women, and then a short man with a big red slash across his shoulder and chest. The sergeant had to say in too loud of vice, What a beautiful woman, as they passed our table.
They went over to a large table and sat down. As a waiter was taking extra large bottle of champagne to their table, the sergeant had to say Someone would have to be a rich SOB to afford champagne in such a large bottle. It wasnt long until a waiter was at our table and said that we were invited to join the party at the big table. I said give them our humblest and ask them to forgive the sergeant. It was long there were four waiters, one on each side of me and one on each side of the sergeant. We were told that we were invited to the large table and we would be going.
The sergeant looked at me and I looked at him and we went over and sat down by the beautiful woman. The Sergeant sat on side and me other the other side of her. The two older women were seated beside us and the man with the big red slash was on the other side of the round table.
The woman said that she was from Cario. She told us that they were on their honeymoon, and had only been married for six months. They were on their way to London for some type of doing. The man seemed very displeased with the Americans. We enjoy their champagne and Turkish cigarettes for theirs. When anyone took a sip of the champagne a waiter topped on the drinking glass. When anyone pickup a cigarette a waiter was there to light it. Every once in a while the old woman would hand out a five frank note to each of the waiters. The ball room was filled with a lot of people. We had four waiters for our table and then were only four waiters for everyone else. When we finish off the first large bottle champagne another one was brought.
I could tell that the sergeant was really getting enough to drink and when he told the woman that beautiful women like her should never get married. The face of the man with the big red slash turned as red at the slash. He took his wife out on the ball room dance area and danced a couple of dances and then went to the other side of the ball room and sat down to a table that was reserved just for the two of them. After that is was not long until I told the sergeant we had enough to drink and should get back to the hotel.
The next morning on the way to breakfast I picked up an English language newspaper and on the front page was picture of the couple we were with the last night. He was the leader of Iran, and his wife was the sister to the king of Egypt, her name was Farina.
After breakfast we met the girls when their train arrived. We rented some bicycles and rode to the top of the cliff overlooking the Italy border. Heidi and I had to stop every so often to let the other two catch up with us. Heidis chaperone has a lunch box made for us and we stop and had lunch. Heidi had both her still camera and her movie picture camera. She explained that on the movie picture camera you always ware to count to twenty before stopping a take. We had a taxi take the girls home. Of course we rode with them, and I notice that Heidis hotel was closer in and very much nicer than the chaperones hotel.
The next day we went for a hike up the mountain to a lodge, and had lunch. Heidi of course had her camera and took a lot of pictures. I still have pictures from that day.
We told the girls good-by because we were leaving the next morning. But, we made a date to see them in Lucerne in two days.
The next morning when our group was to leave there came a pounding on the door next to our room. We head the old couple trying to talk to person at the door and tell them they had the wrong room. I ask the sergeant if he want to get up and get going. He said no lets them do want they want to. Then he rolled over and went back to sleep. Then I did the same.
When we did wake up and packed out thing and went down stairs, the clerk asked what room we were in. We told him, and he some one marked down the wrong room. Then he said that our group had left without us. The clerk had the kitchen fix us some breakfast and told us we could catch a train at noon.
We were the only American soldiers on the noon train. This was an express train; the train the rest of the group was on was a local train that stopped at every village. We passed the local and were in Lucerne before the rest of the group.
The next morning the group was to head to Geneva, but, I did not feel like going and stated in Lucerne. The city map showed that there was swimming
G pier in the down town section of Lucerne. I had not been swimming for a long time and though that would be good to do.
The water in the lake was a lot colder that I would have like. To get warm I put my towel on the pier and was laying down soaking up the sun, when a young man about my age came by and ask a question. The question was in French, and I use my best French which was about ten words, that I was sorry I did not understand. Then ask the question in German. I told him I did not understand German. Then he asked in English what time is in. He could see the watch and so I told him the time. Then he ask are you one of the American Soldier on a visit. I said yes.
After we talked for a while he said that he and his sister were going to a movie that evening, and he was sure that it had English subtitles. Then he asked if I want to go with them. I said yes. We change from our swimming suits to street clothes and left the pier. He said that he and his sister wanted to stop by their apartment to change clothes. On the way to their apartment he showed me some of the interesting building in down town Lucerne.
When we got to the apartment, their uncle came into the front room and I was introduce to him. As the young couple with to change clothes. Their uncle and I were talking. He said that he just got back from a meeting in Washington DC. He really did not seem too happy with the out come of the Washington DC meeting. He was tall and stately looking. I quickly realized that he position and did not question about the DC trip.
The young couple was ready to go and spoke about some items to their uncle in French. Then we left and stopped by a small café for a small supper, and on to the movie. It is hard for me to read the sub titles and watch the movie. After the movie we said well by and I went to my hotel. By the time I got there the sergeant was sound asleep.
The next morning I bought an English Language and on the front page was a picture of Charles De Gaul the uncle of the young couple I was with. The article went on to say that he failed to get the US Government to back him for the next president of France, and he was very unhappy about that.
Heidi and her chaperone were on the train and I was happy to see them. The four of us were to the city park and Heidi had a lot of pictures take of us. Heidi gave me a woman lapel watch one that had been made in her fathers watch facture. I gave this watch to my mother. Then after she passed away it went to my sister. After I got married it sister gave it to my wife. When my wife passed a way the watch went to my granddaughter whose name is Heidi.
It was had saying good by but the week was coming to and end and the next day I would be on my way back to my army unit. Heidi and I exchanged letters for a bout 10 months when her last letter said she was getting married to a narrow minded person that said he did not want her to continue writing to me.
Back at the unit the one day orders came down from General Patton, who was in charge of that section of Germany, to get out of the German buildings and use our pup tents. Then the captain picked out a field next the village that we were to use. The farmer said please wait until I cut the hay in the field before you use it. The Captain said OK. Then about a week later the farmer was asked he had not cut the hay. It wasnt high enough will cut it next week. Finally, the captain told the farmer we were moving to the field, and the farmer cut his hay.
The village residents said why move out to that field, you are not in the way here. They really could not understand why the order was made. It was not many days later we received orders to move.
This time we were assigned a small camp when farmer workers had stayed. The camp was on the top of a cliff that was next the Danube River. We had nothing to do there and were just killing time. I found that if I took a bottle of wine and went down to the village and sat on one of the benches at the village square and played with the bottle. Take out my knife and try to get the cork out, and then set the bottle down on the ground and look at it. Pick the bottle up try different ways to get the cork out would attract attention of some one. Usually an old man would show up with a cork screw to show me how to get a cork of a wine bottle. Then I would offer the old man some wine. Then we would start talking and I was told about the history of the small village. There was an Obelisk in the center of the village square. I was told that when Napoleon army was in Greece they took the Obelisk down and started for France. When they got to the village, there was battle going on and the left the Obelisk at the village. Then the Obelisk lay on the ground for a 100 year until someone said it was time to put it up in the village square. The old man told me that the history of the world was carved on the Obelisk, but he said he could not read Greek and had not read what was on the Obelisk.
One Saturday I was going to walk down to the small village by the river. There were two ways to go, one was down a steep cliff to the village, and another was a path that was longer but easy walking. By road it was about 20 miles to road that to the village.
The day was warm and I was thirsty, so I stop at a farm house, and ask for a drink of water.
The farmer said he had some wine, would I like to buy a bottle of wine. This seems the right time to do, so I bought the wine. The farmer said that this was extra good wine.
Wine can vary a lot. The wine had I got had been distilled, which made it very stout. As I continued on to the village, I was drinking the wine. WOW, the wine was strong, and by the time I got to the village, I need to sit down. There were bunches around the village square. Sitting was fine but lying down on the bench was much better...
I was laying there enjoying the warm feely, and the warm sun, where a jeep stopped beside me. The first sergeant was driving the Captain. The Captain came out of the jeep, and over to me and said stand up soldier. Well, I could sit up but I was in not condition to stand up. The Captain said many words any of which none were good. After a good long lecture the Captain got back into the jeep and they left. I knew that I was in trouble.
An old woman came out of her house carrying a pot and cup. She poured me a cup of coffee, and as soon as I drink it, it came back up, and I turn my head and it went on the grass. She poured me a second cup and said drink. I did and again the some thing happened, and the grass received more. After the third cup my head started to clear up. The old woman said captain very angry.
Something had to happen or my name would be on top of the bad news roster in camp. I said to my self that I could climb the cliff up to the camp and get cleaned up. I really dont know how I made it up the cliff, but, I did. A shower help clear my head and I made up my mind that I could get one step ahead by taking over the orderly room. I put on my OD dress uniform and off to the orderly I went.
The soldier on orderly duty asked what he could do for me. I did not answer him, I just reach across the desk and grab his tie and tighten up it up as he lost breath, I lead him to the door and kicked him and told him go take a shower.
Then I retyped the orders of the day and signed the Captain name to the new orders of the day.
I was sitting before the orderlys desk with a big smile on my face, when the first sergeant drove up and he looked inside and saw me sitting therefore, he could hardly keep from laughing. The Captain came out of the jeep like he was ready to kill a herd of elephants, then when he saw me sitting at the desk; he turned to the sergeant and asked the sergeant who that soldier that was down in the village.
The sergeant said with a straight face, captain, I did not who it was, I am sure he was not from our unit.
The captain was not quite sure and he went over to the orders of the day, and read them. He look, and look at his name and shaking his head, he went into his office and sat down at his desk. He then reached in the bottom drawer and pulled out a bottle of whiskey and began to drink it. And for the rest of the afternoon and until it time to close the orderly room he never took his eyes off of me.
Orders came to move again and our unit moved to a small village called New Market about 3 miles from Saltsburg, This was in August, and I and some of the other soldiers like to walk into Saltsburg and walk down along the river there.
An R&R tour came down and to who want to go to the Gross Glockner the highest mountain in Austria. Of course I wanted to go. There was a group from Battery B plus some men from other units. They brought a two and half ton truck to take us. Going up the road to the passed the road wound back and forth and the turns were so tight that the truck could not made the turns without stopping and backing up and then take another turn. When we came to a small alpine village on the main road, we left the main road and took the road to a high resort inn. After supper we were told to get some rest because in the morning we climb the mountain.
After breakfast we lined up and started up the mountain trail. The trial was steep and it was long until we could tell the effect on our legs. The trail ended at the edge of a Glacier. The guide said to be sure to follow his exact trail. About half way across the Glacier, I had to see how far it was to the other side of the Glacier, so I stepped out to look around the column of soldiers. On my second step my foot disappeared I though my arms out and body forward, and when I was lying there I felt foolish and then realized I could not get up without help. One leg in a hole and rest of me in the snow, I need help and got it. We move across that Glacier and on up the mountain until we came to the ice cap at the top of the mountain. The ice cap went on up for another 1.000 feet. I and some of the other did not have ice clamps for our feet, and we could not go on the glare ice up to the top.
The other five men and I that did not the ice clamps started back down the mountain. When we came to the Glacier we were very careful as where we stepped. Once across the Glacier we found we had missed the tail. We will just go down the mountain until we find the trail. The saying was easier than doing. We started down the mountain and move across a slate slide area. Once across the slide area is was no going back. So we kept on going down and came to cliffs.
Going down the cliffs was not bad originally by some we ran out of hand holds. There were small shelves on the cliff, 12 or 14 inches wide. This was scarily so we took off our belts and made a rope out of them. And lower one by one down to the next shelve. Finally we got to where we could see the trail below us. Then we came to a shelve that was wider the other that we have been on. That shelve was about 20 inches wide and covered with beautiful white flowers. Each of us pickup a small hand full of the flowers, and made the rest of the way down to the trail. After we got to the trail it was easy going back to the lodge.
Time for a beer and relax, and as in the dinner room we were the only one there except for an elder couple by a window. As the maid brought our beer we gave her a flower. She took the flower and gave a kiss for it. Soon there were more girls coming and each of them had a kiss for a flower. The old couple was really going a kick out of this. When all the girls got their flower and disappeared, the old man told us was had happen. The girls would take the adel vise to their room and put in a book to press it and keep for the rest of their lives. The flowers we were giving away were the adel vise, the Alpine flower of love. The stop goes that any man who goes about 8.000 feet to pick a flower for his girl must be love. The man told us that he and his wife come to this inn on their honeymoon some 40 years ago, and their come back every chance their get. I hear that now it is against the law to pick an adel vise. They are a protect flower of the alpine counties.
The next day we were on our way back to our unit.
After we got back there was R&R for a trip on tour boat on the Danube. Who wanted to go, me of course.
We took a truck to Lenz, and got on the tour boat. They had the entertainment going on the fore deck all the time but, I was more interested in watching the scenery go back. The sun bathing girls that stood up and waved at the ship as it went by.
Order came down that the Battery B was to be terminated, and everyone was to be reassigned.
THE 223 FIELD ARTILLERY
I was the group that was assigned to the 223rd. This was a 155 long tom out unit that had a history that start in the before the 1800.
Most of the original 223 personal had shipped out and only a few were left. Our job was to clean up the guns and get them ready to ship out. After the guns were gone we had nothing to do. The unit had acquired some German parade horses. We rode these horses again the county side but never got used to the Europe type saddle. When the horses got tied they know how to make us slip out of the saddle and go to the ground.
One Saturday we found a little used tail going away, so we took this tail and after we came to the top of hill and started down the other side the tail began to look more used. At the bottom we broke out into a farm field. As we continue on the tail developed into a road and it was more used. We finally came to a group of farm houses a very small village. The people there was having a picnic type lunch and invited us to join.
The table that I was sitting at had a group of nice looking girls that were in their early twenties. Some of them spoke very good English and one of them told me that their folks were afraid of the bombs and the war and found this place to send their daughters.
I asked one of the girls if she was from Vienna, she smiled and said yes how I knew. I said I thought all the good looking girls came from the south. Of course, their all had to make me guess where each of them came from, except one who did not join in the give and take talk.
The dark hair girl had to come from Prussia, then there was one was from Munich, and one from the north coast of Germany like Hamburg, but the quite one did not say anything. The other girls ask me where I though she came from. She was a beautiful blonde but different from a German blonde, so I said the north western coast of Italy. That girl gave me a bad look and got up and left the table. I ask what I did to make her so mad. One of the girls said that the girl did not want anyone to know when she came from. So when I guess correctly where she was from her got mad.
After we had a good afternoon, and ask how to get back to the place we went staying. The girls said they had never left the farms since their folks brought them two years before. I had them to ask one of the old framers, and he said he did not know because he lived his whole life on the farm and had never left it.
It was getting later and we rode off and did find the trail back over the hills to our place by the time it got dark.
A lot of soldiers got reassigned, but, I was one that remained in the 223rd.
Trucks came and we packed up and got on the truck to head out of Germany to France.
CAMP OKLAHOMA CITY
We came to a camp that was about 60 miles northeast of Paris. All the camps in that area were named after cities in the United States. All these camps were redeployment camp. We were the camp headquarters unit of Camp Oklahoma City. Our unit had been reduced to 32 soldiers, a warrant officer, and a Captain.
Army divisions coming out of Germany to our camp were being disassembled, every soldier was rated with a score. The score total was the total of one point for each month of service, one point for each month overseas, five pints for each combat star, and five pints for each child.
At first the soldiers with a low score were on the orders to go to the camp in southern France to be shipped to the Pacific. The soldiers in the next category were on the orders to go back to Germany. Then the soldiers with the highest score were on the orders to go to northern France to be shipped back to the United States. There was a story of one soldier that had been overseas for 20 months and his wife has a set of twin babies. He was asked what he would do about this. He said he would kiss his wife and enjoy the twins that gave him enough points to go home.
After the war in the Pacific was over there were only two categories. The soldiers with a low score were sent back to Germany, and the ones in the high category were sent to Northern Frances to be shipped back to the United States.
Every one of our unit could type, and there is where I learned to work regardless of any noise around me. The office was set up with two desks side by side, and across were two desks facing the first set. This made four desks in a unit and the office had two rows of units. The warrant officer was at the head of the office and passed out the 201 personal files for us to use.
When a division arrived at Camp Oklahoma City everyone wanted to know their score and to get assigned out as soon as possible. As soon as the 201 files were delivered to the warrant officer we had to work to get every soldier possessed. Once we started possessing a division we did not strop until all the work was completed.
I remember that one over size division arrived at the camp of about 40,000 soldiers. The divisions general want to get his men possessed as soon as possible. The 201 files never were delivered until noon on Monday. We started our work, and the mess sergeant kept the office supplied with coffee, and sandwiches. The work never stopped, it was not until Wednesday afternoon when we finish our work. Needless to say we went to the barracks and off to sleep. That was 75 hours of typing without leaving the office. We had breasks breaks for coffee and sandwiches.
There was a Germany POW impound on the back side of Camp Oklahoma City. We would go over to the POW impound and sign out five POWs to cut grass and do yard work around the Camp Headquarters. One day a POW that had been assigned to help out in the kitchen came to the office and told us that the mess sergeant had drank too much cooking wine, and was out like a light.
The POW asked if we wanted him to fix the noon meal, and get the supper meal started. He was over 50 years old. He said that he was a chef and toward the end of the War he was drafted into the Germany army. We told him to go ahead and fix something for lunch. He did and it was the best lunch that we had to that date. He took us in the back room and showed us the mess sergeant still out like a light. He asked if we wanted him to fix something for supper. Of course, we did and he prepared an excellent supper.
When it came time for we to return the POWs back to their impound we knew it would be impossible to get him on our sign out the next day. Well, what to do, we changed the sign out order from five POWs to four POWs and keep him with us.
The guards at the impound said their slip showed that we checked out five POWs and now we only had four. We showed out sign out slip and it only showed four. We told the guards that we normally check out five but today we only need four and out sign out slip was changed to four. They did not quite believe us but said OK.
Our meals were the best, and some officers from the other units started coming to our unit to the meals. To keep our chef were found an America Uniform for him and let him sleep in the back Kitchen room. Any time we were hungry or came in later for being off post, he was always there to fix us some thing to eat and it always was good.
We kept him until the orders came to take the POWs back to Germany. Then we only checked out four POWs and change our check out slip to five. We were good and making any orders read what we what we wanted it to say. The guards ask why we brought back five when we only checked out four. We told them that originally we only want four, and normally took five. So the check out order was changed to five. See our check out order.
When the War in the Pacific ended, we had a full division in Camp to be possessed. That is when we had to redo files on the Soldiers we had assigned to Camps in Southern France, and assigned those soldiers back to Germany. When the soldiers hear the news about the war in the pacific being over the PX beer was sold out. Some of the soldiers had too much beer, and were firing guns. I was scared so I dig a sleeping in fox hole next to my bunk. This I up my sleep bag in and spent the night. The firing kept up off and on all night. In the morning I was told that some soldiers were killed by all that firing. I never checked this out to determine if it was true.
The warrant officer gave each of us in the unit a pad of signed three days passes, and as soon as we possessed the soldiers in camp, we went to Paris to relax and so forth. We would call in every day and if any division was coming in to be possessed, we would head back to camp. If there were no soldiers to be possessed, there was not need for us in camp.
We knew that the orders were coming down to close Camp Oklahoma City, and I did not have enough point to go the States so I applied for a discharge. My application was approved, of course, it was approved, I had signed the authorization. The Warrant Office asked me stay and help box up the records, and equipment to be shipped out.
The tents came down and the PX supplies were boxed up and put on the trucks that left to a supply depot. There some empty boxes and paper that we put into a pile to burn them, one of the men said what about this case of cigarette cartons?
We had planned to go Paris for the last week end and come back Monday morning to ship out. So we took the case of cigarette with us to Paris too sell. By the time we got to Paris and had the cigarettes sold, it was about eight oclock. One of the men said that he was tried from all the work we did that day and thought that a good drink would be in order before we had supper.
Well, one drink was not enough, and another was in order, but, not in this café, we went to the next, and it felt so good, we went on to another café, and so forth, until Sunday afternoon when we were dragging. There were a lot of cafes in Paris. We had been on our feet for 64 hours. We know that we better get back to camp when we were still standing.
At camp we found a place to bunk down for the night. I woke up and the sun was setting. I said that I must have slept all day. The man said yes you sleep all day and more today is Tuesday. Then he said the Warrant Officer called from Paris and said the orders to move out was for Wednesday morning and he said that if we did not wake up he was going to wake us up.
Wednesday morning I help put the balance of the equipment and supplies on the trucks that were head north to Rheams. I had all of my army papers and my orders to go to Camp Washington DC for a discharge. I waved goodbye to everyone and waited for the mail truck to come by. I ask if I could ride with to Washington D.C. and he said of course. As I got into the truck I looked over to where the camp had been. The empty field with the only thing was a farmer in the distance with his tractor and plow turning the camp area back to a farm field. I was the last soldier to leave Camp Oklahoma City.
CAMP WASHINGTON DC
When I arrived at Camp Washington DC, I turned in my 201 file and orders. Then I was assigned a bunk.
The next morning I was in the office asking when my discharge would be possessed. The sergeant told me that they were way behind on typing and they probably would not get to my papers for a least a week.
I told the sergeant that I could type and would be willing to help out. That he liked and I was sat down to a typewriter and help processing the papers that need some typing. It took only two days for me to get the typing to be caught up and down to my papers. After I got my 201 file completed and discharge typed then Major called me into his office.
The Major said that he really liked the way I filled in and helped get the office work catch up. But, he said he had bad news for me. He said that 51 points were not enough to get a discharge in France. The points need to get a discharge in France was 52 points.
I told the Major that in 10 days I would have the extra point, so just sign my discharge. That pissed the Major off to no end. He told me in his army privates did not tell Majors what to do. Then he called the sergeant in and told him to cut orders to send me back to where I came from.
But Major, I said, there is no more Camp Oklahoma City; I was the last man to leave the camp so I can not go back there. So I have to be sent elsewhere, like Marburg, Germany where I can get a discharge.
The Major said in his army privates do not close out army camps. Privates do not tell Majors what to do. He told the sergeant to cut orders to send me back to where I came from.
The sergeant said that he would have my orders for the first time the next morning, then; I could ride the mail truck back to Camp Oklahoma City. I told the mail truck driver at I was assigned back to Camp Oklahoma City, he laughed and said that the camp had been closed.
We stopped and look at the field where the camp use to be and the driver asked me if I really wanted off the truck. I said no take me on the French village. There was a railroad in the village and I put my things in a locker, and took the next train into Paris.
I still had the book of signed three day passes and I use one to check into a hotel. Not knowing what do, I took a long bath in the bath tub. Then after resting for a while I went down to the dinning room for supper.
The warrant officer was there having supper also. He said that he came to Paris to see it for the last time before he shipped home. He asks me about my discharge, and I told him the story. He laughed and said he was at Rheims and if I came there the day after Christmas he would get me on the orders of the day to go to Marburg for a discharge.
The next day was Christmas so I sent a telegram to my mother. The telegram said Merry Christmas from Paris, December 25, 1945 I love you. Your son John
The hotel had a big Christmas dinner, and the soldier that I was setting next to got acquired. He said that he had a date with a couple of girls for the evening, and asked if I would like to make it a foursome. I had nothing else to do so I said yes.
We took the subway out to their place. They insisted on have a small supper. It was good a small salad, some fish out a can that was good, and a piece of pie. After supper the four of us took the subway back to center of Paris. We went to a couple of live shows, and before long it was close to 1 AM.
When the subway got to a station the girl that I was with said this was her station. Both of us got off and were talking on how much both of us enjoyed the evening. When the light blinked she said that was the last train to Paris. I said that I would get a street car on the back to Paris; she said the street cars stopped run at midnight. So we went to her apartment.
There was only one double bed in her small apartment. When she retired to the bathroom, I slipped into bed. I had never slept on a feather bed before. It was like floating on a cloud. As soon as I laid down I was a sleep.
I awoke up and looked at my watch, it was after 9 oclock, and I had to get back to Paris and check out the hotel and get down to the train station to catch a train to Rheims. I slipped out of bed not waking up the girl and took the subway to get back to Paris.
Hurry as fast as I could I missed the first train out to Rheims and had to way for the next one. Time was going fast and when I got to Rheims and found where the warrant officer was at it was late afternoon.
The Warrant officer told me that the orders of the day had already been cut and signed and the officer of the day had left. I ask to see the orders of the day, and then smiled to my self. I then told the warrant officer it was good time for him to take the officer crew out for a cup of coffee and donut. He knew what was going happen, but did not say anything.
The orders of the day were on stencil and ready to run on the mimeograph machine. A razor blade was I used to cut the paragraph out on the orders for a soldier to go to Marburg. A blank stencil I found and retyped the paragraph then put the stencil back together and ran the orders of the day on the mimeograph machine. I made the proper number of copies that was needed and had them stacked neatly on the desk to be distributed when the warrant office and crew came back to the office.
The warrant officer looked at the neat work, and looked the orders over, then said, Welden here are your orders to go to Marburg to get you discharge, with a smile on his face.
I wasted no time and caught a train that stopped at all the villages back to Paris. When the train stopped at the village where I had left all my things, I got them and back on the train to Paris.
In Paris I caught a train to Germany.
The border of France Germany everyone one had to show their papers. During the moving around, I notice an older soldier that I thought I should know. After that time he said Dont I know you?
His name was Wall, and he had taken basic training in my battery in Camp Callahan. He had a story to tell.
He said because of his age in his forties, he was put on the bottom of list to go overseas. Toward the end of the war he was shipped out and landed at LaHarve. He said he was in a truck going to a replacement camp and he was standing up in the back of the truck with his back to the wind, when the truck passed some tree beside the road a broken limb cut him from the shoulder to the elbow. They put him in a field hospital, and did a good job of sewing up the cut. After awhile in the hospital as a walking wounded he was looking at some tanks that had lost a battle. In a hut next the tanks were some little boys playing with some 50 caliber shells, and some 20mm shells. These were live ammo and some of the 20mm shells were explosive shells. He said he told the boys not to play with the shells. He said that they left and he pickup a 20mm shell to look at it, and then he tossed it down among the other shells; it explored and filled his leg with pieces of the shell. He said now he is being very careful on everything he does. He was on his way to a replacement unit.
I arrived at Marburg and got off the train, but, I did not know where to go. I had all my papers and items and was wondering how to find the army camp and the discharge unit. It didnt seem like any of the soldiers I ask know where I was to go. Most of them laughed when I said I came here for a discharge. Most of them were here to be resigned to another unit.
I finally ask a German Taxi driver. He knew when the camp was, and probably when the unit was. He said get in and he took me right to when I was to go.
It was late in the day and the only one in the office was a sergeant. He closed the office and took me to a barracks for me stay in. Then took me where the meals were served.
The next morning I asked the sergeant if I help him. So course he said yes and he did the possession and I did the typing and in a couple of days we had his work down to my discharge. I was typing on my discharge with the officer of the day said he was leaving for the day. I told him is he could stay another 20 minutes I would have my discharge typed.
He say no because he had a date for a New Year eve 1945 party. He said that I could not be going any place on New Year day so relax and he would sign my discharge the first thing on January 2nd.
Nothing to do and all day to do it, gave me time question the phase that I had been typing on the back side of the Discharge Certificates. The phase was This soldier released from active duty under AR. What did it mean released from active duty? I got the Army Regulations and read the AR on that was being typed on the Discharge Certificate. This regulation stated that on released from active duty, the soldier was to be on inactive reserve for seven years.
This did not set well with me so I keep on reading until I came to an AR in regards to terminate military service.
On January 2, the officer of the day asked me why my Discharge Certificate read different from all the others. I told him that all the others were getting released from active duty, but I was being discharged from active service. He OK and signed my discharge. I was authorized to receive pay for January because I did get my discharge until the 2nd day in January. I went to the paymaster and drew my final pay plus $100 or the $300 discharge pay. The other two $100 of the discharge pay I could draw one at end of each month for two months.
OUT OF THE ARMY
I took my Discharge, papers and all the other items that I had and took a train to Frankfurt. The army had taken over a I.G. Farbin nine story building on a small hill overlooking Frankfurt. The American Civil Service Commission had its headquarters in that building.
At the desk I said that I wanted to apply for a job with the civil service. They said I would have to take a typing test. I took the test and then I was told the good news and the bad news. They said that I passed the typing test, but the bad news was that it was not very high. Therefore, they had a typing position open, but it only paid $1805 a year. I ask that I would take the position. Then they said I was to fill out an application for discharge and they would sign where that I had a job. I told them I already had my discharge as showed to them. Then they signed me for a six month contract.
The job was with Class VI quartermaster at Heidelberg. Heidelberg is nice small city, and the only war damage was both bridges across the river were blown by the German Army.
The army headquarters were in a former Germany Army Headquarter just on the out side of the city.
Class VI quartermaster controlled the liquor rations for the soldiers. We were to find one bottle of whiskey and two bottles of wine for each soldier for each month.. At first there were 3,125,000 troops and that required a lot of liquor. My job was to keep the paper flow going in the office. The colonel was the connect officer for the liquor suppliers. I never was involved in that part of the operations..
The officers had their officers club, and the enlisted personal had their club, so the civilian personal had to have their club. Our club was in a room on the ground floor of the hotel that I was staying in.
Our club had twenty two drinks listed on the menu. This was a challenge to a soldier that was with me and we started at the top of the menu and ordered drinks one by one starting at the top of the list. I dont remember far we got down the list, but when my friend passed out I left for my room. My room was on the third floor and going up the first to second floor was not bad, but not good neither. The last set of stairs was like why stand when you can get there on all fours that way you would fall down. Any way I did get to my room.
After three months in Heidelberg the colonel said that the first and third armies were to be combined. He wanted me to go the third army headquarters in Bad Tolz south of Munich. The colonel arranged for a jeep to take me and another civilian employee from Heidelberg to Bad Tolz.
That was a cold ride because after leaving Heidelberg we ran into snow. Army jeeps with cloth top and no heater just is not the type of vehicle for the cold and snow.
When we arrived at Bad Tolz there was about three feet of snow on the ground, and it was cold. We were glad to get checked into our hotel and first thing I did was to take a long hot shower. The headquarters were in a former German Army barracks on the edge of the city.
Bad Tolz is a resort town at the foot of the Alps. The weather was cold and snow on the ground limited my trips around Bad Tolz. The army offices were in an Germany Army post just outside of the city for their offices.
In a letter from my cousin Delmar Welden, he said that he finally got to Germany and was in Munich. I took off one week end and Delmar (Buck as he was called) and I made the bar rooms around Munich. Time went fast and we never got together again until long after the war. Buck stated in the army for the full twenty year to retirement.
The best plans are not good enough all the time. There was liquor suppler from Prague had large choice liquor for sale. There were all the colors and they look good in the clear bottles. We lined as group of the bottles up on the window and the sun shining though the bottles made a rainbow of colors in our office.
This was nice but after a couple of days when the sun was hot and it seems to double off of the snow on the ground. The heat from the sun exploded one of the liquor bottles, under the desk I went without thinking about any thing other just get down and out of the way. Another bottle exploded and I was thinking some one was shooting at the building.
I crawled out of the office and into the hall where a met people coming to see what happen. We checked and the windows were not broken and wondered what made the bottles blow up.
We took the rest of the bottles out the windows and took what was left of the liquor in the broken bottles and some unbroken bottle to the medics for them to check. The word came back that the amount of ethyl alcohol in the liquor could not only make a person sick, but could cause blindness or worse.
The trucks that were headed to Prague to get the liquor shipment were call back, and the million dollar order was canceled The company in Prague made a protest with the state department, and the state department wrote the Army headquarters in Washington DC and they wrote the Europe Army headquarters and then we finally got the word.
We sent a copy of the lab report on the liquor back up to the headquarters in Europe. We never hear any more on this item.
It came time to pack up the office and move back to Heidelberg. This time I was assigned to a small hotel on a side street. The side street that the hotel was on did not have any window, just blank walls on each side of the street. The hotel had a plain door to the street. Then inside the door were a patio and grass, and the front door of the hotel. The hotel was three stories high with about six rooms on each of the second and their stories.
Time went fast and my six months civil service contract ended, and I took the train to Hamburg, to find a troop ship back to the state. My discharge allowed me to use army transport back to my home.
When I got to the army post at the port, I had to wait for the next troop ship back to the states. Each day I went down to the dock to check for any in coming ship. Finally after two weeks a troop ship arrived. I went to the office and made sure that my mane was on the manifest to load on the ship.
The civilian employees on the ship had a lot better quarters than the soldiers. We took our meals with the officers, and had better food that the soldiers.
Everyone is not honest, and when the statute of liberty came into to site we all went up on deck to see her. When I return to my bunk and continue packing up my things, two of my pistols were missing. My 32 and 25 were gone. I still had my P 38. When the ship was docked, and the gangplank were down the soldiers were been taken to customs and their personal items were being checked.
I did not want to wait for all the soldiers to get off, so I found an empty gangplank and off I went by myself. All the soldiers were going in to the pier building, but I saw a gate at the end of the pier to the street. There was a locked gate at the street, but, I sprung it open enough to get out on the street.
There was a taxi waiting there so I showed the taxi driver where I want to go. He smiled and no he did not want to go there because that was out overlooking the harbor. He asked me if I went though custom and I told him I did not find any custom people. He took me to a subway station and told me what subway station to get off.
I visited a soldier and his family there. This person was assigned to the ASTP unit at Eugene Oregon and had visited by family in Cottage Grove, Oregon.
We had a few beers at a local tavern with a group of his friends, when we left he told them we would see them a Coney Island the next day. We took the E-train to Coney Island and there were a mass of people there, I wondered how we would find his friend. We walk though the mass of people and finally there were all his friends from the night before. He explained each part of New York had a special section of the Coney Island beach to use. That is how he found his friends.
After a few days I left and went down to 3rd avenue in New York and visited a friend of mine from our days in Europe. He was a Jew and could speak many languages. In Europe he always had a crowd of Jewish girl around him. He was six foot two inches tall and very good looking.
His family ran a deli on Third Avenue. His parents, his bother and sister, and an aunt and he all lived in a five room apartment above the Deli. Like I said he was 62 tall all of the rest of his family were abut 52 tall. When he and I were talking we would be talk right over the rest of their heads.
On Saturday night he took me to a Jewish block party. He told me not to say I was not Jewish and not to say I was from Oregon, because most of the people at the block party did not believe any good Jew would live west of the Mississippi.
Some of the girls I was talking with ask me where did I get a nose job, and said it was really a good job. I did not really know what they were talking about and changed the subject. My fiend after we left the block party told me that it was the custom to get a small operation on their noses to correct how it looked.
I left New Year and took the train to Washington, DC when my older bother lived. We had not been together since the first part of the war. My sister-in-law, her daughter and I visited a lot of the places in the Capital.
The only space on an airplane to west coast was on DC-8 to Seattle, Washington. When I arrived at the Seattle Airport, I decided to hitch hike on the highway to home. At first I was picked by a person going to Portland, Oregon and then one close to Eugene, but there I was for a couple of hours before someone took me on the Eugene. Then I took bus on to Cottage Grove. My folks did not know I was coming home that day but was very happy I was home.
END OF STORY
John C. Welden
This is not a history of the World War II but the journey of one young boy.
I hope you found this interesting.
PS It writing this reminder me of a song from my college days that went something like this.
When college days are over, times like these will live in memories, and of the girls we knew
Just change college to Army and it would fit with this story.
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