Usually we post scientific papers related to the U4 Haplogroup here on the U4 blog. But today I wanted to share the story of a U4 haplogroup member that im proud of. Cliff Hayes fought with the 222d Infantry Regiment and received a Presidential Unit Citation for his bravery. Cliff has been putting down his memory's for future generations and I have reposted his story. Facinating stuff!
The following words are Cliffs:
"Third Bn Hq was in Dauendorf with our company K in Neubourg to the 3d Bn line as shown on the sketch and with Company I on its left, also shown on sketch."
Wartime Memories from World War II of Clifford J. Hayes
I was reading the Sunday papers on December 7, 1941 when I heard the news on the radio (there was no television until well after the war). At first I thought it was another of the “scare” type programs meant as entertainment; but the reports started coming in to interrupt regular programs and it dawned on me that this was real. I was fifteen, going on sixteen, and we had been hearing about Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. I don’t believe there were many people, at least in my part of the Country, who had any use for that brood. We also knew that there was an agreement of some sort which held Germany, Italy and Japan together. My first thought was, “I wonder if it will last long enough for me to get in”. It did.
There was no question that we would also be at war with Germany and Italy as well as the “dirty Japs” who had attacked us even as their ministers were in Washington to conduct peace negotiations.
The war was brought home to us on the home front in mnany ways. Rationing: Gasoline was rationed. I believe some food was also. I know shoes were for I needed a pair and one of the older women in the village graciously gave me a coupon for one. Just ater that the fire siren rang and I went charging off to the fire. When I returned home I no longer had the coupon. I have no idea what had happened to it, likely it jumped out of my pocket while I was at or commuting (hitchhiking) to and from the fire.
Work had been hard to come by for a teen-ager in a small country town. It consisted of mowing lawns, day work on local farms, digging potatoes, cleaning out chicken coops and similar short-term activities. As the school year drew to a close in the spring of 1942, it appeared that the Japs were knocking us about. However, it did not cause us any fear, it just made us angry and more determined to take care of those bastards (that’s what we called them), both in Europe and in the Far East. I heard that the D&H railroad was hiring men for an extra gang. I went over to the station and met with Gus Farro, the local boss of the extra gang as soon as school was out. He hired me along with several of my friends and school chums. We went to work about 6:00 AM and got off about 3:00 PM with time off to eat lunch. Mornings in June were crisp to chilly and we had to lift the rail cars onto the tracks and ride out to the work area that changed daily as we progressed with the work.
The extra gang was hired to change the two tracks, one at a time, from resting in cinders as tracks had been done since railroads were developed to resting in gravel. No work could interfere with the movement of trains for they carried materials for the war effort. Our operation consisted of a work train, an engine with several gondola cars full of stone, coming onto the section of track that was to be raised. An old tie was placed across the tracks just ahead of the rear set of wheels of the gondola car to be emptied, depending on the direction the work train was moving, always from the finished section and over the section to be raised. The hoppers (doors at the bottom of the gondola car) were opened, stone fell out and the train moved. The stone was pushed by the tie across the track which in turn was pushed forward by the wheels against the back of the tie. This leveled the stone even with the top of the rails with any extra being pushed forward until it either filled a hole or was forced out past the edge of the railroad tie. Remarkably, much of the stone did not all fall through the doors at the bottom of a car so a crew had to climb up into the car and shovel the stone down to the hoppers. With stone dropped along a sizeable section of the track, the work train departed for another load of stone.
A couple of men were given fifteen ton jacks and they moved forward, digging holes in the stone about each half rail length on both rails, inserting the jack and raising it for several inches. As the rails came up, the stone fell down, some of it sliding under the ties that were attached to the rails. Next came several crews of four men each, usually eight to ten crews. Each man had a “tamping bar”, similar to a crowbar only longer and with a wider, blunted chisel edge at the bottom. A crew of four would attack a single tie, two men at each rail and one facing forward and the other back. Together they would push the stone down under the tie and tamp it into place to remove any empty pockets under the ties. If there were eight crews, each crew would tamp every eighth tie; if ten crews they tamped each tenth tie. They could not all work close together so the crews would be spaced out over two or three rail lengths. Gus, the boss, had to keep in contact with the dispatcher for this section of the line so that we could get the track cleared and the rails supported when any train came through. There were no cell phones so Gus would have to walk down to the nearest railroad phone, sometimes up to a mile away, to do this, providing us with much enjoyed rest. The straw boss, Tony, also had to make frequent checks to insure that the rails when raised, were level. Dips and crests were not allowed. These workers included mostly young men, not yet drafted or “4Fs” and high school boys. When the waiting periods for Gus were too long, the guys would horse around, sometimes wrestling and fooling. Tony would let us go until he saw Gus returning down the tracks.
On one occasion, I was “called out” for one of these wrestling feats. I had no interest in it but could not escape or I would be harassed for the rest of the summer by all and sundry. If I recall correctly, the guy who called me out was one Sully Pignatelle, probably about 25 to 30 years of age. I later learned that he had bragged of all he would do to me. Anyway, I took off my glasses and handed them to one of the fellows, then stepped out. I offered my hand to shake hands. Sully grabbed it and turned to throw me over his shoulder; however, I turned my arm so that my elbow would bend rather than breaking my arm as would have occurred if I had not twisted it, then grabbed his belt in the back with my left hand. He struggled for a while, then decided he could not accomplish that throw so he released me and I stepped away from him. He also stepped back so we were several feet apart. Next he started growling and charged with his head down, grabbing me about the waist. I bent over and threw my arms about his chest, holding on for dear life. He then tried to straighten up and would have thrown me over his shoulder but I was too tall and lanky (and heavy) for him to do this. I am confident he would have liked to try something else but he could not get rid of me. I had a firm grip on him. Finally Tony told us to break it up as Gus was coming back.
For some reason, Sully never came back to work after that day. I always suspected that he had bragged too much and his cronies razzed him unmercifully about all he had said he would do.
I met Sully at a dance several years later and he told me that my hold on him was choking him and he could not get his breath. We both knew that was a crock since I had him around the breast bone but there was no sense in contradicting him as he was merely trying to salve his pride.
I recall stopping at the local hardware store about a month after I started working on the railroad. Luke Hazen, the owner (and leader of the local “Bugle and Drum Corps” told me he was proud of me; he had not expected that I could last on the railroad job. He did not think I had the strength and gumption to do it. About the middle of August, one day on the job I felt miserable and very sick. I told Tony and I went to lie down on one of the cars. When I got home, Mom called the doctor and I had pneumonia. I was too sick to be taken to the hospital, some eighteen miles away. Mom was up with me for some seventy-two hours during the crisis and I was recuperating through the first week of school in September.
We had a volunteer air warden program and I was one of the volunteers. I had the 6 AM to 8AM shift with permission to get to school a few minutes late (our lookout station was only a few blocks from the school). This consisted in staying alert in the local greenhouse and calling a certain long distance number if we saw or heard any aircraft. Planes were uncommon in that day and age. I don’t believe I made more than three or four calls in the several months I was on such duty.
During my Senior year the Military came out with the Army A-12 and the Navy V-12 programs where young men could enlist for training leading to a commission and work in that branch of service with aviation. I applied and was told to report to a military center in New York City (at my own expense) for a physical. I believe it was at 90 Church Street but am no longer certain. This is near where the World Trade Center was later built and recently destroyed. When the recruiters saw my glasses they pulled me out of line and gave me an eye test which I flunked. I was humiliated but they were saving me a lot of time standing in line when it was fairly obvious that I could not pass the eye exam.
I graduated from high school in June 1943, and started working for the railroad at that time. Then I heard that the Schenectady Army General Depot was hiring. Several of us got together and Bob Stapleton’s father, the school principal, agreed to drive if we would chip in to pay for gas (it was some 55 miles each way). We were all hired and were put on the graveyard shift. I don’t recall if we worked midnight to 8 AM or 11 PM to 7 AM. At that time the Germans were sinking our ships at a great rate and shipping was becoming scarce, requiring exceptional procedures. One of the ideas was to compress materials that could be compressed so that greater volumes could be carried by the ships as they were often constrained by the volume rather than the weight of the cargo. Our crew, under the direction of Art Lawyer, was to start the third shift of compressing such materials.
The job consisted of moving clothing and materials to the presses, breaking out the contents, discarding the cardboard box containers and putting the product into the presses so that when released they were contained in waterproofing and banded to about 75% to 80% of their former volume. Of course we also saved some on weight as the waterproofing and banding weighed less than the former boxes. There were two presses, each operated by two men, one on each side of the press. These men had to work in close conjunction with each other. The rest of the crew were detailed to obtaining the boxes, loading them on a hand truck, moving them to the presses and getting the waste (discarded boxes) as one group did, and loading the banded bales onto hand trucks and moving them to storage and piling them. I was one of the four men who actually operated the presses. I teamed up, by happy circumstance, with a fellow named Chuck Loeber. Our crew spent the first night learning about the job and we turned out about the equivalent of a half days work as measured by the day crew’s output. The second night we did about as well as the day crews did. On the third night we started breaking records and our production went up as we grew more accustomed to each other and really learned the shortcuts of the job.
There were three-legged stools for the pressmen to use as they banded and sealed the bales. There was not much time to sit and you had to put the stool in position and move it out of the way constantly. Loeber and I soon decided that we could go down on one knee and do the job much faster and eliminate the need to keep moving the stools. One night, probably about 2 or 3 AM, I heard a voice behind me asking why I didn’t use the stool. Without even stopping my task of banding I replied, “It takes too G__ D___ long”. About that time it occurred to me that it was a dam fool question and none of the guys should be asking that so I looked behind me and saw a very sharply dressed Army Lt. Col. No more was said. Later Art told us that “the brass” thought he was making up the volumes of work he was reporting we had accomplished so they sent the officer to check up on us. It wasn’t hard to see what we were doing and he could determine how much we were doing in a measured period so they had to believe the reports. Lawyer let us “get away” with some minor “don’t dos” and in those reports of work accomplished we made him look very good for the record.
Our enthusiasm was primarily to help the war effort.
Well, with the war on and the entire country in a patriotic fervor, I knew that I could make a substantial contribution to the war effort. Besides I wanted to shoot at the Nazis or the Japs as soon as I got out of high school. By that time you could not volunteer for any of the services. Everyone was drafted in one way or another so I registered (several months early) with the local draft board in Oneonta and requested immediate induction (the equivalent of volunteering at that time). School was over for me and I had graduated as Mom had always desired. The Army Depot job was a way station until I got my orders. I was notified to report to Oneonta at 6:30 AM on August 30, 1943, for induction into the Army. I arranged for a ride with Edmund “Punk” Pier who had to report at that same time. We left Schenevus, NY, ,about 5:30 AM to be sure we were there on time. After reporting in and waiting for the paper work to be done, there were several busloads of us traveling to Utica, NY for our pre-induction physicals. It was a usual physical, none of the “do you see the wall; if so you qualify”. One joke was that a blind man would have passed the physical but his seeing eye dog had flat feet.
Those that passed the physical were allowed three weeks to get their affairs in order before reporting for active duty. They returned to Oneonta along with the ones that did not pass. Some eight of us waived the three weeks. One of the eight of us, an older man, was handed the eight slim folders with our physical reports in them and we were put on a New York Central Railroad train to go to our reception center. Hours later, and hungry, we arrived in New York City. As we got off the train, an MP (you could tell by the arm band that said “MP” on his sleeve) came up and asked if we were the contingent from Utica. When we said Yes, he looked at his watch and said “We might make it. Follow me”. He took off at a run through Grand Central Station with us strung out behind him. We dashed into the subway and he pulled open one of the exit doors and held it for us to rush through and get on the train that he had called to the conductor to hold for us. Next stop was another change to get on the downtown subway for the trip to Penn Station. We did get there in time to make the train for Camp Upton, clear at the extreme eastern end of Long Island. The MP’s head count showed that we were one man short, the older man that had carried our folders. Since the MP had taken them at the first meeting, he gave us our files and we were on our way, still hungry. We arrived in Camp Upton about 2 AM. We were herded along, issued two blankets, two sheets and a pillow case, then moved to a darkened barracks about 3 AM where we were told to find an empty bunk and get some sleep. We were still hungry but we were also ready to get some sleep.
And that is all we got because about 5:30 AM the lights were turned on and we were ordered to “rise and shine”. After a hurried breakfast, we were moved (I can’t say marched for we had had no training in that basic subject yet) to a large room where we took an AGCT (Army General Classification Test), the rough equivalent of an IQ test. I do not recall if the radio test was part of the AGCT or separate; however I think it was a separate test. You put on a set of headphones and listened to a series of dots and dashes, then to a second set and had to mark down whether the two series sounded the same or not the same. This separated those who could learn morse code from those that could not. Later that day they started “in-processing” us. We were there for varying periods until we could be processed and a determination made as to where and when to send us.
We did KP and policed the grounds and did other make work chores during this period. About three weeks later, a large contingent of us were moved to the railhead and loaded on a train with sleeper cars. Our lost buddy from the trip down from Utica made an appearance. He was wearing an arm-band with a PFC stripe on it and was helping to load troops on the train.
The next five days or so are pretty hazy. We were on the troop train, or at least on a troop section of a passenger train. I really think it was a troop train as we stopped several times in switch yards and not in stations. I do recall being in bed one night and seeing lights behind the curtains on the windows. I peeked around the edge of the curtain and we were rolling slowly through a station. There were people out there walking around doing whatever civilians do in railroad stations at night. I no longer remember whether or not we were fed in a dining car or in a military mess on a train. This is usually done by having a mess steward and his crew set up their kitchen in a baggage car, then having the troops come through a serving line as in any mess hall, getting their food on a metal tray and eating either sitting at a table or standing at a counter. After some five or six days we pulled into a set of tracks in the middle of nowhere with lots of sun, dust and heat. After being ordered to stay in the cars (with the sun heating them hotter and hotter while someone decided what to do with us), they ordered us off the trains and to line up. With no prior military training we were a pretty ragged, not to say rugged, bunch. In any event we had a roll call to insure that no one had fallen out of the train on the way down. We finally found out that we were in Oklahoma, some God-forsaken place called Camp Gruber. We were formed up in some groups as they had decided based upon some prior plans and we were marched (if that is the word) to our new homes. Mine turned out to be Headquarters Company, Third Battalion, 222d Infantry Regiment, abbreviated to Hq, 3Bn 222 Inf. More properly, it should be called Hq & Hq Co, 3 Bn, 222 Inf. Our Division included three Infantry Regiments, the 222d, the 232d and the 242d. Each Regiment consisted of three Battalions and each Battalion included three rifle companies and a heavy weapons company in addition the Bn Hq & Hq Co. The rifle companies in first Bn were lettered A, B and C and the heavy weapons co was Co D. In 2d Bn, the companies were E, F, G rifles and H the heavy weapons Co. In third Bn we had I, K and L as rifle companies with M as heavy weapons. Thus, you would know which battalion any lettered company was in by the letter of the Company. This was also the way the units of the 232d and 242d regiments were constructed. In fact, I believe every basic Infantry Regiment was designed this way.
Letter companies included three rifle platoons and a weapons platoon in addition to Company Hq with officers, a Company clerk, a first sgt, a supply sgt, an armor articifer and cooks and bakers. If I recall correctly, each rifle platoon included a platoon sgt with three rifle squads that included a squad leader and eleven other rifle men. There was an officer, usually a second lt in charge. I do not recall if the officer was part of the platoon or part of company hq. The rifle co weapons platoon had a 60 mm mortar and at least one light machine gun. The heavy weapons company in each battalion had at least one 81 mm mortar and, if I recall correctly, both light and heavy machine guns.
Battalion Hq had several officers, an S1, S2, S3, S4, S5 and S6. These designate the Administrative Officer (S1), the Intelligence Officer (S2), the Plans & Training Officer (S3), the Logistics Officer (S4), the Bn Executive Officer (S5) and the Bn Commander (S6). The Hq co had a 1st Sgt, Mess personnel, supply sgt, armor articifer, an intelligence section, a Communications platoon, an anti-tank platoon and an A&P (ammunition and pioneer) platoon. The A&P platoon was the Bn Commander’s engineers. The antitank platoon had three 37 mm antitank guns, one per section. The Communications platoon had a wire section (they laid wire and set up a switchboard to provide telephone service among the Bn companies and to Regimental Hq), a message center (which controlled and recorded messages into and out of the Bn Hq), and a radio section that kept radio service among the various locations where assigned. We were in two nets: one net was the Bn net and we could contact each Company in the Bn (both ways) and we were in the Regimental net (where we were in contact with Regimental Hq).
Most of this did not matter for the first two or three months. We spent our time learning the basics of being a soldier. Physical training; close order drill; the “Articles of War” (where you learned that your life was not your own); how to disassemble and reassemble your rifle (and you had to do it blindfolded so that you could do it at night or when there was no light); how to get a proper sight picture. It was not enough to learn to get a proper sight picture. You had to go over it again and again so that it was done unconsciously and automatically because on the battlefield you had to act on habit – it was too terrifying to have to think about what you were doing when the enemy was shooting at you. Then there was the rifle range where you fired for practice, then for record, earning “expert”, “sharpshooter” or “marksman” badges if you did not score too many “Maggie’s Drawers” (the red flag held up to signify that you had not even hit the target). We learned how to throw a hand grenade, how to put on and test your gas mask. We went through the gas chamber where you entered with your mask on and found that it worked. To prove it you took off the gas mask in the chamber and cried as you left – the effects of tear gas – but it proved to you that the gas masks protected you. Different companies had different training. The mortar and machine gun units learned all about them and had field exercises with them. Rifle companies learned about field tactics by actually going through them. They had to know how to react to hand signals, how to advance in extended order (to minimize casualties from enemy fire). Our Communications platoon had elementary classes in all three sections, telephone, message center and radio. Then each section continued with more detailed training. As a radio operator I spent many hours on a telegraph key before we went into the field with real radios.
After I passed my eighteenth birthday, I reported my correct age to the office and it was duly recorded. It was a minor item and there was no action taken. After all, I was of age to be drafted and had considerable military training – why would anyone want to punish me when I was already in the Infantry? That reminds me of the story of the Air Force bomber tha landed to refuel in Gander, Newfoundland in the middle of the winter. There were no mechanical pumps and the fuel had to be pumped by hand from 55 gallon drums into the aircraft. The enlisted man was not working as quickly as the Captain of the aircraft desired, so he threatened the soldier that he would put him on report. The soldier replied, “Captain, I am stuck here in this freezing hellhole, standing out in the middle of the night freezing my backside off pumping this fuel into your plane. What worse punishment do you think the Air Force can inflict on me?” So the Captain went back inside for another cup of coffee.
After some three or four months we had completed “basic individual training” and advanced to” small unit tactics”. We did not notice much difference except we now went out into the field more often, including spending time living out there under simulated combat conditions. We slept in pup tents. Each man had a “shelter half” which was a rectangle of canvas with a triangle sewed on one end. Two men could button their shelter halves together and have a tent that was open on one end and had the two triangles buttoned to keep the other end dry. This was fine in good weather but the open end always seemed to be inviting the rain in during storms. So, being the adventurous types that we were, we got four men together and had our two man pup tents connected to the next two man pup tent, making a four man tent. The only problem was that we had trouble getting into and out of these modified tents. But it kept the rain out and helped to keep out the cold. Since we had to keep radio communications operating 24 hours a day, our section had men on duty and men off duty at all hours so by buddying up, we could depend on usually having only two men in a tent at a time. We knew that the rifle companies were out in all weather and at all times of the day and night so we felt we were in superior accommodations and enjoyed our assignments. At least as much as we could since we could always console ourselves that those poor devils had it much worse than we did. After all, we were training for communications and did not move around as much as the riflemen. Since we were in relatively static positions, we got fed from the mess kitchens set up in the field. The riflemen got fed likewise UNLESS they were on some field problem where they had to eat cold “K” rations (a whole meal in a box about 10” by 4 ½” by 1 ¾”. There were rations for breakfast, dinner and supper. A meal usually had a can about like a tuna can or a bit smaller, some crackers, a candy bar, a small throw-away can opener, some toilet paper and a small pack of four cigarettes. I don’t clearly recall but there may have also been some jelly or some other things.
I remember one day I was on KP (kitchen police). That is a polite term for kitchen detail. Drat. The cooks and bakers did the actual cooking. They told a KP to open the cans, to set the tables, to peel the potatoes, to clean the garbage pits, to empty the slops, in other words, every menial job that the cooks did not want to do except the actual cooking. It was mid afternoon and the company Clerk came by and expressed surprise that I was on KP. I told him that I was up on the roster (the top kick kept a roster so that all EM except non-coms got it in rotation). He said, “But you are on furlough at midnight tonite”. I said, “No, I am not on furlough for two weeks”. He left and came back shortly and told me, “No, I checked and you are on furlough tonight”. Well, I went to the mess Sgt and told him, asking if I could be excused to turn in my gear and get ready to go on furlough. He would not let me go but said that I could get off after supper was served.
After supper I had to get the supply Sgt and turn in my gear, pack, get my tickets (the Army very nicely had collected my fare and purchased my tickets. In typical beaurocratic style they had routed me across the South and then north, chewing up five days of furlough each way out of a fifteen day total furlough. But they were trying to be even handed and giving equal use to all the railroads. I had to walk to the railroad depot in the little village nearby and turn in my ticket (about 10 PM), then walk back to my barracks and get ready to take the bus into Muskogee, OK in time to buy a ticket and catch the 6:30 AM MKT line to Chicago. The MKT was known as the Katy line. The full name was the Missouri, Kansas, Texas Railroad. Since I did not have a suitcase, I had my clothes in a barracks bag (sort of a laundry bag with drawstring top that we used for everything. Of course it had no sides or other way to keep clothes in shape so I got home with everything wrinkled. But what a trip! Upon arrival in Chicago, I got off and asked a conductor which track had the “Flyer” to Albany, NY. He told me I was in the wrong station – I didn’t know there was more than one station. I asked how to get to the other station and had to get a cab. This put quite a crimp in my cash, but I got across town to the other station and asked a conductor about my train. He pointed up the track to a train that was just pulling out and told me that was my train. I must have looked pretty glum for he then said, “That is the section that goes on to Albany. You can get on thie section and we will likely catch up with them somewhere in Ohio”. So I did. And we did. The conductor came through and asked if I was the soldier that wanted to go to Albany. When I said I was, he told me to get off and run up to the train ahead, it was the section that was going on to Albany. Well, I scampered up and got on the very last car – I wasn’t going to take a chance that it would pull out while I was going on up to the part of the train where I should be. It seemed like I walked through miles of sleeper cars, all with the beds made and curtains drawn, but I was on the train. Of course, it was more difficult walking up through these cars with a big laundry bag while the train swayed out of the station and picked up speed.
Needless to say, I was delighted to get home, even for only a short visit. I did get over to see my great grandparents, Melvin and Hattie Champlin. I am thankful for that as Grandpa died on the day I left to return to Camp Gruber.
One of the men’s clubs invited me to dine with them at their noon meeting. After we ate, they asked me to tell them about life in the service. Well, I had no experience with public speaking (and being the shy, retiring type that I am!), I was at a loss for words and suggested that I would be glad to answer any questions that they might propound. As you can imagine, the talk was a fiasco.
As we got into further training with the whole Battalion out in the field, one of the radio men had to carry a back pack with a radio (the pack was heavy because we had old style batteries, none of these light weight sets that are common today) and the Battalion commander, a West Point graduate, spent a lot of time in the field during training. He walked fast and when he stopped to make or answer a phone call, he expected to reach out and have the radio man hand him the handset. Guess who that was! You’re right, ME. I must have done well for I was in the second wave of recruits to get a PFC stripe. The first wave consisted of the men slated for higher promotions, section and platoon leaders. I always felt that the Bn Commander must have mentioned how well I kept up with him and the Company Grade Officers took that as a suggestion that I get a stripe. But it was hard won.
About that time there was a need for replacements for the fighting units and the orders came down to ship out a lot of the trained recruits. It turned out that my age correction may have saved my life for the Army had made a regulation that no recruits under nineteen years of aged would be sent overseas EXCEPT with the units they had trained with. Well, it appeared that the Rainbow Division had been categorized as a training unit. In other words, we would be a cadre and get in fillers, train them and ship them out. Massive transfers were made and new fillers came in. Suddenly I was Cadre and in the summer (or was it early fall?) when I sent on my second leave (or furlough), I had only a section of the orders that put me on leave. While at home, one of my buddies sent me another section that showed I was promoted to T5 (Technician 5th grade). This entitled me to wear two stripes with a T under them. It was unexpected but you can be sure I dashed out to get a set of stripes and Mom was happy to sew them on for me.
I got back to camp and found that I was on the duty roster for KP. I sought out the top kick, M/Sgt Uglick (did I tell you we all called him Sgt Ugly, but never to his face?) and said that I understood that non-coms did not pull KP. He said that was right – even he had not got the word of my promotion. But he countered. I was Charge of Quarters that weekend. It was a nothing job. You had to stay in the Hq and answer the phone, see that the enlisted personnel going out or coming back from pass signed out and in. At evening, you had to pull a cot out from its hiding place and make the bed, then sleep in it the night you were on duty.
On one of these weekend CQ bits I awakened about 2 AM to find S/Sgt X on his knees and holding onto the side of the bed. He was smashed drunk and wanted me. Since he taught unarmed combat, I did not want to take him on in a fight, even dead drunk. I found out what young women sometimes face on a date, trying to jolly the other person along and still retain your own self respect and safety. Fortunately I was successful. Over the next couple of days I struggled with my conscience. I knew that if I reported it to the orderly room (Company Hq), it would be all over the post in record time and I felt the Sgt was a good non-com other than for that episode. As I wlked down the street, I saluted an officer going the other way. As I passed him I noted the crosses on his lapels so I turned and said, “Chaplain”. He stopped and asked what I wanted. Told him I had a problem and he offered to try to help. I explained what had happened an that I was worried that a report thgough channels would cause the Sgt harm. The Chaplain told me it was fortunate as he was the Regimental Morals Officer (and I didn’t even know we had one). He said he would take care of the matter. The next day Sgt X called me into his quarters as I was passing through the barracks. The chaplain had done what he said as Sgt X was mainly concerned that I not advertise the matter. I told him I thought he was a good non-con and felt his actions had to be reported, but not through the Company. That seemed to satisfy him. It was only a couple of days until Sgt X was no longer with us. I never knew what happened to him but I believe he was warned and then transferred to God Knows where so that there would be no reason for me to discuss his actions and so he would not take any reprisal on me.
The military, at least the Army, operates on a TO&E, a table of Organization and Equipment. Every organization operates on one. Therefore if you transfer from one unit to another, you can see what the organization is authorized to have: One Company commander in the rank of Captain, several Lts (including the basic job of each), one First Sgt, etc, etc. That is the authorized table of organization although the unit may be woefully undermanned compared to what is authorized. The other part, the table of equipment, shows what the unit is authorized to have, not that does have it. Often the unit is so under strength that it could not handle all the equipment if it were available. Thus, though the TO&E might authorize a Captain as commander, there might not be a Captain and the senior Lt is the Company Commander. Of course when it comes time for promotion, the Lt has a Captain’s slot and is eligible for, and usually is, the person promoted. The TO&E is the bible. If you are not authorized some item by the TO&E, then you cannot draw an item short of an order direct from God or some other Officer on High, or om some days a general. Of course in time of war and in the field, Commanders of large units, may authorize supplements to the TO&E. Lower down the chain of command there are ways to get around that. One common way is the “moonlight requisition”, and if unsuccessful the culprit may be charged with theft. An example is a unit needs some item that is not authorized. An enterprising private may, on his own or with the tacit approval of his Sgt. go to the a supply dump and just steal the item. Or, with connivance, he may take in a bogus requisition and get it filled, taking the supplies back to his unit. This latter method usually includes the Supply Sgt who prepares the forms. It may even be the Company Commander that realizes the need. He mentions it to the “Top” (First Sgt) who is normally a soldier of long experience and knows the ropes. The Commander suggests that it would be nice (or even necessary) to have such an item. The Top arranges for it to be acquired, knowing that unless it is a felony (or something that cannot be covered up), the Company Commander will protect his men. In other words, if the culprit is caught, the Company Commander will use an Article 15 (Company Punishment) to preclude the soldier being court-martialed. Then the company punishment may be limited to restriction to quarters for a short period of time and even that may not be enforced. I am confident that similar activities occur within the other services also.
The rumors came around that the 42d would not go overseas; it would be a training center to train recruits who would be shipped out as replacements after basic training. Sure enough we started getting rosters of men being transferred out. It seemed that each day another set of orders would appear and the men be moved. I was excluded for I understand that there was a policy that young men under 19 would not be shipped overseas as replacements. They could be sent over with their own units if the unit was moved. The higher ups likely felt that if we went with the unit we would be immune from bullets. More likely they felt that with the time lag from when it was decided to move a unit out until it actually deployed any assigned personnel would have passed their 19th birthday. Since I had been through basic training and there would be no value in sending me through such training again, I was kept as cadre. The TO&E required that I be in an authorized slot (position) so I was appointed Chemical Warfare NCO and became part of the cadre for the new recruits arriving for training. Somewhere in about this time, flamethrowers came into their own as an infantry weapon. This fitted into Chemical Warfare so I had the fun of learning and teaching that subject.
You can think of a flame thrower as a take off on a weed killer machine that you carry strapped on your back. You fill the can on your back with water and weed killer for killing weeds. You fill it with some flammable liquid for combat. The liquid flows from your backpack to the rod in the shooter’s hand. He has a sliding action of one tube over the other at the end of the hose. By pumping the hose, he can spray a large area before he sets his flammable, usually jellied gasoline, on fire. This reduces the time he is silhouetted as a target. He can be seen after he lights his munitions; however, the fire is so compelling that most troops will look at the light. This was not a weapon to have everyone shoot. We gave demonstrations because allowing each soldier fire the weapon would likely have caused many casualties for there were many less than brilliant men in service. I am confident that many thought I was one of them.
I wonder if any of you have heard of the great WAR BOND DRIVES we had in WWII. I believe it was the “FIFTH WAR BOND DRIVE” where there would be a grand parade down the streets of Oklahoma City, OK. Even the military would participate. The 42d Inf Division participated by sending the guidons, each with a guidon bearer, to Tinker Field, OK for about a week to train and participate in the parade. I was selected to represent Hq & Hq Co, 3d Bn, 222 Inf Regt. I was doubly delighted for not only was I going to do something different; I was confident that I could find my cousin, Alta Mae Fredenburgh, who had joined the WAACS and was stationed at Tinker Field. I did get to see her and had a nice chat with her. I think that it was the last time I ever saw her. After the war she married and lived in the Binghamton, NY area. I did not get down that way, being bent on obtaining my education and on with my life, even as she was getting on with hers. She had several children and, unfortunately died, I believe in the 1960s.
There were opportunities for change. You could volunteer for the Rangers. The Army started having Ranger Platoons in each Battalion. I guess this came after we were overseas. But we could apply for OCS (Officer Candidate School). I did in the early summer of 1944. I took another AGCT test, with somewhat more rest than the first time and only scored a one point difference from the initial testing. I went before the Board and waited and waited and waited for the results. Finally, I went to the officer handling the paperwork and asked him about it. He searched and could not find any of my papers. So he did the next best thing, He had me fill out the whole array again (but I did not have to take the AGCT again). When he had me lined up to go before the Board of Officers, he told me he had finally found my papers and that I had been passed over so I might as well go before this Board, which I did. Wonder of wonders, I passed and was slated to go to Fort Benning as an Officer Candidate. Was I excited! I knew it would be hard, but then, my training to date had not been exactly a picnic. Then the word came down that the Division was alerted for shipment overseas. No longer were we a training division. We were going over as a unit. All transfers out of the Division were cancelled. No one was transferred out except to the morgue or the hospital. Well, at least we were leaving Camp Gruber. Rumors were rife. We were going to Europe. We were going to the South Pacific. We were going to Alaska. I guess the only place we were not going was Camp Gruber.
We started getting in some fillers to augment our organizations. Some equipment started arriving. Requisitions were the order of the day. Somehow they learned I could type, not well, but I could type. So I was ordered to help with all the paperwork. They aren’t kidding when they say the Army marches on it’s typewriters.
Eventually we boarded sleeper trains and again rode for days on end. No one told us where we were going but we did not see the deserts of Texas, New Mexico or Arizona so we were confident that we were going to Europe.
November 11, 2001. The armistice of World War I was supposedly signed at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, signifying the end of the “War to end all Wars”. In remembrance of all the men who died in that conflict, the country enacted “Armistice Day” to be a day of remembrance for all the men who went to war and particularly those who did not come back. I remember that we often had great speeches and put flowers and flags at the graves of the Veterans during the 1930s when I was growing up. It was a lot like Memorial Day. After World War II, Armistice Day was renamed “Veteran’s Day”. In that capacity, it was not necessary to add new names or days of remembrance for “Korea” or “Viet Nam” or the “Gulf War” and I am confident that the present War to end Terrorism” will be added to it. I only hope that our casualties will be as small as the Gulf War and not some catastrophe that will make the Civil War and World War I seem mild. The WMD (weapons of mass destruction) can do that. Many of you are not familiar with the men who were gassed in World War I. Many men had their lungs burned out with Mustard Gas. Even those who survived had a hard time breathing and did not live a full life.
Getting back to my own situation. I remember several of my friends who did not return after World War II. Most of them died during the Spring of 1945 while I was in hospital. First to come to mind is Curtis Lord Matthews III. He was in the “Intelligence Section”. As it was relayed to me he was with an ammo and fuel truck at a resupply location to get more of, naturally, fuel and ammo. For some reason he started to take a hand grenade out of his pocket and it stuck although the pin came out making it a live grenade. He realized it would go off in five seconds so he shouted, “Grenade” and dove away from the truck and huddled over the grenade (which he could not get out of his pocket) When the men got to him, he was minus a leg and was saying the Lord’s Prayer until he ran out of blood. Another man was Arley Tedford. I believe he was in the Antitank Platoon. As the men passed through the line after chow to wash their mess kits, he finished and swung it in the winter to hurry the drying so he could put it away. Unfortunately the glint of the sun on the metal caught the eye of a Kraut with a Burp gun,. The gun went “Burp” and Arley was no more. There was Charley Bradley who on a retrograde movement was driving a jeep. The jeep flipped catching Charley’s foot. I think they got his foot out but could not take him with them so left him for the Krauts. I don’t know what ever became of him. Then there was the real tragedy of Sammy Berkowitz. The war in Europe was over. Sammy had liberated a small .25 caliber automatic. Unfortunately it had no safety. Sammy was proud of that souvenier. He had a local civilian make a lucite grip for it. At that time transparent Lucite was brand new. Sammy went to show it to a friend and held it out butt first when it went off. One of the guys asked did it hit him and Sammy said, “No”. Another fellow said, “But there is a hole in the front of your field jacket. Let’s look.” So they did and when they got down past the shirt, there was a small hole in Sammy. They took him to the aid station, Sammy protesting all the way that he was not hurt but he died before they could evacuate him.
Then there are the others. Many I did not know except to see once in a while. After the War, they renamed a local ball field “Borst” field for Lester, the one man from my town who did not come home at all. In addition there was Edmund “Punk” Pier with whom I rode to Oneonta to report for induction. I understand that he was in the “D-Day” invasion and was blown out of his fox hole that day or the next. The injuries were not to his arms and legs but to his brain and were permanent.
Last to mention is my very good friend, Dick Byham. Dick and I were in basic together and we enjoyed each other’s company. I admired his simple good natured philosophy on life. He did not complain about the hardships as others did. He always came up with some way of saying it without being angered and usually with a wistful happy outlook on whatever the situation brought. Sort of an “Oh, well, it will be better later” attitude.
I recall a lot of the men with whom I was in service; however, since we were a training outfit, I have trouble putting all the men in the proper time frame when they were in service with me. I mention a name to one of them and they do not recognize it for it is someone who was in the unit either before or after they were.
Several of the men I recall include: First Sgt Uglick (Sgt Ugly), S/Sgt James Wallace, my platoon Sgt (later commissioned), S/Sgt L. O. Smith, my section Sgt. Both Wallace and Smith were old friends who had been at Hickem Field, Hawaii when the Japs attacked. S/Sgt Joe Horvath was a short stocky fellow from New Jersey. He was in the A&P Platoon. S/Sgt. Art Snyder was the Anti-Tank platoon Sgt.. I seem to recall that Norman Sogn was the non-com in the Intelligence section. Mel Crohn was in basic with me for I recall he and I went to Tulsa once on a weekend pass. Tulsa was nearly 100 miles north of Gruber and we had a miserable time. It was winter and it rained and rained and rained. We did not have much money so we ate out and paid a half dollar to sleep on a cot sponsored by the Red Cross in some high school.
Among the fellow recruits were Dick Byham, Vernon C. (Beaver) Breen, James Wells (from Washington State), James (Okie) Goad who had been raised just outside the Camp Gates (in Eufala, OK) and moved to California with his parents during the dust storms of the 1930s. Fate brought him “home” after he was drafted. Reese J. Morgan was an older man who had put twelve years in the Marine Corps. When he tried to reenlist, he was turned down by the M.C. as too old. Reese spent at least a couple of hours every night in the head writing home to his wife. I spent most of my first five months pay in the Army learning that I did not know how to play poker. One memorable night I was playing with Reese and I was dealt four queens to begin with. I drew one card and Reese, who had a full house, aces high, was certain he had me. The rest dropped out and Reese and I ran the pot up to about fifteen dollars when I finally told him I thought I was taking enough of his money and just called instead of raising. He was dumbstruck, thinking I had drawn to two pairs and had hit a full house. If so, he would be the winner with his Aces high. I also remember when we were out on night hikes of fifteen miles or so, I was behind Reese on several of these and he would actually fall asleep marching. When the column would follow the road around to the left or right, the fellows next to him would nudge him and he would follow around. If he was on the outside file and the road moved the opposite way, I would step forward and nudge him around in the direction he was supposed to go. But when it came time to move the unit overseas, he was transferred out as he was to old even to go over with our unit.
There was one wily French Kanuck (LeClerc) who could not understand much English until you told him something he wanted to hear like he could go – and GO HE WOULD. Earl Shelton was also older and was in the Antitank or A&P Platoon. He was quiet and did his job.
One day, out in the field, we found a blue snake racing around the perimeter of a small evergreen tree. Okie was there and came over, told us it was a “blue racer” and quick as a wink, he reached out as the snake came by and grabbed its tail, then whipped his arm and flicked it. This broke the snake’s back and killed it. I was relieved as I was afraid of snakes (I still am) and did not want to be in the neighborhood with one. One night after taps, Frank Heinsohn, a beer-drinking German and Hartford A. White Hip, a full-blooded Indian, had been out drinking together. They came in making no more than the usual amount of noise. I soon heard a rustle under my bunk and looked down to see what it was. The Indian was crawling across under my bunk to steal some more of the beer that Heinsohn had brought back to the barracks with him. Another night James Wells came back really stewed and thought he was in the head when he started to pee on his foot locker.
We did a lot of night hikes during our basic training, building us up for whatever might lie ahead. The culmination was the twenty-five mile, all night hike we did, arriving “home” the next morning. At that point we were ordered to take off our shoes and socks and our Lt came around and inspected our feet for sores of any kind to send us to the medics if there were any problems.
We did not see many of the officers during basic training. I do not know what all they were doing. The Platoon officers for the letter companies ended up going out in the field with them, learning to lead and to give orders, both verbal and hand, to the men they commanded. I do remember one day at inspection, Lt. Ferris (or was it Farris?) gigged me for a dirty rifle. He mentioned some part and said it had rust on it. I tried later and could not find the part so I went to the armor articifer and he could not find any rust. He did say that the metal was stained but it was in the metal and would not come off. So I went to the orderly room and asked for permission to speak to the Lt. When I was permitted, I told him I went to the armor articifer and he could not show me where my weapon was dirty so would the Lt show me so that I could clean it and not get gigged again. He examined the weapon and saw that he had made the mistake. He did not admit it to me but I had no more trouble with being gigged for a dirty weapon.
I recall one time I got a three day pass and decided to connect it to a weekend pass (strictly a no-no as you had to sign in at the end of the weekend and out at the start of the three day pass). I got on the old Katy line and felt home free. Then I ran into Lt. X from our Company. We greeted each other and I was certain I would be in trouble. I guess he was doing the same thing as nothing was ever mentioned about it again. He was a pretty good officer and I understand that his father was a General so he knew what the military was all about.
That is a lot different than one Lt. Y. who was in our AntiTank Platoon near the end of the war. I want to tell you more about him later. Also, Lts. Buddy and Buster Hart, twin boys that were in our unit later.
We spent several days on sleeper cars on a train on our way to the POE (Port of Embarkation). No one told us where we were going; however we had men from about every state in the Union so one or another invariably recognized the city or town that we were passing thru. Thus it did not take a genius to realize that we were headed for the east coast and not the west coast. That was a pretty good indication that we were going to Europe and not the Far East. Our logic told us that with transportation so tight, they would not send us to the east coast to go to the Far East just as they would not send us to the west coast to go to Europe. Our logic was right on the nose. We ended up at Camp Kilmer in New Brunswick, NJ for processing for overseas. We had been preparing lists and lists. Now there was more work than ever and I was busy typing along with many others. In fact, I missed some passes as my skills were too important to release me. My MOS did not require me to type or to know typing. Never mind, they needed typists and I had opened my big mouth and they knew I could type so I was drafted to help out. I did get one evening off and took the train to Newark. My aunt Fanchon lived in the outskirts and they were surprised to see me. Of course they wanted to know all about what I was doing and where I was going. Being under orders, I could not tell them anything but they knew New Brunswick was the nearest location where processing for overseas was being done and they also knew that I was not being stationed in the NYC area permanently so they quickly surmised that I was on my way overseas (this was in mid November, 1944). One fellow from the New York area got home and returned from pass only to learn that his wife had delivered their child right after he left. By then we were sealed and no one could get off the base except on duty so he had to go overseas without seeing his newborn.
I recall that we got on the trains and were taken to the Brooklyn Army Base where we embarked. I still do not recall whether or not we ate our Thanksgiving Dinner and then got on the ship or got on the ship and had our Thanksgiving dinner there. I suspect we ate on board.
We walked thru the Brooklyn Army Base and up the gangway onto the deck of the “Edward B. Alexander”. We played follow the leader and had to do that during the entire time we were on the ship. The routes were confusing. There were not simple decks with stairways or “ladders” from one deck to another. We had to move along the ship on different sides and through different bulkheads. Each bulkhead was a booby trap because the ship did not have doors such as you expect at home. The doors could be closed and “battened down” to seal each section of the ship so that any section could be isolated in the event of a leak in that part of the ship. Of course the troops in the leaking section would drown but it was better to (hopefully) lose only the troops in the flooded compartment than to have the water flood the entire ship and go down, drowning everybody. It seemed we walked miles along the corridors and down ladders until I thought we must be under the ship rather that inside it. I want you to realize that in order to be able to dog down the doors between compartments, the doors did NOT go down to the deck (floor to us landlubbers). They had to have something to dog the bottom of the door to. Therefore, you had to step over the 8” to 15” transom. At the same time you had to duck your head to avoid banging it on the top of the doorway. These doors or whatever you call them had to be relatively small to withstand the pressure of the water if the ship was hit and some compartments flooded.
Remember, we were taking all our worldly possessions with us, all crammed into two barracks bags, just to make the trip more memorable. Finally we arrived in our cozy cabins. Picture a bay the entire width of the ship with a fair size bathroom along one side. It had sinks and toilets and the military version of urinals – no showers or tubs. We were not to be on the ship long enough to require such amenities. You even had to step over a transom to get into or out of this area. I did not appreciate it when we first saw it. The ceiling or deck above our heads was not much over 6’, not enough to stress anyone of 5’10” height or over reaching it. Iron stanchions went from floor to ceiling at intervals both ways in the compartment. There were iron frames just large enough to secure a piece of canvas laced into place about the frame with rope. These were set in two rows between the posts going in the same direction. These were the “bunks” in which we were expected to sleep. There were five bunks nestled one above another. They ran the length of the row and there was only room for a narrow aisle between the two sets of bunks, which were on both sides of the iron posts. You could get an awful lot of us “sardines” in a small space with that kind of closeness. It was quite a sight to see us getting to bed for the night. Your barracks bags were on your cot during the day. In order to go to bed, the two men on the bottom bunks (one on each side) got their barracks bags off their bunks and laid them in the aisle. Then they got into their bunks. The next level of bunks above them now did the same and went to bed. By the time the guys in the top bunks had put their bags down, the guys in the bottom two levels could not have exited their bunks to go to the head or to abandon ship as they were blocked to the bunks by the bags. It also made for interesting tactics for the rest of us to get into and out of our bunks with the floors all covered with barracks bags. We had to play monkey, climbing on the iron frames of the bunks to move into and out of our quarters.
Each day we were (not only allowed but required) to go up on deck and have a half hour of fresh air. Believe me, it was fresh. This was in the north Atlantic in late November and early December, 1944. I don’t think I saw the sun once in the entire crossing. We had rain –perhaps it as the wind blowing the tops off the seas at us and full cloud coverage all the way over. We lined up early in the morning and wended our way to the mess halls. There were no chairs or tables in the mess hall. You got a metal tray and went through the serving line. They fed us well and we were allowed to pick up a piece of fruit, an apple or an orange, for we were only going to be fed twice a day on shipboard. You got your food and beverage, then walked over to any open counter and stood there and ate your meal. When you finished, you placed your tray and cup, with the utensils in a wash area and lined up to return to your quarters. Monotonous? What do you think? We left the area three times a day for the two weeks we were en route; two meals and one trip to the frigid deck for air.
On December 9, 1944, we arrived in lovely, warm (if you believe the ads) Marseilles, France. We wre among the first American troops to be taken from the US directly to the continent without a stop in England. Well, we got off the boat, again with all we owned, and trudged about 2 to 3 miles along the wharves, etc to the waiting 2 ½ ton trucks, sliding our feet in that white stuff that some of the Southern boys had to be told was snow. Once on the trucks we were transported to the local mountains, just the thing to welcome the conquering heros who had come to win the war.
Once there we formed up and set up our home away from home. The Sergeants were busy lining us up, or more correctly, directing us in setting our tents up in precise lines. This kept up until “Bed-check Charley” (a German observation plane) flew by. That’s when the brass realized that with the tents lined up the enemy could approximate the number of tents per row and count the number of rows to determine the size of our unit. The next order was, “Get those #$%^&*() tents moved out of position”. We spent some ten days at CP. That was the name of the place. There was one small wooden frame building and it was the Bn Hq. I was the Company Mail Clerk and made certain that I sorted the mail properly as I did the mail sorting in that building and was in no rush to go back out into the freezing weather. In preparation for our jaunt overseas we turned in or shelter halves with one triangular flap for one with two triangular flaps; now a two man pup tent had a closure at both ends. We learned that a single candle, while not warming the tent did cut away the freezing cold to just cold. We slept in our clothes after removing our boots.
Vernon (Beaver) Breen joined our outfit way back in the States in July of 1944, just about in time to be alerted with the rest of us for overseas shipment. I did not know him well in the States. He was with Norman Sogn, the I&R Section leader and Curtis Lord Matthews was also in that group. When we left CP2, although I was not aware of it we did not all leave togther. I went on the (in)famous French Forty and Eights and assumed all of us did. Much later I learned that the unit had drawn its equipment, including vehicles, and the officers and many of the men went in the vehicles. Our train would stop every few hours for relief calls. WE would all dash out for whatever cover we could find, if any, and relieve ourselves. In the midst of this the French peasants would crown around and intermingle with us, berring and offering for sale such as they had, usually some food, souveniers or anything they though a soldier would buy or trade for. Then the order would come to load up and we would dash for the boxcars, getting a hand up from whoever was handy.
Some days later (it seemed like weeks) we arrived at the terminus (who knows where it was – no one was telling us). We got off and loaded onto the backs of deuce and a halfs, those military vehicles that we could not have won the war without. Off we went in column, one behind he other. At dark the truck lights came on. Some few hours later the entire column stopped and we were ordered to stay in the trucks. We were told that we had reached the light line. The halt was to allow the drivers eyes to become adjusted to the darkness. Forward of the light line the trucks only used the parking lights and rear lights that were covered and had only a cross-hair slit to let out a minimum of light, enough hopefully for the driver in the truck behind to see and not run into. In the darkness I figured that if the Krauts were that close we ought to have loaded weapons so I took a clip from my bandoleer and inserted it into my M1. While you can do this in the dark, you cannot do it quietly when there is not other noise. As I finished loading the clip a voice asked, “What is that?” I thought someone might wonder if it was a German patrol so I told what I had done. Morton, one of our Jewish comrades, went ballistic. He wanted no part of loaded weapons. I finally had to unload my M1 to shut him up. Then we proceeded as the drivers eyes had had time to adjust to blackout conditions. Much later we arrived at our home for the night: Fort Kronprinz in the French Maginot Line. We entered in the dark. It was damp, there was trash and dirt on the floor, the interior was dank, but we had a place to celebrate (ha, ha!) Christmas Eve.
Next morning we stepped out to view our Christmas Present, a ride in the famous Army DUCKS, those undersized Navy boats that could navigate on land as well as water. We used these to enter Straussburg, just across the river from ____ in Germany. The object of he DUCKS was to let the Germans see us and think we were getting ready for a crossing. We had C rations (or C-rats for short) for lunch as we were going to have our famous military Turkey with all the trimmings for Christmas supper. We entered a huge, empty tobacco warehouse that was to be our home for the next several days. In scouting around I found an old beat-up M-1. I glommed onto it, not knowing what I would use it for but being enough of a pack rat to think I would find some use for it. I even cleaned it though I did not try to remove all the rust. Well, chow time came –and went, and no chow. Well, time passed and our bellies started to complain. Eight o’clock; ten o’clock; midnight and no chow! We were bitching about the cold and NO CHOW. One o’clock came and went. Finally, about 2:00 AM our mess personnel found us – and fed us. We chopped the ice from the turkey, from the mashed potatoes, from everything and ate it with relish if not joy. We had been over twelve hours in freezing weather with no sustenance and we were unhappy. This was a portent of things to come.
About this time we found out that: at Regiment (our next higher headquarters, troops were being fed three hot meals a day, we at Battalion were being fed two meals a day, breakfast and supper, nothing for lunch. The line comp;anies ere being fed three cold meals a day (they were issued either C-rats of 10-in-ones (meals for ten men in one carton) that they could eat cold or heat for themselves. Someone said that the S-4 (the Supply officer) had decided to build up (illegally) a stock of food for use if our food line was cut. I thought that was a hell of a way to treat us GIs.