Volume Six. WORLD WAR II STORIES FROM ONLINE READERS
Sent to the jbdavis site, "54 Years and Remembering." The jbdavis site terminated a few years back. These were stories that I had saved to my hard drive and so are available for your reading pleasure, if you so desire. Readers with additional stories can forward them to this site for publication.
Subject: A different Story
From: Margrit Gruben email@example.com
During the summer of 1940 every sunday evening we had a much looked forward to radio program named "Music by request" or "Wunschkonzert". On one side was the Maginot Line, on the other side the Siegfriedline and in the middle the fabled Rhine River. One Sunday the French Soldiers shouted their request to the German Military Band and the band played their songs. This lasted for about 2 hours. On the next Sunday the German Soldiers shouted their requests to the french side and they obliged.
Hearing this no one believed it would come to a shooting war between France and Germany. It least we didn't believe it and I lived on the East Side of the Rhine. But little did we know....
Subject: Stalag Luft 111
From: MR REMOND A OWEN RAY12@prodigy.com
Dear Mr. Davis,
I found your programme on the web during Memorial Day, just after watching the Great Escape, again. My father took part in the Great Escape. he came from the same town as Roger Bushell's parents. The night of the escape, he was told by Mr. Bushell that he could not escape, as he had done so too many times. Therefore saving my father's life. Dad was also a great friend of Mr. Gouws. After the war, he asked my mother, (they were not yet married) to accompany him to the Bushell's home. They had asked him to come for an interview. Dad was ushered into the study, leaving Mom behind in the living room. They remained in the study for quite some time.
Mom said that Dad was very ashen when he came out. Dad hardly ever spoke of the war, but he never forgave the Germans for what they did. In 1967 after the Bushell's passed on their daughters had an estate sale, which we atteded. There they gave Dad Roger's baton, which my brother now has. Dad passed on in 1969 due to stomach cancer. The two articles, one by you and the one forwarded to you by Mr. S. Fenton were of great interest to me. The other night A & E viewed a programme called "The Greatest Escapes of World War 11" The greater part of the artticle concentrated on the Great Escape. While watching, I was stunned to see a photograph of my father. I am now an American and we are keeping up our family tradition of serving.
My son has just completed his third year at West Point. I would love to hear from you. at Ray12@prodigy.com yours sincerely,
Anne Owen. (Nee Paterson)
Subject: War Stories
From: Stan Pierce firstname.lastname@example.org
On Canvey Island, an island in the mouth of the river Thames, around July 1944 (I think),I witnessed two Bombers collide when coming back from a raid. I was standing in the garden watching hundreds of the planes coming in to land at Stanstead (I think).They were very low and Stanstead was the nearest base.
One plane fell on top of another right above my head. The bottom one blew apart and the other was belching black smoke and coming down straight at me. I was looking at the nose of it. I was nine years old and I froze just looking at it. Then I jumped the fence and ran across the field next to the house and turned to look at what was going to happen.
Mum and my younger brothers were still in the house. The engines of the plane were screaming and this is what really frightened me. The pilot somehow pulled the plane out of the dive and could have been only a few hundred feet above the house when he flattened out and the took it back up in the air until it seemed to be standing on it's tail. Then I saw these little white puffs like cotton balls float away from the plane and there might have been 5 or 6 of them. The pilot then brought the plane down and around the Chapman Lighthouse and I had to run up to the ea-wall to see what happened to him.
The tide was out and he skidded the plane across the mud and looked as though he was going to make it. Unfortunately he hit a sand bank in the last few seconds and went up on his nose and exploded. Some of the men who baled out landed on the Island and one I saw dressed in a sort of white overalls looked 9 feet tall and was unhurt. Another man I saw drop into the Thames near the lighthouse and a tug saw him and turned round to pick him up. For 50 odd years I had this in my memory without any trouble at all. It was just an incident in life. Then just recently I started thinking about the bravery of that pilot saving the lives of his men, and he could have baled out over the water. And this is the worst part, did he have more crew in there injured and wouldn't leave them. I have started to become obsessed with wanting to find out if his family ever knew of his bravery.
Two things I have to find out. Was Stanstead Canadian or American Bomber Command and were the planes B17's or B19's.I'm sure they were 4 engined Bombers. If I can find out these two facts I could start tracing back to the incident. I'm pretty sure it was during summer holidays 1944. It was a beautiful clear summer day. Now the memory is giving me hell. Hope you can help.
From: MRBEAN MRBEAN@prodigy.net
I must congratulate you on this wonderful page. As an avid history buff I know how important it is to remember the past. Both my grandfauthers served in WWII and I was very proud of both of them. My one grandfauther was a tank driver for the third army in Europe. He was slightly wounded at the end but came out of it well. He told me a story that was funny at the time but now is not so funny knowing today what we know.
It seems he and a few buddies wanted to see Berlin. They had fought long and hard (My grandfather had been in since 1938) and thought they deserved to see Berlin even if the Russians got there frst. This was a few weeks after the German Surrender. They borrowed a pass as he put it and did a little creative writing and the next thing you know they had a pass for Berlin! They started through the Russian checkpoints and finally got to the suburbs of Berlin. Finally one of the Russian guards at a checkpoint called to verify with his headquarters in Berlin that these guys were going there. Of course the headquarters knew nothing of these 3 guys and the next thing my grandfather and his two friends knew they were in Berlin alright but behind bars at a Russian camp for German POWs! They were put in cells by themselves and spent a week being interigated by the Russians on what they were doing in Berlin.
The explination sightseeing did not seem good enough for them and after a week in this tiny cell my grandfather thought they were not going to let them go. Finally after 10 days they were released to US MPs and taken back to there unit. His unit commander said the Russians had them a week before they told anyone. My Grandfather died about ten years ago and now we know that many US service men were taken by the Russians and sent to camps in Russia never to be seen again. Thinking back I haveoften wondered how close he might have come to being one of those men that week.
My other grandfather also had some rather hairy experiences in the war. He was a landing craft operator. He was at Normandy, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Leyte Gulf and many other landings. I have actually seen a picture of his landing craft in a book about D-day and can see him in the photo. He recieved 2 bronze stars and one silver star during the war and lost 5 landing craft, One sunk in high seas, two were hit by shore fire and two hit underwater mines. He told me he was lucky they didn't take them out of his pay.
I am very proud of both of them and try to remember that there were many such men who served.
Well this is a longer e-mail than I had planned but I thought you might be interested in these little stories. Your site here is first rate.
Keep up the great work.
From: "Edward N. Walko" AengusMcDuff@msn.com
Subject: war story
From: John Long email@example.com
My uncle Edward T. Long was assigned to the 348th Amphibious Engineers and was a member of a 22 man assault team that spearheaded the invasion of Omaha Beach. The assault teams were put ashore 1 hour before the actual invasion began to destroy as many obstacles as possible. Each man carried 2 packages of tetryl, 2 bangalore torpedoes, 1 rifle, 2 bandoleers of ammunition, 2 hand grenades, 2 rifle grenades, and a full field pack. The ironic part of the story is my uncle had lost an eye in basic training and was told he would never be placed in a combat situation.
Subject: Pearl Harbor II- the West Loch tragedy
When: Sunday afternoon May 21, 1944 Where: West Loch, Pearl Harbor, Oahu Hawaii Dead or missing: 127/163 (the actual number is in dispute) Injured: 380 including 19 civilians Ships destroyed: 6 LST's and smaller amphibious craft An article appeared in the Dallas Morning News on May 11, 1997 by staff writer David Flick. He interviewed Mr. James Reed who resides in Mesquite, Texas and is a survivor of this event. Mr. Reed has been seeking publicity for this nearly forgotten piece of wartime history since it was one of the best kept secrets during World War II.
It certainly jogged my memory because I am also a survivor of this incident. I was a member of the 534th U.S. Army Amphibian Tractor Battalion aboard LST #340 which was located in the second row of 7LST's. This unit landed members of the 4th U.S. Marine division on Saipan D day June 15, 1944 and Tinian on July 24, 1944. I am relating parts of this newspaper article and also information statd in a book "The West Loch Story" written by William L.C. Johnson (also a survivor) which was published in 1986 (Library of Congress catalog card No. 86-050525 ISBN 0-9616964-0-0). Our forces were advancing in the Pacific theater and the next objective at that time was the capture of Saipan, Tinian and Guam in the Marianas. The ships known as LST's had concluded maneuvers off Maui, Hawaii. Most of the troops were soldiers, sailors and marines. About 3 PM there was a terrific explosion which began in the line of 8 ships closest to Walker Bay at West Loch an arm of Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
The explosion triggered fires on the adjacent LST's which were laden with munitions and gasoline. Six LST's were destroyed and most of the 34 at anchor in West Loch received some damage. Men who survived the blasts were killed when they were run over by the LST's trying to pull away from the destruction. Some of the men who swam to a nearby cane field were crushed by the falling debris. Military authorities warned survivors not to discuss the incident to protect the scheduled invasion of the Marianas. Four days after the disaster, authorities released a one paragraph statement acknowledging only that an explosion had caused "some loss of life, a number of injuries and resulted in the destruction of several small vessels". Only after the Saipan invasion did the authorities release a more complete description.
The cause is still unclear. The board of inquiry concluded that "the initial explosion resulted from one or more 4.2 inch mortar shells which exploded while they were being loaded on LST 353". Some survivors question that theory. Some believe careless smoking ignited fumes from high octane fuel stored in the ships. Others believed it was sabotage. Even the number of casualties is in dispute. The official casualty count was 27 dead 100 missing. The very detailed book "The West Loch Story" by William C.J. Johson put the body ount at 163. The only monument to the disaster is a table-sized plaque erected on the shore of the loch in April 1995.
Edward N. Walko