Volume Two Reader's Stories
email@example.com (Ryan Montieth Gill)
Hmm This isn't as interesting as the Panzer Oberleutanat story but here goes:
My Grandfather was a Flight instructor at an airbase in Texas during the War. He taught crews how to fly first B-17s and later B-29s. They used a twin engine trainer for the early bits and later went up to the big birds when the trainee crews were ready. He and his crew were later ready for getting shipped over to the Pacific Theatre in their shiny new B-29 and were called back while enroute. The war was over, Japan had surrendered. They were disappointed, but I think I am glad that he was never given the opportunity to be shot down over Japan, For then I'd not be here.
After the war he started working for Eastern Airlines. He Started out on the Props of course mostly doing domestic flights. He later moved into the Jets as Eastern bought the new planes. Apparently, he was against their use early on because he didn't think the Technology was up to the standards of the big 4 engine piston driven planes. He rose to the level of junior Captain and retired in 1978. He died in 1987 of Wagner's disease. I remember him taking me to the hanger here in Atlanta not long after having retired. He took me into the Easter maintenance hanger to see a jet that was being overhauled. I got to sit in the pilots seat and he showed me all of the controls....
- Ryan Montieth Gill Emory University Hosp QCA Net Admin -
- Unix: firstname.lastname@example.org -DoD# 0780/AMA# 337288 -
From: email@example.com (Mark Patterson)
Does future father-in-law count? My girlfriend's father was a bombardier in the 8th army in WWII.. I don't have many details handy (where he was stationed, etc.) but I have heard some interesting anecdotes.. Once the plexiglass nose of the B-17 he was in was shot off, (and if you've never seen how far forward the bombardier was in one of those things.. wow, they really hung out there), and he had to ride in the seat while being buffeted all the way back from Germany to England..
Also, once when he was the lead bombardier of a mission, he missed the assigned target, and caused all of the planes in the formation to drop their stacks onto a building that had a large red cross on the roof.. Luckily, it was not a hospital, but a disguised ammo dump, so he got a commendation for that one..
Necrosis@crl.com _____ "Hurry it up, you Hoosier bastards, Associate professor I haven't got all day"
of Glaciation, U of Ediacara. DoD#1437 -Carl Panzram
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (J.J. Hunsecker)
My great-uncle was a medical officer in the Frundsberg Panzer division. He didn't like to discuss it much, but he mostly fought against the Russians, and luckily ended up with an assignment in western Germany when the war was over, so he could surrender to the British. My grandfather, who was naturalized American had a much less glamorous position, training pilots for the USN.
My father flew P-51 Mustangs off of Iwo Jima during WWII. He died when I was just a young boy, so much of the information I have about him comes 2nd-hand through my family/siblings. There are 4 points/stories I'll relate here:
1. He used to bring out photos (brown & whites) of his days on Iwo Jima; blown up pill-boxes, the mess-hall, crash-landed B-29s, squadrons of Mustangs awaiting engine-start signals, etc. The one I found most striking was/were photos of 2 different squadrons stationed there. There were pencil marks above some men, and when I inquired (of my Mom) what they were, she said Dad had "checked" each man who "didn't make it." Each photo showed about 50 men, and each photo had in excess of 25 "checked." I was astounded when I realized this, as I was (previously) of the opinion the air war over Japan had become fairly sedate toward the end of the war, but that photo and later information concerning B-29 losses during this period have changed that opinion.
2. The saddest story was that of a pilot&friend of his. I guess the period between the atom bombings and the actual end-of-hostilities was an unusual time. No one was certain if they should shoot, etc., but patrols still had to be flown, and so forth. I guess my father and his friend got "unlucky" the day before the war ended. On August 14, they drew patrol duty (I understand over Japan, but I'm uncertain of this point.) and the friend's Mustang was damaged by flak. The friend was forced to bail out over enemy territory. My father and the other patrol elements circled for as long as possible: good 'chute, good landing; he waved to the circling fighters and began moving cross-country. The patrol eventually was forced to leave from lack of fuel... The friend "didn't make it." He was never reported captured and listed MIA.
3. I'm quite certain my father had no qualms about use of THE BOMB. He later piloted F-89 Scorpions, and was lead pilot for the test launch and detonation of the Genie atomic AAM tests.
(Again, this is 2nd hand, through Mom:) He was certain the impending invasion would be a meat grinder, and didn't believe he'd survive the inevitable scale-up of the bombing campaign prior to D-Day.
4. Finally, to end on a lighter note! Following his stay on Iwo Jima, it was public knowledge that he "Never wanted to see a can of SPAM or a plate of SOS, AGAIN!" (for those w/o a military bent, SOS is short for "S___ on a Shingle, aka chipped beef on toast, a US military favorite, world 'round! ;-)
From: email@example.com (-Mayo,H.H.)
My uncle Herschel V. Mayo, for whom I'm named, was in the 25 infantry, Baker company of the 3rd division. He has lots of good stories to tell. I'll post a few.
He was awarded a Silver Star at St. Die, France for the following action. He was asleep in an open-topped vehicle parked near the top of a hill overlooking several other SP guns parked near the bottom. The crews were also asleep inside. Around dawn, he got up to relieve himself, and noticed German infantry emerging from a nearby woodline. He grabbed his rifle and started firing at them. Incredibly, nobody was awakened by the gunfire. He continued to fire at soldiers who were trying to use panzerfausts on the parked vehicles, and killed them as fast as he could aim and shoot. this went on for at least FIVE MINUTES before anyone in the SPs decided to get up and check out what was happening. When they did, they started shooting up the hill at my uncle with rifles. He started yelling and cussing at the top of his voice until they figured out that he definitely was not a German, and directed their fire the proper way.
One time, he was in a perimeter fox hole with several other soldiers, when a lone German emerged from the woods. He was wearing only a greatcoat, and a soft field cap. He walked toward their outpost, and began firing from the waist with the rifle. The American soldiers nearest him simply froze, and were killed one by one as the German approached. My uncle was screaming, "Kill him, God****it!! Kill him!!" Three Americans, all with loaded weapons, were shot, one by one. When the German was close enough, my uncle drew a captured Luger pistol, and shot the German. He described how the German seemed to fold over in the middle like he was hinged. To this day, he is perplexed about why the German did what he did, possibly an intentional suicide. He can not figure out why three men let themselves be killed without firing a shot.
He talks of seeing men horribly wounded recovering and returning to duty, and compares that to another man he saw who collapsed and died instantly from a bullet wound through the calf, normally an insignificant wound.
After his unit entered Munich, he and several other men discovered a bank and decided to blow open the safe. They scrounged explosives, and packed the front of the vault with them. The explosion blew the whole front of the building off, but didn't scratch the vault. When they were walking away from the bank, they ran into General Patch himself who asked them, with a big grin, "What are you boys up to?" "Wiping out a nest of krauts," one of them said. General Patch lauged hard, and told them to be careful next time. "He knew what we were up to." said my uncle.
He and several others broke into a warehouse, and found it filled with chocolate bars, sardines, and cheese in toothpaste-like tubes. They loaded up with the stuff. Later, when they occupied a private house, my uncle gave one of the chocolate bars to the woman, and her family who lived there. The woman thanked him and said that American chocolate was very good. He then told her that it was not American, but German. The woman said that was impossible, because there had been no chocolate available for years. My uncle fished the wrapper out of his pocket and showed it to her. He said that the wrapper had SS runes on it somewhere. The woman became very angry and made several nasty remarks about the Nazis, and the Hitler regime.
My uncle's platoon encountered a machine gun nest, and pulled back to safety. Two officers came up from the rear, and began walking past his position. He told them to stop, that there was a machine gun ahead. The two ignored him, and went on anyway. The next morning, he found their bodies on a small path, filled with bullet holes from the gun he warned them about.
His platoon was approaching a small village and heard a roar of rapid gunfire, and grenades exploading. An old Frenchman was walking toward them laughing and smiling. They found out from him that a unit of Germans had occupied the second floor of a small factory during the previous day, and a group of Americans had moved in and occupied the first floor during the night. In the morning, they discovered each other.
He and his squad were walking across the field of the Munich airport. It was morning, and very misty. As the reached the middle of the field, they realized that the far side was lined with Luftwaffe men armed with everything from pistols to a quad 20mm flak gun. There were women with them, who were clearly frightened and crying. My uncle realized that there was no way to escape, and there was lots of potential for a real ugly situation. He lowered his rifle and told the other GIs to do the same if they wanted to live much longer. He grinned as wide as he could manage, and walked toward the Germans. When he reached them, he tore open a pack of cigarettes, lit one up and put it in the lips of one of the crying women, and passed the rest around. The Germans breathed a sigh of relief and threw down their guns and surrendered.
I missed the begining of this thread.
My dad was a MP state side. He guarded and transported prisoners all across the Western United States. German, Italian, a few Rusian prisoners. Also guarded Japanese Internies (sp?). When not guarding in a concentration camp, he did a lot of transporting on trains, any where from California, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Texas...
One of his stories is of an officer telling him to to go up to the office and get somebody or do something. Dad said, "No Sir." The commandant's orders were for no guard to leave his post until properly relieved. This officer got all mad and yelled a lot, but my Dad held his ground. When the officer left, a couple of the German prisoners, who were well educated officers, told my Dad that he did the correct thing by obeying his superior officers orders.
Another story about some German prisoners were that they were no trouble at all. One of them once told my Dad thay they never had it so good. Three good meals a day, exercise, and a few activities. Compared to what they had in Germany this was paridise.
There was also a time after the war. My Dad took a bunch of prisoners back to Germany. He got to stop in Paris but someone messed up his orders. So he sat in Paris with no orders and kept a low profile. He didn't want to get picked up for anything and have no papers. Once he got back to stateside to be discharged, his records showed he was AWOL. His Company clerk straightened it out. He got an Honorable Discharge and an Foreign Wars ribbon out of the trip.
He did say a bunch of his fellow guards got sick on the way back. Very rough sea and lightly loaded ships.
Another facet of his taking prisoners to Europe story was when they took the prisoners to Germany. They marched them up to a border. The American Government had given the prisoners things like blankets, some money, food.
The American guards had to stay on their side of the border. The Germans marched across the border. On the other side my Dad could see people attacking the solders and taking their goods. Kind of sad.
My grandfather started his military career in the Canadian Airforce around 1941-42, and it was there that he met my grandmother who was from Enniskillen, Ontario. He transfered his commission to the U.S. Army Air Corps, and received his bombadier wings in California during December 1942. It was there that he and my grandmother were married and he immediately began training with the newly formed 389th BG.
He went over to Europe in the early summer of 1943, and participated in the August 1, 1943 Ploesti attack were his unit received a unit citation, and the pilot in the plane directly in front of his received the CMOH for keeping his burning B-24 aloft long enough to allow the crew to escape. From there he completed his 25 missions in N. Africa and England, and finished the war training bombadiers in Ireland. I never met him, he died of a heart attack in 1961, but I really would have loved to hear the stories of being in Africa, over Ploesti, and the numerous other experiences that he undoubtably had.
Please keep the stories coming. The wide variety of experiences are what makes the history of the era. There is only so much one can learn from books, but the stories of those who were there are real...
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brett Jon Kottmann)
My uncle served in a tank reclaimation group that followed 3rd army across France and Germany.
He has some pretty gruesome stories to tell, and I learned to not ask for them during meals :).
He said the worst part of his job was shooting the still (barely) alive men they found in burned out tanks. I'm not sure if this was official policy (shooting them) but it certainly was the most humane thing to do. Convinced me that I did not want to serve in a tank....
He has some humorous stories too, like the time Patton found them looting a wine cellar...he didn't say a word, just went in, took a couple of bottles of wine and winked when he left. Or when a Lt. came by and chastised them for having an open fire, then a Capt. came by later to yell at them for using a "prefectly good" used oil drum to contain the fire...(yes they loved officers :).
They only time the saw combat was when Patton ordered them into the field to reclaim tanks that had run out of gas (near Nancy I think). He said they were scared witless until they realized only a direct hit by the enemy tanks were going to knock out their tractors, and the enemy tanks were only firing at the Shermans.
From: maral%xvnews.unconfigured.domain@Sun.COM (Mark Maral)
My uncle was a medic during the war. During the Battle of the Bulge he was decorated for saving a number of injured GI's. In fact he as the subject of one of the movietone news shorts. He never talked much about his service during the war. I also lost another uncle during the attack at Pearl.
From: email@example.com (James E. Hobbs)
My father served as a radio operator-gunner on B-17's out of England. He was then cycled back to the States to teach radio operation and radar theory at a school that the AAF had set up in the Stevens Hotel in Chicago. It was here that he met my mother,who was working as a long distance operator for the telephone company. After placing calls through her office several times they eventually started dating and married. I wasn't born until substantially after the war, but I remember my Mom talking about living in Chicago at that time. She recalls how nearly everyone in their neighborhood had a garden in an attempt to stretch the rationing of the time. She still has some of her old ration books. I also remember her talking about the drive to save any kind of metal for tin. She said that folks were urged even to peel the thin layer of aluminum off the internal wrappers of chewing gum to be recycled for the war effort.
Another hardship that was strongly felt was the lack of cigarettes. Those who smoked were limited to a very small quantity, and even then it was difficult to obtain them. She also told me of how many of the long distance telephone calls were monitored to make sure that no restricted information was inadvertently being passed.
From: MaryAnn Moss <moss@Onramp.NET>
My father in law (does that count?) was at Pearl Harbor, stationed at the Submarine School when you-know-what happened. Actually, he was in charge of the torpedo "rack" on destroyers, but the chief torpedo school was at the Sub base, so that is where all the destroyer men trained. He didn't see much of the Pearl Harbor action, as during most of the attack they were trying to find the keys to the ammo locker so they could man the machine guns on the roof.
However, he WAS later to take part in the invasion of N. Africa, the Leyte Gulf battles and the Okinawa campaign. In fact, it was there that his ship (USS Bush) was hit by 3 kamikaze's and sunk. He, of course, survived, and his crewmates seem to gather every year now for a convention.
I guess seeing THAT much action, ending with a 12 hour bath in the Pacific, has a way of bringing men together......................
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael M. Perez)
My story is about my grandfather in the war. He was in the Phillipines when the U.S. surrendered. This meant he was forced to walk in the Bataan(sp?) death march. Unfortunatly he died before I ever got to know him, in fact he
died before my mom and aunt got to know him. Even so he told my grandmastories about his ordeal. The most interesting story though, was told by a war buddie of his at my grandpa's funeral. He related the fact that he would have crawled on his hands and knees to come to his funeral. It seems as though my grandpa saved his life by giving him half of his rations when the man was sick.
I consider him hero for that and will remember it forever. Incedentaly though, his picture was published in the book about the Bataan Death march. He is in the one of a group of soldiers sitting beneath a tree. I do not have the
picture with me but he is close to the middle. Well that is a story about one of my relatives.
From: email@example.com (Jim Holton)
My wife's grandfather was drafted as an officer during the war, a "90-dayWonder." He told me once that he remembered doing basic training when a work detail of German prisoners were doing groundskeeping at the base. He said the prisoners laughed out loud at the American officers, considering themselves of a higher quality than the draftees. Fortunately, my wife's grandfather appreciated the irony of the situation.
He later worked at a POW camp in the South. He got along well with the German. They even carved a toy jeep out of wood for his 4-year old son. To this day he keeps it on his shelf as a memento.
My wife's uncle entered the Army Air Corps late in the war. He flew B-17's, but never left the US. He told me once that his tail gunner complained that he couldn't handle the excessive gyrations in the back of the plane. To prove to this man that the plane's shaking was child's play, he volunteered to ride in the tail gun turret one day (as a pilot, he
never realized the plane could be a smooth ride up front, but yaw wildly in the rear.) Well, he got the ride of his life and almost lost his stomach. He was afraid if he admitted how terrible it was, he'd lose his tail gunner, so he told him it "was nothing at all."
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Larry Barker)
My Dad, Gordon Barker, told lots of stories when I was young, but fewer later and never many about combat. He thought the war was just but certainly not glorious and he really hated the war movies I watched in the 60s. He was one of the older guys, born in 1907. He tried to join up with his much younger brother-in-law in '42 but was told "when we want someone your age, pops, we'll draft you." They took my uncle & drafted dad in '43. He had a choice and went Army because he didn't like ships.
Ended up Infantry, heavy weapons and landed in North Africa. A few stories about the convoy over - Dad was impressed by the number of ships and the size of the battleships (including the Texas?) on the horizon. The ride wasn't very pleasant tho.
North Africa was hot, don't think he saw any combat. Talked of tent cities in the desert, court martial punishment if anyone went without their helmet liner. As an old rimrocker (Eastern Oregon), he was amused by the choice for his outfit's scout. The powers-that-be found that one of the men was an American Indian, so chose him. Unfortunately, the poor guy had lived his whole life in Brooklyn and hadn't a clue to wood (or desert) craft.
After that, he landed at Salerno. They were torpedoed off the beach and got to swim around while the Navy dropped depth charges. It gave him time to consider his Army vs. Navy choice. Once on the beach, things were in complete confusion. He (a Corporal) gathered a group of men and headed away from the beach. In the morning, they found they had wandered untouched through a mine field. He was promoted to Sergeant by some officer while they were ducked behind a small ridge.
After this, he was in a small behind-the-lines group that, among other things, was supposed to recapture Americans captured by the Germans. They were in Naples before the main army arrived and collected a Liberty ship (?) which had been lost in a storm. The ship landed in Naples with a load of men and almost no weapons. Dad's group lead them up to a monastery where they hid until the army arrived. I would REALLY be interested in any information anyone might have on this.
Not long after this he was wounded by a mortar round and that was the end of his combat days. He helped run a replacements outfit until the war ended. Two of his favorite memories were going to Switzerland for their demobilization and coming home (of course) in an new, empty tanker. Learned a mean game of pinocle from the sailors. As I said, this is mostly remembered from stories told to a boy by his father and may well wander a bit from facts, but I believe they are fairly close to the truth. Thanks for the opportunity to think this over again.
Larry Barker \\
Portland, Oregon \\ Cascade 29 "Dulcinea"
From: email@example.com (Amos Shapir)
My father's story may be a bit more interesting: he was born and raised in Germany, but as a Jew, had to flee to Palestine in 1934. (His brother and sister managed to get out too; my grandparents decided they were too old to move, and didn't survive). In Palestine he joined the Fighting Jewish Brigade which was a part of the British 8th army. He served in Egypt as a rail transport officer, then saw some action in Italy. Right after the war his battalion was assigned to guard a POW camp in Holland (where relations between prisoners and guards were obviously not as amicable as described in the previous article).
Amos Shapir Net: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paper: nSOF Parallel Software, Ltd.
Givat-Hashlosha 49905, Israel
Tel: +972 3 9388551 Fax: +972 3 9388552 GEO: 34 55 15 E / 32 05 52 N
From: email@example.com (Doug Holliday)
This is some interesting stuff not from my immediate family, but from my girlfriend's. Her father served in the First Army from Italy all the way to Berlin (including the "Bulge"). He received some temporary fame by getting his picture on the cover of "Stars and Stripes" with the headline"Brother Liberates Brother"...it seems that near the end of the war he struck out and found his brother who was a P.O.W. in a camp in/near Munich. At the time there were Germans everywhere trying to surrender to any American they encountered...presumabely to avoid capture by the Russians...so on the way to Munich he had to refuse many offers of surrender by German soldiers. He has many stories of his adventures.. .hopefully I can add more later.
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