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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
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Reasons for entering the military and reaction to the attack on Pearl
Harbor (p. 1-2), military training and deployment to England (p. 3-4), working as a
liaison officer or "glorified message boy" relaying information from the front lines
to battalion headquarters (p. 5), landing at Omaha Beach and first engagement
with German soldiers (p. 5-6), explaining dangerous work of a liaison officer and
down-time activities (p. 7), reaction of French and Belgium civilians to American
soldiers (p. 8), description of the Battle of the Bulge and pushing through
Germany (p. 9), setting up staffs to run German cities (p. 10), wounds received in
battle (p. 10), seeing the carnage of battle left behind during trips from front-lines
to headquarters and prisoner of war camps (p. 11-12), most vivid memory is nine
hundred men going to fight on Hill 314 at Mortain and only three hundred walking
back down (p. 13), initial difficulty in talking about his experiences after the war
and returning to visit Europe later on in life (p. 14-16).
Interview with Frank Towers
Date of Interview: 15 March 2005; La Crosse, Florida
Interviewer: F. Evan Nooe
Transcriber: F. Evan Nooe
N: Where were you born?
T: I was born in Boston, Boston Mass in 1917.
N: Did you have any family that was in the military?
T: No, none that I know of. My father was never in the military and I didn't
have any brothers or sisters. I had an uncle that was in the Canadian
Army. But that's all militarily.
N: What did you do right before you joined the National Guard?
T: I was going to school at the University of Vermont in 1936 to '38 and I left
the university then to take employment in Burlington, Vermont. The clouds
of war were developing then and one was not able to get reasonably good
employment. You could not advance unless you had your prior military
training. This was when the draft had come out and requiring all young
men to have one year of military training. So unless you had this one year
of military training companies were not enthusiastic about hiring you and
training you for six months and then losing you to the military. So I decided
then to get into the military and get my years training over with and then
come back and finish school and get some kind of reasonable
N: What year was that that you started training?
T: 1940. I joined the National Guard in Vermont in December of 1940 and we
came down here to Camp Blanding here at Starke and I spent my year
training there. We were getting ready to go home in January of '42 but in
December of '41 Pearl Harbor erupted and then of course we were in for
N: What was training like?
T: Well, it was different because our division was from the North, we were
from New England and being transported down here into the South, the
culture was entirely different, the weather, the climate was entirely
different to us and of course, the summer heat was very devastating to us.
We had never saw or heard of heat at 100 degrees. The humidity and the
crawling around snake infested woods out there; Camp Blanding. This
was a whole new experience to us Yankees, as we were called down here
at that time.
N: Before you joined, what did you think of what was happening in Europe?
T: Thinking back now it is difficult to recollect my feelings at that time. We
knew there was a war going on in Europe since 1938. We knew a little bit
about it but not as much as I had learned after we got into the service and
became more militarily oriented as to the reason for our training and the
reason for the possibility of the impending war.
N: You said you were in training when Pearl Harbor occurred, what happened
the day after?
T: At that time we were appalled to think at that time the Japanese people
attacked us at Pearl Harbor. That made us all the more gung ho to go to
war and fight the enemy whoever it may be. Of course at that time it was
the Japanese. We thought this was a very atrocious act on their part and
we were going to mobilize and retaliate.
N: Were you anticipating going to the Japanese Theatre?
T: Originally yes, that was the immediate thought because Japan had
attacked us, not Germany. Our continued training went on but
about that time Germany sided with Japan and Italy, they became
the Axis Powers. So as time went on the Germans were trying to
intercept our shipping to England because we were supporting
England to prevent any kind of invasion into the British Isles. The
Germans were sinking a lot of our shipping out there. We had
submarines off the coast of Florida here patrolling the waters
because of the great number of ships coming from the Gulf of
Mexico where they were transporting oil around the Florida and up
the east coast to New York and then over to England. They were
trying to sabotage those oil tankers. In doing that, this drew us into
the war; sinking the ships in the North Atlantic a lot of American
lives were lost as well as the ships and cargo that we were sending
over to England. That drew us closer to a European war than it did
to a Japanese war.
N: Did you feel that going to Europe was a missed opportunity to get
retaliation against the Japanese?
T: We saw it from both angles. The Japanese were a threat to us on the west
coast and the Germans were a threat to Western Europe, the British Isles,
and further shipping in the North Atlantic. Both sides were pretty much
equal in our ideas of whether we went to either theatre; we were going to
be doing our job of fighting an enemy.
N: Did training change in any way significantly after Pearl Harbor?
T: No, it didn't change. It became more intense. During the year that we
were here we were doing daily training like an eight to five job. After Pearl
Harbor we were on a 24 hour basis. Training was much more intense
N: What would it consist of?
T: Infantry tactics, how to attack the enemy, bayonet training, rifle practice,
target practice. We just intensified our training in all aspects of tactical
N: When did you learn that you would be sent overseas?
T: It's hard to say just when were learned that we were going to go overseas.
I was in the 43rd division here at Camp Blanding and they were shipped in
February of '42 to Camp Shelby in Mississippi. They were on their way to
the Pacific at that time. They went from Shelby, Mississippi to (inaudible
word 9:13) California. Then they shipped out to the islands in the Pacific.
While we were at Camp Shelby I was taken out of the unit and sent to Fort
Benning for training at the officer candidate school. I spent three months
there so my chances of going overseas through that period was nil. Many
of the graduates of my class were sent immediately over to Africa. I
don't know any of them that went to the Pacific. A number of them went
directly to Africa, joining the American troops in the invasion there in
I was fortunate and was not sent over there. I was sent to Camp Wheeler
up near Macon, Georgia. I spent fourteen months training recruits at that
camp. After the fourteen months there I was transferred to Camp
Adebarry in Indiana where I joined the 30th Infantry Division. We trained
at Camp Adebarry during November and December of '43; January of '44
still not knowing where we were going to go. We felt sure we were going
over seas but did not know if we were going to the Pacific or to Europe.
When we were leaving Camp Adebarry, on the 1st of February, they
issued us summer suntanned uniforms which indicated right there we
were going to the Pacific. While we're moving on the train in the next
couple of days we felt we're going eastwards. We determined from the
signs we could see along the way that yes, we're going east. We are not
going to the Pacific. Why did they give us these uniforms? We ended up in
Boston and they took those summer uniforms away from us and gave us
wool uniforms. So we knew pretty much then that we were going to be
going to Europe. From that point on there was no doubt that we were
going to Europe.
N: When did you depart for England?
T: We left Boston of the 12th of February 1944, landed in Scotland on the
22nd of February near the area of Glasgow. We went by train down to
London and then to the south coast of England and that is where we
stayed most of the time until the invasion actually occurred.
N: Did you receive additional training?
T: We were training all that time. We were receiving updated intelligence
information as to where the enemy was, what the units that we would be
fighting against, what his position was, the kind of weapons that they had.
We were pretty well prepared for going into Europe against the enemy.
N: What was it like waiting?
T: Not knowing exactly what combat was, you see it in the movies but you
can't visually or physically know what it feels like. We were very anxious.
We gotta go, we gotta go! Let's hope we go tomorrow. We are going to go
across the channel and fight the Germans. When we get there the war is
going to be over. We are going to whip them all! It was not quite that easy.
We did not know what we were talking about. When you move in there
and you are facing actual enemy fire it is a whole different situation then
when you are out in the field practicing with dummy ammunition or
knowingly firing over our heads. You know you are safe but once you get
over on the continent there is no place that was safe.
N: What was you position, a specialist position?
T: When we arrived in Europe?
T: When we went across the channel I was the Mortar Platoon leader in a
heavy weapons company, in M Company of the 120th regiment. Due to
circumstances I was delegated to be liaison officer between battalion
headquarters and regimental headquarters. The duties of a liaison officer
were more or less a glorified messenger boy. It was a necessary position
because as the front lines moved forward the rear headquarters had to
know where they were at all times. Our signal company and radio people
would try to keep in communications with the front lines as best they could
but sometimes that distance would be extended to where the radios would
not reach due to a hill or mountain in between so the radio could not get
through. The telephone had not yet been laid. If the telephone lines had
been laid the tanks maneuvering around ran over the telephone lines and
cut them up so there was never an assurance of clear communications
between the front lines and the headquarters. So this was my job to keep
in contact with the front lines and the first battalion headquarters so they
would know what the front line was doing at all times, also to carry plans
for the attack for the next day.
N: Were you reassigned fairly quickly when you entered Europe?
T: Yes I was, because that kind of position was not in the table of
organization at that time. They did not know they were going to need that
position. As the situation developed they determined the radio could not
keep up good communication, the telephone lines were not reliable. They
had to have somebody to do this message relay constantly. It was
a 24 hour-a-day job relaying message back and forth to the front line back
to the battalion headquarters.
N: I read in you memoirs that you arrived on the 12th of June.
T: We loaded up on the ships on the night of the 12th and landed on the 13th
N: What was your first impression as you approached the continent?
T: My first impression was, we are in the wrong place because we got into a
packet of boats allegedly to be routed over to Omaha Beach. We had
been told that there was a narrow beach and then cliffs with a small ravine
and this was where we were going to land. We were to go through the
ravine and start our attack a mile or two inland. Somehow our packet went
over to Utah Beach and here we had a very broad sandy beach, no cliffs,
no ravine, and that beach was still under artillery and mortar fire. Omaha
Beach was not under fire. We knew that we were in the wrong place. After
we landed, the beach master advised our battalion commander that we
were in the wrong beach, you belong over at Omaha Beach. We had to re-
board on the ship then sail over to Omaha Beach. Our coming into Utah
Beach was like landing in a foreign place, we had not
been told about this flat beach with no cliffs It was a surprise that we were
on such an open area.
N: What was you initial assignment once you landed?
T: That is when I became a liaison officer. I had been a platoon leader of a
mortar platoon but as soon as we got there, there was no guide to lead us
up to where the regiment that had come in before us that was on the right
ships that went to Omaha Beach. They had gone inland about five miles. It
was my job immediately then to find where the regiment is and come back
to take our battalion to that spot. That is where the liaison officer position
N: So you basically did that until the end of the war?
T: Until the end of the war, yes. Later on I became a division liaison doing the
same work just at a higher level.
N: What was your first engagement with the Germans like?
T: That was around the 20th. We first had combat on the 15th and I guess it
was around the 20th of June that I had my initial contact with the enemy.
N: How did you feel once that was over, after being in your first firefight?
T: I guess I and all the rest of us felt lucky to be survivors. We did not realize
that the artillery fire was going to be as concentrated as it was, as deadly
as it was. We had some misfortunes where are own American artillery fell
short so we were caught in between the German barrage and the
American barrage. It was a weird feeling to know that here you are fighting
an enemy yet under fire from your own artillery.
N: Was this a set attack or just a skirmish that broke out while advancing?
T: Yes, the Germans were well organized on their defensive positions and
we were pretty well organized too on our attack plans to break through
those defensive positions.
N: Where was this?
T: The town of St. Gene today.
N: Your memoirs also said that you were involved in the Mortain battle.
T: That was a little further on. We moved into Mortain on the 2nd of August
and relieved another division who had taken the town and in defensive
positions there. We relieved them in order that they could go further south
down towards Brest with General Patton. We had not gotten well dug into
our position when the Germans attacked and they caught us by surprise
really. We had a battalion up on this hill, Hill 314. There were three
German armored divisions that attacked us and surrounded that hill, drove
us out of the town and held that position for five days. That battalion
remained up on that hill without any re-supply of any kind. Nobody could
get up to them and could not carry them food, could not carry them
ammunition, they were completely cut off. They had to survive up there for
N: During that time you had been pushed out of the town?
T: Yes, the battalion regiment had been pushed out of the town
N: The liaison duties that you did, where you traveling by yourself?
T: No, I had a jeep driver. I was not allowed to drive. I always had two guards
with me because most of that time I was carrying secret information. Had
we been ambushed, any attempt made to capture us, I had to have some
kind of protection to keep those document from falling into the hands of
N: Did anything like that ever happen?
T: No, came close a couple of times. We missed a road and we drove on
through an area that had not been officially liberated. We learned after a
short time that we were in German territory and turned around.
N: What happened when you entered the German occupied territory?
T: Luckily there were no Germans right in that particular area at that time.
We were able to turn around and get out of there without getting fired on.
But when your down that close to the front, any movement at all the
Germans are going to fire on you.
N: Did you have any down time, was it constant back and forth between
T: I had a colleague that was doing the identical work. We were working
constantly together and when there was a lull in the battle one of us would
have a little time off. We could move to the back area for maybe a half
a day. No real time off to go to Pairs or Mairse for two or three days. It
was a matter of hours that you could go back and have a rest for a
N: The front line troops would be cycled through; did you ever have that in
T: No, the front line troops would have a company broken down into platoons
and squads. Those would be up at the front lines and after the end of a
day they would be rotated back and another squad or platoon would take
their place. They could continually leap-frogging or rotating front line
troops all the time. We had nobody to rotate with.
N: How was it like dealing with French and Belgian civilians?
T: The French people early on in Normandy, we didn't have much contact
with them at all. The Germans drove them back away from our advance
because they did not want the French people talking to us and telling us
where the German emplacements were. Because the French lived around
there they knew where the Germans were living, so they did not want
them to talk to us. So they kept pushing them back. We had very little
contact with them. It was not until August until we had any real opportunity
to talk to the French people on a friendly basis and we still had to be very
cautious because the Germans had occupied this land for four years.
They had become friends with the French people. The soldiers had
married the French girls so therefore you being a German soldier and
marrying a French girl her father is going to be pro-German.
N: Did you have any partisan resistance from the French?
T: No, we had very good cooperation from them. The Free-French, the
Parisians, they cooperated with us very, very much.
N: What was it like in Belgium?
T: It was pretty much the same. We had more contact with Belgian people.
As we were going along to northern France, we were chasing the
Germans. They had lost all contact and were just running back for their
homeland, just leaving rear-guard actions as they went along. They
weren't pushing the Belgian people away from us. They just went on
through to get out of there. We had a lot more contact with the Belgian
people. They were very receptive to having us come into their country and
chase the Germans out. So we got along with them very good.
N: Even with the cities closer to the German border, there was not any
T: No. We went next on into Holland and I think the Dutch people were even
more receptive to having us come and liberate them. The only place we
had any animosity was during the Battle of the Bulge. That December still
in Belgium down in the town of Malmedy and several of the towns in that
area had been German cities before World War I. Due to the
the Treaty of Versailles those towns became apart of Belgium. So here
are German people living in Belgium. They were pro-German, so
when we moved in there those people were still German. They didn't give
us any problem at all.
N: You mentioned the Battle of the Bulge, when was it clear that there was
this massive offensive taking place?
T: They broke through on the night of the 16th-17th of December and of
course the troops in that area knew it immediately. They had the 106th
Infantry Division stretched out over a long distance. I think 30 to 35 miles
which is unusual and not appropriate in that particular area. In the winter
time it would not be feasible for an enemy to mount an attack because you
are in mountains in the winter time. You are confined to very narrow
winding roads. It was a calculated risk that the Army HQ took. They
thought there would never be an attack in this area so we will take this
new division and spread them out and give them the feel of the front line
and there will not be any action there but that is where they hit. They
broke a hole through and went several miles back. We were up in
Germany about 100 miles away We were alerted to move down to that
area. It took us 24 hours to move 100 miles where we were at Malmedy
on the northern shoulder of this bulge break through. We met
up with Peiper and his armored troops coming through that area. We
stopped and had a very heavy engagement with them and stopped them.
That was probably one of the most critical battles of the entire Battle of the
Bulge because had Peiper gone another four or five miles he would have
reached one of the biggest gasoline dumps that we had existing in
Europe. Once he had reached that gasoline dump he could have gone on
to Antwerp which was his goal to try and cut between the 1st and 9th
Armies. We stopped him there and he did not get the gas and it was all
over for him.
N: After the Battle of the Bulge what was it like pushing through Germany?
T: It was not difficult. The troops in general had a change in attitude. They
had given up. We pushed on, they were still fighting, but not with the
ferocity that they had been in France and Belgium. It was a little bit easier
although we sill had to be very careful because everybody was our
enemy. Every man, every woman, every child was a German, was a
potential enemy. We never knew. There was always good people and bad
people no matter where you go in every civilization. Many of those people
were good people but I can not look at you and tell if you are a Protestant
or a Catholic. I can not tell if you are a Nazi or a Wehrmacht or an SS. You
can not look at people and go this guy is ok and this guy is not. Every one
of them had to be treated as a deadly enemy.
N: Did you experience any problems with German civilian resistance?
T: I did not personally, no, and I do not know of anybody who did. They did
not cooperate with us but they did not resist to my knowledge.
N: You were in Germany until the very end of the war?
T: Yes, and we stayed there until early part of August. Then we started
coming back to the States.
N: Was there any talk of being sent to the Pacific Theatre?
T: Yes. At the end of the war we were assigned as occupation troops and our
job at that point was military government. We had to find a suitable person
in every town to be the Mayor, the deputy Mayor, the Treasurer, the guy
who took care of the water department, the guy who took care of
transportation. We had to set up a staff for the city and get reliable people.
Not these Nazis. This was our job at that time, getting the city staff
organized so that once we left they could start running the city the way it
should be run.
N: Were you ever wounded?
T: Yes, I was wounded twice.
N: How did that happen?
T: Both times were artillery shrapnel. I got a piece right here in my cheek
now. A little piece of iron metal that was never taken out. Never given me
any trouble so I just left it. I had another in my arm which doesn't give me
N: Those were two separate occasions?
T: Yes, two separate occasions
N: Was it just artillery fire while going back and forth between headquarters?
T: Yes, at one time I was going down towards the front lines to contact a
battalion commander. I was standing beside a tank and down the road
was a German artillery piece and he fired and hit the front of that tank and
the artillery shell shattered and splintered and I got a bunch of it. I was
probably twenty-five feet away from the tank but I was just close enough
that I got a lot of splinters in my check. It was nothing serious but it was
just like I had a two day growth of beard stuck in all over my face.
N: What happened when your shoulder was hit?
T: That was the same sort of a situation. I was down close to the front line
and artillery shell came in and a piece of artillery shell hit me here on the
N: Were you ever caught on the front lines having to fight?
T: Not actually, no.
N: In going back and forth you would see a lot of the debris and carnage left,
could you describe some that?
T: In one particular situation, sort of gruesome. As we were traveling along a
road in Belgium the Germans were retreating. They were out of
gasoline and they would confiscate horses and cows to hook them
up to their equipment to drag their equipment back. The time I
recall was a long straight stretch of road that was just filled with two
lanes of traffic going all horse drawn. Our air force came over and
strafed that column and then came back and strafed it again. By the
time we got there the road was just full of wagons, tanks, and
trucks and dead horses. We had to get our engineers with
bulldozers and just bulldoze that stuff off to the side of the road so
that we could go on through. It was heartbreaking to see the
Belgian civilians gathering around those horses and cutting them up
to get the meat from the horses for something to eat. They had very
little food to eat because the Germans would take all their food
away and just give them a very small daily ration. They might get a
small amount of meat once a week. Suddenly to find a nice, freshly
killed horse they would just carve it up in a number of minutes and
have that horse carved right down to the bone and have a lot of
good meat. That was more of the things that I saw. Later on in
Germany we would liberate some of the German prison camps
where they had Allied and British soldiers and prisoner. They had a
lot of Jew prisoners of course. As we were coming along the
German guards of the prisons knew that we were coming. They did
not want to get caught so they would run on ahead and leave the
prisoners on their own. They would take delight in shooting these
prisoners and we would be driving along and see dead prisoners all
along the side of the roads that the Germans had killed them.
N: Were these POW camps?
N: Did you come across any concentration camps?
T: Two small ones.
N: Where were they?
T: Near the town of Magdeburg in Germany.
N: Where they just concentration-work camps or death camps?
T: The one I recall the most was a work camp. It was an airplane factory. In
fact several factories that manufactured parts. This particular camp had a
number of displaced people form the Poles and the Finns, the Norwegians
and Russians, and a bunch of Jews all in this one camp.
A point of interest I just happen to be going over to Germany next month.
Going to this city of Magdeburg. They invited me over there to speak to
them. About a month ago I had a phone call from a man down in
Melbourne and he wanted to know if I was the 30th Division that had
liberated Magdeburg. He went on to tell me he was a Jew that had been
in the prison camp in Magdeburg and I had liberated him. He is going
over to Magdeburg next month and I am going to meet him. We are
coming around full circle here.
N: Were the POW camps comprised of both American and English and
T: They mostly kept the American and British together, the Russians and the
Poles were kept in separate camps. The Jews were basically kept in even
separate camps. This particular one in Magdeburg was strictly a slave
labor camp. I do not know of any Americans or British but there were all
other nationalities and some Jews.
N: How did you deal with the death that was there every day?
T: It was hard to accept the fact that your friends are being killed. It was hard
for me to believe that a man laying there was dead. He had just been
killed. He was the first man that I saw that had been killed. He had been
hit with a piece of artillery; it just cut the top of his head off just like you
took a knife and cut the top off. He was still breathing, he was not alive but
it was a reflex action. I did not know, I thought this guy was still alive and
needed some medical help. I went and got a doctor and the doctor looked
at him and saw part of his head completely cut off and said he was dead,
nothing you can do for him.
N: That was on the 20th?
T: That was at Normandy. One of the very first days we were involved in
combat. I did not know who this man was, it did not affect me that much.
Other times that I saw men that I knew that had been killed. It made you
feel bad. Maybe my number is coming up next. You never know.
N: How did you feel on a day to day basis about being in danger?
T: It is something that just sort of grew on you. You knew that you were in
danger at all times. That was just part of the job. You had to accept it.
N: What really sticks out as your most vivid or intense experience?
T: In my position I do not know if anything was any more intense than any
other day. Every day was something different. I guess the very first days
of combat. This is new, having live ammunition shot at you. To cope with
that. I guess perhaps one of the most outstanding things that I can recall is
that day that those troops on Hill 314 at Mortain were relieved. They came
down off that Hill. I saw some of those officers and men who had been up
there for five days. I knew personally many of them. When they went up
on that hill there were 900 men up there. When they walked off there was
a little over than 300. So the 600 of those men were either killed or
wounded and could not walk off that hill. I think that was probably the most
devastating thing that I encountered.
N: How do memories like that affect you now?
T: They don't bother me now. I can talk about it and it doesn't bother me. For
the first ten years after the war I did not want to talk about it. It was bad
memories. I just did not want to relieve it. I just went about with my life and
when anything came up about the war I just ignored it. I did not watch any
war movies or television which was new at that time. When getting with
any groups of people that would start talking about the war I would turn
around and leave. After ten years I began to realize that this was
something in the past and nothing I could change. It happened, so I began
talking about it.
N: Do you think it was just time that helped you deal?
T: Yes, time. Time heals all things. My son is basically the same way. He
served in Vietnam for two years. He has not talked about Vietnam at all.
Now just very recently he began to talk about it and he wants to get back
with his old organization and go to a reunion and meet some of those guys
and relive the war again.
N: How do you relate to your son with his war experience?
T: We have a good relationship. He has never wanted to talk about the war
and I have never pushed him on it because I know how I felt after the war.
I did not want to talk about it either. Now we can talk and relate. He has
never done any interviews like this. He does not openly come out and start
talking about what he did in Vietnam. But he and I can sit down and we
can talk about it and we can relate. I was there and I did it and he was
there and he did it. They are entirely different wars but we can still relate.
N: It seems like you have done a good amount of reading on World War II.
T: I have.
N: How do you feel when you are sitting there reading a book about places
you were, places you were shot at, places where your friends have died.
T: I can visualize being back there today. Of course I have been back over
there many times in the past 25 years. I know the countryside. When I am
reading a book about World War II, the particular area that we were in. I
can just relate and see myself going down that road. I can almost relive it
N: What was it like staying in Germany working at the Post Exchange?
T: In August after the war was over we were a military government. We were
(inaudible 53:48) to go back to the states and then go to Japan to finish
fighting the war down there. When we got to England they had dropped
the Atomic bomb and of course that ended the war. Then we came home
and I was home for six months and then went back to Germany. I was in
Frankfurt for three years as the assistant postal exchange officer. There I
had a lot of contact with the German people. I never had any problem with
any of them. I found that they were reasonably nice people. I never knew
you before and I never knew these people before and I could sit down and
talk to them.
N: There was no resentment?
T: No. The people that I spoke with or had any dealings with were very
thankful that we came. Even though we destroyed their city and left them
destitute they were still thankful to be out from under the yoke of Nazism
and Hitler. The way it worked over there Hitler was in power and unless
you belonged to the Nazi party you could not get a job. If you do not have
a job you can not live. What are you going to do? You are a nice guy, you
do not believe in Nazism but you go down and join the party. Then you get
a job so you live. You do not necessarily have the Nazism in your heart or
mind but the fact is you are a card carrying member of a party. If you are
not you do not get a job. Everybody theoretically was a Nazi but not the
die-hard Nazis that we were fighting during the war.
N: You went back to Frankfurt?
N: Was that anywhere near where you were fighting?
T: No, Frankfurt was not near where we had actually fought.
N: Did you ever go back to any of those places that you had gone through?
T: In Germany? Yes.
N: What was it like the first time?
T: The first time we went back to Frankfurt, being there for three years I saw
the city of Frankfurt, they are all the same; totally destroyed. I went back to
Frankfurt in 1984 for the first time. It had been pretty much rebuilt. You
could tell that war had been fought. It was a lot of damage. I was back
there again in the late '90's and it was pretty much rebuilt. You would
never know that there was a war fought in and around the city.
N: Have you been back to Malmedy?
T: Yes, several times. Malmedy itself was not hurt. It was in the center of
town our American Air Force actually bombed the middle of Malmedy.
That is all rebuilt and you would never know anything had ever happened
N: How do you feel the experience changed you or what effect it had on your
live as a whole?
T: I guess it made me older a lot faster. The experiences that I had, it
changed the course of my life. I came here from Vermont and was at
Camp Blanding for a year. During that period of time I met my wife and a
couple of years later we were married. So then after the war I settled down
here rather than back up in Vermont. That was a big change in my life
N: What helped you get through it?
T: My wife. She was very supportive of me. I had some problems after I
came home, mental and physical problems. I just had to overcome them
by myself. I can remember here we built this house in 1950 and the naval
base in Jacksonville used to fly over this area everyday. Very low level
practicing runs so they would not be detected by radar. When those
planes would come over I would relive the war and I would hit the ground.
Now this was 1950.
N: How long did that take to get over?
T: Between five and ten years. When I heard a plane coming I knew it was a
bomber and the only thing you can do is hit the ground. Get down in a
ditch or something because when the bomb explodes the shrapnel goes
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out and just hits everything. So the idea is just to hit the ground and be as
small a target as you can be. It took me five to ten years to get over that.
Now those planes still come over and are not a bother.
N: Is there anything you would like to add?
T: Going over to Magdeburg is going to be new experience and talk to
German people. Who's city that I had a part in the liberation of and the
destruction of this city. To talk to them and to meet this guy down in
Melbourne. That I had a part in liberating him, at this particular time we
had all these displaced people that we had to get away from the front line.
So that is one of my jobs to escort these prisoners back 50 to 100 miles
and find suitable housing. We found some German barracks and moved
this group of prisoners back into these barracks and got them food and
clothing. It will be a reliving of that whole situation and being a part of his
liberation, starting him on a new journey.
N: Is this sponsored by the city?
T: Yes, on a Sunday afternoon have a large audience of about 500 people
that they want us to speak to. That will be unique to speak to some of my
N: Are there a lot of people that will come?
T: I think only about four people that they have invited to go over there.
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