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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interview with Glynn Markham
Date of Interview: 26 February 2005; Alachua, Florida
Interviewer: Richard Hill III
Transcriber: Richard Hill III
Begin Tape 1, Side 1
H: Good afternoon. Today is February 26, three o' clock in the afternoon, and
I am interviewing Mr. Glen Marcum, a World War II veteran who was on
the U.S.S. McCook, during D-Day. Mr. Marcum, the first question I want
to ask you: This was a big time in United States history. It was one of the
center points of the American century. Do you remember where you were
on December 7, 1941?
M: Very much. I had just pulled into the Columbia drugstore in Lake City.
And I had ordered a strawberry milkshake and I was drinking a strawberry
milkshake when the news came over about Pearl Harbor being bombed.
So, I listened to that and I didn't know where Pearl Harbor was and I didn't
know the magnitude of what was happening. But after I learned from the
president later on, I learned the magnitude of it.
H: Once you learned the magnitude of what had occurred, what did you feel,
what did your family and friends feel, what was the general consensus of
M: Well, I just went about life as normal. I didn't sense any great danger of
America until I saw it on film, Pearl Harbor being bombed, and the
possibility of some danger coming towards America. And so that was in
1941, December the 7th. So I just lived a normal life. And didn't expect the
United States to be going to war to be doing what we were doing. And I
thought about the possibility of later on, if I got to be old enough, I would
go into the service. So later on, that was in Lake City, in 1942, my family
moved away from Lake City to Gainesville. In Gainesville I finished up my
junior year in high school there and played in the high school band. After
my junior year I got all revved up about getting into the service. I had
some buddies that had gone in, and they looked great in their uniforms,
and I wanted to see the world. So I begged my parents when I hit
seventeen to let me go into the United States Navy.
H: So you joined the Navy at seventeen? Why the Navy?
M: Because that's where I wanted to go.
H: Did you have friends or relatives or was it just...
M: I had a next door neighbor who was in the Navy, and he was an Airedale
in the Navy, flying out of Key West. And he'd come home every other
weekend sporting his uniform off. And I had the urge to look like him.
H: When you signed up, what was your initial training like going into the
Navy? Where did they send you and what did they train you to do initially.
M: Well, I went to Bainbridge, Maryland in boot camp. I finished up eight
weeks there and they asked me what school I would go to after
graduation. My first choice was radio, and my second choice was to be a
signal man. Since I was a scout, a life scout, and I had used a lot of
symbols for signaling, like Morse code, they knew that so they put me as a
signal man. So I went to signal school for sixteen weeks, and immediately
upon graduating from signal school, I was sent to Brooklyn Navy yard to
board the U.S.S. McCook, DD496. But anyway, we boarded the McCook
and we sailed from out of the harbor, and we loaded up ammunition and
torpedoes, and hauled out underneath the Statue of Liberty in a rough
Hudson River and I got seasick doing that. And leaving there and going
out to sea, heading out to England, we picked up submarines. We started
dropping depth charges just outside the breakwater at New York, and I
was still seasick, and we were chasing submarines or dropping depth
charges. At that point I was so seasick I didn't care if we sank or stayed
afloat. But we went on and picked up two battle wagons and two cruisers
and sailed to England. That was the heavy stuff we took for the invasion.
Of course, we didn't know when the invasion would take place, but we
went to England, and from England on up to Ireland, and on up to
Scotland, and back and forth, escorting troop ships down to England in
preparation for the invasion on June 6th, 1944.
H: When you first got onto the McCook, what were the livings conditions like
as an enlisted sailor?
M: Well, I had heard from other fellows who had been on destroyers. They
told me what the tight living conditions would be. I was assigned to the
bottom bunk, the fourth bunk. And living conditions were good, food was
good. And I enjoyed my years. I got out in 1946, after going to China and
back. But living conditions were good, and while we were in England we
escorted our second trip of troop ships down from Scotland and Ireland.
We were anchored in Weymouth Roads, England one night about
midnight and the Germans made a raid on us and they came in the city
and dropped two 500 pound bombs, barely missing us. [It] knocked us
out of commission. Our fire control was knocked out. Sonar, radar, and
steering. After steering was knocked out we were just sitting ducks in the
English Channel. We had to be repaired.
H: But according to the reports, it says there were no personnel casualties.
M: No, personnel casualties. We were lucky. We were a lucky ship all during
H: Were you there on the ship when the air raid took place?
M: Oh, yeah. I had just gone up from the lower deck. [Starting in] my living
quarters, through the head, and was going out to starboard side of the
hatch, when the bomb dropped on the right side of us, kicking me over
against the door, and I slammed the door, and tried to find my way back
into the five inch gun handling room. But I didn't know what kind of
damage it was or how much more we would be bombed, or if we just took
H: Going back to the culture aboard the McCook, what was your feel for the
officers, the NCOs, and the enlisted people?
M: I have a perfect relationship with them all. The officers and the enlisted
men. No problems at all. And I respected my captain. I thought he was like
a father to me, and he had already lost two ships in the Pacific, when he
took command of the McCook. And he thought we were gonna lose that
ship, the McCook. And we survived that. Of course, we survived a lot from
H: With your ship being in England and the air raid taking place in late May,
how fast did it take for your ship to be repaired in order to take part in the
M: Fortunately we had a destroyer repair ship right in the bay right with us.
H: The Melville?
M: Yes. And with her repair crew and our repair crew, three days time
working around the clock, the ship was repaired and went out to sea and
tested, and we got 100 percent and a 4.0 rating. And we were put back on
the first line to go into Normandy. We were knocked out of our position.
Before the raid, we were to lead the invasion, and they put us right back
into that slot and we led the invasion across the channel. And between
that time and the invasion, we had the storm, which came about on the 5th
which cut out the invasion on the 5th of June. And I spent fourth hours on
the signal light. All the landing craft, the small landing craft, had already
proceeded across the English Channel for the invasion. And it was my job,
as a signal man, to turn them around. And for 4 hours I worked till my eyes
liked to pop out of my head trying to turn them around in the stormy
weather. Real bad weather. And then we turned back around the next day
and headed out for the invasion.
H: When did you and the rest of the crew know that you were taking a part in
the D-Day invasions?
M: The Saturday before. For sure, this is the job. The captain called us all on
the fantail and rallied us up, and said, Fellows, this is the point that you
guys, that we have been training for. We are ready to go. We will go. And
so, that was on the Saturday before.
H: When you actually started preparations for D-Day the organization, the
last minute training was there anything significant while you were waiting
on the southern part of England before you were ready to go? What was
the mood like?
M: Oh, yeah, it was the month before. There was training at Slapton Sands.
That's where they had the last big training, the mock invasion, in southern
England. And during that Mock invasion, there were two transports that
were torpedoed. Two German high speed torpedo boats came in and sunk
two of them, and there were 700 troops lost at Slapton Sands in that
preparation. But that was kept silent. I didn't know about that really, what
had happened, until many years later. Forty or fifty years, later. I didn't
know what had really happened. They were all personnel that were
involved in that catastrophe there. They were told that if they even
squeaked one word, they'd be court martialed. And so there was nothing
said about that 700 troops lost, because they didn't want it to get out
because of the preparations for the invasion, and the Germans learning of
H: Right before your ships were sent out for D-Day, the order of the ships
that went out. The first things that went out were the mine sweepers and
they cleared out what was known as the Piccadilly Circus so that you guys
could come in and safely transit the channel.
M: Yeah, that was the only thing they had of us for the invasion, was wooden
English mine sweepers. They preceded us to a certain point, and then at a
certain point, they cut loose, and we went on in.
H: As you were leaving, can you describe the weather and the sea
conditions? The books say that it was cloudy, it was stormy, and the sea
wasn't the most friendly crossing the ocean. What were your feelings
about that, with the ocean and what everyone knew at that point?
M: Well, it was unsafe really for an invasion, but Eisenhower felt that it was
the only opportunity we had to make this invasion and to make it
successful was to go on in regardless of how bad the weather was, and it
was bad for all those landing craft that had to go in on that choppy sea. It
was dangerous. A lot of them were swamped. All the fellows lost their
lives. And a lot of tanks were sunk or swamped. I watched a lot of them
through the invasion lose their lives.
H: As you were going across, I guess you were part of was known as the
bombardment crew- the destroyers, the cruisers, the battleships, the big
guns that were provided- sort of the artillery for the beachhead. There
were reports of the crews on theses ships, almost whispering to each
other as to make sure the Germans couldn't hear them, Even though they
were miles offshore. What was the feeling like as you were crossing the
channel, as you were coming up and it's dark out and you haven't quite
got to the beach yet?
M: Well, I think everybody was in fear. Everybody was praying. And we knew
that it was going to be rough, and we didn't know how rough. We had no
idea. We were told that the Air Force would be dropping bombs, and
busting up the coastline, and knocking out the Germans. But we knew that
we had designated targets, that the French underground had reported
targets, and they had pinpointed the, and we had so many targets that we
were supposed to knock out within the first ten minutes. And we did that.
And then we had targets of opportunity from then on. But we knocked out
many pill boxes.
H: When you first came up to the beaches, well before maybe you got to the
beaches, you were on orders not to fire still to keep the surprise, or wait
until the Germans started firing at you. What was that feeling like, as you
could see the beaches, you could see the targets you had to hit, and you
couldn't fire yet?
M: That's how this story came about. [Pulls out a news article] We were
sitting there for an hour waiting. We had to wait for the battleship Texas to
open fire before we could fire. And we were praying that she would hurry
up and open fire, so we had the World War correspondent aboard from
Post magazine. And he was standing on the bridge right next to me a
whole fifty-four hours that we were at general quarters, he was on the
bridge and I was on the bridge. And we were elbowing one another. He
was making the story on the Post. That one hour is what they're talking
about. Before we commenced fire, we were all nervous. We didn't know
what was going to happen, whether they were going to knock us out, 88's
would open up. But the Germans pretty much held their fire until we
H: When you started firing in the morning, the targets that you were assigned
according to this it says three pill boxes, thirteen machine gun nests
and three shore guns- was there a priority to those, or were you just
supposed to shoot those targets as soon as possible? Were there targets
that were more important than others?
M: Well, the biggest one of those guns we would've knocked out and
whatever. I don't know what the gunnery officer thought was a priority. The
pill boxes, how many did they say?
H: It says three pill boxes.
M: Yeah, you know what a pill box is?
H: Yes. It says that at the end of the day, according to reports, you hit seven
more pill boxes. You guys hit some targets of opportunity and far
exceeded what you were expected to do on D-Day. You were very
M: Our captain and gunnery officer got the Bronze Star for that performance.
H: Once the battle started, our ships are firing, the Germans are firing back,
the people are starting to land on the beach and assault the beach-head.
Can you describe the sight, can you describe the sounds, as constant
explosions where people can literally not hear themselves yelling?
M: Oh yes, it was terrible. I had cotton stuck out of both ears about two
inches, as tight as I could wad them. Because the battleship Texas was
right behind us and the British cruiser, Glasgow, she was behind us, and
then the Texas battle wagon was farther back. But when those big guns
blasted off, it busted your ear drums and you couldn't hear anything, and
you couldn't hear the talk. But I have hearing problems now, I've got
hearing aids. It was scary. You could see the shells come right over us.
Sounded like a freight car that came right over across the top of us. Of
course, she was shooting targets way further in. We were [shooting at]
coastal targets. At times we were in so close we were shooting point
blank. We had these guys were shooting point blank. And they finally
came out waving a white flag to surrender to the McCook. As far as I
know, we were the only ship in naval history that had German prisoners to
surrender to a ship at sea.
H: The German surrender, can you describe that? Calling for the Germans
to surrender, the communication between them and the McCook until they
M: I was right there on the bridge when they were signaling. I our head
signalman did the signaling, because I was just out of signaling school.
But he took charge of the signaling, yes, I do remember that. The captain
said either you come out and surrender or we'll just blow you out. There
won't be any of you left to talk about it. So they kept waving their white
flag. They finally marched down the cliff and turned themselves over to
the Rangers on the beach. And when I talk about having prisoners
surrender to a ship at sea people say Aw that's a bunch of nuts, he is
fabricating a bunch of lies. I say, but it's true, I was on the bridged. I
watched them, I had a pair of binoculars [around my neck] the whole fifty-
four hours we were at general quarters, and I had a long glass against the
bulkhead so that when I could not see enough with my binoculars I'd grab
that long glass and bring in everything way on down the beaches. I could
[see] more than anyone could see. I don't even believe my captain
witnessed as much or the gunnery officer. He had a pair of binoculars, but
he did not have a long glass. But his job was penetrating shooting, and
my job was just looking. I watched the ships blow up on each side of us. I
watch the dead bodies float all around our ship. I watched the first tanks
that landed. I watched them get blown up. I watched five guys jump out
of the tank four or five I forget they tried to hide behind their burning
tank and they backed off too far away from the tank towards the water and
when they did the Germans caught them in cross fire.
I made this up [pulls up a poster board of a newspaper articles], of course
you got the questions you want answered.
H: Well, we can get to that in a moment. When you talked about getting very
close to the beach because destroyers being smaller were able to be
much more maneuverable than the cruisers and battleships. And there
was a fear of the destroyers running aground [because] they were getting
so close to the beach. Can you describe the targets? They were said to
be very hard to shoot, some of them due to German camouflage and just
from the smoke that covered the battlefield.
M: Well, it's just true, what it is. The smoke, shelling and the explosions on
the beach prohibited [us] from pinpointing some of the targets that were
coming in at us. But we were lucky. They were hitting the ships on each
side. I watched the guys run of the LCVPs [Landing Craft, Vehicle and
Personnel] as soon as the ramp went down and as soon as they hit the
water I could see them fall. And I could see the splashes of the German
shells that were hitting the water and missing the guys. I saw the guys fall
on the beach, fall in the water, fall at the end of the ramp.
H: There were reports of some smaller craft that were hiding behind the
McCook. Did you see any of that? Ships trying to stay out of the line of
fire? And hiding behind...
M: Well, all these LCVPs were loaded down with troops coming in and they
saw the fire coming in and they knew that we were a bigger target. They
figured that we would get the first shot. That is what his book [Steve
Ambrose, D-Day] said. There were a 100 landing craft, smaller craft; of
course there were several other craft besides landing craft. There were
patrol craft that would go by and pick up the dead bodies.
H: Now the U.S.S. Corry was mined during the battle D-Day. Was mining still
a large threat or was that threat neutralized by the mind sweepers?
M: Oh, the mines were a big threat. There were a lot of ships that were lost.
There was more lost at Utah beach than at Omaha. She was lost at Utah
beach. And coincidentally, during the Korean War, they built a new Corry.
She [the previous USS Corry] sank right there [at Utah Beach]. We picked
up survivors off the Corry. During the Korean War, I was assigned to the
H: Did the McCook take any major damage at all?
M: None whatsoever. We were just lucky. I don't know how. The good Lord
was just with us. He had His hand on us; his arm around us. Other ships
on either side of us getting blown up and sinking. We were within 600
yards of the beach, and why the 88s did not knock us out I don't know.
We had splashes on each side of us, but fortunately we did not get hit.
H: How long would you say that the McCook was in intense fighting? How
long did that time period last.
M: It was about three days. Well, really intense fighting it was just the first
H: How long did that day seem to you? Did it go by fast? Did it go by slow?
Or when it was over it was over?
M: It was a long day. It was a long day. We had ammunition through the
second day. We ran out of ammunition, and on the morning on the third
morning we were out of ammunition and short on fuel. The admiral sent
us back to England to re-supply with ammunition and fuel.
H: It says you fired 975 salvos on the first day. How many shells did you
guys have on board?
M: I can't answer that. I don't know. I've been intending to ask, but I never
H: Well, it sounds like you fired an awful lot on that day. With the troops
landing on the beach...
M: There was a lot of firing going on that day. When you fire 900 five- inch
shells as fast as you can spit them out.
H: How close were you to the beach when you were there? When you were
firing at these targets of opportunity? Once your stated objectives had
been met, can you explain what went on? The feel and mood?
M: I guess we were in and out. About the closest we were into the beach and
when we started dragging bottom was about 600 yards. I did not know we
were dragging bottom; what I've read [in] the book and what I've heard
some of the guys tell about it.
H: What were your feelings, just general thoughts that we have not hit on
some of these discussions about D-Day. [Are] there things that you
remember, things that stand out more than others? What was most
important about that day to you?
M: Staying alive, that was the most important thing. At one time I just knew a
shell was coming in, and I ran behind the bridge with my k-pod on and a
light belt that I had pulled out of the water that was floating by from a dead
body. I waited. I thought it was a star shell. It was the next morning, the
break of day, and I just knew we were about to get a shell right into the
bridge. I waited on that thing. I prayed. And I waited and waited. It never
did hit. I learned later on that it was a star in the east. It was coming on
and flickering. It was not a star shell after all. But I sure thought that we
were gone. After we had a few splashes on each side of us I said, Well,
the next shell is going to take us out. Because there were burning landing
craft on both sides of us. The bodies were floating all around the ship and
the dead bodies on the ship.
H: You talk a lot about the dead bodies and the carnage that went on. How
accurate are movies like "Saving Private Ryan" in depicting what actually
went on that day in your opinion?
M: Oh, that movie is pretty real. About as real as it can be made, I'll put it
that way. I sat there in that movie, and I cried like a baby. I could not
even get up. I could not walk out. I was crying so hard. Finally, when I
did, my buddies got up and started to walk out. One buddy, the buddy on
my right, he lost nineteen of his buddies in the first fifteen minutes. He
was in the Army. I formed up a D-Day Normandy club in Alachua. And
we meet once a month, and he was one of the members. For years he
would not even come to the meetings. He was afraid that too [much]
mentioned about D-day or too much mentioned about the war and he
could not stand [it]. He was commander of five tanks in Patton's Army.
He landed on D-Day. He lost 19 of his buddies the first fifteen minutes.
His was the 111th Infantry Division. He got attached to Patton's tanks. At
the Battle of the Bulge, he ran out of gas. He got out of the tank to survey
the situation and told his buddies to stay put. When he hopped out he
jumped into a foxhole and landed on top of a German who was in the
foxhole. They fought and fought, and the German got the best of him and
was about to shoot him when his buddy popped his head out of the tank
and shot and killed that German. He was sent to England, to the hospital.
He survived. He was shot three places in his body. His buddy saved the
gun that the German shot him with and gave it to him because he came
back to his unit later on in the campaign. But anyway, he sat on my right.
And another buddy, who was a Major, he had the Purple Heart, Silver
Star, Bronze Star, the Presidential Unit Citation. He lost his radio man,
who had his head shot off right beside him. But he survived. He was a
member of our D-Day club. A couple years later he died. His wife called
me to play taps for him at the First Methodist Church in Gainesville. I
came over and played taps in the balcony. But anyway, that was the two
of them. There was one out of that group of six that is still alive today. All
the rest have died. Of course half of our D-Day group had died already.
H: Going back to a previous point with the British cruiser Glasgow and there
were other ships: British ships, Canadian ships, even Polish and Swedish
ships. This was a multinational force going through. Did you have to deal
with of these other navies from different countries or no?
M: No, I never did. For the southern France invasion I was assigned to a
French destroyer as a signalman to be a liaison between the different
ships for the invasion. But no I was not evolved with any foreigners so to
H: So you just sailed along ships from different navies? You never really had
to do much interaction between them?
M: Not for the D-Day invasion.
H: In the D-Day invasion when you were coming up to beaches in Normandy
with all the ships, how did you ever manage to stay in formation for that
long, in those seas under those conditions?
M: I don't think we did. It was left up to the individual captains to try to, but I
think there was an overlap of the points that we were to shoot. At times
we would overlap into the far end of Omaha. I don't know if we fired on
Pointe-de-Hoc or not. Two of our sister ships were assigned to that
position. But we were moving back and forth on Omaha beach, but we
were mainly in the Dog Green sector. That was the sector that they called
"The Bloody Beach." That is where the 1st and 29th Divisions went in. The
29th Division went in on our right, and the 1st Division went in on our left.
We were right there at what they call the Dog Green, the Vierville exit.
And we penetrated and tried to knock out everything right there. But that
was the area that was called "Bloody Beach" well, all of Omaha was "The
Bloody Beach," but that was the area where I think [the movie] "Saving
Private Ryan" [tried to] portray.
H: Through out this whole ordeal, we have touched on it a little bit, but what
were your specific duties as a signalman.
M: Observe what was going on. Spotting the fire from the beach. I did no
signaling [at D-Day]. We had a First Class Signalman and a Second
Class on the bridge. I was fortunate to have a front seat to the greatest
show on earth. That was up on the bridge on the destroyer McCook
beside the war correspondent from Post Magazine, Martin Summers.
H: After the McCook served at D-Day it went on to the south of France. Did
you stay with the McCook? You said you were transferred to a French
ship. Was that something temporary or was that...
M: No, I never did get transferred. I never did go. One of the other
signalmen went and took my place.
H: So you stayed with the McCook through out the duration of the war?
M: Oh, yeah. I did go to shore at Normandy. One of the landing craft broke
loose from the beach it was vacant and it was just floating back and
bumping our ship. Being on a landing detail as signalman I and the
coxswain, and bow hook and the engineer and an officer took that landing
craft back to the beach master. So I did get to go to shore on Omaha
beach. [That is] something that five of 300 [can say]. I went to shore. We
had to catch our whale boat back to the ship. We turned that LCVP to the
beach master and came back to our ship.
H: When did that exactly take place, that event?
M: That was the third or fourth day. We could not leave the ship for the first
three days because we were shooting.
H: Going back to the bridge during D-Day. How long were you there? Did
you ever get to sleep or get to rest? Or was this starting from England to
D-Day and throughout; were you kept up? Were you exhausted? [What
were] your physical qualities and traits throughout that day? If you want to
elaborate on those...
M: All I can tell you is about a little incident. When we were bombed out of
commission in the English Channel, in Weymouth, England. I was so
scared that I would not sleep below deck any more. I took the mattress off
of my bunk, carried up to the bridge, and dropped it into the port flag bag.
That is were I spent my sleeping, on the bridge in the flag bag. I was too
afraid that another bomb would hit beside [us] or a torpedo would blow a
hole through us and I would not make it out. I was taking every action I
could take to stay safe.
H: Well, I think you answered all the questions I had today. Was there
anything that I missed that you would like to elaborate on or continue
with? I would love to hear anything you have to say.
M: Well, I guess we pretty much covered D-Day. I was fortunate to witness
D-Day like nobody else witnessed it. I was fortunate to survive D-Day. I
call my self a survivor along with all my other shipmates. We stayed there
for thirty-four days at Normandy protecting the front and the invasion
forces, and the supply ships. We went to well it wasn't D-Day but we
were sent down to Cherbourg. In Cherbourg, we took two PT boats with
us. The Army had encircled Cherbourg Harbor. The Germans were trying
to escape. We were to prevent their escaping with our destroyer and two
PT boats up into the breakwater...
H: I think you left off with the 88s firing on you at Cherbourg.
M: Yeah, we were taking fire with the 88 guns going into Cherbourg. We
zigzagged with all of our might- at flank speed- to get out of there. We
finally got out of their range. They were popping shells on either side.
Everywhere we were at, a shell would hit. We zigged and zagged until we
got out to safe waters. Of course, the troops surrounded Cherbourg and
captured the Germans. I don't think any escaped by sea.
H: So you guys were successful at preventing anyone from escaping from
Cherbourg. Ok I think that was...
M: There was a little incident I would like to tell you about our D-Day invasion
in Southern France. The book doesn't tell anything and you don't have...
H: Operation Anvil?
M: The Southern France invasion at Toulon. We were standing to feel out
the defenses of the Germans and immediately we found big gun up on the
cliff and we shot sixty rounds of five-inch shells into the base of that mount
and they just bounced off like us spitting against the wall. They started
firing back at us. There were splashes sixty-five feet high. We knew
something big was up there. We got out of the way. We zigged and
zagged and got behind an island and reported back to the admiral that we
need help. The next morning they sent in the Quincy cruiser with its eight
inch guns and she fired. She was getting fired upon. She was afraid that
she was going to get blown out, so she squirmed out. So the next
Saturday morning, our captain called the admiral and told him we need
more help. He told him we could not take that gun out, we would need
more help. They sent the Nevada battle wagon with her big guns. Before
she could get into position to fire, that big gun had already set her on fire
on the tail end. So we kept hiding behind the island there, and every once
in awhile we would come out and take a pop shot at that big gun thinking
we could knock it out but we couldn't. So Saturday afternoon the Air
Force sent in a squadron of bombers. They bombed the whole perimeter
of Toulon to knock out that big gun. That big gun we found out later,
much later turned out to be a 15-inch gun shooting at us. One shell from
that would have wiped us out. What had happen, when the Germans
came into Toulon and Southern France, the French fleet was anchored at
Toulon and they scuttled...
H: All their ships?
M: All thier ships. They took that big gun and put it up there on the cliff. So
that was an exciting experience there for us.
H: What was the difference between invading northern France and southern
M: Well, we had no resistance in southern France. We thought it was going
to be rough. First day of the invasion we went and it stormed that first
day in. But the landing was made. There was little resistance, and so it
was very successful. The big scare came about with that big gun.
H: And you said that was a naval gun that they had taken from one of French
ships and had mounted on top?
M: [It] came off of a French battle wagon. And it was mounted up on the cliff
at Toulon, France.
H: Alright, if there are no other questions...
M: Well I know this is strictly about D-Day and Normandy, but I would add just
a second to my experience.
H: Feel free, sir.
M: After the southern France invasion we were sent back to the states to be
converted to be a high speed mine sweeper. We were to lead the
invasion for Japan on November the first. That was our intention. There
was nine of us destroyers, and I have a book and it's called Black Ship,
Black Ship. They say we would have never made it out, none of us
minesweepers. So if it were not for the atomic bomb, I would not be here
today. We swept mines all around Japan after the end of the war. They
went in to Hiroshima. I went aboard a Japanese guinea pig ship at
Hiroshima. [There was] an all Japanese crew, one American officer, one
interpreter, and myself as a signalman. My ship laid way out in the bay
and gave me position reports for the Japanese ship to steer to test out the
mines [and see if they] were still alive, [the mines] the Air Force dropped
to clutter up shipping. Fortunately there were no live mines. I would get
the position from my ship, about two miles out in the bay, by light and give
it to the interpreter and he would give it to the captain. And the ship we
were on was cushioned with six to eight inches of mattresses just in case
we hit a live mine. Of course if we would have hit a live mine I don't know
what would have happened. But then we stayed on out there until that
was over. We came back to the states in April, 1946. This was my
experience with the United States Navy in World War II.
H: Well, I certainly appreciate it, Mr. Marcum. It has been good experience to
sit down and talk with you for awhile. I certainly appreciate it, sir.