Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Granddad blogging: To the front

Last week in granddad blogging, my grandfather described how they were shipped across the Atlantic during WWII. This week, his hopes for a nice, safe Army career as a cook are dashed and he heads to the front.


I think it took us about a week or ten days to get to Southampton, England. We got there one night and they unloaded us and walked us through the town in the pitch dark ‘cause there were no lights in England because they were still being bombed then. And we went somewhere and our place that we were gonna stay were great big old tents that would sleep about 12 people to the tent. And they had straw piled on the ground and mattresses stuffed full of straw and that’s where and what we slept on.

Well, we were supposed to still be cooks then, but they decided they’d take all the cooks and bakers and buglers and clerk typists and support people of that various kind and retrain us as infantrymen again. So we trained in England for I guess about six weeks, I don’t know how long. Then they said we were infantry men again, no more cookin’.

So we're then assigned to go to France and we were placed in what’s called a replacement depot. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but the war was winding down and there had been – I guess – millions of people killed, wounded, captured and things happended to them and all the companies were way under strength. They put as all in these replacement depots and signed us out to the companies that were in the worst shape. All they really wanted was just warm bodies to fill up the gaps and that’s what we were.

So we stayed in these replacement depots for a while, pretty good while I don’t know how long. And then they said they were going to assign us to a company. So they came in and moved us up to some town – I remember we went by St Dien (?) which had just been fought over a time before and they told us that we were going to wait in this particular town until the General came and he was going to talk to us before we went to the front.

Well, we waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited stood out in the rain. Stood there so long, some of ‘em fell out. But finally the General came and I don’t know what he said, but I reckon he said “Fight hard,” I don’t know what else, but they loaded us in trucks, about 10 or 12 people to a small truck and took em up to the Fosgives (?) mountains with us.

It was dark then and it was really dark when we got there. ‘Course we rode three or four or five hours. They unloaded us from those trucks and a seargeant came out with a blanket over his head and a flashlight and called the roll. How he knew who was going to be there, I don’t know, but he did. And didn’t take him long to call the roll and he said “OK we’ll see you all in society in the morning.” And we said “Sergeant where we gonna sleep tonight?” and he said “I don’t care where you sleep. I’m going to get in my hole.”

And he took off and we stood out in the middle of the woods with the rain pouring down and the mud and the snow and the slush all around us and we didn’t know what to do, but another old boy and I each had a shelter half and we laid one of ‘em down and pulled the other one over us. I reckon we’d been through so much that we slept there.

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