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Interview on experiences in World War II

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WWII Oral History Project

Barber County Kansas

Dewey Reed


Pewey Reed:

Maybe I can touch on a few things that would be interesting to the class. I was inducted into the service in 1942. I was 21 years old. I had a wife and one child. I was inducted a Fort Leavenworth. Took my basic at Camp Robinson, Arkansas, then shipped to Camp Carson Colorado where I was placed in a medical battalion, a veterinary company. We took training there and later I was moved to Camp Hale Colorado which is quite high up near Leadville Colorado. We took mountain training up there because my battalion was the 13th medical battalion mountain we were a veterinary company. We did a lot of camping in the snow and sleeping in a two man pup tent. Later on in the next year they chose me to go to Washington D.C.. I took a three month special veterinary training school up there which was very interesting.

I really did enjoy that. Then I came back and in the mean time, we were preparing to go overseas and we shipped out. Well I may be getting ahead of my story. We had animals there, pack animals and animals to ride which was to retrieve animals from the front line. When we shipped out from California and our animals shipped out of New Orleans. They took them by train to New Orleans and put them on a boat there. I think it was probably the longest time of my service. It was forty-nine days and nights on a troop ship. The ship was the USS Hermatage which had been an Italian luxury liner. They converted it and it was supposed to carry some three thousand people and there were seven thousand of us on it. So you might know we were

quite crowded, one bunk on top of the other. We were on forty-nine days and night. She would go this way (motioning zig zag) that's hw she went over there she never did take a straight course. I'm a little hazy on this, can't remember if it was a day or two before we landed some way they got word that our horses and mules had all been torpedoed and sunk about three days out of Bombay where we landed. So we landed in Bombay and took a little ole narrow gage train and went up to Burma. That's were I did all of my service military service overseas. I was in the C.B.I. that might not mean much to you young folks but the C.B.I. meant the China, Burma, and India campaign. We supported mostly the Chinese. We treated there animals, furnished treatment for animals and some English, there were some English troops there. We went to Burma to bolster General Stillwells troops. General Stillwell had been pushed back out of Burma and they were getting extra troops to go there so that they might take Burma back, which the Japs pretty well had it taken. General Stillwell I think was a great general he in the ladder part of time he did get relieved I understand he was getting quite old. But I thought he was a very capable man. So we went up what they call the Burma Lido road and it was most impossible to get up. We had an engineer company ahead of us and they had big cats, what few trucks we had they would just pull them. They just pushed the mud out and pulled them. It rained tremendously there, all except three months out of the year, they called winter. The most winter I ever seen there was a little snow on the tents. It was quite hard to get up the Lido Burma road. But anyway may not be interesting to you folks but it was quite a deal. We just kept moving up behind the frontlines treating these horses, destroying what wasn't able to go back to duty. We finally arrived. I can't remember, I am hazy on some of the names there they are so hard to pronounce. Anyway we arrived at a place up there we was getting pretty close to China, they had assembled three thousand head of horses and mules there. They came to our company they said they would have to have fifteen men to start shoeing. That was an experience. I learned a lot there, like Mr. Johnston said he had from these classes. I shod under some mighty fine farriers, that really did know how to shoe a horse and mule. That's how I learned to shoe horses. We was to go over the hump to China with these animals and how many I don't know a lot of them were to go. Mostly they were pack animals some would be ridden and others lead and packed. In the mean time the war looked

like it would be over. Some of our people some of these people started from there. But never did go on over the hump to China. In 19451 arrived back in the states. I was one of the luckier ones I got to fly home. I didn't have to do the forty-nine days and nights on that troop ship. They mustered me out in Leavenworth the same place I was inducted in. That's about all I have if you students have any questions for me I'd be glad to try to answer them.


Did your wife go to work after you went into the service?

Dewey Reed;

She did, we had on child and later had another born while I was overseas. But she mostly worked with her daddy on the farm. We had a few cows she helped him. But yes she did.

Mr.. Johnston;

It must have been hard to leave a wife and child and I assume you knew one was on the way. But to go to the service and not really know if you will come back or not?

Pewey Reed;

Yes it was difficult it was just something. Another thing I might touch on I didn't. On this mustering out deal. They did it on a points system. You got so many points for your time in the service, so many points for time overseas then if you were married and had a child or children you got so many points and out of a minimum of sixty-two I had sixty-three so I made the first quota to come home which was quite a sizeable weight before you got to get started. But I made the first quota.

Mr. Johnston;

That part of the war you just don't hear that much about. What part of the United States did you leave?

Pewey Reed;

California, but our horses and mules left from New Orleans,

Mr. Johnston;

Did you go all the way around or did you go thru Japanese territory to get to Bombay?

Pewey Reed;

I am sure they did because they were concerned about submarines all the time. That's why the ship zig zaged the whole way over. It made it twice as far maybe more that twice as far. Don Kinzi;

They ran a zig zag pattern all the time battleships and carriers, so they couldn't get a good lock on them.

Mr. Johnston;

Could you show me roughly were you were on the map?

Pewey Reed;

This is were we landed. They called it the supply root but this would be some were near where we would go to get to the Lido road. There is Lido and here is the hump. This is were they called the hump that's were we was to go over with the horses and mules to China.


What kind of supplies did you carry on the horses and mules?

Pewey Reed;

Some carried guns others carried supplies of what was needed.

Mr. Johnston;

One thing we think of WWII are the jeeps, trucks, and tanks those things would never have made it would they?

Pewey Reed;

No they had a few weapons carriers there they called them but they weren't tanks there much where I was. Now there could have been on up ahead I'm not sure. Our unit was not designed to be a combat unit we had weapons but just for personal protection we weren't designed to be a combat unit we were a service unit.

Mr. Johnston;

Were you guys ever threatened by the Japanese where you were at?

Pewey Reed;

We seen some as we were moving up the Lido road but they were mostly pockets that were left. They didn't try to shoot at us and we didn't try to shoot at them. There were very few, but there were some. They were still there in Burma they were dug in. It was remarkable how they would dig in. They would go to those trees and the trees in the jungle are large very large. Some had roots out, and those Japs would go right between those roots and dig a little ole hole. But down under there they had a home. It was big like this room and they had carried all that dirt and you never could see were it had went. We didn't do down in them. I was very reluctant about going in them on account of booby traps were bad. But we never lost any men to booby traps. We lost two men, well I didn't tell you about the Japs bombing us. We were treating horses and mules. I just happened to look up. I had a treating section, I was the head of a treating section. I looked up I could see that plane I didn't recognize as a Jap plane but pretty soon I could see the bombs come out and I hollered to everybody to get down and get under something. They came over and, you always have somebody that can find something and make it run, that's American people for ya and some of our boys had found an old weapons carrier somewhere. They had it parked off in the rice patty. Well these Japs seen this and they took it to be a tank and they gave it a good strafing. But we was really lucky we didn't lose a man. But we were right on the bank of the Irowate river. It is a large river in Burma. On the other side there were Chinese. The Japs hit dead center on the Chinese PX and they sure wiped it out. But we didn't lose any men in that. It wasn't long till our planes were in the air and they drove them back. I don't know if they shot them down or not.

Mr. Johnston;

That's a part of the war that the experts don't cover, in the Burma area. Burma used to be a former British colony didn't it?

Pewey Reed;

I think so Mr. Johnston yes. But mostly what lived there were Burmese, Shan's, and Cochins that was the three nationalities. They were all Burmese people but different tribes. Thank You.

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