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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Note: Ellipsis (...) indicates a fragmentary or introductory utterance. Square brackets enclose information such as [unintelligible], the transcriber's best guess as to what was said, or editorial notes from the transcriber.

Interviewer:   ... 5th, 2006. My name is Brian Grubbs, and I'm interviewing Mr. Piller. And, we're going to be discussing his involvement in World War II. I was wondering, Mr. Piller, if you could introduce yourself, provide some background information: where you were born, when you were born, a little bit about you family?

Piller: Ok. Well, I was born November 19,1924 in Great Bend, Kansas. And, my dad was an automobile dealer there for a good many years. He retired from the business before World War II, and he had purchased land. And, so he became what he referred to himself as a "gentlemen farmer." And that is he...  I helped as many other young people did, as his hired hands, and he had some older people that worked as well but.... I grew up in Great Bend, went through the public school system there and graduated in 1942. I have one older sister and three younger sisters. We had a great family life; involved and caring parents. As I said, I graduated in 1942, and because the war with Japan had already started and Germany had declared war after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. So he saw that coming on and he thought that... my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to have some college under my belt before I went into the service; which they knew would happen. So, I went off to college immediately after graduating high school. I spent a summer semester and a fall semester at Notre Dame. They have a very active intramural program at Notre Dame, and they.... You have to try out for the various teams and your coached; like in football it was full pad football just like in high school. I was on the Breen-Phillips Hall football team, but I got injured and had to have a knee operation. The Notre Dame semester ended before Christmas, still does the fall term, and KU's [University of Kansas] didn't start, at that time, until later in January. So, I had the operation. I was able to sit out a few weeks for it to heal; they didn't have microscopic surgery in those days. So, I enrolled at KU for the spring semester. Then went into the service, and was in the service through 1945.

I: I'm going to take you back a little bit. What was life like growing up in Kansas during the Depression?

P: Well, Great Bend was a bit unique in that they discovered oil, in that middle section. A lot of it was in the area just North of Great Bend, but the oil companies that came in to operate those oil fields for drillings and for producing the oil they head-quartered in Great Bend, a lot of them. And therefore we... we were affected by the Depression, no question about that, but not as badly as other parts of the country. A lot of people suffered financially through the Depression. My dad didn't... I'm sure he had some losses, but he was not invested in the stock market, so he didn't get hurt there. And he had invested in land, so at least he had the opportunity to do something in the way of


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farming. So, it wasn't as tough on us anyway, and I know he was head of various agencies as volunteer. He headed up the... what they call the Red Feather Campaign, which was equivalent of what is now the United Way. So he knew about a lot of people who were suffering because of the Depression. And, he tried to help them. He did a lot of good things like that. But, I can still remember people that were out of work and were just hungry coming to the door of our house, or they would go down to his business. And most of those people you could not classify them as bums, they were just people that were out of work. They wouldn't accept a meal or charity of any kind, the ones that came to us anyway, without wanting to do some work first. They would do anything like rake the yard or mow the lawn or do some painting or down at my dad's place of business... sweeping the garage floor, cleaning tools. I mean they all wanted to, they were not in that situation because they didn't want to work.

I; A totally different mentality than today.

P: Right. Today, there is a lot of people that connive to live off of the Government, and the Government and the politicians, in my opinion, have put a lot of people in a position where they are dependent upon the Government. They can't think or do for themselves anymore. And the politicians have put them in that position to get votes, and it's terribly wrong, but it still exists. In those days, people were... they'd work, they'd do anything to earn something to support their families.

I: So, in those years leading up to American entering into the war, could you see American mobilizing, or gearing up for the war?

P: Well, there were a lot of people that were totally opposed to us getting involved in any kind of a foreign war. They were isolationists, all of us had kinda a tendency to be isolation, isolationists, but got over that in a hurry after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Then they wanted to be involved, and everybody I that knew wanted to get into some branch of the service to do their part. My dad was chairman of the draft board.

I: Oh really?

P: So, I knew I was going to get drafted!

I: [laughs]

P: But, I wanted to be,

I: Right, and so... Tell me about that day when you heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor, What were you doing?

P: Well, it was a Sunday, and we had already gone to church and so because Pearl Harbor was way behind us as time was concerned. And then it was announced over the radio, we didn't have television or anything like that. But, throughout the rest of the day on the radio, everything was concerned with Pearl Harbor and what our response would


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be. Of course the next day the mobilization started. We were, as a country, totally unprepared. We didn't have very many troops and we didn't have equipment, and its just amazing how everybody got together and started producing what we had to have to go to war.

I: What was the next day at school, what was Monday like, at school for you?

P. That's all everybody talked about, and what was going to happen. And while the teachers were even talking about it I don't remember specifics of what they said. But, I do remember our American History teacher, her name was Novma Marring. I'll never forget her, she was one of the great teachers that I had in school, and she... that Monday, in American History class she said, "This is a major historical event."

I: Did you notice a lot of your classmates start to enlist?

P: Some of them did immediately. We, for example, at the... I was just seventeen years old as were most of my classmates were either seventeen or eighteen. They were all thinking about it; what they could do, and the branches of service that they wanted to be in. I would have preferred to be in the Air Crops. I wanted to be a pilot, but I... in those days you had to be in almost perfect physical condition. And, my eyes certainly were not as bad in those days but I was not 20/20 so I would have been rejected from flight training on that basis, alone. And the knee injury kept me out of a lot of other things.

I: I was going to ask you about that; how that affected...

P: Well, I tried to enlist in several branches; they said after my knee was recovered, had recovered, I would have to.... I had just turned seventeen, actually, and they weren't taking people under eighteen at that time, they did later. But, they would see whether or not... you know... I'd have to pass the physical and everything; at least temporarily I was rejected. And then I was drafted. Because I had been a pre-med, in college and still was at the time, they sent me to medical corps basic with the idea that I could go onto medical. The path was to through basic and then to medical administrative officer candidate school.

I: Was this in'43?

P: That would have been in 1943, yes. After I had, you know, finished my spring semester '43 at KU... Well, I had been trying to do something about it before I even graduated, not graduated, but before I finished the term. I... as I said, was drafted put into the medical crops basic, and then they came to us and he said, "Well, their's something better than OCS. Because of test scores," it was a select group of people; "you qualify for this program called ASTP, Army Specialized Training [Program]." [Its] Where you went to college, you got your... supposedly get your degree and then your commission.


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I: And, from what I understand this is the brightest of the brightest that got into this program.

P: Well, that's what they said in the, I think in the history books that I've read. But they needed bodies, and so they cancelled program, put us all in the infantry or the engineers or something basic as Privates. So, I immediately reapplied for OCS, and I can remember the commanding officer. He wouldn't approve anybody's request for transfer out for any reason. And he said, "Young man," he said, "the only place your going is infantry basic and then overseas." And he said, "We are staging here at Camp Maxey," which is located in Paris, Texas just on the board across from Oklahoma, and we would train there and then go overseas.

I: Had you hoped to go to one theater over the other?

P: No, but actually if I'd had a choice; they say, "You can have one or the other" I would have taken the European theater any day. From what I had heard about the Japanese, by the time I had went into the service.

I: So, walk me though an average day at Camp Maxey.

P: Well, the first thing was.., got up at six and calisthenics. So you're rigorous exercising and then you went in for breakfast. After breakfast there were classes, class work. This was true at both the medical basic that I took, the Medical Corp Basic that I took, and the infantry basic that I took. But you went to classes to learn you trade. And, in the infantry basic, why at Camp Maxey it was infantry tactics, what you can expect. I didn't really think that the education we got there was as good as should have been, to prepare us for what we were getting into. There was never any mention, during those lectures about how to take care of yourself physically. How you kept your feet dry, was very important. We never got any of that, as a result during the Battle of the Bulge, which was terribly cold winter a lot of the guys got frostbite.

I: How did you learn to take care of yourself?

P; Just by experience. You just saw those other guys get it, what did they call it? leant remember now, what the real term was other than frostbite.

I: Trench foot?

P: Trench Foot! Yea. They... you saw somebody with trench foot, their feet start to turn black and it was pretty severe. And then the Government didn't provide us with enough winter clothing, or enough... we should have all had extra socks. When its all zero outside and the wind blowing, how do you dry socks?

I: Yea, how did you do it?


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P. Well, I don't remember, I know I kept a pair of close to me, under my shirt next to my body. The clothing, all I remember is just being cold all the time.

I: Did they do any live firing exercises or night...

P: Oh, yes! We had rifle range everyday. We also had exercises where we crawled under barbwire and crawled along the ground, in and out of holes and they're firing live ammunition across.

I: So, they were kind of getting you ready?

P: Getting us ready to know what live ammunition sounded like. And, when a bullet goes directly over your head it sounds like a firecracker going off, because it's breaking... I guess breaking the sound barrier, but whatever.... If the bullet was kind of winding off to the side that one didn't get you. You knew somebody was zeroed in if you heard one right over your head, then you better get down, down.

I: Did you feel that helped prepare you for the...

P: Yes, yea, that did. No question.

I: What about night training? Did you go on night exercises?

P: We went on night exercises, and we did a lot of forced marching with full field packs and so on, twenty-five miles hikes. At first guys would drop out of those things like flies, they just couldn't... they weren't physically conditioned. And I never did drop out; I tell you it was grueling.

I: Did you see a lot of people go AWOL from... during boot camp?

P: No, we had very little of that. I don't remember anybody, that was in my squadron or platoon ever going AWOL. If they told us to stay there and fight, we stood there and fought. That's just the way it was. If they told us to retreat we did.

I: Were you able to get experience, during your infantry training, like trying out different types of weapons, or was it strictly your rifle?

P: We had mortars, 60 mm mortars at that level. The division also had 81[mm] mortars, but they were a separate part of the organization, the mortar platoon maybe or weapons platoon they called it. They had 50 caliber machineguns and 80 mm mortars; as apposed to at the company level, where I was, we had 30 caliber machineguns and 60 mm mortars. Most of my training was rifle training and because of growing up around Great Bend, doing hunting and things like that, I was a better than average shot. Before we went overseas I was designated to be the, I don't know whether it was platoon or squad, but anyway, I became a Browning Automatic Rifleman. And so, I was a fairly small guy in those days and there were a lot bigger guys that could have carried that heavy rifle but


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they didn't know how to shoot, so I got the job. Got my first strip that way; I was a PFC. [Private First Class] That doesn't entitle you to very much, but at least I had an assistant who carried the ammunition for it. I didn't have to both carry the rifle and the, the Browning Automatic Rifle, and the.,.

I: The bandoliers?

P: Well, they were in a metal box. When I was carrying an Ml rifle, of course you had... we had most of our ammunition we carried in belts around our wastes, they all had pockets. And the Ml rifle had clips that you inserted and fired from your clips. And then, we had some training with pistols; however I didn't carry one. Later, when I became a Sergeant I carried a 30 caliber carbine, in stead of the Ml rifle. The carbine was still a 30 caliber weapon, I think it was anyway. It was lighter than an Ml, and both were lighter than that Browning Automatic Rifle.

I: When you carried the Browning, I bet that got really hot. Did you have any problems with that?

P: Well the way they taught you to shoot it, you just didn't hold down on the trigger like you do on a machine gun. You fire in burst, short bursts, and so it didn't get as hot. The machine gun barrels would get so hot even, they were air cooled. The 50 calibers were water cooled, but the 30 calibers were air cooled. But, even that air cooled jacket would get hot enough you wouldn't want to touch it.

I: Did they talk about booby-traps at all?

P: We had training with recognizing and disarming booby-traps and mines. During and after the Bulge, and this more after the Bulge, there were a lot of minefield that we had to go through. And, they would send dozers in to try and clear those minefields before we went through them. And we were admonished to stay in the path, don't get off to the side. And I remember during the month of January, after we started attacking again, that there'd be snow pilled off to the side of the road by these dozers. And invariable some guy would go sit down on a pile of that snow, and [makes sound affect]... it....

I: Sit on amine...

P: Set off a mine.

I: So, after Camp Maxey where did you go?

P: After Camp Maxey, we finished our training there, we boxed up all of our weapons, everything and headed for Camp Miles Standish which was in Taunton, Massachusetts which is near Boston. And then we went from there to England. We were in Dorchester Barracks. It was a, originally a British camp that had been taken over by the Americans prior to the Bulge, to stage from there for the invasion. It was near the Southern coast. So we were there until the Americans finally broke out, then we prepared to go over. We


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landed at La Harve. A really rough ride across the channel, and the guys operating the boat that we were on, said that this is calm water compared to what it usually is.

I: When did you actually go over into Europe, what year?

P: Went over, you mean overseas?

I: To the continent.

P: In 1944. The invasion was in June of '44. We went over, crossed the channel, in October of '44. And headed across France, no combat in France, we did bivouac in France. But we went to Belgium, where the Bulge took place.

I: Were you able to stay in contact with you family?

P: Oh yea. I... one of the mistakes that I made, when I got out of the service I had all the war I wanted. I mean I didn't want to talk about it, I didn't want...   that was something that I had done, I was proud of the service that I rendered, but I.... At one point I came across a lot of the letters that I had written home. And, I read one of them and I threw all, that whole box, away. That would have told me later, when I became interested knowing where I had been, when, and what my feelings were. But I lost that resource.

I: So, you landed in Europe when you were going through France did you encounter a lot of the local people?

P: We encountered some of the French surprisingly... the French were different people. I never felt welcome in France.

I: Really?

P: They, some of the people, were resentful that their homes were destroyed by American bombs. And you could probably imagine, why they.... They knew we had to be there, but they didn't think we had to do what we did. So we just didn't interact with the French very much. The Belgiums on the other hand were just... you couldn't ask... they would support us in anyway they could.

I: Did you find most of the people spoke English, or did you need a translator?

P: We just kinda did it by hand and pointing and things like that, because they didn't speak much English in those day. More so in Belgium than in France; even if they understood English they wouldn't let you know. If you asked for something, they'd [gestures]. And yet there were people there that... we had a few guys that could speak French, said, "They know exactly what you're asking," and then they would speak to them in French. But we didn't have but one or two guys in our outfit that could speak French. I knew a little German, but it was kinda hard to communicate that way. But you


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could sense the difference. The Belgians were very enthusiastic, and when we went back on this battlefield tour the Belgians around area that we went back to and the area of the Bulge were all carrying little American Flags and doing whatever they could for us.

I: Oh, wow! I bet that made you feel really good.

P: Yeah. For example we were in the vicinity of Malmondy, and they were particularly appreciative of the American efforts.

I: Now was this when you were on your tour or... ?

P: This was when I was on the tour.

I: Ok.

P: But during the war the people in those countries had to take cover, and we encouraged them to take cover.

I: Oh yea. So, where did you go when you first got into Belgium? Where were you stationed at?

P: When we got into Belgium we were.... Our first station, my company was separated from the division or from the regiment, at times division, in the area... it was a town of Lamersdorf, and that is in the vicinity of Manschow and that is what I was looking on this map for. I don't know that it is. Here's Malmady, here's Manschow that's on the clear northern shoulder. Here's Malmady down here, and just before the Battle of the Bulge started they moved us down to an area where a little town of [Crikelt] was located. We were just west of that. And that would have been... anyhow I cant see it on here now... those areas are all pretty close. Malmady where the Malmady Massacre took place, I remember going through Malmady. Stavelot, was another town that I remember quite well. St. Vith was a little bit south of us, as I said that was mainly where the 106th Division was.

I; Where did you encounter your first combat?

P: Well, our first combat when we moved into the line in the area just east of Lamersdorf. We moved in in a stealth mood, no lights, whisper only, don't talk, don't let anybody know your there, that sort of thing. And we took over from a Calvary unit, so they would... they were still infantrymen but they were in Calvary unit cause we didn't have any horses. Calvary would be tanks, but there were no tanks there at that particular point. And., we moved in during the night very quiet, and I remember when my buddy and I, you always paired up, we found one of the choice fox holes that they had. And we enlarged it a little bit, but it had a cover over it. The guys that had done this thing had gotten a couple of doors, I don't know where they got them, put them over the hole, had to crawl [your] way into the hole, and then the put dirt and branches in over top of that. Well, we were all settled in our hole, and the next thing you know we heard music


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coming from the German lines. We were not too far apart at that point. And, they were playing Les Brown big band music, recorded music, and it came over just like we would if we were sitting in an auditorium someplace about that close I think. But, they had good speakers I can tell you that.

I: Did that calm your nerves or did that... ?

P. Well, it kind of suppressed us. And then, a beautiful female voice came online, speaking perfect English. I don't recall it was even accented English, but it probably was, And she said, "Welcome men of F Company, 395th Infanty, 99th division." They knew more about us and where we were, than we did. And so, then she invited us all to surrender. "Those of you who want to get out of the wrath of war, winter is coming on its always cold and a lot snow in this area, and you can come over and you would be able to enjoy the comforts of a warm barracks in a prison camp. A lot of prison camp activities would be available to you, and comradery with others who have chosen not to fight the war. And all you have to do is just wave a white flag and come over, and you will be welcome with open arms. And if that doesn't appeal to you then let us give you a taste of what war is like." And they opened up with a horrible artillery borage [sic?]. I mean it was... if that didn't get everybody's attention. It was worse than anything that we had in training in the states. These things were screaming overhead, landing in among us. I don't recall any direct hits, but they got close enough that it got everybody's attention. It seemed like that when on for about an hour, but I'm sure it was no more than probably 5 or 10 minutes at most. Then she came back on the line again and said, "Well, that's the way it is. Now, would you like to come over?" Of course nobody did, so then they gave us another round or two came in, just to know what it was like. And that was the end of it, and everybody.... The good thing about all that is we were all alert, because we had been taught that's the way attacks happen. There going to blast you with artillery fire first. So, after that fire was over everybody was alert and ready to...

I: To receive an attack?

P; Contest any kind of an offensive. So, that was early on, and then they didn't start any offensive so we started doing patrols. Going out and.... I was on several combat patrols where you were suppose to engage the enemy, try to draw them out.  Your trying to test for location strength and so on. Other patrols would be objective to get in to get into the German lines, the outposts, and take prisoners. We had a patrol that came over and took one of our outposts, took two of the guys prisoner. Myself and my buddy Jim [Roshay] from Greensboro, North Carolina were scheduled to relieve that patrol when the time came. And, usually the way we did it is one of the people on duty in the outpost would come and get his relief. Well, nobody relieved us; nobody called us, because those guys had been captured. And so, finally when somebody become aware of what had happened, not a round was fired, and they came, "[Roshay] and Piller get your butts out to the outpost. Relieve so and so, or occupy the position.  Because we've had a patrol come over and take those guys prisoner."

I: When you were on patrol were you ever asked to be the lead scout, on point?


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P: We've always had a... I was just aPFC at the time. [Private First Class] And, we always had a Sergeant and a Corporal, and they were the ones that was suppose to do that. There was one time that I was... they would send us lowly Privates up to find out what was going on. And the time that I was chosen, I remember going up and finding a role of concertina wire strung out in which we would have to penetrate that. So I went up, came back, reported to the Sergeant that I said, "They've got wire across, so somebody's going to have to cut that wire for us to go through." Well, our Sergeant, I remember on that particular one, called back to our weapons platoon within our company and asked for mortar fire on the position. Saying that that we had not contacted the enemy yet, but we'd run into this wire and so we needed some ground fire while we tried to do that. And he was not a very aggressive guy; as a matter of fact we should have pursued it because that was our mission. But he, I remember being questioned in the debriefing after that, where some higher ups wanted to know about this Sergeant, whether or not he had carried out his duties. Of course, I wasn't going to bad mouth him or anybody else, I just said what happened. And that night, again this is before the Bulge, and we were hearing activity over there in the German lines or we thought we did but we always thought we heard something. The mortar fire might have been German fire as well, they knew we were in there. They... I got two little pieces of shrapnel in my arm, and it... the wound was so slight that you could have cut... it didn't bleed very much. It could be covered with a Band-Aid. We all had a little first-aid packets if you will, we didn't have the complete medical package that you needed. I don't remember whether each of us had sulfur powder, I thought we did. I know our medics did, but I didn't even go to the medic because I didn't think I was really wounded badly. I just saw those holes there, and they... it stung when I got hit. That was about as much pain as I had, and it was a little uncomfortable, kind of like you would if you got pricked with something. And so I didn't do anything about it. Well, the wound got infected. You can imagine, living out in the dirt and everything. Got infected and I got blood poisoning. All the sudden my arm is really hurting by this time, and I went to the medic and he said, "Piller we got to get you back right away." He said, "You've got blood poisoning." The medic could see the red lines going up here. By time I got back I had a lump under my armpit. And so I couldn't go all the way back to the permanent hospital, but I went to a field hospital. First I went to an aid station, which turned out to be another division's... who was going to be attacking through our positions to relieve us so we can move on South. And we... those guys they just wanted to get rid of me mostly, because they were going to start having casualties coming in. And I don't know where I was but I went to some place that was close to the front lines, and I believe it was an old school house, as I remember, that they put us in. And, started me on penicillin shots. I remember the officer in charge come in, and he said, "Son," he said, "we're going to start giving a series of shot that are going to save your life." He said, "I guarantee you without this new drug you would definitely loose your arm, 100%, and 90% your life, and we hope the penicillin will kick in." And they whack you on the back with kinda like a paddle and then shove this needle in. It must have been a huge needle it hurt just like the very dickens. So, I went through a whole series of those and was supposed to be evacuated to London for rehabilitation. That was standard procedure, in something like that. Well, I... the Bulge hit and the wounded were pouring in, and the Germans were about to


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overtake the position. And so they said, "We don't have enough ambulances to get everybody out of here. Anybody that can walk is going back to the front." So, I can walk. I was all done, I was ready to be rehabilitated.

I: Right.

P: So I went back to the front. The only thing that I wasn't ready for, as far as recovery is concerned, I manufactured a digestive system, and so on. And, I had a real bad case of the G.I.s, which was just as uncomfortable as can be. Gastrual intestinal problems, and so I went back to the front. By that time the wounded were starting to pour in.

I: Did you have to walk with a patrol of people or... ?

P: They loaded us into a truck, they had trucks were up, not ambulances, but trucks just regular old 6 bys. That they used to haul troops around and supplies and so on, and they took us all back up to various points where they dispersed us to our outfits. I remember when they first told me that he said, "Well, you'll get a Purple Heart for this." And I said, "Will my parents be notified?" And they said, "Sure! Your hometown paper will even get it." I said, "Well, I don't want my parents to be notified." He said, "Why?" I said, "Well, their already concerned about my welfare I don't want to add too it." I said, "Can you keep that from happening?" And he said, "Well yea, we just won't award the Purple Heart." So I didn't get the Purple Heart for that, nor for a later injury. Had I known they were going to use a point system to... as far as your eligibility to go home, it probably wouldn't have helped my very much anyway, but I didn't get the Purple Heart.

I: Had you lost any mobility or function with your hand? Did that affect it at all?

P: No, no. After the penicillin and recovered I was fully functional, and no ill affects after if finally healed.

I: Right, so tell me a little bit about the Battle of the Bulge.

P: Well, it was one of the coldest winters on record in that area. It started snowing, so there as a real heavy snow and there are pictures in the books that kinda show what it was like. The battles at first, the first day and for the first couple of weeks were really severe. Now, I was in the 395th Infantry Regiment, which was on the North shoulder. Most of our fighting was done by the artillery. We didn't have to fight off any direct infantry attacks, where we were. We had... we were blasted with artillery daily and nightly and had wounded. The 393rd and 394th were the main thrust of the Bulge hit. They had severe fighting. I still correspond with a buddy who was in the 393rd who spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. He said that when the artillery started that day, and I was not there for the first day, he said it was severe. And when it stopped we knew that the attack was coming, or thought that it was. But when he looked up out of his foxhole here were these big German Tiger tanks and infantry soldiers everywhere coming right at him. If they had tried to fight they would have been whipped out. And so, they surrendered;


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became POWs. They... as I said we didn't have that kind of a confrontation, but we did have fighting to do.

I: Were you able to join up with your regiment alright?

P: Yes.

I: You found them ok?

P: Yea, they deposited us, and I don't remember the exact details of how but I know within a short time I was back with my outfit and taken up to the front. I got back just in time, when that onslaught started against our positions, to retreat back to the [Orsonborn] Ridge.

I: And after the Battle of the Bulge where did you?

P: After the Battle of the Bulge we.... When the Bulge was essentially over the Germans had been bogged down and not able to advance. Then we were going to go into the attack, and I can remember they pulled us all out of the line, put green troops in. And, got us all together and the Commanding General said that, "The Bulge is over. We are now going to...." I don't remember his exact words, but in essence we are going to move on towards Berlin to end the war. And our goal of course was to get to the Rhine River, that was the first... so we were heading East. And we did it one town at a time and one village at a time, one farm house at a time, across open fields. If we were moved after a battle or two then they would pull you back for a couple of days. We had, in that length of time, I remember one time where we were all pulled back to the line to be re-outfitted; supposedly new uniforms, new clothing and boots and everything. We in my outfit never did get the weatherproof boots.

I; Really?

P: The rear echelon troops all had them. They all had the warm clothing during the winter. They scanned off the top first before it got to the front line. We had plenty of ammunition during the Bulge. I'm grateful for that, but our clothing was not what it should have been, as I recall.

I: So, when could you tell that the Bulge was starting to turn in the American favor?

P: When the Germans quit coming at us, and when they quit firing as much. You'd go a couple days and there'd be no artillery fire at all, and you knew that they were either running out of ammunition or out of desire, or out of troops or whatever. And we captured a lot of them, I mean German soldiers.

I: The 99* had a very important role. They pretty much upended the German attack by holding their positions,


13

P: Right,

I: What was going through your mind, what was keeping you motivated to keeping holding them off?

P: I think there is just one word that would describe our mode and that was survival, Nobody that I knew of, in my immediate outfit, wanted to ever be accused of desertion or not doing your duty you couldnt... you wouldn't think in terms of running away from the fight, and no one did that I know of. It was just move forward, do your duty, if you will. You did that with a survival attitude; you had to move ahead because that was your job.

I: So, you're... after the Bulge you're progressing town by town. Did you ever anticipate that you'd make it to Berlin?

P: No, we didn't really think along those terms. What we thought of, for example was after the war... after the Battle of the Bulge and going back into an attack mode, our immediate goal was to get to the Rhine River. And then, we knew that someway or another we'd have to find a way to cross the Rhine River. By that time I was a Sergeant, so I would be in on looking at the maps and where our objectives were, what we had to do, that sort of thing. So, a decision about crossing the Rhine River, we knew, would have to come from much higher levels. And then when the... I forget what Armored Division, it's covered in here, could have been the 3rd Armored, made a crossing of the Rhine River at Remagen. That's the first crossing, and when they crossed we happened to be the closest full division. And, we... our goal then became to get across the Rhine River, and they loaded us into trucks, took us down to Remagen, and we crossed.... We did the traveling at night; a wild ride, some of us wondered whether we were going to make it or not. Because, the way those guys drove the trucks, it wasn't reckless, but I'll tell you what under the circumstances they were going to get us there as fast as possible, and then to get the heck out. By daylight we were preparing to make our assault the bridge had already been established, and they were literally hauling bodies back across the bridge in truck loads. So, we crossed the river on the bridge before it collapsed. I believe we were the first full division across the Rhine River, but those guys who did cross the bridge early on to establish the bridge had put up a heck of a fight. There was so much anti-aircraft, what few German planes that were still operative at that point, they were coming at us in droves. They were trying to bomb the bridge, trying to bomb us; there was so much anti-aircraft fire that literally it was raining shrapnel. You could feel it hit your... we had some guys that were wounded by our own anti-aircraft shell fragments.

I: Wow.

P: I can just remember just a couple of them hit me on the helmet. You know it kinda jarred ya. They weren't big pieces, that's where I saw my first jet fighter. And, of course rumors spread fast, and things like that. That was one of Hitler's secret weapons that was going to win the war. I remember particularly up in that Lamersdorf area there was a lot of buzz bombs going over. That was the V-I rockets, and those things, when they went


14

directly over your head, it sounded like a tractor, like a tractor rumbling over top of you if you were working under abridge or something. The pulsing... of the,...

Technical Assistant: Can I stop you? We're about to run out of film here. Can I switch in another one, and stop you right here?

I: Yea.

P: So after we got across the bridge and moved further inland, why we were out from under that rain of shrapnel. I don't know how long it continued for those who followed us, but probably not too long. Then we started moving in and back to taking one objective at a time. And in one of the battles, and this I remember very vividly but I can't tell you what the name of the town was or anything, the town that we were attacking was on fire. I remember looking down and it was burning. And, it looked like the whole town was on fire and maybe it was, because we had shelled it really heavily. There were other towns along way where we had attacked, and if we got a lot of small arms fire resistance and so on, we'd just, by that time in the war it was not a matter of house to house any more, you'd pull back and they'd just blast it with artillery fire. And, by time we got to the town it was just rubble. So, we supposed that this is what was going to happen there, and as we were moving ahead.... It was early in morning and you couldn't see very well and we were still getting blasted by their artillery trying to slow us down. Somehow or another I stepped in a hole. And, I kinda twisted my ankle, I thought, but I kept on going until we reached a point where we stopped momentarily to try to figure what we had to do next. And, my ankle by this time was really hurting bad, and I took my boot off. Well, my foot was already hemorrhaging inside and I couldn't, of course, get my boot back on it was hurting real bad. Called the medic up, and he said, "We're gonna have to... you cant go on. This thing is probably broken." So I remember going off to the side, they carried me over there and leaned my up against a tree. They said we'll get a hold of somebody who will come up and get you, and somebody did. And that's surprising that under those conditions somebody could find me. Well, they knew that the line of attack was and they came up loaded me onto a stretcher, loaded me into an ambulance, and next thing I know I'm back in a hospital. And again I can't you where the hospital was or anything about it, but it was not as close to the front lines as the...

I: The time right before the Bulge?

P: The time just before the Bulge. So, they told me that I had a fracture. Now, that's different than a complete break. And, they said it would take some time... a while to heal. I remember being... lets see, that would have been in the... in March sometime, and I must have been out for close to a month. But then they determined that I could go back to the front, and they always wanted you at the front.

I: Yea.

P: So, when they asked me now how it was, and how I felt, and I said fine. Always, you know, fine. There was an inclination where you didn't want to be separated from your


15

outfit, people that you knew. It was the uncertainty of getting thrown in with another outfit or whatever. We knew that the war had to be coming to an end, because the Germans... there was a lot more surrendering going on. So, I went back to the hospital, and then about the middle of June... not June, but April... I got back with my outfit, and it was back into the attack mode again. But, I don't recall really fighting it was just moving in and taking over positions.

I: Had you... is that where you got your Purple Heart?

P: No, I never did get the Purple Heart.

I: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you said you had gotten it in a second injury.

P. No, I got injured again. I draw disability from the injury to my foot, but I never got the Purple Heart.

I: Oh, I see.

P: I don't know why I didn't want to receive a Purple Heart at that time, because...   I saw so many other guys... I figured the only people that ought to get a Purple Heart were the ones that really had bodily damage. You know, guy had a severe body wound of some kind and so on. I didn't want to go back and... you know not like Senator Kerry, well I have to give him credit for at least going to Vietnam. He applied for all the medals that he got; I never applied for anything. I have a Bronze Star, but didn't apply for it. It.., I just shunned all kinds of.., I remember after.... Well anyway, I got back to my company and by that time we were heading towards the Danube River, and we had to cross the Danube. Had an objective, and there was a German position over there that had concealed itself fairly well. I remember an American journalist who was walking the dike along the Danube, saying, "Boys, it's going to be a cakewalk today. There's nobody Over there." Well, with our spirits all up, I don't think I brought it with me... but there was a picture... that I have someplace... I did bring it... showing... it might be in here... waiting to go across. Here was the... this was the dike... here we're waiting to go into the attack.

I: Are you in this picture?

P: I don't know. I wouldn't be able to identify myself. I'm probably in there someplace, because when they said, "Ok, we're going," the engineers had supplied us with a bunch of flat bottom; well, I call them "duck boats." You have to paddle them; their made out of wood. And, we carried those down to the banks of the river. We went over the dike, through heavy grass or vegetation down, and the minute that we hit the river the machine gun fire starts. And they were just raking us. We had a lot of casualties. And, there's a book here called The Red Danube, and that's my outfit. I wanted to quote you something from it, but.... This is former SS Man Peter Zimmer, and he was talking about....  Well anyway, more or less like a turkey shoot. He said that you could just hardly avoid not hitting somebody. He said he couldn't understand why the Americans would put people


16

in those positions where they were just set up to be killed. And, my boat and one other were the only two that made it across the river. My Company Commander was in my boat and he was sitting in my lap when he got killed. I have bullet holes through my jacket, but I never got hit.

I: Wow.

P: And, we got across; then were pinned down on the bank of the Danube River. We couldn't move. Every time we tired to do anything the German would just rake us with machine gun fire. We took a helmet put it on the end of a rifle and stuck it up in the air, and they blew that helmet off the end of the rifle. So, I said... we tried to communicate with the other squad that had made it across, and somebody had said, "Maybe we ought to just put the white flag up; get out of here." I said, "No way. Nobody is going to surrender, ok?" I said, "I will get you back."

I: Were you the, I guess, in charge then? The highest ranking?

P: Yes, I was in charge of them, at that point. So I said, "We'll wait until dark, and then we'll try to get across at dark." Well then the Germans started shooting flares up. And they'd bounce those flares off the water with machine gun fire. We tried to time them, and there was no rhyme or reason. So I said, "Ok, here's what we're going to do." And I... and the other guys in the other boat agreed we'd all go at the same time. They didn't go, they waited to see whether we made it or not; which, I don't know, might be a natural reaction. But, we... I loaded everybody in the boat and then I held onto the boat with one hand and I had one of the guys grip my wrist. I said, "Now hold on to me, because the minute this flare goes out we're going." And the flare went out and we started to go, and the immediately shot another one up. And I grabbed a little sapling of a tree that was growing on the side of that bank, and I held on. And they were bouncing those flares with machine gun fire, and finally I said, "Guys, I can't... I can't hold on," I said, "We're going!" So the river in the spring is running pretty heavily, you know, with snow melt. And so I'm half in the water, and fortunately the guy that... he didn't let go of me he held onto my wrist and I'm being dragged in the water, and finally they hauled me out and into the boat. And, I said, "Now, we're going to drift a bit; get out of the range of the fire." And the minute that I though we were out, I said, "Now, paddle like Hell!"

I: [laughs]

P. And so we paddled across... back across the river, but we're way out of our company zone. We were at Easy Company; in fact later... at another gathering someone called me from Easy Company, and he wanted me to attend this gathering. It was our old ASTP group, and he said, "I want to tell you about that day." And so, I agreed to do that and go down there and talk with him. And anyway, we... Easy Company took us in. The first thing they did was debrief me. Then they said, "Ok, go over to that house over there." So it was a little cluster of farm buildings I think. And, "We'll get in touch with F Company; let them know you're here." Well, obviously because of our all day experience over there, it was raining by that time in the after noon and we were tired and


17

we were hungry. They said they would bring us food, but they never did. We all laid down in that house and we woke up it was a bright clear day and no GFs around anyplace. They had all moved out. F Company claims they were never notified to come and get us or anything.   So, we wondered around for a few days, and I remember a couple of British POWs had been let out of their prison camp. They found us, and they said, "The war's over boys!" He said, "The Germans are giving up in droves." The war wasn't exactly over, it was the next day. But, we finally got back to our lines, because another outfit came up there. I wouldn't call them a mop up, but an occupying force of some kind. And they found us up there, "What are you doing here!?" And, we explained to them, and they got a hold of F Company. F Company came over with a truck; picked us up, took us back to where the Company was located at that time. And again, I think it was an old school house someplace, and the medic came over to check us out and about half of us had Infectious [Jondous]. I mean our skin was yellow; our eyes were yellow and every thing. Came from, during that time that we were gone... which was about... you know cut off from our outfit. First of all, somebody had reported they saw us all get wiped out. So, we were all reported. Our parents got the wire, "Missing in Action." And, those of us that had the [Jondous] had to go to a hospital. There's nothing you can do for it I guess, I don't know whether cause they... I don't recall receiving any treatment, But, the war ended at about that time; I think it was May 8th, This attack across the Danube was on the April 27th of 1945. That was our last fight.

I: Were you able to find any food when you were... in those couple of days, were you able to scavenge?

P: What we were able to get from the Germans, mostly potatoes and water that maybe had bacteria that didn't affect them, but it certainly affected us. I don't know how else we would have gotten the [Jondous] except for the water that we drank from them, or maybe we were drinking river water that was polluted,

I: Were the German people pretty receptive to you, or were they... kinda... ?

P: No, they were a little bit leery, but they seemed to be receptive. They treated us well, nobody threatened us,

I: Did you ever find out about that second boat? Whether they got across or....

P: They got across; they were in the same thing with us. In fact they occupied that same house that we were in, we were all together.

I: Oh, ok.

P: In fact the Sergeant that was in charge of the other boat was a guy by the name of [Shapiro.] And, I received a telephone call one day from his son; wanting to find out about the war because he said his dad never told him about it. So, I told him what he what I knew of it. [Shapiro] was a real cut up. When we got to this... we all left this little cluster of buildings where we were right after we had... that next morning when we


18

got up and I said, well the Americans were gone. We started walking and came to a little village. And those were the people that... in that village that treated us as well as they could. We may have gotten some eggs, I don't remember, But, this [Shapiro] said... he said, "We're going to take over the town," and he said... told somebody, "I'm the Burgermister."

I: [laughs]

P. [laughs] And, I don't know what he was going to do with that title, but I just remember that we all were laughing. I said, "Sure you take over and you're responsible for everything, But, get us out of here if you've got so much power!" And he... in the middle of the night, one night, here came a knock on the door of this house that we were in. And said they wanted to see the Burgermister. Somebody spoke enough English that they could... Said, "What's it about? [Shapiro], you're the Burgermister, you go do it!" We made sure that he went to do whatever they wanted done. In that little village, and maybe this was all German villages, the Burgermister presided at birthings! [sic]

I: [laughs]

P. And so, he had to be there, the official representative... he appointed himself the Burgermister, He came back, he wasn't laughing anymore. He said, "I just..," I don't know whether he said, "I became a God-Father or whatever," but he said, "I was there!"

I: Wow, what a story.

P: And he said, "I resigned." [laughs] And then it was shortly after that, that we meet up with the other guys.

I: You had mentioned that you had been doing a lot of night movement, were you able to navigate prelty well, at night? Had you become pretty accustom to it, or... ? Was your training, your night exercises did that prepare you for the night movement?

P: Well, the night movement you're just... as one German Officer put it, "A lot of these guys, by this time the ASTPers were the Sergeants and the leaders within the companies." And they figured... we figured things out for our self; what we had to do, how to do it. When I say moving at night, moving into positions at night, the attacks were usually before dawn in the mornings. We were transported a lot of the time by trucks to get from one location to another, where the roads would permit. We also rode on tanks and weapons carriers, so it was not all walking?

I: Did you encounter any concentration camps? I know that there was a lot down by the Danube River.

P: We would have if we would have made it across, you know successfully across the Danube River, because one of our objectives was to go to a place where these


19

concentrations camps were reportedly located. So, we didn't get to participate in that, but other elements of our division did.

I: So, you found out that... how did you find out that Germany had surrendered?

P: There was... it came down through official channels that the Germans had surrendered.

I: And you mentioned that there's a point system. Can you explain that to me a little bit?

P; Well, you got so many points for your time in combat. You got more points for being a combat soldier than you did for a rear echelon soldier. But, the rear echelon soldiers knew more about the system than we did, and knew how to maneuver themselves to set them up. So they... there were some of the troops that were separated out of the division early, because they were replacements, they didn't have enough points to go anyplace but to the South Pacific. Some of those people went directly to the South Pacific, by whatever means were available to get them there. The next level didn't have enough points to avoid being assigned to the South Pacific, but they were going to be sent back to the States and given a thirty day furlough and then on to the South Pacific. Because, at that point in time everybody thought that there would be a prolonged war in Southeast Asia.

I: Right.

P: So, those were the guys that would have to go to that. Myself and others who had enough points not to have to go would be held back until boats came to take us home. And that was supposed to be the scenario. At that time, we wouldn't necessarily, probably, be separated from the service but we would not be going to Japan, unless things got really bad. And, that's the way it was, that's the understanding that we had. So, we... they sent us up to Bremerhaven, Germany to wait for the boats to come. Well, the war in the South Pacific ended with the atom bomb. All those guys that had gotten home ahead of us, they all were discharged from the service. Now, we're stuck wait for boats and the war was over in August, if I recall correctly.

I: Yes.

P: So, we had a really un-ruling bunch of guys that wanted to go home. They were done with fighting, and by this time I was acting as First Sergeant of this contingent that I was with. I couldn't give anybody any orders; they wouldn't pay any attention to me.

I: Wow.

P: There were specific orders to not fraternize with the Germans. Well, they didn't pay any attention to those. There were... there was a lot of looting going on. There's guys getting alcohol from one place or another. They were a problem, so they... we just sat there and waited. I mean it... you can imagine what morale would be. And finally, there


20

was a near riot and so the higher ups at least had the good sense to call everybody together at a place. Where they told us all what the situation was, that they were working to get the boats, and they all gave us form letters to sign letters that would be addressed to our particular congressional representatives, to our Congressmen and our Senators, for examples from the State of Kansas; appealing to them to get fair and equal treatment, so that we could be boats. And that really must have had an affect, because the boats started coming after that. But it took about three months for that to happen, and finally a boat came, we got on it and headed for home.

I: I see on the cover of this book it calls you "dauntless."

P: Dauntless was a code name for our division, and the emblem on the back was out division patch, the checkerboard.

I: And how did you get such a code name?

P: That was just one that somebody assigned to the division, or maybe the Division Commander, General [Lauer]. I never thought he was a very good leader, but he was a very theatrical type of guy. I think he was the one that selected the name dauntless. And, it was originally a Pennsylvania division, and there were a lot of people in the division from Pennsylvania when we joined it: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Appalachian Country. We had guys that could neither read nor write in there. I could remember one of our Corporals couldn't read or write, and how he got to be a Corporal I don't know. But anyway, he was and those others of us had to take over and assume those positions cause they couldn't do them. They couldn't read maps for example, and we had a couple of them that had night blindness. I mean it was... those were guys that shouldn't have been in the Army, but they were.

I: So you got on the boat to come back to America, where did you land?

P: Fort Dix, New Jersey, early in the morning 2 o'clock or something is when we disembarked. There were no Red Cross people around. There never were any Red Cross people around for us, as far as I was concerned. When we were training in England I remember we were put to a twenty-five mile march. Went out into the country side, there was a Red Cross van set up and they filmed guys going up and getting coffee and candy bars and things like that. Once the filming stopped they packed up and left, and there we were. I never got a cup of coffee or a candy bar from the Red Cross or any help from them. When we landed on Fort Dix, New Jersey the Salvation Army was there and were passing out hot coffee. They took us into the Fort Dix complex. The first thing they were suppose to do, is to give you a steak dinner. They sat us down in the mess hall and they gave us a steak dinner. The steak was tougher than shoe leather, cold, it had been cooked the day before, and I don't even know whether it was refrigerated. It was practically ineligible. And, assigned us to quarters, and so many guys were just warn out from the crossing. Guys that were sick from the time the boat started moving, or even before, that happened going over and that happened coming back. Of course, I was with a bunch of strangers; our division had all been broken up at that time. So, it was a very


21

unpleasant trip home on the boat and we got to Fort Dix and that was no good. Finally, they put us on a train and headed us, after they separated us in the various groups depending upon where you were going to be separated, and I remember getting to St. Louis where we.... The train stopped and they said we could get off and stretch and walk around and told us to be back here at a certain time. Most of us didn't have watches by that time; mine had gotten lost in combat. We... as I said we're stopped there in St. Louis before we were going to go on to Fort Leavenworth. Some guys just got off the train there and went home. No fool'n! Didn't wait to get to the separation center.

I: So, were they never discharged, or... ?

P: Oh yea, they finally ran them down and got discharged. I don't know whether they got charged with AWOL, but probably not. But they finally did. I got to Fort Leavenworth and went through the discharge process, and if I had been alert I could have gotten my Purple Hearts at that time, When I brought these guys back from across the Danube River that night, they wanted to give me a Bronze Star for that, and I said, "Medals don't do anything." And so I turned that down, but I did get another Bronze Star for earlier.

I: What did you... why were you awarded the Bronze Star?

P: They said for meritorious service. So, whatever... I got the certificate. Actually, I have two Bronze Stars. I don't know... Fve only got a certificate for one of them, and the government sent those to me. And of course I get a monthly pension for my service connected injury and disability. Whether or not I should have had the Bronze Star, I mean the...

I: Purple Heart

P: The Purple Heart for that, I don't know, but I never applied for one. So, I have, more recently, I did apply for the Purple Heart, and they said all the records of my hospitalization and everything else were lost in the records fire in St. Louis. And, that happened to a lot of guys. I know another fellow that should have had the Purple Heart, and I know there were many more who had turned it down just like I did.

I: Yea, well maybe could appeal to them saying, "Well, you're giving me a pension for my disabilities for being hurt, so."

P. Yea. Well, anyway they don't reason that way. But, later I heard from... I have a niece who worked as an intern for Denis Moore, and there was somebody in their office [that] said, "You should have it. He should have it, and all he has to do is write a letter and I'll see that it is taken care of." I never got around to writing the letter, but now I might do it.

I: Yea. You should give it a shot. So, you came home and you saw your family?


22

P. Yes. I.,. when I got out of Fort Leavenworth I took a trip down to Lawrence... Lawrence, ¥S. And I cant remember whether the folks came up there to get me or whether I... I tell you what, I stopped there to see college friends. A bunch of fraternity brothers of mine had been in various services... were already back in school. So, I stopped to see some of them, and then I proceeded onto... I don't know whether I got to Wichita or whether it was Newton. The train, Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe did not go directly to Great Bend, so I stopped at... it was either Hutchison or Newton or someplace like that, and the folks came and got me. And, I got home and I had an infection in my foot, so I was back in the hospital right way. And they had quite a big celebration for me a "Welcome Home" celebration, and I had to miss that but they went ahead with the celebration.

I: [laughs]

P: But I wasn't in the hospital very long.

I: Did you go back to school after... ?

P: Yes, came back... I wasn't ready to go back to school that semester, so I work on the farm doing some things with my dad, until the fall semester started, in the fall of 1946.

I: And did you go to KU then?

P. I didn't go back to Notre Dame; I went to KU and graduated from KU.

I: And what did you do after you graduated?

P: After I graduated with... I went down to Wichita and my father-in-law had a manufactures's rep company and I went to work for him. And I got involved in some new product lines that they were handling. So, I was working in a little different area than what they were normally doing, but basically I worked as a sales rep. With company calling on me, mechanical contractors, and trying to set up dealers to handle the product, did a lot of engineering work although I was not an engineering graduate. But, it's not hard to learn how to do the engineering that had to be done at that level. I mean it was not like going to work for the big company in their engineering department where you would have to have a mechanical engineering degree to do those kinds of things. I did a lot of mechanical engineering, but it was mostly doing piping layouts, duct layouts, heating air conditioning, lobe layouts,.. calculations and things like that. Then, my mother-in-law had a stroke and my wife's dad then... he retired from the business, and so I took over... well, I had been sale's manager by that time and then took over as general manager. And, eventually we bought the company from him. It took a long time to pay that off, in fact they were both dead and I still owed them to the estate. So the other family members that were still surviving they got his share of that. But, we expanded the company greatly in that time after I took over, and my son is now running the business.


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I: When did you meet your wife?

P: What?

I: When did you meet your wife?

P: I meet my wife at KU, in 1947. And we got married in December of '48.

I: Well, Mr. Piller I thank you very so much for doing this interview today. It was

very...

P: I hope it has been helpful to you.

I: Oh absolutely.

P: And what will you do with this interview?

I: Well this interview well be kept on record at the Watkins Museum, it will be kept at the Lawrence Library, it will go to the Kansas State Historical, and it will also go to the Library of Congress. And, so it will be available to anyone in Kansas and in the DC area, who request it from DC to study.

P: So where, if I wanted to see it or hear it, where would I do that.

I: Well, you can.., I will give you a copy of this interview on VHS or CD or any format that you wish...

P: CD

I: Ok, then you can listen to the interview, or you can here and watch it here on TV yourself.

P: Ok.

I: Thank you so much.

P: Ok, and nice to have met you.

I: Nice to meet you.

P: .. .operated by the United Fruit Company, and all of the deck hands and everybody were Porto Paeans. They only spoke Spanish. I was going to show you what.... Some of the division landed at, when we got to Belgium, [Bommels], little Belgium town, and as I said we were separated and we landed at Lamersdorf. There's Krinkelt, Belgium; just a town of the Church which was completely destroyed and has been rebuilt by the Americans. And the Red Cross would show up for photo ops like that.


24

I: [laughs] And like you said, disappear after...

P. What?

I: And like you said, disappear afterwards.

P: Yea, but you know the Red Cross does a lot of good. You want more of that?

TA: No, I think I got that one. I got that one and the one above.

P: This was the destruction caused by one of the buzz bombs.

TA: Now, what was a buzz bomb?

P: They were the German V-l rocket ships that were propelled by a pulse engine, a rocket engine, and they were fairly slow. You could shoot them down. I always told my guys, I said, "Don't shoot them down, because the explosion near you can really cause a concussion."

I: Yea.

P: The plan, the attack roots. We were in this area right here. Here's what it was like in the December of 1944, the time it started snowing. And, I've got some other pictures. You know I bought this book early on, but I've only started reading it recently. I'm only that far into it It's just.... There were a couple of.... There is a typical.... That's the winter.

I: I can't imagine.

T A: You didn't have any like clothes like that though, did you?

P: Well, by that time we had overcoats. We didn't have the boots that we needed. I would have like to have had a good change of underwear.

I: Did you have gloves?

P: Yea, we had knit gloves. Here is a... you can see all the snow around there and the trees in the background. I'm just trying to.... Christmas day.... Catholics held church services regularly; a lot of us attended those as we could. And I don't remember going very often, but.... The brother of a close friend of ours was killed during the fighting over there, and there's a section about him in there. Cant.... Here's a German pill box. Now, that would be... you'd have to take one of those pill boxes. Of course, they'd be firing out of it, and the idea was that you'd try to get in a position around them where you could throw a hand grenade in or a flamethrower or something like that. So you had to take those kind of installations out, so you cold move on.


I: Did you have a lot of flamethrower units in your troop?

P: Not a lot. We had one, and it didn't work most of the time.

TA: That was the Siegfried line, right?

P: The Siegfried line?

TA: Yea, those pill boxes, or was that something....

P: Well, the Siegfried line was.... I don't know whether I got a picture of that...

I: They were the last line of defense for the Germans.

P: They're the Dragon's Teeth. This is all from our trip. Well, I know that I had pictures of the pill boxes some place. This is a book out of a series that were published by the Time Life people. And....   One thing the Germans had, their tanks were far superior to ours. I wish I could find that. This is what... kinda like the medics faced, carrying wounded out. I don't know whether this is before the snow or.... Well, I cant seem to find the... there's some more snow pictures. I know that some place I had pictures showing the Dragon's Teeth if....









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