Edwin Arps Oral History
World War II
EDWIN ARPS ORAL HISTORY
Q853 Twp. Rd.
Napoleon, Ohio 43545
Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin
additional comments by
Mrs. Ed (Norma) Arps
transcribed by Marlene Patterson
CW: Would you tell us your name please.
EA: My name is Edwin Arps. I am originally from Ridgeville Corners. I went to Ridgeville School and I went through the eighth grade. At that time there were a lot of boys that didn’t go to high school. They went into farming. One day my dad told me that if I wanted to go to school and play ball you can stay home and help me, which I did. Later on that year my dad went uptown to the meat market and this butcher asked my dad what had happened to me. He told the butcher he was helping me all summer and now he isn’t doing anything. He told my dad to tell me to come in and see him and maybe he would like to learn the meat cutting business. So he come home then and told me about it. I went up there and sure enough that is what I became. I was now a meat cutter. Then as time went on, Irvin Rupp owned the meat market and he wanted to sell it.
CW: Was that in Ridgeville?
EA: Yes, that was in Ridgeville. He wanted to sell it to me and I told him I didn’t have that kind of money and he said maybe your dad would lend you some money. I told him I didn’t know and I just hated to ask him. So that was the end of that. So I kept on working there and I don’t know just how long I worked there but he put it up for sale. He never sold it and he closed it up. So then I was out of a job. Then I moved right next door to Richard Cameron and he hired me.
CW: He hired you to do what, cut meat?
EA: Yes, to cut meat and he had a huckster truck that went out into the country and I did some of that. Well, then one day my mother had some relation living over by Pemberville and her husband, my uncle had an auto accident on a Sunday. They were big farmers and there were only two boys and she called and wanted to know if I could come and help them on the farm. So I said that comes first and I moved down there with my aunt then and my cousins. Then that fall my cousin said well we don’t have any use for you this winter. I am going to go up to this little town called Wayne, Ohio and a fellow there has two meat markets. One is in Wayne, Ohio and one is in Bloomdale, Ohio. So it was a slaughterhouse. Maybe he can hire you.
CW: You mean the name of this town was Wayne, Ohio.
EA: Yes, Wayne, Ohio. He came back and told me I could start tomorrow morning. So I did. I worked there, oh I don’t know, maybe a year or so. That is when World War II broke out. Well, it kept on going and guys were getting drafted. Then one day the fellow that was running the meat market in Bloomdale got his letter to report to the Army. So the boss said well it looks like I will have to transfer you to Bloomdale. So I went to Bloomdale. I got a room over there and I slept over there and I was over there for about a year and then one day I got a letter from the draft board. So they wanted me to report at a certain date. I think I had a couple months or so. Then I told the boss and he said well, what do I do now. He couldn’t find anybody else with meat cutting experience so I guess he sent his wife over there and sold out what was left over there and he closed the place up. I moved my stuff home and then I waited until they called me and then I left Bowling Green with the rest of the Wood County boys. We got on a train to Camp Perry and there we were put into the barracks where we all got our shots. We had to stand in a long line all the time, and when we got to a certain point we had to take all our clothes off and they handed us Army clothes. All of my civilian clothes were put into a big box and that was sealed and that was sent home to my folks. So then in a couple of days we were put on a train and we knew we were heading south because we were getting pretty warm with our wool clothes on. We ended up in Florida.
NA: This was in November.
EA: Yes, it was the middle of November. Anyhow after three days we ending up at Camp Landing, Florida. That is where I stayed for my basic training. We convoyed all of our equipment back from Florida clear to Camp Atterbury, Indiana, but we stopped in Tennessee and we were on three months maneuvers in Tennessee. So I slept in a pup tent three months. From then on we got to Atterbury. We were sent home for a furlough and then we went back, and we ended up in New York. We were put on a boat and we headed for England. The next day during the night we came into a storm and the first thing we knew we were lost.
CW: Oh really!
EA: So they finally got things straightened out again and 13 days later we landed in England.
CW: That would have been quite a trip.
EA: Yes. So we got to England, well in the meantime, was I a Sergeant already when I left or did I get that over there. I think I got that over there.
NA: You were a Private First Class.
EA: Yes, I was a Private First Class and then it was on my records that I was a meat cutter so sure enough I got a job in Supplies. I was in the Service Battery, of the 113th Field Artillary, which is part of the 30th Infantry Division. We had close to a thousand soldiers in 113th, and that was my job then to cut the meat, and deliver the rations to five kitchens. We had to go pick up the food, we brought it back to a building and unloaded everything and then we had to break it five ways.
CW: Was this in England?
EA: Yes. We were in England a couple of months I guess.
NA: You went over there in January. D Day wasn’t until the 6th of June.
EA: So we were there all them months and we just layed around and we didn’t have much to do. They gave us practice and one evening about 5:00 o’clock the word came out that we were supposed to go to their barracks and it was announced the next morning at 7:00 o’clock would be D-Day on Omaha Beach. At 7:00 o’clock the next morning. Well okay and by that time my name was called, oh I suppose fifteen or twenty other guys were called. We were put to one side and we were put into a big Liberty ship which was loaded with new trucks, Jeeps, and everything. They needed drivers for them when they unloaded them. That is what I got into. We were at Omaha Beach 7:00 o’clock in the morning and saw all the fireworks and I mean it was fireworks. We were on the ship watching it and we couldn’t unload them because it was storming. The big ships, you know we had to bring the trucks out of the bottom of the ship and drive them over and put them down on a small LST boat. We would get them there and somebody would drive the boat and we would go up to the beach as far as we could and then we would go down and start up our vehicle and we would drive onto land.
CW: Did you have to drive through some water?
EA: I was driving a wrecker and I was sitting in water. The water was even with my waist line. It wasn’t warm water either, it was cold. I made it. The trucks were waterproof. The only thing was the exhaust pipe which ran up beside the truck cab so the engine wouldn’t drown out. I came up to shore and just about that time we had an awful shelling there. I was on land then already and I jumped out and I crawled out and had my feet underneath there so I was there until the shelling was over with. When that was over with I got back on the truck. There was just a certain point that we had to go. It was less than a mile from the beach so. I don’t know how far the Infantry had to go. This was about getting towards dark already when I landed then. The Infantry was up ahead maybe a couple of miles. Then it was a day or so and I caught up with the rest of my outfit.
CW: Did you get under the truck, and did they fire at you?
EA: Well the schrapnel was flying all over. That is the reason I was underneath the truck. It hit the truck but it didn’t hit me.
NA: Some of the guys were gone by then already.
EA:Yes and by the way, I don’t know but that is what they say, we lost 3,000 soldiers in the channel that day. And the English Channel was nice and blue in the morning, but in the evening it was red. All those poor guys that got killed out there in that channel. What made it bad was that in the morning it was storming. The Germans had built concrete piers right in front of this beach. So when we came off of the boats, they could sit up there and mow us down see.
CW: Oh my gosh!
EA: And what was supposed to have been done in the morning before 7:00 AM, the Air Force should have had those piers knocked out of there. But it had been so foggy that the Air Force couldn’t fly. I know Eisenhower had made the remark that if there had been any possible way to have turned the boys around I would have. But we had to keep on going. It fnally ended up where the Engineers and whoever the Infantry they got up next to these buildings with hand grenades and they would toss them up to the windows and blow them out of there. I didn’t have to do that.
CW: You probably had to stay with your truck.
EA: By that time I had gotten rid of that truck and I had my other trucks you know. So then we finally got organized. Like I say we had to go and pick up our food, our rations for the whole bunch. That all kept us busy. We had two trucks and I think five or six fellows and that is all we did.
CW: Where did they have these rations.
EA: They were at that time still on the boats. They were out in the channel.
CW: How did you get the rations?
EA: Every few days they were brought ashore, and we would have to go back to the shore pick it up. It was already marked for the 113th and we would have to load these up.
NA: You took your K rations with you. (K rations were an individual daily food ration introduced by the United Stated Army during World War II. It was intended as a daily ration for combat troops providing three courses, breakfast, lunch and supper.)
EA: While this invasion was going on I think they gave us enough K rations for three of four days. That is what we lived on. It was a week or maybe two weeks before we got to have a real meal. From there on the first big battle was at St. Lo. From there on I went through five major battles.
NA: You’re going to wear out your toothpick.
EA: Well I will go get another one. I went through five major battles and then the Battle of the Bulge. I am sure you have heard of that.
CW: Oh yes.
EA: I was in that.
CW: Were you with General Patton?
EA: No I wasn’t with Patton, well yes I was with Patton when we spearheaded. We were in his convoy. After the war you know, he got killed in a Jeep accident. That is what they tell us. I didn’t see it. They called him “blood and guts”. Boy I tell you he had it.
CW: He was a tough old guy.
EA: Yes, like we were supplies and I remember just before Christmas we got turkeys. We all had turkeys for Christmas. Well, they were frozen. I delivered them a couple of days ahead of time. The cooks would have to take care of them. Sure enough on Christmas Day, we could only go five or six pallets at one time and go to the mess hall and get their food and get back again. They were hiding. No smoking or anything. If you did why they could get you. Sure enough in the morning the turkeys were done and everything and don’t you know they (the Germans) put an artillary shell right on top of our kitchen. It just blew everything all to pieces. Plus it killed one of our buddies. So that was our Christmas, and we had to go back to K rations.
CW: Now where was this at?
EA: This was at the Battle of the Bulge.
NA: This was before you got into Germany.
EA: And then we had after Christmas, then I don’t know exactly how long, maybe a month or so, anyhow one night the Germans shoved us back. They had more power than we did. What happened is they captured our gasoline supply. It was all in five gallon cans. So in about a day or so the trucks were sitting along the road with no gas. So they called me in, the Captain was there and the First Sergeant, and they wanted me to get two trucks and enough help and go back approximately seventy five to one hundred miles and get two loads of gas. I looked at them and I said “Sir that sounds real good, but if I take all my trucks and get down the road ten to twelve miles and then I will be out of gas”. He said I never thought about that.
CW: Oh dear!
EA: So then he called back and they brought us up some gas. We were out of gas for three to four days.
CW: That’s why, you would read about it in the paper and they would go a little ways and then they seemed to stop.
EA: That is why I couldn’t go back and get it. I opened my big mouth. The Captain had said if you look through that window you can see our gas pumps. But it was on the German side. So I said how about tonight after dark I’ll get a couple of guys and we will go steal our own gas back. Well, he said if you have enough guts to do that go ahead. And we did! I took two trucks in there and we both loaded our trucks up with five gallon cans and the first truck, he pulled out and didn’t have any problems and we just had got started real good and we got hit with I don’t know what it was, probably a German artillary shell. It was one-two-three and our truck was on fire. We were just lucky we got our fanny out of there.
CW: Nobody got killed or hurt then.
NA: You had a trailer behind you.
EA: I had a double trailer behind me yet and see that is what actually caught on fire. We got out of that truck and I said lets not stand here and watch, lets get away because if things got hot enough we would have regulare fireworks. We jumped out of that truck. We didn’t have our pack or anything. Well then the best part of it was as we were running down the road we would turn around and watch and all at once I told my buddy hey listen real good. It sounds like a German Jeep coming. I could tell by the sound. Sure enough, I had no more than said it when the Jeep came around the curve and here there were two German officers in it.
EA: And there we were. They asked us a bunch of questions and we kept saying nix fer stay, nix fer stay. (Nix fer stay means I do not understand) I never told them that I could speak High German and understand High German and I could talk Low German and understand Low German. We just told them nix fer stay, that is all we knew. They made room and loaded us up then, and we went with them. See they were pretty well on the front lines too in a big old farmhouse. They put us in a big bedroom. One thing about it they had a bed in there so it was a good place to sleep. We were there I really can’t remember maybe two weeks.
NA:I don’t think it was too long.
CW: What did you do for food?
EA: Well they, when you are hungry milk or water tastes pretty good. And that’s what we had. Well these guys, I don’t know where they were getting their food. They weren’t cooking it there either.
NA: Were they both there alone?
EA: They were two officers. I always said they had a little age on them. They weren’t the young ones. Had they been young ones I don’t think I would be here today because as things went on. One morning, I am taking a guess, may 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning the Americans were up bright and early and they were pounding and they were going to push back again. So these two officers got scared and they said we are getting our fanny out of here. I told my buddy I think now is a good time to fold our hands and say a little prayer. I didn’t think we were going to be around too long anymore because you would think they (Germans) would take us with them. They would mow us down in there and let somebody else pick us up. Well for some reason or other that didn’t happen. These two officers left and we were free. We snuck out real, you know we looked around, sometimes they will shoot and we’d be walking. It was only a little bit farther from here to the road. We were on the front lines. And ours was just across. We’d start walking and here it wasn’t long before and here comes an American Jeep. The Americans were pushing the German’s back. They stopped and said what the heck are you guys doing here with no guns, no nothing. We told them that ours blew up over there. So they loaded us up and took us back to headquarters.
CW: What a narrow escape!
EA: We got to their headquarters and then we unloaded there and I said take a look at that Jeep over there. Do you see whose Jeep that is? He looked at it and said didn’t you see those three stars on there. Do you know who that is? They said, is that Eisenhower, and I said yes. That was Eisenhower’s Jeep. He was there visiting, well I don’t think he was visiting, but he was there talking to our Captain. Them two guys they would visit every once in a while. I think they had a bottle of medicine in their cupboard and took a little sample every so once in a while. Well anyhow we went in the office and the first thing the Sergeant came out and he said where in the hell have you been. I told him we took a few days off. Then he went in to where Eisenhower and our Captain were talking and he told our Captain that we came back see. He had us marked down already as “Missing In Action”. I said hey Sergeant while I am watching you, you make sure you scratch that out. He might have forgot about it and that could have cost us.
CW: That word would have gone back to your family.
EA: Yes. I saw him scratch my name off so I knew it was off of the record. So then our Captain came out and took down our names. He asked a few questions. Wouldn’t you know it, but here came Ike. He came out too. He asked us a few questions. They were talking there a little and pretty soon our Captain tells Ike. Why don’t you take these two lads along for a week and rest them up. Ike never said a word, he just went to the door and he hollered at his driver and the driver come over and he said make room, we’ve got two passengers. So there weren’t too many guys in the Army that got to ride in the back seat of General Eisenhower’s Jeep.
CW: I guess so.
EA: He was sitting here and we was in behind. He turned around and said what part of the States are you from. He just acted like an ordinary farmer. Well it wasn’t long you know, see the officers always stayed back you know maybe 30 miles, and sometimes even farther. We came to a big mansion and he pulled up there and Eisenhower told him to take good care of these two fellas. Give them whatever they want. Give them all the food they want. In about a week you take them back to their outfit. That was the last time we seen Ike. We ate at the same table in the same kitchen, but not together. We layed around there for a week and this guy came in and asked us what we wanted. I told him I would like a new set of clothes. I had these clothes on for about a month. He took us up to the Quartermaster there and we got new clothes and he said take whatever you want. Well, we took what we needed. We went back there and sure enough I don’t know what morning it was but he told us that our week was up. And he asked us whether we were ready to go back to our outfit. And we said oh no we can stay right here. He said you know what the old man said. So he loaded us up and took us back to our outfit. I know they were already packing, our outfit had gotten orders to move out from the front lines. To move out of there. We didn’t know where we were going. The officials why they knew the Germans were kaput(done). They had given us everything they had and they gave up. That day or the next day.
CW: You mean this was the end of the war.
EA: We moved out of there. We were within 30 miles of Berlin. Then they put us up in, well it reminded me of the old Wellington Hotel. That is where they put all the fellows that could get in there. See the 30th Division had about 18,000 troops. It was the Infantry, the Artillery. They all belonged to one division, so we got in there and. Well the only word we got was well you guys are going to go home. You will get a 30 day furlough and then we were to go to Japan. Well, that wasn’t all that bad. We were going home, that was all that we were concerned about. We got back to England and then we got word that we would go home on the Queen Mary.
EA: So we laid down there for a couple of weeks. It had a crew of 3,000 civilians on that Queen Mary. They had to get the food, and what ever else it needed. It had three decks you know. All we could do was just lay around or go to London, We were pretty close to London. You know the first place the GI’s would go would be a tavern and drink some beer you know. I was in there, there were two or three of us guys together. All at once the news came on and they said you fellows won’t have to go to Japan. The war has ended over there. See that is when they dropped that bomb over there. The Japanese had surrendered. Everybody kind of looked at each other because we were so used to nothing but propaganda. One guy said that’s a bunch of. We just kept on drinking and I don’t think it was a half hour and then President Roosevelt he came on the radio.
NA: Wasn’t Truman in there?
EA: Yes it was Truman, well anyhow he came on the radio, see there was no TV or anything, and said if you had word, and this is not a rumor the Japanese have surrendered. If you fellas are on your way to the States, you can stay there. That is when the party started.
CW: I’ll bet.
EA: There were two bartenders in there and I can still see them, they had a white shirt and a vest on and a tie. They were the bartenders. One of them got up in the corner and he hollered you Americans are about to take over. You deserved it. Well at first nobody wanted to make a move. Pretty soon he said, I mean it! He said get behind here, the house is buying the drinks. That didn’t last too long. Me and my buddies we left then. We were there probably a half hour .
CW: It was probably getting kind of wild.
EA: The next day we stopped in there again and we asked him how long did the party last. He said it took three hours and they were dry.
END OF SIDE ONE
EA: We will start here. It took them three hours to drink the place dry. We got ready then and in a few days we loaded on the Queen Mary and it took us four days to go from South Hampton, England to New York City.
CW: That was really fast in those days.
EA: And then the rooms on the Queen Mary were all converted to troop ships. They had bunks built in there and if you were lucky you could sleep on one of them at night and if not you had your bedroll with you and you slept on the deck. It happened on the deck that night you lay there and everybody is happy you are going home singing and this and that and you lay there and the front end of the boat would come up real slow and then it would hang there and pretty soon it would come down. We’d start grabbing each other because we thought we were going to slide off the thing.
CW: Those must have been huge waves.
EA: It was a bump going over those waves. Those waves were 20 to 30 feet high.
CW: I wondered how high they were.
EA: It was a rough day going over that and then we got to New York and they had promised us a steak dinner at Camp Kilmore, New Jersey. We got there at about 3 o’clock in the morning and we had our steak and then we got back on the train, each got on a different train depending on which state you were from. I had to get on the one that went to Camp Attebury, Indiana. When we got to Atterbury why as fast as we could go, we were on our way home. Then I got home and I had a thirty day furlough and then I got a telegram to stay another fifteen days and then I made a big mistake - I got married.
NA: We were married the first thirty day.
EA: Oh did we,well anyhow then when I came back I had to go back to Camp Atterbury to get my discharge. I went back to the Greyhound bus station to get a bus to Napoleon. I found one but it would take four hours before he would leave and I didn’t want to sit around there that long. I took a city bus and headed north, well they helped me there. I went clear to the north edge of Indianapolis where the bus turned around and I got off there and the guy had told me before when you get off that bus just stick your thumb out and you will get a ride real quick, and boy he was right. I got off that bus and just about that time a car pulled over on the curb on the opposite side. I ran over there and I looked at the license plate and they were from Henry County. I was pretty lucky there. So I got in there and he asked my name and this and that and he asked me a few things about Germany and I told him. He was looking all around and she would jump on him and yell out -watch out- you are driving all over the road. I think I was almost more scared on that trip home than I was during the whole war. Then I got home and then I will tell you it was August Honeck and his dear wife that picked me up and brought me home here to Napoleon. From there on my yes, I was married at the time. She picked me up at the bank corner. From then on I have been on my own.
CW: It is wonderful to get home after something like that.
NA: I don’t think they dropped you off at the bank corner, they dropped you off at your folks place. You drove your car over to our place then.
EA: I think they did take me right to my house. August asked me where I lived and I said Ridgeville and he said where, and I told him right on Route 6 and they took me right home. Then I went over to your place.
NA: I picked you up when you came home the first time when you had a 30 day furlough.
CW: Now tell me about how you two got acquainted with each other. Where did you meet and what happened.
NA: We were even in the eighth grade together already.
CW: Oh you were!
NA: We went to Ridgeville School and he was in my class in the eighth grade.
CW: And you lived in Ridgeville
NA: We lived a mile outside of Ridgeville. I don’t know we just got along.
EA: I agreed with everything.
NA: I was only 13 years old then. I guess I was about 15 when we started dating. We didn’t get married though until he had his 30 day furlough. He thought he would have to go back again. So after he was home two weeks he said we are going to get married. Then he didn’t have to go back this time and he got discharged.
CW: Getting married at a time like that of course there were a lot of servicemen getting married.
EA: Oh yes.
CW: It was hard to get a washing machine or anything you would use to set up housekeeping.
NA: Well Bob Walters had a store there at Ridveville, a furniture store, and we got a stove through him.
EA: I don’t remember that.
CW: Do you mean a stove or to use to heat the house.
NA: No a gas stove to cook with.
EA: Well we got some things from George Von Deylen. He had a hardware store uptown here too.
NA: I think we got our refrigerator there.
EA: We got the refrigerator there.
NA: We had to have an oil stove too. Where did we get that?
EA:I don’t remember where we got that.
NA: We had bought a bedroom suite before he had left.
CW: We were talking about buying things at the store. Things were so scarce.
EA: Do you remember the apartment buildings next to the old Ford garage. Remember they burned down several years ago. Royal Cleaners were down below. When I got home Frank Morey got that job to dig that basement out so Royal Cleaners could start their business. They were neighbors at Ridgeville. That is how I got my first job. I helped dig that basement out. She was bookkeeper at the Ford garage. When we got the basement dug and they moved in I got a job with Royal Cleaners then. I ran the delivery truck and she was working for Bill Travis and we got to rent one of the apartments upstairs.
NA: We lived there three years.
EA: Then we got a place out on West Main Street. Then we went to the corner of Clinton and Norton. and then from Clinton and Norton to out here.
NA: We have lived here 36 years already.
CW: Is that right. That was quite an experience.
EA: Sometimes it got pretty rough. I will have to tell you something, you know I had a real good buddy that was working with me, but he couldn’t read or write. How he ever got into the Army I don’t know. He was from Tennessee. And you know he had a girlfriend and she would write him letters. We would have to read them for him. Then he would want to write her and one of us would have to sit down and write the letter for him. Then we would read it back to him and we would sometimes not read what we had wrote. Then he would get mad. Finally we straightened him out. We read him what was what. What I really remember about him was one night we were in a fox hole and we were getting shelled pretty bad and we were in this fox hole waiting for a shell to land on top of the fox hole and we were sitting there you know you couldn’t see each other he said Sergeant, he called me Sergeant you know that little book you always carried in your pocket. He said why don’t you open that book up and read us something out of it. They gave each one of us a small Bible, the new testament. Every soldier got one when they got inducted. Lots of guys got their life saved by having it in the upper pocket. I carried mine all the time. I just opened it up and I said how am I going to read when it is so dark in here. He said we got this big blanket and I will hold the flashlight under it so the light won’t show through. I got down there and read something and it wasn’t but five minutes and the shelling stopped. He said to me that from now on he would be staying with me. I can’t remember exactly what I read in there. I didn’t pick out anything, I just opened it up and read.
NA: That was a long three years.
CW: War is terrible.
EA: You know it seemed like every outfit and every company always had a couple clowns I would call them that kept the moral up. Like we had a guy from Pennsylvania and what he had done in civilian life he was with Harry James’s Orchestra. He could play any instrument. If there was anybody playing a horn, guitar, and even a piano he would move it over to where we were and he would play and sing.
CW:Oh my. That would be important for the troops.
EA: He kept the moral up you know. My truck driver, he was from Chicago and his dad had a shoe store. That is all that kid ever did was work in his dad’s shoe store. When he got in the Army they made a truck driver out of him. I had to teach him a few things too.
CW: He probably didn’t know too much about a truck did he.
EA: No, he didn’t know anything about a truck.
NA: After the war we went to see him.
CW: Oh you did!
EA: Yes we did.
NA: He had quite a shoe store. He was a Jewish guy. He had a little cart out on the sidewalk and he had shoes in there. The shoe store was up on the second floor.
EA: They would have called that Jew town. That is how he operated. He would have a stand on the sidewalk and the shoes were up on the second floor.
CW: Would they have to run up and down to get the shoes.
EA: Well they had a few shoes down below.
NA: They had the cart downstairs. We started walking down the street and they sent their boy with us to show us how to get there. The first place the guy was selling suits and he tried to sell this boy a suit even before we got to it.
EA: I had an awful time explaining to him that he wasn’t my boy. I thought for a while I might have to buy the suit just to get away from him.
CW: In those days that would have been a long trip to go to Chicago.
EA: Oh yes.
CW: You couldn’t just do it in three hours like the way you can now.
EA: My folks they had some friends there and they had asked me one time if I would take them to Chicago. They were friends and I said yes and they looked up this fellow for me. I had quite a few friends and as far as I know they are all over at the cemetery. I still had one fellow from Arkansas and last year I called down there one time, well when I first got a hold of him I found him. I still get a magazine every four months from our outfit and his name was in there where he was in a nursing home and they said we should call him. I really didn’t know him at that time and I got him on the phone and I told him who I was and he said by golly I remember you. I said I used to bring your food. He said that was where he remembered me from. We would deliver the food to the kitchen. He stayed in the Army. He was in for 25 years. He was a Major wasn’t he?
NA: I think so.
EA: The last time I called him he wasn’t feeling real good. The next time I called, well I didn’t know who I talked to they said we had to bury him here. So now he is gone. We went to North Carolina several years ago to see another man and they were gone.
NA: There aren’t just too many people our age who are alive.
CW: I know, tell me about it. You should be thankful you are still here and can get around. Your health is important.
NA: He is going to be 89 in February.
CW: Is that right. You have me beat by one year.
EA: Another thing that was kind of you see my mother passed away when I was three months old.
NA: No, three weeks.
CW: Oh my.
EA: And then my dad’s sister was still at home. She hadn’t been married then yet. She took care of me then. She was dating and she would have a date like on Saturday night or Sunday night and then Dad would have to take care of me and he told her one day that whenever you leave all he (Ed) wants to do is bawl. And she said I can take care of that. The next time I have a date I can just take him with me. So I would go along on a date with them.
CW: So you went along on a date.
EA: Then about three years later.
NA: She got married then about after a year. Your grandfather got remarried. Then your step-grandmother took care of you. Then his dad got remarried so then he had four different mothers.
EA: I turned out pretty good.
CW: You sure did! Now they would say oh you are going to have a psychological problem. Back in those days you did what was necessary.
EA: What I was going to tell you that in Germany one night we stopped, when we were on the road, some place we would always look for shelter to find a building that was big enough to sleep in. We didn’t want to be outside. This one night we stayed in this little town and the next morning we had left and as we were leaving town we always had a sign there telling us the name of the town just like here. I just happened to see a town by the name of Neuenkirchen. I thought, now that rings a bell. I kept thinking about that, and then I remembered that was where my stepmother was from.
CW: For heavens sake.
EA: When I got back I told her about it and she said where did you stay. I told her this guy had a shoe factory and they had a big room there. She told me she knew all about that place. Then there was a big church right in the center of that town. She told me I should have went down there and took a right, that is where Uncle George lived. I said Mom if I had done that I wouldn’t be here to tell you about that. I don’t think she ever really realized what was going on. That being my stepmother I was fighting against her own brothers and sisters.
CW: Why yes, they would see you and you were fighting against them.
EA: That is what the younger Germans were noted for. Twelve year olds, fifteen year olds you would really have to watch.
CW: They were trigger happy. I don’t think boys that young were recruited here. I don’t remember hearing of any.
NA: I think in Germany they were just automatically in the Army.
EA: Oh yes. You have probably heard of the prison camps. I don’t know if you had ever heard of this Buchenwald, that was a big prison camp. Up to that point or every once in a while I would think what the heck am I over here for. I knew Pearl Harbor had got bombed and Hitler was on his way over here. Every once in a while I would think what the heck am I doing here. We liberated Buchenwald and I can still see it. There were 3 trenches and it was no farther from here to the road, six foot wide and about 4 feet deep. That was all full of dead bodies. They were nothing but skin and bones. Then right next to it was a building, supposed to be their barracks. They had boards to lay on. That is what they slept on. When we moved in there we captured that and then our engineers had trucks and bulldozers and moved dirt and covered all of them dead people up. When I saw that I knew why I was over in Germany fighting.
CW: Truus Leaders was from Holland and she said the Germans came in there and took all the food. People in Holland were just starving. The Germans probably had to send the food back to their people to feed them.
EA: I think to this day yet I can’t see why there was one man, Hitler, that he could cause so many problems. I know even the German people here, now this is a German community, we didn’t see problems like that. I tell you that after the war and staying in this hotel, there was a little old lady and we were in this one room, there was four of us staying there. She would come in every morning and make the beds. She told us that if we had any dirty clothes to just put them on the bed and she would come in and wash them. We tried to give her some money and she would never take money, but she would take food. They were looking for food. You know with me being in that business I had seen enough and I wanted her to have food.
CW: Now where did you say that was?
EA: That was in a little town named Mechlenburg, Germany. It is about 30 miles from Berlin.
CW: How do you spell that?
NA: I think it is Magdeburg. I think that is where my grandfather came from.
EA: When we left there was three or four ladies involved. When we left the hotel all these ladies came to our room and we all got a kiss and a big hug. I told them they cried more than my mother did when I went in the service. They just didn’t want us to go. They were hurt that we had to go. I think they were glad that we could go. You just couldn’t give them anything but food. They ate pretty good while we were there visiting.
NA: They were very grateful to us. They thought the Germans were going to take over the whole world.
EA: Germany was headed for England you know. The Germans had a few footholds there and from England they were coming here.
NA: Well they were already in Russia, Belgium, and France. I don’t know about Spain if they ever got that far.
EA: I don’t know either. I could never figure out that the German people were never noted for being mean and rough. At least the ones I knew. How one guy could have that much power.
CW: That was what was behind it. He was power hungry.
EA: The little fifteen and eighteen year olds were the ones you had to watch. They were given special schooling. They were tough to fight. Vie gates (Yes, and so it goes). I hope I have made you happy.
CW: Yes, you had quite a story to tell. It really was.
EA: Is there anything you don’t understand? You can call us or come out and we will straighten you out.
CW: Okay. How long did you say he was in the service?
NA: He left in November of 1942 and came home the 26th of August of 1945. We were married the 7th of September two weeks later. So I waited for him for three years. That was a long three years.
CW: What was it like?
NA: Well, the mail didn’t go through like it does today. Sometimes it would be two weeks before I would get a letter that he had written. I dreamt one night that he had gotten shot and it took two weeks before I got the letter. Then of course I knew he was alright. There was no way I could find out.
EA: We were the same way. All of our mail was censored. About the only thing I could say is that I was feeling fine and hoping you are too. We couldn’t tell them where we were at.
NA: Nowadays you can call from here to Germany. We couldn’t do anything like that then. We just had to wait for those letters.
EA: There was always a lot of excitement when we had mail call.
NA: Sometimes the mail got blown up.
EA: Oh yes, the mail sometimes did get blown up.
NA: I didn’t write on a Saturday night because I couldn’t mail it on a Sunday. I wrote six letters a week all the time. He would write one page and each line was a new paragraph so he could fill it up in a hurry.
CW: (Both ladies laugh) He was probably not in a very comfortable situation.
EA: The letters were censored before they even left our outfit. Once in a while some of the guys would write something and they would bring it back and say “hey look you can’t write that”
CW: Sometimes the censors would just cut it out too.
EA: Oh yes they did just cut it out.
NA: Yes that was quite an experience.
CW: Yes and the news was very slanted at that time. We were at war.
NA: We didn’t have television like they do today. We can see it all now on television.
EA: As far as food I mean well actually I can’t say I ever went hungry. Even when we were prisoners of war it wasn’t the best of food but it kept us going. Well then the other officers they was eating the same thing. So I didn’t feel so bad.
CW: Food was rationed and gas was rationed during the war wasn’t it?
NA: Oh yes. Coffee and sugar
EA: Just about everything was rationed, even tires.
NA: I worked for Krogers then in Toledo in 1942. They were just starting to ration then. You could buy one pound of coffee. That is all you were allowed to buy. These people came through the line one day and they had two pounds of coffee and I said I can only let you have one pound. They paid for their groceres and went out and put them in their car and came in and got another pound. There was nothing I could do. I don’t remember how much sugar you could get.
CW: Sugar was rationed too wasn’t it.
EA: When I left for service I had bought a new 1939 or ‘40 Mercury. Then when I had to go into the service I told my dad, my dad had an older car, why don’t you sell your older car and you keep mine. I knew if I didn’t do that it would sit in the barn like maybe for three years and that is not good on cars.
EA: In fact I sold his car for him. Then he had to drive my car. Then we had that car when we got married. We went on our honeymoon with it. All four tires were bald. Those were still the original tires on it. Well we didn’t go too far. We went up into Michigan and we went fishing and stuff like that. Then we came home and on the other side of Archbold I blew one of the front tires out. I had a spare and I put that on and we got home then. The next morning then I went uptown and remember when C.J. Ramus was next there to Spanglers he sold tires there you know. I went in there you know and and I needed a tire. C.J. was in there himself and he looked at it and he said it looks to me like you need four new tires. Tires were hard to get.
END OF TAPE