3:18 | He was quartered on the grounds of a palatial estate west of London. Paratrooper Guy Whidden was able to go into town on leave, and unlike the rest, he sought out a good vantage point to watch the nightly German bombing. He kept getting busted to private because of a weakness for pretty girls, which made him late back to the base every time.
Keywords : Guy Whidden London Hungerford German bombing leave hitchhike Absent Without Leave (AWOL) bayonet
Guy Whidden wasn't too excited by the Boy Scouts, but he liked the National Guard. The maneuvers were fun and he had a job he liked, orderly to the Colonel. That was before a barnyard prank got him.
To Guy Whidden and his friends, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the onset of war was exciting. Told by a recruiter he could join the Air Corps, he noticed the train was getting mighty far South. He was in the infantry and, since he didn't really know what that was, he wasn't disappointed. After a couple of stops, he applied for jump school and went to Fort Benning in 1942.
There were a lot of washouts in the first week of jump school, but Guy Whidden was not one of them. The athletic soldier was enjoying the whole thing, even being the first one out of the plane. He was ready to go to the war, but he had to wait for what seemed to him like a long time.
Before he went overseas, Paratrooper Guy Whidden went on maneuvers in Tennessee. One day, he was assigned to guard four prisoners, chronically AWOL soldiers awaiting court martial. It was a long night and they were hungry, which led to a sad situation for the reluctant guard.
It took a long time to get to England. The ship Guy Whidden had boarded was damaged, so he took a detour to Newfoundland. Finally, a new ship was brought, a British ship, complete with British food, of course. No one wanted to be in the bottom hold, which was knee deep with water.
A week before D-Day, Paratrooper Guy Whidden's unit moved to a fenced in camp near the coast. The orders were shoot to kill anyone leaving. The food was good, too good if you really thought about it. On the day, he was sickened by the tobacco smoke and the stench on the plane over the Channel. It would be a relief to jump and get away from it.
Guy Whidden parachuted into Sainte-Mere-Eglise and as soon as he was on the ground, an equipment bundle landing at the same time hit him in the head and knocked him out. He was too dazed to find his "Cricket" to signal friendlies and this nearly got him shot. He hooked up with another Airborne unit because his own was nowhere to be found. It was absolute chaos and there were bullets flying everywhere.
Pushing on after Normandy, Guy Whidden was in the Netherlands and surrounded by Germans. His unit took a pounding from mortars and shrapnel from a round hit his leg. As he treated himself, the barrage continued to take lives around him. Crawling from the field to a ditch, he was noticed and picked up by an officer who carried him to safety.
With a bad leg wound, Guy Whidden began an odyssey through crowded aid stations and hospitals in the Netherlands and Belgium. When he realized he was in a queue for amputation, he put a hand on the Luger in his waistband and resolved not to let that happen.
Guy Whidden had a Luger in his waistband which he almost used when the Army doctors were going to amputate his leg in Belgium. Here, he tells the story of how he acquired that Luger after having it pointed right at his forehead. This was one of the experiences that convinced him that his German enemies were very much like himself.
He started walking and running with his wounded leg way before he was supposed to. Then, back in the States, he requested an assignment at Airborne school. The only problem, he had to qualify for the course to teach it. Looking back on the war, he draws solace from something he apparently didn't do.
At Texas A&M, Roy Dugger joined ROTC and the Civilian Enlisted Military Training Corp. In the summer of 1942, he went off to camp where the guns were made of rebar and the tank was a pickup truck. More than a little disgusted, he resigned from college and the Army programs and enlisted in the Navy. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
He could not see anyone else. In the predawn, he gathered up his parachute and began a futile search for his unit and his gear, including his weapon. Canadian paratrooper Dennis Trudeau joined with an American captain he found on the road and they made their way toward the small Normandy town which was his target. Suddenly, there was the ominous whistling of aerial bombs right on top of them.
Two engines were out, a third smoking, and they were were losing airspeed and altitude, but they were flying level and pointed home. Then time ran out for the B-17 and Don Scott had to slip down the hatch into the slipstream. Part 2 of 3.
It was their third mission over Berlin and they were heading home. Four German fighters pounced on the B-24 and it was engulfed in flame and going down. Clyde Burnette fought for consciousness as the other crew in the back of the plane bailed out. He woke in free fall with no idea how he had made it out, and soon he was in German custody. Everyone made it out of the plane except George "Danny" Daneau, the nose turret gunner, who went down with the aircraft.
When he jumped on D-Day, Canadian paratrooper Dennis Trudeau was way off target, but he finally found his unit in the small town of Varreville. Assigned to clear out a German pillbox near a bridge that was scheduled for demolition, his situation went from bad to worse when the bridge was blown.
After a nerve-wracking mission to bomb Tokyo and a typhoon, B.E. Vaughan and the destroyer O'Brien suffered a second kamikaze attack which killed all three of his hometown pals who served with him on board. Then, began the grim task of collecting the personal belongings of the dead and preparing them for burial at sea.
The first operation for the 4th Division was the landing on Roi-Namur. Lawrence Snowden remembers that, though it was an easy victory, valuable combat experience and important lessons were imparted on the Marines.
He was en route to the Philippines when the islands were surrendered to the Japanese. John Fain was rerouted to Australia where he served at General MacArthur's headquarters. Appointed Quartermaster of the 5th Air Force, he had to scramble and scrounge to supply the air fields and keep the planes flying. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
As Quartermaster for the 5th Air Force, John Fain served under General Douglas MacArthur, operating out of Australia and New Guinea. It was touch and go for a while, but as American forces were built up, the Japanese advance was stopped. One of Fain's accomplishments was the organization of a crash boat fleet which rescued downed flyers before the sharks could get them. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
John Fain had to fly between supply depots in Australia and New Guinea and he was always apprehensive about Japanese Zeros, but he got through the war without serious incident. There was one pilot, though, who made him say a prayer when he flew. He did so well as Quartermaster of the 5th Air Force that he was tapped to organize the training for the Air Force's Quartermaster Corps. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Ray Remerowski remembers growing up during the 1930s and deciding to enlist when the war started. He managed to use the GI Bill to his advantage and got an education from it. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Ray Remerowski wonders if there is an alternate solution to war, having lived through the atrocities of it. Being able to treat the German citizens in a civil manner sticks out to him as a special moment from the war. As time goes on, there are less and less WWII veterans to recount the war and he is proud to still be one of them. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
During a training mission in April 1944, Exercise Tiger, some American LSTs were ambushed by German E-boats and hundreds of men died. Only a few weeks later, LST 388 was participating in D-Day. Getting to the beach was a difficult undertaking with the mines that littered the water and incoming fire from the beaches ahead.
While stationed in Europe, Ray Remerowski learned how to interact with German civilians and had to deal with German soldiers. Working as a radio operator, he fortunately didn't get a lot of time in combat. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Juergen Tibcken remembers the war ending and the way that the environment of their town changed after the liberation of Jewish prisoners. Learning English and trading different good in this little town taught him how to be resourceful and eventually set him up to come to America.
As a 20 year old sailor, Lyle Bercier had survived an adventure in a small boat on the open sea, when men from the USS Quail fled the Philippines rather than surrender. Safely ashore in Australia, the Navy tested his mettle in different ways. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
Juergen Tibcken has a lot of interesting insights from his time growing up in Germany during WWII. Going to school under the threat of air raids was difficult for him and his family. In school, a lot of the teachers were Nazis that taught anti-semitism to them very strictly.
After the war ended in the Pacific, Roy Dugger returned to Texas A&M and then a teaching job. Assigned to teach agriculture to a class of returned veterans, he had just one problem. The assigned subjects were not at all what the aspiring farmers needed. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
The crew of the USS Quail was under constant air attack on Corregidor after the Philippines fell to the Japanese. Lyle Bercier describes the miserable days spent hiding in tunnels and the night missions to clear mines. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)