3:50 | Before he left Europe, Will Jasmund had the task of driving the mess hall garbage to the dump. When he saw the French civilians digging through it, he felt so sorry for them that he began to save good food and brought it for them. He volunteered for the Pacific, but the war ended there, so he made a triumphant return to New York. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Keywords : Will Jasmund engineer garbage dump French civilian food Thompson submachine gun Marseille France Rock of Gibraltar Victory Over Japan Day (VJ Day) New York Jefferson Barracks
His brother had already been drafted and he gave Will Jasmund this advice about going into the Army, don't get sent to Texas and don't get assigned to the engineers. Never one to agree with his big brother, he wanted both. He was anxious to go, but first he had to break the news to his parents. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Will Jasmund was on a train with no idea where he was going. A corporal told the young inductees that they would soon be able to say they had seen Paris. That caused some raised eyebrows but they were soon in the plains of Texas training for an engineer battalion. France would have to wait a bit. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
It was total blackout. Newly arrived in England, Will Jasmund was led through the darkness to a mess hall for the worst meal yet, powdered eggs and terrible coffee. Quartered on the grounds of a castle, his engineering battalion prepared for the coming invasion. They knew it was on when the aircraft activity became constant, with damaged planes coming in and going right out again. Finally the word came, it was their turn. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
They worked within two miles of the Normandy coast, repairing roads and bridges. Will Jasmund and the others in the engineer battalion had no doubts they were in the middle of a war. The strafing, shelling and, eventually, the friendly fire made them sure of that. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
The brass wanted to go into Paris for a fun evening. The city wasn't completely secure, but driver Will Jasmund had a good time anyway. There was only one problem. The jeep was gone when he woke up. He hitched a ride back to his outfit where he was informed that there was a much bigger problem. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
After his good friend was killed, Will Jasmund would not get close with anyone else. He was camped outside Bastogne when the Germans surged into the area, causing cooks, clerks and engineers like him to man the front line. He recalls an incident in which six soldiers wandered into camp on foot after abandoning their truck convoy in the face of enemy tanks. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Will Jasmund was helping a friend get a large trailer rig turned around, when a jeep with an officer and two enlisted men drove up. They asked directions to a town that he knew was held by the Germans, and he told them so, but they insisted. Before he knew it, he was staring at his own weapon pointed at him. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Combat Engineer Will Jasmund got plenty of action along with the road and bridge repairs he was there to do. The German surge meant that he was defending those bridges along with the line companies. One of the men in his company took out a tank with a bazooka, and once, he found himself one the wrong side of the line, facing the gun barrels of his own army. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
He was driving a jeep when he felt something like a splinter or a bee sting on his leg. Will Jasmund put his hand down to feel the area and when he put his hand back on the wheel, it was covered with blood. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
When Combat Engineer Will Jasmund reached the Rhine, it was at the Remagen bridge. When it fell, he was on the German side and had to be ferried back across to rejoin his unit. The urgency had eased to the point that he was able to nap under a jeep on a warm day. Someone then kicked his foot and told him the best news he could ever hear. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD MCDONALD)
Marine recruit Walter Marshall left the cold of New York for sunny San Diego and boot camp. It was tough, but he loved it because he was already used to discipline. His first stop in the Pacific was New Zealand, where he was treated wonderfully by the locals. It was a good life there, but the men knew what they were headed for.
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.
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.
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.
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.
His father was a captain in the British Merchant Navy and Jack Litchfield was determined to follow in his footsteps. He left behind the air raids in Liverpool and went to sea as a radioman, but his third voyage turned to disaster when a German torpedo slammed into the freighter.
After the hard fought battle of Tarawa, Walter Marshall trained in Hawaii for the next operation, the invasion of Saipan. Once again, it was chaotic, with units split up and men moving up into leadership when called upon. This was a big advantage over the Japanese with their rigid command structure.
The British prisoners were well treated on board the German cruiser that sank their cargo ship. This came to an end when they were sent to Japan to be imprisoned there. Jack Litchfield watched as the first group of men went down the gangplank and promptly received a beating. When they arrived at the prison camp, the Japanese commander had some sobering words for them.
Tarawa was an atoll that had a fishing and coconut oil operation before the war. After 76 hours of US Marines versus entrenched Japanese, there was not much standing. Walter Marshall was lucky enough to come in on an amphibious tractor. Most had to wade through hundreds of yards of coral reef. Once ashore the enemy had to be removed from fortified pillboxes and spider traps.
POW Jack Litchfield went to work every day in a steel factory near the prison camp in southern Japan. His favorite task was taking the cart to exchange empty oxygen cylinders because he frequently had to wait, which gave him a much needed break. He was interned for over three years and near the end of the war, he noticed that the Japanese foreman was making something new on the anvil.
The men headed to Saipan were already on edge, especially the Marines who had participated in the previous invasion of Tarawa. Then, as they waited on board ship in the dark, someone dropped a grenade. Having survived that, they next faced a very difficult task, going over the side and down a rope net to board bobbing and heaving Higgins boats.
If you were sick, you either got better or you died. There was no medicine for the prisoners and Jack Litchfield had an infected leg injury which could have killed him. He was fortunate that one of his Japanese captors took some interest. Men were dying all around the camp from illness and malnutrition and, unknown to them, they were in the target zone for the secret American super weapon.
It was a hard lesson. Walter Marshall learned it in the Marines in the Pacific. Don't get too close to anyone. That meant that he, and anyone else in the unit who'd learned that lesson, was alone in a crowd. And in the middle of combat, any one of these solitary warriors could arise to the occasion.
You could trade cigarettes for food in the prison camp, but Jack Litchfield explains why that could be a bad idea. The food supplied by his Japanese captors was meager, but at least it contained something he was very fond of. The men had access to a bath house, though there was not much soap, and it was there that a showering guard uttered something that causes a laugh til this day.
He was ready for the Marines after a disciplined, patriotic upbringing, a stern principal at his school and training in the National Guard. Walter Marshall was also influenced by movies about the Marines, especially the uniforms. When war broke out, he was already aware of conditions in Europe, as told to him by Jewish friends.
Allena McLaughlin was married, but she had no children so she volunteered for the Army Nurse Corps near the end of World War II. After her basic training, she began to care for soldiers and was destined for postwar Europe, but an unexpected visit to the doctor changed all that.
Former POW Jack Litchfield says his Japanese captors were two faced. You never knew when their mood would change. He did receive a personal kindness from a civilian boy who worked with him on his work detail. After the war ended, and the freed men were waiting for repatriation, the town was open to them and they took every advantage of their new role as victors.
In 1938, twenty one dollars a month made a real difference. That's what George McLaughlin received when he joined the National Guard. His unit was activated in early 1941 and he rapidly became a very young Master Sergeant. When he was sent to Alaska, it was decided that the tents they were assigned were not adequate, so they milled the lumber to build barracks.
The Japanese defenders on Tarawa were very good soldiers, Imperial Marines experienced in Manchuria. They would rather commit suicide than surrender and hundreds did. Walter Marshall hated them during the war, but time has changed his perspective. Not long after it was declared that organized resistance had ceased, he was shot through the thigh and had to be evacuated. Before that happened, he got to see the heroic actions of future movie star, Eddie Albert, a Navy Ensign at the time.
He'd always wanted to fly airplanes, so when war came in 1941, high school student James Tabb was tested and approved as an aviation cadet. Upon graduation, he was inducted and sent to Miami Beach for basic training. It was a pleasant place for training, where Hollywood stars and movie making were to be found, but off in the distance, you could see merchant ships burning at night. (This interview made possible with the support of KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
The Japanese civilians usually paid no attention to POW Jack Litchfield, but one day, as they huddled in an air raid shelter, he received intense, hateful glares from them. What he didn't know and would find out later, is that the first atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. He also found out something later regarding the targeting of the second bomb that made him feel lucky to be alive.
He was finally on his way to flying, but aviation cadet James Tabb kept playing a waiting game at each level of training. First some college, then some flight training. All the while, the Allies were progressing in the fight and the need for new aviators was lessened. There was this new plane, however, the B-29. (This interview made possible with the support of KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
As he readied for the next operation on Tinian, Walter Marshall received the word that he had enough points to go home. He was carrying a bullet in his leg and had a fractured vertebra and the latter condition was destined to plague him for a long time. Determined to make a better life for his children, he ignored the pain and worked on.
The Air Corps had changed James Tabb from pilot training to B-29 engineer training. It was the most advanced aircraft yet designed, with electronic controls throughout. Just as he was ready to deploy to Saipan, the big news about America's secret weapon changed everything. (This interview made possible with the support of KETURAH THUNDER-HAAB.)
Captured by Germans but held in Japan, former POW Jack Litchfield returned to his Liverpool home four years after he went to sea as a lad. He felt lucky to be alive, having learned that the second atomic bomb had been originally targeted in the vicinity of his prison camp. As time has passed, it has all proved to be a positive experience in his life.