6:41 | Bill Newman was a communications specialist with a field artillery unit when he joined the push across France. He didn't face much enemy fire at his first battle, but he did face a problem related to the unrelenting rain. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
Keywords : Bill Newman Normandy France Forward Observer (FO) Metz cold rain trench foot
Bill Newman had some experience with coastal artillery from college ROTC, so, when he was drafted, they put him in the field artillery. Coastal artillery had been rendered irrelevant in the new age of air power, but there was new weaponry to learn. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
He was in anti-aircraft training, but Bill Newman was selected for the communications group so he didn't fire guns at towed targets. He did have to make the grueling 50 mile final hike. Then he was picked for the Army Specialized Training Program, which placed soldiers in college. That didn't last very long, since every soldier was needed for the coming invasion of Europe. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
In the Army Specialized Training Program, Bill Newman was placed at Penn State, where he was to get some education that the Army could later use. The important thing about this was the male-female ratio at the university. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
In his final training before shipping out to England, Bill Newman, and most of the men in his unit, failed spectacularly at rappelling. No matter, they departed on a converted cruise ship and set up camp across the pond and waited. D-Day came and they were still waiting. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
He had experience on small boats, so Bill Newman did not get sick crossing the English Channel on an LST. It was weeks after D-Day, and his division set up camp just inland from Omaha Beach, where they waited. Their trucks were needed for the Red Ball Express, so they were sidelined for a while. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
The song rang out from the rail cars loaded with American soldiers. It was "The Yellow Rose of Texas," and Bill Newman knew instantly what unit it was. He was in the communications group of a field artillery battalion, so he was often stuck with KP and guard duty. He vividly remembers his first night on guard duty in a combat zone. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
The German fortifications at the Siegfried Line were formidable. Some were centuries old and some were built right into the shops of the towns. Bill Newman recalls the Thanksgiving dinner that got delayed several times until it was a problem in itself. At Saarlautern, he was pressed into front line duty after the forward observers were injured. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
The going was slow and German artillery cut the field telephone lines nearly every night. Bill Newman describes how he and his partner would find the break and repair the line. During the Battle of the Bulge, he was doing just that one day when he was startled by a tap on the shoulder. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
Bill Newman describes how American ingenuity solved some big problems during the push across France into Germany. First up, the hedgerows. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
Bill Newman remembers fondly the family he stayed with in Felsberg, France, just before the Battle of the Bulge. There was little action at his position during the German attack, but the extreme cold was an enemy in itself. This was made worse by the fact that the Americans had no proper cold weather gear. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
There was little action when Bill Newman's unit reached the Rhine. The Germans had fled to the other side but they did manage to blow the bridge he was waiting to cross. He made it across at Remagen and moved into the Ruhr Valley. It was there that he ran into a hometown friend, who recounted to him the tale of the ill-fated 106th Division at the Battle of the Bulge. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
During the campaign in the Ruhr Pocket, Bill Newman could tell that the Germans were disheartened. Their failure at the Battle of the Bulge had sealed their fate. His field artillery unit had a new proximity shell that could clear the battlefield of all enemy personnel. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
As a communications specialist with a field artillery unit, Bill Newman sometimes had to carry half of a hundred pound radio on his back. He had other duties and when he and his partner were clearing buildings in a town, he had a strange encounter with a German child. When he picked up a pack of bazooka rounds, he wound up using them, to his own amazement. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
It was a standoff that didn't look good. Three German tanks were threatening Bill Newman's unit and air power was summoned and promised. The tanks left but the P-47's arrived and, to the horror of everyone, they circled and came in for an attack run on their own countrymen. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
The captain asked, where is A Company? Bill Newman had just seen them and he agreed to take some men and go back and retrieve them. This led to some grief given by his comrades. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
They were holed up in a basement for the night when the lookout yelled down for everyone to come up. What Bill Newman saw when he came up meant that the war was over. For a while after that, his unit was assigned to guard a Polish slave labor camp.(This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
He was glad to be home, but Bill Newman was distressed that, after the campaign in Europe, he was slated to be part of the Japan invasion force that was gearing up. Thankfully, that operation never happened and he was able to finish his degree and raise a family. (This interview made possible with the support of NORMAN PICKER SR.)
The invasion operation became an occupation operation after the war suddenly ended. Howard Dean was in charge of a radar unit, which he had to get off the ship and into a safe place ashore in Japan. He found a Signal Corps station where he could put it, but the officers there took off for leave as soon as he got there. This led to a potentially embarrassing situation.
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.
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.
Bill Garrison was standing in a chow line when a man up the line suddenly dropped, shot dead by a sniper. That was only one hazard at the air fields in China; the others being Japanese air raids and infiltrators. (This interview made possible with the support of COL ROBERT W. RUST, USMCR (ret.) in honor of LtGen Lawrence Snowden & LtGen George Christmas.)
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.
Howard Dean was an engineering student at Georgia Tech when he was turned down by the Navy. He settled for the Army and they sent him back to Georgia Tech, where he finished his degree, then they sent him to Boston for a Harvard and MIT program studying radar.
After victory in Europe, Marvin O'Neal's crew transported grateful French POW's home to Paris. Then, they were scheduled to switch to B-29's and head to the Pacific. When the news came that the war there was over, they were jubilant.
Shortly after the main landing on Leyte, radar officer Howard Dean came ashore. He had no assignment, yet, so they sent him to a nearby anti-aircraft battery. He began to observe gunners on the ships in the bay, who were undisciplined and shooting up the shore when they fired.
Joseph Williams was one of the first black Marines, serving in an anti-aircraft unit defending the Marshall Islands. The guns were advanced for the time, with a computer-like fire director that translated weather data into fire control.
B-17 radio operator and waist gunner Marvin O'Neal recalls his first mission, which involved a lot of flak and a lot of praying. He entered the war in Europe near the end and, on his last mission, he saw a German jet fighter streaking through the sky. Could they win the war with that thing?
Radar officer Howard Dean was in the 12th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, but he didn't know it yet. He'd arrived in the Pacific with no real assignment, and was attached to an anti-aircraft battery for a while. Then he was told to load a radar unit on a ship and prepare for a landing. Where was that going to be?
After boot camp at Parris Island, Paul Deverick went first to Quantico, where he worked at the Officer Candidates School. His next stop was Cherry Point, where he went to MP school and then served as an MP on base. He had two brothers serving in combat, which kept him out of action in the Pacific.
He was in the Marshall Islands to man an anti-aircraft battery. Joseph Williams recalls how the guns would respond before attacking planes got close, thanks to the radar unit. He also remembers the furious typhoons that would keep him hunkered down in bunkers.
Radar officer Howard Dean became a specialist in gun laying radar, a system which linked radar with the fire control on an anti-aircraft battery. The Army wanted his engineering talent at MIT, designing radar units, but he wanted into the shooting war. Eventually he got his orders to ship out for Leyte.
He could hear the buzz bomb. Ray Hutchins was billeted with an English family and on his first night there, he heard the closest one he'd ever heard. It actually was a good thing if you could hear it coming.
While on occupation duty in Japan, Howard Dean took a train to Kyoto. The station master tried to clear out an entire car for him, but he refused and insisted the civilians be allowed to stay. Soon after this, he became part of a massive operation to account for all the equipment scattered across the Pacific.
After the war, Ray Hutchins had some German prisoners working for him in the motor pool, and some of them were the best mechanics he had. There was a lot of work to do, including collecting and shipping war vehicles.
After occupation duty in Japan, Howard Dean stayed in the Army Reserve. The Lieutenant was destined for a higher rank in Korea, but lingering health problems from his days in the Philippines kept him at home. He went to work as an engineer, always remembering his great friends from the military.
After a slow Atlantic crossing, Ray Hutchins landed at Liverpool and began his job directing the transportation of Army vehicles across England. The half-tracks and other heavy vehicles needed assembly before they could be used. Eventually he moved to Southampton, where many ships were being loaded for Normandy.
During some down time, Howard Dean made a boat excursion to Corregidor, where he saw the entrance to the Manila Tunnels, a vast underground complex. What he later learned about it caused some surprise. The radar officer had another surprise when he drove his jeep near a combat zone.
He'd been working as a mechanic for an airline, so when David Hirsch was drafted, they let him go to the Army Air Corps. There were too many cadets, so he was offered a spot as a gunner and accepted. The aircraft was the latest heavy bomber, the B-29.