My parents met at Camp Edwards
In October 1941, my father was drafted at the age of 19, and headed to sniper training. The following February he broke his leg while training. His unit was deployed near Kiev, Russia. Fortunately, Dad stayed behind to recover and was sent to driver school in Grafenburg, Germany. The troops all thought they were headed to the Russian Front, but instead they boarded freight trains to Italy. From there, in January 1943, they flew to Tunis to join Rommel’s Afrika Korps.
In May, the unit surrendered in Cape Bon, Tunisia. The war lasted only three months for Dad, a huge relief for a farm boy reluctantly drafted. After their surrender, the officers were segregated from the enlisted men, and Dad never saw a German officer again. From Cape Bon, the POWs were sent to Oran, Algeria, aboard a British transport ship. It was there that my father was first interrogated by American Intelligence. Due to a Red Cross presence, Dad was able to notify his mother in Germany that he was a POW.
After an aircraft-carrier-led convoy to Glasgow, Scotland, they were detained at the national soccer stadium for interrogation. It was during this period my father first observed, as he stated on the tapes, the brutality of the Polish, the indifference of the British, and the kindness and humanity of the Canadians and Americans. Six days later, the prisoners were transported by train to the port at Gourock, Scotland, for passage on the Queen Mary, which had been converted to a troop ship for the war. Upon arrival in New York City, the POWs were detained in large warehouses. From there, my father was taken to Philadelphia, then Oklahoma, by train. The landscape of Oklahoma was one my father could not have imagined, marveling at prairie grasses four feet high. This all took place between June and July 1943.
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