Second World War: Troop Ship

Soldier recalls his journey to Europe aboard a troop ship during the Second World War.

| Good Old Days

During the Second World War, I was on board a troop ship for nine days on the high seas bound for England. It was a French ship with a British crew. The food was not what Americans were accustomed to - mutton and more mutton. I was seasick most of the time, but not so sick that I could not sit through the movie, "Home in Indiana," seven times. 

It was early January, so the ship was covered with ice onto the third deck. Once it was reported that a German submarine was spotted. Knowing what a prize a troop ship with many thousands on board would be, I did not feel one moment of fear. In comparison to what lay in store for me, this would be the "good times."

We landed in England and got on a train rigged for night blackout. Some of the travel I had been looking forward to lasted one night in this curtain-drawn train. In the morning we boarded another troop ship bound for France.

At Le Havre, we left on a train to Metz. It was there I received my first line of defense, the rifle. It was a rifle picked up from a battlefield and placed into a barrel of oil. My rifle was still loaded, and the front arm piece had been damaged by shrapnel. Knowing that the rifle had not brought the last soldier any luck, I tried to change the pattern by carving my mother's name, Andrea, on it.

When we got to the German border, I said goodbye to the last of my buddies with whom I had gone through basic training. It is a very lonely feeling to go into combat without one friend.

I was assigned to the Third Army, 87th Infantry, L Company. L Company was guarding the crossroads one-half mile into Germany at the Siegfried Line, Germany's famous line of defense in the Ardennes Forest. The Ardennes is like northern Minnesota - all pine trees.

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