California Council for the Humanities

California Stories Initiative

Years of Valor, Years of Hope

Tulare County and the Years 1941-1946

Tulare County Library

The Friends of the Tulare County Library

And the Tulare County Historical Society

Interviews in 2003-2004

Interviewee: Louis Harold Murphy

 

Date: 9/14/03, 1/12/04

 

Tape # 1

 

Interviewer: Colleen Murphy Paggi

 

Place: Tulare County, CA

 

Place of Interview: Mr. Murphy’s home

 

PLACES WHERE INTERVIEWEE LIVED DURING 1941-1946

Santa Monica, California

Tulare County, California

OUTSTANDING POINTS IN THE INTERVIEW:

Background

Military

Personal Reactions to War

Home Front Family

Community


CP: I have an interview with Louis Murphy and my name is Colleen Murphy Paggi and today is Sunday, September 14, 2003. Mr. Murphy is being interviewed at his home and this is for the oral history project for Tulare County World War II during the years 1941 – 1946. The name of this project is Years of Valor, Years of Hope. So I’d like to start out with you giving me your name and your date of birth. Could you do that?

LM: Yeah. Louis H. Murphy. September 26, 1922.

CP: So what does the H stand for?

LM: Harold.

CP: Do you know where your parents came from?

LM: My mother was born in Missouri I think, and my father was born in California.

CP: Could you tell me the names of your mother and father?

LM: Harold Murphy, William Harold Murphy and Martha Marie Strickland.

CP: So where did you grow up?

LM: Tulare most of the time. Let’s see, I left Tulare when I was in the second grade and went to Salinas and I came back to Tulare when I was a freshman in high school and went Tulare Union.

CP: What year did you graduate from high school?

LM: 1941.

CP: So that was the same year as Pearl Harbor, the year you graduated from high school?

LM: Yes.

CP: So how old were you when World War II began?

LM: When it began?

CP: When Pearl Harbor broke out?

LM: Eighteen.

CP: So prior to the war you were going to school.

LM: That’s right.

CP: Did you work at that time?

LM: At odd jobs, off and on. I worked for the railroad. I forget what they called it now…the Southern Pacific. And then I worked for Railway Express.

CP: How long did you do that?

LM: Quite a while.

CP: All through high school?

LM: Oh, no, no, no. I done it in the summer time after I got out of school.

CP: At the time the war broke out, were you married or single?

LM: I was married when the war broke out . . . no excuse me, no, I was single.

CP: Do you remember what year you got married?

LM: 1941.

CP: What was the full date of your marriage?

LM: October 11, 1941.

CP: So Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941. So you must have been married at that time, correct?

LM: Evidently.

CP: Did you have any children during the war?

LM: No.

CP: Now we’re going to go on to a little bit about your personal reactions to WWII. Do you remember any events that stand out before the war?

LM: Well, events are just…

CP: Anything that really stands out in your mind?

LM: We went from the desert, Bouse, Arizona to New York. I can’t remember the name of the place we went to, but I know we had to do calisthenics out on the beach. And I didn’t know the beach froze, but there was ice all over.

CP: Well, this is going to be before your war service, if you can remember any event that happened in particular in Tulare County before you went into the service.

LM: Oh, before. Yeah, there was three of us boys that went to work for Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, California.

CP: How long did you do that?

LM: Not very long, probably four or five months.

CP: What type of work was it?

LM: It was on aircraft. They were building airplanes there. My job was to put shelves in where they the put the bombs in them.

CP: Where were you and what were you doing when Pearl Harbor was bombed?

LM: In the theater room.

CP: You were at the theater? Which theater was that?

LM: Tulare Theater.

CP: Were you watching a movie or where were you?

LM: Watching a movie I guess. I couldn’t remember the name of the movie, but the place was full of Rankin Cadets. So they got up on the stage and announced that war had been declared and so all the Cadets had to go back to Rankin.

CP: What exactly are you saying when you say Rankin?

LM: It’s Rankin Aircraft School for Army Cadets.

CP: Where was that located?

LM: Oh, about 8 miles southeast of Tulare.

CP: So what happened in the movie theater when that happened?

LM: Well, everybody left.

CP: Left the theater?

LM: When the cadets had to leave, there were a lot of cadets there, well, everybody just got up and left with them or went outside, you know.

CP: Did they close the theater?

LM: No.

CP: Did they keep showing the movie?

LM: Yeah.

CP: How did it make you feel to think that Pearl Harbor was bombed?

LM: You really didn’t know what the reaction was because you didn’t know what to think or how bad it was. We hadn’t heard anything other than it had been bombed and that was all. And later they started telling about the casualties and what have you.

CP: Did you know anyone that was stationed at Pearl Harbor?

LM: No.

CP: Was there anyone you knew from Tulare County stationed at Pearl Harbor or even who happened to be on one of the ships that was bombed in Pearl Harbor?

LM: I don’t think so. There was one person who was killed during the early part of the war, but I don’t know if he was on a ship or on the ground. That was Francis Donahue.

CP: Francis Donahue,he was from Tulare?

LM: Yes.

CP: Is there one event during World War II that really stands out in your mind over all the other events that took place during that time? I’m sure there were a lot of events.

LM: Yes, I’m just trying to think which one. Well, my partner, Andy Ellison, he was a T-4, had to go to Malmedy to pick up supplies for our vehicles. When we pulled into Malmedy we could hardly believe what we saw. It was just flattened out. Civilians had drug the dead people out into the middle of the street and laid them toe-to-toe. And that was kind of upsetting ‘cause we had been going in there at least once a week to pick up supplies.

CP: Well, we’ll get back to some more questions.

LM: There was more of those events than that.

CP: Right now I was trying to get some personal reactions to the war itself. We’ll get to that about your actual time in the service. I’d like to get your opinion right now about what you thought when the atom bomb was dropped on Japan . What were your feelings at the time?

LM: Everyone was thankful that they done it. We didn’t want to have to go to Japan and fight. We’d been in Europe long enough.

CP: What are your general feelings about World War II?

LM: Well, I…

CP: During World War II? What were your feelings then?

LM: Well, I felt sorry for the civilians over there. We had so many airplanes over there and other countries had them over there too dropping bombs. You could see poor little kids running around. It was kind of pathetic because they didn’t have anything to eat.

CP: Have your feelings changed any at all about World War II over time, which is fifty some years now?

LM: Well, I hated to go over there, but after I got over there I’m glad I did. I’m glad I was able to be some help to those people over there and do my regular duty.

CP: How about your friends that were here in Tulare County? Were their feelings different than your feelings about the war or do you think everyone thought about the same?

LM: I think everybody thought about the same except there was a few of them that I knew that . . . what did they call them . . . they were objections . . . there was a name for them . . . .

CP: Was it isolationists?

LM: No.

CP: They were objecting to the war possibly?

LM: Yes.

CP: Conscientious objectors?

LM: Yes, that’s it. Conscientious objectors. There was a few of those, not many. When we were in training out in Arizona we had three or four that they had to put in the hoozgough (jail).

CP: I wanted to ask you what your opinion was on if you think World War II is a just war. Once the United States entered the war, do you think it was a just war?

LM: Yeah, I do. If you could have seen what that country looked like when we got there. And we made it look a lot better other than where the bombs fell when we first got over there. The people were eating better, the kids were happier, able to go to school.

  When we got there it was just a rat race.

CP: Where were you when the war ended?

LM: Weisbaden, Weisbaden, Germany .

CP: How did you hear about the end of the war?

LM: At that time they had what they called a point system, and as you had so many points they would send you to an area and your outfit would be shipped out at a later date. We took our equipment when we got notice that we were going to be sent home. After we took our equipment to the coast, I guess it was in France , yes it was, we dumped everything out on the beach.

CP: What kind of equipment was it?

LM: Everything, from clothes to mechanics’ hand tools to artillery. All kinds of weapons, everything you used in a war. And they just bulldozed and pushed it out into the ocean.

CP: This wasn’t done the minute the war had ended?

LM: No, it took a while. We were told that it would cost more to send this stuff back to the United States then what it was worth.

CP: Really.

LM: I’ve seen mechanics’ hand tools in toolboxes that had never been opened. There was cosmoline all over them.

CP: There was still what all over them?

LM: Cosmoline. It keeps the moisture out.

CP: Like Vaseline?

LM: Yes, but it was thicker. They had it on the guns too, rifles. But everything was just pushed out. And there was a lot of black marketers there too.

CP: For the guns?

LM: For anything you had in your truck. They offered you . . . they offered me $25,000 for what I had in my truck.

CP: You’re kidding!

LM: I turned them down. I was afraid to do it because there was MPs on every corner. And we were warned about them.

CP: Was this after war had ended?

LM: Yeah.

CP: Were you happy when you heard the war was over?

LM: Yes.

CP: How long did it take you to get shipped back?

LM: Quite a while. I’d say three or four months anyway, after we found out.

CP: Really. That long.

LM: Yeah.

CP: Did you notify anyone at home?

LM: I probably wrote my mother (Marie Strickland Murphy) and my wife (Mamie Sue [Turner] Murphy) that our outfit was being …what’s the word?

CP: Disbanded?

LM: Disbanded . . . that’s a good word. As you know, in the Army it takes forever and a day to do anything, so we will be home.

CP: Did you get any letters from them afterward saying they got the news that the war had ended?

LM: Yes, I’m sure I did, from my mother and my wife.

CP: Do you remember anything about that?

LM: No, not really.

CP: What year was it that you went to war? That you left Tulare County?

LM: 1942, I believe. First I went to Monterey and there we had to take a physical and a written and oral test. During the time we were in Monterey we were given all kinds of tests, like vocabulary, typing tests, to see where they put you, you know, what outfit you belonged in. I guess I went from Monterey to Fort Knox, that’s in Louisville, Kentucky. That’s where I took my basic training.

CP: Oh, your basic training was in Louisville, Kentucky?

LM: Uh-huh.

CP: Well, you said you graduated from high school in 1941 and then you went into the Army in 1942?

LM: I think so, yeah.

CP: So that’s just one year.

LM: Uh-huh.

CP: Do you remember what it was like in Tulare during that one year before you went in?

LM: It was kind of weird because gasoline was rationed. A lot of foodstuff was rationed. It wasn’t very nice.

CP: Just in one year?

LM: Yeah, because I remember my Dad, (Harold Murphy) had that truck stop and he had everybody come in there to get gas or diesel, car or truck. They had to have stamps to get fuel.

CP: Where did they get stamps from?

LM: From the U. S. government I guess.

CP: Do you remember how much they were allowed to get, since they were rationed?

LM: You weren’t allowed very much. It depended on what you done, what you used your vehicle for.

CP: Such as if you were a farmer?

LM: Or a trucker. You know, you had a truck.

CP: You would get more gasoline?

LM: Yeah, yeah.

CP: As opposed to somebody who had a desk job or something.

LM: Like me. I didn’t get hardly any gas at all because I just drove from East Kern to my Dad’s place on J Street so I only got probably 5 or 6 gallons a week.

CP: Five to six gallons a week? That’s not very much, is it?

LM: I had a Model A.

CP: Did the Model A get good gas mileage?

LM: Yes it did. I could go a whole week on five gallons of gas. Of course we never went out of town.

CP: Did the housing situation change much during that time between Pearl Harbor and when you left? Either in Tulare, at your mother and dad’s house, or at your home, was there any sort of change or for anyone you knew?

LM: Well, I didn’t have a home. We rented a duplex. Mother and Dad’s place didn’t change much and my parents or my grandparents didn’t change much. The only thing, there was a lot of things rationed that you couldn’t get. Lumber was hard to get a hold of for one thing.

CP: Lumber? Why do you suppose that was?

LM: Because it was going to the war effort. They were using a lot of lumber in these defense plants.

CP: Did anyone outside your family live with either you and your wife or your mother and father or your grandparents during this time frame before you went to war?

LM: No.

CP: Did anyone ever live . . .

LM: Well, I think there was a few of those people who didn’t really live there but might come and spend a night at my mother’s house.

CP: Where were they from?

LM: All over the United States .

CP: Were these Cadets from Rankin Field?

LM: No, but probably some of them were. A variety from all different places close by.

CP: Did she open her home . . .?

LM: Yeah.

CP: How did she find them?

LM: I think you got all that stuff down at the Post Office where you fill out a form and send it in that you can take care of a few people.

CP: That’s a great thing to do. Did your grandparents do it?

LM: I don’t think so. They were getting along in years.

CP: Since we spoke of your grandparents, what were their names?

LM: Last name?

CP: Complete name.

LM: Louis Strickland and Nanny (Nancy Kinder) Strickland, married names.

CP: How about the economic circumstances of the people in Tulare? I’m sure it was more difficult for everyone. How did it change your economic situation here in Tulare, besides the rationing?

LM: Some of the people who were in business for themselves were making a killing, but yet maybe the guy next door was starving to death, depending on what they were doing, like some of the farmers were making good money, but then there were some starving to death.

CP: Was there plenty of food in Tulare?

LM: Oh yeah, there was enough food. But it was all rationed.

CP: Food was rationed?

LM: Yeah.

CP: What about clothing? Was it rationed?

LM: I don’t think it was rationed, but there wasn’t too much of it in the stores, you know.

CP: Was there any sort of black market in Tulare County?

LM: Sure.

CP: Well, how would they do that?

LM: Like the veterans, say myself for instance, were entitled to go to some of these places. The people in charge of the surplus would stop things, but I was entitled to go over and get what I needed and there was a small charge on it.

CP: You’re talking about after the war. Now I’m talking about . . .

LM: During the war.

CP: Or before you left, because it was wartime.

LM: No, I didn’t know of any.

CP: Do you remember, were there any sort of war bond campaigns in Tulare?

LM: Yes there was.

CP: Did you attend any of those?

LM: No, because I didn’t have any money in those days.

CP: Did the rest of your family buy war bonds?

LM: Yes, I think my Dad did.

CP: What was a war bond?

LM: I don’t know.

CP: I don’t either.

LM: I really don’t. It seemed like to me they cost $25.00 and you gave them $25.00 and they put a war bond in your name and they would keep it for you and it would draw interest and they’d keep it as long as you wanted them to and you could sell it anytime you wanted to.

CP: Do you remember any things that happened in Tulare that involved different efforts to support the war, things that happened in Tulare itself? Were there rallies or anything at all that happened at that time to support the war?

LM: I don’t remember anything. Probably was.

CP: How do you think that the war affected the dating and courting and relationships of men and women during that time?

LM: I think the males and females kind of separated.

CP: In Tulare?

LM: Any town that was in the war. ‘Cause the males were going to camp someplace and the females were working like in the war effort so some of them were going to the shipyards and working.

CP: What about wartime romances? Were there a lot of those in Tulare County?

LM: Hell, I don’t know.

CP: You don’t know?

LM: No I don’t.

CP: Do you think the dating patterns changed because of the war?

LM: You mean boy and girl dating?

CP: Yeah.

LM: Well, I’m sure it did, ‘cause see, every month or every two weeks, something like that, there was a bus that came down and picked up the draftees that were going to camp.

CP: Say that one more time.

LM: There was a bus that came to Tulare; I believe it was every 10 days to two weeks, that picked up draftees that were scheduled to go to camp.

CP: Was everyone drafted?

LM: Well, the ones that could pass the physical and were eligible were drafted, yes, unless you enlisted.

CP: Did you enlist?

LM: No, I was drafted.

CP: Do you suppose the majority of the people were drafted?

LM: I think so.

CP: Was the draft initiated after Pearl Harbor was bombed?

LM: Yeah, you see, I was working down there in Douglas Aircraft and I had a 2-B deferment. That meant I was six months. I had my application in at the Southern California Edison Company, so they notified me that I had a job, so I guess I called them and told them I had a deferment and they said, "Well, you do here too." So I quit my job down there and come back up here.

CP: To the Edison Company?

LM: Yeah, worked for the Edison Company.

CP: How long did you work for the Edison Company?

LM: You had to work for a year to be on steady, and I was on steady, so I don’t know how much I worked over the year I worked, but . . . .

CP: Is that where you were working when you went to war?

LM: Uh huh. When I went to Monterey.

CP: Were there a lot of people from Tulare County who enlisted after Pearl Harbor?

LM: Oh, I don’t know how many enlisted, but I know there were a lot of draftees. Because like I said, every couple of times a month there was a bus that came and took them to various camps.

CP: Do you remember if there was any type of neighborhood organizations where you lived before you left for the war?

LM: No I don’t.

CP: Were there any blackouts in Tulare?

LM: I don’t think so.

CP: Were there any businesses affected by the shortages?

LM: Oh sure, a lot of them.

CP: What type of businesses were those?

LM: I remember some of those were lumber shortage, fuel, for gas and diesel. What else? Probably a lot of food stuff was kind of rationed out.

CP: Tell me what you think about the race relations during the war.

LM: Well, as far as I’m concerned, our outfit was all white people. Sure there were Mexicans, Spanish people, Orientals that were born in the United States . But we didn’t have any black people in our outfit, so we were pretty much all white.

CP: Did everyone get along pretty well?

LM: Yeah. You know, the usual bit of violence, but not much.

CP: Were there Japanese in your outfit?

LM: Not in ours, no.

CP: Tell me, what was your reaction to the Holocaust when you found out about it?

LM: The what? What was that?

CP: That was when they found out what Nazi Germany had done to the Jewish population.

LM: People my age and in my group didn’t think much about it.

CP: What was your reaction to it when you found out about it?

LM: I don’t know.

CP: When did you find out about it?

LM: I can’t answer that. I can’t remember.

CP: Was it during the war when you found out about it, or the end of the war?

LM: Probably the end of the war because I can’t remember anything about it.

CP: Okay. Did you get much news about the war before you left?

LM: No, only what was in the local newspaper and radio.

CP: Was it pretty . . .

LM: It was pretty grim at times.

CP: I wanted to ask you about the movies you might have seen before you left for the war.

LM: I went to the theater every night just about ‘cause my wife worked there.

CP: Did any of the movies reflect what was going on at that time?

LM: No, not really. No.

CP: Weren’t there a lot of war movies at the beginning?

LM: No. Didn’t even see Frank Sinatra.

CP: What was your impression of the military and political leadership at that time?

LM: Well, I thought the military was pretty good. Political,I don’t know, I can hardly voice my opinion on that. We didn’t know a great deal about them because when you go to basic training you don’t hear much from where you would hear, you know, politicians talking.

CP: Who was the President then?

LM: Who was it? Hell, I don’t know.

CP: Franklin Roosevelt was President during the war.

LM: I thought he died . . . he died after the war.

CP: No, he died before the war was over, but most of the time . . . what did you think of him?

LM: Oh everyone thought he was wonderful because he was a cripple and he was a ladies man along with it.

CP: What did you think about when he died? Do you remember when he died?

LM: Well, everybody knew he was going to die.

CP: Why?

LM: Because of the disease he had.

CP: What did he have?

LM: Hell, I don’t know. He was a . . . what do you call it . . . para . . . paraplegic . . . polio.

CP: Who were some of the military leaders?

LM: There was MacArthur. He was a four star general. He was over in the Philippines and Japan . Oh, not Japan but . . . I guess it was in Japan afterwards, wasn’t it? Yeah.

CP: Did you ever meet any of the military leaders that were over in Europe?

LM: Our company, we had one company that was a military escort for General Bradley. All of us met General Bradley.

CP: You did?

LM: Yes, but it was one of those military deals where you stood at attention and he’d come along and shake your hand.

CP: So you got to shake Bradley’s hand. Did you have any attitudes at that time during WWII towards the Germans or Japanese or the Italians and the Russians, and why?

LM: The Japanese. This was because of Pearl Harbor, I imagine. We didn’t like them. The Germans we didn’t like and the Russians were really our allies, but we didn’t like them. Who else?

CP: How about the Italians?

LM: We never had anything to do with them. It was out of our district, or whatever you want to call it.

CP: Were there any war parades in Tulare or Tulare County that you can remember?

LM: I can’t remember any war parades.

CP: One of the main questions that we are really interested in for this interview I’m going to give you right now. They are really important questions. I’d like to know how you think World War II years in Tulare County affected you personally? What did it do to your life?

LM: I was awfully young. It prolonged me for a couple of years.

CP: Prolonged what?

LM: My doings. What I had planned on doing because I was overseas and I had to do something else that I hadn’t planned on doing.

CP: Well, I’m not going to say this correctly . . . but your family probably got started later than you thought it would get started because of the war interrupting it?

(Door knocking ,interruption. No answer from Mr. Murphy)

CP: All right, we had a little bit of an interruption and we were talking about the World War II years in Tulare County and I have another question for you. How do you think World War II affected the way Tulare County is now? Did it change Tulare County,World War II?

LM: I can’t answer that. I don’t think it did.

CP: You don’t think it did at all?

LM: No.

CP: What about the economics of Tulare County? Were they better?

LM: During the war when everything was rationed, the economics suffered a little bit. But then after the war, then everything went back to normal.

CP: Do you think it was better after the war economically as opposed to before the war?

LM: Oh, I think it was about the same. Yeah, it was about the same.

CP: How about housing? Was it more readily available to veterans as opposed to non-veterans?

LM: Well, I can’t answer that because I had my own house. We had our own where we lived when I went into the service.

CP: Did you own your own home?

LM: No, no. I think it was that one on Inyo, wasn’t it?

CP: When you came back from the service, did you purchase a home?

LM: No, not for a long time.

CP: Well, I have just a few questions left about the war itself. I wondered if you could tell me when you entered the Armed Forces.

LM: I can’t remember those dates now.

CP: Do you remember what year it was?

LM: 1942, I think.

CP: I might have asked you this already. I’m not quite sure, but I think I did. The reason I think you answered it is, I asked you what year you graduated from high school and what was that answer?

LM: 1941.

CP: So did you go into the military the same year you graduated from high school or later?

LM: Later.

CP: So it would have been 1942. Were you drafted?

LM: Yeah.

CP: What did you think about being drafted?

LM: Well, I knew I was going to get drafted because I was in the category called B and that prolonged your drafting for six months, so I knew. I think I was working for the Edison Company at that time and I was classified as B, so I knew it would only last six months and then I’d have to be drafted.

CP: So you knew ahead of time you were going to be drafted.

LM: Yes.

CP: Which branch of the service were you in?

LM: Armored Infantry.

CP: So that would be the Army?

LM: Yeah, the Army.

CP: And when you first got drafted, where did you go?

LM: Well, first we went to Monterey and took our physical and they gave us shots. Then from there we went to Fort Knox, Kentucky and took our basic training there.

CP: What kind of experiences did you have in basic training? Was it a lot of people you were with?

LM: Yeah, it was a platoon.

CP: How many people are in a platoon?

LM: Oh, I don’t know. Probably twenty-five or thirty. And we just went through the routine of becoming army personnel or army first class, whatever you call it.

CP: What was the kind of living conditions there?

LM: We lived in barracks.

CP: So you had your own bed?

LM: Had our own beds. And if I remember right, it was two stories, so there was a lot of GIs in the building.

CP: Were you on the top or the bottom?

LM: I was on the top.

CP: Well that’s good. So where did you end up serving? What happened after basic training? Where did you go?

LM: We went to the desert,Arizona.

CP: What was the name of the place in Arizona?

LM: Bouse.

CP: What did you do there?

LM: We trained. We were attached to a tank division and we were trained. This is a long story . . . we were attached to this division that had high candle-power lights that they were going to use on D-Day when the troops went across. So that’s what our training was in Bouse,was to go between a row of tanks and they would throw a shadow where you couldn’t see us and we were trained to stay in that area where they couldn’t see us. Then up ahead was…just ahead of us was the tanks that had these high candle-powered lights and they were flicking them back and forth, and then way up, there was some 105 and 155 millimeter guns actually loaded with ammunition that were firing at us. But, on account of the lights, they could not get the distance that they were shooting at. The lights were blinding them.

CP: Was it live ammunition?

LM: Sure.

CP: For practice?

LM: For practice.

CP: Did anybody get killed?

LM: Nope.

CP: Well that’s pretty unbelievable that nobody got killed. How long were you in Bouse?

LM: Probably six months.

CP: Where did you go from there?

LM: We went to New York and shipped overseas.

CP: How did you get to New York?

LM: Train. We took our tanks with us and they were all boarded up on flat cars. I think there was two soldiers guarding each tank and each car.

CP: So after you got to New York . . . and how long did it take you to get from Bouse to New York?

LM: It was a long time.

CP: Weeks?

LM: A week to ten days.

CP: And then what did you do once you got to New York?

LM: When we got to New York the ship was waiting and we loaded the tanks onto the ship and then when the convoy got ready we took off.

CP: How long did that take?

LM: God, I can’t remember that now. It probably took a couple of weeks anyway.

CP: To get across?

LM: No, to get into the boats that we were going in.

CP: Oh you mean, you spent two whole weeks in New York?

LM: I imagine, yeah.

CP: And then how long did it take you to cross the ocean?

LM: Well, we had a problem. One of the tanks broke loose and we had to go into Portugal and get it secure again, because it was rolling around on the liberty ship. In the hold.

CP: Do you remember the name of the liberty ship?

LM: The only thing I can remember is that convoy. As far as the naked eye could see, you could see ships.

CP: Oh my gosh.

LM: I don’t know how many rows of them there were.

CP: So once you got to Portugal , how long did you stay there?

LM: Not very long.

CP: Just long enough to get that tank secured?

LM: Yeah.

CP: Then where did you go?

LM: We joined the convoy again. We had to catch up with them.

CP: And where were you headed to?

LM: England .

CP: Where in England ?

LM: We ended up in . . . what the hell’s the name of that place . . . Wales . Southern Wales.

CP: How long did you stay in Wales ?

LM: Quite a while. That’s when they wouldn’t let us get on the boats to get across this bay or across the channel because of the way the weather was. They were afraid we would all get killed over there because the Germans had set up defense positions on the shore. So we stayed there quite a while.

CP: So when you left Wales , where were you headed to?

LM: Well it was 17 miles to where we were going. Was it Cherbourg?

CP: That’s in France .

LM: Yeah, and I think that’s where we went. One of those places. It wasn’t right where . . . the D-Day was here and I want to say south, but I don’t know if it was north or south of where we landed. You could still see the results of D-Day.

CP: How many days after D-Day was it?

LM: I think it was three.

CP: What were the results of D-Day that you saw?

LM: Oh lord. Bodies lying all over the beach.

CP: Were there any enemy around?

LM: We didn’t linger long on the beach. We headed for the . . . what do they call that . . . where they had these hedgerows and we set up camp in between this hedgerow. In Belgium or France , wherever it was, they use hedgerows for fences, you know, to keep the cattle in, so we set up between them. Our battalion did.

CP: How big are hedgerows?

LM: Like a big hedge like we have in the USA .

CP: Are they thicker?

LM: Yeah, you couldn’t walk through them.

CP: So once you got there, what happened to those tanks and those candle-lights?

LM: Well, somebody, some lady in the Stars and Stripes announced over the radio about these tanks that we had before they were ready to use them, so they canceled the deal.

CP: What a waste.

LM: Yeah, it was a waste. They took the tanks back to the proving grounds or whatever you call that and they used them one time when they were crossing the Rhine. Just a few of the tanks. That was the only time they were used.

CP: What did they do with all those tanks?

LM: I imagine they drove them into the sea just like they did everything else.

CP: That seems like a waste too. Did you learn any skills from the war?

LM: They put me in charge of the tire department and I already knew all about that already.

CP: You probably showed them a thing or two.

LM: Well, yeah, I sure did. I made corporal right off the bat because I knew how to change a tire and this and that.

CP: Was it easy to adapt to the routines of military life?

LM: Yes, for me it was. It didn’t bother me any bit.

CP: Probably because you weren’t really in armed combat. You were pretty lucky really.

LM: Oh yeah. We had several companies that were in armed combat. In fact we lost B Company. That company had like 250 people in it and after one skirmish there was only like 50 left, so we lost a lot of soldiers in that.

CP: When you were overseas and you were stationed in…well I guess it was in various parts of Belgium , France and Germany , did you get very many letters from home?

LM: Oh yeah. I got letters all the time from my mother and my wife.

CP: What that important?

LM: Oh yeah, sure.

CP: Did you write very many letters?

LM: Yes, I wrote Sue and mother all the time.

CP: What do you suppose happened to all of those letters?

LM: I don’t know, probably burned them.

CP: Well, why would you burn them?

LM: Well, I don’t know. What good would they be?

CP: Well, I’d like to read them. What did you do when you had time off? Did you have time off?

LM: No, not very often. We had . . . one time we got a three day pass to Liege, Belgium and they made us reservations at the Red Cross. So when we got in there, the Germans started sending in their …what’d they call those things? Robots?

CP: Oh, buzz bombs.

LM: Yeah, buzz bombs. They started sending those in there, so we spent our whole three days in a bomb shelter.

CP: Oh, doing what?

LM: Nothing.

CP: What did you eat?

LM: Well, they fed us.

CP: Who fed you?

LM: The people that ran the shelter. They fed us K-rations and C-rations. Army stuff.

CP: Do you like K-rations and C-rations?

LM: Well, if that’s all you’ve got to eat, you like it. (Laughter)

CP: Is there anybody from the war years that you remember really well that stood out in your mind?

LM: The one that was with me on my parts truck deal, Andy Allison. I was a sergeant and he was a corporal and he was older than I, but we got along real good and I thought a lot of him and he was from San Francisco, and he was the manager of a big restaurant in San Francisco before he went into the service.

CP: Did you stay in contact with him after the war?

LM: Well, yes and no. We did for a while. I don’t know what happened to Andy. I really don’t. We quit communicating and I never did find out what happened to him.

CP: After the war did you get any medals or pensions?

LM: No, I got a combat infantry badge. That meant I was in combat.

CP: Where is that?

LM: In Germany .

CP: No, where is it now?

LM: I still have it.

CP: Where would that be?

LM: Hell, I don’t know. Wherever that stuff is. (Sue Murphy in background,I don’t have any idea.) It was in my writing desk, but it’s in a sack of some kind.

CP: What about pensions? Did you receive a pension?

LM: Yeah.

CP: Do you still receive it?

LM: Yeah.

CP: What was that for?

LM: Well they discovered I contracted ulcers when I was in the service so they . . . at one time I was 40 percent . . .

CP: 40 percent what?

LM: 40% disabled, and I can’t remember how much money I got, but it wasn’t very much.

CP: But you’re still receiving that?

LM: Yeah.

CP: When you got back home, did you have a job waiting for you?

LM: Yes and no. I had a job with the Edison Company, but I didn’t go back there. I went to work for my dad instead.

CP: Doing what?

LM: Working in the truck stop.

CP: Did you like that?

LM: Oh, it was all right.

CP: Did you attend school at all when you came back?

LM: No.

CP: So you didn’t take advantage of the GI Bill?

LM: No.

CP: Did you ever belong to any veteran’s organizations?

LM: The AMVETS.

CP: You were overseas; did you meet any German or French people or Belgium people that you can remember?

LM: No, sure can’t.

CP: When you were in, I guess it was Belgium …wasn’t there an episode of something to do about an apple orchard.

LM: That’s where we were staying, yeah.

CP: You stayed in an apple orchard.

LM: Yeah.

CP:  Where were you sleeping then?

LM: Well, we dug down in the ground and made ourselves bunks with our shovels.

CP: In an apple orchard. Was there a farm house nearby?

LM: I don’t know. I didn’t see one.

CP: Really. Wasn’t there an episode about finding an apple brandy called Calvados?

LM: Yeah.

CP: Where did you find the Calvados?

LM: Well, some old German was in charge of a hunting lodge and he gave us this Calvados.

CP: A German?

LM: Yeah. I guess he was a German. He could have been a Frenchman, I don’t remember now.

CP: Why would it be a German?

LM: Because the Germans took over that country, you know, he was managing their hunting lodge.

CP: Did you drink any of the Calvados?

LM: Yeah, one night we all got drunk, so we didn’t drink anymore. It like to have killed us.

CP: Did it taste good?

LM: Lord no.

CP: Have you drunk any since?

LM: No.

CP: I think that about ends our interview. And I thank you very much for letting me ask you all of these questions.

LM: I didn’t answer many, did I?

CP: Okay, thanks a lot.

LM: You’re welcome.

Colleen Paggi /Transcribed JC 2/11/04/editor JW 5/04/04

Words in italics were added during a phone interview with Colleen

Paggi (Louis Murphy’s daughter) on March 3, 2006.