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Monday, March 14, 2011

10 North Africa

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Third Infantry Division song

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 Click on blue window to hear an excerpt of the Dogface Soldier.  The Third Divisions theme song.

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More pictures, more details as he told it. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bill Sheldons Story. first of old blog

This is Bill Sheldon's story, not mine. Bill can't tell it because he died. I, Doyal Gudgel am the husband of Kathleen Brown Gudgel who is the cousin of Virginia Sheldon Bill wife. Bill volunteered for service the day after the Pearl Harbor attack with a number of other patriotic Americans in the small town of Cottage Grove,Oregon. I was assigned to the Third Division at the end of the war as a replacement for the long time soldiers who had the points to get out first after the war, I spent the last couple months of the war in replacement depots derisively called Repple Depple Commandos although we had no decision in the matter of where we were to serve of course. 

To see some paintings by a German artist look over on the right side near the top and click on the pages link for water colors. The only paintings of the war by a German that I know of. 

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Bill's War. The Beginning

Bill Sheldon was out for a drive with his girlfriend Virgina Sheldon, who was to become his wife after the war, when they heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Immediately he knew he would enlist and do his part for the war. effort.

Within days he and a friend Bennie Benson had set the wheels in motion which would have him touring Africa and Europe for three years. In uniform.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chapter 2. Bill's War: Down to Serious Business

After the usual business of signing up and the Army deciding where he was to go Bill went for artillery training at Camp Roberts. The exact same location that I went to 2 years later.

Shown here is the platoon he trained with at Roberts. Training with ancient equipment from WW1 or older. With the army expanding as fast as possible there were more than enough shortages to go around. At the end of training the army broke up the platoon and assigned the members to various army units where they were needed. His friend Bennie Benson went to Alaska and Bill didn't see him until after the war. Surviving boot camp Bill was sent to the 39th FA Battalion where he spent the war and made lifelong friends. While here at Ft. Lewis the family and girl friend Virginia came up from Oregon to visit. In those days there was no I5. Just US 99 with lots of twists and turns. A real drive. Later Virginia visited him but he had KP. Wouldn't you know it.

From the record instead of the European Theater of Operations (ETO) he came "this close" to spending the war in the Pacific jungles. Assisting the Marines no less. It was thought they might need some help. Things were all in a flux and daily events could cause plans to change. The Division had been sent to Ft. Ord the jumping off place for the Pacific.

Fortunately plans did change and the 3rd Infantry was sent to Camp Pickett VA for deployment to the North Africa invasion Operation Torch. Prior to this he did some amphibious training which amounted to jumping into small boats placed in the sand the jumping out the other side and running like it was on the beach. Who said war is all serious. Later though at Pickett they actually did some amphibious training.

One thing you couldn't accuse Bill of was lack of common sense. Some time during an early career they do some recruiting for other branches, like gliders, paratroopers, special forces and so on. If you look at film of gliders in WW2 you can tell Bill is no dummy. He turned the gliders down.

The 39th FA Battalion spent the war shooting 105 howitzers supporting the 3rd Infantry. For a time early in the war they were issued 37 MM anti-tank guns and was an anti-tank battalion. It was here at Pickett that Bill went to radio school to be a radio operator.

Next chapter Picket and the invasion of North Africa

More war experiences of mine here

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chapter 3: Camp Picket to North Africa.

The 3rd Division went from Ft. Ord to Camp Pickett VA. While there Bill took radio training. When the Division was assembling to begin it's crossing to Africa Bill was given a truck and he picked his life long buddy to be Al Smiley to help waterproof the truck. Bill said some were able to go down to the galley and snack. This was greatly different on the Queen Elizabeth that I went over to England on because they were feeding all day and no doubt half the night. 16,000 men eat a lot of food. The complaint was the same however that the food was bad. Definitely not cruise ship cuisine.

Bill said the voyage wasn't unpleasant although it took 16 days to cross.

ext. The assault on North Africa
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chapter 4: Operation Torch

Bills ship anchored about 4 miles off Fedala French Morroco. "H" hour was set for 0445. The troops were to load into Higgins boats by net in the dark. Imagine that. Climbing down the net in the dark wearing a full pack? I wonder how many men lost their grip and fell to their deaths?
Bill spent some time at Casablanca. Here he and another guy dug a fox hole big enough for three. They covered it over with a pup tent. Because he slept in the middle when one or the other would turn over they rolled taking the blanket with him. My personal opinion is that this is the only time he dug a fox hole for three. The Sgt heard him complain so put him on guard duty. With no blanket he probably could not sleep anyway! He also got culture shock here. The sun came up and he saw coming out of a grass hut, chickens, burros, dogs, children and adults. Talk about cultural shock. Not the biggest yet. One time he ate a cream pastry from a bakery in Casablanca and came down with the crud. While at the slit trench latrine he saw an Arab woman digging in the slit trench with a hoe. He chased her away because at this stage of this development he wanted some privacy when he went to the bathroom. He covered the result with dirt as regulations state. When he left the woman returned to continue digging. He was unable to figure out what she was looking for. Another memorable incident occurred with one of the guys in his pup tent tried to kill a fly on the ceiling by shooting at it. The age old method of irrigating with a cow made an impression on him too. Plowing with a team of camel and cow also seemed strange.

While other outfits were securing North Africa the 3rd Inf. marked time waiting and training. It was eight months before the 3rd. saw combat. Bill and the others made good time enjoying their life in Morocco. There was so much to learn.

The division was reviewed by President Roosevelt. Roosevelt was there for a conference. Also in the picture is old Blood and Guts General Patton. Bill's outfit was the 39th FA and Roosevelt ate in their mess that day of the review.

Bill's unit had moved to Rabat and one week end he and another soldier got a week end pass. They went to a restaurant and ordered chicken. When it came they found that the entrails had not been remove when it was cooked.

Training included a forced mile march with full pack in 6 minutes. Leave these things to the infantry. They also learned how to recognize and what not to do with booby traps.

Nearing the end of the 8 month period of inaction they then began amphibious training. They didnt' know it of course but Sicily was coming up. From then on rest periods were few and far between.

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The waiting time finally came to an end after 8 months. The commanders decided to put the troops to work by invading Sicily.
Good old Joe (Roosevelt's words) Stalin was pressuring Churchill and Roosevelt to take the pressure off him by invading Europe. Not the soft underbelly as Churchill called southern Europe. He wanted Europe not Africa. But Africa was the best the Allies could do at the moment so Africa it was. It had some advantages but not what it would have been if they had invaded Europe where they did June 6, 1944. Me personally I am against war. Every man killed was a tragedy. A life snuffed out never getting a chance to live. All because some politician didn't want peace as much as he wanted glory. Naturally there are always enough generals who want glory too. Well, if you say we had to defeat Hitler. But Hitler couldnt even cross 20 miles of Channel so how could he have crossed 3,000 miles of Atlantic? But back to the subject of invading Sicily. At the top of the page I showed a picture of Bill and his friend Terry. Terry was killed by running over a mine. Several were killed in this manner.

The 39th FA sailed from Bizerte for Sicily. It was smooth sailing for a while then a storm came up. LST's are like a cork so it wasn't any fun.
For you who are interested Bill landed on Yellow beach after a little shelling by the Germans. They also had their first casualty. Jim Presley was killed by a mine. Also shortly about this time Sgt. Lewis and Boyd Fagan were killed by land mines. Presley s shown here.