Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Edwin Elliott, January 17, 1986

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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KELLY: (Clears throat)--We are in Mercer County, I am in the home of, uh, Mr. Edwin, uh, Elliott, uh, a World War Two veteran who was originally in the famous Company D of the, uh--(clears throat)--uh, Harrodsburg National Guard unit. Uh, went on active duty with them, went to OCS [Officer Candidate School], uh, went to Europe, instead of the Pacific, with the unit, uh, was at Normandy on D+1 and served in the European Theater. Um, Edwin, uh, when did you go on active duty?

ELLIOTT: The day of the, they started the first draft. I forget. It was 1940 in November, but I think it was the 25th.

KELLY: Was, was that the, was the unit called up at that time?


KELLY: At, at that time, was it Company D, 192nd or--


ELLIOTT: No, it was the 38th Tank Company.

KELLY: 38th Tank Company.

ELLIOTT: 38th Division Tank Company.

KELLY: And you were called and went to Fort Knox.

ELLIOTT: Um-hm. Then they formed, when we got to Fort Knox, we had the 32nd Tank Company and the 33rd Tank Company and the 37th Tank Company and the 38th, then we formed them into the 192nd Tank Battalion, and when they got to the Philippines, somehow or another D Company got to the, ended up in the 194th Tank Battalion, I don't know how in the hell that happened, that was after they left--(pause)--left us but, see, uh, I was with them as battalion supply sergeant in Louisiana Maneuvers, and then we went to Camp Polk. And we got orders. We were supposed to go to North Carolina, and we got orders to proceed to Camp Polk and wait for the orders. We knew what it was because we'd had them before we left Knox, but we didn't have, they didn't give us sufficient time to make the port. And so, uh, we were in Camp Polk getting everything 00:02:00organized. And about, uh, the 1st of October, because I think I went to OCS on the 5th of October, but it was around the 1st or 5th of October, 1942--1941. Why, I got War Department orders to go to OCS and--

KELLY: When did you apply for OCS?

ELLIOTT: Oh, back in the spring or summer of--

KELLY: Forty-one?

ELLIOTT: 1941.

KELLY: Uh-huh.

ELLIOTT: Uh-huh.

KELLY: Did anyone else go to OCS from the, D Company with you?

ELLIOTT: No, uh-uh. I was, uh, I was with the, uh, battalion--I went from D Company to the, uh, when they organized the battalion, I became battalion supply sergeant for the 192nd.

KELLY: Okay. Um--(clears throat)--were, were there others from the 192nd that went to OCS with your, in your group? That, by going to OCS, missed the--

ELLIOTT: No, I tell you what.


KELLY: --Bataan--

ELLIOTT: There was supposed to have been two more went with me. And one of them had got into some trouble and gotten reduced. And--

KELLY: Was he a Harrodsburg man?

ELLIOTT: No, no. The other two, one of them was out of, uh, Janesville, Wisconsin, and one of them was, I believe, out of, uh, Port Clinton, Ohio. And the other one, he'd, uh, uh, we're not recording right now.

KELLY: We are recording, but that's okay.

ELLIOTT: He, uh, uh, got--(pause)--also reduced.

KELLY: Got into trouble.

ELLIOTT: Got into trouble and so I was the only one left. And.

KELLY: Did, uh, those two men go on with them overseas?

ELLIOTT: They went on with them overseas, as far as I know.

KELLY: Did they get back?

ELLIOTT: Neither one of them got back.

KELLY: Neither one of them got back.

ELLIOTT: Uh-uh. Because the, uh, three companies, uh, A Company, which 00:04:00was the old, uh, 32nd Tank Batta--Tank Company, was out of Janesville, Wisconsin, and they only got back about, uh, uh got back a very small percentage, it was only four or five people, I think, that got back. And then the, uh, B Company was out of Maywood, Ohio [sic Illinois], which is a suburb of Chicago. And they got back a very few. And C Company was, uh, out of, uh, Port Clinton, Ohio, which is a suburb of Cleveland, and they got very few. And then D Company got back, uh, I think, 37, if I am not mistaken, out of 66. And they, uh, uh, they said that when it got tough over there and they started eating grasshoppers and anything they could get to survive, that the, the, uh, 00:05:00these boys gave up, just gave up.

KELLY: From the other towns, cities, more than the Kentucky--

ELLIOTT: Well, they--

KELLY: --boys did?

ELLIOTT: --were more raised in the city and all and didn't have the, uh, old country boy background and whatnot.

KELLY: Where, where are you getting that information from? Talking to some of the local Harrodsburg men that were on the Death March or--


KELLY: Um-hm. That was their--

ELLIOTT: Then, uh, I've got the Life magazine story that came out on it right up there. Back, uh, in, uh, not only, oh, after they were captured over there, but they got the pictures and all from, uh, we had, uh, uh, one of our officers was a--(pause)--he loved photography. He had his own--lived down at Salvisa. He was a painter by trade. He had a paint, painting outfit. He done all the painting of these fancy 00:06:00homes and what have you, you know. And, it was Gritton, and, Davis, Davis Gritton.

KELLY: From Mercer County?

ELLIOTT: Yeah. And he had all kinds of pictures of when we went on coal strikes and everything else of everybody. And they've got a lot of those pictures in that--

KELLY: Time magazine? Life--


KELLY: Life magazine.

ELLIOTT: --no, it was Life magazine. My aunt got it--(coughs)--the one that lives up here now--(coughs)--she gave it to me after she moved down here.

KELLY: Um, you left the unit, you went to OCS, where did you go from there?

ELLIOTT: I went to 5th Armored Division.

KELLY: Fifth Armored Division? Where were they located?

ELLIOTT: Fort Knox.

KELLY: Fort Knox, Kentucky.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, I thought they was going to stay there. And the 8th Division, see, they was taking a cadre out of the 5th to the 8th, to make the 8th Division. And I thought the 8th was going on somewhere else, and the 5th was going to stay there, and I'd be close to home, and, I wasn't in the outfit but two weeks and I was on the advance 00:07:00detachment, uh, uh, for Camp Cooke, California. The 5th Armored went to Camp Cooke, California--(laughs)--out on the beach, out on the ocean there, uh, right at, well, Lompac was the name of the little town there, it was right south of Santa, of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, in there on the coast. And--(pause)--so, uh--

KELLY: Were you, were you, your branch was combat armor branch, then?

ELLIOTT: My ar--my actual commission was in the armored infantry. Armor, yeah.

KELLY: And then, uh--(clears throat)--were you, were you serving in that capacity, in that training division when you were training with the 5th Armored?

ELLIOTT: No, I was, uh, uh adjutant of the supply battalion.

KELLY: (Clears throat) Okay. When did, when did you go overseas?

ELLIOTT: I went overseas, uh, we shipped out of, uh, we spent eighteen months in the Mojave Desert on maneuvers, supplying the--(pause)--tank, 00:08:00the armored divisions. And Gen. McNair was out there one day on inspection and found out we'd been there eighteen months. And he told his, looked around at his G-1 and said, "I thought six months was the limit out here." He says, "It is." He said, "Well, what are they doing here?" And we caught a, we loaded a train about a week later, or ten days, and headed for New York to Camp Shanks, and we passed everything but the Super Chief and the El Capitan. And we rolled in there and shipped out on the--(pause)--loaded ship on the 5th day of December, 1943.

KELLY: So you were, you were in California when, uh, when the Death March started then, weren't you?

ELLIOTT: No, I was in OCS when the, well, may have been when the Death 00:09:00March started, when Pearl Harbor hit, I was at OCS. See, that was the 7th of December and I graduated the 7th of January of '42.

KELLY: And when did you get to California?

ELLIOTT: Well, we went to California, I got to California the latter part of January of, uh, `42.

KELLY: Yeah.

ELLIOTT: ----(??)

KELLY: So the, so the, the Death March started in, in, uh, April of `49--(coughs)--

ELLIOTT: Forty-two, you mean?

KELLY: Forty-two, yeah.

ELLIOTT: Well, now--

KELLY: w-what--

ELLIOTT: --I was in California when the Death March started.

KELLY: What I am trying to get from you--


KELLY: --you knew those guys, you were on active duty with them.

ELLIOTT: Oh, I knew them--


ELLIOTT: --all.

KELLY: --you were keeping up with the, with the war in the Pacific, especially in the Philippines.

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah.

KELLY: What kind of information were you getting? Letters, maybe, from some of the troops or from home here, on--


KELLY: --on the--

ELLIOTT: --I was getting, uh, mail from home, and then I took the local paper. I got the local paper and I followed the Death March and, and actions over there in the Philippines, as much as I could get.


KELLY: The action, yeah.


KELLY: So, so when they were captured, uh, were you surprised?

ELLIOTT: Yes, I was the most surprised man there was--

KELLY: You weren't--

ELLIOTT: --because--

KELLY: --expecting them to get captured?

ELLIOTT: I tried every way in the world to go with them instead of going to OCS, but they said there was no way, that I had to go to OCS because I had the War Department orders, see? It's not like it is now, the, the battalion orders then came out of the War Department. And nobody would call the War Department, or nobody wanted to, wanted to touch base with them to try to see if I could go on with the unit, so I had no alternative but to go to OCS. But, uh, I never--

KELLY: Where was the OCS you, you attended, Benning?

ELLIOTT: No, Fort Knox.

KELLY: Fort Knox. Right at Fort Knox!

ELLIOTT: Yeah, second class, Fort Knox.

KELLY: Okay. Um, well, uh, when they surrendered, you didn't really 00:11:00know the status of the men from Harrodsburg, did you? You didn't know whether there, you didn't even know anything about a Death March, did you? What did you know and what was being said at that time?

ELLIOTT: Well, I just knew they were captured. And, of course, I wasn't here at home, so--

KELLY: You didn't even know--

ELLIOTT: --I don't know what--

KELLY: --that they were captured though, did you? You, I mean, you didn't know whether they were captured or killed in action right at--

ELLIOTT: Well, no--

KELLY: --the end?

ELLIOTT: --I didn't know which--

KELLY: You just knew there were some that surrendered.


KELLY: Some troops, American troops.

ELLIOTT: That's right.

KELLY: What, what, what was going on in your mind? What was you hearing from Harrodsburg?

ELLIOTT: Well, I was hearing, some people said I knew somebody in Washington or I'd been over there with them. That's the only reason I, the way I got out of going. But if I had knew the county judge, I, all I knew him by was his last name, Judge Corn. I didn't even know his first name because my father was never in politics in any way or anything. I didn't even know--

KELLY: You wanted to go, as a matter of fact.

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah. Because I thought they were going over there and eat bananas and--


KELLY: And play golf.

ELLIOTT: --coconuts and play golf and whatnot, and I was going back to Fort Knox and get commissioned and go to Europe and get shot.

KELLY: (Laughs) Yeah, you thought it would be the best thing to do.

ELLIOTT: Oh, I thought that was, I thought, Lord, that there would be just like going to Hawaii on vacation, you know. But--


ELLIOTT: --it didn't turn that way.

KELLY: --w-was there a lot of that or just a little of that? Uh, you know, you didn't go and you, you avoided it.

ELLIOTT: I don't know how much of it there was around here. I imagine there was just very little.

KELLY: W-what made you think that that was being said?

ELLIOTT: Well, somebody, friends and whatnot, when I came home on leave was laughing and telling me about it.

KELLY: Is that right?

ELLIOTT: Yeah. It wasn't no big amount of it, but it--

KELLY: Yeah.

ELLIOTT: --had been said.

KELLY: Yeah. Yeah, somebody would always want to know why, why, why didn't you go and probably wanted to know why Capt. Moore didn't go too, didn't they?

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah. Yeah. They did. Said that he--

KELLY: Are--

ELLIOTT: --should have went. But Capt. Moore was too old, was over the age limit for overseas duty at that time. Capt. Bacon Moore.


KELLY: When did, when did you actually find out about you--

ELLIOTT: He was Col. Bacon Moore then.

KELLY: --when did you find out about the, uh, the Death March itself?

ELLIOTT: Well, when I read it in the paper.

KELLY: And where were you?

ELLIOTT: I was still in California because I stayed in California for, until, uh, uh, December, well, November of '43.

KELLY: Of '43?


KELLY: Um-hm. I, it was, uh, it was '43 before the news came out, wasn't it? Sometime in '43? Do you remember when it was?

ELLIOTT: Sometime in, I don't remember just when, but it was in `43. Yeah--

KELLY: Um-hm.

ELLIOTT: --uh-huh.

KELLY: By that time, had you heard from some people that, who had heard that their sons had been captured? You know, where they'd send those cards back? I think about a year later they sent a card back to-- (pause)--


KELLY: --to Harrodsburg.

ELLIOTT: I don't know how I found it out, I don't remember now, but I 00:14:00did get word that--

KELLY: You did know that some of them were captured, in other words--


KELLY: --you had, you had heard that so-and-so was captured.

ELLIOTT: I'd get the news from, uh, home. My mother or mother-in-law would write that, uh, it'd been in the paper that they'd gotten news that so-and-so was missing in action or what have you, or was captured by the Japanese.

KELLY: With, uh, with your correspondence there, were, were you, uh, generally, were, were they, you know, just trying to figure out how much this impacted the neighbor--the community here? Was there something said about that in most of your correspondence between whoever you were corresponding with?

ELLIOTT: No, no, just, just when I was home and I was talking to some friends and whatnot. We, uh, it was brought up or something and then laughed about, and that was it, because they knew I didn't know no-- (laughs)--one in Washington. Never been there.

KELLY: No, I-I'm talking about the, uh, I-I'm talking about--(clears 00:15:00throat)--you know, to what extent this upset the community that, uh, that these men were captured, and it must have touched almost every family, directly or indirectly.

ELLIOTT: It did, it touched, either directly or indirectly, it touched, uh, practically every family in the, in the county.

KELLY: Um-hm, and so what I'm trying to get from you now, capture from you now is, uh, in your correspondence between folks from Harrodsburg and yourself, were you getting a lot of, of, uh, comments on it? You know, we, somebody, so-and-so heard about, from so-and-so.

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah, every time I would get a, any correspondence, why, there'd be something in there where somebody heard it, uh, through the Red Cross or something that so-and-so--

KELLY: Be some news about the--

ELLIOTT: --yeah.

KELLY: --boys that were--

ELLIOTT: Be some news about it, yeah.

KELLY: --um-hm, in almost all your correspondence.

ELLIOTT: But see, they got back home before I got back from Europe, because I was the last high point man out of Europe. I didn't get back 00:16:00until Thanksgiving of '45. And I had 100 and, well, I had the maximum points you could have. And they were sending them home with 60 points, or in that vicinity. And I had 140-something, the maximum.

KELLY: When, when--

ELLIOTT: And I finally got disgusted and called up and wanted to know when I was going home, and they had me on the next ship out of there when they found out, nobody, nobody had took the time to look at my records, I reckon.

KELLY: Yeah.

ELLIOTT: Review them.

KELLY: Um, when, when you got home, did, uh, you get in some long conversations with some of them about their experiences?

ELLIOTT: Oh, I'm sure I did, I don't remember right now, but I'm sure I did because I knew all of them personally and--

KELLY: Who, who was your best friend in that group? Who were you closest to?


ELLIOTT: Oh, I was good friends with all of them, I couldn't just actually say of any certain--

KELLY: Did you run around with any particular one of them?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah, Arch Rue and I, uh, went to school together- -(coughs)

KELLY: Whereabouts? Harrodsburg High?

ELLIOTT: Harrodsburg. And--

KELLY: Were you--

ELLIOTT: --we were sort of

KELLY: --were--

ELLIOTT: --known as "the twins" because we played, uh, one played left half, one right half on the football team, we sat in the last seat in the first and second row, practically, in all the classes, and we just--

KELLY: Double-dated some?

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah. Yeah, and he was out, he used, used to come out and spend the weekends with me and what have you, we were, I guess we was closer than we were to any, any brothers we had at that time.

KELLY: Were you, um, were both of you raised in the country?

ELLIOTT: No, he was raised in town.

KELLY: And you were raised in the country.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, his father died when he was young and there was thirteen 00:18:00in the family, I think it was.

KELLY: Have you talked to, to Arch recently or--

ELLIOTT: Arch was on that ship that the Americans, uh, they didn't have any Red Cross or anything, signs on it, and the Americans bombed it going from the Philippines to Japan, he went down with that ship. His brother got back.

KELLY: Oh, it was his brother that got back.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, Skip.

KELLY: Skip.

ELLIOTT: Um-hm, he was older.

KELLY: Was Arch, uh, an officer?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, he was, he had just got commissioned before they left, a direct commission. He was, uh--

KELLY: Is Skip the older one?


KELLY: But Arch was, was your close friend and he, and he went down.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, Arch and I were, well, uh, we was approximately the same age, because we was in the same room at school and everything. Arch might have been, I'm not sure--

KELLY: Did you hear from any after he went overseas, or, or did you all correspond any?

ELLIOTT: No, because it happened so quick.


KELLY: So fast, yeah.

ELLIOTT: See, they landed over there the--

KELLY: Twenty-fifth of November.

ELLIOTT: --25th of November.

KELLY: Captured in four months, yeah.

ELLIOTT: Captured, uh, and they were, Pearl Harbor hit on the 7th, so they didn't have time to do no writing or anything.

KELLY: Right, yeah.

ELLIOTT: And I was in OCS and I sure didn't have time to do no writing.

KELLY: Was there anyone else in that group that you, uh, ran around with, dated with, or played football with?

ELLIOTT: Well, not really close, we was all friends and whatnot, played cards together and everything, but that was the only one, really, that I was real close to. Clifford, Clifford Flynn, who didn't go with them, Clifford was too old. Clifford ended up in a tank destroyer outfit in Europe--(Kelly clears throat)--Let's see, who else was in there? Oh, they were all real good friends, Fred Leonard, we was always 00:20:00pulling, pulling a joke or something on him. Clifford was a mess sergeant in, uh--

KELLY: Bill Gentry, do you know him pretty well?

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah, I went to school with Bill, but Bill was younger than I was. Uh, I knew Bill real well. But we set up with Clifford to, to set a pie out and make the meringue out of, with, uh, soap, make soap suds, put, uh, put soap bubbles on there for the thing, and then we'd tell Fred that, uh, Clifford had gone and his pie was sitting over there in the window, why didn't he go get it? And Fred would slip over there and get that pie, and Clifford would be watching him, and about the time he started to eat it, why, Clifford would holler at him and he'd choke it down before he realized it had that soap on it, you know- 00:21:00-(laughs)--all kinds of fool things like that with them and all.

KELLY: This was down in Fort Knox when you all were called on active duty and training down there, or during the summer camps?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, this was down there at Fort Knox when we were called on active duty.

KELLY: Okay. Well--

ELLIOTT: Of course, Jack Wilson was a good, I'd known Jack for years and year, we were real close, but Arch was the only, what I'd call, a real close friend.

KELLY: Um-hm. Out of that 66 men, um, how many of them were high school graduates, you think? Or how many of them were not high school graduates? There were--

ELLIOTT: I have no idea. Now, if I--

KELLY: Were most of them high school graduates or--

ELLIOTT: I'd say not.

KELLY: They're, how many of them had college? I know there three or four that had college. Gentry had some college, Rue had some college.

ELLIOTT: Yeah. And I think Jimmy Van Arsdale had some college. He was 00:22:00a second lieutenant.

KELLY: Preston, he didn't, did he?

ELLIOTT: No, I don't believe Preston had any. Preston got a direct commission, Preston and Van Arsdale and Rue and--

KELLY: Gentry.

ELLIOTT: --Gentry, all them got a direct commission just before they went over there. And Bacon, uh, Col. Moore wanted me to go to OCS, the first class. And I went up there and took the test, not, not the written test, you know, the interview and all, and was supposed to go take the, uh, physical. And I was home on leave when they gave the physical. And I really didn't want to go because I was making a dollar more than a second lieutenant, and my clothes was furnished and they had to buy theirs. A second lieutenant then was making 125 [dollars], 00:23:00and a master sergeant was making 126[dollars].

KELLY: You were master sergeant at that time.


KELLY: Um-hm.

ELLIOTT: And, uh, well, I guess I was sergeant first class at that time, I was battalion supply sergeant, I was sergeant first class. But I was making, uh, was, would have made master sergeant, and if I did, I'd have got, I was going to get a dollar more than I was as a second lieutenant, and I couldn't see much, uh, much future--

KELLY: Future--

ELLIOTT: --in that.

KELLY: --in being a second lieutenant. So you, you weren't really excited about that OCS then, were you?

ELLIOTT: No, I wasn't. In fact, that's how come I was home on leave, I didn't want to take that--(laughs)--physical, but the next time they had it, nobody said anything about it, and I had forgotten about it and the colonel's staff car showed up down at battalion supply and said, "The colonel wants to see you," and I said, "Now what have I done?" And I went up there and he said, "They're waiting on you over at the hospital to give you a physical." (Laughs)


KELLY: He wanted to get you in that first OCS class--

ELLIOTT: He wanted me--

KELLY: --at Fort Knox.

ELLIOTT: --in the first one, but I didn't make it, I, I was in the second one.

KELLY: Is that right?


KELLY: Yeah. Okay, you get your commission, you, you go out to California, you train, you go to, uh, uh, New York, and you go to, go overseas and--

ELLIOTT: Ended up in England.

KELLY: England? Where--

ELLIOTT: Liverpool, England. That's where we landed.

KELLY: Uh, when did you land in England?

ELLIOTT: I couldn't tell you, it was sometime in December, we flew, uh, I mean we, uh, boarded, uh--

KELLY: December, '43?

ELLIOTT: --we boarded the Little Eva. It was an ocean, uh, run from [Bermuda?] to Nova, Nova Scotia. It was a cruise liner in, uh, peacetime.

KELLY: You, I guess you went over in a convoy in the northern route there?


KELLY: Can you--

ELLIOTT: The Little Eva was the fastest thing in it, but it was, it was, we was either out of the water or we couldn't even see, we was down in a hole with them waves, you know--(Kelly clears throat)-- ----(??)


KELLY: That northern, that North Sea was rougher than a booger, wasn't it?

ELLIOTT: Oh, shit. Damn, that thing was, looked like it would be standing right up end-ways, you had to hold your plate, if you ever turned that plate loose, it'd go off, it was gone. You had to hold your plate.

KELLY: It was pretty hard just navigating, walking in that thing too--

ELLIOTT: I thought that--

KELLY: --wasn't it?

ELLIOTT: --for certain I had to get seasick because I never could stand to ride a swing at school. And there was a captain from over here in Williamstown, Kentucky. And, of course, Little Eva had a bunch of staterooms on it because it had been that cruise ship. And he and I were in this stateroom together, and I didn't get out of bed for about a day and a half or so, I was just sure I was going to get sick, seasick, because I had heard so much about it. And he brought me a sandwich a time or two, and finally he told me to get up from there, that I wasn't going to get seasick. So I got up and went and eat, and 00:26:00never did have any problem, except standing up, as you say, that Little Eva, it was on its nose or on its fanny all the time, then just--

KELLY: Well, there, there were a lot sinkings about that time, I think that was one of the--


KELLY: --one of the high--(pause)--frequency--

ELLIOTT: The U-boats was--

KELLY: --of sinking them, did you all get involved in any of that?

ELLIOTT: Well, they came over the radio there one night that there was a, uh, U-boat, uh, trying to get inside the convoy, but we never did hear any more about it, it didn't get in, I reckon.

KELLY: The biggest problem you had was just trying to get around--

ELLIOTT: That's right.

KELLY: --in that rough sea. Did you ever go atop, uh, go on top, up on deck, or--

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

KELLY: Did you?

ELLIOTT: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, we'd go up on deck during the daytime and whatnot, but we didn't get up there at night because we were afraid 00:27:00somebody would light a cigarette or something and maybe they had something sitting out there just waiting to see a flicker or something, you know, where they'd fire at it. Just like old "Bed Check Charlie." He'd buzz around up over the area and whatnot until he saw a light or something, and then he'd dive bomb right in on it.

KELLY: It was pretty cold too, wasn't it?

ELLIOTT: It was, it was cold as the dickens, when we got to England, we went from a hot, dry climate to a wet, damp climate in less than thirty days. And I had everything I had on but my footlocker, and I would have put it on if it had had a collar on it. And the Englishmen would be walking around there like I am now, in their shirtsleeves, you know.

KELLY: You were freezing to death.

ELLIOTT: And they, we'd be chilled, you know, we wouldn't be, actually be cold, we'd just be chilled, going through us. And they'd say, "I 00:28:00say, old boy, old chap, are you, are you cold?" And I'd think, What do, what do you think I've got all these clothes on if I wasn't cold? But we finally got acclimatized, but it took us, it took us several months.

KELLY: Liverpool, how long were you there?

ELLIOTT: We were there for, uh, until the invasion.

KELLY: About six months?


KELLY: Um--(clears throat)--can you kind of describe that buildup for that invasion? Was you noticing that? Were you noticing the--

ELLIOTT: No, because it was all down on the southern end of, around the southern end of England, and on the channel side, and down to Land's End and in that area, because when I found out that I was going to be in on it, uh, they called me from the 1st Special Brigade, Engineer Brigade, which was, that was a, what they called an amphib brigade. They called me, and they was having a staff meeting that afternoon at two o'clock and wanted me to be there, and I am in Liverpool and, 00:29:00and it's a full day's drive in that countryside over there, in a Jeep, from Liverpool to Land's End. I said, "What day is this?" He said, "This afternoon," I said, "You've got to be kidding." I said, "Do you realize that I am in Liverpool, England?" And he said, uh, "Well, just come on down and get here as soon as you can," so I got there the next day. And that's when I found out that, oh, and I said, "What happened to all them gasoline supply companies that got all that amphib training, left the desert and went to amphib school as a battalion, uh, I mean, as a company? And all I done was stay out there in that desert and furnish gas to those armored divisions." He said, "Well, we asked Col. [Caffey?]. We told him what we wanted to have, that all of them had been to amphib school but your unit, and that they, you all 00:30:00had distinguished yourself by, out there in the desert, and furnishing gas to the armored divisions and all." He said, "Now you've got your pick," he said, "I want that one that was out there in that desert," so they come in about a week, some of them, some of them a month, two months after we, after we landed, so, uh, it didn't seem to make any difference what training you had, it's who you was or something.

KELLY: Did you, uh, when you were at Liverpool, did you get involved in any of that bombing of England by the--

ELLIOTT: No, uh-uh, it was all pretty well over by that time.

KELLY: Were, were you--

ELLIOTT: At least it didn't get that far up. Uh, we were at a little, uh, we moved into a little refugees' camp at Maghull, which was a suburb of Liverpool, oh, we might have been out, three or four miles out of Liverpool. And it was a little, uh, it was built up as a refugee camp 00:31:00for the people that were bombed out and whatnot, so they had a place to, to stay until they could get built back or what have you and all.

KELLY: When they called you up and gave you this real short notice and you get down there, they, they're giving you orders that, that you're going to be involved in the invasion?

ELLIOTT: That's right. We had to move into, down there, this was--

KELLY: Your whole battalion or just your company?

ELLIOTT: Just my company.

KELLY: What company is this now?

ELLIOTT: There wasn't any battalion to it, it was just separate companies.

KELLY: Yeah, so what's your company?

ELLIOTT: I was, uh--

KELLY: B Company?

ELLIOTT: --B Company, the 206 or 208, I believe it was the 208, I'll have to look it up here.

KELLY: Um-hm, a-any, any, anyway--

ELLIOTT: ----(??)

KELLY: --it was a, it was a quartermaster company, uh, gas--

ELLIOTT: Gasoline and supply company.

KELLY: --gasoline and supply company--(coughs)--

ELLIOTT: We had trucks and whatnot and furnished ----(??)

KELLY: You had, uh, tanker trucks and--

ELLIOTT: No, we had, uh, regular deuce-and-a-half trucks, and we loaded up the jerry cans and delivered them to them.

KELLY: Um-hm. You had gasoline pumps and.


ELLIOTT: It came in by pipeline from the ships. And we pumped it into the cans and stacked them, stored them, and then they'd come in there and get them or we--

KELLY: I-your, your company--

ELLIOTT: --just ----(??)

KELLY: --uh, organized and manned to, to do what, to deal with a division or--

ELLIOTT: Deal with an armored division mostly.

KELLY: Um-hm, they'd have one, one gasoline supply company to an armored division?

ELLIOTT: Well, as a general rule.

KELLY: How many troops you have?

ELLIOTT: ----(??)

KELLY: Over 200?

ELLIOTT: No, we had over about, in round figures, 150.

KELLY: Um-hm. Were, were you a captain now?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, I made captain in April of, uh, forty-, April of, uh, forty-three, yeah.

KELLY: Um-hm, okay. All right, uh, go ahead then and, and get on, just 00:33:00tell us about your participation in the invasion and what happened there.

ELLIOTT: Well, we moved down to Land's End and, which was all the way from one end of England to the other, you might say.

KELLY: From north to south.

ELLIOTT: North to south. And you talk about the language barrier here in the States between the North and the South. I didn't realize they had one, but when we got down on Land's End, we couldn't hardly understand a thing anybody said down there. It was just a different language. The way--

KELLY: ----(??)

ELLIOTT: --they spoke it--

KELLY: Um-hm.

ELLIOTT: --it was completely different. And they loaded us on board ship, and then they held it up one day on account of weather. And--

KELLY: When they load you aboard that ship, wha-when did you know you were going to participate in D-Day, after you got on the ship or before?


ELLIOTT: We knowed pretty well when they were putting us on that ship, because they was putting it on there--

KELLY: They hadn't told you but you just had to put two and two together--

ELLIOTT: ----(??) we had it pretty well--

KELLY: --to figure it out.

ELLIOTT: The British were, put them deuce-and-a-halfs and all that on there with the cranes and what have you, and if it come tea time, why, your deuce-and-a-half was swinging up there in the air, why, they let it swing until they had tea and then they'd go back and let her down, uh, we, we said, "Goddamn, nothing stops tea time." You sat there and watched that deuce-and-a-half up there thinking, "Oh, shit, if that thing falls, we've had it," you know. But we were loaded, all the trucks were loaded and everything when we went over, as well as I remember.

KELLY: Loaded with gas?

ELLIOTT: With gas, yeah. We took over as much as we could carry.

KELLY: About how many trucks are you talking about in your company, ten--


KELLY: --twenty?

ELLIOTT: --we had, uh.


KELLY: Roughly. You had more than five and less than thirty?

ELLIOTT: Oh, shit, yeah, we had about, we had somewhere between, uh, 15 and 25 trucks and trailers.

KELLY: Um-hm. And they were all loaded with gas.


KELLY: Okay, what ship did you get on--

ELLIOTT: I don't--

KELLY: --do you know?

ELLIOTT: --remember. I, we were on, uh, oh, oh, one of those, uh, oh, that they made for the war, what the heck was it?

KELLY: The Landing Craft--



ELLIOTT: Yeah, um-hm.

KELLY: You, were, were, were there more than your company on this LST, just you and your company and trucks?

ELLIOTT: I believe there was another outfit on it, if I am not mistaken.

KELLY: Okay, uh, just what, when you're loading on and, and you get on and you start moving, just what are you seeing and what are you 00:36:00thinking?

ELLIOTT: Oh, you're thinking this is it! You're going, you're, you're talking to the good Lord--(laughs)--

KELLY: Praying time?

ELLIOTT: It's praying time then.

KELLY: Are you seeing a multitude--


KELLY: --of ships? Are you seeing ships from--

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah--

KELLY: --everywhere?

ELLIOTT: --I mean they were just thick.

KELLY: A-are, are you--

ELLIOTT: ----(??)

KELL: --just, just kind of describe, as you are loaded on the ship, the, the action, the movement that's going on around there, on the land and in the air and on the ground.

ELLIOTT: Well, everything was just, just like a, just busy like, um-- (Kelly clears throat)--moving day, you might say, for a big outfit or something, and everybody had a job to do and you was checking to be sure you had everybody on board, and we pulled out, uh--

KELLY: Well, are you, are you seeing convoys of troops coming down to the, to the docks? Are you seeing troops marching toward ships or--

ELLIOTT: Yeah, even the paratroopers, uh, they didn't come down there, they went to the airfield, but we, we saw them in the round. You 00:37:00know what I mean, we saw them around, and if it hadn't been for the paratroopers, we'd never have got into Europe. Because they had these guns set up there, these, uh, these pillboxes and all, and they had a map under it and they had everything out through there and they had some buoys out there in the ocean, and they had all them things zeroed in where they didn't have to--

KELLY: Adjust.

ELLIOTT: --make a trial and error, they just dropped it in slot so-and- so and fired. And they were up on the top of the, the well, I guess you'd call it the cliffs above the, uh, landing area. And they, those concrete pillboxes was, oh, they was a foot to two-foot thick, or a foot-and-a-half to two or three-foot thick, and if the, uh, paratroopers hadn't gotten in there and knocked them out, they got them all but one, 00:38:00and he gave us, he gave us heck the next day until we finally got him.

KELLY: Um-hm, who, who was telling you the, the airborne knocked them all out but one? How did you, how did you get that information?

ELLIOTT: Well, they told us down on the beach that there was still one of, the people there that were working on the beach, the troops on the beach said, uh--

KELLY: Airborne got the rest of them?

ELLIOTT: --said that, said they got all of them last night but that one.

KELLY: Okay. All right. Back before we get over to the landing site- -(clears throat)--your eyes and your description of what you're seeing, what port are you leaving from, Plymouth or--

ELLIOTT: We're leaving from, I don't know what the port was, it was down in the southern end of England there, it was around Land's End, but I don't remember the name of, the name of it now.

KELLY: Land's what?

ELLIOTT: Land's End.

KELLY: Okay, when you're loading on, are, are there more than one ship there in that harbor?

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah, they're, they're loading all up and down the dock.

KELLY: How many, how many ships you talking, you're seeing loading?

ELLIOTT: I swear to goodness, I don't remember now, there was so many--

KELLY: Bunches? I mean are you--


ELLIOTT: --laying out there, or, or, uh, sitting at anchor out in the, out in the harbor.

KELLY: Well, are ships loading concurrently with troops and tanks and--

ELLIOTT: They was loading--

KELLY: --trucks?

ELLIOTT: --with troops, tanks, uh, equipment of all kinds.

KELLY: Are we talking about ten ships, maybe, or more than ten or less than ten?

ELLIOTT: Oh, in the harbor or laying at anchor out there, I'd say there was, uh, uh fifteen, 25--

KELLY: Okay.

ELLIOTT: --maybe more.

KELLY: And, and, and looking back, uh, right at where the loading point, as you look back up the roads coming down toward the harbor, are you seeing convoys and things coming in there or.

ELLIOTT: Well, there was troops, uh, see, they had an area all around there where they, uh, any of the area that was open, why, you'd see tents set up and what have you, and you was just sitting there waiting to load.

KELLY: Um-hm.

ELLIOTT: And, uh--

KELLY: Do you see some coming out of the tent area and some coming in? Troops coming and going?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, well, they'd tell that unit they was ready to load them after they got all their equipment and everything loaded, they'd break 00:40:00tents and, or they had the tents there that stayed there, and they'd, they'd come on out and load on the ship. Now, we pulled out into the, out of the dock after we were loaded and sat out there, uh, the rest of the day and whatnot, and then we head over into the, moved out under darkness on over to the beach. And we sat out there off the beach for, and that's when we really sweated because the U-boats were, were operating around there and one of them got inside of our, our convoy there and he, uh, if I am not mistaken, he sank one ship and he, he sprayed the ship we were on with machine-gun fire.

KELLY: The, the U-boat?


KELLY: Were you aware of it?

ELLIOTT: You're damn right I was aware of it.

KELLY: Um, how--

ELLIOTT: I was standing up there looking over the edge and he, he, I think that's who he was shooting at, me and my exec officer.


KELLY: The 5th, on the 5th of, uh, this is the 5th of June?

ELLIOTT: No, no, this is on the--

KELLY: Fourth?


KELLY: See, they landed on the sixth.

ELLIOTT: Let's see, they landed on the sixth. This was the night of the sixth, I guess.

KELLY: The night of the sixth.


KELLY: And they, and they, and they, did you see the ship that they sunk? Did you see it go down?

ELLIOTT: As well as I remember, we, we saw it go down. It was in the, he got in the convoy. They got the U-boat before he got out, you know, before he got away, but.

KELLY: Did you see them get the U-boat or you--

ELLIOTT: No, I couldn't see that.

KELLY: But, but, you, you, you actually saw the U-boat?

ELLIOTT: No, I didn't see him, all I know is we were standing there ----(??) and just all of a sudden, it just sounded like a riveting gun. And it hit about that low, below, below where we were. And then, uh--

KELLY: Did it punch holes in the ship?

ELLIOTT: No, but it, it, it played tit-tat-too on that son of a buck.

KELLY: Got your attention, huh?

ELLIOTT: Me and the exec officer, it would have cut us both right in half, in two if it had been about a foot higher.

KELLY: It just missed you by about a foot.


ELLIOTT: Yeah, and we went, we decided it was time for us to go below, below deck or to get the hell out of there, and so we did, and then we were all down there pretty well asleep. And either the U-boat, or they, or when they got the U-boat, they set off a depth charge and it, it had a, a, it rolled people out of bed and everything else, and, of course, in that blackout, you know, you couldn't light anything or what have you. Why, we had quite a, quite a problem getting everybody quieted down and what have you because there was a lot of panic, and everybody wanted to get on board, up on top because they didn't want to, if that ship was going to sink, they didn't want to be down in the--

KELLY: In the hold.

ELLIOTT: --hold, see. We finally got it all settled down. I know one of my men, uh, I don't think he ever did find one boot because he took his boots off. Then, uh, then we landed the--


KELLY: Well, when--

ELLIOTT: --next, the next--

KELLY: Before you, before you go to the landing, a-on that, uh--(clears throat)--on that little, uh, panic there, let me turn this over.

[End of Tape 1, Side 1]

[Beginning of Tape 1, Side 2]

KELLY: Uh, an explosion or something that, after that submarine had, had attacked your ship.

ELLIOTT: Well, it was after we went back down in there--

KELLY: Yeah--

ELLIOTT: --and--

KELLY: --and, and then there was kind of a panic with, with the troops trying to get up on top.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, we had to, we had to--

KELLY: Well, just kind of--

ELLIOTT: --finally got them quieted down some.

KELLY: Just kind of describe what happened there.

ELLIOTT: Well, it was a--(Kelly clears throat)--uh, sort of like at a, I'd say, at a theater and there was a fire or something, or everybody thought there was or somebody hollered fire. Because everybody was wanting to get up, uh, get up out of that hold. But we finally got them quieted down and--

KELLY: Were, were they kind of jamming up against the door as they were trying to get out, is that what--


ELLIOTT: Well, they were--

KELLY: --you're talking about?

ELLIOTT: --jamming up trying to get up the ladder--

KELLY: Um-hm.

ELLIOTT: --to get out of there.

KELLY: Uh, uh, how did you get, how did you get it quieted down?

ELLIOTT: Well, we just kept, uh--

KELLY: Somebody get up and say--

ELLIOTT: --hollering, we just kept trying to holler over them to, to, "Hold it! Hold it! There is nothing wrong with this ship, it's all right, that was just a depth charge."

KELLY: That's the officers that were saying this?


KELLY: Were, were you one of them that was doing that?

ELLIOTT: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, me and Lieutenant [Skye?], my exec officer.

KELLY: So how, how, how big a--(clears throat)--group of men were you hollering at?

ELLIOTT: Well, everything that was back through that hold that we were in.

KELLY: Uh, were, were all of them in that one hold or was there more than one hold--


KELLY: --on the ship?

ELLIOTT: --there was more than one.

KELLY: About how many holds were there?

ELLIOTT: I, I don't, I don't remember.

KELLY: About how many men were in this hold--

ELLIOTT: Well, they was, uh--

KELLY: --a hundred?

ELLIOTT: --all our company was in that hold.

KELLY: All that company? Over, about 150, then?


KELLY: Okay. Now, now your company, these are black troops?


KELLY: With white officers, all officers are white?


KELLY: And--

ELLIOTT: I had three.

KELLY: --is that the same company you served with in the desert?



KELLY: Okay. All right. Um, you, uh, anything else now on the, as you cross the water, cross the channel there?

ELLIOTT: No, not until the next morning, and I think that's the reason they let you sit out there all night, because the next morning they didn't have no problems with nobody not wanting to go over the side into them, uh, landing crafts, because, uh, you didn't want to sit out there another night, as I said, you wanted to get your feet on dry land somewhere.

KELLY: You're motivated to get on the ground?

ELLIOTT: That's right.

KELLY: Now, is this, uh, is this June the 6th you're going to go ashore, or June the 7th?

ELLIOTT: I believe it was either, uh, late in the afternoon, uh, the brigade was already in. They went in the morning on D-Day, the--

KELLY: Which brigade is this?

ELLIOTT: Special brigade. 1st, uh--

KELLY: Is this a, this a supply, uh--

ELLIOTT: No, no. This is the amphib. It, they called them the 1st Special Brigade. And there, actually there was a 1st, uh, uh--


KELLY: Wave?

ELLIOTT: --Amphib Brigade, is what they were. It was, uh, it was set up strictly for landings, to support landings and whatnot on the, on the beach.

KELLY: Okay, and you were, you were attached to that brigade?

ELLIOTT: Attached to it, yeah.

KELLY: Uh-huh, it was a landing brigade.


KELLY: Called a landing brigade?


KELLY: And it had already gone in.

ELLIOTT: And I was thinking we went in on the afternoon of the 6th, or it may have been sometime in the morning of the, of the 7th, I don't remember now just which night we laid out there. I know we got an arrowhead for being in the invasion, so, uh, as part of the invasion force. So I don't remember--

KELLY: It was either, it was either D-Day or D+1.

ELLIOTT: Yeah. Yeah.

KELLY: All right, uh--(clears throat)--were you, uh, do, do you remember the morning when they, you know, when the, when the airplanes came over and, and did the bombing just at daylight? And then, uh--

ELLIOTT: You mean at St. Lo?

KELLY: No, no, at--

ELLIOTT: Or are you talking about on the beaches?

KELLY: Yeah.


KELLY: Did, did you see you that or did you sleep through that, or do 00:47:00you know?

ELLIOTT: Well, uh, that's the reason I say we must have come in on, uh, on the seventh, because I don't remember that, we was still out in the channel.

KELLY: And you, and you don't remember the bombardment of the beaches by the naval--


KELLY: --guns?

ELLIOTT: --now, the day they bombarded St. Lo, that the air was full of airplanes just constant like a--

KELLY: Yeah.

ELLIOTT: --swarm of birds all day long, I remember that very well.

KELLY: All right, we will talk about that in just a minute. Uh--(clears throat)--let's go ahead and go ashore. So as, as far as, as going ashore is concerned, you weren't in the midst of, uh, heavy preparation fires from the navy or, uh, bombing by the air force, by the time you got ready to go ashore, that was all over?

ELLIOTT: Well, the navy was still firing, uh, all their heavy guns over our head onto the--

KELLY: As you were going in?

ELLIOTT: --yeah, onto the shore, they were still firing.

KELLY: Okay.

ELLIOTT: ----(??)

KELLY: Kind, kind of describe your, describe your--

ELLIOTT: They were firing, but it wasn't constant fire, they'd fire, find, somebody would find a target and call back and they'd be firing 00:48:00on it and then they'd ----(??)

KELLY: Just describe that scene of you being on that LST, whatever it was, and, and at the moment you get ready to offload and, you know, what you're seeing on the water, what you're seeing in the air, what you're seeing with the troops around you, and as you, what you see as you load onto the other craft and what happens, and, and what you're seeing as you're going ashore, and your, and your thoughts.

ELLIOTT: Well, uh, the thing was, as we went over the, got the, uh, LST as close as they could and then they brought out the--

KELLY: How close--

ELLIOTT: --landing--

KELLY: --how close are you, you think?

ELLIOTT: --landing craft. Oh, we was out a--

KELLY: Mile?

ELLIOTT: --I'd say, uh--

KELLY: Half-mile?

ELLIOTT: --we was out, out of range of the, of anything from the shore up there. I'd say we was out, probably, we could see the shore but we 00:49:00couldn't tell much about what was actually going on up there.

KELLY: When you loaded onto--


KELLY: --the LCIs?

ELLIOTT: Yeah. Yeah.

KELLY: Loaded [sic Landing] Craft Infantry.

ELLIOTT: And then we went over the side of the ship on the--

KELLY: All right. What, what are you seeing?

ELLIOTT: --landing net.

KELLY: What are you seeing, you know, to your right and left and in the air?

ELLIOTT: Nothing but ships. I mean they was a little piece apart, but I mean they was just--

KELLY: As far as you could see?

ELLIOTT: --just about as far as you could see, there was ships.

KELLY: What kind of ships?


KELLY: Mostly LSTs?

ELLIOTT: Mostly LSTs, and then they had some of the amphibious, uh, trucks and the LC, uh, landing crafts, the LC, uh--


ELLIOTT: Whatever you call them, LCTs or whatever it was. And they were just, at, uh, they were just thick as, as could be in the surf coming out and picking up people and going in. You couldn't hardly have fired, uh, or dropped anything out there without hitting one of, 00:50:00hitting something. They was just that thick.

KELLY: Was there any enemy artillery or gunfire coming out around your ship?

ELLIOTT: Nothing except that, that, uh, one, uh, pillbox up there, and they had it pretty well knocked out because he wasn't able to fire out into the bay anymore. But he was hitting stuff on the, on the beach now and then, and he must have just about run out of ammunition because, uh, he was just firing at certain, certain things, and he wasn't firing a, one shot and then it would be quite a spell before he'd fire another one.

KELLY: What beach is this you're going ashore on?


KELLY: Utah?

ELLIOTT: Utah was up toward Cher--Cherbourg, uh, Saint, down by St. Lo on Omaha was the one where they, most of the infantry and everything went in, now, they, uh, I was trying to think what the infantry division was that went in up at, an armored division that went in up at, uh, uh, Utah Beach, but I can't remember just offhand right now.



ELLIOTT: Gen. Patton unloaded on our beach. He came in about D--I don't remember just when it was, I remember very well we dropped his, his trailer in the drink, I remember that. And I know the brigade commander never did make general--(laughs)--until after the war was over. (Laughs)

KELLY: Probably because he dropped that trailer, huh?

ELLIOTT: (Laughs) I wouldn't doubt it.

KELLY: Um, when you got, uh, on shore, did you, your unit take any, well, did any, any, any, any incidents occur as you were going ashore on the LCI, before you got ashore?

ELLIOTT: Other than the thing that the, he run up on a sand bar and dropped that gate end out there and it was in the, it was still in ten, twelve foot of water, and I had him pull it back up and back up and 00:52:00go on in until it hit shore so when that gate went down, why, we had a ramp to run off on, and we could tell then the water wasn't over three or, about four foot deep. Four or five, whatever it was, four foot, I guess it was. Three or four foot deep, and then we got ashore and got, oh, back to, got a roll call, we didn't get cluttered up together, we had to keep them scattered out a little. But, uh, and took off. We were going up to, they had an apple orchard up there on the, right on top of the hill and we didn't any more get up there than we come to receiving gasoline in cans that they had brought in. Shiploads of them, you know, were coming over. And we unloaded our own trucks and whatnot and set up a dump up there in that apple orchard.

KELLY: How far is this apple orchard from the--

ELLIOTT: It's up on top of the--

KELLY: --beach?

ELLIOTT: --cliff. I'd say it's a couple of mile up there.

KELLY: A couple of miles?



KELLY: H-how did you get, when you got off your, your LS--LCI, uh, how did you get from there to the apple orchard?

ELLIOTT: Walked.

KELLY: Walked?

ELLIOTT: Walked up that hill.

KELLY: All right, how did you get your trucks? Where did you, did you get your trucks? When did you get--

ELLIOTT: When they unloaded the trucks, they let us know and we went, uh, we sent drivers and all back down there.

KELLY: To get them.

ELLIOTT: To get them, yeah.

KELLY: Okay, uh, that beach must have been a busy, busy place, can you kind of--

It was.

KELLY: --describe what you saw?

ELLIOTT: And there was vehicles that was blown up, and, you know, where they had fired down there on it and what have you. And it was just, uh, looked like a, a riot at a rock concert, I'd say, everything was scattered in every direction, in other words, if something broke down, they just pulled it off the side then, because they wouldn't, they was trying to get everything on shore and they didn't have time to fool with it, and then--

KELLY: Was there kind of--

ELLIOTT: ----(??)

KELLY: --a road network put together down there, or--


ELLIOTT: There was a road that, that went up, up the hill, but it was just this one, one road up and one road down.

KELLY: Was, uh, was it bumper-to-bumper and man-to-man and shoulder- to-shoulder?

ELLIOTT: Well, it was just about that, yeah. Just about bumper-to- bumper and man-to-man, oh, there was a little space in there every now and then, but, uh, we walked the troops all up there and then we had to go back and get our ----(??) and we, we--

KELLY: Was it pretty well organized, that, that, that, uh, unloading?

ELLIOTT: It was well organized, yeah.

KELLY: And the movement was fast?

ELLIOTT: The movement was, the movement was fast, there wasn't nobody dragging their feet.

KELLY: When, when, how long did you have to mill around on the beach as soon as you got off the LCI? Were, were you moving pretty--

ELLIOTT: Just as soon as I got everybody off, off of the ship, uh, the LST, and onto the LCI and got them on board, why, as soon as we got the first bunch, why, we sent, sent them, they had a guy there to show them where to go. They took, uh, about three people in a Jeep and run them up there and showed them where it, where it was and come back, and then 00:55:00I put a, one of the sergeants that was in charge of that, well, I put one lieutenant. And they took that bunch up and another one took, took the next bunch up and then--

KELLY: As you got off, you went right on up?

ELLIOTT: Right on up, yeah.

KELLY: How long did it take you to get up there and get, kind of get your company together?

ELLIOTT: Oh, it took us about, I'd say about three hours by the time we got up on top of the hill and got everything together. Then we had to get our kitchen truck up there and had to get all that stuff, you know, and get a headquarters tent set up.

KELLY: All right, just looking at the beach again--

ELLIOTT: It took us a couple of days. ----(??)

KELLY: --you said looked like, um, a riot at, at a concert had occurred there, a lot of discarded equipment, I guess you're talking about. We-were there still, uh, bodies laying around then, at that time?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, there was some bodies laying around.

KELLY: American?

ELLIOTT: Some Americans and some, uh, some Germans, now, when we got on up on the top of the hill, you got around any of those, uh, uh bunkers or anywhere up in there, you could see them and there were still some 00:56:00of the, uh, you could find some paratroopers, a few paratroopers, uh, where they'd hung in the trees or whatnot, then they'd shot them, the Germans had, or whatnot, while they were still hanging there with their, on the, uh, with their chutes.

KELLY: How long did that last before they got them down?

ELLIOTT: Oh, that lasted, in some cases, uh, uh, several days.

KELLY: Did it?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, because, see, the weather was cool over there and whatnot. And even in June, you are right there on that North Sea and it's, it's cool there the year around. And they got them down just as fast as they could, they picked up the bodies as fast as they could, but they was, uh, they, uh, I'd say they was a couple of days getting them down, but--

KELLY: Did that kind of demoralize the troops?


ELLIOTT: Yeah. And then there was--

KELLY: It's kind of a principle with the, with the grave registration people to get them off and out of the battlefield--


KELLY: --to--

ELLIOTT: --as soon as possible.

KELLY: --to keep the, uh, morale up of the troops.


KELLY: Did, did, did that affect your morale of your troops some, you think?


KELLY: Your own morale, did it affect your own morale?

ELLIOTT: No, it didn't, didn't affect my morale. It, uh, it, it put you to thinking, though.

KELLY: What the war is all about?

ELLIOTT: Yeah. And a lot of those gliders that came in and whatnot were wrecked and whatnot, and they was, some of them slammed into those, uh, hedgerows, and there would be some men on them that was, uh, was killed. They, there were several of them gliders ----(??)

KELLY: Y-you were seeing the results of war. Y-you--

ELLIOTT: Yeah, it's just like you see when you're watching a movie of the dang thing, is what it amounts to. Now, St. Mere-Eglise was the 00:58:00closest town. And--

KELLY: How far were you from St. Marie-Eglise?

ELLIOTT: Well, we were just there on the beach, right, the road led right up to St. Mere-Eglise.

KELLY: How far was it from where you were, a mile, two miles?

ELLIOTT: I can't remember now. I mean this is--

KELLY: Ten miles? You could see it? Could you see St. Marie-Eglise from where you were?

ELLIOTT: You could see it, uh, from out in the bay you could see it.

KELLY: But not from, not from your beach or--

ELLIOTT: Not from when we got up on the beach because you got trees and everything else up through there. But they, uh, and we had trouble with snipers and what have you because--

KELLY: Snipers bothering you the whole time you were there?

ELLIOTT: They, uh, see, the Germans had been over there so long that a lot of them had, uh, they had moved all the Frenchmen along that area out of the, uh--(Kelly clears throat)--they'd moved all the Frenchmen along that area, the French people, out of there except the ones that were German sympathizers, and a lot of the Frenchmen, a lot of the, uh, 00:59:00Germans had married French girls and what have you, and they kept them, they were still living there. But most of the Frenchmen were glad to see us. But you still had some sympathizers and whatnot that, uh, figured, I guess, that when the Frenchmen, whenever it become, whenever the Germans got out, the Frenchmen was going to kill them because they had sympathized--(laughs)--with the Germans--

KELLY: Uh-hm.

ELLIOTT: --I guess.

KELLY: Um-hm. How long you're going to stay there?


KELLY: How long are you going to stay in that apple orchard?

ELLIOTT: We stayed in that apple orchard from, uh, oh, let's see, when did, when did they bomb St. Lo? We were still there when they bombed St. Lo.

KELLY: That was in August, I believe, early August, wasn't it?

ELLIOTT: Uh, I know we kept getting the news that we, that they had 01:00:00it cleared back ten miles, and then the next thing we'd know it was twelve miles, it wasn't going too fast there on the first. And we'd laugh about it and said, "Well, we'd better get us, take us out a boat down there in case we had to go back to England," you know, and all, but they cleared it out up to Cherbourg and then got it cleared across the peninsula, so everything, why, it got everything out of that area. Then they started down toward St. Lo but, of course, Patton and his tanks, they just took off.

KELLY: When, uh, Patton came ashore, the Third Army, are you seeing some of that, offloading of the Third Army and movement of the Third Army? And are you supplying them with gas?

ELLIOTT: I was supplying some of them with gas, yes. But, see, what we- -(Kelly clears throat)--were doing then, we were taking the, uh, hauling the cans off the ship up to the, uh, to the area where we were, uh, 01:01:00well, I guess you'd say we set up a little depot. And then they were sending, the truck companies were hauling it on up to Patton. See, we were--

KELLY: Y-you were mostly--

ELLIOTT: --we were sort of--

KELLY: --setting up a depot.

ELLIOTT: --like a bulk plant.

KELLY: Yeah.


KELLY: Yeah, you were, you were a wholesaler.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah.

KELLY: So you were collecting it off the ship and bringing it up there, how many, how many, how many five-gallon cans are you talking about there in that depot? You talking about, you must be talking about a whole lot of cans, huh?

ELLIOTT: Oh, there was thousands of them.

KELLY: Just that one company handling them?

ELLIOTT: Yeah. We was moving cans all the time right up ----(??)

KELLY: Just, are you moving two cans at a time or do you have them on pallets, moving them with a, some kind of a lift?

ELLIOTT: No, we was loading them on the truck by hand and--

KELLY: Offloading them by hand?

ELLIOTT: --offloading them by hand and stacking them up. And we put them, so many in a, in a stack, I forget how many we even had in a stack now, but the stack generally would run about, uh, oh, as wide as this room, I'd say fifteen foot long and about--(coughs)--six or seven 01:02:00foot wide.

KELLY: Having that gasoline around you, that, that bulk is kind of dangerous when there's--

ELLIOTT: Yeah, we didn't keep it real close to the--

KELLY: Troop area?

ELLIOTT: --the, the ----(??)

KELLY: Was it kind of, was it--

ELLIOTT: ----(??)

KELLY: --was it kind of dug in some, or was it just on the top of the ground?

ELLIOTT: No, it was just sitting on the top of the ground, and sometimes you'd go load a can and it'd be empty when you'd get to looking at it- -(yawns)--where there had been a dogfight up there with some airplanes the day before or something, and some of them would have a, a hole shot plumb through them where they probably was nose diving when they pulled the trigger or something.

KELLY: Looked like that would have caught it, would set it on fire.

ELLIOTT: No, it didn't. I don't know whether ----(??)

KELLY: Did that, that happen often or just some?

ELLIOTT: No, no. It would happen--

KELLY: Just occasionally?

ELLIOTT: --maybe you'd, you'd find one every day or two, loading, you know, and what have you. And then you wouldn't find any for awhile. But they'd, uh--(Kelly clears throat)--generally, it looked like a, uh.


KELLY: Anything unusual happen to you while you were sitting there--


KELLY: --your unit?

ELLIOTT: --the only thing was is that bomb that, uh, they dropped on us there that day, it was, it was about a, I'd say about a 500-pounder, 250 or 500-pounder, I guess, it was a, I'd say, maybe 250, because it didn't, when it hit that apple tree, why, it just exploded in air, it was, and, uh, it just blowed all the, shredded some of them apple trees, and, we were in behind some hedgerows and that's the same way we done the cans, if there was a hedgerow there or something we could get them close to, to protect them from one side or what have you, we'd put them in there, but they, uh, they dropped that bomb, two planes up there dogfighting, and I reckon one of them, or maybe it was the 01:04:00other one, didn't have a bomb and he was having the advantage, and just dropped it and you could hear it coming down, just a whistling like a, oh, sshhhhhhhh, just getting louder all the time. I looked up there and I saw that thing coming and I let out a war whoop for everybody to hit the dirt and get in, and I had the CP tent dug in up to the, this old pyramidal tent and I had it dug in up to the edge of the, of the, uh, where ----(??). And I dived over the desk right into the floor and, and it went off as I was in air, but all it done was just, ground sort of quivered, but other than that, it didn't hurt anybody. I had one little boy there that didn't weigh about 120 pounds, we used him to, he was my orderly. He was so small that his helmet, he had to 01:05:00wear it backwards or it would fall down over his eyes. And I knew he was a little hard of hearing, I'd nursed him all the way through the port out of New York, and out of England into Ger--Germany. And he was coming out of the mess tent, and when the concussion went off, it was just lucky didn't nothing hit him, but the concussion blew him back in between two of them field ranges, and he jumped up and come running out of there wanting to know who in the devil pushed him or who hit him, and I told the first sergeant, I said, "You better get him over there to the medics and tell them he can't hear nothing, because he's going to get killed," and about a month later we got a letter from him in Houston, Texas.

KELLY: They took him back, huh?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, they took him back.

KELLY: Did you, did--

ELLIOTT: But we lost one man, and, killed, and had about five or six injured, two of them, two or three of them was serious, and we never 01:06:00did hear of them afterwards, I don't know, because we moved out and they went back to England, you know, shipped out and whatnot.

KELLY: Did you stay there until St. Lo breakout?

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah, we, we didn't go out until after St. Lo broke out.

KELLY: All right.

ELLIOTT: Then we moved in.

KELLY: Um, when Patton came ashore, did you see him or anything?

ELLIOTT: I saw him with his pearl-handled guns and whatnot, but I--

KELLY: Some distance from him?

ELLIOTT: --I didn't aim for him to see me, I stayed out of the way, because, uh, he was a fine old gentleman, but he was, he was a little.

KELLY: Unpredictable.

ELLIOTT: He was unpredictable, yeah, unpredictable.

KELLY: You figured the best course of action was just to see him from a distance.

ELLIOTT: Just see him from a distance. I just happened to accidentally see him, I wouldn't, if I had knew he was there I wouldn't have been down there.

KELLY: Is that right?


KELLY: Um--(clears throat)--St. Lo. Can you kind of describe what you saw on that--

ELLIOTT: Well, that morning, early, about, I guess we was having 01:07:00breakfast about daylight. Then--(pause)--the first thing we knew, uh, you could just hear a constant roar, and we looked up and the sky was just thick with airplanes, just, um, you couldn't imagine it if you didn't see it, hardly, how many was in the air. And we thought, "Well, that'll, uh, wonder how many they're going to send over?" Well, when we eat dinner, there was just as many going over as there was when we eat breakfast. And they just blew St. Lo off the map.

KELLY: When you're talking about them coming over--(clears throat)--you talking about one column of, or are you talking about converging columns?

ELLIOTT: Well, they'd be, a squadron flying like a bunch of geese. They'd be flying in, uh.

KELLY: In a V- type formation?


KELLY: Well, would there, would there be, would there be, uh, be squadrons, uh, abreast and then squadrons in depth?



KELLY: So how wide was this formation?


KELLY: How many planes wide? You talking about ten, fifteen, twenty?

ELLIOTT: Oh, my God, it--

KELLY: More than that?

ELLIOTT: --it was more than that. It was, uh, I'd say it was, oh, Lord, I'd almost be afraid to guess, but there was, just about as, about as far as you could see in any direction, it was airplanes.

KELLY: On the left and right, in other words--

ELLIOTT: Left and right.

KELLY: Yeah. A-and then, and then they were, they were, there was a column in depth as far as you could see, right?

ELLIOTT: That's right, yeah.

KELLY: And th-they would have stayed that way--

ELLIOTT: I'd say, I'd say it was as wide as from here to Harrodsburg; it was at least two mile wide.

KELLY: Um-hm.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, ----(??)

KELLY: And then as, then as long as you could see.

ELLIOTT: And just kept a coming as long as you could see.

KELLY: These B--

ELLIOTT: Once in a while there'd be a little break in but it wouldn't be--

KELLY: --B-17s we're talking about now?


KELLY: Um, how far are you from St. Lo.



KELLY: Ten miles or so?


KELLY: Maybe more?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah, we was, I expect we were, hell, I can get my map out here and tell you, but--

KELLY: Just roughly.

ELLIOTT: --I'd say we was twenty-five or thirty mile.

KELLY: Could you hear the bombs falling?

ELLIOTT: No, ----(??)

KELLY: Could you see the bombs? You, you were just seeing the airplanes.

ELLIOTT: Just seeing the airplanes--

KELLY: Did you all--

ELLIOTT: --yes.

KELLY: --know anything about this St. Lo breakout? Or what, what did you all, did you all know anything about what was going on or.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, we had an idea of what was going on because, see, St. Lo had a big hill there and they had, it was all, uh, tunneled, all through that thing and under it, and they had, uh, built, uh, storage areas and everything else under, under there.

KELLY: Kind of a defensive line there?


KELLY: Um-hm. Main line of resistance?

ELLIOTT: And they, they, they just blew that thing. They just made rubble out of St. Lo. I was through there about two or three days later when we pulled out of there, a few days later.


KELLY: Had you been in there before that?

ELLIOTT: No, I hadn't.

KELLY: Not had occasion? You mostly were on the, in the apple orchard or down on the shore.

ELLIOTT: That's right, either there or up at the, up at the, uh, dump, one of the two. But we didn't have time to get out and do too much ----(??)

KELLY: All right, when you get into St. Lo three days later, what do you see?

ELLIOTT: Well, we just see this big pile of, looks like rubble, right there in the middle of town, and the road went right around it. And it was, uh--

KELLY: The whole town was just a pile of rubble?

ELLIOTT: That was just about the, just about the ----(??)

KELLY: Somebody told me that went through there, that every once in a while you'd see one that wasn't hurt at all, one building.

ELLIOTT: Oh, you'd see one sitting over here, might be a, uh, sort of like a cyclone going through, you know--

KELLY: Um-hm.

ELLIOTT: --or a tornado.

KELLY: Be one left?

ELLIOTT: There'd be one left, you know, that--

KELLY: Everything else was knocked out, and one left.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, um-hm. Be--

KELLY: Are you still, are you--

ELLIOTT: --be a barn or a--

KELLY: --are you--

ELLIOTT: --uh--

KELLY: --are you still seeing bodies laying around--

ELLIOTT: Oh, there was, um--

KELLY: --three days later?


ELLIOTT: --they weren't actually, they weren't actually laying out where you could see them, they had them all pretty well, uh, picked up along the road and all that and whatnot, I'm sure there were several around there because it was--

KELLY: But you weren't seeing them?

ELLIOTT: --there was quite a, still, uh, I guess it was a week after they bombed it before we went through there.

KELLY: Where did you go from there?

ELLIOTT: Well, let's see, where did we go? We went on down, we went from there on up towards Paris.

KELLY: Anything unusual happen to you between there and Paris?


KELLY: Did you go through Paris?

ELLIOTT: We went up and down through there so many times--(laughs)--I'm trying to figure out which time, where we went which time.

KELLY: Um-hm, hard to figure out.

ELLIOTT: We went, uh, no, I'll tell you, we went, we went down through 01:12:00Le Havre and then cut up through Belgium. Went through, uh, we, our next stop and operation was at [Mons?], Belgium. And that's where, uh, we were there when the, uh, Battle of the Bulge started in, uh, I think that was in about December, wasn't it?

KELLY: December 19th, '44.

ELLIOTT: In December, and then that was when we went back, then, up to Cherbourg, right out of Cherbourg, and got this gasoline all out, and then we went back up through there, and through Liege and on over through, uh, Aachen, Germany.

KELLY: Did you go to Liege, uh, after the Bulge?


KELLY: Okay.

ELLIOTT: --yeah, yeah.

KELLY: And then Aachen, Germany.

ELLIOTT: We didn't go back up through there until we got all that gas out, and by that time, the Bulge was over.

KELLY: Um-hm.



KELLY: And then Aachen, German, uh, were, were you setting up a depot over there or something?

ELLIOTT: No, we just went through there. And by this time we were, we were more--

KELLY: This is in '45 now, isn't it?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, we were more or less picking up gas and bringing it to them, to the armored divisions because, see, before we were picking it up--

KELLY: Bringing it to the depot.

ELLIOTT: --running the pipelines and whatnot, you know, where it was coming in and, and all.

KELLY: There, there was a pipeline across the channel that was delivering that gas into, uh, the beachhead there?

ELLIOTT: I don't know where it was coming from, to be honest about it.

KELLY: But there was a pipeline where you were--


KELLY: --getting your gas?

ELLIOTT: --yeah.

KELLY: Right after D-Day? Just shortly after D-Day?

ELLIOTT: Right after that, uh, when we went back up there and got-- (Kelly clears throat)--no, right after D-Day we was getting it direct from, uh--

KELLY: Ships.

ELLIOTT: --ships, yeah. Yeah, we'd get it from ships; it was already in cans and barrels. We'd get a lot of barrels.

KELLY: How long was it before you were getting it by the pipe--


KELLY: --a month?

ELLIOTT: --well, we didn't get it by the pipe until, oh, along about 01:14:00before the Bulge. We were up right out of, uh, Cherbourg. We went the other direction instead of going back to the front there for a while, because we was taking it out of the pipeline, pumping it, filling these cans and stuff, storing them, stacking them. And we, we were still there when the, until after the Bulge.

KELLY: In Cherbourg.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, we pulled out of there and went up towards the front, up through Bel--into Belgium, then we pulled back to, uh, right south of Cherbourg, and, where this dump was set up, and got them all out of there, and then we went on back up to Cherbourg where we had been before, and pumped it out of a pipeline and all. And then we took off, 01:15:00and when they, uh, got on up towards the Rhine River and whatnot, why, we took off up through there then, into Germany and whatnot. And then they were hauling it in to us with a truck. We didn't have any coming in by pipeline.

KELLY: With tankers?


KELLY: And then the, and--

ELLIOTT: We were filling the--

KELLY: Filling the--

ELLIOTT: --cans.

KELLY: --five-gallon cans. A-and then, and then you were, you were, you were retailing it out to the divisions then?


KELLY: To their supply points.

ELLIOTT: Right on.

KELLY: Yeah, one company per division, or was it going to be more than that?

ELLIOTT: Well, generally it was just one company to a division because--

KELLY: W-well, that division, uh, an armored division would use thousands of gallons of gasoline.


KELLY: So how did one little company take care of them?


KELLY: Must have worked--

ELLIOTT: --the thing is, I don't know how many were taking care of them, I mean there was one company that was taking it out of the bulk plant and putting it into the cans. And, see, we could pump a hell of a lot of gas. We had a pipe laying there with, with hoses on it all the way down through there, you know, a whole bunch of four-inch pipes.


KELLY: So you'd have a whole lot of five-gallon cans being filled at one time?

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

KELLY: Coming out of the--

ELLIOTT: Bunches of them.

KELLY: --coming out of the tanker.


KELLY: So you, you were, and, and then, then, uh, from, from where you were taking it, you were still kind of a depot then.

ELLIOTT: That's right. We were still a depot.

KELLY: And, and the division supply people were coming back there to get it.

ELLIOTT: That's right, they were coming back after it, the regiments and whatnot, and they'd bring tankers back there and we'd fill them up and whatnot like that.

KELLY: Tankers and five-gallon cans.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

KELLY: And you, you, you, actually, you were seeing a lot of gasoline going out--

ELLIOTT: Yeah, and the hell of it was, there, after they got up there, that's the reason we pulled out of Cherbourg, quit pumping it there, is that it got to where, uh, we'd ship out a two-and-a-half ton load, and by the time it got to the front, hell, it wouldn't have half the load.

KELLY: Black market?


KELLY: Uh, talk about that a little. Um, and talk about your black troops, you, a-at this time, the army wasn't integrated and, and we hadn't had the civil rights legislation and the, and the, and the, and the change in attitude, change in our culture because of that, you 01:17:00know. Uh, what was, what was your attitude toward those black soldiers at that time?

ELLIOTT: Well, the ones we had were ideal, we told them that we were just there to supervise them, it was their outfit, and if somebody messed up, we told them that he was bringing disgrace on their race and whatnot, but we didn't have any problems with them.

KELLY: You had, uh, they were--

ELLIOTT: And they got to where that, uh, they wouldn't even hardly, if some company over there got to getting into a little trouble and whatnot, they wouldn't have nothing to do with them, said they, they, they was a disgrace to the race. They wouldn't have a thing to do with them, they was pretty well on their, on their own ----(??)

KELLY: As far as you were concerned, they were good soldiers and they performed--

ELLIOTT: We had all--

KELLY: --well?

ELLIOTT: --Southern boys and they performed good, what, what we were doing.

KELLY: Um-hm. You were tickled with them.


KELLY: There wasn't any racial incidents or--


KELLY: --problems--

ELLIOTT: --no. No.

KELLY: --as far as you were concerned.

ELLIOTT: Uh-uh, didn't have no problems at all.

KELLY: (Clears throat) Well--

ELLIOTT: And they, uh, uh, then when they started integrating, I think 01:18:00I had two men that, when they sent back if any of them wanted to go, right there on the last.

KELLY: Want to go to the front?

ELLIOTT: Want to go to the front. Why, and I sent, uh, I think two, one little sergeant and, and somebody else, I don't remember who he was.

KELLY: Why, why, why would they have wanted to go to the front, do you know?

ELLIOTT: Well, they wanted to--

KELLY: Prove that they were soldiers?

ELLIOTT: --prove that they was as good as the white boys--

KELLY: Did--

ELLIOTT: --I guess.

KELLY: --did, did you talk to them about it any? Did you ask them about it?

ELLIOTT: Oh, I don't remember now.

KELLY: You don't remember talking about it?

ELLIOTT: No, I don't remember now.

KELLY: Any of them from Kentucky, these two boys, either one of them? Do you know them?

ELLIOTT: Most of them were from Mississippi and--

KELLY: When was this that -

ELLIOTT: --Louisiana.

KELLY: --they kind of opened it up? Was this aft--this was right after the Bulge, wasn't it, when they--

ELLIOTT: Yeah, the latter--

KELLY: --started taking volunteers?

ELLIOTT: --the latter part of the war in Europe. Yeah, because they had all black companies up till then. I mean they had some infantry companies that ----(??)

KELLY: Did some of those black soldiers go to white--



KELLY: --companies?


KELLY: And integrated right into the companies and fought with them?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, but I don't know how it worked out up on that end because I wasn't up there. But it would depend on where your, where your people were from, I guess.

KELLY: Was this after the Bulge or during the Bulge or before the Bulge?

ELLIOTT: No, this was after the Bulge.

KELLY: But not very long after the Bulge, right?

ELLIOTT: No, it was, uh, it was, uh, during the early part of `45, I'd say.

KELLY: It would have to be the early part, because it was over in May, you see.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, that's what I say.

KELLY: Yeah.

ELLIOTT: But what I am saying, it wasn't in `44--

KELLY: Yeah.

ELLIOTT: --as well as I remember, now, I could be mistaken.

KELLY: Okay, when did you cross the Rhine?

ELLIOTT: Well, we crossed the Rhine at, uh, Remegen [sic Remagen].

KELLY: Did you, you cross the Remagen Bridge?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, we crossed the Remegen Bridge.

KELLY: Is it, is it pronounced Remagen or Remegen?

ELLIOTT: Remegen is what we called it.

KELLY: Is that what the Germans called it?

ELLIOTT: Well, that's what we called it over there. I don't know what the Germans called it, but I, Remagen or Remegen, I don't know which--



ELLIOTT: --one.

KELLY: --I think I generally have heard it ce--er--called Remagen, but I, I don't know that that's correct. But in any event, uh, was it, was it, was the bridge still intact or did, had they replaced it by the time, had it collapsed by the time you got there?

ELLIOTT: No, it was, uh, of course, when it collapsed--

KELLY: It only lasted about nine days before it failed, didn't it?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah. But when it collapsed, they threw a Bailey bridge up.

KELLY: Right.

ELLIOT: Yeah, yeah.

KELLY: Well, did you cross the original bridge, or would you go across--

ELLIOTT: We crossed--

KELLY: --the Bailey bridge?

ELLIOTT: --the Bailey, yeah.

KELLY: Okay.

ELLIOTT: And the other was still, still standing there, but, you know, where it collapsed.

KELLY: Right.

ELLIOTT: It was still up, part of it. But we went, then, on up into, uh, on in up to Germany and, God, I can't remember them damn towns up in there. We moved, as the little boy said, we moved so fast that by that time, that when they once crossed that Rhine, they took off, took 01:21:00off like Hogan's goat up through there, Patton did, and went plumb into Czechoslovakia.

KELLY: Where did you end up when the war, it was over?

ELLIOTT: We was up in there, oh, around Nuremberg somewhere.

KELLY: Nuremberg?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, up in that area.

KELLY: Is that right?


KELLY: What did you do when you got the word the war was over?

ELLIOTT: Well, the first thing I done is I got a hold of my man down at, uh, we was with, I believe we was with First Army then. No, we was with Ninth Army. No, we was with First Army and First Army was pulling out, coming back to the States, just as soon as it was over, they are going to be shipping people back to, units back to the States to retraining and going to Japan, going to Europe--I mean the Far East. And First Army was going over there, and I had been with First 01:22:00Army more than I had the Ninth. And I never was with the Third Army but once, I think. And we had staked out a chateau back in [Mons?], Belgium, when we came through there, and put a guard on it. And--

KELLY: Reserved it for yourself, huh?

ELLIOTT: --and we figured that when it was over, why, we needed someplace to go and that was a good place to go. And so, uh, we asked them for permission to pull back there, and the, so First Army gave us permission, we was going to go to Ninth Army, which was staying over there, and I didn't know those people as well as I did the First. So we pulled back into [Mons?], Bel--Belgium, and sat there and played softball and baseball all summer, just keeping the troops happy until the ship came in and then they decided to send them home by, uh, high 01:23:00point units. Practically everybody in my unit was a high point man. So we sat there until, oh, I guess it must have been August or, spent most of the summer playing softball. And then we went to, uh, decided they was going to send them home then by high point unit, and they was getting all the high point men and transferring them into one unit, it didn't matter whether it was infantry or quartermaster or what they were, and so this, me and my exec, my other lieutenant, he hadn't been in as long as we had, he was, he only had about seventy points. All the points he had, he got over there in Europe, because he just got in before he went over there, got in the service. And--(coughs)--me and my exec officer, we both went on back to Cherbourg to one of them big, 01:24:00uh, barracks buildings there on the dock, it had been the navy, German Navy, I mean the French Navy, and then, I guess, the German. And we sat there and tried to keep everybody happy again until, oh, in about the 1st of November, he got word his wife was having problems, she had asthma and whatnot, so he called them up, he, they, they had been sending the people home with the least points because they wanted to try to send them on to Japan, see. And then when the Japanese war was over there in September, why, then they reversed the trend again, and he went on home then, then I sat there until, oh, the first part of November, the middle of November, I guess. And I called up and told them I was ready to go. They wanted to know how many points I had, and 01:25:00I said, "142," I think it was, whatever was the maximum. They said, "Why, you should have went home a long time ago." I said, "I know it, but I don't think you all did." So they had me on the, wasn't but just a day or two, I had orders to report down to, uh, oh, what the hell is the name of that place? Down there, before you hit the--

KELLY: Marseilles, down in that area?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, that's where it was, yeah, down there, and ship out, and the company clerk come up there and told me that my orders was there, and I said, "Well, I'll be down in a minute," it was on a Sunday morning when they come in and told me. And I went on down there and looked and there it was, Capt. Edwin Elliott, wrong serial number, wrong everything. Capt. D. Edwin Elliott.

KELLY: Um-hm. Well, we're about out of tape.



KELLY: And we might just end it with this one tape, but we, we may get out another tape. Um, just right quickly--(clears throat)--you, you decided to stay in the army and stayed in twenty years, right? Or, or--

ELLIOTT: Well, I, when I got back to the States, I asked them what was the fastest way to get home, and they said to sign up to stay in, and I signed up to stay in.

KELLY: And you did stay in and retired.

ELLIOTT: Then I, uh I got out, in January, I asked for, they was going to send me to Japan. I'd only been home a month, I'd been in Europe two years. And I asked for compassionate reasons to stay in the States for a year and they turned me down, and I said, "Thank you," and got out for a year and then went back in and stayed, I wasn't happy the year I was out, so I went back in ----(??)

KELLY: Stayed 25 years. Who did you marry?

ELLIOTT: I married Leona Divine.

KELLY: And you have how many children?

ELLIOTT: I have three living, I lost one.

KELLY: A boy?


KELLY: Okay.

ELLIOTT: --all three boys.

KELLY: All right. Thank you.


[End of Tape 1, Side 2]

[Beginning of Tape 2, Side 1]

KELLY: (Clears throat)--the winding down of the war and, and your, right before you came back home--(clears throat)--you're going to find out your brother is in Europe. Just tell us what, a little bit about that, Virgil.

ELLIOTT: Well, I found out he was with the 2nd Infantry Division in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, and we had pulled back after the war was over to, uh, [Mons?], Belgium. And so I got, took my driver and bed roll and took up off to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. I got up there and I went to see the company commander. He said, "Yeah, he is living up here over a, an old," uh--over there, the houses and the barns and all are made right together. And he was living up in a loft up there, he was sleeping up there, he and a bunch of them, and so, uh, I said, "Well, show me where it is and I'll go up there," and he said, "No, we will send up there and get him." So, uh, they sent up there and got him 01:28:00and said, I think he had slept through, he, he went to sleep on guard the night before or something, and he thought, "How in the world did he find that out?" That he was--(laughs)--finally got down there, he said everything run through his mind and he didn't notice it that, uh, there wasn't any black troops in the 2nd Division at that time and that Jeep was sitting there with two black soldiers in it and he never even noticed that. He come on in and the first sergeant told him, said, "The captain wants you there in the office." And he went through there, and he looked at me, and he grinned and then he, he, he didn't know whether to--(laughs)--

KELLY: Salute?

ELLIOTT: --salute or whether to say hi or what to say, see? So then I stayed up there for about three days with him and came on back to [Mons?], Belgium. And then they sent the 2nd Division back to the States to redeploy to Japan after the war and--


KELLY: He got back before you did.

ELLIOTT: He shipped back on the 23rd day of July. On my birthday, I got a letter from him saying that he had, he had, uh, shipped out in June, no, in, uh, the first week of July. So he was, he was over there two months and I'd done been over there two years. (Laughs)

KELLY: Um, can you kind of describe what the countryside looked like on that thousand mile trip from Belgium into--

ELLIOTT: Well, it's--

KELLY: --Czechoslovakia?

ELLIOTT: --it's like when I was over there, back--

KELLY: What were you, what were you seeing, you know? I mean the, the countryside, the, the cities, and the, and the population, as you went on that trip. What do you--


KELLY: --recall about it?

ELLIOTT: --the big thing was that--(Kelly clears throat)--you'd find the towns were just about a pile of rubble.

KELLY: All, all of them?

ELLIOTT: Most all of them, now, a lot of them you'd see where they'd knock out a whole block and then there, there might not be, uh, maybe, 01:30:00two buildings, two buildings in that block wouldn't be hit. You couldn't understand it, how they could knock them out, and a lot of the bridges were down, and they took bulldozers and pushed all that rubble and all up out of the streets into a big pile, and it's like I told, uh, my wife and the boys, when we were back over there and went through, uh, up through Liege and, uh, going back over into Belgium, on a little, little trip. And I told her, I said, "Well, I have no problem up through here, I've been through here before," and then when I got up there and I couldn't figure out what road to take out of town, she said, "I thought you said, uh, you'd been here before!" I said, "I have, but they've moved all that dirt they had piled up in all these corners here that you went around with all them signs stuck up in them," so Belgium cleaned up real fast, you'd go through there and, 01:31:00a week later you could drive up through there and you couldn't hardly tell that they there had been a war, what I mean, they'd sweep the streets down, they'd wash them down, and the buildings and everything cleaned up and all the debris out of the streets or piled up in one pile, and, and cleaned up. ----(??)

KELLY: Where, where, where you going to Czechoslovakia from?

ELLIOTT: From, uh, [Mons?], which is about, uh, ten or twelve miles below Brussels.

KELLY: Um-hm, so what, what cities are you going to go through in Germany?

ELLIOTT: Well, I went up through--

KELLY: Frankfurt?

ELLIOTT: Oh, in Germany?

KELLY: Um-hm.

ELLIOTT: Uh, gosh, I, I took the highway that went to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, I don't remember the, because I'd been up through there--(Kelly clears throat)--so much, but--

KELLY: Y-you went, you were south of Berlin, weren't you?


KELLY: You weren't going through Berlin.

ELLIOTT: Yeah. No, I didn't go through Berlin. ----(??)

KELLY: (Clears throat) You might have gone through Stuttgart, did you go through Stuttgart?

ELLIOTT: No, Stuttgart is back the other way.


KELLY: Did you go through Nuremberg?


KELLY: Munich?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, I went through Nurem--Nuremberg and Munich and up through that way.

KELLY: All right.

ELLIOTT: No, I didn't go through Munich, Munich is down in the south, uh--

KELLY: Munich is down around--

ELLIOTT: In Bavaria.

KELLY: Yeah.

ELLIOTT: Yeah. I went up through Nuremberg and through [Grafenberg?], up that way.

KELLY: All right, Nuremberg, describe what that looked like. (Clears throat)

ELLIOTT: Well, Nuremberg was pretty well, pretty well hit. But they had, they had several, I reckon you'd say caves or whatnot around there, that they had, they had stored a world of stuff in, that, uh, I know that they got, uh, truckloads of, uh, cognac out of one of them, in, in barrels. I don't remember just when, but it was up around Nuremberg there somewhere, but they all looked about alike if they were bombed, now, if they weren't, well--

KELLY: Well, see, this was, when was this when you were going down to 01:33:00see your brother? What, what month was this?

ELLIOTT: That was in, uh, about--

KELLY: June?

ELLIOTT: --June of '45.

KELLY: This was about a month after the war ended?


KELLY: All right--(clears throat)--at, with Nuremberg, Nuremberg was almost flattened, wasn't it?

ELLIOTT: Nuremberg was, was shot, it was sort of like St. Lo, it was, it was pretty well hit.

KELLY: It was just a bunch of rubble. Was it still rubble when you came through there?

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah.

KELLY: Were the streets, uh, open?

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah, they'd take bulldozers and push the stuff up to the corners--

KELLY: They, uh--

ELLIOTT: --pile it up in the corners.

KELLY: --being, uh, who?


KELLY: The Germans or the Americans?

ELLIOTT: Well, mostly it was Americans--

KELLY: All right.

ELLIOTT: --because the Germans had gone.

KELLY: (Clears throat) Were there, was there civilians around there when you--

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah--

KELLY: --went through there?

ELLIOTT: --yeah, yeah.

KELLY: Where were they living? They living in cav--


KELLY: --in cellars or what?

ELLIOTT: --I presume they were living in, in those bombed out shelters and they had, uh, or anywhere they could find they could get in out of the weather, uh.

KELLY: How were they doing that, do you know?

ELLIOTT: Well, I just went straight through.

KELLY: You didn't, you weren't--


ELLIOTT: I didn't stop ----(??)

KELLY: Were you seeing civilians walking along the streets or the side of the roads or--

ELLIOTT: Yeah, you would see civilians walking along side of the roads, along the side of the streets, and--

KELLY: What kind of condition were they in when you were going through there?

ELLIOTT: Well, some of them were in good condition and some of them were--

KELLY: Were their clothes raggedy and dirty or--

ELLIOTT: --raggedy and crippled and what have you, and then some of them were, uh, oh, I wouldn't say they were, were, uh, looked like they come out of a band box, but they were clean and what have you and all.

KELLY: Were they begging? Were there any beggars along there?

ELLIOTT: No, I didn't see any, any begging much. They, uh, the, uh, little kids were doing most of the begging.

KELLY: Did you see some of that?

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah.

KELLY: Going through Nuremberg?


KELLY: Were you all giving them anything, the kids?

ELLIOTT: No, we were going straight on through, we didn't have anything to give them. You know, we just, uh, we'd have to stop at a, uh, at the army camps and whatnot to get, get a meal and what have you, we'd 01:35:00stop along, at the army unit along a road and whatnot and eat with them and, and pick up some cigars, or what have you, and little chocolate bars--(laughs)--whatnot, we'd give the kids those chocolate bars and all, that was a big thing with them, they loved them chocolate bars.

KELLY: Were you talking to any of the civilians on that trip or interacting with any of them or--


KELLY: --seeing any of them?

ELLIOTT: "Guten morgen" is about all the German I ever learned while I was over there.

KELLY: Um-hm. Well, were you, were you, were you internalizing any of this? Were you kind of--(pause)--looking at the meaning of war with this devastation and the results of war? Was that going through your mind, or were you mostly thinking about--

ELLIOTT: Well, anytime--

KELLY: --going home?

ELLIOTT: --you went through one of these towns where it was blowed clean off the, practically everything in town was, uh, damaged in some way 01:36:00or another, why, you thought that the guy that made the remark that war is hell, that he knew what he was talking about, because you couldn't understand then how they could ever get back in the position they are in now, just forty years later. I mean, uh--

KELLY: It, it, it appeared that they were utterly defeated, didn't it?

ELLIOTT: That's right.

KELLY: Did you have any compassion for them? Were you feeling sorry for them or--


KELLY: --did you think they had got what they deserved?

ELLIOTT: --no, I never found out, I never could understand how Hitler, uh, carried on the war like he did because I couldn't find anybody that--

KELLY: Supported him.

ELLIOTT: --that liked Hitler, they all said they was against him and whatnot, and I couldn't understand how he could do so much in such a little time by himself. But--

KELLY: You didn't believe them.

ELLIOTT: --you couldn't find nobody that was--

KELLY: Um-hm. You just--you didn't believe them.

ELLIOTT: No, I didn't believe them. No, no, no, no. There's no--(Kelly clears throat)--way a man could have, could have done that with, uh--


KELLY: Did you, uh, did you, did you get into any of the concentration camps or any of that while you were there? Come upon any of that?

ELLIOTT: No, I never was close to it. ----(??)

KELLY: Did you hear about it, know about it?

ELLIOTT: Oh, yes.

KELLY: Saw the pictures in the Stars and Stripes.

ELLIOTT: It was in the Stars and Stripes and what have you all the time. But we never did get into any of them.

KELLY: Well, you come back, then, and you get out and you come back in the army and you go to Japan. You got your family over in Japan. You got your wife, what's her name?


KELLY: Leona. What was her maiden name?

ELLIOTT: Divine.

KELLY: Divine. Is she a Harrodsburg lady?


KELLY: Okay.

ELLIOTT: --Mercer County.

KELLY: Is she any kin of those Divines over in Washington County? Har--

ELLIOTT: Yeah, she come from down around--

KELLY: Willisburg?

ELLIOTT: --around, uh, she came down around Dixville and Stewartsville, back in that area.

KELLY: Um-hm. Um--(clears throat)--you had one or two children at the 01:38:00time?

ELLIOTT: Just had the one.


ELLIOTT: Yeah, Edwin Jr.

KELLY: Okay. And so you are in Japan with First Cav Division in 19-- June of--


KELLY: --June of 1950.


KELLY: And all of a sudden you get that word that the North Koreans have crossed, uh, the river and heading--

ELLIOTT: Yeah, we had a little get together of all of us that went over on the ship together, that was--

KELLY: H-how long--

ELLIOTT: --in that area.

KELLY: --how long had you been in Japan now?


KELLY: How long had you been in Japan with the First Cav Division?

ELLIOTT: One year.

KELLY: One year.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, because we was celebrating our first year in Japan, we came over in June of '49.

KELLY: Where were you?

ELLIOTT: I was at Camp Drake, right north of Tokyo.

KELLY: And you were at the club celebrating?

ELLIOTT: No, we was down at the other little, uh, there was another little housing area down between us and Tokyo that most everybody, uh, that belonged to the, uh, headquarters in Tokyo, the Supreme Command 01:39:00for Japan or the Far East and whatnot, that's where the staff and whatnot all lived there in, uh, in some Heights. What was the name of that thing? But anyhow, that's where we were at, down there in one of the houses, uh--

KELLY: This right out of Yokoha-oh, Yokohama or--


KELLY: --or Tokyo. Camp Drake, what's that close to?

ELLIOTT: Just north of Tokyo.

KELLY: Okay. Ten miles, twenty miles?

ELLIOTT: About ten miles.

KELLY: Okay, so you get the word that there's--(pause)--trouble in--

ELLIOTT: And somebody came on, came on the radio that the, that the North Koreans had attacked the South Koreans and what have you, and we said, "Look here." Of course, that was on the staff of the Supreme Headquarters, down there in Tokyo, they wasn't too worried, but us that was out there in the 1st Cav and what have you and the other infantry divisions--(laughs)--around there, we were.

KELLY: You knew you were going to be going.


ELLIOTT: Yeah, so we pulled out and we arrived in, uh, Korea and we- -(coughs)--we took, uh, loaded for an amphibious landing, because we didn't know whether the ports was going to be open or what by the time we got there.

KELLY: What, uh, what month was this now?

ELLIOTT: Now, this was in, uh, well, it was about a week, two weeks after the Korean War started, when it did start?

KELLY: It started June the 7th, somewhere along in there, I think, or--

ELLIOTT: Was it June the 7th?

KELLY: Somewhere along in here, the 10th--

ELLIOTT: Well, this was the middle of June then.

KELLY: Fifty, yeah.

ELLIOTT: Yeah. And we landed up the coast, on the, uh, uh, east coast, up, uh, oh, about half way. And then we got, got a train and put everything on it and shipped it, that is, uh, shipped it on over to, 01:41:00uh, around Taegu, and we, the division relieved the 24th Infantry Division and--

KELLY: The 24th had just about been wiped out by that time.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, the day that Gen. Dean was captured.

KELLY: The day you relieved him.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, that's the day we got there.

KELLY: And, and what, what, what was your job at that time?

ELLIOTT: I was assistant G-4.

KELLY: For the division?

ELLIOTT: For the division.

KELLY: A major or--

ELLIOTT: Major, yeah.

KELLY: Um-hm. And what hap--what happened there?

ELLIOTT: No, I was still a captain.

KELLY: Were you? Wh-what happened then--


KELLY: --with the division and--

ELLIOTT: Well, it, uh, fighting a war over there is 180 degrees difference than it is fighting it in Europe. But when we arrived there and took over from the 24th, there was no front line. You'd, uh, fight all day to gain ground, and get them off a hill, and then they'd filter 01:42:00in behind you that night, and you'd fight all, all, all night and the next morning trying to get back out of the hole. And it was nothing to be surrounded on three sides half of the time. And that's when we decided to pull back into the, uh, or the headquarters did, Eighth Army decided to pull back and form a line there by Taegu on the Naktong River. We pulled back across, uh, the river and set up a line so they couldn't filter back through, because we couldn't cut off the refugees, they were coming, just in a constant stream. (Coughs) And they were trying to stay behind our lines to get away from the North Koreans. And they wore those big old, flowered, I mean big old, flowing robes and what have you, and it was nothing to have them, one of them walk 01:43:00right in a battalion headquarters and throw back that robe and start throwing hand grenades or firing an automatic weapon of some kind, and maybe kill two or three.

KELLY: They were, they were infiltrating en, en--


KELLY: --en masse with the civilians.

ELLIOTT: --yeah, yeah.

KELLY: And I think at one time they tried to get Gen. [Matthew] Ridgway to open up on them. And, and he refused to do it, or maybe it was [Gen. Walton] Walker, one of them.

ELLIOTT: Walker was there when, when they were doing that because he came up there, when we, just before we pulled back across the Naktong, we were in a little town of Kumch'on up there, uh, that was, this was early, right after we relieved the 24th, and we were fighting our way back, and we were surrounded then on three sides, the only thing open was the road going back to Taegu. And a recon company had just went 01:44:00out on the south side and we got word back that the recon company commander, who I knew well, had been killed and, and one, another officer and, and--

KELLY: Who--

ELLIOTT: --and three or four men.

KELLY: --who was the recon company commander?

ELLIOTT: I could, as I say, I can't think of it right now, but I knew him well. And we were in a little schoolyard there and all dug in.

KELLY: In Taegu?

ELLIOTT: And, no, at Pusan, I mean Kumch'on. And Gen. Walker come flying in in his little plane and he give us a talk, he said, "This will not be, in case you all have heard that this will be a Dunkirk," but said, "it will not." He said, "It will not be a," uh, what did they 01:45:00call, uh, Waterloo? But said, "It would make one hell of an Alamo." And, of course, that just raised our morale something terrible, you know, there we was sitting there, already surrounded on three sides and outnumbered and everything else. And he got, "We will," he told Gen. Gay that he shall not retreat any further. And so we all loaded up our weapons and dug us a good foxhole and got close to it because we figured we were going to have to, and then put the word out that nothing moved that night because if it did, it was going to get shot. And Gen. Gay put out the orders the next morning early, and we withdrew all the way to Taegu. That was the longest withdrawal we'd made in the whole bunch. And--


KELLY: Did Walker authorize it or--

ELLIOTT: I don't know who authorized it, it come out of, Gen. Gay gave it to us. And then we formed a line along the Naktong River and we never had any, uh, that stopped the filtration and what have you. But there at one time, they would come marching down one of those roads, and the 99th Field Artillery, the 105s was, uh, supporting the troops up there. And they, the troops just kept marching in two single files, one on each side of the road, and they were firing point blank at them with them 105s, and they'd blow a hole in the line, and they'd just walk over the bodies and come right on, and we finally stopped them, but they had fired so many rounds and so fast, they got the barrels so hot that they burned all the rifling out of them.

KELLY: The 99th?

ELLIOTT: The 99th, and I had to send back to the United States and get more tubes before they could aim at anything and expect to hit 01:47:00it anyways close, because they'd, hell, they practically throw them endways. The shell, after it got out of the tube, why, they'd-- (laughs)------(??)

KELLY: How long, how long did it take to get those tubes?

ELLIOTT: It took about a month, about a month.

KELLY: The, uh, 99th stacked up a lot of North Koreans, are you saying?

ELLIOTT: Oh--(Kelly coughs)--shit, they stacked up quite a few of them down that road that day.

KELLY: That was the road from Taegu to, uh--

ELLIOTT: That was the road coming down towards Taegu--

KELLY: Coming toward--

ELLIOTT: --from the north.

KELLY: --Taegu?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, um-hm.

KELLY: Well, that was across the river, they'd already crossed the river, what was the name of the river?

ELLIOTT: Oh, the Naktong?

KELLY: Naktong?

ELLIOTT: Well, I, uh, I think that, uh, that we were firing on the other side of the river, they were marching down to the river. We was firing a-across the river.

KELLY: Direct fire though.


KELLY: And, and--

ELLIOTT: When it got there at the last, it was just direct fire, yeah.

KELLY: Okay. Um--(pause)--the 99th get out all right or did they overrun them?


ELLIOTT: No, they got out all right.

KELLY: Did they? So what happens then? Did you get pushed on back into the Pusan Perimeter?

ELLIOTT: Well, that, that was, Taegu was as far as we ever went.

KELLY: Was Taegu part of the Pusan River--


KELLY: --Perimeter?

ELLIOTT: --yeah. Um-hm.

KELLY: How far was Taegu from Pusan, twenty miles, ten miles?

ELLIOTT: Oh, it was 20, 25 miles, I'd say, just roughly.

KELLY: Yeah.


KELLY: They, they did, they never got into Taegu then.

ELLIOTT: No, no.

KELLY: Okay, so then, uh, then you kind of hold on there for dear life, uh, for, until September, something like that, wasn't it?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, and then we took off.

KELLY: Then, uh, then, uh, then, uh, they had the amphibious landing of the 7th Infantry.


KELLY: And then you all took off.

ELLIOTT: Then we took off, we was, we took off at the same time that they landed and, and put them in a pinch, and then we went right on up through Pu--uh, through, uh, uh--

KELLY: Seoul?

ELLIOTT: Seoul, and on up across the 38th [Parallel] right on up through 01:49:00Pyongyang, which Bob Hope called it Poontang, which was the capital of North Korea, and we were, went on up until some of them washed their feet in the Yalu River, and I had, uh--

KELLY: Some of the 1st Cav troops?


KELLY: When, when you all crossed that 38th Parallel, were, were you just about going, uh, on the road with vehicles all the time or was, was you just, uh, foot trooping that distance from the 38th up to the, uh--

ELLIOTT: No, they was--

KELLY: The division.

ELLIOTT: --they was moving from, uh, one, one place to the other by vehicle, most of them.

KELLY: I mean, I mean it was a rapid movement from there.


KELLY: I mean that, that, that, uh, North Korean line had, had been completely--

ELLIOTT: Well, see--

KELLY: --demolished.

ELLIOTT: --if the Chinese hadn't come in, we had the North Koreans, uh--

KELLY: Completely destroyed?


ELLIOTT: --completely destroyed. And then the Chinese came in and when they did, they rolled across that river just like it was a fog rolling in.

KELLY: Where were you when, when the Chinese struck?

ELLIOTT: Well, we were just south of the Yalu River.

KELLY: What town were you close to?

ELLIOTT: I don't, I don't remember the town. We was north of Pyongyang, I remember that. And I had been back in to Pyongyang to the division rear for something and came back up there, I'd, uh, we set up a depot between, uh, division rear and division forward. And I had, uh, went back there and, whoever was running that depot, we was having a little problem with it, went back there and got that straightened out and got everything shipped out of there. And the, uh--

KELLY: Did you all suspect that the Chinese were going to hit? Did 01:51:00you have any idea this was going to happen, or were you completely surprised?

ELLIOTT: The Chinese?

KELLY: Um-hm.

ELLIOTT: Well, we knew they were, uh, concentrated across the river. We knew that, but we didn't know whether they would come across the river or not, because we didn't know whether they'd risk getting into the war. And, uh, MacArthur wanted to ----(??)

KELLY: As it turned out, a lot of them were already across the river, right?

ELLIOTT: Well, it turned out they were because you couldn't tell a Chink from a North Korean.

KELLY: Um-hm.


KELLY: And some people knew that, you know, I mean there were some of the troops that knew it and some of the intelligence community--


KELLY: --knew it.

KELLY: But you didn't know it.

ELLIOTT: No, I didn't know it.

KELLY: Were, were, had they infiltrated into the 1st Cav Division area or, or did they--

ELLIOTT: No, we lost, uh, we lost, uh, most of the 8th Regiment. We lost a battalion, our, uh, we didn't have but about a battal--enough 01:52:00men to form one battalion of the 8th Infantry, and we lost most of the, uh, the 99th? I don't know that we lost any field artillery, I can't remember now.

KELLY: Lost one battery, I think.

ELLIOTT: We lost one battery, the one that was supporting the 3rd, uh, one battalion of the 8th Infantry, whichever that was, whichever battery was supporting that ----(??)

KELLY: I had a friend of mine who was captured and spent three years up on the Yalu, was in--


KELLY: --the battery. He, he was executive officer and he was waiting to be moved out when they captured him.


KELLY: They were on--

ELLIOTT: See, when we went, uh--

KELLY: Well, when the, when the, when the Chinese struck, where were you and what happened? And how did you find out about it?

ELLIOTT: Well, I was, I had just rolled in from, uh, down at that dump, which I'd finished loading it out, and just, I rolled in just about 01:53:00dark, and I had my trailer because I'd, I'd been staying back there.

KELLY: Yeah. Are you talking about Pyongyang?

ELLIOTT: Quarter-ton trailer on ----(??)

KELLY: You talking about the rear, the division rear or division forward?

ELLIOTT: I'm talking about moving back up to division forward.

KELLY: Okay.

ELLIOTT: I had been back to this depot that we had back there with a bunch of stuff in it, uh, oh, clothing and stuff like that, that we'd shipped up there to get out to the troops.

KELLY: What, cold weather ----(??)

ELLIOTT: Yeah, and I had went back there and got that all taken care of and whatnot, and pulled back up into the forward area and pulled up to the G-4 tent and went and got myself something to eat. I came back and was starting to, was going to come back and unload my trailer and get my bedroll and everything out and in the tent, and right after supper, I didn't no more than get back down to the headquarters, when the word come out to strike tent and haul fanny.

KELLY: This is, uh, this is, uh, division forward headquarters?


ELLIOTT: Division forward, yeah.

KELLY: Okay.

ELLIOTT: So we broke and took off, now the 2nd Infantry Division--

KELLY: What road were you coming out of?


KELLY: The Pyongyang, uh, Seoul axis?

ELLIOTT: No, it was at, this one was all the way up on the, right between, uh, Pyongyang and ----(??) and the Yalu River.

KELLY: Pyongyang?


KELLY: Did you go through Pyongyang going south?


KELLY: All right, when you got word to go south, how far are you going to go south in your Jeep and who are you with? Are you--

ELLIOTT: We were with the 1st, uh, the headquarters, we were moving the headquarters back.

KELLY: You were moving the headquarters company?

ELLIOTT: No, the headquarters company and, uh, all the staff and the sections, G-1-2-3-4, and--

KELLY: Okay--

ELLIOTT: --whatnot.

KELLY: --and you're moving and, you're in column, in a controlled--

ELLIOTT: Yeah, we was in a controlled column ----(??)

KELLY: You weren't under any enemy pressure, are you getting any shots?


KELLY: Small arms or--

ELLIOTT: We wasn't--

KELLY: --mortar or anything?


ELLIOTT: --we might have gotten a few shots but, I mean, we wasn't under any pressure, to, uh, but we wasn't delaying any because we would have been under pressure.

KELLY: So you, so, so how far did you all go before you stopped?

ELLIOTT: We went all the way back around, uh, uh, Pyongyang.

KELLY: And then you stopped there?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, we stopped there and set up again.

KELLY: How long did you stay there?

ELLIOTT: Well, we stayed there, and, trying to get the 2nd Infantry Division, they were the ones that had just relieved us a day or so before and they got caught up there, in this, uh, valley up there and they got pretty well socked out, but some of them was still walking out and whatnot, troops and all coming down, and we were trying to keep it open so they could get out. And we stayed there until the last minute and then--

KELLY: Y-you were, you were, you were, uh, didn't, the 1st Cav Division was, had a mission there to keep that valley open that they were coming through?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, um-hm.

KELLY: At the end of it. Did you get to talk to any of those 2nd 01:56:00Division people?

ELLIOTT: Oh, I saw some of them and talked to some of them, but I don't remember now what--

KELLY: You knew there'd been a hell of a defeat there, though.

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah. I knew ----(??)

KELLY: You knew that they'd been chewed all to pieces.

ELLIOTT: I knew we done got the hell kicked out of us, because we'd done lost one battalion and one firing battery. The battalion was out of the, uh, uh, 8th Infantry--8th, uh, Cav. And it was the one that had been, I believe it was, uh, uh, the 1st, uh, A Company, I believe. Because the, uh, the battalion, I mean was the, uh, 1st Battalion, I believe, because that was the one that was up right north of Tokyo. Uh, they were right north of Camp Drake. And that was the one that got hit because I know I knew a world of the officers and all in there because I lived, uh, up at a little town between, uh, Tokyo and, I mean 01:57:00between Camp Drake and this other camp where the 8th Division, uh, I mean the, uh, 1st Battalion of the 8th, uh, Cav was.

KELLY: Um-hm. The, the, the 8th getting cap--captured, was that when, before they had fallen back to Taegu and had assumed that, uh, not Taegu but Pyongya--Pyongya--how do you pronounce it?

ELLIOTT: Pyongyang.

KELLY: Pyongyang. Uh, was Pyongyang where they, where they, they went into a formation or defensive position to, to keep, uh, an avenue for the 2nd Division to get out?

ELLIOTT: That's where we went into the defensive position--

KELLY: Yeah.

ELLIOTT: --yeah.

KELLY: But at, but at, at that time, you had already lost one battalion and one battery, is that right?


KELLY: Yeah.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, they were caught in there with the 2nd Division.

KELLY: They were?


KELLY: Okay. Um--(clears throat)--so then how far did, did the division 01:58:00retreat before they turned around? Did you go back south of Seoul or--

ELLIOTT: No, we, we worked our way back, uh, dropping back, uh--

KELLY: Fighting a retrograde?

ELLIOTT: --sort of fighting a--

KELLY: Delaying.

ELLIOTT: --rear action, you know, and everybody said it was a, I, I laughed and I told somebody one day, I said, "Ain't this a hell of a note?" I said, "They say this is a strategic withdrawal, but," I said, "if it was the enemy, we'd say it was a rout, a riot." (Laughs)

KELLY: Um-hm. A rout, yeah.

ELLIOTT: A rout, yeah. Because they--

KELLY: Wa-was, was it a pretty disorderly withdrawal there?

ELLIOTT: It wasn't the best organized withdrawal I've ever seen, because everybody was--

KELLY: How long did that last?

ELLIOTT: --jumping. I don't know now. It's--

KELLY: Somewhere along there, uh, Ridgway came in and, and turned you around, didn't he? He said "Let's go forward." Before they, it was 01:59:00before you got to Seoul, wasn't it? You didn't, you didn't retreat through Seoul, right?

ELLIOTT: No, the 38th Parallel was as far as he ever went. He never went back below the 38th Parallel.

KELLY: Then, then the 1st Cavalry, they did turn the, the, the, what was it, Eighth Army or.

ELLIOTT: Eighth Army, yeah.

KELLY: They turned them around and attacked north of there.


KELLY: Okay. And then, then--

ELLIOTT: Now, they, uh--

KELLY: Did they pull the 1st Cav out and send you all back someplace or send you out to Japan or something?

ELLIOTT: Well, they hadn't when I left, see, I left, uh, I stayed over there a year. And most all of us that went over in June of, uh--

KELLY: When you left them--

ELLIOTT: --`50, we went back, left there in June of '51.

KELLY: --when you left them, where, where were you?

ELLIOTT: That's what I have been sitting here trying to figure out. We was up along the 38th Parallel there somewhere. Damn if I know.


KELLY: North of Seoul or.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, we was just north of Seoul, the division headquarters was. Troops was all up there along the 38th.

KELLY: So you go back to Japan, and, and your, your family has been waiting for you there in Japan--

ELLIOTT: Yeah, um-hm.

KELLY: --is that right?

ELLIOTT: I picked them up and come back to Kentucky on leave, and then from there to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

KELLY: Where, where did you lose your son? Is that, uh, Fort Sill?

ELLIOTT: Fort Sill.

KELLY: Uh-huh.


KELLY: He was how old?

ELLIOTT: He, uh, would have been, he drowned in, uh, on the 9th day of April, and he would have been seven years old the 31st of August. He was just finishing the first grade.

KELLY: What year was that?


KELLY: '53, and that was, uh, as a result of a, of a flash flood, wasn't it?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, there was a flash flood on Easter Sunday. The water 02:01:00came down, uh, just two houses on that street and then the, uh, culvert there. And the culvert wasn't big enough to take the water and it went over the top and dug out a hole in the city park, there was a city park right behind the house and these other two houses, and then you went into it there, there was an open spot. It went all the way back over to the school. And--

KELLY: This was just south of the reservation, was it?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, out, out Gate 4. Over there in Stephens Addition, ---- (??) Addition.

KELLY: Was he, was he the only one involved in the incident?

ELLIOTT: Yeah. That's the hell of it, uh, every afternoon at the time he was down there, about, well, it was about at five o'clock because, uh, I generally got home about ten minutes after 5:00 and there was a TV show we watched every afternoon, some cowboy show or something, and 02:02:00when he went out the door, his mother told him, said, "Now, don't be gone long, your daddy will be here in a minute" and she waited about five minutes, and everybody was always, uh, kidding her because she never, uh, if he was out, anytime he was out, she looked, she, she went out there and checked on him about every fifteen minutes. And it was a mud hole, uh, we didn't know there was any water that deep around there, but when it come over the street it dug out a hole that wasn't big enough to swim in but just deep enough to drown him in. He fell in it someway and there wasn't no kids in the park that afternoon, generally at that time of the day it was always plumb full.

KELLY: What month was this?

ELLIOTT: That was in April.

KELLY: Um, fifty-three? Was, was there hail in that, in that rain? That, that flash flood, there was hail in that, wasn't there?

ELLIOTT: I don't know, there may have been because we'd have hails out there, I know we had one out there that, that, hell, broke the back 02:03:00window and the windshields out of cars and--

KELLY: I, I, I was at Fort Sill at that time, and, and when they had that real downpour, I, I was out on the range.

ELLIOTT: Well, now, was you there then when they, when they had all that hail?

KELLY: Um-hm.

ELLIOTT: Because, uh, that, uh--

KELLY: Yeah, yeah, in the--

ELLIOTT: --that tore all them neon signs up on all them car lots downtown and everything.

KELLY: Yeah, and you know, all those cars were, were, had to be, you know, big damage on them, painted.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, because one of the guys, uh, in the, uh, after, uh, I went back to Fort Sill and was Assistant G-4 at Fort Sill. And then, uh, hell, I hadn't been back there, I built a house over there in Stephens Addition, and I hadn't been back there but about a, not quite a year, me and another fellow who came in there about the same time I did. And by golly, we both got orders to report, uh, to, uh, 02:04:00Germany. And I said, "Well, if this ain't a hell of a note!" And the funny thing was we got orders, and they changed our, uh, they didn't take us on our primary MOS, which mine was 40-10, was, uh, supply and evacuation. And I, uh, other than that, why, mine was a, a, that was my primary and my secondary MOS was a unit commander. Then they was taking me as a signal officer. I told them, I said, "Hell, no, I can't even operate my own radio without static."--(Kelly laughs)--and we got checking up. The G-1, uh, there, we got it on his ----(??), the G-4, he was the one that really got in the act, uh, Col. Hayes, and he said that, uh, come to find out that, there was people on that damn 02:05:00roster that had been out there in the school for four years, that their primary MOS was signal.

KELLY: So they corrected that then.

ELLIOTT: So they, they got into General, uh, who was out there then? I don't remember who was there then, but anyhow the commanding general finally got into it, because the G-4 went to see him, and the G-3 was in on it because, uh, the other guy was out of G-3. And he called up, uh, up, uh--

KELLY: Personnel?

ELLIOTT: --personnel, and I believe they had the ground forces then, didn't they back in them days?

KELLY: Um-hm.

ELLIOTT: But anyhow, he called up there somewhere and--

KELLY: Got it straightened out?

ELLIOTT: --they said they couldn't, it was just impossible, everybody said, to get them to change an order. But he called up there and--

KELLY: Changed it.

ELLIOTT: --they said, "Well, where did you get this information?" Said, "Off the roster we send you every month." And they said, "Well, let us 02:06:00check on it," so they checked on it and, and, of course, by the time they got it straightened out I'd done sold my house to a major that was going to Europe to get married and whatnot, and he was gone, and I had to go around the corner and rent a ----(??) house. (Laughs) But this was in, uh, about June of, uh, June or July of '52. And I had gotten back there, I reported in to Fort Sill in August of '51, and so then they transferred me over to the school. They had to, but they had to transfer us both to the school to replace these guys they were taking out of the school, so I ended up in the Airborne Special Operations, uh, Division over in the school.

KELLY: Your, uh, your little seven-year old boy, I think your, your wife 02:07:00mentioned that he could speak Japanese pretty fluently ----(??)

ELLIOTT: ----(??) that's how come us to not stay in Japan another year.

KELLY: And--

ELLIOTT: We would have stayed over two years.

KELLY: --and that, uh--

ELLIOTT: He spoke fluent Japanese.

KELLY: She used to kind of, he used to interpret for her--

ELLIOTT: Oh, yeah. ----(??)

KELLY: --while you all were gone.


KELLY: And he was what? Four years old? Five years old?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, yeah.

KELLY: He, he was the--

ELLIOTT: We'd have stayed over another year if it hadn't been that he spoke fluent Japanese and broken English.

KELLY: D-did you decide you'd better get him over where he spoke --

ELLIOTT: I thought we better get him back home because he was starting school that fall.

KELLY: Yeah, yeah. So you, you come back and when, when do you have your second, y-you have another son now, right? Or is it a daughter?

ELLIOTT: He was born just six weeks after, uh, the other boy drowned. She was, uh, eight months pregnant with him.

KELLY: So now you, now you just have one, right?

ELLIOTT: No, I've got two.

KELLY: Two. A boy and a girl or both?

ELLIOTT: No, both boys.

KELLY: Both boys. And, and the first one's name was Edwin and the other two's name is, uh--

ELLIOTT: Well, the oldest one, uh, the next one, the boy had already picked a name out for him before he drowned, and his name is Donald 02:08:00David. And the youngest one is named Ott, O-t-t, Lynn, L-y-n-n. He is the one that's got the little granddaughter.

KELLY: So now you got the granddaughter.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, and the other one, Don, he is in Florida and he has never been married.

KELLY: So when did you retire?

ELLIOTT: I retired in the 1st of February or the 31st of January, 1964.

KELLY: Sixty-four.

ELLIOTT: Um-hm, after I came back from Germany, I went to Texas ----(??) post commander at, uh, Camp Bullis.

KELLY: Uh, do you do anything now? Are you fully retired? Are you--

ELLIOTT: Oh, I've, I've retired from the post office, I am not doing anything now. ----(??)

KELLY: You did go, you came back and went to work at the post office and then retired again.

ELLIOTT: Yeah, I came out and went to work for the adjutant general's office down in Frankfurt for a while, and then I went back to U.K. for a semester, was going to get, finish up my degree and teach school.


KELLY: You retired as a lieutenant colonel?

ELLIOTT: Yeah. And I said, uh, they commenced talking about finger painting and stuff like that, I said, "This, this ain't for me." So then I was going to, I thought, well, I'd go back to accounting, which is what I had been doing all the time and.

KELLY: How, how long did you work for the post office?

ELLIOTT: I took over as postmaster in, uh, January of '66 and retired in, uh, eighty--August of '81, and I had sixteen years, I had enough sick leave and all coming to give me a little over sixteen years, and--(pause)--but see, I couldn't, uh, everybody said I should combine them but, hell, I got to looking and I combined them to see what I'd 02:10:00make, and I was making more, I was getting more army pay then than I would have gotten if I'd combined them, from both of them, and I was getting some from Civil Service, too, so I couldn't see much future in that. (Laughs)

KELLY: So now you, you've got, uh, three retirements then, haven't you?

ELLIOTT: I got Social Security and Civil Service and the army, all three.

KELLY: Puts you in pretty good shape, doesn't it?

ELLIOTT: Oh, I just, uh, had them sent to the bank and the building and loan, and that way, uh, nobody don't know, don't know how many checks I get. (Laughs)

KELLY: Yeah--(laughs)--well, thank you, Edwin, I appreciate your sharing your experiences with us.

ELLIOTT: Well, it wasn't too much but, uh, I should have briefed up there some on some of these names and whatnot.

[End of Interview]