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Interview with John P. Buck [Undated]

John P. Buck:

[Interview begins mid-sentence]...and he was in the military; and somebody said to me, "What are you doing for the war." And so the next day I went down and I enlisted. I didn't have to. I just wrote and told him, your ____ what?

Unidentified female:

{Laughs.}

Timothy J. Sanders:

That's wonderful. We'll talk about that in a minute. The beginning here, this is Tim Sanders; and I'm doing an interview with John Buck, who is a resident of La Porte?

John P. Buck:

La Porte County.

Unidentified female:

Yeah, La Porte County.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Uh-huh.

Unidentified female:

He's hard of hearing. So you have to --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. I'll speak up a little bit.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Where were you born, John?

John P. Buck:

La Porte County.

Timothy J. Sanders:

You were born here at home?

John P. Buck:

Yeah, yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

And --

Unidentified female:

That's Union Township, La Porte County.

Timothy J. Sanders:

What was your -- what was your birthday?

John P. Buck:

October the 8th, 1920.

Timothy J. Sanders:

And you -- you grew up around here, went to high school here; and -- and at some point you went into the military, probably around 1940 or so.

John P. Buck:

I went to a con- -- consolidated school over here a mile and a half, which is no longer standing; and that's as far as my education was. Going to school a year before I got in high school, the shop manual was shut down, and they converted it to commercial work, bookkeeping and typing.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Uh-huh.

John P. Buck:

So I took two years of that, which helped me later on. Although I didn't use any typing until I was in the service.

Unidentified female:

You went ____.

John P. Buck:

When the ordinance plant locally was put into operation, why, I went to work on construction.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

So I was construction until I went into the service.

Timothy J. Sanders:

And when you -- when did you enlist, or were -- or were you drafted?

John P. Buck:

No. I was drafted October -- no, August the 17th --

Unidentified female:

1942.

John P. Buck:

-- 1942.

Timothy J. Sanders:

So you would have been about 2- -- 21 years old at the time.

John P. Buck:

Something like that.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. And you were drafted into the army.

John P. Buck:

Yes.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Where were you sworn in?

John P. Buck:

Fort Benning, Georgia.

Unidentified female:

Oh, no, no, no, honey. Indianapolis.

John P. Buck:

No. In Indianapolis.

Unidentified female:

I'm no help ____.

John P. Buck:

Yeah, Fort Benning, Indianapolis.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Fort -- Fort Benjamin Harrison.

John P. Buck:

Yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

And then you went down to Fort Benning?

John P. Buck:

No. I stayed down there for 14 days to the hour; and then we shipped out and I went to Fort Eustis, Virginia --

Timothy J. Sanders:

All right.

John P. Buck:

-- down on the Chesapeake Bay --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- to an anti-aircraft unit. And that's where I took my two months of basic training.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

____ during the process up to this time you always had somebody in charge that said, "Is there any volunteers?"

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yes.

John P. Buck:

Truck drivers or things of this sort. Well, in Indianapolis they were still building barracks and landscaping. So the truck drivers all got a job running the wheelbarrows and shovels.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

But I -- I didn't volunteer at that time.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

I already had two buddies who had been in the air force and came home from Chinook Field over here in Illinois and gave me a few tips. "Don't volunteer." They'd tell you to look the situation over.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure thing. That's right.

John P. Buck:

So finally at that time a few of them could write, and nobody could type. So they were getting behind on keeping your daily record up-to-date; and they wanted some typers. "Is anybody here who can type?" After truck drivers were marched away, why, "Anybody here who can type?" I finally raised my hand, and that started me off. I done a little work in Indianapolis. That followed me along, then, to Fort Eustis.

Timothy J. Sanders:

At Fort Eustis you did your basic training.

John P. Buck:

Yes.

Timothy J. Sanders:

And where did they send you after that?

John P. Buck:

Well, at -- Fort Eustis was over. When I was there, I was supposed to go to clerical school. I wanted to go to heavy equipment.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

So finally he said, "No, you ain't going to the heavy equipment. You're not going to clerical school. We're going to send you out to the new unit that's being developed." And in the meantime I had done quite a bit of typing at Fort ____ on the records, everybody's individual medical records and stuff, and getting that up-to-date. So then we shipped out to go to Camp Stewart, Georgia.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. And you went down there for -- what kind of training was that?

John P. Buck:

Well, I had fooled around, went to supply at Fort Eustis.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

While I was there, I was kind of on holiday. They had -- you had all of your training.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

You were supposed to have so many hours on everything so you could famil- -- familiarize yourself with the -- the rifle, the .40 millimeter --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- .50 caliber and what else. Sometimes I would be in there for a half an hour and they'd say, "You've had enough. Come with me." I'd go down to headquarters and start typing again.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

This is the way it worked there. When I got to Camp Stewart, we got in there about midnight or so; and they tossed us some blankets and said, "Follow this guy. You go with him." Well, he was the ____ man from Camp Huhn (ph), Texas, in supply. And they were getting behind to where they started getting equipment in but they hadn't caught up with the paperwork.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

So I followed him down and we bunked down there that night; and the next morning we weren't out of bed yet, an officer come in and he happened to be the supply officer for the battalion.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

And the fellow that I was supposed to follow was his right-hand man. So they come in there and there was ___ "At ease." I was still in shock. He sat on my bed and said, I'm so and so and I want to see you after you eat chow and you follow this fellow around until you get over to where he was -- he's going to come.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And when we got over there, he's telling me about supply. And he said, "You can type." "Yeah, I can type." Well, they had a table full of backorders and things of this sort to bring up-to-date.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

He was real happy, and he was a school teacher out of San Francisco.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

And this is where I started and this is practically where I ended up, was in this supply.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Uh-huh.

John P. Buck:

He was a fellow that didn't want you to get tired of your job or something and very active. All the heavy equipment, like trucks and stuff, interested in me. I came in there and started typing. As soon as I found out where we were going, why, this is what I done.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And but he never let me work over an hour or two at a time. Come on ___ camp ___ camp, or go out to the firing range. By this time we were set up in the line ___. I was in headquarters battery.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Then we had line batteries of A, B, C, and D.

Timothy J. Sanders:

All right.

John P. Buck:

And they were starting training on the guns. The .40 millimeters and the .50 caliber M51s, which had four .50 caliber machine guns mounted on a trailer.

Timothy J. Sanders:

What battalion were you associated with at this time?

John P. Buck:

The 455th.

Timothy J. Sanders:

And was that a supply battalion?

John P. Buck:

No. It was 455th Automatic Weapons Battalion.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. All right.

John P. Buck:

And to start with, it was semipropelled; but before we left the states that was changed to selfpropelled.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. So how long were you in -- now, were you in Texas at this time?

John P. Buck:

No. I was in Georgia.

Timothy J. Sanders:

You were still in Georgia.

John P. Buck:

Yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. And how long did you stay in Georgia?

John P. Buck:

Well, this was from about October till -- till about 28th of July.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. So not quite a year in Georgia.

John P. Buck:

We -- we moved around in Georgia. Camp Stewart's down there by Hinesville about 40 miles out of Savannah. And we trained down there, went through that camp with the highest record for target practice.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Oh.

John P. Buck:

We had target practice there for the line batteries.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

They would call them Line Batteries A, B, C, D. And when we got through with that, why, they said, "Okay, go on." One time we kind of thought we might go to Africa.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

But that was changed, so we went up to Fort Benning.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

And we was attached to the 10th Armored Division.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

10th Armored Division had a year of training to go yet. So somebody said in the higher command, "What are you doing here? You've got a record like that and training and everything. We've got to use you." So we went back to fire some more at Camp Stewart.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And then we went out to an airfield and done some dry-run tracking. Still at Fort Benning.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

So then we were doing this here shuttling around. In the meantime we were getting our equipment in and things of this sort. Well, then the order come in, "It's time for you to go overseas."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

By this time we was stocked up, had all of our equipment. We had what we call a TO and TE. It was a table of organization and a table of equipment. And this told you -- this was the war department's bible to tell you what you were allowed and how many men you had and what their ratings would be.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

The whole ball of wax as far as what this outfit was made up of and their equipment.

Timothy J. Sanders:

And that would have been in about July?

John P. Buck:

Yeah. We had our equipment pretty well by June. May, June. But then -- it was a little before July ___ started in June.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Of '43.

John P. Buck:

Yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. All right.

John P. Buck:

Orders come in to turn it in. So we downgraded from full equipment to just the ____ all equipment to do the cooking.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Turned all that in and didn't have nothing on hand.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

It went to various other outfits. And then we sat around then for a while there, middle of July onto about the 25th. Well, then we was quarantined there about the 25th of July. Nobody leaves the area, because the orders were classified.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

And the colonel would come out sometimes and call everybody together. Well, finally, they said, we've been hot. We cooled off. We've been hot. We cooled off. This time we're -- they said, "Nobody leaves the area." The next morning we was on our way to the train station.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. And you went to the train station. Probably took you to a ship someplace.

John P. Buck:

No. They took us to Camp Shanks --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

-- New Jersey, which is across the bay New York --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- City --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

-- and got all our shots and processing there. Then we was there for a couple days and orders come to board ship. So we went across on a tugboat across the harbor and boarded a ship.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Out of New York City.

John P. Buck:

Out of New York City.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Now, this ship happened to be a ship about 350 foot long. It was supposed to have been dry docked a trip or two before this time came. It made numerous runs to Africa, around. It was an excursion ship from San Francisco to LA, and they commissioned it back into service. It had been in World War I, and it sailed the high seas for a long time. It was supposed to be dry docked, but we got on it. The amazing thing is, we got on it about 3 o'clock and hadn't had real good food up until this time. When we got on that ship that time, there was about 200 -- 2,200 of us all the time.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Uh-huh.

John P. Buck:

A couple battalions. And it come chow time at night; and they had roast beef, the finest roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, and the whole works. Everybody tanked up.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

Then about 9 o'clock it come over the loud speaker, "Now hear this: We've only got about 2,200 men on here, but we served about 2,500 at mealtime. Before you go to breakfast in the morning, see your battery commander and get a meal ticket. There will be no seconds. We don't have enough for everybody to have seconds."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Got it.

John P. Buck:

That was the first thing.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

Now, everything was kind of troublesome until you got to know a little bit, which was a good lesson. At Camp Stewart about Christmastime they gave us a seven-day furlough it was. All right. Everybody wants to go home. Well, I had some work to do and I fooled around. I didn't just ____ get out there to catch the bus to go to Savannah. So I was -- by the time I got around, I'm 15 minutes late to catch the bus in this little town of Hinesville --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

-- that had dirt streets. Right outside the gate of the camp was this little town of Hinesville, dirt streets. And so many GIs went down there to buy some shoes or what. It was loose sand just about like a beach. So I -- I had to wait. The bus just left. I had to wait until the next bus. Well, that takes an hour or two just wasting your time. Well, by the time I got to Savannah, that luck was changed again. The train is Atlantic Seaboard.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

From Florida to Washington, D.C. was the main route. Well, they had just left a half an hour before. The next one won't come till six hours.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

So I sat down there in the train station twiddling my thumbs, and I was losing time.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

But I learned you don't fool around too much. When the opportunity is there --

Timothy J. Sanders:

That's right.

John P. Buck:

-- jump. So we get on that train. Well, that wasn't so bad. I'm on a train headed for Washington; but the trouble was, this train was a milk run train. When we come up to North Carolina, South Carolina, and we stopped at every whistle stop, picked up a can of milk or something --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

-- let somebody off. I finally made it to Washington, D.C. I got on the Pennsylvania Railroad headed to Chicago. Well, then the wheels claggered like you was happy then. Clickety, click, click.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

So I had learned don't fool around. When the opportunity is there --

Timothy J. Sanders:

That's right.

John P. Buck:

-- jump.

Timothy J. Sanders:

You were from -- now, you, excuse me, you boarded the ship in New York City and headed for Europe. Now, where were you headed for when you left?

John P. Buck:

That wasn't announced.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

But -- but in the stuff I had at one time it was Africa.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

But it was changed, evidently, and it was to England.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

But now the trouble was with this ship, we got out there about 600 miles out of New York City and we had a hell of a storm. If the ship would have went two degrees more, she'd have collapsed they said.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

____ says a fellow was up on deck, was sick, said he could scoop down there at the edge and scoop salt water. So you know it was rolling pretty bad.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

So in the meantime we was in a convoy. There must have been 50 ships in a convoy when we started.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And finally they started to disappear. This was a bad storm. And then pretty soon, "Now hear this: We're not going to stay in a convoy. We're going to sit out here for a day or two. We've got a bad engine and the rudder is broke." Well, where I was bunked at, you could hear guys down below the deck there hammering with a sledgehammer or something. Well, finally they ____ we had one destroyer give us an escort back to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

And we come up the river there, got a first look at the war situation. It's a large river. Has something like ten miles ____ were for ships.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

But a lot of ships was anchored there, but their sides all had holes in them where they was in for repairs --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

-- from being torpedoed.

Timothy J. Sanders:

In Canada. In Nova Scotia.

John P. Buck:

Yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

In Nova Scotia.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

So while we were there, the Queen Elizabeth was sitting there.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

It seemed like it was -- took you 15 minutes to go by there. It's about 12- -- close to 1,300 feet long.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

And that's quite a ways. You have an idea of what --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure. It's a big ship.

John P. Buck:

Well, it's 660 feet down to that light pole down there --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Uh-huh.

John P. Buck:

-- on the corner.

Timothy J. Sanders:

It's twice that? Yeah.

John P. Buck:

And it's twice that.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

So we sat there for a couple days and warriors come to board that ship. So we walked to -- we had to walk two, three miles. We went upstream farther.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

So we walked down there and boarded that ship, and on the other ship we ate three meals a day on our ship.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

When we got on this one here, and got to sailing, we ate twice a day. And the ship was converted for transport.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

All the theaters, the seats were removed; and there was cots piled up there four or five high --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

-- side-by-side. That's where they slept. They slept in the gangways. Cots rolled up. There was just walking room on one side, cots on the other.

Timothy J. Sanders:

How many troops did they put on the Queen Mary?

John P. Buck:

When we got out, they didn't mention it, but we got out and started battling, why, they said we were all set to head -- head for England. I don't know whether they mentioned England or not. ____ set on our way. We had 22,000 people on the ship.

Timothy J. Sanders:

22,000?

John P. Buck:

22,000.

Timothy J. Sanders:

That's a lot of people.

John P. Buck:

That's the size of La Porte.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah. So you headed out from Nova Scotia on the Queen Mary.

John P. Buck:

Elizabeth.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Queen Elizabeth.

John P. Buck:

Yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. And off you're going. And where did you go to England?

John P. Buck:

We went up to the north end at Glasgow.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

See, it's too big a ship, too much danger to go on the south end of England. So we went around between Ireland and England and into the port there at Glasgow.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Well, it wasn't really a port; but it was a big bay. And the ship anchored out in the bay, and we got off on tugboats --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- and went to shore there. After we got out here and they made the announcement of 22,000, while we was there at dock yet, I had walked around a little bit; and I could see some of the holes where they was loading supplies and stuff. And you could look down there and see about ten, fifteen ____ big bags of flour, everything like that, lift trucks running around.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

They said 22,000; but, don't worry, we could go out here and drop anchor and we wouldn't starve to death for six months. So that's what --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

-- food they had on it.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

The ship traveled by itself all the time, because it was ____ fast.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

It would always have a zigzag crossed pattern, which would travel -- would change. You could look at your watch --

Timothy J. Sanders:

And tell when it was going to turn?

John P. Buck:

It would lean over this way in your hammock. I was in a hammock.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Seven minutes, why --

Timothy J. Sanders:

It started to sway you --

John P. Buck:

That's -- that's the course we took. And the propellers are so great, I never got sick there. I was afraid I would die when I was on the first one.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

But it would travel so fast, had such big propellers, that as far as you could see behind you could see the wake --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- of the water boiling up.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

So there -- that part was interesting.

Timothy J. Sanders:

How long were you in Glasgow?

John P. Buck:

Oh, we got off there -- probably wasn't off there over a half an hour or so.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Oh, okay. You just got off and got back on.

John P. Buck:

We got off there and boarded a train.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

And I don't know whether you want to look at a map or not.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Well, sure.

John P. Buck:

But I might find one right here.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Is this your book?

John P. Buck:

Yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

So you put this together?

John P. Buck:

No. One of our feller's son's. The feller died.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

But here's a cut there --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

-- where you come in --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

-- up here.

Timothy J. Sanders:

That's Glasgow.

John P. Buck:

Glasgow. And then we boarded a train and came down to about this point here --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. All right.

John P. Buck:

-- and set up camp there for a couple months or longer.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Oh, okay. So you -- let's see, if you left in July --

John P. Buck:

Yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

-- you said and was at -- when did you finally leave England, then? Because that must have been October, November, something like that.

John P. Buck:

No.

Unidentified female:

You left Fort ____ in August.

John P. Buck:

The invasion was June the 8th.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Then we left England, in about a week's time before we all got to Normandy --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

-- in July. From July about the 2nd to the 8th --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

-- we were all on French soil then.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

While we were in England, the first thing we done was, the supply business was hectic.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

They had various things stashed all around England. I mean, they were -- this county might have ammunition. Over here they have trucks. Over here something else. So you get your orders where you could take up, not all of it, but you pick up maybe half of what you wanted.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

And so we had that down through the middle there what they called Kettering. And that was kind of a rendezvous until we got a few trucks so we could move. We got enough trucks then to move everybody down to what they called watt on (ph). And the line ____ enough for them. Well, being ____ one of them went to this here air base. The air bases was as thick as --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

-- hair on a dog you might say.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

So A battery went over here, maybe half of them. The other half went to another nearby base. And as soon as we got the equipment, they became active. So we -- we was able to fire if needed to be.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And this is how we stayed then from -- I'd say this probably was the middle of October that we became active as far as firing was concerned.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

But we still had equipment to go on yet. You didn't have it all.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

And this went on like that for -- for a couple or three months. We didn't have no place to stay in headquarters. The supply officer and the headquarters battery commander worked together, started building a couple Quonset huts and stuff. So we had a Quonset hut for our mess hall and a Quonset hut to shower in.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

{Laughs.} Then we had another shed for supplies --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

-- which happened to be a wooden shed.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Now, what time -- when did you get to Normandy?

John P. Buck:

Part -- we didn't all get there in one day.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right. Sure.

John P. Buck:

It was scattered out between I'd say July the 2nd, July the 8th.

Timothy J. Sanders:

When did you make it?

John P. Buck:

I don't remember for sure. I think I got there about the 6th.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

The line batteries went first.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And then headquarters was later.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

And we were still losing equipment when you was landing. It was not too rough of water, but rough enough that we went on LSTs.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

Landing craft --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- landing tank craft. And the trouble, we lost there was a couple trucks and a couple .40 millimeter guns. When they dropped their amp, they thought they was all right.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Our equipment was all waterproofed so they could run under water to about three or four feet above the cab.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

The rack. Well, they dropped the rack, go ahead. That's as close as I could get. So they'd drive off. Well, they drove off and here's a shell hole.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

So, boom, underneath they went. And the boy says -- that this is a boy, sailor, running the ship --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- "Back her up and try her over." {Laughs.} So they back up and try it over. The same thing happened.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

So we had lost two -- two outfits there, two guns, two trucks just like that. The guys swimming, floated to shore. So many bags and stuff was lost.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

So they tried it again, and they moved over here. There were still places, travel lanes, which the engineers and the demolition people had cleared paths in there; and they were marked.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

These over here, you didn't want to get too far over there, because that was still mined.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right. Now, what was the -- what was the action like at that time? Was -- how far away was the front after --

John P. Buck:

About six miles.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. About a mile.

John P. Buck:

It was pretty tight there.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah, you could hear it.

John P. Buck:

There was a parallel road probably two miles from the beach.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Maybe closer sometimes. And that parallel road was kind of the boundary line.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

You know on the other side you're going to get shelled, you might get shelled right here at the beach. And the bombers were straight at the beach. Then they had balloons up along the beach --

Timothy J. Sanders:

On cables.

John P. Buck:

-- on cables.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Came out of the ____.

John P. Buck:

Same thing we had around in England.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

And that -- they'd wind them up and down, wind them up and down ____. But while we was on -- unloading here, the beach as far as you could see, nice sandy beach, was filled full of supplies.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Boxes, crates, below -- it was pretty well established as far as the beach was concerned.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

But it was full of supplies and everything you needed.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Normally you had to have a requisition to go get equipment and lists, all the history and this and that; but there for a couple days or so when you was landing, all a commanding officer had to do is, "I need a truck," sign his name, and then go down there and there's a truck down there.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

He lost everything, his cartridge belt and everything he had in the shed, ____ cartridge belt, the rifle, go down there.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

There was a beach master I think it was called --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- and they took care of everything going on the beach. But then this wasn't such a bad system, but I think it was over done.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

So finally they got an order out, no more handwriting requests.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

You get the full ____.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

The --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Go ahead.

John P. Buck:

The first night we was over here, I'd say three miles, we dewaterproofed.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Everything was waterproofed in England up to a certain point. That is, we had our tubes on the carburetor, air, gasoline --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum?

John P. Buck:

-- and air intake and everything and had tubes up there about three or four foot above the cab. And then we had five gallon buckets full of gunk, which was a waterproof plastic material, and these -- we made in England little packages. It was all -- it wasn't all in the five gallon bucket then. You put so much by the battery, you put so much here, so much there. Well, when you got on the ship and everything is shut down and you're just going along for the ride, you covered up your battery, you covered up your vent holes on the transmission and everywhere, you covered all those up. You took a wad of this and covered up your spark plug individually.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

You made a nice canteen around the distributor and around the carburetor. Everything was covered up with gunk.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Well, then when you got there and you hit the sand, you're in a lot of trouble. Well, it was stop and go, stop and go. And once in a while maybe you'd keep right on going for a mile before you stopped. The idea was, as soon as you stop, everybody jumped off their truck, you jump off and grab it off the battery, I jump off and grab it off the distributor, get that stuff off of there before we have trouble. So this is what took place immediately after you got your feet on the sand.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

Then we was here in Camp Delong, this -- we were in trees and stuff for the night. I had a three-quarter-ton trailer for my office.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Oh, yeah?

John P. Buck:

With plywood on the side and roof over the top. That's where we worked out of all the time. We had a French Canadian. This is ____. Of course he could speak French real good. So I was taking up French because he was in our section. And this was going pretty good. You put out your guard at night. Well, he was supposed to go on guard, say, 9:30 or 10 o'clock.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Uh-huh.

John P. Buck:

He wasn't any place to be found. Where is he at? His name was Lagu (ph). {Laughs.} Couldn't find him. Didn't show up. I'm sitting in there with my captain and his right-hand man, which was one rank above me. We were sitting in there. I says, "I can't find this fellow. Lost him someplace around." Well, he got kind of mad, you know. Well, I have to ____. This goes on. I pulled guard for him until I got somebody else to pull guard. Finally sometime 11 o'clock, knock on the door, "Hey, Buck, let me in. Let me in." So I cover up the light, let him in. He comes in, and his field jacket's bulging out like this.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

I don't know whether you want this on here or not. But his field jacket's bulging out. He had all the booze and wine he could carry.

Unidentified female:

{Laughs.}

John P. Buck:

Well, I looked at him. He could get away with it a little bit, static. "Lagu (ph), where have you been?" "I've been talking to some of my kinfolk." Well, went down the road. Well, the French men were eager to talk --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

-- anybody, especially if you could speak --

Timothy J. Sanders:

French.

John P. Buck:

-- French.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Oh, absolutely.

John P. Buck:

They kept coming in. He's down the road here a piece --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- they's coming in there and each one's bringing a bottle. "Here, viva la France. Viva la France." {Laughs.} This goes on. Well, they got chewed out that night and kind of forgot about it the next day.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure. Sure.

John P. Buck:

Welcome to booze.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah. How -- how long -- now, you were in France at the time and you were moving along in back of the front.

John P. Buck:

Yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

The front moved through France and Belgium.

John P. Buck:

Our assignment was to disburse these ____ batteries --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

-- as best could be done. Some of them went on an ammunition dump. Some went on a gasoline -- gasoline. Some of them went on a food dump. Maybe only for a day or two days. Send somebody else. You moved out and went, and somebody else coming in took over. Besides that, this front is laying along there like this --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- this first month or so. And the field artillery we had is right along behind that front. Capable of going over our -- our infantry is down here too.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah. Sure.

John P. Buck:

But we had field artillery, 105s, 155s, that we were protecting. The Germans would strafe these field artillery, because the pictures and everything showed two or three miles of field artillery line up here, and they'd come down here and just strafe the devil out of them.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

Most of the time we had people on the field artillery, guns stashed down the road, down the road as far as you could see. Maybe every 300 feet was a gun. Well, then when we come over and strafed, why, they were surprised to either get knocked down or -- or avoided. And this is what we done. Well, this kept us moving. We was moving all the time. Some of these books here tell you within two hours somebody's giving the word. You was here, move over to here.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Or go from this field artillery group to this one over here. This is the way we worked all the time. Sometimes we might be ahead of the infantry, when we got to move 20 or 40 miles a day and you didn't know where you was at except Patton wanted you to go and keep going.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah. Exactly. He didn't want to slow up.

John P. Buck:

No. So sometimes we got ahead of the infantry, maybe we'd ____ Germans with tanks would go through and get back in the woods.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

All our tanks are going, and then they come back and block you off.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

So this is how we -- how it worked then.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

And several places like this. Now talking with the French man and his kinfolk, that's happened quite a bit of time when we were already stopped on a convoy or something.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

Like hang our head out the door, talk to them. We got in the middle of France someplace and we ran into an area where the Germans had the Poles, transferred the Poles, and ____ over there to work. One area seemed like it was hundreds of Poles was in that area.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

We had a Polish fellow.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. So you had somebody that could talk to them.

John P. Buck:

Here comes somebody up there, and they start rattling Polish. Well, it just looked like people all coming in. A hundred of them coming all over out of the grass and the woods and everything that we're passing along. The fellow can talk Polish. So he's talking there for -- until we move on.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure. ____ -- and you said -- how fast were you going? You said between sometimes 20 or 40 miles a day if you were really moving?

John P. Buck:

Yeah. But this didn't go just driving like going over ____ and back.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

You might hibble-hobble along two or three miles, two or three miles. Well, when you done this, we had about a half a dozen trucks in our supply section.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

And we had to keep going all the time. So this morning or last night sometime in the middle of the night I had a job.... END Of SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE. SIDE TWO, TAPE ONE.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

So that's how that worked. I don't know whether you want to hold this or not. But all this time I'm working. I done the same job --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- the last day I was in the army as I did the first day.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right. Sure.

John P. Buck:

And I got more pay, though.

Timothy J. Sanders:

You're doing the supply.

John P. Buck:

So this one time I had to wait for a rating once in a while. There was two -- we picked up a bunch of replacements from Panama, and they come in our outfit as high-priced help.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

So we had to wait until some of them goofed up and lost their rating or transferred or something. So we -- this fellow was a staff sergeant at this time. We left him here. On this corner was a truck driver with a submachine gun. The staff sergeant had a carbine.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And being from the old army with six years in Panama, he always wanted to be a GI, teach everybody how to march with a manual of arms. Well, he was teaching him with the manual arms with this here submachine gun. That's kind of a shorted weapon.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah. Yes, it is.

John P. Buck:

What happened, our truck driver got hit in the stomach.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Oh, no.

John P. Buck:

But the sergeant knew enough to flag down an ambulance going by.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

Got him on the ambulance. He -- he recovered.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Uh-huh.

John P. Buck:

But then they come in that night; and the first thing is, it's getting about dark --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- come in that night, and, of course, he led the trucks in when they come, wherever they was going. And first thing he reported he lost this man. Well, it didn't take ten minutes, I don't think, and they called one of the personnel fellows that makes orders and cuts orders. They cut an order. Then he went down. I took his place --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

-- as far as the rating was concerned. They sent him back for, oh, two or three months. He'd asked if he could come back to the outfit.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And they left and come back. So he went out as a private and stayed a private out in the gun crew --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

-- for the rest of the war.

Timothy J. Sanders:

And what was your rank at that time?

John P. Buck:

At that time I was a staff sergeant. I stayed a staff sergeant until the end of the war.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. That was your highest rank?

John P. Buck:

No. Technical sergeant.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Oh.

John P. Buck:

One stripe more.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yep. Do you remember what your serial number was?

John P. Buck:

35363662 {laughs}.

Timothy J. Sanders:

It's almost like your name, isn't it?

John P. Buck:

Yeah, yeah. It was an easy one.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah. So you're on your way. You're working across France, and you've got -- did you -- you got into Belgium?

John P. Buck:

We got about 30 miles --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

-- from Bastogne.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

We had a gun section or two in the -- the ____ area.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

But we was pulled out.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Wanted us to get out. Well, this is just an interesting thing. Let's see, this is the first go-round. Well, here is one -- this here before we get to that, this is around Verdun.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

We were around Verdun here, camped. This is where we run out of gas.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

The tanks run out. 20, 30 tanks lined up there bumper-to-bumper.

Timothy J. Sanders:

All dry?

John P. Buck:

With maybe five gallons of gas lead. Well, then the gas came in. Then they moved out. But that first night staying around here, the bridge was still available here. Germans come in to knock that bridge out that night.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Then, of course, there's a lot of ack-ack. So it looked like the 4th of July that night.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

Then the next thing that happened, they're goofing around ____. But then once in a while, kerplump, kerplunp. Let's get underneath the truck bed.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

The next morning there was shrapnel laying around there like you dumped a basket of it out.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Chunks like this.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

All turned blue. I mean, it gets pretty hot, I guess.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah, it sure does.

John P. Buck:

So that's what we done. Well, this is ____. We were trying to bypass a little bit.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

A lot of activity there then.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Well, I guess I'm interested, where were you when the Battle of the Bulge started?

John P. Buck:

As Boosenville (ph), France.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Turn it off a second. TAPE TURNED OFF. TAPE TURNED BACK ON.

John P. Buck:

.... Officers, they had -- they left the jig and headed for the woods, left everything in it. Empty fieldglasses cases. They had the fieldglasses.

Timothy J. Sanders:

When you -- what map are you looking for? Is it an --

John P. Buck:

I was looking for one around The Bulge.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Oh, okay. Well, that's okay. And what was the action like at that point?

John P. Buck:

It was great.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

It was not great for people right in The Bulge.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

A couple of kids from around here got killed during that. A kid I went to school with on the Stars and Stripes --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- December issue was set the typical fight and fire soldier of the year. The ____ is going on. He was a tank commander. January issue came out, typical soldier of the year killed in action in ____.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

So that's what happened. Then another fellow, a local fellow, was killed. He was in the infantry. But what happened, they're theory was that New Year's Day that would be a good time, the weather is just right, the sky is just right, and then the GIs would all get drunk for New Year's Eve. So we'll get up early New Year's morning. And then they sent over about -- over a hundred planes came over, bombers and strafe and fire planes; and they came over there New Year's morning. Well, I know one battery commander of ours said, "Okay, anybody wants to get drunk for New Year's, you get drunk a day or two beforehand, because New Year's Day I want you tiptop shape," which had occurred. A Battery never had a plane to their credit yet.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

D Battery had the most I think it was.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

So it was about 7:30. The idea was to come over and strafe all the field artillery. Then we had an airfield close to ____. Strafe that. It was loaded with planes. And that was the idea. Everything goes, send them this way, that way. Well, we had a field day then New Year's, about two hours, two and a half hours. Most of my records say we got 16 planes there in about a half an hour or so.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum. One of the books say -- quoted 14, but I think if you read farther, two probables. You had a Category Six. A Category One was a total loss, he went down right before your eyes; Category Two was shot up and smoking; and Category Three was, well, I put a hole in his tail, but he kept flying.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

So it probably wouldn't make it back to his base.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

So -- but there was planes coming in from all directions. They had a setup there where they had sent a dummy in here to attract a gun. Of course, they knew where the guns was at too.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Attract a gun. Well, when he got in here and you was wound up for here, here would come a couple in here and want to dust you off.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

So that's the tactics they were working on.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

And we came out with the highest number of planes of any akak outfit in the ETO. The other ones that were in there had more time in, and they started out in Africa and come up through Italy and eventually got up to where we were at.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

But they had more planes. We had more planes for the number of days we was in combat.

Timothy J. Sanders:

How -- how long did that -- did that battle last?

John P. Buck:

It probably was over in about two and a half hours.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Pretty well done in. The terrain is hilly, level.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

One episode here, they came in, guns up here on this side. We had our field artillery stash down through here. Come down through there. So they knocked this guy off, and he crash-landed out here ____ out through the ____. A couple foot of snow back then.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And he -- he went out there, and there happened to be a ____ woods right over here; and he kind of slithered off there, got out, jumped off the wing, and headed for the woods.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

He didn't make it.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Did -- did you have a sense at that time that this was really the last big push the Germans were going to have? I mean --

John P. Buck:

We was hoping that's the --

Timothy J. Sanders:

The commanders I think knew that.

John P. Buck:

Yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

But I wondered if that filtered down to the --

John P. Buck:

Well --

Timothy J. Sanders:

-- GIs.

John P. Buck:

-- some of the books I've got and everything ____ they had a big ____ Germans did, to get this thing organized. This was the last big powwow.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And all the top people were in there. One of these books I've got with some pictures, the top German officer, air force officers --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- I mean, colonels and this stuff, they were in on it too.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

But they got shot down.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

One picture in here, got three or four German officers of the high -- I mean, oldtimers, high rank, along with one kid. That was his first mission.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum. Sure. Last mission.

John P. Buck:

Yeah. It was his last mission. But he survived.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And when they interviewed, talked to this one officer in the high command, his ____ was the airfields around Metz. These were fighters mostly.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And they walked over here to a window around that there airfield; and this German says, "Uh-huh. You got me down, but look at all those damaged planes out there."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Oh, yeah.

John P. Buck:

"See what we done."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

Well, then the next day one of our officers took him over here and looked out that window. It was full of new planes.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum. Yeah.

John P. Buck:

He said, "Well, that's what's going beat us."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

So -- but that was interesting. We -- we shot them down all over this -- this area.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure. Now, how far into Germany did you actually go, or did you -- did you get into Germany?

John P. Buck:

Yeah, yeah. We went the full way.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

We crossed the river at Metz.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

This here Sauer River come up through like that and up into Bastogne, and we was along here in this town down by Sumerlachen and Boosenville (ph). Well, right over here two or three miles was the German border.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

And that's -- we was in Germany just about that quick.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

And then we headed for Frankfurt and Calune (ph).

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Went up to Calune (ph) there for -- I goofed off and we took a ride up there to one of those big castles.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

It was still full of Germans.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

I was trying to get out of there.

Timothy J. Sanders:

When did they start to give up? I've talked to other guys, and they said there was a point at which they -- the Germans pretty much realized that their choices were not very good and they were giving up right and left.

John P. Buck:

Well, they had already finished to a certain degree. It was happening right after we crossed the river.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Right where we was at, there was too many full-fledged Germans and SS troops. If anybody decided to give up, well, the SS just shot him right there.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right. Umhum.

John P. Buck:

So that's where the SS was. Well, if there's an SS, say, three or four weeks later back here in the outfit, he might encourage him to keep fighting. But if there wasn't any of those around, I think there's some of them that would say, "This ain't going to be very good."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

"We better look for a better way out."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

And this started happening; and if there wasn't too many around when we got over in Germany, oh, 50 miles I'd say, by the the ____ and everything, well, they come in -- the ____ was like ours.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Uh-huh.

John P. Buck:

But there would be 1,000 prisoners walking down between the north and south lane.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

Filled up this whole area here. The fight was over. They didn't --

Timothy J. Sanders:

They didn't fight back.

John P. Buck:

Yeah. They weren't going to hurt anybody anymore.

Timothy J. Sanders:

When did you start to get orders and people started to get orders to withdraw and to come on back?

John P. Buck:

Oh, it -- that was kind of a touchy situation. We ended up the afternoon in Passau, Germany. That's on the Danube River.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And I forget what other river comes in there before it crosses over into Yugoslavia. So by this time we're down here where we're running across some Yugoslavian troops that the Germans had.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

So Passau was up on the cliffs here, and the river is down here. The P- -- P25s came in, put a show on there, rattled the windows real good that night. And I think we had one plane ____ sometime around 3 o'clock. But they was coming in, and airfields were around there. So one mechanic, we had gun mounts on our trucks.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

.50 caliber single, 250 rounds. This one mechanic got credit for shooting him down. How this happened is, the road comes over here and the airfield is over here. Well, this is going along when some of the pilots wanted to get behind the line. So if there's anything available to fly, he jumped in it and took off. But the convoy was more or less staggered and stopped, and they knew this airfield was over there. Well, here comes this guy just taking off right above this fellow. And the 250 rounds, that's all it took. He ain't up to speed. All I have to do is hold it up there, knock him off with the gun barrel if nothing else. So that's how that one got killed.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

So then after this happened, we moved out of there in a couple of days. There was a big air base down here that -- they called it Pocking. It was down by Hitler's Bergisch Gladback (ph) hideout.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum. Okay.

John P. Buck:

We moved down there to that head- -- base for headquarters, and ____ starting to pull our batteries in --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- and consolidate them. We was there for, I don't know, about a month or so. During this interim the points system came out.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

85 points and over you was eligible to go home.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

Well, we had a lot of oldtimers. Some of them had 130 points.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

Well, about the same time I only had about 87 or 88.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

About this same time, this is a pretty sharp outfit, "We're going to send you to the CBI." Do you know what -- the CBI was the South Pacific.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay. Yeah.

John P. Buck:

Yeah. So we kind of frowned on that.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah. That's right.

John P. Buck:

And for a little bit, why, I was worried about it.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Because I'd been eligible to pick up and move to China, Burma, India area.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Uh-huh.

John P. Buck:

That only lasted a week or so, and about this time we was making headways in the Pacific.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

I forget when that -- they dropped the bomb. But they was making headway, so that theory kind of left.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And then it said, get ready to move back to France. So we moved back to the higher France.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

On the way we got rid of our equipment. There came an order saying you can turn in your signal equipment at a certain point.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

So we accumulated all the radios and what have you, hauled them down to a storage place for the signal car.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

The sad part of it was -- about it was, we had a lot of radio repairs to make. We had to get a radio. A high radio controlled all of our outfit plus reached our head -- higher headquarters --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- was lost one day, because we had moved so far that nobody knew where anybody was at.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

And during this period the top radio folks took -- took the weapons carrier in the trailer, the engine and generators in the trailer, the headphones and stuff in the truck. They're out hunting trying to get ahold of somebody. Couldn't get ahold of anybody.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

They got a guy in this little wagon truck here, somebody in the front of that truck said, "Hold it. I think I see some Germans." So, yeah. So they stopped and turned around just like that. Of course, they had to unhook the trailer and the master radio. Unhooked it, turned around. By this time they had gotten small-arm fire, and they didn't get the trailer hooked up.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

So they got out of there as fast as they could but left the radio.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Left the radio.

John P. Buck:

We had to go in a hurry to get a radio. The next day a couple -- well, one of the officers, our supply officer, was in it. Even the medical officers went along. {Laughs.} And they was going to retrieve that radio.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

So they got about 15 volunteers, three or four Jeeps with a single machine gun on it, and they went back to that area. Well, when they got two or three miles from the area, and the Germans was thicker than flies, they come back out of the woods, and the infantry was there. Some of them was lucky they got back, because they got into a crossfire between the Germans and our troops.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Oh, jeez.

John P. Buck:

So we had to go get another radio back. That's how we got rid of our equipment and gone.

Timothy J. Sanders:

And you went to Le Havre and then you went on to -- where did you ship out of France?

John P. Buck:

Le Havre.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Le Havre, that's where you --

John P. Buck:

That was an established port.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right. And you boarded ship there and went back to --

John P. Buck:

Boston.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Boston?

John P. Buck:

Boston Harbor, Miles Standish.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Miles Standish is where -- from the dock is where we went to finish getting rid of our equipment --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

-- and getting rid of our box.

Timothy J. Sanders:

All right. And was it your intention to get discharged at that time, or were you planning to stay in at all?

John P. Buck:

No, I wasn't ready to stay in. I had had it, and knew I had to come back to Camp Atterbury for discharge.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Which most of the outfit did unless they was out in Oregon or someplace like this.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

Another interesting thing, there was a few dogs became pets for the outfit.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

One fellow had a little terrier. Hauled him halfway across France and Germany and everything.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And the colonel for 112th Group, which was our group, next headquarters --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- that we associated with, his name was Moss. But later when they started pulling them out, our colonel come home about a month ahead of time and he transferred to be commander of our outfit; but he had picked up a German prisoner of war, Shepherd, big black English Shepherd. Pretty dog and everything.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

But he got him out of a German camp.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

And he was going to bring him home. Well, this is all right until one day here comes the order that says, "There will be no dogs going home on a troop ship."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

They'll have to be quarantined and shipped later. "Nah, I can't do that." So our sly officer, he's a bigshot, "I'll fix that up." When he first got the dog, he went down and got some German carpenter to make a nice doghouse, ____ down every so often.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

About this high. Some of our guys had the job of hauling that box back. I got a picture of the truck with that box sitting up in the truck when we were halfway back to France. And that's what we're going to take the dog in.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Well, when this order come out, they couldn't very well cover that dog up in that box.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right, right.

John P. Buck:

Keep him anyway. We had wooden boxes so big, headquarter supplies and stuff like that. Some of them was this thick. But we had a box like this, had 455th painted all over it.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

A couple of big ropes on the end --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- to hang onto it. Got to Lucky Stripe, that's Camp Lucky Stripe is where we holed up at --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- A couple miles out from the port. And the idea was the doc -- then the colonel was going to ride in this Jeep. Well, pulled up alongside of this boat here, more or less out of sight, doc gave him a shot. That old dog laid in that there wooden box.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

I had the job of standing up on the ship with a roster of everybody; and the guy that traveled with the ship, he was a tech sergeant too, and he was over here with his roster and inspecting and everything. So they gave the dog a shot. We had two of the smallest guys was the guys chosen to carry that box up this gangplank.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And she's ____ rocking like that, and they almost dropped the damn thing about three foot from the edge of the ship. They got it up there, and this guy he's getting kind of inquisitive around there. It had headquarter boxes all over the deck here. And he could see they was working. So he got up, "What's in that box?" They said, "Battalion supplies." "You've got a hell of a lot of battalion supplies." I said, "We have a hell of a big outfit." {Laughs.} So that's what happened there. Got him over there, and they got to hauling the boxes out; and that box went down to the colonel's office.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

He come to. Pretty soon here comes a kid, and I don't -- I never got him to see him in the reunions or find out whether he got his dog home or not; but he had this little terrier.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

By the time he got up there, the terrier wants a little --

Timothy J. Sanders:

He wants a little air.

John P. Buck:

-- air.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Dog in his shirt.

John P. Buck:

He come up there. He didn't bark or nothing. But he got his nose out right here. That guy there right in the ship said, "No dogs on here. Get rid of that dog. Get back down there and get rid of that dog. He don't go on here." And by this time -- the dog's got his head out. But by this time here come a big old fellow, tall guy. Hell, he must have been six-six. And he come a'walkin up there. He was a merchant marine. He seen what was going on. He said, "Give me that damn dog. I've been hunting all over for him." And he reached in there and pulled that dog out and put him under his arm and went on down the deck. This guy's standing there looking around. He didn't say nothing. But pretty soon he said, "All right. Come on up the deck. Come on up the plank." I said to this fellow, "Come on in. Go about your business. Your dog will be all right."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

He went down, he seen his dog. He found out where that guy's cabin was at.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

He went down and seen his dog about every day. {Laughs.}

Timothy J. Sanders:

It wasn't the other guy's dog, though, was it? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. He was just saving the dog. He was saving --

John P. Buck:

He was saving it to get him on. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, sure.

John P. Buck:

This guy traveling with the ship didn't have too much authority over the merchant marine running the dang ship.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Did -- you were not -- you weren't shot, right? I mean, you didn't get any -- get shrapnel or anything like that.

John P. Buck:

No.

Timothy J. Sanders:

You were right there, but you just were lucky to keep out of the way.

John P. Buck:

We just was lucky. I'd been close enough to see the rivets in the guy sitting in one of these fighter planes going back.

Timothy J. Sanders:

What -- what medals did you get? You got World War II, probably. The World War II medal.

John P. Buck:

Yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Liberation --

John P. Buck:

Everybody gives you the good conduct if you ____. {Laughs.} I don't know whether this is one of them or not.

Unidentified female:

You want that? I've got --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Would you, Bronze Star.

Unidentified female:

You can have that if you want it.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Well, thank you.

Unidentified female:

You can go through these and see if there's something he might part with.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Excellent.

John P. Buck:

What's that there?

Timothy J. Sanders:

This is your citation for your Bronze Star.

John P. Buck:

Oh.

Timothy J. Sanders:

John, I really appreciate it. This has been great. And this is exactly what we want, to hear from folks like you and what you did. When you came back, what was the reaction of the people back here at home when you came back?

John P. Buck:

Oh, "We're glad to see you."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah. "Good job"?

John P. Buck:

Well, I didn't look for a job for a while.

Timothy J. Sanders:

No. I mean, they thought you did a good job in the war. I mean --

John P. Buck:

Well, there wasn't too much comment about that.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah, yeah.

John P. Buck:

____ what it was, and there ain't nothing I can do about it now. My uncle was in the first one.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

He was around Verdun. Well, when we went through that area, you could see what happened. Only 20 years.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

There was no big truce. I mean, nothing like this. You had a bunch of old dead stumps out there. Maybe some brush coming up here and brush coming up there. But you could still see trenches. They weren't fully operational, but you started coming in like that. How I could see that was, there was a place there around Verdun where they slaughtered a bunch of them; and they put a monument, a Quonset hut deal like this, about 200 feet long. And in the center was spiraled going up maybe 70 feet. And then they had put a marble looking like a courthouse in the fort. Have you seen that one?

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure. Yeah.

John P. Buck:

You could look out here and see everything here. Go over to this corner and see everything here. They had a marble plate and they had this here all etched in the plate the names of it and everything like that. You could see -- you could see -- and it was in color, green and white.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Uh-huh.

John P. Buck:

You could see the old trenches, go over here and see trenches. And they had buried -- each one had columns or segments in them along here, and they had put maybe a hundred or two casualties in this one and all along the bottom.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Uh-huh.

John P. Buck:

Those was all GIs.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Right.

John P. Buck:

And over here was another short monument, but it was boarded up with boards. You had to pull the boards off to look in and see what it said. It was a Jewish area that they put up for the Jews.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Hitler didn't like it.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Boarded it up.

John P. Buck:

Oh, he covered it up with wood. But that was around Verdun. And I never talked with him too much about it.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

He was gassed a couple times. He finally didn't have any lungs when he died.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

But it was Verdun where he spent quite a bit of his time.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

And two kids in my class, we only had 13 in our class --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- all the way through school. In two weeks one kid got a weak heart from measles when he was about seven years old or so. So he had heart trouble. He died two weeks before graduation. He was the comedian in the bunch. That gave us 12. Two weeks after we graduated, a kid was kind of hot with his foot, was going to pass somebody down here on 30, and he cracked up and killed himself there. He had a coupe. ____ with the doors open.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Backward?

John P. Buck:

Yeah.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

Well, when he hit head-on there, why, he went to pass somebody, and there wasn't room. So he flew out -- the doors flew open and he flew out. That left us 11.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Two of the guys were prisoners of war. One of them lived right over here. He became a P51 pilot.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

The other one was in The Bulge.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

He said, "It wasn't no excuse for me to be a prisoner," but that's the way it was. He said, "I stomped those woods for days. I knew the whole territory through there. Go out every night and look." He kind of wanted to tell the commander, he said, "You go out there and look." And he said, "I don't have to go out there and look. I know what's out there right now. And there ain't enough room for me and those guys." "Go out and see.". Well, this interim, the first sergeant was supposed to come up there and told these guys there's three or four of them in a hole there, a snow bank, to get back.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Get back out of there. But he never got there.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Never made it.

John P. Buck:

Within the next couple of hours they wandered back, and there were some Germans waiting there in that hole for him to come back.

Timothy J. Sanders:

So he was a prisoner of war.

John P. Buck:

He was a prisoner of war. He got down to 90 pounds, and he was an 180 pound man.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

Talking about his time. He said, "We had some pretty good boots for a while, but," he said, "it was snow and everything. Germans marching along the road." He never had a home. They just walked all over Germany. And Germans would see this guy's got a pair of boots on --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- I'll take those boots. So he had nothing but a worn-out pair of shoes to tromp around on.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

And that's how it worked. This fellow, he was a staff sergeant at the time.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And as time went on, this -- one of his buddies was over here in Ohio. When they liberated them, a GI truck come up there and lowered them up. He was still in good enough shape himself. He said, "Do you got anybody?" "There's one guy back there you're going to have to carry." So, okay. Go back and they carried him on the truck.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And he recovered. Then they became buddies. I'd see him here in the reunion. Then they had a reunion up in Milwaukee, that outfit, one time. So he went up there. They said, "Well, how did it go?" He said, "It went all right. I seen some of the guys I knew." I said, "Was that first sergeant there?" He said, "Yeah. He was there." I said, "What did you say to him?" "Well, I talked with him. Hello and everything. He says to me, you know I was supposed to get up there and tell you guys to come back, but I never made it." My buddy says to him, he said, "Well, at least you didn't forget. You never forgot, did you." He wasn't too happy about it. He said, "Well, at least you didn't forget."

Timothy J. Sanders:

That's right.

John P. Buck:

My other buddy --

Timothy J. Sanders:

What was his name?

John P. Buck:

Richard ____.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

That's his name. Got a picture of him?

Unidentified female:

I have them in there.

John P. Buck:

The other one of his cousins, actually. Bob Kiggerbine (ph), he started out other here at Chinook Field. Was radio of the ____ 17. Then he was a little guy. So -- and he got through that radio school and ____ 17. He said, "I got tired of being bounced across the runway with that there pilot up there." About this time they was looking for fighter pilots. So he volunteered for fighter pilot. He became a pilot at 51.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

And that was one of my favorite planes.

Timothy J. Sanders:

A lot of people talk about that plane.

John P. Buck:

Yeah. It was --

Unidentified female:

____.

John P. Buck:

Oh, yeah.

Unidentified female:

____. I was trying to find ____.

John P. Buck:

We moved around England quite a bit, and I -- we'd write letters back and forth. But I didn't have the know-how to really find out where his outfit was at out there.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Well, finally, we moved down closer to the shore where the ____ was coming in.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

And when I got down there, why, I got a letter. I decided I know where he's at. He's ten miles up the road --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

-- at that air base.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

So I did everything. Friday night I'm going up there. So I took off and went up there to that base, and I looked at the officers quarters and I see where he signed in and everything. I go to the Red Cross gal and I say, "How do I get out to the bases?" "I'll get a cab. He'll take you out there." So I went out there. "Is that outfit here?" The guard at the gate said, "No." So I go back there. I don't know whether he told me they moved out a day or two before.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah.

John P. Buck:

Anyway, I go back to that gal, that Red Cross gal, and I said, "How's come you didn't tell me they moved out?" "We can't divulge anything like that." I said, "Here I've been chasing this guy for months, you let me down and everything. Where can I find him?" "I don't know." So after I jabbered with her a while, finally she said, "Well, they went down south of London."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

That was ____.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

So that's what happened. Never seen him. Well, when I got back, they went down there. Must have been his next trip.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

I got back, and here's a letter came back laying on my cot.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

Missing in action. So he -- ____ one trip off of that base. They was flying deep into Germany.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Got shot down and became POW. So he said, well, you know, we had our instructions and everything, briefing on the ground. When we got in the air there was a heck of a weather change. Wind direction and everything. So they were flying along here deep in Germany. Radio messages weren't too hot. They were scratchy all the time. Said you didn't have any idea, really, what was going on. But his wing man and him were staying close together. I guess sometimes these guys fly within four feet of one another. Said, "Where are we going?" The one guy said, "I'm going to head so many degrees this way." The other guy said, "Hell, no. I ain't going that way. You're going farther into Germany and Russia. I'm going just so many degrees this way."

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure.

John P. Buck:

So they settled and split it halfway, and then they kept flying. They were flying in the fog, one thing and another. But in the meantime, their gasoline ain't too hefty. So they're flying along here, and finally --

Unidentified female:

That's cheating.

John P. Buck:

No, it's not. They were flying up towards the Baltic Sea.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Umhum.

John P. Buck:

You've got a picture of Europe?

Timothy J. Sanders:

Yeah. Yeah, I know Europe.

John P. Buck:

They was flying towards the Baltic Sea.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

But now we don't have enough gas to cross the north see. We're going to have to stay on land or drown.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

So -- but the Germans weren't bothering them.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Okay.

John P. Buck:

The Germans already knew this. They --

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure. They were waiting for them.

John P. Buck:

They had aircraft tails all along the coast at this stage.

Timothy J. Sanders:

Sure. They were just waiting for them.

John P. Buck:

So they just said they'll be down in a little while. They came down. Why, a little ack-ack will put them back up.

[Conclusion of interview]

 
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