We had the option of possibly flying home or taking a boat. The problem with flying, was that nobody had any idea when we might be able to board one–but the consensus was that it could be weeks!! So we chose to be flown to LeHarve, our Port of embarkation and within a couple of days, we were told we could board a Liberty ship, if we wished, but although we were entitled to Cabins, there wasn’t any available, so we’d have to sleep on hammocks in the hold! Of course we could wait for the next ship and see if there were enough cabins on it!!
We climbed aboard!! We had no sooner gotten on board, when Phil Liecshe found the Captain, and asked if he had a spare cabin? Darned if he didn’t–with 4 double bunks, right mid-ship–the best place for one, because you get the least “pitch and roll” there. Phil immediately looked up me, Jim, Ed Mauch and a few others in our little”click” and we moved in! Other officers we knew had to try to sleep in hammocks in the forward or aft holds and as it turned out, those we knew, asked if they could sleep in our bunks when we weren’t using them, so the bunks never got “cold”, all the way across the Atlantic!!
I’ll swear that from the time we got on board, until probably at least a half hour after we docked in New York, there was a continuous crap game! I didn’t get into it, but Ed Mauch decided he’d make his “fortune” on his way back. I don’t think he did, for one minute I’d run into him and he was $1000 to $1500 ahead and then two hours later, he’d look me up and borrow a $100. That went on all the way across. At least he paid back each time, what he borrowed! I think we were at sea only 6 days–it was one of the faster Liberties, and we only ran into one pretty good storm. You can imagine the stench that caused down in the various holds. What did I do?–I went back on the stern and stood there for some time, for it must have been pitching up and down a good 40 feet!! Obviously, sea or air sickness was not one of my problems and never has been!!
I remember entering New York harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty–I’ll have to admit, it looked pretty good!!
It was at that time, that I ran into a last “ditch” crap game. Everybody was throwing in whatever miscellaneous Foreign currency they happened to have, and as I had a few odds and ends, I joined in. I believe we each go three rolls, and the one with the highest total points, won the pot. Darned if I didn’t win!! I probably had over a hundred different ones, but I doubt if the total value was much over $50.
I still have a few left to this day(I gave a lot of them away thru the years to about any one that wanted any) and I also have what is left of my “short snorter”! You’re probably asking, “What the heck is a “short snorter””?? Well, it was a “fad” of that time, that those that traveled around and got into various Countries, to pick up various samples of their paper money and glue them together in as long a string as you could. If you met another “short snorter” in a bar and he challenged you or you him–whoever had the shortest string of foreign money, had to buy the other guy a “snort”(drink) and he signed your “short snorter–thus the name –“short snorter”!! Probably because of that crap game, I ended up with paper currency from countries I never got to! (Incidentally, I’ve just been sorting thru the various currencies, I still have and found that the Navigators name I couldn’t remember, who was on my crew while on that Zeiss assignment, was one of the few that signed my “short snorter”–his name was Art Schaezler– no wonder I couldn’t remember)!
I still have from England a wartime 1 pound note and a 10 shilling one (that was worth half a pound). If I recall right, a pound in those days was worth between $4.25 and $4.50 American, not the roughly $1.50+ of today. There is also a Government of Gibraltar 1 pound note; a Canadian 1 dollar with King George on it; a Netherlands 1(een) guilden and 10(tien) guilden notes; a Belgium 20 belgas or 100 franc note (Half of Belgium speaks Flemish, the other half French–I understood them both about the same–not at all!!!); a German wartime 5 and 20 mark notes as well as a military currency 1/2 mark, a 1 mark and a 20 mark note–then worth about 5 cents a mark; two French 2 franc, a 5 franc and a 100 franc notes (I think these were military issued to, but they don’t say so)as well a wartime 10 franc note; one Italian wartime 5 and 10 lire notes and military issued 5 and 10 lire notes; four 5 lire notes and one 1 lire note, issued by the Military Authority of Tripolitania and a 10 piastres note from Egypt. In addition there is a 10 sen military note for Okinawa, a wartime Indian 1 rupee note and a wartime Chinese 200 yuan note. All of these are pretty “rumpled and ratty” from either being carried in my wallet as long as they were, or just being stored in the various places they’ve been, since then. I suspect they’re all still good enough to be redeemed–at least any that are still worth something, but I doubt if any are in good enough shape for a “collectors” item.
TRAIN TO CAMP PATTERSON
When we finally docked and disembarked, we were loaded onto a troop train and taken to Camp Paterson in New Jersey. Paterson is only about 15 mile west of downtown New York City, so it wasn’t a long ride. I spent several days in Paterson, going thru processing. We had the usual cursory physical and final check on our records and etc. I expect the majority of the delay in leaving there was caused by them figuring out and making arrangements for where we were to go to next, to get discharged.
Wades Mother, Dad and Sister came to New York to meet him, so we, with some of the other guys went into town a couple of times for dinner and a nite out at a night club or two. I’m not sure who I called now,(the folks didn’t have a telephone) but I am certain that I let them know I was back in the States and would probably be discharged in a few days.
I finally got orders that I was to proceed to Camp Atterbury, Indiana and would be discharged there. For some reason, I was made Train Commander, with responsibility for getting everyone there safely. I suspect–don’t remember now–that there was between 300 to 500 of us. At least, one thing I didn’t have to worry about, was someone skipping out and going AWOL (Absent With Out Leave) on me!!
It’s strange the things one remember–maybe it’s even stranger the things you don’t remember!! It was an overnite trip to Camp Atterbury, so as Train commander, I didn’t get any sleep. We stopped several times, to let other trains go thru on the main line; a time or two for water and what have you. I recall posting sentries outside when we stopped–not to keep anyone from running off–but rather to make sure that anybody that did get off , got back on before we took off again. In addition I toured the length of the train several times to make sure everything was O.K., that meals were going to be on time and etc.
The Conductor continually told me how tough it had been on the home front–everything rationed and all kind of shortages–particularly no butter or coffee!! I finally got a couple of lbs. of butter and a pound of coffee and gave it to him. I have a feeling he “conned” the Commander of every troop train he was on!! We arrived in Camp Atterbury, shortly before noon without incident–disembarked–reported all troops accounted for and was shown to my Quarters. It took about three days to finish processing. I was discharged with a promotion to 1st Lt. and given over $1600–a “fortune” in those days.
Although it was the first part of July, I had enough leave coming so that my last day of active duty was Aug. 11, 1946— almost exactly 3 and 1/2 years. I know, I hadn’t collected my pay for 2 or 3 months (didn’t need it) and then there were certain bonus’s for time in service, discharge and etc. As soon as I could, I caught a train for Detroit, where the Folks and others met me!!! I’ve only been on a train once since then–a few years back, when for Ellie’s birthday, amongst other things, we rode the train back from San Clemente to Oceanside.
Grandpa Richard A. and Grandma Edith, had thru the years, 20 grandchildren—14 boys and 6 girls. I was the only one that was of the right age to serve in WW II!