Dr. Truman Warner Interview: World War II Reminiscences

Dublin Core

Description

90 minute cassette

Abstract

Dr. Truman Warner was an Anthropology Professor at Western at the time of the interview. Warner attended and graduated from the High School in what is now White Hall, He attended and graduated Danbury State Teachers College. When the war began, Warner was teaching at his first assignment, having just graduated from DTC in June of '41. The interview was recorded in the EI Gross library
in the basement of White Hall. The interview was a class assignment (Introduction to Historical Research).

Date

1989-05

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Marker, Christopher W.

Interviewee

Warner, Truman

Location

Time Summary

Side A

0-10min: His graduation and subsequent employment at Center Elementary School in Brookfield
Center.11 December 7 , 1941 II Rebuked at school by administration for allowing students to listen to the radio about news of the war; Civilian Defense duty - appointed as an Air Raid Warden in Danbury; discusses
the silly rules and regulations of the CD - "people having a sense of duty";
11-20min: Drafted into the Army (given notice) in early 1942; the feeling that "not whether but when" the U.S. would win the war; Travels to Fort Devens, Massachusetts along with a number of local men in Nov. '42; Processes into the Army, then travels by train to Boot camp; Recalls his train derailing in Indiana ;
21-30min: Arrives at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma (Grapes of Wrath country); Begins training, eventually ending up as a Medic; Division unique in that all men will stay together during and after training, as opposed to being sent as replacements to already existing units - his unit known as the 88th - the Blue Devils; Unit moves to Louisiana for further training in the summer of '43. Transfer and promotion to corporal in 3rd Battalion, 350th Regiment Aid station; Describes the function of the station(triage center, primary care); Describes typical Army Ineptness of command : troops not given adequate water supply, many experience heat exhaustion on long, hot marches; Tells story about commanders looking for their missing troops.
31-40min: Transferred to Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas 410 Sightseeing in san Antonioll further training: Takes his first and only leave; 3 days by train thru New Orleans ending up in New York; only a week at home and then back to San Antonio; Receives word to prepare for debarkation in Fall of '43; unit transfers to
Norfolk, Virginia (staging area); Screens troops for final processing to ship out at Dispensary; reprimanded by
officer for giving out immunizations, but is exonerated by realistic officer who understands the difficulties; Travels in a giant flotilla known as a convoy in Nov. '43 across Atlantic. recalls that the journey was long and crowded, not breaking any records for crossing the Ocean - over 3 weeks.
41-46: Arrives at Casablanca, Morocco. II story about curious medics who drink strange brew that has "fallen off the back of a donkey cart." - turns out to contain some hallucinogenic compound which causes medics to experience horrible visual illusions; Troops board trains heading north, then east across North Africa. "Lister bags and K-rations" - crowded as usual.; Recalls being fascinated by journey: Turns south towards the Atlas mountains arriving at Magenta, Algeria?; Cold
desert nights - only officers have sleeping bags - little food, as the majority of supply trains are attacked by nomadic Arabs, cargoes pillaged.

Side B

0-10min: Officers get guns and jeeps and hunt gazelles - which become "gazelleburgers"; Wanders around local country during free time exploring; credits these times as
crucial to developing his interest in Anthropology.
Goes to city of Bellabes - the headquarters of the French Foreign Legion; vivid memories: bazaars, unique architecture and a real meal at a French restaurant ; 51-11-20min: Given orders to prepare, once again, for journey to points unknown; Arrives in Italy after many harrowing accounts crossing the Mediterranean; Describes the Screaming Mimi shells that the Germans used in the war.; Recalls his duties as medic during the fighting that his unit was involved with;
21-30min: retrieving the dead and wounded in the middle of the night; Use of sulfa drugs and the importance of such drugs in fighting infection. Discusses the May push - u.s. troops drive north in May '44 - unit reaches: the Arno river in late May; Transfers to Anti-aircraft batteries unit II All-Black troops, highly decorated but commanded by white officers, causing a degree of tension;
31-40min: Told by Warrant Officer that he is accepted by the troops; Recalls watching hordes of aircraft flying overhead on their way to France, during earl y June '44; Given a commission as Medical Administration Officer; Transferred to France in middle of Summer of '44; in charge of a medical supply unit preparing items for the South Pacific; Gets appendicitis; Takes a recuperative leave on the French Riviera, at Cannes;
41-46min: Finds unit gone after he returns from leave; Relocates to Lyon, where he stays until the end of the war and when he finally returns to the States and separates from the military.
Summary version 2:
00 MIN | Graduation from Danbury State Teachers College| First Teaching Position, Center School –
Brookfield, CT| Pearl Harbor – Tony Palermo (DSTC classmate) field trip with archeological students |
Palermo died in the War| Warner told students about the war and let them listen to Roosevelt’s speech|
Criticized for playing speech |
10 MIN | School became involved with sugar rationing| Civil Defense| Air Raid Warden| training in first aid|
questioning the practicality of home front preparations| drafted in 1942, not “gun-ho”| Not whether U.S.
would win, but when”| called into the army with other Danburians | sent to fort Devens, MA| Derailment of
train taking them west in Indiana – no one hurt | Ended up in Fort Bragg, not Bragg, Camp Gruber| trained as
a division 88th Division |
20 MIN| was assigned to medics | First “All Draft” unit sent overseas | Moved to Louisiana and Texas for
maneuvers | made corporal of sergeant | soldiers sent out in heat with one canteen for training | a large number
dehydrated and suffering heat exhaustion | example of unwise training | sent to Fort Sam Houston in Texas |
annoyed with policies which excluded enlisted men | Pleasant city – Alamo | Got leave home for week|
30 MIN | 3 days to get home | in the fall, prepared to deploy | went east to Norfolk, VA | put in charge of
dispensary at Norfolk | check for diabetes, etc. | went in a convoy across the Atlantic in November 1943 |
crept across | 2 weeks to cross, didn’t know destination | disembarked in Casablanca |
40 MIN | a barrel spilled off the ship and some soldiers partook of the contents which was wine likely
containing hashish – soldiers out of their heads | got on a train across Morocco in 40 or 8 boxcars | got to
Algeria, went south | arrived Magenta(?) | short of food | END OF SIDE A
00 MIN | Africa | wandering during free time | eating at French Restaurant | Got aboard ship with nothing in
dispensary | obtained supplies from a warehouse| someone had an appendicitis | went in a harbor Azerte? to operate | crossed the Mediterranean by themselves | Sicily to Naples | Casino was still in contention |
Sometimes medics went into combat, sometimes way up front |
10 MIN | Went in with British helmets to deceive Germans | Germans used screaming mimis | stretcher
bearers would bring the wounded out of combat back to a village where the medics could take care of the
wounded at an aid station established by the British | were stationary for a period | hung burlap over one
intersection so that the German machine gunners couldn't hit them |
20 MIN | Big push northward | Germans weren't expecting the amount of firepower Americans amassed |
Pushing, attacking, unpacking, packing | May 1944 | Connected up with Anzio troops | by August had pushed
through Rome, Florence, Pisa | transferred to anti-aircraft battalion | All the troops were African American,
officers were white | all lieutenants were black – higher officers were white | there may have been shots fired
between whites and blacks | Became assistant battalion surgeon | accepted by the African American soldiers |
30 MIN | the anti-aircraft battalion broke up because there was little need | invasion of southern France |
turned into a transportation unit | attached to medical base depot company – preparing for Asian theater | only
officer | ordered to establish the medical base depot and didn't know what to do – took command of an outfit
for 2 or 3 days | moved to Marseilles | had German prisoners working for them | supposed to be in charge of
the prophylactic distribution | had an appendicitis | requested leave for the Riviera | spent several days and had a great time | went to Nice | dated nurses |
40 MIN | Men from the front lines were streaming in | got back to Marseilles and the entire outfit was gone |
went up to Leon | Involved with rearming the French army | 1945 | All the gold for fillings was stolen from
the dental truck | END

Files

Citation

Marker, Christopher W. “Dr. Truman Warner Interview: World War II Reminiscences.” Truman A. Warner Papers, MS026. WCSU Archives, 9 July 2019. Accessed on the Web: 18 Oct. 2019.

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