I Company, 506th, 101st Airborne
Taccoa, and a Jug of White
While at Taccoa, somebody went up on a hill and got a jug of white
lightning. We were celebrating our temporary ratings that we had
just received. I didnt receive one as I didnt tell them
I had ROTC training. I didnt tell them because I didnt
want a rating, because of what I was going into. I didnt want
to be taking care of anybody else but me. While we were celebrating,
somebody had a trumpet, and they were passing it around, all trying
to blow bugle calls on it. I said, A hell I can blow it better
than anybody else in the barracks. So they said let us hear
what you can do. So I said, What do you want to hear.
Somebody said blow reveille, so I blew reveille. Then they said
blow a couple of other calls and I blew those. So one guy said,
I dare you to step outside the door and blow reveille.
I stepped outside the door and blew reveille. It was five minutes
to midnight. People started falling out, and I blew assembly after.
And they all started forming out on the street. The company commanders
loud speaker came on, and Colonel Sink said, FIND ME THAT
BUGLER! But they didnt find me that night!
Echoing of the Bugles at
There was a regular infantry company on the hill above us, and they
had a bugler. Every night he would blow taps. So for the fun of
it, I echoed him. And the guys would lay awake and everything would
go silent at that time of night. At the officers quarters
they heard it one night. So every night at the time of taps, they
would turn out their lights because of the blackout, open their
windows, and they would listen for the echoing of taps. The guys
said they had never heard anything so pretty. I only met the other
bugler one time when he came down off the hill to meet me. And he
said he really enjoyed hearing it too.
(After the war, my wife
and I went to an airborne meeting in San Francisco, CA at the Palace
Hotel. That is where my wife heard about the echoing of taps. Per
my wife I was the hit of the night, because I had more stories about
the colonel (Wolverton) and all the different things that I had
done as the colonels bodyguard. Also when we walked into the
Palace Hotel, one of the guys there saw me, and said, Oh my
God, Oh my God! You were dead! Everybody said you were killed!
He said that he had seen the letter that I had been killed. He then
said, You are standing here talking to me! And he had
tears rolling down his face. He picked me up and hugged me so hard,
I couldnt stand it. He kept repeating that I had been killed.
He was in the same barracks at headquarters. All through the night
he would come up to me and pat me on the hand stating, You
Ramsbury was a very tiny little village, and everybody knew me,
because the kids would come up to the camp to hear me blow the bugle.
And they knew me as the Candy Man. The other soldiers
would all go out and get drunk, and spend all their money. So when
it came time to get their PX rations, they didnt have any
money to buy them. They always wanted to borrow the money from me
to buy their rations. They wanted to borrow five pounds (English)
and pay back six pounds. I said, No, Ill lend you the
money to buy your rations, but you give me the candy. So when they
would all give me their candy, I would go into the village, and
give it to the children. The kids would watch for me and come running
saying, Here comes the Candy Man!
This little boy always
came up to camp through the back trail, to hear me blow the bugle.
And he would stand there and listen while I blew it. So when they
took my shiny bugle away from me before we were to go overseas,
and go into combat, they gave me a plastic one. So I asked Colonel
Wolverton what I was suppose to do with this other bugle, and he
said, What would you want to do with it? And I said,
There is a little boy who comes in everyday to watch me blow
the bugle, and I would like to give it to him. The colonel
said, Go ahead. So I called the little boy over and
I said, Would you like to have this bugle? And he said,
Can I? And I said, Yes you can. He took
it home, and his mother came back with him to find out for sure
that the bugle was his, and I told her yes. And every time she saw
me, she said that when he comes home in the afternoon from school,
he takes the bugle down off the wall, tries to blow it, then polishes
it, and puts it back on the wall.
Excerpt from D-Day
As I was coming down, I was in the cross fire of machine guns, and
if they had moved the gun a quarter of an inch, it would have cut
me in half. On the way down, I got hit in the leg, and I could walk
but I couldnt run. I didnt get a chance to anyway, because
I landed right next to a German command post. I was looking down
the barrel of about seven rifles, and when I landed, they put me
up against a hedge, and I knew they were going to shoot me. I heard
them say Shizen Americanish! Shizen Americanish!
This German lieutenant came around and he stopped them, and came
over to talk to me. He spoke English. I said, You better watch
out they want to shoot me. And he said, I am not going
to let them shoot you, because I have a brother who is a prisoner
of war in the United States, and I wouldnt want anything to
happen to him. But I have to admire your courage. So he ordered
the soldiers to take me prisoner instead. Then they moved me off
to an area where they had a lot of the guys captured, because we
were spread all over hell and gone.
I was taken to a barn with
several other airborne soldiers, and we were kept there for some
time. We were then walked for some time to a train and put into
box cars. I never had my leg looked at during this time or at anytime
I was a prisoner. We spent quite some time in the box cars, and
then we were in Paris. We were walked through the streets of Paris
as prisoners. Then it was back into box cars where we were kept
for several months. They kept moving us around all the time. We
were allowed out every two to three days, given sugar beets with
some stale bread to eat. We pulled a board up in the bottom of the
box car to have a place to go to the bathroom. The Germans also
took our boots so we couldnt run away at night.
Note: At this time my father
was sitting in his rocking chair. He bent over and put his head
into his hands. He started rocking back and forth, and then the
violent shaking started. My mother sat down next to him, wrapped
her arms around him as he started to cry, and I came over and took
his hands into mine. He was crying and said, Dont ask
me what we ate or did! Dont ask me what we ate! He then
said, I didnt want to tell you any of this because I
didnt want you to know or be ashamed of me! I told my
father that that was the farthest thing from my mind. We stopped
our talk for the day. My father was very depressed until we finally
got him to sleep later.Arrival at the camp at Limburg, Germany
After several months in
the box cars, we were finally taken to a POW camp in Belgium, (Dont
remember what it was called) where we stayed for just a short while.
Just long enough for them to give us some stale bread. It was back
into the box cars, and we were taken out again when we arrived at
a very large camp in Limburg, Germany. There were British and Russian
soldiers there, and we were the first Americans to arrive, mostly
Airborne. Some of the British soldiers had been there since Dunkirk.
(My father also said that he was told there were Jews at the camp,
but he never saw them. What he remembers were the furnaces that
were going day and night, and the smell of human flesh being burnt.
To this day my father cannot be near the smell of lamb cooking.
He says it smells the same way to him)
It was at this camp that
the Red Cross was able to get my information, and passed it onto
the Army. They in turn were able to send a second letter to my parents.
This time they were advising them that their son was no longer missing
in action, but a prisoner of war..
Donald Clifton Ross received
both the Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War medal.
By Donald Clifton Ross's
The shoulderpatch of the 101st Airborne.
Donald right before his jump above Normandy.