I served in the European Theater - We landed at Cherbourg and I think were the first troop ship to land after that port was cleared. I believe it was September 23,1944. On November 23rd, 1944 we were just outside the German town of Immendorf, near the Siegfried Line of pillboxes, when I was hit in the back of the leg late at night. We had headed back for our second trip to get 10-1 cartons of rations. It was Thanksgiving Day.
I saw only one day of action. I remember that the British shone searchlights against the clouds which made it look like a moonlite night. I didn't quite understand that. You could see them, but they could see you. It was getting to be early morning when I was hung on the side of a Sherman tank with British crew. One of them was up through the hatch putting blankets on me when I heard one of his buddies inside the tank call out "Hey, you better get your head down here before you get it blown off".
The Germans had started a mortar barrage prior to a counter attack that took place later. I was taken to a British aid station where I had a cup of hot tea. I was reported missing in action, but later my mother received word that I was wounded. My older brother was also in service at this time in the South Pacific. I have 4 brothers (2 are deceased). All 5 of us were in service at one time or another, 2 in Infantry, 2 in Navy and 1 served as a copilot with SAC flying missions over Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis.
I was one of the 150,000 in ASTP and when it was disbanded we wound up in Infantry or Artillery. I was sent to Infantry at Camp Swift, Texas. I was handed a Purple Heart while in the hospital in England. The information was omitted in the history where names are listed and I believe an asterisk indicated a Purple Heart was awarded.
After I was treated at the British aid station I
was transferred to a field hospital nearby which
as I recall was located in a building that once housed
the Nazi Youth Group. Then I was transported to Liege.
The Germans were making life in Liege miserable by
sending in buzz bombs. These were rocket propelledd
and not all that speedy as jet planes could shoot
them down if in the vicinity. The first models would
fly over and you would hear their "bup, bup,
bup" and then the engine would shut off and
the bomk dived straight ahead and down. People had
a brief time to get out of the way. But later models
were developed so that they might go to the left,
the right or straight ahead. A still later model
added a circle before they went into their dive.
These things were landing in Liege and one actually
hit one of our field hospitals. I think it was the
15th General Hospital.Our hospital tents had sidewalls
made out of 2 X 4 lumber. We would set out tin cups
on top of the wall and a number of times the bombs
landed close enough that the concussion shook the
cups off the wall. I was later flown to one of our
hospitals in England where I was for several months.
While there I received a dead skin graft from my
right leg to the back of the left leg. It took. Later
in an Alabama hospital I saw French tube grafts which
were used to provide a new ears and probably for
other parts.They would start a tube using skin on
the stomach. After the tube was formed and was live
and growing.one end of the tube would be detached
and connected to an arm. When that grew fast the
first end of the graft would be disconnected from
the stomach area and would be connected where they
wanted to attach the ear.
This would require that the patient's arm be put
into a cast which would hold the arm in position
while the graft grew fast at the ear location. When
that growth was ready the graft was cut loose from
the arm. They addes surgery would follow to form
the ear. I might have this a bit mixed up but that
was the gereral procedure as I recall. In the same
hospital, Northington General, in Tuscaloosa, AL,
therer weas one full ward of vsoldiers who were paralyzed
and got around in wheel chairs. They were always
a hopeful group until the day they were discharged
as the hospital could not do more for them. That
was uauslly a very sad day as there was no longer
hope that they would recover and they were also leaving
others who had been their buddies through long days
in the hospital.
The hospitals were not a bad place to be. I was
assigned tro a hospital for 18 months. During that
time I had 2 ninty day furloughs. One time I returned
early from furlough as life was better for me in
the hospital. The food wasn't bad and I had modern
plumbing at my sefvice. My home then had only one
cold water faucet and an outdoor privy. The USO also
sent some good shows to entertain us. I remember
Sigmund Rhomberg brought his band with several georgeous
girl singers. After they sang he remarked "I
know a good voice when I see one".
"The army nurses were a great bunch of girls.
I never heard any of them complain. They were always
ready to help their patients. The serviceman who
was in the bed next to me for a number of months
married one of the nurses who was caring for him. "One
night I had a date with one of the nurses, well not
exactly a date, we met in the back of an empty ward
for some good old fashioned smooching. Next night
I saw her going to the movies with another officer.
I was crushed. I was also young and naieve.
The last hospital I was in was Halloran General
on Staten Island, which was converted from military
use to the Willowbrook State Hospital in 1947. They
came to pick me up in one of the army ambulances.
I was able to walk. We crossed on the Staten Island
ferry. The fog was so dense that there was a crewmember
at the bow shouting directions to the hellmsman.
Fog horns were blaring as other boats wanted to let
their presence be known.
At this same hospital we were treated to USO shows.
One of them was brougfht by Ed Sullivan and featured
Max Baer and Maxie Rosenbloom. Rosenbloom was in
the audience right next me and was heckling Max Baer
as he did his bit.There was a club of men who must
have been wealthy. They would take grougs of servicemen
from the hospital for a night on the town. I was
with a group taken to see the Rockettes at Radio
City. There was also a feature movie, but I don't
recall the title. The Rockettes were presenting their
Christm was at Hollorand General about a month and
received a medical discharge from there.as show.
After the show we were taken to Longchamps Restaurant
for dinner. I recall that the dinners were like $7.95
each and I thought that was a very high price.
I was sent to Hollorand General to talk with other
patients there who had been given a bone block in
their ankle so that the foot did not drop. Those
I talked with had developed nasty blood blisters
on the ball of the foot. I decided, rightly I think,
that was not for me. I was at this hospital about
a month and received a medical discharge after deciding
not to have the ankle bone block.
Parke G. Hoover