I enlisted in the US Army in December 1940 joining A Company, 18th Inf. Regiment, 1st Inf. Division at Fort Hamilton, N.Y. During 1941 we trained making landings on North Carolina and Virginia beaches. Went overseas on the HMS Queen Mary on Aug. 2, 1942, landing in Scotland. Hiked around southern England and returned to Scotland for a 22 day voyage. Linked up with the 750 ship convoy making the invasion of North Africa on Nov. 8, 1942. I came ashore in the first wave at 1 AM at Arzew and engaged the Vichy French forces at Saint Cloud, Algeria for three days.
After motor patrols and a 600 mile truck ride across Algeria and Tunisia our Battalion met the German 10th Panzer Division at Long Stop Hill, near Medjez el Bab, Tunisia. We attacked at night, took the hill and found our unit was isolated when dawn came. Though a Corporal, I was a rifle squad leader due to the illness of our Sgt. After several hours of rifle and grenade fire, low on ammunition and with several casualties, we surrendered on December 23, 1942. We were made to leave our wounded behind and instead made to carry German wounded to the rear. I was interrogated in Tunis by a German who had been a butcher in Chicago and returned to fight for the fatherland. In Tunis, on Christmas day, I was put into the anchor chain locker of an Italian destroyer which made the run to Palermo, Sicily. Spent a month at Campo 98, cold and with little food. Moved to Campo 59, Servigliano, Italy. After 9 months Italy capitulated on Sept.10,1943 and I was free 9 days. Recaptured by German paratroopers.
The rail trip from Italy to Germany took six days due to the frequent bombing of the rail yards. We were packed so tightly in the boxcar we took turns lying down. We were given soup and bread once. Arrived at Muhlberg, Stalag IV-B where my head was shaved and I was bathed, deloused & dogtagged. Finally rid of the lice that had plagued us in Italy. Next move was deluxe- a passenger train through Berlin (1943) to Stalag II-B at Hammerstein. Again moved by train to Stalag III-B Furstenberg on Oder for the next 14 months. In January 1945, to keep us out of the hands of the attacking Russians, we were marched west in the snow and freezing cold for 10 days. Some guards on horseback, others walking with dogs. A few GI's who could not or would not go on when told, were shot. We were in bad shape when we arrived at Stalag III-A at Luckenwalde. Russian tanks liberated us April 22, 1945. Walked 3 days to get to the Elbe River, was rowed across and met by GI trucks picking up "kriegies" that were getting across.
Free after 28 months. Four days later, May 7, 1945, the war in Europe is over.