Merl “Bus” Cornelius, Sgt., USA, ETO, 2 Bronze Stars
Name: Merl “Bus”Cornelius
Branch of Service: U. S. Army
Unit: 601st Ordnance Armament Battery
Specialty: Tank Corps
Active Duty Dates: April 1942 to December 1945
Armed Conflicts: World War II
Theater of Operations: European
Campaigns: Africa, France and Germany
Decorations & Awards: American Theater, European Theater with 2 bronze battle stars and WWII Victory Medal
Speaking Subjects: Landing North Africa, Convoy, submarines, Bombing North Africa, Underground factories in Germany and Tactics.
Merl L Cornelius, Tec. Sgt.
602ND Ordnance Armament Battalion
North Africa & Rhineland Campaigns -1942-45
Two Bronze Battle Stars
In reviewing my notes on part of my life, I thought I should add these things that are very vivid in my memory and in 1943 seemed important to me.
North Africa, the morning our ship was just off the coast and heading into Oran, Algeria – I was amazed to see what looked like a large modern city up on the hill. Some where in my schooling, I was under the impression all of North Africa was just big sand dunes, camels, oasis, desert and home to the French Foreign Legion. I remember an old movie, with an old fort being defended against the Arabs. I remember the harbor at Oran filled with all the sunken French war ships.
.Oran was a large city, very dirty, perhaps this was due to the war years, It was a gathering of Jews who had fled Spain during the civil war there of Franco in 1936 and the Jews who had fled Europe after the Hitler take over in 1936, then there was the Free French, and then there were the Arabs who had been there all along. Oran has the old quarter, has a Casaba –walled city area and an 18 century mosque,, before the Algerian war 1991-2002 which cost about 200,000 lives the city was 50 percent Europeans, after the war all Europeans fled to France. Some of the city was nothing but mud huts and slums, a Arab funeral they only had a box they placed the body in, then they placed it on their shoulders and carried it up the road, when they got to the cemetery the box was placed over the hole and the bottom would drop out, body would fall into the hole, they picked up the box and used it again and again. Oran appeared to be a very modern city, tree lined streets, modern looking buildings with balconies, but most of these buildings had no water or sewer. The women of the house would take her garbage and bathroom waste in her bucket down to the street each day and pour it into the open curb gutter, then walk over to the water hydrant, wash out the bucket and fill it with water for the days use and back up the stairs, some times up to ten floors. No elevators and most of them would cook with charcoal in a pot.
When we first got off the ship at Oran, due to the Free French sinking most of there Naval Fleet in the harbor, there were only dock space for two ships to dock. Some of our group immediately went to work on the docks unloading the many ships that had arrived with us in the large convoy from the states. This consisted of tanks and very large boxes which had dissembled trucks and jeeps in them. The first box would be taken out of the hole of the ship and lowered to the dock, and then a bull dozer would push it aside so the next box could be placed on the dock. By the time there were ten boxes in line on the dock, Our people along with civilians would begin opening the boxes, first the top, then removed the sides, there would be a disassembled truck then they would jack up the truck, install the wheels, connect the battery, put water in the radiator and gas in the gas tank and off to our area shops and storage area south of Oran about four miles, where we were engaged in building our large shop area, The work on the docks would go on twenty four hours a day, until all the ships were unloaded. I could not believe the amount of trucks, tanks, artillery pieces, Jeeps and motor cycles that would come out of a ship. We had a one square mile area that we fenced and it was full of vehicles all the time. Then there were a million boxes of spare parts, guns and supplies. We established a complete machine shop, radiator shop, Fire station, rebuilding motors section, recap tires, paint assemble line and carpenter shop. This was called base Ordnance, (602 ORDNANCE BASE ARAMENT BATTALION) there had never been such a thing in the Army before. Being the tanks we unloaded were so heavy, many were dropped into the harbor and we had no way to recover them, they said there were so many dropped in the harbor that it would supply a whole division. Sergeant Stewart and Chuck Way who handled the civilian workers said we had 1500 civilians working in Oran.
As new troops arrived, we supplied them from our stock pile and later when the army was preparing a division for an invasion. We would over hall all there vehicles and equipment. Such as when a vehicle would come in to our shop we would remove the live ammunition and we would not look for what was wrong with the vehicle, but replace everything, all the tires with new ones we had recapped, new brakes if it needed it or not, new engine, new battery, new cannas top, repaint it with the correct camouflage and return it to them. We would do a whole division in about a week. Some times we were given a dead line, and there were times we had to deliver the tanks and trucks directly to the ships and landing boats for the next invasion.
We built our own shops and a prisoner of war camp for two thousand Italians which we selected from the bigger P.W. camps near us. We selected those prisoners who we thought had mechanical skills. And we trained them to help repair our vehicles. One soldier would take ten Italians and trained them, this increased our man power. At first we did not know if we could trust the Italian Prisoners of War, but they did not want to get into the war and when they did they surrendered early on and wanted to help get the war over as soon as possible.
Interesting to me, one of the PW who worked for me, his name was Lugie, his job in the Italian army was driving a truck, which had four compartments, each with a women, his company would drive up behind the front lines and the women would service the fighting men. He was excitable and when he found out I had help make B-24 Liberators Bombers, he really got excited and waved his arms and in broken English, he told me in Tunisia, some B-24’s came over and bombed them, naturally he dived into a ditch and he claimed all forty women in his company jumped in on top of him. The Italians were better lovers than soldiers. There were many larger PW, camps, but ours they just worked for us. One day one of our guards spotted a brassier hanging on a rope to a tent, upon investigating they found a women medic living with the men, she was removed. There was a report from one of our guards “You have not seen nothing untilll you see an Italian PW. Having sex with an Arab women standing up with the sharp stockade barbed wire between them. ”
Many memories of the landing and the 19 months spent in North Africa, the docks were a very busy place and as I stated before we kept it running twenty fours a day to the get the equipment and supplies unloaded and the ships on there way back to the states for another load. The first troops in North Africa brought all there own equipment, but the latter ones we supplied from our stock pile. We supplied and equipped the French units. To keep the docks open and to work at night there had to be some lights and this caused the Germans to send some bombers always at night. They always bombed where the most lights were, so we always kept an unused part of the port illuminated and they always dropped there bombs over there and we kept the other part of the port operating. One night President Roosevelt was on a large naval ship in the port and it had several naval destroyers with it and was stopping over in the port he was on his way to meet with Churchill and Stalin at Tehran In the adjoining Port of Merls-El-Cabeer, Churchill had the British navy with him on his way to meet Stalin. When the German planes came in that night, there was the normal army anti-aircraft on shore and about a dozen naval ships along with the Army’s I have never see a fourth of July like that night. We had about two hundred, very black Singleness troops guarding the exterior of our base and then we had our own guards inside of the fence to keep the Singleness from stealing from us. This night there was so much shrapnel coming down, one of our guards lost two fingers and two Singleness guards were killed. There was so much shrapnel around after this attack you could not drive a truck over it until all of this was picked up. One of our people Ludick Carimigan made a powerful magnet on a trailer, which we pulled around with a tank and it would pick up a truck load of shrapnel at a time, we would then turn off the magnet and have the Italians load it in to a truck He also made and got a presidential Citation for building a powerful magnet for the hospitals, they would place the magnet over a wound and the magnet would pull the metal out of the wound.
In reviewing North Africa memories and they bring back other memories, unimportant to every one but me. But I will try to write about it any way. When we arrived in North Africa, we pitched out pulp tents in a vacant field, then it started to rain and we were living in a mud hole, our shoes would float off, sleeping in wet and muddy blankets, every thing we had was wet. We were confined to camp for three weeks and in the three weeks we did get dried out and out of the mud. Then it was time to go to town. We were lectured on how to act and particular on drinking wine which we were not use to. I remember this incident.
In Oran we came upon an Arab, he had a two wheel cart with a Burro pulling it. I swear the burro was not over four feet tall, a small little thing. The cart was loaded and the Arab was setting on top of the load. He was whipping the Burro trying to get it to pull the cart, and its load and himself up the hill. It was too much for the burro to pull. Some of our group – perhaps drunk – did not like him repeatedly whipping the burro. So they went to the cart, pulled the Arab off the cart and put him behind the cart pushing the cart and took his whip and whipped the Arab all the way up the hill. End of story.
While President Roosevelt was in North Africa, One of his aides came to my section and we made a special seat for the jeep for the president, he had to set high because of his Polio braces and we raised the seat and we built a special pipe hand rails around it. Private Berkland of Headquarters Co. drove the president.
While in North Africa a group of twenty of our people went into Oran and finding other soldiers who were part of a new Army Ranger Battalion that was being formed. These twenty men signed up to transfer and the next day a truck came to our camp and picked them up. They felt they should be doing more to win the war. The next day a group and my self went into Oran and signed up to transfer to the Ranger Battalion. Mean while out Colonel D.C. Campbell had found out about the first twenty and stopped us from leaving. Thank God, that whole Ranger Battalion which I would have been part of was wiped out at Anzio Italy. Some of them were returned to Oran and we had a military funeral for thirteen of our former buddies. The playing of Taps -coming over that hill will always be remembered.
There were serious moments in North Africa when we lost some friends and buried them there and then there were things to laugh about and I will write about that. I have mentioned the modern looking buildings in Oran, with balconies overhanging the sidewalks. A Lewis (Poncho) Chambers from San Diego was setting in a open top weapons carrier along a street in Oran waiting for some one, just setting there and smoking a cigarette, when a lady up about four floors, decided not to carry her garbage down and dump it into the open sewer along the street, she threw it over the balcony and right onto Poncho, now this would wake any one up. When this garbage and shit hits you like a clap of thunder, you are wet and stink a lot. He drove back to camp, cleaned up and we all had a good laugh then and many more as time went by over this incident.
When it was time for us to move from North Africa to France, I was selected to go with the advance detail to get our vehicles and trucks into southern France. (See Marseille landing and taking German PW”s story) We preceded the balance of the battalion by some two weeks, landing just west of Marseilles and going over the side, down the rope net as our vehicles were lowered into the landing crafts and on to the beach. Then after a short stay there we moved on up to Chaumont France where we set up another large Ordnance Armament Base. We converted a large French Calvary base (horse stall) to fit our needs.
In 1944 we followed the invasion into southern France, landing west of Marseilles. The Germans still held the high ground, the big church on the hill, they were starved out and that is where I picked up the 7 MM. rifle I have. In a short time we followed the army up into France. We set up our Armament Base Ordnance at Chamount which was a major railroad and highway junction. We Converted a French Calvary base to our needs. Doors that horses could pass though were not big enough for tanks. We established out own German PW. Camp of 2000, to have them to help with repairing the Army vehicles. Some Germans were expert welders and we used many to weld up the holes in the tanks. Some of those holes that a German 88 went through, you could weld a week on one hole. At different times we were told by Patton we were attached to his Second Armored Division of the Third army of Patton, when they moved up and he ordered us to move up, SHAF –Supreme Army Headquarters Forces tolled us to stay where we were at, that we did not belong to any division as we serviced the Third and the Seventh Armies and those Divisions that were not assigned. There for we took orders direct from Reims. Our patch was called an ETO patch with the Army Service Forces Star implanted on top of that.
One time I was inspecting a shot up tank and in the dirt on the floor of the tank, there appeared a gold ring, upon picking up the gold ring, I found part of a finger still in it. I turned it in to our headquarters.
Now I have stated we were a big base Ordnance outfit. One thousand Gi’s in our battalion, two tank retriever Companies attached, several hundred Italians that we had brought along from North Africa and now the two thousand Germans in our PW. Camp. We had acres of vehicles, thousands of boxes of parts, enough for several Armies. When the war was over we continued to receive daily twenty railroad car of parts, we did not know what to do with them, and no one had plans of what to do when the war ended.
We were told we are moving up closer to the front, up near Epinal, Vogles, France. So over the next several months we started the move, every day a convoy of trucks would leave for the new base. We were about 90% moved and I was in the rearguard of about thirty and about ready to move on up, when the German breakthrough came at Bastione. The out fit was told to get the hell out ASAP. I now went from rearguard to the advance detail of our unit moving back. Out troops started arriving and what had taken an orderly move over several months, now became and overnight move. A good truck would arrive pulling several others, all loaded with parts and motor cycles. One good tank would be pulling another shot up one; one jeep might be pulling several, the soldiers had not eaten and all of us were worried, we did not know where the Germans were, we thought they might be just over the hill. When we moved, we had a complete machine shop, radiator shop, tire and engine company’s, fire station, parts for several armies, What a site seeing all our group retreat, this is a major move, it was not like grabbing your helmet and jumping into a truck and lets go. Well every one and all the equipment got back to Chamount and Reims told us to stay put, we finished the war there.
NOTES FROM MY FILE 1944-45
First let me say in the military and with a lot of things happening, you are not sure of the correct date you live from day to day. At times we would get a Stars and Stripes news paper and we would say. The newspaper is three days old so this is a certain date. Or some one would say this is a certain date, because it is my birthday. I do not remember any of the three birthdays I spent over seas. There fore most of my dates are approximant. I am sure of the date of the German break through at Bastoine because I was on my way from Paris to Chaumont. That night will always linger in my mind.
About Aug. 29TH 1944 we invaded southern France. I was in the advance detail of about 250 men to get our vehicles on French soil from North Africa. The balance of outfit was due in about two weeks. They would land at Marseille and come ashore via landing boats, big harbor but the Germans had pretty well demolished everything, some of our people landed at Toulon, the harbor there could receive ships and some of our people accompanied two ships there to over see the unloading and shipping of our equipment.
Sept 14Th Balance of outfit now in Marseille. We will have to rejoin them. It has been rather nice being away from the battalion for a while. Yet there are a lot of old friends there.
Sept 16Th convoying up the Rhone river valley to some where we do not know. Some where on this first day we passed a German convoy it had been retreating just north of Avignon, it was shot up and still smoking. Stayed all night at some French Race track area, it snowed on us. The next morning I remember eating in the snow. I recall crossing many rivers that the Army engineers were still working on rebuilding the bridges that the Germans had destroyed. One bridge over the Rhone at Avignon we drove on the railroad tracks and across the railroad bridge. I was driving and remember every inch of that bridge. They did not know how long the railroad bridge would hold up, the men got out of the trucks and walked across, and then we drove each vehicle across very slowly. The ten big wreckers were last and they all made it.
Sept 17TH The next morning I can remember passing through Lyon at church time the people were well dressed and good looking girls we all waved. On to and passing through Dijon and then Langers. I can remember about thirty shot up and bomber railroad engines, Langers was a walled city and this delayed the convoy as each vehicle was just able to clear the gates into the city, and on to Chaumont our new home. Arriving there on the 18Th.
Oct 5 1944 Rumor of us moving up closed to the front lines, Epanil where ever that is?
Oct. 6 Rumor must be true, they want fifteen hundred boxes to pack things in.
Oct 10Th Convoys leaving daily for Epinal.
Nov 20 I am in the rear guard detail, balance of battalion has moved up. There are about forty of us staying in Chaumont to keep shipping stuff and the whole PW. Camp is still in tack.
Note this story on our German PW’s. We had about two thousand, and my section had about one hundred and fifty of that group. One morning my interpreter Werner told me, three of our PW’s had escaped, went over the fence. In about three days a Frenchmen called in and the three German PW’s were at his place and wanted some one to come and get them, about fifty miles towards Germany. If I am not mistaken Sgt. Mel Thorson went and picked them up and returned then to the compound. The Germans found out they were eating pretty good and the Americans treated them well. One time I took ten of mine PW’s down to a canal for a swim. I had a gun but they would not run away, they were old men and very young boys. My interpreter was a college boy of 16. When they drafted him into the German army at the last of the war, his mother told him “carry your rifle to the front as soon as you see any Americans drop your rifle and wave this white handkerchief I am giving you,” which he did along with thousands of others.
Dec 1 1944 about every one and every thing has been shipped to Epinal. This was a very large base we had established at Chaumont and it is now like a cemetery. I do not know when our rear guard unit will be moving up to Epinal. I think we have loaded and sent well over a thousand truck loads of parts and equipment and all the tanks, trucks have moved up.
Dec 9TH Lt. Shuey wants me to drive him to a special school in Paris . That will be nice seeing Paris. He will be there a week and I will have to go back and get him.
Saturday December 9TH 1944 – I drove Lieutenant Shuey and Waldron to Paris, they were to attend a special school on German underground factories, and how they would be inspecting them to see what was in them and how they expected them to be booby trapped.
Sunday December 10TH I had stayed over night in Paris at Paris University – La Sor Bonne and drove back to Chaumont by my self.
Thursday December 14TH I drove from Chaumont to Paris a day early, I stayed at Paris University where the Lieutenants were attending school.
Friday the 15Th I took the subway to the center of Paris, visited some areas and returned to the University, the Lieutenants wanted me to drive them around Paris so they could see some night life. This I did, but I remained in my vehicle.
Saturday 16Th December I drove the Lieutenants around Paris so they could see various things of interest. Later that evening about dark we headed for Chaumont. Not far from Paris about 20 KM. We came to a road block, trucks and tanks pulled across the road. We stopped and were told from the dark to get out of our vehicle, get in front of our vehicle get in the head lights and place our guns, dog tags and orders on the hood and step back. This we did, dumb founded we asked what was going on and we was told “A German Break through” we were asked several questions, such who was Babe Ruth, where was Chicago, in a short time we passed this check point. We were as confused as the rest of them, Lt. Shuey talked about me driving with just my blackout lights on, we now knew of the German attack but did know where they were, as far as we knew they were just over the next hill, driving with the blackout light, this would of taken all night, finally we decided to keep the headlights on. We continued on our return trip to Chaumont, and we were stopped at least another ten times that night and checked out. We had planed to leave Paris about six in the evening and be in Chaumont by midnight. That was per our orders, with stopping at all of the road checks; we did not arrive in Chaumont until till 4:00 A.M. Only then did we find out about the extent of the German breakthrough at Bastoine.
Some time later I would drive Lieutenant Shuey up in to Germany and we would inspect a lot of German underground factories. Separate story on that.
Separate story on Marseille landing with pictures.
Dec. 16TH Plans have changed with the German Breakthrough on the 15TH we now went from the rear guard detail at Chaumont to the advance detail, our outfit was told to get the hell out of Epinal immediately, so here they came back, it took two months for them to get up there and they all tried getting back in the same day. At that time no one knew where and when they would get the Germans stopped. A good tank would come in to our old base at Cahumont, pulling two shot up tanks; a wrecker might come in pulling ten vehicles. A good jeep would be pulling several more and loaded with motorcycles. You never saw such a site in your life as our outfit retreating. At that time we seen our out fit coming back, we did not know if the Germans were right behind them, we were confused also. In a short time we got things organized and we finished the war at Chaumont.
When we left Chaumont we joined the 75TH division to come home and they were schedule to go to Le Harve and come home on the Queen Mary. Well the dock workers in England went on strike and the Queen could not get to Le Harve, so they put us on a train to Marseille for shipment home. About a three day trip. We had two train accidents on the way there. We thought we survived the Germans and these dam Frenchmen are trying to kill us. The railroad cars we journey south to Marseille had been strafed and about fifty percent of the windows were out, holes in the roof and it rained on us, what a mess, but thought the discomfort and thirty nine months over seas, we were very glad to be on the move home. At this time with the Queen Mary out of service, they rushed us south across all of France to get on an American ship, it was not stocked with enough food for the trip home. The last several days before we docked at Newport News Va. we were only eating crackers and candy bars.
Early in the war as our troops press into Germany, some one decided that the Ordnance should look over some the factories in Germany to see and investigate what was there and if there was anything we could use. Lt. Stetson Shuey was selected and he asked me to drive him. It was planed that several of our trucks would meet us each day to pick up any thing we found of value in the underground factories in Germany. All seven bridges had been blown up by the Germans and at Ludwigshafer we crossed on the long pontoon bridge to Mannheim and I will mention two factories that I have pacific memories of. I was 20 years old at this time. In Mannheim this factory consisted of about six large buildings, they all had been bombed and nothing above ground, we produced our orders to the Military Police officer and entered, the Lt. went into one building and I entered another. We were warned to watch for booby traps. The building I entered and as I said before there was nothing to speak of above ground, first floor down work benches and where they assembled motors, third floor down a machine shop, fourth floor down materials, fifth floor down tools and a hospital area. Operating tables, wall cabinets to hold operating instruments, these were all gone. I decided my flashlight was getting week and I had better try to get back to day light. I was a long way down and the only people supposed to be inside this large compound was the Lt. and my self. About this time I heard a noise over to the far side of this large room and I knew some one else was there with me. Heart was about to jump out of my chest! I drew my gun and shined my dim flashlight that way and I could see a white face appearing over some shelves. I was so nervures that I could not hold the pistol and flashlight on this person, it was jumping all over the place, about this time he was as scared as I was, thinking I was going to shoot him. In a short time I found he was a White Russia slave labor and he was hiding out down there, I left him and returned to daylight and reported this to the Lt. and he said let him be. And we went on to the next factory. My heart continued to keep beating at twice its normal rate for sometime.
Another factory, we went to Heidelburg and then up the Rhine River about fifty miles to Heidbroonn an air plane manufacturing plant. Not much there but an interesting story. We showed our orders to the MP on the front gate and we were warned again to watch for booby traps. Again I went down stairs, there was this large room with a shower and tables, I went down a long corridor and found rooms with about twelve inches of straw on the floor where slave labors would sleep, there was several inches of water under the straw and no windows to the out side. I returned to the main room; remember no windows and no lights. About ready to go back to daylight and I seen many wooden beer kegs from floor to ceiling, along one wall and I thought maybe there is German Beer in them and if so I could at least send some back to our troops, so I pulled over the kegs, there was no beer in them. In doing this I discovered a hidden door behind the beer kegs. I opened this door, not even checking for a booby trap, and there was another hallway leading to several more rooms. These rooms were filled with fine furniture, paintings, dishes and silverware. I grabbed a box of dishes and returned to daylight. I still have the dishes, but why didn’t I take some of the paintings? At this time we thought the next factory would have a bucket of gold so we moved on.
At another plant north of Mannheim now there was no one at these plants except the MP. On leaving this one plant and talking with the MP. He mentioned that a blond women had engaged him in conservation and several men had entered the rear part of the plant and removed some motorcycles, he could not leave his post, but he said they wheeled them up the road and he seen then hide them under the wood pile in the side yard. Lt. Shuey, truck driver Brownell and Larkin said “Lets Go” We entered the place where the motorcycles were supposed to be and the Lt. went to the door and told the women that we were taking the motorcycles and she said she would turn the two big German Police dogs loose from the fenced pen. The Lt. told me draw your gun and hold it on her, if she attempts to turn the dogs loose, shoot her. I drew my gun and held it on her and she made no effort to release the dogs and they recovered several motorcycles and we were on our way. Again my pistol was drawn and I could not hold it on her I was shacking so badly yet this was war and I do not know if I could have shot her if she had tried to release the dogs.
In looking back, we though in inspecting these plants we would find a lot of valuable stuff, but Gremany was out of everything at this time of the war and we were disappointed in not finding anything of value and when we could lay our hands on those motorcycle, we jumped at it. The Lt. was schooled in finding Booby traps, but we disregarded that in exploring the factories. Speaking of Booby traps, we had been at Chaumount only a short time and Lt. Shuey and I were sent to check out a German supply depot near Verdun. There was the normal MP. On the gate and at the entrance there was a small guard shack which the quartermaster had a sergeant at a desk. We check in with both. To get into the guard shack you had to go up several steps. We inspected the large depot and selected some things that we would have our truck drivers pick up the next day. When the truck drivers returned the next day, they found that a previous heavy truck driver had went up the steps to the guard shack and he was heavy enough to set off a large German land mine under the steps, killing the Quartermaster sergeant and the truck driver, and there was no guard shack and a six foot hole. The Lt. and my self were not heavy enough to set the land mine off. Thank God we both did not get on the steps at the same time.
When we moved up through France, we had an experience; we would park our vehicles and camp a considerable distance away. The Germans constantly sent bombers over at night to bomb and strafe. This one night either they failed to place covers over the windshields of it had fallen off one of our big wreckers, the German was able to get the reflection of the moon in a windshield, to say the least he used up all his ammunition and we lost a wrecker and several trucks. From then on those windshields were inspected each hour. Serious at that time, but in this confusion, when we would stop some times we would dig fox holes and then we would dig a big slit trench for our latrine use. Well when this German was working over our vehicles, every one dived into there slit trenches, Robert Tingdahl from Boston, dove into the wrong slit trench the latrine. After that we always told him “Tingddhl you smell like shit” later this would cause many laughs.
At Chaumount where we had this large compound, it was a railroad junction and just west of town was a giant stone railroad bridge, over a mile long and three hundred feet tall, very important to the war. We kept guards at each end of the bridge. This one night we received word that the Germans might drop paratrooper to get the bridge, so all our guards were rushed over to the bridge. This left our compound unguarded, so volunteers were asked for, I volunteered a long with about thirty others. We marched to the front gate and were posted at the front gate by some officer. Now if the Germans were going to attack our compound they would naturally enter by the front gate, leaving the balance of the compound unguarded.
When you convoy this many vehicles it is several miles long and the officer in charge will stop a short time each hour for the men to relieve themselves. Usually the commanding office would stop where he likes, but the convoy will extend back into towns and villages and when you have to go, you have to go. This made no difference to the French, the men would be relieving themselves with one had and shacking hands with the other, men, women and children.
This outfit was made up of all enlisted men, the Army had asked for only experienced personal to volunteer that could repair trucks and tanks. They stated they did not have time to train us and we would be over seas in six weeks. Being they selected older personal with lots of experience, I happen to be the exception, I had experience in setting up and running a wood mill and carpenter shop and I was the only one with that rating I was much younger than any one else. If fact I was the youngest soldier in the whole unit. As of this writing 29/7/2002 there are only five of us alive at this time.
Merl (Bus) Cornelius
Costa Mesa, Ca. 92626
714 540 9524