Over There
December 1943 - January 1944

"There was snow was on the ground in Virginia when we boarded the ship in December 1943. We had back packs and duffle bags, and had to wait 2 to 3 hours in the snow before daylight before finally boarding the ship. That was the longest ride when I was going over there. The ship was a cargo ship, and could carry 500 men on each one, plus all the supplies they were carrying over there."

"The cargo ship was part of a big convoy of other ships, including a Destroyer. There was a compartment down below deck where we stayed. Sometimes at night, the ships would all shut off their engines to keep from being heard by German submarines, which were thought to be close by."

"The Destroyer would drop depth charges in the center of the convoys, if they thought an enemy submarine was close by, and water would rise 100 feet in the air. On the way, a captain on one of the ships died, and they buried him with honors at sea."

"After sailing from Virginia, twenty one days later, in January, we arrived at Naples, Italy, at about 3:00 in the afternoon. The ship stayed outside the harbor, and didn't come in close to start unloading until 3:00 in the morning. The Germans had previously made a bombing raid on the harbor, and had sunk some of our ships all over. They had a gang plank which was placed across a sunken ship for us to walk on as we unloaded. The concrete parking lot felt like the land was moving, we had been on the ship so long."

"When we got on a truck, the driver said we were in luck, that we were going to "Mussolini's College." I thought, yeah, that would be too good to be true. It might have been one in the past, when we got to the second floor, we were told this is where you sleep, two blankets, no beds, a marble floor. I had my wool clothes and wool overcoat, but didn't sleep much because of the cold. The next morning when the sun came up, we saw the reason why it was so cold, one end of the building wall and windows had been bombed out, a big open hole. That was the worst sleeping place I had the whole time while over there. After about ten days, we went to the other side of Italy to Bari."

Click on link here to see a map of Italy and the events that happened earlier in 1943.