Wilbur Haines

Wilbur served in the U.S. Army and shares remarkable stories of his experiences in the military.

Transcription

[MUSIC “THE ARMY GOES ROLLING ALONG”]

[MUSIC ENDS]

JOHN HOLBERT: Good afternoon. My name is John Holbert. I’m with the Community Media Center. And We’re here today at the American Legion, in Westminster, to talk to Wilbur Haines. It’s July 26, 2012. And we wanted to talk to Wilbur about your prewar experiences– some of the experiences the you had before– before the war. Uh– and you actually went into the Army before the war started.

And then, uh, some of the activities that happened, uh, in and around, D-Day, when the forces went in on, uh, Normandy. And there was an incident, uh, you talked about, where you actually met an American citizen that was in the German army.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: And he was from, uh, Littlestown, Pennsylvania.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: We’ll talk about that. And then, uh, some of the other things that have to do with some of the pictures that you have here– uh– have here today. So, uh, Wilbur, you actually were born and raised here in Westminster, right? You were from Westminster?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. From Westminster.

JOHN HOLBERT: Westminster.

WILBUR HAINES: I was born down in the Gis area, near Gamber.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK. OK.

WILBUR HAINES: That’s where I was born.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. Uh-huh.

WILBUR HAINES: And, uh, my father died when I was five years old.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: And my sister– she was three. And, uh, he was working on an old Model T Ford, and, he had a heart attack.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow.

WILBUR HAINES: Or a stroke. Back in 1925.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: And, uh, mother told me to go out and get him for breakfast. And I was little, but I remember going out there and then she hollering and screaming.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: You know, and come to find out he had had a heart attack, and he died.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow.

WILBUR HAINES: So then I moved in with my grandparents– my mother and us, and–

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: –on a farm. And plus they had the electric, and heat with wood. [LAUGH]

JOHN HOLBERT: Where– where was the farm?

WILBUR HAINES: Down in Bartholow road.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK. Down in Bartholow and Linton Road, on the corner. Big– the old farm’s still there, but it’s all growed up with woods now.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: And I think we had 150 acres and had four– pair of mules, a pair of horses, and one stray horse which we used there to haul milk out to the worker in the garden.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah. Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: The old stray horse. We had five, altogether. And then we milked eight, ten cows by hand.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: And haul our milk out to Liberty Road on a buggy. And we done that when we was about 10, 12 years old– me and my uncle. He was a year older than me. Yeah. Uh-huh.

WILBUR HAINES: And then we– I see– oh. Then we walked two mile– when I was in the second grade, we walked two mile a day to school.

JOHN HOLBERT: Wow.

WILBUR HAINES: And there was some others lived farther than us away walked farther than that, yet.

JOHN HOLBERT: Uh-huh. Wasn’t no buses. All dirt road. If it was raining hard, then grandfather would hook up the buggy and pile us in a buggy. [LAUGH] And we used tablecloths– old tablecloths– keep the rain off of us. [LAUGH]

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. Oh, OK. Walking to, uh–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, there wasn’t no raincoats.

JOHN HOLBERT: –walking to school.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: And, uh, I think you– stories before here that you said you learned how to drive a truck–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: –uh, when you were working here, in– in Carroll County.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah, well, started out– you know, I got a car when I was 16. I set traps and got a car.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK.

WILBUR HAINES: And then– an old ’28 (LAUGHING) Chevrolet. Gave $18 for it. [LAUGH] The man wanted $25. And I had $18. And he let me keep the rest, to get license for it and other things.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: So I had a ’28 Chevrolet, and I learned to drive that.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right

WILBUR HAINES: Well, then I– my grandpappy lost his farm in the Depression– ’39, I think it was. He lost his farm. And they took the grant away from him, but he kept his horses and cows. Then he went to farm his own shares.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK.

WILBUR HAINES: So, moved over to Gamber, renting a– you know, a farm. And, uh, I went– oh, that’s it. I had to get a job. So I got a job at Foster Brothers, down working in the valley– mushroom plant.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK. So I got a job down there. And we– I worked on the farm. Mostly, it was a farm– big farm– but it was a mushroom plant. Then the next thing they had– got a couple of trucks, you know. And one truck driver. And we hauled manure from the horse farms. So I got– learned to drive– I could drive a truck pretty good, then. But I learned to drive a truck there. That’s where I learned to drive it.

And then I was working there. Then we got $0.20 an hour for 30 days. Then we got up to $0.25 (LAUGHING) an hour. Quarter. It was no time and a half, them days.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah. Uh-huh? And so I was– I worked there, I guess, about a year and a half. And then, uh, a couple guys come up from Virginia. Worked there. They worked in the coal mines, down there. And they helped us.

And– and really, one funny thing was, one guy whose name was Ralph Keane, he was working with us. And he said “We need more money.” So we went on a strike, and most (LAUGHING) of us got fired. So he left and went back to Virginia.

JOHN HOLBERT: After the– after they got laid off?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, laid off. And I got a– yeah. I was driving my truck. I– I got fired, too. And then where’d I go? Thomas Bennett & Hunter? Yeah, I think I went with Thomas Bennett & Hunter, there, then. I worked with them. Because I had an uncle who was a boss there.

But I want to get back– this Ralph Keane– I was– we was over in France, along the road, standing there– convoy. And the infantry went through. And I think it was some infantry– it was the 29th Division infantry was moving past us.

And some guy hollered my name. And he run out of the infantry racks. He was– he was walking sloppy. And here it was Ralph Keane! [LAUGH] He– he was in the army, too. And he seen me and– oh, we hugged each other and talked.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, my gosh.

WILBUR HAINES: He was in the army. He’d join the army down there.

JOHN HOLBERT: So that was about four years– probably about four years right after all that, right?

WILBUR HAINES: It was ’39.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, ’39. OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Before that. Yeah. ‘Cause that’s when we– I was working down there when the Japs inva– no– when the Germans invaded Poland.

JOHN HOLBERT: Poland, yeah, yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, in ’39. Yeah, I was working down at Foster’s then.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: So I run into this Ralph.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh. So it was about five or six years then.

WILBUR HAINES: And of course then they kept hollering at him. He was way ahead. He took off, and I never seen him again.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow.

WILBUR HAINES: But I drove a truck. And then, of course, the next thing I was– I stayed there a couple years.

JOHN HOLBERT: Uh-huh.

WILBUR HAINES: Well, I went to Thomas Bennett & Hunter. I was working in there. And then I got laid off in the fall. And then I went and got a job down Woodberry Mills, in Baltimore. And that was taking rolls off. And they was making canvas for tents.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: And, uh, it was, I don’t know, a four- or five-story building, down at Woodberry Mills. Big place.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: And–

JOHN HOLBERT: That was downtown Baltimore.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Right there, back at Park Circle, down in that– around the– animal– game– game area. Where they keep– down close to that.

It’s still a commercial area, far as I know. A couple years ago, they shuttered them old buildings. But they’ve been converted to offices and like that. So there’s–

And then I got drafted from there. And I had a good job, there. I worked 4:00 to 12:00. And we’d take rolls off. And most times, you’d just watch them lights– light come on. You go down and take a roll off, you know? Me– just with two guys. And all the rest of us went– [LAUGH]

JOHN HOLBERT: Really. No kidding.

WILBUR HAINES: (LAUGHING) mechanics. Yeah, we took rolls off, the mechanics.

JOHN HOLBERT: You had to do the heavy lifting, I guess.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. We done heavy lifting. Took the rolls off and wheeled them on a cart down to weigh them and stencil them and put them on an elevator and shot ’em on down to the main floor, they dyed and waterproofed them, yeah. And there’s where I got drafted from.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, OK. And I was getting– yeah. Yeah. I was getting drafted. And they– well, they sent me a letter to notif– oh, I was at Denton for the draft. And then they sent me a letter that I was going to be inducted on about the 15th of December.

JOHN HOLBERT: And this was 1940?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, in ’40, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: 1940. OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, it was 1940. So I was being inducted about the middle of December. So I had some friends who was in the 29th division, down at Pikesfield, in the 110th field artillery. I had two cousins and some buddies. They were down there. So I went down to sign up– to go with them.

But one of– my cousin took me down. When we got down there, the first thing he asked me, he said “Are you being drafted?” And I said (LAUGHING) “Yeah.” And he said “This is a state government army. And the federal government’s drafted you.” So–

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, so you went to the wrong place.

WILBUR HAINES: No. He said, we never run into the– that’s what the lady at the draft board– no. Oh, that’s what the sergeant told me, down there– said– said “You’ve got to get a release from the draft board. Then you can come down and join.”

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, I see.

WILBUR HAINES: That’s the way it was. Yeah, that’s how– I think that’s how it was. ‘Cause they never run into that, you know, at that time. So anyway, I had to come home. And my cousin took me down to the draft board. And I went in there.

It was a lady head of it. And I told her I went down to join the army and the national guards, and they said I got to get a release from here. And I said “You’ve got to give me a release.” And she said “Well, I never done this before. I don’t know nothing about that.” And I said “Well, that’s what he told me.” It was all telephones.

So then she said– I don’t know– middle of the week– and a couple days later I was to go back and check with her. So I went back and checked with her. And she said I could join. Come in and get my release papers. And she had my release papers. I think she made them up– you know, I mean legally.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right

WILBUR HAINES: And I went and joined the national guards.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: And that was right around the middle of December, right after I was being– time I was getting– going to be inducted, that’s when I done that. So then I signed up there then. And then they told me I didn’t have to come in until February the 3rd. They were going in for a year. So I didn’t have to worry about it. And they all got a Christmas holiday off. You know, they didn’t have to go in.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. Yeah. Two, three weeks.

WILBUR HAINES: So February the 3rd, they was going in– going back in for regulars to stay. You know, for– thing. So, anyway, I went in with them. And trucks pick us up in front of the house, you know. Because I had two cousins there that was national guards.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK.

WILBUR HAINES: But I didn’t have no uniform on. And they had their uniforms on, all ready to go. And they told me what to wear, bring a towel and soap and razor and all that.

So we get to Pikesville. I had to– John Booth, who’s a good friend of mine– he said “I’ll tell you what to do.” And I got a cot. We slept on the cots in there. And I got a cot.

And then I want him to get my uniform. And they put me in a World War I uniform. Didn’t have no uniforms that fit me.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. I think you have a picture, there, of, uh– of that.

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: Is that the one you were talking about earlier? The picture?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. That’s the pants, coat, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that’s cavalry boots.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: So you have the cavalry outfit. And then I had them there britches, you know?

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah, the breeches pants. Yeah. I had them, there. But the shoes was a little too big for me, and they was real rough. And you couldn’t shine them. And everybody else had leggings on. And I had them boots on, and them pants. And then it was an old hat with artillery piece emblem on it. And, of course, while it was there, the general of record come in to interview the troops. You know, talk to us.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: So when he come, I didn’t know nothing. I was dumb. I didn’t say “Sir” or nothing. You know, and they was all trained. ‘Cause they went down, I think, twice a month on Thursday nights– the national guards.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, I see. They were national guard who’d already been trained.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. And I wasn’t trained, see? And there was a couple come in like me, but down different areas. So, anyway, when they come in, and I fell out, and John Booth said “Stay beside of me.” I stayed (LAUGHING) beside him. Get out there. And we was about the fourth or fifth row, you know, standing there. And I guess I was standing there sloppy, you know?

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: And this general, here– all the staff was out front, and after that, they opened ranks. And of course they marched up. And I stepped up, too. And after a bit, you know, he opened ranks. And he stopped and interview– he give a speech first, about why we was in and all that. I don’t know what that was about. You know, it was about the war.

JOHN HOLBERT: A pep talk.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, a pep talk. So he give us that and told us we was going to be in for a year. So he opened ranks. And he come down a rank– talked. And now and then, they’d have the first sergeant, the captain, four or five officers with him.

So he gets down, stopped in front of me. He said “Good morning.” (LAUGHING) I said “Good morning.” Said something about– I don’t know, “How long have you been in this army?” And I said “Just come in this morning.” And then he made a crack about how he thought I was from World War I.

[BOTH LAUGH]

And then he laughed, you know, that he kind of made a joke–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

JOHN HOLBERT: because of the uniform that you had on and everything, right?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, I had a World War I uniform on. And they kind of got a joke about it. But nobody else laughed. Just the officers laughed, you know, about it.

And then he said to me, he said, uh– “I want to tell one thing.” He put me– his fingers real hard. He said “You got a lot to learn.” He said “You’re supposed”–

“You’re a private when you first come in. When you put that uniform on, you’re a private.” Not– I said “I didn’t”– “I thought you had to be in a while, to be a private.”

[BOTH LAUGH]

And then he– he said “You say ‘Sir’ whenever anybody got stripes on– any kind of stripes– you say ‘Sir.’” Officers, I guess. Right there, I said “I didn’t know that.” And I didn’t say “Sir,” and you’re supposed (LAUGHING) to say “Sir!” He gave me hell.

JOHN HOLBERT: Who’s the– who’s the other gentleman in the picture, there? And then–

WILBUR HAINES: That was a guy I–

JOHN HOLBERT: –whose car is that?

WILBUR HAINES: I used to board with him, when I worked at Foster Brothers.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK. Downtown?

WILBUR HAINES: He lived in Linton. Yeah, he’s been dead now.

JOHN HOLBERT: Is that his car?

WILBUR HAINES: No, that’s mine.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, that’s your car!

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, I run that to Fort Mead and back.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow. OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah, a ’34 Chevrolet, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

JOHN HOLBERT: That’s a ’34–

WILBUR HAINES: ’34, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: ’34 Chevrolet.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, a ’34 Chevrolet, yeah. And I had a load of soldiers that one night, we upset, Washington Boulevard.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, no kidding. Really?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah. It’s– John Booth was with me. But we went to Washington Boulevard, following the traffic. And it was a brand-new ’40 Chevrolet we was following. And I had mechanical brakes, and I’d just put brakes on that that weekend.

So we gets over– around a big junkyard, out there, there was a red light, where a railroad went through on the siding. And, uh– so we’re going out there in this car. I thought it was going to go right through and turn amber.

He went down like bricks. He stopped quick. I couldn’t stop. I was getting closer. Here come an old truckload of beans, coming at me. And I cut across the front of it and just missed that truck with the beans on. But I hit that Chevrolet– new one– in the back. Just bent the bumper a little bit.

So anyhow, the traffic piled up. I didn’t have no insurance, them days. You didn’t need none. And, uh, they was colored people. Real nice people. And they must’ve been at a wedding, because the way they was dressed up. First thing they wanted to know what insurance company I had.

[BOTH LAUGH]

Anyhow, we scraped all together. In the whole carload, I think we didn’t have $10. And they wanted $20– you know, for that bumper, and broke his taillight. So it was a man and a woman, there, and they paid– they paid for it for us. We didn’t know them.

Yeah, they said “Them poor soldiers got no money.” And this old lady, she said “I’ll pay it.” So she give them $20, and they shook hands, and that was it, you know. So.

And then I was– I was with the 29th Division– well, I got 29th when I drove a truck. Because they needed truck drivers They had Dodges, then, you know– them old 75. And I drove a Dodge truck for them, and– on maneuvers and stuff. And a– up– no, up Vandesburg. I can’t think of that camp. Drove up there. We went up there for target practice one time.

So then I stayed with them, there, I guess for a year. I was a– a couple years. Year and a half or more. I stayed with them till the Japs hit Pearl Harbor. And I was still in the 29th. Because we was down in Carolina, pulling maneuvers. ‘Course, we had six– there were six of us, then.

And we’re coming up– Richmond, Virginia, that Sunday morning. And people was hollering “Extra! Extra!” and hollering. But we were in trucks. It was December– cold weather. And we didn’t know what they was hollering about.

So we gets out of town. And then they stopped for a smoking break. And somebody said “Japs hit Pearl Harbor,” or something. And we couldn’t see. And the trucks– we– they just had signs. And I’m driving. I can’t see them. And a lot of them couldn’t make them out. You just had little signs, you know. “Japs hit Pearl Harbor.” So that was it.

JOHN HOLBERT: Wow.

WILBUR HAINES: So I stayed with them there. And then we– a while. And then we pulled maneuvers down in the Carolinas. And then we went on to Camp Blanding, Florida. So we was down in Camp Blanding, Florida. And we didn’t do nothing there but marched.

And the next thing, they had a formation down there, and the rumor’s going around the 29th was going overseas. And, uh, they would send them over pretty fast, then, you know, because they was fighting up in Poland and Russia.

So anyway, we call– have a call to go over there to that other lot, over there. Everybody was called. So ev– my name come up. We didn’t know why they was sending us over there. And there must have been 30 or 40 of us was over there. You know, took some men out of each company, to be transferred out.

The next thing, they left– we stayed there, but we wanted to go with them, you know. So next thing, they moved out and got on a train. And they went to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. And overseas they went

JOHN HOLBERT: They were on their way, huh?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. So we stayed there as skeleton crew. And next thing, a rumor come out we’re going to Fort Hood, Texas. And then I was– uh-oh. Japan where we’re going to go. That was the last–

We didn’t want to go to Japan. If I had to go, I wanted to go to Europe!

JOHN HOLBERT: Right

WILBUR HAINES: So anyway, the next thing, they, uh– load us on the train. And we went to Fort Hood, Texas. And that was a tank center. And when we got out there– field full of tanks. And old– old junkers, there was rows of them. Tracks went all the way around them. Back in 1918, like. Whole rows of ’em. Fields full of ’em.

So we got there, and I got signed to a tank– assistant tank driver. And I hated them things so bad! But I’m getting ahead of my story.

When we was at AP Hill, a colonel’s name was Demuth. He was an old feller. He was their colonel, down there, in, uh– 29th Antitank. That’s what we was in. Part of the 29th Division.

So he said– so one time he was hunting a car. He had his brother’s boy. He was from Michigan, I believe. Up in there somewhere. And his brother’s son was in the Navy, and he was down in Roanoke. I believe it was Roanoke. Or Hampton Roads, or somewhere down there.

So it wasn’t– nobody had no cars down there. Only a few of us. I had mine down there, and a couple of others. But most of them was way off. Not local. You know, didn’t have no cars, mostly it was Depression time.

So one day the first sergeant come to me, and he said “You got a car down here?” But we had to park them across Route 1, in a field over there. There’s a meadow, like, where we had to park. Couldn’t park it on the reservations, because only officers then had permits, you know? And us enlisted men had to park it on this farmer’s property.

So I said “Yeah, I got one down there.” And he said “The colonel is hunting somebody with a car. He wants to go down and see his brother’s son, down there.”

And he said “You’ve got one.” And I said “Yeah, but I ain’t think too much to loan it to him. He don’t even speak to me.” [LAUGH] Which I– [LAUGH] you know–

JOHN HOLBERT: You don’t even know I exist.

[BOTH LAUGH]

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. (LAUGHING) Right. He didn’t know I exist. And I said “I don’t think too much loaning my car.” You know, we couldn’t socialize with them.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: So the first sergeant said “He’ll treat you right. He’ll pay you good.” And he said “If I was you, I’d loan it too him. He’ll be– he’ll take care of it.” And I said, got no insurance on it. “Well, that’s all right.” So I loaned it to him. But I never met him, you know. And he give me $10. And, man, I was only getting $30 a month. He give me $10 and had to fill my gas tank up.

But he wouldn’t do it. We got three weeks off and stayed in a week for duty, at that time. So I’d get– you know, use it a couple weeks. And then, when I had my weekend off, he knew it. And he’d get it again. He borrow it, I guess, four or five times.

JOHN HOLBERT: To drive down to Norfolk, or Hampton Roads, or somewhere down there.

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: To drive down there to–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, drive it down there. It wasn’t that far. Hampton Road. You know, like– drive somewhere. I don’t know what was there. Hampton Roads, or– it was a Navy base, down there– next one, somewhere down there, around Richmond.

So anyway, he’s the one that got transferred out with us– went down in Florida, with the 29th. So he got transferred with us. So we was at Fort Hood, Texas.

And the old colonel, he never– you know, never got– I never got close to him. But one morning, I was going to the PX. I think it was on a Sunday morning or something. I was going to the PX. And I see him coming.

We’re sleeping in tents out there, ’cause they didn’t have enough barracks. Man, they would draft us like crazy. So I seen the colonel coming. And I thought, oh, my god– I’ve gotta see him.

So when I saluted him, you know, [LAUGH] Colonel Demuth– now this wasn’t the one– not record. This is Demuth, with the manner. So when I saluted to him, he said “Son, I want to talk to you.” He called me “son.” I about flipped, (LAUGHING) you know?

And, uh, he said “Relax!” you know. And I’m– you know, I knew (LAUGHING) the military then. I’m relaxed. He said “Relax. We’re talking now about people, not military.” He said “I want to ask you a question.” And I– he said “What’s that?” I said “What’s that?”

He said “How do you like them tanks?” (LAUGHING) And I said “Sir, I hate them things.” He said “What’s the matter with them?” (LAUGHING) I said “When you’re sitting down in there, and we’re shooting target practice”– they was using these old tanks, pulling with cables– to mounds. You shoot at them, and it goes through. And we didn’t have no earplugs or nothing. You think your head– “It rings half the night and everything.”

And he said “I know it, I know it.” He said “I don’t blame you. I don’t like them either.” That’s what he told me, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: So, uh, then he said to me– he said “I got some pull yet.” He said “Would you like to go in the Air Force?” He said “I’m going to do you a favor, because,” he said, “I really appreciate what you done for me, to go down to see the– you know, the brother’s son. He said “I really appreciate it, and I want to do you a favor.”

And I said “No, I don’t like (LAUGHING) the Air Force.” He said “I don’t know, but,” he said, “if you want to get in the Navy, I maybe can get you in. But I don’t know about Navy.” But I can get you in the army, any branch you want, pretty well, at that time.” Because, see, he was an old guy.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: I said I’d rather stay with this outfit, but I’d like to be a truck driver and be supplies– you know, supplies, like that. Because I know these guys. I got acquainted with them, you know. I knew pretty well all of them. And a couple of them is from up here. But they’re all dead now.

So “Oh,” he said, “that won’t be no problem.” And he said “We’re going to California desert– pull maneuvers for the Africa campaign.” And he said “I can fix you up, I’m pretty sure. Now, we’re going to take a couple of half-tracks gonna send them. They’re going to be with our outfit.” He said “We ain’t– they ain’t assigned nobody to them yet. We ain’t got ’em yet. But we’re going out there, in the next month or so. And we’ll put you on a half-track. And then I’ll guarantee you you’ll be a truck driver, after that.”

And then I did. I started– went out there and drove a half-track with a 50-caliber machine gun on. And then the next thing, a truck– extra truck driver come open, and I got that. And I stayed on that. And man, I’d be tickled at that.

And then I got to see a lot of country, over there. And hauled supplies in Europe and– well, all the routes. I put 36,000 miles on that truck. Finally the engine blowed up at the Siegfield line.

JOHN HOLBERT: And this was your, uh– this was your truck, here.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, uh-huh. Yeah. And that’s the same one.

JOHN HOLBERT: That’s your truck?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Now is this the one that you had in California?

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: Is this the one you had in California–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: –as well?

WILBUR HAINES: No. No, no, no that’s– that comes from England.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK When you got to England, you got this truck.

WILBUR HAINES: Here in the States, we had steel cabs.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: Then we got to England, they give us canvas tops.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK.

WILBUR HAINES: You know

WILBUR HAINES: Then they sent the Russian Studebaker truck. Steel cabs with ventilators and heaters and defrosters in. [LAUGH] We didn’t got no heat–

JOHN HOLBERT: They were real nice, huh?

[BOTH LAUGH]

Yeah, they were luxuries. And ours was– no heaters, no defrosters. And, uh– but I’d seen them Studebakers that the Germans had. Yeah, they had a cab that had vents on the side. You know, you open your vents– had heaters in them.

But I think they had the same engines in, you know, from the maintenance part. But they made them. But the Russians had them. Lease and lend, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. Oh, they had the– yeah– their own trucks. It’s Ford– I think Ford Motor Company made a lot of those trucks, for the Russians.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, Ford made a lot of them. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And I met the guy, worked– that was head of the Ford plant, in Cologne, down there at the Remagen bridge. We parked right in front of his house, just about.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, really?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Talked perfect English. He had a ’35 Ford, just like I did. You know, American made. And he showed me pictures of Detroit. Not only me, but a bunch of us around there, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Now, you went to, uh, England. I think this diary actually starts here. This, uh, is, uh, a kind of a record. You left Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, in December 1943–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: –for Brooklyn, New York. And you boarded the HMS Samaria–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, right.

JOHN HOLBERT: –on the 29th of December. And then you sailed into, uh, Liverpool, England. And you got there on the 8th of January–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: –in 1944?

WILBUR HAINES: Right.

JOHN HOLBERT: And then, uh, you went to England and– and traveled on. And this is kind of a record of all of the deployments that you had along the way. Goes through– here’s, uh, in September of, uh, 1944.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: And then, uh, this goes through all the way until March of 1945, where you’re still– uh– going to– this is when you were in Germany, at that point, right?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah. Right. That’s– that’s–

JOHN HOLBERT: You’re getting into into Germany?

WILBUR HAINES: That’s more the battalion– you know, battalion– CP. That’s– that’s their route. But, see, we were in the area. You know, they followed us up, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: But they kept that. I got– a guy name of Frank Sigelman, with CP. I got his picture out in the car.

JOHN HOLBERT: Uh-huh?

WILBUR HAINES: He was a– took care of all that stuff.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK. Keeping a record of–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

WILBUR HAINES: –record of everything. You know, he got all that stuff there– like that there. And he was from Baltimore.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, really!

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. He came up to see me a couple times.

WILBUR HAINES: Oh, really! Yeah. I’ve got a a picture of him. Yeah, he used to borrow my camera. He took a lot of pictures with it. He made a– he made a thing he went around and give to a lot of guys. Down there in Green Spring Valley or someplace, where he was from.

And he died in, uh– he used to come up to see me– three or four times he comes to see me, you know? But he went with me. We all– slave labors and refugees and like that. He always rode with me. He was in charge of that, because he could speak a couple of languages. I think it was French and German, you know. But we’d–

So when you, uh– when you came into Normandy, and landed, that was D day. And it was a couple days after D day, I assume?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, it the end of the month, that time. We landed– we had Cosmoline over our engines.

We was at Stonehenge. That’s where we was stationed, up there. But they had moved us down there. And we put all this gunk on our engines. And while we was there, ambs was coming back, bringing them back from France. Just lined all the time, bringing the wounded back, you know. And we slept there in the tents, you know. We were there, I think, two or three days, before we went over.

And then we went in– landed at Omaha– First Division– they was already there. But we was attached to the First Division.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: And we went in. And, uh, we had a– on a– British LSTs. I think it tells you there.

JOHN HOLBERT: Mhm.

WILBUR HAINES: But we could– when we hit the beach, they dropped in the first– the first one was off. I think it was four or five ammunition trucks, all loaded with ammunition.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah, it says here–

WILBUR HAINES: But the water– huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: It says here “On the 2nd of July, 1944, disembarked on shores of France.”

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that’s it, then, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: “Omaha Beach. Proceeded to rallying point four miles north of Formigny, France.”

WILBUR HAINES: Mhm. Well, we land. Water came up. When we landed, there wasn’t no shells or nothing coming in. But the beach was so busy and they had them docks going out to the big boats, hauling stuff back and forth. And when the first truck went off there, he would– water come up over the hood. You know? [LAUGH]

And the British had to hook them off with hooks. You know, they got out of it, and they had hooks to hook them back. And they had to band the truck, you know, ’cause the water come up over the hood and the windshield. So the trucker– driver– they pulled them off. Then they backed it out and put the thing up and backed up and moved to another area.

And then I was off in a second. And the water’d come up around your feet. But it never come up over the hood. But they’re made to come up, you know, to the hood.

JOHN HOLBERT: Come up pretty high, yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Come up pretty high. Your exhaust pipes is up. Then you went across. And then you went a little piece, and they’d stay there and tell you what to do.

And the first thing is you had your wrench tied to the mirror, to put the fan belt on, and to clean out gunk away from your water pump and fan belt. So they’d tell you blow over there, there. And then you’re– quick as you can, you pull that gunk off the, uh, motor to get that fan belt and water pump going. And you pull that off.

And then your wrench was on the mirror. And stick that in your pocket. You– you’re just already made for it. So then you got that off, and you head off. Then they’d tell you where to go. And you’d go up on a hill. And then there you would take all this stuff off, you know– gunk. And, uh– then– there, and–

late that night, flares or artilleries are going off, way ahead. Flares up. The boomers come over. Towards morning, British coming over to bomb ’em. Then the day we stayed there– couple days before we got organized. Then they sent us to the little town of Balderoy.

But we had our first casualties– I think it’s in there– on the 4th of July. Strafing, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: But then in there was a rough part. But that’s in there.

JOHN HOLBERT: This is a diary, here, that you, uh, had, uh, uh compiled, uh, during the time that you were in, uh– in England and in France.

WILBUR HAINES: There’s– there’s where it starts. When–

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. Uh-huh? “Start here. Left England.”

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: “Sailed for”– sailed for France.” And this is on the– on the dates here. 1st July, 2nd of July, landed at Normandy.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: And, uh, you kept this throughout the war. Just kind of jotting some notes and everything like that on it.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. I kept in another old tab– you know, some of it. And then I had to write over. But–

Now this year, here, is, uh– at there’s now is when the war pretty near ov– oh, I’m in the middle? Yeah, it starts here. Yeah, you’re right. Yeah, that’s what it is there, yeah. And you kept this all the way through–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, kept through, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: –all the way through the, uh– through the war–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. –and everything.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah I wrote that every day. Here’s

JOHN HOLBERT: September the 6th. “Infantry moving up in the rain and mud.”

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: “Near where the”– “Here where the armor is.” September the 8th. “Our tanks move out for a position. 5:00 AM with the infantry. Tank crossing at Luxembourg border.”

WILBUR HAINES: Oh, that’s when they broke out. Is that– is that what this–

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah, uh-huh.

WILBUR HAINES: I was on guard, that morning, when they broke out of Normandy. The– we knew it was coming. They– see, they built up, you know, for a good while– a month or so. You know– all jammed up. And they was telling us that tomorrow morning, at 5 o’clock, you’re going to hear the planes coming. You know, we knew it.

And that morning, we could hear them a-roaring. And I mean, it’d give you feeling like you couldn’t believe. Just solid roar, way off, you know. Thousands of them come over. You couldn’t believe– people couldn’t believe that.

JOHN HOLBERT: Airplanes.

WILBUR HAINES: Air– British– British come first. They’re night bombers. The British come over, and they’re going. I see shooting up and you see them coming down. Then they–

After that, next thing, the Americans come. And then the artillery opened up. And the way it opened up is a sight you couldn’t believe. Oh, people was– oh the fires are burning every– barns, fields, cattles killed out in the field. You know, because of the artillery. They just pocketed everything, you know?

And them Germans– they’re there. And they had blood coming out of their nose– ears. Concussion, you know? They had ’em crazy– and well, you couldn’t believe that sight. And then, of course– then they– we moved out, you know, and then we–

They went to Saint-Lo, you know. And they used our outfit as artillery. We never went in, but the 29th Division took Saint-Lo, you know. And that was all blowed to pieces. But our tanks didn’t go in on that.

But then I didn’t know we was going to be body carriers.

[BOTH LAUGH]

JOHN HOLBERT: Was that, uh, American wounded or German wounded?

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: German– German casualties, or–

WILBUR HAINES: No. Uh, we never touched the wounded. That was all medic– medics. But what we had to gather bodies. But the Americans gathered their bodies up right away. But they’d let the Germans lay, OK? Some of the lay there a couple weeks. And in July, you’d– temperature like now. And they’d been there a week or two. there out– dead– no-man’s-land.

But when the Americans went, you know, they got out with them. We’re back behind. Well, we get up there, and– gotta get that smell down in– they was, you know, laying there, all bloated up, and maggots was eat– working on ’em. And we had– we didn’t– wanted to attach them if we could. We’d use ropes. Had Jeeps– you know, Jeeps. And we’d tie a rope around them, take a shovel, and raise your leg, tie a rope on, then drag them to a foxhole– gutters. And French– Frenchmen had horses. Get the– take the horse and get dirt– fresh dirt, you know? And then we throw dirt over ’em, right there.

I used to think– in the gutters, when they had storms, later on, [LAUGH] there’d be a lot of skeletons coming out– was showing up in them gutters, you know? Because you had to do something with them, you know? But then later, after we get through that mess, well, then, we never had no trouble like that. You know?

But I never got– Americans– we didn’t haul Americans straightaway. You know, some other outfit took care of them. Divisions, you know. But later on, when we was attached to others, we gathered up our own dead. And we took them back.

We’d take– you know, go up to companies, take supplies up, near as we could get to them, that had these Dodges that run quick. Old 6 by 6, they’re so clumsy, you know, geared real low. And they used Dodges.

And they didn’t have no governors on. Our trucks had governors on, for a while. Then they’d have to take them off. But we would– took a– gathered up, you know, Americans and took ’em back to the grave registry and then bring the supplies back.

But yeah. It was something. But we never, you know, hauled Germans much, after that. You know, we just hauled Americans. But the Germans moved theirs more, afterwards. But that early, normally they couldn’t get to ’em, you know. And we was– you know, back by our own, so they left ’em lay. But Soon as our guys got wounded, our Americans, you know, we took our guys right off of the battlefield. Back grave registries. Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Now you, uh, liberated, uh, several, uh, French towns, along the way.

WILBUR HAINES: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We’ve– them there. And people would hug and kiss you and cry. And– and we spearheaded a lot. You know, we’d go to ’em. I got– well, I got a– I didn’t bring that one. I’ve got a cross that I’d took out of a French house, one time. We– this house was blowed up. And I– got across. Was this old man, his wife, and two kids was in there, and a shell hit it. And they was all dead. And the food was still on the table–

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, my gosh.

WILBUR HAINES: –where they was eating, you know. And I think it was our Americans done it. You know, the Germans was in there or around the area to shell it. But we got up there. And, of course, we walked up to look in it, you know, after we went on, you know– outfit went on. We walked up and looked into it. And they was all sitting there eating. Killed them all around the table.

And over the door was a crucifix. And what got me– on the bottom of it– that was the reason I wanted to show it and forgot– skull and crossbones.

JOHN HOLBERT: Really.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. On the bottom of the crucifix.

JOHN HOLBERT: Hmm.

WILBUR HAINES: And I’ve showed it to different people, and they couldn’t understand what it was for.

JOHN HOLBERT: What the significance of it was, or anything.

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: What the significance of that was.

WILBUR HAINES: Something. Yeah, it was something. Something they must have believed. They were mostly Catholics, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: Mhm.

WILBUR HAINES: Foreign. French.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: There. But I can’t understand. And I still got that. And it’s got the skull and crossbones on the bottom of the feet. [LAUGH] And I wanted to show you, but I forgot that. But I’ve still got that. And I hung it over my door, the kitchen door, for a good while.

JOHN HOLBERT: In the house where you live?

WILBUR HAINES: In the house, yeah. And it’s like gold, you know? It ain’t no cheap one. It’s a ‘spensive one.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. I’ll take it sometime. I’ll put it in my car and show it to you.

JOHN HOLBERT: And you had, uh, relayed a story, before, that in one of the towns, uh, that you liberated, they had some, uh, French collaborators–

WILBUR HAINES: Oh, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: –that were in the town.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: And, uh–

WILBUR HAINES: It’s in there– wrote–

JOHN HOLBERT: –the, uh– the French– the other–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. They stripped them naked and paraded them downtown. It’s in this diary, here.

JOHN HOLBERT: Mhm?

WILBUR HAINES: You know, yeah, it’s in there. Yeah, it’s– it’s about September, October. Yeah. They, uh– the first I seen was an old woman and a– I mean, not an old woman. But they were two heavy-set people and a young girl. And the– they paraded them down the street, naked, you know, and all the people would follow them, you know. They didn’t have no clothes on.

And then the next bunch was about 10 of them– 10 girls. And that was up there near Paris. But it’s in there somewhere, ’cause I read it. I just read it. I never look at it for years, but it’s in there.

But, uh, they put this old lady in a German army officer– she had German army officer boots on. And– but she was naked. You know, she led the column.

She must have had her hair platted, you know– things. So she shaved around here, and, you know around her eyes, and put that German flag– oh, about that big– tied back of her head on down her back. Then they put a swastika on her back, one on her stomach, and one up here.

And had all them girls that way. And they paraded them right down the street. Right about where we was, you know, I saw people looking at ’em and booing ’em, you know, and everything, which–

And right where we was at was a brick factory. Oh, I don’t know– I’d say, here– oh up– I guess pretty near hear to Washington Road. A big brick factory there.

‘Bout half a mile.

Where they was going to execute a couple of them girls.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow.

WILBUR HAINES: But I didn’t go down. But they was going to execute them. But what they told us was this old lady– she was head of a bunch of spies. And these girls was collaborating with the German soldiers and– with– FFI or something and getting information of who the FFI was. Free French Underground. And they passed it back to the Germans.

Well, they they’d get rewarded– food stamps.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. OK.

WILBUR HAINES: But then these here leaders of that, they executed ’em. They just give ’em firing squads. That’s the way they done ’em.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah. It says here this is on the 13th of August. Uh– “Withdraw for rest. FFI parade a man and wife and a girl with no clothes on, no hair on.” Uh, “took them down the hill to brick factory and shot them as spies.”

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, right.

JOHN HOLBERT: That was on 13 and 14th of August. And then, over here, on the 16th of August, “10 French girls with head shaved, with no clothes on, were driven through our area by FFI for spies. Some of them were to be killed”– uh– “that day.”

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah, they–

JOHN HOLBERT: That’s when– and was in August. That would have been 1944.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. That’s where we was getting up– we were getting near Paris. Because we went right up to Paris. Wasn’t no action. And, uh, we went– Luxembourg City. Our outfit took that. But wasn’t no fighting. And when we was– we– one day, we was coming up with supplies. And our outfit was in Luxembourg City. And we was supposed to fuel ’em up, you know. Then they was going to go on to the– you know, move on out, ’cause there wasn’t no fighting, let’s say.

We’re coming up this road. And it was about six trucks of us– supply trucks– all had supplies on– food and rations. We come up, and there was a convoy up the road. And they’re all waving their hands, before we got to Luxembourg. Waving their hands and, “Go back! Go back!”

And we– “What’s the matter with them people?” You know, “We got Luxembourg. We knew that. That’s where we was supposed to go, to supply ’em. Crazy. When we stopped, it was– big old Tiger tank was over the field, over to the left. And he’d go a little piece and stop. He’d swing his gun barrel around. There wasn’t no tanks in there. It was nothing but trucks. He– (LAUGHING) we didn’t have a chance!

JOHN HOLBERT: [LAUGH]

WILBUR HAINES: So, anyway, hell, we were there. We thought “What the devil’s going on?” They said they called for tanks from Luxembourg City. Three tanks supposed to be on the way.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: From a couple mile away, you know. But ours wasn’t no– wasn’t worth a good– wasn’t worth much against the Tiger. They shoot right through ours. 70-tonners, you know, 50 tons.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, right.

WILBUR HAINES: They shoot right through ours right together. Explode when they went inside. That’s what they done. And ours, you see them, you want to run the other way, because you give your position away. And they’re going to get you right away.

But that old tank never shot back at nobody. And it went a little bit. It’d go and turn around– burrow around, in, you know, different way. But he never aimed it at us. He just swung it around and moved the tank sideways. So the next thing, we seen two tanks coming. Highballing it down across the field.

And the next thing was another one way back. Three of ’em. They started shooting into that tank. And that tank didn’t even turn his gun around at them, to aim at ’em. But they kept shooting, maybe six, seven times. And finally they knocked it out.

And, right, these Germans all crawled out. After they run up to ’em. And they all climbed out of it. They didn’t get hurt. I don’t think that– but they blowed track or engine or something–

JOHN HOLBERT: Disabled it, somehow.

WILBUR HAINES: They got out. And, uh, when they did, this one guy got on his– he was a tank destroyer. He got a 50-caliber machine gun on top. You know, open turret? That’s what we had.

This one guy, he mowed them all down, you know. Oh, them officers raised hell with him. I don’t know whatever it did, you know, but I can guess. But he killed them all. And they could have killed all them and knocked them out and everything.

JOHN HOLBERT: Really.

WILBUR HAINES: I don’t know whether they court-martialed him or not. But I know they was upset over it, you know. And, uh, they didn’t throw no white cloths out, but they didn’t shoot back.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: And– but he just mowed ’em down.

JOHN HOLBERT: You had told a story, uh, before, about how, when you were in a forest area, uh– and this was, uh– possibly in Germany itself– that, uh, you encountered a– a German soldier who had actually come from America.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: That you had met.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. I was– we was picking up prisoners, in, uh– was that in the Ruhr Pocket? I just can’t think. But it was in a– but they surrendered.

JOHN HOLBERT: It was in Germany You were in Germany at this–

WILBUR HAINES: And there wasn’t no fighting. They surrendered. They got cut off, and they surrendered. So we went up to pick up the prisoners. Hurtgen Forest. That’s where it was. And that there was heavy pine– real heavy pines. And they had roads through there, you know.

But the Germans– they get cut off in there, or something, and they rendered. So they even brought their own trucks, with flags on, up in the area, there. So we goes up to pick up these prisoners. And this– and where I was sitting is three– I think three or four of us trucks, there, you know, picking up a bunch.

And this one soldier, he was up at the front. A young boy. And he said “I’m an American”– to me, ’cause I was standing there, talking to another driver. And he said “I’m an American.” Perfect English, you know. And I think I said to him “You look like an American.” [LAUGH] Or joking with him, you know?

And he said “Yeah, I’m an American.” And I said “where are you from?” He asked me where I was from, or something. And I said “I’m from America.” You know, “Where are you from?” He said “McSherrystown!” “McSherrystown what?” “Pennsylvania!” Oh, god. Give me chills when he said that, you know.

And I said “I know where McSherrystown– Hanover?” I said, “Do you know that?” He said “Yeah!” He said “You ever hear of Forest Park?” I said “I’ve been up there many a time.” And then I knew he was on the right path, you know.

And I said “Yeah. The Forest Park had a big amusement park, there. And then Collins Park. You ever hear of that?” “Yeah, I’ve been down there,” he said. And I said “I’m from Westminster.” And he said “I can’t place Westminster. How ’bout McSherrystown,” or something. And, uh– he–

No, uh, wait a minute. “Littlestown!” That’s the way it was. He said something about Littlestown. “You know where Littlestown”– I said “Yeah– Gettysburg battlefield. I know all that.”

I said, “Well, how come you’re a prisoner or war?” [LAUGH] He said “My parents is all from Germany. And they run a– got a big chicken farm. One of the biggest chicken farms up in that area.” See, them days, a farmer only had little chicken houses, you know. But he went into it big-time, or something– their parents did, up there. It was between McSherrystown and Gettysburg, on that road.

So anyway, he said “Well, he”– I said “How come you’re in that?” And he said his father and mother– and it was all over in ’39, that summer– and the Germans invaded Poland, they froze everybody. You know, nobody could get out.

So his father and mother stayed there for a couple of years– you know, two or three years over there. And then finally the released them. And then him, he stayed with his grandmother– grandmother and grandfather, over there. That’s where he lived with them.

But they never bothered him. He told me where it was at, but I don’t remember where it was at. But they never bothered his grandfather or grandmother.

And, uh, next thing, put– they dragged him in a labor– labor batallion– for workers. He never carried a gun. He was a worker. And they build bridges. That’s what he said. And then he got– they surrendered. The bunch he was with surrendered. And he was in that bunch. They took, you know, uh, young kids and old people and put them in labor battalions. They didn’t use them for fighters.

So I– I never, you know, traced him out. But one time I was working at the Pleasant Valley shoe factory– that was in the 1950s, I think it was. And I was telling this guy about it. And right away he said “God damn! I remember something about that, you know, way back a little bit. I’ll find out more about it,” you know. And I said I don’t know whatever happened to him, you know. That there.

But anyhow, later on he said, yeah, he talked to different people. They remember him, but they’ve moved away. So I don’t know whatever happened to him. So he– he was back home, I think, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: After the war.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, after the war, yeah. Yeah. I mean, he come back, after he was PW. Because when he was there– well, when I was talking to him– you know, I mean, telling my buddies– some officers, you know, they stay in bunches, you know, up further. And they seen us having a conversation there.

So one of them walked down. He was a captain or something. Wasn’t from our outfit. You know, and he was one of them fighters.

He come down, and he said “What’s going on here?” I said “That guy there is my neighbor.” [LAUGH] And he– “What?” And he was from out west, you know. “You know him?” I said “No, but I know where he lives in the area, and he knows where I live.” And then he questioned him then, you know. And then he told him to get out, you know.

So I made room for him and his fighters. And he got outside and then he got him on the ground there. Then he was questioning him up real good. (LAUGHING) So then he patted him on the back. He said “We’re taking you with us.” [LAUGH] So they– they said “We’ll take care of him. We’ll see he gets back home.”

[BOTH LAUGH]

JOHN HOLBERT: Well, that was good. That was good.

WILBUR HAINES: But I wondered what happened to him, you know?

[MUSIC “THE ARMY GOES ROLLING ALONG”]

[MUSIC ENDS]

JOHN HOLBERT: You have two, uh, photographs here that you had talked about. This is on the Rhine River.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Uh, right in the vicinity of the Remagen bridgehead.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Well, I crossed that– when Patton– we was up Cologne– in that area. In that area, with the First Army. I was with the First Army.

And we was up in the Cologne area. And we got up there. And the next thing, word come out– Patton and the Third Army– you know, “Blood and Guts?” Patton crossed the Remagen bridge. I don’t know, probably 30 miles, 40 miles. I don’t remember now.

Patton got across that bridge. So Patton took that Remagen bridge– that’s the Third Army. So he was so far ahead of his supplies, you know he went– [LAUGH] he went– when he went, he went, you know. He didn’t bother a lot. No, he went.

And so they’ve run out of supplies. And he got across that bridge. Caught them in bed, you know. There was only a few scout troops there at that bridge. He run up on them so fast. You know, they didn’t have no air force to check the lines or something. I don’t know what happened.

But as soon as that happens, early in the morning, about daybreak, when he crossed it, well, the next thing, there– is what we’re in, they’re going to try to cross the bridge up there at Cologne. They’d bombed it all night. That was all in flame. The British bombed it. They bomb at night.

And they bombed it. And the next day, they was going to try to cross up there. Well, that stopped that. So then when– by the ammuni– not only me. The ammunition trucks, what they could spare, rushed us down to Remagen bridge.

So we went down that day, you know– flew down. Tanks was going down to give them support. A lot of them were broke down– throwed tracks. Would go down there, going too fast (LAUGHING) on the road. They’d get to flopping. [LAUGH] Them tanks would–

And, of course, they went ahead– ahead of us. But we had escorts– you know, ammunition trucks. So we get down to Remagen, the town. We get down there. And this town– where it was, it was kind of a valley down below us. And we– the streets was lean. So they took us down the street, and they put a sign on an ammunition truck– on all the ammunition trucks. Put them on the windshield of the ammunition truck.

But they scattered us out, there. They sat, you know, on the street, there. And they had other trucks there, too. But ammunition truck out in the one street, and another one way up there, and there, like that.

So we were there. And while we was there, this– well, [LAUGH] this man come out and started talking to us in perfect English. The Sergeant, he started talking to him– Sgt. Fleischman. And he talked to us and telled he was– been out Detroit, and he had the Ford plant in Cologne. One of the, you know, wheels in that.

And he took us in the house and showed us a bunch of pictures– American pictures, you know, where he’d been around over here. And taxicabs out in (LAUGHING) Chicago. He showed us all these pictures.

And he had two girls. I guess maybe 15, something like that. But his wife was sick or died or something. She wasn’t there. I never see his wife.

So then he got to talking about, you know, he loved America, and all that, you know. And he was so glad we didn’t blow their town up and so glad Patton got that river. And–

So anyway, we gave him some– I didn’t, but some other give him– kids some rations. You know, his daughters. They– you know, 12– 10, 12, 15. Give him some.

So they took us– he took us out back. And the– he showed his– he had a car. He said “I got an American car– genuine American car.” And went at it. It was a ’35 Ford. It was black. I had a– mine was blue. [LAUGH] And I had one exactly like it.

JOHN HOLBERT: Wow.

WILBUR HAINES: It was American-made. You know, the British made them, but they– um– Germans made them. But they were smaller, like, and a little different looking. But they were a small car. It wasn’t a, um–

But he had this regular Ford. And it was under grape arbor It didn’t know wheels on. It didn’t have no starter on it and generator. They took– he took all that stuff off of it. And, uh, he– I don’t know if somebody said, “Now, what’d you do all that for?” And he said “It went to a German– a governor who took it. Had been a staff car. Because that was– you know, really–

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK. So that was a nice car.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. They had up and used it, see? So he– he said “I know where every part’s at.”

JOHN HOLBERT: He took it off, and then he was going to put it back on–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, put it back on after he got liberated. He got her back– put it back together again.

And we was up in France, one time in– no, that was Belgium. And we– there’s a ’37 Chevrolet. This man– farmer– had it. And he had it in a barn over– under a haystack. And he dug it– it was set there for a couple of years, under that haystack. And they– we liberated him, you know? He got it back–

[BOTH LAUGH]

–and fixed it up. And it would– it had a– it didn’t have a trunk on– ’37 Chevrolet. But they– a real cheap model had springs and no trunk. I mean, others do, you know, but most of them didn’t.

You had a little trunk and knee action on a ’37 Chevrolet. But you could buy them without knee action, in the stripped, cheap model. And that’s what this was. And it was shiny. He had it cleaned up, there. He was run out of Belgium. They didn’t take it from him, you know. Let him have it. But if they sold it.

But the Germans, they took all these, you know, good cars for theirselves, you know, for government. Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: In the background of this, uh, picture, here–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah. There’s a pontoon bridge, there.

WILBUR HAINES: I didn’t finish telling that.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Wasn’t very– when we get over there, I guess about two days after we got over there, well, then, here they come back and got my ammunition truck. And, uh, our outfit was there. But they took me across before my (LAUGHING) outfit went across, to get the– get the animation over there. ‘Cause I had ammunition, I think, at the time.

And it led us up to the bridge. And the bridge was standing. And they had– they were shelling it. The Germans come out with jets. We’d never seen a jet before. And when they’d come out, and they’d come down over that town, to bomb it– try to bomb that bridge– they’d lift that slate off the roof. Windows would break out, and you got away from the houses, you know, when them jets would come in.

And I seen three of ours– I think it’s in the diary. It might be in there. I seen three of our planes get shot down the same time– chasing a jet. [LAUGH] They tore after a jet aircraft, and our antiaircraft had bumper to bumper, pretty near, to keep the airplanes away from that bridge. And they were shooting at it. And hell, they shoot down our planes.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, no.

WILBUR HAINES: I seen three of ’em. I seen a lot of them get shot down. But I seen three coming down the same time, where our guys had shot them down. Because them jets was– they wasn’t accurate. They was too fast. You know, they’d miss the bridge. You know?

But they finally knocked it down. And we lost a tank and crew. One tank and crew went down with it. It was– several tanks went down with it.

JOHN HOLBERT: But this bridge that’s in the background, here– this pontoon bridge. You actually drove across that.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, three times. Three or four times. I know it was three times, yeah. You had two. You had one go, you know, like a highway. One you went over on; one you come back on.

And when you come down on this– it was a bank area. You’d come down, and they’d tell you, you know, be prepared to jump. If you see it breaking away, if they strafe or hit a bomb, the bridge will fall apart. ‘Cause that’s– that Rhine’s swift. That’s a fast-moving river.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow.

WILBUR HAINES: And said “Jump. You’re on your own.” [LAUGH] And grab ahold of– a– you know, a– bri– boat.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Grab ahold of a boat.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

JOHN HOLBERT: One of the pontoons that–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

WILBUR HAINES: But we had no action, when we went across. Our air force was patrolling heavy, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: Uh-huh. And you got assignments. You said that you got assignments. You’d go over there, and then you’d wait here, on the– on the– on the, uh, French side of the river. And then you’d get your assignments on whether you were going to go back across the bridge or–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, well, or we– we’d take stuff over and unload it at certain areas, you know, for them to get fuel. And then we go out– go back over and get another load, you know. Because they had built it up.

And that’s when my truck blowed up. I had– I tell my sergeant, I said, “My truck’s not carrying very good oil pressure. Only going up, like, 10. It should be 30 or 40.” It’s only going up about 10.

But it had 36,000. That was the limit of it. Because they’re geared so low, see? So he said “Well,” you know, “keep going till it blows up,” you know. So when they broke out, if they get built up on the other side of the bridge– I mean, the thing– we kept building up and go back and forwards, back and forwards.

When they broke out, and we went out that morning, there, the next thing, my own truck blowed up, just as they broke out. I mean, they had– they was moving out. And we– we wasn’t on the front. We was back to more to the middle area, started rattling. So I pulled her over.

And we was sitting there. And while we was there, way up ahead were two German planes that was strafing up there. And aircraft stuff was a-flying.

JOHN HOLBERT: You could have been in that, if your truck was still good. You would have been up there.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

[BOTH LAUGH]

WILBUR HAINES: Could’ve been up there.

JOHN HOLBERT: So the truck blowing up wasn’t a bad thing, I guess.

WILBUR HAINES: But they were so much fire coming. They didn’t do no damage that I remember. You know, they would just come in strafe and took off. And everything opened up on them.

JOHN HOLBERT: And you’ve got a picture here of a downed airplane. Was this an American airplane, here?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that’s a– that’s a B-17.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that’s me standing there. We were in a convoy of something and we had stopped there. And we went over and looked at it, you know. And a guy took a picture of me. I don’t know who it is. Can’t make it out. Took a picture of me.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah, there’s no date on it.

WILBUR HAINES: But– but– it– it was–

JOHN HOLBERT: “Down a couple days before we got there.”

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: “Standing”–

WILBUR HAINES: But the plane wasn’t hurt.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: But it had bullet holes in it. But wasn’t no blood in it. We didn’t see any blood. But we seen holes.

JOHN HOLBERT: They must have gotten out

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

Yeah, I figured they got out of it, yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: And then there’s two, uh, soldiers sitting– standing in a picture, here.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that’s– that’s me, there. And that guy’s Ernie Culver.

JOHN HOLBERT: Ernie Culver’s sitting down with the rifle, and you’re standing.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that’s him. This is me, there. And right back here’s where we slept. You’ll see a picture in a minute. But right here, where we sat, right across the road, there, was one of the old German Ford trucks.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: It was a six-cylinder, you know, like– like here.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: Had a grill like a ’38 Ford. Had sat there– had been sitting there when we moved into that area. Had put up and the right door open. I’ll never forget that. But we never touched it. It was– dirt road. And it was over on the ditch, like.

So I wasn’t there. We were somewhere. But we was doing occupation duty there, see. And two– two boys– little boys and a girl was playing in it. And, uh, the girl was doing something. They don’t want you to push the clutch in, or something.

It was booby-trapped.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow.

WILBUR HAINES: And it killed her.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow.

WILBUR HAINES: But the boys didn’t get hurt, you know. I mean, shook up, but it killed that little girl. And they think she pushed in on the clutch or something. Or brake or something, you know, and set it off.

JOHN HOLBERT: Wow.

WILBUR HAINES: ‘Cause they’d booby-trapped or something. But we never bothered it.

JOHN HOLBERT: And here’s a picture of you standing, uh, in front of a tank. Now this is a tank that you actually drove?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. No– no. No, i wasn’t– that there was a Sherman.

JOHN HOLBERT: Sherman, OK

WILBUR HAINES: That was another German tank or something. And I don’t have my picture yet there. See, that’s a Sherman. You come out the top.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: But ours, you had open turret up there. You remember them tank destroyers–

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, yeah, that’s

WILBUR HAINES: Seen pictures of them. Yeah. But I don’t– I don’t– I don’t know what it says on there. But that’s me, tank.

JOHN HOLBERT: “Not much good, these German films you by now all at the dark.” I don’t know. I can’t make that out on the back.

WILBUR HAINES: It’s something I took, yeah. But– but there wasn’t no bodies in that.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah. And then these two, here, I think you talked about. These were, uh–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. That there’s in, uh– we’d went into the Legion. That there’s the same day the Bulge broke out– 16th.

JOHN HOLBERT: December 16th, 1944.

WILBUR HAINES: And that’s where we was at.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK.

WILBUR HAINES: And we was at the Saint-Vith area.

JOHN HOLBERT: Wow.

WILBUR HAINES: If you– you read the– hell, it’s Malmedy massacre you know, killed all them guys. I seen them there. We was there before. And then he moved us away. And we was out of there when the Germans broke through. And they killed all them guys.

I got– I remember– yeah. That there. And this– and that’s me, there. And–

JOHN HOLBERT: With the helmet. You’re the one with the helmet?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, I’m the one with the helmet on.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK.

WILBUR HAINES: And there was my sergeant.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, with the–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. And this girl, here, she’s a schoolteacher. And when she got to flirting with us, and some way she posed with the picture, she talked–

JOHN HOLBERT: She was from Belgium?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, she was a Belgian girl. We stayed in her place that night.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, really.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. We couldn’t go back to our outfit.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, we went back to the hotel and checked in. And they told us to stay. We couldn’t go. Didn’t know where our outfit was at.

And that diary tells you a lot of stuff in there. Where, you know, they took a– we had loaded fuel oil. And some outfit took it from this. And we had to go back and get another load. [LAUGH] They give us a paper they needed better– more oil.

JOHN HOLBERT: In this one, it’s kind of hard– kind of hard to see, and everything. But you’re in there, as well?

WILBUR HAINES: I think that’s the same girl. That’s me, there.

JOHN HOLBERT: With the helmet on?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that’s me, there, and her–

JOHN HOLBERT: You’re on the left. And then–

WILBUR HAINES: I got another picture. It’s–

JOHN HOLBERT: –the girl from Belgium?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that’s Liege.

JOHN HOLBERT: Liege. Yeah, OK, uh-huh.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: And then, uh, this was the, uh–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that’s where we–

JOHN HOLBERT: –talked about. This was the–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that’s where we buried him.

JOHN HOLBERT: –German half-track, here.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. We buried them there, and then the Germans dug ’em back up and put ’em up in the cemetery.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: In this town, here, we was spearheading to this town, here– Landshut. And I got more pictures. They’re in that big one.

But anyhow, we were spearheading it. Ain’t no fighting.

JOHN HOLBERT: Uh-huh?

WILBUR HAINES: And a big POW camp in there. It was American and British. So when our tanks come in, you know, the Germans threatened they were going to execute them prisoners. As we was getting close and closer, they were gonna execute all the prisoners.

So then Eisenhower notified them, the first one you execute, that town will be brick dust. We’ve got thousands of bombers and a lot of ammunition. They’re gonna lay it flat, and Munich would be next. And they had SS troopers as– in there, you know?

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: And boy, they moved out of there so quick, when that happened. And when– when we went in that town– you can look at it. Nobody. The town was deserted. Nobody. No civilians; nothing. And we went in that town. And we got in there. And the pris– prisoners was still there. But they was out. Walking the streets, and everything. But I got the big– they’re– they’re in that book there.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah, over there.

WILBUR HAINES: But they’re in there. You can see.

JOHN HOLBERT: Now this was– this was after hostilities had ended, and everything.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, this was taken after the hostilities.

JOHN HOLBERT: And everything.

WILBUR HAINES: And this girl, here, she–

JOHN HOLBERT: Gmunden, right?

WILBUR HAINES: –she give me that– yeah, with writing on it. She give these pictures, you know, ’cause I knew her. Because I used to give her oranges and stuff.

JOHN HOLBERT: And this is her– and this– is this her family, here, in the picture?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, it’s a– that’s her, there. And that biggest girl was her sister. Then the others, some were her relation.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK.

WILBUR HAINES: And they lived down the other end of town. And we had a PW camp down there, you know, where– to clean up railroad tracks. And we used to have to walk guard on this bridge. And I got acquainted with her because she talked English, you know? And I’d give her soap, [LAUGH] cigarettes–

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: Well, we all would. You know, we’d give her– we’d give her stuff, you know. Because she was a really nice girl. She was very friendly. She really liked us guys.

JOHN HOLBERT: And then these two, like, postcard pictures, here. This is–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, this– this here’s–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

JOHN HOLBERT: This is what the town–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, this– that there is right there. And– and we used to put prisoners right in there– was a butcher shop, down there. And stragglers come across– didn’t have no passes. So we made– put them down at the butcher shop.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. Uh-huh. And this– this– this town hall, here, is in the background, here?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. That there is right there. It’s all blowed to bits.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK. Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: There’s pictures in there– it’s nothing but brick dust. I’ve got ’em somewhere. Might be in that book. Yeah. But wasn’t that pretty buildings?

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah, they had it all painted and– and– and artwork on ’em, and everything. Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Was you ever over there?

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah, I was over in Germany. I was there in the 1980s.

WILBUR HAINES: 1980, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: But you’d see towns like this, where the had it all–

WILBUR HAINES: Still like that, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: –still like that, yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. And then a lot of farmers, they’d live in little villages, you know, and farm out from there. You know, when we were there. You know, you’d– you know, they’d have their cows and stuff and share the meadow and all that, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. And you have a phrase book, here. I guess you got this in England, before you went over–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, they give me that in England.

JOHN HOLBERT: –and everything? It says here, “Haines. 629th tank destroyer battalion.” That was the unit that you were, uh–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, we traveled all the time, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: that you were in.

WILBUR HAINES: And sometimes you didn’t know what to do, you know. And we’d– you know, we’d see what we were going to ask them– point it to them. Or they’d– I don’t know how we trans–

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK. You maybe are not saying the words, but you’d point to the word, and they’d be able to read it and everything. And then you’d know–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. He’d point, and then we’d know what they were saying.

JOHN HOLBERT: Back and forth and everything. And these were handed out. This actually has a– it says a training manual, 30-606. So they were– they passed this out in England, I guess, before you went over– before–

WILBUR HAINES: But that’s me, there. And what had happened. Over here, to the right, was a railroad hub. And then up in here is– was right here, where– it’s one picture. It’s where it was taken, where the half-track is. It’s right up– a little bit ways from that is where they’d done their interpreting.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah. Oh, there–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

–a chair there.

JOHN HOLBERT: Mhm?

WILBUR HAINES: Well, there’s– they’d done an interpreter, right up in there, like. A guy talked, you know, their language. And– but– anyway, this girl here. We’re cleaning up the railroad track. You know, take old ties up so they can rebuild that river tracker. ‘Cause they bombed it all to pieces, ’cause it’s a hub. And, uh, we’re doing this here. And here’s this–

I had 10 prisoners, at the time. And all of us had 10– about 10 of them. And had an interpreter. Then the trucks’d take us out there in the mornings. and– to tear up these tracks. And then the rails that was bent, you put ’em in one pile. And everything that was good, you saved it, you know? Then they’d rebuild it, you know– build that hub back up.

Well, this– these women, there, was hauling out potatoes, up in a field. So they’d wave at us, you know. And just turn and wave or not wave. We could talk to ’em then, see.

He said to me, one day, that he talked English. See, he was a sergeant. He said “Can I go up and talk to them ladies?” Three of them, up there. And, uh, I said, uh, “Yeah, but if you see a Jeep coming down, along the river, there, you get down here.” I said “You can go up”– anyway.

I’d say it wasn’t to– oh, maybe about as far as here to the red light out here– I guess, up in that field.

JOHN HOLBERT: Up there at Center Street.

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: The light up at Center Street?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah. Right up there at the light. But that far. He run pretty quick, you know. [LAUGH] Then, uh, I told him, I said “Yeah, you can go talk to them. But”– ’cause he was a nice guy. You know, he talked about the war, ’cause he talked English. He was so glad. And, of course, when Hitler had another way. But he had another language when we’d go over. He liked us then.

So he said, uh, “Can I go up and talk to them people?” I said “Yeah.” So he was up a little while when nobody come, you know. And, of course, there’s a group here and a group there. So, after a bit, he come back down. And he said– he said “Would you want a German friend– two of you?” He said they wanted American friends, you know. (CHUCKLING) And I said “I don’t know. I couldn’t see ’em, that far, what they look like,” you know.

Anyway I said “I don’t know.” We were single. And just wanted girls, them days.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: So I said– I got– have a a booze-up buddy that used to come home with me, from Castlewood, Virginia. So I said “I don’t know. If I can get him to go, I might [LAUGH] take a chance. But we don’t– we don’t know what they look like!”

And right at the bottom, that was probably further– here from Ed Wolson’s garage, or even further, was a quarry– and old quarry. Like the one out at Kate Wagner Road, places like that, where the soft stones was in. Where the stones is easy to break up. And the quarry, there, that was out of use, you know. It had roads in there, and couple old pieces of vehicles was in there– junk.

And the soldiers– all of them had girlfriends. A lot of them– of my buddies did. And they’d all go up there and meet, up there in that woods.

JOHN HOLBERT: At the quarry, yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, at the quarry. (LAUGHING) So anyway, I said “I’ll talk to Booth and let you know tomorrow.” You know, this other soldier- a German soldier. I’ll let you know tomorrow. Because they’d dig these potatoes out by hand, you know, and putting them in buckets and putting them in a pile for them to gather up.

So I asked Booth, what– you know, what the heck? We ain’t got nothing to lose. You’re single; I’m single. Let’s go. [LAUGH] So I told him the next day, I said, “Yeah, we’ll meet them, up there.” So they were supposed to set on a log, up this one road, there. And he told me. And I didn’t– never up there before. I don’t think I– Booth was, but I wasn’t. That’s how it was. He’d been up there before. He wasn’t sure.

But next evening, we go up. We get a couple oranges and a banana. [LAUGH] Up the way we goes.

JOHN HOLBERT: Fresh fruit. They like the fresh fruit.

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: They like the fresh fruit.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Oh, yeah, that’s what they like, yeah. So we goes up. And there was soldiers– everybody’s– you know they had girlfriends sitting around like that there.

So we walked around. And we seen a couple sitting by theirselves– a couple girls by theirselves. And he said, “I believe that’s them over there. I ain’t too sure.” [LAUGH] But hell, we can’t talk German. They can’t talk English.

Hot damn, we went over there. And I don’t know what he said. “Fraulein, two American soldiers,” or something. You know. And the girl said “Yeah, we’re looking for two. One down here is a guard– works with a guard.”

Well, that was the one I picked. I went for her, because she talked English.

[BOTH LAUGH]

The other one couldn’t. So then we–

JOHN HOLBERT: So Booth got the one that couldn’t speak English– or couldn’t speak English, but you got the one that did.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, I got the one that did. And hot damn, she was the nicest thing. And she never told me she was married to an SS trooper.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, Wow.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, and I didn’t know that, see? And, uh, so she told me she lived at Lohr, that little town down along the Blue Danube. And the other girl was a neighborhood lived a couple houses down.

So anyhow, we just– you know, just sat and talked. And she had to do all the talking, because she had to talk for him, too. We– we never got no privacy.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

We didn’t get no privacy, you know? When–

JOHN HOLBERT: ‘Cause she was translating back and forth–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

WILBUR HAINES: We never– like that. So anyway, we’ve met them a couple more evenings. And then we took walks. And there were soldiers walking around, holding hands, and making all over them, you know?

So the next thing she– this one here– she asked me, would I come down on a Sunday for dinner? And, uh, I– I was going to be by myself, you know. Emmet didn’t tell me to ask him. So she said “Would you come down to my place for dinner?” Said “We’re gonna have ca– boiled potatoes and cabbage.” [LAUGH] You know, summertime.

So I said “Yeah! Who’s going to be there?” You know, and she said “My mother and her mother”– grandmother and grandmother, I believe, was going to be there. And some kid– some relation, or somebody.

So I went down [LAUGH] by myself, carrying my loaded rifle. I went down. I knew where her place was at, because I’d been down there– walked with her down and then walked back, you know. So I went right down. They was waiting for me.

So I had dinner with them. But the parents didn’t speak no English. She did. She did all the talking.

So then what really happened here was, they picked her up. They had roadblocks on, checking passes. She got picked up, somewheres in the area. And she didn’t have no– the proper pass. So they brings her in here to where this interpreting place was to question her.

So when we get in there, some of them recognizes [LAUGH] my friend.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, your girlfriend, right?

WILBUR HAINES: (LAUGHING) Yeah, my girlfriend. So they come and got me. And I was up to the– in a cigar factory. They come up and got me. So I goes down. And that’s me standing over there, you know. And– and they said “Pose to the side of her,” you know? And she’s looking at the camera. And I didn’t want nobody to see me. [LAUGH]

JOHN HOLBERT: So that’s why you’re on the edge of the cam– on the picture–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, I’m on the edge, there. I’ve got my rifle, you know. And she’s laughing, because she knew what everything was saying.

But one of my buddies was a guard– you know, till they give them proper pass. But this picture got head later on. After I got married or single or something. I showed it to my wife. [LAUGH] She grinned. [LAUGH]

JOHN HOLBERT: She didn’t want to see you in the picture with another woman. [LAUGH]

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. But she didn’t bother her picture. She just took more head off of me, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: What it says, there. Prisoner.

WILBUR HAINES: Oh, yeah. Her husband got killed in Italy, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: He was in Italy, then?

WILBUR HAINES: But I didn’t know it until after this happened. Then she told me about it.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow, that he had been killed.

WILBUR HAINES: I questioned her. I said– you know, I said “You didn’t tell me you had a husband.” She said she thought I wouldn’t go with her. And she really liked me.

So when I come home, tractor-trailers come and picked us up. I had 93 points, I think it was. 90-some points. I had pretty near– you know, most of’ it. I had five battle scars. And I was at pretty near five years of service and all that.

JOHN HOLBERT: So you were at the top of the list to be able to come home first.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, to come home. So I wanted to come home, it tells you in that book, with the 19th Armored Infantry outfit. So when I went to come home–

Oh, I know how it was. It was about a dozen others in our outfit, to come home. So a tractor-trailer was coming down that area, like a taxi, to pick us up. We got our duffel bags. And they come there, and– and we– and we all– funny thing– pretty near all of us had girlfriends. And they was all down there with us.

So when we waited for his tractor-trailer to pick us up, you know, down there. And we’re all hugging and making over, you know. So she said “I’m coming to America to see you.” So she told me how to– how she could find me.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: And I dind’t want her coming over here. [LAUGH] So I told her “All you got to do is come to Baltimore. Go to a post office. They’ll put you right on the road.

[BOTH LAUGH]

That’s what I told her. I don’t– She didn’t come over, I’m sure of that.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: But I didn’t want her coming over, anyway. But that’s what– a lot of– give her. But we– they were crying. These girls, they were crying.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, yeah. ‘Cause they knew you were coming home.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: And they wouldn’t see you. They knew they wouldn’t see us no more, you know. And the men was so shortage, over there. That’s why they was after us, you know, there weren’t no men.

And, like, we go through them first towns, they stand at the door–

JOHN HOLBERT: Waving you inside? [LAUGH]

WILBUR HAINES: There’s a $50 fine. $50 a month– $50 fine.

[BOTH LAUGH]

JOHN HOLBERT: Not something you want to sign up for.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK. We’ve got, uh– a large– looks– looks like from a magazine or a newspaper?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that’s come out of a newspaper. But our outfit’s the one that spearheaded into this town.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Our outfit would come in. It’s all the reads about it. What happened, and how they felt about us, and everything.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: So we come in, and our tanks come in. And, uh– the burgomaster, the mayor of town, they had a national guard outfit, you know, like you have around towns.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. Took an oath that they’d fight to death.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK.

WILBUR HAINES: And he was– worshipped Hitler.

JOHN HOLBERT: This was in– let’s see. It says October 1944, in Schoenstatt, Germany.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: The town that we’re talking about. OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. So anyway, uh, he put his troops out, you know, to fight to death. Why, our tanks come in, and they get infantry on the tanks. And the airplanes run ahead, hunting targets. You know.

So anyhow, when– and we were back behind, you know. So when they come into the town, they got a couple rifle shots. So they threw a couple shells in and hit a house. And one of them hit the street. But then this house, it killed an old man and his young girl.

So then these guys all ran out and surrendered. Run right out and surrendered. Never fought.

JOHN HOLBERT: (LAUGHING) They didn’t want to fight.

WILBUR HAINES: It tells all– what they thought, you know, they didn’t want their wives and things killed. So they surrendered. And then we’d come in. They’d hang flags out the window– or, you know, white flags to warn us, you know, we surrender.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: So we comes in there. And the tanks run all around. And everybody’s waving and greeting you, you know, like we was their heroes.

So the tanks went on outside of tank– town. And– and our CD come in, too, a little later, because there wasn’t no fighting. So we’re in there. And people’s all greeting us, and everything.

So some kids said “Burgomaster’s up the street– hung hisself.” So we goes up. And when I seen him, he was all hanging there.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK, this center picture, up here.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, up here. They was hanging there. And I stood right over in there, when they– when we first seen it.

JOHN HOLBERT: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

WILBUR HAINES: There’s a dog. That’s the way their faces– their necks was about that long. ‘Cause the woman was a heavy-set woman.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. They hung the dog, too?

WILBUR HAINES: They hung the dog, too. There was a dog. Yeah. Dachshund dog. Yeah. The dog. And him was a little skinny guy. Look down there. His head’s there. You can make it out somewheres. There. I think– yeah, there it is. Him.

But when I seen them, we went in there, they was all hanging there. And it was the old man and, uh, his wife and daughter, and the dog. They were all up there where they cut them down.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: But we’d went up to see this other place. And when we was up there, and we come back, they’d just cut them down. But we’d seen him when he was still hanging. And, uh, him– he was there. His neck was stretched, and his tongue was out. And he was a little, skinny guy, but she was a big, heavy-set woman. Same way.

And the girl, she was a pretty blonde. And she was the same way– tongue hanging out, and hanging. And then the dog was on the end.

So her, she was engaged to an SS trooper.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. And was a real Nazi. You know, he just worshipped Hitler. But he have no friends, you know. And everybody was glad he was gone, because he must have been right mean to them.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: But them people’s supposed to fight to death, you know. And they all surrendered. And that’s what– he upset. He thought Hitler would execute him, or the Americans, for being that rough. But it said in the end on that story that they wouldn’t have done nothing with him, either. He was only doing what he was supposed to do.

JOHN HOLBERT: What he was supposed to do, and everything.

WILBUR HAINES: Oh, and this here, here, is– this here’s where we were doing occupation duty.

JOHN HOLBERT: Uh-huh.

WILBUR HAINES: And this guy is right here– Frank Sigelman. That was taken at the Hufer Lodge. That’s in the Battle of the Bulge. That’s the one that took all– I used to– ride with me to take slave laborers and refugees back. And he’d mark it.

But he come delivered this to me. And he used my camera. Oh– oh, that’s in that bag. There’s me, right there. Can you see me there?

JOHN HOLBERT: Right there. Kneeling down in the front, right there. Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: [LAUGH] Where’d you– was that– tech sergeant was your rank, then?

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: Trying to make out the rank, on your sleeve, there. Were you a tech sergeant?

WILBUR HAINES: No, a T5.

JOHN HOLBERT: T5. OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah. T5. Yeah. Mhm. Yeah. And– and there’s where I slept.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK, in those barracks?

WILBUR HAINES: That’s a cigar factory.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK.

WILBUR HAINES: And there– in the kitchen line, we had– we had a little Polish boy. And he was on KP. And– I don’t know where his picture’s at, now. But I used to know all these guys.

JOHN HOLBERT: Is this you, here? There with the red– with the red dot?

WILBUR HAINES: No, but there’s my sergeant– my sergeant. That’s Spector– old Spector– yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Mhm.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, there– but that’s where we done occupation duty from.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK.

WILBUR HAINES: But that there Sigelman, he– he went around to see a lot of the soldiers. He was– he never got married. But he was smart as a whip. When you talk–

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, this was after the war, when he came back to the States? He went around and visited everyone?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, he went around, seeing a lot of them. Yeah, he went down to our kitchen cook– a cook we had in the kitchen– Jim Mews was– Hughes was his name– down in Kentucky. He went way down to see him. And he was a good cook.

And this– when he went down to see him, he said he got the shock of his life. He lived in a house in the mountains– was like telephone poles, planted in the ground. And they wanted to board it up with sawmill lumber and then put tar paper around it. That’s where he lived. And he said he could not believe that.

JOHN HOLBERT: [LAUGH]

WILBUR HAINES: You know, down in them hills, them days– Depression. And they was tobacco farmers.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Is what he was. Tobacco farmer. Yeah, planted poles up and sawmill– you know, all woods. And that there, that’s a German.

JOHN HOLBERT: So here’s some of– some of the artifacts that you– and these are actually captured stuff from– uh–

WILBUR HAINES: Uh-huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: –from German soldiers, from the–

WILBUR HAINES: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I got–

JOHN HOLBERT: –from the war?

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, when they surrendered.

JOHN HOLBERT: This is– what, an ammo patch, I guess?

WILBUR HAINES: Ammo– ammo pouch, yeah. And– I took out an officer’s head. Boy, did he get mad at me. [LAUGH] We took–

We picked up prisoners–

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: –had phone numbers in there.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, they got their phone numbers. And, uh– but we picked up these prisoners. And this– our outfit captured them, you know. They got cornered and surrendered.

So we go pick them up. And we take them back to the supply depot, you know, where the Red Ball Express brings the stuff up and take it back. So, when we get back there, they was settled down on the ground, you know, there. They count ’em, you know, when you leave. And set them all down, you know. And these soldiers, you know, they’re all happy, you know, and it’s all very– he had an old sour face on him, you know.

So, as soon as we pull in, these black guys drive the Red Ball Express– World War II. They– mostly their job. They come up, hunting souvenirs. ‘Cause, on your bumper, they got what– like, metal tank destroyers, you know. They come up hunting souvenirs, to buy pistols and stuff.

So they come up there and– ‘course I don’t think they had anything at that time. But they kept wanting this hat. A couple of them– “I want that hat.” And they– he said “Nah, nah, nah!” sell it.

So Sgt. man was sergeant. He was there, somewhere. And I told the sergeant., “God damn, I wish I’d got that hat before we got up here.” You’re supposed to take nothing from them, you know, if they get captured, you know.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: So I said “We should take that.” He said “Take his damn hat. He ain’t gonna need it.” He was sitting down. So I reached down and took his hat off of him. And [GARBLED SPEECH] He was a-going– [LAUGH]

And these soldiers are going like that, clapping for me because I took his hat. They knowed he– they knowed he was– he’s done, you know. He didn’t– had no authority, no more. So I got this hat off of him. That, and then–

JOHN HOLBERT: Here’s a–

WILBUR HAINES: That’s a German camera.

JOHN HOLBERT: –camera?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Now did you actually use that?

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: You actually used that?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah. We used– that’s what I used. All these pictures were taken with that.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, really!

WILBUR HAINES: All of the was taken with that.

JOHN HOLBERT: Uh-huh? Uh-huh?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: And did you get that– when did you get the camera?

WILBUR HAINES: Lootin’ it out of the house. We got to Germany, we could loot.

JOHN HOLBERT: (LAUGHING) OK!

WILBUR HAINES: That’s what they done. They looted. We– lootin’. I found this, and I kept it the whole time.

JOHN HOLBERT: Really. And took the pictures with it then.

WILBUR HAINES: It’s a– it’s a timer on it and everything. I never did get to use it. But you can take small pictures and big picture. See these little ones? And there’s some big ones, there. Like in here– these was all taken with it.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah. Huh.

WILBUR HAINES: And some of them big ones, there. And then that Frank Sigelman– he used to borrow it. And he made all them pictures, in that there out of this.

JOHN HOLBERT: In the– in the book? Oh, these. The– the ones from the–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

Yeah, he made that up and brought that to me.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Like that. Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Wonder if you can still get film for that, or–

WILBUR HAINES: And then, see, you set the film number. If you want a big picture, you put it here.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK, I see.

WILBUR HAINES: And if you want small ones, you use that.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: You set it there. I forget how to use it, anymore. Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Is this, uh– the hat you were talking about, when you were riding the– riding the motorcycle? Everybody wanted, uh–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Had goggles. They deteriorated. There was this airplane down the field.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Ain’t many of them soldiers can say they got that.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: (LAUGHING) The captain took picture with the–

JOHN HOLBERT: Right out– right off the guy, in the field.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Yeah. We was up here along the road, at the lumber-beam field. Pole lumber, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: And then– oh, I guess this is a real– that’s a real helmet, there, isn’t it?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: The steel helmet?

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: That’s– real steel?

WILBUR HAINES: That’s a commander’s helmet.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow.

WILBUR HAINES: SS commander’s. Yeah. That has–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

JOHN HOLBERT: You mean, like, a tank commander?

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Like a commander– a company commander, or something like that, yeah. Top dog. And, uh, the way I got this– [LAUGH] we got captured a couple minutes later.

[BOTH LAUGH]

We went–

JOHN HOLBERT: Was this during the Battle of the Bulge?

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: Was this during the Battle–

WILBUR HAINES: No, that was before we was going. We was spearheading.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: We come into this town. And, uh, I– there wasn’t no fighting, much. But they had run into a skirmish. And we’d been moving, like, 15, 20 mile a day. And we come into a skirmish. And a couple German tanks was up there. And our tanks knocked them out.

And when we got up there, it’s their Mark V tank– was still burned. But we’re following the other tanks. I guess there were about ten of them– tanks. We’re following them. And they’d stop there, a little bit. And our CP was going to take out a house– stone house– a farm– a little house and barn that had a couple cows.

When we come up there, you know, to the rear, we spotted tanks up. I went in this house. I looked in there. There was a briefcase and this hat laid on the table.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK.

WILBUR HAINES: And I personally stuck my nose out and walked in there.

JOHN HOLBERT: [LAUGH]

WILBUR HAINES: But this here briefcase, with the papers in, and all that, and this hat. And it was– two ladies and a young girl was in there. So I took his hat and briefcase and took it out and was going to give it to one of the– somebody there. Going to– here, you want this, you know, for that? And he– “Hell, no! I don’t want that! They don’t want that. It’s– that’s an officer’s personal stuff, you know?”

So Sergeant– he was somewheres else. He wasn’t there, with me. And so I took it out. And somebody– I give to somebody the paper. And then one of the sergeant– “Oh, Christ, don’t give that away! Wait till some higher officers and give it to them,” you know.

Well, nothing wrong with– take that hat. “Take the hat. That ain’t what– but you don’t know what’s in that briefcase!”

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, yeah, you know, plans, or, you know, some kind of information that they could use.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, well, information of what they’re doing or where they’d been.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: So the next thing, here come a Jeep, you know– had a captain in. And he come up there and– give it to him– one of the– some guy gave it to him. And he took that.

So they moved on out. Right? And this German soldier laid on the– back on the engine, and he was still smoking. You know, his clothes wasn’t burnt off. They were just scorched and burnt. And he was roasting. He’d been dead, you know, for a couple hours.

And right in front of that tank was a German officer. And he had a bullet hole right in his head.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, my god.

WILBUR HAINES: And his holster– he had a holst– pistol, up here, like– but just the holster, no pistol. So we don’t know whether he shot hisself, or somebody took his pistol and then they shot him in the head, or what. But he was laying in front. He wasn’t, you know, burned or nothing.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: So that tank was burnt. And then another was up to bottom back. That there was burning. That got knocked out. But our tanks was on up the bottom.

So anyhow, everything was going. But there was troops a-coming up, you know– convoys a-moving. So we’re– went down i in the cellar– me and Sarge Schlossman. They had cabbage down there and potatoes. And I had a gas stove. We had one to every three trucks. Had to share it.

So we went down to the cellar, me and Schlossman. And we’re fixing Spam, cabbage, and boiled potatoes.

JOHN HOLBERT: [LAUGH]

WILBUR HAINES: And–

JOHN HOLBERT: You guys were eating good, huh?

WILBUR HAINES: Oh, we’re gonna eat good. And so Nafe, the one I said is into education, he was sitting on the porch, watching traffic, and looking at a book. And goddamned stuff coming up. Half-tracks, infantry trucks. Everything’s moving.

We’re sitting down. Everything’s going good, you know. And the next thing, we heard somebody coming down the steps. Well, we thought it was our outfit. We looked up It was a sergeant and two enlisted Germans– a German sergeant and two enlisted men.

They come downstairs. And my rifle’s sitting over against the wall.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, god.

WILBUR HAINES: Schlossman was sitting there where you come down the steps. And that old sergeant, [MAKES SOUND EFFECT] You know. We flew up. And first thing was, “Where’s Nafe? He’s supposed to watch around here.” So we threw up our hands, and– “We surrender to you! You!”

[BOTH LAUGH]

Boy, we was– was glad to hear that. He– he– he’s afraid we’d shoot. And he’d get– soon as we throwed our guns, and, you know, and he’s– they said “We surrender to you.”

And then we take the outside. And he kept saying “Vier! Vier! Vier!” I think that’s five, or something.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh. Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: And, uh, find out what it was– he said “Vier more, down in that gutter.” It was a drainage gutter. like a spring there. And he said five more want to surrender. Said, “Sergeant, you go get ’em– bring ’em up.”

So we– he went ahead and brought five more up. And they came up there, and oh, they sat there. And there’s the sergeant– “We go to America. We’ll go to America prisoners.”

[BOTH LAUGH]

JOHN HOLBERT: They wanted the war to end real quick–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, they wanted to get it over.

JOHN HOLBERT: And tell me about this. This, uh, looks like a dagger, here, I guess. Or–

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, that there yeah that’s– that’s– they worth a lot of money. That’s– it’s got “All for Germany.”

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, “Alles fur Deutschland.”

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. They’re worth a lot of money, see? That’s an SS knife, too.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: I don’t know how I got at that. I can’t remember, anymore. But a lot of them wanted that. Is that it?

JOHN HOLBERT: And you have some– looks like some armbands, or–

WILBUR HAINES: Oh, oh– yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: Stuff in here.

WILBUR HAINES: That’s the SS– that’s the SS armband.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, OK. What, the soldiers actually wore these, I guess, huh?

WILBUR HAINES: And this one here– you never much about that. You remember him.

JOHN HOLBERT: Yeah, Hermann Goering– yeah, uh-huh.

WILBUR HAINES: He had 500– like, around 500 special troops. And we didn’t know it, but what they was, they was tank busters. They– they hid out and knocked out tanks. And then they’d– pistols. And they took no prisoners.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, wow.

WILBUR HAINES: And they didn’t expect to be taking prisoners. And I found that there, one time, in where they knocked out a hole. It was a– like, a– hole that was level with the ground. And they was in that, there.

And what they does– a tank– when tank go by, they run up– scattered stuff. They didn’t get no– tangled with nothing big. They was hunting stray tanks, or something like that. Get out of the way. They’d go up behind them, and shoot them in the engine.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. Oh, OK. Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Softest place.

JOHN HOLBERT: Knock ’em out. Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Shoot them in there. And then they had pistols. But they took no prisoners. So, you know, don’t take them, either. shoot ’em, you know. So–

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: Anyhow, we seen where they was, there. And I went up, and I seen this armband, there, laying on one. And I took it off– took it off of him.

JOHN HOLBERT: It was on one of the– one of the German soldiers.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. I tell you, I thought it was a medal– or had a medal, there. I guess it got lost.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, it was a swastika.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, there was some kind of a– was like, a safety pin, or something like that. I wonder if that’s down– it’s not in the bag.

WILBUR HAINES: No, there used to be a pin there. Fell a– fell apart. Yeah. Don’t know how I got that.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK, well, I, uh, certainly enjoy, you know, being able to talk to you. And I think you have a great story to, uh– to tell, and everything. And it was great. that we were able to, uh– to do this, and everything.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. Say a lot more. You know, that– [LAUGH] There are other things, yeah.

JOHN HOLBERT: But a lot more to stuff to do. Well, maybe there may be a subsequent one, or something like that. We can set something up.

WILBUR HAINES: I gotta give all this to that old colonel that I loaned my car to.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh! [LAUGH]

WILBUR HAINES: Because he’s the one put me– I– I wanted to stay in my outfit.

JOHN HOLBERT: That’s right.

WILBUR HAINES: Be with the guys. But I didn’t want (LAUGHING) to be in them damned tanks. ‘Cause they’re targets. Ain’t nobody liked tanks. We had the worst tanks over there.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: Hell, they shoot through ours, and we couldn’t penetrate theirs.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: And we went over there. They told us we had the best tanks. And we was in England, we’d go into– you know, in pubs, and drink with them guys. And they said “Your tanks ain’t much.” And my, our guys were getting mad. Ours had little short barrels, and they had long barrels on them, long as that, big, heavy things– flatten–

Well, you seen that picture. A big hump up in the air. You couldn’t camouflage them. And (LAUGHING) they was making fun of them. Getting into a fight over it. We found out they was right.

JOHN HOLBERT: So all of these– all these stories and everything that you’ve carried for the years, and everything, you owe to the– to the colonel, when he asked that question, where do you want to go? And he was going to put you in the Air Force, and then he was going to put in the Navy, and everything. And you said you just wanted to drive a truck.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah. I want to drive a truck. And– and say it, because I knew if you drive a truck, you’re out in back. You ain’t up there, sitting in a foxhole.

Poor infantry’s up there, and a storm come up and pouring down rain. You sit in there. You pull your head up.

I’ll tell you another little story I– it ain’t in my diary. Yeah, I think it’s in my diary. Part of it, in there. Uh–

When we moved up to Saint-Vith area–

JOHN HOLBERT: Uh-huh?

WILBUR HAINES: We got up there, and our outfit was on the lines. And they was– they was loading fuel, you know. They sent us up there. And it wasn’t no fighting up there– much

If you want to take it home with you, keep it. I’ll see you in a couple days.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: You can read it– read it. But you can take it home. It’s in there, I think. Uh–

We went up to the– supply the tanks up.

JOHN HOLBERT: Mhm?

WILBUR HAINES: So we was on– we was in the Belgium side. And our CP was up there with us. Because there wasn’t supposed to be no fighting in that area. He was going to sit still.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: And we was up on a woods. And right down in the bottom was a little farmer village. And, like, three or four houses. And they all had shared the ground, you know. And it was a meadow there– a big meadow. So I was–

And on the other side, when you get through that meadow, you went up through a woods. And you got up top of the woods, it was Germany. So, as soon as we got up there, we had to go up and fuel the tanks. Because they was low on fuel.

They sent me and Schlossman. And we got all that there, most days. He was the top sergeant in that. And he always rode with me. So we had– took the established fuel truck. We went up through the mountain– up through the woods. Get dirt roads.

Get up there, at the top. There was a Sherman tank laying on the side, upset. And there was another one, right up above it, setting up. But he was down over the bank. So we said well, there must be fighting up here somewheres, you know.

Got up a little further– there’s a German 88. Dove back into the bank that set back in there. And as they come up through that woods, it knocked them out.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: So here they had to call the Air Force in. So the Air Force– they couldn’t get to that tank. And the Air Force come in. They drop some bombs around. Made holes But he hit that 88, there, and blows it apart.

Well, we goes there, where there’s these guys been laying there in the road. And it blowed them out in the road. And they’d be run over by other trucks and stuff, you know?

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh, my gosh.

WILBUR HAINES: Well, here we come up. And they were there. And can’t hardly get through, ’cause they’re laying right in the road. So– run right over. They’re flat, anyway.

We got through. And there’s a sign up. “Keep moving. You’re under enemy observation, here on through.” And, why, that meant “Keep moving.”

So he had a map. Hand-drawn map. Said go up to the woods. You see the two tanks. There’s a sign– “You’re entering Germany,” in German language, which we knew what it meant. “You’re entering Germany,” and some other writing. Where that sign was. But it was full of holes.

And there was this gun. You know? And that was that–

JOHN HOLBERT: The 88.

WILBUR HAINES: Go straight till you come to the crossroad. When you come to the crossroad, you turn left and go down to a barn. There you’d see four tanks. They’re your tanks. And the rest is on down that road.

So we goes up there. And there’s one road to the left. No road to the right. And we stopped there. We was supposed to keep moving. But we stopped.

And we stopped and said, “They here, ’cause this is the crossroad. That’s what it says.” We starts down– He said “Go on. Go on.” So we went on.

We started over. Normally started to go down a hill on the other side. Here the infantry’s dug in. And they’re sitting there, in their foxholes. We see machine guns. They’re standing there, jumping up and waving– “Go back! Go back!” You know.

JOHN HOLBERT: [LAUGH]

WILBUR HAINES: Christ, you can’t go back. That damned bank was that high on each side of the road. They’re hollering “Go back! Go back!” And we– Jesus Christ, What we gonna do? We can’t go back to the fighting. And Nafe’s on the hard. “They’re hard. Go back!”

And there was a little village down there, in that town. You know, on the bottom? And I didn’t know what to do. Couldn’t turn around. I couldn’t back up. I wasn’t supposed to stop. Schlossman said “Go ahead. Maybe it’s another crossroad.”

We go down there. Go down there. And here we come to town. Never seen nobody but a cow and a man– I mean, a woman and a cow, both dead, was laying along the road. She’d been dead a while, the cow, ’cause her legs were up in air. You know, the cow swelled up. And this woman laid beside of her.

And that’s all we see. Now I turned around, down on the road, [LAUGH] you know, of that hill. Leaning out, clapping, you know? Giving some– you know, V sign, or something– give ’em.

We come– went down that right road. You know? And down here, here we seen our tanks have stopped. We got a bum steer, you know. Somebody did it on purpose, but made it a bum steer.

We wasn’t down there too long– here come two lieutenants, down there, wondering what we’ve seen down there.

JOHN HOLBERT: Oh. You were actually on the other side of the line.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

WILBUR HAINES: Huh?

JOHN HOLBERT: You were out in front of the line somewhere.

WILBUR HAINES: Yeah, went in front of the line. There wasn’t no action, see? And– and they must have said “Don’t”– “Hold your fire. They ain’t gonna hurt nothing.” We figured– I don’t know. They want to get a position.

And that’s where they broke through, all through that area. It was all pines. You know, way over the pine trees.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right. Yeah.

WILBUR HAINES: So they was, uh, all sitting over and probably all seen us [LAUGH] coming down through there. And that’s where they come through there, on the way to Saint-Vith and Malmedy.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right, yeah. That was when the Battle of the Bulge started.

WILBUR HAINES: Huh? Yeah, that’s where the battle started– right through Saint-Vith. But we was moving to a new area. You know, got out of that area, when they broke through there.

But then we fought our way back, to Malmedy. But we didn’t go through Saint-Vith. And we used to go in there and get supplies, at Saith-Vith. You know, that had a pod depot there.

JOHN HOLBERT: Well, I’d like to thank you a lot. This has really been, uh– really been informative and everything, to, uh, get– sit here and talk with you and– and look at all the artifacts and everything like that. And, uh, I really enjoyed being able to, uh–

WILBUR HAINES: OK, well–

JOHN HOLBERT: –being able to talk to you.

WILBUR HAINES: I was ready to get it off my chest.

JOHN HOLBERT: OK, good.

WILBUR HAINES: Put them away and forget about it, now. Somebody will say, well, I never showed these– you know, a lot of that stuff about it.

JOHN HOLBERT: Right.

WILBUR HAINES: I just put it down and– you know, in the cellar and forget about it.

JOHN HOLBERT: There you go. Thanks a lot.

[MUSIC “THE ARMY GOES ROLLING ALONG”]

[MUSIC ENDS]