Charles Spencer

Charles Spencer is a World War II Veteran, and he discusses initially not being able to enlist, as well as combat in Germany.

Transcription

Charles Spencer

LARRY BURBANK: How did you get into the military? Uh, it says here you were in– in for three years in the army. Did you get drafted or did you enlist?

CHARLES SPENCER: I was drafted, but there’s a little story about that.

LARRY BURBANK: OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: Uh, and before I tell you this story that I will tell you, that it is a pleasure to, uh, and I appreciate the fact, the, uh, the opportunity to, uh,

LARRY BURBANK: OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: –relate my war experiences, and, uh–

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: There were– there were a lot of heroes, of course, in World War II. And, uh, I don’t consider anything that I did or was near or anything like that was particularly heroic, but, uh, I’m great to relate the experience– some of the experiences that I had. And, uh, in World War II, the, uh, the real glamour, glamour boys of, uh, I felt, was– were the guys in the Air Force. And uh, they flew the airplanes and they wore their– they had a cocky attitude and–

LARRY BURBANK: Did they?

CHARLES SPENCER: Everybody thought they were really great, because they flew a B51, or this or that. And uh, B26, 24. And, uh, they wore their hats in a cocky sort of way. And I thought, this was great and flying an airplane would just be fantastic. So I went downtown to enlist–

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: –in the Air Force. And, uh, one of the first questions they asked was, uh, “Did you ever have a serious head injury?” And I said no, the only thing I ever had was a concussion when I was little kid. And that fast, I was out on the sidewalk, because they didn’t want anybody who had had a concussion. I didn’t realize that. But, uh, fast-forwarding, uh, there was, uh, I was in a college in the army.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: Uh, Antioch College. And they disbanded the unit there. And I had a chance to go over to uh, uh, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and I asked them if I could join the Air Force. The Air Force was part of the, uh, uh, the Army at that time.

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, they said, sure, if you can pass the test. So I took the test and they said, “Did you ever have a head injury?” And I said, no, I never had a head injury. So I– they– I was take– went in, and, uh. So I did go to what they called a college training detachment and that sort of thing, but never got to fly, because at that– then they stopped the Air Force program, because they had enough pilots.

LARRY BURBANK: What year was that?

CHARLES SPENCER: What year?

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: That must’ve been about 1944, I would guess.

LARRY BURBANK: ’44.

CHARLES SPENCER: ’43 or ’44.

LARRY BURBANK: OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: So, uh, in the meantime, before I– this second trial at the Air Force materialized, uh, I, uh, wanted to, uh– I had to wait and be drafted. So I was drafted, went to Fort Meade, and then, worked my way to the point where, from Antioch, I asked to go to the Air Force and got in. But– but from there, I went to the 20th Armored Division in, uh, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

LARRY BURBANK: Fort Campbell?

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: And you were in the 20th, uh, through the whole conflict?

CHARLES SPENCER: Uh, yes. Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: So I went from being, uh, uh, metal– uh, wannabe hot-rod pilot–

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: –to a tank driver.

LARRY BURBANK: Well, that’s not all that bad. Yeah Yeah. So, uh, in other words, uh, you, uh, you entered the service in the Army, and you stayed for what? Three or four years? Or–

CHARLES SPENCER: Three. I was in the army for three years.

LARRY BURBANK: Three years.

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh. OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: But I transferred around to different places early on.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: So.

LARRY BURBANK: So, OK. Uh, your, uh, your MOS, so to speak, was a tank driver?

CHARLES SPENCER: Uh, I started out as a tank driver, wound up in the same division in a– as just an armored infantry– infantryman. And uh–

LARRY BURBANK: OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: Our method of op– of, uh, maneuvering, was in half-tracks.

LARRY BURBANK: I see.

CHARLES SPENCER: Which a lot people these days, don’t– don’t know what– they don’t know what they were.

LARRY BURBANK: They don’t know what a half-track is, do they?

CHARLES SPENCER: No, I’m surprised.

LARRY BURBANK: Right. Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: Right.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah. Yeah, that half-track was a, was a good machine.

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm. Yep.

LARRY BURBANK: It would float.

CHARLES SPENCER: Yep. Yep.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm. It would float. Yep. OK. Uh, the uh– I guess– I’m a-gonna jump over here to another sheet of paper, and uh, just ask you, uh, a question, uh. What– what influenced you to– to get in the military? Did you feel that you owed it to the country? You felt that you were to miss something, if you didn’t get in the military? How did you feel?

CHARLES SPENCER: Well, I was just patriotic, and still am.

LARRY BURBANK: Patriotic. OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, uh, I think there’s nothing like being an American.

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, it’s worth fighting for. And at the time we– and– and– young men still feel the same. A lot of young men still feel the same, that it’s worth fighting for and worth giving up your life for if necessary.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah, we– I agree with that. And, uh, you, uh, you never did regret going into the military?

CHARLES SPENCER: No, not at all.

LARRY BURBANK: Even during boot camp?

CHARLES SPENCER: Nope.

LARRY BURBANK: It was tough, wasn’t it?

CHARLES SPENCER: Well, it was, but I’m a very positive thinker.

LARRY BURBANK: OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, everything that happened, I got pleasure from, even if it was just being transferred from one place to another. Seeing a new– being stationed outside a different place from where, uh, I had been before.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, all of that was– is interesting to me. And every day is a new experience in the Army.

LARRY BURBANK: Yes Yes.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, then of course, going to Europe, and, uh– As a kid, I had never– for all practical purposes– I had never left home and it was exciting to see all the different parts of the world that I wasn’t familiar with.

LARRY BURBANK: You’re a native Carroll Countian?

CHARLES SPENCER: No, I lived in Baltimore, as a–

LARRY BURBANK: Baltimore.

CHARLES SPENCER: –at that time.

LARRY BURBANK: At that time.

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: OK. But– Yeah, I understand what you’re saying, because, uh, uh, World War II kind of opened up a lot of our young men to see the world.

CHARLES SPENCER: Right.

LARRY BURBANK: You know. And, uh, it, uh, I– you’re a person that sees a glass half-full instead of half-empty.

CHARLES SPENCER: That’s right.

LARRY BURBANK: So that’s the way to be.

CHARLES SPENCER: I see it 3/4 full.

LARRY BURBANK: 3/4 full. OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: As a matter of fact.

LARRY BURBANK: Right. Right. OK. When you went– you went to boot camp at–

CHARLES SPENCER: Um. That would’ve been at, uh, uh, um, Fort Gordon, I think.

LARRY BURBANK: Fort Gordon. OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh–

LARRY BURBANK: OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: Then they put us on a train one day, and said– they didn’t tell us where we were going. And, uh, we got off the train at Xenia, Ohio, and went to, uh, Antioch College.

LARRY BURBANK: Antioch College, I see that.

CHARLES SPENCER: And what they called– called the, uh, ASTP, the uh, uh, Army Specialized Training Program. And, uh, we were supposed to be in college for six months or a year, and, and, and come out as Second Lieutenants. And in our case, engine– as engineers.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, but as I said, that program was discontinued. And, uh, that’s how I worked my way to the Air Force, which led to, going to other places as well.

LARRY BURBANK: OK. So I see you were, uh, in, uh, Miami, Florida–

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: –also.

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah. And, uh, looked like you were in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah, that’s– that’s quite a place, Fort Campbell. Yes. Uh.

CHARLES SPENCER: We went through basic training there, and, uh–

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: –manuevers and our tanks and that sort of thing.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh. Uh. What was your favorite thing about serving in the military? The camaraderie and the feeling that you were making a difference?

CHARLES SPENCER: Uh, the camaraderie was great, but the main thing was, uh, there was, uh– people had a feeling there, an intense feel– in those days–

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: –about being in the war. There were– everybody was involved with it, mentally and physically. And, uh, as– as one of those kinds of people, I felt that I was great to be in the service and doing my part for my country.

LARRY BURBANK: You probably remember the victory gardens, and rationing of gas and tires and all that, right?

CHARLES SPENCER: Definitely. Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. OK. What was the favorite thing that you did in the army, besides your, uh, your unit? Did you have off-time that you enjoyed, that you could talk about?

CHARLES SPENCER: I often, uh– Usually, on weekends, I could get weekend– a weekend pass.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: Excuse me. We’d go into town, and, uh, had girlfriends, and, uh, uh, you know, went site-seeing and that sort of thing.

LARRY BURBANK: So–

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh.

LARRY BURBANK: So you saw the world?

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Basically.

CHARLES SPENCER: Enjoyed it very much.

LARRY BURBANK: Right. Now, when you were in Germany, what time of the year was that? Winter, summer, or–

CHARLES SPENCER: I’m sorry?

LARRY BURBANK: What time of the year were you in Germany? Was it wintertime or–

CHARLES SPENCER: Oh, it was, um actually, we got there in February.

LARRY BURBANK: February.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, and we landed in le Harve and, uh, it was kind of shocking when we got there, into the harbor and saw that le Harve wasn’t much tall– much higher than that. It had all been– it was just rubble. And, uh, we saw– I remember looking over, uh, from the boat before we disembarked, and uh, from the ship, and seeing one man out among– amidst all this rubble.

And he had a cart, being pulled by horse, a four-wheeled cart. And he was loading up bricks and moving bricks and doing– And that was that about all the activity that, uh, that you could see at that time. This was late in the– late in the war.

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: And the war had moved on from France, into um, into Germany by that time.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh. Yeah.

CHARLES SPENCER: So we picked up the war– well, we didn’t get to the actual combat part until we got to Munich.

LARRY BURBANK: To Munich?

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: OK. So you entered combat at Munich and how long were you in combat?

CHARLES SPENCER: Uh, actually, it was not– not too long. I guess we’d say, maybe a month?

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, because the war was winding down.

LARRY BURBANK: Winding down.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, I think, looking back, I think our unit, our division was uh, uh, training to go to Japan, because we were scheduled to go to Japan after the war in Germany, in Europe, was over. And, uh, while– when we got into New York Harbor to, uh– we were one of the first ones to leave, uh, Germany.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: And when we got to, um, leave Europe and when we got to New York, um, there were– boys were selling newspapers. And they were hollering, “Extra! Extra!” They had dropped a new– a different– a new kind of bomb, and, uh, this was in August of ’45.

LARRY BURBANK: ’45. OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: And we, said, oh, they dropped another bomb. They’ve been dropping new bombs every two weeks. And, uh, but this one happened to be the atom bomb.

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: And the war ended just– uh, just shortly after, uh, we landed.

LARRY BURBANK: So actually, your division was on kind of alert for Japan, had they not dropped the bomb?

CHARLES SPENCER: That’s right. Mm-hmm. We were supposed to land on the Honshu plan– plain. And, uh, fortunately, we, uh, I went to, um, California for– we were supposed to, uh, reorganize and, uh, get new equipment and go for this invasion.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: But, um, I went to California, but we never– never– I was discharged there.

LARRY BURBANK: Oh.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh– or released for discharge and was discharged at Fort Meade.

LARRY BURBANK: So you came back from California to Meade.

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: And then got discharged.

CHARLES SPENCER: Right.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh. How did the division feel going into combat for 30 days, not knowing how long it was going to be, and then suddenly your combat was over. But then you had in the back of your mind, we may go to Japan? What’d that– How’d that make you feel?

CHARLES SPENCER: I’m not sure we knew– that we’re aware at that time that we might be scheduled for Japan. But, uh, it was a great feeling to know that the war was over– it was unbelievable.

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: It’s hard to understand, because we had all been in the service for three years or so. And, uh, that was the life, you know, the life that we had lived. We were totally immersed in it. And, uh, it was hard to imagine that war was over, and what it would be like now.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah, it, uh, it was probably a feeling that’s hard to explain?

CHARLES SPENCER: It is. Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah. So–

CHARLES SPENCER: But good.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah. And you still have feelings today of what– what occurred?

CHARLES SPENCER: I’m– I’m sorry?

LARRY BURBANK: Your feelings today are still, “Wow, it’s over and I’m– I’m alive.” Did you lose–

CHARLES SPENCER: At that time–

LARRY BURBANK: Did you lose friends there that you were close to in the war?

CHARLES SPENCER: Right. Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, so, it was, it was going to be a different life, of course, now.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: Uh, but um– I might mention, uh, that on the way to, uh– to le– we shipped back to the United States from le Harve. And, uh, we were on a train going to what they called Camp Lucky Strike, which was a huge camp that, uh, uh, classified the troops to get shipped back. And, uh, on the way we were on a train, and– and, to get to le Harve. And, uh, during the trip, we had a head– the train hit another train head-on, and we had a very bad accident. And, uh, a number of–

LARRY BURBANK: Hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: –people were, uh, injured.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, so. And we were in the middle of Germany. It was mid– about 2 o’clock in the morning, and, uh, interestingly enough, the train– the locomotive would be on one end of the train at one time and at the other end of the train another time. And, uh, I was the third car, third– we were in railroad– those railroad car– um.

LARRY BURBANK: Hm.

CHARLES SPENCER: Cattle cars, they called them.

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, it hap– the accident happened when I was, uh, on the long– far from the locomotive, but the first two, uh, uh, cattle cars– if you want to call them that–

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: Uh, uh, went like that, and– and shattered. They were just wood.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, um– it was, you know, kind of a disaster. But, um– and it’s– they’re pictures in this– there’s a picture in the book about the– showing the accident.

LARRY BURBANK: Now, when the war was over, how– how many days did you spend in Germany after the war was declared over?

CHARLES SPENCER: Uh, well, that was in May, the war– that the war ended and we shipped out in August.

LARRY BURBANK: In August.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, we– we had a– I missed a chance to go to visit– we had, uh, [INAUDIBLE] that they let us take, and, uh, there was a truck that was supposed to call us– that– to take us to Paris. And I had signed up for that, but the CQ didn’t, uh, didn’t call me that morning and I missed the trip so I didn’t get to go to Paris. But I went to Berchtesgaden and– and– went through that, and saw the, uh, the, uh, palace of, uh,

LARRY BURBANK: So after the war, you felt rather– rather comfortable in the environment in Germany?

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Did you?

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: I wondered about that.

CHARLES SPENCER: Well, immediately after the war, we were sent to– we were supposed to go to Yugoslavia–

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: –because I believe it was Marshal Tito who was a communist leader of Yugoslavia at that time–

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: And they expected– they were afraid that there was going to be an uprising there. So they sent us to– we were on our way to, uh, Yugoslavia. But, as happens so many times, you start to do something in the Army and the plans are changed totally and you do something different. So they called off our going there. But we went to a place called Ruhpolding in the Alps–

LARRY BURBANK: Hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: –in Germany. And we– I remember having a– it was August and we had snowball battles in the crevasses of the mountains.

LARRY BURBANK: Hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: Uh, and I remember we had no shirts on. It was really nice and warm and–

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: –having a snowball battle.

LARRY BURBANK: So, so after the war, even though you were in a foreign country, you didn’t feel threatened?

CHARLES SPENCER: No, not at all.

LARRY BURBANK: Not at all?

CHARLES SPENCER: Well, when we– when we were on the road to, uh– on the way to Yugoslavia– we went through this– uh, long– these long ravines, and the German troops were up on the hills, fully-armed. They hadn’t been disarmed yet.

LARRY BURBANK: OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: And we felt a little bit, uh, thoughtful about that. And, uh, that they could have caused some problems, but they didn’t.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: There was no problem.

LARRY BURBANK: Hmm. Very good.

CHARLES SPENCER: But we gave them some thought.

LARRY BURBANK: I bet. You can refer back to that book and it gives you some good memories and some bad memories.

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Overall, uh, you think that the, uh, the war effort that you were in, was well-worthwhile.

CHARLES SPENCER: Yes, indeed. And– and I won’t bother with this.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah.

CHARLES SPENCER: But, uh, yes, I– well, World War II turned the– totally turned the world around.

LARRY BURBANK: It did. Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, one of the main things that I’ve always said, one of the main things that influenced that, was the GI Bill of Rights–

LARRY BURBANK: Yes.

CHARLES SPENCER: –which enabled so many hundreds of thousands of soldiers on– upon discharge, to have the chance to go to college.

LARRY BURBANK: Yes.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, I think this is what was mainly responsible for the world that we have today. And, uh– because prior to that time– and I look at old pictures sometimes– and, uh, see that the world which was totally different back before World War II. And, uh– It became faster, things moved faster, things were developed–

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: –in– by the, uh, the military. And in medicine–

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: –and in science, that, uh, were greatly speeded up by the necessities of the war.

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: And it totally changed the world as– not only the United States– the whole world, I think–

LARRY BURBANK: The whole world.

CHARLES SPENCER: –as it had– from what it had been.

LARRY BURBANK: And your medical care and your food and all that was– was good for you?

CHARLES SPENCER: Oh, absolutely.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: I think military life– my wife still kind of teases me a little bit because of– sometimes I do things in sort of a military way.

LARRY BURBANK: Well, I understand that.

CHARLES SPENCER: Orderly is the word, I guess.

LARRY BURBANK: Right. Right. Yeah. I’ve got a couple things over here that I brought in. Uh, that World War II mess kit. I guess you didn’t– Did you use that quite a bit?

CHARLES SPENCER: Absolutely. Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah. It’s kind of– kind of neat, isn’t it?

CHARLES SPENCER: It is. One of the, uh, pictures that I, uh, gave to the other fella here was of a line, mess line. And the guys were standing there, holding their mess kits at their– at their sides.

LARRY BURBANK: You know how to– you know how to do that. The old immersion heater? Remember that? You had three immersion heaters, remember?

CHARLES SPENCER: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: And, uh, of course, you, uh, put this like this.

[METAL SCRAPING]

Put the spoon, the fork–

CHARLES SPENCER: Yep.

LARRY BURBANK: –and the knife like this.

CHARLES SPENCER: Dipped it in and spin it around. Uh-huh.

LARRY BURBANK: And you dipped it into hot wa– soapy water didn’t you?

CHARLES SPENCER: Right. Right.

LARRY BURBANK: One, two, three.

CHARLES SPENCER: And the water kept getting less soapy–

LARRY BURBANK: Yes. Uh-huh..

CHARLES SPENCER: –as you went along.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah.

CHARLES SPENCER: Yeah.

LARRY BURBANK: And it– it– it– it worked didn’t it?

CHARLES SPENCER: It did.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah.

CHARLES SPENCER: Might not have been totally sanitary, but, uh,

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: It was– it did the job.

LARRY BURBANK: Right. And, uh, I’ve often thought– that when you– the word mess kit

CHARLES SPENCER: Mm-hmm.

LARRY BURBANK: You put the– most of the mess in here–

CHARLES SPENCER: That’s right.

LARRY BURBANK: –and then the desert or something in the other–

CHARLES SPENCER: That’s right.

LARRY BURBANK: –in the lid, so to speak.

CHARLES SPENCER: And the cook would throw the– practically throw the stuff in your mess kit.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah. Uh-huh. Yeah. Yeah, that– that’s some good times. And, uh, you look back– sometimes the worst times, you look back, are the best.

CHARLES SPENCER: That’s right.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah. Yeah, so–

CHARLES SPENCER: They stay with you and you never forget ’em.

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: Never forget.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah. Well, in– in your own story, so you came back to, uh, Carroll County after the war and settled down in Carroll County.

CHARLES SPENCER: Well, actually, I had lived in Bal– was born and raised in Baltimore.

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, I lived in Baltimore until about eight years ago.

LARRY BURBANK: Oh, is that right?

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, [INAUDIBLE] and I were married and, uh, we moved here to Carroll County.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: And think we died and went to heaven.

LARRY BURBANK: Yes.

CHARLES SPENCER: It’s the greatest place in the world.

LARRY BURBANK: It– it’s great. Yes. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Well, is there anything else you’d like to just– as you end your story?

CHARLES SPENCER: Well, one thing that, uh, comes to mind when you brought up the mess kit and so forth– When we went overseas, we went on the Thomas Barry ship. And of course, it was loaded with soldiers and, uh, the, uh. In the mess hall, there– they, uh, they had counters that went, uh, from side to side on the ship, and, uh you’d get your food in the– in a, in a, a serving line. And go to one of these counters, just stood up– there was no chairs– and it was very stormy. And the ship would roll from side to side.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: As it did, the plates or the mess kits would go sliding down this way when the ship went that way, and then when it went the other way, they’d slide down the other way. And lots of times, they’d go over the edge, and you’d have a mess on the floor and it became slippery.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-oh. Yeah.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, it was a little bit of an experience.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah. But–

CHARLES SPENCER: One of the– and when I first went on the ship, I ran into a friend, uh, from school. And, uh, who was in the, uh, um, Merchant Marine. He was an officer, and said, why don’t you come up for lunch on the, uh, on– on– in the– in the officer’s mess? So I said, fine, that would be great.

So I went up, [INAUDIBLE] met– met him. And they had tables with tablecloths set up. Much different from the mess hall where you’re going like that.

LARRY BURBANK: Right.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, we sat down to have our dinner and somebody came up to, uh, take our order, and it was my platoon sergeant. And, uh, the platoon sergeant had– when we got on the ship, everybody tried to get a job in the– in the cafeteria, something to do. And, uh, he got a job as a waiter in the– in the officer’s mess.

LARRY BURBANK: Huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: And I sat there and he saw me, and he said, Spencer what are you doing? And, uh, pretty quickly I was– was out of the mess hall.

LARRY BURBANK: So he– he thought you shouldn’t be there, huh?

CHARLES SPENCER: Right.

LARRY BURBANK: Oh, wow. Yeah. Well, that’s– You know, uh, probably, the, uh, the meals on the ships were pretty good, weren’t they?

CHARLES SPENCER: They were better than– than– uh, for the, uh, officer’s mess, for the Merchant Marine, than for the sailors, but I always– everybody always complained about the food in the service, but I always thought it was pretty good.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: When we first got on the ship, somebody came up from, uh, one of the lower holds. And he said, you know what, there are some, uh, um, cartons of– of canned stuff down in the– in this hold, and if we could get one of those cartons, uh, we could you know, get some of this stuff and keep it with us.

Get some of this canned goods, and, uh, take it with us, and, uh, when we land. So we went down– down the hold, one or two of us. And, uh, came up with this big case of 16– or eight, I’m sorry– Eight gallon cans Eight one-gallon cans of um, I forget what it was. Something that nobody– plums.

LARRY BURBANK: Plums.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, and we come ’em up to the– to our deck, and somebody said, we don’t want plums. Where do you get– bring plums. So back down, and it was a ladder, you know.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, back down, to the– and we traded the plums for– and we had to swipe ’em.

LARRY BURBANK: Mm-hmm.

CHARLES SPENCER: Cuz these were, you know. And, uh, so, back up the ladder and we got pineapple that time.

LARRY BURBANK: Ah.

CHARLES SPENCER: So ww– every guy in our squad got a gallon can of pineapple. And we carried it in our knapsack–

LARRY BURBANK: Huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: –to, through all the, uh, you know, places that we went. And at the end of the war, we were in Rupholding. And, uh, we had, um, moved a family out of a house there.

LARRY BURBANK: Uh-huh.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, they lived in a barn, man and a lady and a– and a little– little boy about two. Two or three. And, um, we got out of our kit. They hadn’t had– You know, they had had shortages. Were having shortages and–

LARRY BURBANK: This is in Germany, right?

CHARLES SPENCER: Right. And, uh, they, um– we got out our pineapple, they brought some potatoes. And, oh, and we had some– there was a new ration. I forget the– like a D ration, I think. But we had a roast of beef, and uh, canned. And, uh, We got that out. They brought potatoes and onions. And we all had dinner together.

LARRY BURBANK: You had a feast.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, that’s right.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah.

CHARLES SPENCER: With these people that, uh, who’s house we had taken over. It’s an experience.

LARRY BURBANK: Yeah. Yeah. So would you do it again?

CHARLES SPENCER: Oh, absolutely.

LARRY BURBANK: OK.

CHARLES SPENCER: Absolutely.

LARRY BURBANK: Good.

CHARLES SPENCER: I’d do it right now, if necessary.

LARRY BURBANK: There you go. OK. Well, thank you for your service.

CHARLES SPENCER: Thank you.

LARRY BURBANK: Thank you. Buh-bye.

CHARLES SPENCER: And, uh, it’s been nice to talk to you.

LARRY BURBANK: OK.