Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Dr. Franklyn A. Johnson on September 13, 2001, in Orlando, Florida, with Shaun Illingworth and …
Sandra Stewart Holyoak: Sandra Stewart Holyoak.
SI: Dr. Johnson, thank you for joining us today.
Franklyn Johnson: It's a pleasure. …
SI: I would like to begin by asking you a few questions about your parents, beginning with your father, who was born in New York.
FJ: Yes. He was born in a place that nobody can usually pronounce when they see it spelled out, Honeoye Falls, H-O-N-E-O-Y-E Falls, which is near Rochester, New York, and my mother was born nearby, a place called Mendon, M-E-N-D-O-N, New York, small villages in the western part. … Much of his career was [spent] in Florida, … [as] an immigration border patrol inspector, and then, because of family farm needs, the older folks were obviously getting older and needed help, we went up to New York State. He had been a Reserve officer in the Florida National Guard and President Roosevelt put in a program called the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and there were no bureaucracies to speak of in Washington then, and so, they pulled in Army officers to supervise. He was, I believe, at that point, … maybe a first lieutenant and he had three different camps; they were about 200 [employees] each in New York State. So, he could help take care of the family farms and, also, do his work, go home on weekends to help the old folks and so on. In the meantime, my mother, Olyve Eckler Johnson, had been taking flying lessons, … mainly for her own amusement and so on. She didn't yet have a plane of her own, but, then, she did get, I believe it was a … Piper Cub first, and then, another plane, probably a Cessna, and this was relevant to what came later, because … this hobby was turned into military service in the Civil Air Patrol. She had been frustrated by being just too old to join the WACS. … Oveta Culp Hobby was … given a colonelcy and chosen as head of what was first called the … Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, … then, it became the WACs, just the Women's Army Corps, … but, she was a little too old. … I remember, my father, by this time, was in the Pentagon, on the planning staff, and was now, I believe he was, at that point, a lieutenant colonel, and she begged him to intervene and say, "Well, what's a month or two in terms of going in?" Well, of course, they had to have a rule, because, you know, someone'd come along [and say], "Well, I'm only a year too old," and so on. So, anyway, she missed out on the WACs, but, instead, went into the Civil Air Patrol, which was an auxiliary organization. … She was adjutant of the New Jersey wing and I was trying to think [of] where it was headquartered, but, I can't recall exactly, it was near New Brunswick, at any rate, and so, she flew planes, including bombers, out from a place called Manhattan, Kansas, where there, apparently, was a very large factory manufacturing these planes, and she'd fly them, on occasion, to Gander, Newfoundland. … Another irritant on top of the age problem was the fact that they wouldn't let her fly them … into the combat zone, to the United Kingdom, to the Eighth Air Force, and so, she groused, and grumbled, and probably extorted from my father some promises that it would be changed, but, it wasn't changed, because women, in those days, just didn't go into combat zones, unless they were nurses, and I think a few WACs did during the war, accidentally. I mean, they were flying typewriters and so on, … but, they weren't likely to get killed, at least out on the field of battle. So, they had, both of them, rather colorful careers, and then, that led up, I guess, to my being in the service from ROTC, as a double ROTC graduate. I went to a military academy called Riverside, down in Georgia. … I didn't have a commission, but, I had the three years of ROTC, and came up, and was an academic sophomore, but, a military senior in the Rutgers ROTC regiment, which led to some interesting questions, where my superiors in the fraternity were under me as second lieutenants and so on in A Company, which I commanded, and then, we, of course, on May 5, 1942, … [were] commissioned and got ready, … after three months at Fort Benning, to go overseas. That's [the story] briefly, and then, to complete the story that you raised, the first question relative to my parents, my mother lived until 1963 and my father until 1973 and … both had retired from the military and their other activities prior to that.
SH: I would like to focus on your education for a moment. Which schools did you attend, from elementary school to high school?
FJ: … We lived in Miami Beach during most of this period, and I went to Miami Beach Elementary School, and then, a junior high school, but, then, I went up to Riverside Military Academy and graduated from there in 1940. An interesting thing there was that my father, at first, was quartermaster, and then, after the war, went back as commandant, assigned there by, well, [it was] then called the War Department, the Defense Department now. … He was the commandant and PMS&T, the head of the military [science] department, and, at the same time, my mother, back to her old habits, was teaching, training military cadets how to fly. … Then, I graduated … from there and went on to Rutgers and had two years in before [entering] the military.
SH: Were you sent to Riverside Military Academy because both of your parents had careers related to the military? Also, I assume you lived at the school.
FJ: Oh, yes. Well, probably; there was no military background prior [to my parents], except [that] my father was a private first class in the Fourth Marines in World War I, but, our family were farmers from way back, from the 1600s, in New York and, before that, in New England, and so, there was no real tradition that I could claim. I guess … I just liked it, and then, my father … being part-time in uniform as a citizen-soldier, I guess, steered me in that direction. I loved it. I really enjoyed it and was quite taken aback, later on, when I was shot, and captured, and … forced, for physical reasons, to leave the military, but, I knew I could never become a regular Army officer because of [my] eyesight. They were very stringent in those days. You couldn't go through West Point and so on [laughter] with my eyes, but, I enjoyed it.
SH: What led you to choose Rutgers?
FJ: [laughter] That's an interesting story in itself. I was registered and had even taken some baggage up to Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, which had some old family connections, and we decided that I would go there. By this time, my father was assistant professor of military science and tactics under Colonel Koehler, who was the PMS&T and whose son, Dick Koehler, was my best friend and was killed, of course, on the beach in Sicily, … and I don't know exactly what happened, but, my mother came out, … I was waiting in the car, I guess, where the baggage and all was, at Hamilton College, and she came out furious and said, "We're going to leave this damned place," [laughter] and so, we threw the bags back in, and what had happened was, she was a woman with a bit of a temper, they had assigned us a certain room, which we even inspected, because Hamilton is only about fifty, seventy-five miles from Rochester, probably, we'd been down and looked at it, and they had changed rooms without saying anything, and I don't know whether the room was better or worse or what the details were, because I wasn't a party to this until it was too late. … As, what? eighteen years old or seventeen years old, whatever I was, I couldn't probably intervene very well, because she was … on a tirade, [laughter] and so, we packed up and left. So, the next thing was to go back to the farm near Rochester and call my father, down in New Brunswick, and say, "Hey, what'll we do? Colleges are opening up all over the country. We got the baggage out, they returned the money for the room, but, now, we're out of a college education." So, he said, "Well, we've already closed the registration here, but, I'll go in and see President Clothier, and … I think I can make arrangements for one more student to be entered, [laughter] and it'll be only temporary, 'til we can look around and, you know, … decide where you really want to go and where you should go." So, I was entered, belatedly and under a bit of a cloud, as a freshman at Rutgers, and instead of one semester, which we'd contemplated, of course, I stayed there.
SH: Since your father was teaching at the University, did you live at home?
FJ: No, I was in Leupp Hall. Is it still there? … It was behind Bishop House, that quadrangle. … They're older than the hills now, I guess.
SH: Our office is actually in the Bishop House "penthouse."
FJ: I think that was added after I left. I don't remember any penthouse. There was an attic, I suppose, up there.
SH: Yes, that is it.
FJ: [laughter] That's where your office is? Well, I was glad to be at that particular building, because Edward McNall Burns was my favorite prof in Bishop House, and so, it was just a step over there. However, after the first semester, I suppose it was, I moved into the Zeta Psi House, but, that was my first home, in Leupp, if it's still called that. I don't know, of course, it's [been] many years.
SH: Did your mother stay in New York or did she join your father in New Brunswick?
FJ: Oh, yes, yes. It was periodic trips to help the older people. My grandfather, … as I say, farmed. He had numerous farms around there and, also, some of my grandmother's [farms], … but, they were both aging. Mother was the only child, I was an only child, the line was running out. … First, my mother was born a girl, not a boy, and all farmers want a son or two to carry on, and then, she married a man who had no interest in farming, and then, the last hope was myself, and I had no interest in farming, so, my poor old grandfather, who died in '46, I guess, was pretty smashed up about it, by this time, and figured, "Well, these farms are going somewhere, but, [laughter] I'm not going to worry about it; [they] can't stay in the family anymore." So, it was a question of trying to look after the older people as they gradually failed and that meant trips all the time, from New Brunswick up to Rochester, back and forth, … on weekends, usually, trying to keep things on an even keel. There were tenant farmers, but, they were, let's say, willing … to steal, if they could get away with anything, on the farms, and so, it was a tricky business of back and forth.
SH: Did you enjoy farming?
FJ: Oh, I enjoyed it. … No, I didn't enjoy it at all. I did it. [laughter] I think they paid me about a quarter an hour, and so, I was sort of earning some money, and I could be in the Boy Scout troop up there, do things in the summertime on the farm, but, it was mainly throwing bales of hay around in the silo, with the silage coming down, dirtying you up, and so on. Those were not particularly enjoyable, but, again, with a lack of family manpower, it had to be done. [laughter]
SH: How long were you active in the Boy Scouts?
FJ: Each summer, about three or four years, I guess it was, Troop 120 in Pittsford, New York, and I enjoyed that, too, became an Eagle with a Gold Palm. … I think I see a little familiar element here of … Boy Scouts. [laughter] [Dr. Johnson is referring to Shaun Illingworth.] In fact, on the family farm, I earned a couple of merit badges. One was bridge building and one was pioneering, [laughter] … but, it was only summertime, and then, I left and went back to Rutgers, … and before that, to Riverside, for the academic year.
SH: What was it like to be a freshman on the Rutgers campus in 1940?
FJ: … You really make me search my memory. Thank heavens, how many decades ago was that, [laughter] being a freshman? Well, first of all, it was a pleasant experience … and I always liked academic work. I had been valedictorian back at Riverside and enjoyed academic work. The fraternity house got a little boisterous and noisy at times, … in the early days. Then, that was nothing, though, compared to, … when I was the house president after the war, trying to keep this bunch of veterans, who had been through the mill, and knew something about life, and so on, … under control. … The CT, the Corner Tavern, which probably doesn't exist anymore, was right around the corner.
SI: It still exists.
FJ: It does? Oh, good. [laughter] I wonder if there's still a back alley from the Corner Tavern to the backyard of Zeta Psi House? [laughter] … For one brief semester, I think it was, my wife and I had the basement apartment. She was the house mother and I was the house president and with this bunch of veterans back, let's say, "feeling their oats" all the time and slipping in booze and so on, [laughter] it was quite a problem to keep control of the house, but, that came later; that was after the war. The freshman year, … it was an easy adjustment. A lot of people say [moving] from high school to college is difficult; … maybe because in the military academy, you live in, it's part of your life, and then, you go into a fraternity house, and you are living there, and so on. … It was pleasant. I didn't think the profs worked us too hard, plenty of time for movies and [the] old Roger Smith Hotel was kind of a social [outlet], that's probably gone, too, but, now, we're talking ancient history, I guess. [laughter]
SH: Why did you pledge to Zeta Psi?
FJ: That's a nice question. I really don't know. I guess I was just rushed more successfully than the others. Alpha Delta Phi was the one that I would have gone to in Hamilton, again, through some friendly connections, but, there was, and, I suppose, is, no Alpha Delta Phi at Rutgers, so, you're back in the hazy areas of lost history on that one. [laughter]
SH: I thought perhaps one of your friends or acquaintances was a Zeta Psi brother.
FJ: No, not that I can recall.
SI: On Tuesday, I interviewed one of your fraternity brothers, perhaps you remember him, Raymond Mortensen.
FJ: Yeah, oh, Ray Mortensen, sure. … He used to be a very nice looking blond guy. I imagine it's all white hair, unless he's into Grecian Formula now. [laughter] Yeah, Ray … was in my class, as a matter-of-fact, 1944, originally.
SI: From talking with him, I got the impression that, in your day, Zeta Psi was heavily associated with the University's publications, such as the Scarlet Letter and the Targum. A number of Targum editors were Zeta Psi brothers.
FJ: … Yes, I think that … would be true. I don't remember any connection. I was business manager of the Targum, and that was when Tony Antinozzi, who became Tony Antin, who's a good friend of mine, was editor, and I think he was an independent. Nick Cowenhoven was Delta Phi, the managing editor of the Scarlet Letter, whom I appointed, but, … I think that's true. There had been quite a bit of athletic [affiliation], nothing like the athletic fraternity, I can't remember the name right now.
SI: Kappa Sigma?
FJ: Yeah, Kappa Sigma. They were the real … athletic people; we were not. I wouldn't say we shone academically, particularly; heavy in politics, campus politics. There were four or five fraternities that were in that area and sort of, I guess, well, you had to get elected, but, kind of pass the Student Council seats around, more or less. [laughter]
SH: Can you recall who initiated you?
FJ: … No, not by name. It was just the class ahead of us and we did have some hazing, … of us, and then, we, in turn, did it. I remember one that could have been fatal. We took a couple of new initiates out and tied them to gravestones over in the cemetery for the night. Well, it snowed that night and turned very cold, and I was one of them, several of us got up in the middle of the night, one o'clock, and realized we can have some fatal problems on our hands if we didn't go over to the cemetery, so, we, most uncomfortably, went over, and untied these fellows, and freed them, [laughter] but, it was kind of the usual pattern. We were going to fix the new freshmen when they came in, just as we had been fixed. [laughter]
SH: Who was your roommate?
FJ: … Well, it was a single room in Leupp. … You know, you got me. I think it was a room alone, and I think it was way up top, and somebody had written on the door, I hadn't thought of this in decades, "The Hacienda del Schmutz." [laughter] Now, who Schmutz was, [if] that was the real name of an earlier brother, I don't know, but, I think I had that room alone, up in the attic, nearly the attic, right near the chapter room. [laughter]
SH: You were very active on campus. Were you active right off the bat?
FJ: Yes, yes. I was interested in, as you said, the publications, particularly, and music. I was a student director of the band and we all worshipped Soup Walter, who was the choir director, and Howard D. McKinney, the chairman of the department, who wrote that fabulous book on music, and composers, and so on. I guess those were my two particular interests. Athletics, I was not particularly interested in. I was manger, later, of the track team and earned my "R," … and I'd been on the swimming team at Riverside, but, didn't participate in that.
SH: Which instrument did you play?
FJ: Saxophone, at that time, … and I probably would have continued to play, and the clarinet as well, and I was the student band director, my sophomore year, but, then, after the war, it was impossible to play an instrument anymore, because of lung conditions. So, I guess those were the main extracurricular activities.
SH: Did you play at football games or other athletic events?
FJ: Oh, yeah. Well, by this time, I guess, my sophomore year, I was a drum major, and we had to be out and pull these … stunts, one I remember particularly. [laughter] … We went through an act … at the half, in which I pretend to be angry, and looked out, and so on, and, here, we'd spelled out, "Oh, hell," instead of, "Hello," on the field, [laughter] and then, threw my stick down, and went through all these gyrations, and so on. … We did other things, too, [but], that's the one I remember the best. The band, it was a good band. … I think it was, of course, much smaller than bands are today, and the band was sort of the tail that didn't wag the dog in the music department, and rightly so. I mean, they were into more serious stuff. Soup Walter was such a … great director of the chorus and so on, … it put the rest of us to shame in music, except for the Chairman, Dr. McKinney.
SH: Were you involved with the committee that brought musical entertainment to the University?
FJ: Well, only in the sense of being the chairman of a couple of dances and bringing Big Bands in. … I was vice-president of the class, and, in those days, the vice-president was the dance chairman, for the Junior Prom, the Soph Hop, and, well, then, we had the Military Ball, which Scabbard & Blade sponsored, which I was involved in. … I guess you'd call the Big Bands "music," if you define them that way, I had that hand in it, but, not the regular program. I suppose a series of musical events was sponsored by the Music Department.
SH: Do you remember which bands performed at Rutgers?
FJ: You know, we were talking about that just the other day. I don't remember which [bands]; … they were the level of Tommy Dorsey. It didn't happen to be Tommy Dorsey, but, that's the name I remember. … I remember, we paid plenty for them, [laughter] in those days, and the class treasurer was always looking for more funds to get a Big Band in.
SH: You mentioned earlier that, because of your military academy background, you actually outranked many of the upperclassmen in your fraternity house.
FJ: Well, … probably, I was more concerned about it than other people, because you were … only out on the field a few hours a week, and that would only be in a parade ground situation, where rank showed up, … the Second Lieutenant, and the Captain, and so on, and, as I say, I happened to have A Company. Colonel Koehler, of course, headed the thing overall. My father, … I think he was the adjutant of the department. Old Colonel Koehler was a regular colonel, Dad was a Reserve, of course, and a "light" [lieutenant] colonel, as opposed to a full colonel. It worked out fine. We had no problems that I know of, and, of course, especially after the war started, after Pearl Harbor, we all knew we were headed toward the service and overseas duty, and we also had a feeling that second lieutenants were the most vulnerable [laughter] of the people on the battlefield. One thing I do recall on this [matter], somewhat on this matter, my father was great on the extended order and actual battle situations, small unit combat, [in]sofar as you could do it. We'd go up in Buccleuch Park and … the parade ground idea was more prevalent. There was a Captain Klinsman that was in the department, I recall, I mean, on the staff, and Colonel Koehler; well, they were used to parade ground, the World War I and after kind of thing. Dad was more concerned about small unit tactics and knowing we were going to be in [the] infantry, and so, we would crawl all over those damned hills and stones up there in Buccleuch Park and other places, and he was known as, I think, a pretty hard taskmaster in that kind of thing. … In that situation, rank really doesn't mean anything among cadet officers and some of his worst moments came as the casualties began to come in from the war, because these young lieutenants were the ones that were knocked off, per capita, more than any other [rank], and he taught "Military 4" to the seniors, and to me, because I was a military senior, and, many days, he was really on the edge of weeping, because … the new reports would come in. … Then, of course, I wasn't there, but, I imagine the same kind of situation was even more important when I was reported missing, and then, killed in action. … I talked to him several times, I said, "Dad, you did your best. You tried to get practical training into these fellows, to protect themselves and carry their men forward, and leadership, to the extent you could." I mean, by this time, parade ground stuff didn't amount to anything. Nobody in their right mind, I think, was … concerned with that, but, he emphasized the other, and I think there were some people who didn't like it, particularly. [laughter]
SH: Did you attend the ROTC summer camp at Plattsburg, New York?
FJ: Well, … no, I didn't go on to Plattsburg. I went to Columbus, Georgia, that was the infantry school, and they had what they called ninety-day-wonders. These were young men, no women at that point, coming up for commissions mixed in with those who had commissions. See, we were commissioned on May 5, '42, then, went down to Columbus, Georgia, the infantry school, and we had three months of training. Most in my class, which was Basic 35, were second lieutenants, there were a few just getting commissions, and I think there may have been three or four first lieutenants in there, but, that was a class of, I would guess, a hundred, 125, maybe 150, and … each class was labeled, and we happened to be Basic 35. We were there three months, and then, we're shipping out very soon. I think we had about a week of leave, and then, we were on ships headed out of Hoboken, the Caven Point Pier, we left from, in Hoboken.
SH: When you were a student at Rutgers, how aware were you of the war in Europe and/or the situation in Asia? Since your father was a military instructor, were you more aware than the average student?
FJ: … Yes, I think so. I think we were. Relatively few people, I believe, realized what was coming and FDR's efforts, through the Lend-Lease program and … the "Bases for Destroyers," yes, fifty over-aged destroyers, that's right, were made available to the British, and they gave us bases in Bermuda, and so on, in reply, in return. I don't think, somewhat as the events of this week, in New York and in the Pentagon, have indicated, that we are a people who don't, maybe, think ahead and prepare too well, the lay public, the man in the street. [Dr. Johnson is referring to the September 11th attacks, two days earlier.] I mean, he's busy, he's got a wife, he's got children, got a mortgage, and so on, and it's understandable, but, in that dangerous world, as the Japanese were clearly making their plans and letting the world know about it, and, now, as the probable Bin Laden and others have been doing and [the] warning that we have ignored, I don't think that we, the people at large, were too sophisticated about these matters. I'm not saying we had any great vision or anything, but, being in the military, even at a low level, as all three of us were, we had feelings, … and although all the family were conservative Republicans, this was an occasion for admiration of the liberal Democrat, FDR, who was trying to prepare the country and to wake people up to the dangers, and I think that was one of the few times I heard my father, for example, speak well of President Roosevelt, [laughter] … that particular policy, and putting down the isolationists, led by Senator Borah and others, who were very right-wing Republicans, at that time. We just weren't thinking, in those times, of the vulnerability of Pearl Harbor, let alone now, of course, … an attack on our country itself.
SH: I guess we do not have to ask about your family's feelings towards President Roosevelt.
FJ: [laughter] No, he wasn't one of our favorites. Most farmers, western New York farmers, particularly, are pretty Republican and we follow that tradition, I guess.
SH: How did your family react to Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939?
FJ: I can't recall any specific comments, beyond that, "This is probably going to … set it off." See, we'd been through Munich, and … we'd had Chamberlain, and appeasement, and so on, and there was some concern, talked about in the family, whether even this was going to push Britain and France to say, "Enough is enough," but, it did prove to be enough to push them into war, … and nobody likes war, … and my father, particularly, was well aware of unpreparedness. I mean, there were people carrying broomsticks on the Capitol, pretending and making [gestures], looking at a distance as if they were rifles. We were that hard up for weapons and he, even a low ranking officer, relatively speaking, knew that we were not well prepared, but, we had to do something, and, of course, it was Pearl Harbor that set it off, but, before that, the British were being backed up to the wall. Most of our … antecedents of the country as a whole were more British-oriented, … at least the leadership of the country. The immigrants [that] had come in, the Italian, … and, earlier, the German, and the Polish and Hungarian, were not really in positions of leadership much, … and they were, to many, all WASP-ish types, like ourselves, … they weren't an alien culture, exactly, but, they were not in the leadership, and, therefore, that pointed to England, and, to some extent, France, as the places that we had to … buck up in order to save Europe.
SH: Were you aware of any Rutgers men who went to Canada or England to enter the war before Pearl Harbor?
FJ: I heard of some. I do not know of any by name, particularly, but, I knew that some had done that, and some, two or three, I think, at least, volunteered for the RAF. We all deified what the RAF was doing … to help defend the island, and then, of course, the flying bombs began to come in and decimate East London, and so, we did hear reports of a few of our [men going over], but, I didn't personally know any, or have any classmates do that, to my knowledge.
SI: We have read that some Rutgers professors came to the aid of their colleagues in Europe by taking in their children and enrolling them at Rutgers or NJC. Did you know any of these refugee students?
FJ: … I did not. I did not know anything [about] that.
SI: You had not heard about this practice.
FJ: Well, I heard that some of this was going on, but, I was so immersed [laughter] in my own studies and trying to make plans to finish up the two years, that's all I had before leaving myself, I don't know.
SH: Do you recall seeing any articles in the Targum that were either pro-isolation or pro-intervention before Pearl Harbor?
FJ: I can't say that I remember anything specifically. I was not on the staff at that time. In fact, I don't remember who was the editor-in-chief at that time. I only know the post-war period. … I'm assuming that the student editors reflected the prevailing opinion, which was divided. I mean, an awful lot of people were isolationists, but, … the tide was definitely turning, partly through the excellent propaganda that FDR was issuing and partly just reading newspapers and seeing what was happening, as the Maginot Line fell, and then, we didn't yet know of the Holocaust and the concentration camps, but, certain statements had been issued that some of us read. Pope Pius XII, for example, was issuing statements against what Nazi Germany was doing, and while we weren't Catholics, we knew that something was amiss and was horrible and brutal. We had all read about Kristallnacht, the destruction of Jewish stores, and killing of Jews, and so on, but, I don't specifically recall anything in the Targum about this.
SH: What do you recall about the mandatory chapel services at Kirkpatrick Chapel?
FJ: [laughter] Well, I think I remember Reverend, oh, dear, [I] can't remember his name, anyway, he was a very fine person. I think it was required once a week, but, I couldn't swear to that, and, … at that time, I mean, … you know, it's still, sort of, a church related college, and we sort of accepted it as normal. I was certainly expecting, and it was eliminated very soon, I think, within a couple of years after the war. I would have to check the record on that, but, it was kind of a routine thing. We went over and I think there was a procedure whereby you could be excused. I mean, if you were Jewish, obviously, or agnostic, or an atheist, you wanted to go in and register that way, I suppose that they would excuse you, [laughter] but, it was right across the street, of course, from the fraternity house, so, it was no pain to us to go over there to chapel. [laughter]
SH: What do you remember about the Rutgers administration, President Clothier, Dean Metzger, etc.?
FJ: Well, yes. Dean Metzger, of course, was quite elderly at that time, white haired and so on. He was a kind of a revered figure, and then, of course, Ed Curtin was the Dean of Men, and Howard Crosby. Howard Crosby, we thought of as kind of one of ourselves. I mean, he was younger and he had graduated, I think, the Class of '41. He was secretary of the Student Council and, when I became president of the Student Council, I inherited a lot of files of Howard, who was then, I think, probably, Assistant Dean of Men, during my time. Ed Curtin was Dean. The Dean had retired, and then, of course, President Clothier was getting along in years, and then, he presided at the Constitutional Convention of the State in 1951, I think it was, and everybody admired him. … I liked him particularly, I guess, because, when I went there for my third and fourth years, we were at the Zeta Psi House, as I mentioned, and we also rented a room in the Delta Phi House, because Zeta Psi was still occupied by administrative offices for one semester. Well, word got to President Clothier, I guess when I was president of the student body, that we were thinking, my wife … was then pregnant, of dropping out of college, and we couldn't find housing. Well, he called me in one day and he said, "You know, we have … a servants' quarters." Well, I didn't know it was a suite over … about four garages up there in the old Robert Johnson home, which was then the President's House, maybe it still is, I don't know, and so, he said, "Come on over and take a look," and I said, … "I'm on the GI Bill. We can't afford [this]." He said, "No, this will be no charge at all." Well, this was quite startling, you know, and he said, "You know, as an alumnus, when you graduate, if you want to contribute to the Alumni Fund, that'd be fine, but, this is … University property," not yet government property, but, University property, "and you're welcome to take it over." … He knew my wife was pregnant and so on, and he was a man who still used, "Thee," and, "Thou," … in Quaker, particularly when he and Natalie were at dinner, and he invited us in numerous times, and he had this quaint, old fashioned, Quaker habit. We knew he was from a very wealthy family, the Strawbridge & Clothier family in Philadelphia and all that, and had been a Princeton graduate, and he was still, even at that late date, a little sensitive about not having an earned Doctorate. He had, I suppose, numerous honorary Doctorates, and so, anyway, we went over and looked, and it was a great, oh, three, four-room suite over that garage, and we welcomed that opportunity, and then, of course, lived there during the senior year, and then, the last week, it would be in May of 1947, … the yearbook came out, we had graduation, and the baby was born, [laughter] and so, … this is getting a little away from your question, … my wife … shouldn't, probably, have been out … that soon after the baby's birth, but, we took the baby, Chip, Franklyn A., Jr., who is deceased now, and put him in a market basket, it probably wasn't exactly a market basket, but, about that size and shape, and the lady in charge of the student center said, "Put him right here on this desk during the ceremony and I'll watch him. I'll be right here on duty. He'll be quite safe," and so, … [we] dropped him off and went on up to the gymnasium for the ceremonies. So, the Clothiers, because of that action and the fact [that] we had to work so closely together, well, student housing, we had … housing trailers all over University Heights, we called it then, up around the football stadium, and … we worked closely together. He'd come [and] say, "Look, you can take care of this better than I can." Mainly, it was through the Dean of Students, the Dean of Men, but, there was a working relationship, and this man to whom I dedicated [the 1947 Scarlet Letter], Major Davis, … he was Director of Student Housing, I guess, was his title, and we dedicated this yearbook to him. He was a great member of the administration and, of course, being a military man, that meant a little bit of a rapport with us. Those are the principal ones that I recall. Of course, the Dean of Arts and Sciences and the other deans were a little more remote. … As students, we were not thrown [in] with them, but, where there [were] administrative details of this kind, then, we got to know people better, and they got to know us better.
SH: Did President Clothier ever discuss his family?
FJ: Yes, that was … a sad situation. [Do] you mean the one who was killed? No, that was never discussed. The other boy, and then, there was a girl as well, that my then wife was, I think, a little older, two or three years older, maybe, than the younger boy, and Natalie and she talked on numerous occasions, and I only heard reverberations of this, because I was quite busy with other things, and he tended bar over … across the river, and … then, he was a filling station operator, and I don't know what happened afterwards, but, this was a tragedy of failure of fulfilling hopes and dreams, on top of the older boy being killed. … The girl, I don't recall her name, but, I remember that she was a tennis playing partner, from time-to-time, with my mother, who was a great tennis player, and, even at her age, she enjoyed playing, and this girl was very good, as I remember it, on the tennis court. …
------------------------------------END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE----------------------------------------
FJ: … On December 7, 1941, I was listening to a concert of the New York Philharmonic Symphony, always heavy in classical music, and the radio was on, and it was interrupted by this announcement, and, of course, naturally, a hubbub descended on the place, and I went down to tell the brothers who may have been asleep or … out, as they came in, we're talking about this. We all, … even those not in the military, had some premonition that this was going to change their lives. Nobody really could foresee how much. So, the concert, … I assume it was stopped, and that ended it for the afternoon, I don't know. [laughter] I turned the radio off and rushed downstairs.
SH: Do you remember any of the individual reactions of your fraternity brothers to the news?
FJ: … As sophomores, we weren't very politically informed. I mean, [there were our] studies, political science, and history, and so on, but, I was more involved in the serious stuff, the world affairs and the international affairs, than most people. I didn't care a rat, really, about sports, and still don't, and so, I would tend to feel that the bulk of them didn't take this as seriously as they should. Now, some did, and there was a background feeling, because of our age and the fact that we were … being attacked, I mean, this was a patriotic kind of thing, which was much more strongly felt than just concern about Adolph Hitler, and Europe, and the United Kingdom, and the Nazi mistreatment of peoples, and so on. This kind of struck home; even though it wasn't the mainland United States, it still was the US, and so, I think there was definitely a patriotic spirit, but, a kind of a resignation that, "We're all in this. We're of the age. We're going to have to do our thing." … A logical question you could raise at this point was, "Well, how many left the campus immediately and volunteered?" and I wish I knew the answer to that. I do not know. There would be some records, of course, showing how many were not there for the second semester, being [that] December 7th was near the end of the first semester, and I can't honestly … answer that kind of question, but, I think there was pretty well a view, just as there is this week, that events have occurred that would change our lives, particularly in our age group.
SH: Do you recall any of President Clothier's remarks during the convocation on December 8, 1941?
FJ: I do not. No, I'm sure I was there, but, I don't. Things were happening so fast, I guess; … I don't remember it.
SH: Were you already registered for the draft? Were you eighteen yet?
FJ: Oh, yes, but, I suppose I did, but, I think …
SH: Were you required to register as part of the ROTC program?
FJ: I was going to say, I don't think there was formal registration. I certainly don't remember doing it, because we were already in the bag. I mean, we were being paid, by the United States Government, a small stipend as ROTC. We were using rifles for training practice that were issued through the Army by Colonel Koehler and my father, and so, we were in the bag already.
SH: Would you ever have considered enlisting in another branch of service?
FJ: No, I never did. Really, it was just kind of, I guess, a matter of tradition, and the fact that the ROTC, the Army ROTC, was there. See, we had no naval and, of course, … there was no Air Force; at that time, it was Army Air Corps. So, it was one of those things that kind of came naturally. Now, my Dad had been a Marine, … and he loved the Marines, too, in World War I, but, I don't think I ever considered anything else.
SH: How did your days at Rutgers unfold from Pearl Harbor forward?
FJ: [Do] you mean prior to going into the service? the first two years, yeah. … It was a very sobering effect, of course. I don't recall any personal connection, such as, this week, we've all been scrambling to telephones, trying to find out about loved ones in New York and Washington. I don't recall any personal anecdotes involving friends of mine, or, as we talked about earlier, volunteering to go, but, there was certainly a serious view on the campus that this was very important. We're all in it together, we had to do our part. … I don't think anyone really realized, though, how this would become, in effect, a girls' campus, I mean, that the men would be gone, and I don't know, you have the statistics, how many students were left on the campus, but, I envisage it's going to be very small indeed, the number of males around, and I guess that's what happened.
SH: Did you finish the following semester?
FJ: Yes, 'til May of '42.
SH: Could you continue the story from there?
FJ: Yes, that was when we were commissioned and, on May 5th, I believe it was, went to the three months [of] training down at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, and left, … I believe it was about September 15th, it would be in that book of mine, One More Hill, to go across and join the First Division. Now, the First Infantry Division had already gone to England and through England, at the … Salisbury Barracks, and had some training there, and then, had headed for North Africa, for the first landing there, at a place called Mers-el-Kebir, near Oran. I was going as a replacement officer. I was not assigned, yet, to a unit, but, they knew there were going to be casualties there on the beach and so on, and so, they had planned a ship loaded with soldiers, and a few officers, to come in and replace those who were casualties. So, that occurred and we went in. We took … the city, Oran, and then, … I was assigned, first, to the Cannon Company, which meant we were on wheels. We had half-tracks and full tracks. A full track is like a tank with the top cut off, except for the gun, of course, and half-tracks were just what they say, wheels in front and tracks on the back, with smaller weapons, like a .75 mm, and we went up the coastal road, after Oran and Mers-el-Kebir had fallen, and the airport at Oran, and on up through Constantine and into Tunisia, and began the battle for Tunisia.
SI: What were your initial impressions of North Africa after you landed, the landscape, the people, etc.?
FJ: We had to do … a lot of walking, … I remember that, from the harbor, where we got off, on into the city. The city, pretty well, had been taken already. There may have been some sporadic gunfire, but, we were then assigned as replacements to these units. … I'm trying to remember how long we had; I think we had about two weeks before we went on the road, on up to Tunisia, and, when we came back from the battlefront, at Gafsa, and El Guettar, and Hill 609, and so on, one rather funny incident occurred. … I had about forty men in my unit. That was the Third Platoon; by this time, I think it was the Third Platoon of the antitank company. Well, we had a little time off before the campaign began in Sicily. We knew we were going to get ready to invade Sicily, and there was a place called, it was the home of the French Foreign Legion, and, … well, it's in that book, [One More Hill], it's down on the edge of the Sahara, anyway, and I took the men down. We hadn't had a real bath in a long, long time. So, there were … public bathhouses and so on. This was all French-controlled and mainly French-speaking, and I knew some French, I could get by. … The men all wanted to go to where … the wine was sold, [laughter] and we got some very good cherry wine, I'll say that, too sweet for most people, and … they couldn't do us all at once, but, we'd take turns, go into this bathhouse. Well, I hadn't had any experience with public bathhouses, and so, this gal, in French, said, "Well, take off your clothes." Well, at that point, I didn't quite know what to do, but, there was a tub there and so on, and I wanted to take a bath, but, I wanted to do it by myself, but, that wasn't the way the place worked, [laughter] and so, I disrobed, finally, and got into the bathtub. What she wanted to do was scrub my back, of course, and she knew we were all dirty, old soldiers, … all dusty, and sweaty, and so on. We used to have what we called a "spit bath," which was, if you'd get a little water, you'd put it in your helmet, and then, you'd wash your face and so on, and that was the extent of what we'd had for some weeks, actually, because we had been bivouacked out[side the city]. We weren't in the city, where the boys could find the bars, and the girls, and all the rest of it, [laughter] because they wanted to get us ready to go up to combat. Well, I got over my embarrassment, and she scrubbed my back, I guess, successfully, and then, the men all had similar, funny experiences to relate, and [we] came back in this big, old, two-and-a-half ton truck, and, a few days later, we left for the front, and that was where … we got our comeuppance, of course, at Kasserine Pass, and we had been told, "Well, you know, the American soldier, he's ten feet tall. We'll knock these Nazis off without any problems." Well, that's good propaganda. You've got to hype up your soldiers, you know, and convince them that there's a bastard named Adolph Hitler over there, and we're going to get him, and so on, and so on, but, we were not well enough trained for that job, up against experienced soldiers. They'd fought their way all the way from Cairo, across, past, the Mareth Line, and, before that, in Europe, and were experienced. We were not experienced, and we were too … self-confident, and so, … General Fredenhall was fired as a result of it. He was the two-star, [major general], corps commander at that time, and then, later on, Patton was put in charge and things changed radically, but, … we just were not ready, and we were too self-confident, and that was probably a good thing that this happened early on, before the casualties would have been much, much greater, as we got into, well, the landing in Sicily, and more particularly, in Europe.
SH: Was Kasserine Pass your first experience as a commander?
FJ: It was the first; well, I'd had my unit right along, but, we just weren't in combat, and … that was a defeat, it pushed us back, but, then, … I think a more interesting episode occurred at El Guettar, and this is of interest to me, because, up to the days of the movie Saving Private Ryan, I think the best exposition of a military operation that I had seen was Patton, and it so happened that this was at the place called El Guettar, down near the city of Gafsa, which is in southern Tunisia. … I was about fifty, seventy-five feet to the right of General Patton. Now, Patton had a reputation; in fact, I wrote a short story once about him meeting … General Rommel out in the desert in a confrontation. It was all fantasy, of course, but, General Patton had this habit of putting his headquarters way too far forward. I mean, lieutenants and captains, that's fine, with their small units, but, [for a general], … then, he was a two-star general, I believe, or even a full colonel to be out near the front is just not good policy. It shows bravery and all this and that, but, you've got radio communication, you've got a front that's broader, and you've got to keep command of different units, even only a division with three regiments, … plus, a battery or two of artillery, and Signal Corps, and so on. Well, he did this; he was way up front. I was a mere, I think I was, maybe, by this time a first lieutenant, but, I still had the platoon, and it was appropriate for me to be up there, but, not for him. Anyway, he was on a little knoll over on one side, I was to his right, on another little knoll, watching through binoculars, and if you see that movie, there's a magnificent reproduction of Nazi tanks coming up the valley, coming at us, the Mark IVs, with their .88 guns, and so on. It was just a fantastic [reproduction], and I went back to see it three or four times, it was so fantastic, realistic, and I had been in the position to see exactly what Patton saw, and the orders that he gave, how to move the guns around and so on. Most of our .37 mm shells just bounced off the side of these German tanks. … Well, let's say they weren't worth shooting at that time, but, it was an interesting anecdote, in a sense, that [it] really came home when I went to see that movie and saw how well somebody, some director, had managed that particular scene, and I wrote it up, well, it was written up in the book, One More Hill, long before I saw the movie, and then, I went back to see, "Did I describe it the way I saw it and, also, the way the camera saw it?" and it was really quite accurate, and then, we began to have successes. From El Guettar on, we moved toward the north, and there were some very bad times, which are related in there, [One More Hill], Hill 609 and other situations in which we had heavy casualties, but, the point, of course, was to try to get the Nazis out of North Africa, and move fast enough to get to Sicily, and try to cut them off at Messina, … to try to avoid fighting them again on the mainland. We did not succeed on that. Most of them got away, and they got back up, and we fought them again. [In the] meantime, the plains at Ponte Olivo, where they'd been pounding from, I would say, in April or May, they'd been pounding Sicily, the beaches at Gela, where we landed on July 10, 1943. It was … a success in getting them out of North Africa, and we just weren't fast enough, I guess, or well-supplied enough, or whatever. I couldn't make that judgment, but, we failed, anyway, to kill off or capture most of the Germans in Sicily.
SH: Where were the men in your unit from? Were most of them from a particular region of the country?
FJ: … One, Sergeant Frasca, who I'll probably see this afternoon, he's long retired, … lives in Tampa. He came from, I'm pretty sure it was, New York City. Hopkins, "Happy," was another of the sergeants, he came from Texas. My driver, … "Bulldog" Elmore, he was from Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. We had correspondence, … with the parents, after the war. … All of, except Frasca, the men I mentioned were … killed and … mainly after I'd been taken prisoner, later on. They were in Germany, and in the Hurtgen Forest, or crossing at the Remagen Bridge, and so on, but, I kept in touch, to the extent I could, with the parents, 'cause I'd lost the addresses and all that sort of thing and been out of touch while I was a POW, but, they came from, I would say virtually all of them, the eastern part of the country. I suppose this had to do with recruitment policies and so on, New England, New York, and I remember there were two or three from Pennsylvania.
SI: How important were your sergeants to the operation of your platoon?
FJ: Oh, absolutely indispensable. In fact, I think there's a passage, or a chapter, in One More Hill that says, "Sergeants are priceless." I mean, this is absolutely essential, in terms of the military success of an operation. These fellows, … maybe they weren't educated in the formal sense and all that, which is just not very important, unless you're talking about people going on to high command. I'm not saying we shouldn't have a West Point or even an ROTC to train officers, but, the sergeants, … in effect, they're the backbone of a small unit, and … if you're in a situation such as ours, such as the First Division, which everybody knew was a very vulnerable outfit. It was the lead-in division on Omaha Beach, later, in Sicily, earlier, and it was to be the Tokyo invasion leading beachhead division, and you know the casualties are going to be high, and you know that, at any moment, a sergeant must step in and take over as an officer with a small unit, like a platoon or a company, and … you don't think about that at the time, really. We all have a feeling of invulnerability, young guys, propagandized, they're hyper, they're after a cause, [getting] Adolph Hitler, and so on, and so on, and you sort of go into this with the idea that, "Well, Joe here may be killed, Mike over here may be killed, but, not I," and you've got to have that, if you're to successfully proceed in a war, that feeling of confidence in yourself, and your buddies, and the leadership, and this is where the sergeant is so important. He is the go-between, the lynchpin, you might say, between the officers, who, they may be out front, maybe they shouldn't be out front, they should be pulling the strings and handling the telephones, telling people what to do, behind [the lines], but, whether they're behind or in front, waving a saber and yelling, "Charge," [laughter] as we see in the movies, … these sergeants are absolutely the backbone, and because they're living with the men all the time, they speak their language, usually foul language, [laughter] and exhorting them, you know, to do the job, and, if you have a very self-confident, loyal, experienced, if that's possible, and thoughtful, … yet dynamic, quickly-decisive sergeant, I mean, this is a jewel without price. … I was so lucky to have four, including the one that I … expect to sit down and tell a bunch of lies with this afternoon over in Tampa, you know, "You, and I, and Ike won the war," that kind of thing. [laughter] They're just a jewel without price.
SH: The First Division's next assignment was the invasion of Sicily.
FJ: Yes, Sicily, … well, that was a good campaign, if there can be such a thing. We knew that this was a stepping-stone into Italy. We were aware that the Nazis controlled it … and were herding, in effect, the Italian soldiers to fight. The Italian soldiers, … all of them had cousins in the US, [laughter] didn't want to fight. … By this time, I don't think we can say that Germany knew the war was lost, but, it was turning the tide. It was turning, and, if we got on to Sicily, that meant we're going to get on to Italy, and then, God knows what would happen afterwards. That was a little bit later, but, when we landed in 1943, unfortunately, I had studied French instead of Italian, … but, I had a couple of Italian boys, "I-talians," we called them in those days, in my unit to translate, and it was an easy campaign, compared to the others, because, first of all, it was in the summer. The fruit trees were all in bloom, the almond trees. It was a flowering kind of place. You could, through interpreters, or even using your hands, [laughter] make conversation, sort of. With the Arabs in North Africa, you just couldn't get anywhere. … They all, as I say, had cousins [in America]. … More than once, somebody would say, "My name is … Guido Capistrani and my cousins live in Chicago. Do you know them?" [laughter] It was very interesting and … we took a lot of prisoners. I've told Elena on numerous times [about] the one occasion where we saw a donkey with a guy on it, one of these low-slung, Sicilian donkeys. The guy's feet practically touched the ground, and he came forward with about eight or ten men, with their rifles slung over their soldiers, behind him, and it turned out he was a general, on this donkey, and he wanted to surrender his staff, I guess it was, and so, … as he came up to me, and I was busy, I was trying to move ahead, we were in fights, in battles, and he handed me his pistol, … held the muzzle and handed it to me, and I, [in] a bit of gallantry, I guess you'd call it, took out the shells that were still in it, put them in my pocket, and handed it back to him. I think I was so surprised, it's a wonder I didn't drop the damned thing on the ground. … The thing to do there is to get them out of the way, get them back, and all the men, I told them, I guess I had an interpreter, maybe I said it in hand language, I don't know, to throw the rifles down and leave them there in a pile, and the men all did that, and they filed … behind him on his donkey, towards the back. That was one of the … funnier things that happened. I guess the other one that I would [recall], and I wrote a short story, also, about this, it was published in one of my books, this had to do with the Italian soldier who apparently got lost from his patrol. This was up near Nicosia, where the campaign ended, on the side of Mount Etna, and … he was apparently lost, and he wandered into our bivouac. Well, apparently, the guards, our guards, figured, "The enemy has fled," and they were going to take life easy, and they were all either asleep or, more likely, drunk on vino, because they had good wine there in that land, [laughter] and, at that time, the summer, the uniforms of our troops and theirs were very similar, kind of a buff color, a light tan, you might say. Well, he shook a couple of our guys who were asleep, supposedly on guard, and couldn't wake them up, and so, he wanted to surrender. This was his purpose in being there, and he did have a rifle, and it was a loaded rifle, and he couldn't wake these guys up, and he was obviously exhausted, so, he slumped down by a tree, stood the rifle up against the tree, and went to sleep. Well, when he woke up, there was nobody around, but, he heard some clinking and clanking down in the woods, and here were the men, lined up with their mess kits, which were making this noise, getting fed, and so, he went and talked to some guy in Italian, … shook his head and so on, and, … finally, the Italian just fell in the line and got his mess kit … filled with food. … That's why I say, compared to other campaigns, there were funny things and lighthearted things. … I mean, some people got killed, there was no question about that, but, these incidents occurred. The worst, though, was a day or two, or three, four days, after we landed in Gela and repelled the German tanks that were coming, again, down a valley. We went up past a place called San Cono and the Nescemi Aerodrome. … These were little villages just inland from Gela, which is on the south coast of Sicily, and, in this particular situation, … again, tanks were coming down the valley, and it was … really quite off-again, on-again, as [to] whether, maybe, we're going to be pushed back, back into the sea, and that was their objective, but, we did finally move inland, and, for the next three or four days, we came across the bodies of our own paratroopers. These were guys from the 82nd Airborne. Due to a miscommunication of some sort, the ships, the Ancon was our communications ship, and others, … prepared to land troops, they'd already landed some, of course, already, on D-Day, they got a false warning that these were, apparently, Nazi paratroopers coming in, and they shot them down. I don't know what the total casualties were, but, I guess my men and I came across, at least, eight or ten dead American paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne, and that was … the worst of the events of that particular campaign.
SH: What did you do when you came across a paratrooper's body?
FJ: Well, … if they were still alive, of course, you put the corpsman and the first aid men [on them]. I don't think there were more than one or two, because … it was in the darkness, and, … first, they'd been shot, then, they banged on the earth, and it's rocky and somewhat mountainous in that area, so, if they were alive, of course, you got help immediately. Otherwise, you would put some kind of a tree branch or something that would call attention, whatever you had, maybe it was only a handkerchief, on the body, so that the Graves Registration people, eventually, later in the day or the next day, as soon as they could get at it, would come in and find the body, because we had to move forward. We had no time, unfortunately, to do anything about it, and it was in this situation that Colonel Koehler's son, Dick, was killed. … Well, as you may have noticed, One More Hill is dedicated to him and "Pappy" Henderson, who is … another of my sergeants, the one who was killed on the D-Day beach, and I had the problem of sending Dick's clothes and things home, a watch and so on, to his father, who had been widowed way back in 1931. … He was blown up by a mine on the coastal road right after we landed. I think it was on either D or D-plus-1 Day at Gela. That was … the other sad [thing], and that was personal, because he was a Delta Upsilon, he was an old friend of mine, and the fact that our fathers were both in the Military Department was another factor, but, it was in that context that we found these paratroopers that had been killed.
SI: Were you aware that the paratroopers had been shot down by friendly-fire when you first encountered their bodies?
FJ: I guess we found that out later, because we had heard the firing, of course, because we were clinging to the beach. We were just barely in a few hundred feet, … for fear [that] we were going to be pushed back. Then, of course, we dug in and part of the village of Gela, the city of Gela, had been taken, not all of it. We were on the eastern edge, trying to get up the valley, where we knew there were tanks, and I had antitank guns, and that's what I was supposed to do. I don't think, until the word spread, that we got wind of that, and that would be, probably, when someone would dig the bullets out and see that they were American-made, but, … our ferocity toward the Nazis was pretty fierce already, and I suppose that we assumed, at that time, that they were … killed by the Germans.
SH: What was your opinion of the cooperation between the services during this amphibious operation?
FJ: Yes, I think … it was reasonably good. I have cussed and discussed numerous times that on D-Day, on Omaha Beach, the fact that … we had been promised two things, getting a little ahead of your story. The Navy had promised that they were going to bring the LSTs, and LCIs, and the other landing craft in [and] drop the bow in shallow water. Well, our troops generally had about ninety pounds of equipment, a rifle, and the belts with ammunition and so on, and a blanket roll, and such as that. They did not do that, … because they wanted to save the ships. … In many cases, they wanted to go back and get more soldiers, but, it was not what we'd been promised, and the Army Air Corps had promised to put craters on the beach. … General Bradley himself, and I heard him, personally, at, what was the name of the place? Winterbourne St. Martin, where we were stationed, say this would be done. Well, through some reason that I don't know anything about, … we did not have the craters on the beach, so [that] the men could have some protection before we got ready to scale the cliffs. Well, somewhat the same thing occurred in Sicily, not nearly so seriously, but, as far as I can tell, at my level, remember, I'm talking down here, at ground level, and what happened up top, I don't know. We used to hear rumors about Montgomery and Eisenhower couldn't get along, and he was an arrogant SOB, and so on, and always reflecting only the British viewpoint, not the overall. … In my observation, now, these things happen, like the parachute troops, and we had one lieutenant general, I think his name may have been (McCain?), … killed by short artillery fire. [Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair was killed by Allied aerial bombs that fell short during the St.-Lo breakout.] That was within the Army, yeah, the Army artillery and the infantry together, and that was a miscommunication, the shots all fell short, and here was a lieutenant general who was up front, maybe farther forward than he should have been, but, he was, I think, the highest casualty, that I know of, of our side, killed by our own side. Personally, at my level, I can't find any complaint about, other than those examples, inter-service cooperation.
SI: Was it your unit's primary goal to attack the tanks?
FJ: Yes. The cannon company was an earlier experience in North Africa, so, … the antitank company was my basic unit from then on. We had .37 mm guns, first. They were peashooters. They weren't worth anything. Then, we had .57 mms, which was the equivalent of the British six-pounder. It was a little better, but, against the German armor, it was pitifully weak, and our Sherman tanks, which were our pride at that time, they became bloody caskets. They were constantly complained about; they didn't have exit methods to get out of the things, they were easily shot up, and so on. … So, I didn't have the feeling that we, as a result of years of neglect, I suppose, … didn't have the right equipment to fight as highly trained, mechanized, and experienced [foe], by this time. After all, we'd had the Austrian [affair], the Anschluss, … Poland had been taken over, and then, France, and all of Continental Europe by the Nazis, and we weren't thinking in those terms, for years ahead, while he and his minions were plotting all through the '30s. So, … an awful lot of men gave their lives because of poor equipment, and, hopefully, this will never happen again. It probably will, … because we just don't believe in preparing ahead, apparently, and we can't foresee it, but, that, naturally, was not anything that I could do anything about. These guns, we used them the best we could. … In fact, when I was captured, it had to do with a patrol hearing some German tanks moving around up ahead, a place called Vidouville, in Normandy, and the idea was, if we can find out exactly where they are, maybe we can get our antitank guns close enough to knock some out, because we didn't have the range. We didn't have the size guns to match the Mark IV, certainly, and that was what they mainly had, and, of course, by this time, they had created what they called the Atlantic Wall, that they thought was impregnable, to keep us from landing at all.
SH: How long were you in Sicily before you got ready to invade Italy?
FJ: Well, … the campaign ended about August 21st or 23rd, on the slopes of a mountain chain, which included Mount Etna, almost to Messina. We went back to a camp near Gela, embarked there, and we never went into Italy itself, the mainland. That wasn't planned. We were to be the D-Day outfit in England for what came to be known as OVERLORD, later on, and so, we went back to England, I would say, probably, … about the end of September, and hunkered down in … southeast England, where it would be near our embarkation point, later. Of course, we didn't know any of that, what was coming, but, they wanted us, because of being the D-Day division, or one of them, on Omaha, Utah had its own 29th Division, ... near the seacoast, where we could embark with rather short notice, … because no one knew what the date would be. … In fact, 'til the day before, even Eisenhower hadn't set the date yet, because it depended on the moon, and storms, and all sorts of things, and, as you probably know, he made the decision to go in with some reservations, because of the tides, but, he knew that it'd be another three weeks before he could plan to move. … In the meantime, you would have leaks of information about what was being planned, you would have deaths at home and [problems with] families, and troops would have to be excused to go home, and there would be gossip and rumor, … plus, the suspense. I mean, you can't maintain the esprit of troops indefinitely. Training, you can only do so much training, and you have limited space, and so on. So, there were lots of reasons that, in my low ranking opinion, [laughter] he did the right thing to move, rather than to try to wait two or three weeks, hope the weather would be good, and with the huge waves that washed away the "mulberries," these landing piers, that that would abate, and they were washed away, and an awful lot of lives were lost, but, I think it would have been much, much worse if he hadn't made that particular move. So, we went back to get ready for that and were in training and in camp for the next … six, seven months, getting ready for June 6th.
SH: While sailing in convoy, either from New York to England, England to North Africa, or Sicily to England, was your convoy ever attacked by submarines?
FJ: Yes, we were in convoy, but, there were no attacks, that I know of; I mean, if they were hushed up, [I would not know]. … One of the things that I was hoping we would do would be to see Gibraltar as we went through, but, it was at night, and we did travel in the daytime, which was less secure, obviously, than traveling only at night, but, … they were small convoys, and we had no sub action that I know anything about.
SI: From reading One More Hill, I got the impression that the voyage towards North Africa was plagued by rumors.
FJ: To North Africa, at the very beginning? Well, yes, curiosity, wondering what was coming, and a certain element of fear, but, also, a great deal of bravado, too, and we had books. I took several paperback books that my Dad brought down to Hoboken at the Caven Point Pier, which we left from. There was an awful lot of card playing, and, as we were reminiscing with some friends just yesterday, I (looked?) to play poker, and I was pretty good at it. I was single, and then, … after the war, I'd made enough money to put a down payment on a house, and I'd taken it, largely, from married soldiers, who had children and so on. I began to get guilt feelings, not guilty enough to try to return the money, [laughter] but, it took the form of, swearing and be darned, "I was never going to play cards again." I never have, and I ran into a man who was not with me in this case, but, an old, old friend here in Orlando, yesterday, and we compared notes, and he was married and had reason to make and save money. I saved money, but, I said, "Did you feel guilty enough to think of returning the money?" He said, "Hell no. I took it and ran with it. I had a wife and family to support," … but, he never played again, cards, and I said, "Well, I've got real guilt feelings, I guess, and, … except a game of solitaire, now and then, [laughter] I haven't touched the cards since then," but, … he said he picked up 10,000 dollars, and I picked up, I think, about seven, and … there was a thing called the allotments. You sent money home on an allotment into a bank account and/or to a member of the family, and … I say that because there was an awful lot of that on this ship. I mean, cards was about all there was. A lot of these guys were not readers at all and they did checkers, chess, things of that kind, to occupy time.
SH: Were you surprised to be reassigned to England after the Sicily Campaign? Were you expecting to go into Italy?
FJ: No, we knew that. I can't tell you just when, but, we knew that we were going to be, well, probably, the D-Day [division]. We'd had two D-days under our belt and that experience pointed to doing it up somewhere in France, somewhere on the Channel. … Well, Mark Clark, General Clark, came in to take the Italian Campaign, and then, we went back with Patton, and, … if we hadn't been told, that change of generals would indicate what was in the wind, and so, we pretty well had an idea.
SH: With each landing, were you able to apply any lessons that you had learned during the earlier operations?
FJ: Well, you certainly learned to duck your head. [laughter] That is a very tough one to answer, because life is just an accumulation of experiences and, if you're smart, you gain by experience. On the other hand, every situation is different, and you have to be careful not to apply the wrong experience to what's happening to you. For example, the beaches of Gela, they were sandy beaches, but, no cliff, just some dunes and grass. Here, in Omaha Beach, we confronted this cliff with guns focused on you, both from on top, but, [also], to the right, on the Pointe du Hoc, what we called enfilade fire. In other words, it was coming from the side and very different situations; so, … other than ducking, and keeping your weapon loaded, and being sure, to the extent you can, that you have an aid man or two with you, and you've got the signal guy, the guy handling the telephone, and laying the wire, and so on, and the walkie-talkie to communicate with … both your headquarters above you and your own men, through the sergeant, I would say it just sharpens you a bit in terms of what you're going to be up against, and you get a more sanguine attitude, I think, about your chances. You duck a little faster, maybe. [laughter]
-------------------------------------END OF SIDE TWO, TAPE ONE--------------------------------------
SH: This continues an interview with Dr. Franklyn A. Johnson on September 13, 2001, in Orlando, Florida. Please, continue. We were discussing your time in England, preparing for D-Day.
FJ: Yes, we were at a little village near Dorchester Barracks in Dorset, Winterbourne St. Martin. We're stationed, or bivouacked, I should say, on a farm with a local nobleman, and had an old-time Roman battlefield, Old Queen's Castle, we called it. It was just mounds of earth and so on. No structures were left from 1500 years or 2000 years before, [laughter] but, it was a good training ground, because it had places where you could hide, and guns could be placed, and so on. So, we spent our days in training, knowing that we were going to be landing in, well, we didn't know we were going to land in Normandy, specifically, but, we knew that the D-Day invasion was just ahead, and we were going to be in it. So, we had a few months of training. It was the miserable English weather that we all know about, terribly wet, and mud everywhere, and so on, in this little village. … Weekends, we could occasionally get away in a jeep and go up to Bournemouth, which … had dance halls, and officers' clubs, and so on, and so on, but, it was the kind of thing that reflects how easy it is for men to be bored and get tired of doing the same thing, training and anxiety, not anxiety, but, expectation, with nothing happening, but, you're working toward a goal of some sort, and you've got to keep their interest up. You've got to hype them a bit for what lies ahead, and, of course, we didn't know exactly what lay ahead, … except in a very general way. So, that training went on until we were put behind the barbed wire, which would be about, probably, … May 10th or 15th, something like that, of 1944, and this illustrates the problem … of delay in making a decision due to factors such as tides, and rain, and storms, and so on, that the commanding general must go through. You've got to keep up, by various devices, the interest of your men, even a small unit like mine, a platoon or a company, of the antitank company of the 18th Infantry. So, we went behind the barbed wire, we called them "concentration camps," where … no one could come in, no one could go out, phone calls only of the most essential nature could be made, and those were heavily censored, because of the fear of leaks, and, apparently, this was successful, because the Germans were still thinking we were going to be near Calais, at the narrowest point of the coast, and there had been various devices, such as fake planes made of plywood that were parked around, and would-be tanks, and so on, that their air … photography picked up and thought we were up there. So, this went on, and, in the meantime, we were training intensively, getting ready, equipment being shaped up, and so on, for the big push.
SI: Did you participate in any amphibious landing exercises, such as the operation at Slapton Sands?
FJ: No, we did not have, and I can't tell you why. Of course, … we didn't know about the extent of the disaster at Slapton Sands until later. It was very carefully hushed up, and I think, probably, rightly so, even though most of us opposed censorship. … They didn't want the Germans to get wind of this, partly for morale purposes, but, also, partly because … the Germans would know, we couldn't help that, that this was a beach like what we might be attacking, but, if that had gotten out, [it could have tipped the Germans off], and I don't know how far it went. We did not know about it until afterwards, but, the morale effect on our men, of our own men being drowned and so on, that would have been very difficult, but, Slapton Sands was only down the way a bit, towards (Pensans?) and Plymouth, I can't tell you how many miles, but, I would guess it was only a matter of twenty-five or thirty miles from where we were stationed.
SH: How were you prepared for the upcoming invasion as an officer? Did any of your commanding officers speak with you?
FJ: Well, most of it was pretty localized. We had a man named Jones, Capt. George R. Jones, was the captain of the company. There were six or seven of us, I think, lieutenants. Of course, it rotated around. People were transferred, for one reason or another, and, if it was in combat, of course, some would become casualties, either killed or injured, but, during this period, we were fairly stationary. We had two new second lieutenants come in, the second-in-command, a man named Seeber Denmark, who's an old friend of mine from Jacksonville, Florida, and it was all pretty localized. We were separate from everybody else. They farmed [out] these troops, usually the size of a company, in different villages, part of this was dispersal, for security purposes, because the Nazis still had lots of air power coming in and out, although it was diminishing all the time. It more like a family setting; … the officers had a house to ourselves, a room [for] each of us, and then, there was the barracks. There were a couple of barracks that had been converted from barns, when the thing was a farm, and one hut was put up as a mess hall. So, it was kind of routinezed. The town was, [laughter] well, Henry Hack's Tavern was the center of social life. This little village, it only had one little grocery store and this tavern, and one of the beefs that the British had, and I guess legitimately so, was that we'd all go in there, and … my salary, as a lieutenant, was that of about a lieutenant general in the British Army, and we'd just go in and buy up the supplies of booze, and beer, and so on, and it irritated all the locals, and, of course, you can't … blame them. … My wife and I went back and visited Henry Hack's Tavern, of course, he was long gone, and sat around there, the same thing, the chairs, the bar, everything was just the same, and nobody, of course, at least nobody present, remembered the war personally, any of these things, but, we had a nice fireplace there. It was just a typical, old, British inn. I guess there were some rooms upstairs, probably, [that] I'm sure some of my men occasionally took advantage of with the girls in the neighborhood, but, it was … that kind of an attempt to talk about and know about the harsh realities that lay ahead, but, also, get a little conviviality. We'd make the jeeps and quarter-ton trucks available to take the men into town for the weekend, or for part of a weekend, at least. That was just in Dorchester. Then, a longer trip up to Bournemouth, was, I would say, fifty miles away, maybe. We had to watch gasoline. You couldn't use a lot of gasoline for this purpose, but, you just had to have some kind of recreation, and that was a place with pubs, and dancehalls, and things of that kind. I remember the Red Cross building, which was fairly prominent, up there along the waterfront, was turned into an officers' club, and so, you had to try to find a balance in these rather difficult times.
SI: Were you ever given any specific instructions on how to interact with the English? For instance, were you discouraged from letting the English buy you rounds at the pub?
FJ: Well, you're overlooking the language barrier. [laughter] … Well, particularly when you get into … East London, … the cockneys, that language, I mean, that's like French, or German, or Italian, you know. You can't make it [out]. [laughter] There was the standard kind of fraternization warnings, I mean, "Look, don't get the girls pregnant around here. That doesn't help us." Well, you can't … enforce a thing like that, really. You can try, and we did try, but, the language of men and women is universal in that department, no matter whether you speak Hindustani, you know. … I don't know, personally, [of] any problems along that line. We had a couple of the boys, Hoppie, one of my sergeants, married an English girl and, I think, took her back to Texas after the war. The business about the bars and spending more money, we were warned about that, said, "Your salaries are far higher than these poor bastards around here and just try to restrain yourself." There was nothing to buy, really, silk and things like that. There were a few things you could pick up at outrageous prices, but, virtually everything was gone, and as far as groceries, that was almost impossible, too. I mean, we did have our own food, but, the rationing of some things, believe it or not, including chocolate, wasn't off until 1951, six years, seven years after the war, because I was back there in '51, '52, and they still had some rationing. So, most of this was common sense advice and people would stray from it, of course. Our men were, you know, we're all imperfect, but, I don't … recall any fights with English soldiers. Oh, there were probably squabbles over girls and so on, but, this, of course, was no doubt one of the other reasons for the big shots putting us out in villages, where, if you're going to have a flap of some kind, it doesn't become a big, major deal, [like] in the city. It's in a little village and the captain or some officer can step in and probably settle it.
SH: Were you able to visit London before D-Day?
FJ: … I think I did make one trip into London. I think this officer friend of mine, Seeber Denmark and I, went there. I remember going to Bristol with him one weekend, because the weather was horrible. We had a jeep and the flaps always leaked, and the top, and so on. I think he and I did go to London. … I don't remember anything, at least nothing I would care to discuss, very sensational in London. It was only once. There was really very little time. I mean, we were in training or we had rotation of duty. There had to be one or more of us on duty all weekend, to keep an eye on the property and the weapons, and be sure the men were on duty, and so on, and so, it was a busy time, and this awful weather handicapped everything you wanted to do in England.
SH: Did you run across any other Rutgers men before D-Day?
FJ: I don't believe so. I do not remember any. … I would certainly remember it if that were the case. No, I can't, off the cuff, think of any.
SH: Could you recount for the record the story of General Bradley's briefing?
FJ: … This illustrated the brilliance of this man. We all worshipped him. … We all loved Patton for other reasons, but, Patton, we would say, what was that phrase, something about guts? "Old Blood and Guts: your blood and my guts." … He had charisma. He was the kind that was a great leader and very, not only energetic, but, also, adventurous and so on. I mean, "If it cost a hundred lives, so what? Take it." Well, Bradley would say, "Well, we've got to take it, but, let's see how we can save fifty of those lives." … He was kind of a grandfatherly-looking fellow. We all loved him. He and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., I suppose, [were] among the senior people who were our favorites, although we didn't see much of [them]. We saw Roosevelt all the time. We didn't see much of, obviously, Bradley, because he was, by now, a three, and then, a four-star general, but, he exuded confidence in you, and compassion, that's another word that you would use with him, unlike Patton, and … this had to do with the story about … running into him and lecturing? all right. He lectured, at Dorchester Barracks, about twenty-five or so of us junior, very junior, officers, lieutenants and captains, and was telling us about where the danger lay on the D-Day beach, what we would expect, to the extent anybody knew, and he had a great, wide, rubber model of the beach, probably ten, fifteen feet wide. So, he lectured and took questions [from] us for, maybe, thirty minutes, which illustrated the importance that he put on the junior officers on D-Day, I mean, the very first day, and he did the same, I'm sure, with the 29th Division and the Rangers who scaled the Pointe du Hoc. Those people were in the forefront and he took a couple of questions. I didn't raise a question, I didn't say a word, and then, later, I think the incident you're referring to, perhaps, is when I ran into him, and I mean, literally, in the Pentagon. He was Chief of Staff of the Army. He was not in uniform. Of course, everybody knew him and recognized him, and I came tearing around the corner in the Pentagon with some papers from CIA, where I was then employed, and the way those corners [are], they're not square corners, exactly, that you're usually careful of, they're sort of angled corners, because it's a five-sided building, and neither of us saw each other coming, and I probably was on the wrong side of the corner. [laughter] We hit each other, and the papers that I was carrying, some of which were top secret, went flying all over the floor, … and he stooped down, helped me pick up the papers, and the important thing here was, he said, "Young man, I've seen you before." Well, "I'm sure," I thought, "Well, you had three million men under you; now, I was there," and, of course, I told him, "Yes, I was one of your men," and he said, "I think I remember seeing you down in Dorchester. Was it Dorchester Barracks? Weren't you with the First Division?" and the amazing thing, of course, was the memory of this man, six years later, with all his responsibilities, and the millions, literally millions, of men that had served under him, and he still recognized me and associated me with something. I mean, that's a Mozart-ian memory, you know, that kind of thing.
SI: From what I have read about Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and also from Henry Fonda's portrayal of him in The Longest Day, it seems as though he wanted to inspire his men, even to the point where he hid the fact that he walked with a cane.
FJ: … Well, we knew about it. We knew his inspirational personality and, I mean, some of this was being the son of a president; I'm sure that that was in the back of your mind. Another thing that appealed to me, of course, was the fact that he had been a Reserve officer all these years, he was a full colonel, right into the war. I mean, he'd worked at it. He hadn't, you know, dropped out. He'd been concerned about national security, to that personal extent, and then, he was finally given a star, or let's say he earned a star. I don't mean to say he didn't earn it, but, he did do his best to conceal this infirmity. There was also a certain adventurous, or almost rebellious, spirit, in a sense, … for a man who was then, I think, in his sixties, early sixties, probably. [laughter] This was demonstrated up near Nicosia; … it was near the end of the campaign. … It was near the Gola Alcantara. My wife and I went there later, many years later. It's a fissure in the mountains up near … Mount Etna. Anyway, … I went up there to look across and see if I could spot any tanks. The Germans were pulling out toward Messina, and they were trying to take their heavy, their best, tanks with them, and I came up on top of this sort of a mountain top, but, it had trees all around it, so [that] … I could look, concealed. Well, here was Teddy Roosevelt, already up there, in a jeep with a driver. The top was down, just [an] open jeep, and so on, and I went over to him and asked him if he had seen anything of interest, … that I had antitank guns down here, and I wanted to get all the information I could. [laughter] Well, up roars a command car, one of these big things with two seats, and the top was down, most of the time, it was this day, with flags out on the front, one, a general's flag, and one, a US flag, and out stepped Patton, complete with the silver pistols, and the belt, and the whole bit that you see in the movies, and he went over to Theodore Roosevelt and said, "General, you know what my orders are, 'Every man in this outfit will wear a helmet.'" Well, General Roosevelt was bald, and he had left the helmet in the jeep, and he [Patton] said, "General, you're going to start wearing your helmet as of now. You are hereby fined forty dollars." Well, to do this in front of a junior officer, and a couple or three enlisted men, is just not kosher, but, he did. That was Patton. He gave him the word, right then and there, and, of course, … Roosevelt put on the helmet, but, that illustrated a little of the tactics of both men, I mean, adventuresome, and yet, humility, in a sense, of Theodore Roosevelt, and the crass disrespect [of Patton], let's say, even though he was his superior. I mean, he was a general, he certainly shouldn't do a thing like that in front of subordinates. [laughter]
SH: Could you describe what you saw as you vacated the "concentration camps," traveled to your port of embarkation, and boarded the ship that carried you to Normandy?
FJ: … It was said to be the largest armada in the history of the world and I think, looking out across, that's true. When we finally got to the top of the cliffs and could take a moment to look back, it was absolutely amazing, the ships everywhere, and despite the storm that came up, … I don't think any had yet been sunk, but, they were tossing and so on. They were trying to go back and bring in more troops across the Channel and so on. … That was absolutely amazing. As far as the loading on board and all that kind of thing, we traveled, of course, down to Portland to get on the landing craft at night, got to load it up, I would say, again, that's in this book [One More Hill] in detail, I'm sure, but, probably about seven or eight, and a man came on board with a whole lot of leaflets, and this is the famous "This is the Crusade in Europe" leaflet that we were told to distribute to all our men. I still have, … not the original, because it was sunk with all my stuff, later on, but, a copy of it, and … it's reprinted in that book. It was kind of an inspiring piece, … "It's going to be a tough go, but, we've got to win," and so on, and so on. Everybody, I'm sure, is familiar with it. So, we gave one to … each of the men, and tried to bed them down, and so on. I'm sure everybody was thinking about the next day and probably praying and all. We could have no lights, so, nobody could read anything, divert himself that way. … Then, it was, as it always is in England, [laughter] it was wet. If not raining, it was maybe drizzling, and [the ship] went on across, and then, I'd say that, probably, some troops had gotten on the beach half-hour, perhaps, [before]. We were listed for H-Hour, I'd say, because some were there, a few were there, already. I would guess it was probably engineers trying to de-mine the place and cut through what we called "Element C." I don't know where that name came from. … They were like railroad ties that were bound together and sunk in cement, in the sand, so that at any tide, even high tide, your boat would ground on it. [At] low tide, why, it was clearly visible, and it would require you to run around them to get to the solid shore, and so, … we didn't have the craters we'd counted on. The vessel was grounded out too far. I know some of my men drowned, because, … in those days, apparently, the straps and things to get rid of the equipment were not what they have today, and they couldn't get rid of their heavy equipment in time, because we'd been told it's going to be shallow, and, naturally, they wanted all the ammunition that they could have. The officers had little, small carbines, we called them, a small version of the … M-18, [M-1 Garand Carbine; the M-18 is a .57 mm antitank gun], I guess it was, at that time, and, you know, they were just shooting at us, and there's very little you can say, except you try to haul yourself and your men up. Pappy, … who was my second-in-command, was killed immediately, a shell had just [landed near him], he was gone, and others, a number of them, … we couldn't get them out of the line of the high tide, and, while they were injured, they died because they drowned. … This was when Theodore Roosevelt and a man named Cota, Norman D. Cota, he was a colonel, later a BG, I think he was … one of the senior staff, maybe the chief of staff of the division, and he came along, and both of them, in their way, exhorted the men, "You're going to die here. You've got to get up the cliff." Well, there was a little shallow place, just a tidal shallow at the base of the cliff, and, beyond that, … this was all shale, it wasn't sand, it was rocky and so on, but, water came in there at high tide, but, it gave a little shelter at the time we were trying to land, and the point was to get there, and then, begin going up the cliff. … So, we were getting fire from the right side … for a while. … The Rangers were trying to scale the Pointe du Hoc and they got it and knocked out the big guns, finally. There's been a movie or two on that episode. We didn't know what was going on over there, of course, and then, Utah Beach, which was the 29th Division, on the other side, they were trying to get up the cliff. So, we headed for a thing called the "E-1 Draw" on Red Beach, that's a part of Omaha Beach, and if one is there now, the cemetery is immediately above it, and this was an old, just a sort of a farm road, I think, down to, there had been some beach houses that had been turned into forts, fortified. They originally were beach houses, with tile and so on, and cement block. So, we managed to work our way up … that draw. We'd lost some men by then, I suppose. Well, it's hard to say off the cuff, but, probably, we had lost about eight, by that time, and all the vehicles, except one jeep, were gone, and all the guns, so, in effect, [laughter] we were infantrymen. We were on foot. We had no heavy weapons. We just had to use our rifles and went on up, those of us that made it, … to the top, into a wooded lane. They call it the bocage country, … I forget exactly what the French word means, but, it's the hedgerow country, where the eight, ten feet of bank on each side, with trees growing out of them, which we all see in the movies, and I guess the only light moment that occurred was, something I still have a memento of the occasion, this must have been the occasion of the second Purple Heart, I had apparently been hit by a spent fragment of, … probably, an artillery piece, somewhere along the line, and I reached in, put a handkerchief around my middle left finger, and it was all blood soaked, and, going by, there's a temporary sort of a Medical Corps tent … put up, with a red cross in front of it. That was the aid station [laughter] above the beach, just about where the cemetery is now, I would say, and he called out, and he said, "Lieutenant, you're wounded. What's the trouble? You're all bloody." I said, "What? I'm not wounded," and he said, "Look at your finger, look at your hand." I looked down and here is, I still have the memento of a nail that grows crooked all these years, and he said, "Here, let me bandage you up," and I said, "Look, I've got to get in." "No, come on in." So, I went in, he took this wet, bloody handkerchief off and put on a decent bandage, and somewhere along the line, I don't know, [I] don't remember his taking down my name or any data of any kind, and he turned me loose and said, "Go ahead. Now, you're okay, for now," and then, I went and caught up with my men, who were slowly moving down, watching for snipers and so on, down the lane that led from this farm road up the cliff, [laughter] and the odd follow-up of that was that back in the hospital, … well, it was in England, after I was taken back, and operated on, and so on, some general came along, and he was handing out medals, and a Silver Star was among them and another Purple Heart. … This was the second one, … I guess he gave me two, probably, because the third one was when I was shot and captured, and, you know, I'd forgotten all about this darned thing, and, boy, that's the "million dollar wound," or at least I think the bits of purple ribbon and … the miniature is probably worth all of a dollar-and-a-half, or something like that. So, this general explained, "Well, you're wounded on D-Day, and then, again," and I said, "Okay, now I remember." So, that was the only funny episode I can think of on D-Day. [laughter]
SH: When were you wounded the first time?
FJ: You know, I don't have the vaguest memory. It must have been somewhere in North Africa, [laughter] because I don't remember getting injured in Sicily. If it isn't in that book, then, I've forgotten, but, I know there's three hanging on the wall at home. [laughter] … It must be from earlier.
SH: Please, continue. Your unit had just entered the hedgerows.
FJ: Well, … we were under fire. … The snipers, which we knew were there, but, at my own peril, as it turned out, I neglected, apparently, they could keep watch well enough. We moved inland, … [it is] hard to estimate distances, although, we had tracked it down several years ago. My wife and I went back through and found, as best we could, where it had occurred, my own being hit by a sniper. The area is called Vidouville, inland, maybe, oh, fifteen miles, possibly, we'd fought our way in, and, by this time, … this would be June 25th. In the meantime, it'd just been fighting. The St.-Lo breakthrough took place and we had constant difficulties, as you would expect, in a combat operation. We lost men, but, we did move in, and except for … Pappy Henderson, none of my leadership was killed. Well, we heard tanks moving around, down ahead of us, at this place called Vidouville, … and so, I went to the old man, the Colonel, and said, "There are tanks down there, and even though our antitank guns are not too potent, maybe we could get close enough to knock some off," because we were out of the danger of [being] pushed, really, into the sea. I think, by this time, we'd been landing heavy stuff. The mulberries, those docks, had been sort of reconstructed, and we felt reasonably secure about staying on the land, but, it was still tricky, and we knew that Hitler and company were going to bring up their heavy stuff to try to knock us back. … The old man said, "All right, take a patrol and go out there. There's a new officer who joined us, Lieutenant Gardner; … get some experience for him, … also, on these reconnaissances." So, we had, I think, about seven or eight men between us. I asked him to stay at the rear, I'd take the front. By the front, I mean, right after two scouts, so that they, hopefully, would spot snipers or any objectives that we should be looking for and keep us moving toward where we could hear these tanks, in the distance, sort of rumbling around. We couldn't tell what they were doing. So, we went and it was all hedgerows. There were trees, of course, around. We were sort of in a lane, but, you had to keep looking both ways, and, all of a sudden, shots rang out. It turned out, … as far as I could tell, at this point, it was a sniper in a tree that we had overlooked. Both those scouts had been killed, because I was carried past their bodies, and all I had time to do was to say, "Gardner, take the men back," because we couldn't see anything. We couldn't see where the enemy [was], and I figured, "Well, he … can take them back a ways and maybe spot where the sniping was coming from." Then, I made the near fatal mistake. I said, "Take the men back, Gardner. I'm dying." [laughter] Well, this was because I knew it was pretty serious, and … I was afraid he was going to, you know, try to get a couple of guys to carry me or something, and then, they would all get killed by snipers or a sniper. Well, this was a bad mistake, because, when someone says that, and there are no witnesses to anything other than this guy lying on the ground with a lot of blood flowing [out of him], you tend to believe it, and there was kind of a rule, I think it was probably pretty much, that if you didn't have any information, other than someone being dead, you carried him for thirty days as missing, Missing-In-Action. In other words, you can't be sure, and the Germans did take prisoners, so, there was always that possibility. So, as I found out later, and it's hanging on the wall at home, my parents had an MIA report. Well, with their being in the military and my being the only child, this was a pretty hard blow, I mean, I assume, … but, that was sent out within thirty days. Then, with no reaction from me, no knowledge or anything, then, a KIA report was sent back, Killed-In-Action. … [In the] meantime, I had been carried, somewhat painfully, into a place called Rennes, … which is sort of a basic rail center … [for] that western part of France, and we went into a sort of a field hospital, I guess it was. I was in an ambulance. …
SH: Were you conscious during the trip to Rennes?
FJ: I was in and out, mainly conscious, because, … when we'd hit a bump, I knew damn well that there was something badly the matter with me.
SH: Where were you hit?
FJ: Under the left shoulder blade, in the lung, and that's why they later had to take out most of that lung. … There were little windows in the side, apparently, of the ambulance. I could see that we were moving through countryside, but, it was in and out of consciousness, so, … naturally, it's rather ragged after that, as to what the place looked like and so on, but, I do remember, we were in kind of a temporary, would-be hospital of a sort. I mean, there were cots here and there and so on and it was in … an old Roman Catholic girls' school, which we, a few years ago, … tried to visit, but, it had been torn down, in the City of Rennes, and I knew exactly where it was, because, this is a little bit ahead, but, I was able to look out of my window and see the railroad station. So, we could find [it] in the square, the Charles de Gaulle Plaza, see it, but, anyway, they did take out the slugs. I don't know how many there were. I do have, in German, the report, the medical report. They took out most of the left lung, and the sad thing was, they did it, … I think, without any anesthesia, … and you're in and out and this kind of thing, but, then, they said, "Well," [in what] little German I could pick up, "you've kept the sulfa and the other drugs, … all the painkillers, have been destroyed by your planes over the roads in France, and, therefore, it's your fault [that] we don't have it." Well, of course, I didn't take this very seriously. I figured it was propaganda, but, then, there was a German soldier, I don't know whether he was an officer or not, next to me on a cot. A guy came along with a thing that looked like a machete, hacked off his arm, and he was definitely a German, so, I sort of believed that they were not kidding about the lack of drugs, sulfa being the main one, I suppose, in those days. So, that was the extent of the operating room procedures in there. …
SH: Do you know why they took care of you?
FJ: I don't know.
SH: First, a sniper tries to kill you, then …
FJ: Well, I think at the start, … although they knew I was low ranking, they might have figured there was some information that I could give them. I wasn't tortured or anything like that. I was slapped in the face a couple of times and asked what my unit was, and where was it going, and so on, and I said, in effect, "Je ne sais pas," "I don't know," because I didn't. I was at that level where you don't get information, except [for] your little sector. I don't know. I've often thought [about it]. My wife and I have talked about the contrast, the probable contrast, if I had been a Japanese prisoner of war. I don't think they would have bothered at all, but, I wondered about that many times. I can't answer it. At any rate, we were … in this school, it was about four-stories high, and … I was told later, because I was unable to move, I was put in a bed, and … fed, and so on, but, this kept getting worse. … It's what they call empyema, a growth of poisons and liquid waste in your lung cavity, and I figured, you know, sooner or later, unless we're rescued, … this is it. Well, they told us, later, that they had painted a British flag on top of the building, to show that it was a prisoner of war [facility], or a hospital, or whatever, and it shouldn't be bombed. Well, we weren't bombed, but, our own people did bomb around us, because we could hear the noise, and the walls shook, and so on. … We rather cynically said to ourselves, "Well, so much for the RAF," [laughter] [as] much as we loved the RAF. Apparently, it was misplaced stuff, of course.
SH: How many American prisoners were in the hospital?
FJ: I can't say. I think I remember the figure six, seven hundred, but, that included the Canadians. I know there were some Canadians there. There were certainly some British. The man in charge, I was told, … was a major, a British major. … Usually, the ranking man takes over and, in our situation, being all Allies, whoever was senior, irregardless of the nation they're serving, would be taking over. …
SH: You were guarded by …
FJ: German guards. Oh, yes, the guards were there, but, there were some nurses, I think they were sisters, probably from the order that had ran this school, that were serving and bringing in food, what little there was, black bread and so on, and somebody, an American officer, had a very beautiful, maybe a Rolex, I'm not sure, … watch, and I saw him give it to a gal for an egg, … a peasant girl, who apparently had found her way in, a servant of some kind, if you'd call it that, not one of the sisters. She wouldn't have taken the watch, I'm sure, [laughter] but, this showed the food supply situation that we had. So, then, … [on August 8th], guns began to fire closer, and … several of the guards left, and so on. … It was pretty clear that we were going to be rescued. Well, of course, the question in my mind [was], "Is it going to be in time?" because I knew this thing was getting worse all the time in my chest, and, sure enough, Patton's forces, we never saw him or any of his senior people, because they were trying to rush us out of there on the hospital planes and get us back to the 15th Army Hospital Group, up in the lake country of England, and so, the firing and the battle just moved on. That's all the St.-Lo breakthrough and other major events, and, later, of course, the Hurtgen Forest, and the Remagen Bridge, and all these things lay ahead, which my boys were all involved in, but, which I couldn't keep up with, except in the papers. [I] went back to this [hospital], and that's where the real operation took place, to, you know, clean out this mess that was in my chest, and a Dr. Merchant, who performed the operation, and I became friends, and then, … he said, finally, "Lieutenant, we're going to have you ZI-ed." Well, that was just the saying for, "Sent to the Zone of the Interior," back to the US, and I was still silly enough, I suppose, idealistic enough or something, to say, "Well, come on, … the guys are fighting into Germany now," and he said, "Look, you aren't worth," he used some other words, [laughter] "anything to them anymore. You're going home. We're going to ZI you." So, I was put on the plane several weeks after the operation. I do recall walking around the roads. They said, "Exercise. You've got to exercise what is left over there … in the other lung, … even in this weather." So, here I was, with pajamas and an old robe, wandering around, when it was halfway clement, on the roads, … to get exercise around this hospital complex, and it was still decent. It wasn't decent weather, but, it was not winter, yet, anyway, just damp and drizzly. We were loaded on a plane, and then, one stop. The hospital plane was, of course, tiers of, oh, I don't know, maybe twenty gurneys put up on racks, and we stopped in Iceland, at Reykjavik, and I said, "I'd like to see this place, I'll probably never be here again." [laughter] … It was one of the warmest days, so they said, they'd had in months, and I went to the door of the plane, there was a terrible, cold wind blowing through, but, I got a look at Reykjavik, … still in a robe. … The Red Cross gave us a toothbrush and some little odds and ends like that, and we're flown, then, into Mitchell Field and put on … an Army plane, it wasn't a hospital plane, down to Memphis, which was the big chest surgery, the thoracic hospital, and I think the biggest hospital in the Army, at that time, 4400 beds sticks in [my] mind, and that's where I embarked on several months of recovery.
SH: When were your parents informed that you were alive?
FJ: I assume immediately. I don't recall the conversation with my parents, but, because of Dad himself being in the Pentagon, I would assume that was very, very fast, probably the next day, I would guess. Everything went out over the name of a man named J. A. Ulio, … the Adjutant General of the Army. I've got all these papers at home signed by this chap, I mean, not personally signed, but, with … his name at the bottom.
SI: I have read that, when the German blood supply ran low, prisoners of war in need of blood transfusions were denied access to the German blood, so, the other prisoners would organize blood drives. Were there any blood drives or similar occurrences in your prison hospital?
FJ: I just don't know. … If I had the medical chart here and you could read German, we could probably figure it out. I have no evidence, actually, of deliberately withholding [medical supplies]. …
-------------------------------------END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE TWO--------------------------------------
FJ: … The operation, and the guy losing his arm, was in a tent, in a kind of, I call it a "field medical station," probably, and then, that was near, in or near, Rennes, because it wasn't long, in terms of the trip into the girls' school, which was Stalag 221, and there, there was no operating going on. I mean, we were just there as prisoners.
SH: Were any of the prisoners not wounded?
FJ: Yes, there were some, … and then, you had the in-between, what we call ambulatory, or "walking wounded," I mean, that were able to get around. I was not able to get around and I was confined to this little cell and to my bed, for reason of injury, not because I was kept there for security reasons. There were very few guards in this place. They were outside, I suppose, with barbed wire, probably, around the place, but, we couldn't see any of that.
SH: When were you interrogated? You mentioned that you were slapped around.
FJ: Yes. Well, that was all out in the field. That was soon after I was captured, very soon, within a couple of hours, and I think they gave up on me as a source of information, and I was never interrogated again.
SI: Before you went into combat, were you ever instructed on what to do if you were taken prisoner?
FJ: The Army, yes, gave general instructions. It was always, "Name, rank and serial number, period," and that wasn't awfully intense with us, because we didn't know anything much more. I mean, some people, maybe in headquarters, in intelligence, say, in the S-2, the intelligence part of it, would know something, but, they were in the headquarters, usually away from where you'd get captured. So, junior officers, we'd always tell the men, you know, "Name, rank and serial number, period." Then, it would individually depend on the resoluteness and the strength of the individual. If he went beyond that and anything he did know was told, … I don't think that happened much at my level. We just didn't know enough to be of much value and they saw that in my case, I think. [laughter]
SH: What were the sympathies of the nuns? Were they pro-Allied?
FJ: Oh, well, I assume that they were pro-Allies. They were French, it was a French order, of course, but, they were there, as the humanitarian spirit [dictates], you know, to take care of anybody. … I'm sure they had suffered, their families had, under Nazi domination, but, … I never saw any problem of attitude at all. I mean, they were there helping us and doing what they could, but, just always under the supervision [of the Germans], and it wasn't close supervision, I think. Because I was in this cell, I couldn't see what went on around in the hallways and all that, but, I never had any indication that the Nazis were misusing them, or mistreating them, or anything of that kind. They were outside, I think, with their weapons on their shoulders, and if the sisters would take care of people, fine.
SH: Did you hear any rumors while you were a prisoner?
FJ: Relative to being saved?
SH: Or of how the war was progressing?
FJ: Oh, well, we began to get rumors. Some had had to do with hearing firing in the distance, of course, two or three days before we were actually released, but, this crowd, I mean, they were … segregated, they didn't know much of what went on in the great world beyond.
SH: After you were liberated, were you given your decorations in Normandy or in England?
FJ: No, that was back in England. That was in the hospital, I think it was called the 15th Army Hospital Group, and that's where the General … came down the line, giving away bits and pieces of ribbon. [laughter]
SH: Which specific action were you awarded the Silver Star for?
FJ: That had to do with … D-Day, I'm pretty sure. I think I'd have to look at the citation, but, I think it had to do with getting my men up the cliff on D-Day, and then, a funny thing happened, even, I think, since that [One More Hill] was written. … I knew I'd been put in for a Distinguished Service Medal, also having to do with activities on D-Day, and … our Congressman, his office, had sent out a notice that this had been awarded. Well, it never came, so, I wrote, and so, … to make a long story short, darned if about fifty years later, it didn't come. … Well, I was pleased to have it, but, I have no citation to go with it. It just had to do with D-Day. … I mean, these are things that are of no importance. I mean, it's long passed and so on, but, … they would try to do these things … expeditiously. … Generals couldn't be diverted with this kind of stuff all the time, but, they tried to do it expeditiously, in a hospital or a situation before people were beginning to [be] sent home, and the follow-up, … which probably happened with this DSM, would get lost somewhere.
SH: Were your parents able to visit you when you arrived at Mitchell Field?
FJ: … No, I couldn't see them. … I was assigned to the hospital in Memphis, as I said, and was flown there from Mitchell Field. At this time, my father was the deputy commanding officer of a thing called the Redistribution Station, that was in Miami Beach, on Lincoln Road, and this was headquartered at what's still, I think, the Hotel Albion, in there, and this was a place for people recovering … from injuries, maybe, but, didn't need to be hospitalized, necessarily, or they were on leave for a couple of weeks, or in-between duty stations, various things of that kind, and the Army and the Air Force, which were together at that time, were in Miami Beach. There was a similar one for the Navy over in Hialeah, over on the mainland. So, Dad was occupied with his duties and couldn't get away and Mother stayed with him. She was not flying planes by this time, because the war was sort of winding down. I think she was no longer flying; I couldn't be sure of that. … I didn't get to see them until, I had been awhile at Memphis, … and for several days, maybe, or a couple of weeks, in recuperation, and then, I was assigned to his redistribution station, and I was hospitalized a few times, briefly, over in the Biltmore Hotel, … which, then, was a big Army hospital in Coral Gables. So, it wasn't immediate, but, it had to do with his being tied up and knowing I was in good hands and that was all they wanted to know, I guess. [laughter]
SH: Did you correspond with any friends, or special NJC women, while you were in the military?
FJ: No, not really. There had been a girlfriend over there at NJC, as we called it in those days, but, not close enough to be in correspondence with, really. I mean, there were some back and forth things with the administration, with President Clothier, and the RAM, the Rutgers Alumni Monthly chap. …
SI: Edward Curtin?
FJ: Well, Ed Curtin, … there was some correspondence. In fact, in the RAM itself, they published some letters, back and forth, two or three, between me and one of the editors, whose name I've forgotten, but, there was really very little, and I was, frankly, so busy trying to get well again, [laughter] to get back to college. I wanted to be back at Rutgers on a full-time basis, and, as it turned out, I was very early getting there, because most of the fellows in my class, the Class of '44, didn't get back … 'til the next academic year. I was lucky to get started in the Fall of '45 and, therefore, I could graduate in '47.
SH: How had the campus changed since you left in 1942?
FJ: … Well, it was very different. … We've mentioned about the mobile homes up on the University Heights. …
SH: Were they already there in 1945?
FJ: The stadium, yes, the stadium was there, the President's house, of course, the J&J mansion, but, … I think the stadium was all that was there. … You'd have to check the accuracy of this, but, all those fields up around there were occupied by trailers, and this man, Jack Davis, had charge of all that, and all of the infrastructure, and putting in water lines, and all the rest of it, had to be done, fresh, because New Brunswick was crowded. I mean, there was no housing right after the war, for five or six years. I think housing was extremely tight, but, the thing we had to get used to was students wheeling baby carriages around the campus. [laughter] It was so different, because of the family situation, and, in most cases, virtually all cases, there were financial problems. They had the GI Bill, but, maybe, the wife was working, … but, maybe the children were too small for that. Babysitting was sort of trading off. You took care of each other's kids. … As I said, my wife didn't have a baby until we were graduating, so, we didn't have that problem, and I was able, therefore, to get involved in trying to re-start so many of these student activities, like this yearbook, [the Scarlet Letter], and the Targum, with Tony Antin, and back to, to some extent, the musical activities that interested me. Luckily, my wife … didn't have to work, and one of the funny things that happened, when I was retired at Memphis, … this board of six or seven colonels, we got into an argument about whether I could go back to limited duty with my outfit, … which was to be the D-Day Tokyo invasion division, and, finally, … there were a number of officers all lined up, waiting to be retired, very few for disability. The war was sufficiently along, they were letting people go who had family responsibilities, or were older, or for some reason or other, and so, [after] about fifteen minutes of argument on my part, I said, "General, I can do limited duty. I can fly a typewriter, if nothing else, in the back end of the division." [laughter] "No, no, no," they argued. Finally, he banged his fist down, he said, "Lieutenant Johnson, we are going to be scraping under the bottom of the barrel before we'll take you. This case [is] dismissed." [laughter] That was the end of the argument and the next officer was able to come forward. So, it was lucky, in a way, because I was interested in these things, to help get them started, and I was lucky that my wife, well, wasn't quite ready to deliver yet, and so, I could indulge in these things and, also, my academic work, because I knew I was going on to graduate school.
SH: Did you change your major?
FJ: Yes, I did. I'd forgotten about that. It was Romance Languages to start with, French and Spanish, and Prof. Reager, who was a favorite of mine, he was head of the Speech Department, and Prof. Reager tried very hard to get me interested in speech as a profession, get a Doctorate in Speech, and I didn't see much substance to it. I mean, I was pretty naïve, I guess, but, I wanted Political Science. So, I did change to Political Science, which was combined, then, with History, and [I] was pleased to have made that particular change. So, I was able to graduate, then, on schedule and that would be in late May or early June of '47.
SH: How did you meet your wife?
FJ: Which wife? [laughter] … Well, this is one of those things that you read about, hear about. She was a nurse in Memphis and in and out of the ward. So, when I went down to the Biltmore Hospital, was there for several months, and came back, I guess it would be, in the beginning of the Summer of '45, and was released back to Memphis, which was my home base, … and that was where the retirement took place. Well, in the meantime, I'd run into this lady, who was from Salisbury, North Carolina. An interesting side bit is that Liddy Dole, who, apparently, is going to run for Senator, was a bridesmaid for her when she was the May Queen one year in the high school. … Liddy is two or three years younger than my wife was, my wife is now deceased, and so, … I'm always interested in what comes out of Salisbury, because of that connection, but, … other than being in school together, they didn't know each other, and I don't know Liddy, … who hates that name, incidentally. [laughter] So, … I ran into her and proposed to her within the first week, and then, we were married, as it turned out, on V-J Day, it wasn't planned that way, [laughter] needless to say, in Salisbury.
SH: Do you remember any of the V-E Day or V-J Day celebrations?
FJ: I don't remember anything about V-E Day. In fact, I can't even say where I was. … There are no records I guess. I don't think I can recall that. V-J Day, … we were married in Salisbury, North Carolina. We were going over to Charlotte to start our honeymoon, because we were going up into the mountains, to Hendersonville, for a honeymoon of a week, and then, up to the family farms up in New York State, then, to college, back at Rutgers, in September. Well, the interesting thing, and I'm not going to detail our wedding night, … that did occur that evening was, suddenly, all the celebrations started, and we had gotten to the hotel and went and dropped our bags, and we knew the war had ended, but, didn't know exactly what was going to happen. What happened was, the dining room in the hotel was closed. We had planned to eat there and … everything in town was closed. Everybody was celebrating, firecrackers were going off, the rationing was suddenly lifted, and so, I went down and banged on the counter, I said, "Look, how about letting us have dinner? We're here, we're honeymooning, we just drove over forty miles from Salisbury," and so, the guy picked up the key, and he said, "Here, go in and help yourself. [laughter] Here's the icebox and you can get into that and fix yourself [something]. We have no help, they've all gone to celebrate, and so, the dining room is yours." Well, this was fine, and we did get some food, but, what happened was, the dining room had plate glass windows, and people would see us in there, eating, and kept banging on the door and the window, "Let us in, let us in," and I'd have to make motions, "Can't do it, can't do it." [laughter] So, let's say our wedding night started out humorously, anyhow.
SH: When you returned to Rutgers, were you a more serious student than before the war?
FJ: … That's a hard one to answer, because I was always what I think you'd call a serious student. I took the work seriously. I enjoyed studying and was headed toward something, teaching, most likely, as it eventually turned out. I knew that's what I wanted to do. So, I guess, … we'd probably say unconsciously, if you're married and have a child, and you're thinking about those things maybe a little more seriously, maintaining a family, but, … I had plunged into all these things before, campus politics and all that sort of thing, so, I would say it was about the same level, except for some of my soldier colleagues. … There, there were always things to be done, and this man was so dedicated, John L. Davis, the Director of Housing, and we had so many ancillary things to do, and Ed Curtin's office, to try to take care of all these, I'm sure, unforeseen crises that come when you have a lot of married people, and children running around, and fraternity houses just getting back into operation, and President Clothier, struggling with trying to raise money for the place, and he didn't not want it to go state, but, fund raising, for reasons unknown to me, were just not doing the job. Princeton had the money, and they had the prestige, … and we didn't have other colleges and junior colleges, some were coming into being, but, Dr. Clothier, I respected him and liked him immensely. He, I would say, probably was not too effective as a fundraiser. I mean, he had, as people will tell you, … even though I lived with him, a personality that was kind of remote, and I can't really see him polishing up a lot of legislators down in Trenton, very successfully. So, probably, my guess is, this horde of new students coming in overwhelmed the place as a private institution, and … so, going state, he probably threw up his hands and said, "Look, we've just got to get State money in here," and he presided over that Constitutional Convention in, I think it was, 1951, … part of which created, as a part of the constitution, the State University, as opposed to a private, church-related college. That's a surmise on my part, but, he was a grand, superb individual, completely straight and honest, and we all … loved him, but, the problems were just overwhelming, at that, not because of just so many students, but, because the things they needed were so unprecedented. I mean, we had no GI Bill at the time of World War I. There was no experience to go on, and so, suddenly, this horde of … new problems, tight housing, rationing, I think food rationing was pretty well gone, or was going out, but, that was still a problem, and all these poor devils [were] on very limited budgets. They just didn't have the money. I mean, the GI Bill would only go so far, and [they had] families to support, and they would come in requesting help, and so on. So, it was an era for serious thought and consideration, more so than before the war, or at least a year or so before the war, when things were, "normal." [laughter]
SH: When did you decide to go on to graduate school?
FJ: Oh, that had been in the plans right along, yes. … My father didn't get his Master's degree until he was sixty. He had been in the Army, and risen up the ranks, and so on, but, without a college degree, which is kind of unusual. So, he was always pushing education. He said, "You go and go all the way," which meant a Ph.D., "Pile Higher and Deeper," as we always say, [laughter] and so, that was in my planning, partly my own thought, I could see the wisdom of it, and partly because of his and my mother's encouragement.
SH: Did you enter graduate school right after you graduated from Rutgers?
FJ: Yes, I did, and … I went up there to Harvard for two years and got a Master's degree in International Affairs, but, so slanted that I could go into the government department. … See, we didn't have a Ph.D. in International Affairs at that time. It was a new degree, spawned by the war. So, under the advice of William Yandell Elliot and others, I went into the CIA to get practical experience. "If you're going to teach government," they said, and I agreed, "you ought to know something about government." So, I went in as a middle level guy in the CIA, and served there from '49 to '51, and then, took a Fulbright Scholarship and went to London to work on my Doctorate at the London School of Economics, and then, … came back to teaching.
SH: Did you join the Reserves?
FJ: They wouldn't let me. … The disability business precluded that. … I wanted to and so on, but, they said, "No, you've had it," and this partly related to the retirement. See, … I was awfully naïve. When I was retired and this general banged on the desk, nobody said anything about a disability retirement and I didn't even know about these things. … It came in very handy, I assure you, trying to get along with a new baby and so on, but, the first I knew about it was a check, and it was for $104.75, [laughter] [that] reached me up … at Rutgers, when I was, I guess, in the Delta Phi House, at that point, and so, monthly, ever since, and the great thing is that these are tax-deductible or not taxable, but, they didn't say anything to me, or I didn't read the fine print to know that this was a disability retirement, monthly, and I'll tell you, those next four years, two at Rutgers and two at Cambridge, it came in mighty handy. [laughter]
SH: You mentioned that your son was born just before your graduation. When were your other children born?
FJ: … Two years later, that would be '49, my daughter, Terri, arrived, and then, in '52, about three years later, [my] daughter, Sandra, and that's a very good name, [laughter] and so, Chip, my son, died ten years ago of cancer, and my daughter is in Winchester, Virginia. She's a horse woman. She has lost two husbands by illness and death and … she raises horses, is a champion endurance rider. This is different; you ride through the trees and so on for fifty or a hundred miles. It's not the going-around-the-track kind of horse racing, … both on the California, the Western Championship, and the Old Dominion, which is the Eastern Championship. … She has no children.
SH: Did you ever consider a career in the CIA?
FJ: Not really. One of the problems there, and it's a necessary problem, is, you can't talk freely, even with your wife, let alone friends, about … the telegrams that pass across the top secret documents and all this stuff. … Now, this called compartmentation. You're sealed off from other parts of the CIA, and, as you know, we haven't been completely successful with that, or in the FBI, the last few years, but, I just didn't feel comfortable with this arrangement, for me, personally, while I did accept it as part of the job. … I was concerned with the British Commonwealth Division of the dirty tricks department and that was fairly low key, compared to the others, obviously, concerned with the Soviet Union and so on, and there were things that I would just like to be able to go home and talk about … [things] that occur, without saying to myself, "Did I see that in a top secret cable or did I read that in the New York Times?" and, besides, I wanted to get the Doctorate finished up, and the CIA, this was during, part of the time, … the Korean War, and I'd go over to the Library of Congress and work on my dissertation until they closed at ten o'clock at night, after a full day, and, even, sometimes, weekends, at the office, and … I wasn't sure that I was going to get all this done, and I didn't want to be what we call an "All But," an AB, "All But Dissertation," and, in academic life, I knew you couldn't succeed without having that Ph.D.
SH: Where did you begin your teaching career?
FJ: That was at Rollins College, and it was interesting, because … Elliot wanted me to come to Harvard, to take some of his British Commonwealth courses, … government, primarily, more than history, and he was retiring soon and wanted to get people that were interested in this area in to take his courses. So, I was offered a job up there as assistant professor at 4400 dollars a year, and jobs were scarce, the Korean War, a lot of men were gone, and so on, but, I wanted to get out of … that atmosphere, Cambridge, the climate. … Florida was my country, my place, and [I wanted to] go back to Florida. Well, there were very few jobs available, but, Rollins College had an assistant professorship at $4400 a year, [laughter] and that's what I took, and people who knew about it lambasted me. They said, "Why did you do that? They'll never ask you back to Harvard." I said, "To hell with Harvard. I'm not interested in going back to Harvard." … Then, they said, "Professionally, it's not good. Rollins is not a well-known, elite college. It's been, until recent years, before that, a women's college," and they thought I was nuts. Well, I did what I thought was best and the family thought was best and I never regretted it. [laughter]
SH: Did you retire from Rollins?
FJ: … No, I had a four-year duty there … and I got promoted. I got pushed way up to $4600 a year as an associate professor, [laughter] and then, I went to eight years as the president of Jacksonville University. …
SH: How did you meet the present Mrs. Johnson?
FJ: Would you want to explain that?
Elena Johnson: No.
FJ: [laughter] Well, … I had retired, after seventeen years, as a professor, from 1970 to 1987, at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, but, … that was, most of it, part-time, some of it full-time, and the other part-time [job was], I had been at Barry University as special assistant to the president, and … you were secretary to the vice-president at that time, weren't you? … Let's see, it was '78, my wife and I divorced, and so, we were thrown into proximity. We were doing somewhat similar work. I was mainly [on] the development, fund raising side and she was concerned with the secretarial and, I guess, some of the financial stuff, bookkeeping, [laughter] at least you do the bookkeeping now, for us, and so, we decided, actually, both of us, to go to the West Coast. Various things on the East Coast were [bad]; there was strife, there was racial turmoil, … everything was sort of going in[to] the Spanish language, and we wanted to get into a different … atmosphere, and so, we both left the East Coast, North Miami Beach, to be exact, and Fort Lauderdale. We lived separately, but, they were, I don't know, twenty miles apart, probably, and both moved over to Bonita Springs, which is a little place that's growing fast, a little place between Fort Myers and Naples. … It was a very, very romantic … proposition that I made out in the backyard that day. We were at her house, out in the backyard. There was one of these old, wooden cable [boxes], you know, electric company's cable things, a table out there, and so, I said to her, "Look, my dear, I think you ought to consult with your cousin," who lived with her in the house, "inside, and anybody you want to and why don't you come back in, say, about a half-hour, I'll just sit here at the table and have a beer, and … then, you can tell me any reasons you can dig up why you shouldn't marry me." Now, isn't that a romantic atmosphere in which to propose. [laughter]
SH: Did you prefer being an administrator, a college president, or a teacher?
FJ: Well, they both have, as most things in this world [do], advantages and disadvantages. I realized at Rollins that I didn't feel that my energies were being sufficiently used. … I wasn't challenged too much. … In this case, writing books was non-existent. Nobody gave a damn. There was no publisher-or-perish attitude, the opposite of Harvard, which I also didn't want. Also, it was … a nine-month thing. There was no summer school to teach, and so, I got fellowships in this and that and went out and did some research. … I took the dissertation and turned it into the first book, Defense by Committee, the second book, after One More Hill, and I wanted more challenge, and it looked to me as though the deans and the president of Rollins College had more on their plate, more to my liking, and so, strangely enough, my third year there, that would be … 1955, through a mutual friend, a lawyer, who later became a judge in Jacksonville, said, "Why don't you apply for the presidency of Jacksonville Junior College?" I said, "Well, I'm not cut out for junior college work. I don't think that's a good idea," but, he said, "Well, come up and talk with the board anyway." So, I talked to a committee of the board and I said, "I'm happy teaching," it wasn't completely the truth, I needed more, but, I said, "If you have a board resolution that you want to turn this thing into a five-year, accredited university, rather than a junior college, let's sit down and talk business." The president, at that time, was named, Paul L. Johnson, no relation, and they decided they didn't want to do anything right away. It was the fund raising that bothered them. They knew they were going to have to get out and shake the trees, and so, they said, "Well, thank you very much. We'll be in touch with you, maybe." Well, I figured that was the end of that, but, it wasn't, because, the next December, they said, "Come on up and talk. We're serious. We passed a resolution now about what we want to do with this place." So, we went up, and by "we," I mean, my wife and myself, because I said, "Look, to take this thing from a junior college, with about twelve, fifteen hundred students, and make it into a fully accredited university," eventually, add a year for a Master's degree, later, "it's going to take plenty of money and time." That means raising money and the wife is indispensable in this kind of thing. There was no president's house. We had to build it. I was thirty-four years old, … but, I knew we had a big job ahead, and it was going to be a two-person job, and my wife was the kind who could do the social things. We weren't socially oriented, and I still am not, but, it had to be done. It was part of the job. So, we went up there. We talked with the board. I insisted that they talk with her. They probably wondered, "What the hell is the matter with this guy?" They didn't know what was coming. They were going to be hit, on September 5, 1956, with a ton of bricks, because that's when, with the board approval and the creation of a thing called the University Council, to raise money and so on, we had announced that it was now a university. Unknown to the board, I had had all the signs all painted to put out on the highway, which we renamed, it was called Chaseville Road and I had it renamed University Boulevard, and so, the next morning, people … commuting to work saw this sign, green and white, "Jacksonville University." So, we reached an agreement there and we were happily there for eight years. They asked me, "What's your salary requirement?" I didn't give it a thought. [laughter] … I knew what I was getting, which was $4600, and … so, I fumbled around, and I finally said, "Well, why don't we just agree, … my salary, you know what it is, … [that] you'll pay me, the first year, what the present president gets." Well, of all the naïve things to say, because I had not the vaguest idea [what he made]. Well, it so happened, it went from $4600 to $8600 in one blow. [laughter] So, it turned out all right after all.
SI: When you were working for the CIA, did your work focus on the independence movements that broke apart the British Empire?
FJ: Yes. That was, as you well know, a long process. It had been going on, certainly, since World War II. In fact, … just a couple of days ago, my wife and I were talking about this present crisis we face, [the September 11th attacks], and how we need friends and allies, but, how little real strength, even Britain, brings to it. I said, "The last gasp, in a sense, was the Falklands," and, probably, before that, was the Suez Canal of 1956 episode, in which they were forced back, a mistake, I think, by President Eisenhower, but, nonetheless, they were forced to pull out, and Anthony Eden was in disgrace, in a sense. Well, Thatcher sort of pulled it back, in a way, but, the resources just aren't there, and they were pulling apart, and, for world stability, I think it's a shame that it turned out that way, but, that's the way it is, and there's so many changes in the world, materialism and xenophobia, the forms of nationalism, and so on, that it's in a terribly complex historical panorama that we obviously can't explore here, but, there were signs of it going on, … even next door, I mean, the Bahamas, independent. We go over there, … try to go, … well, once every two or three years, and go to the gambling casino and so on. … It's kind of sad, in a way, to see that this stabilizing element, with all their mistakes, is no longer in existence. One of the toughest jobs, and I went over it many times with Lord Mountbatten, of course, was the creation of Pakistan and India as separate countries. He tried his best to hold that thing together, but, even with his charisma, and his personality, and being in the Royal Family, and so on, wasn't strong enough to hold that together. So, there were signs, … and, you know, the grandeur is still maintained, I mean, the Queen's Birthday, and there's some event, I didn't get it, but, there's a major event now, today, I think, … it's probably a memorial service, I would guess, in memory of our people who were killed, maybe, I'm not sure, … like the tail end of the thing. So, here's the grandeur, and here's the great tourist impact, oh, it was [the] changing [of] the guards, I caught that part, a special changing of the guards, I suppose, with a memorial component or something of that kind, and it's kind of sad, but, you know, Britain was the ruler of the world, through World War I, for 200 years. They made lots of mistakes. We're making the same kind, I'm sure, and we're going to decline, eventually, just as they did, as a nation, although the scattered nature, the physical, geographical nature, makes it so much easier to scatter than the United States. At least we are compact, on one continent. Well, this has been very enjoyable. I hope we haven't wasted too much of your time.
SH: I just have one more question.
SH: Did you ever actually interview Lord Mountbatten?
FJ: Oh, yes, repeatedly. I spent a couple of weeks at Broadlands, the family seat, down near Southampton, and he put me up there, and I had unlimited access to the files. He told his archivist, in front of me, Mrs. Brice, I believe her name was, "Let Johnson into the files." He knew I wasn't writing some personal, scurrilous thing, and he was a very interesting, rather vain, character, as the British class structure would indicate, and he had a young nymphet down at the other end of … Broadlands. He was, … let's say, a very virile character, although, at this point, he was seventy years old, … but, he was very much the man. He took me down, one time, to Southampton. He needed a haircut and he said, "You want to come along?" He drove his own Rolls Royce, and it was interesting to watch, there was a small flag on it, and, of course, the figure of the lady, of the Rolls Royce figure, and I guess people knew from that that it was Mountbatten, but, I'll tell you, they saluted, the sailors saluted, the people, "Hooray, Lord Mountbatten," and, "Your Highness," and, "Your Lordship," and so on, were shouted. … He turned down, twice, being Secretary of State for Defense, because that would then throw in the parliamentary arguments [that], as a member of the Royal Family, it wouldn't be appropriate. So, the book on him, which is not personal, it's on the organizational side, … unifying the British defense forces, was the best I could do at that time. Now, the archives, the thirty-year rule on those secrets, the Official Secrets Act and things, have been revised since then. I'd have much more access to information, but, he answered all the questions. He gave me everything that I asked for, and even in that book, there's a certain page which refers to his vanity, and his being feared by many people, and so on, and I figured, "That's going to get crossed out when he looks at the manuscript," but, it went through. Maybe he didn't see it, I don't know, but, then, the fact that I got the manuscript for the foreword the very morning that he was killed and extricated it from the bureaucracy, and, perhaps, from Lady Mountbatten, whom we've corresponded with since. It was very satisfying, personally, although very regretful that this man, and one of his twin grandsons, and I think another member of the family, were killed, … and the man had always been a friend of Ireland. I mean, there was no [reason]. I can only assume it was to reach in and prove that the IRA could get into the Royal Family. It was a tragedy, even though his days of power and influence were pretty well gone.
SH: Thank you very much.
FJ: Well, thank you. I hope you can make something of all this palaver. [laughter]
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Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 7/14/02
Reviewed by Sandra Stewart Holyoak 7/15/02
Reviewed by Franklyn Johnson 8/02