Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Dr. Douglas Grahn on September 16, 2005, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with Shaun Illingworth. Dr. Grahn, thank you very much for sitting down with me today. You traveled a very long distance to be with me today.
Douglas Grahn: My pleasure.
SI: To begin, could you tell me where and when you were born?
DG: Okay. I was born in Newark, New Jersey, which is pretty awful, in 1923, April 25, 1923, and moved to East Orange, New Jersey, when I was about two and grew up there. [I] went to East Orange High School, graduated from East Orange High School in 1940. ... I was barely out of my sixteenth year, so, I waited a year, took some post-graduate work at the high school, and then, started here in '41, which put me in the right age category, because, by that time, I was eighteen. ... Well, to begin with, I'm a pure-bred Viking. My father came to this country in September 1905, ... originally from Sweden, northern Sweden. He was an engineer. He was twenty-three when he arrived here. My mother's parents came from Sweden in 1880 and my mother's father was also an engineer, ... with the early General Electric Company, and [was] one of their main plant managers and superintendents of their big operation up in Bloomfield, New Jersey. ... My mother was born in a Swedish-immigrant community in Brooklyn. So, you see, when you have one parent born in Brooklyn and one parent who came off Ellis Island, it doesn't get any better than that, [laughter] but I never learned Swedish, other than the niceties, which you had to learn. ... That's because of the attitude that was very different, then, from today; when I asked my mother if she would teach me Swedish, she just looked at me and said, "You're an American; you speak English," and that was that. I wish people would have that attitude today.
SI: Did they maintain any other Swedish traditions?
DG: Oh, yes. ... We had two Christmases, one on Christmas Eve, which was a traditional Swedish time, and then, Christmas Day, which was for us kids. I had two older brothers and I still have, and occasionally make, my father's recipe for glögg, the Swedish drink. ... My mother also made a lot of Swedish dishes as well ... and they had a lot of Swedish friends. ... I was surrounded by people reading, writing, speaking Swedish, so, you know, you learned to pick up some of it, but I never really made an effort. So, in high school, ... my extracurricular accomplishment, I was manager of the East Orange High School basketball team and the senior manager in 1940, when East Orange High School won the state championship in basketball, in, ... what was it, the highest level of school, with the greatest number of students?
SI: 1-A, perhaps.
DG: ... Yes, whatever the classifications are, I don't remember now. So, that was one of our great accomplishments. Otherwise, it was a college prep course that East Orange High School had, which was a very good school in those days. I don't know what it's like today, sixty-five years later or so. ... The regular, I should say, college prep course really got us ready for wherever you wanted to go. In that time, New Jersey had to compete; students out of Jersey had to compete with other states, especially when I got down here to Rutgers. ... If you wanted to go to medical school, there was no medical school in New Jersey, so, they had to compete against people from all-out, ... so that the Biological Sciences Department here was really very good and created a competitive group of students that had great success in getting into the Ivy League schools and medical school and so on, like that, ... but I'm getting ahead of myself, now. Am I?
SI: Were you interested in the sciences when you were in high school?
DG: ... Yes, yes. I really began to get into physics, chemistry, biology and some math while I was still in high school, and at home, but, you know, it hadn't been that specific. ... When you come from a family full of Swedish engineers, you're surrounded by technical issues. My father was a heating, ventilating and air conditioning engineer in downtown New York and my oldest brother ... ended up as a Navy ordnance engineer, for example. ... He died some years ago, but he's buried in ... Arlington National Cemetery. So, it was sort of natural, but nobody pushed me, other than, I think, at an early age, I began to look upon engineers as being a little too monochromatic. ... My interests were more diverse, ... so that I ended up, well, originally, in the College of Agriculture here at Rutgers, in 1941, but, then, in the College of Arts and Sciences after the war. ...
SI: How did the Great Depression affect your family, particularly your father, as an engineer?
DG: Yes, ... we were able to survive, obviously. ... We weren't poor; we weren't rich. My oldest brother went to Stevens [Stevens Institute of Technology], up here in Hoboken, and my next oldest brother went to Upsala College in East Orange, which no longer exists, and I came down here to Rutgers. The work that my father did, ... his company, known as Terry & Ohmes, they were officed in 101 Park Avenue in New York, the Architects Building, just outside of Grand Central Station, and so, they were really like subcontractors to major architectural firms. ... He worked on a number of major buildings. He did the Macy's downtown store, 34th Street and Jamaica, Metropolitan Museum, part of that, Mt. Sinai Hospital in downtown New York, he did parts of that over the years, off and on, in air conditioning and so on. ... He and his colleagues air conditioned the first surgical room in Mt. Sinai, in New York, which was looked down upon by the surgeons, because they were afraid of airflow problems, but it was very successful and the surgeons were standing in line, in the following summer that it was done, to use it. You can imagine, downtown New York in July. [laughter] Humidity is one hundred percent, you know. ... I was surrounded by a lot of engineering interests and accomplishments ... and there was just enough work during the Depression to keep us going, without having to feel, what would you say? deprived or in any way like that. In fact, one of the funny things I remember, during the Depression, the mid [to] late Depression years, theReader's Digest Company, which I never cared for, but I have this endowment to them, so-to-speak, because they ... built their Pleasantville, New York, plant during the Depression years. ... My father's company ... did all of the HVAC [heating, ventilating and air conditioning] and I can remember the dining room table being covered with the blueprints of that plant, [laughter] in some of those periods. It was still a privately-owned operation. It's now partly public, but ... I'm sort of indebted to Reader's Digest for having provided work that kept bread on the table during some tough years, because they were tough years. ...
SI: Your father's job was dependent on the construction trade.
SI: That was definitely hit hard by the Depression.
DG: Oh, yes, but it was also a time where some outfits, like the Reader's Digest people, took advantage, because things could be done a little bit less expensively, there was more talent available, and so on, like that. There were so many Swedish engineers in this country then that there was a society in New York known as the American Society of Swedish Engineers. There was that many of them and they published their own journal. It was a bi-monthly journal. I can remember seeing it when I was a kid, and both my mother's father, my maternal grandfather, and my father were members of this organization. They had regular meetings in downtown New York, so that, we weren't isolated in that sense. ... There were a lot of Swedish engineers, chemists and the like that came to this country during the early part of the 1900s, because of the opportunity that was here, even though my father's family goes back to 1510. We have the records, all the way back. It's about fifteen generations or so.
SI: Before we go any further, could you state your parents' names and your siblings' names for the record?
DG: ... Oh, yes. My father's name was Victor Grahn and my mother was, well, it would be pronounced Greta, but, in this country, they say Greta, G-R-E-T-A, Amanda. [Editor's Note: Dr. Grahn pronounces his mother's name first with a Swedish accent, then, the Americanized version.] Franzen, F-R-A-N-Z-E-N, was her parents' name, and Grahn. ... They are buried in Fairmount Cemetery, on ... South Orange Avenue in Newark, I think, something like that. My oldest brother was Robert Grahn and, as I say, ... early in World War II, ... since he was a working engineer, he joined the Navy and became an ordnance engineer and he stayed in the Navy and retired from the Navy, and then, ... died, about twenty-five years ago, and he's buried in Arlington. ... My next oldest brother, who I was just visiting, his name is Eric, Carl, Eric, though he uses Eric as the general name, and he was born in 1920. My oldest brother was born in 1916, my other brother in 1920 and I, myself, in '23. He worked for Elastic Stop Nut, ... in sales and material supply and so on, for a number of years, retired from there and lives down in one of the retirement communities in Lakewood, New Jersey.
SI: Did your parents, particularly your father, ever explain why their families came over? You touched upon the fact that there were more opportunities here. Was there anything other reason?
DG: Well, I know that when my grandfather, my mother's father, retired from General Electric, and there was a write-up about him, ... he said he just came to this country because this was the place of opportunity and a lot of people saw that, you know, things weren't that available in Europe, and we're talking over a hundred years ago, so, you can imagine how bad it is today. ... My father came from a family well-established in northern Sweden, in Umeaº. ... They were business people and they also worked for [the] government. They were members of the city council and of the parliament in Stockholm and so on. ... They did a lot of their commercial business with the Lapps, up north, in Lapland, but, as members of the family died off and, finally, his mother died, in 1903, he went to Liverpool for a year, in 1904, because he had an older brother who was a grain broker there, in downtown Liverpool. ... I think he learned English at that time, and then, came to this country in 1905. ... Since there was a whole matrix of Swedish engineers in New York and the area, it was comparatively easy for an immigrant to come in and get involved in a major company fairly quickly. As I say, my grandfather was up the ladder in General Electric, having come over here in 1880 and so on. So, the opportunities were everywhere. I think this was the land of opportunity, so, they came. I can't blame them. ...
SI: Did they ever discuss any difficulties they had in adjusting to life in America?
DG: No. There were so many Swedes around all the time, at least ... with my family, and my mother used to maintain correspondence with family over in Sweden and the like, that I don't remember anybody talking about having to, quote-unquote, "adjust." I think that would have been more [of] a problem for persons who were not well-educated and trained. You look at the records, I was just looking at them, because my brother has a copy of them, for the ship that my father came over on, landed in September, early September, 1905, and, there, he's listed in there, "Male, single, engineer," see, ... whereas a lot of the rest of them would be just peasants, let's say, from who knows where, and they would have had the troubles. ...
SI: Do you remember the name of the ship?
DG: I think it was the Campania, C-A-M-P-A-N-I-A. It was a Cunard Liner, one of the early Cunard Liners. I think it sank in 1918, in, probably, some mishap involving World War I. [laughter] I don't know. ...
SI: Was there a story behind how they met?
DG: My parents?
DG: No, I really don't know, other than the fact that there was this large Swedish community in the New York area, with this society, and ... how they actually met, I don't know. They married in 1910, when my mother, who was born in 1888, in Brooklyn, she would have been twenty-one, and she was trained as a pianist. ... How they met, I don't know, I really don't. I don't think my brother knows, either, and he keeps the genealogy details. ...
SI: What was East Orange like when you were growing up?
DG: It was a town [of] about the same population size as it is today, about sixty-eight to seventy thousand. It was a New York City suburb. We were about four or five blocks from the border of Newark. It was a mixed community. The way things were in those days, there was an Italian section and there would be a Jewish section and there would be a black section ... and everything. ... You learned not to go into some of these areas without being accompanied by some kid from that area. There was probably seven or eight percent of my graduating class from East Orange, of which there was over 450 in the senior class, who were black, but they ... had been self-selected by then. ... I remember, a good friend of mine there, a black fellow, was going to go down to Tuskegee, for example. ... Others, the women, young women, were studying to be secretaries and the like. The Italians made up about twenty percent of the class, many of whom were first-generation. ... I'm one-and-a-half generations. ... Their names were still Italian, like, instead of Joseph, it would be Giuseppe, see, and things like that. ... That was more working-class and so on. The Irish, well, they'd been in and out and around for so long since coming to this country, so, that was a mixed group, and the rest were a mix of English, Scots, Greek, Polish, very few Polish, I remember. ... One of the reasons I'm reminded of that is [because of] that dear Martha Stewart, who's really a Polish girl, from up in East Rutherford, New Jersey. They had a big Polish community up there, but we didn't in East Orange, for example. ... I don't remember [them] even in Orange or West Orange or South Orange or so on. It was more a nice, middle-class set of communities. Orange was the toughest. That was kind of a rough town and, of course, Newark was a rough town. ... So, it was a good place to grow up then. I think it's probably pretty awful now, I understand. ... I went to the East Orange High School Class of 1940 fiftieth reunion in 1990. We didn't even dare hold it in East Orange. We held it up in Livingston or someplace, because the city had become too violent and too unpredictable. [laughter] ...
SI: When you were growing up, what did you do for entertainment, outside of school? Did you work at any jobs?
DG: Well, yes, ... there were some jobs available. ... During the school year, of course, we just played in the street. You learned how to play in the street, roller-skating, bicycling, touch football. You learned how to nag the police, you see. You learned early how to be troublesome [laughter] and, in the summers, we were very fortunate, in my family; we had a home up in Connecticut. So, the day school was out, my mother picked us up, we got on the train at Grove Street Station and over to Grand Central and up to Milford, Connecticut, and we spent our summers there, every summer from ... the spring I was born through, my last summer there was in 1942, ... between my freshman and sophomore years here. ... I worked in a factory that summer and, the summer before, I worked on a seed farm and I'd worked in a grocery store after I left high school. In that one year, I had time and I earned all of twenty-five cents an hour. That was pretty good pay in 1940, [laughter] ... but there weren't that many opportunities for kids, ... the way there are today, but there were some. One of my boyhood friends worked for a dry cleaner and so on, like that, you know. There'd be a few things that would be available. ... It wasn't something that was a problem in our family. We were fortunate, let's say. We didn't have to worry about that. ... I was going to note that, while there were playgrounds and school grounds, you also learned, in those days, to play in the streets, literally. Most of the neighbors would put up with it, but a few of them would complain about it and so on, but, ... at least in East Orange, that was okay. ... On the nice asphalt pavement, you could go roller-skating and do all sorts of things. ...
SI: Did you see the impact of the Great Depression on the town as a whole? Did it maintain its middle-class character?
DG: Yes, I think East Orange did not suffer that much from the Depression years. Newark did, but East Orange, ... I think, had more middle-class [families], which is a pretty broad description. ... The Lackawanna Railroad had two lines through East Orange and a number of people, like my father, he commuted to work on the Lackawanna into Hoboken every day, took the ferry across, or the Hudson "Tubes," which then ran you up to Penn Station, in those days. ... Then, from there, you could get over to Grand Central, and then, he would walk to wherever he was on Park Avenue. ... Communication, there were bus lines and there were factories in the area, just across the line into Newark, in one of the nearby areas. You learned to know what time it was by hearing the factory whistles, so that, you know, they were there. There was work, there was opportunity and the sky usually had a fair amount of soot, from burning all the soft coal for the factories and the homes and so on. ... One of our standard jokes was, on a clear day, somebody would comment, "Somebody stole the air," you see, because you couldn't run your finger on a sill and it didn't come up black. [laughter] There's some things that you learn in the streets of the metropolitan area, and I'm sure it's worse today, but, in its own way, it's the same, that you learned to survive and you learned to give the police a bit of a run for their money. ...
SI: What do you mean by that?
DG: Well, you know, they'd bitch at us for hanging around on the street corner. They'd tell us to move. So, we'd move catty-corner, see, and then, they'd say, "[Move]." It's just a matter of keeping them [on their toes], annoying them. [laughter] So, it's part of your education in the cities, in those days, and I'm sure it's infinitely worse today, ... but it's very different. For example, ... after I left New Jersey and got out to the Midwest, ... the Midwest is so much better than the East Coast. ... I worked outside of Chicago for thirty-five years or so and my kids all grew up in the Chicago suburbs. ... It was very different than [New Jersey], much more open and much nicer than these close-in suburbs around New York, Newark, etc. It's really quite different and still is, to this day. ... I never saw so many people and so many cars in such a small amount of space [as] here in New Jersey. You know, we have crowds in the Chicago area and so on, but I think, I can just remember that I was delighted to get away from this part of the world, [laughter] ... though my wife, who's from Philadelphia, Mainline, a Bryn Mawr graduate and so on, we still sort of maintain a certain Eastern elitism, you see, that you do grow up with when you go to an Ivy League-type school and so on, like that. ... So, that never leaves. You still kind of maintain a certain superiority over the [Midwesterners]. [laughter]
SI: When you were in high school in the late 1930s, what did you know about what was happening overseas in Europe, or even in Asia?
DG: I don't remember much about Asia, ... except what one might have read in the papers. ... Europe, however, was closer to home, because, you see, my parents were, one was an immigrant, the other a first-generation. ... They maintained correspondence. So, we knew what was going on, so-to-speak. ... The New York Herald-Tribune was delivered to the house in the morning and I grew up with the New York Herald-Tribune. ... In the evening, my father brought home the New York Sun, that's no longer published, and, like as not, we would read theNewark Evening News, which I also understand is no longer published. [laughter] ... We had a pretty good sense of what was going on, and, also, spending summers up in Connecticut, in New England, we were close to and had a number of Jewish friends and family friends and still maintain some contacts, even to this day, a woman in her eighties, whose parents were Russian-Jewish immigrants. These girls even taught me a little Yiddishee. It was not uncommon for persons like myself to know a little Italian, a little Yiddish and, you know, whatever you needed to survive in the streets. ... The Jewish community was much closer to these problems. I can remember immigrants, Jewish, coming over in the early, mid '30s, after the Germans began their first crackdowns, starting in January of '33. ... With two older brothers and so on ... and the family being of European origin, what was going in Europe was sort of always there. ... I was well aware of what was going on and can still remember it and I am surprised that so little of this is apparently taught in the high schools, now, yet, they were watersheds, like November 8, 9, 10, 1938, Kristallnacht, that time when the Krauts first let the bad guys loose and they started breaking up Jewish shops and so on, like that. That was a watershed and I remember that and the Germans occupying the Rhineland in 1936, occupying Austria ... in March of '38, and [I] well remember Chamberlain coming back from Munich in September of 1938. It happened to be the same day that we had the 1938 hurricane that came through New Jersey, New York, New England, much more devastating than what's going on down the Gulf Coast. [Editor's Note: Dr. Grahn is referring to Hurricane Katrina.] They created a lot of their problems down there, but ... parts of Rhode Island were just demolished. Over six hundred people were killed, but that was, essentially, the same day that Chamberlain came back and promised, "Peace in our time." Two weeks later, the Krauts make their next moves. [laughter] So, you know, we just sort of knew what was going to happen. World War II was a continuation of World War I, that's all. It wasn't even twenty-one years; it was twenty years and ten months, about, between the two. ... Here, in Jersey, you got more of a sense of it, because Lakehurst was the place where the German zeppelin, the Hindenburg, would tie down and, of course, it exploded down there in May of 1937, which I remember. I remember studying that from the newspapers. The Newark Evening Newshad good coverage on it and I remember seeing it coming down the New England coast, the summer of 1936. ... As I was telling my brother, he didn't remember it, or maybe he was elsewhere, but I said, "I was here, I was thirteen years old and I was watching the Hindenburg. It came following the coastline of Connecticut and it went straight across in front of us. You could see the crew in the gondola and I was thinking to myself, even then, 'Those bastards are just photographing the whole coastline and taking it right on down,' which I'm sure they were." [laughter] So, we were, pretty well aware of what was going on, the Civil War in Spain, the Italians going into Ethiopia and making a mess of things and so on, like that. I think, in part, not only because of our European orientation from [the] family, but I was surrounded by good New York newspapers, ... not the New York Times, but the New York Herald-Tribune was a good paper. I always liked it and ... there it was. It was right on the front page. [laughter] ...
SI: In the late 1930s and early 1940s, did you feel like America would enter the war one day?
DG: I don't remember really thinking or worrying about that so much, but we were well aware of Roosevelt's efforts to prepare the country and the lend-lease program that he set up and provided the British Navy with a lot of old destroyers and, also, supplies, food supplies. I worked, the summer of 1941, on a seed plant, up in Milford, Connecticut, and a lot of the product that we were putting together and growing, the seed, that summer was destined for England, because of their needs and their inability to provide enough for themselves. So, you know, we got into it pretty early and, you know, it's hard to know when your mind really was fully aware of things, because retrospective thinking ... and hindsight are so good, but it was clear that Roosevelt had to deal with an isolationist Midwest versus an East Coast that was focused towards Europe and knew bloody well it had to do something. The West Coast, we never worried about particularly. That was somebody else's world. [laughter] ... The country was really so big in those days that you really couldn't. We remember the drought years, of course,The Grapes of Wrath, which I read as a high school kid. ... I remember reading Gone with the Wind, as a high school kid and seeing the picture when it first arrived in New York, in 1939. ... In my family, there was more awareness, I guess, because we were largely more educated and oriented towards what was going on, ... but I don't remember thinking or worrying about it or knowing what we were going do. The United States policy in those days was to stay out of European affairs and that was the policy of the United States Congress, until Pearl Harbor. Virtually, ... it was an overnight change, from zero to one. ... Even going into ROTC down here, in 1941, so, okay, we were introduced to the M-1 rifle and learned how to strip it and clean it and use it and so on, though, much of our training was with the old Springfield, ... 1906 Springfield rifle, which was a nicer rifle, in many ways. ... I don't remember even, down here at Rutgers, there being much or any discussions of, "Oh, my God, what are we going to do?" sort of thing, you know. Information processing was very different in those days. [laughter] Today, it's excessive, than in those days. They were still sending out newspaper extras. ... The last one I remember was when they found the Lindbergh baby. ... See, all of that happened here, in New Jersey, and I remember following that, because I was young enough ... and lacking knowledge sufficiently, so [that] I was afraid that I would be kidnapped, see. I didn't realize that I was totally worthless to somebody. You know, when you're, what? nine years old, you worry about those things. [laughter]
SI: You mentioned the hurricane of 1938. Was that something that you read about or did this affect your neighborhood?
DG: ... Oh, yes, we had a fair bit of damage in East Orange. Right across the street, a tree came down, a big, old tree, scrunched a car. There was a lot of other damage of that kind and our home, our place up [in Connecticut], our summer cottage, sustained damage and that neighborhood did, because the eye of the hurricane went over Milford, Connecticut, and, while it's not as bad as, the east side of a hurricane, you see, is really where it's tough and that's where it hit ... Newport, Rhode Island, I think. ... Some of those summer homes in [that] part of Rhode Island were totally devastated. Hundreds of people were killed and ... there was some damage and, I remember, my father went up in the fall and made things okay for the winter, and then, that following spring, the spring, summer of '39, I had to help clean up some of the mess and dig a huge tree trunk out of the ground, a tree that had come down next to the house and so on. So, yes, we sustained a bit of damage. It was mostly wind and rain here in [the] New York area. The worst parts were in New England and so on, but it was noticeable. I was in physics. I was a junior in East Orange High School, sitting next to a window. I wasn't paying any attention to the guy talking. I was watching the wind drive the rain under the window and up and across the window sill and dropping on the floor. I'd never seen that before and it was an interesting bit of physics, [laughter] as I was studying, but that was how the wind was blowing against East Orange High School, driving the rain under the windows and around them, ... but we had gotten accustomed. When you're living on the seacoast and spend your summers on the seacoast and up there, you are aware of hurricanes, you are aware of nor'easters, and you don't panic. You just know what they can do and you pay attention, ... because, by the time they got up this far, they have usually lost a lot of their power, but, off the Jersey Coast, there were ships that would get knocked down or sunk and so on. ... So, we were at least aware and could prepare for problems like that. ...
SI: Were you aware of the German-American Bund and other pro-Nazi groups in New Jersey?
DG: Oh, yes, yes, we were, more so, of course, as soon as we got into the war, in '41, and I don't think we had any direct involvement. My mother had a cousin who was a machinist, worked in New York off and on. He was also a seaman and he would often have to work with German machinists, many of whom were in the New York area. ... There was always conflict, and it's interesting you should mention that, because, you know, people today go around wringing their hands about the fact that the United States Government interned a couple of hundred thousand Japs out on the West Coast. We didn't give a shit about that here on the East Coast, because we were aware of, A, the German Bund-type operations and, B, the German submarines were sinking tankers right off Asbury Park and Atlantic City. ... Classmates of mine told me that the summer of '42, they spent watching [the seas]. They'd go out to the boardwalk and they'd just wait and see and watch and see what was going to happen. Parts of the Jersey Shore had ankle-deep crude oil on it and so on, like that. ... So, our concerns, here in the East Coast, were very different from those in the West Coast and, as far as we were concerned, they could throw all the Japs into the slammer and we would have loved to have done the same with all the Krauts at this side, because it was total war. These were all bad guys ... and we didn't worry about discrimination. [laughter] ... No, we were aware of these things, but it was just something you paid attention to, but you were careful. ...
SI: At the same time, you were getting ready to come to Rutgers. Why did you chose Rutgers, particularly the College of Agriculture?
DG: My original interest, in 1940, when I was first getting out of high school, was to go to the University of Connecticut and to the College of Agriculture, because, ... whatever got me interested in agricultural issues, there it was and that's where I wanted to go, but I just felt not ready. I was so young. I had just barely turned seventeen, and so, I decided to wait a year, which was wise, and we had a family friend that we were very close with for over the years. They lived in Newark.
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SI: You said that you were interested in agriculture, but you wanted to wait a year.
DG: Yes, and, as I say, I was looking at the University of Connecticut, but, during the year that I laid over, so-to-speak, this family from Newark, they had a daughter who was at NJC, New Jersey College for Women, at the time, and a son who ... was just finishing at Rutgers, in business administration or something like that, and they kind of convinced me that, "Really, why go up to Connecticut? Take a look at things down here," and so, I did and decided to come here. It was easier, quicker and the College of Agriculture here was, of course, very good, and so, that's where I started then, in September of '41. ... I was influenced by Rutgers students, or NJC and Rutgers.
SI: Do you remember their names?
DG: Yes, Cuthbert, C-U-T-H-B-E-R-T, Jane Cuthbert, from the Class of '42 at NJC, and Girven Cuthbert. I think he was either like the Class of '39, maybe, and he worked for Johnson and Johnson, ... in their administrative side, and I think he worked down here in New Brunswick for a while, and then, somewhere else. So, that's how I was really influenced. It's not like kids today, [who] go studying a hundred different schools, trying to find a bargain. The total number of people going to college in 1940, in the United States, was less than a million. It was in the hundreds of thousands only. So, this was something that was something of a privilege and you didn't have to fight for space, as far as I remember, and we couldn't afford an Ivy League school. Now, I had cousins, my mother's younger brother had two sons, one went to Harvard and one went to Yale, and the one from Harvard went to Wharton, ... ended up with Hammermill as a vice-president, and the one who went to Yale went up to Harvard for an MBA. ... He ended up with ... one of the big insurance companies in Hartford, Connecticut, where all the insurance industry was based in those days, but that was more than we could afford ... and Rutgers wasn't that expensive. As an in-state student, I think it was only five hundred dollars a semester at the most, which was a lot of money, I suppose, in 1941. ...
SI: What were your first days at Rutgers like? Was there any freshman hazing?
DG: Oh, there was a little of that, not too much. ... They had the usual requirements, that freshmen had to be identified with the freshman cap and this, that and the other thing, but, in those days, you've got to remember, Rutgers ... had a large commuter component to its student body, coming in from New York and elsewhere. ... It wasn't like everybody was living on campus. ... Those living on campus were either ... living in fraternities or in the few quads that existed. ... I don't remember too much difficulty and I got involved with [the] Chi Phi fraternity and became a pledge there, ... even though I was living in, was it Hegeman Hall?
SI: Yes, in the Quad on Bishop Campus.
DG: Does that sound familiar, over in the Quad? I don't know if it's there any longer.
SI: Yes, it is still there.
DG: But, that's where I lived the first year, my freshman year, which was really very pleasant, before the war. We had maid service that cleaned our rooms and made our beds, every day. I had the New York Herald-Tribunedelivered to my door every morning, as a freshman [laughter] and so on. That did not persist after the war, that sort of service. So, you know, it was a different era, ... really, very much. So, it was pleasant; I don't remember any hazing problems. Oh, a little bit in the fraternity, but, then, you knew you were going to get into that, but not ... as a general campus issue. ...
SI: Even though you were in the College of Agriculture, you were pretty much ...
DG: We were mostly over here, right down there in New Jersey Hall, studying botany, right across there in Chemistry, taking basic chemistry and so on, wherever else. [Editor's Note: The interview took place in Van Dyck Hall, located on Voorhees Mall, where New Jersey Hall and Milledoler Hall, formerly the Chemistry Building, also stand.] ... We had, I think I remember, one class that we had to walk over to the College of Agriculture [for], a class in soils science, ... which I enjoyed, I remember, but most of it was here, and the ROTC work and all that was here. So, the College of Agriculture, ... that was an easy walk across town, when you're that age, just up George Street and over. ...
SI: What attracted you to the Chi Phi fraternity?
DG: Well, the guys who were out looking for pledges or trying to convince them, you know. There were a lot of fraternity efforts to get memberships and they all were busy doing that sort of thing, because it was integral part of the campus, on-campus activity. The fraternities were critical to ... what was going on, on campus. We were here seven days a week, whereas the commuters were here from nine-to-five, that's all, and my two older brothers had been fraternity members, at Stevens or at Upsala, and so, why Chi Phi? I don't remember. It was, I guess, the guys who were working on me, I was more impressed with or interested in, and so, that's how I got involved. ...
SI: You moved into the Chi Phi house before you went in the service.
DG: Yes. I lived there, then, the beginning of my sophomore year, but, by that time, I was registered for the draft and I dropped out of school in December of '42, not quite finishing the semester. So, I had a mixed bunch of grades. ... One professor, in horticulture, gave me an A and there was one in physics, I think, who either made it an incomplete, or maybe even flunked me, and so on. ... It was a funny period, where some people were trying to stay on at the University, continuing with whatever programs were becoming available. I just simply went with the draft and ended up at Fort Dix in the first week of January, something like that, of '43. ...
SI: You were a student at Rutgers for ...
DG: For three semesters.
SI: Do you remember when Pearl Harbor was bombed?
DG: Yes, oh, yes, that Sunday. There weren't too many people [around]. I was at the dormitory and there was only two or three of us there that day, because it was, you know, a couple of weeks before Christmas holidays and I think a lot of guys had gone home to shop and do this or that, but there were several of us there. ... We were sitting, listening to the radio, in one of the dorm rooms for a good part, well, let's see, whatever the time difference would have been from seven in the morning in Pearl Harbor to here.
SI: Early afternoon.
DG: Yes, at least, yes, three hours across the United States and five more hours, is it? to Hawaii, so, eight. Yes, it would have been early, mid-afternoon. Then, the next day, I think, we generally went to class, but things were clearly ... changing, and then, I remember sitting at lunch. We didn't go to class right after lunch on Monday, the 8th. We all listened to Roosevelt's talk to Congress and declaring war on Japan and, you know, his phraseology about "The Day of Infamy" and so on, and then, of course, we continued [on]. We went to class until Christmas holidays. Over the holiday period, the University changed its scheduling and we finished the first semester earlier in January than usual and we were at the end of the second semester by late April. We were out of here before the 1st of May. ... Then, I think they had started a full summer semester. Maybe that was it, the accelerated program, ... because I found a job up in Milford, Connecticut, and I went up to Connecticut, to our place up there, and I got a job in early May, worked right through until Labor Day. So, it was over three months of income that I had that summer, making fifty-five or sixty cents an hour, wow, [laughter] and came back to start the second year, but, in the meantime, I was drafted. I had the draft registration. I was called for my first physical and, at that point, you know, I began to sort of [not care as much], didn't pay much attention, because who knew what was going to come next? ... So, much of my first semester of my sophomore year was kind of lost. I did all right in a couple of courses, but not too well.
SI: The academic pace picked up.
DG: Oh, yes, everything changed and the Class of '43, that would then be seniors, you see, at that point, ... they had a number of ROTC officers, and two were fraternity brothers of mine, [who] never came home. Class of '43 lost ten percent of its class. ... The Rutgers infantry ROTC program, apparently, had a very good reputation. ... As a result, a lot of them, ... even if they didn't go into the advance courses, ... they had basic training, and so, ended up in the infantry and things like that. Fortunately, I ended up in the artillery. ...
SI: What else did the war change about Rutgers, in terms of the social life and campus activities? Normal campus life faded out, from what I understand.
DG: ... Yes, there were still the usual social activities, on Saturday night and so on, like that. ... They had the regular football schedule. I remember, we played Princeton, even, if I remember correctly, and there were some new guys in, several of whom we had pledged into the fraternity, who were 150-pound football players. I don't think they have that anymore, but that was a very active program. Rutgers played Navy and Princeton and Penn and Villanova, and so on. ... The 150-pound football players, [it] was more fun to go to their games, usually on Friday afternoon, because you could stand there on the sideline. [laughter] ... It was like high school, advanced high school football. These were good football players from high school, but they weren't big enough or whatever to make the regular varsity, and so, that continued. So, you know, a lot of things continued, but you were regularly [distracted]. I was being totally distracted in the sense that I knew I was going to be drafted. I knew this was [fleeting]. Who knew whether I'd ever be back? ...
SI: Did you make any attempt to enlist in another branch of the service or get into any special programs, like the Army Specialized Training Program?
DG: No, not the ASTP. I looked at some of the other services and I wasn't interested in [the] Air Force or Marines. I looked at the airborne infantry, actually, realized then, as I saw what they needed, that I really wasn't big enough and grown-up enough, yet, and so, I just took my chances and became an ordinary, everyday draftee. [laughter] ...
SI: How did you see the home front change in-between Pearl Harbor and the time that you went into the Army? You wrote on your survey that your mother got involved with the Red Cross.
DG: Oh, yes, she was. ... Well, it changed markedly, in terms of where I was in the summer, and, of course, a lot here in New Jersey, which you didn't see quite as much, but I went back up to Milford, Connecticut, say, in early May of 1942 ... and the coasts were already blacked out. ... Here, in the area where I had spent my childhood summers and having all that fun, it was totally wartime. I could look out over Long Island Sound, say, to the New Haven Harbor or across, and I think there were a few of the lighthouses [that] still had their signals going, but I don't remember that for sure, but, otherwise, it was totally, totally dark. ... I worked a night shift, the swing shift, as we called it, from four to twelve-thirty, so, I would see the nighttime period along the coast of Connecticut and it was just blacked out, period. ... Milford, Connecticut, is between New Haven and Bridgeport and both of these towns were already heavily into military production. See, Remington Arms was in one town, [Bridgeport], Winchester Arms was in another, [New Haven], Singer Sewing Machine in Bridgeport was now making machine guns and such like, Bridgeport Brass, obviously, would be involved, and so, everybody was working in the war industry. ... I was a part of a carpool that went to work at four in the afternoon, because there was no bus line to this place, and I carpooled with women whose husbands all worked days, in either New Haven or someplace like that. Everybody was working, the men, the women. It started very early that women got into the factories. The night shift that I was on there, in this plant in Milford, there were only a small handful of males. I worked alongside women, with them right from the beginning, never bothered me. Hell, they were very good. [laughter]
SI: In general, do you know if they faced prejudice in getting into good jobs?
DG: I don't [remember]. I never heard anything like that. ... I think we on the East Coast, in the metropolitan areas, in New England, we knew we were under attack, see. ... Bloody hell, it was right off the coast. We didn't ... kid ourselves. I think a lot of other people didn't have that experience. ... No, I don't remember any problems of that kind. ... The factories and whatnot were happy to have whoever. They were delighted to have me, even though I was only going to be there until Labor Day, "Fine." They paid me full wage, full hourly wage. I could also do piecework and, someone like this, I was just as good as their regular labor force and I think they were delighted to have college students working like that, for the summer, because they were a better workforce, you see. So, no, no problems; I never remember any problems.
SI: What exactly did you do in this plant?
DG: ... It was US Electrical Motors, which, after the war sometime, was bought out by Emerson Electric, which, I think, Emerson still exists as a major corporation, and we made electrical motors, ... a lot of it for military contract or for other industries that were expanding, building, etc., and some special things for the Air Force and the like. ... It was just an assembly line. I was part of an assembly line. The women, the work that most of the women did was winding the ... stators of these motors. I did more of some of the dirty, heavy work. ... If that's discrimination, hell, the women were better at doing what they were put on, ... with one exception. I worked alongside a tough, old broad. ... She and I used to team up to do piecework, because she was so good and I was pretty good, and we could make ... over a dollar an hour, on piecework, and, you know, we could work together fine, no problems.
SI: Were most of these women from the area or elsewhere?
DG: Yes, no, they ... lived in West Haven, they lived in Milford, they lived in New Haven and the ones that I was driving, riding with, they came down from the West Haven-New Haven area and picked me up ... a little east of where we were, in downtown Milford, and went on in from there. So, it was convenient, but there'd be others who would have come in from Bridgeport or so on, like that. New England was an industrial area still, back then, Waterbury, Hartford, Connecticut, New Haven, and then, up the way was New London as the major naval base, which, I think, they decided not to close, [laughter] in this latest base closing.
SI: I have only heard about Fort Monmouth.
DG: ... Yes. Well, Fort Monmouth didn't have that much to do anymore, I don't think. ... No, this was a committed situation and, in New Jersey and New York, it was the same. High school friends of mine, who didn't go to college or whatever, got work in the shipyards, the Kearny Shipyards or Brooklyn Navy Yard. ... They were turning out ships. Already, they were cranking them out as fast as they could. So, there was lots of military work, and then, the Krauts were right off shore, so that there were no problems. I never remember any problems with regard to sexual discrimination. Now, whether there was with regard to race, I don't know. ... I don't remember any black labor. There was a lot in Newark, New York, but ... not up in New England, and I suppose there was in the shipyards, but I don't remember the guys saying much about it. A lot of the Italian immigrant kids and the Irish ones, they worked in the shipyards and they were good. They were hard workers. ...
SI: Was your father's work affected by the war? Did he see an increase in business because of the war? Was he called on for more jobs?
DG: Yes. I'm trying to think if I can think of any specific [instances]. I'm sure there probably were, but, you know, about this time, when you leave home and go away to school, you're just not staying with all of that and, certainly, engineering and engineering issues and factory expansions and so on, though, most of the kind of work that his heating and ventilating company did was with, well, like, departments stores, institutions. ... They didn't do factory work. So, I may not have gotten a good sense of that, ... but my brother, who was the engineer, my older brother, he was working for one of the insurance companies, Lumbermens Mutual or something, that provided industrial insurance to plants in the New York area and he was one of their safety engineers. ... He would describe to me some of these plants in Brooklyn and other places where there'd be open, single-drive lines from a generator down at the end of the room, and then, open belts, you see, driving machinery, and women getting their hair caught in this. ... That became a serious problem ... as women, more women now, began to go into the workplace. They had to start paying more attention to some of the safety issues, which were ... real.
SI: Do you recall if there were any safety issues or accidents at your plant?
DG: No. The making of electric motors was not too hazardous. There was one annealing oven which went too long one time and a whole bunch of motor frames got sort of semi-melted together and, because I was young, male and it was the night shift, they asked me to go in with a sledgehammer. [laughter] God, you ever work in an [oven] and then, there was still warm metal in there, but, other than that, I don't remember any. You know, there might have been [instances where] some guy put his hand under a drill press or something dumb like that, ... the usual sort of things that will happen, even today, now, mostly in people's basements, where they're working at home. They make the same mistakes, see, drilling holes in their hands. [laughter]
SI: Can you tell me a little bit about the process of getting into the military, such as reporting for induction and being sent to basic training? What do you remember about those days and weeks?
DG: Well, it was in early December that I had to take my preliminary physical and I think ... it was either in East Orange or Newark, I don't remember, ... and I passed that, so that I knew that I would be drafted. Well, I knew anyway, because I was already in the ROTC program and the like. ... I had my final call for a physical, I think, in, the first few days of January of '43 and came down to the Newark Armory and went through a detailed physical exam, and psychological testing and so on. ... Those of us who passed, we were then sworn in, ... and then, we were given one week's leave. I forget the name of it; it's on my discharge paper. ... We were actually sworn in, let's say, January X and, X +7, you reported to your draft board. So, I remember that, walking up to my draft board, saying good-bye to my parents and the draft board was, maybe a mile away or so, up in East Orange. ... Then, from there, they took you by bus to Newark, to the railroad station, and, from there, by train, to Fort Dix, and, instantly, then, they issued you a bologna sandwich. [laughter] ... Then, [they] instantly started you through the process of being ... issued uniforms your size and so on. ... That process was pretty well developed by whoever was running it and you ended up, then, assigned to a barracks and put your things in order and stayed there for about a week, maybe, with some very basic sort of indoctrination, but I don't even remember much. ... Then, suddenly, you find yourself selected to join a group to be put back on a train, a troop train, and, in this instance, shipped up to Camp Edwards, Massachusetts. So, I never really did get very far out of the East Coast. [laughter] ... Camp Edwards, I think it's now a National Guard facility, and the airbase next to it, ... Otis Airbase, was one of those that they weren't quite sure whether they wanted to close in this last round, but it was a training base for what was then known as the Coast Guard Artillery, but which included antiaircraft artillery. ... I was assigned to a heavy antiaircraft artillery unit, the 109th. In headquarters battery. ... When we were in Fort Dix, they gave us a lot of tests, including typing, I could type forty-five words a minute, and IQ tests and so on. They really gave us a lot of basic tests. So, I ended up in headquarters battery, because I was ... better prepared for that kind of work, but, very quickly, they sent me off to a school for range finding, electronic and optical range finding. So, I ended up doing that for a few months, and then, [I was] assigned to one of the gun batteries. I was transferred out of headquarters to Battery C and [I was] part of the optical height finder [team] and available for the radar units that we had, which were really quite well developed at that time. ... Because I had the ROTC background, they would sometimes ask me to run a close-order drill, all of us were draftees. I don't know how well I did at it, but, at any rate, they took advantage of the fact [that] they knew I was ROTC-trained and I knew the front end from the back end of a rifle and so on. [laughter] ... They issued us, up at Camp Edwards, then, our rifles, and I can still give you the serial number. 1530926 was the rifle serial number, [laughter] ... and then, it was just going through basic training, and then, we were very quickly sent out of the country. Why, we finished our basic in June, came down to an embarkation camp up the Hudson River, in Nyack, New York, and shipped out of Bayonne in mid-July 1943 and ended up in England about ten days later. ...
SI: How well did you adapt to being in the military, going from civilian life to the military?
DG: Well, I think it helped, the fact that ... I had these three semesters of ROTC. None of it was new, you see. In other words, ... I was totally familiar with the uniform, with the weaponry and close-order drill and even how to dig a foxhole. I can remember learning that here. [laughter] During the winter period, you'd see these training films, and so on. So, in that sense, ... it just was a continuation of things that I'd already been somewhat involved with. My next older brother, the one that I've just been visiting, he had already been in the service for a year. He was out in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in the field artillery training, and so, I don't remember any particular ...
SI: No culture shock?
DG: No, no. It was just a continuation of [the ROTC] and, you know, we knew what had to be done, we knew what was going on and ... the war had clearly started [to turn]; well, that August, of '42, they landed in Guadalcanal, the Marines. November of '42, the First Infantry Division, or, no, maybe not the First, but, anyway, several infantry divisions landed in North Africa, so, things were going on there. The Germans were sinking ships in the Atlantic, so that it was sort of [obvious what was required], at least for a person like myself. Now, maybe guys who were less well-educated or came out of different backgrounds would have had more culture shock or something, but it just didn't seem to bother me, I don't remember. I just flowed right into it. ...
SI: Your basic training at Camp Edwards sounds like a mix of specialized training, with the range finders and so forth, and normal basic training.
DG: Yes, right, it was. It was a mix, and then ...
SI: ... Calisthenics, drills and so forth.
DG: Oh, yes, though, when you're in the middle of the special training in fire control, then, you really don't get too much involved in some of that basic kind of training stuff. In other words, you're out of that, because ... you go over to that part of the camp where the training is early and you come back just before mess in the evening, and so, you really don't ... get too much involved. So, if there was any shock, it was when I got reassigned to a gun battery and, now, I had to pay attention to a very different [system]. ... It was a different chain of command and guys didn't know me, because I was just dropped in the middle of them. Headquarters Battery, I knew those guys, but, you see, the gun batteries would be quite separate. ... That took a little getting used to, but it came out all right. ...
SI: You were very quickly placed into the battalion-sized unit that you went overseas with.
DG: Yes, that was it. ... They were forming two or three new battalions at Camp Edwards and they were created then and we stayed right with them until the end of the war and came home. So, that was easy.
SI: Were you transferred from Headquarters Battery to Battery C while you were still in the United States?
DG: Oh, yes. No, that was up in Camp Edwards, in around April, I think, something like that, and so that, very quickly, I got involved in some of their exercises and some of the firing exercises that were going on, out over the North Atlantic and so on. We used what is today one of the nice federal parks, Wellfleet, in Cape Cod, the Wellfleet Shores. We used them as a range, as a fire training area, [laughter] ... but we were doing most of our firing out over the ocean, so that we didn't necessarily contaminate what's now the federal park. ...
SI: How would you train, exactly? Were you practicing the act of firing the gun or were you also aiming at aerial targets and so forth?
DG: ... Yes, see, Otis Air Force Base, they had guys there who flew light aircraft, towing a target way behind them, and it was the target that was used for training, see, and so, you'd fire at the target. ... Then, they'd come back and ... count the shrapnel holes in the target and things like that, to see how successful you were. So, that was a pretty standard [practice]. I don't know what they do today, but I'll bet it isn't awfully different, [laughter] except they can computerize a lot of it. ...
SI: How did you adapt to the actual work, which is fairly technical, from what I understand, finding the ranges?
DG: Well, I was sort of a junior member of the group then, in the gun battery, so that there were other guys who were better trained, part of the cadre of the battalion. One of their sergeants was ... the guy who was responsible for me, so that, you had plenty of opportunity to learn and be taught the actual requirements. ... It wasn't really that complex. I think fighting wars is more complicated today, but it wasn't that complex then. [laughter]
SI: What did you think of your NCOs and your officers? Do you remember anything about them?
DG: They were a mixed bunch. Oh, yes, I do, because a battalion is established by means of a cadre that has already ... had experience in training and these can be very mixed. Some of them can be very good, some of them ... are not very good. The officers are also a mix and the first battery commander we had, nobody particularly liked him and, actually, neither did the Army, and not long after we got to England, in [the] summer of '43, he was moved someplace else. The Army was pretty good at finding guys that weren't ... doing well and getting rid of them, sending them back to the States or putting them into totally different categories. ... Then, my ultimate battery commander was a great guy. He was from St. Louis. He was also an ROTC-trained [officer] and he was a captain. ... He appreciated my background; I think, in the 180-man gun battery, there were only three of us who had any college training. So, he saved me on a few occasions. [laughter] Otherwise, I'd get in trouble, because I would resist, not resist, but I would, say, take a given order and I would modify it to fit the circumstances, rather than to just take it as a blank order. ... That would seriously aggravate the executive officer, who was really from a very different background than me. ... He didn't like me, nor me him, and so that I would end up arguing with the officers, periodically, and I had developed a reputation for that, but I figure, ... that's the job, to make things work. [laughter]
SI: Do you remember any instances when that happened, where you would reinterpret an order, so-to-speak?
DG: Oh, yes. I can remember, not all of them, particularly, but I can remember one example. It was funny. The Captain saved me. I was sergeant of the guard and, when I was sergeant of the guard, I looked after the guys who were on guard duty. ... I used to walk the perimeter at two or three o'clock in the morning and things like that. We had a ... series of machine guns. We were heavily armed with .50-caliber machine guns and we had guys out there on active [guard] duty ... twenty-four hours a day. In the Rhineland, it was in March, early March, and Europe is a miserable place between the 1st of November and the 1st of April. Everybody should leave it. No wonder they all came to the United States. [laughter] It's always cold and wet and gray and the guys sitting in the multiple-mounted machine guns, the four-mount .50-caliber machine guns, which were electrically-driven, the officers would say, "You've got to sit in there." Well, the temperature's about twenty-eight or thirty degrees and it's wet. That's a good way to [hurt yourself]; pretty soon, your hands don't work, or anything else. So, I would talk to these guys and we made a deal. "You guys stand, you know, move around a bit. Don't get frozen in there, but be ready to, get in instantly," and they could and [it was] fine. I would work this out. The officer of the day, on this one occasion, was following along after me. Pretty soon, by the time he'd gotten through the perimeter, he called the battery commander. I happened to be in the headquarters then and he asked for me and he started reading me out for disobeying, ... etc., etc., etc. The battery commander could see that I was being read out by his junior officer, so, he asked for the phone and he talked to this junior officer ... for a little bit, and then, he looked at me and he said, "Sergeant, go to bed," and that was it. [laughter] ... That's the sort of thing that I would do. Another time, in training, before the invasion, ... I used to teach tank and aircraft identification, since I did have a background, an academic background. ... I got into teaching for the gun battery and that was the thing that I would teach. ... You do it with silhouette models and things like this. In one place where we were, in late training, before the invasion, ... they had included in the course a lot of Japanese aircraft and I made a few snide remarks about, "The Pentagon ought to realize which part of the world we're at. [laughter] ... I don't think we're going to be bothered by Japanese aircraft." So, one of the officers heard me and my comments and started after me. ...
-------------------------------------END OF TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO--------------------------------------
SI: This continues an interview with Dr. Douglas Grahn on September 16, 2005, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Please, continue. You were talking about teaching aircraft identification.
DG: Oh, yes. I just sort of refused to include Japanese aircraft, when we were preparing to land in France, and ... the officers thought I was being a bit out of line. So, I argued with them, you know, that's all, but they didn't do anything. They threatened me, but they never court-martialed me or anything. It was just sort of a game. [laughter] ...
SI: Were the men that you served with from all over the country?
DG: No. That was the funny part. We were all from the New York-New Jersey area and it was a large of number of Italian immigrant kids and Jewish, Irish, Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Jersey City, Hoboken, Newark. Wow, it was a miserable bunch, but these were guys who worked [in] the shipping [yards], the docks in Brooklyn, the shipyards, the railroads, the subways. It was a real mix, but it was a real education, because there I was, suddenly in with guys who came from a very different background, ... but we all lived in the same, general New York metropolitan area, and so, I had to pay attention in order to get along, but I managed and, pretty soon, you get streetwise to a lot of people you otherwise wouldn't have ever run across, guys, you know, who would ... make it their business of loaning money, at high interest rates, to some of their fellow soldiers and things like this. ... Some things, they never stop; just because you're no longer on the docks in Brooklyn doesn't mean you're not doing some of these same things. [laughter] ... There was none of them that I had ever known before and I only maintained contact with a couple of them after the war, and with my old battery commander, all the way up through the time I got my PhD and beyond. We'd exchange Christmas cards and greetings, and then, suddenly, it stopped and I figured, "Well, he was older and he either had died or retired and moved," and so, that was it. That was the last [contact] and that was, golly, in the 1950s, sometime, ... but, otherwise, these were guys who, you know, I never saw before and, in many ways, never saw again. I always liked the principle, "Once you've been there, never go back. [laughter] You've been there once already," ... but it was a learning experience and it was useful in that regard. You did learn how to deal with a very broad spectrum of society and, sometimes, not for the best, but, nevertheless, it was survival. ...
SI: I would like to ask you about your voyage from the United States to England, which took place during a period when there were still many U-boats at large.
DG: ... Yes. I didn't realize it at the time, but I've been somewhat of a student of military history and one of the good authors is John Keegan, if you know the name, teaching at Sandhurst [the Royal Military Academy] in England. He's one of their military historians and ... I picked up one of his books. I think it was my oldest daughter [who] had left it for me. Oh, God, the name of it now ... slips my mind, but it involved the Admiralty Wars or something. ... At any rate, it covered a series of things, going back to Nelson at Trafalgar, and then, to World War I and into World War II, and the section on World War II was on the submarine warfare and how the United States, Great Britain, etc., how we handled this. ... It was an awakening to see that it peaked, and then, after that, began to be better controlled, in May of 1943, and we left this country in mid-July of '43. ... Then, we were prepared, obviously. We were in a troopship convoy, so, our surface speed was better than if you had a bunch of tankers along. So, the Krauts would wait for these big convoys full of slow moving tramp steamers, you see, and we only had one alert for submarines and it was somewhere between Iceland and Ireland. At one o'clock in the morning, I remember hearing the depth charges going off, thumping against the bow plates, but our voyage took us out of New York, from about four in the morning, down to Bermuda, up to Labrador, across to ... Greenland, Iceland, and then, into Ireland, ... and then, down into Glasgow. ... I don't think we knew it at the time, but it kept us within the circumferential coverage of the air force, the US, Canadian and British air forces that were on antisubmarine patrols. See, they'd fly out of various bases in this country, the Bahamas or Bermuda, Newfoundland, Gander Field, there, Thule Air Force Base ... in Greenland, and so on. ... Then, you go across this break where you are outside of that coverage and we were nervous, because we'd had this submarine alert. ... Early one afternoon, it's broken sky, blue and clouds, not unlike today, and we heard an aircraft engine and, boy, everybody started to go, "Uh-oh," you know, because we hadn't had enough experience to recognize one engine from another. I could do that. ... I tried to convince brigade commanders they should pay attention to that. I had great fun, [laughter] but it was suddenly breaking out ... into a clear space. It was a Royal Air Force aircraft. So, we knew we were home-free. ... It took about ten days, going zigzag and around. ... By that time, the Germans were ... no longer as successful. They were going in wolf packs of U-boats and they would hit in this one stretch, mostly, and, of course, if it was a big convoy full of slow moving ships, they'd have a great time, but ... that was what they were up against. A convoy like ours, which was maybe a dozen ships, two or three baby flattops carrying aircraft over and the rest of it was a mix of, well, the ship that we were on was one from the United Fruit Lines. It was an old Caribbean [ship], the Grace Line, that's what it was, and they would run ships down into the Caribbean region, to South America. ... Suddenly, now, they were using it as a troopship, across the North Atlantic. So, it wasn't a big ship.
SI: What were the conditions like on the ship?
DG: Oh, they weren't ... too bad. ... We hit a bad stormy period where everybody got sick and I didn't, because I never have gotten seasick. So, I had the mess hall almost to myself for a day, [laughter] but, otherwise, everybody had a bunk. ... No, I don't remember anything special about it. We off-loaded ... somewhere near Glasgow, put us on a train and took us down to near Preston, England, north of Liverpool, north of Preston, in that area, ... where we encamped for a while, while we built our own gun positions and built Quonset huts and gun emplacements, and so on, ... which took about a month. So, that was August into September. We were there until mid, late-January, when we were called into First Army. Otherwise, we were part of the British Air Defense Command and we would go on alert in the mornings and the evenings, at dawn and dusk, routinely. We were stationed [where] we had our gun positions around several US Eighth Air Force rear bases, where they'd ferry the planes in from the United States. There were days when there were endless streams of B-17s and B-24s [that] would be ferried in and ... maintenance bases, supply bases. ... It wasn't where the active bomber commands were. We were where they were getting them ready, outfitting the aircraft and so on. So, it was fairly peaceful and we went through continuous training. As I say, during that period, I would be teaching aircraft and tank identification and we'd have other courses like that. ...
SI: Was there any Luftwaffe activity during your time there?
DG: No, we never had any threats, any combat of any kind. It was more of a, as I say, maintenance, supply, training [area] and so on. ... Our mission was really fairly peaceful, [laughter] but, through the northern English winter, when the sun tries to come up about eight-thirty or nine in the morning and it's a little, orange ball, then, at three o'clock in the afternoon, decides to go away, [laughter] but it was, an interesting experience. ... We weren't in an active training sort of role, because all the guns were in their emplacements. ... We didn't take them up and out. They were in sandbagged emplacements. The instruments that I was working with, we sandbagged all of that. In other words, we had a full, protected gun position that, you know, the British had learned to develop from ... a couple of years earlier, when the Germans were threatening to invade England and so on, like that. So, we were in that kind of a mode, which was that of defense. ... Heavy antiaircraft artillery is a defensive [weapon]; ours was not assault. We weren't in the assault business, which is nice. Our life expectancies were significantly better than a lot of other people's. We lost very few in the war. ...
SI: At that point, were you able to interact with English civilians?
DG: Yes, we did. We were not that far from Blackpool, England, which is one of their Coney Island-type places on the Irish Sea, and you'd go into their pubs and you'd talk to their people and interact with their military forces. I had a girlfriend in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force of the British Royal Air Force and she was assigned to a barrage balloon outfit in Liverpool, and then, she left there and went elsewhere. I didn't see her again, but the barrage balloons, if there was a threat, up they'd go, to force the German Air Force to stay at higher altitudes and be more easily attacked by the Royal Air Force and by antiaircraft artillery. ... I didn't get involved in this, but some of the gun crews and gun commanders put in a period of experience with the British antiaircraft units along the Dover coast, where they were still pretty busy, ... so [that] they could see, get a feel for the active participation, whereas where we were, up north of Liverpool and so on, ... by then, it was very quiet. ...
SI: What were your impressions of being in England and being in a war zone?
DG: Well, it was a nice country. ... I don't think they were particularly keen about us all being over there. You very quickly learn that they took some meaning to the phrase, "Overdressed, overpaid, oversexed and over here," and so, we tried to live up to those four things. We tried to use up as many of their women as they had available and they were running out of women ... and we had more money than they did and so on, like that. We were better uniformed. So, I think there was certainly some resentment on the part of a lot of the British, but I never had any trouble. ... I stayed, really, mostly, interacting with my fellow British military types, ... so that I avoided a lot of that civilian interaction and ... we were pretty careful about it. The [US] Army was not keen about our getting involved with a lot of the civilians. ... You could get in trouble pretty quickly. British Civil Law was still paramount. We had a guy, very soon after we got over to England, [who] got picked up on a statutory rape charge, because the girl was, like, sixteen or something like this. ... Between the American and the British legal forces, he spent six months in the stockade, down in southern England, and it was not a lot of fun, because the stockade guards were, and you may have heard this from others, but they deliberately, the military deliberately, would pick guys from Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, real redneck, hillbilly types. ... If they had Northern/New York types or something like that, your life was miserable. I think that's in one of the books that was written, and I can't remember it, but we were aware of this. It was one of the things that made us pay attention. We didn't want to get involved in any of that, because these guys were nasty. God, I laugh about all of this worry today about prisoner abuse. Jesus, they ... don't know what the hell prisoner abuse is, you know.
SI: What did the guy tell you when he came back?
DG: Oh, I never saw him after he came back, but, we talked to enough guys who had been in and out of this and it was just [that] they were always after you. They were always pushing you around and making life difficult, putting you on to the lousy kind of detail and so on, like that, just making life miserable. So, no, that was not something you wanted to get involved with, ... but that kept a lot of people, a lot of kids, honest. [laughter] ...
SI: When were you sent to the First Army?
DG: It was some time in mid, late-January '44. We were assigned to the 49th Artillery Brigade, First United States Army, and went into training, active training, which included, I spent a week down in Devon, down in Torquay. ... Even though we were not assault forces, we had to at least be able to get off a ship, down the rope ladders, into a landing craft and wade ashore. We had to know enough about that and have enough guys, with their prime movers, pull the guns through the water and on to shore, etc., and then, we had our live fire training. ... I'm trying to think of where we did that. I can't remember now, ... and then, some field artillery training ... down in Salisbury Plain. Oh, the live fire training was ... way up in York, on the North Sea shore, near Whitby, England, ... again, firing at targets towed by aircraft. So, the last live fire training we had was in early April of '44 and a lot of field training, you know, of moving in and out of position, night maneuvers. I got involved in loading a landing craft, an LST, which has to be loaded backwards, in the reverse order of, of course, the unloading, you see, ... and [the] loading of a fifteen-ton artillery piece being pushed by a full-tracked prime mover gets to be kind of tricky. Never had to actually do it, but at least we were ... trained to do it and so on, like that. It was a mix of things. Some of it was just sort of nasty, just put you on forced marches until you were ready to drop, and so on, like that. In other words, you had to learn how to get in and out of a gun position in a hurry, how to get your guns set down, how to get them set up, azimuth, elevation, levels and so on, so that they were ready to fire quickly, and set up the fire control systems and get that organized, and then, lay out all the cables. We were totally electrically-driven. We had our own generators. We had two generators, one spare and one that you used, that ran the battery. The radar units, the automatic hydraulic systems on the guns themselves were electrically-driven and so on, like that. ...
SI: Before our break, we were talking about your unit's preparations for invading the Continent. For example, you drilled in loading a landing craft and moving your artillery ashore.
DG: Yes, we had some training in amphibious operations, night maneuvers, extended marches, rapidity with which you could get in and out of gun positions and set up ... an operating gun battery, which, as I mentioned, was entirely electrically-driven and hydraulically-driven guns, could be manually-handled, but it was much better to drive a heavy piece like that with its hydraulic systems, and so, you just went through a lot of training. We had live fire exercises in April and amphibious exercises in mid-April and field artillery about that time. May was mostly field maneuvers, just sort of getting ready, ... having our equipment checked and rechecked and marked and labeled and identified. Every piece of clothing you had had your first initial of your last name and the last four numbers of your serial number. So, I was, "G5715," and that was on everything. It was for identification purposes and so on and, what were you to take with you and what were you required to leave behind and, if it was personal, it could be sent back home or someplace like that. So, it took a while to go through all of this, even for a non-assault unit, like ourselves; what the guys in the infantry and armored units were going through, I can't [imagine]. It was something else. ... We didn't know what day the invasion was supposed to be, but the orders were at battalion headquarters, under special guard. ... We knew that, but nobody was telling us [laughter] and I ended up as sergeant of the guard on D-Day and I spent much of D-Day refreshing my procedure in my mind, because ... this was the formal guard mount for the battalion. I was battalion sergeant of the guard, went through all of this and did it flawlessly, came out nicely, ... preparing the guard for inspection and passing the guard in review before the old guard and all of this sort of thing and getting the guards posted. ... About four-thirty, quarter-to-five in the morning of, now, it would be June 7th, Wednesday morning, I was up, because I wanted to be sure, ... starting the second twelve-hour cycle, that the corporals of the guard were ready and so on. ... The officer of the day came in and said, "Sergeant, the guard is dismissed. Have the men return to quarters," and, by one o'clock that afternoon, we were on our way to Southampton. We arrived there late Wednesday afternoon, early evening, and the place was already so screwed up. [laughter] It was only a day-and-a-half into the invasion and things were backlogged. ... We ran our battalion in the residential streets of Southampton. We slept in the street that night and it didn't bother the British. I mean, you try to do it today and the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] would be after you, or somebody like that, you know, but we were there and they knew why we were there. ... Nobody was going to complain, even though every vehicle was a potential incendiary bomb, because all the supplies we had were already issued to us, for five days. We were supplied for five days. After that, you're on your own [laughter] and that meant ammunition, ninety-millimeter artillery ammunition, .50-caliber machine gun ammunition, .30-caliber rifle [ammunition], hand grenades, flare grenades, gasoline, water, food, distributed proportionately among all the vehicles. ... All you needed was one tracer round to hit one jerry can of gasoline, "Pow." [laughter] There we are, on the residential streets of Southampton, but nobody knew, nobody cared. ... Then, after a day or two of that, and it's still lagging, everything was backed up, ... the loses were heavy enough so that we ended up not going over on an LST, the landing ship tank, but, instead, we were put on a freighter. ... With cranes, all the guns and everything was put down in the hold and we went over and, with us, the ship was big enough so that parts of the rear elements of the 16th Infantry Regiment of the First Division were with us and that was one of the assault regiments on Omaha, Easy Red. ... That's where we went in, the Easy Red Sector of Omaha Beach. So, we left Saturday evening, then. We were given our final briefing on Friday, ... which would be the 9th of June. Interesting, they gave us useful information on the kind of soil we would be digging our gun emplacements into and how to camouflage it. They also told us that there were support units in a second group coming over from Norfolk and [they were] going to land on the west coast of the Cherbourg Peninsula, see. That's bullshit. It was disinformation. We didn't realize it at the time, but, in retrospect, we quickly realized that that didn't happen, wasn't going to happen, but it was clever, in that it gave us some comfort, to feel that ... our right flank was covered, you see. ... The British were on the left flank. ... If we were captured and somebody said more than name, rank and serial number, which we had been pounded [with], "That's all you're to say, name, rank, serial number," but, if they started talking, they would give them, the Krauts, this kind of disinformation, see. I figured that was part of the game. ... We landed on Sunday afternoon, June 11th, with these rear elements of the infantry unit that had already been through a couple of invasions, North Africa, Sicily or wherever. ... These were guys who had either been wounded [or sent back from the frontlines] and, now, [were] in ordnance or quartermaster or whatever. They were funny. They taught us a few things. One of the things, however we got into it, I don't remember, was about missing-in-action and they gave us examples of how you go missing-in-action. One guy said, "I was sitting there in ... North Africa and a German shell landed right where this guy was standing and he disappeared, period. He was gone." He says, "Another guy was driving a jeep. He hit a couple of German Teller mines and the force of it went in such a way that it drove right up through where he was sitting and he disappeared," and so on, and then, of course, you found out, from the invasion itself, that the landing craft would run over guys who had fallen or so on, grinding them up and, etc., etc., etc. So, I've always felt sorry for people who keep pushing about MIA-POW; get over it, you know. ... I can give you an example of a boyhood friend of mine who was found five years after the war. He was shot down on D-Day and they did find him in 1949, but that's pretty rare. That's pretty rare and these guys were giving us some very hard lessons. I said, "That's the way it is," and I can remember one gun position we went into in Normandy where there were some American dead, some German dead. We would call the quartermaster people, can't think of their proper name now, Graves Registration, and they would come and pick up these American dead. ... The German dead, on a few occasions, we would bury them ourselves and stick a muzzle or a rifle down in the ground, mark them. There was one ... place where three or four of them so badly chewed up and unrecognizably piled up that we just bulldozed a hedgerow over them. They went missing-in-action, because I'm sure ... the French farmer who owned the land wasn't about to start digging them out. So, the missing-in-action thing can be very real. You really do go missing, and in spite of the fact that every piece of clothing had, like, in my case, "G5715." I don't know whether they even bothered to pay attention, because I looked at ... a list that Graves Registration, Quartermaster, would issue to the battery clerks and commanders. ... I managed to talk our battery clerk into showing me these, up in Belgium, because an old friend of mine, a Jewish girl that I grew up with, her husband was in the 79th Infantry Division and he was killed in July, July 7th, over in the Cherbourg Peninsula area. ... I won't go into all the stories on this, but I wanted to sort of confirm all of this. My mother had told me about it in a letter and I looked through and, on the sixth list of the casualties, I found his name, rank, serial number. ... He was an infantryman and he was clearly in good shape. ... They knew where he was and he was temporarily buried in a cemetery over in the Cherbourg area, and then, he was finally buried, and I visited the grave, in the burial ground above Omaha Beach, ... where there's that US Army Military ... Cemetery there, with 9,300 gravesites on it. He's one of those. For whatever reason, his wife; he had a son born a few months later, who would now be sixty-one years old, who I've never met, but I know about, because his aunt, I still keep a little in touch with. ... He was very smart. He got into the fundraising business, development. One of the last jobs he had was the Vice-President for Development of the Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Medical School in Yale, but he never knew his father. ... There were some troubles early in his life, because his father's family were a pain-in-the-ass and, apparently, really bugged this guy's early years, ... but, anyway, that's the sort of thing you ran into, and so, we went ashore that Sunday afternoon with these guys. ... I never got my feet wet, because I was just sitting on top of a truck and the combat engineers and amphibious engineers who were running the beach, they'd go, "Keep your engines running," because, lots of times, getting the truck down ... was a game, watching everything, because there were so many shell holes and so on, underwater. ... These guys from the infantry division, the First Division, ... started betting with one another whether the next gun would roll over, you see. [laughter] In other words, there we were, but you make a game of it, to the extent that you can, when you're not otherwise in any particular danger, let's say. ... The engineers on the shore got you running and operating and said, "Get the fuck off the beach. Get out of here. You're a target." [laughter] So, up the hill we drove and stood by and laid by while the rest of the battalion came in, and then, went on inland to lie by overnight, before we went on into our first positions, but it was an interesting first [day]. I'll just tell you this part. When we came up to the top of the hill on the bluffs above Omaha Beach, there were four things in the east, west, north, south, that I remember, standing there and getting off the truck and looking. Immediately to our west was one of the first German POW enclosures, just barbed wire, loosely laid out for these guys and they were like hanging on the wire, looking out over the English Channel, which would be looking north, and, as far as the eye could see, there were ships, west, east and north, and I think these poor Krauts were looking at that. They'd been told all this crap over the years and they went, "Jesus." [laughter] ... They were probably glad that they were now a POW, you see, and would be sent back to England. To the due east, engineers were bulldozing out graves, temporary graves, twelve feet wide, two men, by however deep and it was for just temporary burial, because, you know, the losses on Omaha Beach alone on D-Day were over two thousand. ... Then, to the immediate south ... was an evacuation hospital, first one on the beach. ... They'd been there three-and-a-half days and it was now D +5, so, they came in on late Wednesday afternoon or so, something like that, and I was talking to one of the aid men who was taking a break and we were chatting. ... He said, "We have not stopped. We have not quit. There has been a stream coming into this hospital since we finished setting it up and [got it] going. It's been a constant stream the whole time." ... He was already exhausted and they were using LSTs and so on as hospital carriers. They used the tank deck for stretcher cases, send them back to England, you see, and that's why we didn't have the LSTs available, one of the reasons why. So, it was nasty, but you got a half-a-mile in, a mile in from the beach and it was just the French countryside. Everything was either on the beach or in the forward area, which was some four or five miles further inland or so. So, it's funny that way, and then, suddenly, ... we were bivouacked for the night, I slept under the truck, ... was awakened in the middle of the first night by air attacks and gunfire in response. ... All I did was to roll under the truck a little farther, never worrying about the fact that right above me was all of this gasoline, ammunition, etc. [laughter] You don't think about it, see. If you start worrying about those things, forget about it. You're going to be a nut case, ... and I guess some guys do worry about things like that and they're the ones who end up in trouble. ...
SI: Was the air raid during your first night in France the first time that you came under fire?
DG: Yes, yes, that was the first direct experience that we had. Oh, I'd seen a bit in London and in Liverpool, but it was more distant, but this here was, right overhead. ... There was nothing we could do, because we were in lay by and, as I say, I just rolled further under the truck. Well, you don't worry about yourself. I was young enough so that I knew I was going to live forever. I still think that way. ... The guys who were a little older than me; I was one of the youngest in the battery. I was twenty-one. I was just six weeks past my twenty-first birthday on D-Day, but, you know, the fellows who were married or were a little bit older, ... a couple of them talked to me a bit, because ... they knew that I was better educated and a little smarter than the rest of them and they were concerned. They had genuine concerns, because they had family, they had careers, etc., like that. So, you just had to try to make them appreciate the nature of random probability of the events that you can have no control over. [laughter] So, I don't know, I hope I was successful.
SI: How did you react to getting into a war zone situation, particularly on the beach, where you saw bodies laying out?
DG: Well, no, by D +5, they were cleaned up. Yes, they cleaned that up pretty quickly. Yes, the Army is very good at that. They don't leave [men unburied] ... and we do that ourselves. As I say, if we happen to see dead US when we're, say, reconning a position or moving into a position, we get a hold of Graves Registration right away. ... They come out very quickly; you'd be surprised. Of course, things were less fluid. You know, they were much more static at that particular time. Now, when it's very fluid, that's different, and then, you're going to have trouble. ... No, I'd have to say that the United States Army paid attention to its losses in that sense. They didn't leave them laying around. Now, the reason there were a lot of German dead around was, they were being pushed back and they had to leave them. So, then, it was up to the US Army to look after them, which they did, and, sometimes, the way we did it [was], as I say, burying just masses of rotting flesh. ...
SI: Where was your first emplacement?
DG: It was right outside the town, and you can see it on a map of France, of Trevieres. ... It's a little town, it's about eight miles in, I think, six or eight miles in from the beach, and that's where our first gun position was. ... Our first role was really beachhead defense, in general, and additional positions, as time went on, would be bridges, rail centers, supply depots, you know, you name it. ... We would move into positions fairly early, right behind, maybe, the assault units, but, then, we'd sit for awhile while they [fought] and things would be much more quiet. ...
SI: Were there any air attacks during that stretch at the first emplacement?
DG: Oh, yes. ... We had a little fun with one of them. [laughter] For one, we shot down at least one British bomber. They did a lot of night flying and the British were a bit cavalier about the way they used their radar identification systems and, "What was the flare code of the day?" and so on, like that. So, we ended up, at least one, knocking one down, and the crew wasn't hurt. They sort of just slid in somewhere and congratulated us on our accuracy. [laughter] Well, they'd been at this for so long. ... That was five years into this bloody thing by then.
---------------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE ONE------------------------------------
SI: Please, continue. You were talking about the Fourth of July.
DG: Yes, on the Fourth of July 1944, there we were, in this gun position in Normandy, and ... things were beginning to get more quiet. ... We thought, "We've got to celebrate Fourth of July." So, a group of us in the fire control section decided we could set up a mock attack, into the radar units and out into the guns and so on, and so, we decided that if nothing happened by eleven-forty-five that night, we were going to call out the officer of the day, get the gun crews out and so on and at least get them to fire three rounds per gun and into a nice pattern up in the sky and celebrate the Fourth of July. ... Of course, this is not exactly Army regulation, but ... you've got to entertain yourself however you can. So, we were all set to go. This was going to be great, but, at eleven-thirty, a bloody Kraut aircraft came into the field [laughter] and it was an FW-190 or something like that. We shot it down, and then, this poor guy crash-landed and [was] leaving shreds of himself along the hedgerows somewhere, but, so, we never got to play our game. [laughter] ... See the way you think? It's very different and I'll bet ... guys will do that now, to get a shot at it. Why not? ... The officers probably would have bitched at us if they found out, but we weren't going to tell them, you know. They wouldn't know, you see. The noncommissioned officers win the wars. ... Yes, I mean, literally, we're the ones that do all the work, make all the decisions, correct all their mistakes. [laughter]
SI: Much of your gun batteries operations were based on radar.
DG: Yes, ... we really used radar, good radar systems, that they even upgraded while we were in the field, on one occasion. Guys came over from, like, Western Electric or someplace like that and put in some new units into the system that would narrow down the field of error, and give you a closer scan ... of the aircraft and it was very good. We had very good systems.
SI: When a plane entered the area, would there be any aiming involved or would you just send up a pattern of lead?
DG: Oh, no, there would be aiming. That was what we would do. The British, and I think, to some extent, the Germans, tended to use pattern defense or firing, which we scorned. ... I think some of the guys saw this when they went down to the Dover Coast and worked with some of these people, that they would set up patterns. ... No, we specifically identified a target, checked it for its identity with the radar code systems that were available and, when the thing was stable and the gun crews were ready to go, then, the officer of the day would ... give the command to fire. ... It would be a patterned fire ... at this aircraft, you know, ahead of the aircraft, so [that] he would fly into it. ... No, we prided ourselves in direct targeting, whereas the British could do the same, but they didn't always. ... The Germans, I think they didn't have the quality of radar that we did, but they could do some of the same, too. ... Then, US and British air forces went over in these massive arrays, which I don't think is awfully smart, but that's the way they did it then. They don't do that now, ... smart, but they did it then. ... Of course, all you needed to do is find that array up there and just let go, know what its altitudes are, and they would be at various altitudes, all you had to do was to start filling it full of shrapnel. [laughter] ... The losses in the US Eighth Air Force were pretty high. There were some very serious events on that. ...
SI: Would you set up your guns as part of a network of antiaircraft emplacements?
DG: Oh, yes, yes, we would be tied in with the 49th Artillery Brigade. We would usually be assigned ... at the corps level, rarely at the divisional level, because divisions have their own artillery and their own flexibility, but, at the corps level, there'd be more stability. ... Then, you'd be assigned to bridges or depots or whatever. ... Yes, you'd be tied together. The four gun batteries of the single battalion would be miles apart, even, and then, there'd be forty-millimeter automatic weapons units, maybe another one or two ninety-millimeter gun battalions and so on, like that, and, yes, they'd all be integrated.
SI: Were there barrage balloon units there also?
DG: No, we didn't use barrage balloons, no. That was a British thing, in the defense of the British Home Islands. They may have started to use them a bit in their territory in Belgium and Holland and so on, but I'm not sure. ... If they did, it couldn't have been serious and we would have scorned them. We have our pride. [laughter] ...
SI: I have read that the Luftwaffe would often launch single-plane, "Bed-Check Charlie" type of nuisance attacks. What were the different kinds of attacks that you faced? Would they put up one plane or a flight of planes?
DG: It was generally single or maybe only a few. ... Much of it was reconnaissance work or probing to find out where the defenses are and dropping flares and taking pictures and things like that. Their air force was [in] pretty bad shape and had been beaten up so badly, but they still had enough of it so that you had to be prepared to defend yourself. ... There were a couple of occasions when they did some full-scale attack, one of them right at the end of the Ardennes Campaign, and they destroyed hundreds of US and British aircraft in Belgium and France and Holland and so on, but it was mostly these singles. Many times, it was a single aircraft and these guys were smart. They weren't ... so much on a bombing run as they were to find out where you were, what you could do, where were you located and so on, so that they would know, you know, where the items of importance were, how well defended was it and so on, and so forth. ... The only interesting thing that I remember from some of that was, about a week before the Germans launched their Ardennes attack on December 16, 1944, we had an inspection visit by the brigade commander, a bird colonel, I think he was. ... The Captain, who knew me, the battery commander, and trusted me to talk to people, because I, at least, could speak English and so on, [laughter] like as not, when we had a review like this, he'd have me be one of the people visited. ... As I say, one time, I tried to get him into paying attention to the discrete differences between the sounds of Allison engines, Rolls-Royce engines, engines from [the] German Air Force and engines from Curtiss-Wright and so on. They all were different and I used to be able to tell them apart, but he didn't think that was too efficient, but this time, in early December '44, he came to me and I took him over to a contour map of the region. I said, "Colonel, this is what's going on," and I pointed on the map where we were seeing aircraft coming in from the German territory. They would be picked up as a target. They'd get the signal that we were on them, see. They would start throwing out, what do you call it? What was the name of the metal ribbons that they would send out to confuse the radar, which didn't? Anyway, or they would drop suddenly and disappear into ground clutter and, on the contour map, you could see it was sort of a valley run, you see. They knew the land. I said, "Colonel, these guys had been doing this regularly." I said, "They've been probing, probing, probing. Why don't you at least put a couple of forty-millimeter gun battalions ... along these valley ways, so that when they drop down, you've got them?" What I, of course, didn't realize [was] that this was the Germans probing before their attack and I've always thought, "Did the Colonel know more than I did about what was going on and would he have brought this information back, ... so that Bradley's headquarters and Hodges' headquarters would know, 'Hey, ... they're looking for something?'" but this was one of the major errors of World War II. Nobody knew what the hell was going on and the German attack was virtually a total surprise and I think it was shameful. ... I think it was partly Bradley's fault, Hodges' fault, who was First Army commander, and Eisenhower's fault. The whole bunch of them weren't paying attention. They'd had it too easy and the Krauts were quietly building up. We didn't know and, as I say, the only thing that I remember from then was talking to the brigade commander about a pattern of probes, you see. [laughter] An isolated piece of information, ... and, [from] working with a lot of people in the atomic energy business in the years since, intelligence work is taking isolated information and synthesizing it, analyzing it. ... They probably weren't doing enough of that in December of '44.
SI: Where were you stationed at that point?
DG: We were, at that point, down around Luxemburg City, yes, and Bradley had his forward headquarters there. ... There were also supply depots, railroad networks that were still functioning, steel mills that were still functioning. They were already preparing the girders needed for new bridges over the Rhine River. In other words, the thinking, you see, was well advanced and they weren't thinking about tomorrow, ... they were thinking about two months from tomorrow, and it was tomorrow that got them, you see. [laughter] So, that's where we were. So, it was north of us that this was going on. We were on the southern flank of that particular event, so, we did not catch too much from it, but we lost some guys, because they were up in Bastogne on a re-supply mission, and just as they were there, they were caught by a German Panzer unit that broke through. So, this was before the 101st Airborne Division got there to surround and hold the city of Bastogne, ... but that's the sort of thing you run into and I've always wondered, "How much information was there and who was paying attention?" [laughter] It's a costly error and it's nice to know that governments still make the same kind of errors. Look at that bunch of dumb heads down in the Gulf Coast. ... Don't they know how government works? The mayor's primarily responsible, then, the county officers, then, the governor of the state, and then, finally, the United States Government comes in. I've worked for the Federal Government, off and on, for a half-a-century. Now, down there, the mayor's sitting there. I don't know if he even speaks better than broken English, [laughter] but, then, I'm Republican, see. So, they're all Democrats down there, [laughter] but the same kind of errors are still being made. 9/11 probably involved overlooking signals. If you ever talk to a very good intelligence officer, he'll tell you, ... there have to be analysts who take these bits and pieces and begin to make sense out of them. Not everybody can do it; I'm not presuming I can do it. It's just that, if you see something, you pass it on, and then, "Bang," something happens and you think, "Oh, shit." [laughter] The Colonel, he's a nice guy, but was he paying attention?
SI: Can you tell me a bit about your activities between Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge?
DG: Oh, yes, we were in a second gun position, I think in Normandy, when they initiated the St. Lo breakthrough in late July and we sat there, watching this, and the whole Earth trembled under [us], really, and we were about maybe ten to twelve miles away and watched American planes getting shot down by the Germans at first and feeling sorry for these guys parachuting into this. ... Then, shortly after that, we ... picked up and moved on to a new gun position on this flank, that First Army and Third Army, First Army was holding the flank open and Patton's Army was going out into Brittany, and then, he swung east, across in France, and so, there was a part of First Army [that] was holding there, and then, we began to move. ... For a number of days, we just kind of [went] on and on and on, finally, ended up in a position south of Paris, some of the bridges over the Seine River. ... We were there for a little bit and got picked up ... by VII Corps to join them in a quick run and hoping to reach the German border and crack it, because, by now, you see, a large number of Germans had been trapped back in France. ... So, we went in a spearhead, with VII Corps, in early September, just after Labor Day, something like that. It was crazy. Nobody knew where everybody was going and we ended up in Namur, ... Belgium, waiting in the street for the combat engineers to put a pontoon bridge across the river, so that we could get across, and then, we were in positions there for a while, and then, we went from there down to Luxemburg. ... Then, we stayed there quite a while, because the Battle of the Bulge just locked, kept everything in place. ... Fortunately, two march orders that we were given, to move up towards Aachen, were cancelled. It's a good thing, because we might have been caught en route when the Germans attacked. There's nothing worse than an artillery battalion when it's in convoy. It's totally helpless. [laughter] I mean, literally, it's totally helpless. So, we were fortunate, and then, we finally moved up to that area in January, sometime, and then, got involved in the clearing of the Rhineland, and then, finally, crossed the Rhine River at Remagen, in mid-March, on a pontoon bridge. The main Ludendorff Bridge had collapsed a couple of days earlier, so, we went across on a single-track pontoon bridge that arched, because the river's pretty high in March, see, all the melt. ... You look across the river, all you see, it's like a bow, and trucks and guns would be fifty or seventy yards apart, traveling at about three miles an hour. This was required. Our assignments, I sat cross-legged, like an Indian, my rifle loaded, locked, with permission to fire on anything you see coming down the river at you, because you didn't know whether it was a German, a mine, something, anything, didn't have to. ... So, it took a while to cross the river. I remember, in the middle of the river, where the bow was the greatest, ... I looked over my left shoulder down and the turbulence coming between the pontoons and the water was black, it seemed, you know, very dark, and I remember thinking, "No wonder the Germans are so tied to the Rhine River. This epitomizes their turbulent, black soul, to look down at that. Those bastards, this is why they like this river," and it was. It was a black, turbulent flow. [laughter] So, that's my feeling towards Krauts and it hasn't changed much, ... and then, once across, in the Remagen Bridgehead, we had very little to do after that and we went into Army of Occupation duty ... before the end of April. Even before the war was over, we were already doing occupation duty, for which we were not trained, but we were security guards, so-to-speak. ... We would guard hospitals and other facilities and the like. ... It was a mixed sort of experience. Some of it was really very long and boring, but your position is defense. You've got to be there, you've got to do it. There were times when you were just behind the infantry and the armored divisions and so on, like that. ...
SI: When would you be positioned that close to them?
DG: Well, like when we were in that spearhead, going up into Belgium. ... We had to pull off the road one time and lay over for a couple of hours, because part of ... either the First or Second Armored Division and infantry riding humpback on the tanks ... had to get by us. [laughter] We were ahead of them, you see, at that particular point, ... and then, on Remagen, on the bridgehead, we were one of the very first units, the first heavy artillery unit across, certainly. ... I remember, the first few nights, you could hear the gunfire exchange ... between American and German machine guns, because German gunfire is recognizable by its pattern of fire and the American gunfire [is also]. You know, you can tell what the origin of a lot of things are by paying attention to the sounds and such like. Not everybody would necessarily do that, but it's something I got into, ... but, then, pretty soon, it all moves on and things get quiet, which is good. ...
SI: You said that you lost some men during the Bulge because they were on a re-supply run.
DG: Yes, they were on re-supply and we were very short of ammunition, because our re-supply got cut off by ... a German Panzer unit. Some guys were taken prisoner and some guys escaped and did get back and tell us what had happened, but we lost maybe a half-a-dozen trucks and jeeps and some men, and then, we had to start rationing our ammunition, because Patton's Third Army, which was now ordered to move north, ... it would be covering our positions, they hadn't yet gotten organized, and so, we didn't have any place to go to get ammunition supplies. ... Then, once that was settled down, then, we could be re-supplied. We were all right. ...
SI: When you did lose men, was it usually a situation like that?
DG: Yes, something of that type, or worse than that. The very last guy we lost in the battalion, one fellow, a young Italian boy from New York City, I knew him pretty well, he was going to CCNY and he was going at night. ... He was working daytimes to support his mother. ... His parents were immigrants; he was an immigrant kid. His father had either been killed in some work accident or something, so, he was supporting the family and going to college at night. He was really a bright young guy. He was laying in his cot or whatever one afternoon, on the Remagen Bridgehead, and a stray round came in and caught him in the chest. Well, he survived, took him off, eventually, to one of the general hospitals in Paris, but he died there, a couple of weeks later. That sort of a thing would be very hard, to control infection and so on, in those days. That was tough, because, as I say, ... it sort of supports what you always figured, that the good guys are the ones that always get killed. [laughter] You know, us bastards survive. ... You know, stray rounds, I can remember sitting one evening, in Normandy, in ... an instrument position with the supply sergeant, who was also a college graduate. So, he and I could get together and chat and we were sitting there, watching some active fire off to the south or to the northwest, didn't involve us, but, you know, it's one of those kind of things. You just sit there and watch. ... It's like Fourth of July, see. By golly, we were sitting there and, all of a sudden, we heard, "Whoosh," and, "Thump," into the earth. ... I looked at him and he looked at me. ... It went right between our heads, missed us each by, you know, a few inches maybe, and that's how close it comes to just simply catching it on a random, totally random process, sitting there chatting, watching somebody else under attack, ... and you could catch a stray round, you know. That's why it always, doesn't amuse me, but it makes me realize how poorly disciplined the Muslim mentality is. Every time they get to celebrating something, they start firing their rifles up into the air. If you did that in the United States Army, you'd be in court-martial the next hour, because every one of those rounds has to land someplace and some of them land through people's heads and it's so stupid. ... As I say, we would never do anything like that, totally forbidden, but they continue to do it, senseless. See, it's one of the things that promises that we'll eventually win, because they just don't have the disciplined mentality to win, see. ... I don't think I'll live long enough to see us win this new crusade, but it'll be like the Crusades. It'll take decades. It was much easier to fight Japs, Krauts and Communists, because they were disciplined, they were within confined borders, they had a chain of command. Somebody was in charge; this bunch, [no]. ...
SI: What was your supply situation like, in terms of your personal supplies, like food and creature comforts? How did you live in the field?
DG: Well, initially, we lived in foxholes, and then, as we went on, we began to, if we were in a gun position long enough, we would steal enough lumber or corrugated metal or whatever and make little huts or things in the camouflaged areas, and then, finally, actually, Patton's Third Army took us for about four or five weeks during the Ardennes Campaign and he issued us pyramidal tents and life got good. Otherwise, nobody liked Patton and I didn't care for him particularly, but, I must say, the Third Army was better at supplying us with our creature comforts than was First Army, but, then, we went back to First Army and stayed the rest of the time with them, but, food, we never had any real shortages that I remember. We always had rations, C rations, K rations. We always had at least one mess cook and maybe a few more on occasions. First Army was very good at providing us with food. They provided us with a wonderful turkey dinner in Thanksgiving of '44 and, of course, because it was so rich and so different, ... everybody got the runs for the next two or three days, [laughter] and so, we learned that that's not really the best way to do it, to suddenly change the pattern of the diet, because it just gets to you, but, no, we were all right in that regard, but, then, we were a defensive unit. We were not in a position where getting supplies to us was a problem, so that we couldn't complain. ... During times when we were moving from one position to another, sure, we'd have to live on K rations or something. Okay, that wasn't going to hurt us any, but, otherwise, you know, once we got into a gun position, integrated into the brigade complex, they knew where we were and we would be properly supplied and backed up by quartermaster, ordnance, etc. So, no, it wasn't bad. I can't complain.
SI: Why did you and the other men not like Patton? Was there any particular reason?
DG: Well, some of it was just his reputation following him, which started in North Africa and Sicily, and Eisenhower had his difficulties. ... There was one other issue and, you know, I can't tell you whether it's true or not, because you never know what's true when you're in ... combat like that, but that he would use an outfit like ours, a ninety-millimeter gun battalion, which had a very good gun; it was a good antitank gun, it was a good artillery piece. We used it for field artillery, on occasions. When we were in the right position, we could join First Army's general field artillery. We did that in the Rhineland, for example, extensively, but that Patton ... deliberately put ninety-millimeter gun battalion units up into forward areas, to use in close-order artillery support, with these high velocity [guns]. See, ours is a high velocity gun and it was a good antitank gun and this could ... lead to a lot of casualties and a lot of losses, and so, that kind of information [was] passed around. Now, whether it's true, I have no idea, but that's all you need to do, is to hear about one of your sister gun battalions being used as a forward infantry antitank unit and you realize, "Shit, we're not really prepared to do that." We were trained, but that doesn't mean you're prepared in the sense of your minds being ready to expose yourself in that way. We were assigned positions like that in and around Luxemburg, during the Ardennes Campaign, because they didn't ever know whether the Germans would turn south and, if so, if we had to go into artillery or antitank work, the positions were already there. We knew where they were, we knew where we had to put our guns ... and the field artillery people had surveyed through and put us on the lines, you know. They do that so that you can be coordinated in and know exactly where every gun is and where every shell's going to land. So, we were fully prepared, but ... that was an emergency, and we'd heard these bad things about Patton's people doing that sort of stuff, not as an emergency, but because you're there, and the Germans did a lot of that. Their eighty-eight-millimeter antiaircraft units were also very good antitank units and they would have a lot command-and-control fights, apparently, from what I ... have read in Keegan's histories, that, an infantry commander would come up and want these guys with the eighty-eight-millimeter guns to, "Hey, turn those guns down and back us up," and these guys would get fighting about, "No, we're here to do this." [laughter] So, some things never change.
SI: How did your operations differ when you were attached to the field artillery in the Rhineland?
DG: Oh, then, we were integrated into First Army's field artillery, or its system. So, we would be given azimuths, elevations and number of rounds to fire and be told when to fire. ... In one instance, it just was like the classic World War I, or even World War II, with the way the Russians did it, that firing line would start somewhere up north and it would just work its way down, and then, you were here, your turn, and then, on down the line, ... or maybe a lot of it at once or randomly patterned, but you would be given ... not a target so much as a gun elevation and a gun azimuth and so many rounds to fire and when to fire ... and you'd fire when ordered. ... So, it was all the gun crews in fire control. We didn't have anything to do with that, because ... we weren't trained or in a position to help ground fire. So, that was just sort of becoming an integral part of divisional artillery and so on, like that. So, it wasn't anything difficult.
SI: When you were in your emplacements for a while, did you have an opportunity to interact with local civilians?
DG: Well, it depended upon where you were; in France, no. We don't like the French and I still don't and we were told to stay away from them anyway, ... before we went into Normandy, mostly because they were looked upon as untrustworthy and a lot of their Underground units were Communist and so on, like that. On a few occasions, in Belgium, you could interact more. The Belgians were much more open and friendly. They were decent people, and so, there, some of them were really very nice, would provide us some special rations and so on. ... They greeted us. As I told a French woman who I knew well, who was one of the few French that I knew who ... would commend us for what we did for them, most French ignore it, and she was very pleased for what our accomplishments were, but, otherwise, we just ignored one another, but, as soon as you got into Belgium, they greeted you, and so, it was a lot different in that regard. ... In Luxemburg, yes, there was more interaction, because we were near the center. ... The City of Luxemburg was part of our defensive area and so on, like that, but we didn't go out of our way to interact with these people. The only kind of interesting anecdote, true, when we were ... waiting in the streets of Namur, Belgium, for the engineers to get ... the pontoon bridge across, a lot of the people came out and talked with us and gave us wine and whatever and, suddenly, there was the sound of machine gun fire. ... It was German machine guns, because everybody knew the characteristic sound of a German machine gun. The whole street full of people just went dead silent and just froze in position. ... We didn't know. We recognized it, there was something going on, and then, pretty soon, the word came up the street and everybody cheered and was happy again. It turns out that now [that] the American forces were there, the Belgian locals, who knew who were the Gestapo agents, rounded them up, ran them through a kangaroo court, out a block or two away, and killed them, right there. ... As soon as the Belgian population realized that it was the Gestapo agents [who] were just killed, cheers went up. ... You want to talk about prisoner abuse, [laughter] because that's what happens to bad guys, you see, and that's the way the Belgians dealt with them. Can't blame them, ... but, otherwise, we didn't really try to interact too much. ... It can get you into trouble, as much as anything else. Sure, you're always chasing women, if they're there, and the battalion surgeon and the battalion chaplain were always warning you, [laughter] to be careful and this, that and the other thing. ... Otherwise, no, it's better to stay away from the civilian population.
SI: Did you come across any atrocities? At that point, you probably would not have advanced far enough to reach any of the concentration camps.
DG: Oh, no, we didn't. Now, we stayed in, we used, some of their camps, their prison camps, labor camps, prison labor camps, and we used them, on one occasion, to hold German prisoners who we put into work groups. ... Another occasion, we actually stayed in one. It was very crude, but it was in the middle of a small city, Hersfeld, Germany, but the actual Auschwitz-type camps, ... my battalion, we never ran into any of those. We found out about them, of course. We heard about them and you could understand how all of this was. I can remember, and I tell people this, if they want to appreciate this, again, I was sergeant of the guard; this was in the occupation force, now. ... As I told you, I always liked to walk the perimeter and I would do it there. ... We had an encampment of something over three hundred prisoners in barracks that were used as a slave labor camp, but, on the corners, with the barbed wire fences running between them, there would be these stockade towers and lights, searchlights, down into the camp and all you need to do is, some two or three o'clock in the morning, walk from one stockade tower to the next. ... On the one side, there is the prisoners and, on the other side, it's all black, quiet, and you know what it's like to be in one of those kind of places. It's not friendly, and so, that's about as close, as I say, [as] we ever got to that sort of thing. We ran a lot of prisoners, on work duties and the like. ...
SI: German prisoners?
DG: German prisoners, yes.
SI: Did you see masses of displaced persons?
DG: Oh, they were constantly wandering back and forth across everywhere, DPs, as we called them. ... They were of every race, creed and color, you might say. From wherever they'd started or wherever they were going, who knew? It wasn't our business to do anything about them. Now, if they were starting trouble, yes, but, if they were just simply walking through, then, they would be, really, something that would handled by the public affairs people, the Civil Affairs or the Medical Corps or so on, but, for persons like ourselves, who were running security patrols, ... it would only be a problem if we might find one or more of them causing trouble. Then, of course, we could round them up and turn them over to the MPs. ...
SI: How would they cause trouble?
DG: Well, you know, stealing, fighting, drunk, whatever, the usual. [laughter]
SI: When you were on occupation duty, you were basically serving as military police.
DG: Yes, yes, except we weren't police. We weren't a police force. We were a guard force. We maintained security. We would guard facilities. ... All the hospitals were filled with wounded Germans and ... we would always have people ... on such places and so on. It was different. We didn't keep prisoners. The MPs were in charge of prisoners, except for this one place that I mentioned. We had this bunch for a while, but, normally, ... that wasn't our responsibility, which was just as well, because we weren't trained for any of that. We just made it up as we went along ... and we didn't do a lot of looting. We did some, you know. It's fair game. Some of the first places we would be securing, we would poke around and see what there was. ...
--------------------------------------END OF TAPE TWO, SIDE TWO------------------------------------
SI: This continues an interview with Dr. Douglas Grahn on September 16, 2005 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. You were talking about looting.
DG: Oh, yes, which was sort of something that all armies do. ... It was obviously not encouraged and, if you did a bit too much of that sort of stuff, the command would get after you, but they would not pay attention to a lot of this, as long as you weren't flagrant with what you were doing. We had pretty strict orders, issued by Omar Bradley's 21st Group Headquarters, on what our behavior was to be when you are in Germany, and most of us tended to follow that. I still have my copy of them. ... I lost my copy of Eisenhower's orders for the Normandy invasion, but I still remember the beginning of it, "Soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force, you are about to embark on the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months," [laughter] and so on. It goes on. Bradley's instructions were, ... "No drunkenness, no looting, no playing around with German women. Remember, they're the enemy," and so on, and so on. So, ... we just sort of kept them at arm's length. It's better that way. They didn't bother us, we didn't bother them. I think they realized that we took better care of them than they were being taken care of by their own government, so that they weren't really complaining. It didn't mean they liked us there, but, then, they were better off than they were. ...
SI: Were you aware of any black market activities?
DG: Not specifically, but I could say that it was certainly there, because we had so much supply and everybody else had so little, including ... the British, so that it would be just too great a temptation. Now, I don't know if there was any in our particular outfit. There could have been, but a lot of it, I think, was more where the supply people had access to quantities, enormous quantities, of supplies and who was counting? So, in our case, ... the last place that we were before I left and was sent back to England to go to school, in the summer of '45, we were close to the Soviet line [and] the British line. ... It was up near Kassel, Germany, ... and we had adequate supplies of cigarettes and other things like that and the British, not too far away, had control of a couple of breweries that were still functioning. So, what our guys did was to set up trade with the British. We'd bring them things that they were short of and we'd bring back kegs of beer [laughter] and such, but that wasn't black market, that was just simply soldiers trading, and the only bad event on that one was, one time, one of our trucks, coming back, made a wrong turn and turned into the Soviet territory and, to me, it was in June of '45, and that was when I figured that was the beginning of the Cold War, because the Soviet guards were absolutely nasty. They were going to throw these guys in the slammer. They were going to take everything that was on those trucks, etc. Finally, they got a Soviet officer who had a little more sense to come and everything got settled down and the guys were let [loose] to go back, but the Soviets already were the enemy. ... This was June. This was a month after the peace treaty ... that included the Soviet Government. So, I figured, "Well, that's the beginning," and it didn't end for another forty-five years.
SI: You were conscious of the Soviets' intentions in Europe.
DG: Oh, yes. Of course, we'd seen that from years before, but, yes, we were aware of that. ...
SI: Was it something that you discussed with the other men in your unit?
DG: To some degree, yes, now and again, in my particular gun battery. ... One of the guys who was on my instrument, he was very good. He was powerful and good on his feet, handling optical instruments. He was a Jewish, gay, ballet dancer, a card-carrying Communist. [laughter] There he was, see. I was responsible for him, but I never had any trouble with him, because he was so good and he was loyal and all the rest, but we knew. ...
SI: Please, continue.
DG: Well, we didn't care if he was all these things, but, every now and again, in the barracks, before we were over there in France and Germany, discussions would start. ... He was vigorously defensive of everything that Stalin was doing and downplayed any of the support the United States was giving to the Soviet Union, in the way of equipment and trucks and so on, and there was enough guys here on our side who really were offended by this. ... They'd get into some pretty harsh discussions, because we didn't think the Soviets were at all trustworthy and any of us who were; ... I was twenty-one, twenty-two, and I was a kid, I was the youngest, and these guys knew what Von Ribbentrop and Molotov had set up in August of 1939, you know. They divided Poland, and the Baltic States and all this kind of stuff. So, things could get very nasty there, but we didn't let it get to the point where it was bad. ... As I say, this particular guy was really a very good instrument man; I had no trouble with him. ... We accomplished something one time that only a good physicist believed me, when I told him afterwards. He was a British-trained physicist from Cambridge. I tracked, with this fellow, ... the rise of a German V-2 rocket and up, and it was just at the right time of day where the late afternoon sun was catching it, glinting off the body of this missile. ... As it went into its ballistic trajectory, ... I followed it all the way up, ... and I was not by myself, but with this guy who had the qualities, as a good ballet dancer and so on, and strength, until we finally lost it in some clouds. People always thought I was nuts, but I explained this one day to a physicist who I worked with over the years and ... got his degree from Cambridge, and he said, "Yes," he said, "I can believe it," ... because I was at a sufficient distance, I forget how many tens of miles, that, the rate of change would have been slow enough for me to pick it up on an optical instrument and just track it, its rise, until the rocket engine finished. ... You pick it up first by the plume of the engine, and then, after that, having gotten it, we could then track it from there by the sun glinting off the body of the missile. So, that was my introduction to missile warfare. ... That was in, like, January of '45. ...
SI: Did anything ever happen to this soldier because he was gay? Was he ever removed from your unit?
DG: No, no. I don't know that anybody ever really made an issue of it. It was just, [that] he was just different, and I don't think anybody ever even so much as [called him out]. They didn't use that term then, anyway. Cornelia Otis Skinner wrote a book, When Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, in, what was that, 1945 or '46?  So, that word's been taken from us ... [in] more recent years, but whatever terms might have been used, I don't know, but nobody [bothered him]. ... There was a couple of guys like that. ... I think, when a bunch of guys come out of the metropolitan area, like we did, and a lot of us as first or second-generation Americans, at best, ... you're much more easy-going. You're much more permissive. You aren't bothered by these kind of things. They're not bothering you, don't bother them. ... We'd be more bothered by a guy who was cheating at loaning money. ... There were a couple of juice men in the battalion who would, exorbitantly collect interest on loans and so on. I only had one run-in with them. I had to loan him money and I took one of my colleagues, who was a tough guy from New Jersey. ... He was paying me back and I asked him for a particular interest rate and he was going to protest, until he saw that I had my strong-arm man with me, because that's the way these guys would always work, and he conceded. I never had any trouble with him again. [laughter] I just played his own game on him. ... There were those kinds of things, but, other than that, sometimes, guys would steal from one another, but it wasn't too bad. ... Then, I was sent to England, in July of '45, to go to school, to go to college, college courses, again, my battery commander saving me. ... I'm sure he got me into this. ... Then, of course, we weren't there two weeks when they hit Hiroshima, and then, Nagasaki and we were delighted. We were all combat veterans and ... the only thing that bothered us was [that] we didn't have a chance to use it on the Germans. In other words, we all had a few German places we would have loved to demolish. [laughter] We didn't feel sorry for destroying Germany. ... So, that was it. Soon after, I came home. I came home ... separate from my battalion, which came home a month or so after I did, but I came home as a casual, so-to-speak, in October of '45. ...
SI: Where was the school in England?
DG: It was at Shrivenham. It was an officers' training camp for the British Army, but which was now emptied and loaned to the United States Army to use as a college campus. It could house faculty, because of the nature of, a British, West Point-type place.
SI: Like Sandhurst.
DG: Exactly, and there were barracks and there were cafeterias and parade grounds and so on and they brought these faculty people over. There was a geneticist from the faculty of the University of Chicago, a physical ... geography guy from the University of Pennsylvania and there was a guy teaching sociology that I took, and I don't remember where he came from, but they had a broad spectrum of courses available and I took those three, genetics, geography and sociology. ... As I say, the war ended then, while we were there, and I was just assigned to a casual outfit, as they called it, the guys who were the walking-wounded, so-to-speak, and then, when the time came, [sailed] home on the Queen Mary. It took five days from Liverpool to New York, from October 11th to October 16th, I think it was, 1945.
SI: How quickly did you get back into Rutgers?
DG: I came down here a month or so later, after I got home in late October, and my interests were mixed, but that two months at that school in England, at Shrivenham, really got my mind back into academic-type things. You can see that I was involved, wherever I could be, ... in keeping my mind functioning. ... I was interested in the physical geography thing. So, I came down, talked to the professor, head of the department of geology here, I forget his name, an older fellow. He loaned me a book, told me, "Well, read this and, you know, let's see where we go." So, I did. I took it back home, up to East Orange, and read it and I got back down here in the beginning of the spring semester of '46, which started about the 1st of February of '46. So, I was home only about three months. ... I was taking a course, in the second semester, of my basic zoology, which I had had to drop out of three years earlier, and a couple of other things, I forget what they were; oh, physics. ... I had to get back into physics, because I think I was either flunked or incomplete on the one that I took before the war, and a few other things, including a course, the only thing available in geology was crystallography. ... I started taking the class and I looked at this, I said, "No, this is not what I want." ... I dropped the course, signed up for something else, and then, paid more attention to Professor [Alan] Boyden's class in zoology and genetics. ... I got really into that and he picked me up, so-to-speak, with my involvement and interest, and ... saw to it that I was a teaching assistant in my senior year. I don't know ... whether I put that in there, [on the survey], but I was paid by the University in the spring semester of 1948. ... I taught a genetics lab in zoology genetics here, next door, down there, and ... Dr. Boyden got me into that and so on. So, that got me started. ... From there, he brought to my attention opportunities out at Iowa State, from a friend of his who he knew from [the] Rockefeller Institute at Princeton. ... I went out to Iowa State, missed my graduation here and figured I'd at least see what it would take me. It was interesting, because it involved the genetics of disease resistance and susceptibility. I was interested in disease and ... we had a professor who taught parasitology here who's absolutely a phenomenon, to me. I just loved him, and then, I took a course, in that last semester I was here, in medical entomology, over at the College of Agriculture. A couple of times a week, I walked over there with another guy, there were four of us in the class, one girl from NJC and three of us guys, and I was fascinated by that. I still have the textbooks, even though they're a little outdated, [laughter] and I got interested in tropical medicine, which was a big issue in those days, with all these guys coming back from the South Pacific, but I couldn't make my way into Tulane University School of Tropical Medicine, unfortunately. They tentatively accepted me, and then, they said, "No," and, at just about that point, Dr. Boyden had this query from his old buddy from Iowa State, Dr. [John W.] Gowen. ... So, I saw the work he did. I went to the library over there, where we bought lunch, and ... went down into the stacks, looked up some of the stuff he was doing and said, "Okay, this looks like it might be interesting." I figured at least it's worth a start and I stayed there. He was into radiation studies, and then, I got an Atomic Energy Commission pre-doctoral fellowship that just filled in after I ran out of the GI Bill, and so, I finished my doctoral work ... with an AEC fellowship and I had to get a clearance. In those days, you had to be cleared, and so, there I was and I just went into the Atomic Energy Program and [I have] been there ever since, you might say, not ... doing the same thing. ... I did some time in headquarters, Washington and so on, worked with the space agency a bit, but always in the life sciences, in mutation, genetics and in cancer biology, cancer induction and things of the life expectancy problems, changes, long-term injury from radiation exposure, from occupational exposure on up to nuclear war. ... One of the last papers that was published, that I [was] the second author of three, I don't have a copy with me, I just gave a copy to my brother, was an analysis of the atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. ... It's a comparison with comparably exposed mice and dogs. It was published in Radiation Research in August of 2003 ... and there's another paper ... under review now involving the same three of us and, again, they got me as the second author of three, because I'm providing all the animal data, see. [laughter] ... This one is on long-term cardiovascular injury from radiation exposure, ... which is something that's been sort of neglected. So, I'm still doing things, not much, but some.
SI: You joined the Atomic Energy Commission in 1953, correct?
DG: Yes, I went there on January 1, 1953.
SI: At that point, how much did they really know about the effects of radiation?
DG: Oh, really, a great deal. Some of that work started with [Wilhelm Conrad] Roentgen's work, back in the late 1800s, but, then, through the early 1900s and the development, through the 1920s, of studying of genetic effects of radiation exposure. H.J. Muller did some of that first work. ... I knew him. He was a great guy, Nobel Prize-winner, and my major professor, Gowen, was a student of T.H. [Thomas Hunt] Morgan ... and he was into radiation-induced mutation. ... So, I got into the radiation part early, that way, but, during the '20s and '30s, radiation therapy and diagnostics were developing, a lot of it in New York, the Sloan-Kettering Institute and so on, at Columbia University, Johns Hopkins, Chicago, Berkeley, and so that there was a fair bit known, but not as much as we really needed to know. ... We knew a lot, but there was a lot of development, a lot of new technology coming in, a lot of new instrumentation, and so, we needed to improve and advance our knowledge in all these areas, and so that it was great. ... That's where the money was, that's where the challenge was, in the Atomic Energy Program. So, that's where I went. I had an offer from the University of Pennsylvania to be an instructor in histology and embryology, an offer from, oh, the National Cancer Institute to do a post-doctoral down there, which was very attractive, because I knew the guy, the guy in charge, and I got to work with him a bit, later. ... The best offer was the one from the Argonne National Laboratory and I was given the position of an associate scientist, which was like an associate professor in the University of Chicago. They were the prime contractor, and I think I was the last one to be given that advanced a position, because, otherwise, you always started them as assistant scientists, and then, you had five-year up-or-out [maxim], same thing as you would have in a faculty, but I got in at the accepted level like that. ... I guess it was a mix of my background and my history and whatever I've done and, bingo, there I was, so that I took that and it worked. ... I had some very good finishing work down here, very good physics, finally, I really got to get into that, very good chemistry, analytical chemistry, organic chemistry. I was even assigned to help the professor of organic chemistry in some of his research, and bacteriology, parasitology, entomology, embryology, all of this at a competitive level, because New Jersey had no medical school. ... We were all pre-med-type students, you might say, and the faculty they had here then was very bloody good. I'll tell you, it really was. I don't know how they are today. I hope they're every bit as good. I think they are. I think you've got some very good people here, from my contacts with the development office and so on. ... I have a bequest in my will for the Department of Genetics here, but they met the challenge of getting Rutgers graduates into medical schools in other states. It always had to be another state and that's not easy. So, I think all of that helped. There were a few real gaps in my knowledge. I didn't know biochemistry, but I got into things out at Ames and worked out all right ... and into the Atomic Energy Program in various capacities, both management, program development, bench work, etc. I have it still, in the hard drive of the computer at home, forty, fifty megabytes of data, going back over fifty years, on radiation effects in laboratory animals that we're still analyzing and using for publication. ... Working with, one guy I interact with is the head of the Department of Epidemiology at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. The other guy is in the Department of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Oklahoma, in the Oklahoma City Medical School. So, these are the people that I'm still working with and I've got the database. ... Well, they have it, too, they have access to it, but I know [how to use it]. My minor work at Ames, Iowa State, was in the College of Veterinary Medicine, in anatomy and pathology. So, I'm the working pathologist for these guys now, and so, I guide them in how they go through the database and what they can use and what they shouldn't use and where they should be careful and so on, like that. So, my role ... is as much that of an institutional memory, ... just make recommendations about things. They do the detailed analytical work. I was trained in statistics very well, out at Iowa State, which is one of the strongest places in the country for that, but it's all far beyond me now, what's available on the computers. Shit, I wouldn't even try to teach genetics to these kids on the campus now, because what I learned here or out in Iowa is so old, you know. I may have known a few of the Nobel Prize-winners, and then, their students and peers and such, but I couldn't touch it now. Very important to know what you don't know, and there's a lot I don't know, but there are things that I can still be useful at, and so, it keeps me going.
SI: Which part of your career with the Atomic Energy Commission has been the most rewarding or your favorite aspect, management, bench work or something else?
DG: Well, I enjoyed a bit of all of it. I tried everything. ... It's either because I have a short attention span or I'm ... a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, but, at any rate, I've done bench shop work, I've done program development, I've done management, I've done management at headquarters level and I've done it at the laboratory level. ... The worst is being in management at the laboratory level, because it's a thankless job, running people, looking after people who you've hired because they've got a good mind, but the rest of them, maybe, is a mess, you see. [laughter] ... Headquarters was more fun, because, now, you were in a position of control over a lot of people and you could get into some real battles with people. I've had a few battles with deans and college presidents, mostly because it was my fault. I'm not blaming them. They were right in taking positions that they did, but you've got to learn, but it was kind of fun, working with people like George Beadle and H.J. Muller and so on, around the country, and really having really good people and talking them into doing certain studies that you knew had to be done and getting them finally involved. ... Then, the bench work, so-to-speak, the laboratory work, is great fun, because every day is new information, and you're having great fun, accumulating this, analyzing it, writing papers, ... but management is something; when I took on the job as a division director in 1978, I told the people above me, they asked me to do this, I said, "I'll give you three years, minimum, five years, maximum," and they looked at me and they said, "All right, but don't tell anybody." ... [laughter] I said, "Okay, that's a deal. I won't tell anybody that I'm a short-termer," you see, because that gives the staff strength that you don't want to give them, because I knew that getting into that kind of a position, ... after a while, it's thankless, it's aggravating, it's awful, because you're having to be a manager for some people who you know are a hell of a lot smarter than you are and hell of a lot better-known and who deserve a lot of credit and need help and support and, etc., but they can be difficult. ... You have to learn how to deal with difficult people who have excellent minds, [laughter] and, after a while, ... that wears you out, it really does. So, what have we missed?
SI: I would like to ask a few more questions about Rutgers after the war. What was it like to be in class with kids just out of high school? You were a veteran and you had other veterans in there with you; how did you get along with these younger students?
DG: ... Well, it was better than before the war. We were all committed students then. We were older, we'd paid our dues and we were there because we wanted to be there. We weren't there because somebody convinced us that we ought to go to college, but we were there because it was our free choice and we knew we had the career opportunities. We had the GI Bill to support us. The faculty loved it, because they finally got some mature young men to come in and interact with and they worked with us and helped us. I think everybody enjoyed it. I thought it was great ... and I think the campus did. I think the faculty ... thought it was great, too. I don't remember anybody complaining. ... The faculty could be tough. They were demanding. Some of them, like my professor in parasitology, he would correct your spelling, for example, in things that you prepared from the laboratory. ... I doubt if anybody could even begin to know how to spell things [today], [laughter] because they have spell check in the computer, but they looked after us. ... They were very good and [with] myself, clearly wanting to go on, not into medicine, but into graduate work in science and research, they were very helpful. They were encouraging and gave you good ideas and support and so on. ... No, I thought it was great, really, and then, you got out into the Middle-West, into Central Iowa, it's a whole other world. It's like you came in from another planet. You thought differently from the Eastern schools than the Midwestern schools and there are things out there they'd never heard of before, that you considered every day.
SI: Can you give me an example?
DG: Well, like, ... many of these people never understood the conflicts between the different ethnic and racial sub-groups that exist in New York and New Jersey, that existed back then. I can remember going to the movies once, out in Ames, to see the film they made of ... Laura Hobson's Gentleman's Agreement. I don't know if you've ever heard of it. ...
SI: With Gregory Peck?
DG: Yes, it was the story of this subtle kind of anti-Semitism that exists throughout the East. Why do the Jews always go up into the Catskills, for their summer holidays? That's their area. The Gentiles don't go up there, and so on, but a lot of things [pertaining to] controlling who was admitted where and etc., etc. ... I enjoyed reading the book, because I knew about all this. I grew up with [this]. I even could speak a little Yiddish [laughter] and I get out there and these people saw this picture, it was totally mind-boggling to them. They didn't realize that things like that existed in the United States, out there in Central Iowa farm country, you know. They were totally decoupled from the coasts and the nature of the East Coast and so on, which dates back to 1607 or so. ... So, that's one of the sort of interesting things you ran into. ...
SI: I have kept you here for quite a while and I know that you have a long way to travel. Is there anything you would like to add?
DG: Well, there's a lot about my career that we never got into, but I don't know how much of that you wanted, you guys want to get into. ... I did a lot of work for the Atomic Energy Commission in overseas training programs, teaching. ... Remember Eisenhower's Atoms in Action? [Atoms for Peace?] You may not remember that. Well, I was involved with that for a couple of years and I spent time in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Orient, in bringing to them radiation training. We had a small reactor and radiation sources and so on, and it was a great experience, especially comparing the various parts of the world. I spent a couple of months in Romania, in Bucharest, and interacted very closely with people there. This was during [Nicholae] Ceauşescu's time and you'll find out the miseries of Communist governments ... and the oppression of the people and a really pretty shitty bunch and so on, and spent some time in South Korea. ... They were a bright bunch. I had to get after them in some ways, and some time in the Philippines and they're a total loss, spent a little time in Taiwan and there, you know, they should have their own nation; the hell with Mainland China. I spent some time in Turkey. That was interesting, but it was during the Cold War period. The United States and Turkey had a close military tie, so that it was a lot easier. ... So, I've done a fair bit of government work overseas, worked with other countries, closely with other countries' governments, with their secretaries of agriculture. ... The chief medical officer of the Republic of Ireland, I got to know very well. He and I were buddies and got into some interesting discussions of how the Irish looked upon the immigrants coming in from India, for example. They didn't like them, and their reasons. I won't go into that. ... So, there's a lot of things like this. I don't know whether you [want to know more] and I get, also, involved with our preparation for mass attacks with nuclear weapons, not only tricky ones, which we figured the Chinese would do, or planned ones that the Soviets would do. ... "How are we prepared to handle all of this?" what we called the "post-attack environment." ... The Surgeon General's Office called it the "management of mass casualties." ... We talked about up to seventy million killed, wounded and injured, etc., in the first sixty days from a massive Soviet attack on the United States. Today, this all seems very strange to these people. They can't even handle a hurricane and I think we were talking about these things [back then], these attacks on New York City, Chicago, etc., Boston, eliminating all the teaching hospitals. "How are we going to handle all the wounded? How are we going to move things? The transportation network was gone," etc., etc., etc. [laughter]
SI: You got into a lot of the logistical aspects.
DG: Oh, yes, we got into Civil Defense things and stuff like that. ... It was great. It's because I ... was involved, at headquarters, so, I got involved ... even with the White House, on a few brief occasions, and with NASA, the space agency, we started doing a lot of radiation studies for them, because they didn't have the capability for it, but they were getting ready to send people up into the radiation exposure areas around the Earth. ... I helped to set up an agreement between AEC and NASA, many years ago, so that they could just transfer funds directly from NASA to AEC, for program development and so on, so that it didn't have to go through another Congressional committee. We bypassed Congress, went straight into the headquarters levels. So, there's ways of running the United States Government, [laughter] ... but it's gotten too big. It was a lot smaller back then. ... So, it's been a very diverse career and it's involved the military, on one hand. I've worked with flight officers who flew B-52s up to the picket line, up at the North Pole, and heard their ideas and what did they think about the probabilities of our surviving an attack with the Soviet Union? That's interesting, [to] get their sense of all of this. My brother was a naval officer. ... I had a sister-in-law who's married to a senior and command pilot. ... So, I had contacts of this kind, and then, out of the Atomic Energy Commission, we had to tie-in with [Admiral Hyman] Rickover's submarines. They were a tough bunch. They would ... just look at you and not tell you anything. [laughter]
SI: Did you ever work with Rickover himself?
DG: No, no, but his staff. That's enough, that's close enough, forget it. [laughter] They were good, they were too good and they were able to do things that we wanted to know, exactly, "How did you do that?" ... They wouldn't tell you. [laughter] The Government's funny. It's been a great career ... and the military, really, was only a small part of it. It was useful experience, but I built on that, as you can maybe tell, and I wasn't, what's the word I want? I wasn't intimidated by the military, say. I think it was good to have had that infantry ROTC training, the direct military training, and then, have family members continuing to be involved, and so, to me, they were just another bunch. They just wore uniforms and I've lectured them, they've lectured me and it was fine. So, I worked with the Surgeon General's Office on a few occasions and so on. So, all that was helpful and Rutgers, obviously, was a focal point and where it all began. If the war hadn't come on or we hadn't gone in there, I don't know what I'd be doing today. See, it obviously, clearly, influenced me. World War II changed everything, and then, coming back here and getting a good education got me a good start, and then, on to Iowa State and a very different approach to science issues and so on, and then, on back into the hard-nosed world of atomic energy and so on. ... So, there you are.
SI: Okay, I think that is a good place to end for now. [laughter]
DG: [laughter] All right. If you want to know more, you can always write. I can write. I can answer questions, if there are specific issues that come up when you're reviewing all of this and say, "What did he mean by that?" You know, I might not have always been clear, I'm sure, and, if you feel it's important or might be, hell, no problem, get in touch with me.
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Reviewed by James Sylvester 10/26/05
Reviewed by Shaun Illingworth 11/23/05
Reviewed by Douglas Grahn 12/05/05