Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Gen. Edward Bautz in his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, on October 15, 1999. The interviewers are Shaun Illingworth and ...
Michael Ojeda: Michael Ojeda.
SI: Gen. Bautz, first, we would like to thank you for consenting to this interview. To begin, could you tell us a little bit about your mother and father and what you know about their backgrounds?
EB: Of course. First of all, I was born on the 2nd of April of 1920 in Union City, New Jersey, and, at the age of four, I moved to Dumont, New Jersey, and, at that time, Dumont was a pretty rural place. So, I grew up in that environment; that was a small town, close friends. We lived on the main street, Washington Avenue, ... north and south. Madison Avenue, the other big road in town, was east and west, and there was a big house on one side of me, and there was an open field on the other side of me, where we played ball and did all kinds of things. ... My father was an accountant, and you all remember the Depression, or you know about the Depression. Of course, we lived through it, and, during that time, in the early '30s, he did lose his job for awhile. He got another job, within a month or two, as an auditor for the New York Water Service Corporation. It was a private water company, and they had stations throughout Upstate New York and on Long Island, including Flatbush in Brooklyn. So, he would travel to these places and do the audits. That meant that he was away from home [for] a good part of the week. He would be home on weekends and, on rare occasions, he would be gone for about a month to Upstate New York. ... Both he and my mother were American-born citizens. They both came from Alsacian-background families. I understand that my one grandfather was in the German Army for a couple of years and my other grandfather, whom I never met, he died before my dad was married, ... had been in the French Army. [laughter] So, I don't know that either one ever fought each other, but, they [both] came over. Then, both my mother and father were born in this country. My father was, I think, eight or nine years older than my mother when they were married and he died at the age of fifty-six, which was in 1943. My mother continued to live as a widow after that time and she passed away at the age of ninety-nine-and-a-half, up in northern New Jersey. Now, as far as growing up is concerned, ... after I got up to Dumont, when I was about four, a short time later, I got a sister, and, unfortunately, when she was about six years old, she got acute diabetes and died very suddenly, which then produced two ... younger brothers, [laughter] after ... [that] time. So, I grew up in this family where I was the senior child. My father was away a good part of the time, ... you know, and I had to take over some manly chores early on, and the two younger brothers, much younger; there's a picture I have someplace that shows me in my Army uniform, as a lieutenant, in our backyard, and the two youngsters here were only about that high to me, and ... one lives in New Jersey, one lives in Upstate New York. In growing up, I went to high school, I went to all of my schooling, in Dumont, and there, early on, ran into, I guess we started in kindergarten, a man that turned out to be my best friend during my life. By the time we were in third grade, we were buddies, and that went on as the years went on. ... His father was a Scoutmaster and he had two older brothers. The oldest one went to Rutgers, which is one reason [why] I wound up there. We were in the Scout troop. We enjoyed camping. We enjoyed the outdoors and we did a lot of stuff, including marching in all the Memorial Day parades and all of that kind of stuff, ... which served me well later on, when I got in the Army. ... Now, my best friend was planning to go to Rutgers as well, but, his father died in April of our senior year in high school. So, he never did make it there, and, actually, went to night school at Cooper Union, if you all know it, an engineering school, for about nine years and got a degree in that. Now, he's since passed away, too. ...
SI: What was your friend's name?
EB: Harold Enburg, yes, and his brother, Edward, ... graduated the year before I entered Rutgers, and, at Rutgers, I automatically joined the Raritan Club a local fraternity. There was another member of the Scout troop, a year ahead of me, who was named Warren Swenson that was also at the house. So, I didn't have a lot of trying to figure out what school I was going to go to, nor what I was going to do. The house has since become, I think, ... Phi A Epsilon Pi, or something like that, but, we lived, initially, in a rental house, the whole fraternity, that was right next to the Dean of Men and right across [from] ... where the old gym was, and then, we moved, after the first year, over to George Street, right on the Banks there, in[to] another house, and I understand, now, that they built a new one, which I have never been in.
SI: I would like to back up and ask a few more questions, if I may.
SI: Did the fact that your fraternity house was located next door to Dean Metzger's residence ever cause any problems?
EB: No, no. You mean with having parties or something like this? [laughter]
EB: Well, actually, you know, this may have been part of the Depression, but, all of us, and, ... you know, I should tell you that I had a scholarship each year. My high school principal put me in for the Bergen County Scholarship, ... which would have paid [full] tuition. ... That didn't come through right away, but, I still got a scholarship from Rutgers for at least half of my tuition, and then, ... I got the Bergen County Scholarship in my last year, which was [full] tuition. People were on a shoestring, financially, down there, most everybody, and the Raritan Club, a number of people ... [there] were commuters and [they] would have lunch there. ... We fed the people that lived in [the house] on a dollar a day, and I see you're kind of blinking, [laughter] but, the whole thing was a lot cheaper. ... At the club, we took turns waiting on tables, and washing the dishes, and that kind of stuff, during which time, we got our meals free. ... In my junior year, I was the treasurer of the house. So, I got my room free, and, in my senior year, I was a steward, so, I got my meals free, although I had to wait on tables every noontime, when there were more people there, but, it was a penny-pinching kind of operation, throughout the whole thing, and it was really nip-and-tuck, [as to] whether I was going to go at all. At the last minute, we decided that I was going to do that and I just had my fingers crossed. In fact, I did see Dean Metzger when I first got down there, 'cause I didn't have a scholarship. He said something about, kind of, "Well, you know, ... would this make the difference between your coming or not coming?" I said, "Well, it may well, because I don't know," and so, he took some action and got me that first half tuition scholarship, which was one hundred dollars. A full tuition was two hundred dollars. The fees, with everything, was one hundred and sixty some dollars, and then, of course, as time went on, I also got into the advanced course of the ROTC, which most all the senior people on the campus did, because, back in those days, you know, Rutgers was a land-grant college. Everyone took ROTC, unless they were, one, physically unqualified or, two, were a conscientious objector, and they took it for two years. Now, in your third year, you began to get some pay and this was twenty-one dollars every three months, which was big money in those days. You see, ... that's almost a month's worth of meals. ... So, you got that for the last two years, which was another nice little thing to have, although you also had to pay for your uniforms, which took all of your junior and part of your senior year, but, when I was graduated and on active duty, why, my dad marched me up to the bank and we got a loan for two hundred and fifty dollars, so [that] I could have some uniforms made, and I paid that off over my first year as a lieutenant. Now, I'm skipping up ahead again. ...
SI: Were you ever told about how your parents met or about their marriage?
EB: I honestly don't know. I never got a specific story on that. I think it was through some friends, because she lived ... in a part of Brooklyn and he lived in New Jersey, and I think it may have been through some friends of either family who had some Alsacian background or something that they somehow got together, and I can't answer that. I don't have it. [laughter]
SI: It sounds as if she moved to Union City, where your father was living at the time.
EB: Yes, yes. When they got married, she moved there. ... All I remember [is], we grew up in an apartment in Union City and [we] got out of there when I was four, to the wild, blue countryside. [laughter]
SI: Was that the main reason why you moved to Dumont, to get out in the country?
EB: Well, yes. I think they wanted ... to get a house. Actually, again, [with] the times and the financial aspect, his mother, of course, was a widow. As I told you, his father had died early. So, she was living where he was living and my mother's parents were also looking for a place in the countryside. So, it all started when they got this house in Dumont, and then, we had the two grandmothers and the other grandfather living with us. Now, after my sister was born, ... my maternal grandparents then rented the house next door, ... which he used to take care of. He was a very talented machinist who could, with a file and a few hand tools, do things like, well, part of his job was going out to plants, where they had heavy machinery and so on, and he would find out what was wrong with it, and he'd make the part and install it. ... We had a washing machine in those days, it was one of the first ones, and it would roll around and everything. [When] something would happen, he'd get in there and make a part. You know, one day, one of our old cars burned out a main bearing. Why, he just got down there and he made a main bearing and put it in the car. So, he was a talented guy and he also had a temper. So, if we kids were playing ball in the lot next door and it got into the garden that he tended, we'd hear about it, but, I don't know exactly how I got off on that track.
SI: Well, we enjoy these little anecdotes.
EB: So, and my paternal grandmother died during that time, and then, my maternal grandmother died after an operation. So, this was ... all before I went away to college, and that kind of remained, and my grandfather was sort of the other one there. Once his wife died, he kind of moved back into the house and he was there until he died. Well, of course, I had ... gotten into the Army by then. I don't remember all the details [of when he passed away], but, ... it was somewhere in the '40s.
MO: What do you recall about your schooling in grammar school and high school?
EB: Well, I remember that ... our initial schooling, and the school I went to was just diagonally across the street from me. The kindergarten and first grade were in the same room, taught by the same teacher, Mrs. Westfall, bless her heart, and I remember her telling my mother, years later, that she never wanted to teach any except the very junior grades. She just loved them, and she was great, and part of that ... remembrance is that, after about two weeks, there ... seven or eight of us, enough to fill in one row, who suddenly were moved to the first grade, rather than the kindergarten, which I assume was the fact that we were ahead on reading, and writing, and arithmetic. ... Then, I guess, you know, it all passed rather routinely, I think. Most of the time, ... for the most part, we never had any disciplinary problems ... in grammar school or high school. There was ... one exception, I think it was [in] fifth grade, when there was a large, older black boy, ... I only knew three blacks in town the whole time I was at school, and his name was Shimmer Long, at least that was his nickname, and he was just hard to handle, and he would not react. ... You know, he'd be sent to the principal, and this would go on and on, but, he just wasn't making any progress. I think he was about three times older than the rest of us and kind of a bully, but, that was the only one. The rest of us were, by and large, interested in learning. We did our homework. We did what we were told. We didn't get into too much trouble, maybe a little mischief every now and then. In the earlier grades, ... you'd have recess. You'd get out there and you played marbles and stuff like that. As time went on, we actually had to move a little bit, because the town was starting to grow a little, and, just like we have around here, the schools were getting crowded, and the school I had started in was kindergarten through high school, and there were two other grammar schools in town. Well, along the way, they built a new high school, but, for two years, I think it was second and third grade, we went to a church hall of the Dutch Reformed Church, which was only about two, three blocks away from where we lived, for those classes, while some other construction was going on, and then, it turned out that the high school that was built also housed the eighth grade. ... It also drew students from a couple of smaller towns surrounding it, like Haworth, and Oradell, and so on. ... One year, I was out in Long Island. My father had gotten a job where he was going to be the office manager of this plant, and it lasted about a year, and that was to keep the family together a little bit, and then, they were going to have to reduce the pay, so, he went back to the old job again. It did give me a chance to get quite accustomed to the water. ... He was in Bayshore. We lived in a little town of Bright Waters and that was right by, what's it, the Great South Bay? Is that what you call it?
EB: It was across from Fire Island. The beach was handy. I could ride my bike to very easily. We almost walked to it. ... During the summers, when he was working [on] Long Island as an auditor, we used to go out and have a place, really, a camping kind of [place], not a lush community, but, of course, you had outhouses and so on, but, out there by the bay, so [that] you could fish and clam and learn how to do all these things around the water. ... In fact, in Dumont, ... they built a swimming pool a short way down from the school, which I went to. ... I can remember, in my senior year, finally, in order to get my Eagle Badge, I still had to complete the Senior Lifesaving [merit badge], and my friend, Harold, and I went to some high school that was about eight miles, ten miles away. We went there one night a week for, I don't know, fifteen weeks or something like that, to get that, and, one night in particular, I remember, somebody took us down there, but, then, he didn't come down and pick us up, and so, we got together, and we looked at the money we had together and figured that we could pool our resources. That would give us a nickel apiece. So, we had to walk a good part of the distance to where we could pay the nickel and get the bus to get us home. Now, high school itself, that passed pretty well. I got involved in a few plays and I was manager when one of my classmates, named Elmer Boehs, who we met in high school, and ... he and Harold and I sort of palled around during [our] high school years, ... was running for class president. ... I was his campaign manager, but, he didn't win. ... In the meantime, you know, I was working, part-time. ... I didn't have a paper route, but, I had a magazine route, and I had that from, probably, sixth grade up, ... and I would do chores. Our family doctor lived only a few houses from us, and he also had some show horses, which he kept not on that street, but, in another part of town, ... and there were two things involved here. One, I got a lot of work from him, mowing the grass and going around and picking out the weeds, one by one, you know, which is a terrible task. [laughter] Every time I would think I was done, he would come [out] and say, "Well, there's one there, there's one there, there's one there. [laughter] You need glasses." So, I was president of the Key Club and I was editor-in-chief of our yearbook that year. I belonged to a few other things. I guess one of the things I remember best, in Latin class, when we were fooling around one morning before the instructor, the teacher, had arrived, we had that phrase, "Et tu, Brute," and he said, "Tut, tut, Brutus," and, by gum, she called upon him, and, as he was reading this stuff, he said, "Tut, tut, Brutus," and that made [the teacher angry]. [laughter] She didn't appreciate it, really. [laughter] Okay, so, now, I'm off to college.
MO: You mentioned that your friend's brother had gone to Rutgers.
MO: That was one of the reasons why you chose Rutgers. Were there any other reasons why you chose Rutgers?
EB: Well, it was cheapest, [which was] probably the primary reason. Back in those days, you know, it was almost rare to go to college. Now, in New Brunswick, the total student body, when I went there, I think, was like 800. That did not include the women of New Jersey College for Women across town, and the Ag School was across town. ... We had a number of ag students in our house, who, you know, ... would go to class across town, [but], they lived there. So, I didn't go through a large litany of trying to figure out [where I was going], as my grandsons have done and so on, going to schools and checking this and that and the other, you know, ... as we do with everyone now. On the other hand, now, I think there's an awful lot of people going to college today who probably shouldn't be going. By and large, you know, it was a privilege, and there were some cut-ups, and there was an occasional fraternity house that, ... you know, had a party. In fact, I think, in more recent years, that happened to [the] Sigma Phi Eps, or whatever they are, [that] the Raritan Club became, after I was graduated. ... The Raritan Club, well, the seniors ran it, you know. [laughter] As freshmen, you were restricted to your room between the hours of seven and eleven o'clock, every night, except Saturday, and you were in your room; you were supposed to be studying. There were no radios on. TV wasn't available, of course. We did have a piano ... in the living area, but, during that period of time and beyond, you know, there just wasn't any cutting up. Freshmen, usually, one of them at least, was picked, and, at eleven o'clock at night, would go around and take any orders, if somebody wanted to get something. ... There was a place, a drugstore, which also served some sandwiches, I've forgotten, about three blocks away from us, and we'd go over and get the orders. That was sort of rotated among the freshmen, but, other than that, Saturday night was a time to, maybe, go to a movie, but, movies were twenty cents then, and, for the most part, you were working. The postage wasn't ... as high as it is today, so, I would send my laundry home every week in a special box. There was a sort of a plastic kind of carton made for this purpose. My mother would do it, and then, send it back, and, usually, include maybe a few cookies or something, you know, in it, but, ... that was cheaper than trying to get [it done on campus], because the houses didn't have washers and dryers and that kind of stuff in them, either. So, during college, ... I did go out for swimming and I got ... my numerals in my freshman year. I did the breaststroke, and then, I continued on, through my senior year. I got my letter in my junior year and I was also on the rifle team for several years. ... I was never a great swimmer, and I found out in my freshman year that I was not a sprinter, but, there were two other swimmers who swam the breaststroke as freshmen, and it was a hundred yards, and ... there was no difference between butterfly and breast stroke. In other words, that was interchangeable. ... I never could do the butterfly very well, but, he would always beat me in the hundred yards. Then, one day, suddenly, we were swimming, Penn State, I think it was, at our pool, and, suddenly, we turned to varsity rules. So, here I am, now swimming, racing, two hundred yards, which I had never done before, and, you know, I just set off at a usual, slower pace and so on. ... By God, you know, a little over halfway, I suddenly realized that the man that was always beating me is behind me now, [laughter] and I lost the race by a touch, because I didn't bring my hands over, like this, ... in that particular race. ... [My] biggest claim to fame, I guess, is, I swam against Dick Huff of Princeton, who then held the world's record, at something like 2:22, and my best time was, like, 2:42, and, at that meet, he dove, he went underwater all the way to the end of the pool, turned around, and came back underwater to where he started, turned around, then, went out, and then, he butterflied all the rest of the way. [laughter] So, I was a member of Scabbard and Blade. I did well during the ... ROTC summer camp. ... I was company commander of Company A, no, yes, Company A, I think it was, and I kind of liked the military, and I liked to shoot, and I liked the outdoors, and that sort of came around.
SI: Did the rifle team compete with other schools?
EB: All by mail, yes. There were, but, it was all [by mail]. We'd, occasionally, have a shoulder-to-shoulder shoot. I can't even recall just whose those were, but, they were usually schools that were fairly close by. Most of it was done ... by mail.
SI: I understand that there were also competitions held at the ROTC camp at Plattsburgh.
EB: I don't know of any competitions we had, other than actual scoring on the various weapons, like, I did very well on the rifle. I was an expert ... on the rifle. I think I was expert on the rifle, ... pistol, machine gun, I thought there was a fourth, but, on the rifle, I was expert. I think, on the pistol, I was marksman, sharpshooter, I guess, and then, on the machine gun, I was marksman, which was the lowest rate. They gave me a lot of medals, and, after I got on active duty, I got all those on the expert side, plus tank gun and a few other things, you know.
SI: Both of your parents' families were Roman Catholic, correct?
EB: Yes, yes.
SI: How did Roman Catholicism affect your life as you were growing up?
EB: Well, ... we went to church every Sunday. ... Are either of you Catholic?
EB: Well, in those days, you know, when you went to Communion, you had to fast from midnight the night before, not even a touch of water. ... It was sort of a routine, in our church, I think in most churches, where ... one Sunday would be a Holy Name [Society meeting] for the men, then, there was a women's [meeting] on another Sunday, then, there were the boys, and then, there were the girls, you know, and they'd go to confession on Saturday afternoon, and then, march up there. We always went to the seven o'clock Mass, and we went in a body. ... You know, all the children sat together in a row, or the Holy Name would sit all together and the rest of the family would sit [in the] back ... [on] that particular day. So, that was just part of ... growing up. It was all sort of cut-and-dry. You know, I mean, now, things are much more relaxed. Vatican II changed a lot of things and you wouldn't ... think of going a month without going to confession, you know, in those days. In fact, you were (hoping after?) a week. [laughter]
SI: Were most of the families in Dumont Roman Catholic?
EB: No. In fact, both of my friends that I was talking about were not. They were churchgoers, and my very best friend was in the Dutch Reformed Church, that place we went up to and used as both our Scout meeting place and a school for a couple of years, and they lived ... right near it, so, it was all very convenient. ... Growing up in that environment, too, you know, ... most of the stores were individually owned. We did get an A&P, but, most all of them were individually owned, and so, the owners worked in the stores, and they were their stores, and this included the produce people, it included the meat people, the groceries. We had two drugstores in town, one of them which was strictly a drugstore and the other one was a little more on the line of what we have today. ... It did the pharmacy bit, but, it had some other stuff. The automobile store, [all of the shops], were all pretty much family owned and operated. The bakery was another one, and, every day, it was usually my chore to go up to the bakery, which was about three, four blocks, and get a half a dozen rolls for breakfast the next morning. A half a dozen rolls cost ten cents and, now, they cost you forty cents a roll. [laughter]
SI: Was there any anti-Catholic sentiment or activities in Dumont in the 1920s and 1930s? I know that the Ku Klux Klan was active in New Jersey during that era.
EB: I never encountered any kind of a Ku Klux Klan. ... I think the Catholics were in a minority, as were the Jewish people, even more so, and I guess the only thing I remember was, in school, in those days, every time you had an assembly, you'd salute to the flag, and then, you'd say the Our Father, and ... it wasn't the Catholic one, it was the one that they added to, which, nowadays, we've sort of added to it anyway. So, they said, "Debts," instead of, "Trespasses," you know, ... but, ... I've never noticed anybody making any point of it. ... I think the struggle of the times was such that people were too serious about a lot of things. By the way, during that same time, I remember watching the George Washington Bridge being built. We went over there. ... Dumont was about seven miles northwest of the bridge, and, before then, in order to go to New York, you always had to take the ferry, and the tunnels came in down below.
SI: Did the majority of people that lived in Dumont commute into New York?
EB: Yes, yes. The bulk of people that lived in Dumont, in my day, were either merchants, we even had some farms up there, and a beautiful terminal moraine left by a glacier in that area, it was a joy to grow stuff, but, then, ... some went to Hackensack or down to the Jersey City area, someplace, but, the great bulk of the people went to New York. ... I followed suit while I was going to Rutgers in my sophomore year. My first year, I walked the streets of New York, ... you know, answering ads, doing this and that. We were really aiming for sixty dollars a month. A friend of the family, who was a secretary to somebody in Standard Oil, got me an interview with their personnel manager, and, when I went to talk to him, he said something [about] how he didn't think it was unethical if I was asked the question about, "Do I plan to go to college?" to say, "No," even though I was thinking about it, but, I couldn't bring myself to do that, and I never got a job that way. You know, I did some of these other things at the time. I took care of Dr. Sealy's horses, and rubbed them down, and cleaned their stables, [laughter] did a few of those other things. In the following years, I worked for the New York Water Service Corporation. ... The jobs I had most of the years were as a flat rate inspector. There, the great bulk of the people, individual houses and so on, didn't have meters, but, they went by the number of fixtures, faucets and hose connections, stuff that they had, and so, you went from house-to-house, with a flashlight and so on, and a pad, checking off what they had. ... If they had any leaks, that would be reported, because they had no incentive not to have leaks, as we do today with meters. So, if people continuously violated that, why, then, they might be put on a meter. So, that meant [that] you were out walking around a lot, up and down these stairs, and Flatbush had, really, three communities. There was the Italian community, there was the Jewish community, and there was the Irish community, and you could just go from section to section, and they had different things. ... I remember, there was an Irishman who said, "Oh, the water's so terrible around here, I never drink it anyway. I just drink beer," [laughter] and the Italian people, I went into this apartment, a couple of upper and lower [apartments], and so, on the lower floor, [which] got done first, I suddenly saw a hose being moved around and hanging down. So, when I went up to the other apartment, they told me the bathroom was busy. So, I said, "Well, I'll wait," and I had seen the other stuff. Well, then, finally, oh, yes, the other thing is, [when] I came in there, at first, this one woman downstairs, she shouted up, "Quilla de agua," ["He of the water,"] and so, I waited, and they finally let me in the bathroom. They had taken off this thing on the shower, they had taken the shower head off, and connected the hose up to there, and, you know, they got caught. [laughter] In other cases, in some of these houses, [which] were really stately houses, much bigger than this and so on, ... you'd go down into their basements ...
----------------------------------------END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE----------------------------------
EB: Because having a hose ... meant you were using more water. So, it was kind of interesting that way. The last summer, I went to ROTC summer camp. When I came back, I actually got into the business of working, okay?
EB: Working with another man on the large meters that were in basements of apartment buildings and so on, and, there, you didn't take the meter out, but, you went out and checked it out, and you did that by ... having a good meter, which I would operate out on the street, and you'd run a connection, and then, ... using various orifices of different sizes, time the flow, and, with that, the other man then could calculate ... how to change the gears. ... Then, I was also in their shop, where you took the usual house meter size and put them through a reconstruction thing by dipping them into hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid, and then, some other [kind of acid], so [that] all the parts were clean, and then, you would reassemble them, and, also, set up the gear train, and then, the test bed to check them out. So, I got involved in that and I got involved in going around and painting these little pumping stations that were, you know, maybe half the size of this room. So, that's the way I earned my way through school, [laughter] plus, baby-sitting at Rutgers.
SI: Who did you baby-sit for?
EB: Well, I baby-sat for a professor and his wife. They had three children, all girls, and the youngest [was] about two, and I would go over there on a Sunday night. They'd usually give me dinner and they'd go out until about eleven o'clock. [I would] usually get fifty cents for that. ... Also, I could thank Professor Reager, who was our speech professor. It was an optional course, but, I took two years of it, and, probably, [that] is one of the best things that ever happened to me. He was good. I did, through him, get to meet Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, when she was the President's wife. She had a radio program and there was a girl from NJC and me that went up for this interview, [on the] radio. I got twenty dollars. ... I was also a lifeguard at the Rutgers pool for quite awhile. So, it was all putting ends and pieces together, savings your pennies and making it work. In those days, we had three main affairs during the year, the Sophomore Hop, the Junior Prom, and the Military Ball, when they were there. It's called something else now, but, that's when you invited girlfriends down and so on, and, of course, the first two years, I didn't do that at all. I was the guy waiting on tables for them. For the last two, I got [to] most of them and my parents came down once to be the chaperones at the house. We turned the house over to the ladies and we doubled up at the dorms with various people, or over at the Seminary. Is that seminary still there, I guess?
EB: So, that kind of brings me to the end, except, I can say this much, that, at this time of year, college students are putting their resumes out, those about to graduate, looking to really getting interviews and all that. It wasn't quite as organized back in those days, but, come around the 1st of May, they'd have some people come on campus, and everyone I interviewed with, this being 1941 now, said, "Come back when you get out of the Army." [laughter] ... So, that brings me up to that point, I think.
SI: Did everyone expect to be in the Army or the Armed Forces for awhile in May of 1941?
EB: No, no, and this I ... plan to get into a little later, but, you know, Hitler invaded Poland, what? in '39. I'm talking [about], now, '41. Chamberlain, just before that, went to Czechoslovakia and [secured], "Peace with honor," or something like that, which turned out to be a bunch of baloney. The attitude was, "It's none of are business." Roosevelt had started some Lend-Lease, [trading some] old destroyers with Britain, and I remember a fraternity brother saying, "You know, that Uncle Rosie is going to get us involved in this thing, yet." But, they did establish a draft, the first peacetime draft ever, and I think that was ... in 1940, or maybe '41, I don't remember, because it was just assumed, when you got out of ROTC, you were going to go on duty for one year, and that's exactly what my orders read. I was assigned to active duty for one year at Pine Camp, New York, "Report on the 2nd of July, 1941, and return to your home one year later." So, I'm in the Army now. [laughter]
SI: Was the student body at Rutgers aware of the situation in Europe and Asia through newspapers and the radio?
EB: Well, yes, Europe particularly, because it seemed to be more intimate, I think, and probably because we knew more about it, and we did know that the Japanese had invaded Manchuria, and went down into China, and then, going down, ... well, into what's now Vietnam, and so on, and into part of Thailand. ... Of course, the German side was the Blitzkrieg. ... The French, with their Maginot Line, the British with their [British Expeditionary Force?]. When they started the war with Poland, that's when Britain and France got involved, and Belgium for that matter, and we were aware of that. We were aware [of], on the Japanese side, the use of the "fifth column." We really locked up a whole bunch of Japanese US citizens, in camps out in the desert and so on, for years. We were aware of it, but, nobody wanted to get in[to] it. ... In fact, I was on active duty [beginning the] 2nd [of] July '41. It was sometime, I think, in October of '41 that it was decided to release all the draftees who were twenty-eight years old or older. Now, this was ... just, you know, about a month before Pearl Harbor Day. It shows you the attitude of the country, and it shows you how people were feeling about it. I can say, you know, even the people in the ROTC at Rutgers weren't all that keen on the idea of having a war, [laughter] but, that did change our life.
SI: What was your opinion of Franklin Roosevelt during the New Deal era and in the years leading up to Pearl Harbor? What did your parents think of him?
EB: Well, I think we, ... all of us, really thought he was doing a great job. The Depression ... needed something and he came in and said, you know, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," and then, ... he started this avalanche of stuff that's with us still today, of so many programs. [laughter] ... I remember him shutting down the banks for three days, or something like that, and instituting a number of things like this that did sort of bring the country together, somehow, because I could see these people, I did see them, you know, like in New York, people, fairly well-dressed, selling their apples on the corner. Now, a lot of those people had played the stock market, and had used a lot of margin, and so on, whatever they called it in those days, and ... really got hurt. ... Overall, what Roosevelt did back then, in the early days, was well-received, because ... we could all see that something was happening. Now, whether it was all that good or whether the thing would wound itself up anyway, I don't know, and I haven't studied it. Probably, ... you can find some books on it someplace, ... and he was obviously a candidate for reelection, again and again. In fact, one of the things, I also earned some money from my psychology prof, [who] also had a little side business on opinion surveys. In fact, the company was called Opinion Survey, or something like that, and you'd go around, and I worked with this for a couple of years, and [I] interviewed people on some different subjects in some depth. ... Later on, I got a job ... with them where I would go back and recheck with people. That was just their system of checking to see whether [the opinions were accurate], but, ... one thing, and the only thing that was like it is when Roosevelt was up for election, ... and this was a simple thing. I mean, you didn't put the name, address, and all the good stuff down. You were standing around [on] the corner and asking people questions and, you know, it was just like ninety-nine to one for Roosevelt. So, whatever it was, ... the people, essentially, were for him, very much so, and I actually think that stuck with him. I mentioned ... my fraternity brother who said, "Uncle Rosie's going to get us into this thing, yet," but, certainly in the early days, they were trying to save the country, and it shows by the fact that he was reelected, what? three times. He served four terms, or part of four terms.
SI: Before FDR ran for president, the Democrats had tried to put Al Smith, a Catholic, in the White House. Was the Al Smith campaign ever discussed in your household?
EB: Well, we knew about it. I remember people saying about it, and they said it would be the first time a Catholic ... would ever be [elected], and they didn't give him ... much probability in winning, but, there's not much [that I remember]. ... At that particular stage, I was really not thinking much about politics. Of course, ... it wasn't as big a subject as it is today, with the boob tube and everything, and, you know, ... now, we're making such a big to-do. ... Before anybody's born, we start picking him for president and campaigning for him. [laughter]
SI: We still have a number of questions about your Rutgers years.
SI: Many of the men who went to Rutgers before the war have told us about the freshman hazing rituals. A few have told us how the upperclassmen would cut their ties in half. Do you remember any of the hazing rituals?
EB: Well, yes. Freshmen wore a beanie and they had ... to wear a tie, I think. Now, I don't ever remember anybody cutting anyone's tie in half. I don't remember anybody ever destroying somebody else's property. Now, again, this could be more prevalent [elsewhere]. I say, the place I lived in, the bulk of the people there ... were struggling. We had a few people that had a car, [laughter] and ... their folks had enough money to put them through school, but, they were very few and far [between]. Almost everybody was doing something, and we didn't have time for that foolishness, but, you did go through this hazing bit, and, yes, every freshman had to have a paddle, which was, you know, a certain length ... with holes in it, and, I remember, yes, whenever the fraternity had the meetings, which was once a month, I think, or something like that, and the freshmen, who were pledges, but, still weren't really a member of the fraternity, ... did not go to those meetings. ... I remember being called down, and they asked me some questions one day and said [that] I haven't done this, I haven't done that. ... Somebody had talked to me, some other freshman or something, about some upcoming elections, campus elections, and he was talking about a combine, you know, some kind of group getting together to do something. ... Whatever it was, they heard that I was involved in something like that and they thought I needed some straightening out. So, I had to bend over, (hold it in the right place while they?) swat you once or twice, or three times, and then, they had Hell Week itself. ... That was the end of the thing, sort of, in January, February, somewhere in there, and that was one for a whole week where you got kind of harassed. I don't know whether it was there, [we were] eating peas with a knife or something, or whether they did that someplace in the Army, but, yes, that was sort of the graduation exercise. The other thing, when I joined Scabbard and Blade, it was just this one night that they took us out and put us through a drill. ... It was really kind of a physical kind of thing. It started out with the old Army pack, and you'd take a couple of bricks, and put it in the pack, and pack this thing up, and then, you'd move over to where the stadium was built and go up and down those hills, and around, and, you know, after doing that for three or four hours, you run all over the countryside, you come back to the gym, and ... I remember saying something, "Oh, well, boy, glad that's over." "All right, now, duck walk around the gym." [laughter] ... I really didn't see much in the term of anything, hazing, that was really sadistic or really nasty, none of these things about pouring drinks down people's throat or something. We had a rule; on the big three party weekends, you know, sometimes people would bring some wine or something into the house, but, if they were going to drink or go out Saturday night and go down to a bar or something like that, and then, for the most part, they would be drinking beer, but, I grew up where we had wine as a natural kind of thing, people from Europe. We had the wine making equipment and [I would] have an occasional drink or some beer. ... In fact, in those days, they delivered 3.2 beer to the house and brought a case every week or two. We'd exchanged the case, and I was offered, you know, as I grew up, a little wine with my meal, with water in it, and then, I would get my little drop, like this, of wine, if I wanted it. The end result was, really, when I went away to school and afterwards, and, as I got older, I was even offered hard liquor and a cocktail, not a cocktail, but, a highball or something like that, ... I just didn't have any reason to. Now, the guys who, at home, were never allowed to have a thing, they were the ones that went down on a Saturday night and got drunk. [laughter] ...
MO: Why did you choose business administration as your major?
EB: Well, I was really interested in business, and, now, I had these two friends I was telling you about; Harold was going to be the engineer and Elmer was going to be the salesman and the traffic management expert. ... I was a guy who was going to be the businessman. [laughter] ... I guess, also, ... you know, some of the people, of course, were engineers, and ... I just didn't think that was my cup of tea, although my math was pretty good. Although, as it turned out in college, I did not do well in calculus. I don't even remember what it was now, [laughter] but, I thought the business administration would give me some things that I could use to get a job, and it's interesting that you should bring it up, because, in the first year, I had a very nice professor, and I can't remember his name, but, ... he taught economics. ... At that time, you were assigned someone like that to kind of oversee you, or something. ... A very wise man, he, early on, said, "You know, you're not in college to learn just how to do something that you can go out and do it." He says, "In college, you find out where you can find out how to do those things." [laughter] ... So, you know, as I went on, ... I didn't want to get into math ... above my head, although, in school, I'd done very well in, well, algebra; algebra, I'd never been a strong suit. Calculus, as I say, was abysmal, but, geometry, plane geometry, trigonometry, and this kind of business, I used to eat [it] up, and I enjoyed it, but, ... my thoughts were [of], ... as I say, this little, silly triumvirate that we had, but, the fact [was] that I wanted something that I felt that I could then, you know, get myself a job with. ... You know, the other alternative, pretty much, was sort of just a liberal arts course. ... We had journalism, but, I wasn't the writer type, either, I don't think. Are you both journalists? [laughter]
EB: What are you, by the way?
SI: I am a history major.
MO: Just history.
EB: History, well, good, and that would be a field that I would be interested in, and have certainly become more interested in, over the years, because as years have gone on, more and more, particularly military history ...
MO: We can see. [Michael Ojeda is referring to the stack of books on Gen. Bautz's coffee table.]
EB: Well, yes, there's several of them right there, except, with Henry Kissinger, see how thick that is? It's that hard to get through, too. [laughter] The others are easy. ... I don't even know if Rutgers offered a course in history in those days, as a major.
MO: Did they?
SI: I thought so.
EB: Maybe, maybe. I just don't know.
SI: You also took the military science course.
EB: Oh, yes. Well, everyone had to take the first two years, and then, I volunteered and was accepted. In those days, you had quotas, and, later on in my career, when I first got to be a general, my job, for about fifteen months, was to revitalize the ROTC program and implement the ROTC Revitalization Act of '62, I think it was. So, I got around to a lot of colleges around the country, and then, that was also between my Vietnam tours, where, you know, there had been a lot of discussion about different parts of the war and so on. So, the reason I say all this is that, when I was at Rutgers, there was competition to get into the advanced course. Now, maybe part of it was the money, but, part of it was also good, old leadership. The college campus was pretty much there, and then, when I had the job, I found out, you know, people were taking it to postpone getting drafted to go to Vietnam, and the law even gave them a substitute, for the first two years, of going to a summer camp for eight weeks or so for basic training, to take care of those first two years, and then, go into an advanced course. ... Well, the end result was, ... we had more people than we could handle. ... I put quotas on it and started making it more of a difficulty to get it, and it wasn't easy, because it is a lot of pressure, including pressure from the politicians, who have certain schools that are their favorites, the schools in quality; you know, they run the gamut. ... I saw some schools, when I went around, and ... many of them were black schools, who were getting baccalaureate degrees in four years of college, and my son, who was in high school, had ... better courses, you know. He was getting more as a high school student than they were getting as a college student. ... Then, when you get almost every lawyer going to the Harvard Law School wanting to get into the Army, you know there is something. [laughter] ...
MO: You mentioned before how much you enjoyed Professor Reager's class. Why did you enjoy it so much?
EB: Well, I think we met twice a week, for an hour, I think, something like that, and the credit for the course was something like one half a credit hour. In other words, you were doing it for practically no credit, and one of his main themes was that, for every five minutes you speak, you ought to have sixty minutes of material. ... In other words, you ought to know what you're talking about, [laughter] and he wrote the book, he had his own textbook, and he was a dynamic individual, and he made the class interesting. ... You know, you prepared, and he had his little sheet on how to do this stuff, sort of the introduction, "Say what you're going to say, and summarize, don't repeat; none of this kind of business," [laughter] and then, he would critique people when they made their presentations, and there wasn't an awful lot of writing or anything like that, but, my father had given me one bit of advice when I went off to school. He said, "There's one thing I want you to do," he says, "is to learn English," and he said, "You know, you can be the smartest engineer in the world or anything and build the greatest thing, but, if you can't talk, and write, and tell somebody else, or get your ideas across, it's worthless." [laughter] So, that was one of the reasons I did it, and, I remember, he, himself, took some courses from some well-known man, I can't remember his name right now, back in those days, that he, himself, felt the need to do something. ... I know [that] he paid pretty good money, at the time, to go there at night, I don't know, for a six-week period, maybe once a week, or something like that, to get some of that background. So, Professor Reager made it interesting. He made you spend a fair amount of time. In other words, you had that maximum, you know, [laughter] fifty-five minutes backup for every five minutes you talk, [laughter] ... made you think, and so, I guess I just have to say, you know, it was one of the most productive courses. I took it for two years and it was well worthwhile.
SI: Did you attend the mandatory chapel services?
EB: Yes. ... I think it was every Monday, they had something in the chapel, and then, on Sunday, there were services in the chapel, but, us Catholics went across the street, to a church right near Queens Campus. I guess it's still there.
EB: It's right next to the campus, practically, yes, and then, there was one across town, 'cause I was president of the Newman Club during my senior year, I guess, and we would meet with the ladies from NJC, over [at], I've forgotten just where it was, the name of the church, but, it was about two-thirds to three-quarters of the way we went, and they only had a third or a quarter to go.
SI: How did the presence of NJC affect life on College Avenue?
EB: Well, there were almost no women in my classes. There was an exception in an accounting class, which was advanced accounting, and it was, I don't know, I don't think there were more than fifteen, sixteen people in the class, and there was one woman in there, and that's the only one I recall. Now, there were dates, and, in fact, one of my high school classmates went to school there, just when I went over to Rutgers, and we met each other at sort of the freshman reception in the old gym. So, she later married one of my Rutgers classmates. I saw her back at a reunion, and found out later that her husband, who was also in the ROTC with me, had died. ... So, you still want more?
SI: Besides swimming, did you play any other sports?
EB: I tried rowing ... in my second year, I think it was, but, ... I was learning the sport. I knew how to row a rowboat, this is a little different, but, I found out, after a couple of weeks, I just couldn't handle it. One thing about swimming was, you could do this pretty much on your own schedule. Rowing, you get out there on the Raritan and you're out there until they decide to come in. The other thing is, the boathouse was way across town, and, being fairly new, you know, ... I think we had three shells, and I would be on the last shell out, which is the last shell in. By that time, the bus had left. Then, I would walk back that mile-and-a-half or so, and, when I got back, you know, I was doing pots and pans. The cook would have held up dinner for me, and I ate the dinner, and then, I did the pots and pans, and, after about two weeks, I said, "I can't handle this and I'm just going to jeopardize what I'm here for." So, I gave that up. Now, we did participate in intramural sports, tennis and cross-country. Oh, we earned some money, too, ... after we got the new stadium. On those Saturdays [that] were home games, we could park cars and we would get paid a certain amount. The interesting part about that, you know the story of Princeton [and] Rutgers playing the first game of intercollegiate football on College Field?
EB: And we won. The second one was at Princeton and they won, and the third one never came up. Well, I was there, and I was parking cars, and, in fact, we were swamped with cars on the day we beat Princeton [for] the second time in sixty-nine years, when Moon Mullins caught a last minute pass and we beat them by two points. [laughter] The earlier games were played near the river, just, I guess you would say, to the west of the main campus. Is that golf course on one side still there, I guess?
SI: Yes. Are you talking about Neilson Field?
EB: ... Neilson Field. Neilson Field was the football field, yes, and the bleachers were kind of like you see around the high schools here. That was the football field in my first couple of years and I guess it was my junior year when we got the new stadium across the river.
SI: From what others have told us about the 1938 Rutgers-Princeton game, it seems as if the town really went crazy in celebration that night.
EB: Oh, yes. Well, [at] Olde Queens, the bell was ringing, and, well, it was quite an event, you know, the first time in sixty-nine years, and they were really significant rivalries, but, Princeton had us outclassed most of the time, and I guess Rutgers could handle Princeton pretty well now, but, do they play Princeton still?
SI: No. We are in the Big East League now.
EB: Yes. I've been watching that; just occasionally, I see it. ... One of my grandsons is a senior at Virginia Tech. They ... [laughter] didn't do very well, Rutgers, but, ... his older brother, who's graduated now, went to UVA, and (they stunk completely this week?), [laughter] not this week, but, a couple of weeks ago, okay.
SI: Could you tell us about your tour at Camp Pine? What was your induction into the Army like?
EB: Yes. Okay, well, I went up to Pine Camp ... on the same orders as thirteen other classmates from Rutgers and that was out of about forty-eight or forty-five, something like that. ... There were two or three who decided to join the Marines, and there were probably half a dozen who went to the Army Air Corps, but, for the most part, those people were going to sort of administrative jobs. So, fourteen of us, on that same order, reported on the 2nd of July, and I reported to a Capt. Creighton Abrams, our regimental adjutant, and all of my classmates were assigned to the armored infantry regiment; this is a light tank regiment. So, reporting in, I said, "There must be some mistake. You know, I'm infantry, and all of my classmates are over here in the infantry regiment," and it was a tank regiment. He says, "Oh, we have all kinds here. You're assigned to A Company." [laughter] ... Of course, he turned out to be the great Creighton W. Abrams of fame. ... I don't have his book there? Well, I got it, Thunderbolt, right over there, and that top one is called, A Better War; really, ... it's more of the same thing, and I, for a year, was J-3, was sitting in all those meetings, didn't know they were being taped. [laughter] ... Well, let's get back to Pine Camp; and so, I reported to A Company, and I remember, particularly, ... now, this was the 2nd of July, and then, we had the Fourth of July. ... I went up there and had nothing to do for two days, really, because it was a Sunday and a holiday, but, the day I reported, I went to A Company and reported in, and, in the armored force, they wore these tall, oversized caps, and they had little, colored patches, where you pinned your rank, that designated your branch, and they said, "You have to get that yellow patch sewn on," and I said, "Well, you mean the blue patch; I'm infantry." He says, "The hell you are. You're in the cavalry now." [laughter] So, I got my yellow patch sewn on and the insignia was the cavalry insignia, crossed sabers, with a "37" on it, for 37th Armored Regiment. So, that's how I joined the cavalry and I'd like to draw a little bit on this. ... There's one thing I can try to get across here, is how utterly unprepared we were for war and the whole attitude of the country. My first tank platoon, ... well, I got to the company, it had one light tank, it had one two-and-a-half ton truck, it had one three-quarter ton command and reconnaissance car, and one thing we called a jeep, which you're pretty familiar with, even today, and it had one sort of an armored scout car. Are you familiar with the half-track of World War II? Well, this was one on wheels, rather than [tracks], before they came out with the track, which made it a little more maneuverable, and four motorcycles, and one of my first chores was to learn how to ride a motorcycle cross-country, and I'd never ridden one, and, in those days, you even had a hand shift, so, you were double-clutching and shifting. It was really quite an exercise, riding around sand and so on. ... The light tank regiments had four tank platoons, and, at that time, there was also a medium tank regiment, but, that was infantry, not cavalry, so, they had the medium tank, and then, we had the armored infantry regiment, and then, we had an artillery regiment, and then, we had some engineers, and signal, and ordnance, quartermaster, that kind of stuff. So, I would go out and practice, when I got out in the field, with my platoon, with one tank. We practiced doing formations, wedge, echelon, move right, left, and so on, no communication, other than arm and hands and voice, with this mélange of one tank, a two-and-a-half ton truck, and a scout car or something else. At Pine Camp, there were these firebreaks, really, between the parts of the camp, which we also used as sort of parade grounds. We would get our platoons, and sometimes our companies, in platoon formation, with four men, here and here, with their arm over the shoulder of the man in front, and then, you'd teach them right, left, echelon left, echelon right, wedge, inverted wedge, things like this. So, we went out on the first regimental overnight. Now, the troops that were in there were two [kinds of] guys. One, there was a cadre that came from the First Armored Division at Fort Knox. There was a handful, now, of officers, ... like Col. Abrams, or, then, Capt. Abrams, and non-commissioned officers as well, and some of the specialists. All the rest were doing basic training. They ... had come directly from the ...
--------------------------------------END OF SIDE TWO, TAPE ONE-----------------------------------
SI: This continues an interview with Gen. Edward Bautz on October 15, 1999, in Alexandria, Virginia. Please, continue, sir.
EB: Okay, we were talking about getting ready for this overnight, that the people were really still in their basic training. So, again, as I said earlier, you know, I was an Eagle Scout, I had a lot of camping experience and this kind of stuff. What really amazed me, as we moved out, was that ... the troops really didn't know anything about the outdoors. Now, a lot of these people came from around New York City and its environs. They'd never been out overnight, anyplace, and the end result of that particular exercise was [that] it started raining during the night, and the regimental commander decided, "Rather than keep them out here in the rain, I'm going to march them back in," because he was afraid that they would, obviously, get sick and so on, and I think, truly, we didn't really have enough gear to protect everybody. So, that was the sorry state at the time. We continued on that track of trying to go through the basic steps of training. I was sent to Fort Knox to a gunnery, or weapons course, actually, for a month in the fall, and, there, I got medium tanks, light tanks, all the individual weapons, about a four-week course. ... When I came back, I found that the regiment had been reorganized and I was assigned to a Headquarters Company of the Third Battalion of the same regiment, and there I was going to be the mortar platoon leader. So, that was fine. I started doing that, but, then, 7 December came around. ... On that particular day, it was shortly after I had gotten back from Knox, and ... there were two men of the regiment, ... most of us were bachelors in those days, and one of them had a car, and they were going to take a little ride out over to Madison Barracks, just to see what it looked like. This was probably fifty miles away, and so, as we were driving over there, with, you know, several feet of snow on the ground, the sun was shining, we heard the announcement over the radio about Pearl Harbor. Well, that reversed the decision on those people who had been released early. [laughter] They came back, and then, everything got, you know, even more serious, and, shortly thereafter, just before Christmas, I got assigned to a temporary unit ... under the infantry regimental commander's umbrella, and I was a battalion staff officer for a basic training battalion. It had a captain as the battalion commander, and it had me as the other officer in the battalion, and they had, I think, four companies. One of my chores, I remember distinctly, was to meet a train coming from the reception stations. ... This particular night, it was right around Christmastime, the snow was on the ground, the wind was blowing, the snow was coming down, and I met the train about five miles before camp, got on there, and went to see people that were coming with it, and [I was] telling them what we were going to do. ... As we came to the siding, the trucks were all lined up with their lights on, the snow was coming down, and all these poor soldiers, who had just gotten in the Army, [were] looking out into this horrible thing, and I'd come in with a parka and snow dripping off me, and so, that night, we got them all off. Each one had to pick up a duffel bag. Then, we went down to the gym, and everybody started lining up and walking around to find out which was his bag, [laughter] and then, they were assigned to a company, and then, they had a medical inspection, and they finally, finally got to sleep. Now, this went on then for about eight weeks, and, in effect, we did a basic training kind of thing. So, that was it, maybe it was six to eight weeks, and then, shortly after that, I became the regimental range officer, which simply meant I got up real early in the morning, and posted guards around the ranges that we were going to use, and spent the day out there, and, when ... the day was over, I would then relieve the guards and open them up, so that they were long days, and it was cold out there. ... During that period, we had one stretch of weather that never got above twenty below for two weeks and I learned a lot at that time, too. I found out that, ... like, with automatic weapons, you can't use much oil in them when it's real cold. In fact, we used them dry. That came in good stead when we were up in the Bulge, later on. One thing I might say, early on that first summer, I had one of the best educations that I think I've ever had, in that the division had established an officers' training thing, six weeks, and they took all the new people coming in, and, for three weeks, you went through a bunch of the routine things, like map reading, and chemical warfare, and learning how to drive some of these vehicles, and learning some of those basic, common things. Well, for the next three weeks, we went out and spent a couple of days each ... with the different kinds of units in the division. So, I had a chance to fire some artillery, although we were using ... .37 mm. ...
EB: Let's see, where was I now?
MO: You had just fired some artillery.
EB: Yes, okay, with a sub-caliber kind of device on it. We're with the engineers, and we built every bridge that the engineers had in the division, which were four, I think, and this was under the supervision of a few of the old non-commissioned officers, and we'd drive a vehicle across, those that would take vehicles, and, as soon as we'd done that, we'd disassemble it, and we did all this physical work. We went with the infantry, we went with the tanks, we went with the cavalry reconnaissance units, we went with some of the combat service support units. So, we got a firsthand aspect of what the whole division kind of looked like and how it was supposed to work together. So, it was really combined arms and that's what the armored division was really designed as, a combined arms team. So, now, ... this will get us into the spring, I guess, pretty much. Oh, another thing happened during this general period, like this Capt. Abrams, being the adjutant, he now was battalion commander, and there were a lot of older officers that I guess they decided that they were not going to be physically healthy enough ... for some of these jobs, and it turned out that there was a wide gap, because of, again, the lack of being prepared and funding of the service between World War I and World War II. People would take sabbaticals, go out and get a job to earn some money, come back on [duty], but, it was nothing for a man to spend seventeen, eighteen years as a lieutenant. ... Now, all of a sudden, some of these people found themselves captains, majors, lieutenant colonels, even colonels, and, of course, Eisenhower was one of them, but, he did pretty well. [laughter] ... What our division did, at least, or someone in it did, you know, took a lot of these people and put them away, and got some younger people, which turned out to be a very good thing. So, by the end of ... June of '42, I was now company commander of the light tank company and, ... instead of the one tank, I had seventeen tanks, ... no, let's see, in that organization, there was fourteen tanks, yes, four tank platoons. We later went to five, and, in this, I had one radio, and it was an AM radio, which "di-dah-dit" (Morse Code) from a man down ... in the assistant driver's seat. [laughter] All the rest was still being done by hand signals and other means of communication. We did a lot of range firing that summer at Pine Camp. We had a group of cadets that came in and spent six weeks with us from West Point. ... We still had our motorcycles and used those quite a bit for driving around and controlling the column in those early days, because you didn't have the radios, but, you would communicate by writing a message, and then, riding alongside the column, and using a dowel and a clothespin with a clip, put the message in there and hold it up, so that the people in the tank could get it, you see. So, ... now, the FM radio started to come in during that summertime, and, by fall, September, we went down to [the] Tennessee maneuvers, and this was still ... the M3 light tank, you know, and we had the .37 mm gun and a crew of four. It had several machine guns. ... By then, ... I could communicate with each of my platoon leaders, I had three platoon leaders and my exec, by radio, and we had two-way communication, but, that was as far as it went. So, we went through [the] Tennessee maneuvers on that basis, and we went up and down pretty smartly, north and south, crossed the river a number of times. ... On one of the exercises, we were able to complete a bridge that the enemy started by what we had learned up there during that summer before from the engineers and actually used it to cross the Cumberland River. ... After that, we turned in our equipment and went out to the California desert, this was in the Mojave, and I remember arriving there on Thanksgiving Day of '42. We had turned in our equipment in Tennessee and come by train and it took us, I guess, three days to get out there. We took over a camp that had been a tent camp sort of thing, which the Third Armored Division had used, and immediately started to get equipment. As it turned out, ... in the light tanks, we were getting M5 light tanks, which had two Cadillac engines in it, which had the same gun, though, but, it had a turret that you could rotate in the basket in the turret, rather than the other one, where you ... actually didn't have the ability to turn it all around like you could [with the M5]. On the M3, you would have to stand on the floor if you were going to try to shoot it, and put the arm over your shoulder, handling this gun. So, we got a better ... light tank and, also, we got the intercom. So, now, you had some way of communicating with your driver and your other people, other than by voice, or you used to give the driver signals by your foot, by depending on how you would touch him; on the right shoulder, you'd turn right, left shoulder, you'd turn left, kick him a little bit, you'd go faster, [laughter] rub his back like this and he'd go slower, push him back like that and just stop. [laughter] So, we were beyond that and the interesting part was, of course, now, the people said, "Hey, you know, how do we do this stuff?" They, ... at first, didn't want this intercom and we actually had to order that no tank would move until the intercoms were connected and working. Well, the officers picked this up just like, you know, the snap of a finger, but, [for] the rest of them, it took quite a while, and, of course, once they got used to it, they would never stop. So, you had communication between each [tank] and among each of the members of the crew. So, that's what we spent [our time on] out there. We did a lot of maneuvering, ... among ourselves, and then, we participated in a couple of big exercises that were multi-divisional exercises. We also did some good training, one that I've never seen any other place, in that we took our tanks and started, first, firing at each other with our ... co-axle machine gun, which was along the same lines as the main gun, and supposed to do a single shot, and we plugged the opening of the gun with a wooden plug, so [that] something couldn't come down the gun, and, of course, we buttoned up. ... Then, we did tank versus tank, and then, we did platoon versus platoon, and, finally, I was [on] one side and the rest of the battalion, which was two other companies, at that point in time, were attacking me out there in the desert. We also did a lot of other firing, coordinated firing with the artillery and so on, and just an awful lot of maneuvering. ... Again, we learned how to live in the desert. We had a very fine division commander that took over at Pine Camp who took us through the desert, took us through Tennessee. At the critiques, which I ... wasn't senior enough to attend, I heard he really stood out there in Tennessee and lambasted the way the infantry was moving and the way ... his superior was running the exercise. He said, "You know, tanks can't move by night." Well, we had to move by night, [laughter] but, he turned out to be a great one in combat, too.
MO: Was that Gen. Wood?
EB: Gen. Wood, yes, ... John Wood. You've heard of him? Did you read that in the Military History Review or something? In the quarterly, some years ago, there was a great article on him. Wasn't it called, "The American Rommel?"
MO: Oh, "The American Rommel."
EB: Yes. Is that what you read?
MO: We read that in the official history of the US Army in World War II.
EB: Well, ... it was in one of those quarterly historical reviews, which, I would say, was ten years ago or so. I made some copies and I've given it to other people, because it really shows his concept of really moving, and getting in behind the enemy forces, and driving deep, which we did so well breaking out of Normandy and across most of France. We have always though that if the Third Army had been given the resources in early September, instead of Montgomery, we could have ended that war, maybe, before Christmas that year, but, I'm sort of wandering off here. I'm still back in the desert. ... Most of the people would spend a couple of months out there, but, somebody must have liked us, because they let us stay out there until the next June. ... At that time, we went to Camp Bowie, Texas, which is in the central part of Texas, and, there, a couple of big things happened. Well, I got promoted to major, because I had become regiment adjutant in the last month or so out in the desert, and I met my wife, who was an Army nurse stationed down there. We didn't get married until after the end of the war, and our division was reorganized. ... We used to have two tank regiments, each with one light and two medium battalions, and, now, we came up with three tank battalions with one light tank company and three medium tank companies, the service company, and a ... headquarters company, which also had a mortar platoon, an assault gun platoon, a reconnaissance platoon. During these various times, Col. Abrams had become the regimental exec, and, at the same time, I became the adjutant. So, we reorganized in that September into this light structure with three tank battalions, three armored infantry battalions, and three artillery battalions, and, of course, the other elements of the division, and that's the way we fought the war, in that configuration. All but two of the armored divisions were structured that way in combat. The Second and Third continued the old thing, which was a much higher proportion of tanks and a bigger organization. So, I was blessed ... by my being made the S-3 of the battalion, and then, [I] worked under Col. Abrams for the rest of the war, really, and ... we had a pretty simple training program. We just capsulated it by saying ... to move, to shoot, to communicate, and to maintain the equipment so [that] we could do those things, [laughter] and we got into a cycle at Bowie. Actually, we started something, which, later, was done, post-war, on a much larger basis, but, a lot of it, a lot of the tank gunnery, had been stationary kind of stuff and sort of set-piece, going down a lane or something like that, and we started getting different targets. [We] would ride the back of each tank, and that would be him, and myself, and the executive officer, and the assistant S-3. I'd give the tank commander a target. ... Now, we had a little gyrostabilizer in the medium tank, but, it didn't work very well. So, you had to stop, for the most part, if you wanted accurate fire. Now, your machines guns, you could run pretty well moving. So, we would concentrate on, first, dry running, and then, actually pointing out targets. "That's an infantry element over there. There's an enemy tank over here," or something else over there. So, they picked the ... right kind of ammunition, and give the right fire order, and hit the target, and we did that again, again, and again, and we'd usually go out on a Monday morning, and we'd come in blackout on Friday night, doing some other field things as well, and then, Saturday, we'd, you know, be cleaning up and getting ready to go out again Monday. So, that's the structure then that we had going overseas, and our next thing was to get to England. We left Boston Harbor between Christmas and New Year's of '44, ... '43, [laughter] Christmas of '43 and New Year's of , and we sent the exec over with a few people as an advanced party. ... He took one of the trains, I took the second train, and we ... went out of Boston. That, in itself, was an exercise, but, I don't need to go into that, I think. ... The division went over on ... four small, coastal steamers, and I remember, still, that the transportation people were putting all the tank people on one ship, ... taking no equipment; our equipment, we'd pick up in England. They wanted all the tank people on one ship and all the infantry on the other and Gen. Wood said, "No way! We're going to split them up." So, there's a tank and an infantry and an artillery battalion on ... each one, as well as some other pieces. So, that was an interesting crossing, because it was in the middle of the Atlantic, North Atlantic, in the middle of winter on a pretty small ship. They fed [us] two meals a day and did that in about three shifts, and it kept going like this and like this. It was real rough. Most people got seasick. I didn't, but, I came very close to it, and we had pretty good quarters, but, an awful lot of the people were penned down in the hold, and, every day, we'd get everybody up, at least once, ... on deck, but, even the promenade deck was closed in, ... just to get some fresh air. ... You'd go down there and see the poor soldiers trying to get [up] this ladder and [they would] be dragging themselves up, sick as a dog. [laughter] The ship would go up, like this, then, it would come down, like that, and he'd fall down. I remember, one day, Gen. Abrams wasn't feeling good and ... Gen. Daeger was our senior officer on board, the CCB commander, and said, "Soldier, go back to bed." [laughter] Anyway, we got to England. I think it was about a twelve, fourteen day trip.
SI: Did you have any U-boat alerts while en route to England?
EB: No, we didn't have any, that we knew of, at least. We had the battleship Texas. We had a large convoy, a large fleet of destroyers on the flanks, and, yes, we had our lifeboat drills, and we did that. ... We kept the life preservers either on or real handy. Of course, we had to take all kinds of precautions about the lights and that kind of stuff, but, I know of no actual alert. If the Navy had something, they didn't tell us. ... I know of no attacks, but, ... when we disembarked, ... our unit was assigned, along with the other tank battalions, to an area near Devises. It was a British compound and I was not yet there but a couple days when I got orders to go up to the Assault-Training Center. In fact, the officers were allowed to have the footlockers sent with some of their clothing and that hadn't even gotten [to] where I was. [laughter] So, I went to the assault-training center. It turned out [that] I was to be on their staff, the armor officer on their staff. ... We trained the three US divisions that were going in on D-Day, starting on a three-week period for each of them. This included reorganizing their squads to actually hit those pillboxes and stuff on the beach. We were doing squad exercises, including firing exercises, then, doing platoon exercises, and then, doing company exercises, where we started to introduce the tanks, all firing, and then, they would have what they called the hedgehog, where the battalions would work as a regiment, with all kinds of firing, and tank firing, and tank destroyers, artillery, and their small arms, and then, there was a graduation exercise where they would actually make a regimental landing. ... We were on the western shore, and we were right there in, actually, a beach resort area was what it was, and I was billeted with an artilleryman who had been with the First Infantry Division in Africa and Sicily, and he was getting ready for his third invasion. We had a room in a house [which], I guess, in better times, would be rented out to visitors, but, like everything in England, it was cold, you know. We had a little kerosene stove up there [laughter] and we were on ... double British summertime. ... Oh, I guess it got light around eight, eight something, in the morning, and it was dark at about four in the afternoon. So, we were using a flashlight, back and forth, just to get back to your billets, but, it gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about more combined arms stuff, about, ... not the exact plans of D-Day, but, the procedures by which they planned to do this, and that stood us in some good stead later on, but, in the meantime, the battalion had continued on with some gunnery and so on. ... Then, when I got back there, we were at Devises, we were playing almost constantly, doing the same thing, doing as much firing as we could, maneuvering. We were then moved out to a field area not far from where our barracks were, and they were converting the barracks to a hospital, which was getting ready for D-Day, and then, we were actually on Salisbury Plain when D-Day occurred. ... The first thing that caught our attention was that, this morning, these C-47s were flying over, and each one had three big, white stripes on each wing, which weren't on there before, and then, somebody played with our radio, and we got some information about actually the landing and the invasion. ... We continued on with what we were doing, but, later, when it came our turn to go ... across the Channel, Col. Abrams and I went down to watch the Third Armored Division load up, and they were all loading on LSTs, Landing Ship Tank, which were pretty big vessels, and I remember, specifically, he asked me, "How about these other little LCTs [Landing Craft Tank] over here? What are they?" I said, "Well, they're LCTs and that's for oversize equipment and so on, large engineer equipment, other things like that," and I said, "We don't have to bother about that, 'cause we're the build-up." Well, as it turned out, when our turn came, our whole battalion went on LCTs. [laughter] We didn't get any LSTs at all and we crossed into Utah Beach. Actually, the convoy started out and that first night was real nice as it assembled. The weather was good and everything, but, the next morning, it started to get rough, and, suddenly, I realized that, "Hey, there aren't too many ships," because each one of them used to have a balloon that was tethered for anti-aircraft protection. ... Finally, there were fewer and fewer, and, all of a sudden, we were by ourselves, [laughter] and the skipper, who happened to be British, asked me to come up to the bridge. He said that, "We've lost both engines," he said, "but, we're working on it." He says, "My orders are to take you to Omaha Beach." I said, "Well, my orders are to go to Utah Beach," and, well, we finally ... got everything working again, and ... I had five tanks and my own tank, six tanks, which was a pretty good load for this vehicle. There was water sloshing around about as high as ... these seats, you know, in the bottom of the thing and it was very rough. The craft would come up like this, and kind of go up like this, and then, it would kind of bend like this, and then, come around. [laughter] You'd just expected that front end maybe just to fall off almost any time. The interesting part of it, though, is that he asked me, at one point in time there, he said, "Can your men have a tot of rum?" and I said, "Well, what'll I have to do?" He said, "Well, you have to sign for it," and I said, "Well, that sounds pretty good." So, I got the men lined up, just like the British tradition, you know, you sit up there with a pewter cup, and then, you'd pour it, and the men were standing [there] with their canteen cups, well, going up the two little steps, maybe three steps, up to their bridge. ... This one man, this was right in front of my loader, ... he suddenly realized that he was getting alcohol. ... I guess he was a teetotaler, because he suddenly said [that] he didn't want any, ... and my loader punched him in the ribs and said, "Take it. You don't have to drink it, but, take it." [laughter] So, each day, [we had rum], and we had three days on that craft, crossing the Channel, and everybody got sick, all the Army got sick, and I did once, one day. ... It was a rough voyage. As we approached the beach, the skipper, using flags, asked, "What beach is this?" and the beach master said, "Well, you're on Omaha Beach," and the skipper said, "Well, I'm supposed to go to Utah Beach," and then, he said, "You better land while you can," and the skipper said, "No, I'm going over to Utah." So, he backed up, found Utah, and we pulled in, he dropped the ramp, and he said, "Okay." I said, "Just a minute." Again, being at the Assault-Training Center was good training. I said, "Let's check the depth of the water," and so, we got a bamboo pole out, and, sure enough, you know, it just kept going down. [laughter] So, we backed off and he tried again. That time, we were able to debark, and then, they told him, you know, "You ought to stay here and, you know, get some repairs. He said, "No, I got a date with a WREN." Those are the British ladies in the Navy. "I got to get back to that." So, last I know, he took off. I don't know whether he made it back or not. [laughter] Then, ... we assembled, and [it] took a couple of days to get the battalion back together and find out where they were, and it was kind of a hairy trip for me, in my first command in a combat area. ... I found another platoon, so, I had two platoons and my tank, and I guess we had one extra tank there, too. So, we had eight tanks, ten tanks, ... no, twelve tanks, ... four and four is eight, eight tanks, but, then, I had another platoon, too, and they told me, about, where the division was, in general terms, and they also gave me two MPs and a jeep to lead me there. So, they saw me in the afternoon, and we reconnoitered a route to get them out of the assembly area, and then, after dark, we started out. Well, we no sooner got out than he was going one way and I thought we should be going another way. So, I stopped him, and [we] got together, and I said, "Hey, haven't you been down to where you're going?" He said, "Oh, no. We haven't been down there." So, I said, "Okay, I'll sit in the jeep. [laughter] You can sit in the backseat." So, we wended our way down, and it took us all night to do that, and, as we got nearer, why, you know, the flashes of the artillery are going and everything, and then, you can hear the noise and so on, and then, finally, I ran into a man with a kerosene lantern. It turned [out] to be the Division G-3, and so, he told me where they were. So, we moved down to that area. Everything was quiet and dark. ... You know, we're talking something like four, five o'clock in the morning by now, and I stopped and I said, "You know, they must be around here someplace," and, all of a sudden, a voice said, "Halt, who goes there?" and I said, "Well, Maj. Bautz, 37th, and some tanks." "What's the password?" Well, they didn't give me any password, [laughter] and I tried to explain something. Well, this happened to be the maintenance section of C Company and the motor sergeant recognized my voice. ... Then, he told me where the battalion headquarters was and where the others were, so, we got together, and we sat there until we ... relieved the Fourth Infantry Division in the line, a short time after that, and we were there when [Operation]: COBRA started. ...
SI: When you were based in Texas, how did you meet your wife?
EB: Well, there is a story there. When we left the desert, one of our officers had yellow jaundice. We'd all been given yellow fever shots and some of them got a reaction. So, he was transferred as a patient. ... He had a good friend in the regiment, also, who went over to ... visit him, and I knew both of these people, but, we weren't real close. We hadn't been associated that closely. When he visited this man, my wife was a nurse on the ward and they came from the same hometown. They knew each other. So, I had dated a nurse a couple of times, when we got to Camp Bowie, and we were having this regimental party one Saturday night. She was on night duty. So, he said to me, "Well, you know, I know this nice girl from home," and he was a little older than we are, and so, I got a blind date, through him, with her, took her to the dance and, afterwards, we saw each other a little bit more and a little bit more, and, finally, I got some rings, got to work. So, that's how that happened. It was a story.
SI: Our project has interviewed several military nurses and they have noted that there were sometimes complications with dating servicemen, particularly if one person was an officer and the other was an enlisted person. Did you and your future wife encounter any of these problems?
EB: No, well, we were both officers.
EB: ... At that time, actually, remember, at Pine Camp, a lieutenant assigned to the same company I was with later decided to marry a nurse up there and she ... was discharged. When my wife's supervisor saw the ring, she said, "You know, if you get married, whatever way he goes, you're going to go the other way." So, there wasn't much interest in trying to keep people together. [Mrs. Marjorie Bautz enters the room.] We just got to the point where I met you in Texas.
Marjorie Bautz: Yes?
EB: They just wanted to know. I said [that] one of the good things about Camp Bowie is that I met you there. [laughter] They asked what the story was, so, I just told [them] about Howie Freeman and Willie Weiss, and how we got together, and how the chief nurse ...
MB: ... We lived happily ever after. [laughter] I went one way and he went the other. ...
SI: Were the men in your battalion from all over the country?
EB: There was a concentration. I'd say, yes, ... probably every state might have been represented, but, there was a large number of people from New Jersey and ...
---------------------------------------END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE TWO----------------------------------
EB: ... From those areas, and they were ... sent to a station that was closer to home. So, I don't think there was any great design other than ...
SI: ... Just chance?
EB: Chance, yes; proximity to someplace where they could use you.
SI: You were originally stationed in New York, then, the division moved to California and Texas. Did your men encounter any regional conflicts, particularly in the South?
EB: No, no. ... The first thing you have to remember, the division was all white, at the time, and all divisions were. There were some separate units, later on, that were organized as black units, and even later on, we had some units that were black, but, had white officers. ... Of course, out in the desert, we were out in the middle of nowhere, pretty much. [laughter] In Tennessee, they welcomed us with open arms there, on the maneuvers. ... One evening, I would say, probably, around nine, ten o'clock at night, like, my battalion commander told me to go into this property with a nice, big house with the big road that kind of went around the house, and I tried not to do too much damage to the place, [laughter] and we did that, and the lady of the house came out, and her daughter came out, and her husband came out. They came out with biscuits and ham for the whole company and [they] did that sort of thing. So, we had ... none of that. At Camp Bowie, the only problem we had was not a racial problem at all, but, it was a dry county, and it was dry only because the bootleggers kind of controlled it, and our division commander, Gen. Wood, said, "Well, you know, my men are going to be able to get their beer, get their whiskey," and so, he sent trucks [to] other places, and got it, and trucked it in, and that made it kind of tight for community relations, but, it never amounted to anything, 'cause, really, ... there was a lot of preaching going on down there against drinking and all that stuff, by the same people who were peddling it and bootlegging it. [laughter]
SI: When you were stationed in England, what kind of relationship did you and your men have with the English civilians and the British servicemen?
EB: It was very good, but, again, you know, you didn't have quite as much contact as you might expect. ... We had the problem of learning how to drive on the left-hand side of the road, which took a while. When you asked directions from a policeman, why, he would say, "Well, you go right down here ... to the right of the road, and then, make a left. Just to the bottom of the hill, and then, to the right," or something, "and then, just go on your way." ... That first few days, when I made a trip out to the Assault-Training Center, I took a train, and, you know, I was feeling my way around then, trying to pick up this and that and not get left in the wrong place, because most of those cars had little side-doors, and, when they stopped at a station, you know, when do you know to get off? When do you know when to change trains? but, we had, of course, certain restrictions and we were a disciplined outfit. There were places you didn't go in the training areas. You were careful about certain things; like, they had a place for horses to move around. ... Even though we lived near one there, we couldn't run our tracks over it, but, you know, they ... had been under siege for a long time. [When] we first landed, they were there, waiting for us, waving us on, you know, and they were right there in droves at the gangplanks, just watching us come down.
SI: Were you able to get a sense of how bad the conditions were in England by that point in the war?
EB: Well, yes. They were frugal, you know. I mean, I mentioned heat before. One of the things I did there that I didn't mention was, they had lost, in one of their exercises, before I got there, ... I think, seven tanks and crews during one of the landings, and one of the first things I had [to implement] was, they got some Munson Lungs, which they used in submarines, and then, trained our own crews, and we did that in an indoor pool, but, now, you're talking January, February, with an indoor pool with no heat in England, [laughter] it's cold. ... Interestingly, I worked for the Institute for Defense Analysis, and there was a guard there, a couple of years ago, who told me [that] he landed on D-Day with the First Division in a tank supported by that very method, in one vehicle, one craft, and he did go down, and that Munson Lung saved his life. So, it worked.
SI: Do you feel that you learned a lot from the English veterans, or even those Americans who had participated in the North African and Italian campaigns?
EB: Well, I learned something when I was at the Assault-Training Center, because I worked on a daily basis with some of these people, like, my roommate, who had been in [combat]. So, you get some feel for that, but, ... some of the other instructors at the Assault-Training Center, infantrymen and so on, just watching them do their stuff, you know, was helpful, and being part of it. So, I think I gained on that, yes, but, as far as just everyday intercourse with the British, there was very little of it. You were too busy, I think, doing these other things and you were somewhat isolated. Like, we were in this camp, and then, we moved out to this training area. You know, there was an occasional youngster that would come out to us, something like that, just wandering out in the field, but, there was very little set up in terms of any kind of exchange.
MO: When you arrived in Normandy, what were your impressions of the invasion, the progress that had been made up to that point?
EB: Well, there was a lot of devastation. When we first came into the line and took over these positions, you know, there were dead cows all over the place and so on. In fact, we took our tank dozers and buried some of them. When I went from ... the beach, I passed through Ste.-Mere-Eglise and, ... you know, except for the church steeple or something, it was just rubble. So, I think we all [had] hoped that we would have done far better than we had done up to that time. You know, it was really pretty stalemated, but, ... I mean, we didn't dwell on that. We just were there. [laughter]
MO: You arrived just as Operation: COBRA was about to commence.
EB: Well, yes. I think we were in defense there, probably, for ten days or so, and then, one morning, we awoke to this tremendous showing of aircraft, I've forgotten how many hundreds of sorties, there must have been over a thousand. ... At first, some smaller fighter planes came in, and they were diving, ... trying to take care of some of the antiaircraft positions and so on, and then, the bombers came, and then, just one rumble after the other. These were all ... B-17s, most all, and there were some two-engine bombers as well. So, for hours there, the whole thing was just a show like you could hardly believe, and the ground was just kind of rumbling back, and the dust clouds [rose] up above, and, of course, every now and then, a plane would get hit and start going down. ... During the actual exercise, Gen. McNair was killed by a bomb. ... He was the Chief of Army Field Forces at the time he was over there and he was killed by a bomb that went astray. We didn't have precision bombing, yet, at that time. We didn't have GPS, and all these heat seekers, and other things that, you know, [help].
MO: After Operation: COBRA began, did your unit advance directly into Brittany?
EB: Yes, well, what happened was, as COBRA started, we were pinched out of our defensive position, they just went a little ahead of us, and the Second and Third Armored Divisions were pretty much involved in that, as well as several infantry divisions. Then, our division moved out in a column of combat commands. ... Remember, in the line, all of the infantry battalions were in the Combat Command B. We had two combat commands and a reserve command, which was just a small headquarters. It wasn't really meant to be a fighting headquarters, just a march to reserve. So, Gen. Wood had put all the infantry battalions, and then, later, the engineering battalion, and the cavalry squadron, dismounted, and the recon squadron, under CCB. After the first night or two we were there, they were hit by a reconnaissance in force and they had a little scrap. So, he added a few more people down there and, also, one of our tank companies was sent down there, as a reserve, sort of. Once the operation started, though, ... he redistributed the forces, but, CCB led with CCA following, and we were in CCA. So, we followed CCA down toward Avranches, which was sort of at the base of the peninsula, meeting things along the way. We had several instances where we'd pull off the road a little bit, and, as the [S]-3, I was trying to keep track of [our movements]. We'd move back and forth a lot in my tank and get down to see where the tail of CCB was, and then, maybe we'd get off the road a little bit, and then, come down and move again. ... A couple of times, we did this, and, one time, I was coming back, and, all of a sudden, I hear these machines guns going. I said, "That's the 37th, I know it. I just know it from the sound," [laughter] and it was, first, the light tank company, and then, another company; when they just pulled off the road to go into a bivouac, they ran into this whole crowd of people. So, we got, literally, thousands of prisoners ... from flushed out of that area. We just ... turned them up the road, stripped them of their weapons, and said, "Put your hands over your head and go back," and we figured somebody else would pick them up. [laughter] So, it was, and then, when we got down to Avranches, where CCB was successful, ... after some fight, ... to get it under control, at least, then, CCA was passed through, and our orders then, by then Col. Clarke, Combat Command A Commander, was to reorganize the force with a tank company in each force and the tank company [commander] would be the senior commander. In our case, we had one company and our headquarters, so, Col. Abrams was the commander of that column, and our mission was to go down and get bridges and dams across the Selune River, which I think was about twenty miles south of Avranches, and we did that, that night. In fact, during the night we were there, after we sort of got organized and got to where we wanted to go, we were very quiet, because we figured there were more Germans around it than ... Americans. [laughter] Each company ran into some little operation. Capt. Spencer lost his tank; another tank was knocked out in another column. Lt. Donahue in the D Company walked across the dam, took a captive, the German lieutenant on the other side, and walked back with him. So, we did succeed in getting that and we stayed there until daylight, again. Now, again, daylight, now, it's British double summertime, so, daylight is from, roughly, two-thirty, three o'clock in the morning until eleven o'clock at night, in that latitude. ... Of course, we had to refuel and do other things, and then, our mission was to continue on. We went down to Rennes and got to the outskirts of Rennes, and then, whoever it was, I don't know who decided, but, during that night, we heard some loud explosions, and Col. Clarke got on the radio and was trying to find out [what they were]. He called somebody in the infantry battalion and talked to some radio operator and he said, "Oh, yes. Stuff's flying all around here." He called our number, and I answered it, and I said, "I can hear it, you know, but, we don't have it here, and it sounds like more outgoing than incoming." So, after that, there was an order out [that there be] ... an officer on the radio, but, it turned out to be the Maquis, the French Maquis, [who] had gotten in and blown up a big German ammunition dump down near Rennes, and then, we were ordered to bypass Rennes on the west, came back around to encircle it on the south, and our initial position, then, was to block. ... The 80th Infantry Division was going to go into the city, but, things were moving so fast, then, that we were soon ordered to head down. ... That's where Gen. Wood sort of wanted to say, "Okay, now, let's start heading east." Instead, we were directed to go down toward Vannes, and then, Lorient, ... and the Sixth Armored Division went up to Brest. Well, they finally got Brest, and the idea was to get more ports, of course, but, there wasn't anything you could use there. You had to rebuild it before you could use it, and then, going through Vannes, the FFI had taken over, pretty much, the city. So, we kind of walked into there, and then, we went on toward Lorient, and we had some scrapes along the way. We lost Capt. Smith and his first sergeant, both killed, in C Company. We engaged some Georgian cavalry, horse cavalry, and it was bloody. It was in a defile. We just, actually, physically, ran over them, and, in that area, there were Georgians fighting with the Germans, because, you know, you had the White Russians and the red Russians, [laughter] and they all ... [didn't], and still don't, want the same thing. So, as we approached Lorient, I was given a mission, on this one night, ... or late afternoon, to make an attack up to a certain hill, and I wasn't really told what it was, ... but, I had a tank and infantry company, and I had some artillery forward observers to call [in] the artillery. So, we came around, and it was rather rugged, and [we] had to get to high ground, a lot of trees, as well as fields, and, to make a long story short, we did get up on top of our objective, and it turned out to be a battery of 128 mm antiaircraft guns, and, fortunately, all of them were pointed up. [laughter] We came in through an area where Lt. Marston went through first and where they had "Mines" signs and everything, but, there weren't any mines in there, as it turned out. He just barged in and we took that. We did lose a few people on a counterattack, later on, but, we held it. In the meantime, ... after we had done this, I was trying to get organized for the defense of it, and I was ordered back to our CP, and I remember saying something, I wanted to do this first, and I was told to, "Get here now!" So, when I got there, I found Col. Clarke there, and he asked me what I found up there, and I told him, and he said, "Well, where was this on the map?" and he had a map with a whole bunch of little symbols on it, and I said, "Oh, right here." ... Then, I looked at the map and I saw there were a whole bunch of these symbols, all going around Lorient on this map. So, from aerial photography, I realized, later, when I was teaching tactics at Knox, that I was out on a reconnaissance in force, is what you'd call it. [laughter] ... We just verified it then and I'm convinced, now, that, you know, when Gen. Wood saw that, he said, "We're not going to try to take this on. ... This is not for armored to start with and it's not where we want to be." So, Lorient never was taken. It finally surrendered at the end of the war, but, they always put two new divisions down in that area to contain them. ... In the meantime, then, we started turning around and started heading east. ... We got back to Vannes, and then, we had several sorties with the Maquis. I had another one with about two hundred Maquis riding on the back of B Company tanks and we gathered up a couple hundred Germans. So, the people down there, they did have a pretty strong underground and it came out. We were moving fast enough so that things didn't get damaged, you know. ... So, then, we started heading east from there.
SI: What was your opinion of the French forces that you fought with?
EB: I didn't fight with ... any of the regular French forces; it was only the Maquis, ... which were FFI. They were bloodthirsty, for sure. I mean, they'd gone through this domination and subjugation for a couple of years and they were strong. ... On the day I had that group of them, they were riding on the back of our tanks, and the minute a shot was fired, they were off, running, to catch them, you know. [laughter] They didn't wait around, and, interestingly, there was an Army, US Army, captain down there that I met that was with this group. It turned out to be Gen. Wood's son, who had parachuted in sometime before D-Day and helped [to] organize this group. ...
SI: You mentioned facing Georgian cavalry. Did you encounter any other peculiar German units? Some men have mentioned running across Korean soldiers in Western Europe.
SI: Yes. Some of the soldiers at Normandy captured Koreans in German uniforms on D-Day.
EB: I never heard or saw any of that. It may have happened, but, I really doubt it. It sounds like a story. It doesn't bear much. [laughter] We realized, up to this point, [that] we've had sort of limited contact. We've only been involved in a couple of weeks, I guess, but, throughout, [we were in combat]. ... We sort of ran out of any of the French Underground as we got out of that part of France. See, once you cross the Moselle, you started getting into the territory that went back and forth between the Germans and the French and you had some people over there that were more German oriented, or, in [the] parts of Lorraine that we really got involved in later. That, you know, ... poor area had been beaten over ... war after war, [by] one side or the other, and, "You're French now." "You're German now." "You're French now." "You're German now." It was a mess.
SI: Please, continue.
EB: Well, as I said, we kept heading east and the idea, of course, was to go as fast as we could and as far as we could. ... By this time, with what we had done in England and what we had done on the Continent, we were also having trouble with the tracks. We had to replace tracks and some engines, and so, we were put in reserve command for part of that. We did get orders to go up, and we thought we were going to help close the Falaise Pocket, you're familiar with that? but, ... we got up to the position to do something, and then, that was changed. I don't know why, other than that was a big decision, higher up, to just use air or something. ... Then, I had an interesting journey, a little later. We were still in reserve command, and we were following the other two commands, and we got the order to go down to the Loire River. So, I had ... a task force of B Company, plus, an engineer company, plus, an artillery battery, and the mission was to go to the river and examine the bridges between the cities of Tours and Blois. So, we organized this force around noontime and I remember marching 102 miles to get to the south, to get to the Loire River. In fact, my track broke about twenty miles from the river, [laughter] and, fortunately, we repaired it with a few spares that we had, and [we] weren't delayed too long. Then, ... the mission was to see whether the Air Force had actually knocked out the bridges. There were three bridges involved. So, we got down there, and then, we pulled in. Remember, again, it stays light very late in the summertime. It gets light earlier. So, we pulled in for a couple of hours on the north side of the river, and we were kind of, you know, in a little valley, so [that] you're protected from the other side; you couldn't see. ... During the night, I found out that the artillery hadn't brought any gasoline with them. I was trying to contact Col. Abrams using the S-1, S-4 track, which had one of the two long range radios, without success. So, anyway, starting out the next morning in daylight, we were going on this side of the river and the Germans were going on that side of the river. So, we had a little battle, back and forth, you know. I lost two engineers in that exchange. They were riding in trucks, but, ... we had some tanks and artillery at the end of this column. So, we had this little battle as we moved along the river to the next city, [I] can't remember its name, but, there, we pulled around and assembled, and the artillery got set to fire across the river. We found the bridge, but, it had been blown there as well, and I calculated that I didn't have enough gas to take the whole taskforce down to the third bridge, and then, have to come back, because my next route to go back up and join the force was back north. ... We did this all initially on a roadmap, by the way. We didn't have all the nice maps that we'd like to have and we had one for the taskforce. So, I sent a platoon of engineers and a platoon of tanks down there to the last bridge and they came back and said, "Yes, it was blown." So, then, I just started moving back, and then, when I got to the point where I figured I had about twenty miles left, I just halted [laughter] and tried to locate somebody or something, and, finally, somebody from the artillery came by or something, or we're able to contact someone, and, finally, got back to the battalion. ... Col. Abrams said, "Where the hell have you been?" [laughter] ... Any questions on that? That's just the sort of [thing we did], but, it does give you the impression of, ... you know, how fluid this thing was at the time.
From here on, we were sort of engaged in getting across a river, periodically. At the Marne, we drew up and the bridge was semi-damaged. You couldn't just cross it, and so, we could put some treadway in. We got to a place where we could see fortifications up ahead of us, and Col. Abrams ordered Capt. McMann, the light tank company commander, "Go ahead," and, while he and I were talking in front of my tank about it, with a map, which he had captured, and it showed some of the dispositions of [the] forts, there was some kind of a truck at about two, five hundred yards, ... some distance, [away] and moving fast. ... All of a sudden, we were looking at the map and my gunner had ... fired at this [truck]. So, that kind of shocked both Capt. McMann and me, you know, [because we were] just sitting right underneath the thing and [it was] unexpected. I got up there, and I had my helmet off, I think, too, "You know damn well you can't hit that." Here was this truck, speeding, and our tanks had a low velocity gun, you know. You could watch that round go to the target, and, after, I was, you know, really screaming at him, ... all of a sudden, he just pointed, and the thing was burning. ... [laughter] Sgt. Selcia was a good guy. So, it turned out, you know, [that] these fortifications were there, but, they weren't manned. So, then, we went to Commercy, the next one, and what river is that? [the Meuse River] Do you know where it is? I've forgotten, but, anyway, again, we moved fast. ... Also, before then, I guess, we went to Chalons-sur-Marne, took that from the rear, and an infantry division was starting to come in from the front. We did that and a couple of taskforces, but, we headed on toward Commercy and the river there, and the light tank company in the lead caught some Germans. They had four anti-tank guns right around this bridge, but, they had their raincoats covering the breach. They caught them by surprise and kept them away, got across. In the meantime, two medium companies had circled off to the left, sent them over there, and the Germans were having lunch or something, and they got some .75s in their mess hall, and so, we just cleaned that thing out pretty quickly, got across, and got up on to the ridge. ... There was big, old Fort Gerangoville, ... [which] went back to pre-World War I, and this was on high ground, and, from here, you could sort of see for miles ahead, until you would get to the Moselle River, and it was here [that] we were held up, because we just didn't have any more gas. ... This was when the decision was made to give Montgomery the priorities up north, way up north, and we finally, with some captured fuel that ... had been checked out, and this was by the division, started moving a little bit further. In the meantime, we did get a couple of locomotives from those positions, pulling flat cars, and it's interesting how they blow up when you hit them. [laughter] In the meantime, though, ... while we were held up there, for, I don't know, ten days or so, the infantry moved to the Moselle River, and the idea was that our corps was supposed to take Nancy and another corps was supposed to take Metz, and so, those were the directions we were headed in, and we finally got the gas. The 80th Division had been around north-west of Nancy without much success, and ... Combat Command A was sent up to the north, and Combat Command B was going to go around to the south and circle Nancy. We tried ... crossing at Pont-a-Mousson out of things that we could just find locally. See, Col. Clarke was an engineer by trade, ... [laughter] at the time. He already had the engineer background, but, we were having problems. There weren't any fords, and it was a much bigger, wider river than we had visualized, and then, we heard that the 80th had established a bridgehead, so, we quickly went down there and got down there about noontime on one day. As we got down there, they had just sort of repelled a counterattack, which had just about gotten to the bridge. ... There was a meeting there with the corps commander, Gen. Eddy, and Col. Clarke and Col. Abrams, and I guess Eddy asked, "Well, what do you think?" and I don't know whether it was Clarke or Abrams [who] said, "Well, you know, the way home is over there." [laughter] ... So, he gave the "go-ahead," and Capt. Trover ... of the cavalry ... had A Company, A Troop, the cav squadron, it was in CCA, and he went across first, and he got up to a little higher ground. Then, he ran into some guns, he said, "That I can't handle." Well, by that time, we were crossing, and, while we were crossing, the 80th Division engineers were putting demolitions on the bridge, which made you feel real comfortable, you know, [laughter] but, we got up there and just fanned out, as we were prone to do, and took over this village, and then, just established a battalion wedge formation with three medium companies, with the cavalry troop on one flank and our light tank company on the other flank, and we just went down in formation for about, I would say, five kilometers, ... firing [on] any suspected locations. ... We got down there, and then, we started getting into column. In the meantime, other people were coming on behind us, and we wound up the night near Château Salins, but, we didn't want to get into the city. We stayed out of it and we spent the evening there. In the meantime, ... I don't want to get into too much detail, but, we did start to circle to the south, and ... we got down to Arracourt, ... which was the headquarters of a German division, I think its rear echelon. In the town just south of that, Valhey, as we were approaching that, ... we, in Brittany, had learned that the artillery had a couple of Cub aircraft, you know, and, since Brittany, I had kept one channel of my radio on their frequency, because we didn't have compatible radios, and we saw a round fired, an antiaircraft round, ... at this little Cub. ... The minute Col. Abrams saw that, he radioed Capt. Spenser of A Company, leading, and he said, you know, "Be careful. I think we might have something here." [laughter] It was a little late; he had gone in and it was an antiaircraft battalion with .88s, [which] knocked out the first tank. There was Sgt. Sadowski, [who] got his Medal of Honor out of that action, because his tank was hit. He got out, but, his driver was stuck, because he was trying to get the hatch open and so on. So, he was up trying [to help his crew], because of the damage; he was trying to do it when he was killed. But, anyway, we rerouted. We got that, and cleared out Valhey, and got a couple of hundred people out of that, and then, we moved more to the east, and that's the beginning of a whole other area, which I don't think I should probably go into detail on, except that, for the next two weeks or so, we did a lot of maneuvering, back and forth. We did go down to the Rhine-Marne Canal and met CCB coming back. We sent people back to help them. We kept an infantry company with the tank company, up near the Moselle River, because they were getting attacked up there, to reinforce where the 80th was. ... While this was going on, one night, ... we heard some movement, like track vehicles, and it was getting pretty late, so, we sent a little patrol up there, and [they] came back and said, "We could hear German voices, and we felt the track, and it's wider than ours," [laughter] track marks. So, we put some artillery on them, and we zeroed the assault guns on the next crossroad, as they pulled out. ... The next morning, however, we were down to one medium company and a light tank company, right in our area; one tank company down south and one back near the Moselle. ... There was a lot of fog and that's when we started ... the big tank battle of our war down there, which went on for several days, and it stopped our progress. You know, we really reduced a couple of pockets of enemy brigades and a panzer division. We just didn't have the punch to go through, and the whole thing sort of stabilized. Now, the good part of it is that we did succeed in getting Nancy and it was practically [a brief] attack, whereas they fought for months to get Metz in the other corps. So, that phase [was over], ... after these tank battles, which were pretty sizable things, and we were outgunned by the German Mark V. The Mark IVs, we could handle in pretty good shape. The Mark Vs had a high velocity .75, and it just went like this, and ours went like that, you know. ... We had a little edge on them in maneuverability, but, they had more armor protection. So, that all ended in a defensive operation, then, ... for a month, until the 10th of November, actually, before our Third Army started another offensive. So, that ends, sort of, that phase. Now, by the time we were in those tank battles, the weather ...
-----------------------------------END OF SIDE TWO, TAPE TWO--------------------------------------
SI: This continues an interview with Gen. Edward Bautz on October 15, 1999, in Mt. Vernon, Virginia. You were telling us about the events leading up to and following November 10, 1944.
EB: Yes, ... I started to say, we were color layering our maps, the contours, so that we decided, under a certain color, you were going to get stuck, you know, [laughter] ... and that was what we faced, then, and we faced [that] until we went up to the Bulge, in December, but, for the moment here, we, ... you know, sort of completed that battle and ... the whole Third Army was really pretty much on the defensive.
MO: Up to that point, before the harsh winter weather set in, what was your opinion of the Sherman tank's performance? Were you satisfied with its performance?
EB: Well, we wished we had a higher velocity gun, but, other than that, we were happy with it, yes. ... Of course, the light tanks, ... you see, you had ... to close to about 250 yards to get ... their Panther and hit them in the flank or in the back. We even started firing some white phosphorus at their rear, [laughter] hoping to get something that would start a fire or something like that, 'cause those engines usually ... draw stuff in. ... [If] you mix a little white phosphorus with oil and gas, [it] could cause problems, but, ... I guess that answered your question. ... We got one replacement tank, earlier on; in fact, Col. Abrams had it. We had a couple of them, and they had a .76 mm gun, and that's what we wanted. Now, we're getting ahead of ourselves here, but, after Bastogne, we were visited by a civilian in the Army Ordnance, and he ... was talking to Col. Abrams, and [he] said, "What do you want in a tank?" and he said, "Well, we want a high velocity gun that will beat the German armor," [laughter] and the civilian said, "Well, but, if we put too high a velocity gun, it's going to wear out the tubes too fast," and Col. Abrams said, "Well, we're losing a whole damn tank [laughter] and a crew." You know, somebody, somewhere, you know, ... this was probably a good engineer, but, it's a question of ... your perspective on these things. So, we ... really wanted a better gun, ... and then, the second thing, particularly as we got into the muddy areas, a wider track. ... In fact, ... I guess some crewmembers, someplace, they came up with a type of, ... we always had grousers, which ... are little steel things that you bolted across [the tracks], periodically, and, of course, they worked fine, as long as you were in pretty similar terrain, muddy. You put them on a road, you'd tear the road to pieces. You put them over rocks, they'd get knocked off, but, some tanker along the way got the idea of making an end connector, which each track had, an end connector, ... [to] put it together. You put a little extension on the end connector, so that, in effect, it gave you a little wider track, not very deep, but, a little wider. So, that helped some, but, those were the two things, and we didn't ... get the things we wanted. We didn't get the tank we wanted until the war was over and we were in occupation configuration. ... We got the M4A3EA tank, which had the .76 mm gun. It had the Ford engine and had the wider track. Actually, ... in the States, we had M4A3 tanks, at Camp Bowie, which had the Ford engine, which was water-cooled, or liquid-cooled, and a much more powerful engine. What we got in England were M4A1 tanks, which had a Continental aircraft-type engine, air-cooled, which ... wasn't as powerful and it was a little bulkier, too, an air-cooled engine is. ... Okay, I won't tell you that story when I get to Bastogne.
SI: From what we have read, it seems as if many GIs, infantrymen, but, in particular, tankers, solved their mechanical problems on their own. I believe that Stephen Ambrose referred to this as "Yankee ingenuity," the use of common sense solutions in fixing recurring problems. You mentioned these men who devised a means of improving the traction of their tank tracks.
EB: Well, right, the end connector was one thing, but, up in the hedgerow business, where we had problems getting through the hedgerows, there was some sergeant, somewhere along the line, that came up with this thing to put on the front of our tanks, which were nothing but a couple of bars that were sticking out in front of it, and we got those put on, and you could ... break through a hedgerow. Otherwise, you were just waiting for the one bulldozer tank in each company, and then, getting it up, ... in those tight quarters in Normandy. If they had just had it when they first started, it would have been a lot better for everybody. Another thing, that we actually did in England, but, it was based on somebody's experience, is, on all of our jeeps, we put a steel rod up on top, with a little hook on the front bumper, and welded that in, and, for the most part, we ran with our windshields down, anyway, and this was to get any wire that might be strung [across the road], either accidentally or by design, where, up in Normandy, ... you know, there were a lot of areas that had all kinds of things with poles, and wire, and so on. So, those are examples of, yes, the ingenuity of the people involved.
SI: Did you ever encounter any form of German harassment, whether it be a wire strung across a road, mines, or some other type of booby trap?
EB: Well, yes. There were mines throughout Normandy. ... We encountered some mines around Bastogne. Some of them, unfortunately, were our own, but, ... where people had time to set up, you could expect some mines around, someplace. You didn't normally stop and check everything for mines before you did something. You normally learned first about the mine by having somebody run over it, or something. Now, when you got into the more built-up areas, you know, on those areas that were part of the old defenses, the Maginot Line on the one side and the Siegfried Line on the other, there, we expected to find those kinds of things, of the kind that you would find sort of on the beaches of Normandy, but, most of the rest of ... the stuff was a little bit here and a little bit there. ... We, ourselves, would throw a few mines out at night, [at] a little outpost or something, and pick them up in the morning. So, we did encounter them and the German Teller mine, unfortunately, again, was a lot more powerful than our mines. ... [If] a jeep hit a Teller mine, I've seen them up on the second story of a building, ... where they landed.
SI: How did a unit as mobile as yours deal with casualties? Did you travel with your own medics?
EB: Oh, yes. ... In the battalion, we had a medical platoon, and they had ambulances, which were three-quarter-ton truck type things, and they had jeeps, which also could accommodate a litter, and ... we had, it was either one or two jeeps, with each company, and they stayed with the company first sergeant, and he had other thin-skin vehicles. So, they would be the first to go up and recover or treat casualties, or recover and evacuate them. Now, where we would evacuate to would vary with what we were really doing. In moving fast, we sometimes would actually evacuate the man forward, until you get enough together to get something else to get him back, you know, and so, evacuation of casualties was not an easy thing, and it was tough on people. You know, [in] Vietnam, even Korea, a helicopter made things so much easier.
SI: Many of the combat veterans that we have interviewed were infantrymen. They often mention that seeing another infantryman get hit diminished their personal morale and the overall morale of their unit. Was this the case in the armored units as well?
EB: Well, of course, we worked with the infantry all the time, the armored infantry, but, ... you work as a team and you compliment each other. Nobody wants to die, or very few people, and, when you have serious casualties, particularly if you're losing or not making any headway, that's detrimental to morale, no matter what unit. So, I think all units would have some people who broke down, just from the grind, if nothing else, but, there was never anything in the groups that I've worked with that gave the impression that, "Hey, I'm just going to dog it. I'm not going to go forward. I'm just going to hide here until ... something can happen and [I can] get away." ... I will say this much, that when you're inside the tank, or with tanks in a mobile formation, you know, ... you've got somebody else around you. ... In the tank, as long as the tank commander is going, [laughter] the driver isn't going to change, and the gunner isn't going to change, and so on. So, it may be a little bit easier, in that respect, but, see, our people had been together for awhile, until we started having casualties, and, even in the early days, our casualties were very light. It was ... when we got into those tank battles, and then, the session from across Lorraine where it was a fighting yard-by-yard kind of thing, you know, little village by little village, in the mud, and they fought a very deliberate delaying action, and the weather was against you, and the trenchfoot, you had to worry about [that]. If there was a low ebb in our morale, it was then, and, ... yet, when we pulled out of that and went to Bastogne, you know, we were well under strength, both in tanks and infantry, but, we got the job done. ... You know, you lose your friends, you lose people you don't want to lose, ... but, as long as you're making some progress, that kind of ... falls into place. It's really a question of, you know, how to do your job, do it well, and still not get killed, and part of that is teamwork, and part of that is skill, and part of it's luck. I've got three Purple Hearts, but, none of them did me much damage. Our exec got two. He was in the hospital for months, a couple of times, then, he'd come back. So, our S-2 went up to see his brother in another division, only to find out [that] he'd been killed. You know, these things, you've got a whole spectrum of possible reactions. So, you really can't generalize that, but, in my view, in our unit, you know, there was always a spirit that you could go ahead, and do the job, and do it well, and, for the most part, we had success.
MO: It sounds as if your unit maintained a very high operational tempo during the summer and fall months in France. During that time, did you have any opportunities for liberty or to write letters?
EB: Well, we had letter writing ... anytime we were able to write one, the V-mail kind of thing. Now, as far as any liberties are concerned, it wasn't until we went on the defensive in Lorraine that we would send a few men back into Nancy, for an afternoon or something like that. It wasn't until after the Bulge, when we were put into sort of [the] major, senior reserve area in Luxembourg, because they were afraid of a threat down south as well, ... we were up there, and, there, a few people got to go to Paris for a couple of days. I, myself, didn't get to Paris until after the war was over, and then, for three days. ... Then, a few people were sent home; I think some of them because they might have been sort of on the edge, but, others had been so brave, and done so well, and everything that we knew, "Well, he was going to get killed [laughter] before this was all over." So, you see, there's one thing about armor, too, in the tanks, you don't have as many casualties, usually, as you do in the infantry. On the other hand, when it comes to getting killed, they kind of even up, because, when a tank gets hit, usually, you know, if it's any kind of hit, there are several people that may get killed, or all of them, and the turnover rate in officers, you know, is about three times what it is in the enlisted grades. That's because they're leading. ... You ask some of these questions [that] I can't answer completely. [laughter]
SI: Just to touch upon your everyday life in the field, how often were you able to, say, take a hot shower or eat a hot meal?
EB: Well, we got showers for the first time, again, when we first hit the defensive thing, and then, through that ... very slow operation through Lorraine, and with the weather being what it was, why, units were rotated. It was a nasty, nasty fight during that period. I think, overall, we ... probably suffered more casualties during that stretch than we did for most of the rest of it, and then, ... now, you're talking about hot showers. I mean, you're talking about getting back into some tent area, where the showers were in a tent, and, in the wintertime, this isn't too good, either, but, you know, you get a little water, you soap up, and they shut the water off, you soap up, and you get some more water. ... Now, after the Bulge, ... being in a reserve position, we did go into some billets. In other words, we lived in some of the people's houses, but, hot showers, [no]. When we left Normandy, we had taken our kitchens and packed them all in the kitchen truck trailers, and we took our kitchen trucks and filled them with gas cans, and they were five-gallon gas cans. Now, we did have, in each tank, ... a little gasoline stove, and then, we had, for the most part, when we could ... get it, we had ten-in-one rations, which broke down nicely for a five-man tank crew, because it had three meals, sort of a breakfast meal, and a lunch meal, which is either a chunk of cheese or something on that order, or a K ration of some sort. So, while we were moving fast, we just lived off that stuff. Now, sometimes, like going through France, [if] we had a little time, we would embellish it with something local. We stopped for two days in one place going across France. There was ... a lady there with two young girls, and we came by, and we got a rabbit from her. [laughter] Again, my loader was a good man. He not only was a good bartender, he [laughter] knew how to cook. So, we did a few of those things. We'd get some vegetables out of the fields, but, then, again, ... the doctor kind of cautioned us that, on a lot of the cabbages, they used night soil over there, you know. Without the right cleaning and everything, it could really have disease. So, ... when things bogged down and we were going real slow, then, we'd try to get a hot meal. When we were moving, we'd make [do] with what we had, and then, sometimes, that would be it. ... Those ten-in-one rations had a nice can of bacon, so, if you could fry a little bacon, ... you saved a little of the grease, and, in a tank, you could do this. In fact, when we went across the Channel, they put a ... two-by-six, I guess, plank, or something like that, or two-by-eight, across the front of the tank and hooked it on to something where it would fit real nicely, and we each carried several fifty-five gallons of fuel, and lubricants, and so on, to drop as soon as we landed, you see. Well, we kept those, and most people built a little box, out of [the] cartons that ammunition comes in and so on, and kept some of this stuff right up there, and, along the way, somebody picked up a frying pan. [laughter] So, if you had a little time, and you were in the right position, where you could light your little stove, and had a little ingenuity, and the weather was halfway decent, you could [have a hot meal]. The other thing is, they came out with ... some more K rations, or C rations. Initially, there were three, pork and beans and hash and something else, and, around the Fall of '44, they came out with ham and eggs and a few other things, which we thought were delicious, by comparison. So, we ate them kind of as a gourmet snack, but, by and large, you know, when we were moving, we ate on the fly.
MO: Moving on, where was your unit in December of 1944?
EB: Well, ... actually, our battalion was attached to the 87th Division, an infantry division that was fairly new, and they were just going through the Maginot-Siegfried Line. ... We had just gotten into parts of Germany, by a couple of miles, ... in the general area of the (Saarbrucken?) area, it was, and the first strange thing, we had ... one of the medium companies with ... each of the regiments in the division, that's the way infantry would normally use them, and a strange order came out that, "No one will give up a foot of ground without pain of a court-martial." "What's this all about?" [laughter] and, you know, again, it was a pretty new division. ... Shortly thereafter, a liaison officer came to us, from our division, and told us about the Bulge and said, "You know, we're heading up there." So, we go back to Mittersheim to assemble and we move up under the reserve command, which had been beefed up a little bit, by that time. So, Col. Abe goes ahead and tries to find out more about the situation, but, one thing he did do, right then, he said, "This is an opportunity to get 'em." Now, this is opposed to somebody who just said, "Don't give up a foot of ground," you know. [laughter] I [have] got to ... keep going off on these tangents, ... sorry. ... So, then, I had the job of assembling the battalion and moving it down towards Mittersheim, where he was getting together some more stuff. When I put the order out, Capt. Leach of B Company called and said, "I've got a battalion commander who's holding a .45 to my chest and he won't let me go," [laughter] and I said, "Well, let me go up to your regiment and see ... what the score is." So, I made my way up to the regimental headquarters, and was talking to people here, and got to see the regimental commander, and he had forgotten to tell them that ... the tank battalion would be released. [laughter] So, we got them back that way, and we assembled down below, and then, by the time we got down there, and we got refueled, and so on, we got the orders and the route to move up towards the Bulge.
MO: What happened to you once you arrived at the battle?
EB: Well, it was ... a long march up there. In fact, the last thirty clicks or so, we ... had sent our recon platoon up beforehand, and we met them at a certain place, and they led us on another thirty clicks or so before we went to an assembly area. I think it was near Arlon, Belgium. Now, we were in the reserve command and, now, for the first time, the reserve command was going to be committed as a fighting command. As I say, it had been beefed up a little bit. Gen. Wood had left the division, and we had a new division commander and some new combat command commanders, and our first mission was ... to take a little dwelling, a pretty good size village, of Bigonville, and I told you earlier about [how] some of the senior people had been let go. Well, we had one that had come in, and he was given the reserve command, because the reserve command commander was killed early, in moving out in COBRA, and he didn't have a real big staff, either, but, this guy was a real pain, an incompetent, really. So, what would happen is, the artillery and infantry battalion commander, whatever, [had] come to our command post, Col. Abe, and they said, "Okay, what are we going to do now?" [laughter] So, they got a general mission, and then, they decided what to do. So, to try to capsulize this, ... we did encounter, on the way to Bigonville, at a place called Flatzbourhof, some German forces with some armored vehicles, including an M4 tank that we knocked out, but, they had taken over, and then, we took Bigonville, the tank and infantry teams, after an all-day and all-night thing. They got out about a battalion of German paratroopers from that place. ... It was about midnight now, and there was this little railway station that we had our headquarters in, and the room wasn't much bigger than this room, and I had just laid my sleeping bag down, and I was ready to crawl in, and it was about midnight, almost, when this engineer captain came in, and he said, "I'm here to relieve you," and I said, "What do you mean? We've been fighting here all day, yesterday, ... [laughter] and you, one engineer company, are going to relieve me?" He said, "Those are my orders."
Well, sure enough, then, we got word from reserve command that we were going to move, and so, we assembled our force and moved out, I think it was probably twelve-thirty, one o'clock, and then, we made a move to the south and around. The route was around because, I guess, there were some bridges blown up on some other routes. It might have been shorter, but, what it, in effect, meant [was that] we would have been on the right side of the division. So, we moved to the back and moved around to the other side, to the left side of the division, and, as far as we could tell, there wasn't anybody on our left at all, except Germans. ... So, we made that move during the night. We got up there in the early hours of the morning; it was still dark. Everybody was tired. We hadn't slept at all that time. We did have the light tank company move up to another little village ahead of us and we had a tank destroyer company with us as well. So, after we all finally got into some little house, where there was a big table in the kitchen or something. We put our heads around the table for about an hour, and then, Col. Abrams said, "I'll go back and see what the orders are going to be." So, he went back there, and he came back, and with him came back the artillery battalion commander, the infantry battalion commander, and they figured what they were going to do, and so, he started on this operation, and he went up to see ... the light tank company to check the dispositions. ... The mission was to go to ... a rather large town of Sibret, and this is along a main route, and, while he was doing this, his jeep hit a mine, and he lost his driver and he lost his jeep, and he commandeered mine. [laughter] I was the exec at this time. The exec had been wounded early in November, in action, and was still in the hospital, and you could see that, you know, things were just not very good up this way. So, he then decided, instead of attacking up on this main road to Sibret that he was going to come around and go through some other roads, and I've got a few maps in here. Later on, I'll give you some stuff; you can help yourself. So, it actually meant turning off the main road, going right, and the first thing they hit was a blown bridge, where they got the bulldozer up, and got some rubble, and so on, and pushed it in, and made a ford out of it, and then, started swinging up on a secondary road, which had several villages up there, and we attacked each of these villages, tank-infantry teams, maneuvering in some detail. ... I'm going to give you a copy of our battalion diary, ... to give you some background on it. That's just for certain actions. I have a good part of it, but, I have it in book form, and a lot of it's noted, and I've made these up, so [that] you could take them, and this went on, you know. We were up there for a couple of days, and, of course, we made ... the big march on, it started on Christmas Day, I think it was, either that or Christmas Eve, that's it, and, as we went through some of these little villages on the way to Bastogne, we saw, on this last day, before we broke through, a whole flight of C-47 aircraft. The weather had been pretty miserable up to this point. So, here was a flight, and they dropped all kinds of supplies, and, also, some doctors and so on, and the doctors, I guess, landed within the perimeter, and a lot of the supplies landed all over creation.
About the same time, we had a few fighter planes that came in, and he, apparently, directed them to hit this one wooded line, Assenois, and he and Col. Jacques of the infantry battalion just decided, "We're going to go in now," and they had been fighting around these other villages, but, the artillery battalion commander got his own battalion, plus, other divisional battalions and some other support, so, we had thirteen batteries firing in support of this one company team that was going into this town, Assenois. ... The concept was for that C Team ... to charge right through, without stopping, and make contact with the 101st. Now, we had no communication with the 101st directly, and they did that. I'll show you, later, a print in the other room that sort of depicts it. It's an artist's print, you know; it's not the real thing. ... I won't go into detail out here, but, you can read it, and some of the details of what transpired and who did what, specifically. So, they did make contact. Capt. Dwight was the S-3 at the time; [he] made the initial contact. He commanded this initial tank infantry team that went in, made the initial contact, and then, Col. Abe got up there with him, but, there was also some woods that had to be cleaned out in-between, and so, the infantry made a night attack in there, and, also, cleaned out the town of Assenois, which was a sizable group of people. ... I was at the infantry battalion commander's CP when our Col. Blanchard, reserve command commander, came up. ... He [gave] orders and said, "Now, I want you to pick up everything and move it all into Bastogne," and I said, "Sir, I don't think we want to do that. You know, we've been fighting along here. We've got a light tank company over here, on the flank, we've got B Company over here on this flank, and A Company over here, while C Company is in there with the contact," and he said, "I said to move it in," and I went over to my tank, and I called Col. Abe, and I explained the situation, and he came back with, you know, a quick, quiet answer, you know, "You do as you suggested. [laughter] Just bring in the trains of the 101st and the other stuff in the headquarters," and so, Col. Blanchard said, "What was that? What was that up there?" and I said, "Static, sir, static." [laughter] So, anyway, that was one of the handicaps we had. So, that did work. ... We made the link-up. We probably got the rest of the people in there starting around three o'clock in the morning. We made it, I guess we got in, initially made the contact, on the day after Christmas, and then, I got in there early the next morning. ... Then, we spent a couple of days in Bastogne, with the headquarters and C Company, and we had an antiaircraft platoon with us, but, we kept the others out, because they were still holding a corridor out there, and then, coordinated with, you know, the 101st Airborne. They were happy to see us, real happy. [laughter] So, ... that was the relief of Bastogne in a nutshell. Do you have any questions? ...
SI: What condition was Bastogne in when you arrived?
EB: Well, it was pretty well beat up. The Germans did come out with some bombers at night, fighter-bombers, and ... there was a lot of snow on the ground, and, if the night was good and the moon was out, it was really quite easy to see. They didn't have the ammunition to fire back at 'em. So, after we got in there, one of the things Col. Abe suggested was, that, ... now that we've got some ammunition here and we've got some ammunition [coming] in, and each of our tanks had a .50 caliber, and our artillery pieces would have a .50 caliber, you know, if you can get all of those fired up, I mean, I'd try to aim at the plane, but, you'd put a lot of stuff up there, unless we had, ... actually, the antiaircraft platoon itself. So, we did. ... They came that next night and attacked us. ... In fact, they dropped a bomb right alongside my tank. It knocked the back plate off the .50 that was up on the top. My crew was in the tank, but, nobody got hurt. There was a nice, big crater there and I was ... out with the antiaircraft platoon making sure they had their ammunition in. [laughter] Then, they went off, and we did knock some planes down, and they did hit some artillery and got a few things. We did lose [a vehicle]; one company, it had to be C Company, they lost their kitchen truck. It was hit by a bomb. So, that was one aspect of it. ... There was some air, ... but, we were never bothered, again, from the ground the way we came. I guess other people were coming up and extended the lane, and they were starting to feel the effects of being stopped on their way to Antwerp and that was cutting off their supplies coming through, 'cause Bastogne was a critical communications [hub], ... very rugged country up there and most of the roads had to lead through there. So, that's why it was important to hold that place. So, did that answer your [question]?
SI: Did you see any jets during the Battle of the Bulge?
EB: I didn't. I guess the first thing I noticed was, when we were in the Lorraine area, particularly on the defensive, their V-1 rocket, which was not a jet aircraft, but, it was a jet-propelled missile, and they were aiming those at Nancy, by and large. They went over our heads. So, we said we didn't have to worry about those and I didn't know ... about any jet aircraft until toward the end of the war; I think I saw some.
EB: So, after that, we went into the reserve. We had some other actions around there, but, we spent several weeks in theater reserve.
------------------------------------END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE THREE-------------------------------------
EB: ... Which was something. The billet we were staying in was owned by a very nice couple. We had to go to a little outplace for, you know, [laughter] but, of course, [that is what] we'd been doing for a long time. ... That's when we did get a few people off ... for a couple of days, to Paris or something like that, and started to prepare for the next operation. As I say, we were never called upon, ... in our reserve role, to go south, as the potential plan was, and, after the Bulge itself was reduced, we started up again in late January, early February, I guess, and started passing ... through an infantry division. At that particular time, Maj. Hunter had just come back to the battalion. I was the [S]-3, again. Within two weeks or less, I guess, the S-3 of CCA was wounded and I was sent to CCA as the S-3. ... So, ... my part of the war, from there, was moving from the area of Bitburg up to Koblenz, where we hoped to get a bridge, which was blown when we got there. ... The 37th actually led the charge, although I was not with them at the time. [laughter] ... Both CCA and CCB did very well, in the area around Koblenz, in rounding up equipment which they didn't get across the Rhine and stragglers. Then, after a few days, which was kind of pleasant, because, ... there, we set up [our] CP in an old castle kind of thing, overlooking the Rhine River, you know, ... real classy. It even had silk sheets on the beds, but, we then passed through the Fifth and the 90th Divisions, who had established bridgeheads over the Mosel River, going to the south, and CCA passed through one, CCB through the other. Then, we went down to [a place] which was on the high ground; ... I'd color layered my map. ... So, this convinced our commander, Col. Sears, that this is where we should go. The town was Alzey. When we got to that high ground, the next day, we looked and, boy, we could see for miles all over the place. So, then, we started making some fast moves, again, in column, and then, went down to Mainz, where the bridge was blown, and down to Worms, the bridge was blown, and, eventually, we were pulled off into the reserve while an infantry division, I think it was the Fifth, came up to make a river crossing on the Rhine. We said, "My God, man, after all the river crossings we made, this one's going to be done by the book. You know, the infantry's coming up, make the crossing, we're going to pass through." ... As we were pulling back, all this equipment was coming up, and the infantry crossed the Rhine River at night. By the next day, we were on a bridge that had been built at Oppenheim and we're starting on our way across.
When we went across, CCA went to Hanau, got a bridgehead over the Main River at that location. CCB went to Aschaffenburg and got a bridge there, and Gen. Patton is alleged to have sent a message to Gen. Bradley that, "As of," such-and-such a date, "the Third US Army crossed the ... Rhine River, without benefit of aerial bombardment or priority of supplies." They were talking about Montgomery, with all his plans. [laughter] ... He had tried this and didn't get anyplace, and, now, we had an enlarged bridgehead to the Main River, which, again, was, you know, what we did. We just kept going, that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and got to those places. Then, we had a couple of days there, because the reinforcements were coming in. At Hanau, we got ... the infantry across, but, the bridge wouldn't take tanks. We had to build another bridge. They were able to shoot some of the German troops, in their trains, that were coming in to reinforce the area, and, you know, [that] just demonstrates how, when you're aggressive, and moving, and mobile, ... you can keep going. So, eventually, there was an infantry regiment attached to our combat command to clean out Hanau a bit. ... In the meantime, CCB, at Aschaffenburg, sent out a taskforce, which is not part of my story, but, it is a part of the history of it, [that] went to relieve the prisoners at Hammelburg, and that included our C Company and a platoon of light tanks from D Company. That's a separate story ... and, as a matter-of-fact, that particular taskforce got into Seventh Army territory. Apparently, Gen. Patton knew that; that's why he wouldn't send the whole combat command. By that time, Gen. Abrams was commanding CCB. ... So, the whole division, then, moved up north, toward ... Fulda, Hersfeld, that area. Then, we turned along the Autobahn, heading toward the east, and, from there on, it was pretty much a rat race. The division moved in two fundamental columns. We uncovered the concentration camp at Ohrdruf, and that made Time Magazine. Our battalion surgeon, well, by that time, Doc Scotti was our combat command surgeon, ... was in a picture in Time Magazine with these naked bodies stored in a shed, with lime all over them. Col. Sears got the (Oberburgermiester?) and some of the leading town citizens in there and showed them what was happening. ... They said [that] they didn't believe it, they didn't know, but ...
The end result was, as we went on, it was one river crossing after another. One of the ones I remember crossing, because I had a little part in it that was significant, was at the Zwick Mulde, which was further [into Germany]. We didn't get much beyond that and we had ... seized a little bridge. It wasn't going to be big enough to handle all of our equipment, but, the infantry battalion commander down there asked me to, "Get the antiaircraft down here. Get the antiaircraft down here." Well, our antiaircraft battery, with the combat command, was back with the trains. So, I ... called them up and told this captain, "They want you down there at the bridge with antiaircraft protection," and so on. He said, "Well, Sir, you know, instead of going down to the bridge, I'd like to go over here on this ridge," and he says, "You know, at the bridge, if the planes come over, I'm going like this." He says, "If I sit up on that ridge, I'm going like this." [laughter] I said, "That makes sense. Yes, go ahead." We hadn't seen any planes in I don't know when, you know. Well, the next day, we did and he knocked down thirty-nine German planes. They never destroyed anything in our area. They did knock out the bridge that CCB had put in and they did it by dropping ... logs, big logs, down, so [that] they'd float down the river. So, that's why I tell that story. That's, you know, one of the things I find fault with in the Army, in more recent years, I think, but, always, ... there were some senior people who always thought only they knew how to do it and didn't let people use their initiative and decide things, and there's an example, where this guy knew a lot more about what he was doing than I did, [laughter] you know, and it worked real well.
After that, we got to the point where we could see the outlines of Chemnitz, and then, we were ordered back, and then, down, toward ... what they thought would be a redoubt that Hitler was building up ... [for] the last stages, down there, ... Berchtesgaden, in that area down there. ... By that time, Maj. Hunter had gotten wounded again and I went back to take command of the 37th Tank Battalion, and, from there, that redoubt thing turned out to be a nothing. So, we turned up, later, and we attacked into Czechoslovakia from the south, and I was on my way to Prague when we were given orders to stop. ... Someplace, I have the little message that I got off the CW radio that said, "CO Oats, halt in place, take defensive precautions," and, ... from there on out, we had a restraining line, then, ... a road, where the Russians came down and met us. ... When they first saw us, they were hugging each other and saying, "Fine," and the Russians were saying, "You have our tanks?" and we said, "No, you have our tanks." We'd been furnishing the Russians with our M4 tanks and, of course, their soldiers never knew it. The next day, everything, all of that, changed. One of our guys went to go over; somebody took his watch. I did go up [and] make contact in a little town of Rosemetal, ... about maybe twenty-five clicks, further in toward Prague, and he was a Czech underground leader and a very fine individual. One day when I was up there, and I used to try to get to see him every day, I was coming back, and Capt. Dwight, who was now the exec, was riding with me, and it was that day [that] Gen. Langare had said something about, "The Russians were coming in." There were flags up and other things, you know, and he said, "If they like what I have done, fine. If not," he went like this. [Gen. Bautz drew his hand across his neck, indicating that the Czech underground leader believed that he might be killed.] As we were driving back, we got behind some other column, it was a Guard's tank division, and there were some trucks that we were behind, and they had soldiers there, and, you talk about evacuation of casualties and so on, bandages, blood, everything, and they were riding there in this truck, and they really looked, really, kind of sad, and my friend, Bill, said, "You know, I don't know why we're stopping now. We could go through these guys like ---- through a tin horn." [laughter]
My last official duty, I guess you might say, at the end of the war, eventually, was to gather in all the German troops that were in the area, and then, arrange with the Russians to turn them over. This was really a real tough thing to do. Now, the Germans, obviously, had been trying, for some time, to get, you know, [to safety]. ... The war was over; they wanted to surrender to the Americans, not to the Russians. So, we had a lot of people and we just put them in fields. I had one field [where] I had nothing but general officers, and one of the first ones in drove up in a big touring car, with a couple of aides and so on. He wanted to see some general. I said, "Well, that's fine, sometime, but, right now, you're going to go down there and you're going to be in charge, because you're senior," [laughter] and there was a cavalry commander, a colonel, [who] came in, and he asked for a little protection, to go back [with him]. ... We sent some recon people with him, got him back, brought some of his horses along. They actually assembled in the areas we gave them. They got all their weapons, they stacked their arms, they did what we told them to do, and then, the final day came, where we had to march them up and turn them over, which was a sad day.
After that, ... we soon got orders to return to Germany, and our division was going to be marked as one of the occupation forces, ... and then, by that time, I left. I left in August, I guess. I wanted to get home. I wanted to get married. [laughter] They didn't tell me; I had an option of saying, "Yes, I will stay on," or, "No, I won't," you know, "I want to get out," and they didn't say they would keep me on for a year, or two years, or what. So, I said, "Well, I'll go home," and I went home with the 14th Armored Division, which was simply a carrier unit. By the time I got there, they didn't have any equipment. It turned out, an old regimental commander was commanding the division. ... My father had died in May of '43. ... You see, I got out of Rutgers, ... graduated and commissioned on the 8th of June, was on active duty for a year on the 2nd of July. Now, I hadn't had a full-time job. I wanted to get married. I had a mother and two younger brothers, and so, after getting home, I got ahold of Marge, who was up at Newton D. Baker Hospital at the time, and we then decided to meet at New York, [and] go to my mother's home, because I was going to get a few days leave, because they had a backlog. In the meantime, they started processing me out. Well, by the time we got together and talked, ... when the ship landed, they came on board and said, "Well, you can sign up until July of '47." I said, "Well, that would give me a little breather," and so, I got permission to rescind my first decision, [laughter] and then, ... I stayed on active duty, and then, later, I got into the regular Army. So, that ends that phase.
SI: I have a question about the raid on Hammelburg, even though you were not directly involved in that operation. From what I have read, it seems as if many people believe that Patton made a serious error in ordering that excursion. What is your opinion?
EB: Well, I think Patton has admitted he made a mistake, and I think he says [that it is] his only mistake. [laughter] Abrams, and I was not there, but, I know this story from a number of people, ... and it's documented; in fact, the commander of that force wrote a book, along with one of the people who was an inmate at Hammelburg. I don't have my copy here, because a couple of people at work are reading it. If I had been with the battalion, I probably would have been that taskforce commander, at the time, [laughter] and Abrams repeatedly, you know, wanted to say, "Well, let me take the whole combat command," and I think Patton agrees, but, it wasn't until I really read the book that I understood how much we were in [the] Seventh Army's area. That's why he wouldn't allow anything more than a small force.
SI: When you liberated the concentration camp at Ohrdruf, what did you see there? Did you actually enter the camp?
EB: Oh, yes. Well, ... in addition to these corpses stacked up in the shed [that] I talked about, there were other people just laying dead, scattered on the ground. Obviously, they'd been shot before the Germans left. Ohrdruf itself ... was a big army post, so, we actually occupied some of the buildings while we were there, for a couple of days, but, there were all kinds of trenches out in [the] back where people had been buried. ... Now, we don't know that any of them were Americans, that we saw. ... It was just seeing, first hand, some of the horrible things that we'd read about. ... To the best of my knowledge, they didn't have any of these fancy things where they shoveled people in and killed them with chemicals and whatnot. What was that big place up north further?
SI: Dachau? Buchenwald?
EB: Buchenwald is what I'm thinking of, but, Dachau was another one. ...
SI: How soon after the liberation did you enter the camp? Did you enter it on the same day?
EB: Oh, yes. ...
SI: Another veteran who was interviewed for our project was one of the first men through the gate at Ohrdruf. He said that he saw that the Germans were trying to erase any evidence of what they had done by burning the bodies. Did you see any evidence of a German effort to cover up these atrocities?
EB: I really didn't notice, you know. ... Just to see these people that had just been gunned down laying there, and I did see some of the stuff, about the shed and just the lime scattered on the bodies, but, you know, I also had other work to do, at that point in time, as a combat command S-3.
SI: Did you have any contact with the survivors?
EB: No, I didn't.
SI: Did you see how the townspeople, who were forced to march through the camp and bear witness to the atrocities, reacted to what they saw?
EB: Oh, yes, in absolute denial, and many of them, you know, just couldn't believe it, as far as I could tell.
MO: What was your opinion of the Army's leaders during the war, particularly, Patton, Bradley, and even Abrams?
EB: Well, I'll tell you, from where I sat, I didn't have many opinions of these senior officers at all, you know. I thought that being with Col. Abrams was one of the best things that ever happened to me and he was just a terrific commander, a tremendous tactician, a tremendous person. He was always cool. He was a man who could decentralize and who made a lot of things happen. ... So, that was great. My division commander, Gen. Wood, I think, was a prince. ... His successor, Gen. Gaffey, I got that right? well, he was the chief of staff of the Third Army, but, he took over the division, and then, he didn't have it too long. Then, Gen. Hoge took it, at the very end. ... I think any impressions I had of Bradley or Montgomery are, you know, [from] something I've read since. Patton, I met twice. Once was during that first defense, the time when we were in reserve, and there was a new weapon, a half-track with a flame-thrower, and there was this demonstration. So, as the battalion [S]-3, I went back to see it. There was a Chemical Corps captain in charge of the demonstration, and then, Patton rolled up in his jeep, ... you know, shiny boots, all creased, nice, with his pearl-handle pistols, just the picture you see of him all the time, and he stomped right into that mud, [laughter] and this captain went through a little spiel about it, and then, he said, "Now, we're going to demonstrate it. Now, if everybody would just step back." At that point, you know, ... everybody started taking a step back, except Patton, and he said, "What do you mean, 'Step back?' Don't you have any confidence in this weapon working?" "Well, yes, Sir, I do." "Well, you damn well [better] have. You're going to stand right next to that thing and I'm going to stand right over here, too," and, of course, everybody else stood there, too, [laughter] and the weapon, you know, he fired it and it went [well].
The other time was in this old town of Mittersheim that we visited several times. ... He was there one day when we were in a reserve position, or mission. So, we were doing maintenance. We were doing a lot of changing [of] engines and stuff like that and Col. Abrams wasn't feeling very well. He had quite a cold, so, he was over in some place; our headquarters was set up in a little, like, gast-house (German for bar and food) kind of arrangement, and, all of a sudden, Col. Whithers, who was one of our less competent people that had been carried along with the division, ... came running in, as he was now sort of ... assistant executive of the combat command, and he ... dashed up, and he said, "Where's Col. Abrams? Gen. Patton's outside." I said, "What?" [laughter] Well, sure enough, I went out and reported, and it was Gen. Gaffey, [who] was the Second Division commander, yes, ... [who] was with him. Nobody had told us. So, I immediately told the operations sergeant, I said, "Get the Colonel," [laughter] and so, I saluted and Patton said, "Now, how many tanks are you short?" Well, as the exec, I knew exactly how many and what the maintenance status was. I had it all in a little notebook, by serial number. That's what we were doing right then and I started saying, "Well, ... right now, we're short thirteen medium tanks," and I went on to say, "two lights," or something like that. "We're not short thirteen medium tanks in the whole United States Army." Well, Gen. Gaffey said something, "Well, I think he includes those that are in ordnance and so on," and I said, "Yes, Sir, and a lot of others," [laughter] because, from my perspective, as the battalion exec, ... when you tell me to move right now, it's what I can take with me, not what some (crew chief?) says. Anyway, ... by that time, Col. Abe had gotten there, and he kind of took over, and, again, our street was muddy at this time, and it started raining a bit. Patton came around, talked to the troops a bit, and they were getting their chow. Got some hot chow here, you know, but, the water was running into the mess kit, and he said, "How's the chow?" "Fine, Sir, fine." [laughter] So, those are my two occasions of meeting him in person, but, he had a good reputation ... in the Third Army. There are certainly things; well, he relieved Gen. Wood, for one thing, which I think was wrong. ... We had this article, and, ... if you can't get this article, it's in theQuarterly Review, on Gen. Wood, "The American Rommel." Well, I think there's something in there that talks about he and Patton, disagreements, early on; instead of going out to the west, on the Brittany Peninsula, we could have been turning east. ... So, that kind of ends World War II.
SI: Do you have a question?
MO: When you were stationed in Czechoslovakia, near the Russian Zone, did you actually interact with the Russians?
EB: Oh, well, I went up and I negotiated with the Russians ... for the transfer of the people. In fact, I had an interpreter with me, and, after this whole thing was over, and this was about eleven o'clock in the morning, ... and this was a farmhouse that they had taken over, and there were some women there, making bread or doing some other things, and [he] pulls out this liter bottle, you know, white, no label, and he has three tumblers, and he starts pouring, you know, gets about eight ounces in each of these. So, then, we stand up and make a toast, and then, he starts drinking this thing down, and ... I'd heard that, boy, you know, this is the way, you know, you do it. So, in order to save face for the good, old USA, you know, I kept going, I kept watching him, and I kept watching him, and he went all the way, so did I, and then, as I start putting the glass down, these tears started coming down. [laughter] I ... got out of there and went back, and I got back to my CP, and I pulled my bedroll out. [laughter]
SI: What was your opinion of the German soldier as an enemy and the German Army as a fighting force?
EB: Their frontline German soldiers were very capable, well-trained, and disciplined. ... They fought very well and they fought on meager supplies and everything. There was a certain element, called the Volkssturm, I think, okay, older people and so on. Now, these people really weren't frontline troops, but, they were filled in, here and there, many times. They obviously ... weren't much of an enemy. ... Occasionally, we'd hit cadets of various kinds, like Officer Candidate School cadets or something else, and they were tough. ... Now, I didn't see any atrocities ... that these troops [committed]. In fact, going up to Bastogne, near the Bigonville area, Lt. Cook, one of our platoon leaders, was wounded, and his tank was knocked out, and his people couldn't get to him right away, and he was a prisoner. He became a prisoner of the Germans and they took care of him. They wrapped him up, ... kept him warm, gave him some food, [laughter] and positioned him so that he could be found, [laughter] when they were leaving. So, you know, there are all sorts of horror stories you hear now, here and there, but, my experience was that the frontline troops were capable and disciplined, disciplined.
SI: After the war ended, did you hear any of the rumors about Werewolf units, squads of former Hitler Youth members dedicated to subterfuge, harassing the Army of Occupation?
EB: I don't know whether it was that, but, ... even during the latter stages of the combat, there were, I don't know what you'd call them, exactly, but, ... individuals that would do certain things, and, in our case, mainly, it would be a Panzerfaust, ... you know, just a lone person. Like, on that trip, heading on down toward ... the south, after coming back from way over Chemnitz, ... I was commander of the battalion, then, I was ahead with the S-3 going down to the area that we were going to go down to, reconnoiter that, and, ahead of us, there was a tank from some other outfit down the road, and, ... just before we got there, all of a sudden, there was a, "Bam!" I had a section of the recon platoon with me, and so, they took off, ... but, you know, it knocked out a tank. It wounded two of the people. ... Nobody was killed, but, it did disable a tank, and, if enough people do that, you know, then, you have a hard time getting your job done. So, we never did find them. ... There was stuff like that that would go on. So, you know, you never let your guard down completely, you know.
SI: Did you ever encounter SS troops in combat?
EB: Oh, yes, yes, yes.
SI: Does your definition of the frontline German soldier apply to them as well, or would you characterize the SS members differently?
EB: In the instances that I had with them, they were ... frontline soldiers. I'm sure [that] there were some of them that weren't, but, in fact, in Czechoslovakia, we had a number of them surrender to us, and, when we had to turn them over to the Russians, my light tank company commander did that, physically took them up there, all of a sudden, the SS people started to deploy, [laughter] and he grabbed an American flag and ran in-between the two lines, the Russians. ... Then, he reported that, you know, they were leaving, and then, these people were marched off, out of sight, and, all of a sudden, all he heard was machine guns. I think the Russians just annihilated them, but, you know, I didn't have any specific instances where I was involved with the SS, other than the fact that they were pretty damn good fighters.
SI: Did you ever hear of any cases where American GIs took out their aggression on German POWs by shooting them rather than taking them back to the rear?
EB: Oh, I don't know of any. ... I will say this, when a guy stands up, and shoots a Panzerfaust, and knocks out your tank, and then, he stands up and says, "Comrade," you don't necessarily stop shooting. [laughter] I don't think there was ever an order to that effect, but, ... you know, you're in the fight, and, God, when he shoots at you, ... you shoot at him. ... Shoot, and then, say, "Comrade;" [laughter] if he missed, maybe it's okay, [laughter] if he missed.
MO: How did you feel about the war in the Pacific? Did you have any friends that were sent there?
EB: I don't have any close friends that went there. My wife just stepped out; her brother was in the Air Corps and was killed over there. He was a navigator on a B-24, but, honestly, I met just a couple of people, post-World War II, you know, that served in the Pacific, but, it was hard to generalize, because there were so many different areas and so many different actions, but, we all thought the atom bomb was a pretty good idea at the time.
SI: Before we leave World War II, we know that you earned several combat decorations. Which actions were you decorated for?
EB: I was given a Bronze Star for that action ... near Lorient and I was given a Silver Star for the action near Hanau. I've got another Bronze Star someplace. My Purple Hearts, they come automatic. [laughter]
SI: Where were you wounded?
EB: You mean physically?
SI: Physically and geographically.
EB: Well, geographically, the first one was during that thing up at Lorient, and, in fact, you know, it wasn't a big wound, it was shrapnel in the finger and nothing big, and I never even claimed that it was a wound until after the war, when I found out, "Hey, that was five points toward getting home earlier," and I said to the Doc, "Remember this one?" The other one was on the 10th or 11th of November, the 11th, I guess, when we got hit pretty hard and my tank was knocked out, but, it was not a solid round, but, as it flicked up, it took the lower eyelids off my eye. Now, I could just as well have been killed, but, except for wearing a blinder for a couple of days and stuff, ... and not having all the eyelashes I should have down there, it didn't mean anything. On the same day, later on, I was up on Maj. Hunter's tank. ... He was commanding at the time, and some artillery came in and hit me on the chin, which, again, was covered by a bandage. ... As I told you earlier, none of them sent me to the hospital for any protracted time, or at least I didn't have to go, and I've always sort of figured that other one was just five points for getting home earlier. I hardly count that one. ...
SI: Could you briefly describe how you came to join the regular Army?
EB: Yes, okay. Well, right after the war, I was assigned to Fort Knox, and Col. Haden Sears of CCA actually got me over there, and he had the Tank Department at the time, and I was there for a short time, and then, Col. Abe came to Fort Knox. He became the Director of Tactics. So, Col. Sears said, "Well, you belong over in the Tactics Department." So, that's where I went and I spent a couple of years there, essentially, teaching, primarily, battalion and brigade level tactics. During that period, we really worked hard, because all of the field manuals were out-of-date. We rewrote those. We drew up new programs and instructions for these new courses, that are the basic and advanced courses of today. ... After that, I went to the constabulary and was the S-3 of the First Constabulary Brigade, in Wiesbaden. ...
-------------------------------------END OF SIDE TWO, TAPE THREE---------------------------------
EB: ... Actually, the commissioning of one of the classes, which is probably '66, '67; '67, probably.
SI: This was at Rutgers, during Mason Gross's term as university president, correct?
EB: At Rutgers, yes, and the climate there, to me, was sort of neutral. People didn't pay too much attention, but, ... it was not like in my day, where people who were in [the] ROTC advanced course were the lead people on campus. It was the thing to be. It was sort of the reverse. ... You got the impression that most of the students felt, "Only the odd balls are kind of over there," but, ... I was in uniform both times and I didn't see anything that would indicate any hostility. They just ignored me. That's all. ...
SI: Can you tell us about your first tour in Vietnam?
EB: All right, my first tour, I was the Secretary of the Joint Staff at MACV headquarters, and I worked for Gen. Westmoreland, and it was my first joint staff assignment. Most of my assignments in the past had been either in command or in operational type things, but, a little on the personnel side. This was one that sort of puts things together. ... It was a time when the troops, the American troops, other than the advisory personnel, were the 173rd Airborne Brigade, down south, and the First Marine Division, up north. So, it was just the beginning of when we started to escalate, and, in my job, ... all the major papers passed by me. When Secretary McNamara would come over and visit, periodically, they did and they'd have the meetings and so on, ... most of that wound up in my shop, in terms of making arrangements, transportation, a certain amount of security, and then, to some degree, recording what went on, which I could usually delegate. ... All the VIP transportation throughout the country was handled within my shop. My impression is, ... and I told Gen. Abrams this when I came back from my first tour, that if I ever had the responsibility of a higher command, even though I think armor officers are more combined arms oriented than almost any other, that I would certainly diversify, make sure I had different talents, because I found that, over there, Westmoreland was an airborne infantryman. His deputy was an airborne infantryman. His chief of staff was an airborne infantryman. His J-1 was an airborne infantryman. The J-2 was a Marine, at the time. The J-3 was an airborne infantryman. His J-4 was Transportation Corps, Airborne. His J-6 was an Air Force officer. In each of the four corps areas where we had advisors, the senior advisor was a colonel, airborne infantry. The deputy senior advisor was artillery, airborne. So, there was a whole bunch of those people, including the J-3, who later agreed with me, you know. [Westmoreland] didn't have any concept of using armor, and, when I first got there, I had the privilege of taking the first two weeks to get acquainted with the country, while my predecessor still held the seat, and, you know, I visited the Air Force and got the pitch that, "You know, we can't have the Marines flying around. We've got to control them," and I got to the Marines and the Marines said, "We can't let the Air Force control us," [laughter] and I got to all of ... these kinds of things, ... and visiting the Vietnamese, to some degree, trying to get a handle on what was going on. ... As my tour developed, there, I would say that, when I first got there, and, after the first few weeks, some of the actions that I was aware of, I thought we might get kicked out. By the time I left, I felt that we could go anyplace we wanted to go. That didn't mean we were going real great, but, it meant that, if we put our mind to it, we could go anyplace we wanted and we're not in danger of being run over. By that time, we did have some Korean participation. Of course, we had built up tremendously. One of the real things that happened, though, from the Army's point of view, was, ... every time they sent a brigade over, they tore a division apart in the States, because the policy was, no ... extensions, no in-for-the-duration, no mobilization. ... The whole operation had the worst possible personnel policies that you can imagine. So, I don't know how much you want to go into it, but, ... this was my impression at the time. I had occasion to, you know, get to know Ambassador Taylor a little bit, Ambassador Lodge, ... the gentleman from Massachusetts. He'd been there once and he was back, anyway, right after Taylor. They were two different types. I favored him much more than Taylor. ... What would you like to know more than [this]?
SI: What did you do in-between your tours in Vietnam?
EB: Well, in-between the tours, I mentioned earlier, I got on the brigadier general list, while I was over there on my first tour. I came home; ... my first job was ... deputy director of Enlisted Personnel Directorate. I had that for not quite two months when I was told we were going to start a new directorate, called the Individual Training Directorate, and I was going to be the deputy. ... My primary duty was going to be ROTC, which I mentioned before. I did that for fifteen months, and then, I got word that I was being changed to be Director of Military Personnel Policies, which was a two-star slot, but, when I got the word, my boss, who was a Maj. Gen. Zais, at that time, called me, I was on a trip, and I said, "The Chief can't really do this. Does he know what he's doing?" I said, "You know, I've been going around the country, I've been talking to these college presidents, I've been doing this and doing that, and they're getting to know me a little bit," and he said, "Yes, I think the Chief knows what he's doing." So, you know, it was a two-star slot that he was putting me into, and one of his key slots. ... That included things like classification standards, promotions and separations, safety, all kinds of general things, like, anything from the uniform ... to the non-appropriated fund activities; like, I was on the board of directors of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the Motion Picture Service, a very, very busy kind of job. ... I would say, it covered most everything in the personnel field, other than the training and the numbers racket, too, how many of this and how many of that. I talked to the DCSPER, [Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel], who was going on a trip to Vietnam, one Saturday, and I said something to him, "Well, you know, I'm getting to be here three years pretty soon. I've got a daughter going to college. Do you have any idea what's going to happen to me next?" and he said, "Not right now, but, I'll be in touch." Well, he went over to Vietnam. When he came back, he didn't say anything. ... So, finally, you know, I wound up and said, "You make any decision for me?" He says, "Oh, yes. ... I offered you to Gen. Abrams as a J-3 and he took you." [laughter]
So, right after I got there, and, again, I had two weeks ... to go around the country and visit all the units, all the Vietnamese divisions, all the US divisions, and all the foreign divisions and units, but, a good part of my tenure in that year was the start of the redeployment of the US forces, which took a fair amount of my time. Initially, it was very close-hold information, and throughout it was pretty close-hold information, but, the very first one was, eventually, decided to be about a 25,000 space authorization cut. The MACV approach was, you cut and try. You cut a little bit, you see how it's working; you cut a little bit more, see how it's working. You do that. You don't get it on a schedule. ... The day that was finally announced, the Secretary of Defense, Laird, was in Thailand and some reporter said, "Now, Mr. Secretary is that from authorized strength or actual strength?" He says, "Well, from actual strength, obviously." Well, before we started withdrawing anybody, ... Gen. Abrams kept sending messages back to the Under-Secretary of the Army, ... saying, "The Army is understrength," and, "Please, get things started, so we get up to strength before we have any withdrawals." Well, in that statement by the Secretary of Defense, instead of having a 25,000 space lost, it turned out to be like 37,000. It shows you what a little ignorance can do to you, [laughter] and, of course, right after that, we started getting these replacements that started pumping in there. [laughter] ... Then, the press was all over us, saying, "You're supposed to be going down. You've been going up." So, that went on. ... If you get that book, A Better War, I recommend it highly. It's quite new. The author did a very good job and it will lead you through a lot of these things, because it really comes down to the decisions, and you can see the things [that] Gen. Abrams, ... and others, you know, were really saddled with as this thing went on. Now, then, ... we had another twenty-five, and then, before you know it, it was fifty, and then, later on, they came out and just said, "It's going to be a 100,000." ... Then, to top it all, and, again, the book makes a good point of it, you know, a part of that program was to give them equipment, part of it was to train them on that equipment, part of it was to do other things to increase their capability, and all [of] this takes time.
Then, ... I went out to the division after a year of being J-3. In fact, I took command on the 2nd of April from Gen. Mike Davison, who had taken two field forces on the 1st, which made it my fiftieth birthday [that] I got the division. ... By that time, you know, I was pretty well aware of what the doctrine was and what was working, and I have some papers that document some of the things I did, but, I don't want to get into that here. ... We did it by small patrols, small ambushes, reconnaissance actions, and, really, concentrating on his supplies. The way the North Vietnamese had to work, you know, you think of the armies normally as [operating so that] ... they maneuver troops up here, the artillery right behind them, and some are back here, the logisticians. Well, the way they worked over there, with an infrastructure and so on, ... the supplies had to be pre-positioned. ... So, you were trying to cut these caches, and find them, and interdict their people that were bringing them down [in] anything from a sampan, to a backpack, to other things, and that, together with the pacification program, was starting to really take hold, and then, ... we went into Cambodia.
Now, I had some background, as a J-3, knowing that such a plan was, in effect, being studied. We had submitted ... something, on request from Washington, but, nothing happened while I was the J-3, and I didn't think much was going to happen. Well, shortly there afterwards, though, we suddenly get word to send my tank battalion and a mechanized infantry battalion of the Third Battalion, Ninth Infantry Division, also under my operation control, to the First Calvary Division for a Cambodian operation. In addition, I was to ... send over my cav squadron to replace troops being used in the attack. That did happen pretty much as planned, and, on a Sunday night, I was just lifting off from way down of the end of the Parrot's Beak [a land form] when I got a call to, "Meet Gen. Davison up at the First Cav Division forward CP." I went up to Cu Chi and my base and refueled, and I picked up the deputy G-3, and it was about an hour to get to the ... Cav Division forward, and, there, Gen. Davison gave me a mission, to go into Base Area 354 and Base Area 707 and to make a plan to attack what might be the COSVN area. You familiar with the COSVN?
EB: Well, it's the agency ... that was sort of supervising all this invasion of South Vietnam itself, down in that area. It's called the Committee for something or other and it can be described as a headquarters for this southern area. ... Gen. Abrams wanted to be briefed on that phase. Now, to do this, also, I had to relieve the First Calvary Division Brigade that was north of Tay Ninh City, this war zone up there. ... Gen. Davison asked me how long did I think that would take and I said, "Well, based on my experience and everything we sent to Washington, I would say seventy-two hours." ... He said, "I just told Gen. Abrams we could do it in forty-eight hours." So, I said, "Okay, we're going to do it in forty-eight hours." [laughter] So, by this time, it was dark, and, when airborne, I radioed my chief of staff and I said, "Just have the staff ready to work. I'm going up to First Brigade headquarters. We are to be a part of the action." So, I went up to First Brigade headquarters and told him to go ahead and move out tonight and ... relieve the First Cav Brigade. I'd arranged with the division commander that they would leave their artillery there, until I could get mine up, because they were an air mobile division, so, they could move their artillery very quickly, you know, and then, I got back to my CP, Cu Chi, probably around nine o'clock or so, and I told the staff the rest of it. We were getting the Second Brigade back and two field force units. The general plan for how we were going to do this was to move the Third Brigade boundary way up, take over what the First Brigade was doing within South Vietnam, except for that area, and to get the Second Brigade, which had been under II Field Force operational control, back, which only had two infantry battalions in it. Then, I'd get my cav squadron back, put that in it, and we'd get the tank and mech battalions back. So, I added one more infantry battalion to it, and they came up with a plan to go into the Base Area 707, which was pretty small, with just one infantry battalion and the cav, and then, the next operation would be to get a battalion that was in the Third Brigade, initially, and these other infantry battalions air mobiled behind these positions, and to take the cav and the mech battalion and attack them from this direction. That plan was briefed to Gen. Abrams ... at the very time when we were launching the attack into the first Base Area 354, and, as he left, I was able to give him a little note from my chief of staff saying the report of Gen. Greene, who was one of my assistant division commanders that was monitoring that action, was that it had been a cold ... DZ, but, a hot LZ. ... In other words, the area they were lifting off from, they got fired at, but, they landed in a place without resistance, and they had a good plan. They had some heavy bombs, bombs that knocked the trees down and so on. So, I won't go into any of the details of these actions, other than to say that the end result of all of this is that we were in there ... until the end of June. We did kill and capture a number of them. Our biggest haul of the division was rice. We got all kinds of rice, and, also, ... some weapons, everything from sampans on. We also got what was part of the COSVN Signal School, apparently, and we got a lot of electronic equipment. We got equipment they were making to monitor our people talking over the radios. So, the end result of that Cambodian operation, overall, was to reduce his capability of doing anything for a long time. Someday, if you're ever interested, I don't have it here, either, but, I've got the division report on their actions, and ... there's a man who interviewed me back in the early '70s who was writing this up for his dissertation, and he was back, and he gave me a copy here last spring, and we went over it, and he's going to make some adjustments, because, for his school, this becomes a part of the record, and so, ... his professor required him to critique it. I said, "I thought you were just going to write the history, but, you're critiquing it." "That's what my professor wanted me to do," because that can cause a lot of problems. ...
SI: Unfortunately, because of time constraints, we cannot delve any further into your military career. Is there anything else that you would like to say about your experience in the service?
EB: Well, I think, really, what I'd like to say is what I said at the beginning. At the beginning of World War II, we were absolutely, ridiculously inept, and unprepared, and unwilling, and all it did was cause us casualties. Our equipment, you know, ... that one tank I had in A Company could go fifty miles an hour, but, it had two machines guns. You know, once we all geared up, and, after Pearl Harbor, why, the whole country kind of got behind this thing and all kinds of things started happening. Unfortunately, we should have had all those M4A3E8s at the beginning of the invasion of Europe, rather than at the end of it. So, the basic lesson is, you can't let your guard down, and you've got to keep the readiness of the forces up, and you've got to keep them so that they can do their job, and ... that's still my theme. That's one of the reasons I hope somebody will read this some day and get the message. [laughter]
SI: Would you like to say anything about your family, your children?
EB: Oh, well, yes. My son was born in June of '47 and my daughter was born in April of '51. My son ... works for Bell Atlantic. He did a stint in the Army, a couple of years. He went [in]to [the] ROTC. One reason he left Rutgers, later, he spent more time with the Rutgers Rangers in his first year than he did doing his other work. So, he had to go back. I think he only did the first semester. Then, he went back ... and decided to change, but, ... he lives in Maryland, and I have these two grandsons from him. One's out of college and one's down at [Virginia] Tech now, and my daughter lives in this general area. She's got a ten-year-old. In fact, that's where we were this morning when you called. We were at his nine o'clock soccer game.
MO: Did he win?
EB: They won, three-to-one. [laughter]
SI: What have you been doing since your retirement? We know that you now work for IDA.
EB: ... The first year after retirement, I did a lot of things around the house and so on and somebody, early on, offered me an opportunity to take a real fine job in Saudi Arabia. I said, "I don't think my wife, particularly, would like this, [laughter] after I've been away so much for so long," anyway, and even when we're together, I travel frequently. So, finally, somebody else called me, ... a friend of mine, also retired, Gen. Almquist, as a matter-of-fact, and he said he knew somebody who wanted somebody with some kind of experience like I have, but, he couldn't handle it, he was busy, and, if I'd like it, he'd recommend me. So, I said, "Well, sure, I'll look into it." So, with that, I started working with another Army general and two Air Force generals as consultants to IBM. ... In large part, we were developing scenarios, ... with some technicians, ... sort of [to] design a command-and-control system for the Army. So, it was to become the first Army Command-and-Control Master Plan. As that work was kind of winding down, that was about eighteen months to two years, the other Army officer, was a trustee with IDA, and he came back one lunchtime and he said, "They're looking for somebody who knows something about Army Command-and-Control. I think the people that know more about Army Command-and-Control than anybody are right here, the four of us." [laughter] He says, "Are you interested?" and I said, "Well, I think I could do this." So, I made an appointment and met ... the deputy director of one of these divisions, at sort of breakfast time one morning, and had my resume with me, and, also, you know, he had some questions, and I had a few. ... He said, "Well, ... I'd like to think of working you one week a month," or did he say two weeks a month? Whatever he said, I said, "Well, I'd prefer if you could do it, but, I'd like to work, you know, say, three days a week." ... [It] either had some statutory limit at the time or at least the company, at the time, [told you that] you could only do so many days a year, which was about half a year. So, I guess, we started. I've forgotten, now, whether it was ... three days every other week or every week. I think it was every other week, but, then, within just a few months, they were giving me more stuff than I could handle in that time, so, we went to the other. So, for a long time, I worked three days a week for them, usually, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I had another couple of other contracts with some other outfits that actually offered me more money, because IDA is a non-profit organization, you know, and their salaries aren't [high]. In fact, when I first went over there, it was 125 dollars a day less than I was making at IBM. [laughter] ... The place is nice, the people were nice, the support was far better than any other [one] out there, and then, since then, I did a lot of studies with people that were in the command-and-control business, largely NATO oriented, largely Central Region oriented, but, also, we did them for Korea. Then, the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force came about, and that turned into Readiness Command (REDCOM), and then, Central Command (CENTCOM), and we worked with them early on. In fact, we did one study, took a couple of years, over time, looking at the potential countries that they might be involved in over there, looking at their communications structure, military and civilian. ... When it turned out, later, ... when Desert Shield went on, all of a sudden, people were crying for more copies of this book, because, for places like Saudi Arabia, which, you know, had one of the best ones, it had a pretty good diagram for just what was there. So, there were some nice things like that, but, then, I got involved with another major study in one of the other divisions, and it turned out that there was a man that knew me years ago, when I was first stationed here at Belvior, at the Combat Development Command, and he was an aide to the general at the time and I was the Director of Plans. So, he had since gotten into the operational research field, ... worked both at the Pentagon and OSD and their various things. ... So, his sort of specialty was operational testing. So, he got me involved with the M1A2 tank, 'cause that was the first one with a digital, little computer in it for other than fire control, and, since then, you know, I've done that. I've done a [few] little peripheral things ... for different things, like, you know, from Javelin to UVA, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, but, the major thing I've been involved in is the Army Digitization Program, ... trying to apply this throughout the Army, and it's a big program. It's many billions and very difficult. So, that's what's keeping me busy and Marjorie was hospitalized back in '91 for awhile, so, I didn't work for a couple of months, but, then, when I went back, since then, I've been working two days a week. So, that's what I do now. I work Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except when I'm on vacation.
SI: Have you stayed active with Rutgers through alumni and class functions?
EB: I'm still a member of the Alumni Association, but, I've only been to two reunions, one was the twenty-fifth and one was the fiftieth, and, honestly, ... there aren't that many people that I know anymore, and, I must say, when you become a member of the Old Guard, they try to milk you for everything they can, [laughter] for a donation. One interesting thing, coming back to Bastogne, ... I told you, ... thirteen of my classmates went to the Fourth Armored Division with me, and then, three others came later. Only two of us, out of those seventeen, stayed with the Fourth Armored Division the whole time, and Harry Rockefeller, whose uncle, I think, at one time, was the director of athletics, about the time we were there, ... he got out, but, he stayed in the Reserve, and Jimmy Weyhenmeyer stayed in the National Guard. ... There was one time when three of the members of the Reserve Forces Policy Council were me and Jimmy and Rocky, ... you know, representing the active Army at the command level, the Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve. So, it was kind of a Rutgers trio, but, ... the other thing was that there were two, George Renoux and Ronald Eardley, who were people I had gotten together with more frequently during school, and, after we got to the Fourth Armored Division, we were in different outfits. They were both cadre-ed out to the Tenth Armored Division, and, when we got into Bastogne, there was a combat command of the Tenth and a combat command of the Ninth that was in there with them. ... I went over to the Tenth and, sure enough, I found George Renoux. He was exec of an armored infantry battalion in the Tenth Armored. I never did see Ronnie, and then, I learned, later, that both of them were killed during the war. So, I guess I was lucky. Three times I came close to being killed, but, only nicked. [laughter]
SI: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
EB: I think that's enough. I don't want to say anymore. [laughter]
SI: Yes, we have taken up far too much of your time today. Thank you very much, General. This concludes an interview with Gen. Edward Bautz on October 15, 1999, in Mt. Vernon, Virginia.
----------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW-----------------------------------------