Rawley Martin fought in Europe during WWII. He is interviewed by Jacqulin Rose.(rghs 1996)
Jacqulin: ..Do you remember where you first were when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor? Do you remember what you were doing?"
Mr. Martin: "Yes, it was on a Sunday, December the seventh, Fort Custard Michigan."
Jacqulin: "Okay, what were you doing? Do You remember that?"
Mr. Martin: "Well, I was the mass sergeant in a tank company, Eleventh Infantry."
Jacqulin: "Where were you?"
Mr. Martin: "Fort Custard, Michigan, that's where I was at."
Jacqulin: “What did you think of what was going on in Europe before you entered?"
Mr. Martin: "Well, I was the only one and a fella named ------ was the only one in the bar-racks and I went down and told him, no one believed me, that I heard on his radio that the Japanese hit us at Pearl Harbor. I go to the kitchen, tell Marvin G. Kennedy, he was from Annapolis or Indiana somewhere, and he said, well, his name was Marvin G.. says 'I like to use a machine gun, that's my name, Marvin G. Kennedy.' And then I went to the PX, I knew I didn't make a mistake on listening to another man's radio in another room, I had roomed by myself, and I told two or three, 'Nov4, you miscued -- ----- told me the same thing down in the latrine, he was down shaving, cleaning LIP, and about two hours from the time I got to the PX. it come over the loudspeaker and they come, they's calling these guys up they'd let out past twenty year--s old, like that, sortie of the older fellas, they come, they's letting' them out, they was Selective Service, and they called them back, they's calling them back, and then, from then on out, it was, that's all they was talking about. Well, on December the eighth, that's when Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan. December the eleventh was when we declared war on Germany and Italy."
Mr. Martin: "Yea, man that stink. The stink of death, that's the worst you can smell. Can't get it out of your clothes, and that dust hitting you, when a man will walk about halfway from here to Rocky Gap out of the way to keep from passing death along the side of the road where they had them laid out on stretchers. That blood, they was laying them down beside the road, you know, and them stretchers, just a piece of canvas with two handles on it, ... to carry them in, laying all along the roads and I went back to pick up the mail one morning and to pick up a tire for a motorcycle ... and they had them strung out on each side of the road, and I didn't come back that way, I walked around them. I walked a long ways from out of my way coming back."
Stormtroopers, they shouldn’t have never let one of them live. They should have killed them all. The -----, they were just soldiers, the same as we were, now they were ---- good soldiers. See, I went into Chartres three different times and picked up three loads, ten truckloads at a time, they put me in the back, an MP on each one of my fenders, the safety off of that fifty caliber dropped my gunbelt and my trenchknife down in the seat, Joe ----- says, ‘Come on and go with me, I don’t want my officer dragging. . . ‘ Two MPs on mine, and my orders wre, the Stormtroopers were in front of me, if they start to make a break, don’t worry about the drivers, one man, don’t matter about him, turn that fifty loose on them. I had a fifty that had two hundred and sixty-five rounds in it. Old -----, a boy from up here at -----, made me a slide for mine, I didn’t have to dump sixty rounds at a time, I could throw the whole box in there. ‘Course, you have to let off on those rabbit ears, or you’ll burn that barrel up. My orders were, those Stormtroopers were in front of me, ‘Don’t worry about. . . , don’t worry, cut down on that truck right there.’ Wipe them off the face of the earth, that’s the way it was. Those were the orders. Joe ----, he figured that some officer would be wanting to ride with him, you know, if I didn’t go in with him after. . . See, we tricked them there, we hit Chartres, and there was a guy, came over the wall, there, I don’t know why, the line of skirmish had dropped off there, and before he hit the triggers on a machine gun, why they cut that man all to pieces, ----. . . I don’t know why he ever come over that wall, but that was the gateway to Paris, Chartres. It got pretty rough in there sometimes, but you get until, so you don’t pay much attention to it. It’s just, ‘Might as well, if I’m going to get hit, I’m going to get hit.’ Now, that’s the way I thought, I dug four foxholes, and I said, ‘I ain’t digging no more.’ In one day. I said, ‘I ain’t digging no more foxholes. If I’m gonna get hit, I’m gonna get hit.’ Ed Dillon laughed at me two days after the war was over, there in Czechoslovakia, a wire blew, and I hit the ground, and I says, ‘----, you’d . . . it, if you’d been right with me.’ I had points on him, that’s who I was talking about, beat me in the Army twenty-four hours, and I beat him back a year, over that colonel saying that was a felony charge, that gun charge, that’s when I ripped the -----over here.
Mr. Rose: "What was Normandy like?"
Mr. Martin: "Well, now that was hedgerow country, buddy, that was rough. That's where I went into an eighty-one morter hole ... and got stowed up. There wasn't no gun, there wasn't no eighty-one morter in it, and I went through them hedgerows. Now that was rough. I had the blanket shot off of my back ... now, buddy, you talk, they was strafing me. And I went into a foxhole, there were four men already in it, and it wasn't but a two-man foxhole, and I went in on top of them., there was room for five more in there. That was Normandy. It went up just like this place here, now, the way it comes up heavy like a piece of pie.. and them Frenchmen had moved their cows out there. And buddy here come the ... and we went strafing. And I could hear the guys hollering behind me. We were looking for the atomic bomb at that time. And they just missed the road crossing, behind me there.
Mr. Martin: ,Well, we was stationed in Iceland first, then we moved to England, about nineteen months there, or eighteen, nineteen months after. We went to England. and then they sent us to Ireland. And then I hit Normandy, and released the Sixteenth Regiment, of course, I was the first man out of my company, I went in, passed two hospital ships going in Normandy, off, the ship only stayed in place fifteen minutes, it had to move because the coast artillery was getting us. And I went in on a duck, a two and a half ton duck, and the driver, there was some soldiers with him, said, "Boy, they pity me," and my carbine clips was all rusty the next morning. And there was a colored guy, got a German sniper. Of course. the night before, when the was hauling me back there to hit the beach in Normandy, backed up against a tree limb, and I hollered at him or, otherwise, they'd a got me, I was up on top a GMC truck. And then. from there, I was in there seventy-two hours ahead of the company, as far as I know, when they got together, and then the breakthrough of Saint-Lo. And from there, it's in that book in there, it will tell you everything about where I was at, The Battle of the Bulge, Northern France, we cut the Brittany Peninsula, that was the breakthrough, and the only thing I seen in Saint-Lo that was not broke was Christ's picture hanging on the wall, about an eight by ten picture, everything else, even their pillboxes was. Holes knocked in them. And there's five battle campaign stars in there. Saint-Lo and Normandy."
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