Veterans and their stories. What your uncle wrote is a treasure.
My uncle Vance from the few stories he told at Scout Camp.
World War II Uncle Vance drove a Zippo Lighter, AKA, Purple heart box, AKA Sherman Tank in WWII. For Patton’s army at the end. The tanks had a high casualty rate. You were the prime target. He told us in training they were taught to shoot 1, then 2 rounds to adjust the aim and the third would be on target. After a few months in battle he said they could put a round thru the window of a house in 1 or 2 shots.
One time they were guarding the line and they spotted a German runner. They fired three rounds at him knowing they never had a chance of hitting him, more out of boredom. They had been taught the cost of a round, the estimated cost of an enemy soldier etc. They blew the economics of war shooting the 3 rounds.
I don’t think Uncle Vance would ever have told us a story where someone was killed. War wasn’t glory, just something that had to be done.
While driving the tank in a column through France one of the people waiting on a cross street couldn't stand to wait in his car anymore. Even with the MP trying to hold him back, he rushed the car between 2 tanks, but didn't make it. The tank caught the back of his car and smashed it flat. He was unhurt but screaming mad and yelling at the Americans. Uncle Vance said the Army probably paid him for the car. Even though it was all his fault. He never said if it was his tank or the one in front of him that ran the car over.
Near the end it was the Battle of the Bulge. Uncle Vance and the crew lost their tank early. They came face to face with a Tiger tank. The only hope of survival was to run away. They did in full reverse, right of a cliff. Uncle Vance thinks that was the day the initial injury was done to his back, but he didn’t feel it then. Since they didn’t have a tank they were put to work at the supply depot. Uncle Vance worked 72 hours straight loading and fueling tanks for something big. He was so tired he asked the supply Sargent if he could rest for 15 minutes. He was given the OK. He took a 15 minute nap in ammo bunker. He woke up and the sky was now bright and everyone was saying it was over. He had slept 24 hours and 15 minutes, right through the major battle. He said we could not tell anyone that he had slept through the Battle of the Bulge.
During the occupation, before he came home he was harassed by a German lady every day. Each day they would walk by the apartment where she lived and she would tell them in English how much she hated the Americans. They egged it on a little also. One day she said she was leaving and she would not have to see them again. They asked where she was going. “I am going to live with my brother in Chicago!”.
On his way home he was on a ship loaded with GI's. He told us about going to get the first meal. It was the first time since they entered battle they had all the food they could want. He took what he thought was a good amount but found he could not eat much. His stomach was too small. He had to dump a lot of it overboard and feed the fish. The same thing happened to most of the GI's on the ship. Not eating food was almost a sin when he grew up and he felt bad. It wasn't many days though until he could eat a goodly amount again.