his own teeth before he went overseas or after he came back. I knew he had lost them because of a fall
over a tent rope at Camp Crowder, Missouri, but I didn't know when. He said he'd tell me the story as soon
as he finished getting his teeth in. He did that and more. He told the whole story from Crowder to Europe
and back. The next day I went over a few things I'd forgotten by the time I started writing, and also got a few
things he hadn't mentioned the day before. He died on June 10.
Dad received his draft notice in March 1944, a few days before his 35th birthday. He went to Boston for a
physical exam and within a few days went to Fort Devens. From there he went to Camp Crowder, Missouri
for basic training. A few weeks before Thanksgiving in 1944, while at Crowder, Dad's mother had a stroke
and he got a one month pass to visit her. As the end of the month got near, she got worse. Mort Dennett
arranged through the Red Cross to have his furlough extended. When she died, he was unable to get a
further extension. Dad left for Crowder right after her funeral but this was past the date on his furlough paper
and he had a bit of trouble with a couple of MPs who would check papers at train stations. He had the
clipping about his mother's death with him to show why he was returning late. The first MP wanted to take it
but Dad refused to give it to him. The MP told him that the MP at the next station, Columbus, Ohio, I think,
would be harder to get along with that he was but that didn't turn out to be the case. When he got back to
Crowder they were going to dock him some pay, but in the end it didn't amount to much.
Mom sent Dad a cake so he could celebrate my third birthday. He was sharing it on the steps outside the
barracks and the PA was playing music, perhaps from the radio. While they were eating the cake, Danny
Boy started playing and Dad cried; an unusual thing for him, I'm sure.
A couple of days after completing basic Dad ran into a friend who asked him what he had received for an
assignment. When he said he hadn't been assigned to anything, the guy asked if he'd like to be sent to the
rifle range to train new recruits. Dad said he didn't know much about it, but he'd be willing to do it. He was
given the assignment in a day or so. When he arrived there, he was given sergeant's stripes to wear. He
knew this had been done in basic. Privates would sometimes be given stripes to wear while they were
training the recruits but they weren't actually promoted. He also knew that everyone was aware of the
practice and those who were just wearing the stripes weren't given any respect. He refused to wear them.
He was told to come back the next day wearing the stripes but when he returned he didn't have them on.
This led to a meeting with a captain who strongly suggested (but didn't order) that he wear the stripes. He
still refused. Upon arriving at the rifle range on the third day, still not wearing the stripes, he was told to
return to his barracks. Shortly after that, he was told to report to a certain place that night with his barracks
bag packed with all his belongings.
The fall that caused him to lose most of his teeth had occurred shortly before this, during basic. He said
that he had an appointment with a dentist at five that night. He was told he could keep the appointment but
to have his bags packed and report after it was over. Around that time, he met someone who was being
sent to Indiantown Gap, Penn., and it turned out that's where he was going also. Meanwhile, his teeth were
giving him problems and he couldn't get to a dentist. He worked on them with a pocket knife and over the
next few weeks got them to be more comfortable.
At Indiantown Gap they were told that they would be having a furlough in Boston but when they got there,
they were sent right to a ship, the Mount Vernon, and sailed to England.
They landed in Liverpool (?) (I didn't get this for sure but it was somewhere in the north and it took about a
day to the next stop.) and were put on a train and went to Southampton. When they got there, an English
lieutenant put Dad in charge of getting everyone's barracks bags in order. He saw an English sailor and
asked him if he knew where he could get anything to eat. The sailor said he couldn't help him until Dad said
he had some cigarettes to trade. The sailor left and came back with a tough piece of meat and some sort of
fruit square. When he tried to go below on the ship there was no room and he had to stay on the stairway for
a long time; I think perhaps for the whole trip across the channel.
They landed at Le Havre. There were many sunken ships around the harbor. They went over the side on
rope ladders and down into a landing craft. When they got to shore, they assembled and hiked quite a few
miles until they reached a big, empty railroad shed. There was a meal ready for them there. It was what
they called meat and beans (probably chili). He hadn't cared for it before but he had seconds that day. They
were then put on a train. They rode in what were called 40 and 8s, because they were cars originally
intended for forty men and eight horses. After a long time they arrived at a place called Boray, where they
stayed for a couple of days. While in Boray, (Beauvais, maybe? That's the closest I could come to anything
on the map that looked like it. Dad said that might be it.) they were told that there was a place nearby where
they could take a shower. Dad started off with a group of guys but on the way they saw a baseball game in
progress and stopped to watch. He recognized Gus Niro, who he knew from Milford, among the spectators.
Dad was so dirty and unshaven that Gus didn't recognize him at first but when Dad called him "Gusto," he
did and they had a great reunion. About a month later Gus was discharged (because of ulcers) and when
he got home he visited Mom and told her how terrible Dad looked.
Back on the train they continued on through Belgium and probably stayed a day or two in Liege. The next
place they stayed was in what they were told was an abandoned freezing plant. They were there for a couple
of days. They also passed through Holland and Luxembourg. At about this time, Dad and another guy were
sent by truck to join another outfit. It was at Kempen on the Rhine. (I haven't found anything like that yet.
There's a Kempten which isn't far from the Rhine but it's not right on it.) When they got there everyone was
quite upset. Their lieutenant had just been killed. His Jeep had struck a mine on the railroad right-of-way.
The job there was repairing the lines along the railroads that carried the railroad signals. Dad did a lot of
climbing and also would often be sent ahead to determine where the line was live and where it wasn't. He
was doing this for several months. Part of the time they were near the Krupp works and he remembers that
the area had been pretty much wiped out by bombing.
When Dad was in Reims, he wanted to visit the cathedral. He and a friend named McDonald went there but
the door was locked. There was some scaffolding along one side and they climbed it until they found an
opening and went inside. They went down a stairway until they came to the bottom where priests and
bishops had been buried for centuries. They wandered through the area, thinking they were lost for a time,
but after quite a while they saw light. When they got there they found a stairway and went up. When they
finally found an opening to the outside, they were at the same scaffolding but much higher up. When they
got down, they found that the doors were open so they went in. Several masses were going on at different
altars and they took a couple of chairs to one of them and attended mass. Another day Dad was just coming
off guard duty and wanted to go to mass. He saw a couple of nuns and followed them to a church. When
they got inside, it didn't look right so he said to them, "Catholic?" They answered, "Nein, nein."
Toward the end of the war, Dad was sent to Aix-en-Provence. They called it Aches and Pains. He was in
Aix for a few weeks and went into Marseilles frequently. Someone he knew introduced him to a major from
Worcester. It turned out that the major was a good friend of Dave Davoren from Milford, who Dad knew very
well. The major asked him if he had had a furlough since he had been in Europe. He hadn't, so the major
said he could give him about a week. So far, Dad had pretty much followed the route his brother, Tom, had
during WWI. Tom had gone to Lourdes so Dad decided that rather than going to Paris, he'd go to Lourdes.
Unfortunately, he'd been swimming in the Rhone River and before he could go on the furlough, he came
down with a severe case of dysentery. He was sent to the hospital in Marseilles where he spent the next six
or seven days.
When he was discharged from the hospital he was told to find a ride back to Aix. There were trucks going
back and forth all the time so that wasn't a problem, but he was still pretty weak. When he got back, his outfit
was packing to leave. The next day he was sent to a ship in Marseilles and told the destination was Manila.
Shortly after starting out they heard that the war with Japan had ended. A day or so later, at about the time
they were going through the Straights of Gibraltar, they were told the destination had been changed to
After arriving in Boston, he was sent to Camp Miles Standish. One night he went over the fence and hitched
a ride home. His brother-in-law, Fran Cosgrove, gave him a ride back very late that night. When he got into
the camp, he went into a Quonset hut and found an empty bunk where he stayed for the rest of the night. A
short time later, he got a months furlough and thought he'd be discharged but instead was sent back to
Camp Crowder. Dad was discharged from Fort Devens in March 1946. He thinks it was Fran Cosgrove who
drove him home. I imagine Mom, Mil and I must have gone for the ride but I don't remember it.
A couple of weeks after getting home, Dad returned to work. There was some merging or consolidation of
some of the small light companies going on at that time and Franklin and Uxbridge had just joined with
Milford. That may be when it became the Worcester Suburban Electric Company. A few years later, as
expansion continued, it became the Worcester County Electric Company. Dad did some office work for a
month or so and then a new line crew was being formed and he became foreman. A couple of years later
he became general foreman and was in charge of the line crews in a twenty-four town area which extended
from Millbury to Foxboro and from the Marlboro area to the Uxbridge area. He remained in that position until
his retirement in 1971.
War Veterans' Menu Ed's Memories of his Earlier Life HOME
Ed after the war, working for Worcester
County Electric Company, Milford.