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Interview on experiences in World War II

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Creator: Loucks, David C.

Date: June 21, 2006

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 211403

Biographical sketch: David Loucks was already in the Army serving in the Coast Artillery in San Diego, California when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He had been drafted in January of 1941 and described basic training as "tough." They manned and serviced the equipment of the Artillery and he tells about there being fifty or sixty men in the pit, it taking a squad of fourteen to manage one gun. He got tired of being in the Artillery and asked to be put into Search Light, which was in Texas. He didn't like it, they were out in the desert with sidewinders and scorpions, so he requested a transfer and went to radio school for a while. Other training he remembers was digging foxholes and having tanks run over them, as they prepared to go overseas. As a combat engineer he put down anti-personnel mines and took them up, and built many bridges, thirty of them in the last thirty days of the war. The bridge they used the most he called a "Bailey," they would build ten feet at a time, push it out, and build another ten feet, and so on. You had to be quiet because you didn't want anybody to see or hear you. He said that Eisenhower saved a lot of their lives because he made it the rule that the Infantry had to go ahead of the combat engineers, because while you are building a bridge you would have to lay down your rifle someplace. They were in sight of Paris when the Normandy landing was made but it was so foggy you couldn't see anything. When they would lay a minefield they were supposed to follow a pattern so they would be able to follow it to take them up. He could speak some German and encountered one trying hard to tell them something. It turned out he spoke pretty good English and told them it was his potato field and he wanted all the mines taken up; he was able to mark them all with flags so they could removed them. He says the Germans were "good people" and he listened to them. In the Bulge they were put in the Infantry and had to fight the enemy as well as lay mine fields and he says they had a "lot of close calls." As a sergeant in charge of from fourteen to thirty men he said he was nervous and had to keep his guard out at all times. One incident he related, was about building a bridge where there was a large shell hole next to it, and they placed all their gas masks and rifles in the hole so if they were attacked they could run and get them. One time they got a "big scare" and run for the hole, only to find that the bulldozer had covered it up. They never built a bridge that it wasn't wired to blow up, so in case you had to fall back you could blow the bridge and the enemy couldn't use it. When the war was over in Europe he thought he would have to go to the Pacific and fight the Japanese and he didn't want to do that. He said you could understand the Germans and what they were thinking about but the Japanese were "superior to us." They were just waiting for orders to go to the South Pacific "when they dropped that bomb, it was the most welcome thing that ever happened." An interesting story that David told happened on a Sunday morning after they had been relieved by the Infantry during the Battle of the Bulge. He asked his squad if anyone objected to going to church if they found one along the way. They all said they wouldn't, and he had "atheists, Catholics, and everything else." About fifty miles from camp they came across a church with a cross on top and no vehicles around so they went in and stacked their rifles and gas masks where there were lots of coats hanging. One side of the church was full so they sat down on the other side, it was very quiet, then a boy came in followed by the preacher. He preached in German so they couldn't understand him but "we got the feeling." After the service the people didn't want to let them leave and the preacher said, "If our own soldiers would have come in, they would have shot up the place and hurt some of us. The enemy comes in and worships with us. Which one is really our enemy?" He says that was one time overseas when they had a warm shower and a grand meal. When the war was over and he returned he said it was hard to get along without a weapon and he carried a twenty-five caliber pistol that he still has to this day. After his discharge at Camp Crowder, Missouri he returned to the Copeland, Kansas area where he raised his family and went to work for an elevator.

Summary: Sergeant Loucks was drafted into the Army (Artillery) in 1941 and served until 1945 in the 19th Coast Artillery. Interviewed by Joyce Suellentrop on June 21, 2006, Loucks talked about military experiences in the Second World War. The 2005 Kansas Legislature passed a bill funding the WWII Veterans Oral History grant program. This transcript is from one of the nine community institutions that received these grants. The transcript from the interview is presented here; the original audio copy of the interview is available through the Gray County Veterans Memorial & Archives and through the Kansas State Historical Society.

Space Required/Quantity: Audio

Title (Main title): Interview on experiences in World War II

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019-14-04-08  Cassette Audio Tape (2) 

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