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George Yost video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

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Creator: Yost, George

Date: September 8, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 214338

Biographical sketch: One of eight children, George Yost remembers growing up on the farm and helping his father farm with horses. They lived near McLouth, Kansas and that is where he went to school. At the age of eighteen he was drafted into the Army and went to boot camp at Camp Fannin, Texas, which is near Tyler, Texas. He said that he liked some of it and some of it he didn't like. The rifle range he said he loved, because he was used to shooting rabbits, they had eaten a lot of them during the Depression. It was much easier for him than some of the boys who had grown up on the East coast, and he was an excellent shot. They did a lot of walking and marching, "forced marching." When he came home on furlough after boot camp, he returned to Fort Meade, Maryland, where he was assigned to Patton's Third Army. He came down with tonsillitis and was in the hospital for ten days, causing him to miss the Battle of the Bulge by about a week. When he did ship out it was on a small liberty ship, and there were 33 ships in the convoy, the George Washington being the biggest one. It took them eleven days to cross the ocean as they were in a terrible storm, and he described what it was like on the boat and how so many of them got seasick, but he didn't. They landed at Le Havre, France and went by train into Germany. They they moved on a half-track, which has tracks on the back like a tank and front wheels, like a truck. He and another guy were taken to the front lines in a jeep one night; there were supposed to be twelve guys in a platoon and there were only three when they got there. They were in the Fourth Armored Infantry Division and the lieutenant came out and told them what to take out of their duffel bags. The rest of it they were to burn so the Germans couldn't take it. They were to be part of Patton's "rat race" where they went through Germany making "twenty, thirty, or forty miles a day. Sometimes they were lucky enough to get canned meat from the German houses but most of the time lived out of K-rations. They went through Germany into Bavaria, sometimes running out of fuel and having to stay in one place for a couple of days until they could get fuel to move on. They were in Czechoslovakia when the news came of the end of the war so they headed back to Landshut, Germany. It was here that the Germans that were to stand trial (Nuremberg trials) were held in a big stockade and they guarded them all winter. Some of the guys in his outfit went to visit the concentration camps but he never did. One of the things that he talked about was how they were on the move so much that you almost had to sleep standing up, you couldn't shave, your clothes were dirty and you couldn't shower; there was a time or two that it was a couple of months before getting a shower. There was one time that he and a couple of other guys got some soap from the cooks and went to the Rhine River to take a bath. The water was cold and he said that "you just gritted your teeth and dealt with it." When they got ready to come home they went by train back to Le Havre, France and then boarded a ship and came into New York harbor. From there they took a train to Baltimore, MD, where they had a big steak dinner and then loaded a troop train to Saint Louis. When he got to Fort Leavenworth and they were calling roll it turned out there was another George Yost to be discharged. Their papers were mixed up so they couldn't be discharged until it got straightened out. George told the commanding officer that he only lived about twenty miles from there so the officer gave him two phone numbers he could call if the MPs picked him up, his office and his home number, and he would go home and report at nine o'clock every morning to see if the paperwork had arrived. It took another five days before he got discharged. Upon returning he farmed for a while, hauled grain for a couple of years, and then went to work in Topeka, Kansas for Goodyear, from which he retired. In 1949 he got married and he and his wife had two boys.

Summary: George Yost was inducted into the Army (Infantry) in 1944 and served until 1946 in Patton's Third Army, Fourth Armored Division. Interviewed by Deborah Pye on Sep 8, 2007, Yost 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 community institutions receiving grants. The transcript of the interview is presented here; the original video copy of the interview is available through the Watkins Community Museum of History (Lawrence) and through the Kansas State Historical Society.

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Title (Main title): George Yost video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

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019-14-05-06  Mini DV Tape 

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