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Wayne Schaben video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

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Creator: Schaben, Wayne

Date: April 11, 2007

Level of Description: Item

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project

Unit ID: 218232

Biographical sketch: After graduating from high school at Bazine, Kansas in 1936, Wayne Schaben attended Fort Hays State for one year and then sent back to the farm for the summer. He completed two years at Wichita Business College, then went back to the farm until 1941. A number of people from Bazine were working in California so on Thanksgiving morning he and Cecil Schniepp decided to go there for the winter to work. On December 6th they were gathered at Oceanside Pier to wait for the Navy to come in for shore leave, but no ships came in that Saturday night and nobody knew why. The next morning at 4:00 a.m. the lights when out and the whistles were blowing, Pearl Harbor was being attacked. He and Cecil headed back home a few days later and enrolled for mechanic's classes at the Bazine High School night classes. Lieutenant Byron Nichols came through to enlist farm boys and in August of 1942 there were six of them that signed up and stayed together for the three years they were in the service. Wayne was sworn into the Army at Fort Riley and for basic training he was sent to Camp Perry, Ohio. In November he went to Camp Campbell, Kentucky and to Tennessee on maneuvers before heading to New York to be shipped overseas. On Thanksgiving Day they ate dinner then boarded ships and headed to England. They were in camp about 40 miles west of London until June when they went to Omaha Beach about the 14th of June. For 15 or 16 days the Germans had them pinned down but they finally broke out of St. Lowe and headed across France. When they were about 20 miles from Paris, he and four others loaded up in a jeep and went to visit Paris. He said it is something he'll always remember. At this camp they had their first experience with the German buzz bombs which exploded about a mile from them. When they got to the German border they ran out of gas but after solving that problem they went on to Belgium and Holland. They were on the north side of the Battle of the Bulge when it came in December and didn't have to fight in that. As a Service Company they stayed behind the first line and furnished new equipment for the troops and repaired the old equipment. For some time they were on the Elbe River, about 30 miles from Berlin, and never did get there. This was when Roosevelt had signed the Malta agreement and the Russians were supposed to take Berlin. Most of their time was spent recovering war material and hauling it to collection points. Finally they got their orders to go to La Havre, France and be loaded on a troop carrier to come home. It was almost Thanksgiving and they made it to New York by Christmas time, and then he went to Ft. Leavenworth, by train, to be discharged. While he was in the service Wayne said that the food was usually good, he didn't have to eat too many K-rations, and their living conditions were pretty good, also. After being away from home for so long, Wayne was ready to get back to the farm, and he continued in that profession until the age of 78. He has attended several reunions of the 503rd in Wichita and Ohio, but the last one he went to there were only 7 members present so they haven't had any more get togethers.

Summary: Wayne Schaben enlisted in the United States Army in 1942 and served until 1945 in the 503rd Heavy Maintenance Tank Unit. Interviewed by Lynette Stenzel on Apr 11, 2007, Schaben talked about military experiences in the Second World War. He did his training at Camp Perry, Ohio, and was sent to Europe. He was in France June 12 or 14, 1944, near Omaha Beach. His unit was eventually in Germany. He was born in Bazine, Kansas, July 29, 1918. He graduated from Bazine High School in 1936. After the war, he returned to Bazine and resumed farming. 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 Frank Stull American Legion #152 (Ness City) and through the Kansas State Historical Society.

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Title (Main title): Wayne Schaben video interview on experiences in World War II (transcript)

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