Joseph Marshall
Joseph Marshall

Service Record

1943-1945 • Drafted • Air Force • 97th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force • New Jersey; Florida; Illinois; Georgia; Trinidad; Brazil; Africa; Italy • Technical Sergeant

Transcript

Unidentified Speaker1:
What you’re going to do is, you’re going to give me your full name. Are you ready to roll?

Unidentified Videographer:
Yes, I’m ready.

Unidentified Speaker1:
Your full name, where you were born, when you were born, your mom and dad, where you grew up. And then we’ll get into, like, if it was high school or you were in college or whatever you did, and then how you got into the war and what you did and then where you are now.

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
So . . .

Joseph Marshall:
Okay.

Thomas Healy:
So go ahead and start.

Joseph Marshall:
My name is Joseph L. Marshall.

Thomas Healy:
You want to look — excuse me. Let’s start again. You’re going to look at me, not in the camera.

Joseph Marshall:
Oh, okay.

Thomas Healy:
You’re going to talk to me. Sorry.

Joseph Marshall:
Joseph L. Marshall. Born in 01/07/24. My parents were Fred and Sandy Marshall, and — and I went to high school in Lewes and — not Cape Henlopen. It was before Cape Henlopen. But anyway, Lewes. Born in Nassau on a farm. Went through high school. Worked for United States Engineers, building Fort Miles, and I went in the Army in January of 1943. I went to basic training in Jersey, Fort Dix, and it was about three feet of mud, and nobody knew how to fire — fire up a coal stove, so we had to sleep with our shoes over our coats, and we had . . . So great — it was great to go to Miami for basic. In Miami, I signed up for the combat crew, Air Force. I went to gunnery school. Got married. I was 19. Virginia was 17. I went to engine school. I was trained to be an engineer, gunner.

Thomas Healy:
Where did you guys get married?

Joseph Marshall:
In Milford, JP’s off of — house.

Mrs. Marshall:
At the Methodist church on Southeast Front Street, at the preacher’s house.

Joseph Marshall:
Well, I don’t remember that, but . . .

Thomas Healy:
So you went down to Miami?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah, Went down to Miami. I had married — we married before I went to Miami. I went to basic training down there, got out of basic, and went to engine schools in New York. And I guess . . . Then we got — then we went to gunnery school after the engine schools, and that was in Florida, Drew Field. The — the pilot — we formed a crew in Drew Field, and our surprise — my pilot was Jim Callaway from Harrington. It was unbelievable. I don’t know of any two Sussex County boys in probably in the Air Force — not in the Air Force, but in combat.

Thomas Healy:
Is he still alive?

Joseph Marshall:
No.

Thomas Healy:
No?

Joseph Marshall:
He was shot down with a plane.

Thomas Healy:
Oh, okay. Go ahead.

Joseph Marshall:
So we had a great — it was fun. We brought Virginia down there. She came down on the train, and we had a couple of months of real fun living. I had a car, and my pilot would take me out of the base — we had an apartment — and he put me in the trunk of the cars, because noncoms weren’t supposed to be off the base, so anyway. Anyway, it worked out very well. We flew a lot of training missions, and we left for overseas from Hunter Field, Georgia. We flew over from — from — we went, Trinidad; Natal, Brazil; on over to Dakar, Africa; went on up to Tripoli into Italy, where we were. We lived in tents. The first mission I flew with an old crew, breaking in, and got home, and we had over 40 holes in the airplane. And I thought, my God. This can’t be. But anyway, we went on. We flew our missions with our crew.

Thomas Healy:
What did you do on the — what did you do in the crew?

Joseph Marshall:
I was an engineer gunner, top turret gunner.

Thomas Healy:
So you were — you flew the third seat, basically?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
You were a flight engineer?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
And your turret was right up above, right?

Joseph Marshall:
Right. So let’s see. Well, yeah, we flew some nondescript missions. Well, we had a couple rough ones. There was one that a fire factory up in Austria, Wiener Stadt — Wiener Neustadt, left about a third of the planes up there. It was a bad one. So I actually — when we got shot down the first time, we were on — we bombed railroad yards in Bucharest. We had two motors — two engines shot out. We made it over the Carpathian Mountains just barely, and then we went down on the deck over the Adriatic, and the third engine blew. And Jim put the plane down. We had several injuries, but it was a damn decent landing, crash landing.

Thomas Healy:
These were 17s?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah. So we were picked up by the English Air-Sea Rescue. They were wealthy guys that have large motor launches, and that was their — that’s what they did. They volunteered to pick up fliers coming from Europe over back to Italy. So we went to the hospital, and then we went to Isle of Capri for a week, R and R. Went back to Italy and —

Thomas Healy:
Where in Italy were you?

Joseph Marshall:
“Foggia.”

Thomas Healy:
“Foggia”?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Joseph Marshall:
And of course all of our stuff was gone out of the tents. We all lived in tents, not like the guys in England. But they took a .45 of mine and some other things. Because, I mean, the ground crew, when they knew you weren’t coming back, you know, they — that was the first thing they did, went in your tent. So then I guess we may have had a week off. We flew the next mission to Russia. It was a program called — I can’t think of the name now. The idea of it was to fly — to bomb in Romania, whatever, Bucharest, Ploesti or whatever and keep on going to Russia instead of turning back, going to Italy. So we were the first outfit to go over there, and we stayed — I think we stayed a week. Actually, we were there to good — make goodwill, and we did most of the time playing poker, whatever. But we got ready for takeoff back to Italy. We had a milk run target _______, and we couldn’t keep up. Superchargers suddenly went bad, and we were about 6,000 feet below everybody else, and we were jumped by six FAC wolves, and it didn’t take long for them to finish us off. I did have a kill. It was verified by the copilot. And the pilot said, “Get the hell out of it. It’s on” — “She’s on fire.” Well, I knew that. I was in the top turret and could see both wings were on fire. The copilot left a little early, I think. He had to crawl in between my legs to get out to the bomb bay where we go — went out. When I — and the pilot — the ship went into a spin, and I couldn’t get my chute on. I had a chest chute, because it was — you couldn’t — in a turret, you couldn’t wear it. And really, it was like he was nailed to the floor, and I knew that we were in big trouble. But evidently he got that ship straightened out enough, and my parachute came right up to the ceiling. And I did get it on, hooked on, went out to the bomb bay, and the copilot was jumping up and down on the bomb bay doors, trying to get them open. It didn’t work, but there is a hinge, a red handle, on the — piano hinge. Just have to pull that, and bomb bays release. They just fly out right away. So . . . Well, we got out. Everybody was landed around — I mean, we weren’t near each other. As a matter of fact, I don’t know where the copilot landed, but . . . There were two of us that were picked up by the pheasants, Romanian pheasants, and they took us into town, and everybody looked at us over, and . . . We had wounds. And they took — they kept us overnight, and they put us on a train that had on — they had German guards, SS guys, on the train, a couple them. And this guy, another, and I were — they threatened us about dog — calling us dogs and gangsters and all of that. Pulled their Lugers out. I thought — I couldn’t believe they were going to do this, but then they didn’t. But they were upset.

Thomas Healy:
Now, were you prisoners then?

Joseph Marshall:
Oh, yeah, we were then.

Thomas Healy:
Oh, okay.

Joseph Marshall:
Well, we were. We just hit the ground, and I said the Romanians kept us in the town and turned us over to the Germans.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Joseph Marshall:
So that’s when they took us on a train to Bucharest.

Thomas Healy:
Now, is that where the pilot was killed?

Joseph Marshall:
He was killed there, yeah.

Thomas Healy:
He was killed in the crash?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah. He went down with the plane. I watched it all the way down. And we were — I mean, I was upset, because there were some — the FAC wolves stayed around there and was threatening, like, to make a pass to me — at me. And showed up — there was five mustangs that showed up, and I saw them shoot down two. I mean, they were just like they were tied to us, the Germans. I mean, they just couldn’t shake them. And so anyway, we went up into prison, and it was an old hospital in Bucharest. And then after — over three months the — we got bombed by the English and Americans at the daytime, and . . . But the Russians — King Michael capitulated, and he was — he came into prison and said words to this effect: That, We can’t help you, because the Germans are still here. They’re in the process of pulling out, and the Russians aren’t here yet. So they — the Germans used all the ammo they had left, I guess. They bombed a castle, and they bombed the prison. So that was too hot for us in that prison, so three of us together left — walked out of town. And we stayed with a pheasant family a few nights. Then we moved on, because the Germans were coming out of town, walking out of town, and these people panicked and said, “Get out, get out,” so we spent the day in the cornfield. Then we left and hooked up with another family. He was some kind of an authority in the Romanian government. He had a bomb shelter. So we stayed there. They wouldn’t — they didn’t mind putting up with us, because we could get them bread. We were considered allies, and soldiers could get more than their quota of bread. So that’s one reason they put up with us, I guess. But anyway, the word got around by the grapevine that they were going to fly in 17s, pick us up, take us back. How that works, more than you ever know. I mean, how that word gets around . . . So anyway, we went back to Italy, and . . .

Thomas Healy:
Now, what kind of timing was that, what year?

Joseph Marshall:
’44.

Thomas Healy:
It was ’44?

Joseph Marshall:
And the — actually, September.

Thomas Healy:
So it was after D-day? D-day would have been in June.

Joseph Marshall:
No, no. They hadn’t even — they hadn’t captured Rome when I left —

Thomas Healy:
Oh, okay.

Joseph Marshall:
— when I was shot down. But anyway, we came back on a boat. I volunteered to take care of wounded people so I could stay up on the deck, top deck. I didn’t like that idea down in the 734. So everything — we got home, came into New York. They sent me to a gunnery school — not a gunnery school. I mean, engine school, mechanic school. And I got my request that I wanted to go to Dover Air Base, so I was line chief up there when they had P-47s. And then I guess that’s about it. I had an uneventful time at the air base.

Thomas Healy:
Yeah. But you had a pretty eventful time before you got there.

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
How long were you in the prison?

Joseph Marshall:
About three and a half months.

Thomas Healy:
How did they treat you there?

Joseph Marshall:
All right. We had Romanian guards. Didn’t have the —

Thomas Healy:
SS?

Joseph Marshall:
— Germans there. Just didn’t have much to eat. They didn’t much — they didn’t have anything themselves. Had a lot of potato soup, and . . .

Thomas Healy:
How many prisoners were in there with you?

Joseph Marshall:
There was about, I guess, six or seven hundred.

Thomas Healy:
Really?

Joseph Marshall:
But they were all noncoms, because the officers were in another prison. Yeah, I expect with everybody — I imagine there was 11 or 12 hundred people.

Thomas Healy:
Now, were they mainly — they were English and American?

Joseph Marshall:
No English. They did not take English prisoners. They were bombed at night, and those people were buried suspicious — I mean, not suspicious. They were superstitious. They didn’t like getting wakened up and out of bed. They killed every one of them. We could watch the searchlights when the planes were shot down. We could watch the searchlights from the prison ward — the yard.

Thomas Healy:
So they never took them alive?

Joseph Marshall:
No, huh-uh.

Thomas Healy:
They’d kill them?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah. They shot them out of the air. So yeah, we didn’t have to put up with English prisoners.

Thomas Healy:
So it was all American prisoners?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah. Or there was a couple of New Zealanders, which they wouldn’t know the difference, I assume.

Thomas Healy:
Right.

Joseph Marshall:
But anyway, yeah, all Americans.

Thomas Healy:
What types? Were they infantry, some of them?

Joseph Marshall:
No, no.

Thomas Healy:
All air?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
Really?

Joseph Marshall:
There were no infantry in that area.

Thomas Healy:
Now, that was how many times — it was your third time down?

Joseph Marshall:
Twice.

Thomas Healy:
Twice down. You had three Purple Hearts?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah. But I’m through — well, I told you that I just never did think that the pilot had a really — recognition that he — and I thought that that — being both of us were from Sussex County, you know, that would even through some . . .

Thomas Healy:
Absolutely.

Joseph Marshall:
On the event.

Thomas Healy:
So Sussex controls the whole state of Delaware. I mean . . .

Joseph Marshall:
{Laughs.}

Thomas Healy:
New Castle County might have the population, but ____ has got the control.

Joseph Marshall:
But anyway, that’s . . . It was a story that they didn’t put in the paper.

Thomas Healy:
This guy will have some questions.

Unidentified Speaker2:
No.

Thomas Healy:
What have we missed?

Joseph Marshall:
I belong to Purple Heart in Sussex County, and Morris and Magner — Magner in Wilmington, who’s — the Purple Heart state commander are trying now to get something down too for — I mean, so far, nothing, but . . . To get to Biden or somebody.

Thomas Healy:
I think we can help you with that.

Joseph Marshall:
Well, that’s —

Thomas Healy:
I’m going to meet with John. John’s going to be back next week. We’ve got some meetings next week, and I’ll have Allison call you when we get all this information, and whatever paperwork you have that you put in or letters or whatever else, if we could get those faxed or —

Mrs. Marshall:
That would be . . . We kept everything, all the letters I had. I had two letters that he was missing in action to telegram — I have everything, letters from the general.

Joseph Marshall:
Well, no. But he’s talking about we’re — trying to get in touch with us on —

Mrs. Marshall:
I thought you meant . . .

Thomas Healy:
No. I got — no, the letters from — for the pilot. Did you have any letters that you wrote about it?

Joseph Marshall:
I’m sure that — that general?

Thomas Healy:
Yeah. Can you get that name?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah, I will. Yeah. If you want to give me a phone number.

Mrs. Marshall:
Do you remember who wrote the article in the paper in Harrington?

Joseph Marshall:
That recorder had — from the Harrington paper.

Mrs. Marshall:
He was doing a lot.

Joseph Marshall:
He wrote that for the —

Thomas Healy:
_______?

Mrs. Marshall:
Yes.

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Joseph Marshall:
And he’s given up. He stopped calling me, and he’s not . . . He didn’t have the right connections, I guess.

Unidentified Speaker1:
Do you have that photo?

Mrs. Marshall:
Yeah. I have a copy of that, yeah.

Unidentified Speaker1:
Okay. So we can get that?

Mrs. Marshall:
Yes. But if you — would you take that picture and then save this for me?

Unidentified Speaker1:
Oh, no, no, no. What I want to do, do you have the actual photo of this?

Mrs. Marshall:
Do we have the actual photo of the crew?

Joseph Marshall:
Oh, yeah.

Thomas Healy:
I mean, original photo?

Joseph Marshall:
Yes.

Thomas Healy:
Well, we’ll call you when we get down to editing, and if I got to come down and pick it up for a day or whatever. Where are you guys living now?

Joseph Marshall:
New Haven.

Thomas Healy:
Right in New Haven?

Mrs. Marshall:
No.

Joseph Marshall:
Old Landing Woods. It’s up near the Old Landing Golf Course.

Thomas Healy:
Yeah. I know where that is. Because I get down — I can just bring it over to — I work out of — one of my places I work out of there is the Grotto(ph) office right at — into Dewey — going into Dewey. So I can come over and pick that up and come over and do my thing with it and then bring it back to you.

Joseph Marshall:
Or I can bring it to you.

Unidentified Speaker2:
It’s such a good one.

Mrs. Marshall:
There’s another one there too.

Unidentified Speaker1:
Page 4?

Mrs. Marshall:
Yeah.

Joseph Marshall:
That’s 6 there.

Unidentified Speaker1:
There it is.

Mrs. Marshall:
That’s the whole crew, his crew.

Joseph Marshall:
Well, there was a whole crew there, too.

Mrs. Marshall:
This is, yeah . . .

Joseph Marshall:
Because we lost some crew between —

Thomas Healy:
Tell me —

Unidentified Speaker1:
Are we still on?

Unidentified Videographer:
Um-hum.

Thomas Healy:
Tell me a little bit about that picture of that crew, who is still around, who’s not around, what happened to them.

Joseph Marshall:
Lost contact of — the last one died, and I saw his whole bit in the paper. I knew — I know the copilot and the bomber there and the navigator there are all gone. John, one of the waste gunners, is gone. We had a fill-in waste gunner because — and a tail gunner, because the tail gunner quit. After the first time he was shot down, he said he don’t need that, but anyway . . . He’s probably still over there driving a trash truck or something. But the waste gunner was — Cassidy was missing in the second picture too, so . . . So as far as I know, they’re all dead.

Thomas Healy:
Who was — who in this picture — who in this picture was in prison camp with you?

Joseph Marshall:
All the noncoms there. In the — were they standing up?

Thomas Healy:
Yes. Cesspool Cedric?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
That’s what you called it?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah. That was — we took — we took two of them down, Cesspool Cedric, and then the other one was — I can’t think of the name.

Thomas Healy:
Why did you call it Cesspool Cedric?

Joseph Marshall:
Well, that’s — crew chiefs name them. We don’t — you never have your plane, your own plane. We flew a new one over, but it left us as soon as we landed. The crew chiefs name the planes, and you don’t fly the same plane every mission.

Thomas Healy:
So Lieutenant Jim Callaway was the pilot from here?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah. Harrington.

Thomas Healy:
Harrington. And then Stuart Young?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah. He was from Massachusetts.

Thomas Healy:
Great. Great. Now, Jim Trout?

Joseph Marshall:
Jim Trout was a . . .

Thomas Healy:
Gunner?

Joseph Marshall:
Ball-turret gunner. He’s gone.

Thomas Healy:
But he was in prison with you?

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah. So we had different — several different people in the crew. We had a photographer on the Russian trip. He was to take all the pictures over there, and then he was killed on the — he was shot. One of the waste gunners said that he was shot. He was killed. He didn’t know what was going on, probably.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Joseph Marshall:
Okay?

Thomas Healy:
We’re good.

Joseph Marshall:
Yeah

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