Richard Adams
Richard Adams

Service Record

1943-1945 • Drafted • Army • C Company, 1st Battalion, 157th Regiment, 45th Division • European Theater; Italy; France; Germany • Corporal

Transcript

Thomas Healy:
When I ask you a question, you’re going to — you’re going to sort of repeat it, see, because they’re not going to hear me asking you the questions. Can I move up farther?

Unidentified Speaker:
Where?

Thomas Healy:
Or am I going to — I’m not going to be in the way, am I, if I move over here? Like this?

Richard Adams:
Okay.

Thomas Healy:
And the other thing —

Unidentified Speaker:
Can you move a little bit?

Thomas Healy:
I have to do something — I have to do something with that light that’s up top.

Unidentified Speaker:
Why?

Thomas Healy:
Because it’s like I’m blind. I can’t see you.

Unidentified Speaker:
It doesn’t matter.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Unidentified Speaker:
It looks good. Come a little towards the camera.

Thomas Healy:
See, now I can’t — I’m going to be like this, okay.

Richard Adams:
He wants me to look as close to the —

Thomas Healy:
Is that all right?

Unidentified Speaker:
Just at TJ, yeah.

Thomas Healy:
Just at me.

Unidentified Speaker:
Because when you go more to the right, I see a reflection in his glasses. This way, it’s just fine.

Thomas Healy:
Are you all right?

Richard Adams:
Sure.

Thomas Healy:
So when I say, “Where were you born,” you say, “I was born” —

Richard Adams:
Where was I born?

Thomas Healy:
Not yet. But I mean when you say it — I say, “You remember Pearl Harbor Day?” “Pearl Harbor Day, I was” —

Richard Adams:
At Pearl Harbor Day, I was in school.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. All right. So here we go. So first of all, you’re going to tell me your full name. Were you born in Felton?

Richard Adams:
No. I was born in Bridgeville, Delaware.

Thomas Healy:
Nice. I had my first beer in Bridgeville, Delaware.

Richard Adams:
That was — I come from those scrapple boys down there. I’m one of the Adamses.

Thomas Healy:
Oh. I think I had — I had my first beer at my first fireman’s parade down there. I think.

Richard Adams:
That’s very —

Thomas Healy:
Many years ago. Many years ago. Probably in the early ’60s.

Richard Adams:
Oh, Lord.

Thomas Healy:
Oh, yeah. You’re going to tell me your name, where you were born.

Richard Adams:
Yes.

Thomas Healy:
And then what year you were born, what your mom and dad — you know, growing up. So —

Richard Adams:
Okay. All right.

Thomas Healy:
Go ahead.

Richard Adams:
You going to ask me questions or —

Thomas Healy:
No. You’re going to just tell me.

Richard Adams:
Oh, my name — my name is Richard Adams. I was born in Bridgeville, Delaware, on September the 7th, 1924. My father was a bus driver and a salesman, and my mother taught school. And I was the second son. My older brother, who was two years my senior, was killed in service on June the 2nd, 1944, in Italy. We were the only two children because my father died when I was a year old. And my mother and my brother went to live with her mother and father. And in 1925, we moved from Bridgeville to Canterbury, a little town of Canterbury. And we stayed there three years with my grandmother’s cousin, and then my mother bought the little farm that is down on the Canterbury Milford Road known as — I think it’s Route 33 or 35. And I was raised there on the farm and entered the — got my draft notice when — oh, Pearl Harbor Day came, and I was 17 years old, and I had no fear of being drafted into the Army because the wars never lasted, you know, two or three or four years. And at the time, they were drafting them, the draft age was 21. So I didn’t think that I would ever be called into service because that was four years, and the war wasn’t going to last that long. Well, the next year, I turned 18, and they — in September — and they dropped the draft age two or three months before that from 21 to 18. And they struck me right in the face. And on that day I turned 18, I got my notice for draft. And I got a six months’ deferment because I was on the farm. And then they needed more replacements, so I had to go — got my notice, and I went into the service October the 8th, 1943, and reported to Camp Dix, New Jersey. I had to spend a few days there, and then I was sent to Camp Croft in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for my basic training. After 17 weeks of infantry basic, which ended in February, I was sent home for 10 days’ delay en route to report to Fort Meade over near Baltimore, Maryland. There — and after being there a day or so, I was informed that I was on the next group of replacements that would be going overseas. And one evening about 2:00 in the morning, I guess it was, they got us up, and we took very — under cover in the darkness of the night, we moved to Newport News, Virginia. And then in the bright daylight at 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, they unloaded all and took us down to the harbor, unloaded all these German prisoners and loaded us onto the boat, and we went overseas. I landed in Casablanca, North Africa. And then they took — they put us on a train and took us across to the North Africa to Algiers, where I was at the seaport, boarded a boat, and next I landed in Naples, Italy. From Naples, Italy, I took another boat up to — all this happened in a period of about a month. I’m taking a long time to tell it, but it was a short period of time. And I landed in — you know, on Anzio, which is probably known, if you ever read any of the Amer — World War II histories, one of the bloodiest areas that they were. And landed — it lasted from January until March the — May the 21st or 23rd, something like that. And we had the kickoff, and we took Rome, and it fell on June the 4th.

Thomas Healy:
Hold up. Now, you went — you went from Naples to Anzio?

Richard Adams:
Yes.

Thomas Healy:
So you were in. I mean, you were fighting. You were —

Richard Adams:
I didn’t fight till I got on Anzio.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. Now, when you were in — did you get assigned now to a permanent unit or you were a replacement?

Richard Adams:
I didn’t get assigned till I went to Anzio.

Thomas Healy:
Now —

Richard Adams:
I went to a repo-depo in Anzio, and there, I was — there was so many of us, and some went to the 3rd, the 36th and the 45th Infantry Division. I was in the 45th.

Thomas Healy:
In Anzio?

Richard Adams:
On Anzio. Yes.

Thomas Healy:
Then you just started battling?

Richard Adams:
As soon as I landed, within a day — I landed there in early April. And within two days, I guess, I was on the front lines after landing on Anzio. I moved awful fast because they’d give me a truck — put us all on a truck, and the truck took us to another area. And if we called your name out and you’re to go to the 45th, get on that truck. And if you’re on the 36th, get on that truck. And on the 3rd, stay on this truck. So we all went on different — three different trucks. And my 45th truck took off with me. And they said, “All right. You’ve got” — I knew then that I was assigned to C company of the 157th Regiment of the 45th Division. So they just kept breaking you down, till finally I got to the aid station of the First Battalion. And then I caught the ration truck that night because they brought up your water and your rations at nighttime on Jeeps. I just caught a Jeep and went up that night. And they said, “Here’s your replacement.” And old Cap — old Sergeant Millis Paul was there. And he said, “Okay, fellah. Come with me.” And took me right up on the front of the front lines. And I slept that night up there. I had my rifle with me. The next day, well, I started bang, bang, banging away. And we just — and we were in a stable position in April. All during April, it was a stable position pretty much. You just stayed in the hole all day and got out at night and got your rations, went to the bathroom and did all your little movements around that you wanted to at night. The Germans were over there, 150 to 200 yards away. We were all dug in in nice positions. And all night long, the artillery came in on you. And all day long, you had small arms fire. So you were — every day was a day for you to remember. Then after you got the — then we synchronized our watches, and we knew the next day that we were going to kick off and go, part of this stable position that we were in. So we just got up the next morning. They woke us up sometime. We all woke — well, you had guard duty all night. So you was on — an hour on and an hour — and you slept an hour. And the buddy that was in the hole with you, he was on guard duty. So it was a heck of a way to live, to try to get some sleep an hour on. By the time you got to sleep, he was shaking you, telling you the hour was up. So then we just all climbed out of those holes and started firing from the hip with our rifles and mach — carrying machine guns. And we just walked right across no man’s land. And the Germans got up. Most of the — most of them surrendered, and we just took off and just kept right on going. And we were about 7 or 8 miles from Rome, and we just kept going that day. And every so often, we would fight pretty hard during the day and — Well, one day, the second day after the kickoff, I saw three tanks get knocked out. They hit three tanks, and the guys tried to get out of the tanks, and some of them were on fire when they were coming out. And it was a horrible sight to see that. It was — but for a — you know, an 18-year-old kid, he wanted to — he was like a turtle. He wanted to see what was going on. And it wasn’t long before the sergeant come around and put his foot on my head and said, “Soldier, if you want to live, better keep that head down.” So I done pretty more then — kept my head down. I used my head a little bit wiser in performing as — trying to be as a good soldier. After, they told us that the pope declared Rome as an open city, which means, “No fighting, please.” So the Germans withdrew on the other side, and we withdrew. And we went over for some R and R, like we got a shower — first time I’d had a shower in a little over a month — and some clean underwear and a new set of ODs. Shirt. Got some clean clothes. And I felt good. So then we had about two weeks off, pitching horseshoes, playing badminton, stuff like that. A little rest there in June. And then we went down to Salerno, which was south of Naples in Italy, for amphibious training and to make the invasion of southern France. So in August — it was like 15th or 17th; I don’t exactly remember the date — we made the invasion. I was on the second wave. The front wave was — was the little boats that they took us on in on. They went. The assault boats. The first wave hit the beach first, and then three minutes later, I hit the beach. And then we went through a seawall. Got through that. There were only a few Germans there. Then we marched up — now, I didn’t get — I didn’t get wounded. Of all that period, four — three or four months I spent on Anzio, the metal flew around me, but nothing hit me. I was — I landed in the middle of August, and on September the 25th, in the morning, about 10:00 one morning, I was laying — got behind this tree, and a shell hit the tree, and the tree blew all apart. All I got was shrapnel in my hand. I got six or seven pieces of shrapnel in my hand. So the sergeant said, “You’d better go back,” because it was bleeding a little bit. I would say profusely. It was bleeding in a couple — one spot here, and one spot here was pretty bloody. He said you — the first — the medic said — looked at it. And they said, “Well, there’s a couple pieces in here ought to be taken out.” And he said, “I really don’t know how to do that.” So they put me on — I walked back and caught a Jeep, and it took me back to the aid station. And there, they took a couple pieces of shrapnel out of my hand. And they sifted sulfa powder in it. And they wrapped me up and said, “Well, your trigger finger can still work. Hit the — get the ration truck. You can go back up tonight.” So the night of September the 25th, I went back up. We fought continuously every day. And one time in October, I got two days off to go back and get a shower and some clean clothes. You didn’t — this wasn’t like any other branch of the service. You didn’t know when you was going to get a new change of underwear or anything.

Thomas Healy:
Let me just stop you. Give me your typical day that time. Give me your typical day. I mean, you’d be up —

Richard Adams:
You’d get up —

Thomas Healy:
— the hour, the hour, the hour?

Richard Adams:
Yeah. Well, you’d start getting up about 6:00 in the morning, but as I say, you were awake almost all the time because you was on guard duty. But I’d get up by 6:00, and they had brought me my rations from the night before. And I’d just pull out the “B” box, which — like a Cracker Jack box. And it had “B” on it. That was breakfast. So I’d cut it open. And I had two canteens on the back, so I’d just pour some water in there. And in my rations was my instant coffee, and I’d make that. Your box was a waxed box, so you set fire to your box after you got everything out of it. There was some crackers in there, and there was some maltose, dextrose, maltose tablets, which were like energy tablets. And they tasted awful, but you were hungry, so you ate them. But the — I had the breakfast. And you opened your can of that — whatever it might be, of either eggs or powdered eggs or whatever it might be. And you opened the can, and you could hang it on your — with that key that you wind it, you could hang it right on your canteen cup, and you could hold your cup right over that little, that burning box, and it would heat your coffee up. And you did this — you didn’t know whether — a lot of times — one or two times, I had to run with this because they wanted to move out. So I had to leave my box burning, and my coffee was, you know, medium warm or something like this. But usually you’d get your breakfast. You’d have that before they’d — they’d move out 7 or 7:30 in the morning. You started fighting at 7:30 or something like that in the morning. They’d move you out. And you moved in a column. You didn’t — you didn’t walk side by side. You walked so many people behind each other and over this — to your left and to your right was a column, and you wound through. The officers had got their briefing the night before, and they knew which way for you to go and which way you’re supposed to — where you were supposed to line up.

Thomas Healy:
Where did you sleep?

Richard Adams:
In foxholes, dug a hole every night. At least you’d dig a trench that was wide enough for you and deep enough that you were level. In case tanks or anything come through, you would be safe from a tank. They always taught you that. So you just laid right there. Sometimes you’d dig — two of you’d dig together, and one guy would sleep. The other guy would climb out of the hole and be on guard duty. So — And each one of you carried a blanket on your back, and each one of you carried half of a tent. So you two — put the two together, and it made a tent, what they call a tent half. So you’d get up in the morning, and then you’d fight and fight and fight. And then you’d — whenever they stopped, whenever stopped sometime, that you thought — around 12 or 1:00, you would get out your lunch — your lunchbox and open it up. Warm it up and eat it. Drink some water. Drink some — sometimes they had different — like Kool-Aid or something in there for the lunch. And you eat that on the run. And one day, a chicken got in the way, and we cooked the chicken. And we had to move out before it got too well done, but it was better than no chicken, so we all messed on that. Your helmet made a good pot. So you just took your steel helmet off, filled it with water and throw the chicken in there. And we had — one day, we had some chicken. But you did that until it started getting 5, 6:00 at night, started getting dark. And you’d find a — they knew what the objective was that day. Sometimes we got to the objective at 2:30, sometimes 3:30, sometimes 4, 5. Whatever resistance we hit, why we sometimes didn’t move as fast as we should. So we — then we’d get to the bivouac area for the night. And then the line just moved up like this and become a straight line at nighttime. Everybody was in a straight line at nighttime. Then you started guard duty. Hour on, an hour off, all night long from 7 — soon as it was dark. All night long till next morning, it was. And you — sometime during the night, one person would go and get the rations, like for six or seven people. Some nights, it was me. I’d have to go back and get the rations. And some nights, somebody else would have to go.

Thomas Healy:
How far back did you have to go to get those?

Richard Adams:
Oh, it was probably a mile. It was — depending on the terrain. If you had — if you were on — if you had possession of a hill, and they’d come up pretty close to you, say a half a mile or maybe 300 yards, 400 yards. The Jeep would come, you know, and stop, and then you’d know which way to go. You always went — always seemed like we always went to our right to go down. I guess some people went to their left. But we always went down. Seemed like always went to the right to go down to the end of the line. They’d tell you where to turn to go down to where the Jeep was and get enough rations for — I’d get 18 boxes for six people. And I’d get a whole mess of water. Most of the time, sometimes, I took their canteens, just took canteen cups down and filled them at the big jug of water sitting on the back of the Jeep. You did that. Whatever they required. Whenever the sergeant says, “Adams, go,” why, I went, you know. And that was the day. I was away a day. And then on November the twen — and then November the 9th came, after I’d fought successfully from August the 15th or 17th to November the 8th or 9th, and they pulled us back off the line. And they said, “You’re going to get some R and R.” So then we went back for two weeks of rest because we’d had something like — what? 60, 70, 80 days of fighting every day like that. And so we got some fresh showers, got some coffee and donuts. And then on the morning, on the day of the 24th, they got us together, oriented us, said, “Tomorrow morning, we’re pulling out at 9:00 or 9:30” — something, I don’t know what time. And so we loaded on trucks on the morning of the 25th of November. And we got so far in trucks that day, and they told us to debark, so we got off the trucks. We walked in in a straight line. Then we started moving into the position. And we were where we wanted to be by about 3 or 4:00. We was up with the enemy at 4:00 in the afternoon. And at 5:00 — it was in November, so it was getting dark early. And I was digging my hole, and a mortar shell landed about 5 or 6 feet behind me. Went over my head and landed behind me and got me in the side here. I got wounded in the side. Just 60 days apart. 25th of September to November the 25th. And so from then on, I watched the 25th. I didn’t — that was the day of the month I had to be careful. So I went back that time, and it was a little serious. And then they give you penicillin every three hours, day and night. You got eight shots of penicillin a day. And I took that for — as long as you had a fever. They got ready to take the shrapnel out, and they took one piece out. And I heard they — I started to wake up. And I heard them say, “Wake up, private. Wake up.” And I woke up. And he said, “We’re — we’re all through with you. And we got you patched up. But we left a little piece in there because it was into the rib. So we didn’t want to disturb that.” I said, “Okay.” But it was a production line. It was just like — like a milking puller for cows. They just brought you in and operated on what you wanted. And then the next guy moved in. And I laid there and watched them operate on two guys. I didn’t like to do it, but I had no — my gurney was right there. I couldn’t — I was strapped on this gurney. So — Then they did all the work. Then I went to a general hospital, and I finished getting penicillin. After the nine days, my fever broke. Then you have to take — I think three or four more shots after they — they take your temperature twice a day. And then you have to take it until you get two successive times, no fever. Then I went off. Then I got up and walking. And so for a couple weeks, I was in the hospital, and I was waiting on patients that — I’d give them bedpans. I played cards with them and walked around with all the other people. And in there was — I was in there for the Army-Navy game in 1944. Army-Navy game. I listened to it on the radio in the hospital. And there was a German officer in the hospital with me along with a — with a Frenchman, and they sat and played chess all day long. I used to go down and watch them play chess and listen to the radio. Finally Christmas came, and they said, “Well, it’s time that you got discharged and get back to your outfit because it looks like you’re ready to go.” So Christmas Eve, they put me on a truck — what a night — being away from home, and took me to a repo-depo again to be reassigned. They asked me what I wanted. I said, “I want to go back to the 45th. I don’t want to go fight with anybody else except my buddies, you know.” So they said okay. So I had to spend three days, and I worked on the garbage truck and different odd jobs in the repo-depo, just to keep — do something. Most of the time, I worked — two or three — two days, I guess it was, I went around and picked up garbage. And I wanted to do something anyway than just sit around there. And they had no games for you to play, no horseshoes, no nothing. So it was pretty dead time in the repo-depo. And then finally one morning they called us out and said, “The 45th truck’s coming.” So I hopped on the 45th truck, and then I went back to my outfit. I got back to my outfit on the 2nd of January of ’45. And there, I was — issued me the clothes that they had in the hospital, so I just got low shoes like this. I didn’t have combat boots like everybody else. And they sent me back with this. I didn’t have the proper — I was cold. This was January in the Vosges Mountains, and it was miserable. And I didn’t have all the clothes like the others had, these that had been fighting. They brought up. So they said, “Don’t worry. We’ll bring them up to you.” Well, the morning — we walked in, and every day was another hill. Every day was going up and down snow- covered hills.

Thomas Healy:
Were you still in those shoes?

Richard Adams:
Still in those shoes. Every night, I took my shoes off. I took my stockings off, and I wrung them out and put them in my — in my — inside, next to my body. And they’d be 80, 90 percent dry the next morning. Then I’d put them back on again and walk in the snow again the next day. So I ended up with frozen feet, needless to say. And when I — So then on the morning of the 15th of — and I got the records with me of what happened, the 14th, 15th and all through. And we pulled into position that morning at 8:30. And we run up this hill, and by 8:30, quarter to 9, something like that, we got a directive to fire in any direction. And that can only mean one thing: You’re surrounded, buddy. You’re surrounded. So we stayed in that predi — in that position the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th. And on the 20th, the Germans came over with a white flag and said, “Look. We’ve got — you guys got to be” — and we were. We had hardly any ammunition left. We hadn’t had anything to eat for six, five days. And we were eating snow, and there was snow up past your knees. And you went and found — where you could find clean snow and just — so you had plenty to drink. That’s all. You had no water. All you had was snow to drink — eat. And nothing to eat. So one of the boys said, “You got anything?” I said, “The only thing I got left is a little box of Colgate toothpaste.” And so he and I, we ate some toothpaste and had some snow. And we got through that little meal in a hurry. And then — then they decided to make a run for it. And the first two guys got killed. There was 468 of us that got captured there in that group. And they just come over at 5:00, and finally they come to our hole and said, “Okay, boys. Let’s go.” But we had taken — we took our guns —

Thomas Healy:
Who said that? Who was that? Who said, “Okay, boys. Let’s go”?

Richard Adams:
The Germans. These were the SS boys, too. And we were a little scared because of the SS because they weren’t taking any prisoners. That was known. You don’t want to get captured by the SS because those boys — but I guess they were tired of killing because they said, “You boys got nothing to worry about. We don’t kill Americans anymore.” Thank God, you know. And they took us in. And so they marched us to a barn that night. They pulled some of the boys because we’d been in that pre — thing. I think there was 14 or 15 got killed in those six days we were on the hill. So they pulled 15 or 20 guys back to go back to the hill. And they buried those boys right there on that hill, they said, because it was about a week after that — one of the boy’s name was Aldridge. He caught up with us. They trucked him up with us to put him with us. And then we — they marched us for a while. And then they put us on a boxcar. And they put — and these boxcars are only about half as big as these boxcars we got in the United States. And only half of you could lay down at a time. And there was — they’d give you a little 5-gallon bucket, and that was your toilet. And 10-gallon bucket. And it was a little bit of straw in there. And there was 45 or 50 people in there. And you stood up as much as you could and sat down. It was dark in there. They had barbed — they closed the door, and then they put three strands of barbed wire around each car. And they locked it up there. And then once a day, they would let you out and give you a cup of soup and let you go to the bathroom, if you wanted to, while you was out. And then back into the boxcar, wrapped you up, and the train took off. You don’t know — you didn’t know where you was going or nothing. And at that time — I don’t know. It’s two, three, four — about three or four days and three nights or something like that, we traveled. And we got to the first prison camp, which was 11B. And it was near a town, I think, called Fallingbostel. F-A-L-L-I-N-G-T-B-O-S-T-E-L. Fallingbostel. And that was the first prison camp. You didn’t do anything in that prison camp. They just called you out every morning and every night. One time a day, they brought you some bread or some soup. You got your — you didn’t get your choice. You never knew what you was going to get. But if they brought you a loaf of bread, they would assign 12 people to the loaf. And so you got an inch, inch and a half, a slice of bread. That was your ration for the day. I weighed a hundred — about 155 pounds when I was captured. And when I — flew me into England and I got weighed, I weighed 115 in the hospital in England when — after I was captured for that hundred-and-some days. Then after being in the first prison camp there for a while, 11B, I was sent then up near Limburg, Germany. Put me on the boxcar again, and we rode for three or four nights, and we landed up in Limburg, Germany. And pretty much Limburg was — from London to Berlin, we were almost in a line from that. So all day long, you’d see the planes, the bombers, from 9:30 to 10:00. The bombers would start. And when you saw the last bomber go, why, here would be the front ones coming back again. And every other day, I had to go out on a work detail. But they didn’t — I didn’t work on weekends because the guards didn’t want to work on the weekend, so we didn’t have to work. But for five days, every other day — You had a buddy-buddy system. You slept in a — on boards. There wasn’t any mattress left in there. And there was no heat in our barracks, and this was February, March, April. Cold. The bunks were short, so that they caught you about the ankles when you tried to lay — if you laid out straight. So you had to — two of you had to lay in the fetal position together. And then if you wanted to turn over, you had to wake the guy up and turn over because you couldn’t — there wasn’t room for you if one guy was laying in the fetal position to the left and the other to the right. And we had two blankets, but they were real thin, and we’d put one under us and put one over us. And we had the upper bunk in there. And we were awful lousy because we were dirty, and the lice used to go around our neck and around our belt. And after I was discharged for two or three years, you could still see the lice bites around, scars on my stomach and around back of my neck. Every day, every other day, we did that. And then finally April the 26th, 27th, we heard the roaring guns, and here came the English First or Second Army through with their big tanks. The English, they don’t know how to fight. The tanks come first and then come the infantry. The Americans fight with the infantry first and the tanks are in support. So — but the English, they do everything backwards anyway, so they — here come the tanks first, and they rolled in, knocked the wires all down, and we were free. And they throwed us off this — favorite thing that the Limeys had was oxtail soup. And we was to break the cans open any way we could. And then we’d eat it. Walk over, get out of the way, throw it up, come back, eat some more, go over and throw it up. And that’s what we did for three or four days, trying to eat this oxtail soup. And our stomachs weren’t used to having anything in it. And it wouldn’t take it. If you did have anything — even from what we had, everybody had the diarrhea, so the two things that you had was lice and diarrhea. And that was life in there. Then the English come in. And they kept us in the prison camp for about three days. And it was about March the 1st they marched us out to the — While I was in there, Roosevelt died on April 13, 14, 15. And they marched us — the Germans didn’t march ever — all the Americans out that day. And there was around thousands of Americans out there, standing on the side of a hill. And we had — had a Army chaplain, lieutenant colonel, and he offered a prayer for our country and Roosevelt. And then they took us back into our barracks. And then we waited to be liberated. Soon going to be liberated because we — you could hear the artillery roaring all the time. But so then the English come —

Thomas Healy:
How were the guards?

Richard Adams:
How were the guards?

Thomas Healy:
Yeah.

Richard Adams:
Oh, the guards — most of — the guards were beautiful. The guards were great. Most of the guards were at least 60 years old. I don’t think — we never — Right across the road was a little gestapo camp where Hitler was training his youth movement, and they were out there goosestepping every day. And they had a big warehouse there. And I used to have to go — on your work detail, you helped with the work detail, getting the food ready for the Army boys or the guards and this young group. And the guards were — had been in the Russian Front for four or five, six, seven years. They’d been fighting in Russia. So they were the most peaceful-loving old men that you’d want, you know. In fact, they even let us shoot their rifle. And one day, one of the guards — we talked him into — they could all speak English better than we could. Every German could speak English. Every one of the guards we had. Every one of them could speak English. So you couldn’t say anything because one day, somebody said something about the “damn Germans,” and walked over, “Soldier, Germans aren’t damned.” And we all like to — oh, my God. You’ve got to watch your tongue here. These guys speak English better than we do. So went out on this detail. We were out by the woods. And we had two guards, and one of them, he had to go to the bathroom. So he goes in there. And the other fellow was a little short fellow. And they had some — we had some cans sitting out there. And we’re — somebody had dumped them in the edge of this woods. And we were — our job was digging holes, and we were burying rutabagas, which is a big turnip. And we were burying them for the people, to put them in these — they had straw out there, and we’d line these — And I’d done it at home. We did the same thing. We buried our turnips back home the same way. And potatoes. So I knew how to make these — dig these holes and line them with straw and dump the stuff in there. And we did that for farmer. Some of the other work details was cutting wood. We sawed wood. And as I say, we also worked in the warehouses. And this — this old guy, another guy, his name was — don’t know now. Lost his name. But he and I, we walked over, and we talked him out of letting us use our rifle. And we set these cans up like a tin — like in a triangle, upside down. And we said, “Let us have your rifle. Let’s shoot this thing.” So boom, boom. And then somebody — “Here. You take a shot.” So we were shooting at these cans. And this old guy, he was back in the back. He’d gone to the latrine back there. He come running out. He didn’t know what was going on. But they were nice guys. The guards were really, really nice. They didn’t abuse us. I saw guys getting abused because they were trying to get — interrogate them and trying to get information from them. And they treated certain groups real bad. They, you know, took — in the cold, they’d take off their shoes and stockings and walk them out and stand them in the snow and try to get information. And Americans just wouldn’t give you — rank, name and serial number. And they wouldn’t — I never saw an American break. They’d stand out there in that snow, and all they would get was the rank, name and serial number. And they’d say, “Okay.” They’d finally bring them in, you know. Get another one. And fortunately or unfortunately, I never got took for interrogation. So we stayed in that prison camp until we got liberated. And then they took me to — to the hospital at Oxford, England. And I stayed in there till VE night. And then I went — they transferred me down to London to the Red Cross. Went and stayed in the Red Cross because I was waiting for a boat to come home. And I set sail sometime in early June for New York, and I think I landed home on the 11th or 12th of June of ’45 in New Jersey. And kept me there one day, and the next day, start thumbing your way to Delaware. So I landed home, and then I got sent to Atlantic City. Then I spent two weeks there. Then I got an option. You can go home for two weeks or — and be reassigned, or you can stay here. Well, I wanted to go home, so I came back to Delaware for two weeks. This was in September. I came back. And when I went back, they said, “We’re transferring you back to Fort Dix — Camp Lee, Virginia.” So they sent me to Camp Lee, Virginia. And I got to come home every weekend. I only — I had a 75-mile pass, but I talked to the sergeant. He said, “Well, they won’t — it’s a little more than a 75-mile radius. It’s a little more than that, but if you want to take the risk, it won’t be too much risk. Come on home.” So I had a RAMP — what they called a RAMP pass. And it was — it was — almost give you a license to steal. It was Revised Allied Military Personnel. And all it meant was you were an ex-POW is what it really meant. And the MPs let you get away with anything except murder. I mean, you could do most anything. And they took pity because they knew we’d been through hell in the prison camp. So they let us get away. And in London and also in the States, they knew about it. So I went home and traveled back and forth from Camp Lee, Virginia, every weekend until last week in October. They sent me back up to Fort Meade on a train. And in a couple days, they discharged me on November the 9th. So I completed my 16 months overseas, two years, one month and one day of active duty. And that was — then I came back, and I became a civilian on November the 9th at about 6:00 in the after — in the evening.

Thomas Healy:
Then what did you do?

Richard Adams:
I went to work the next day as a clerk in a hardware store. I got —

Thomas Healy:
Whereabouts?

Richard Adams:
In Felton. And I worked — I had worked there — the short period of time, I worked there some while I was tilling the farm and I got — I got drafted. And the fellow liked my work. And he had written to me and told me that “When you come out, I want to take you in as a partner.” So I started to work for him on November the 10th. And on January — and I got married on December the 1st. And then on January the 1st, he took me in as a partner in the hardware store on equal basis. I thought that was real nice. And I worked in there for a while. And then I started to — he had to sell out, and my wife didn’t want me to borrow the money to buy his other half. And so I — we both had to sell out. Then I worked for the guy in the hardware store till he got trained, about six or eight months. And then I sold insurance for a while. And then I went to work for Latex for 13 years. And I got laid off. And then in ’63, I went to work and managed the Eastern States Agway store in Dover. And then ILC, which was a division of Latex, was building the spacesuits, and I had wrote — had been writing and working in purchasing, so I knew how to write terms and conditions. And I just had to be inched up a little bit to learn how to do it for — for a government contract. So I then went and had — I went to work for — on January the 1st or the 2nd in 1967, I quit Agway and went to work for ILC. For eight years, I worked for them, and then the contract ended up. And we had another contract, and it ended up. And we were down to some 40 people, and then I — then I finally got dismissed again in December of ’74. And for nine months, I — it was hard for a 50-year-old man to go out and get a job and make the money that I needed to survive. But I landed a job as a plant manager in — for American Original Foods, was a clam company in Ridgely, Maryland. And I was the manager there for — from ’75 through — through — for about five years. So I think it was ’79 — ’79. And then I went — then they wanted — needed somebody in purchasing again in the home office in Seaford, Delaware. So they transferred me, took me away as plant manager, and I went to work there. And there wasn’t any retirement program, but when I got 63, I just didn’t go to work one Monday morning. And I told them. Of course they knew I wasn’t going to go work because I said, “This is it, and I’m going to start drawing my social security.” So I went and become a retired AARP individual and — I’ve been working on — because of my disabilities, my frozen feet, my post-traumatic stress and everything, I just finally have been declared physically unfit for employment, and I’m receiving my complete disability. I’m happily married. I have three children. My first one was retarded and is in a retarded home, but my other two children are very, very intelligent. And one’s a schoolteacher, and one is a computer whiz. And I have two — two grandchildren and one great-grandchild. I’m very proud of all of them and all the work that they’re doing. I’m 80 years old. And I don’t have too much bad health except I don’t sleep well. As you get older and not — less goals in life and less things to do, it’s becoming a little difficult to keep my mind occupied. And so I — I do have bad dreams and that kind of a line. Outside of that, I’ve enjoyed my life. I don’t know what else to tell you.

Thomas Healy:
Maybe you ought to start eating more pizza.

Richard Adams:
I don’t think I need any — too many carbs, you know. We thought about — pancakes was the thing you think about. In the prison camp and on the hill, when we didn’t have anything to eat for six days, everybody said, “Hey, this morning, we’re having pancakes,” just teasing and everything. There was 11 of us in a group there. And we — we used to think about, “Well, there’s another stack of pancakes that sits about — this high. It’s this high.” It kept growing on us. Yeah. I don’t — I don’t need anything to eat. I’m enjoying life very much right now, as a whole.

Thomas Healy:
Are you still doing farming?

Richard Adams:
No. I still have the farm, but I — it’s a small farm. It was a truck farm. We raised all kind of vegetables, asparagus, strawberries, pear trees, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes. We just sold — sold like truck farm all the time. And when I came out of the service, I said, “This isn’t for me,” so that’s why — somebody else was just — had the farm down in soybeans and corn. So my grandfather had stopped working. By this time, he was getting almost 80, so he stopped farming. And I went to work in the store. Farming just wasn’t — you just couldn’t make enough money in farming that way, so that’s why I didn’t do any more farming.

Thomas Healy:
What do you think?

Unidentified Speaker:
I think that’s fantastic.

Thomas Healy:
I know.

Richard Adams:
You what?

Unidentified Speaker:
That was fantastic.

Richard Adams:
Oh.

Thomas Healy:
Very animated.

Richard Adams:
Was it?

Thomas Healy:
Oh, yeah. It was great. You did great. I’m going to take you on the road.

Unidentified Speaker:
Yeah.

Richard Adams:
I’ve told this story —

Unidentified Speaker:
Often enough, you listen to people from — from the time period telling stories, and it’s kind of, well, okay. But you have so many details, it’s really interesting —

Richard Adams:
Well, there’s a — there’s a lieutenant colonel that really loved the 45th Division. He was in the infantry. His father went to West Point, and his son is graduated from West Point. But Hugh was a lieutenant colonel in the infantry, but he wasn’t a West Point guy. And Hugh was very interested in the 45th Division. We had the most combat days of any outfit in the ETO. So it made for good writing and good stories. And so Hugh was very interested. He’s been back to the hill I was captured on twice. And there’s a boy that I was at his grandfather’s funeral, who was working for a ball bearing company. And of course there’s plenty of those in Germany. And he was working for a ball bearing company, working on fan motors for — General Motors, I think it was. So they transferred him to the ball bearing company over in the homeland. He’s — and he was only 20 miles from Reipertswiller. They had a car wash. That’s where he went, to Reipertswiller, to get his car washed. So I’m at his grandfather’s funeral. And his mother said, “Richard was a — in the prison in Germany.” And he said, “Oh, let me talk to him.” So he come over. He says, “Mother just tells me you were in the prison camp.” He said, “Where were — where were you?” I said, “Well, I got captured near Reipertswiller.” Well, his eyes got like this. He said, “That’s where I just took my car to get — to the car wash last weekend.” So he got — his mother and his father go over there where he was in Germany. And I tried to describe — Then I put him in touch with this Hugh Foster who’s writing a book. I’ve been up there, and he’s got a stack of papers about Reipertswiller that’s about this high, of our story of how we fought and went so many days without food and water and everything. And he’s writing this book for our — for our General Sparks. And Sparks was at the — when they instituted the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, Sparks was the prime speaker that they had, and he was my — he was my battalion commander at one time, but when I got captured, he was commander of the Third Battalion. I was in the First Battalion.

Thomas Healy:
Who’s writing the book?

Richard Adams:
Hugh Foster. And he lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Thomas Healy:
And is he with you? I mean is he one of your guys?

Richard Adams:
No. He’s a — he’s a — he’s the age of my children.

Thomas Healy:
Oh, okay.

Richard Adams:
His father and I are the same age. His father just passed away. But Hugh’s there. And he is writing this book. They like Hugh so much, and he’s so much interested in the 45th Division, that he is secretary of my regimental reunion group. Hugh —

Thomas Healy:
When is that going to be next?

Richard Adams:
In Sep — every September. It’s going to be held in Washington, DC this year. Every year, it’s held in the east, and every other year, it’s in Denver where the old man, General Sparks. My company commander name was Spears. That’s why I have to stop once in a while to get “Spears” and “Sparks” straightened around because Spears was my company commander. And I saw him, I thought, one day when I was walking, dead with his helmet. When they die, they put the hel — and you’re killed in action, they put your helmet over your head. The medics does, when he comes to you and sees you can’t do it. He takes your helmet off, puts it over your face because people can’t walk by and see a dead person laying there. It’s not very heartening, you know, when you’re fighting and you see a dead person laying on the side of the road. So they tried to get in there till the litter bearer can get in and get him discharged, so they cover his face. And I swore that was — was Spears laying there. Some 40 years later — all these years, I’m thinking he’s dead. Then one day, I got — went to Hickory, North Carolina, to the first — my small reunion as a battalion. The First Battalion has a reunion, and this year —

Thomas Healy:
Who got captured? Your 400-some guys?

Richard Adams:
That was part — a little bit of A company, none of B. C. None of D. E, F, G. None of H. Because that’s heavy — D, H and — D, H, I, J — I, K, L and M are heavy weapons. The three rifle companies and then — battalions, and then the Fourth Battalion is heavy weapons. That’s 81-millimeter mortar and water — water-cooled machine —

Thomas Healy:
So A, B and C were captured?

Richard Adams:
A, B and C were all captured. Yeah. And then the — and the Third Battal —

Thomas Healy:
And what battalion is that?

Richard Adams:
That’s the First Battalion.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Richard Adams:
The alphabet is A, B, C, First Battalion. A, B, C, D, First Battalion. E, F, G, H is the Second Battalion.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Richard Adams:
Heavy weapons. I —

Thomas Healy:
So your First Battalion —

Richard Adams:
There is no J company. We never had a J —

Thomas Healy:
So most of the — most of the guys you have a reunion with then, the small reunion —

Richard Adams:
Yeah.

Thomas Healy:
— you guys were all captured?

Richard Adams:
Yeah. There’s six of us that got — that are there that were captured.

Thomas Healy:
Okay.

Richard Adams:
But — they was, but we’re dying off, too, you know, at the rate of 1200 a day, so — my little reunion. My battalion reunion, which was — consisted of three — three rifle companies, three rifle squads and two light — we had — I was in — when I got captured, I was in the 60-millimeter mortar. And we have 30-caliber, not — the air-cooled. Thirty-calibers. So that’s — that’s — that’s what made up my company here. So they cap — they captured most of us there. So they — the guys that I see — I didn’t know anybody on that hill that goes — comes to my reunion. Of those 468, I see — as I said, at one time, there was about 10 of us that got captured there. The rest of them were either replacements before me or after me. So —

Thomas Healy:
Do you want to do the thing?

Unidentified Speaker:
Where was that hill where you were captured?

Richard Adams:
Huh?

Unidentified Speaker:
Where was the hill?

Thomas Healy:
Where was the hill?

Richard Adams:
Gosh, it was — it had a number, and I think it was 410 or something like that. This hill was there near Reipertswiller. We passed through — we never did hit the town of Reipertswiller. We went to the east of it, but it was only like 2 miles southeast of us, where we got captured, and we went to the —

Unidentified Speaker:
Do me a favor. We always film also each person just quiet.

Richard Adams:
I don’t quite understand you.

Unidentified Speaker:
We film each person also just being quiet. So if you just be quiet now for a moment. And let us take a picture with this. You can look right into the camera. Thank you.

Thomas Healy:
Okay. (Conclusion of interview.)

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