Interview with William A. Peck
Interviewed by Lisa M. Sharp
Marion High School
Interviewed on May 14, 2003
At the home of William A. Peck
LS: Today is Monday may 14th 2003 and this is the beginning of an interview with William Peck, at his home at 513 S. Main Street in Fairmount, Indiana. He is 78, being born on May 24th, 1924. My name is Lisa Sharp and I will be the interviewer. William Peck is my grandfather; he is my mother’s father. Grandpa could you state for the recording what war and branch of service you served in, as well as your rank, and where you served.
WP: World War Two, Quarter Master, I belonged to the Quarter Master Truck Company, and I served in ETO.
LS: Were you drafted or did you enlist?
WP: I was drafted.
LS: Where were you living at the time?
WP: I lived in Hartford City in Indiana.
LS: Why did you join?
WP: Well, I really can’t remember, I had the option of maybe…, I was drafted, but I had the option of maybe getting out of it, my employer at the time said he could get me out of it somehow, but I decided to stay in.
LS: Why did you pick the branch of service you did?
WP: I didn’t really have a choice. I was drafted and told that I was going to go to the Quarter Master Company, but they gave me an option of being a cooker/baker, a carpenter, or a truck driver and I chose a truck driver. LS: Do you recall your first days in training?
WP: Really, no
LS: Do you remember any of your instructors?
WP: The only one, I can’t remember… well I can’t remember his name, but when we were in basic training he was like a father to me, and I came down with a cold or something like that, and he treated me like a child, I guess, he took care of me.
LS: Where exactly did you go?
WP: You mean like from basic training on?
WP: Well my basic training was in Buford Air force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, and I was there for about six weeks. We went from there to Warren for a truck driving school, and we drove around bombers and stuff,…and I’m not sure but I think that probably lasted about six weeks, and we went from there to New Orleans and we were stationed, but I can’t remember the base name. We were there more or less in a holding pack or something and I can’t remember how long we were there, maybe six months or something, and from there we went to Mobile, Alabama, and it was basically a no-mans land. There was no running water, and all the shower water we had came out of a bag. At that time the trucks we were driving had wedges in the center, and they more or less taught us how to use those wedges. They were building a hangar type thing out there, and we would use the wedges to raise pieces and that kind of stuff, and I don’t remember how long we were there, maybe a month, and then we went to someplace in New Jersey, I can’t remember, Baldwin, it was Baldwin …and from there we were shipped overseas, to England. They put us on a boat and I was told that it was an Old Dutch Cow boat that had been turned into a crew ship. But anyway when we left there, it was in October of forty three and we were on this boat, and it was so crowded and one night we slept below deck, and the next night you had to sleep above deck. We were in a large, large convoy, and most days they, of course they took us, not in a straight line, but in a zigzag, to avoid German boats and such and it took us 14 days, and we went to Basaru, Scotland, where we disembarked. And from there we went to this base in England and that’s where I spent the rest of the time.
LS: Do you remember arriving and what it was like?
WP: No, I can’t remember too much, I don’t know, but I guess I was just too young to really care.
LS: What was your main job or assignment?
WP: Well my main job, I had several different assignments, but my main job was as a truck driver, and a lot of the guys carried bombs and ammunition, but I can’t remember ever hauling any bombs or ammunition. I hauled a lot of small packages, and I basically hauled for courts, and there was this one time that I drove with arsenic to a court preceding, for a court case, and I had to wait outside, but it was a good experience and I don’t know how long I was there, but at this time of course I, well I was driving a jeep of course, and well it was a good experience.
LS: Did you see any combat?
WP: No, I did not see any combat.
LS: How did you stay in touch with your family?
WP: Email, no not email at all. What was it called back then? I don’t know, but that was it, it was mail at that time, but it was more or less a simple piece of paper, and of course it was checked so you couldn’t give out information, and I received mail and all of this, but I can’t remember my mailing number, I may have some old letters here, I don’t know.
LS: What was the food like?
WP: Well from what I remember it was edible, it wasn’t too bad. There were times of being on the road and then some times, you stayed at another base, or the Red Cross, or someplace like that. You could stay there for about a quarter a night, but I really have no complaints about the food.
LS: Did you have plenty of supplies?
WP: Yes, as far as I really know I can’t remember ever coming up short or anything, the company took care of us, but it seemed like we had just about everything we needed.
LS: Did you feel pressure or stress while you were there?
WP: I can’t remember being under any stress, I really can’t. There was one time that, we were in a convoy, I don’t recall why or what, but of course over there you drive on the left hand side of the road, and the convoy was passing a bus, and a pedestrian stepped out from behind a bus , a fella was kinda behind the bus, and I hit him…. That night, I don’t remember where we stayed, but somehow I got a contact and he found out what condition he was in and he was doing alright. That’s about the only time I can remember.
LS: Did you do anything special for good luck?
WP: No not that I know of.
LS: How did people entertain themselves?
WP: Well it was basically far and few between, but basically if you got, I can’t remember, but basically what they’d do is go down town, or to a town and go to a Pub and you could go and have a drink or two.
LS: What did you do on leave?
WP: Well I can’t remember actually ever being on leave though I may have, I can’t remember having a week off, but I don’t remember, but there would be times that we traveled to the Northern, or, I mean, another town. I do remember one time when we were on the outside, or the far side of the city Dirges, and they dropped bombs, and luckily they missed us. The way I understood it was that, they had so much fuel and when they ran out they dropped them.
LS: Do you recall anything particularly humorous or unusual that happened?
WP: No, I can’t recall anything in particular , but basically it was guys were always goofing around, but I can’t remember anything particularly serious that happened, and I can’t remember anything particularly funny either.
LS: What did you think of officers or fellow solders?
WP: I think that we had a good company, and a good group of officers. I can’t pick out one guy from that picture (shows picture) that I couldn’t get along with. .
LS: Do you recall the day your service ended?
WP: Well I can’t recall exactly, actually the war was over, but people were discharged on a point system and that point system was based on the kind of service and how long you’d been there, and I didn’t have enough points, I can’t remember, but I think I needed two more points, and more or less, I was given assignments to do to get points and I managed to put on twenty pounds, because I was doing, hard work, you know?
LS: What did you do in the days and weeks afterward?
WP: Well basically that was what it was, basically what I did was stayed to get enough points , but I don’t remember how long I stayed, but all I know is I made it home in time for Christmas.
LS: Did you decided to work or go back to school?
WP: I went to work.
LS: Did you make any close friendships while in the service?
WP: Well there were two or three guys that I was pretty close to, its like, you know when you work with someone, you know them and you get along with them, but your not buddy-buddy.
LS: Did you continue any of the relationships?
WP: No, there was one fella that I took basic training with and he lived in Hartford City so I’d see him sometimes, but basically that was it. I don’t remember corresponding with anyone or them sending a letter to me.
LS: Did you join a veteran’s organization?
WP: I joined the VFW for a while, and uh, I can’t remember why now, but for some reason I decided to drop out, and I didn’t go back, but I uh, haven’t belonged to one since.
LS: What did you go into as a career after the war?
WP: Well I worked several different jobs for the four or five years after the war, One of them was pumping gas at a gas station, and one was pouring cement for sidewalks, and I even worked as a fry cook for a while, and at that time I also, my wife, or Mary’s brother had a taxi company in Hartford City, and I drove taxis for him sometimes. And then I worked for the building contractors. Then I went to work at a sheet metal company in Muncie, I worked there, I don’t remember how long, and then I came back and went to work for Linigers Company in Marion. I worked there for a while and, sometimes I got sent home because the owner, was a wheeler -dealer, and ended up losing the business, but at that time I went to work, one of the guys I met at Linigers, went out to RCA and worked in sheet metal out there, and I went to work there, and then after I had been there a while I went to the Sheet Metal Workers Union, and that’s where I’ve been.
LS: Did your military experience influence your thinking about war or about the military in general?
WP: Well I just, I think that so far everything that they’ve done has been right. I wouldn’t knock any part of the military. I think they do a wonderful job, especially under the circumstances.
LS: How did your service and experiences affect your life?
WP: Well it’s kind of hard to say, when you don’t’ know what your life would have been like if you wouldn’t have gone into the military at least for me, but it probably made me look at things with a different view than I might have otherwise; more understanding of what people live through, that I never lived through. But you had asked me earlier about combat, and there was one time, it must have been around d-day, and they gave us ammunition, and had us dress in uniform, and had us go down to the strait and we thought we were going to go across, but when we got down there, they made us give some other guys all the stuff and they sent us back to the base.
LS: What was your expectation or feeling about the “First Atomic Blast” that took place in 1945 during WWII? WP: Well, I don’t know, it was a big surprise, I think it probably was to about everybody, I always kind of wondered was it really necessary.
LS: Did you feel that President Roosevelt was doing everything he could to help America win the war?
WP: I believe he did a wonderful job. He did everything he could possibly do. You know, he helped all the country’s and all that, and I, of course, think some of the country’s are now forgetting that…but you know that was fifty years ago, so.
LS: Anything else you would like to add?
WP: No, I don’t think there’s anything else, except that I am not sorry that I went in, and I think it was a great experience. Probably, if I had been in combat I might have had a different view. Also, well, at the beginning I made the statement that I was in the Quarter Master Truck Company, and after we got to England, we were attached to the Air Force and some of the people held bombs and if you held bombs and detonators you had to have a trailer to put the detonators in, for safety purposes, because the bombs and the detonators could not be in the same area. But, we were attached to the Air Force, and it was the Quarter Master Truck Company, 1942.
LS: Thank you, Mr. Peck.