The first installment of the WW II journal will actually begin next
week. I thought that first it would be a good idea to put in a brief
paragraph more or less describing what this portion of the site is, and
where it is coming from.
A few years ago Becky's Great Uncle, Charles Harper, dug out and gave
to me a copy of a manuscript that he had put together many years ago.
The faded, old manuscript was composed of many pages single spaced on
an old manual typewriter. It's contents were based on a journal that he
had kept during his time in the Army, during World War II. It begins
with the day of his enlistment, and continues through the end of the
war, and the day that he arrived at home, including the time he served
in the European theater.
Due to the overall length of the document I did not want to post the
entire thing at once. As such I have decided on a series of weekly
installments, which will continue through such a time as I run out of
document. At that time This are will likely be removed from the front
page, but the link to the archives in the left hand menu will remain,
and users may read the story one installment at a time through these
The story itself is completely unmodified from it's original form,
other than to correct a spelling error occasionally. The formatting of
the document does not lend well to breaking into portions as I am doing
here, so some installments will be longer than others.
Be sure to check back next week for the first installment.
The morning of March 30, 1942, dawned bright and clear with a slight
frosty bite to the air. This was the setting for a new and much
different life for Charles Harper. This was the day he was to join a
group of his friends and other young men at Norton Kansas and after a
short briefing by the American Legion Commander they were taken to the
Bus depot and were soon on there way to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, where
they were to be given their final examinations and inducted into the
Army of the United States.
Yes, we all had butterflies in our stomach as we pulled out of our
hometown, leaving many close friends and relatives behind. However we
all felt that we had a job to do and with that thought in mind it gave
us the courage and determination we needed to carry us on. At the time
no one knew where we would eventually be assigned or where in the
States we would be sent for training. With each of the passing miles we
were being carried farther from home and we all knew that there would
be some of us that would not return, yet each was willing to give all
he had and carry on to the bitter end if necessary. Not much was said
on that trip as everyone was pretty well lost in his own thoughts.
At noon the Bus was stopped and lunch was eaten at the Government's
expense I am afraid it wasn't very much enjoyed though, and soon we
were on our way again. Supper was eaten at the Fort, anyway we decided
that was what they called it. A greasy stew that tasted very much of
goat, boiled potatoes, and a few other things to go with it.
December 15 - we were all through and the Company broke up and all started the journey back to his Company.
It wasn't many days ˜till we were all back in the groove at the company
duties again except this time we were all working on the company
vehicles, and it wasn't many days ˜till we learned that we were to go
to Louisiana for two months maneuvers so we started getting ready for
that. January 26 we left as a Division for Louisiana maneuvers. We made
this trip by truck. A couple of days later we got to our destination at
Leesville, La. Here we were to maneuver against the 77th Division and a
Div. From Shelby, Miss. February 26, I became driver of the maintenance
truck and was also made Private First Class. About two months after
entering the Army all enlisted men's pay was raised from $50 per month
to $70. My P.F.C. rating bade me $4 more. We had a very nice maneuver
ground, a lot of trees and thick under brush. The nights were cool and
the days were as a rule pretty hot but we all enjoyed it a lot after
being in camp so long. We also didn't have too much to do except just
keep up with things and keep the vehicles in running order. During this
time I whittled out a chain out of some soft wood. I made several links
and was about to decide it was finished when a fellow bet me I couldn't
put a swivel in the end of it. I still had several inches of the stick
on the end that I hadn't used so I started in and in a couple of days I
had the swivel in it and it would even squeak so I pronounced it
finished. Our training there was about finished so we soon made the
return trip back to Camp Barkeley, Texas where we started from. On
April 6, 1943 I left on my first furlow home. That was the first time I
had been home in over a year. I got ten days and April 16 found me back
at camp again. I didn't have any company duties except to work on the
vehicles so I was fairly happy at it. On July 23 the company was again
granted furlows and so I got another ten days at home. As soon as we
were all back in camp we were shipped to Camp Granite, California for
Every day that was fit we had a boat drill so everyone would know what to do and where to go in case something happened. About ten days out a German sub was supposed to have been sighted during the night. As we were running a zig zag course it didn't get in a shot. It was reported sunk by the destroyers that were with us. At least we heard the ash cans go off that they dropped on it and the water was slick with oil so they must have hit something.
April 14, we dropped anchor but were still out of sight of land, we moved in later in the day to where land could be seen in the distance. We waited two days for ships ahead of us to unload then we pulled into the dock at Liverpool, England. We were permitted to be on deck ˜till ready to unload and that was as soon as we had docked. We didn't have to be told twice to get off. We were greeted by a band, but it didn't sound much like the one in the states. After unloading we went right on to the train which was about a half mile from the ship. By the time we carried all our equipment that far we were ready to stop.
There will not be an installment of the World War II journal this week in order to take a brief moment to honor the man who wrote it. Charles D. Harper passed away yesterday at the age of 85. Charles was born December 31, 1916. He served in the Army during World War II from March of 1942 through April of 1945, spending most of this time in Europe. You can't sum the life of a man like Charles up into a few brief words, or even paragraphs, so I won't even try.