Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3

Segment 4

Segment 5

Segment 6

Segment 7

Segment 8

Segment 9

Segment 10

Segment 11

Segment 12

Segment 13

Segment 14

Segment 15

Segment 16

Crack and Thump

Firefight in North Africa

Naval Gunfire Support in Sicily

Shooting Down a German Fighter

Annotation

Charles Scheffel was born in Eden, Oklahoma in 1919. His father was an illegal immigrant from Sweden and passed away when Scheffel was ten years old. Scheffel grew up working on farms. He was a pretty good athlete in junior high school and played college athletics. He played football, basketball, baseball, track, and tennis. Oklahoma had three year high schools. Scheffel was able to redshirt which allowed him to spend four years at a three year high school. Scheffel made good grades and realized how important an education was. He was offered a tennis scholarship to Trinity University in San Antonio. It was too far away for Scheffel. He decided to stay in Stilwater where he had a basketball scholarship. Scheffel’s father, after spending some time in California, came to Oklahoma and became a cattle farmer. In the 1920s he was doing quite well. He went from a Ford Motel T to a Model A to a Buick Roadster to a Studabaker Presidential 8. Scheffel knew his dad was doing well, but he died in 1930. Oil went to ten cents a barrel during the Depression. This caused his mother to struggle. Scheffel knew he had to help out at home. Scheffel played basketball at Oklahoma A&M. He could not play on varsity as a freshman but made varsity as a sophomore. Scheffel recalls playing many basketball games over the Christmas Break. He played three games at Madison Square Garden. Scheffel played pro baseball in the summer. He knew he was going to be an athlete. Scheffel had four uncles growing up. One worked on an assembly line, one worked in an office, one worked as a truck driver, and one was a fisherman. Scheffel wanted to be an insurance man. They did not teach insurance at Oklahoma A&M. They did not teach petroleum either. Scheffel got his degree in banking and finance. Scheffel lost to the University of Kansas in 1942 in a basketball game. Scheffel called his girlfriend and asked if she wanted to get married next week. She agreed.

Annotation

Charles Scheffel got married on 27 March 1942. He cut his college hours down so he could go on a honeymoon. Scheffel tried to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force but he did not have perfect vision. Scheffel joined the ROTC [Annotators Note: Reserve Officer Training Corps] and got his commission in the Infantry. When he graduated he was assigned to the infantry as a reserve officer second lieutenant. Scheffel went to a camp in Arkansas. He was still a good athlete so he breezed through the training. He was then sent overseas. Scheffel went on active duty on 1 June 1942 and reported to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. From Ft. Sill, Scheffel got orders to go to Arkansas where he stayed for about three months. He then got orders to report to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey for overseas duty. Scheffel knew that he was going to be away from his wife. He did not like that, but it was war. Scheffel walked into the exchange at the camp in Arkansas. They were selling blow up mattresses. Scheffel bought one of the mattresses and carried it all throughout the war. When the other officers were sleeping on the ground, Scheffel had a blow up bed. It was the smartest thing he did other than getting married. Scheffel was put aboard the Queen Elizabeth. When they landed in England Scheffel found out he was the senior officer of the group of new lieutenants. Scheffel was a part of the first group of soldiers to go overseas on the Queen Elizabeth. Someone came up and asked who was in charge, they all looked at each other and decided Scheffel was the senior officer. Scheffel, the five officers and 200 enlisted men initially joined the British Army. [Annotators Note: Scheffel describes who has recorded his story before.] Scheffel docked in Scotland in September of 1942. He made one of the men his executive officer then split the 200 men up into four platoons. The British unit was the 21st Highlanders. They had fought since 1939. They took away their .03 rifles [Annotators Note: Springfield M1903 .30 caliber rifle] but Scheffel kept his .45 so he looked like an officer. They were given Enfield rifles. It was opposite to the .03. They trained for three months from September through November. The main thing Scheffel learned was that the men needed to dig two person foxholes. The army taught them to dig one man foxholes. The second thing Scheffel learned was crack and thump. [Annotators Note: Scheffel advertises his book entitled Crack and Thump.] Scheffel used to talk to the British officers who had survived combat. Scheffel asked them how to survive. Scheffel learned about crack and thump at the firing range. Scheffel learned how to hear what bullets sounded like. He learned how to tell which direction a shot came from. The ability to discern where the shots were coming from was invaluable to Scheffel as a company commander.

Annotation

When Charles Scheffel became a platoon leader, he used all of the ammunition that they could teaching his men about crack and thump. The Germans could hear it too. Scheffel told them that even if they did not see Germans, shoot anyway. If the Germans took cover then they could not shoot at the Americans. Scheffel was never conservative about ammunition unless they were running low. Scheffel figured out that if he threw more ammunition at the enemy than the enemy threw at him, he would win. He also realized that the enlisted man wanted to survive combat. His first instinct is to dig a foxhole. The command’s job is to figure out what to do next. The British had what was called a bot man. Americans called them orderlies. The bot man’s job is to dig a foxhole for the officer. A British guy told Scheffel that the bot man would make the fanciest crapper in the whole area. The things he learned from the British helped to keep him alive. It was not a common thing to combine British and American units. They were able to work together because they had a common language. Scheffel believes that may be the problem with UN [Annotators Note: United Nations] troops today, because they cannot communicate effectively. Scheffel believes that the UN needs to have a multinational police force. [Annotators Note: Scheffel discusses current events.] Scheffel believes in the commonality of language and in the rule of law. People need to respect the law. There needs to be a police force to enforce the law. There were 200 Americans plus six American officers attached to a British Brigade of about 3500 men. The brigadier and Scheffel got well acquainted. The brigadier was a World War 1 veteran. He called Scheffel son. Scheffel served with the 21st Highlanders. They accepted the Americans. They learned from each other. The Dieppe raid had been a failure. Scheffel believes that if they had gotten over there in time for the Dieppe Raid they may have been attached for it. The higher ups decided to invade North Africa, Algeria and Morocco. The Germans were fighting near Egypt trying to capture the Suez Canal. Scheffel boarded a ship in Southhampton. He had no idea where he was going. There were all types of bets going on. Scheffel thought they were going to land in Norway. Some thought they were going to Canada. After three days out, Scheffel asked what was going on. The next day Scheffel found out he was going to be landing in North Africa. No one ever guessed North Africa. They looped around the Azores then headed to Gibraltar. By this time the Germans had discovered the invasion fleet. The ship that Scheffel was on, the Cynthia, a 25,000 ton vessel, got hit by an aerial torpedo off of the coast of Algiers.

Annotation

[Annotators Note: Charles Scheffel served in the army as an infantry officer. He was sent to England with five other officers and 200 enlisted men who were all attached to the British 21st Highland Division for the invasion of North Africa.] They were not able to make the landing at Algiers. They had to wait until it was secure. The ship did not sink from the torpedo. They were put on deck to abandon ship. The Germans strafed the ship and a man was killed. It was the first man that Scheffel lost in the war. The 1st and 9th Divisions [Annotators Note: the American 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions] had Regimental Combat Teams that landed on either side of Oran. They were about to sink but the bulkhead was secured in time. They were young and green and Scheffel doubts they would have been able to survive in the water. Scheffel knew they were being attacked. His company was in the swimming pool of the Queen Elizabeth. The only way they could get out of the swimming pool was with a ladder. They got hit and the lights went out. Fortunately Scheffel had a flashlight in his bag. Scheffel acquired a combat bag from the British. Scheffel was able to get his men up the ladder and on the deck. When they got on deck they were getting strafed. One of his men got hit and it was the first time he saw anyone get wounded in combat. Scheffel was ten to 15 feet away from him when he got shot. They had to report to certain spots on the ship when they got the abandon ship order. They did not have enough life rafts. They waited until the initial waves landed successfully on shore before they were ordered to go in. Their ship was originally sent into the Algiers harbor area because theirs was a submarine net. Since the ship was so big their job was to run the submarine net over and remove it. The Germans were still bombing in the daytime. The landing was not fun. When they docked, they were under enemy attack. Scheffel was on his own with his men. No one was looking over Scheffel’s shoulder. Scheffel decided to get off of the dock and headed for the closest hills. There was a tunnel and Scheffel headed for it. The tunnel was a good idea because German planes were making bombing runs. When the Germans invaded France they made a deal with the French government that they would only occupy the land north of the Normandy peninsula. All of the land south would be maintained by the French government, no German troops. There was a question as to whether or not the French were going to fight on the German side or surrender to the Americans. Fortunately the French leader in North Africa, who was sympathetic with the Germans, was assassinated.

Annotation

The French Foreign Legion decided to fight with the Allies. Charles Scheffel stayed in the tunnel in Algiers that night. He found out that American forces were on each side of them. Scheffel had orders to clear out snipers. At this point the French were still shooting at them. Scheffel had trouble identifying who was who because of the Algerian civilians. Scheffel went to the brigadier and said it was not working out between him and the Brits. Scheffel informed him he was going to head back and find the Americans who were fighting. This is when Scheffel got assigned to the 9th Infantry Division. Scheffel ran into the 1st Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment and reported to their colonel. The colonel had no idea that Scheffel had been attached to the British. The colonel asked Scheffel where he wanted to go. Scheffel asked for Company A, 1st Battalion. Scheffel located the unit in a schoolhouse. The enlisted men were outside in the yard. That was where Scheffel met Captain Gunn. He was an athlete, a basketball player. Scheffel became one of his lieutenants. They became good friends. He went from a company commander, to a battalion commander, to commanding officer of the 39th Infantry Regiment at the end of the war. He stayed in the military and made general. He commanded the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Gunn passed away in Virginia as a two star general [Annotators Note: major general]. Scheffel retired as a captain. Scheffel could see that working with the British was going to result in him getting really tough jobs. He knew that they were going to get the short end of the stick. His men knew it too. Survival is the name of the game whether you are fighting with friends or enemies. Sheffel was his own company commander, they did not have any specific designation before he was sent to the 9th Division. Everything was American except for their rifles. The food was the same. English and Americans eat basically the same kind of food. Language and medical care were the same. It was a comfortable position. Scheffel would rather be with the British then say the New Zealanders or the Australians.

Annotation

Charles Scheffel met up with the 9th Infantry Division near the airport in Algiers. It was the 9th Division's job to take that airport. It was critical that the Americans secured that airport. It provided a place for Gibraltar based planes to land if they were short on fuel. Scheffel went out on patrols in Algiers. The 9th Division landed in North Africa without artillery. They sent several American divisions into Tunisia. The 9th could not go into Tunisia because the Germans had tanks. The 9th stayed in Algeria and protected bridges and towns. Scheffel was in Company A [Annotators Note: Company A, 1st Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division] but was then transferred into Company B. He ended up back in Company A. Some were relieved because they were finding out who could fight and handle it and who could not. They guarded a port on the border of Tunisia, primarily from the locals. If they left anything hanging around the Algerians would take it. They were French citizens but they were Arabic. When the Germans broke through at Kasserine Pass they rushed the 9th Division artillery up to the front. They were able to stop the German advance. The Germans also ran out of gas. The Germans wanted Algiers because it was a critical supply point. They rushed Scheffel’s division to defend. They then went into southern Tunisia. That is where Scheffel saw his first serious combat. It was terrifying. Scheffel did not know how to fight yet. You have to survive a few battles to learn how to be a good soldier or officer. The Germans were experienced and tough. Rommel’s troops were dedicated to him. He had quite a reputation. The Italians were fighting as well. Once they found out they were fighting Americans, they surrendered. Scheffel was on patrol one night and an Italian soldier surrendered to him. Another 200 Italians behind him surrendered to two people. It was the same story when they landed in Sicily. The Americans had too many Italian relatives to be hateful towards them. After southern Tunisia was secured, Scheffel received a promotion. Scheffel joined the 18th Army Group which was in Tunisia and got orders to report to the American Headquarters. The 18th Army Group needed an experienced officer who had worked with the British before. Scheffel spent a month as an exchange officer in the 18th Army Group under General Alexander. Scheffel was familiar with the British. He was to observe their order of battle for small groups. The Americans had no operational idea of what a squad should do when it comes under fire. The British had a plan for their squad when they came under fire. Scheffel learned from the British.

Annotation

Charles Scheffel did not know what to do when people start shooting at him but he realized that he had to do something. One evening Scheffel was in a tent with the British officers he was serving with. The British were kind of down because they thought they were getting the short end of the stick. Scheffel reminded them they were winning the war because they now had air cover. Scheffel could tell that the war was changing. About that time the tent flap opened and everyone saluted. Scheffel got up and saluted the man and it turned out to be General Alexander. He said that he had been outside the tent listening to the men discussing the war. General Alexander told Scheffel that he agreed with him. The only other top general Scheffel talked to was General Patton and he saw him before they made the invasion of Sicily. Scheffel lost a few men in Sicily. A couple of them turned out to not be fighting men. One or two of them literally just took off. Some men were able to admit to themselves that they were not fit to be in combat. They got ready to invade Sicily but their regiment was rendered combat ineffective because of venereal disease. When they came back after North Africa, they moved the 1st and 9th Divisions [Annotators Note: the American 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions] back to Algeria. They then moved south of Oran. There was an oasis called Magenta at the edge of the Sahara desert. The men knew their fighting was not over. There were normally 25,000 French soldiers there but when Scheffel got there they were all gone. Prostitution was legal in Morocco and Algiers. There must have been 10,000 or 15,000 prostitutes in Algeria. Diarrhea was a problem as well as flies. The morning reports showed many stragglers who were in town going around to the whore houses. They had so much venereal disease that there were diseases no one knew existed. They were combat ineffective. They had heard that there was a shipment of a new miracle drug called penicillin which was coming into Oran. Scheffel was tasked with operating a whore house. One of the officers was assigned to go get the penicillin from Oran. Scheffel’s job was to collect 200 dollars from each company in the regiment. That money went to renting the best whore house in the area.

Annotation

Charles Scheffel had about 5,000 dollars in a musette bag. He got into a jeep with a driver who was from New York City. The driver said the best whore house was a French officers' whore house. It looked more like a Paris hotel. The madam was there and she spoke good English. Scheffel told the madam that he came there to rent the house. He asked her how many women she had and she responded about 100. Scheffel arranged for each woman to receive a penicillin shot. He knew they were going to be there for about a month. Scheffel informed the women they would provide their own security. Scheffels job was to see how many men they could get to the whore house at a time. Scheffel figured that a man needed about an hour of sex. He figured out that they could take 400 men in 20 trucks, but there were only 100 girls. Scheffel's job was to pass out little cards that were essentially whore house passes. Scheffel had a game devised where the guys drew straws. Scheffel was called the strawman. Everyone got penicillin except for the officers. The enlisted men did not mind picking up a venereal disease because it made them combat ineffective. After about a month the penicillin had cleaned up most of the venereal disease. Scheffel then became the regimental operations officer after the major who occupied the position was transferred. They moved out from Sidi Bel Abbes. General Eddy and General Patton wheeled a tank carrier in for a stage and they began to speak to the men. Patton started giving them a pep talk about the invasion of Sicily. Patton always maintained eye contact with the officers. Patton said that when they land in Sicily there will be no taking prisoners. Scheffel thought that was a two way street. Patton realized what he said and told the troops to forget what he just said. That was Scheffel's first experience with General Patton. Scheffel took a patrol one time, there were 13 guys and it was a night patrol. As they went through one of the companies that Scheffel had been in before, Scheffel passed a mortarman in Company B. Scheffel asked the man if he wanted to go on the patrol with the squad and he said yes. They got on top of the hill and they had heard that there were only Italians on top of the hill. One of Scheffels squad members could speak Italian. The man’s named was Fiatto. Scheffel told Fiatto to yell out and tell the people on the hill they were surrounded by Americans. A guy stood up. He was German. They started throwing grenades shooting over Scheffels head.

Annotation

Only five men survived from the fight on the hilltop. It was the first time Charles Scheffel was wounded. A German had thrown a hand grenade and Scheffel was peppered by shrapnel. The fifth time Scheffel got wounded was in 1945. Scheffel realized that they had to learn how to fight in North Africa. Scheffel would argue that 99 percent of the soldiers and officers did their job properly. The men had to feel like they were being led correctly. Scheffel felt like they were not well equipped for North Africa. They had trained in North Carolina so they were not expecting the desert. When Scheffel left the 21st Highlanders he was issued an M-1 Garand. Scheffel always carried a rifle and a .45 pistol. He carried the rifle so he did not look like an officer. He fired the weapon maybe one more time. They landed in Sicily at Licata. Scheffel was an S-3 [Annotators Note: the battalion operations officer]. They had to stay along the Mediterranean and move west. Scheffel was in his jeep and all of a sudden his driver called out a funny looking jeep driving behind him. Scheffel told him to run back and stop him. Up came a guy in a white navy uniform. He stuck out his hand and introduced himself. The naval officer was the shore fire control party officer. The officer’s job was to call in support fire from the ships for Scheffels unit. Scheffel told him to stay with him. Scheffel asked the man if he had ever done it before. Scheffel asked the man to test his theories and told him to fire on an abandoned house. He told Scheffel that the shell was on his way. Pretty soon Scheffel heard a whiz and all of a sudden the building exploded. From that moment on Scheffel said the naval officer needed to be with him. Scheffel utilized the fire power a lot. He never saw the ships providing the fire support. That was when Patton came up again.

Annotation

They were attempting to cross a river in order to capture an airfield that was suspected of housing German transport planes. Charles Scheffel did not want to cross the river because he was not sure on the safety of the bridge. Scheffel told his men to bathe in the Mediterranean. There were about 700 to 800 men bathing in the Mediterranean. About that time Scheffel looked down the road and saw a tank coming up. It was General Patton standing up on the front tank. Patton asked who was in command. Scheffel responded that he was. Scheffel realized he was looking for somebody higher than a first lieutenant. Patton asked him what he was doing there. Scheffel told him as soon as they got a crossing made they were going to cross. The lieutenant in charge of the four tanks had walked up by this point. They introduced each other. Patton told the man to take his tanks and cross upstream. Scheffel told him that the minute they got out of the low area they would probably draw some fire. Sure enough the second it got its nose out of the low area a shell came in and the tank backed off. Scheffel ordered a man to dig a foxhole for the general. When the shell hit, Patton hit the hole. Patton looked at Scheffel and told him to continue what he was doing. The word got around to let the tanks go through. Instead of doing what he should have done, Patton decided to capture Palermo. Scheffel had heard from the Italian prisoners that there were no Germans in Palermo. Patton decided to take it anyways. Patton was looking for headlines in Scheffels mind. The landing at Sicily was similar to the landing in North Africa. The overall experience was different because in Africa Scheffel walked off a boat. In Sicily he disembarked on an LCI [Annotators Note: Landing Craft Infantry.] Scheffel was wounded on a ship on D plus three during the invasion of Normandy. He was wounded just off of Utah. Scheffel did land at Omaha eventually but it was long after the danger had passed. Each of his invasions was different. In one day on Sicily, Scheffel was a battalion S-3 and commanded Companies A and B. They were two different infantry companies that needed a commander. Sicily was kind of like Belgium in Scheffel’s eyes. Scheffel got wounded in Belgium. Scheffel told his men that the Germans were going to fight differently on their home soil. Scheffel notes that his first objective in Germany was to capture a town in September; the objective was finally taken in February.

Annotation

Charles Scheffel was wounded twice in Sicily, once in the arm and a fragment in his leg. Scheffel went back to the aid station to get treatment. There is no record made at an aid station, only at the hospital. Scheffel does not have any Purple Hearts from getting wounded in Tunisia. Scheffel wears hearing aids now because of the explosions he was near. Scheffel was being evacuated in Normandy when a shell landed near him. Scheffel could see his men were dispirited by him going to the aid station so Scheffel decided to forgo treatment and stay with his men. Scheffel was probably entitled to a Purple Heart then because of the damage to his ear. It was not until he was wounded a fifth time did they evacuate Scheffel. Sicily was hill to hill fighting. One day they got strafed by a Messerschmidt. Scheffel jumped into his hole and there was a chaplain near him. A guy on a .50 caliber happened to turn his gun to the German plane, shot at it; the plane caught on fire and all of a sudden they saw the parachute from the pilot bailing out. When the pilot bailed out he maybe landed a mile away. Scheffel thought he had an obligation to help him if he was hurt. If he was not hurt they would capture him. Scheffel took four men with him; they found where his parachute was. They saw that there were some disturbance in the grass and the man was laying down on his back. He did not say a word. Scheffel looked at him and he had something wrong with his leg. Scheffel had his four men take their rifles off; they fashioned a bootleg stretcher. They headed back for their lines. About halfway back they got shelled by the Germans. Scheffel started cursing the Germans because here he was helping the German pilot and they were getting shot at. When they got him back to get treatment, he looked back at Scheffel and said in perfect in English, You Americans shoot very well. Scheffel figured out that if he had become a pilot he would most likely be dead, or no one would know who he was, or he would be a general. After the fighting in Sicily was over, the invasion of Italy was made; they decided to spare the 1st and 9th Divisions so they could prepare for the invasion of Europe. They were in a bivouack area; the 9th Division was guarding bridges. Finally they loaded up on transport ships, they loaded the 39th infantry regiment onto an old Dole pineapple ship. It carried 3500 men. It laid high in the water. When they pulled out of Palermo at night they got attacked by the first guided missile attack from German airplanes. They missed their targets. When they got into the middle of the Mediterranean they ran into waves that were 50 feet high. The propeller of the ship would come out of the water sometimes. Everyone on the ship, even the captain, got seasick. They finally landed in England.

Annotation

When they landed in England, Charles Scheffel had been shuffled around as an officer in the regiment. He was all over the place. The colonel knew that Scheffel had been yanked around. The colonel was the oldest colonel in the army. His name was Patty Flint. There is a book written about him. He outranked General Marshall but he was still just a colonel. Scheffel and Flint became well acquainted in Sicily. Scheffel was told by Flint he was going to get an easy job. Scheffel’s job in England was to be the Police and Prison officer for the regiment to handle the drunks and the AWOLs [Annotators Note: soldiers who were absent without leave]. Until Normandy, that was Scheffel's job. Most of the time he was disciplining men who he served with in combat. That was a nice job. They came back from Sicily in December of 1943. They sent the 1st and 9th Divisions [Annotators Note: the American 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions] to practice amphibious landings. They did that for about a month at Slapton Sands. Scheffel went to the colonel and told him he thought they were not going to make the invasion. Sure enough the 9th Division was a reserve division. Whichever beach offered the least resistance would be the beach the 9th went into. There was a regiment out of the 4th Division that was supposed to land near St. Mere Eglise but they missed their landing and ended up near Carentan. It was undefended. One of the guys that landed with them was Teddy Roosevelt [Annotators Note: Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr]. Scheffel had met Roosevelt in Sicily. He was a general at that time. Roosevelt did not think he was in the wrong place so he told his superiors he was going to stay where he was. Scheffel came into Normandy on D plus three [Annotators Note: 9 June 1944]. They decided to land the 9th Division at Utah beach. Scheffel was wounded during the landing when his landing craft was hit. Scheffel was wounded in the penis and all over his hands. It was a 20 millimeter shell. The shell wounded a sergeant next to Scheffel. Scheffel was the executive officer of Company D [Annotators Note: Company D, 1st Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Divison]. He had now been in every company in the battalion. Scheffel figured that he knew about 700 men on a first name basis. Scheffel doubts any of them are still alive. Scheffel knows he is the last surviving officer of his unit. Scheffel’s son was in the special forces and retired. When Scheffel got wounded on the ship he was evacuated back to England. Scheffel had heard that George Bernard Shaw was in the area. Scheffel had read one or two of his writings. Scheffel was recuperating from wounds in Wales. Scheffel had heard that Shaw walked around near the hospital. Scheffel came up behind him and asked if the man was Mr. Shaw. They chatted.

Annotation

Charles Scheffel’s run in with Mr. Shaw [Annotators Note: George Bernard Shaw] was not included in his book Crack and Thump because he could not verify it. [Annotators Note: The interviewer changes tapes and when the tape resumes, Scheffel is in mid-story.] Scheffel yelled at the sergeant but he kept on walking away. A couple of minutes later a lieutenant was asking Scheffel what he knew. Scheffel responded that he knew the man he was talking about; they lived near each other. Scheffel knew the man’s wife. Scheffel was informed that the colonel was shot down. Scheffel found out he had lost a close friend. When Scheffel came back to the United States he visited Mary Anne. Scheffel had trouble telling her. It was a tough moment. Scheffel never went back to visit her again. Scheffel was in Tunisia, fighting in the hills. Scheffel was commanding a company at this time. Scheffel knew one of the lieutenants in the adjoining company, his name was Sam. When Scheffel found out they were near each other he summoned the man. Scheffel and the man were talking on a hill overlooking a road. All of a sudden a German truck came from the east up the road. He pulled off of the road and began to set up an artillery piece. Scheffel had his .03 rifle [Annotators Note: Springfield M1903 .30 caliber rifle] and he told Stan that he thought he could hit him. Scheffel elevated the sight, pulled the trigger and the man dropped. The rest of the crew took off. That was the only time Scheffel fired at the enemy. The rest of the time he was telling other guys to shoot. One time they got a new replacement and Scheffel always made a point to greet the replacements. Scheffel wanted to ease their fears and answer their questions. Scheffel was talking to this man but they noticed the Germans setting up a machine gun. Scheffel said you better start shooting. The kid said he was afraid because they would start shooting at him. The kid put his rifle up; it is tough to shoot to kill. Scheffel realized in combat that he might be killing one of his German relatives. It is hard to get men to pull the trigger for the first time. Scheffel taught two man foxholes and crack and thump. Scheffel cannot claim his unit was unique but he knows to this day the army does not teach two man foxholes.

Annotation

Charles Scheffel notes that had anyone else been there they would have done the same thing. There are people fighting all over the world today. Scheffel told his son that he never has to apologize for serving for his country. Scheffel wishes that there was a draft. He believes more people should do some type of public service that benefits the country. In World War 2 it took five wounded men before they had someone who died. Today, there is one death per 20 wounded. Scheffel is upset with the fact that young men are coming back today with no limbs and severe wounds. Scheffel notes that we have to do something to get rid of war. Scheffel believes in argument and debate. [Annotators Note: The interviewer films a wartime picture of Scheffel.] Scheffel was in the hospital after being wounded on D plus three for about a month. Scheffel learned in the hospital that they were having a tough time getting rid of the Germans around Omaha Beach. Scheffel needed time for his wounds to heal. They were getting so many casualties in the hospital that men had to lay on stretchers in between the bed ridden cases. Scheffel told some of the ambulatory men that they would be assigned to a new unit. Scheffel notes that all the men wanted to return to their original outfits, which was not standard practice. Scheffel told the general he could get rid of the ambulatory patients. Scheffel asked the general to cut the orders individually for each man so they could return to their original unit. The general told Scheffel it was a good plan. They got orders to leave the hospital. They had to hitchhike from Wales to Southampton. Southampton was where the men were being staged to go into Normandy. The 12 men boarded a ship going into Omaha Beach. They scrambled down the nets into a Landing Craft, Tank. They all managed to get off with their combat equipment. It turned around to head into Omaha Beach. The boat they were in hit one of the rails on the beach that the Germans had put there. It put a hole in the bottom of their ship. No one had life belts on. Scheffel rearmed himself with a weapon when he landed on the beach to look like an enlisted man. Scheffel tried to get the attention of a coxswain on another ship so that he could help. Scheffel fired a shot over his head to get his attention. They landed on Omaha beach which was still under long range artillery fire. Scheffel hitched a ride to Carentan. They found out where the 9th Division was. Scheffel never saw the enlisted men he landed with.

Annotation

Charles Scheffel located the headquarters of the 39th Infantry Regiment. He reported to the colonel who was glad to see him. They fought all the way through to the end of the war, securing the Ruhr pocket. During this time, Scheffel was wounded twice, including losing part of his trigger finger. Scheffel spent a day and a half catching up with Company A. When Scheffel found them he located the First Sergeant. His name was Shapiro. Shapiro was glad to see him back. Scheffel stayed with them until he got wounded in Germany. It was with Company C not Company A. Scheffel was wounded on 14 September 1944. Scheffel had crossed the Seine River. Scheffel served with Matt Urban who was the most decorated soldier in World War 2. Scheffel had a horrible time crossing the Meuse River. Scheffel was in Germany on 13 September 1944. Scheffel thinks he was with the first troops in Germany. Scheffel withdrew into Belgium the first day because he did not have artillery. Scheffel was assigned to attack the Siegfried Line at Lamersdorf on the German border. Scheffel had a map that had all of the pillboxes mapped. Scheffel had a platoon of tanks with him. Scheffel had access to a telephone which had a direct link to the tank driver. They were moving along when a shell knocked out the tank and wounded Scheffel. Scheffels communications sergeant jumped on the opposite side of the road. They were under fire. Scheffel yelled at the radio operator to get his ass over to him. Scheffel was calling for any help that he could get. A big artillery shell hit in the middle of them and Scheffel was knocked out. Scheffel thinks that a shell came real close which woke him up. When Scheffel opened his eyes the man on his left had his leg blown off. His runner on the right was badly wounded. The guy at his feet had a big shell through his stomach. Scheffel thought that he was dead so he said a prayer for his wife and his mother. Then he realized he might go to heaven or hell. Scheffel heard another crack and realized he was not dead. Scheffel realized he needed help so he did not bleed to death. He tried to get to his pack to take sulfa pills. Scheffel decided he had to get out so he crawled back to his line. Scheffel had visited the scene twice since the war was over. Scheffel ran into one of his medics, his named was Jesus Flores. Flores told Scheffel he was badly wounded. Scheffel requested morphine then he passed out. The next thing he heard was a car motor and it was a Red Cross jeep. The war had stopped because of the Red Cross flags; everyone stopped shooting. They lifted Scheffel into the litter and onto the jeep. Scheffel was shocked that he was alive. The Germans did not fire on the jeep. The minute he rounded the corner he heard the war start again.

Annotation

Charles Scheffel laid there and must have passed out. His executive officer told him that Morotti [Annotators Note: unsure of spelling] is still alive and lived in New Jersey. Scheffel spoke with Morotti a few weeks before the interview. Morotti thought Scheffel was dead after he witnessed Scheffel laying on a stretcher wounded. Scheffel heard German machine gun fire when he woke up and realized he was in an ambulance. There were four litters in the field ambulance. The two guys looked at Scheffel and Scheffel asked where the drivers were. Scheffel yelled to the drivers to get their butts back in the ambulance and drive them away. Scheffel passed out again when he was in the jeep. Scheffel does not recall anything else until three days later when he was laying in a hospital bed. Scheffel's left hand rolled off onto the grass and it startled him to realize that he was in a hospital tent. There was a German lying next to him and he thought he had been captured and put into a German aid station. He looked at the other litters and realized he was in an American Red Cross tent. Scheffel asked a nurse what language she spoke and the nurse replied what the hell language do you think I speak. Scheffel realized he was in an evacuation hospital just outside of Belgium. Scheffel realized he was 20 miles behind the line and that made him happy. Scheffel was asked if he would like to be evacuated. A C-47 was slated to fly Scheffel back to England. A few minutes later Scheffel heard the plane land and he was carried to a C-47.
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 
$60.00
Product: 

All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You will be purchasing the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only specific clips. Please contact the Museum at digitalcollections@nationalww2museum.org if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to two weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address. See more information at http://ww2online.org/faqs.