Copyright © 2013 National World War II Museum. All rights reserved.
Charles Coolidge left Camp Edwards near Boston to go to New York before going overseas. Coolidge recalled sailing out and being at sea for thirteen days. They went to Oran Africa as the fighting was ending there. Coolidge recalled a reconnaissance group up to observe as a form of training to prepare them for what combat would be like as they entered it. [Annotators note: there is a brief interruption as Coolidge's secretary enters for a moment] Coolidge picks back up talking about going into the hills around Oran and bivouacked. They would sleep on the ground and whatever the weather sent is what you would have to deal with. The unit then moved from Oran to Casablanca for a few months and then would make trips back and forth to the Oran area. They would camp near Oran and then move near Casablanca and camp and then back to Oran. Coolidge figured out the Army was attempting to fool the locals as to how many troops exactly that we had over there and made it look like they had more than they actually did. Coolidge recalled while they were back and forth between Oran and Casablanca that Sicily was invaded. He continues with giving a brief history of the fighting in Sicily and the arguments between General Patton and the British but Coolidge notes that his division which was the 36th Infantry Division was not a part of it. Coolidge goes on to describe entering the fighting at Salerno and what it was like to climb down the rope ladders on the sides of ships to get into the landing craft and go ashore. He recalled that when they were coming to the beach that the coxswain on the boat crew said he could not get the door down. They took their rifle butts and beat on the door but it was to no avail so they were forced to jump over the side. Coolidge recalled that going over the side they were in water up to their necks and he was holding a fifty-one pound tripod as well as his pack and his gas mask. He recalled that by the time they got on the beach that everyone threw away their gasmasks. Coolidge remembered they moved inland a few hundred yards and the Germans were there to meet them and seem to know where they were invading beforehand. He mentions going into combat and names several men in his unit and learning of one of his buddies being killed and how you have to accept war. He recalls that they lost 12% of the division at the invasion of Salerno with wounded and killed. Coolidge recalls the success of reaching their first objective and how vital it was to do so and push the Germans out. Coolidge recalls when they reached Naples that all of the glass was blown out in the buildings due to the naval fire. The Germans put up a good fight and Coolidge says that the war in Italy was where the war really took place until 6 June 1944.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.