Segment 4


In Africa they were out in the desert were the French Foreign Legion was training and were headquartered. They worked with the Foreign Legion there and while they were attached to the French 1st Army. They were interesting because they were very fatalistic and could care less. They were in a town 1 time, behind the German lines, with the French Foreign Legion and they were building fires and they could not get them to put them out. The French attitude was that the Germans are going to fire on them anyway so why bother putting out the fire. That was the type of person who joined the Foreign Legion, someone who did not care about their life.In Africa, his specific training was with the Higgins Boats, the LCVPs, and the LCMs [Annotator's Note: landing craft, mechanized], LCTs [Annotator's Note: landing craft, tank], and LSTs [Annotator's Note: landing ship, tank - also jokingly referred to by the men who crewed them as large slot target]. Jackson worked with the LCVPs, landing craft vehicle and personnel. They would hold about 30 to 40 people depending on if they carried any vehicles or cargo. The Navy would pilot them and his group was in charge of them once on shore. They would go ahead and deal with getting rid of obstacles. During the landing in Sicily they did not have many obstacles to clear. For the invasion the engineers were divided into 3 platoons; the ship platoon, the shore platoon and the weapons platoon. The ship platoon would stay aboard the Navy ship and load the troops and materials onto the landing craft. The shore platoon would receive them and get the troops to the beach and unload the the boats. The weapons platoon would be in place along the beach protecting the landing.In Sicily Jackson was in the ship platoon so his job was to help get the supplies over to the boats. Jackson discovered that once the infantry went ashore there was not much for the weapons platoon to do. So he got himself into a weapons platoon. On the next landing, he was with the weapons platoon and could sit back and watch once the landing took place and the infantry was there to keep everyone safe.In the weapons platoon Jackson was on a machine gun crew with a 50-caliber. 3 men would haul it in: 1 with the barrel, 1 with the base, and 1 with the ammunition. They would charge up forward until they found a good defensive position and would then set up. Jackson carried the barrel. He was attached the 45th Infantry Division in the United States and went overseas with the 45th. Their historian discovered that during the war they worked with over 20 different divisions but mostly with the 45th Division.The most fascinating part of the Engineers program, was that they would be in combat for a short period of time, then they would fall back and wait for a call. During their time in the rear they would do some behind the scenes work, like building and fixing roads. Their upfront work was very short. It was not like the infantry where they were up there for long periods of time. Jackson carried an M1 Rifle.Crossing the Rhine was when Jackson thought that he didn't have many seconds left [Annotator's Note: to live]. The French were fatalistic and being on the front lines; Jackson became fatalistic also. Several times that thought hit him.As the war went along they would use Bailey Bridging which was quick and efficient. If it was for a road they would use for supply, they would build a fixed bridge. They did not put in floating bridges very often. There were special units that put in the pontoon bridges.


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