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Within a week shipping instructions were posted and George Griffenhagenâ€™s name was on the list. They shipped out in less than 24 hours. Griffenhagen went to Camp Shenango [Annotators Note: in Pennsylvania] for two days then to Camp Kilmer [Annotators Note: in New Jersey] for one day before going aboard the HMS Andes, a British passenger ship which had been converted into a troop ship. They learned that they were to be the first replacements for the American Army in North Africa which had been badly beaten by Rommel [Annotators Note: German Army Field Marshall Erwin Rommel]. The Andes made the fastest trip up to that time from New York City to Casablanca. It took four and a half days and they did it with no escort. There were aircraft covering them when they were close to New York and Casablanca but that was it. The group that went over was composed of infantry, artillery, and tank crewmen. They also took along a lot of equipment. All transport for men and materials was done by boat so if the Germans had torpedoed the boat it would have set the troops fighting in North Africa back about two months. Griffenhagen landed in North Africa around 15 March [Annotators Note: 15 March 1943]. He has never been able to gather any information on the trip over to North Africa. He believes that this is because there were no units aboard ship. They all went over as replacements. During the trip across the ocean there was some concern about German u boats. Later when they went to Sicily they steamed passed Gibraltar and the u boat scare there was very great because the Spanish side of the pass was all lit up. The ships dropped depth charges all night to deter enemy u boats. Fortunately no German submarines found them. Griffenhagen landed in Casablanca where the 20th Engineers [Annotators Note: at the time the 20th Engineer Regiment] landed. They took an eight day train ride to Tunisia in box cars. Griffenhagen and a buddy joined the 20th Engineers a couple days before Bizerte was captured. When Griffenhagen was in basic training at Fort Leonard Wood he got a medal for sharp shooting. He was so proud of it he wore it during the trip across the Atlantic and during the train ride to where he joined the 20th. He started getting teased so bad about it by the men of the 20th that he finally threw it away.
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