Segment 1


[Annotators Note: Interview begins with the interviewer and George Wichterich talking about a tank that was knocked out by members of Wichterich’s unit and looking through a book on the 30th Infantry Division.] Shortly after the Normandy invasion they were put into the area of Mortain and Hill 314. During the evening hours, the 1st Division was pulled out. Wichterich’s unit was armed with towed guns at the time. They did not get the M10s until after the Bulge. They had towed 76 millimeter guns. That is how they fought the Germans tanks. They had to shoot the German tanks in the side because the shells would just bounce off the front of the tanks like tennis balls. George Wichterich was born and raised in the 9th Ward [Annotators Note: in New Orleans] and grew up in the upper 9th Ward. He attended Holy Cross High School then went to work for Delta Shipyard on the Industrial Canal until he saw that there were more men dying there than on the battlefield. The deaths were caused by inexperienced people operating the heavy equipment. Every day there was an ambulance. One day, Wichterich was watching as the aft end of a liberty ship was being hoisted and moved. The rigging broke and the ship fell on seven guys and killed them. Wichterich quit that day and two months later he was in the army. There were a number of ways for men to get hurt or killed. Wichterich was inducted into the army on 22 December 1942 and put in tank destroyers. Tank destroyers were a new concept at the time. They had people from New Mexico who mainly spoke Spanish and Cajuns from Louisiana who spoke French as well as Mormons from Utah and people from California and Montana. There were some Native Americans as well. They had a good outfit. They knocked out 125 or 130 tanks. They also knocked down church steeples. The day Pearl Harbor was attacked Wichterich was working with his uncle building a house out in Metairie [Annotators Note: a suburb of New Orleans]. They learned of the attack out there. Wichterich was 19 years old at the time and had registered for the draft but had not given any thought to joining the military. Wichterich sung in his neighborhood Catholic choir and got the opportunity to go to Saint Louis through the organist’s sister. They stayed up there over a month and got to go to some ball games. Wichterich was up there for over a month and when he returned his draft notice was waiting for him. On 29 December Wichterich reported to Camp Beauregard in Alexandria [Annotators Note: Alexandria, Louisiana]. Camp Beauregard is still in operation. Wichterich was there about a month before this interview and there is still one of the three inch guns they used during the war. The three inch guns weighed about two and a half tons. They were taught to fire with the artillery in addition to their training as antitank gunners. During maneuvers they towed those guns all over the State of Louisiana but never fired a shot. In training they removed the stock from a .22 rifle and attached it to the barrel of the three inch gun. The gunners trained by firing that .22 at targets. They never actually fired their guns until they got to the English Channel where there were targets towed by tug boats. They could not have fired the armor piercing and high explosive shells back in Louisiana.


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