Segment 11


One particular moment when they had come through some awful fighting. They had cleaned up afterward and gotten a bath. They came upon this factory and found a bunch of weapons. Jack was told you could only bring 1 home so he sold 2 of his and brought 1 home. They were in this town and across the field was an old building there, Baldwin guessed it was a barn. They didn't know it, but there were 8 Germans in that building that were watching them. These men were ready to give up and were supposed to harass the GIs. Jack remembered standing there talking to another Cannon Company member that was laying telephone wire for the field telephone. They were standing there about 5 feet apart when a shot rang out, apparently from 1 German rifle. Baldwin didn't even move and thought everything was fine. The other GI immediately laid down in a little ditch next to where they were standing. Baldwin noticed he had been hit in the throat and his head had almost been knocked off. Baldwin wondered why it wasn't him that got hit. He remembered seeing a white flag stuck out of the building and then 1 German running away. Jessie Brodie was standing there with his M1 and shot the fleeing German 3 times. After the war, Brodie said he didn't remember the incident, but Baldwin remembered it. The other 7 surrendering Germans came out and gave up. A buddy of the soldier running the telephone wire that had been shot came up to 1 of the Germans and hit him, almost knocking him down. The German didn't flinch and stood back up. This GI was crying and upset about his buddy being killed. These were kinds of things you saw all the time. Steve Peakler was a buddy of Baldwin's in Cannon Company. Steve would send his money home to his girl and they were going to get married. But he got killed in the war. There were things like that which happened, but Cannon Company didn't lose as many men as rifle companies, even though they got replacements a good bit. Jack remembers that Captain Fritts [Annotator's Note: The Commanding Officer of Cannon Company] was smart and knew exactly where to put Cannon Company and camouflage them. 1 time though, he made a mistake and they went about a mile and a half behind German lines. When he discovered what had happened, he was in the lead jeep and turned around. When he did and the guns started turning around to get back to American lines, several Germans came out and surrendered to Cannon Company and got in 1 of the trucks with them. They were ready to quit and were finished fighting the war. Captain John Fritts, was from a German background and his name was actually spelled "Fritz", but he said it was "Fritts" and he was from Beaumont, Texas so that if he got captured he wouldn't get killed. Baldwin went to San Antonio in 1975 and he got to see him again. Fritts stayed in and made Colonel. After the war, he ended up going to seminary and becoming an Episcopalian Chaplain in the Army. Baldwin felt that he was a good officer. You didn't like his ways all the time. He did things very quickly-- do it now and do it quick and don't ask questions. Before leaving Ireland, they called out the barber, Corporal Barner from Pennsylvania. Captain Fritts was talking to the Company and called out, "Where's Baldwin?" Baldwin responded and was called to the front. Then Fritts asked, "Where's Barner?" Baldwin had wavy black hair and that Fritts told Barner to take the clippers to Baldwin's head and make his hair "this short" [Annotator's Note: an inch or 2]. Everybody in the Company was laughing and Fritts thought it was hilarious. When Baldwin and a few others in the Cannon Company were bivouacked one time, a man in the Company named "Franks" had beer, which Captain Fritts allowed. And they were out for 3 days and had a little party. When you went out it was with officers too and they were one of the guys, you basically forgot their rank. Franks got drunk and got on the Captain and told him that he never liked him and never would like him. He was saying this under the alcohol and was saying things he normally wouldn't say. He kept challenging Fritts to take off his bars and fight, but Fritts played it down. When they get back to the Company and everybody was back in ranks, Franks was gone. He had been transferred to a rifle company and got both legs shot off near Omaha Beach.


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