A problem with replacements


One day they attacked the city of Leipzig [Annotator's Note: Germany]. It was industrial, like Birmingham, Pittsburgh, or Detroit. The city was fortified with anti-aircraft guns and would build them in a big circle and then they had a big gun that would raise up and fire, but could also lower and fire on ground troops. But they learned that it could only fire as low as the top of the wall for the city. They learned that the shell from the big gun would go over their head if they were fired at. That helped them some. They were sitting out in a field and had recently had a bath and clean clothes getting ready to take the city. Replacements were being brought in from England out of the Air Force [Annotator's Note: US Army Air Forces] to replace troops and prevent more men from coming from the US. There was a young man brought into Cannon Company that was an Italian from New York. He was put in Baldwin's gun section. Baldwin told him to dig a hole and the man questioned it. Baldwin explained that you never know when a shell might come over or when a plane may come by to strafe or bomb. The new replacement said he didn't see anything going on yet and decided against it. It wasn't long before the Germans lowered their AA guns [Annotator's Note: 88's?] and opened fire. You could hear them whiz past you and hear the shells explode before you hear the gun. Baldwin's foxhole was about 8 to 10 feet from his gun position. He was sitting in this field with his rifle sitting there with it resting it on his big toe. He told himself that if he shot off his toe, then he could get out of the war and go home. Thoughts such as these were not good thoughts, and he probably would have been sent to Fort Leavenworth instead of home. When the Germans started firing, Baldwin knew the shells were over their head, but he dove for his hole and this new replacement beat him to it. Baldwin dove in on top of him. The Germans stopped firing and would just shoot a volley of fire every once in a while. When they stopped, Baldwin got up and got out of the hole and asked the GI to sit down. Baldwin explained to the new replacement that he said that he previously needed the hole and the young man wouldn't listen. Baldwin told him that he beat him to his foxhole and that he would tell him 1 more time to dig a hole in the next position they come to. He also told the replacement that if he wanted 1 that he wasn't getting in Baldwin's hole anymore and if he did, the Germans would never have to worry with him anymore, because he would take care of him himself. Others heard it, but said nothing. The next time they got into a new position, this young man dug a hole faster than Baldwin. Another time, they were going through a town with their rifles and their guns had not arrived. A lot of times, they had to use their rifles. There was a building at the end of the street with a big oak tree out front. There was an opening coming out of the top of the building. All of the sudden there was machine gun fire spraying up and down the street. A lot of the streets in Europe are narrow and the houses are built fairly close to them. He and the rest of his unit dove for a wall when the enemy fire opened up. When he got there, another GI-- he thinks was named Barter from Wyoming or somewhere-- had scooted under him and put him up in the air. Had he been pushed up a few more inches than the bullet holes could have riddled him. Baldwin had to have a talk with him after that too.