Segment 1


Biddle was born in Daleville, Indiana on November 28th, 1923. Daleville had about nine hundred people. He lived there until he was twelve. His mother had to move to Arizona when he was twelve because of her health so he went to school in Arizona for 18 months. He recalls swimming everyday in the summer time. He enjoyed the climate in Arizona; it helped his health and his motherÂ’s health. He went to Anderson High school and graduated in 1941. Biddle immediately got a job with a factory that produced parts for General Motors. He worked there for ten months until he was drafted. He worked seven days a week because his job was part of the war effort.The day Biddle was supposed to join he had lunch with a girl. She said if he ever got in the parachutes then he was to write her a letter. He went to Ft. Benjamin Harrison on February 2nd, 1943. They asked for volunteers and he raised his hand. They sent him to Camp Toccoa, Georgia to join the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was then sent to the 517th [AnnotatorÂ’s Note: Parachute Infantry Regiment] as a replacement in February of 1944. He joined the 517th in Naples, Italy. It took them 28 days to go from the United States to Italy. Some of the ships were sunk along the way. He recalls that when his convoy entered the Mediterranean a flight of German bombers came over and sunk the ship next to his. The Navy gunners on his ship ended up shooting down two German bombers. Biddle's outfit was not entirely overseas yet so he and some of his guys did a practice jump in Palermo, Sicily. He recalls jumping on the airport there. After practice in Palermo they joined the rest of the 517th in Naples. They decided to introduce the men to combat by having them fight as regular infantry. They stayed on the line for ten days. It was a baptism of combat. He was with a sergeant who had received a package from home. The man distributed the contents of the package to his buddies. The sergeant was killed, shot through the head during their first day of combat. The blood was pouring out of him. Biddle notes the bravery of the medic who went out to try and help the man. That was his introduction to combat.The company commander could see how scared he was and told him to keep watch and walk the prisoners back. When he turned in the prisoners a lieutenant reminded him that, "we don't take prisoners." When he got back to the line there was another group of prisoners waiting to be taken back. Biddle informed the lieutenant that he was not going to shoot unarmed prisoners.They were then told they were going to jump into southern France on August 15th, 1944. They were put into planes at an airbase in Rome. They took off and jumped at 4:56 in the morning. It was dark when they jumped and a few minutes later it was light out. The combat there was not too tough. They had one or two incidents. For the most part they overwhelmed the Germans and took prisoners. They fought on the line through southern France to the Alps. They ended up near Sospel, France where Italy and France join. It took them three months to get there from where they jumped. It was tough combat because they had to dislodge the Germans from mountainous terrain. They pulled off the line in September. They were told they were going back to the states to train for Japan. They brought them to a place in France.


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