Segment 4


When Walter Barnes got back to the United States they had to get to their homes on their own. A guy he served with had a car and Barnes hitched a ride with him. When he got home his mother just looked at him and told him to sit down and she would make him breakfast. Barnes boarded the ship to come home on 12 December [Annotators Note: 12 December 1945]. It was his 21st birthday. The trip over to Italy had taken them 21 days because they had to zig zag. The trip home took 11 days. For both the trip to Italy and the trip back to the United States Barnes volunteered for KP [Annotators Note: kitchen police]. Since he was assigned to KP he could go anywhere on the ship he wanted. He also got to eat what the Merchant Marine crew was eating. In Italy they rarely saw Italian civilians until right at the end of the war. After the war there were blue gangs and red gangs. The gangs were out looking for Germans and left the Americans alone. The German 34th Infantry Division surrendered to the American 34th Infantry Division. The Germans surrendered with the stipulation that they would be allowed to keep their weapons so they could guard the rice fields they were occupying and the Americans would not be allowed in the area. After the surrender Barnes borrowed a bicycle and rode it to the rice field. He would bring cigarettes and would trade the Germans for their pistols. One day the guard told Barnes that the lieutenant was looking for him. Barnes met with the man who told him that his sister was worried about him and asked if Barnes would mail a letter to her for him. Barnes took the letter and agreed to mail it after the war was completely over. After the war Barnes mailed the letter. The man’s sister sent him a nice note and the lieutenant gave him a small .25 caliber pistol. The GIs were not supposed to take anything home with them when they boarded the ships to come home but Barnes snuck it home in his watch pocket and gave it to his son who was not yet born. Barnes does not recall exactly when he started carrying a BAR. It was on the side of a road somewhere. He had been in Italy for about two weeks. He decided that he did not like getting shot at so he got rid of it. Barnes went to Monte Cassino. They were ordered not to shoot at it but the Germans had snipers up there shooting at them so they shot back. They went all the way up to the edge of France and that is where the war ended for them. They would go AWOL and go to the beach and watch the girls. They were some bad boys. One very dark night Barnes was in his position with Rebeck [Annotators Note: unsure of spelling]. He was not supposed to have his weapon cocked but Barnes always did. On this night Barnes heard a noise and looked up to see a large German soldier coming right at him with a rifle with a bayonet on it. Barnes grabbed his gun and shot the man in the throat. The man fell down on top of him. Barnes is claustrophobic and kept yelling for someone to get the man off of him. Barnes and the others had fun. He kept two decks of cards and when the artillery shells came in they would sit down and play cards.


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