Early Life and Losing a Brother

Kenneth McAuliffe and the War Effort

Immigrant Parents and Living in America

Rationing and Victory Gardens

The Loss of His Brother Kenneth

Serving in the Marine Corps

Supporting the War Effort Then and Now

Sacrifices

Pearl Harbor Changed Lives

Going to College With Veterans

Propaganda Posters and War Bond Rallies

Listening to the BBC

Untitled Event

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[Annotators Note: there is an interruption about 45 seconds into the interview after which the interview is started again]. Edwin McAuliffe was born on Franklin Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana in August 1928. His mother was a nurse and gave birth to McAuliffe in their home. McAuliffe had a brother named Kenneth who was about five years older than him. Kenneth went to St. Stanislaus [Annotators Note: St. Stanislaus is a Catholic boarding school for high school student in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi]. He played football there and graduated in late May or June of 1941. Kenneth went on to work for the United Fruit Company as a cadet aboard one of the company's ships. Eight days after he reported aboard the ship was torpedoed and sunk in the Gulf of Mexico and Kenneth was killed. McAuliffe's father was an executive with the United Fruit Company and had gotten Kenneth the job aboard the ship. After the ship was torpedoed the survivors were picked up by another vessel which was also torpedoed and sunk. The captain of the ship Kenneth served aboard was killed when the rescue ship went down. Kenneth's death was very hard on the McAuliffe family. McAuliffe remembers the day his father came home and broke the news of Kenneth's death to him and his mother. During World War 2 everyone knew there was a war on unlike the conflicts today. Every neighborhood had people who died. McAuliffe's mother was given a flag to place in the window of their home. McAuliffe's brother Ernest was seven years older than him. Ernest was in the army and served in the Pacific. Fortunately he came home.

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Kenneth [Annotators Note: Edwin McAuliffe's brother] was five years older than McAuliffe. Kenneth went to St. Stanislaus [Annotators Note: St. Stanislaus is a Catholic boarding school for high school student in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi] and did very well there. He went to school with some boys from Central America who spoke Spanish. In an effort to become fluent in Spanish Kenneth worked on a ship with an all Spanish speaking crew for a summer between his junior and senior years of high school. When he returned he spoke Spanish well. Kenneth wanted to make the sea his career so when he graduated high school he went into the Merchant Marine. McAuliffe remembers rationing during the war. Sugar, food, and gasoline were all rationed and required ration stamps. Everyone was involved in the war effort in some way. McAuliffe's mother was an army aircraft spotter. A few days per week they went out to the New Orleans Lakefront Airport with binoculars and would identify aircraft in the sky overhead. They then called an official to notify them of the type of plane they saw.

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Edwin McAuliffe's father was born in Ireland and was wounded during World War 1 at Gallipoli. His mother was born in Scotland and served as a nurse during World War 1. She cared for McAuliffe's father while he was in the hospital. After the war they decided to move to the United States. After entering New York through Canada McAuliffe's father got a job in the shipping business. The McAuliffe's had arrived in New York in the winter and it was very cold. When McAuliffe's father learned that there was a port in New Orleans and the weather was warm he and McAuliffe's mother jumped on a train and moved there. After arriving in New Orleans McAuliffe's father managed a dry dock before going to work for the United Fruit Company. Between 1930 and 1941 the McAuliffe's lived in Gentilly [Annotators Note: Gentilly is a neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana] then moved to New Jersey when his father was transferred up there. New Jersey was much different than New Orleans. After three years up north he was transferred back to New Orleans. McAuliffe was the youngest of three boys and looked up to his older brothers. His oldest brother Ernest was in the army and the middle son Kenneth had gone into the Merchant Marine. McAuliffe wanted to join up at 17 but his parents would not let him. They had already lost one son [Annotators Note: see segment titled Early Life and Losing a Brother] so they made him wait until he was 18. The war ended on his eighteenth birthday. McAuliffe was excited to celebrate his birthday but on that day everything was closed. His birthday was overshadowed by the end of the war. McAuliffe wanted to go into the Marine Corps. His oldest brother Ernest, who was in the army, was married and had a child. Ernest's wife and child lived with the McAuliffes in New Orleans for three years while Ernest was away.

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Edwin McAuliffe remembers everyone having a Victory garden during the war. The McAuliffes also had chickens. McAuliffe's clearly remembers rationing. To make meals stretch McAuliffe's mother made a lot of stews and soups because there was not much meat. People saved silver paper which was in cigarette packs. When they had enough they would turn them in so bullets could be made from them. McAuliffe attended Metairie High School. He played football and looked forward to getting his football jacket because they looked good. When he got his jacket he was a little disappointed to find that the material on the inside was olive drab.

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When Edwin McAuliffe's brother went to sea his parents likely knew it was a dangerous time to be at sea but he did not realize it [Annotators Note: see segment titled Early Life and Losing a Brother]. When Kenneth left to go to sea McAuliffe was taking a shower. As Kenneth and their dad were leaving the house to drive down to the ship McAuliffe yelled to Kenneth that he would see him when he got back. McAuliffe never saw his brother again. McAuliffe's father got the news of Kenneth's death first then went to the house and told McAuliffe and his mother. McAuliffe's father felt responsible for Kenneth's death. He left United Fruit Company and opened his own ship repair business. Neither of McAuliffe's parents ever got over Kenneth's death. Kenneth went to sea and was killed on 8 June 1942 aboard the Tela. Kenneth was one of two cadets aboard the ship and was assigned to the engine room. After the ship was sunk McAuliffe's father interviewed the man who was to relieve Kenneth. By the time Kenneth was killed their other brother Ernest was already serving overseas. McAuliffe's parents wrote to Ernest while he was overseas and received letters from him but McAuliffe does not recall ever writing or receiving a letter himself.

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Even after losing his brother Edwin McAuliffe still wanted to serve. He wanted to fly but never did. He later went into the Marine Corps when he graduated from Loyola University [Annotators Note: Loyola University in New Orleans] in 1951. He had applied for flight training but was turned down. Two months before he was due to be discharged he was informed that an opening was available for flight training but he would have to extend his time in the service another three years. McAuliffe declined the offer and got out of the service. Around 1950 one of McAuliffe's and a friend from college, Buddy Boudion [Annotators Note: unsure of spelling] decided to enlist because neither of them wanted to go into the army. Buddy wrote to the Marine Corps expressing interest in serving but signed McAuliffe's name on the letter. The Marines then began aggressively recruiting McAuliffe. Buddy later told McAuliffe what he had done. McAuliffe and Buddy decided that they would both enlist in the Marine Corps. When they took their physicals, McAuliffe passed but Buddy did not. Buddy ended up in the army as saw action in Korea as a forward observer [Annotators Note: artillery forward observer] and McAuliffe served in the Marine Corps and never left the United States. The two kept in touch and stayed friends until Buddy passed away a couple of years prior to this interview.

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Edwin McAuliffe's mother worked as an army aircraft spotter during the war. She started doing that shortly after his brother was killed. She also rolled bandages and knitted, anything she could to support the war effort. McAuliffe had relatives living in England who wrote to his parents asking if they could send one of the relatives to live with them in the United States. His parents said yes but the relative never came. McAuliffe's father was very successful with his business. He worked on the wooden parts on merchant ships such as hatch covers. Other than his brother being killed, one thing that stands out to McAuliffe is that the whole country knew it was in a war. He is amazed that with the current conflicts no one pays attention unless they had a relative fighting overseas. McAuliffe and Pat [Annotators Note: McAuliffe's wife] would go down to DFW Airport to greet the troops coming back. It was a sight to see when the troops walked through the terminal and saw hundreds of people there to welcome them.

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Edwin McAuliffe does not remember missing anything in particular during the war years however he knows his parents did. Tires were difficult to come by and no new cars were made during the four years the country was at war. After the war McAuliffe's father bought a new Dodge automobile and took the family on a trip. McAuliffe was very close to being of the age to serve during the war and he wanted to. He was motivated by Kenneth [Annotators Note: see segment titled Early Life and Losing a Brother]. Other people he knew had brothers serving who did not come back. The family that owned the restaurant Mother's in New Orleans had four boys serving in the Marine Corps during the war and had pictures of them hanging up in the restaurant.

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Edwin McAuliffe was in Covington [Annotators Note: Covington, Louisiana] visiting friends. The news came across the radio around three on that Sunday afternoon. McAuliffe did not understand the consequences at the time but his parents did. His brother Kenneth had played a high school football game the night before the attack. No one knew that all of the boys playing in that football game would have their lives changed completely. Some would not come home. The war made McAuliffe want to better himself.

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Edwin McAuliffe graduated high school the year the war ended. When he started his first year of college at Southeastern [Annotators Note: Southeastern university in Hammond, Louisiana] his classes were filled with war veterans. Those veterans were serious about their education. They were there on the G.I. Bill. Their determination impressed McAuliffe. McAuliffe entered the service in 1951 and got out in 1953 with the rank of captain. He did not take advantage of the G.I. Bill after serving. One of McAuliffe's good friends was a frog man and had been wounded at Normandy. He shared some of his experiences with McAuliffe. The veterans were more focused than the student like McAuliffe who had not served during the war. Even though they were just a little older, the veterans were more mature than the younger students.

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When Edwin McAuliffe was a kid during the war there were things everywhere that reminded people that there was a war being fought. There were posters of Rosie the Riveter and the Lucky Strike cigarette packs were changed from white to green. There were also war bond drives and stamps that they would buy. The stamps were put in a book and when enough stamps had been collected they could be used to buy a war bond. The war bonds cost about 17 or 18 dollars at the time and were worth 25 dollars when they matured. McAuliffe also remembers going to war bond rallies in the stadium in City Park [Annotators Note: New Orleans City Park] with his parents. A tank would be driven out onto the field and a band would be playing. Everyone present would hold a candle. This was done to let everyone know that every little bit counted. McAuliffe also recalls seeing the newsreels in the movie theaters. The newsreels only provided a glimpse into what was taking place, unlike today.

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Edwin McAuliffe was more interested in the war in Europe. He was also interested in the air war in England because his parents were from that area and he still had relatives there. Before the United States entered the war McAuliffe and his family would sit around the radio. They would also get with the neighbors and listen because there was the possibility that Churchill [Annotators Note: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill] would be speaking that night on the BBC. They all thought that one day they [Annotators Note: the United States] would be in the war. The news did not mean that much to McAuliffe because he was very young and did not understand. He had no idea how close to home the war would hit [Annotators Note: see segment titled Early Life and Losing a Brother].

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Edwin McAuliffe recalls everyone being involved in the shipping industry in New Orleans at that time. He would go with his father to the shipyard to watch the Liberty ships being built. They were launching one every couple of days. He also went out to the Lakefront to watch the PT Boats and landing craft. [Annotators Note: McAuliffe and the interviewer discuss the production and testing of PT Boats on Lake Pontchartrain.]

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