Early Life

Onset of War

Willow Run

Scrap Drives and Rationing

Victory Garden

End of War

Postwar

Annotation

Fredrick Hollis was born in January 1929 in Detroit, Michigan. The Great Depression started in October 1929 and his father always joked that his son caused the depression. Hollis was raised in Detroit. He had a brother and a sister. He went to college in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. He spent two years in the Army during the Korean War, but he never had to go overseas. His father was a tool and die maker for the Ford Motor, Company and an instructor in the Henry Ford Trade School. Both Hollis and his brother attended classes there. The family was fortunate that Hollis' father never lost his job even though he had to take several pay cuts to keep his job. Henry Ford Trade School taught the trade of tool and die making. It was a better education than the union's trade apprenticeship program. It was closed after the war as a result of the competition with the apprenticeship program. The Ford Trade School provided the equivalent of the eleventh grade in terms of education in the liberal arts, sciences and mathematics. Upon graduation from the Ford Trade School, a place would be provided in the shop for the graduate, however, it was not mandatory to go to work for the Ford Motor Company.

Annotation

In the months leading up to the United States' entry into the war, the country was isolationist. Fredrick Hollis was young and did not have the knowledge of what it all meant. It was a casual and enjoyable life. Hollis was in a movie theatre when the announcement was made about the attack on Pearl Harbor. The screen went dark and silent and the theater manager came out and told the audience about the attack. At that point, a woman stood up and screamed that her boy was stationed at Pearl Harbor. That incident has always stayed with Hollis. At the time of the attack, Hollis did not really understand the implications of the circumstances. The theater remained silent as the crowd emptied out in five or ten minutes. Hollis's brother decided that he was going to join the Air Force and take on the enemy. His brother got his wings, but he was made an instructor because he was good at instrument flying. He stayed in a training base in Randolph Field, Texas and never got the opportunity to fly against the enemy. After 7 December 1941, the country was unified. With the ramp up in the economy due to the war effort, the country came out of the depression. Neighborhood boys were all joining the services and doing their part. Some stayed on the home front to contribute. Hollis's mother would not get a job because she had children to take care of. Everyone worked together and did what had to be done.

Annotation

Fredrick Hollis did not witness much family talk about the conflict during World War 2. Some of his relatives served in various locations worldwide. Some even perished in combat. During intense Japanese bombing of Iwo Jima, one cousin said he stayed in a foxhole for three days to avoid the explosions. Hollis remembers some isolated actions leading up to Normandy, but not much detail prior to them. He remembers the landings in North Africa, the American defeat at Kasserine Pass in Africa, and the landings in Sicily and Salerno, Italy. While attending the Henry Ford Trade School, Hollis remembers the factory working on DUKWs [Annotator's Note: DUKWs were amphibious troop and supply transport vehicles that also could be used on hard surfaces after landing] and jeeps. His dad would drive his sons out to the B-24 [Annotator's Note: Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber aircraft] plant where the fuselage would travel down the assembly line and the components would join the body. In one hour, the plant would finish a B-24. Hollis has meetings today with World War 2 veterans who have lunch and talk about their experiences. It is an honor to be with them. The Ford Plant had an airfield where the planes would be fueled and then take off for their destination. [Annotator's Note: Willow Run Airport is still active today as a general cargo airfield.]

Annotation

Frederick Hollis contributed to the war effort through scrap drives held in Detroit. At the collection points, snow fencing would be used to contain the items that people threw in as their donations. Periodically, trucks would come in and haul away the scrap for recycling. The family would always bring something down to the collection point. Hollis would save the foil from his bubble gum and contribute that to the scrap drive. People would hang out at the collection point. When someone made a contribution, everyone there would cheer. It boosted spirits. His mother always took a pot or a pan or a baking dish. She made sure she had something to pitch in. Old tires would be pitched in and everyone would cheer. Everyone backed each other and worked together. Rationing was in effect and things like oleo came into popularity. During the war, food and gas were rationed. There were special forms required for getting tires. There were separate ration books for meat, dairy products and other food stuff. Many things were rationed. Hollis did not miss too many things since food was always on the table.

Annotation

There were two vacant lots near Frederick Hollis's home in Detroit. He decided to grow a Victory Garden in them. The soil was difficult to work. He cleared a 40 foot by 30 foot plot in the two lots. Some neighbors informed his mother that he was digging on the lots. No one in the family said anything to him. His father was happy and proud of his son's efforts and helped him get seeds to plant. His father helped him layout the garden rows and showed him how to plant the seeds. They planted a variety of vegetables in their Victory Garden. Hollis would use a wash tub full of water loaded on his wagon to water the crops. A neighbor volunteered his water with a watering hose when he saw how Hollis struggled with the wagon and wash tub of water. The vegetables were used by the family and others could not get food from the Victory Garden. The next year, the two lots were plowed up by someone with a tractor. Other families staked out a claim to small plots of land, and they joined in with Hollis' Victory Garden efforts. War bonds and stamps were purchased by the family. Children bought stamps at school in their homerooms. Bonds would be purchased when the books of stamps were sufficient to cover the cost. These efforts along with war production made the people on the home front, including youngsters, feel like they were contributing to the war efforts. Hollis started classes at the Ford Trade School in July 1943.

Annotation

Frederick Hollis saw the mood of the country after Kasserine Pass as being very negative. With many ships lost at Pearl Harbor plus weak American leadership in the beginning, the Pacific war did not go well for the first six months of the war. Defeats were in the newspapers so the public knew about it. The victories had more emphasis than the defeats in the papers. After D-Day [Annotator's Note: D-Day here refers to the Normandy invasion on 6 June 1944], Hollis followed the war more closely. Hollis followed the air war in Europe. Aircrews had huge casualties, but it was a necessary tragedy to knock out the German industrial capability and the Luftwaffe. Hollis heard of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's death over the radio. He was not a supporter of Roosevelt because of his conservative beliefs. The photograph of the flag raising over Iwo Jima made him feel very moved. It is an iconic photograph. The first thing the Democrats did right was drop the atomic bombs to end the war. Hollis had relatives that had finished the war in Europe and were being readied to invade Japan. It was the right thing to do so that the war could end early. In another year, Hollis would have been draft age and may have been involved with the defeat of the Japanese on their home islands if the bombs had not ended the war. The end of the war brought an eruption of gratitude, prayer and celebration to the whole country. Hell had ceased its fury. It was a joyous day. Hollis lost a cousin in action and had another cousin that had been in combat who returned home after the war. Hollis did not notice any Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after World War 2. Today's combat is much different from that faced by the troops in the Second World War. The country did not change too much except that women were reluctant to give up their jobs in the factories after the troops returned home from the war.

Annotation

Frederick Hollis was drafted in August 1952. He had 16 weeks of Army basic training in Fort Bliss, Texas, eight weeks of infantry basic and eight weeks of antiaircraft artillery training. This was followed by several months of radar training. Hollis enjoyed the radar work. The system he worked was too complicated, because it broke down frequently. It was hard to keep the radar unit operational. His duty was all stateside. He was discharged in August 1954 at Camp Lucas in Michigan as a corporal. The GI Bill was not helpful to him because he already had a college education. The attack on Pearl Harbor and the screaming woman in the theater [Annotator's Note: see segment titled Onset of War] was the most memorable incident of World War 2 for Hollis. The war did not affect his life very much because of his youth. The National WWII Museum and institutions like it are important because schools do not teach history as well as they should, and the story of the war needs to be told. There are too many distortions told about the war.

All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You will be purchasing the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only specific clips. Please contact the Museum at digitalcollections@nationalww2museum.org if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to two weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address. See more information at http://ww2online.org/faqs.