The British treated the American soldiers, including Thomas Landrum, very well. The French did too. There were blackouts in England at night, there was no light at all. All the doors and windows were blacked out. He went to a theater there with a band and dancehall. The orchestra would be on stage that would rotate to different orchestras. He was there as part of the buildup to the invasion [Annotator’s Note: the Allied invasion of Normandy, France on 6 June 1944]. He had 5,000 soldiers on his ship over. There were Canadian troops there too. He and his outfit [Annotator’s Note: 342nd Engineer General Service Regiment] would box the Canadians to raise money for an English church. The Canadians won. Landrum had a draw and the other Americans lost. They played baseball in France. He was in France when the war ended. The response was overwhelming. He was an independent by then and returned home by himself and not with his outfit. Some of his best friends that he grew up with never made it. One family had two sons in the Atlantic. Both were killed on the day of the invasion. Landrum was in England on 6 June 1944. He had gone to France two months after that. His brother was in the service but was discharged because he got drunk and never made it to the war. His brother died when he was 63. He has two sisters. His oldest sister is 101 and doing well. There was a lot of longevity in his family.
Thomas Landrum was born in April 1919 in Shreveport, Louisiana. His father was a painter and paper hanger. He was sick for six or seven months and had no work. He graduated from high school and married his high school sweetheart in 1941. On 22 April 1942, he was drafted. He remembers the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: Hawaii]. He had a child born 10 May 1942. He ended up in an outfit [Annotator's Note: 342nd Engineer General Service Regiment] of the Philadelphia [Annotator's Note: Pennsylvania] National Guard. They were called to go overseas. On 1 July 1942, they moved into New Jersey for extra training. They received the M1 rifle [Annotator's Note: .30 caliber M1 semi-automatic rifle, also known as the M1 Garand] instead of the Springfield [Annotator's Note: .30 caliber M1903 Springfield bolt action rifle]. They loaded on an English ship [Annotator's Note: HMS Duchess of Bedford] and sailed out of New York Harbor and joined a convoy. They had a battleship and two cruisers in the front and the same in the back. After nine days of zig-zagging [Annotator’s Note: an anti-submarine naval Maneuver], they docked in Liverpool Harbor [Annotator's Note: England]. There were sunken ships there. They went to Lettershaws, England and built a quartermaster depot. They did close order drill every morning. There is a lot more daylight up there. He had a hernia and had surgery while there. They then moved down the coast to where the buzz bombs [Annotator's Note: V-1 flying bomb] were going over. He then went up to Ripon, Yorkshire, England where he went to learn about bridges, mines and booby traps. Two weeks after he returned to his outfit, he was sent back to become part of the school he had just left. He worked as a clerk. Landrum was in England for two years and two months. A couple of months before he went over to France was when the invasion [Annotator's Note: Allied invasion of Normandy, Fracne on 6 June 1944] was made. When he went over the beaches had been cleaned up, but he could still see damage. He went into Épinay, France [Annotator's Note: Épinay-sur-Orge]. They set up a school there and trained whole companies at a time. He was in Reims [Annotator's Note: France] when the Germans surrendered. Companies had come through that were heading for Japan, but the war ended before they could get over there. His outfit was kind of independent. He went to Marseilles, France to catch an airplane home but he had to wait on a Liberty ship [Annotator's Note: class of rapidly produced cargo ship]. He loaded on and four days out into the Atlantic, the engines stopped. They had to fix them and that made the trip home take 18 days. When they pulled into New York Harbor, people were waving, and it was quite a thrill. He was then shipped to southern Mississippi and discharged.
The war in Japan had ended when Thomas Landrum returned home from Europe. They had dropped the bomb [Annotator's Note: Nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Japan, 6 and 9 August 1945] and he was surprised. He does not know anyone who was not. You do not know what is going to happen to any country now. He returned to Shreveport [Annotator's Note: Louisiana] to find that his wife had divorced him while he was overseas. He never saw her again. He did see their child when she was three and a half years old. The child was with her grandparents. Landrum got remarried in 1946 or 1947 had two children. His son died of cancer at age 25. He and his wife lived together quite a while. She was never happy after their son died. They moved to about nine different houses due to that. After she passed away, Landrum looked up his daughter from his first marriage. She was in her 50s and they keep in contact. She has never been married. He has a step-daughter as well and has four children. [Annotator's Note: Landrum talks at length about her family, conversation which is not related to the war or his service.]
Thomas Landrum was an Army clerk at a school in England. It was an engineering school. The Bailey bridge [Annotator's Note: portable, pre-fabricated, truss bridge] was designed by the English. 120 men can build 120 foot expansions without going to the other side. It is put together with pins and panels and can be built in less than a day. One was built for a train that was 1,500 feet long in Southern France. Landrum feels the war was a good thing to be involved in. We were going to help the English because Hitler [Annotator's Note: German dictator Adolf Hitler] was taking everything. The Japanese made their first punch at us. He did not keep up with that war in the Pacific. He feels he had a good life even though he had three wives. We are a free country, but we do not know how much longer that is going to last.
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