Prewar to Army Training

Overseas in Europe

Postwar and Reflections


[Annotator’s Note: A dog panting is audible in the background throughout segment.] William Batty was born in December 1925 in Camden, Alabama. His father worked in the lumber business and raised the family out in the country near the sawmill. At age 12, Batty moved into town when his father’s lumber business closed as a result of the Great Depression [Annotator's Note: The Great Depression was a global economic depression that lasted from 1929 through 1939 in the United States]. The family then moved to Long Beach [Annotator’s Note: Long Beach, Mississippi] along the Gulf Coast. To provide for the family, Batty’s father operated pinball machines and sold chickens. Batty’s father then found work as an accountant with the Corps of Engineers, Veterans Affairs, and later with the Internal Revenue Service. Batty was living in Meridian, Mississippi when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December [Annotator's Note: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. He graduated from high school in 1943. He followed the course of the war by watching newsreel footage at the local movie theater. Morale was low throughout the country at the time, as the news from the front was often bad. Batty took advantage of military training while in high school and had hopes of joining the Army and applying for the ASTP [Annotator's Note: Army Specialized Training Program; generally referred to just by the initials ASTP; a program designed to educate massive numbers of soldiers in technical fields such as engineering and foreign languages and to commission those individuals at a fairly rapid pace in order to fill the need for skilled junior officers]. He was turned down due to poor eyesight and was drafted in April 1944 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. As a result of a classification interview during basic training, Batty was sent to signal corps training at Camp Crowder, Missouri where he also received advanced training in telephone repair work. From Missouri, Batty was sent to a replacement depot at Fort Jackson, South Carolina where he was assigned to the 58th Signal Repair Company in December 1944. After Christmas, Batty completed more training in preparation for transport to Europe. His unit trained in the woods in a repair workshop built on the back of a six-by-six truck [Annotator's Note: two and a half ton, six by six truck, also known as deuce and a half]. Batty then reported to Camp Shanks, New York before boarding a converted United Fruit Company ship for transport across the Atlantic in a large convoy. After a U-boat [Annotator's Note: German submarine] scare in the Mid Atlantic, the convoy was rerouted to Cardiff, Wales. The trip lasted about two weeks.


[Annotator’s Note: Can hear a dog panting in the background throughout segment.] William Batty was assigned to the 58th Signal Repair Company, and after landing in Wales, he was sent to Winchester, England to await transport to Brest, France. Batty then arrived at Camp Lucky Strike [Annotator's Note: one of the transit and rehabilitation camps in France named after popular cigarette brands; Lucky Strike was near Le Havre, France] to await transport into Germany. The first city Batty and his unit came to in Germany was Mönchengladbach where they were billeted in a mansion and they bathed in the basement in laundry tubs. They eventually moved forward to a small town 60 miles outside of Nuremberg [Annotator’s Note: Nuremberg, Germany] where they performed telephone repair work. When the war ended, there was not much celebration, just a sense of relief and happiness that they would soon go home. However, the unit was scheduled to be sent to Manila [Annotator’s Note: Manila, the Philippines] to begin preparing for the invasion of Japan. Batty and another guy from the unit were sent to Paris [Annotator’s Note: Paris, France] to learn how to waterproof the telephone equipment, a skill that would have been vital in the humid South Pacific. On the way to and from Paris, Batty was struck by the number of displaced persons wandering along the side of the road. He realized the impact that the war had had on millions of civilians. Batty left Rouen, France en route to Marseille, France to deliver their equipment so that it could be loaded aboard a ship. [Annotator’s Note: Dog barks in background at 0:22:06.000.] He rode on the springs between a truck and trailer for a while before moving back to the passenger seat. As the truck approached a roundabout in the center of a small French village, the trailer where he had just been sitting flipped, sending equipment flying. This was the nearest to death he came while in Europe. After turning the truck over in Marseille, the unit boarded boxcars and returned to Rouen. They returned to Marseille a short time after and awaited their ship to Japan when the war ended. Batty remembers soldiers firing their rifles into the air in jubilation. He put his helmet on just in case. The decision was made to send the soldiers back to the United States aboard the SS Sea Tiger. Batty arrived in Norfolk, Virginia and received a 45-day furlough [Annotator's Note: an authorized absence for a short period of time]. [Annotator’s Note: phone rings in background at 0:28:17000.] Batty was reassigned to a signal light construction battalion where he was promoted to staff sergeant while working in a motor pool.


[Annotator’s Note: Can hear a dog panting in the background throughout segment. Interviewee hits the microphone throughout the segment.] William Batty was transferred to Fort Bragg, North California and discharged on 27 April 1946. He attended Mississippi State University [Annotator’s Note: Starkville, Mississippi] on the G.I. bill [Annotator's Note: the G.I. Bill, or Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, was enacted by the United States Congress to aid United States veterans of World War 2 in transitioning back to civilian life and included financial aid for education, mortgages, business starts and unemployment] and joined the ROTC [Annotator's Note: Reserve Officer Training Corps] program. He graduated with a degree in electrical engineering and as a second lieutenant in the Army. Batty went on to work for IBM for 38 years and had the opportunity to participate as a contract worker in NASA’s [Annotator’s Note: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration] Apollo program. His career would have been wholly impossible without his experience in the Army and the help of the G.I. bill. Batty’s most memorable experience of World War 2 was when a trailer turned over while in Marseille, France, and seeing the bombed out cities as he travelled through Europe. [Annotator’s Note: phone rings at 0:37:20.000.] He fought in World War 2 because it was the honorable thing to do and Americans had faith in the government. The war changed his life because it provided him with a college degree and opened his eyes to worldly affairs. He is proud of his service today, but he never brags about it. [Annotator’s Note: Microphone falls off of interviewee at 0:40:41.000.] He believes that many Americans do not know much about World War 2, and that is too bad. Batty believes there should be institutions like the National WWII Museum [Annotator's Note: The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana], and tht we should continue to teach World War 2 to future generations.

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