Orv, England 1944 Orv Iverson
WWII autobiography

Chapter: England Training and adventures.

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Our next stop was Algiers, a beautiful port city on a steep hillside. After Algiers we sailed past Gibraltar. At that point we had some hope of returning to the USA before being reassigned. After about a week of being escorted by different British Navy ships we began to see land. When the ship docked at the Liverpool docks the speakers were blaring out "I'll Buy A Paper Doll" by the Ink Spots. This may have been a long way from the USA, but it looked mighty good after being out in the barren desert of Libya. I had dressed in my best OD wools to get ready to disembark from the ship. It was my turn to empty the garbage for our table. As was the custom we were required to dump the slushy mixture of coffee and left overs over the side of the ship. Unfortunately, I dumped the garbage on the windward side of the ship. The garbage was caught in the upstream and was carried back on me on my clean OD's. I believe it was about November 7, 1943 when we arrived in England.

At First in England the 414th was located near Oxford. I do not remember the camp facilities. However I do remember going to town via a Ford truck. The town was completely blacked out. I was not interested in the pubs, the only places open at night. I can remember stumbling around in the dark, feeling my way along the vine covered walls. I wondered how I got back to the truck, which weaved its way back to the base in the fog.

Eventually the 414th moved onto a more permanent location, the Middlewallop Airbase near Salisbury in Wiltshire County. We moved into brickwalled barracks with a central heating system. We even had a large bathtub with hot water. We ate in a messhall with the other outfits on the base, some British. At first the GI's really partook of warm beers, sometimes in excess. One of the GIs in the upper bunk next to me indulged almost every night at the nearby pub. Unfortunately he had a bladder control problem. One night I heard dripping. The dripping was on the bunk under the heavy drinker, The fellow on the lower bunk was awakened when the urine penetrated his own blanket, I believe the GI in the lower bunk was the supply sergeant, who promptly and very firmly pulled the GI out of the upper bunk onto the floor. Then the sergeant, non to gently, took him to the orderly room. Believe it or not this happened again. This time the sergeant wouldn't let the dripper back in the upper bunk.

However, life at the base became less important as I began to meet the English civilians in the nearby town of Salisbury. I believe most of the contacts began at the Brown Street Baptist Church in Salisbury. Some members at the church would invite GI's to their homes for tea and cakes around the gas fireplace. One family, especially, befriended about half dozen GI's. They had a son, Gordon, who was a pilot in the RAF, a daughter in the Navy, I believe her name was Joan, then one daughter at home who was going steady with an American GI, Lt. Smiley.

Margaret was their daughter who was going with Lt. Smiley, However, sometimes she would go out with one of the other GI's, only on a friendship basis. I knew her on this friendly basis for a period of about eight months. I can remember one of our trips around the countryside, especially. We took the double decker bus down to the south coast. We spent the day just walking around and conversing. Before we returned to Salisbury we had dinner at a very nice restaurant in Bournernouth. We returned late after a pleasant bus ride. Every week I and other GI's would come to the Trowbridges after the Sunday eve services. One Sunday Mr. Trowbridge and I were having tea by ourselves, What he sprung on me was such a surprise, I just sort of hid my reactions by asking for some more tea. He said, "Ivy, I would like you to marry Margaret." I was totally shocked. I had not expected anything like this. I could only say that things were too uncertain and that even though I survived the impending invasion and conclusion of the war, I would not want to take such a big step now. Nothing more came of this proposal. I continued to see Margaret, but only on a friendship basis. For me the Trowbridge home was like having a family. This relationship was very precious for me during these times, so far from my own family.

I did not stay with the 414th very long after we settled at Middlewallop. I was placed on a temporary assignment with the Ninth Tactical Air Command, Signal Section. I didn't realize it at the time, but my "temporary assignment" would last more than a year. Ninth TAC was made up of mostly officers. The work we were doing had to do with getting secret signal operating instructions and signal operating procedures printed up for the invasion. One of the things was to set up a system of changing crystals in fighter planes, so the enemy would not be able to jam the radio frequencies used by the fighter pilot.

The Ninth TAC group was a very close working group of GIs. I can still remember most of the names. There was Roy Vander Polder, Michael Garzilli, Ray Hippchen (Chief Clerk),Woofter, Wyatt Kirk,Sgt.Reed, Vincent Cosentina, John Howard, Frank Loskot, GeorgeStrauthers. Some officers were C.C.McCAbe (Executive Officer),Blair Garland (Signal Officer), Norman Fertig, Howard Gaither, Ray Mattson, c.G. Van Arman, Robert Thrasher, Beecher Bain, BradCooley, Capt, Hudson, George Coates,Major George Wilson, Lt. Albert Brooke, Lt. Bernie Kraus, Master Sgt. Kermit Money and Sgt. Bill Churchan our draftsman.

Roy Vander Polder was a close friend. He was older and had been personnel manager for the United Steel and Wire Company in Battle Creek, Michigan. He found army life a respite from dealing with the problems in civilian life, especially the problems of dealing with labor strifes. He and I would attend the evening church services and then visit with the Trowbridges. One time at the evening church services he had some kind of an attack. He broke out in a sweat and became very pale. I wanted to get some medical help for him, but he said he would be okay. He recovered in a few minutes.

Life went on rather well in England, no more illnesses, no accidents, and I worked with some very fine GIs and had a good social life outside of camp. However much preparation was taking place in regards to the impending invasion. In the last days in May, Major Fertig called me over to inform me that I would be getting an armored halftrack waterproofed down near Bournemouth. For me this was quite an adventure. I had never driven a truck, and now I have been assigned an armored vehicle. I drove it , on the left side of the narrow winding roads, to the waterproofing station. To my surprise I had to take the sticky, green waterproofing material and do the job myself. I took some side trips with the half track just to get some practice. It had electric brakes that I wanted to get used to. Unfortunately the FM radio station would not fit under the canvas of the half-track. I then was assigned a six by six truck, and I had to water proof the truck.

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