John SublettBefore The War
by: Mattie Waldstein
For my project I decided to interview my maternal grandfather, John Sublett, a World War Two veteran. My grandfather was assigned to the 745th tank Battalion, Assault Platoon. The 745th tank Battalion traveled through Europe and Central Europe and fought in the battle of the Bulge. After the war, he went to college on the GI bill which was a law passed by Congress after the war. It said that soldiers who could not pay for college could go to college because the government would pay for their education. After college, he became a pharamacist and owned his own drug store. He married my grandmother, Mary Zoret. They had two kids Heidi and Brian. They settled in Yakima, Washington, where they still live.
While my grandfather was still in high school he was drafted. He did his basic training at Ft. Mead. After training, all the soldiers took an hour bus ride to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, where they did not do much except eat and sleep. They got twelve hour passes to New York City. All the soldiers got their last physical while at Camp Kilmer.
On the boat to London, my grandfather was fed "only two meals a day." For entertainment, they played cards and read. They also had a small band that would play once in a while. The trip to London was slow because they were in a convoy. It took thirteen days counting the day and a half that they were in harbor at Liverpool in England. When the soldiers got off the boat they were greeted by the Red Cross with coffee and doughnuts like in Jersey City. That night and part of the next day, my grandfather and the rest of the soldiers rode on the train. They got to Southampton, England, at about ten o’ clock, and marched about three miles through the city.
That afternoon they got on to a "Limey boat" which is an English ship for the trip across the Channel. This boat was much worse than the boat the soldiers rode on to England. "The food was terrible." That night they slept on the boat and the next morning they dropped the anchor off the coast of France. The soldiers unloaded on Omaha Beach which is the same beach that was taken over on D-Day. From there, they marched three miles to an open field and set up "pup tents." When they were there they ate nothing but spam and biscuits.
Labor Day Morning
On Labor day, all the soldiers were loaded into trucks and taken to a "rail head" in a town about twenty miles away. They got there about ten in the morning and stood in an open lot in the rain all the rest of the day. That night they were put on a train. There were about forty men and all the equipment in one box car.
The next place that my grandfather went was inside Germany. His group lived in the woods in eight man tents where the mud was so deep that if he stepped off the wooden paths, "you would sink in over your neck.” The first night my grandfather slept there, he did not sleep well because there were "big guns bombing all night. Every time one went off I would jump about a foot in the air." Grandpa said that life during the war “was a continuous camping trip. We lived in bombed-out houses or holes in the ground and had guard duty every four hours.”
Has the War Ended?
By then, the Americans thought the war had ended. But then one day they made a one hundred and forty mile road march to Czechoslovakia. Finally after a week of doing nothing, the war ended.
"Most Exciting Moment"
The day after VE Day, the soldiers were called to help with the mass surrender of a corps of the German army. My grandfather said that “this was his most exciting moment.” The Germans came in with everything "from bicycles to captured American trucks. The Germans also brought their women with them so they could keep the Russians from getting them."
In Eger, Czechoslovakia, his main job was to guard and discharge the seventy-five or eighty thousand prisoners in the camp. He stayed there until he was sent home, getting his GED high school diploma while he waited to be discharged.
I knew that my grandfather had been in the war but I never knew what he did. I was amazed when I found what he went through and how hard his life was during the war. I had never been interested in what he did during the war but after I read his letter I was really interested in what he did. I never knew that my grandfather had pictures from the war. The pictures were really cool and fun to look at. Even though the war was not fun all the time the pictures from the war look really cool and it looked like he had a fun time in the war at some points. I admired my grandfather for having the courage to do this instead of finishing college.
John Sublett. Interview December 2005.
Pictures curtesey of my Grandfather John Sublett.
WW1-Allied. Diggerhistory. http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-posters/ww1-allied.htm. March 13, 2006.
World War II Posters. Classroom Clipart.http://classroomclipart.com/cgi-bin/kids/imageFolio.cgi?direct=History/United_States/World_War_II/World_War_II_Posters&img=9.March 13, 2006.