Oral history interview with James M. Burgess
James Burgess describes his experiences in the Army during WWII and Korea; sailing from Boston to Liverpool and arriving a few weeks before the invasion of Normandy; training in the areas of Exmouth, Exeter, and Portsmouth; training on the use of Jacob's ladder (used to climb in and out of the boats); the landing at Utah Beach and subsequent march through roads that wound through flooded marshes; being wounded in the leg by shrapnel and spending a month in a hospital in England; rejoining his unit in October and receiving later a battlefield commission; how during the Battle of the Bulge, his unit helped relieve the 101st Airborne at Bastogne; crossing the Rhine at Worms and being at Bad Tolz, Germany when they heard of President Roosevelt's death and thought it was false German propaganda; going from village to village, riding in tanks and sleeping in homes; going to Munich, Germany; walking through Dachau with two other lieutenants; being in Bamberg, Germany at the end of the war; being moved by boxcar to Le Havre, France; traveling to Paris, France; going to New York City, where they were met with a hero's welcome; graduating from Georgia Tech; getting married; his wife giving birth to twins one day before he was ordered to go to Korea as a Reservist; being attached to the 1st Marine Division as an intelligence officer; spending his time in Korea screening prisoners and refugees; living at the Marine Division Headquarters near the 38th Parallel; communicating with his wife and receiving photographs of his twin daughters; and his pride for the current 4th Division, who captured Saddam Hussein. [Note that Mr. Burgess brought many artifacts to the interview, including a "Deutschen Mutter" a cross that was presented to German mothers for exemplary motherhood, which he got when they entered a building that was a hospital full of pregnant women.]
Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
- James M. Burgess
- Marilyn Parr
2004 January 14
1 digital file : MOV.
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Atlanta History Center
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:38:01
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn538176
Also in Oral history interviews of the Atlanta History Center collection
Oral history interviews with liberators of Nazi concentration camps.
John Glustrom describes his experiences as a US Army engineer in the 333rd Engineer Special Service Regiment during WWII.
James Gibson Hull recalls his military experience during World War II. He describes his childhood; his father was a banker and his grandfather a doctor. Graduating college in 1936, he describes his search for employment and some of his jobs. He relates that in his mind, Hitler was far away. Eventually he realized that he had a low draft number and joined the Georgia National Guard. He trained in Florida, "cleaning up swamps." He and his friends would go to Jacksonville for good food and were on their way there when Pearl Harbor was attacked; they left before the gates were closed and from that time, all leave was frozen. After training, he met a "charming lady" and knew he'd better get a commission. After Officers Candidate School, he was shipped overseas as a general's aide. He describes the crossing with no escort; they changed course every three minutes. He was stationed between Manchester and Liverpool. They had to go to Wales to get their guns calibrated and he describes the difficulty of moving them through the streets of Wales. They crossed the channel in a Liberty Ship, landing on Utah beach, which had been secured but they were still taking artillery fire. He describes their march across France and their encounters with the German 6th Army. He recalls how German artillery was horse-drawn, and that the stench was incredible. He describes an incident in which he was injured; he found the back of his Eisenhower jacket to be full of shrapnel holes. They were headed for Paris, but ordered to turn south; this would allow a French unit formed in England the honor of liberating Paris. He worked as a liaison officer to the press so he had a jeep and a radio; he also kept contact with the division on their left. He relates a time when his general was sick, so he had to go to a meeting in his place, and he had an encounter with George Patton. He recalls being impressed with Patton, that he knew tactics, but also relates that his troops were scared to death of him. He describes in great detail the Battle of the Bulge; the weather was so cold they couldn't hold on to their mess kits. The infantry marched alongside tanks to Bastogne; Patton called for the chaplains to pray for a break in the cold, foggy weather. When the weather broke, the planes were able to come in and that turned the tide. He recalls crossing the Rhine on pontoon bridges multiple times because his general forgot the maps. His parents were told he was on the cover of Life magazine, but his mother refused to believe it was him because he had a cigarette in his hands. He reports that the Germans were the best equipped army in the world, and that their 88s were the best gun. They reached the Czech border and turned toward the Austrian border when they received orders to cease fire. He had been given a pass to go to Switzerland, but gave it back, stating that he was going home. He describes his military experience during World War II. He describes in detail capturing German soldiers, touring a concentration camp with a pilot friend named Wayland, and liberating a prisoner of war camp. He recalls that he was unable to eat for three days after touring the concentration camp. His wife, who is present during the interview, recalls attending the 1936 Olympics in Germany and related that Hitler refused to distribute medals to American athletes. He recalls leaving LeHavre on a "creaky old boat" bound for the States. While on board, he saw a pilot friend, Murphy, drinking a glass of fresh milk. He drank one as well, and promptly vomited it, not having had fresh milk in two years. During the voyage, he was tasked with heading the troop train to South Carolina, discharging troops from Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., through to South Carolina. He was reunited with his wife in Augusta (Ga.). He describes the gift his wife's parents presented to him on his homecoming, which is shown during the interview. He relates receiving a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He describes his friendship with Bobby Jones, and the trophy Jones' daughter gave him; Hull donated the trophy to the Sea Island Golf Club.
Howard Margol, born February 22, 1924 Jacksonville, FL, describes growing up in Jacksonville; his twin brother, Hilbert; attending the University of Florida for his first year; enlisting in the army reserve; going to Camp Blanding on April 3, 1943 with his brother and training for three months at Fort Bragg in North Carolina; the voyage to Europe; being caught in a second offensive during the Battle of the Bulge; his part in the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp; his unit's march through Germany, including events of the surrender and the occupation; and his life after the war.