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The Frying Pan
One time when we were on maneuvers in Tennessee, my tank was guarding a road this was all simulation and the water in our five-gallon can was awful. You couldnt drink it.
There was a farmhouse by the road, so I went and knocked on the door. A woman answered, and I asked her if she had any fresh water.
She said yes, so I went back to the tank and dumped the five gallons of water out I wasnt gonna do it in front of her house and when I returned with the empty can, she took me to a cave in the side of a mountain. There were rocks inside, and water was coming down from somewhere in the mountain.
It was crystal-clear water. I took a drink with my canteen cup. Never in my life did I taste water that delicious.
So I filled the five-gallon can to bring back to my crew. Then the woman says, "Are you fellows hungry?"
"Well, kind of."
You know what she did? She went out, and she had some fresh-killed chickens. She took the chickens, she had them all cleaned up and ready, and we had southern fried chicken, and she made biscuits for us, we were there for quite a while.
You know, Ive thought of this many times, if I knew then what I know now, Id have kept a diary. With names of towns. I can remember when our company took Rheims, where they make champagne.
Now, the first tank we had, behind the driver and the assistant driver there was a cubbyhole for shells for the 75-millimeter gun. But every time you wanted one of them, youd skin your knuckles trying to get them out of there, so we never used it. Instead we would pile the extra ammunition on the turret floor. So when we got to Rheims, ol Tony got the bright idea, pink champagne. I had every one of those cubbyholes filled with pink champagne. I was drinking pink champagne for breakfast, dinner and supper.
Corporal Ed Spahr, of Carlisle, Pa., joined the 712th as a replacement in Normandy. He was a loader, and then a gunner, in C Company.
We used to have an old frying pan hanging on the back of the tank. We never washed it in water. The exhaust fumes would blow on it.
Wed stop if we saw something. One time we caught a rabbit. The rabbits were large over there, and we had chicken and rabbit at the same time. We were out in the field, so no one knew about us eating this wild stuff.
This pan would be so dirty, and we had a bucket hanging on the back of the tank as well, we used to brew coffee in it. That bucket was so black, youd swear it was blacker than the coffee. Every time wed get ready to eat, wed make coffee in this, and we would say, "Well, if the meat is contaminated, if the chicken is contaminated and the rabbit is contaminated and the water around here is contaminated, these pans cant be contaminated because theres nothing on them but road dust and exhaust fumes," and wed eat like kings.
Wed all joke and josh about things like that, and somebody would make some remark like, "Well, overeating with poisonous food is better than dying with a bullet."
Ruby GoldsteinWe didnt have the kitchen trucks very often, so whatever you could scrounge you scrounged. We would get these big cans, put a little hole on each side, and put a piece of wire through the holes. And we built a fire. We put dirt in the bottom, made holes in the bottom, put some gasoline on it, and put a smaller can on top of it, with a little bit of water. Then we went scrounging for vegetables.
One day we hit a potato field. So if you hold your lever and you gun the engine, the tank turns, one treads stopped and youre turning. And what are you digging up? Potatoes.
Wed peel the potatoes, chunk them up, throw them in. We had cans of English style stew. And wed throw in whatever vegetables we could find. And you know something? It was the best thing you ever tasted.
Tony DArpinoI cant remember who thought of the idea first, but you get an empty five-gallon can with a handle on it, something like painters use; you put gravel on the bottom, about six inches, and then you put some potatoes. Then you put about six more inches of gravel on top. And you tie it underneath the tank had two exhausts coming out, you tie it to that. And after running all day long, the potatoes are baked. We put the gravel on it so we dont get the smell. We used to have baked potatoes all the time.
Sergeant Richard Greca was part of a maintenance crew.In Service Company, wed go fishing with hand grenades. Throw em in the river, and fish would come up, big German brown trout, and wed pick em up.
Then one day I was in a little rowboat and I dropped one off the side of it, thats the last time I did that, because I discovered that the water wasnt too deep.
One night we went up to check the tanks, and the crew heard us talking, and they got scared and thought it was the Germans out there, so they threw a hand grenade out. Two of us got hit, but not serious.
I jumped under the tank, so I wouldnt get the shrapnel, and then the doggone tank started to move. I said, "Now what?!" I got out of there real quick.
George BussellOne day Eugene Crawford said we were gonna get some eggs.
I said, "How the hell are we gonna get eggs? We cant speak French."
He said, "I know how to ask for eggs. You go up and knock on the door, and when they come to the door, you say, "Avez vous des erf."
I said, "Is that right?"
He said, "Sure."
Thats all he knew how to say. So he walks in there, he knocks on the door, and this woman comes out, and he says, "Avez vous des erf?" And she shakes her head no, and he says, "Well then, where can I get some?"
Ruby GoldsteinOne day when I was in the replacement depot waiting to rejoin the battalion, we were getting hungry. It was after breakfast, and its getting close to noontime, and who knows when the heck youre gonna get chow, or what youre gonna get.
So this fellow and I, we take a walk, and we get to a farmhouse, where we get some eggs. But we bought em. The Germans wouldnt buy them. Theyd take what they want. I had some francs in my pocket. I said, "Give me six eggs."
I put em in my field jacket, three in one pocket, three in another. We go along, go into another farmhouse, and I want some more eggs.
The woman in the house could understand what I wanted. She goes out to get the eggs, and I go to sit down forget it! I made a mistake. I crushed the six eggs in my pockets. What a mess I had!
I got the other six eggs. I cleaned up as best I could. I cleaned out my pockets. Then I said, if she had a rabbit we could buy a rabbit. So it cost me, I think it was ten francs, its two cents a franc, twenty cents, and I got a rabbit. It was a nice, big, fat one.
We get back to camp, we said, "How the hell are we gonna kill this and cook it?" So this one kid from down South, I dont remember his name, he says, "Ill show you how we do it."
He takes the rabbit by the hind legs, on the tree, Bam! Hits the head right on the tree, holds the hind legs, puts the rabbit on the ground, puts his foot under the neck, and pulls his head right off. Then he takes a knife and guts it.
We got a couple of branches from a tree, and two forks, cleaned them off, dug a little pit, and started a fire. I got some salt from a guy, and we poured it all inside of the rabbit to clean it out, we didnt have any water. We poured all the salt, and were scraping it with knives to clean it out, and everybody, their mouths were getting full of saliva, you know, were gonna have something to eat.
We turned that thing, and were turning it and turning it, it should be done by now. We break a piece off and go to eat it.
Did you ever eat shoe leather? You started chewing, you figured look, its better than nothing. You spit it out, you couldnt eat it.
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