George's training took him to a technical school in Chicago Illinois which is near The Great Lakes Naval Training Center. There he was able to visit others from Stewart County like George Weaks. They went to a Major League Baseball Game at Wrigley Field! This was also the first time that George was in a big city! He found out his brother was passing through Chicago on his way to the East Coast. His brother was on active duty assigned to a Tank Destroyer Battalion. George also while in Chicago was able to hear some Big Banes at the Chicago Theatre.
Time for Chapter Two: Basic Training
On 17 September 1943 I was transferred to Camp Crowder near Joplin Missouri for Basic Training. After three months of basic training, I took specialization training in telephone field wire and pole ling construction. The worst part of basic training is Fire Guard. I had to keep the fires going in front of the barracks, Company HQ, and Battalion HQ. The problem was the sad sacks on duty before me let most of the fires die out and were clogged with soot! I had to clean out all the furnaces and build new fires. To make matters worse it was in the low twenties and the company was due in from the field in two hours! I finally got all the furnaces going which was a chore!
From Camp Crowder I went to Camp Shenago Pennsylvania. (Formerly known as Camp Shenango was a World War II Military Personnel Replacement Depot located on what is now Transfer, Pennsylvania in Northwestern Pennsylvania.) At this camp we received overseas assignments shots, new issue of clothing and instruction on preparation for departure from the USA.
Chapter Three: (Life of George Williams, WW2)
On 11 April 1944, we parted Hampton Roads Virginia aboard a Liberty Ship in a slow-moving convoy. There were 500 soldiers in one hold of the ship.
We slept in bunks stacked 5 high and they were spaced so close that one could barely turnover without disturbing the soldier around us. One of the unknowns was the type of material that was being transported in the other holds on this ship. We could never get the sailors to tell us what it was! Enroute, we had several submarine alerts with much depth charge action. During these submarine alerts we had to stay in the hold. If we had been hit by a torpedo we would have drowned like rats! I said a slow boat because the convoy was travelling at about 6 knots per hour. In spite of the threats, we finally arrived at Casablanca Morocco on 3 May 1944 at about 2 A.M. We were loaded on 6 x 6 trucks and driven by Arab drivers who had more experience. We arrived at a temporary camp outside of Casablanca. Since we only had one blanket, we had to put on extra clothing to sleep comfortability in the cool semi desert air. The next morning several of us walked down to the highway to see some local sites. Immediately we saw an elderly Arab come riding by on top of a high load of sticks on a very small donkey!
We were so engrossed with this activity that we didn’t see an Army Car drive up behind us. It contained an U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who proceeded to chew us out for not saluting him when he drove by. A piece of chicken …..!
In a couple of days, we were loaded on a train with luxurious cars called “Forty and Eights”. They are box cars which received this name during the First World War which means the car had wooden floors and carry forty men or eight horses! The vintage of these cars was probably the First World War and if they could talk! We were lucky because we only had 35 soldiers in our car. Our bedding was straw on the floor and the toilets facilities were outstanding! One stands at the door and des his business out into the desert. The food was C rations, which the old “C” rations was a choice of either a can of meat and beans, beef hash, or beef stew supplemented by a cans containing hard biscuits, a pack of dried coffee (Nescafe), four pieces of the hard candy, a small pack of four Chesterfield Cigarettes and a couple of pieces of toilet paper! The train was pulled by two coal burning steam locomotives which almost asphyxiated us as we traveled upgrade in several tunnels of the Atlas Mountains. One of our sources of entertainment was to throw the pieces of hard candy to the Arab children as we traveled through small towns and watched them fight for the candy. We traveled for several days in this mode until we arrived at Oran Algeria.