Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Clip of the (almost every) Day: Ellsworth Howard

Ellsworth Howard

For my next oral history audiobook, I'm considering a collection of vignettes recorded in the hospitality room over the years at reunions of the 712th Tank Battalion, with which my father served.

Yes, there's background noise, and I'd like some feedback from listeners as to whether the background noise is too much of a distraction to make for a quality audiobook.

Today's audio clip is from the 1993 reunion. Ellsworth Howard was the executive officer of A Company, and became the company commander on July 13, 1944, when the original company commander, Clifford Merrill, was wounded. Howard himself was wounded a little more than a month later, on August 18 or 19, at Le Bourg St. Leonard, during the closing of the Falaise Gap.

Here is an audio clip of the conversation, along with a transcript to make listening a little easier:

Ellsworth Howard

Aaron Elson: Where were you wounded?

Ellsworth Howard: On my body, or ...

Aaron Elson: Both.

Ellsworth Howard: I got shot in the belly, a shell fragment in the belly, in the Falaise Gap. We were there when it first started, walked right into it. Courtesy of Jack Galvin.

Aaron Elson: What did Jack Galvin do?

Forrest Dixon: You got this on, or don't you?

Aaron Elson: It's on.

Ellsworth Howard: We were in relief, A Company was. Colonel Randolph had given us instructions, you're gonna be here for several days, so clean up your tanks and your guns and write letters. Before the day was out, why, he came over and said "I need you to send five tanks up there to Le Bourg," and I said, "I don't think I've got five tanks. We've got the engines out of the darn tanks and their guns are out and everything else."
He said, "Well, you're gonna have to do it."
I went back and told Szirony [maintenance sergeant Steve Szirony] "We've got to have five tanks right away." So they, after a round of obscenity, put together five tanks.
He [Colonel Randolph] said there's nothing going on up there, that B Company's been up there on guard duty for a while and there's nothing going on, they're just tired and need to be relieved. So they pulled out and we went there with five tanks and had to fight our way in there. And before the day was out, we had everything we had in there. Then I found out that Galvin and Dougherty were drunk up there, and Randolph pulled them out because they couldn't handle it. We just about lost our whole company in that deal. When I got shot we were down to six tanks. What was the number of that tank destroyer outfit [the 773rd]? Their medic picked me up and hauled me back, and there weren't any hospitals around there, because of the way the front was moving, the hospitals didn't know where to set up, and they took me over someplace, and the best I can remember there wasn't a darn thing there, but they let me lay on that ground there on a cot until they put up a tent, they called a hospital unit in there and I stayed there for a while, and I stayed there for a while, and then they took me into Chartres and flew me back to England.

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