|Cassette recorded oral history interview with Edwin A. Grosskopf, United States Army Air Force and the United States Army during World War II. Ed was drafted in March of 1942. He trained in Miami, Baton Rouge and San Antonio where he was assigned to the 96th Air Depot Group which was trained to repair damaged aircraft. In August 1943, Ed's unit was stationed at Bishop Storeford, England where they repaired damaged B-26's as well as P-47 and P-51 fighters. Ed's unit landed on Omaha Beach in July of 1944 and set up shop in Reims. He was transferred to the infantry in January of 1945 and sent back to England for about 10 weeks of training. When he got back to Europe he was again transferred, this time to an artillery unit. Ed came back to the states in late December 1945 and was discharged.
Edwin Grosskopf Interview
9 June 2004
Conducted by Tom Sullivan
(T: identifies the interviewer, Tom Sullivan. E: identifies the subject, Edwin Grosskopf. Open brackets
[ ] or bracketed words indicate that a word or phrase is either not understood or that proper spelling for the word in unclear).
T: It's June 9th, 2004 and I'm Tom Sullivan at the Oshkosh Public Museum with Ed Grosskopf who is going to tell me about his experiences in the Second World War. Ed, I guess we should start right at the beginning and find out when and where you were born.
E: I was born in Wausau, Wisconsin in 1924.
T: Were your mother and dad both from the Wausau area?
E: Well, he came from Athens, Wisconsin and also Jackson, Wisconsin. But they located in Wausau.
T: What did they do for a living?
E: My mother never worked but my dad worked for Underwood Veneer Company.
T: Do you have any brothers and sisters?
E: I have two brothers and one sister.
T: Are they all still living?
E: Yes. And they all live in the Wausau area.
T: Tell me about your childhood Ed. Tell me where you went to school, grade school, and what you did for fun after school.
E: Well I suppose I was active. We went to a parochial school for eight years and then I went to Wausau High School and graduated in 1941. We still have reunions. We were one of the few classes that have constant reunions. And Elroy Hirsch was a good friend of mine. And in fact we played basketball in 7th, 8th and 9th grade.
T: So he was in your class then?
E: He was in our class, sure.
T: I guess he was a great guy, man of many talents.
E: He was. Right.
T: When you were a young fellow, we were pretty much in the depths of the Depression. Did the Depression affect your family at all?
E: I would think so. We always had food on the table. It wasn't always a lot but we didn't starve. And we didn't get any help from other sources. And my dad found some part time jobs, I suppose to keep the family going.
T: Did he lose his regular job?
E: No, but he didn't work consistently. You know he was laid off at times but we managed to get going.
T: Was Wausau in general severely affected by the Depression? I know Oshkosh was because of the woodworking industry which it was dependent on. But how was it in Wausau?
E: It was much the same as I would think Oshkosh. We had woodworking companies, sash and door factories. And of course a lot of that has changed too. They did have paper mills like Rothschilds which is a community close to Wausau. And they had paper mills there which I suppose helped keep the economy going. But generally speaking we had problems just like everybody else did.
T: In the late thirties and the early forties there was war in Europe and there was war in the Far East. Did you give that much thought? Did they talk about it in school in your classes, like history class and so forth. Was there any real serious thought given to those wars?
E: I would think that there was because I can always remember writing a paper and my subject was, "Take the Profit Out Of Wars." And I thought that was almost as true today as it was back then.
T: What did you do when you got out of high school. You got out in '41 so it was before Pearl Harbor. Did you get a job or…?
E: Well I went to technical school first and then I got a job with a local bank up there. And continued working in the bank until I was drafted.
T: Do you remember Pearl Harbor Day? Do you remember where you were and what you were doing then?
E: We were riding in the car. The family was. And we heard it on the radio.
T: That's the way it was with me too. I was listening to "The Shadow" or something like that on the radio. Did you wait for the draft then?
E: I waited until I was drafted.
T: And when were you drafted Ed?
E: Well I went into the service, let's see, March 3rd, we went to Milwaukee for our physicals and then we came back to Wausau for a week and I think it was March 11th when we went in the service at Fort Sheridan.
T: I see. Had you ever been away from home before or was that your first trip? A lot of guys had never been away from their hometown but some had the opportunity to travel around.
E: I maybe was, well I was at Badger Boys State. I was one of the first people that had gone to Badger Boys State. And that was in Delafield, Wisconsin for a week. And that would be my first experience being away from home.
T: So you went to Fort Sheridan. How long were you there?
E: Not very long. I would think, having physicals and then we, from there we were shipped to Miami Beach.
T: Was that where you got your basic training?
E: Basic training. Right.
T: Now you served in the Air Force. Did they shunt you into the Air Force right away or was that something that came on later?
E. I could choose Air Force, Army or Navy. Or Marines too. So I took the Air Force, it was mentioned first so I said I'll go Air Force.
T: I guess a lot of young fellows were sort of enamored of flying.
E: Well, I guess I didn't know too much about it. I'll take my chances.
T: Tell me about your training that you got. I guess basic training is pretty much the same for everybody. You go with your marching and so on and so forth. When you got into unit training to prepare for what you were gonna do, tell me about how that worked.
E: Well we had basic training - was in Miami Beach. And it seems to me we were on golf courses. I would think that's where we marched, did our marching on golf courses. And had our lectures on the same area.
And then after that, I'm not sure of the length of time, maybe four or six weeks. I'm not sure of the time period. But then we went to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for being clerk-typists. Taking care of records for the units. And I think we were there also for about six to eight weeks.
T: So you must have had a little typing in high school to learn how to do that.
E: Yes I did.
T: And so you were in Baton Rouge for about six weeks did you say?
E: Six to eight weeks, Baton Rouge, yeah, Louisiana.
T: Where did you go then?
E: And then from there we, well evidently this unit I ended up with needed replacements so that they could go overseas so we went from Baton Rouge to San Antonio, Texas. And that was where I ended up with the unit, the 96th.
T: And that unit specifically was the, let me refer to this thing here. What was it called? What was your unit called?
E: All I can remember is the 96th Depot Repair Squadron.
T: 96th Depot Repair, okay. And were you attached to a larger Air Force unit?
E: Well, we were with the 16th Air Depot Group. And the total numbers as I had the feeling was about 360 people.
T: What were you trained to do in this particular unit? Were you trained to do repair work on the planes or did you do something else?
E: No, I was, well like I said we were trained really to do paper work and when I got to the unit I thought I would be keeping track of the records of the men in the unit. But as it turned out, because we left for overseas almost immediately after we reached San Antone, we were there only three or four weeks. I can't remember but we left on August the 9th or '43. We left San Antone for the, I'm not sure where we left, Southhampton I think is where we went.
T: What kind of a ship did you go on? Did you go on one of these converted liners or…?
E: Yes. S.S. Argentina. It was a luxury liner that evidently from the sound of it was, did cruises up and down the coast of South America. And that was a large ship. And I imagine there was at least 5,000, I'm not sure of the number.
T: Probably packed in like sardines.
E: Yeah, they were stacked about five high I think.
T: How was the weather? Did you have a calm trip or was it …?
E: Well we, of course I didn't mind it so much but it took us 21 days to get overseas. Because we left the United States on August 20th and then we reached Liverpool on September the 4th. And it, when we left it was calm but then we had to stay over someplace. I don't know if it was because of the storm in the North Seas or maybe U-boats too. Because that was the time that the U-boats were very…
T: Were you in a convoy or did you…?
E: Yes. We were in a convoy.
T: Some of those boats were fast enough so that they didn't have to be in convoys. I know a couple guys told me that they didn't have any convoy. That they were so fast that they were ahead of the U-boats. 21 days is a long time to go over.
E: That was a long time, right.
T: After you got to England where did you go then?
E: Well then we left Liverpool by train and then we traveled to Bishops Storeford which was in the south, I'm not sure of the direction but near London. Maybe about 20-30 miles from London. It was on an airbase. And so that's where we were.
T: When did your unit really start to do its job? Which was repair of these planes. Was it at that time?
E: It was, after we reached that airbase near London, yeah. We started to work with aircraft then. And my job was again keeping track of the condition that the aircraft were in because we would repair aircraft that were heavily damaged. And we would almost keep a daily record on the progress that each plane was in so that we could give a daily report on how many aircraft were available for flying.
T: What type of aircraft were you repairing? All bombers or were there some fighters?
E: P-47's, P-51's, B-26's. We didn't have any 24's, the B-24, no. Or 17's. But we were mostly fighter aircraft.
T: How many aircraft could your unit work on at one time? Did they do em one by one or could they have a dozen or so going?
E: Oh yes. They had more than, they had quite a few lined up that they were working on in various stages.
T: Did these aircraft take off and land from your base? Was it a base where it was an operational type of thing? Were they taking off for missions from that base?
E: There might have been some, not our unit. Because we had test pilots and when they said the aircraft were available for flight, then they would fly them to other bases and the fighter base. It was out of our hands then.
T: At this stage of the game was there any German air activity? Were the Germans coming over and bombing?
E: We had raids because we were close to London. We did have em come over our airfield. We had foxholes dug and we did have raids from time to time. The warning signals would go out. The sirens. And we did have some activities but it was getting to the point where we had enough fighting aircraft to keep the Germans away. It was starting to be that way.
T: I guess after the Battle of Britain they sort of backed away.
E: They backed away but we did have the buzz bombs though. We had those to contend with.
T: Now that was the V-l.
E: the V-1 and V-2.
T: I guess the V-2 was more like a rocket.
T: You didn't hear those but you heard the buzz bombs. You could actually shoot those down.
E: Oh yes. Because we had one over our air… in fact it was over my head, our heads I should say. We were on a, we were ready to go over to France and they were shooting them at that time. So one did come over us. It was right overhead and it stopped and then we all jumped in a foxhole and it came down but it landed oh, a hundred feet or so from us.
T: Oh my gosh, did it explode?
E: Oh sure.
T: Did those things have a lot of explosive in them?
E: It put a big hole in that certain area. Blew out windows and whatever else was in the way. Yeah.
T: Did you unit, at that particular time did you ever have any casualties from that particular type of activity?
E: Not from that but we did have. There were two or maybe one pilot that we lost. We don't know what happened to him. He was taking an aircraft back to someplace and we don't know if he went over lines and got shot down. And another one was killed in an accident. But those were pilots, test pilots.
T: I gather from what you said previously that there were pilots attached to your unit too. I suppose they checked these planes out to make sure they were flyable.
E: Right. You ought to hear stories from those people. They have weird stories to tell too.
T: Well I'm assuming that most of the planes that you guys repaired just worked real good. But were there times when they didn't?
E: Oh I think there were times, questionable times. Well I guess that's a story that they would have to tell. Because they've had experiences.
T: I suppose that when a combat aircraft gets shot up there are things that can be damaged in there that you might not ever see.
E: Well they tore em apart pretty much. And they had all the facilities for major repair. And you know, replace the engines and all that. Wiring.
T: In the course of your work keeping track of the progress on these things did you yourself have to go out and look at these planes and see…?
E: I would go out at times and talk to fellows that were the head of doing the work, you know. The chiefs or whatever they call em. The sergeants.
T: Did your unit have people like machinists and so forth that could make parts?
E: Oh yes. Full machine shop, parachute shop. We had everything.
T: Now at some point your unit went to mainland Europe. Can you tell me about that? How long were you in England before you went over to France?
E: Well let's see. We left, July 18th (1944) we landed at Omaha Beach which was D plus 43.
T: What did it look like there then Ed? I assume that they had these sunken things that you used for a docking area? How did it appear to you?
E: Well you could still see the remnants of the beach. We landed, well first of all we took a ship from England and then when we got to the beach we took another ship. It wasn't the landing craft like they used on D-Day. So we did, if I remember correctly we did get off from some kind of a dock. We were able to do that. We didn't have to go into the landing ships. Were they Higgins? Is that what they call em?
T: Yeah, I guess so.
E: We didn't have to go into that type of thing but we did go into a smaller ship to take us to shore. And then we got off from a dock with all our gear. And then we had to go up, when you see Omaha Beach where they climbed up the hill, we did go up the hill and then we stayed overnight at the top of the hill.
T: At that time, how close was the German action?
E: Well they were, the line was at St. Lo which was about 15 miles maybe from the beach.
T: I imagine you could hear artillery and things like that.
E: Because later on we did camp about five miles from the front line.
T: So then you moved off the beach. Where did you go then?
E: Well then we bivouacked or camped about five miles like from the front line. And we were there, we weren't on any airfield. They did have a landing strip but we didn't do any work on that landing strip.
T: I imagine that for your unit to really function you had to be on some sort of sizable facility to set up shop and do your thing.
E: Right. Plus, there was still fighting going on. So we didn't set up any camp for doing the work at that point. It wasn't until we broke through the front line, moved and broke through St. Lo. And then we went on from there.
T: When did that happen? When did they make that breakout and when were you able to establish a facility for…?
E: Well we did. Lemme just mention one point. When we were walking down the road, they used to have the Red Ball, what they called the Red Ball highway. And where the trucks would run beyond the Red Ball Highway. And I was walking down there and one day I saw a chaplain in a Jeep. And he had the insignia of the 95th Infantry Division. And my brother, they had just come over. And so I saw my brother. I says, "Do you know where the headquarters is?" And the chaplain said, "Sure." I said, "Do you know a fellow by the name of Grosskopf?" "Oh sure, I can take you right to him." And he did. He took me right to him and so he and I had a short visit on Normandy.
T: That's amazing. What type of a unit was your brother in?
E: Infantry division. 95th. So they just come over and he was with Patton. Patton's group.
But when we left the St. Lo, Normandy, when we left Normandy we traveled through Paris and we went to Rheims, France. And that's where we set up our base and repaired aircraft in that area. And that was a former German airbase. And so we set up there.
T: Now Rheims is a pretty big city. Did you have much of any contact with the civilian population there?
E: No I didn't.
T: I was wondering how Americans were received in France. I know how I was received when I was there after the war. It wasn't very good. But I was just wondering how it was with you guys.
E: I didn't, we would go into town and I don't even remember if we would buy like at a bakery or something. I'm not sure if I even did that. Because we always had food on the base.
T: Were you repairing the same kind of aircraft as you were in England?
E: Right. We were doing the same thing. P-51's, 47's and 26's. Yeah, we were doing much the same.
T: What was your opinion of the German soldiers from what you heard and observed? Were they a pretty formidable enemy?
E: I would think that if… We didn't really see them in our situation. Although we were worried like in that December of 44, that they said they would drop Germans on airfields or areas only in our uniforms. So we were concerned because I think there might have been that kind of activity close by. And so we, when we were on guard duty we had to be aware that this could happen. I didn't run into it myself or wasn't affected by it.
The 82nd Airborne Division, they were in that area too and I think maybe even the 101st. Because when they fought the Battle of the Bulge, when that happened I know they rounded up all the airborne troops and sent them right away to the Battle of the Bulge.
T: What was your daily life like when you were there? What was the food like and did you hear from home very often?
E: We did. We would get out letters from home because we had, you know we were there for a certain length of time. Quite a while when you think of it. And we had our own cooks, our own kitchen and they prepared the food. And it was typical food at that time. The C-rations…
T: Reconstituted food.
E: It wasn't fancy cooking but they would do breakfast - fried eggs, cereal and bread always.
T: What were you living quarters like? Were you in tents or was it some more permanent type of…?
E: When we were in Rheims, France we were in a barracks. It was used, I imagine, by German troops at one time. So we had that type of living. When we were in Normandy we were of course in the tents that you carried on your back. So we used those. In England we had tents too. Yeah. Or Quonset huts. There was sometimes Quonset huts.
T: Aside from meeting your brother over there, can you think of any other memorable experiences that you had, that stand out in your mind.
E: Well, when we were in England I ran across my cousin who was stationed with the Air Force I think, headquarters in London. I did meet him at the Red Cross places which was kind of nice.
T: Did your family know pretty much where you were or weren't you able to communicate that?
E: No they didn't. They censored our letters.
T: Did they know you were in Europe?
E: Yes. They knew that. They didn't know where we were though or where I was.
T: Some guys developed codes that they use.
E: I wasn't smart enough at that time. See we left the United States; I never had a furlough.
T: I was going to ask you if you had any opportunities to go on leave or a pass.
E: We did. We could go on pass. But even myself, I never had a furlough. They always said you had to have a furlough, seven days at least, before you went overseas. We never got that. The unit was leaving and so we left.
T: When you're in service you meet a lot of different guys. Some of them are princely fellows and some of them are really odd or weird. Can you think of any guys that were in your particular unit that fitted any of those descriptions? That were really strange?
E: Well we had one fellow. I always said that he was a smart fellow. He must have had the highest IQ. I always said that maybe he got to Paris even before the Germans left. Because he, I never smoked. And I would always give him my cigarettes. But in exchange he would give me something like bread, sweet breads or just plain bread sometimes. And butter. I don't know where he got it from. And then when we were in Normandy he gave me a bottle of champagne. I still say it was the best tasting bottle of champagne I ever had. In fact when my brother - I mentioned meeting my brother there. I think he came to see me that one time and we opened the bottle and drank champagne.
T: How long were you stationed in Rheims?
E: Well let's see. We got to Rheims, I don't know if I've got that written down in my notes. Oh we left Rheims on January 1st. I left Rheims on January 1st.
T: Was that in '44?
E: '45. That's when I left Rheims. I was transferred to the infantry then. Because of the Battle of the Bulge. And then I went back to England for well, what it amounted to was, I was supposed to only go back two weeks but I went back four weeks training. Because I was a Corporal at the time. And so I would get four weeks training in infantry. And the other fellows would only get two weeks. And so then after four weeks, that would have been about February, then I went back to France. And I was, one of my experiences was riding the 40 & 8. Very few people maybe did that. But I was one of em. We spent seven days on a boxcar going to the front.
T: Forty men and eight horses.
E: We didn't have the eight horses but we must have had the additional men then. Because there was no room to sleep or anything.
T: What division were you attached to then?
E: Well see, I was a replacement. I thought we were going to head up to the First Division because I think they were in that area but I wasn't sure. The First or Fourth. But again I was a replacement.
T: So where did you go? Where did they send you?
E: Well again when we were riding up to wherever we were goin, we never really reached them. And at a point when we got to Germany, we did go to Germany because I remember going to Aachen and Cologne, Germany again as a replacement. But they must have stopped, held us back because then I joined an artillery unit and I don't even know to this day what the unit was.
T: They really bounced you around. You went where they needed you.
E: Right. We went where they needed bodies.
T: And where was this artillery unit?
E: They had just come overseas and they had just come over. In fact they didn't have their guns unpacked or anything. And then I ended up doing the work I was trained for back in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In other words doing payrolls and company records. And I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it. But I still to this day don't know the name of the outfit. Because I knew I was only going to be there temporarily.
And then we went back. We did go back to Rheims. We did go back to Rheims.
T: When you were transferred to the infantry, did this happen to a lot of other guys in your unit or were you just one of the…?
E: I think there were like 20-25. We went back, flew back on a C-47 from Rheims, France. And then we went someplace in England. I don't even know where we went.
T: When you went back to Rheims, was your old unit there?
E: They still remained at Rheims and then after that, I suppose when the front line moved, then they also moved up. But they returned back to the United States in July or August. And they came back early and I didn't come back until December of '45.
T: When you were attached to this artillery unit, was that unit in action? Did they go into combat at that point?
E: No. They were, they had just come over and I kinda felt sorry for the fellows because they were all, I would say in the high thirties and maybe close to 40. And they were all homesick. All old men. You know what I considered at the time to be old men. And I felt sorry for them. Because they left their families and they had wives, children. So I felt sorry for them. But I myself, I was having a good time.
T: Then you went back to the states in late '45.
E: It was December of '45. I got out in, oh I can't remember the date.
T: Where were you discharged from?
E: From Fort Sheridan.
T: Let's see, you got out the 13th of December of '45. Do you remember when they dropped the atomic bomb? Let's see, you would have been…
E: I was at Rheims preparing to go to the Pacific. We were gonna go through… because I was with this artillery unit. And now that's a fresh unit. And so we were getting all our paper work ready for going to Japan. And going through the Panama Canal.
T: And so the news of the atomic bomb and the end of the war there I imagine was pretty happy news for...
E: It was for me. I knew it was the end then.
T: At that time, most of really didn't know anything about the atomic bomb. What was your thoughts at that time, knowing something about the destruction that it caused. But also that it shortened the war.
E: Well after seeing the damage that was done in London and other areas where we had been, like in Germany I went through like I said, Aachen and Cologne, the Saarbrucken area. And these were all towns that were leveled. And when you saw the destruction that our bombers did and you knew this was a more powerful bomb, then you knew that they can't be, that much longer that they can hold out. So we thought well, this is going to be it then.
T: What did you do then Ed when you were discharged from the service? What was your next step? Did you go back to Wausau?
E: I went back to Wausau. And of course they all said that you'd get your old job back. Well I was able to work at the bank again but I didn't get my old job back. We were replaced by women. So we had to start from the bottom again. So that was encouragement to me to take another look at my life. And of course then we heard about the GI Bill. And I said this is the way I'm going to go.
T: So you went to college.
E: I went to college the following, started the following September. That would be what, '46? No, '45. Would be '45. (Actually it was 1946).
T: So you didn't waste any time. Where did you go to school?
E: At Whitewater.
T: And did you graduate from Whitewater?
E: I graduated from Whitewater and I also did, went summer schools then at Iowa, University of Iowa.
T: What was your field of endeavor? What did you study? What kind of a degree?
E: Business education. And I followed up on it.
T: Were you able to get a job after you had completed your schooling?
E: I got a job in Oshkosh in 1949, I started.
T: Where in Oshkosh did you work?
E: All three high schools.
T: When did they close down the high school that I went to in Oshkosh?
E: The red brick building?
T: Well the red one and the newer one. I did have some classes in the red brick building but it was pretty decrepit.
E: It was decrepit then already.
T: When did that close?
E: That would be, I had all these dates in mind at one time. About 13 years after '50 so that would be about 1962 or 63.
T: I was gone then. I wasn't living in Oshkosh anymore but it was interesting knowing when that closed.
E: and then I went to West. Then West opened and we were at West High School until 1972. And then I went to North High School and I retired from North High School.
T: At some point there you got married.
T: Got married in '51. Did you marry a girl from Oshkosh or somewhere else?
E: Right she was from Oshkosh.
T: What's her name?
E: Her name was Shorey. Her ah…
T: How do you spell that?
T: What is her first name?
T: And you got married in '51 you say? Do you have any children?
E: Oh we have seven.
T: And are they all living?
T; Do they live in the area or have they gone afar like a lot of em do?
E: Not too far but they're all within, thank goodness, they're all within driving distance. Let's see, Diane is working for the hospital in Madison. The children's hospital where they have all kinds of problems; developmental, disabled. But she's a supervisor now.
And then Lois is up at Appleton teaching school. And Peter is a lawyer in Eau Claire. And let's see, Peter, what's next? Gwen, she works with computers. She teaches companies how to use the computer. Various companies like these trucking companies, Wisconsin Public Service. She teaches them.
And then let's see, John, he works for a computer company in Minneapolis area. And Andy is a mechanical engineer at Rockford, Illinois; Sunstrand. And Amy, she's a housewife. She's got two adopted children.
T: Sounds like they've all done pretty well.
E: Don very well.
T: When did you retire Ed? I forgot
T: What type of class did you teach when you were at the high school in the business..?
E: Well, I taught shorthand. I taught accounting, and typing, general business introductory courses. And business law.
T: That sounds like you were pretty busy there. What kind of recreational activities did you engage in and do you engage in now?
E: Well we, of course I always did income tax work part time. And that keeps you busy. Even after I retired, I sometimes wished I had gone, started earlier doing… Because I did build up quite a clientele.
(The first tape ends here).
T: I suppose that accounting would be just a natural. Doing work like a CPA does. So you did income tax work on the side then while you were teaching?
E: I started, I you know, you start with people that you know. You say, "Oh, I can do that. I can help you out." And before you know it they mention it to somebody else. "Oh, you want me to do yours? Oh sure, I'll do it."
T: In order to do tax preparation do you have to have some sort of a license or can you just do it?
E: You could just do it. In fact I think even now yet you could still do income tax work.
T: After you retired, then did you do it quite a bit more?
E: I did but by that time I'd built up quite a clientele already, or started to, you know. And it kept me busy, which is it kept January through April. Which is a slow time for doing things. But it kept me busy.
But otherwise we have a cottage up north and that takes a lot of effort and a lot of time sometimes.
T: On your biographical form here you list the various decorations that you got. And I see this here, this Middle East Theater Ribbon with three bronze battle stars. How did that type of decoration come about? It sounds sort of impressive.
E: Well we were in the Battle of Britain for one thing. That was, I don't know how they count em myself but those are listed on my discharge papers. But then when we were in D-day Normandy, we were included with that during a certain date. And then of course the Battle of the Bulge, I was involved with that. I don't know if those are the three or…
T: It doesn't say here but it sounds to me like that would probably be it. I guess when they say European, African, Middle East they just lump this stuff all together.
E: I think so. I think that was the Battle of Britain maybe because, yeah we were still, the Germans were still active at that time. They were still bombing London and like even our airfield. We got dropped on a couple times.
T: Ed, do you think that the war changed you and if so how? In what way did it change you?
E: I don't know if it changed me because I was young. And I was only 18 when I went in and I guess
I never ran across anything serious enough. Like you see some people that were involved with…
T: Right. I guess a lot of fellows will say it made a man out of them. It matured them.
E: Right. I think so too. It matured em. It gave me, oh you were more responsible I suppose. You had to be. You had to take on more responsibility. Others depended on you. Some of your co-people.
T: Were any of your friends from Wausau, guys that you had chummed around with as a kid, were any of those fellows killed during World War II that you can remember?
E: I would think so, yeah. I would think so.
T: Some can recall fellows that were their best friends that didn't come back.
E: I never had a best friend but I had good friends that - they're gone. In fact my distant cousin, he was, he got killed almost when the war was over. They had the Germans on the run in Germany and he got killed. He was from Horicon, Wisconsin. And like I said, I was lucky. And I had experiences. I sometimes say it's like going to a fire and arriving there maybe when the firemen were kind of cleaning up. You could still see the damage and things that happened but you weren't involved with the actual fighting.
T: do you think very much of the war today? Some guys say, "I never think of it. I put that on the shelf and I forgot about it." With some, memories come back all the time.
E: Well we, like even though I said, this is not against Reagan but the politicians, they even took some of the spark away from the D-Day celebration this year. And that was too bad but it happened and it's not Reagan's fault. But it took away because the emphasis now was not on D-Day. It was on Reagan and I thought that was unfortunate because…
And a lot of these veterans, like a lot of these fellows on the picture you saw, they're no longer here. It's too bad like we didn't, in fact I wished that I would have gotten together a group and gone to see the memorial this year. But this year we're not having a reunion. We're just - last year was our last one. And we said, "Well, that's it."
T: So you had decided then you weren't going to have any more reunions.
E: Well, they more or less, because there were only like six or seven of us that showed up last year. You saw the number of people that might be involved. And they were, these were all good people.
T: I guess that age has taken its toll. A lot of fellows may be still living that can't make it.
E: Either that or the spouse. Then that's what's happening with us. Like my wife, she has a hard time walking so it's hard for us. We would go but, and the others felt the same way. But we keep, we lost two fellows from last reunion to now.
T: Is there anything that we've missed, anything else that we should be talking about, about your experiences in World War II? Or have we pretty much covered the territory?
E: I think so. I've had a lot of experiences you know, like the trains, the troop trains. We did all that.
T: You wouldn't want to do that again though.
E: No. I wouldn't want to do that. And we were on the boats, the ships. S.S. Argentina, stacked five or six high. I always was up high. A good thing.
T: I guess those things are memorable experiences.
E: But you don't want to do em again.
T: a lot of guys have never had the opportunity to do that type of thing. Well, it's been great talking to you Ed. I really appreciate you taking the time to come down here.
E: Well I'm not sure if I added that much to what some of the other fellows…
T: All of these are important.
E: You know I've had friends, paratroopers. You were mentioning like I got one fellow up here in Menasha. And he landed - paratrooper. Well he landed on D-Day and he was captured right away and so the war was over for him right away but he was captured and served as a POW until the end of the war.
T: But serving as a POW, the war isn't over for you. Those guys did not have the greatest life.
E: Oh, that's right.
T: Well, thanks again Ed.
(End of interview).
Oral History Interview with Edwin A. Grosskopf.
-WORLD WAR II
-Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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