||Bill Fuller was interviewed on September 10th at the OPM. He was born in Oshkosh on December 3, 1909 to parents who were Wisconsin natives from small towns near Oshkosh. He has one sister. Bill's father was employed at Jenkins Cigar Store and then at the Paine Lumber Company in the office. His mother took in boarders, mainly from the teachers college.
He went to several grade schools in Oshkosh, graduated from Oshkosh High School in 1928. In high school he played cornet, alto and finally French horn which he loved. He graduated from Oshkosh State Teachers College in 1933 and began teaching science and math at Merrill. His father lost his job during the Depression and Billl's salary essentially supported the family. His mother continued to take in boarders.
Bill was drafted into the Army in July 1942 and after basic training in Texas was assigned to a band, the 377th Infantry Band in the 95th Division. Bill married his wife in October of 1942 in Austin, Texas; he had known her since teachers college where they both attended. The division spent some time in Camp Coxcomb in the California dessert, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and finally left for Europe on the Mariposa out of Boston in the summer of 1944. Bill's band unit consisted of about 40 men, with Bill on the French horn, and they played very often in the states. Bill's wife followed him around on his various assignments.
The 95th spent one or two months in Winchester after arriving in England, then departed for France, debarking on Omaha Beach. At this point, the band instruments were taken away and Bill was assigned to a Chemical Warfare unit attached to Headquarters Company. The division moved across France to Boulay near the Maginot Line in the Alsace region in the fall of 1944. The 95th was supposed to capture the German fortress at Metz. In Thiensville near Metz, a round from a German '88 hit the building Bill occupied and that is as close to combat as he came. The 95th crossed the Rhine at Wessel and went through towns in the Ruhr valley. Bill was in Ludinghausen, Germany when the war in Europe ended.
The 95th returned to the states on June 29th, 1945. Bill received 30 days leave and was discharged on October 6, 1945 from a camp in Mississippi. Bill received the European and Mediterranean Theater of Operations ribbon and the Bronze Star. He made the rank of sergeant - T5 while in service.
Bill began teaching at Roosevelt school and then switched to Merrill where he taught until his retirement in 1974. Bill and his wife had four children, one of whom died in infancy. Bill's wife served as a librarian in Oshkosh and Appleton. Bill sings in his church choir, played French horn in the Oshkosh Community Band since its inception (I believe he no longer plays) and delivers Meals On Wheels. This 94 year old fellow is still pretty active and we had a nice chat about his wartime experiences.
||World War II Oral History Project
|Dates of Accumulation
||September 10, 2004
||Cassette recorded oral history interview with William C. Fuller, who served in 377th Infantry Band and a Chemical Warfare unit attached to Headquarters Company in the 95th Division.
William Fuller Interview
10 September 2004
Conducted by Tom Sullivan
(T: identifies the interviewer, Tom Sullivan; B: identifies the subject, William Fuller. Open brackets [ ] or bracketed words indicate that either a word or phrase is not understood, or that proper spelling for the word is unclear, in that order).
T: It's September 10th, 2004 and I'm Tom Sullivan at the Oshkosh Public Museum with Bill Fuller who served in World War II. Bill is going to be telling me about his experiences in that war. Well let's begin then by having you tell me when and where you were born, Bill?
B: I was born in Oshkosh December 3rd, 1909.
T: Were your mother and dad also from the Oshkosh area?
B: My mother came originally from Cambria, my dad from Reedsburg. They were living in Oshkosh for some time.
T: I see. What did your dad do for a living?
B: He worked at the Jenkins Cigar Store and at the Paine Lumber Company. He was in the office at the Paine Lumber Company. And then he was laid off of course when it got bad.
T: Did your mother work as well or was she a housewife?
B: My mother kept boarders.
T: How many boarders did you have?
B: Oh, I couldn't tell you.
T: I mean at one time.
B: They were mostly women. They were from the Teachers College. And she did that for a number of years.
T: Do you have brothers and sisters?
B: I had a sister four years younger than me and she died about ten years ago or so, a little longer.
T: I see. Where did you live in Oshkosh? You said you had boarders from the Teachers College. Did you live up close…?
B: We lived on West New York Avenue right at the foot of Liberty Street.
T: Tell me a little bit about your childhood Bill. Where did you go to school and what sort of things did you do for recreation after your classes and so forth?
B: Okay. I went to several schools. I guess I was in kindergarten at the Merrill. Then went to the Dale after the Longfellow school was built. Then I went to the Lincoln and the Reed.
T: Gee, you really covered the waterfront there, didn't you?
B: Well my folks moved around.
T: I was going to ask you why you went to those schools?
B: We lived on Melvin Street first and then, I can't give you the exact order of this; we lived over a store on Main Street just north of Church Street. Then on Frederick Avenue. And then on Congress Street. And then about the time I was in, I would say seventh or eighth grade we moved to West New York Avenue.
T: What sort of things did you do for fun when you were a really young kid in grade school?
B: Ha, I can't remember very much. I was never very good in sports.
T: Neither was I.
B: I couldn't catch a baseball, I'm sure. I skated in the wintertime. And always liked music and I finally got a cornet. I never played it very well and about the time I was in high school, they shifted me to the alto horn. And then after Mr. [Jaybee] came here, and that was about 1926 or '27, he talked me into getting a French horn. And I still play that horn.
T: As I understand it, the French horn is not an easy instrument to play as compared to some of the other brass instruments.
B: I found that out!
T: But apparently you liked it.
B: Yes, I did. I think it's the nicest sounding brass horn that there is.
T: Beautiful tone.
T: When did you graduate from high school?
B: January 1928.
T: What did you do then, Bill?
B: I went to the Teachers College.
T: Were you planning on becoming a teacher?
B: I don't know.
T: How long did you go to Teachers College?
B: I went until 1933.
T: did you graduate from Teachers College?
T: At about that time, we were pretty much in the depths of the Depression. I suppose employment was not easy to get. How was your family affected by the Depression in Oshkosh?
B: Well my dad lost his job and he was unemployed. Now this was around 1933. And I supported them, I think, for awhile. My mother still kept boarders. But [ ] the bills and the taxes and things like that.
T: What kind of work were you doing Bill?
B: I was teaching at the Merrill school.
T: You taught at Merrill then. Okay. Were you teaching in the grades? I know at one point Merrill had a Junior High School.
B: That was the Junior High.
T: What subjects did you teach?
B: I taught science. And I got stuck with a math class. Oh, that was after 1950. And I'm not a mathematician.
T: But your family got through the Depression. Did your dad eventually get work again?
B: He worked just as a stockman for Henderson-Hoyt Company. And he died while I was overseas, of a heart attack.
T: In the late thirties and early forties there was war over in Europe and war in the Far East. At that time did you give it any thought at all? Did it ever enter your mind that maybe some day America might be involved in any of those conflicts?
B: No, I don't think I did.
T: I guess a lot of us didn't; they were just too far away.
B: Yeah, I think so.
T: Can you recall where you were and what you were doing when Pearl Harbor was bombed? A lot of people can remember that.
B: It was on a Sunday, wasn't it?
T: Yup, a Sunday morning.
B: I can't tell you other than that except I was probably going to church. But about that time I figured I was going to be into it.
T: Yeah, you were of that age, weren't you? Of course you how old about the time of Pearl Harbor in 1941?
B: Then I was 31 in '41. All I have to do is subtract ten from the last two digits.
T: Did you enlist in the armed services or were you drafted?
B: I was drafted.
T: I see. And they apparently picked the Army for you.
B: I don't know anything about that.
T: Well I know there are some guys that went in and they were dependent on who needed what at that particular moment. Some guys were shunted into the Navy; some fellows wanted the Navy but they put em in the Army. And you know how that works.
B: Yeah, you don't have much choice.
T: So you were drafted when?
B: I've got the dates down there, I think. It was in June or July of '42. July of '42.
T: Tell me about the basic training and the other training you had before you went overseas. Where did they send you and…?
B: We originally went, after the session at the Great Lakes area, I was sent down to Camp Swift which is outside of Austin, Texas. I think it's at the town of Bastrop.
T: Is that where you had your basic training?
B: Yes, such as it was. We had an old Army sergeant and he managed to keep the band out of a lot of that stuff.
T: Now we know that eventually you were in the band, but right at first did you have any indication that you were going to be in an Army band?
B: That's the first thing they sent me to, the band, after I was there.
T: After your basic training was completed, you…
B: No, this was before basic training.
T: Really! Okay. Now after the basic training was completed, where did you go then?
B: Then we went from Austin to Fort Sam Houston outside of San Antonio. And from there we went to maneuvers in Louisiana.
T: When did you guys function as a band? When did you start playing together and you know, marching or playing for…?
B: Right along.
T: Right away. Okay. How large was the band? How many guys were in it?
B: I can't tell you exactly. It was a good-sized band. I would say 40, at least 40, maybe 50. And that was the 377th Infantry Band. And then before we went overseas they combined the 377th with another band that was in the division and made it the division band. The 95th Division Band.
T: So then your designation after that was just the 95th Division Band. And you were the only band in the division?
B: That's right. Originally there were two bands, one was the division, the 377th, and the other one was the…. Let's see…
T: Well it's not too important. What instrument did you play then in the band?
B: French horn.
T: Really? I wouldn't think that in a marching type situation, I wouldn't think they would have a French horn. Did you march with a French horn?
B: Yeah. I know, the other band was the Artillery Band. And I do not remember the number of it.
T: After you had the maneuvers in Louisiana, where did you go then? What was the next step in your Army career?
B: Let's see, Louisiana, then we went to, went to the desert in California. Camp Coxcomb, it was called. And that was in the middle of the desert just north of a town called Desert Center.
T: I see. How long were you there, Bill?
B: The whole winter of let's see, '43-'44 in the wintertime. It was cold there. It wasn't a desert.
T: I guess the deserts can be cold. Now was the whole division there or just part of it?
B: The whole division as far as I know.
T: And I suppose it was training with the various things.
B: Technically I think, though I'm not sure on this, we were supposed to be training for Japan.
T: But you went the other way.
B: When Patton broke loose we went the other way.
T: When you were stationed there in the desert for a considerable time, what kind of duties did you have besides your band duties? I imagine there were other things that you, being in the army you had to do. Or were most of your duties connected with the band, with playing and so forth?
B: I can't remember on that. I don't think we did much playing. I'll tell you what we did do though. We would go to Los Angeles and to Palm Springs and be in parades and stuff like that.
T: Yeah, I suppose that would be a natural. People would want to get an Army band there.
B: Good advertising I think.
T: When did the point come where you had to pack up and go overseas? Was it after your stint in California?
B: We were sent, let's see, from California we went to outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. That's an old Army post there and I forget, I should know it too, I can't recall it, it's actually near Lebanon, Pennsylvania. In that area. And for the life of me I can't recall that name and I should too.
T: That's okay. How long were you there before you went overseas?
B: I would say, probably several months.
T: What did you do there? Was it still the training type of thing for the division?
B: I imagine so. I didn't do much of that, I can tell you that.
T: But you were still functioning as a band. Did you do much marching in parades and that sort of thing.
B: There were some of those, yeah. And that's hard work.
T: I suppose. You mean physically?
B: Well no, I mean not physically hard but it's hard musically.
T: You mean to read that little sheet that's bouncing up and down in front of you?
T: where did you go then after Harrisburg?
B: We went, I'm sorry, I can't recall the name of that place. It's a very famous Army camp. Anyway from there we went to Boston and that was Camp… It was where they prepared us for overseas.
T: Is that where you embarked for overseas?
B: We left Boston.
T: What kind of a ship did you sail on? Was it one of these converted liners or was it a troopship?
B: Oh, it was a converted liner, the Mariposa which was a luxury ship from the Pacific area I believe.
T: I imagine you were packed in there, weren't you?
B: Stacked in there.
T: Did you have an uneventful trip or did you have rough seas? What time of the year did you go over? Was it in the winter months?
B: It was in the summer of 1944.
T: Well then that was probably a pretty decent voyage going across.
B: On that sheet, I don't know whether I've got it here or not, it says when we left and so forth. We left in August '44, August 5th, 1944 and we got into Liverpool on August 14th, 1944.
T: Where in England were you sent then?
B: We landed in Liverpool in England and then we went by train down to Winchester. And we were in Winchester for a month or two. We were stationed in a school called West Downs as I remember it in Winchester. Then we went, departed from that port down there, what the heck is the name of the port? Southern England. I can't remember it. Anyway we landed on the Omaha beach but that was long after D-Day.
T: How did it look? When you landed on the area I suppose things were pretty well cleaned up.
B: Yeah. I don't remember much of that. But we stayed in an apple orchard there for quite a while. Our division trucks were put on the job of hauling gasoline supplies and so forth to General Patton. So we sat in the apple orchard in the mud.
T: I suppose without any vehicles you couldn't go anywhere.
B: No. and our instruments were all put away. We didn't have any band duties at all. I can't remember much of the other duties. Then somewhere, the band stuff was all put away, and I was attached to the chemical warfare section for combat.
T: Had you had any training in that particular area?
B: Well not particularly as far as war is concerned but I majored in chemistry in college.
T: So you knew what some of those things were that they were handling. What was your daily life like at that particular point? You showed me the picture where you fellows were in pup tents on the ground and so I imagine that was fairly rugged living for you.
B: I suppose. I don't remember much about that either. It wasn't any worse than anything else.
T: When you were assigned to these chemical warfare duties, did that apply to all of the band members? Were they all sort of spread out, sent to other…?
B: Many of the band were M.P.'s and some of them were litter bearers too. I was lucky. I'll admit that. Because chemical warfare was not particularly complicated or anything like that. There was no poison gas.
T: Right. We didn't use any of that type of thing in that particular war. Did your unit, the 95th, experience combat then? Did they have contact with the Germans?
B: Oh yes.
T: Can you tell me a little bit about that?
B: Yes. We went from the apple orchard across France into, I would say, the Alsace Lorraine area. And we didn't make it in one day, I can tell you that. It was several days and we ended up in that eastern France close to the Maginot Line around Boulay, France. And that was in the fall of '44. And our division was assigned to capture the fort at Metz, the big German fortress at Metz. And November 11th of '44 I was in the top floor, the fifth floor of a building at Thionville, France which is near Metz when a shell went through the third floor. And it was one of those German 88 shells and it knocked a hole in those solid walls big enough to drive a Jeep through. And there were two women and two children in that room where it hit and all they got was a little dusting of brick dust. I was ready to go home - that whole building shook.
T: Was that you first direct contact with the enemy, the Germans?
B: Well I don't know how much contact it was. The interesting thing was that there was a general or an assistant general or second general of our division. I was with him at that time. And he was up on the fifth floor with everyone else. His name is General Don Faith, by the way. And our commanding general was Harry L. Twadlle.
T: How do you spell his name?
B: T-W-A-D, I think it's two L's, I'm not sure on that, L-E.
T: I would think he would take some kidding, maybe behind his back, for a name like that.
B: I would think so too.
T: There are certain names that lend themselves to jokes and kidding and so forth. So the Germans apparently were not very far away at that point.
B: No. They were holed in at this fort, at Metz. And it was a number of days before they got beat out of it.
T: During the war, not only that particular time, but thoughout the rest of the war, did the 95th suffer a lot of casualties or were they relatively free from that sort of thing?
B: I think so.
T: Being an infantry division, I imagine they were right in the thick of it.
B: Yeah, then let's see…
T: After Metz what …
B: After Metz we left Boulay and went north through France and Luxembourg to Deurne, Holland. No, wait a minute, to Roc Le Soer Guerre, Belgium. That was where we went first. And we stayed there for a number of days. The people, we stayed in the village schoolmaster's house and they gave us the best rooms in the house, and we discovered why later on. They had an air-raid shelter in the basement and the buzz bombs were landing there, the V-1's. And there was quite a bit of damage in this little village.
T: When you talk about the buzz bombs, I think only of England. I didn't realize that they were used elsewhere besides England. Because we all heard about the V-1's and the V-2's landing on England. But the Germans also used em against you guys in France.
B: Oh yeah. Actually that damage was done before we got there. And as I recall, there was nothing landing in there while we were there. Then from there we went up to Deurne, Holland.
T: How do you spell that?
B: D-E-U-R-N-E, I believe. And we were there for maybe a week or so. And there I got some pictures of Dutch windmills and stuff.
T: Now we're really getting close to the time of the Battle of the Bulge.
B: That was after that. We went through there after… We spent New Years Day in Boulay as I remember that.
T: I heard that it was very, very cold. It was one of the coldest winters on record at that particular time over there. Do you bear that out, do you remember it as being quite cold?
B: No, I can't remember that. We had pretty good sleeping quarters most of the time.
T: I see. It sorta sounds like it. Except for that little stint in the pup tents in the apple orchard, you were in buildings most of the time.
B: Well, I was with the headquarters company and that's where chemical warfare was.
T: I know you probably didn't have any direct contact with German soldiers but what was your general opinion of the enemy? Were they a pretty formidable foe?
B: Well I always remember when we went through the area where the Battle of the Bulge occurred that there were a lot of damaged tanks and things like that in that area. And let's see, then we went back to [Roclanche], Belgium after being in Deurne Holland. We went back to [Roclanche].
T: How do you spell that, that place in Belgium? I think you said Roc Le Soer Guerre.
B: Yeah. And I have never been able to find that on a map.
T: Well, I think some of these places sort of disappeared. The towns and villages got incorporated with larger towns and lost their names.
B: This was near Liege, not too far from Liege. I would guess south and west of Liege but my geography of that area is zero.
T: At that particular time Bill, what was your daily life like? Did you eat pretty good, did you have good food? Or did you see the C-Ration thing?
B: I had no complaints on Army food.
T: And your sleeping quarters as you said were fairly good. You were in these buildings. Did you hear from home very often? Did you receive mail from home?
B: Yeah, I got letters from my wife and I don't remember getting many from my folks but probably did.
T: I forgot to ask you about getting married. I know you said you got married when you were in the service. Let's backtrack a little bit. Tell me about how you met your wife and got married.
B: Well I knew her of course in town here, in Oshkosh before I left. We both rode with a bicycle club around here. And I had known who she was from college and stuff.
T: I see. She went to Oshkosh State Teachers College with you?
B: Yeah. And we decided to get married down there in Austin, Texas.
T: So she came down to see you?
B: Yeah. A friend of mine bought her a railroad ticket down there.
T: Well it sounds like it was pretty serious.
B: And we were scheduled for marriage October 7th in 1942 but one of our division boys killed a little girl and we were all locked in camp and couldn't get out. Couldn't even let her know that I wasn't going to make it.
T: I see. Gee that's too bad.
B: And then the next day we got married.
T: So you were married on what, October 8th, '42. I suppose then she, after a short period she had to go back to Oshkosh.
B: Well, she followed us around pretty well. She went to San Antonio from Boston area. And then from San Antonio she came home, I think it was until we went to California. Then she came out to California.
T: Were you able to live off base with her?
B: a little bit; let's put it that way. And then she went out to Pennsylvania, Lebanon, Pennsylvania is where she was.
T: Okay. Well let's go back to France now. So you spent New Year's Day in Boulay. And then tell me what happened after that with the 95th. Where did you go?
B: We went up there to Deurne, Holland. Or to rather, what am I saying, to [Roclanche], Belgium. We went through Luxembourg and through the area where the Battle of the Bulge occurred. And we ended up at Roc Le Soer Guerre.
T: You were in Headquarters Company because you were in this chemical warfare thing. At any time did you have to do anything that was related to the chemical warfare business?
B: Not very much.
T: I was just wondering if you had chemicals and so forth, stuff that you had to pack up, and unpack and carry around?
B: No. Not that I remember.
T: Okay. Sounds like pretty good duty to me. Maybe you wouldn't agree.
B: No, I'm not complaining. I was very lucky.
T: Where were you then when the war ended in Europe?
B: Well from [Roclanche] we went across the Rhine at Wesel. Then…
T: How do you spell that?
B: W-E-S-S-E-L. (Wesel may be the correct spelling). Wesel. That was on a pontoon bridge as I remember. The sign there said, "This water is deep and cold." So somebody must have fallen in. Then we went ah, to Monchengladbach.
T: That's a tongue twister.
B: Well that's in, I would say western Germany. Northwestern Germany. And we were there for some time. I can't remember exactly how long.
T: Was it for several weeks?
B: No, probably not. Maybe a week or two. I can't remember that much - after sixty years?
T: Yeah, I guess the memory dims a little bit when you get that far away from it.
B: Then we went through various towns along the Ruhr Valley. One of em was Werl, W-E-R-L. I suppose it's (pronounced)"Verl", and so forth. After a number of those towns, we ended up at Ludinghausen. And that was where we were when the war ended. And after the war ended we were assigned among other things, to play for the Russian prisoners and so forth.
T: Apparently at some point right in there they gave your instruments back to you.
B: Well, we got our instruments earlier. Way back when we were in France we had to play for Robert Patterson who was Secretary of War, I believe, and also for Patton one time. That was the only time we saw our instruments.
T: It sounds like you didn't get much chance to practice. You'd probably be a little bit on the rusty side.
B: The Army doesn't give a darn about that. No, that was true. Those Russian prisoners would come in and they'd throw flowers at us. Really very interesting.
T: Did you have any direct contact with them? Did you speak with them?
T: I see. Okay.
B: And then from Ludinghausen we got orders to move back across France. And there's a big port on the ocean and I can't remember the name of it…
T: Well, there's LeHavre.
B: Yeah, I think that's the name of it, LeHavre. And we departed on the same ship we came over on.
T: Really! That's interesting.
B: That would not happen very often.
T: No, the chances of that are a little bit on the slim side I think. When was that Bill, that you came back to the states, approximately?
B: Okay, that's here, 29th of June in '45. That's when we got back to the states. And we got back to Boston, by the way, again.
T: Where did your unit go from there? Did the whole 95th come back together, more or less?
B: Two ships. On going over, was the Mariposa. And I think the other one was the United States or something like that. I can't remember. And I can't tell you the name of the second ship that came. But the division filled two boats.
T: I imagine there were some twelve thousand guys or thereabouts in a division.
T: Where did you go from Boston then, Bill?
B: Then I went home for a week. I was allowed a leave.
T: Thirty days or thereabouts, is that what they gave you when you got back? Thirty days leave? I think some guys got that.
B: Something like that. I don't remember that very well. And then we went down to Camp Polk, Louisiana. And at that time we were scheduled to go over to Japan. But they dropped the A-bomb and…
T: And that settled that.
B: Well, the general said we were going to go to…
T: As an army of occupation, maybe?
B: I don't know what it was for but we didn't go.
(The first tape ends here).
T: Let's proceed then Bill with what happened after, well how long were you at Camp Polk, Louisiana?
B: I can't tell you exactly.
T: Was it a short stay or were you there for quite a while?
B: I would say it wasn't very long. But I was discharged from there.
T: And let's see, you were discharged on, what date was that? It was October 6, '45 I've got here - discharged.
B: Yeah. Wait a minute, I don't think it was…
T: That's what it says here on your biographical data form. Is that correct? October 6, 1945.
B: That's correct. I got that all from this discharge paper. No, it wasn't Camp Polk, Louisiana. It was in Mississippi that we were discharged from. And I forget the name of the camp.
T: Well that's not important. So you got out in '45. What did you do then Bill, did you go back to… You were united with your wife in Oshkosh.
B: And I went part-time teaching at the Roosevelt School for the rest of that year. Then I went back to the Merrill. And I stayed there most of the time.
T: Was Savage the principal there at that time?
B: George Savage was the principal.
T: I remember I went to Merrill about that time, well before you got back. It was in the early forties. And we used to call him "cork toes" because he had little short feet.
B: Yeah, he had a foot difficulty. George Savage was a good principal, however. He knew what the school needed and did a good job with it. You went to Merrill then? You don't remember me?
T: No. I guess …
B: Well when were you there?
T: Well I was at Merrill, I'm trying to think.
B: You're having just as much trouble as I am.
T: Well it's been a few years. I think it was probably '43 or '42.
B: Well by '43 I was in the Army, see? I went and taught through '42.
T: I was probably at Merrill in '42 and then went to Oshkosh High School in September of '43. Something like that. But yeah, you could have been there when I was.
B: Do you remember any of the teachers there?
T: No. I remember a Latin teacher who wore very tight sweaters. A young gal, I can't remember her name. I remember a music teacher - Schlerf. Gertie Schlerf.
B: Gertrude and there was another one too.
T: Her sister taught there.
B: Gertrude taught the music. Let's see, would you remember Johnson? Irvin Johnson?
T: No. No I don't remember.
B: I'm trying to think of some of the other science teachers.
T: When you were teaching at Merrill was your wife working also? Was she teaching?
T: You mentioned that she went to Teachers College with you, but she didn't become a teacher?
B: Well, after our three kids were born, she went to work as a librarian for the Technical Institute in Oshkosh. That's way into the, probably the 1950's and 1960's. And then she was put up in Appleton at the Technical Institute in Appleton.
T: I see. Okay. Well you had three children. What were their sexes, how many boys and how many girls?
B: We had one boy that died. He was a "blue baby."
T: Oh, too bad.
B: And then we have one daughter, Jean; and a son, Tim; and another daughter, Ann.
T: So you actually had four children but you lost one. Nowadays they have surgical procedures that they can do for those things.
B: They even were doing a little bit of that surgery at that time but I always thought that he would end up partial, you know, difficult… And I thought it was just as well that he didn't; I don't know. That's the way I feel.
T: Early in the war Bill, when we had suffered some setbacks, you know right after Pearl Harbor, were you at all concerned that maybe we might lose that war? Or didn't that enter into your thinking. We had some pretty rough times early on.
B: Yes, I know. The Pacific was bad. And I don't remember that it bothered me particularly but now I know that it was darn bad for awhile.
T: Now I'm going to ask you about the decorations that you received in the service. And one of them is listed as EAMETO. What does that stand for?
B: That's European battles in that area.
T: European, African, Mediterranean theater of operations? Something like that?
B: Yeah, I guess so.
T: And it mentions also a Bronze Star. How did you get the Bronze Star?
B: That I do not know except the Colonel in the Chemical Warfare recommended it. And he was Colonel Crosby. He was from out east somewhere.
T: But you can't think of any particular act that triggered that award?
T: Okay. I think some of them were like unit citations, where everybody in the unit got that sort of thing because they were all involved in a certain type of activity, but I'm not sure.
B: I cannot remember that I got anything of that sort. Maybe there is, let's see. That would be listed on here I imagine. It says, "Lapel button is issued." I don't know what that is. I don't know what that is. Ruptured duck, I think.
T: Could be. When you got out of the service Bill, was it difficult for you to adapt to civilian life. Was it difficult to get back in the swing of things?
B: I don't think so.
T: For some I guess it was. For others they just went right back to work.
B: You understand, I was a lucky guy.
T: Yes, yes I understand. Do you think the war changed you? You were quite a bit older than a lot of the guys, the eighteen-year-olds that were going in. You were 32.
B: I was 32.
T: But do you think the war changed you?
B: No. I think I'm too stubborn.
T: Were any of your friends from Oshkosh killed during World War II? Guys that you had pal'd around with? Can you recall any that met that kind of a fate?
B: I can't say that I remember. There may have been.
T: Sometimes if it's a close friend you remember that they were killed. Or someone that was severely wounded and incapacitated by their wounds.
Do you think very much of the war today Bill? Are there any things that trigger your memories of World War II like songs and so forth? Or is it something that you just sort of put aside.
B: I've more or less put it aside. Of course I've kept up my membership in that division association.
T: Yes. I see you get these periodic things from them. Have you ever gone to a reunion?
B: Yes. In fact one of the booklets is from one of the reunions. Those are calendars that they send. Oh, and that's, no I haven't got anything from a reunion.
T: But you have been to reunions.
B: Oh yes, yeah. We were to one in Chicago, a couple in Chicago, and…
T: Did you run into fellows that you knew in the service?
B: The band fellows, yeah. Quite a few of them. Here, there's one of their reunion…(Bill is showing materials that he brought).
T: Do you maintain contact with any of the guys that you were in service with, in the band?
B: Yes. One fellow is from Robinson, North Dakota. And there's a fellow from Granite City, Illinois. And there's one from Chicago who died and also another fellow who taught in West Allis in the music department. And he died and we've lost track of his wife.
T: When did you retire from teaching Bill?
B: Thirty years ago. I have been retired since 1974, is that right?
T: That would be thirty years, pretty much on the dot. Well you've seen a lot of changes in Oshkosh since your childhood.
B: I can get lost in certain places. I deliver Meals on Wheels, by the way.
T: I was going to ask you about your various activities, things that you do.
B: Well, I sung in church choir and played in the town band, in the Community Band. And as I say, I've delivered Meals on Wheels, I think for almost thirty years.
T: How long did you play in the Community Band Bill?
B: Since they started.
T: Really! So that would be about how many years?
B: Oh I don't know. I can't tell you.
T: Did they start before you went in the service?
B: No. They started, Terry Hathaway was the original director and he still is. He's the high school band director at West High.
T: Well, I think we've just about covered everything that I wanted to talk to you about Bill. Is there anything that pertains to the service that you'd like to talk about?
B: I don't think so. But I was thinking I've got a couple of fellows you might be interested in interviewing.
T: You mentioned one to me. I think that was Lee…
B: Lee Weigert.
T: I believe the Director of the Museum here told me he was associated with the museum at one time.
B: Yes, he was.
T: So everybody here knows who he is. And I haven't contacted him yet but I will.
B: : Well, he is not too alert.
T: You told me he had a stroke so it would be a slow process.
B: He's at Gabriel's Villa. I think you'd have to go over there to talk to him.
T: I'm going to end this tape right here Bill. I want to thank you for coming down and talking to us. I really appreciate it very much.
||World War II
||6: T&E For Communication
||Oshkosh Public Museum
|Location of Originals
||Oshkosh Public Museum
||Fuller, William C.
||World War II
United States Army
European Theater of Operations
||Oral History Interview with William C. Fuller.