WORLD WAR II
At the urging of Ruth Atkins, Roy Clifton has put on paper his memories of WWII. The information will be used by PBS and eventually be placed in the Library of congress-ED
Here’s Roy’s Story!
I was born on July 13, 1921, four miles south of Boise City. I still live on the land my parents, Lewis and Alice Clifton, homesteaded in 1906. I am able to do a limited amount of work farming and raising cattle.
War had broken out, and in about the middle of October, 1942, 32 other men from Cimarron County and myself, were called to help go fight the war that was going on with Japan and Germany. We loaded on the bus and off to Ft. Sill for basic camp, We were there for about six weeks.
We had no idea where we would go from there. We boarded a troop train and headed northwest into cities we did not know. We tried to guess where we were headed, but the man in charge had sealed orders. After passing all the camps, we ended up at the last camp, Ft. Lewis, Wash., near Tacoma and Seattle. The group of men were from Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. Some were from Illinois, which was where the 33rd Infantry had been formed. Those from the northeast and the rest of us didn’t get along too well at the beginning. We were divided into different assignment groups, and quite a lot of us ended up in the infantry line company. I was put in the medics to work with the men on the front lines. We trained for several months.
There were about 30 men in my group of medics, then I and a few others were sent to Fitzsimmons Hospital in Denver to work a few months. The rest of the men in the medics, along with the infantry line company, went to the Mohave Desert in California for training. We left Denver to go to the desert to join them, and stayed there until early 1943. Then we shipped out to the Hawaiian Islands in a convoy of approximately 5,000 men.
Some of us stayed in Hawaii for about a year for more training. From there we shipped into convoys to go to New Guinea for our first action. We usually traveled in three ships to the convoy, which would have around five .thousand men or more. We traveled very slowly and were heavily guarded. The Guineas were divided into provinces, British, Dutch, and French. When we got there, we unloaded into landing barges since the ships couldn’t get close to the shore because of the rocks and coral reefs. We started unloading, and the Japs started shooting and shelling, and we were losing a lot of men. We withdrew, and called for air support to shell the enemy so we could go back in. We had a hard time getting anywhere because of the large trees and heavy undergrowth. The island had natives they called headhunters, who would kill anyone, American or Japanese. We had guides who located the areas they were in. We did not do much fighting, as it appeared there were not very many Japanese there.
We left New Guinea and went on to the Philippines where we spent our time trying to take over the country. We landed at Leyte Gulf at the beginning of the invasion sometime in 1944 and stayed there about six months of 1945. It is a pretty large island, and we fought from end to end. They have two capitals on the island that we were trying to save. One capital, Eaguio, is the summer capital in the mountains. The winter capital is Manila. We dealt with all types of fighting. There were so many small planes that were suicide planes. They were one person, and would try to hit small groups of our men. They were not too well equipped or well trained either. Their way of getting messages out was very poor. The wires would be running along on top of the ground, and would be shorting out to where you could trace the enemy down. Sometimes you would find one or two, and other times you would find several. We usually had good luck cleaning them out.
We had to deal a lot with snipers in the trees who would fire on us, and they were hard to locate. I remember they hit one of our men in a small clearing, and my medic buddy was going to help him. They fired, killing my buddy, and leaving me by myself. They used small ground-type artillery guns to hit smaller areas
One afternoon we had walked until about dark, and had stopped on one hill for the night. We planned to take the next hill on the following day, which was about a quarter of a mile or less from us. We were getting located for the night. They started firing on us with small shells. They had done this to us several times before, but would always fall short or go past us. This time they began shelling right on us, and we thought they would never quit.
My closest buddy in the medics was from eastern Oklahoma. He and I had been together all the way. We were sitting together having a bite to eat. Shrapnel hit in our canteen cups, and had pierced our ponchos some. I told J.D. we had better hit a foxhole, and there just happened to be one close. The only reason I’m here today, I went in the foxhole first and he laid on top of me. It wasn’t but a short time until it hit us. It blew him off me, killing him instantly. There were about 18 of us there. Of course, they started yelling for help in the dark. We managed to get closer together, and I was the only medic. There were several killed and injured. We worked together, and left the hill and walked all night. We called for air support and they shelled the hill. We found that they had a small artillery gun back in the hill. They would run it out on a truck, use it, and then withdraw. So we blew up the hill.
Another thing the Japanese concentrated on was trying to find our ammunition supplies so they could blow them up, and sometimes they were successful.
The Filipinos were good to work with us, and help the best they could. They didn’t have much, and their towns and cities were torn up. It was a long, drawn-out procedure, and we still had Japanese on the island. We took prisoners and held them in concentrated areas until they could be shipped back to Japan.
We went aboard ship in the summer of 1945 to begin the invasion of Japan; we were on the way when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
We were sailing into Nagoya Bay, a seaport in south Honshu when they told us the war was over. We couldn’t enter the bay for three days until the mines had been cleared.
When we unloaded the Japanese would run from us; we were there from August until December and they learned to work with us.
While I was in the army I had a little over 17,000 miles on water, I was mustered out in December, 1945.
Like any war it was a long and terrible circumstance. The dropping of the atomic bombs was a sad conclusion, but it prevented the loss of more lives on both sides.
Out of the 30 medics in our original group, only six or seven came home, having lost most in the heavy Phillipine combat.
Cpl Roy Clifton 123rd Inv. Medics 33rd Ill.
Duty- Oct. 23, 1940- Dec. 23, 1945
God Bless All who Served,