WORLD WAR II VETERANS CONCORDIA PARISH LOUISIANA
Woodrow (Woody) Davis
Fifth Major Port Company Sergeant
WORLD WAR II VETERANS CONCORDIA PARISH LOUISIANA
Awards: European Theater of Operations Ribbon
With 2 Campaign Clusters
I was born September 27, 1917 in Jonesville, Louisiana. I registered for the draft at Jonesville and Harrisonburg, Louisiana and was drafted into the Army at Fort Beauregard, Louisiana, December 23, 1942.
After a week at Fort Beauregard, we were sent by train, to Fort Francis E. Warren, Cheyenne, Wyoming. There I was selected to take training and school in the management of mobile laundry. I was told that I would have charge of six mobile units in Europe. These units, when operating, could do the laundry for a battalion of soldiers in a very short time. The units were not sent to us and I heard no more about them.
From Cheyenne we were sent to Camp Hatheway, Washington where we were issued clothing for the South Pacific. After about three months we went by train to Camp Stoneman, Pittsburg, California. We turned in the South Pacific clothes and were issued clothes for Europe.
From there, again by train, we went to New Jersey. In about two weeks, we were placed on a ship, an old passenger liner, the Aquatania, the last of the four stackers, which had been converted to a troop ship. After an unescorted three and one half days ship ride, we were in Glasgow, Scotland.
In Glasgow, we were put in and old, three story school building. The classrooms were around the outer walls, leaving us the open center, which was fairly comfortable for us. My outfit, the 14th Port of Embarkation was broken up and we were put into the 5th Major Port Company. This disturbed the Company Commander who made it hard for us. I was so concerned that I worked night and day to prove him wrong. I was successful.
We were in Glasgow until September 1944. Then, to Brest, France where we were to put the harbor into shape to unload supplies for the troops. After an examination, it was estimated that it would take five years to remove the sunken ships the Germans had put into the harbor. We were moved up to Morlaix, France to open a canal port, which we had operational in a short time.
When Antwerp, Belgium was taken from the Germans, I was sent with an advance detail of about one hundred ten men of diverse departments as the Supply Sergeant. I was given a letter designating me as a Sergeant in the field. My copy of this letter was destroyed in the fire that destroyed our home a few years ago.
We arrived in Antwerp Saturday November 24,1944. Three days later, November 27 a German V-2 rocket, exploded nearby. These V-2 rockets carried bombs loaded with many tons of explosives. They were fired from Germany without a particular target. Many fell in civilian neighborhoods, killing men, women and children. This particular bomb killed 200 people and wounded 700 more. I had over 100 wounds from my shoe tops to the top of my head, the worst being in my stomach, bladder and 10 holes in my intestines. A soldier from our company, immediately behind me, lost both legs. V-1 bombs were also falling, but those small pilotless planes could be seen and heard.
I was picked up, still conscious, by two civilian men in a small home-made truck and taken to a Canadian hospital in Antwerp. The nurses were Catholic Nuns, who were excellent nurses. The doctors who saved my life were Major Fred H. Wigmore of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and Captain Sormany. After about two weeks I was transferred to a United States hospital unit, where they almost let me die.
In a very short time, I was sent to a large tent hospital in Leige, Belgium. This was just before the breakthrough, the last desperate gasp of the German Army. We were not there very long because the “Buzz Bombs” were coming on a regular basis. One hit the mess tent at a time when no one was there, so no one was hurt. While in the Leige hospital I was taken several times to a tent laboratory where I was given blood transfusions. The blood came from German prisoners. This was a long way from the hospital, but they handled me like a baby.
Next, I was transferred by train to Paris, France. While on the track, a “Buzz Bomb” hit one of the tents and set it on fire. Many doctors, nurses and soldiers were killed. The train Commander was Fred Johnson, who later became my friend and neighbor, in Ferriday.
I arrived in Paris Christmas Eve, 1944. They had not had any air raids in Paris in several months, but on that night two German bombers came over, and we had an air raid warning that lasted a few minutes.
After a few days in the Paris hospital, I was again moved. This time to Wales in Great Britain, by plane. We had been in the air a few minutes when the engine on my side, quit. The pilot began a slow descent and landed at a fighter plane landing field. We did not know where we were where we were landing, so we were unnecessarily worried for a while.
We had not been at the field long, when a big explosion shook the plane very hard. Two fighter-bombers had brought their bombs back the night before, and were being disarmed, when one of the bombs exploded. We never knew how many were killed and injured. Another hospital plane was called for and we went on to Wales.
Again, we had a short stay in Wales before being put on a hospital ship, the Louis Pasteur, formerly a French passenger liner. We passed near Iceland, trying to avoid German submarines. We landed at Halifax, Canada. We went by train to Boston, Massachusetts and from there by train to New Orleans, where I went to La Gard Army Hospital. This was in March, 1945. I was given two recuperative furloughs. I was discharged July 11, 1945, with a 100 percent disability. This was changed a few months later, when I had recovered my health.
Photo taken at Cheyenne Wyoming during my Basic Training there.