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I was sent to Uxbridge first, for ground training, getting kitted out and so on.
At Uxbridge there was this splendid First World War pilot, Ira Taffy Jones, who stuttered terribly. One day he stood up and said, "There is going to be a b-b-bloody wa-wa-war and you ch-chaps are going to be in it. I'll give you one piece of advice--wh-wh-when you fir-first get into co-combat, you will be fu-fu-fucking fr-frightened. Ne-never forget the chap in the other cockpit is tw-twice as fu-fucking fr-frightened as you are." I reckon he saved my life with that piece of advice. In my first combat over France, I suddenly thought, "My God, the chap in that other cockpit must be having hysterics," and shot him down. But I give all credit to Taffy.--Flight Lieutenant Peter Brothers, RAF
In Russia there were no sign post to mark the ways, and to find our road we had set bodies--frozen bodies--of horses along the snowy roads to find the way during the snow drifts. Certainly, it was a very macabre sight, but it was only because there were no points to find--no house, no cottage, and no tree--always waste, snow and more snow....
My company marched through a great forest and it was night, and the soldiers were very tired and exhausted. They looked only for themselves on the way, and then came from the side, from the side way, another group of soldiers, clothed like we, in white shirts for the snow. Nobody said a word, and after an hour we marched, and more than an hour side by side, one of my soldiers said, "Oh, I hope it will be finished soon." And in this moment, the Russian soldier said something in Russian. And now began a shooting match, but my soldiers could shoot first, so we were saved.--Albert Schimfe, German soldier
We had seen the war coming--it was today, and here was the hour--and here I was attending the meeting with the other great men who were in charge of the nation at this critical hour. And all these phrases went through my mind--we got to the meeting and the other great men, myself included, were one hell of a disappointment, because nobody could think of anything to say or do. We all convened there...and it suddenly occurred to everybody that they didn't have the slightest knowledge of what in this great moment of crisis they should be doing. Nobody could think of anything very dramatic to say.
Everybody was coming in during the course of this summons in sports jackets, and some had tennis shoes--and it became terribly evident that nobody had any real information as to where these strategic commodities came from--and eventually the whole discussion boiled down, I remember, on the question of kapok. Kapok, everybody thought was strategic. It was clearly listed as a strategic material--it evidently came from that part of the world, and nobody could think for god's sake what this stuff was used for. I remember my own feeling, "Here I am with the nation's destiny at stake--all these lovely phrases and all these great men--wondering what in hell kapok was."--John Kenneth Galbraith
I couldn't imagine that this was happening to us, and I said, "Well, it just wasn't real." It seemed like part of a nightmare. I really didn't comprehend the impact of it until afterwards, when I got on the land--then I realized, "My God, we are at war." You know, of course, I was real young then--I was about one of the youngest marines aboard ship and I was very, very scared. I really didn't get the impact until later, because things were happening so fast.--Richard Fiske, USS West Virginia
There were just so many people on the beach [Omaha] that you could literally walk on the bodies from one end to the other. Either they're dead, or they're wounded. The Germans hit us really hard, and my regiment lost around a thousand men that day. You saw bits of people laying around--a leg or an arm--but the water itself wasn't bloody because most of the wounded men were up out of the water. I saw that those that were still able-bodied try to pull the wounded out of the water. In fact they even pulled the bodies out of the water--the ones that were dead.--Col. James D. Sink, US Army
Our forces were ambushed by the American forces. At this time, the Japanese didn't have the radar installed--so we were surprised. A fierce sea battle started. I still remember, the distance was about 8,000 meters. My ship was hit by more than a hundred shells in, I think, about a two-hour engagement. At that time I was quite high on the deck, and I was holding the binoculars with both hands. A splinter came up and cut off both my arms in the middle--then it hung on only with skin.--Masataka Chinaya, Japanese naval officer
I was not affected emotionally--I haven't been up to this day, because it was something that had to be done. I was convinced it had to be done, and I was convinced it was the right thing to do at that particular time. I've also been asked, "Would you do it again?" My answer is, if you turn the clock backwards, get the same conditions as you had existing today that you had in 1945, I'd probably do the same thing again with basically the same attitude. In retrospect, taking a look back, I do feel that it's too bad that something like this had to happen--but I guess there are many things in this world as we look back that did take place--and say it's too bad that it had to happen. You can't turn the clock backwards--you can't erase it. It has been done--let's hope we've learned a good lesson from it and that we don't have to do it in the future."--Paul Tibbets, pilot of Enola Gay