REMEMBERING WORLD WAR II’s CHILDREN

Xmas Party for Warminster kids.

Xmas Party for Warminster kids.

Warminster, England

1943

While in England, many US military units had Christmas, Easter and even birthday parties for children.  I was stationed at Warminster, when I attended a 1943 Christmas party hosted by members of the 3rd Armored Division.

GI’s picked up the kids, their parents  and other family members in trucks and Jeeps. One or two GI hosts were assigned to each child.  Many of us had saved candy and gum from home and donated that to the party.  Some of the guys had the foresight to ask their parents to mail children’s gifts for the event. In addition, The Division had oranges, apples, cakes and puddings as well as a full dinner which they served to all invited.

Most of the kids had never seen oranges, but were curious when they saw us peel them and the aroma was released.  The Brits were great eaters of fish and chips as well as snails.  One could purchase a cone (made from old newspapers) of cooked snails along with a small pin to spear the cooked creatures.

They didn’t eat popcorn, either.  It, too, was something new to them.

 

France

1944

“J’ai Juif! J’ai Juif! Le Bosch!” A young boy, about seven or eight years old, called this as he ran toward us.

Some of the guys in my outfit were leaving our first assignment area at Omaha Beach. We were headed to Cherbourg, a port city down the coast.

We had stopped along the roadside to eat our K rations when the youngster came out of a nearby building.

Enroute to Cherbourg

Enroute to Cherbourg

He claimed he was “Juif,” (Jewish) and “le Bosch” (Germans) had been looking for him and others like him. He knew what would happen if they found him.

“Where’s your family?  I asked.

“Mort.”  (Dead.)

Using his hands and eyes to help his message, he pleaded in French sprinkled with a few English words.  “Si vous plait! Si vous plait! …” (Please! Please!)

Though I knew little French, I understood the message: “Take me with you. Help me find some relatives, somewhere!”

How could we say no?  We shared our K rations with him and told him to climb on the truck. He stayed with us a week or two. I do not recall where we left him.

Many French children suffered without parents or relatives to look after them. Nearly every day, we saw homeless, parentless kids of all ages straggling along. Many held a younger brother’s or sister’s hands.  These lost ones slept in sewers and other make-shift shelters.  They came to us at mealtime holding up old tin cans begging for food.

They stood next to our garbage cans and tubs of hot water where the GIs washed their mess kits.

It was impossible to ignore them.

 

  Le (Mar. ‘14) adds, “I still recall the looks on their faces.” 

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>