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Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
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Eric Behler:

The date is March 9, 2002, and my name is Eric Baylor (ph), and I'm interviewing Warren M. Smith in Lewiston, Idaho, for the Veterans' Oral History Project.

BAYLOR: Okay, Warren. First question I have is were you drafted or did you enlist?

Warren M. Smith:

SMITH: I enlisted.

Eric Behler:

And what made you -- what made you join?

Warren M. Smith:

Well, I was riding a freight train, and I crawled off in Seattle, and I was starving to death, and I went off and joined the Army.

Eric Behler:

Good reason. Why did you pick the branch of service that you picked?

Warren M. Smith:

Well, I had a cousin that had went over to the Philippines before I did, and so I guess I wanted to go to the farthest place they would send me, and that was it.

Eric Behler:

Okay. What were your first days like in the service, you know, right after you arrived at boot camp?

Warren M. Smith:

In those days, they didn't have boot camps. You went all the

way to the unit you were going to serve with, and they appointed a corporal to give you your boot camp, so I didn't get any boot camp until I got to the Philippines.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

Although I enlisted in Fort Lewis, and they sent me to Fort McDowell, Angel Island, off the coast of San Francisco, and I awaited transportation to the Philippines, and I got my boot training after I got there, the D battery, where I was assigned.

Eric Behler:

Okay. Actually you took care of a lot of questions, because I had other ones that I was going to ask you, some of that other stuff. How did you feel being away from home with all those strange people?

Warren M. Smith:

Well, I was kind of a soldier of fortune before I went into the service, and I didn't have any problems with anything like that.

Eric Behler:

Okay. Well, now, my question was going to be do you remember any of your boot camp instructors, but since you didn't have boot camp, do you remember the person that was put in charge of you to train you?

Warren M. Smith:

Yeah. They appointed a fellow by the name of Kelly (ph), and he was what we called a barracks banger. He had been to Panama and China and the Philippines, and there was three of us that was assigned to the D battery, and they put us out in isolation. The unit was in the field when we got there, and

they set up a tent way out in the jungle, and these three recruits, myself and two others, had to live in that tent out there. And Kelly (ph), he lived out there with us, and every day he would march us up and down and up and down and up and down.

Eric Behler:

[Laughter] That was sort of his training?

Warren M. Smith:

Foot drills and stuff. And then we had classes on the machine gun and the rifle and the fleet gun, and this went on for about six months -- or six weeks, and then we got what we called turns of duty, and we participated in the first big parade that they had there on the post. And after that, they had -- they had two parades a week, and everybody participated.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And that's -- after that turn of duty, I was part of the regular bunch then. I moved in with the rest of them and just become one of the --

Eric Behler:

-- one of the guys?

Warren M. Smith:

-- one of the guys.

Eric Behler:

Yeah. Okay. We know your unit was in the Philippines. That was going to be another question. That was where your unit -- and I guess you kind of covered this, but how did you feel when you first arrived? Excited, scared, nervous? I mean, it's a new -- It's almost like a new world. You know, you were in another country.

Warren M. Smith:

Well, I always wanted to travel and see these far-away

places, and I -- I had done a lot of freight train and stuff and hoboing around before I went into the service, and so I -- this is part of the day.

Eric Behler:

Something different to do.

Warren M. Smith:

Yeah. Of course, I had never been on the ocean before, and so there was a lot of new stuff, you know.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

It was interesting, and I didn't have any problems with it, you know.

Eric Behler:

Well, that's good. What was your -- your job assignment with the -- I know you were with the battery, but did you have any particular job with those guns that you did, or --

Warren M. Smith:

Well, the battery was two guns, and they had -- they were what we call disappearing rifles, and they went back behind the barricade, and then you tripped it, and it had a heavy keller ph) weight on -- on the thing and when you tripped the keller ph) weight, that threw it up into the battery, and it fired, and the centrifugal force pushed it back down on the side again. Well, it took about fifty, sixty men to operate that, you know, to -- the breechblock, the gunpointer, and the -- and the shell crew and to hoist the projectile up and down underneath.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And my job was setting azimuth, and they had a plotting room in the -- in between these two guns, and they plotted

everything on a map in there, and the -- then they phoned the azimuth -- or phoned the information out, and I set it on the azimuth, and you just turned it.

Eric Behler:

Right. You get your direction.

Warren M. Smith:

Right. And that's what I did over there.

Eric Behler:

Well, how long was it that -- before you saw combat? I mean, do you --

Warren M. Smith:

Well, we got a lot of planes over there, you know, as high as planes over that island, one after the other, and I don't know. We shot back at some of them. We had an antiaircraft battery along with us, and we fired that big gun, and about eighty rounds one time.

Eric Behler:

Wow.

Warren M. Smith:

That little point on Bataan, that they had crowded a bunch of Japs down into a common little area, and we were the only gun that could travel and turn around far enough to shoot at them, and we then -- but we were also trained in infantry, and we had a beefed defense set up, and I'd become a corporal and squadron leader, and we had practices going down to the beach in peacetime, before the war started, and so, I don't know, just I was on the receiving end of it all for a long, long time.

Eric Behler:

Right. Because we weren't into the war, and we were just --

It was before they bombed Pearl Harbor you're talking about?

Warren M. Smith:

No. It was right after.

Eric Behler:

Oh, okay. Right after Pearl Harbor?

Warren M. Smith:

Well, part of it was before Pearl Harbor, with the bombing, of course, was after Pearl Harbor.

Eric Behler:

I'm basing it based on what I read in that outline, that there was stuff that you did there actually before Pearl Harbor started, that you were there to protect that island.

Warren M. Smith:

Yeah. Well, we -- we moved into the field probably a month before the war really started. In other words, we moved our barracks.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

Moved down by the gun, which was about a half a mile down there I guess, and it was -- it was where we -- we had a -- we had ammunition, magazines, you know, and they set up a cookout tent, and we just lived there.

Eric Behler:

Right. Right.

Warren M. Smith:

Out of the -- and the -- When the war started, the first I heard about it, the people were just sleeping around wherever they could find, and they had a shot truck that they loaded this projectile on, and then they pushed it over to the breach of the gun and then had a ramrod outfit that seated it and stuff.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

Well, I had all this sea bit (ph) round in front of me. They had some little recesses in there, and one of them was for a storage of that shot truck. Well, when the war started, why, when we moved down into the field, why, I started sleeping in

one of them recesses. And on the -- the day the war started, I walked down to the next level, down below, and that's where the mess was set up, and -- and as I came down, they had a radio going, talking about Pearl Harbor.

Eric Behler:

Pearl Harbor, yeah.

Warren M. Smith:

So it wasn't very long until we started seeing planes. I didn't know who was involved, though, _______________+ and they didn't bomb maybe for three or four weeks, and then they started it up.

Eric Behler:

Once they realized you had guns there.

Warren M. Smith:

Yeah. Well, they knew what we had there, but they were busy fighting somewhere else.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

Then, anyway, they came down there. And I remember a fellow by the name of Conn (ph) that I kind of knew and had a little talk to once in a while, and he says, oh, won't last six weeks -

Eric Behler:

Well, it lasted a little bit longer than that.

Warren M. Smith:

-- just a little time for the Japs to dump their garbage. He died in prison camp with me.

Eric Behler:

Oh. Did you see many casualties before -- I mean before -- it's evident you saw them when you got to the prison camp, but I mean before that -- before you had to surrender and were taken prisoner?

Warren M. Smith:

Yeah. One of my jobs -- See, after we moved out to the

field, one of -- when I made corporal -- It usually took two or three years to make corporal in the Army, it was one of those processes, and I don't know, along the spring or summer of 1941, why, the battery clerk got transferred up to headquarters and learned that they were short a battery clerk.

Well, it seemed like I was the only one in the battery that had ever taken any typing in high school, had a high school education.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And so the first sergeant came around, and he said how would you like to come in and be battery clerk? And I said I like it out here where I am, with the soldiers, and, you know, and he says you think it over, and it went on a few days, and then he said, well, why don't you come on in there and try it out anyway? He didn't -- he didn't give me any choice. So I went in there, and I had become the battery clerk, and as a result,

I got promoted to a corporal and become a squad leader too, and when we was infantried to Blanestry (ph), I was squad leader.

Eric Behler:

Right. Right.

Warren M. Smith:

I still had a job on the gun field. And so, anyway, this thing about casualties, we had one man hit with an artillery shell a little later in the war in our outfit, but bombing didn't really kill too many where I was. But I had a -- as part of my job, I was also a -- kind of a runner for a battery commander who lived in a tunnel where the main Army

headquarters was.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And it was probably about two-and-a-half miles down there, and -- and it was kind of a hairy job getting down there and back, you know. And I seen quite a few casualties along the way, and, of course, we had a -- one road, and we got hit a little later when the -- after Bataan surrendered. I don't know if you -- Bataan was -- as long as they was in action over there they protected our flag, and we protected their flag, but when the -- when Bataan fell on the 9th of April I think, that allowed the Japs to come right down on the beach there and just set up their artillery and point it toward us, and that's what they did. And, of course, we got casualties then.

Eric Behler:

Right. Then you took casualties.

Warren M. Smith:

And I -- we had a -- Our battery, D battery, was a -- with casualties, what I recall, was split in half and formed another battery, and they took a lot of -- about half of our personnel went over to this new battery, and then they added recruits to both of them to replace.

Eric Behler:

Okay.

Warren M. Smith:

But, anyway, this battery that they formed, the commander over there, the battery commander, he thought he was doing right. Anyway, he dug a tunnel into the side of the hill there, and when they had these air raids, he would fire the big gun back, why, he -- he made everybody get into this tunnel.

Well, the Japs threw out a big ball and blasted this tunnel all to hell and killed kind of a lot of people. And, of course, a lot of them were -- had been in our outfit.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And anyway _______________+.

Eric Behler:

Yeah.

Warren M. Smith:

And the captain, he wasn't in there.

Eric Behler:

That's the way it usually works it seems.

Warren M. Smith:

He lost his mind I'm afraid.

Eric Behler:

Okay.

What was the -- the food like?

Warren M. Smith:

We had the -- probably the best mess sergeant in the Philippine islands.

Eric Behler:

That's good.

Warren M. Smith:

And that the outfit right next door that was starving to death, we -- we always had extra things on the table, and we --

He married a Filipino girl.

Eric Behler:

That's great.

Warren M. Smith:

And -- well, she wasn't all Filipino. Her father was a soldier.

Eric Behler:

Yeah.

Warren M. Smith:

And her mother was Filipino. And her name was Sara Williams ph), and she was a real nice-looking gal. And the mess sergeant's name was Bill Bootin (ph), and he really took pride in his --

Eric Behler:

-- his cooking?

Warren M. Smith:

-- his cooking, and we always had, oh, extra food and supplies and all kinds of stuff like that.

Eric Behler:

Yeah.

Warren M. Smith:

None of those rations of a handful of peanuts and stuff like that. But he had a lot of connections through this Filipino gal, and so he got a lot of stuff over there. He was -- He'd stand by the door and -- and people would come in and out at dinner time, and if he seen somebody didn't clean up his plate, he would button hole him and want to know what was the matter, something wrong with the food or something wrong with the man.

But they transferred -- His reputation got pretty well spread around, and high command in Manila stole him from us.

Eric Behler:

Oh.

Warren M. Smith:

And from then on, things weren't so good.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

It just kind of went from bad to worse. And then, of course, when the war started, we started running out of stuff.

Eric Behler:

Right. That's --

Warren M. Smith:

And it was the job -- you know what you had.

Eric Behler:

Well, I had read something in that other gentlemen's diary that he talked about when they started losing supplies --

Warren M. Smith:

Yeah.

Eric Behler:

-- that the rations were getting pretty scarce.

Warren M. Smith:

Yeah. We ran out of corned beef.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

A little ice cream dipper full of rice, that's all you got.

Eric Behler:

Do you recall any particularly humorous events or anything that happened? You know, we're talking prior to --

Warren M. Smith:

Well, we had a fellow by the name of Roberts who was an alcoholic. He was a hell of a good soldier, and he stayed sober for two to three months, and then he'd get on a bender that would last a couple of weeks, and this -- at peacetime he went over to Manila on a pass and got drunk and had his money in the post office over there I guess, and he had got it out and was counting it on the corner, and some Filipino run by and grabbed it, and that was the end of that.

Eric Behler:

That stuff happens -- Well, they don't have bases there now, but --

Warren M. Smith:

And Roberts, we -- we called him Battle Ship (ph). That was his nickname, but he was a hell of a good soldier. But, anyway, when the war started, after it had been going for a while, he -- I don't know if he got hold of a case of Listerine or what, but he got on a hell of a bender, and of course with the bombs and stuff had knocked the water supply out, and we had a latrine out there, but it wasn't working because the water was gone, and, anyway, they locked Roberts up in the latrine out there. He -- he spent a month or so out there --

Eric Behler:

Geez.

Warren M. Smith:

-- in the latrine. Anyway, we -- The company battery

commander -- Roberts I think was a sergeant at the time, and they demoted him back to a private, and he went through the whole prison camp and survived. He -- he was a World War I veteran.

Eric Behler:

Veteran? Oh, wow.

Warren M. Smith:

I don't know. There was another funny thing. We had a split, you know, a -- for a latrine, we just had a trench out in the brush there, in the jungle.

Eric Behler:

Right. Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And everybody would go out there, and with all that bombing, and stuff threw around and a hell of a lot of brush and rocks, and, you know, things, and it -- looked like it had been plowed ground. And, anyways, I was out there in the hole in the ground of the latrine, and there was an artillery shell landed right close there, and the first warden happened to be out there urinating, and he -- he ducked back and urinated all over himself. But it got to where if somebody dropped the mess kit and was surprised, everybody would be like a bunch of quails. We got pretty keyed up.

Eric Behler:

Right. Once one of those hits, you know what it's like, and you don't want to go through that.

Warren M. Smith:

Right.

Eric Behler:

How -- how did you -- Did you want to actually surrender to them, or did you lose the battle, the battery fighting, or --

Warren M. Smith:

Well, Wainwright, he surrendered the whole lot of them. Not

only the whole lot of them islands, but everything in the Philippines, which included the troops -- We had some troops down in Mindanao and scattered around other little places, and when he surrendered, why, he surrendered the whole bit, everybody.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And I was just part of the herd.

Eric Behler:

Where -- where was the first place that they took you right after you -- you were -- right after the Japanese came in and actually took command there?

Warren M. Smith:

Well, they herded everybody down into a -- kind of a lagoon, and it was kind of a little bay I guess you'd call it, and it had kind of a high ground behind it all the way around.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And they herded everybody down there to the water's edge of that little lagoon that probably was twenty acres down there I guess, and they had one water spigot, and everybody crowded in there, and they just about had room to sit down and stand up, that was about all, to have a -- Anyway, they had machine guns.

The Japs set up machine guns on the high ground. Then they pulled out details that worked on this, that, and the other thing, but they never did make any effort to feed us or anything like that. And the only thing we had was what we brought with us. On the night of this -- on the day of the night of the surrender -- the day before the surrender I guess

it was, why, we became infantry, and we gathered up all of our infantry stuff and that battery about dark I guess.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And we went down the -- to the other end of the island, which was two to three miles, and it took us quite a while to get down there, because the Japs were firing from Bataan a lot of artillery and stuff.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

We had to go through a village, and there was a village there, and they was firing on that village, and a fellow and I, we laid under an old abandoned truck there for a while with shrapnel going through the top of it. And finally we got orders to move on down toward the beach, and so we took out through that village, and it was artillery all around there, and that's where I got some shrapnel in my leg and hand and --

Eric Behler:

Okay. That's where you took on your injuries.

Warren M. Smith:

So we went on down. I didn't even know I was hurt. He told me.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And I didn't even know anything about it. And we got down to the beach at Bonsai, and I guess they'd already made up their mind to surrender, and, anyway, they held us in reserve there, and we were there when we surrendered.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

We've come to destroy all your weapons and stuff like that.

The Japs were all around on the island with tanks and --

Eric Behler:

Right. They already brought in equipment.

Warren M. Smith:

And what they did, they cut in two. So, anyway, we were down in that little lagoon, and there was some -- I don't know, there must have been 5,000 people in there crowded in that little space down there.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And it was Filipinos and American soldiers and everybody that had -- some people had managed to get off Bataan and get to Corregidor, and some of them had gone on to Manila and gone to Corregidor, and so we had them all down there that day, and one little water spigot, and, I don't know, it'd probably be three or four men alive ________ trying to get what water they could.

Eric Behler:

Yes.

Warren M. Smith:

They kept us there for about two weeks, and they pulled out details to do various things. Most of them was -- there was a lot of dumps around that was full of emergency rations and stuff, and so a fellow got on a detail, he was able to -- to maybe scrounge himself a little something.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

Maybe somebody might carry some back for him if he gets a chance. You know, boy, I got thinking of my hand and _________+, and I didn't go on a detail, but I had enough friends that I got by all right. So then in about two weeks they loaded us on a Jap ship and took us over to Manila and

jumped us on out in about two foot of water, three foot of water, and they made a big deal, victory march with a (bull horn?) in Manila.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And ended up in Palawan prison out there. So I was -- the damn hand was really killing me _________, and it was getting pretty serious, you know, and so there at Palawan they didn't really do anything for us there. They didn't feed us nothing there either. I don't know, we was getting by. There were lizards or something I guess. There were a bunch of us that had gotten an old coal oil can and got it full of water, and we had a fire and poured it out, create it down there in an open space.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And somewhere in my travels around, I picked up some tea, a bunch of black tea, and I had it in an old sock.

Eric Behler:

Okay. It should be good to go again. Sorry.

Warren M. Smith:

That's all right.

Well, anyway, I donated this tea to the can of water. And we sat around there drinking tea. And somebody said, well, why don't you soak that hand in some tea leaves, and so for this -- before it gets worse, you know. So I did. I used all the tea grounds and stuffed them down that sock and then stuck my hand

down into the sock, and I think it's probably the next day they took me out of there, and they rode -- we rode a boxcar for, I don't know, two or three hours I guess, kind of a slow train, and then we got out, and we walked for the next day or two, and we ended up in Cabanatuan, and all the time I had that sock and that tea and my -- and I got Buffalo water or something, soak it up a little. And, anyway, I got to Cabanatuan, why, I took the thing off, and it bleached out, and it was almost white, so it started getting better __________________+.

Eric Behler:

I've read there's some guys that even used just hot water to make a -- they had infections, you know, from wounds and stuff like that that they received.

Warren M. Smith:

Right. I had tea, and it probably saved my life.

Eric Behler:

Oh, yeah.

Warren M. Smith:

______________________+.

Eric Behler:

Oh, yeah.

Warren M. Smith:

I had a place down here in my leg in Bonsai, and it passed through I guess, but it ulcerated, and I don't know. It was six months it took to heal.

Eric Behler:

Wow.

Warren M. Smith:

Got about the size of a dollar.

Eric Behler:

How were you treated in the camp? I've known of some -- I've read of some -- some guards that weren't too bad and some guards that were really bad guys.

Warren M. Smith:

Well, they were bad, one, why, I don't know. I had guards on

the outside of the fence, and they were given an old filthy Army base, and they had a bunch of little bamboo huts around that were Filipino Army.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And we lived in them huts, and the food was -- well, it wasn't nonexistent. But it was pretty slim. And they fed us field corn for a while, and we got an ear of corn twice a day.

Eric Behler:

Okay.

Warren M. Smith:

But the damn stuff was overripe, and it just went through, had bugs on it.

Eric Behler:

Yeah.

Warren M. Smith:

But the -- I don't know. Quite a lot of it's in here that you probably could get out of there.

Eric Behler:

Okay.

Warren M. Smith:

It's just the Japs, they -- they put every man into a ten-man squad, and they didn't tell you who else was in the squad, and they sent us -- if one man on a squad escaped, they'd shoot the other nine, and everybody got scared of the officers of death.

And, anyway, they had people patrolling the inside of the fence with clubs while the Japs would patrol to the outside with clubs. And anyway, I thought that was disgraceful.

Eric Behler:

Right. Right.

Warren M. Smith:

I was kind of mouthy about it I guess. Anyway, they had a --

Japs set up an administration underneath them made up of American officers, and they were the ones that instigated this

club that was -- anyway, I would like to tell you I really mouthed off I guess, and they wouldn't put me out there with a club. They wouldn't trust me enough. But, anyway, I was one of the very first people that they sent to Japan.

Eric Behler:

So you were one of the ones that went up to Japan. Like I was telling you, this other gentleman, he went to Manchuria.

Warren M. Smith:

Yeah. Some of them did.

Eric Behler:

He had a humorous kind of thing that they pulled to try to irritate the guards, and I was going to ask you about that too, if you did anything like that. Did you try any -- anything as a prisoner to irritate your captors? It's like -- His story, they were given -- they were going to be making landing gear for their aircraft, and they were given two drawings, one for the left landing gear and one for the right, and so he said on his way to the group, he threw away the set for the left landing gear, and they made 64 sets of right landing gear, and that's all they gave them.

Warren M. Smith:

Well, we never had an opportunity to do much. We had a big camp and a lot of people.

Eric Behler:

Right. Right.

Warren M. Smith:

A lot of people died. Sanitary conditions weren't too good.

And they shot three men with a firing squad in front of the whole camp.

Eric Behler:

That was going to be another question I was going to ask, if you'd seen anybody executed.

Warren M. Smith:

They had people -- the camp was kind of bisected by a road that went through, just a dirt road that went through the camp.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

One side was quite a lot bigger than the other, and that's where we were, but on the other side is where the Jap -- Japs had their camp, their guards and stuff. And there was a utility pole that was out there on the road right between the two camps, and they had somebody hanging on that pole most all the time.

Eric Behler:

As a deterrent to show you what was going to happen.

Warren M. Smith:

And wearing their hands behind them and put a pole underneath there, so the knee joint __________+ and he was just hanging there to die, and put somebody out there. There used to be some grillings around there of people who hadn't surrendered, you know, and they had two Jap troops going out and hunting them all out. They'd come in at night and have a pole between them, and then four or five hits with the pole. Anyway, and most of it's in that book.

Eric Behler:

Okay. Do you -- how far did you -- Did you have to do any of the walk, because I've read something about a 55-mile walk through Japan? Some of these guys --

Warren M. Smith:

Well, they had two -- you know, Bataan surrendered a month before Corregidor. Well, the Bataan death march took place before Corregidor surrendered.

Eric Behler:

Okay.

Warren M. Smith:

That was the one you hear all about.

Eric Behler:

Those were the first prisoners that they had.

Warren M. Smith:

Those were the first. They made a hell of a march to end at Camp O'Donnell.

Eric Behler:

Did you wind up at Camp O'Donnell yourself?

Warren M. Smith:

No, I didn't. I said I did at one time, and the reason I said I did was that I had a cousin over there. He made that march to O'Donnell, and died there.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And then some of the people from O'Donnell, they had come to Cabanatuan --

Eric Behler:

Okay.

Warren M. Smith:

There was one in the group that come from O'Donnell, and he kept a record of all of the people that died, and I got a hold of him, and I found out that this cousin had died, and -- at Camp O'Donnell. He made the march, but he died --

Eric Behler:

Right. He died at the camp.

Warren M. Smith:

So I had an opportunity to -- to write a letter through the Red Cross home. And in the letter I told them that Bill had died, and that I had been with him when he died.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And his mother -- He was the only boy, and his mother was my mother's sister, and I did it mainly just to make her feel a little better.

Eric Behler:

Right. So she would think --

Warren M. Smith:

Right.

Eric Behler:

And we're going to move on now to the -- When were you freed? When was the first that you --

Warren M. Smith:

That would be September 1945.

Eric Behler:

And how can you -- How did you hear about it? Did somebody come to the camp, or did the Japanase tell you, or --

Warren M. Smith:

Well, I was at a place called Strofa (ph), which is quite a ways from Tokyo, and we pretty well knew what was going on.

People there just speak quite a lot of Japanase, and you overheard stuff. And some of us overheard the emperor make his speech, telling the Japanase to lay down their arms and stuff.

So we knew pretty much what was going on, and the guards just disappeared. They just -- and we was out living in an old lime kiln that had been bombed out of two to three different places, where the Americans had bombed it, and we were living in this lime kiln, and they just disappeared. Well, there was another guy and I that kind of palled around together, and his name was Amake (ph). I don't know how you spell it, Michael Amake (ph), and he was from Connecticut. And we went out into the countryside there. It was kind of farming country.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

This kiln was out at the edge of town. They burned down that town when they left. When we left, it was just a bunch of ashes, and it was a pretty big down. Anyway, Amake (ph) and I went out into the countryside and got a hold of one of them

farmers out there, and we told him we was going to burn him out if he didn't bring us some tomatoes.

Eric Behler:

[Laughter]

Warren M. Smith:

I don't know why we -- Tomatoes was in season, and, anyway, we threatened him, and they were scared because they thought the Americans were going to rape and murder and kill them.

Eric Behler:

Oh, yeah.

Warren M. Smith:

He let out on a dead run, and he come back in a little while, and a bunch of tomatoes -- must have had a bushel of them, and, anyway, we sat there and in the middle of his floor and ate tomatoes until our mouths were so damn sore we couldn't bite into one. So we started back to camp. We was probably a couple of miles from camp, there was this kiln where we was staying, and as we was just coming into camp, why, we stood up on a little hill, and looking down into the camp, which was just about a quarter mile, a half mile away, and a bunch of airplanes come over, and we could see them dropping stuff out in parachutes.

Eric Behler:

Oh, they were.

Warren M. Smith:

So we got back to camp, and they dropped a lot of K rations and C rations and medicine and uniforms and just about anything, you know, shoes.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And so we got some uniforms, and -- and we were back in uniform. And Amake (ph) and I -- And they dropped a message.

They said to just sit tight and they would come and contact us.

And I don't know why -- If they knew where in the hell we were, I don't know why they didn't take the whole town out, because they bombed us out of three different buildings. But, anyway, they evidentially did. They dropped all that stuff, but Amake (ph) and I, we decided that we wasn't going to wait for them to come get us. We was going to find them. So we got on the train -- that train was pretty intact. They hadn't wrecked the train too bad, and we went on a train that run through this town and just shooed everybody out of the way and took over the car and told them we was the guard from Skippy Town (ph), which is secret police. And I don't know, that was probably about the -- Well, maybe the 15th of August I guess, something like that.

And we toured Japan on the train, went to Kyoto, and if we wanted something, we'd just tell somebody to go get it for us, and looking back on it, we could get the keys to this Kyoto if we wanted to, you know --

Eric Behler:

Right. Because at this point they're scared.

Warren M. Smith:

We wasn't even thinking about that. And it was pretty -- we was living pretty high on the hog. Anyway, we eventually got to Tokyo on the 11th of September, and that's when we first --

We were the first to get there, and Kyoto -- or Tokyo was bombed out too.

Eric Behler:

Right. Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And they had big signs out there in the railroad yard. Every train coming into Tokyo was loaded with prisoners of various nationalities, and, hell, they had Chinese and Indians and Australians and Swedes, anybody was on the other side. And they had big signs out there that says Americans report here,

British report over here, Canadians over here. And we went over to the American side, and we was back in the Army.

Eric Behler:

[Laughter]

Warren M. Smith:

They run us through a delousing thing there and give us new clothes and stuff and toothbrush and a razor and loaded us on a little launch and loaded us on one of those liberty ships out there.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And about the time I got there on the ship, why, I was feeling awful bad, feverish and kind of hot. So as soon as I got on the ship, I just went over and laid down in the shade of one of the ventilators, and I laid there for quite a while.

And some senator come up and hollered around and wanted to know if anybody knew Bill Smith. I wasn't Bill, but somebody told him, yeah, I was laying over by the ventilator. So the guy come over there, and he asked me if I was Bill Smith, and I said, yeah. And he said there's a fellow down here on duty, he knew you were a prisoner over here, and he sent me up here to find out if -- He couldn't make it, and he sent me up here to find out if you were in this bunch that come aboard. And he

says I'll go back and tell him you're here. Well, it turned out it was a guy from Grangeville (ph), he was a member of the ship's crew.

Eric Behler:

Yeah.

Warren M. Smith:

And, anyway, they got me down into the sick bay, and I had the croup.

Eric Behler:

Wow. I guess I could see that.

Warren M. Smith:

So, anyway, I rode that sick bay back to the Philippines, and they put me in the hospital there for a month or so.

Eric Behler:

So they took you back to the Philippines?

Warren M. Smith:

Yeah. I was back in the United States around the last of October I guess or somewhere.

Eric Behler:

And you decided to make it a career then, after the war?

Warren M. Smith:

Well, I had to. I had some -- you know, I had some problems, and I thought it might be best to stay in for a while. Well, after I got back, I had in almost six years.

Eric Behler:

Wow.

Warren M. Smith:

So I finally ended up doing twenty, but the last ten I didn't really enjoy too much.

Eric Behler:

No.

Warren M. Smith:

Went to Korea. Went over there in 1952 and came back in '53.

Eric Behler:

What did you do after the war? Did you get back into the guns, the -- or artillery work, or did you go on to something else?

Warren M. Smith:

No. I had 194 days of reenlistment leave and recuperation,

recovery.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And they sent me to Van Nuys.

Eric Behler:

Oh, California. Okay.

Warren M. Smith:

And well, we landed, and we come back from the Philippines, and we landed in Seattle, and that wasn't too far from home.

Eric Behler:

Right. Right.

Warren M. Smith:

So I got seven days I think. They give me seven days' leave, and I caught a plane, and we weren't married, but my wife and my aunt met me in Spokane. My wife and I, we dated before, and we had a close bond ___________+ but, anyway, we got married not too long after that. I went down to Van Nuys to the hospital, and I was there until the last of January, and my folks lived in Long Beach at that time. They had come down to work there after the war.

Eric Behler:

Right. There's a lot of industry.

Warren M. Smith:

So my wife stayed there with my family, and she'd come out to Van Nuys on the weekends and stuff. And we made a trip or two back up here, got her -- she worked _________________+ so then when I -- when we got -- we got me out of that hospital, they sent me to Fort Jennings, Utah, and I was discharged there.

Reenlisted. And I had ninety days reenlistment coming, and 104 days recuperation out of this hospital.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

Which made me 194 days, which was quite a stretch, you know,

so my wife and I came back and went up to Grangeville (ph) and rented a little place there and stayed there six months. Then from there, I went to -- When I reported back for duty, I was assigned to Missoula.

Eric Behler:

Okay.

Warren M. Smith:

Missoula was a big disciplinary barracks, maximum security prison.

Eric Behler:

Wow.

Warren M. Smith:

They had something like 1100 prisoners there or something like that, and I didn't really like that too well, but, you know, better be on the outside than on the inside.

Eric Behler:

Right. And it was a check too.

Warren M. Smith:

And so, anyway, I -- so we lived there until along in the spring of '46 I guess, '47. We went back to '46, but it was the spring of '47. They closed that place up and shipped all them prisoners to different places, and they built a new prison on Lompoc, California, and I got shipped on a blanket order to Lompoc. Well, in the meantime, I put in a transfer request to the recruiting service.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And we went to long pock. We had a delay en route of thirty days, and my folks still lived in Long Beach, and so we went down there, and by the time I got turned in down there, I had my orders back to the recruiting service in Butte, Montana.

Eric Behler:

They sent you back to Montana?

Warren M. Smith:

We turned right around, and we came back to Butte.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And we -- I didn't do any recruiting, but I was in the headquarters, the state headquarters, the district, and worked in the supply, and they closed that place up and moved us to Seattle, and Seattle had -- I put in a transfer to go to the Counter-Intelligence School.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

So I was accepted for that, and in about January of 1950 I guess, I went to Baltimore unit for the school.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And I went through that, and I was assigned to Miami,

Florida. And we lived there for, I don't know, almost a year I guess. And we got orders to go to the Langley School in Monterey.

Eric Behler:

Monterey; right.

Warren M. Smith:

After Monterey, I went back to the Third Army in North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

Still made -- I worked as an agent there, and then I got orders to go to Korea.

Eric Behler:

Korea.

Warren M. Smith:

We went to Korea, and I thought, well, they -- they probably wouldn't send me back into combat or anything. But I -- when you went -- We went unassigned. You didn't know what the hell

you were going to do.

Eric Behler:

Right. You didn't know what you were going to get.

Warren M. Smith:

I got to Tokyo, and by that time I was a warrant officer.

Got to Tokyo, and went out to Camp Drake, which is a rebel devil, and was there for a week or so I guess, and then I got orders, and those orders were for Korea. And, of course, they were fighting orders.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And so I went, got to Korea, went to Sasical (ph) and crossed the troops along the railroad to Seoul, and hung around Seoul there for a day or two, and I got orders from the 40th Division, which was on the line.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

So I went out to the 40th Division, and they said, well, we've got a vacancy up to 224th infantry, and we are short handed up there, and one man has to handle two regiments, the rd, and 224th. So they outfitted me with a Jeep and a ______, interpreter and a house boy, and I took off for the infantry. And I lived with the infantry up there until, well,

I -- I come -- In the meantime, I put in to get my family to come to Japan, and supposedly they had coordinated travel and all of that stuff, so when you get done in Korea and you get to Japan, your family is there waiting for you. Well, that was a crock. Well, anyway, I -- I stayed in Korea until the day the peace treaty was signed.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

That's the day I left Korea. And I was thinking that my family would be in --

Eric Behler:

-- in Tokyo?

Warren M. Smith:

-- in Tokyo. But when I got there, I found out they wasn't, and they had an SOB for a commander, and he was one of these jock-strap guys. He had played ball or something.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

Why, he went to Korea. So when I got to Tokyo, that's why I -- that's the jock strap, that's why I went to Korea. But I ended up living with the infantry up there, and I was there a whole year and-a-half I guess, and I came back to Japan hoping the family would be there, but I found out that they changed the rules, and I couldn't get my family until I got a permanent assignment.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And I couldn't get a permanent assignment until I went through the Far East Intelligence School, which was six weeks long. So I stayed there in Tokyo and went through the intelligence school, and after I finished that, I was assigned to Kurume (ph), Japan.

Eric Behler:

Kurume (ph), Japan.

Warren M. Smith:

That's further down, towards Hiroshima.

Eric Behler:

Right.

Warren M. Smith:

And found out that I had a year's wait on the waiting list --

Eric Behler:

For family and housing and stuff?

Warren M. Smith:

Well, I finally got that in, and they come over and spent a year, and we went back to the states. And I went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and I was there for a while, and from there I went to Denver, and from Denver I went to Fort Wayne,

Missouri -- Fort Leonardwood.

Eric Behler:

__________+ Kansas?

Warren M. Smith:

Leonardwood. And from there I went to Alaska, and from Alaska I went to Yuma, Arizona. The day I got to Yuma, I put in my retirement.

Eric Behler:

Did you get tired of the Army moving you around all the time?

Warren M. Smith:

Well, we came from Alaska -- My wife is from Kouskey (ph) up here.

Eric Behler:

Oh, okay.

Warren M. Smith:

So when we came from Alaska, actually I had a little better than twenty years in. I could have done it sooner, but the way they do things, it was to my advantage to wait until a normal rotation, and I don't have three or four months in, because they -- so when we moved from Alaska, why, instead of taking all of that stuff and going to Yuma, I knew I was going to --

 
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