The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Text Transcript

Interview with Jarman G. Kennard [9/11/2002]

Tom Swope:

This is the oral history of World War II veteran Jarman G. Kennard. Mr. Kennard served in the U.S. Army Air Corps with the 98th Bomb Group, 415th Bomb Squadron. Jarman served in the North Africa and Sicily campaigns and was a POW deputy held in Germany. His highest rank was first lieutenant. I'm Tom Swope and this recording was made at Mr. Kennard's home in Fairview Park, Ohio, on September 11th, 2002. Jarman was 81 at the time of this recording. And where were you living when the war started for America?

Jarman G. Kennard:

I was living in Ithaca, New York. My father was a professor at Cornell University, and I was in my junior year as an engineering student.

Tom Swope:

Do you remember the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor?

Jarman G. Kennard:

I just happen to.

Tom Swope:

All right.

Jarman G. Kennard:

On the afternoon of December 7th, near the campus of Cornell University, a bunch of us were on the floor of the fraternity playing Battleship when we heard the news. One of my fraternity members was a German sympathizer. And he had the Scharnhorst, and I was chasing him with the Hood. We were not surprised that war came. Of course, we were always -- all -- very surprised at the way it came. But for a number of years we had seen it coming. We were in a militaristic area -- era at the time. Early in my high school career, the Spanish Civil War was on, and there was great sympathy for the loyalists. And I knew of Americans who went over to Spain to help fight for the loyalist cause. Now, we stayed out of the Second World War for several years, but during this time, several of my acquaintances had gone to Canada and enlisted in the RCAF, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and at the time war was declared, one of them was already missing in action. Now, the summer before the war, the government had sponsored a civilian pilot training program, offering a private pilot licenses, no obligation, of course, and about 40 of us in my engineering class took this program. One of our aerodynamics professors taught the ground school, and we flew one to two hours a day in 40 horsepower Piper Cubs. There were several girls in the program, and some of them became ferry pilots for the Air Corps. It was an exciting summer. On your first flight, that front seat in an airplane, it sure looks awful empty and you're on your own up there. Well, the next day, December 8th, the only thing on anybody's mind was the war. I particularly remember a thermodynamics class. Four years later, three of us from that class were repeating that course with the same instructor.

Tom Swope:

If you can pause for just a second, I'm curious about you said there was a German sympathizer in your fraternity?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yes.

Tom Swope:

Now, how -- did you get along with him, you just --

Jarman G. Kennard:

Oh, sure.

Tom Swope:

-- just took that as his political view?

Jarman G. Kennard:

He was one of my best friends. There was a strong German sentiment in this country that -- that ignored the fact, the cruel things that Germany was doing and they felt that Germany was winning the war and doing so well that, hey, we might as well jump on the band wagon and win too. There were no political issues involved really, but there were strong German sympathy through parts of the German part of Pennsylvania and some -- there was some action against these people by mobs so it was -- we were not all a hundred percent in favor. I think most of us were, but yes, there was German sympathy.

Tom Swope:

Sure. I was just curious about that.

Jarman G. Kennard:

In college students there's always a diverse opinion.

Tom Swope:

So as long as you didn't talk politics with this guy, he was a good friend?

Jarman G. Kennard:

He was a very good friend. We used to go out on double dates and everything was fine.

Tom Swope:

What was his attitude, what was it, just a couple of days later that Germany declared war on America? What was his attitude when Germany declared war on us?

Jarman G. Kennard:

He became a patriot. Once the issue was settled, I think almost all of the Americans -- all Americans were in favor of our seeing it through.

Tom Swope:

All right. Let's continue now with when you decided to join up.

Jarman G. Kennard:

Well, I was not an A student in engineering. Engineering is hard. And with my brand new pilots license, all I wanted to do was fly, so I asked for a leave of absence from the University. And the people on the committee knew my father, and they told me that I should stay in school, which is exactly the advice any father would give any son. So I quit. And I signed up for the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet. I -- being under age, I had to get my father's permission. And I'm sure he was not in favor of this either, but he did give me permission to join. So I became an aviation cadet, and we ended up in a brand new tent city set in a morass of red mud in Selma, Alabama. I remember standing naked in the warehouse with about a hundred others while a team of fully clothed doctors walked up and down the rows, asking questions, poking and prodding us, and making us assume the most humiliating positions possible, sore arms from lots of injections. And they gave us a Springfield rifle dripping in cosmoline, ammunition belt, no bullets, and a bayonet. We wondered why we were issued a bayonet in the Air Force. We didn't think we would get close enough to anybody to use the bayonet. But they taught us some interesting things like how to make a bed with mitered corners so tight that a quarter would bounce. And other than sinking ever deeper in red goo that was our world and washing our boots by flushing the toilet, not much happened. Later we were transferred to Maxwell Field, and one day they called us all together and told us that if we all wanted to be fighter pilots we would be stuck here in the red mud for another six to eight months as the flight schools were all jammed. However, if we would settle for being navigators, there were immediate openings. So with youthful impatience, I opted to be a navigator. Actually, I had to volunteer three times to get in with all of the trouble that I did. And I was assigned to Mather Field at Sacramento. Now that the nonsense was over, the rifles and bayonets were replaced with calculators, octants and charts, and the next 16 weeks we sang as we marched to classes on map reading, dead reckoning, radio and celestial radiation, star identification and Morse code. We flew our missions in small, twin engined Lockheed AT-7 aircrafts. The plane carried three student navigators in a row, each having a table and a drift meter. A drift meter tells you how much the wind is drifting you sideways as you're flying. We navigated without reference to the ground, simulating trackless country or ocean. Two of us would perform the problem and direct the pilot. The third would follow the pilot, keeping track of where we were in case the other two screwed up. We often flew from Sacramento to Salt Lake by dead reckoning by day and using celestial at night. We graduated and were commissioned on July 4th, 1942. One of the fellows in my class had his father's wings and bars from World War I presented to him at graduation. Then they asked us where we would like to fight a war. I chose combat, near the state of New York. And so then I was assigned to a field in Michigan.

Tom Swope:

Were you assigned to B-24s from the beginning then?

Jarman G. Kennard:

No, no. We were just unattached navigators and several of us were bounced around from different fields. They didn't really know what to do with us; they had nothing for us. Later on, people were assigned crews, and the crews were assigned an airplane and they stayed together through all of their advanced training, but I had none of that. They were -- they were forming new units right and left. One -- one unit I was assigned to, I finally had a squadron commander, and, according to the book we all bought on How To Be An Officer, I called on my commanding officer, you know, business card in hand, very formally. His reaction is, "What the hell do you want? I mean, why bother me?" Well, it was a brand new squadron and the various jobs were handed out. I became transportation officer and morale officer. As morale officer I would authorize town leave for all personnel not on duty for the evening. Then as transportation officer I would authorize the trucks to take them to town and bring them back, and that worked out pretty well. In the transportation department there was an outstanding sergeant who ran the department. I would drop in every morning and sign what he told me to sign. He taught me to drive everything we had, and that was fun. There was one squadron move to some place in the south, I don't remember where, but it took two days and we had to put all of the vehicles, tie them down on flat cars. While the sergeant and I slept out in the flat car in the ambulance, everyone else had to sleep all jammed up in the trains in those days. Well, we finally flew to our staging area, our -- our airplanes, DC-3, a very sturdy, steady old airplane, loaded with spare parts, we had a large plastic tank in the cabin to improve the range, and we went to war. Our first stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico, then Trinidad. For several hours we flew over the Amazon jungle on our way to Belem, Brazil. On the next leg we flew for several hours over the Atlantic Ocean, muddy as far as the eye could see from the outflow of the Amazon river, to the eastern tip of Brazil in a town called Natal. Here I saw what inflation can do to currency's money. I was collecting a piece of money from every country we touched. Brazil, the unit of currency was the Rei. I bought a 5,000 Rei note for an American nickel. Then we headed on over the Atlantic for a lonely rock in hour -- in eight hours away called Ascension Island. And a powerful radio beacon made navigation easy. As we approached the island, we were buzzed by a couple of P-39 fighters as a welcome. Those guys had nothing to do but welcome people to their -- to their rock. The next stop was Accra in what was then the Gold Coast and is now called Ghana. From there it was Kano, Nigeria; Maiduguri, Khartoum, and finally Cairo. At Kano we slept on cots on a porch of a British barracks. At 5 a.m. someone shook me and I looked up into the face of a bearded Sikh with a knife in his belt. I thought I was dead. He handed me a cup of English tea. Well, they used us to fly freight out of Cairo. We were equipped to fly paratroopers, freight or toe gliders.

Tom Swope:

What kind of planes were you flying at that point?

Jarman G. Kennard:

All DC-3s.

Tom Swope:

Still? Okay.

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah. It was a troop carrier outfit.

Tom Swope:

Right.

Jarman G. Kennard:

And so we were flying cargo and mostly it supported the British Eighth Army which was advancing across Libya. There was one exciting time when -- because our CO did not need navigators, he didn't think, he just told the guys fly east until you find the Gulf of Sidra and then fly up the Gulf to where the airfield was where the British needed some gasoline. Well, one day I went along for the ride with a cargo of 900 gallons of aviation gasoline. We missed the Gulf of Sidra, flew another hour and a half back into the dessert, then we realized we were lost, turned north and flew right over General Rommel's rear guard. As we approached the coast at about 200 feet altitude to stay under radar, I was -- happened to be flying the airplane in the copilot's seat. On a coast road I saw a truck convoy with black crosses on them and German soldiers jumping out of the trucks and diving into a roadside ditch. They thought we were about to bomb them. We were just scared as hell. At this point I advised the pilot, "You might want to take over," so we headed back into the dessert. Our plane took the lead because we were the fastest. In looking back, we could see a cloud of black smoke. They had shot down one of us. It was one of the crew of that airplane who identified me over a year later in a German prison camp. In prison camp, until you were identified by someone you had known before, you were not accepted as okay. I was excluded from strategy meetings for a month or so because nobody knew me. Everyone in my barracks had been based in England. Once identified, I became room commander as I was an old timer.

Tom Swope:

And that was because there was a fear that if nobody recognized you, you might be a collaborator or something?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yes, you might be a plant. The German might have -- Germans might have put some German person in as a prisoner of war to report to the camp commandant.

Tom Swope:

When you were in the camp, did you ever find any of those plants?

Jarman G. Kennard:

No, we never found any, but we were always careful. And we didn't have any -- any problems like that, but everyone was identified. A number of people would be shot down in the same raid, and they'd all arrive at the camp together. And, of course, they all knew each other, so there were groups within groups. But I became room commander because I outranked everybody in the room by months. Well, flying cargo out of Cairo was kind of dull, and there was nothing to do. And somebody asked for replacement navigators to join a B-24 bomb group and I volunteered and about -- with about five others, and we were assigned to the 98th Bomb Group. I was the only one assigned to the 415th Squadron. The 98th Bomb Group was stationed at the time at Ismailia, Egypt, on the Suez Canal. There were wooden anti-aircraft guns and mannequins around the airport. One night the Germans dropped wooden bombs on them, so we weren't fooling anybody.

Tom Swope:

Did they really do that?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah, they really did that.

Tom Swope:

I thought you were joking.

Jarman G. Kennard:

They really did that. No, that was real. The Germans once in a while had a sense of humor, not often but once in a while. Later we were stationed at El Adam about ten miles south of Tobruk and then near Benghazi in Libya. Well, in the Libyan dessert we lived in tents erected over a depression as deep as we wanted to scratch in the dessert, a little protection in case we were bombed. And that was a great place for souvenirs. That piece of dessert had changed hands six times during the time of the war so there was anything you might want available for the taking . One of our pilots had a Stuka dive bomber that flew. He liked to make everyone duck by buzzing them and particularly the chow line. One day he ground looped it when a tire blew, and the squadron commander was thoroughly tired of this nonsense, threw a match in it and let it burn up right there on the runway. We used to fly two or three times a week, and sometimes our little round general, General Beretan, would come up to inspire the troops and hand out a few medals. We would toast his health in the officer's club and once poured beer on him, but there was a feeling of closeness and camaraderie in a combat squadron I've never experienced before or since.

Tom Swope:

Do you remember your first combat mission?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Well, I -- I remember it as being quite spooky. We used to -- our missions were long. They averaged about ten hours. And we usually took off about noon. The targets we bombed, including Tripoli, Messina, Naples was about as far as we got north with the range we had because we had to cross the Med, the Mediterranean Sea, to get to anybody. We bombed Sicily and Greece. I flew with a number of different crews. Our squadron commander, our group commander, was Colonel Kane. And he was quite a character, reminded us a little of Teddy Roosevelt. He was big, burlier than most of us. On a training flight once, he was in the right-hand seat, that's co-pilot seat, he thought his windshield was dirty, so he picked up a piece of cotton waste, opened his window, reached around and wiped his windshield. The young lieutenant flying left side thought his windshield was dirty too, he picked up the cotton waste, opened the window, stuck his arm out and the wind stream slammed his arm back. He thought better of the situation, pulled in his arm and closed the window. Of course the colonel had been doing this for ten years. Colonel Kane liked to chew tobacco on missions, even when wearing an oxygen mask. When he would work up a good cud, he would raise his mask, open up his side window and let fly. Unfortunately, the air stream was such that the waist gunners would receive the benefit. Pilots that flew with the colonel passed the word that when the Colonel reached for his window, the other pilot would press his microphone button, which would click in everyone's earphones, and the waist gunners would duck. Well, the colonel once complimented me on my navigation when high winds prevented us from reaching our primary target and, as lead navigator, I got us to a secondary target within the gas reserves. We usually bombed between 20 and 35,000 feet. Navigation was pretty easy coming home. We were flying almost due south and our latitude could be read almost directly from our octant by sighting Polaris, the north star. The British had a series of lights along the African coast flying the coded letter of the day. We would fly over one of these lights for a position fix and then head for our airfield. Finding our lighting strips was not always easy. A new crew from another squadron on their first mission missed the field, flew out into the dessert and didn't return. We searched for them for two days, up to 200 miles back. In the 1960s, on oil exploration crew found the airplane. They were 400 miles back in the dessert. The crew had bailed out when they ran out of gas and had all died of thirst. Their bodies were eventually recovered from the dessert.

Tom Swope:

Were you involved in any of the raids on Polesti?

Jarman G. Kennard:

No. I went down in May and Polesti was August. We were already practicing for Polesti. And the colonel wanted to try us on a low-level mission so he sent us over one of the hotter targets in Sicily, Messina, at low level, and those airplanes were not made for low-level flying. We approached targets at 150 miles an hour. You could see the kids lined up on the docks throwing rocks at you, and you could see the guns shooting right in your face. But we didn't lose anybody on that one because I think we surprised them as much as they surprised us. So but no, Polesti was a turning point, really, the losses were tremendous. On the Polesti raid there were about 150 airplanes in the air and they lost 50 of them. Colonel Kane, among others, received the order of merit for his participation. His was the only group that actually followed the detail flight plan. The colonel lost a piece of his wing and crash landed on Cyprus. But no, I was spared that.

Tom Swope:

You were part of the EE -- which Air Force was --

Jarman G. Kennard:

It was the Ninth Air Force --

Tom Swope:

Ninth Air Force?

Jarman G. Kennard:

-- at the time. Later on it turned into the 15th.

Tom Swope:

Okay.

Jarman G. Kennard:

And later on it moved up into Italy. My outfit moved up into Italy. On my 16th mission, May 11th, 1943, my luck almost ran out. Catania, Sicily, was the target. It was a milk run, lightly defended, with five ships around one dock in the port. We picked up our spitfire cover from Malta. We were flying low element at 19,000 feet. Anti-aircraft fire was light. Bombs were away and we headed out to sea. A burst went off right in front of us and my compartment was full of flying Plexiglass and metal. The bombardier tried to cry out, fell and did not move. I saw a hole up here in my right arm -- in my right thumb and my right arm felt like it had been slapped. I could get no response from the bombardier. I could not contact the pilots who were in direct line of the burst, and I realized I was starting to pass out due to a lack of oxygen. There was no command to abandon ship, but it felt like we were falling off to the right. I felt that everyone in the front of the airplane had probably been hit, but there was no command to abandon ship, but I felt like we were falling off to the right. And the fear was, if you go into a spin in an airplane, the centrifugal force pins you against the wall and you can't move, and that's probably why the other people in the back of the airplane did not get out. I remember jumping. There's two little red handles, opened the nose wheel door and out I went. My eyes wouldn't focus and I passed out, came through -- to in the water. But of Lieutenant Ingerson's crew of ten, I alone survived.

Tom Swope:

When did you learn the fate of the rest of the guys?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Actually, I never was sure that they hadn't gone home without me, which had -- which happened a number of times during the war. A guy would panic and jump and the airplane would go home. I wasn't absolutely sure that they hadn't gone home until I came home and asked somebody. The Italians that I was with told -- told me the story, they saw the airplane come down, but I wasn't completely ready to believe them because they had no detailed story that made too much sense. But, yes, that was a concern. But as it turned out, when I got home, I corresponded with all of the families of the crew and -- and, in truth, I was the only one that got out of the airplane. Well, they pulled me -- some fisherman pulled me out of the water, and they waited a while but then they -- it was a sailing boat. There was no motor, just a little sail, fisherman out doing their job. And they took -- took me to shore. While I was out in the boat, I heard the rumble of the second wave hitting the target, but I couldn't see anything yet. We came in along a big stone pier that was lined with people. They had aroused the populous. And a few people spat at the boat and shook their fists, a couple threw rocks at the boat coming in, which is very understandable because we had hit their town, hit it pretty hard. Most were just curious. On the beach there was an ambulance, a stretcher, and a freshly starched nurse. I climbed out of the boat by myself, laid down on the stretcher and said "okay" and off we went. The town was so full of dust. In the administrative office of the hospital they took all of my possessions, including dog tag, watch and pen to be sent to Rome, they said. No one in the hospital spoke English. The -- but the nuns spoke French. They took care of me very well, bandaged my arm. I said I was hungry; they gave me a bowl of milk. And they gave me a preprinted card from the Red Cross where I could check the blanks saying I was a prisoner and was treated well, the blanks said "I am well" or "I'm slightly wounded" or "severely wounded." I checked "slightly wounded." I was very tired. I was awakened for supper, chopped macaroni. And at 10 p.m. I was wheeled in for an operation. The anesthetic was a liquid ether dripped onto a mask, the same kind when I had my tonsils out as a kid. But the next morning I realized I didn't have a right thumb but I still had a right arm. I was -- had bruises all over my back and hip from a not too graceful exit of the airplane. I discovered that I was also hit in the shoulder and face. My jaw was sore. My lips were cut from the parachute chest strap. You don't wear a parachute tight because it chafes and you're not going to use it anyway, and so if you wear a parachute loose and use it, you wouldn't believe what those straps do. The chest strap hits you right in the face, and the leg straps do all sorts of things to other parts of your body that aren't worth talking about. Well, there were no other prisoners in the hospital. I had a guard around the clock. For a while they wouldn't even turn the light off at night. The flies and mosquitos were bad. The hospital operated on raid victims all the next day. A steady stream of people came to see me because -- including some women who had lost family members on our raid. A few of them shouted "gangster" at me. That was the prevailing view of Americans. We were gangsters or cowboys. Most were just curious. On the third day I was interrogated by a German major and some Italian officers. The majors spoke perfect English. After finding I had nothing to say on military matters, he asked if I was well treated. He also said he hoped that we would treat well the German soldiers that were being captured in the German pull out of Tunisia. A middle age lady from the -- the head of the local Red Cross called on me often, brought me stationery and toilet articles like a comb and a toothbrush. Well, in about five days I was able to walk around. We often sat on the balcony and watched the town go by. It was a military hospital, and the other patients were Italian soldiers, including one flier. Everyone wanted to talk, and I gradually learned enough Italian to discuss certain subjects like the war, our personal lives and wishes, and what we would do after the war. A lot of their families would bring them food and they shared treats with me. I observed -- I even observed and helped in the operating room. I was guarded by a young -- young kids and old men, soldiers, private soldiers. After lunch sometimes I would argue with my older guard. He wanted to take a nap and I wanted to sit on the terrace. He'd say, "I'm the guard and you're the prisoners, we go to the room and nap," and I would say, "I'm a lieutenant and you're a private, we stay here." Sometimes I would win. Sometimes I would hide his rifle when we napped after lunch. This would make him very upset and he would shout at me in Italian.

Tom Swope:

Were the Italians pretty friendly with the Americans at that point? Did they know that they --

Jarman G. Kennard:

Well, they didn't know any Americans. They were very friendly to me.

Tom Swope:

Right.

Jarman G. Kennard:

And I found no hostility and --

Tom Swope:

They were pretty close to on the verge of giving up at that point, weren't they?

Jarman G. Kennard:

No, they lasted another year.

Tom Swope:

Another year? Until 1944?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah.

Tom Swope:

I guess that's right, yeah.

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah, they -- I read the newspaper and at the time the newspaper headline was, "Vinceremo." We're going to win. It was "resistere."

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm.

Jarman G. Kennard:

So they were -- they realized they were between a rock and a hard place and -- but as far as people were concerned, we were -- there was no antagonism at all. The head nurse in the hospital, Theresa Pignatelli, was Italian royalty of some sort. I never understood it, but she had a deep personal and family heritage in the town of Catania. She was probably in her 50s, about the same age as my mother, and very concerned and sympathetic person. We spent hours talking. And ultimately she tried to have me left behind when the other prisoners were moved out so I would be recaptured when the town was taken, which she could have gotten into serious trouble for. After the war she corresponded with me and my mother. That is a painting she sent --

Tom Swope:

Wow. Very nice.

Jarman G. Kennard:

-- dated 1921 or '24, one or the other. We -- we have several paintings that she made. She was a beautiful lady. A couple of times I was taken across town to have my arm x-rayed. There was about an inch of one of the bones missing, and it was amazing to see the two ends of the bones an inch apart gradually send out a piece of bone that joined itself and the bone rejoined. And not being in on the medical profession, I thought that was an amazing thing. But then I got sick. In the middle of June I had a high fever. The nurse was -- head nurse was considered and called in the professor to see me. After a lot of tests he decided it was paratyphoid and amoebic dysentery. This professor brought his microscope right into my hospital room, made his own slides and shouted with joy, "Amoeba, amoeba," in Italian fashion. Well , that brought on lots of injection with dull needles. But it passed and I got better.

Tom Swope:

For the purpose of this tape, you were shot down in May of '43; correct?

Jarman G. Kennard:

May 11th, 1943, yeah. Well about June 25th the air raids became almost daily. My guards would always run for the basement shelter. There were soldiers bunks in the basement and I brought bed bugs back to my room from them. A couple of noisy nights I sat with a young Italian lieutenant who couldn't move. Because the air raids were going on, it's a spooky time, bombs are coming down, a lot of noise. On July 5th we had heavier raids than usual. They brought in two Americans, one was a navigator and radio operator from a B-17. His name was Edward Drunding from Philadelphia. The other, Sergeant Panayer, was from Flint, Michigan. Drunding had some ribs broken, and Panayer was shot in both legs. They were hitting the airport south of town. And if you get any travel literature these days, most trips to Sicily land at the Catania airport. It was then and is now a very large, useful airport. Well, then they got -- they got low on food. The bread ration was cut from three loaves to one for patients. The hospital workers didn't get any. On July 7th, we saw a great show at the airport south of town, medium bombers and then strafing by fighters. The next day they brought in another American, a Sergeant William Tuney, a turret gunner from a B-26. His parachute had torn and he came down hard. About 4 p.m. the town was -- was hit hard, a building a block away was hit, another string of bombs came down on the other side, the dust was every where, the electricity was knocked out, a dead streetcar was just outside of the hospital, water pressure was low. Just before dark, when we were sitting out on the balcony, a gorgeous summer evening, we saw a ship sailing down the coast, and it was torpedoed just off the coast. We saw the explosion. It started to burn and stood still in the water for a while, but in a few minutes it tried to make a run for port. It hadn't gone a mile when we saw a huge geyser followed by a tremendous explosion and it disappeared. The next few days we were under constant attack. The cooks spent most of the days near raid shelters so we had no lunch. Four or five British ships shelled at town from the sea. We sat on the balcony and watched the ships and watched the gun flashes. And then we'd count until about 30 and we heard the shells coming in and then we saw the explosions in the port area. One afternoon we saw about a dozen JU-52s, German three engine transports, their version of our DC3, lumber out of the north, drop their paratroops at the airport and lumbered north again. What an opportunity missed. One allied fighter could have had the whole lot. On July 10th we were -- the British had landed in Sicily. They said it was at Sicily but the city next -- south of -- from Catania. The next day they brought in two British soldiers, one a driver with a spinal injury who died the next day, the other was a paratrooper whose kneecap was shot off by anti-aircraft fires as they left the airplane. He arrived in possession of revolver and two hand grenades which he gave to me, and I turned them all over to the authorities because I didn't need them. He said the British dropped a brigade of paratroopers the night before and Catania was their next objective but they didn't make it. Well, the battle lines stabilized about three miles south of town, and we were bombed and shelved, strafed -- [Phone rings.]

Jarman G. Kennard:

The wife just came home. She'll get it.

Tom Swope:

Okay.

Jarman G. Kennard:

More injections. On July 29th the other prisoners were moved out and I -- I was left. The head nurse hoped that I would be recaptured by the British when the town fell. The small arms fire was heard very close. And land mines were being exploded in the town to block the streets. The head nurse was transferred to a safer location August 1st and I was moved to another hospital up the coast. On the way we saw a lot of reparation from the Germans to resist. We spent a night at a town called Yonia. And there they had the fattest priest I ever saw, but his ponderance didn't hinder his speed. He passed me at the stretch when the planes came over. They told us prisoners would be left behind, so I wandered out on the town, considered escape but I came back. The next morning, they said we're going to move you out, so I just walked out the front door, had a go at it. If I had made the corner, I might -- I might have made it but a nun came out, saw me and shouted. I was recaptured by a nun. Then we went through Messina which is on the street between Sicily and Italy, and we arrived too late to -- that night, but while we were there, we saw a barge start from each side of the strait. And when they got to the mid channel, we heard the planes coming down. When I saw fit to raise my head, the hospital ship was untouched but both barges were burning and exploding. On the way back to Messina, we were strafed and spent a few minutes in the ditch beside the ambulance, watching 50 caliber tracers bounce in the road ahead. I met an American P-38 pilot and three British officers in the hospital that night. The next day we were put on a hospital ship. I was put in a room with five German officers. One of them, a tank captain, had quite -- quite a nice talk about our families and so forth. He said our tanks drove well but the guns were too small. Now, when meal was served, I was the only ambulatory one in the room. One of the Germans had an upper bank -- bunk who was in a body cast from toe to head dropped his fork, and he barked at me in typical German fashion. If you know Germans, ruff, ruff, ruff. And I said, "Say please, dammit." The others laughed, but he became red faced and furious so I gave him his fork back. Well, we had a delightful cruise up the Mediterranean, on the hospital ship. We passed the Isle of Capri. I wondered if I was closer to it now or when I had been four and a half miles above it when we bombed Naples. We docked at Livorno and put in an ambulance and drove to a hospital at Lucca. We passed through Pisa and saw the leaning tower out the ambulance window. And Lucca seemed like heaven. Good food, Red Cross parcels and quiet. There were about 500 prisoners there, British, American, a few Greeks, and a Yugoslav general. At Lucca, a young British solider made me the wooden box that was my suitcase when I came home. On September 26th, the Germans loaded us in a hospital train. The cars were -- had three tiers of stretchers on each side of the aisle, the middle tier was at the level of the window. There was a guard with a submachine gun in each car, another guard strolling up and down the train. The train stopped frequently, and the guards would show lights up and down the train to see if anyone -- anything was unusual. Well, a couple of guys hopped off the train when it was moving down for a stop when the guard was looking the other way. A British spitfire pilot named Tony and I took their places. When the guard was looking the other way, the man on the top bunk would scratch at his stretcher and out we went. I felt my feet hit the ground, then I was sliding on my chest and face. I lay still until the train had passed and scrambled away from the track. It was quiet and cold. It was farm country. I couldn't find Tony. I had no idea where I was. And I wandered aimlessly, found a wooden gully and tried to sleep. At dawn I went to a farmhouse. They were surprised but quickly understood my situation and took me in. They gave me breakfast, put me to bed and I slept until noon. They dyed my uniform black and told me I was a little west of Mantova in the Po Valley. They wouldn't let me go outside and rushed me upstairs when someone came to the door. The news was that an English aviator who had jumped off a train had been captured. I guess Tony had gone to a family too, but his family had turned him in. Well, I told people that I was an American artillery officer, as bomber crews were not too popular. They gave me a small map of Italy torn from a child's geography book. They gave me an old hat and a loaf of bread and a bottle of water and the man of the house walked with me for a mile or so. (End of first recording; beginning of second recording.)

Jarman G. Kennard:

My general plan, although Switzerland was closer, about 40 to 60 miles, there I would be interned for the rest of the war, I chose to head south. At that time allies were advancing rapidly through Italy. Unfortunately, they were stopped for months at Casino. The country was flat, laced with a grid of second roads. There was some fields and many vineyards. While walking in the road, a fellow shouted, "Hello London" at me. I wasn't fooling anybody. At 1 p.m. I was sitting out a shower under a tree and a fellow invited me to his house. He gave me the guest room for the night. And the family brought out their best wine and -- to wish me well on the way. Flies covered the tables, walls and ceilings of these houses. I left notes of good treatment at homes where I spent the night. I had heard some -- heard some bombing in the distance.

Tom Swope:

Was that a fairly standard thing that these people wanted these notes when the allies came through?

Jarman G. Kennard:

I initiated it. They didn't ask.

Tom Swope:

Oh, really? Okay.

Jarman G. Kennard:

But I thought it wouldn't hurt. And I never heard from any of those people how things went. But, again, I was on the road by early in the morning. Again, one of the men in the house walked part way with me. A lady offered me food and then came with me about two miles to a bridge, advised me to cross. Then I went into a woods, and for the second time in my life I walked in a circle all morning. By noon I was back at the same place I had been. The trees were -- were planted in rows but there were rows in any direction you looked. So I wasted half a day. Finally I came to the Po River, a half mile of fast running water. I found a man with a row boat who rowed me and a few other people across the river. I gave him a tin of English cheese, went to the first farmhouse, took me in. The family was terribly poor, but they shared what they had. Dinner was polenta, which was a cornbread they poured out on a wooden pallet and cut with a thread. That night I slept with the cows in the barn by the side of the house. The next day, a woman sent a bambino ahead to signal when it was safe to cross a paved rode. It was largely vineyards. I joined the grape pickers when a German motor convoy rolled by. A chap invited me to his house for lunch and again accompanied me a ways as we had both consumed quite a bit of wine. I passed a priest and he looked at me very hard but kept on walking. I had been warned that a priest might turn me in, as the church had made an accommodation with a Fascist government. I also heard there was a reward of 1800 lira or 20 pounds sterling for turning in an escaped prisoner of war. Well, I stayed at several houses. I was never turned down. Early one morning -- well, I learned to go around the villages rather than through them because when I'd come out the other side of a village, I'd have 10 to 20 bambinos shouting "London" at me. Not too smart for an escaping prisoner. Well, I refused several offers of food and wine as I had more than enough of both. On the fifth day, a middle-aged man with a black beard pedaled up to me on a bicycle, said hello. He stopped the man with a two-wheeled buggy and offered me a ride. The man with a buggy told me he would not take me where "black beard" told him as there were Germans there. He let me off in an intersection outside of town, and in a few minutes I was surrounded by about ten bicyclists. Word of my presence had spread quickly. Two of the bicyclists were about my age and the rest were bambinos. They said black beard had gone for the Germans and that I should go with them. Next we had a bizarre bicycle race back and forth on the dirt road trying to lose black beard. The two older fellows weren't satisfied with my speed on a bike and were pulling me along by the shoulders of my jacket. I was pedaling just to keep the slack out of the chain. Whenever we crossed intersections, I could see a screen of bambinos on each side, looking out for back beard. He caught up with us once. We chatted a minute and then charged on. Well, when my escorts thought we had lost him, we turned into a house for lunch and hid the bicycles. One of the fellows went ahead to see if it was okay to take me to a safe place they knew. Then we peddled for a couple of miles which they said was a partisan outfit. As I climbed into the hay loft to rest, I saw the arsenal -- a few Italian carbines, a Russian submachine gun that worked part of the time, a basket of Italian percussion hand grenades and a calvary saber. When the men came in from the fields, I saw the whole crew. The Cervi family consisted of an older father and mother and seven sons. Four sons were married with an undetermined number of bambinos. I counted nine one day but there might have been more. They all lived in one small stone farmhouse. The rest of the group slept in the hay loft except I had a small room because they called me the sick one. The brothers ages were from 42 to 22. The third brother, Aldo, was the leader and a devout communist. He would talk forever about how great the world would be when we all joined the communist world. We would all be happy, well fed and we would all have a car. The troops were all about my age and were a couple of Italians, three French -- three French, four Russians and two south Afs, two south Africans. The plan was to harass the Germans as they retreated, but for the time being we helped out on the farm. In the evening a couple of us would go to a nearby house that had a radio and listen to the news from London or Moscow. It was a pretty raunchy bunch. I wasn't sure they had accomplished much. But their presence and threat of retaliation made it safer for prisoners of wars in the area. At the time, Italy was full of escaping men. After the Italians had surrendered, the whole Italian army had deserted and went home and a number of prison camps were left unguarded, and many prisoners were wandering around in the country side. It was a crazy situation. My partisans loved to play with their revolvers while drinking vodka after supper. When they started playing catch with notoriously unreliable Italian hand grenades in a closed masonry room, I went to bed. One day they brought in two German soldiers to get them drunk and kill them but they lost their nerve, gave them more wine and sent them on their way. They sent out several groups to look for hideouts in nearby mountains to use when the time came. As I became known in the area, I could move about freely. I always traveled unarmed, as I preferred being a live prisoner to a dead partisan if recaptured. I saw a number of escapees during this time. Five British officers dropped by on their way south. Another Russian came in with a pistol and some grenades, riding a German military bicycle he had stolen while escaping. One afternoon a Russian lieutenant, a British lieutenant and I had a discussion of world politics in Italian while lying in an Italian hay loft. The big three meet again, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. After about three weeks with this outfit, I began feeling poorly. They called a dap -- a doctor, a dapper little fellow who putted up on his motorcycle with a side car. He said I had yellow jaundice. The next day he came back, bringing a teacher from a nearby village for an English lesson. They came back several times, and a couple of times the teacher, Joe Tagliavini, invited me to his house to dinner and hear the news. Some unique aspects of food preparation on the farm. Noodles were the staple. They were made by rolling the dough out thin, about five feet in diameter, on a table, then letting it be completely covered by flies for an hour or so. After the flies had stomped it even thinner, it was rolled up and cut by strips. Bread was made once a week. There was -- there was a special bench for this with a hinged handle and a wooden blade. The woman would squeeze the dough into a ball between strokes of the blade which was raised and lowered by a man. The woman would then take their little bread twists and -- to the nearby village to be baked. Each family had their own distinctive twist. We all took turns stomping grapes with our bare feet in the big, concrete vat. Once they slaughtered a hog and we had blood for breakfast. Well, partisaning was not going very well. The free French and some of the Italians had drifted away. The two south Africans sergeants had taken command. They held conversations in their native, Dutch-African, which none of us could understand. I suspected they and the Russians were doing a little robbery on the side by the looks of their clothes. With the help of the second oldest Cervi brother, Antenore, I moved to a small house which was not on any road. While there, Antenore brought me four escaping prisoners to assist. The first two were English captured at Tobril. They had been on the road for 25 days and were very tired. One had a bad ankle, the other was a regimental sergeant major at the age of 25. Amazing. He had been in the army since he was 13. I had their shoes repaired in the village, fed them well, let them rest a few days and they started off. The other two were south Afs. One day one of the girls working the fields recognized one of the south Afs. They had been working together on a labor camp somewhere else in Italy, then met here. Small world. One of the south Afs made it back and wrote my mother that he had seen me. I corresponded with him several -- for several years after the war. Around November 5 th I had dinner with Joe Tagliavini and his brother, Franco, an accountant, and Franco's wife, Iole, in a big house in a nearby village Casa Cocone. Joe mentioned that the local people were becoming frightened of the partisans and sooner or later someone might turn him in. If I wanted to stay with him, I could, but I'd have to stay in a third story room all day and join the family in the evening after the help had gone home. I went back for my things and found a gang had stolen most of my clothes, tried to lock me out of my house. So I moved in with the Tagliavinis. And the days were spent reading English books from Joe's library, drawing war maps from Italian newspapers, listening to the family, and reciprocal English and Italian lessons. On November 22nd, that house in the nearby village was broken into and robbed. It looked like the gang's work. Three days later the gang was rounded up and captured. The night before they were captured, I went to the Cervis for a haircut. The gang sat around the table, all smiles, in the clothes I had collected to help other prisoners. Joe's family was very frightened when they were rounded up. They agreed that I should walk to Parma, about 20 miles away, and meet Franco. He accompanied me on the train to his uncle's apartment in Gempa while pretending to be a deaf-mute. As I walked past the partisan's farmhouse the next morning, it was burned to the ground and still smoking.

Tom Swope:

So this was the --

Jarman G. Kennard:

The partisan's house.

Tom Swope:

The partisans, they -- why did they attack the partisans? Didn't they realize the partisans were basically on the alley's side, right, at least against the Germans?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Well, that's true, but they were robbing the local people.

Tom Swope:

So they just --

Jarman G. Kennard:

And so the local people turned them into the police and the police and army just -- just went out and rounded them all up.

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm.

Jarman G. Kennard:

Captured them all and burned the house down.

Tom Swope:

Executed them then, the partisans?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yes, the seven brothers were executed. What happened to the others I don't know.

Tom Swope:

But it wasn't a crime matter, it was more a political matter?

Jarman G. Kennard:

It was very political. If we found a cell of terrorists living in our country, the FBI would move in and round them up. That's exactly what happened.

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm.

Jarman G. Kennard:

So they were -- they were fighting against the country at the time so they were terrorists.

Tom Swope:

Even though they were supposedly anti-German, they were still fighting against their own country?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Oh, yes. Yeah. They were communists.

Tom Swope:

Because they were communists?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah.

Tom Swope:

Revolution?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah, that's right. Well, back to the war. The train arrived at Genoa, took all night. Franco did all of the talking. There was no check for identity. We had to walk around a bridge on the outskirts of Genoa that had been weakened by bombing. The family in Genoa consisted of a son about my age, two daughters, Lydia, 16, Carla, 14, Gino was the father. They lived in a small, modern, sixth floor walk-up apartment. The father Gino had a small grocery store that also sold some black-market goods. And while there I helped in the store, walked the city, went to movies, danced with the girls and generally enjoyed life. The plan was when the winter was over, I would try to slip into France and find some partisans who would try to get me out. But on December 31st, the Italian plain clothes police came to the house looking for black-market goods and just found a guy with no -- no identity. I was back in the bag, spent several days in the suspect tank with about 20 petty criminals, miscellaneous suspects. One day they brought in a nice looking young fellow in new, warm clothes. Of course we always asked to each newcomer, "What -- what are you in for?" He answered, "I am suspected of being Hebrew." I've often wondered if he survived. It looked like the kid had just been given new clothes and sent off with the police by a loving mother. Well, it was a custom for Italian prisoners for families to bring food to their relatives. What they provide is minimal. And I was surprised when I received some milk and cookies from the Tagliavinis. This was courageous because there was a death penalty for sheltering prisoners of war. In one cookie there was a note saying they were trying to get me out as there was no charge against me. They just wanted to figure out who I was. So prisoners could send laundry out, so for seven days cookies came in with notes and laundry went out with notes saying, "Get away from me. Save yourself." After a week of this, none of the false addresses I gave them checked out. I asked to see the chief of police and told them who I was and demanded to be treated under the Geneva Convention. Then they got very excited. Four plain clothes Italian policemen handcuffed me, put me in a tiny Italian car, two of them sat in front, one in the back seat with me and one in my lap. They took me to Marasi prison, which had lots of clanging doors, and put me in another suspect tank for a week. One day they brought in a couple of free French fellows and with them came body lice. When I was turned over to the Germans, I was interrogated by a young captain. After a few questions, he grew pensive and asked, "Why do you bomb our cities?" When I mentioned the German bombing of London and Conventry, he got very exited, drew his pistol and announced, "I could shoot you right now" and lapsed into German. At this point I thought it was wise to remain very quiet. One worry we as an American did not have during the war was concern for the safety of our families. We knew our families were safe but the Germans did not. Well, after an all night ride with German guards, four Italian soldiers to a transient camp in Mantova. As I walked towards the camp, I noticed the guards looked oriental. My first thought was, "My God, they are turning us over to the Japs." It turned out they were Mongol Russian soldiers that were captured and now working for the Germans. Here we were housed in a large hangar with some other British and American prisoners. Three consecutive days of boiling all my clothes and hard bathing solved the body lice problem. After a week, about a hundred American prisoners were loaded into boxcars with a fence dividing us -- dividing the car, prisoners on one side and Germans on the others. We crossed the Alps through Brenner pass on a beautiful day. The guards left their door open so we had some gorgeous views of the Austrian Alps. Near Innsbruck we were taken by truck to a transient camps, Stalag VII-A, and we were housed in a warehouse with five tiers of bunks. It was cold, there was no heat, meager rations. I was called out. I was being sent to my permanent camp. With two German guards I boarded a pasture train crowded with civilians and soldiers. We passed through Berlin which was completely in ruins. I don't remember a single unscarred building. We were -- as we were passing, a wall collapsed. In Berlin we changed trains and had a tight connection. We went down into the crowded subway, and my guards raced ahead to hold the train. I was pushing Berliners aside just to keep up with them. I didn't want to escape in the middle of their capital. We rounded -- arrived at the little town of Barth on the coast of the Baltic Sea. We walked the last four miles to Stalag Luft I. When I was there, three -- there were three compounds, each holding about a thousand flying officers. They were mostly Americans with a few British thrown in. By the end of the war, more compounds had been built, and there were about 9,000 prisoners there. A book published in 1946, which I will show you in a few minutes, Behind Barbed Wire, by Lieutenant Morris Roy of New York, describes the life at Stalag Luft I in detail. I am in one of the group pictures in the book. I'm listed as a resident of Maryland as my father was then working for the Navy near Washington. As soon as I was registered in my new home, I was interviewed by the camp commandant, Major Von Miller. He was intelligent and knew Americans well as he had lived in Phoenix, Arizona, for five years before the war. He was executed by the Russians when they liberated the camp in May of 1945. Life at Stalag Luft I was not oppressive when I was there, thanks to the Red Cross who provided the mechanism to supply food to prisoners of war. Food was adequate. There was little we had to do except bother our captors. There was a constant stream of walkers, walking counterclockwise around the compound. Our dream was to a walk a mile in a straight line. Twice a day they would count us. They would line us up in fumphs, you know, ein, zwei, drei, a fumph. On fine days we would louse up the count. We would leave an empty space between the -- in the third or fourth rank. With a German counting us, his vision blocked as he walked down the line, one of us would step into the space and they would end up with one too many. Of course, with German precision, they would keep at it until they got it right. But you didn't do this when it was cold or raining because it would take a while.

Tom Swope:

Right.

Jarman G. Kennard:

One day we took a fellow who was just 5 feet tall, put some shoe uppers about his knees, buried his feet in the sand for the count. He was just waist high to the rest of us. The Germans had no sense of humor and were not amused. They pulled him out of the sand, marched him across the compound to Der Cooler, the punishment cell, for a day or so, the shoe uppers flapping at his knee height. Once when our colonel had a disagreement with a German commandant, we refused to line up for the count. So they set up two machine guns and lined up a company of infantry with fixed bayonets, then we lined up. Camp life was just what each one of us made it. The jocks played endless games of baseball and even tried to learn cricket from the British, the YMCA sent in sports equipment and some garden seeds. I got a few radishes to grow. Classes were organized in almost any subject that a teacher could be found for. There were church services and we had a health clinic. Some doctors and ministers had been captured in Africa. Plays and musicals were performed and German officers were invited. The craftsmen made beautiful models, mostly airplanes, but one fellow made a violin. The materials were soap from -- soap or wood from bed slats and wire cut from the fence. Lead for casting insignia came from the drain guitars and was alloyed with tin from the food camps for brightening. Cooking utensils and eating utensils were made from food cans, as were blowers. The blowers were used for increasing the temperature of our cold stoves for casting metal and also for tunnel ventilation. We prided ourselves in making waterproof seams in our pans and utensils. There were some escape attempts. A few got out of the compound, but they usually came back in a day or so. The German populous was not as hospitable to escapees as the Italians. Tunneling was a popular activity. A couple of barracks were connected by tunnels. We were not able to tunnel under the fence; the water level was too high. And deep tunnels would fill with water. So many bed slats were used to support tunnel roofs that some of the fellows had to balance on two or three slats. Sometimes someone would crash through from an upper bunk clear to the floor and then they would have to restring his bunk with more wire from the fence. Going out at night after wire was exciting. You had to dodge search lights from the guard towers, and more than one guy dove back in through a window just ahead of the German Shepard dogs that were loose in the compound at night. We tried to poison the dogs, but they were well trained. They would not eat meat with ground glass in it. If any of us were caught breaking the rules, it meant a week or so in Der Cooler. This was a solitary cell and reduced rations. Der Cooler was often full, and when someone -- and often someone would have to wait until space was available to serve his sentence. When I left Stalag Luft I, I had an impending sentence of three days for putting a cigarette in the muzzle of a guard's rifle.

Tom Swope:

Tell me about that incident. How did that happen?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Well, they had no cigarettes. We had cigarettes from the Red Cross for the Army. And they surrounded a barracks. The guards would stand, and we'd stand behind them. And the guard just wasn't looking, so I put a cigarette in the muzzle of his rifle, and the sergeant saw it and called out the guard and took my name and told me I'd serve time in Der Cooler for that.

Tom Swope:

But they wanted American cigarettes. Didn't they consider that an act of friendship?

Jarman G. Kennard:

It hurt them badly to throw that cigarette on the ground.

Tom Swope:

Right.

Jarman G. Kennard:

They wanted our cigarettes. Cigarettes were trading material.

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm.

Jarman G. Kennard:

And certain people were allowed to trade with the guards. And the guards wore these great big, gray coats. They could hide a number of very fine loaves of white bread and we'd -- we'd buy bread from them. They bought radio parts from them, and that's how they built the radio, trading from the guards. But it was frowned on. Everyone was -- was not supposed to trade with the guard. They only wanted certain people to do it in the camp. Sometimes a guard would surround a barracks and search it. Cigarettes and food we'd lose. One fellow, a little fed up with this, filled his pockets with jam and ashes from the stove. Of course the methodical Germans had to go through every bit of that sticky mess with their hands and he ended up in the Der Cooler. Sometimes guards would crawl around under the barracks looking for tunnel covers. We would pour boiling water on them through the floor boards. One day a guard fired a couple of shots up through the floor and nobody got hurt. In camp we had our gamblers and traders. Cigarettes were money. I was a trader. Often you could buy a leather flight jacket in one room for 600 and sell it a couple of rooms away for 800. Or you could buy a cotton summer flying suit, one each, for 200 cigarettes, make an Eisenhower jacket out of the top, market value 300, a pair of shorts, market value 100, have some zippers and cloth left over. I charged my buddies five cigarettes to sew on a button. Most of them didn't know -- didn't want to learn how to sew. Several us of us had heavy, white, wool Royal Air Force sweaters. We would spend hours to see who could get theirs the whitest -- I mean, important things -- and throw sand on the other guy's sweater when he wasn't looking. I got tired of guards walking around through my garden plot, so I put trip wires around it. And one morning there was an imprint of a guard in my plot; I tripped one. Occasionally in the summer a barracks would be allowed to go swimming. Before we left camp, we would all give our word to a German sergeant in charge we would not escape. If anyone violated his parole, there would be no more swimming. Well, three Germans would walk with about a hundred of us to a beach on a river about a mile away. At the beach the guards would sit down, sometimes nap, and we would scatter, picking berries and swimming. After an hour or so, the guards would blow the whistle, we would all line up, be counted, walk back to camp. I do not mean by these sketches of kriegie life -- the German prisoner -- word for prisoner of war was "kriegsgefangener" which we shorted to "kriegie." We all knew we were winning the war and ultimately would be returned to our homes. There was a secret radio built into one of the barracks walls. Each day BBC news was recorded on toilet paper and a copy delivered to each barracks. It was read in each room and destroyed. Mail from home was a welcome and stabilizing influence for those who got some. We were allowed to send one letter and a couple of postcards home each month. Because of the devious way I arrived, I had no word from home for the whole time. Nobody knew where I was. After the war, the letters that were written to me were returned to me by the Red Cross. But they didn't know where I was. Even so, there was a lot of boredom, and we all went -- were somewhat depressed at times. We called it "going around the bend." When a roommate did not seem to come around or was spending too much time in his bunk, we would walk him around the compound and try to get him interested in some form of activity. Most of the time it worked and a normal attitude returned in a day or so. However, there were four suicide attempts in our compound, one successful. Nearby there was a compound of Russian prisoners of war. The German treatment of the Russians was far different from the treatment of us. They had little food and were forced to do hard labor and chores like empty the latrines in our compounds. We tried to give them food and cigarettes when we could. A few large dogs loose in our compound were pretty effective in keeping a thousand Americans in their barracks at night. When the Germans tried dogs on the Russian compound, they ate them and threw out the heads and hides. Several times we saw dog fights overhead by daylight. At night the Royal Air Force stream would drone over for an hour or so. Sometimes we heard bombing in the distance. There was an airport and flak school nearby. But while I was there, there was no -- there, we were not bombed. As in any confused situation, there were a few arguments. Often these were over important issues like should the rock hard German bread be sliced thin so we'd have two slices or thick so we would have one big one. But, in general, there was a trusting, friendly atmosphere and looking out for each other. Sometime it was announced in March -- sometime in March it was announced that anyone who wished to try for repatriation would report to a board of German doctors. From the scar on my arm they couldn't tell if I had any control of my hand or not. I wore a sling and my hand hanged lifeless. They poked and prodded, made some notes and, I went back to kriegie life. In June, a list was posted of those who were qualified to go before the Red Cross board of Swiss doctors. I was on it. More wearing a swing and inscrutable Swiss doctors and no indication of the result. Finally, about August 1st, the list came out and I was on it. The next day, about 40 of us were loaded into boxcars for the trip to a repatriation camp in Annaberg, the center of Germany. I took with me a list of the kin of all of my roommates so I could write them when I got back. On the way to Annaberg we stopped at the railroad yard at Magdaburg just as the Eighth Air Force came over. The guards ran off and left us locked in the boxcars. We heard the bombs coming down, followed by a lot of noise, but they missed our train. At Annaberg, the repatriation camp was a large chateau, hastily constructed. The next few weeks several hundreds of Americans and British prisoners were accumulated, most were in worse shape than I, many were amputations or badly burned. Particularly the burn cases, people with no features, just holes for eyes and nose, no eyebrows. Airplanes burn quickly.

Tom Swope:

Yeah.

Jarman G. Kennard:

In the early days of September, they moved us out, just one more train ride from across Germany to the tip of Denmark with a short ferry ride to Goteborg, Sweden. On the train, one of the German guards asked if I would write his uncle in Chicago and pass on the family news. His news was the family is well but scattered. His younger brother had fallen on the Russian front. At Goteborg we boarded a -- a former cruise ship Gripsholm. We were issued a new uniform and 15 dollars each. As we sailed late in the afternoon, enough kriegie clothes went out the portholes to erase all of the months of captivity. And the 15 dollars started crap games in every available corner. In a day or so, much of the money was in a few hands in a well-established American tradition. The meals were outstanding, including long island duck from Sweden. Liquor was also available, and there was some excessive celebration of our new liberty. But as far as I know, nobody fell off the boat. We stopped at Liverpool to let the British off. There we were allowed to send a short telegram home. This is something that I remember deeply. The night before we docked at Staten Island, New York, I couldn't sleep. Because I had moved around so much, I hadn't had any word from home for 16 months and I had no idea what I was coming home to. But there was a band to welcome us at the pier and photographers from the New York Times. On September 26th we were back on American soil at Halloran Hospital on Staten Island. And my parents were waiting, along with a little blonde from Buffalo. That day she had been signing up for a course at New York University. When she told the registrar that her fiance was coming home, the registrar told her, "What are you doing here? Go now." At Halloran there was a short ceremony where they gave out a few metals. They gave us all of the back pay we had coming, right there. Big check. We were assigned to the appropriate hospital, and we were given a short leave. I was assigned to Newton D. Baker Army Hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia. There they tried to repair the nerve in my arm. Of course they decided to chip away three weeks before I married the little blonde, so I had my arm in a cast for our honeymoon. Of the year I was stationed at Newton D. Baker I was given 260 days sick live, mostly in 90-day pieces, to see if the nerve would come back. I spent one following my wife around upstate New York on her Public Health nurse assignment, one as an inspector in a small war plant in the Bronx, another Public Health assignment, and one at my wife's sister's farm in upstate New York. There we amused ourselves by lining up tractors to pull other tractors out of mud holes. Well, then, September 19, '45, the Army retired me, just in time to slip back into Cornell. Engineering was looking better by now, but that was the start of another story. For me, my war was over. So what -- I came home on the second repatriation. There were three during the war.

Tom Swope:

There were three? I never heard much about this.

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yes.

Tom Swope:

Was there any attempt in the camp when they knew about these repatriations for any of these guys to try to hurt themselves so that they would --

Jarman G. Kennard:

No, not to hurt themselves, but there were a number of attempts to fake injury --

Tom Swope:

Yeah.

Jarman G. Kennard:

-- and one lieutenant colonel successfully faked deafness and he came home.

Tom Swope:

Just by very -- being very disciplined about it?

Jarman G. Kennard:

By being disciplined, and I'm sure they tried to trap him with claps and noises. So there was that. One fellow that I had met in Catania, the British paratrooper that lost his kneecap --

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm.

Jarman G. Kennard:

-- I met on the repatriation ship. Not having a kneecap, he had one stiff leg.

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm.

Jarman G. Kennard:

But he was well again and -- and glad to be going home.

Tom Swope:

Now, did you say this was the third repatriation or the --

Jarman G. Kennard:

I came home on the second.

Tom Swope:

Second?

Jarman G. Kennard:

There was one more.

Tom Swope:

One more --

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yes.

Tom Swope:

Somewhere in '45 probably?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yes, that's right.

Tom Swope:

Well, that's interesting. I've never heard about that part of it.

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yep. Yep.

Tom Swope:

They were hoping to -- they would just get the less than abled bodied out so that they --

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah.

Tom Swope:

-- so that they had the able bodied in case they needed them for labor or whatever?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Well, there was an agreement from the Red Cross that disabled soldiers could be repatriated. During the Civil War there were many repatriated.

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm, sure.

Jarman G. Kennard:

They didn't know what to do with prisoners back in those days so they used to give back big bunches and some of them they put in prison camps that were pretty terrible. But my mother, she's -- she was a grand lady. She ran every town she was ever in and she almost took over Washington. When she heard that I was a prisoner of war, she went right down to what was in the Pentagon there, the army headquarters, and asked to see the guy in charge of prisoners. As it turned out, he was a young captain with one secretary and one file cabinet because that was early in the war. And she -- she helped him set up his office. By the time the war was over, he was a major and he had a whole floor of file cabinets and secretaries. So that was her contribution to the war. She also used to work on the ration board. Food was rationed and people had little stick stamps, you know and she used to go around the country to these little mom and pop shops and help them fill out their government forms. But yeah, she helped set up the -- and there were support groups of prisoners relatives that meet periodically and read letters and swap stories, and she said they always felt so sorry for the Japanese families who never heard anything. Because we were treated quite well. Americans and British were treated well. The Germans and the Russians were something else. The Russians captured hundreds of thousands of Germans. Very few Germans came back; they died in Russia. And of course, the Germans treated the Russians about the same. So it was strange to find vestiges of civilization in a waring community.

Tom Swope:

Exactly. Now, you flew 16 missions before you were shot down; right?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yes, on my 16th I went down, yes.

Tom Swope:

Do you have any other strong memories of any of those other missions before?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Oh, yeah. Oh, yes. There was a time when there was a scream of metal and we knew we'd been hit. Metal screams when it was hit. Took out a hydraulic line. We came back. They had no flaps, no breaks. Very short field, cranked the wheels down by hand, who knows whether they were locked or not, and the pilot came in a little short, bounced across the dessert. We were all lying in the back end in stark terror in crash position. We made it. We were going after Tunis one day. We hit the turning point, about 25,000 feet, the whole squadron turned toward the target, our rutters froze, the squadron went on, there we were at 25 thousand feet flying in small circles. Oh, yeah, there were a lot of things like that.

Tom Swope:

Yeah.

Jarman G. Kennard:

The weather was a problem. We flew into a cloud bank one day in formation. Suddenly you can't see anybody and you're a few feet from a lot of airplanes. What do you do? Do you keep going and run into those guys that turn around, came back? Do you climb to try to get over them? Well, a couple of airplanes came together, and a squadron commander was killed that day. We saw a couple of floating wing tips and that's all.

Tom Swope:

Now, you were with several different crews during those 16 missions?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yes. I flew with a number of different crews because I was a replacement navigator. I was kind of working into the Ingerson crew.

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm.

Jarman G. Kennard:

I had flown several times with him. And I might have ended up as his permanent navigator.

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm. But refresh me again, Ingerson was the pilot --

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah.

Tom Swope:

-- on that 16th?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah, he was the pilot.

Tom Swope:

Were you close to any of the -- real close to any of those guys on that crew?

Jarman G. Kennard:

No, because I -- I was a floater.

Tom Swope:

So you didn't have enough time to really get --

Jarman G. Kennard:

I --

Tom Swope:

-- to be close buddies?

Jarman G. Kennard:

No, the closest friends I had were people in the weather group. We used to play chess. And there was a lot of friendship, but I wasn't really in a poker playing crowd --

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm.

Jarman G. Kennard:

-- or the heavy drinking crowd.

Tom Swope:

You were -- so you were engaged the whole time when you were over there --

Jarman G. Kennard:

I didn't --

Tom Swope:

-- is that correct?

Jarman G. Kennard:

I didn't know that I was.

Tom Swope:

How does that happen?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Well, we were going together.

Tom Swope:

Okay.

Jarman G. Kennard:

And I had made a loose remark before I went over seas that I might give her an engagement ring for her graduation --

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm.

Jarman G. Kennard:

-- in June. Well, I wasn't around so my mother, with a habit of running the world, I came home, saw her with an engagement ring. My mother had taken -- had taken care of it for her.

Tom Swope:

Took care of that for you?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah.

Tom Swope:

That was thoughtful.

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah.

Tom Swope:

Okay. So this repatriation was a Red Cross initiated thing; right?

Jarman G. Kennard:

It was --

Tom Swope:

It wasn't something that the Germans were doing for propaganda purposes?

Jarman G. Kennard:

No, no, no.

Tom Swope:

We did the same, we sent German --

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yes.

Tom Swope:

We sent prisoners back?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yes, we did. We sent -- in fact, I met a German who went home on one of the repatriation.

Tom Swope:

I would assume maybe they didn't want to necessarily go back, they probably were fed better over here?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Well, you would be surprised at how patriotic they were.

Tom Swope:

Sure.

Jarman G. Kennard:

There were cases in Germans in prison camp in this country where if they suspected one of their roommates was working against Germany, they'd kill him.

Tom Swope:

Yeah.

Jarman G. Kennard:

And several were killed.

Tom Swope:

That happened? So your arm was in a sling for quite a while, though, wasn't it?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Not really.

Tom Swope:

Well, yeah, like you said, they were still working on it when you got married; right?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah, yeah, probably a month or so.

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm.

Jarman G. Kennard:

But then they just -- they were just waiting to see if the nerve grew back, so I'd go back to the hospital and they'd poke at me a little bit and decide, nope, it hasn't grown back.

Tom Swope:

Was it in a sling when you were a prisoner too?

Jarman G. Kennard:

No.

Tom Swope:

It was just obviously --

Jarman G. Kennard:

Just like this.

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm.

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah. The big basic difference is you can do that. All I can do is this.

Tom Swope:

Oh, I see, because of the --

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah.

Tom Swope:

Oh, sure.

Jarman G. Kennard:

So it went in there and out there and --

Tom Swope:

That was all from flak?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Well, one piece.

Tom Swope:

One piece of flak?

Jarman G. Kennard:

One piece went through my thumb. I saw a little hole up here in my thumb. I was looking at it so that was it.

Tom Swope:

So that took your thumb and did that?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah.

Tom Swope:

Wow.

Jarman G. Kennard:

Well, actually, the last thing I did before I went out of the airplane, I saw my thumb was hanging off the side, I put it on straight and bailed. So while you do these things, you're, who knows.

Tom Swope:

Right. Was the plane starting to go down at that point?

Jarman G. Kennard:

There I wasn't sure. I knew I was going blind. We were high enough so oxygen hung there and I -- I felt -- it looked like we were falling off and that -- that was a danger signal and that's why I went out.

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm. So -- go ahead.

Jarman G. Kennard:

If I had been the hero type, I would have crawled back up, take -- pulled a dead pilot out and flown home, but I wasn't a hero type.

Tom Swope:

But you were starting to black out and obviously you realized --

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah.

Tom Swope:

-- if you blacked out --

Jarman G. Kennard:

That's right. I passed out as soon as I went out.

Tom Swope:

-- you know, you would go down with the ship?

Jarman G. Kennard:

Yeah. Yeah. That's right. So I passed out as soon as the ship popped. I didn't come to until I was in the water.

Tom Swope:

Mm-hmm. Could you fly a B-24?

Jarman G. Kennard:

I would -- I would try.

Tom Swope:

You would try. (End of second recording.)

 
Home » Text Transcript
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us