"Lately life down here has variety."
First Student Training Regiment
Fort Benning GA
"….You may be surprised to note the return address. About a month ago, I submitted an application for Officer Candidate School, Infantry, and entered the school last week.
When I returned from my furlough there was considerable talk about an influx of , and in fact the regiment had a list of men of this qualification who had been marked for our company. Therefore since my job was a little lowering anyway- and since it appeared to be somewhat indefinite in tenure - I decided to make a change. Should I emerge from the school as a Lieutenant, I would probably be sent to a new division. It is generally a year from the time a division is organized until it is prepared for combat. In addition it will be January before my training here at Fort Benning is completed.
It seems rather strange to be back in school again. The school is something like a large college. You have a picture of the main administration building on that big sheet of pictures I brought home with me. The classroom are as large a theatres, and at one end is a stage with blackboards and panels for mounting charts. These panels and blackboards are nearly twice the height of a man. They are mounted on garage door hardware, and the instructor or his assistant slides out one after another.
They say it costs $5000 to send a student through this thirteen week course. During the course my title will be "candidate" but I will continue to draw staff sergeant's pay. Students draw the pay of the grade they held upon entry in the school."
"…The quality of the instruction in the school here is very good, and thoroughly practical. For instance, whenever there is a test, examination or quiz we get an answer sheet afterwards. This sheet does not say that it has "the" answer., but only that it has "the school solution". In other words they studiously avoid giving the impression that there is only one way out of a difficulty, or that the school can have the final word."
"…We don't do much drilling here. That is taken for granted. We are suppose to be learning how to train soldiers. In a way its sort of a military normal school. The school tries to teach methods of instruction in a hurry. This morning we spent three hours in learning how to lay out a complete course of sniper training. Sniping is a difficult and somewhat specialized job, but we were supposed to have picked a general idea of the whole subject - from careful stalking to telescopic sights.
Everything goes in a hurry like that. In an afternoon we might get a couple of hours on motor maintenance, difficult driving, and field expedients, the go out to the field for a lecture and demonstration on the operations of the medical corps - in the field. At a lot of these periods we get bulky handouts of printed matter - and manuals _ I'd really have to go some to cover it all."
Nov. 30, 1942
"…We finished at four in the afternoon - which is somewhat unusual. Generally we don't get in until six. The whole day was easy. We rode from place to place and watched various demonstrations. These "problems" progressed through several miles, so we spent considerable time getting in and out of trucks. In between times we just sat in the bleachers and watched.
The demonstrations they have here are all pretty fancy. To date we have seen some good ones. When they showed us some riflemen firing at the enemy, they had airplanes swooping low over our stands in the attack. One night we were out, the airplanes were there too. They would cut their motors and glide up to us close as possible, then drop flares.
Last week we were firing the mortar. The shells aren't as big as those the artillery uses, but they cost up to ten dollars apiece. One group of four men shoots six or seven in three or four minutes. Somebody said it takes a lot of war bonds to pay for what we shoot away."
Dec. 7, 1942
"This afternoon the school spent $30,000 and showed us a situation called:" The battalion in the attack". We had to ride 30 miles each way to see it - but it was worth it. The idea was to give us a picture of what one infantry battalion of about 1000 men, plus attached units looks like on the offensive.
It was quite a spectacle. There were maneuvers, encampments, staff meetings, smoke screens, charging riflemen, tanks, mobile howitzers, anti tank guns etc. Through it all we were spectators. It took careful staging to let us see both mass movements and the actions of colonels and captains as they gave their commands.
Artillery fire over our heads was a new experience for most of us. The forward observer would signal to his telephone orderly, the orderly would transmit the command to the fire control station, then we would here the distant (3 miles back) crashes as the guns of the battery were fired. Shortly after there was a low sighing sound overhead, then way out in front a tower of dirt and smoke would appear. Last of all would come the heavy roar of detonation. That was when the 75MM were fired.
After that a battery of 105's firing 90 lb. Projectiles went into action. Just before these 105's started the colonel who was commenting on this phase of the action lowered his voice to a whisper said that these shells would say : "you'd better get down, you'd better get down." When the firing did start the passage of the projectiles sounded like tissue paper being crumpled to me.
Later the whole artillery battalion opened up, then the tanks appeared, machine guns and anti tank guns opened up and more shells were fired. It was quite a finale, and everybody agreed that the show had been worth seeing."
Dec. 8, 1942
"…It's been pretty cold and rainy lately - but we've been out so often that it doesn't bother us. If we are listening to an out-of-doors lecture when it starts to rain it makes no difference. The instructor continues as before. If he is using chalk he gravely erases what isn't washed away when the occasion arises (sic)
To-day we dug in a defensive position on the edge of a woods. When we were nearly ready the tanks came over. That meant that it was time for us to drop down into our foxholes pulling our machine guns and guns in after us. The tanks ran right over our positions, running directly over most of the holes. A few of them crumbled slightly, but everybody came through alright. The object of this attack was to show us that infantry can protect itself from mechanized attack.
We've had quite a bit to do with tanks lately. The other day we built a bridge and then a tank came over and tested it. (the same day we swung a jeep and an anti-tank gun over a deep river gorge on cables) Today a tank was driven up in front of our stands and an instructor, with a pointer, went over it in detail. Then this tank and a couple of others charged at various types of obstacles and traps. At lunch time they were parked nearby and the class swarmed over them, elevating and depressing their guns, and turning the turrets.
Lately life down here has variety."
"…We are swinging into the last leap of our school career, and everybody is beginning to get bored. In the earlier stages of the course we were all ambitious and anxious to please; now we are coasting.
The tactics section, which we are working on now, was interesting at first; but it is getting monotonous. We get tired of hearing that Co. B 1st Infantry is attacking in a sector bounded on the right by the Valley of the ___Branch and on the left by the line of small pines."