MCINTOSH: [Inaudible] Questions here, I plan to embellish the already long list of factual information you have, Barritt. And see if we can probe into some of the feelings that he went through during these experiences in France. Your biography, I've read all the things that you've written, and other people have written about you. Fascinating experience. The people at the Veteran's Museum are interested in the feelings of your personal experience at the time that you were in the field. That's the part we don't see enough of in your description, and we'd like to hear a little bit more about that, if we could. And I could sort of, lead you into some of this by mentioning some things that you might know a great deal more about than you've said. How's that sound, ok?1:00
MCINTOSH: I wondered if you might describe yourself in the field in France. Imean, you lived in tents, and then stay in one place or were they constantly moved, or--what was that like?
BARRITT: You know, that's a long time ago. It's hard to remember. I remember,2:00uh, one quite a long spell where we were camped in pup tents on a--on a hillside, near a place called Exermont.
MCINTOSH: Did they have a special mess tent?
BARRITT: I don't believe so.
MCINTOSH: Did you cook in the field?
BARRITT: Well, they had what they called "rolling kitchens."
MCINTOSH: Ah. They followed--they were with you, or they came up periodically?3:00
BARRITT: Well, they followed along. Of course, a lot of the time they couldn'tkeep up with us.
MCINTOSH: How often did you have to fill KP [Kitchen Police--military dutyassisting cooks]?
BARRITT: Oh, not too often. Maybe once in three weeks or so.
MCINTOSH: You were a sergeant. You shouldn't have had to do that so much as theother boys.
BARRITT: Well, I lost my stripes, you know.
MCINTOSH: How did that happen?
BARRITT: Uh, I was sick with the flu, and instead of reporting on sick call, Iremained in my, in my barracks. And, of course, I was marked AWOL then. So I 4:00lost my sergeant's stripes.
MCINTOSH: You got them back, though, didn't you?
MCINTOSH: Never did?
BARRITT: No. No, I finished up as a buck private.
MCINTOSH: [unintelligible] say, a typical meal that you were served in the fieldfrom that [unintelligible] that mess tent--wagon.
BARRITT: Well, it was whatever they happened to have, and they would dumpeverything in one kettle and make a stew out of it. [McIntosh laughs.] [unintelligible] one thing that we had an awful lot of was canned tomatoes, and I had so much of that I still can't look a tomato in the eye. [McIntosh laughs.] 5:00Now some organizations had a lot of salmon, but we didn't have too much of that, so it was more or less a freak [??]. And then we had our canned rations. Well, principally corned beef, which was called "Canned Willy" or "Corned Bill." And we also had an "O"-shaped can that contained canned roast beef, and we called them "monkey meat."
MCINTOSH: [Laughs.] Didn't taste very good?
BARRITT: Oh, it wasn't too bad.
MCINTOSH: Okay. Did you have any training in France, or was all the training inthe United States? 6:00
BARRITT: No, I had some training at a place called Angers. It was--see, I was inthe Engineer Corps--and it was in Engineers Replacement Camp. There were people there that had been in the front and became sick, came back. And then they were sent to Angers for reassignment. And then also us new soldiers that had just came over were there for a time.
MCINTOSH: Tell me about the mud. Everybody talks about the mud in France in theFirst World War.
BARRITT: You know, the--there was a lot of--a lot of mud, but the very worst7:00place that I recall was just when we were ready to come home--at Brest. It was called--a place called Camp Pontanazen. And they had so-called "dart boards" that you could walk on that was supposed to keep you out of the mud, but they didn't do too effective a job of it.
MCINTOSH: Well, what'd you do? If you stepped in this mud, then you just had tostop what you were doing and clean it off, or you'd just forget about it and go on?
BARRITT: You'd just forget about it. And I recall one time--this was after theArmistice, and we were on our way toward Germany--and we always took our shoes off at night when we laid down. We'd lay our raincoats on the ground, as sort of 8:00a ground cloth. And then we'd lay our blankets on them. And I recall one time when it was quite cold, and we got up in the morning and shoes were frozen. So we had to build a fire before you'd put them on.
MCINTOSH: That was a tough day, a tough day. Tell me about horses. Did thehorses move all your heavy equipment?
BARRITT: Uh, to quite an extent--horses and mules.
MCINTOSH: Did you have to deal with these animals?
BARRITT: Did you read my form the night before Christmas?
BARRITT: In there it tells about 40 horses and mules, so [unintelligible] washard. They'd never drink on that long Christmas eve. [McIntosh laughs.] And what you'd call a picket line they'd tie all the horses onto a long rope that was stretched, oh, probably about two feet above the ground. And whoever was on guard had to watch that they'd didn't get their feet over that line or get tangled up in it.
MCINTOSH: Were the horses easier to deal with than the mules?
BARRITT: No, I don't think so.
MCINTOSH: They say you have to lead a horse, but you couldn't lead a mule.10:00
MCINTOSH: What about that?
BARRITT: Well, I guess that's probably true.
MCINTOSH: They're pretty stubborn.
MCINTOSH: They say they didn't get as sick as often. Did you have any problemslike that?
MCINTOSH: They say they didn't get sick as often the horses.
BARRITT: Well, that's probably true.
MCINTOSH: Did you have many trucks? Were there any trucks? Did you have many ofthose France?
BARRITT: Not too many.
MCINTOSH: Mostly you'd use the horses and mules to pull the heavy equipment. Isthat right?
BARRITT: That's right.
MCINTOSH: They say you had bridging equipment up--that you had when you werebuilding bridges? All that heavy stuff?
BARRITT: Well, you know we had to--had to make do with whatever we could find to11:00build those bridges. A lot of times there wasn't any planking or anything like that to build it with it. We had to use whatever we could find.
MCINTOSH: You mean you'd cut the trees down?
BARRITT: Not a lot--some.
MCINTOSH: Did you ever encounter any gas when you were in France?
BARRITT: Uh, yes--briefly.
MCINTOSH: Mustard gas or--?
BARRITT: Well, there were two types of gas. There was mustard and then there waswhat I think was called phosgene. 12:00
MCINTOSH: Phosgene, yes. They were different.
MCINTOSH: You had your gas mask with you at all times?
BARRITT: Oh yes. We were trained to perform our functions with the gas mask on.
MCINTOSH: That wasn't easy.
MCINTOSH: It's hard breathing through those, eh? How about barbed wire? Youlaid a lot of barbed wire?
BARRITT: Yes, quite a bit.
MCINTOSH: How would--did you handle that? To keep from getting stuck yourself?
BARRITT: Well, you just had to be careful.13:00
MCINTOSH: Well, you had to spend a lot of time in the field doing those kinds ofthings. I was thinking you got pretty tired. If you were away from camp, did they bring the food to you? Or did you have to go back to camp for it?
BARRITT: Well, whenever those rolling kitchens could keep up, why it was broughtto us. But a lot of time we had, like I said, we had to exist under emergency rations--canned beef and corned beef hash, things like that. 14:00
MCINTOSH: You ate that cold.
MCINTOSH: And drinking water? What'd you do for drinking water?
BARRITT: I just can't remember. It was so long ago.
MCINTOSH: Did you ever see anybody from the Salvation Army over there?
BARRITT: Oh yes. You certainly did. And we were very grateful to the SalvationArmy. They talk about the Red Cross, and the Red Cross supplied us with some goodies. But they always charged for it. Whereas whatever the Salvation Army gave to us, it was always free.
BARRITT: So, for that reason, why, you'd find that your average GI had a verywarm spot in their heart for the Salvation Army.
MCINTOSH: What would they bring you? For instance, give me an example of what--15:00
BARRITT: Hot chocolate was one favorite.
MCINTOSH: These ladies would come right into the field, out in the mud?
BARRITT: Oh yes.
MCINTOSH: That was very courageous. How about mail? Who brought you the mail?
BARRITT: You know, that's a kind of a funny thing. In my experience I didn'treceive any mail for about four months. Due to some mistake in the record keeping, after I got home I got some mail back that was marked--see I was in the 117th Engineers, and I got some mail back that had come to the APO serving the 16:00117th and it was marked, "Not in the 117th." Some mistake in the record keeping.
MCINTOSH: So it got to you eventually.
BARRITT: Oh, I got some after I got home--months afterwards.
MCINTOSH: I think everyone has had that experience who was overseas--gettingmail two and three and four months late.
BARRITT: Yeah. The first mail that I received was from my older brother, who wasin the 32nd Division. And it was the first mail that I received after I went out on the field. And he was--this was after the Armistice was signed--he was stationed about a day's ride away from where I was. And I got a weekend pass and 17:00went up and visited him.
MCINTOSH: Did you get into Paris at all?
BARRITT: No, I didn't.
MCINTOSH: If you had time off, where would you go? What city?
BARRITT: What do you mean, "Time off?" We didn't--
MCINTOSH: Well, they say--
BARRITT: We didn't, we didn't have any time off.
MCINTOSH: If you had some, if you had a three-day pass, where did you go?
BARRITT: Well, uh, Remagen [Holland] and Bonn [Germany] are two of the placesthat I remember.
MCINTOSH: Did you learn to speak French?
MCINTOSH: Did you learn to speak any French?
BARRITT: Very little. A few words.18:00
MCINTOSH: And I also understand that you were wounded slightly. Is that--tell meabout that. How'd that happen?
BARRITT: Well, we were out laying some barbed wire, and the enemy startedshelling us. And one shell hit quite close and shrapnel hit the corporal in charge of our detachment, so that he had to go to the hospital. And I had a very, very slightly wound right at the base of one thumb with a piece of shrapnel. But I had it field dressed and never missed a day of work [laughs].
MCINTOSH: [Laughs.] The medics were pretty good, were they?19:00
BARRITT: Oh yes, as a rule.
MCINTOSH: They seemed to be well trained?
BARRITT: Yeah, I think so.
MCINTOSH: You had one or two for each of your little squad that went out, or company?
BARRITT: We had one medical corps attached to our company.
MCINTOSH: But not a doctor?
MCINTOSH: So a doctor never looked at your wound, then. Tell me about theairplane, the German pilot who surrendered to you. [Barritt laughs.] That's really an unusual story.
BARRITT: We were working on the road one day, a group of us, and this plane came20:00down. Of course, we ran over there to see what happened. And the pilot got out, and he extended his wristwatch. He had evidently heard that the Americans like souvenirs, and he extended his wristwatch. But we didn't take that, but we did take his Luger pistol and turn that into headquarters. They were actually--the enlisted men were forbidden to have those Luger pistols. They had to turn them in if they got a-hold of them. But I do know of one or two cases where soldiers were able to hide them and bring them home.
MCINTOSH: Do you know why the pilot landed his plane? Was it shot down,21:00or--what was the matter with that plane? Did you ever find out?
BARRITT: No, I never did. But we--we just kind of assumed that he wanted to givehimself up.
BARRITT: Just from his actions and so on.
MCINTOSH: I see. You sent him back, did you, with a guard?
BARRITT: Yeah, we sent him to headquarters.
MCINTOSH: How far away from headquarters were you?
BARRITT: Oh, a couple miles or so.
MCINTOSH: Did that headquarters move often, or did it stay generally in one spot?
BARRITT: That moved. Wherever the division went, why they went.
MCINTOSH: Was the headquarters in tents or in buildings that were nearby?
BARRITT: Tents, as a rule.22:00
MCINTOSH: After the war--Armistice was signed, you moved into--you were part ofthe army of occupation, is that right?
BARRITT: That's right.
MCINTOSH: And where did you live then?
BARRITT: I was stationed in a little village called Mayschoss. It was on the AhrRiver--A-H-R River. In France we were on the Aire River--A-I-R-E--so they're kind of similar names.
MCINTOSH: The family that owned that house--would they move out? Or would theystay there?
BARRITT: They stayed there, and the--it was supposed to be against the rules tofraternize with the--with the natives, and--but that rule wasn't too generally 23:00observed. The father in this home never would be friendly. He resented our presence there. But the mother and the two boys we made friends with them. And I corresponded with one of the boys long after the war was over.
MCINTOSH: Is that where most of the soldiers went--to private homes? Most of thesoldiers in your company?
BARRITT: Yes. They were boarded in private homes.
MCINTOSH: In, in--this was in France?
BARRITT: No, it was--
MCINTOSH: It was in Germany?
BARRITT: In Germany.
MCINTOSH: Okay. Right. Did they--did they move or did you stay in that one spot?
BARRITT: Oh, we stayed in one spot there for about five months.
MCINTOSH: Did you bring them food from the, from your supplies--the family? They24:00were probably pretty hungry.
BARRITT: Well, the principal thing was they had a quite a shortage of coffee,and I would bring a mess cup full of coffee after each meal to the mother. She really appreciated that.
MCINTOSH: But her father--her husband didn't though.
BARRITT: No, he wouldn't have anything to do with us.
MCINTOSH: He wouldn't talk to you?
MCINTOSH: Okay. Did you eat there too, or not?
MCINTOSH: Did you eat with them, or no?
BARRITT: Uh, no, no.
MCINTOSH: Well, the food must have improved after the war was over and while you25:00were in occupation.
BARRITT: Yes, it wasn't too bad.
MCINTOSH: Okay. Well. Did the Army pay these people, while you stayed inGermany? Did they get any money for putting you up?
BARRITT: That I don't know.
[An unidentified woman joins in the conversation, with some relationship toJames McIntosh]
WOMAN: About how many?
MCINTOSH: How many people were in that house?
BARRITT: Well, our entire squad of eight men were in one room, in the largestroom in that house. It was a room probably 12 by 16 in size, the largest room in the house. And our entire squad of eight men slept in that room.
WOMAN: On the floor?26:00
MCINTOSH: On the floor, right.
BARRITT: Yes, right on the floor. We had a space of about two feet wide andeight feet long [laughs] for ourselves and our packs, so there wasn't too much room to move around.
MCINTOSH: So, for your 99th birthday, what did you do--other than have the bigevent. Did you have a special meal or--?
WOMAN: Maybe [unintelligible]. Ready?
MCINTOSH: [unintelligible] [Laughs.]
WOMAN: What--what did you mean when you do [unintelligible]?
MCINTOSH: Was is--this book was made up by who? Who made this book?
BARRITT: Becky Sayer [??].
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Sayer [??] [unintelligible].
MCINTOSH: [unintelligible] Oh, that's a nice picture.
BARRITT: Yeah. And on the other side is the one 80 years before [??].
WOMAN: Can I get that on tape [unintelligible]? Closer, closer.
MCINTOSH: Try not to get the reflection. If you see a reflection, I'll move it.You see--
WOMAN: You can move it back a little. I see a reflection.
MCINTOSH: Yeah, see that's a--
WOMAN: That's good. Okay. Turn it around.
MCINTOSH: I'm turning it around. That's when he was 18.
WOMAN: Oh, okay. Good. Got it.
MCINTOSH: I think you're better looking now.
BARRITT: [Laughs.] I don't know about that.
MCINTOSH: Oh, and this is the award--this you have to zero in on. Be sure youcan read that now. Be sure it's readable.
WOMAN: There's a reflection.
MCINTOSH: Well, I'll just turn it [unintelligible].
WOMAN: Okay. I see--all right, there. No reflection. Okay, cool.
MCINTOSH: We got--read the whole thing. Don't get any closer, 'cause, uh--28:00
MCINTOSH: We got to read the whole thing, so--
WOMAN: I know, but in order to read it--
MCINTOSH: All right. I'm not moving. Okay?
MCINTOSH: All right. [unintelligible] We have that, and that. Thispicture--nice picture. We don't need anymore of this Kim [??].
WOMAN: Okay. I'm [unintelligible].
MCINTOSH: [unintelligible] you couldn't see that anyway. It's a--
MCINTOSH: See if you've tried--try on this. Don't record until you can see itwithout a reflection. That's the official document. If you think you can do it, then do it.
WOMAN: I can do it.
MCINTOSH: All right, then do it.
WOMAN: Very good. That turned out well.
MCINTOSH: Yeah, you turned it out to be a scroll [??].
WOMAN: Yeah, right.
MCINTOSH: Okay, do that page.
WOMAN: The whole page?
MCINTOSH: Yeah, the whole page.
WOMAN: I got a reflection--
MCINTOSH: Start off--
WOMAN: I can't get close.
MCINTOSH: Start off that, and then zero in the words, okay?
WOMAN: Okay. Reflection.
MCINTOSH: In the program--
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Program [unintelligible].
MCINTOSH: --where he got his reward, a poem, "In Flanders Fields," was read byGolden, and we'll see if we can talk him into doing it again here for us. Hold on.
MCINTOSH: Can you do that?
WOMAN: Read that for us?
MCINTOSH: Can you read that for us?
BARRITT: I don't need to read it. I can recite it.
MCINTOSH: You can recite it?
MCINTOSH: Fantastic. Do it.29:00
BARRITT: [Reciting]: "In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
"We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
"Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."
MCINTOSH: Beautiful. Thank you. One last--
--remembrance I want you to tell us about: the ship ride across the EnglishChannel that was so rough.
BARRITT: Well, we went across the Atlantic Ocean in a, uh, an old English boat30:00called the Khyber, that originally had been used to ship cattle from Argentina to Great Britain. And while it was scrupulously cleaned, the smell still remained [laughs] from the cattle. And anyway, when--after we landed in England we, uh--when we were twelve days out from New York, a German sub surfaced and sent a torpedo that narrowly missed our ship, but it hit a vessel adjoining ours called the Persic. And we were told at the time that the Persic limped into port, but I later found out that the ship did actually sink, and the survivors 31:00were picked up by the English navy.
Anyway, we landed in the port of London and received a form letter from KingGeorge welcoming us to the British Isles. And then we went by train to Southampton. And I remember an incident in Southampton when a beautiful, young English girl fell in step alongside of me. And she told that her--she called him 32:00her man--I supposed, assumed that he was her boyfriend--had gone to France several months later. And she hadn't heard from him for about six months. So she assumed that he had been captured by the enemy. And anyway, she wanted to be my girlfriend. But, fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, we came to an area that was restricted, so she couldn't go any farther. So that was the last I ever heard of her.
MCINTOSH: Did she tell you her name?
BARRITT: I don't remember. I don't remember if she did or not. But anyway, fromSouthampton we went across the English Channel in a much smaller boat. And it 33:00was a very rough passage. The soldiers were all below deck, and everyone got seasick. And the smell was so bad that I went up on deck, on the upper deck, to escape from that. And I guess I would have been washed overboard if it hadn't been a good railing surrounding the deck.
And so it landed at Le Havre. Went up that steep cliff that I think in World WarTwo became famous as Omaha Beach. And we ascended that steep cliff. On the top we took a "40 and 8"--you know that--it was a French boxcar about the third of a 34:00size of an American boxcar. And had printed on the side that was "40 Hommes et 8 Chevaux," which meant "40 men or 8 horses," which is supposed to be the capacity of the car, though I think that it would have been pretty crowded to fit them all in that space. We went by train then to a city called Angers. That's spelled A-N-G-E-R-S, but it's pronounced "On-jay." It's southwest of Paris. And it was supposed to be a Replacement Depot for the Engineer Corps. 35:00
And I got the flu while I was there and didn't report on sick call [??] onemorning. I stayed in bed. And as a result I lost my sergeant's stripes and was demoted to private.
I was originally California National Guard. And so after the war I went out toCalifornia to visit the old gang. I remember we had a--you know, in those days there weren't any radio, and telephone communications were not reliable, so they 36:00had attached to our company a man that they called a "runner." He took messages from one headquarters to another. This fella happened to be Italian descent. His name was Evo Graffina [??]. And one time he reported on sick call, said that, said that he had a lame knee and so he couldn't perform his duties. And the medic kind of thought he was faking to get out of duty, so he--this medic, by the way, his stock and trade was a bottle of iodine and a bottle of CC 37:00pills--and he gave the wop a handful of CC pills, and the wop came back to the company, and he started rubbing those CC pills on his knee.
MCINTOSH: What was that term, "CC?" Do you know--what does that stand for?
BARRITT: Castor [unintelligible] Compound--it's a laxative.
MCINTOSH: Yes. [unintelligible] Fantastic.
BARRITT: [Gap in tape] --a reunion of the company at Lodi, California. And Iremember on the invitation it said, "The wop is gathering your grapes." [Laughs.]
BARRITT: Meaning, of course, that he was laying in a supply of wine.
MCINTOSH: Right. Is he still alive?
BARRITT: Not to my knowledge.
MCINTOSH: Is there anyone left in your group?
BARRITT: As far as I know, I'm the last survivor.38:00
MCINTOSH: How about the division? How many you suppose are left in the 69th?
BARRITT: Well, that's--that's hard to say. I was told that there were only fourpeople in the State of Wisconsin that received this decoration and only fourteen in the entire United States. [On April 9, 1999, Golden was made a "Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor" of France and presented with a badge of the Order.]
MCINTOSH: That's amazing. That's wonderful.
BARRITT: So I'm pretty proud of it.
MCINTOSH: Did you know Andrew Small?
MCINTOSH: Do you know Andrew Small? S-M-A-L-L? He's in Schofield.
BARRITT: No, I don't--don't think so.
MCINTOSH: He's 107!
MCINTOSH: And we're going to see him tomorrow.
[End of interview]
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Partial Transcript: Interviewer: After the war--Armistice was signed, you moved into--you were part of the Army of Occupation, is that right?
Segment Synopsis: Barritt speaks about the time he spent in the Army of Occupation, and the rules he was supposed to abide by when dealing with Germans.
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Partial Transcript: Barritt:--in a, uh, an old English boat called the Khyber, that originally had been used to ship cattle from Argentina to Great Britain.
Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Barritt describes being transported across the Atlantic by boat, landing in England, and then being transported to France.