It might take me a while to scan and upload all the documents that Bill mailed to me, for they include amongst other things, an interview with Florida State University's Office of Oral History. So thanks in advance for your patience. It will be worth the wait.
March 11, 2014 - Oh how I hate this part of my job, which is now occuring with alarming frequency, as "my boys" approach their 90's and beyond. And so the dreaded letter arrived last night, informing me that my very dear buddy has gone to claim his seat in engineer heaven.
Words never suffice at a time like this, and I find it difficult to be eloquent, as the tears gather in my eyes. Bill and I were steadfast friends and I feel such a loss. I can truly say that I loved him and I know he loved me. He brought so much joy to my heart, which will never be forgotten. He was overjoyed that I chose to share his story with the world, and I have many letters from him, expressing his appreciation. We made a good team.
Some people are so easy to love and he was one of them. Always warm, always a good sense of humor, always willing to pour out his heart.
Bill I shall miss you more than I can say. But I think you know already know that.
I have an internet friend, Gene Fiducia from NJ who asked that I contact you. I have already signed your guest book. Spent about two years in Europe with the 1301st Engineer General Service Regiment assigned to Patton's Third Army. Our main job was to keep his armor moving with whatever it took, ie building bridges, clearing mines and the Regt name says it all. General service. We did it all. The Regt consisted of 6 line companies and a Hdq & Supp Co. We rarely saw one another except to build the Pres. Roosevelt Memorial Bridge across the Rhine at Oppenheim in 12 days. We also accompanied Patton on his dash to assist at the Bulge. Two weeks after VE day, we boarded 40/8 boxcars near Nuremberg for Marseille and shipped direct to New Guinea, eventually to Manila and finally back to the states. God Bless Pres. Truman for making the decision to use the BOMB, as I am sure I would not be writing this. FSU's History Dept is doing a great job. I directed Gene their and I think he has sent several. If interested, I will send you an article that I wrote about being forgotten that was published on the editorial page of our Sunday paper. Got a lot of calls from it. Also, I have rosters of our H&S Co and "B" Co of the 1301st if anyone is interested. My son is preparing a Wed Site for me that will offer information on how Vets or their survivors can go after lost records, medals, awards, etc. Sorry this is so long, when I get started, I don't know when to quit. Again, your doing a great service to us OLD vets.
If you wish to do a page on me, I would be honored. Taking the liberty of mailing you a package of material to use as you see fit. Included the FSU history interview and a photo of yours truly at the tender age of 19!! Also an article that I wrote to the paper in a moment of anger.
Would like to suggest that you get yours Dad's information in the FSU history. Don't know if Gene gave you all the info or not. If not, this is the contact:
And the department is called:
The Reichelt Program for Oral History
Their Web site is:
Me again. Just a brief note regarding our trip to the Pacific from Europe. When we crossed the 180th Meridian, there was a ship board ritual investing us into the realm of King Neptune and crossing the Equator, another that changed us pollywogs to Trusted Shellbacks. They had run off certificates on the ships mimeograph and everyone on board received their's at a big celebration. I hung on to those things for about 60+ years and when cleaning house, asked the family if they wanted them. No one seemed especially enthused , so I asked Robin Sellers at the history museum is they used anything like that and it tickled her to death. Had to sign a release though as they became their property. Somewhere, they are stored in the museum, but I don't know how to pull up any of their stuff except names, which now number in the hundreds. Kicking my butt now for not making copies of them.
You can see I don't have much to do, except bug you.
Dear Ms Sellers:
On 3-1-03, I signed a Deed, turning over two certificates to the Reichelt Historical Program; namely, crossing the 180 meridian and the other crossing the equator. Unfortunately, I failed to make copies of them
A lady in Michigan has done a tremendous job of collecting WW 2 data and placing it on the net in memory of her father.
If possible could you have those two certificates pulled and copies E-mailed to the her at following:
Billy A. Douglass Sr
(address withheld for privacy)
The photo below was taken of Bill at the tender age of 19.
Marion note: I am adding the unabridged versions of Patton's speeches. If you do not like strong language, please skip ahead. I feel strongly about presenting history as it actually was.
Anyone who has ever viewed the motion picture PATTON will never forget the opening. George Campbell Scott, portraying Patton, standing in front of an immensely huge American flag, delivers his version of Patton's "Speech to the Third Army" on June 5th, 1944, the eve of the Allied invasion of France, code named "Overlord." Scott's rendition of the speech was highly censored so as not to offend too many fainthearted Americans. The soldiers of the American Army who fought World War II heard the real Patton.
The Speech Somewhere in England June 5th, 1944
"Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a crock of bullshit. Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle.
You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight. When you, here, every one of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.
You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you right here today would die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Death, in time, comes to all men. Yes, every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he's not, he's a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood.
Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base. Americans pride themselves on being He Men and they ARE He Men. Remember that the enemy is just as frightened as you are, and probably more so. They are not supermen.
All through your Army careers, you men have bitched about what you call "chicken shit drilling." That, like everything else in this Army, has a definite purpose. That purpose is alertness. Alertness must be bred into every soldier. I don't give a fuck for a man who's not always on his toes. You men are veterans or you wouldn't be here. You are ready for what's to come. A man must be alert at all times if he expects to stay alive. If you're not alert, sometime, a German son-of-an-asshole-bitch is going to sneak up behind you and beat you to death with a sockful of shit! There are four hundred neatly marked graves somewhere in Sicily, all because one man went to sleep on the job. But they are German graves, because we caught the bastard asleep before they did.
An Army is a team. It lives, sleeps, eats, and fights as a team. This individual heroic stuff is pure horse shit. The bilious bastards who write that kind of stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don't know any more about real fighting under fire than they know about fucking! We have the finest food, the finest equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. Why, by God, I actually pity those poor sons-of-bitches we're going up against. By God, I do.
My men don't surrender, and I don't want to hear of any soldier under my command being captured unless he has been hit. Even if you are hit, you can still fight back. That's not just bull shit either. The kind of man that I want in my command is just like the lieutenant in Libya, who, with a Luger against his chest, jerked off his helmet, swept the gun aside with one hand, and busted the hell out of the Kraut with his helmet. Then he jumped on the gun and went out and killed another German before they knew what the hell was coming off. And, all of that time, this man had a bullet through a lung. There was a real man!
All of the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters, either. Every single man in this Army plays a vital role. Don't ever let up. Don't ever think that your job is unimportant. Every man has a job to do and he must do it. Every man is a vital link in the great chain. What if every truck driver suddenly decided that he didn't like the whine of those shells overhead, turned yellow, and jumped headlong into a ditch? The cowardly bastard could say, 'Hell, they won't miss me, just one man in thousands.' But, what if every man thought that way? Where in the hell would we be now? What would our country, our loved ones, our homes, even the world, be like? No, Goddamnit, Americans don't think like that. Every man does his job. Every man serves the whole. Every department, every unit, is important in the vast scheme of this war. The ordnance men are needed to supply the guns and machinery of war to keep us rolling. The Quartermaster is needed to bring up food and clothes because where we are going there isn't a hell of a lot to steal. Every last man on K.P. has a job to do, even the one who heats our water to keep us from getting the 'G.I. Shits.'
Each man must not think only of himself, but also of his buddy fighting beside him. We don't want yellow cowards in this Army. They should be killed off like rats. If not, they will go home after this war and breed more cowards. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the Goddamned cowards and we will have a nation of brave men. One of the bravest men that I ever saw was a fellow on top of a telegraph pole in the midst of a furious fire fight in Tunisia. I stopped and asked what the hell he was doing up there at a time like that. He answered, 'Fixing the wire, Sir.' I asked, 'Isn't that a little unhealthy right about now?' He answered, 'Yes Sir, but the Goddamned wire has to be fixed.' I asked, 'Don't those planes strafing the road bother you?' And he answered, 'No, Sir, but you sure as hell do!' Now, there was a real man. A real soldier. There was a man who devoted all he had to his duty, no matter how seemingly insignificant his duty might appear at the time, no matter how great the odds.
And you should have seen those trucks on the road to Tunisia. Those drivers were magnificent. All day and all night they rolled over those son-of-a-bitching roads, never stopping, never faltering from their course, with shells bursting all around them all of the time. We got through on good old American guts.
Many of those men drove for over forty consecutive hours. These men weren't combat men, but they were soldiers with a job to do. They did it, and in one hell of a way they did it. They were part of a team. Without team effort, without them, the fight would have been lost. All of the links in the chain pulled together and the chain became unbreakable.
Don't forget, you men don't know that I'm here. No mention of that fact is to be made in any letters. The world is not supposed to know what the hell happened to me. I'm not supposed to be commanding this Army. I'm not even supposed to be here in England. Let the first bastards to find out be the Goddamned Germans. Someday I want to see them raise up on their piss-soaked hind legs and howl, 'Jesus Christ, it's the Goddamned Third Army again and that son-of-a-fucking-bitch Patton.' We want to get the hell over there." The quicker we clean up this Goddamned mess, the quicker we can take a little jaunt against the purple pissing Japs and clean out their nest, too. Before the Goddamned Marines get all of the credit.
Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I'd shoot a snake!
When a man is lying in a shell hole, if he just stays there all day, a German will get to him eventually. The hell with that idea. The hell with taking it. My men don't dig foxholes. I don't want them to. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. And don't give the enemy time to dig one either. We'll win this war, but we'll win it only by fighting and by showing the Germans that we've got more guts than they have; or ever will have. We're not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we're going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun cock suckers by the bushel-fucking-basket.
Click here for the free previews of the Academy Award Winning Movie about
the USS Yorktown, "The Fighting Lady.
War is a bloody, killing business. You've got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it's the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you'll know what to do!
I don't want to get any messages saying, 'I am holding my position.' We are not holding a Goddamned thing. Let the Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except the enemy's balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all of the time. Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose; like shit through a tin horn!
From time to time there will be some complaints that we are pushing our people too hard. I don't give a good Goddamn about such complaints. I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood. The harder WE push, the more Germans we will kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that.
There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you WON'T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, 'Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.' No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, 'Son, your Granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a- Goddamned-Bitch named Georgie Patton!'
That is all."
You Are Here to Fight
Philosophy Opinion (Published) Keywords: PATTON
Source: Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor
Published: March 24, 1944 Author: General George S. Patton, Jr.
An excerpt from his address to the Third Army Headquarters Staff:
"I have been given command of Third Army for reasons which will become clear to you later on. ... I am here because of the confidence of two men: The President of the United States and the theater commander. They have confidence in me because they don't believe a lot of goddamned lies that have been printed about me and also because they know I mean business when I fight. I don't fight for fun and I won't tolerate anyone on my staff who does.
You are here to fight. This is an active theater of war. Ahead of you lies battle. That means just one thing. You can't afford to be a goddamned fool, because, in battle, fools mean dead men. It is inevitable for men to be killed and wounded in battle. But there is no reason why such losses should be increased because of the incompetence and carelessness of some stupid son-of-a-bitch. I don't tolerate such men on my staff.
There are three reasons why we are fighting this war. The first is because we are determined to preserve our traditional liberties. Some crazy German bastards decided they were supermen and that it was their holy mission to rule the world. They've been pushing people around all over the world, looting, killing, and abusing millions of innocent men, women, and children. They were getting set to do the same thing to us. We had to fight to prevent being subjugated.
The second reason we are fighting is to defeat and wipe out the Nazis who started all this goddamned son-of-bitchery. They didn't think we could or would fight, and they weren't the only ones who thought that, either. There are certain people back home who had the same idea. Both were wrong.
The third reason we are fighting is because men like to fight. They always have and they always will. Some sophists and other crackpots deny that. They don't know what they're talking about. They are either goddamned fools or cowards, or both. Men like to fight, and if they don't they're not real men.
If you don't like to fight, I don't want you around. You'd better get out before I kick you out. But there is one thing to remember. In war, it takes more than the desire to fight to win. You've got to have more than guts to lick the enemy. You must also have brains. It takes brains and guts to win wars. A man with guts but no brains is only half a soldier. We licked the Germans in Africa and Sicily because we had brains as well as guts. We're going to lick them in Europe for the same reason.
That's all and good luck."
This is an article that Bill referred to in one of his emails above, "...Also an article that I wrote to the paper in a moment of anger."
You indicated your desire to hear of General Patton and I happen to have a brief anecdote that you may enjoy.
My unit had stopped at a chateau near Nancy, France for a brief overnight; our first night under cover in a couple of months. One of the fellows found a collapsible top hat which were quite popular in France. The next day, in the back of a 6X6 truck with about a dozen other engineers, I pulled off my helmet, put on the top hat and was doing my rendition of a popular 40's tune. About the time I got started, a jeep flew by and our truck suddenly came to a screeching halt. Who should appear at the tailgate, except the old man himself with his pearl handle revolver strapped on. He shouted. "who was that SOB with the top hat on" to which I responded. He directed me to fall out and for the next two or three minutes, dressed me down with every word of profanity I had heard of and then some, also dwelling on my family lineage in the same tone. I was dirty, unshaven and scared to death. He reached over and grabbed my shirt pocket flap and I thought he was actually going to hit me. He asked if that pocket had a button on it to which I affirmed resulting in another barrage regarding wearing of the uniform. After he finished with me then he glared at the men in the truck and shouted out, "You engineers boys are doing a damn good job, keep it up", and with that he was gone.
The occasion got my CO's attention and he got my mine. Any words Patton left out were deftly covered by the CO.
General Patton was a professional soldier; egotistical as hell, but a real soldier.
Needless to say, I became the recipient of barbs from the whole company for weeks on end.
Hope you enjoy my experience. I didn't!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was able to put Bill in touch with a gentlemen named Pete, who's uncle Steve Paulson (Pawlikowski), was also in the 1301st. Pete sent us several photos today (his uncle's page will be on the site in the near future) and I am placing one here of the Roosevelt Bridge. Here is what Bill had to say about that.
Thanks for the info and looking fwd to the pictures. There was very little interaction between companies, except when the entire regiment got together to build the President Roosevelt Memorial Bridge over the Rhine River at Oppenheim, Germany, A tremendous effort; a 2 way fixed bridge with 90' navigational span completed in 12 days and opening on April 12, the day the president died, hence the name.
Glad to have made contact with you and look fwd to additional meetings on the Net.
I couldn't believe it when I opened Peter's picture of the PRMB. It nearly brought tears to my eyes. It looks exactly as I remembered it, and I might add, quite a fete for 1200 go-getters in 12 days.
God Bless you all of your endeavors in creating the greatest site on the Web in my book.
Pete sent more photos which can also be seen on this uncle's page, Steve Paulson, and I am included them too. Here is what Bill had to say about those great photos!
Hi Peter and Marion:
Thanks for the pics Peter. In the #2 pic, there was an Antiaircraft battery behind the trees on the left on the far shore. As the project went on 24 hours; it was lit up like a Xmas tree at night. Men on generators, with phones, could quickly kill all lights when Jerry made a late night run. Then the Ack Ack would work on him. In pic # 3, the old steam powered piledriver was scrounged up and made operational and really put to good use driving piles. There's no telling how long it had set idle, but the engineers got it fired up and going. The pontoon bridge stayed in operation during the construction of the big bridge. I was surprised to see the Navy in attendance during construction. I had no idea they were involved in that part of the country, but they were there in small boats.
I am here to tell you, this country had this war in hand early on. With the home front turning out equipment at a rate never before heard of ;and the best, well trained and equipped troops in the world; it didn't take long for Germany to find out that they had bit off more than they could chew. Their face-saving effort was a loser from the day our country entered the war.
Keep digging out the old pictures Peter; they are priceless.
I cannot believe all of this has come about through your efforts Marion; how proud you must be!
If the above made our efforts seem easy, forget it. There are too many white crosses in Europe, marking the graves of Americans who made it all possible.
Bill's "Equator" Docs
The following document was given to me by Bill. When I went to scan it, it stopped after two pages, so the the first part contains the cover and forward and the second document contains remarks from Ralph J Knutsen Capt CE, and Holy Joe, Clifford Windfordner Jr, a chronological date data of H & S Company, and lists for the staff, officers and medics and medical detachment.
Service Company - 1301 Engr. Regt. - "This Is It - At Last" - part one
Service Company - 1301 Engr. Regt. - "This Is It - At Last" - part two
The following is an interview that was conducted by Florida State University. Bill mailed the complete interview to me and I have subsequently scanned and uploaded it to our server. I have divided the document into four sections to make it easier to download and open, especially for those with slower dial-up connections. Thanks for submitting the great interview Bill!
Interview part one
Interview part two
Interview part three