Veteran speaks to Clintonville Historical Society
By Bert Lehman
Six months after Eugene Schulz graduated from Clintonville High School in 1941, the United States was pulled into World War II when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
Schulz told those in attendance at the Clintonville Area Historical Society Fall Event, where he was a guest speaker on Nov. 5, that he was also eventually pulled into the war. He said he was drafted into the military in 1943.
Because he took a typing class in high school, Schulz said he scored high in typing skills on aptitude tests, which allowed him to be part of a new military organization. He was sent to Camp Young in a desert in California for training. The training location was found and designed by General George Patton.
“The reason that this camp was established in the desert was, the war was going on in northern Africa, and that was desert fighting,” Schulz said. “The United States in its entire history had never fought a war in a desert.”
After six weeks of basic training, Schulz said he found out he was being assigned to a typing job. He was assigned to be the typist and clerk for Colonel Welborn Griffith. Griffith was in charge of operations.
“In combat we were also in a huge war tent, and we had situation maps all around the walls showing the location of the enemy, as well as our troops,” Schulz said. “I was often present when the people were standing inside of the war tent deciding what battle plans to make.”
Schulz said once the fighting in northern Africa coming to an end, Europe became the focus of the war. He was transferred to Camp Campbell in Kentucky. Kentucky had terrain similar to Europe. He went there in May 1943.
He eventually went to Tennessee for 10 weeks of training where he had to live in the outdoors, as well as practice what it would be like in combat.
When training concluded in Tennessee, Schulz and other service members were allowed to leave on furlough. They were told that when the furlough concluded they would be headed to combat. Schulz said he spent his furlough in Clintonville.
When he returned from furlough, the name of his group was changed to XX Corps.
He left New York in February 1944 on the Queen Mary troop ship and headed for England.
Schulz said he had read about the Queen Mary ship in school, as it had set Atlantic speed records.
“It crossed the Atlantic Ocean in five days,” Schulz said.
He added that normally 2,100 people traveled on the ship at one time, with a crew of 1,000.
Because the ship was painted in war paint, it was nicknamed the “Gray Ghost,” Schulz said.
When Schulz was transported on the Queen Mary to England, the ship traveled by itself. There was no convey or escort to protect it.
“The Queen Mary was very fast, and we also set a course in which we would zig-zag across the ocean,” Schulz said.
He said there was only one close call during the trip.
With the Queen Mary being used as a troop ship, the occupancy of the ship was increased to 16,000 soldiers.
“There were only two meals a day because it took hours and hours to feed 16,000 guys,” Schulz said. “Traffic was only one way direction on each deck. And you only had certain hours when you could be out on deck. There were a lot of restrictions.”
Schulz said the trip took exactly five days.
“We were very happy when we got to the coast of Ireland,” Schulz said.
(See next week’s issue of the Tribune-Gazette for Schulz’s description of D-Day, his account of witnessing a concentration camp that was discovered in Germany by American troops, the end of WWII, and his trips back to Europe since that time.)