Interview of Clifford A. Goodall
Transcript Number 082
SEPTEMBER 19, 2001
My name is Paul Zarbock, a part time staff member of UNCW's library. The interview is being conducted in the library on the campus of UNCW. Our interviewee is Mr. Clifford A. Goodall.
INTERVIEWER: How do you do? How did you get into the military?
CLIFFORD: Well, I joined April 22, 1943, I was 17, and I just thought it was a patriotic thing. So I was sent to, do you want me to just keep going to where I......I was sent to, well, actually, there were four other friends of mine that went down to sign up at the same time.
INTERVIEWER: And where did you enlist?
CLIFFORD: In Chicago and of course, so did they, but we always thought that we would be together. That didn't last very long because I went to Great Lakes and one of them went to Bainbridge, Maryland, and a couple of them went to Farragut, Idaho. I never saw them again in the Navy. Yes I did, I did see one of them whose ship came in when I was out in Los Angeles. We were never together. Let me put it that way.
I went through the usual basic training. I always remember Camp Green Bay was where we were and it was basically a new camp. It rained something like 17 days, and it was just, I mean it was mud all the time. It was terrible, but anyway we finally graduated from there. Two of us went to University of Illinois Signal School. It was funny because they gave you tests regarding Morse code and light and stuff like that. We had taken the test and all I did was guess at it. I had no idea of what was right or what was wrong.
Anyway, I must have passed the test because the next thing, I was scared to death that we were going to go to armed guard, which almost all the rest of them did go, and of course, armed guard were the people that had the tankers. They always had Navy personnel on there manning the guns and what have you. I didn't like that Murmansk Run at all.
So anyway, the two of us went to Illinois University. They had converted the gym to quarters. I was there for, I guess probably, I don't recall exactly, probably around three months I would think. Maybe a little bit longer. I graduated from there. Actually, I had a pretty good score too as I recall. It was something like, about 3, 4 out of 4, something like that. I guess that convinced me that I wasn't too dumb. I got a rating of third-class signalman out of that, and from there they put us on a train. It was back in the days when they had the straw-back seats, and we were going to Norfolk, Virginia. This train would pull over, off to the side, anytime anybody wanted to pass. God, I don't know, I think it took us like three days to get to Norfolk.
INTERVIEWER: This is from the University of Illinois, to Norfolk, Virginia?
CLIFFORD: Yeah, right.
INTERVIEWER: You could have walked in about that time?
CLIFFORD: Exactly. Oh, it was uncomfortable, and we'd try to sleep in this thing. It was a nightmare.
INTERVIEWER: Was it all military?
CLIFFORD: Yeah, right. It was all military. Anyway, we got to Camp Bradford, well, actually, when we got off the train, I'll never forget this. We were picked up in a small bus. I guess there were probably, maybe 40 of us in this bus. I always remember this bus driver saying, "Another load of them, God damn sailors coming in here". I mean, we were totally stunned, I mean everybody, you know, that we were insulted like that. I didn't want to go to Norfolk, Virginia, I was sent there, but anyway......
INTERVIEWER: He was a civilian driver?
CLIFFORD: Yeah, he was a civilian driver. Of course, a lot of people in Norfolk at that time hated sailors. You heard the stories about dogs and sailors keep off the grass, you know that was true, but not everybody was like that. Anyway, we were sent to Camp Bradford, and I was put in the 6th Beach Battalion. I guess I was in the 6th Beach Battalion for maybe, I'm guessing maybe three weeks. It was tense. We were living in tents.
They took me out of there and put me in the 294th Joint Assault Signal Company. Now, the 294th Joint Assault Signal Company, the whole premise of it was that we were to work with the Army's 294th Joint Assault Signal Company. So anyway, they put a bunch of us in that, and oh I forget now exactly how long we were at Camp Bradford, but that was another mud hole.
They took us from there and we went to Long Beach, New York. They had a Naval base there, and we stayed there for a couple of days. Then, we got on the Mauritania and the Mauritania, of course, was a cruise ship. Anyway, I'll never forget. We were standing on the rail, now being a signalman I knew the codes for when they blow the whistle and all this and that. The sun was shining. No problem at all, and you could see this tanker coming at us. I mean, you know, clear as a bell. Then the tanker started with the signals and then the Mauritania started with the signals. We, of course, had a bunch of troops on there, and they were all on that rail.
I said, "Hey, I don't like the sounds of this because they're both doing the same signals". In other words, if this guy's backing down, so is this one. So, you know, they're going to come together, and they all looked at me like, you know, this guy, he's losing it. Well, the next thing, the thing hit us and put a, oh it was something, maybe about a 25-foot gash in the bow. We had to turn around and go back and they worked all night long. I don't know whether they welded a plate on it, I guess they probably did weld a plate on the thing. And anyway, we took off.
INTERVIEWER: Were there any injuries on either ship?
CLIFFORD: No, no, it was kind of a rocking motion, it wasn't a big bang or anything. When that tanker started getting awfully close, like about 25 feet, I saw them all running away from the rails. Nobody was hurt, but it was just a, kind of an unusual experience.
INTERVIEWER: Would the word stupid be a pretty good word?
CLIFFORD: Yeah, that would be apropos. So, anyway, we took off there and we went up the northern route, we were going to England. We went up the northern route, and some of the crew told us, this was the worse crossing in 20 years. It was a total nightmare. We had to sleep in hammocks, and the weather was just awful. I got sick as a dog, and of course, most of the other people did too.
The English food wasn't all that good, we'd get a sandwich, and then in the morning we'd have some breakfast, as I recall. One morning, I'll never forget this, they brought in kidney stew for breakfast. That did it for me. I was hoping I was going to die. Anyway, we finally weathered that thing out, and it took us, as I recall, I think it was about 11 days to get over there.
INTERVIEWER: They usually fed the troops two times a day. Is that what happened to you?
CLIFFORD: Yeah, as I recall, because it was so rough. I think they were giving us a sandwich, you know, or something like that, but nobody could hold it down. The ship was so fast that it was by itself. We didn't have any convoys, because they were too fast for submarines.
So anyway, we landed in Liverpool, and came down and took a train from Liverpool; I remember going through Bristol, and what have you. We wound up at the train station. I believe it was Plymouth, and they picked us up in trucks and brought us over to Salcom, England, a little town in the south of England. Probably the most beautiful spot on earth, it is just gorgeous. I love it. I've been back there twice.
They had a rugby field, kind of up on top of, well, it's a rise, and had no Quonset huts up there. This was another mud hole. We were up there, and we were doing, I was still in the 294th JASCO at that time. We were still, you know, we were training, doing hikes and doing like 10 miles a day, and then 25 on Saturday, and then they'd give you Sunday off.
I can remember the lieutenant, he was really gung-ho, he was an ex-football player, I think from Northwestern. Anyway, they had a guy with a broken leg, and it had mended, and of course, he was out. He came back to me one time and he said, "I don't understand it, you have a guy with a healing broken leg and you can't even keep up with him". I said, "This is tough".
So anyway, I remember one time also when we were at one of these hikes, and going up along the coast, of course we had our car there. Incidentally, we did not look like Navy, we looked like Army, we had carbines and knives, and the whole bit. I remember one time we were up there and the officer says, "Goodall, see that can down there, hit that can". It was probably, maybe 60 or 70 yards, something like that. I fired three rounds, and I never hit it. He says, "Oh, we're in big trouble". But anyway, we survived that.
Then, we were sent to a town, basically the same type as Salcom, called Fowey, F.O.W.E.Y. It was kind of like a holding pattern for us. We were there for, I don't know, I can't remember exactly, but it was maybe a couple of months I guess, or maybe a month, I don't remember. They sent us back to Salcom, and on April the 5th, and I just found this out probably a year ago, they put me in the 7th Beach Battalion.
INTERVIEWER: Now, this is April of what year?
CLIFFORD: Of 1944, right. So, I was put in the 7th Beach Battalion, and that's where I stayed. They shipped us out. I guess probably not too long after that, we went over night. I think it was over in Weymouth, where there was a staging area for preparation for the invasion of France. They put us on LST's. Well, they put the group I was with on an LST.
INTERVIEWER: And, what is an LST?
CLIFFORD: Landing Ship Tank.
INTERVIEWER: Big thing, small thing?
CLIFFORD: Oh, it's big. You've seen them, they don't draw much water, and the bow doors open up, and the ramp drops down, that's the LST. Then, some of them were put on LCI's, which was Landing Craft Infantry. You may have seen some of those where the two sides, the rails go down, or the steps, and that's where the infantry would exit from.
Anyway, we started out in June, I believe it was June the 4th, because the invasion was going to be on June 5th. We got out, I guess about, maybe five miles, and the weather was bad, and then we got called back. That's when the, probably right about then where the invasion was supposed to be, and then they called everybody back. So, we went back and never got off the ship. Of course, we were down in the bowels of the ship. The next day, we started out again for the invasion, June the 6th. , this was on the 5th of course, when we started out. Everything, you know, went rather smoothly. The water wasn't too bad, it was still a little bit rocky, but not too bad.
I guess it was probably around midnight that I remember all these planes going over with the paratroopers. It was kind of black, so you couldn't really see them, but you could hear them.
INTERVIEWER: Were you at dock?
CLIFFORD: No, no, we were on our way, we were on our way. So anyway, one little incident was kind of funny. They issued us these seasick pills. I think they were Dramamine, or something like that, I don't remember. But a signalman on the LST, he was sick, he was really sick. He said, "Would you believe they won't give us because we're sailors?", I said, well so am I. I'm supposed to be, I don't look like one. So anyway, he said, "Well look, I've got the watch". Incidentally, after that Mauritania thing I never got seasick again. I gave him the pills that I had, and he was so appreciative, he says, "Look, you go down and sleep in my bunk, I'm on watch now for four hours". At least I slept a little bit.
We got there the next morning and anchored. I guess, probably, you know, I'm not too sure about the distance. It could have been three quarters of a mile, or half a mile. I didn't measure. The invasion started with....there was a cruiser right next to us, a British cruiser. That thing just rocked the boat, and everything else when it was firing. There were many others, but that was the closest one to us, some of our guys who were on LCI's, and other LST's. The invasion was supposed to start at 6:30, but it was really kind of confused. I doubt that it ever started at 6:30, but that's when it was supposed to be.
These other guys that were in our group, they went in probably, not very long after 6:30, and we were supposed to go in at 8:30, our particular platoon. In fact, a couple of our guys are going down in small boats, that was very hazardous, the weather had started getting rough, and you're climbing down those rope ladders, and you got these small boats bouncing up and down. We got a couple down there, and then we got word that we are not to go in because the beach was too crowded. They didn't have any room for us. We had to get these guys back up, and we sat there. Of course, you know we could see quite a distance away, but we could see what was going on. Shelling the beach, and....
INTERVIEWER: Which beach was this?
CLIFFORD: This was Omaha. So, they finally called us in, and I always thank God for this, but I didn't have to go in at 8:30. They called us in. By the time that we got in, of course, a lot of our people were there already, but by the time that I got in, they had gone up the hill. At least the machine gun fire and that was not there.
INTERVIEWER: So, you arrived on D Day?
CLIFFORD: Of yeah, oh yeah, yeah, oh yes. In fact, all of our beach battalions did. Just as a little sidelight, the 7th Beach Battalion was attached to the 6th Engineers Special Brigade, an army group. We were an attachment. The 6th Beach Battalion was attached to the 5th Engineers Special Brigade. In fact, you're going to do an interview with a guy from the 5th Engineers Special Brigade, which I gave Melissa the name, so, he's another D Day man.
Then over on Utah Beach, you had the 2nd Beach Battalion, and they were attached to the 1st Engineers Special Brigade. Now, of course, the 1st and the 2nd Beach Battalion over on Utah, they didn't really get the resistance that you did at Omaha. Even Omaha, we were kind of split. The 6th was on this side, and we were on this side. The 6th got worse than our group did. It was just like there was a line there. Of course, we watched the wounded and killed, I don't even remember how many, but we were fairly lucky.
The 6th suffered pretty heavy casualties for a group. You see, the beach battalions are about 350 to 400 men, and anyway, we finally got out of there, and I'll always remember when they dropped. They took us in on a small boat, and they dropped the ramp, and of course, we had to wade in. Right there, was one of our guys floating in the water. That just embeds in you. You just can't forget it, and then when we finally got down on the ground. One of our guys came up to me and he said, "Your buddy got it". I knew who they were talking about, it was Douglass Vaughn. He and I had, well, you know, we were kind of good friends.
When we trained at one of the training places in England, was Slapton Sands, that's when they lost 700, and nobody ever heard of that until about 30 years later. They sunk some LST's out there, the Germans did, and lost about 700, I think about 721. I don't recall exactly. We were training there, and of course, you have half of a tent, and you got to find somebody else. Well anyway, Douglass and myself were together. He and I were pretty good friends, so that was kind of a blow, you know, right after you get on you hear that.
I was on there for, up until, about August. The reason I remember this is my birthday was August 29th. I got off of there probably, either on my birthday, you know, maybe the 28th or the 30th, or something like that, but I always remember the 29th.
INTERVIEWER: How old were you?
CLIFFORD: I was 18 then. Now you got to have people that do that kind of stuff, but basically, I don't know if you're interested in what we did, the beach battalions. We were set up to, you're like, basically, a traffic cop, you have a beach master, you have communications, and you had graphics, you know, which marked the lanes so that we could bring infantry in. Gee, I better not leave out anybody, but basically that was it., the signalmen, of course.
We would get the, the Army would contact us and say we need ammunition and fuel. Of course, then our beach master would come over and say, "Goodall, get a hold of", he had a list you know, "Get a hold of so and so and tell them we want such and such". Of course, I'd be either out by the light or with semaphore. We would contact them out there, and then the Army would send out some jeeps, or whatever they needed.
INTERVIEWER: You didn't have radio transmission?
CLIFFORD: Yes, but apparently, I never could really figure that, yeah, we had radiomen with us, our group was made up of signalmen and radiomen. You know, sometimes the radios, they were pretty heavy in those days, and they were not available. A lot of that equipment was lost going in, like a lot of trucks and people drowning, you know. What happened over there was, even after things had quieted down, we had to bring in whole LST's, and they had like maybe four or six trucks on them, you know, jeeps, whatever they could pile on there.
The problem with Omaha was that there were sandbars. If you brought, for example, if you had people in this LSVP, that's the Landing Craft personnel, little ones, they would come in and they'd hit the sandbar, and then they'd drop it, and of course, the guys getting off always thought, well all I got to do is wade in ankle deep, and the next thing they were up to here.
One of the big problems was the belts were here, they had these where you could inflate the life preserver, but everybody wore them around here. With the heavy equipment that they were carrying, would turn over, so we had a lot of drownings just like people, you know, turning over. They should have been up in here, so we know which would have kept them up.
Anyway, the worst part, which was a total disaster, I've never seen anything like it, was, if I recall, and I read about the date, I think it's June the 19th to the 21st when we had that storm. That was the biggest mess I've ever seen. It washed up everything. We couldn't get anybody in, out, or what have you. Boats piled up all over the place. At one point, they told us to go around and pick up the ammunition. Of course, there was a lot of it laying around.
We had to go around picking up M1's, what is it, I guess it was M1's, and picking it up and putting it in a box. Then the next thing we heard was, why you guys might have to go to the front. I thought, Oh God, I don't want to do that. Anyway, we did that, and we finally got out of the storm after the three days. It was vicious. I've never seen anything like that. They did more damage in those three days than the Germans did, I mean, it was awful.
I'll always remember this Captain, Captain Hammond. He was in the Army. Now, we were supposedly attached to the 149th Combat Engineers, which were attached to the 6th Engineers Special Brigade. At that time, he was in the Army is all I knew, so I don't know which outfit he was in, but he was, the guy was a dynamo. I mean, he went out there and said we're going to get a path cleared up here, and he would grab a hold of some guy in a bulldozer, and the guy would say well I can't, and he said, "You get over here and get this Thompson?". We finally just pulled those things out, and got a couple of paths in there and started breaking in whatever we needed.
I did this for, well there's a little sideline, I don't know whether you want to hear this or not, I think I probably didn't eat much that first week. We had some K rations, you know, we had a little cheese and crackers and that, but I didn't eat too much. I remember, it was an LST that pulled in.
By that time they were, you know docking in pretty close. The tide there was terrible, I mean it would go way out. I had, being a signalman, I signaled the LST and told them, "Hey, can we come on board and get some food?", because you know, they had cafeteria style. The signalman says wait a minute, so he talks to his commanding officer there, and he comes back and he says, "Sure, come on". So, there was probably about three or four of us went on, and you know we were going through with the trays and they were piling everything on.
I sat down and thought, boy, I think I took about three mouthfuls and I couldn't eat anymore. To make things worse, we started to say thanks very much, and then we started to get off, and the tide had come in. It was probably, off that thing was maybe about four feet deep. All I could see was I'm going to get court martialled because these guys are going to pull out with the tide, and I'll be winding up back in England, and they'll be wondering what happened to me and these other two or three guys that were with me.
Anyway, there was a big bulldozer there, and I sent a message. This is the beauty of being a signalman. There's a couple of guys, you know, on the beach there, and I'd send a signal. I said, "Hey, you know, can you get us off here?" This guy came out with this bulldozer, and put the mohur or whatever you call that front thing on there, and we jumped on that thing, and then he backed out. So, we stayed there.
Then my next assignment, of course, I'm still on Omaha, the whole thing was on Omaha. They had brought in these pontoons, I call them pontoons, you've probably seen them, rhino ferries, you know, where they weld these things. Then they bring them in and then they puncture them to signal. I handled the, I was the signalman, along with a couple of other guys, and a crew. We brought in LST's, almost anything acccepting a big ship. Any LCVP's we didn't at that point, you see we unloaded personnel off and onto this pontoon bridge, if you will. These guys coming in, they hit that sandbar, and the next thing these guys are swimming, so when they got that, you know it was fine.
INTERVIEWER: Where did you sleep at night?
CLIFFORD: Well, I slept in a foxhole the first, God, I don't remember now, it seemed like, probably, I would guess, probably the first week or maybe even longer than that. We had... talking about a foxhole. I was in this damn foxhole, and had my carbine and had my gas mask. It wasn't attached to me, I had it alongside, and I was sleeping. The Germans dropped some bombs, I don't know, you know not right on us but, in back, and it just shook the ground and dumped all the sand in on top of me. Of course, I'm fighting to get out, and finally did get out.
It was about, I guess maybe about two or three weeks later, the LST's, you know, we were getting them in all the time. They had, what do they call them, New Year's Eve rockets, or whatever they call them. That was a signal for gas. So, this was in the middle of the night, I had the watch, and this guy is up there shaking this thing, and I thought, uh oh. He's yelling, "Gas, gas".
So, I ran up and the commander, our beach master, he was in the tent, you know, and I woke him up. I said, "Hey, there's a guy down there, you know, he's giving the signal, and he's yelling gas". I said, "I'm dead", because I never dug my gas mask out of the sand. I thought, well, this is it, you know, I'm finished. Fortunately, it was a false alarm. I don't know whatever started it, but there was panic all around, you know. Of course the Germans using gas in World War I, well, everybody was a little antsy about them.
I was on this, well, I can't show you a picture, I'll show it to you later, but I did that for I don't know how long. Then finally, the engineers built a tower, and incidentally, every night, the Germans would come over dropping flares. They were looking for the U.S.S. Ancon and the Ancon was the hub, that's where Eisenhower and all the biggies were. They would be over on one side of the area over here at night, and of course, it would get black, and then in the morning, you'd see them over here.
So, during the night, they would move around, but the Germans would come over every night dropping flares. They had built a tower for me, and I'll never forget the first time I was on this tower. They had a light in there. A colonel came up, and he said "Are you the, can you run this light?", I said, "Well, yeah, sure, that's what I'm supposed to do," He said, "Well, get in touch out there with so and so and so and so ship", you know, blah, blah, blah, whatever, and I'm a little reluctant that these Germans are flying over dropping flares and he wants me to turn on this light.. Well, I did it, but I wasn't too happy about it. I did that for, God, I don't know, I think I did that until the bitter end.
Also, one thing that probably is of some interest, the first night there on Omaha, the ships were shooting at anything. I don't care what it looked like, if you've seen 50 Fourth of July's all at one time, that's what it looked like. I mean, it would just, tracer bullets going all over the place. I heard that they shot down even a couple of our own planes.
Anyway, they did this, oh, maybe for two or three nights, and then finally, the word came out, "No ships are to open fire" because these guys were so nervous, you know, they were shooting at anything, and I did. Are you interested in any of these war stories?
I had a great beach master, oh, a wonderful guy. His name was Al Orton, O.R.T.O.N. After a couple of weeks, he said, or I asked him, I said, "I have some cousins in the Canadian army, and I'd like to go over and see them". Now this is how, I mean, I was a little na´ve, I thought I could just walk over there and say where's so and so. So, he says, "All right, go ahead, but take your gas mask and your carbine with you", which I did. So I got over there, and I was hitching rides on the trucks. I got over to the Canadian beach, and got on this truck, and I was asking, were they the Canadian engineers, and I said,"Well, where are the engineers?", and he says, "Well, they're probably up here". So the next thing, I'm starting to hear artillery fire. I said, "Where are we?" He said, "Well, Caen Is just up the road here", I said, "Stop this thing right now, I'm getting off of it". So I did, and I came back, and he said, "Boy, you didn't stay very long", I said, "No, the British haven't even taken Caen yet". I came back and resumed my duties, and I got off of Omaha, probably around my birthday. An LST took us back, and we landed in Southampton.
We were the last group, most of our people had already gone back, you know, the ones that were first in. When we got to Southampton, it was after 2:00. You know, the British at that time, after 2:00, they couldn't serve booze or anything. I remember there was a pub, and one of the guys went over and knocked on the pub, and the guy says, "Can't serve anything", and the guy says, "If you don't open this up, we're going to break it in". He went all right, so he opened up, so we drank some beer.
Then they put us over, I forget exactly where it was, but it was supposed to be an R&R thing. From there, they sent us to Glasgow. Glasgow, we were there, not too long, and they put us on the Queen Elizabeth. So, we came back to New York, and they took the southern route. It was like glass, beautiful. We landed in New York, and they said we need you out in California to train, because now you guys are veterans.
We need you to train for these people for the invasion of Japan. So, they gave me seven days to get from New York to Los Angeles. That meant I stopped off in Chicago for two days. Riding on the train, from New York to Chicago, that was another nightmare. No seats, we had to stand, the seats were all taken. I remember one gal sitting there, she said, "Well, use my suitcase". I said, "Well, gee, I don't really feel too comfortable, it might injure it or something", and she said, "No". Well, I sat on the thing, and the next thing it broke. She says, "Don't worry about it".
So anyway, we did get to L.A., and they picked us up and sent us to Oceanside, California, right across from Camp Pendleton. We trained there. I'll always remember a funny thing. We trained, you know, with the...see, out in the Pacific, they call them beach parties. They were small groups, real small groups. In the Atlantic, it was a beach battalion, you know, which was like 300 or 400 men. Anyway, we worked with the army. We'd get in the small boats, make the landings, and set up the communications, you know, practicing. There would be a truck come along, with food, and we'd eat and jump in the truck, and they'd drive us back.
So, that went on, and that wasn't too bad, but then they transferred us, and attached us to the Marines. It might have been the 2nd Marine Division, I don't remember exactly, but it was the Marines. We would land with them, and there was no food. You had whatever the K rations were, that's what you had, and you walked back. I mean carrying these radios, and all of this, that's like five miles, you know. I thought, my God, I don't want to get tangled up with these Marines. They're too tough for me. So, we did that for a while, and then they sent us down to, I think it was Camp Callan, just a little ways down from Oceanside. We were only there just a short time. Then they sent us up to Vancouver, Washington, and there's another place.
It rained every day, but anyway, we used to go into port, we were there I guess a couple of weeks. We used to go into Portland, and they had a great U.S.O. over there. I mean, they'd give you a menu, you know, and say what do you want, steak or what have you. It was really good.
Then we got out of Portland. We got on a Liberty ship, and headed to Hawaii, Pearl Harbor. So, in Pearl, well, on the way, the fastest this ship could go was seven knots, I mean, it was awful. I'll never forget, they had two, it looked like two-inch steel plates, probably about two foot wide, welded along each side of the deck. I asked on of the crew, I said, "What in the hell is this thing for?" He says, "To keep it from breaking in half". So, that was kind of reassuring.
We did get to Pearl Harbor, but in Oceanside, it was funny, they had given me like seven days to get there because they needed training, and you know, all this kind of nonsense, but all I did there, and here I was a third-class signalman, most of the time what I was doing was picking up butts and that, for I don't know, a couple of months anyway. We were out there, we were at Oceanside for quite a while, but anyway, we finally got to Pearl Harbor. We did some training there, and I,.... can you stop for a minute?
Okay, I'll try and run through this. So anyway, we were at Pearl Harbor. One thing we did see, I'll never forget this, was the Franklin came in. I don't know whether you recall the Franklin. That's the one that was all beat up. I'm surprised that the thing was fit to sail back into Pearl Harbor, but from there, they put on an AKA. We were going to the Philippines.
INTERVIEWER: What is an AKA?
CLIFFORD: It's kind of like, well, an AKA is an attack transport with personnel. The other was, well, supplies, let me put it that way. So we were on this AKA, and we were on our way to the Philippines, and they dropped the bomb. Incidentally, we had gone to Maui for training, and so on and so forth. Most of our guys, including me, I thought, if we've go to make this Japanese invasion, I didn't think we'd make it. I mean, you know, your casualties, you know, forget it. So anyway, we got to the Philippines, landed in Cavite, which was in Manila Harbor, and we were there for, I don't know, maybe four or five days, something like that.
They put us in a truck and we drove all night to get to Lingayen Gulf. That's where this transport troop was located. We drove all night. Oh God, I remember we got there, I got on the beach, and we could see the ships out there. So we'd signal them, and the next thing I woke up, I was in the sick bay. I passed right out on the beach.. I don't know what happened, but I was gone.
Anyway, from there, we had troops, and we went up to, we made one of the first landings on southern Babuyan at Ikeeyama. It was like an airplane base. It was all beat up. Then we went back, down to Mindanao, and picked up a bunch of troops, and I got sent ashore to keep communications. There were two other guys with me. The other twogot malaria, why I didn't get it, I don't know, but anyway, I didn't. We were going back to Japan for the second landing. Incidentally, these landings were supposed to be the same formula as the original invasion. I mean, this is the way it was supposed to be from what they tell me.
So anyway, we went back up there, and we hit this typhoon off of Okinawa. That was the scariest thing I have ever been in. It was three days. We had a 47-ship convoy, 45, somewhere in there, and we couldn't see the ship alongside of us, or in back of us. We were one of the lead ones. You couldn't see anything. That ship would do, the deck would go down in the water, go to the other side, and of course, if you were up as a signalman, up above, you know, it's ten times worse. We finally got through that, and we went to, we landed in Curry or Colby, you know, in that area there.
I talked to one of our officers about what we were going through. I said, "My God, look at, we've got two mountains on each side, we'd have never made it through here". He says, "Well, that's why they expected 50% casualties". I figured we wouldn't have made that.
Anyway, just moving on, we started, after that, we started ferrying troops back to San Francisco, and we did that a couple of times. Then, we were ordered to go to China. Anyway, we started out, we were about three days out, and we get order to go to New York. How's that? So, we had to go to New York. We went down through the Panama Canal, came up to New York, and I got sick. They sent me to the Navy pier in Chicago, and I was there, and I was.....they shipped me out to the University Of Illinois, V12 program, to be a signalman instructor. I couldn't even get off the train.
I wound up in the sick bay, and eventually wound up in the Illinois University Hospital. I was in there about six weeks. The people there couldn't believe it, there's no service men here. I said, "Well, look in the locker, there's my uniform". They closed down the V12 program, and they sent me up to Great Lakes. I was up there, I don't know how many months. They said I had rheumatic fever. I was there, for God, I don't know.
Anyway, I got discharged from the Navy on November 4, 1946. I was a basket case, you know, I guess when you're lying around you start thinking. Man, I was starting to get heart palpitations and all this and that and they kept saying, you're all right, you're all right. I said, "Well, I'm not all right, I don't feel all right". Now, I would guess they probably would, you see at that time, they said I was nuts, but now they would say, he's got, what do they call this, posttraumatic stress syndrome. But at that time, what's wrong with this guy. Of course, you've got to remember, when they sent me to Great Lakes, I was in with boots in the hospital. The doctors probably never had too much experience dealing with, you know, these other guys that were coming in.
Anyway, that was pretty much it, in a nutshell. Let me put it that way.
INTERVIEWER: In the typhoon, you said earlier in the interview, you never got seasick again?
INTERVIEWER: Did you get seasick in the typhoon?
CLIFFORD: No, but we had troops on there, you would not have believed. I mean, these poor guys were just dying. Some of them, you know, I was scared to death that some of them were hanging, actually, on the rail. This thing was dipping down, and the deck would go in the water. I guess, if you're really seasick, you don't care if you die. In fact, you're hoping you do.
Anyway, we finally got through that. In that typhoon, just a little aside, when that typhoon went away, we had PC's and some DT's, and what have you that were escorting us. I looked around, I said, "What happened to all of these"? Just a few years ago, I got in touch with Frank O'Shea, my officer, and I said, "Do you know what happened?" He said, "Yeah, they sunk". So we lost all of the small craft that were escorting us, and that was a terrible typhoon. I'll never forget that one.
We had one guy that I had talked to, _______________, I really don't know, but he called me. I said, "Don't you remember that typhoon?" He said, "No, I don't remember that". I said, "You what?" Everybody else I talked to would never forget it. He said, "No, I don't remember that". He said, "It's not in the ship's log". I said, "Well, I don't care where it is". But anyway, that's pretty much it.
INTERVIEWER: What an exciting life.
CLIFFORD: Well, you know one time, I was just, just for the hell of it, I was kind of figuring out how many miles I had gone. It was something like 80,000 miles, you know, between going over to England, and out in the Pacific, and back and forth.
INTERVIEWER: Clifford, what did you learn from all of your military experience? What did it teach you?
CLIFFORD: Well, I'll tell you, I think, now this is my opinion of course, I think it taught me that you have to trust some people some of the time. Fortunately, the people that I trusted in the Navy were trustworthy. I guess that's it.
INTERVIEWER: If you had to, would you do it again?
CLIFFORD: Oh yeah, yeah.
CLIFFORD: Well, I'll tell you. Incidentally, I think everybody should have to serve some time in the military, because you grow up. I hate to say this, but I think the kids today are too spoiled, they've gotten everything, but that's what I believe. I think most of the old timers will agree with me. It teaches you respect, and you know, some of the kids today just, they don't have it. Anyway, that's it.
INTERVIEWER: Anything else you want to say to your grandchildren, or your great-grandchildren? Look right in the camera.
CLIFFORD: Well, I sure hope that we never have to go through another World War II, and lose all the people that we did.
Incidentally, I went back, you know, on the 50th anniversary of D Day. There were probably about 40 of us that went back. We just had a great time. We went back to Salcom where we originally landed. They put on a parade for us, and oh, it was heart wrenching.
I would say, I hope nobody has to go through any of these things anymore