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A World War II Soldier's Story - Harold S. Anderson

The following information is from notes from an interview with Harold Anderson and from Harold’s copy of The Blue Devils in Italy by John P. Delaney, 1947.  Harold Anderson (1920-2015) and Lucille Anderson (1932-2016) gave permission to include Harold’s story on the Annandale History Club site.  

Pfc. Harold S. Anderson served May 1942 to October 1945.

Inducted: May 6, 1942, at age 22.  Harold was born April 2, 1920. 

Boot camp:  Camp Barkley, Abilene, Texas (Army infantry training camp a few miles south of Abilene).

Medic Training:  Fort McIntosh, Laredo, Texas:  Detachment Medical Department, 1942.  Harold worked in a hospital. Medic wasn’t a good fit for Harold; he couldn’t “stomach it” and he requested a transfer. 

Stationed:  Co. G, 350th Infantry, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas 

Furloughs:  15 days, early November 1942; 10 days, June 30th 1943.

Sent overseas December 1943 for about 22 ½ months; 350th Infantry Regiment, 88th Division (Blue Devil Division) Fifth Army.  The 88th Division went to Camp Patrick Henry, Norfolk, Virginia (a staging area for troops going overseas).  Harold sailed from Newport News, Virginia, on a liberty ship, arriving in Casablanca, French Morocco, North Africa.  The U.S. built 2,751 liberty ships (cargo ships) during WWII, 1941-1945. 14,261 officers and men of the 88th Division traveled 8,000 miles across half of two continents and two oceans.  The trip took eight days.  When the soldiers ate, the dishes slid from side to side.  Many were seasick and lined up at the rail.         

Served stateside: 19 ½ months

Pay stub: 12-1-1943:  $20 monthly allotment.  Pay was later increased.

Harold received the following decorations.


ROME-ARNO:  January 22 to September 9, 1944 – Harold was wounded in the hand and face by a grenade on April 30, 1944, during the Battle for Mount Cassino (also called the Battle for Rome), a series of four costly battles from January 17 to May 18, 1944.  Harold was back to active duty July 2, 1944. 

NORTH APENNINES:  September 10, 1944 to April 4, 1945 – Harold was wounded October 1, 1944.  By September 27, 1944, Mount Battaglia (now called Battle Mountain) was captured.  Harold’s captain, Captain Robert E. Roeder, Company G, 350th Infantry, died a hero on Mount Battaglia September 28, 1944, killed by German troops attempting to retake the mountain.  Captain Roeder was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.   

Quote from the book, The Blue Devils in Italy:  “Every man who fought on that peak was a hero in every sense of the word. 

“To the Army, they were the men and units of the 88th Infantry Division.  To the Germans, who tried and failed to stop them, they were the “Blue Devils” – blue for the color of their cloverleaf insignia and “devils” for the way they’d fought since their first kickoff in May 1944.  In their combat time, 344 full and official days of it, they had answered all the questions raised by themselves and by others.  They had proved they were good.  They were better than good ….   At the end they were old and hard and tired, as battle-wise and combat-weary as only Italian mud and mountains and combat could make an outfit.”  -- The Blue Devils in Italy, 1947, by John P. Delaney

PO VALLEY:  April 5 to May 8, 1945.  Harold was wounded October 1,1944, and didn’t make it to the PO Valley, where the Germans were either captured or routed.

Three infantry regiments and the division artillery of four battalions are the main units of the division.  A regiment has approximately 3,000 men.  An artillery battalion has about 500 men.  The 88th Division included the 349th, 350th and 351st regiments -- the 349th on the right side of the mountains, the 350th on the left side of the mountains and the 351st was held for reserve.  They advanced in two rows, with scouts on all sides.  Harold said they “walked, walked, walked, with heavy packs on their backs.”  Harold said that “night patrol was no good.  They lay there all night waiting for the Germans.”   Sometimes a soldier would get the “screaming meemies” (an attack of nerves).  Harold said that at times he was “scared to death.”  He is thankful to be alive.   

A German “potato masher” grenade landed in Harold’s foxhole.  He threw it out, but it exploded and wounded his hand and face.  His buddy, Bradshaw, said that he was lucky, because he wouldn’t have to come back to the front if he couldn’t hold a gun.  Harold returned to the front July 2.  His second injury on October 1, 1944, was more serious (shrapnel in the hips, buttocks and legs).  When Harold was wounded he was given drugs and he tried to continue fighting.  Harold was sent to the U.S.A. Air Force Rest Center, Capri, Italy, in 1945.  He still has some of the shrapnel in him.

Bradshaw was later killed.  He shot several Germans and then walked towards them.  One wasn’t dead and shot Bradshaw. 

The 88th Division kept shoving the Germans back.  The Germans were shooting from the top of the mountain and had the advantage. Harold spent so much time in foxholes that his toe nails rotted, and he had maggots in his toes.  Occasionally, the men at the front were sent back for rest. Soldiers couldn’t take a bath until they were sent back to rest.     

At times the soldiers made their way through mine fields.  Harold had dirt flying in his face from German artillery.  His captain yelled for everyone to get out of their foxholes and run.  Harold ran and rolled down a hill, trying to zigzag to avoid getting hit.  Harold said that he is thankful to be alive.  A lot of soldiers were lost. 

They had only K-rations to eat.  They scooped water for their canteens out of creeks and rivers. Supplies were brought up the mountain by donkeys and mules.  Harold saw Rome with its stone streets.

When it was time to go home, he was one of the few to fly home on a military plane.  Oil flew out of one engine onto the windows.  Harold thought they’d end up in the ocean.

Soldiers needed to have so many points to be discharged. He spent his remaining time as an MP guarding airplanes for the Air Corps.

Harold was discharged at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, in October 1945.    

Harold and Lucille Olson were married July 15, 1950, and bought a farm on the south side of

Goose Lake in French Lake Township.  His first job after he got back was at

 Joki Dry Cleaners in Annandale (where the American Legion Club and Tootsie’s were).

Harold and Lucille commuted to the city for 25 years to work at Leif Brothers Laundry. 


By Karen Christofferson