Jennings Spicer was born in Seaford, DE in 1926. Jennings was drafted into the army and was sent to Europe. He is one of four brothers, and they all served in the Army. Jennings fought in the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, the G.I. Bill helped Jennings land a job at DuPont where he worked until retirement at the age of 60. Jennings still resides in Seaford, DE.
In the interview, Jennings speaks about his life before, during, and after the war, which includes him being drafted into the army after having his naval enlistment rejected due to an eyesight problem. He discusses his recollections of Pearl Harbor, V.E. day , as well as the lasting effects the war had on him. He describes fighting in the Battle of the Bulge which resulted in a shrapnel injury to his face. He also discusses capturing an SS officer while in Europe and meeting the Pope.
Lińsk and the SS Officer
We were in Lińsk. We were on patrol, and this civilian came up to us and told us there’s an SS guy here in Lińsk, says he wears a feather in his cap which a lot of Germans do. It’s the way they dressed when they went to something like an outing or something like that. So anyway, we kept looking and looking, and we didn’t find anything. And then one day, we spotted a man with a feather in his cap. And, do you sprechen ze deutsch? I know enough German that I can get by with. So we called him over, and we got out, and I told him I’d like to talk to him. “Ice verstehe” he tells me. That means I don’t understand you. So I said “was verstehst,” what don’t you understand? Then I said, “I want you to do me a favor.” I started to unbutton my shirt. I want you, towards him, he started to unbutton and take his jacket off, unbuttoned his shirt, and he [took everything off] but his t shirt. And I said, “this shirt too.” He understood, but he really didn’t want to take it off, and I suspected, I wasn’t sure, I knew what I was thinking about. I was thinking about being the SS man. So he did. I said, “Now put your hands up.” Well right underneath here [pointing to his left bicep] is the SS stamp tattooed on there. I’m surprised he hadn’t had it taken off. But anyway, we had to turn him in to authorities.
Battle of the Bulge
The worst thing there was the cold. The army outfit today is warmer than what we had. We just had wool coats and boots. The Battle of the Bulge, you just learned to keep your head down, and don’t get too nosy looking for something ’cause you’ll overlook something, step on something. Was just like when I got the cow doo in my eyes. Medic says you gotta go back, so before I got to the end, I was carrying the ammunition for the BAR. We were moving down this country lane you call a road. Anyway, the sun came out, and the snow was, you know, bright, and I couldn’t see nothing, I walked right into ice, a ditch full of ice water about up to here. Medic saw me, came to me, said what’s wrong with you? I said,” I can’t see.” He looked at my eyes. He said, “What’d you do with them?” I said, “Well, I cleaned them out best I could with the water I had. He says, “You gotta go to the E Station, which is—so I went to the E Station. They said, “No, you got to go to Paris. We don’t have equipment here.
When you went to sleep, you went to sleep wherever you dug, find a place where you can. Ground’s frozen, you can’t dig a hole, you just lay on the ground. And you’d be awake when I’m sleeping, and then it’s your turn. But you don’t sleep long, it’s too damn cold. I mean, I didn’t get no frozen parts. I got fingers that got numb, but I thought I had frostbite, but I didn’t have it. You learn how to keep doing this to your hands on your body, even though you’re carrying something you do that.
Meeting the Pope
He took us places you would never think of— underground, everything. And he told us that first morning out there, he says there’s an audience with the Pope once a week, one day a week. It’s for all allied forces and how they pick him, I don’t know. Well anyway, we went back. He told all six of us so we all signed up, and I got called. So I went to see the Pope with the other people, and they showed us his quarters. You know where the Pope stands on the balcony when he overlooks Saint Peter’s square? That’s his piece of property. Nobody else goes out there. And I was from here to the door, and I could look out, and I could see Saint Peter’s square down there, and I could see his platform. He came in, put his hand on each one, blessed us, gave us his picture. I had it in my wallet for so long, and I took it out, and I’ve got it in an envelope some place now.
I left Boston, went into Glasgow, Scotland, took the train down to Southampton, got on an LST to cross the English Channel. We got on this LST. You know what an LST is? It carries heavy artillery and everything. It just has a catwalk around the side; that’s where we all slept. Well, we went out to get in the convoy to go to France, we lost our bow anchor. We had to come back in town, bring us back in, put an anchor on. Went out the next day, there was a storm blowing. We lost the stern anchor. Came back again, got another anchor. Cause when you go to France, you’re landing on the ground, on the deck right on the ground. You walk out on dirt. You gotta have both anchors so the wind don’t blow them around. So anyway, the third night, we made it across the English Channel with the other LSTs. And all we did—we got there, they opened those big doors up, dropped the ramp, and a bulldozer pushed the dirt up, nobody got wet. Then I went on into the Battle of the Bulge with the 84th Infantry division.
Finding the Landmine
One day we were going back to eat. As I came back, I noticed these three prongs, looked like chrome prongs, sticking up out of the ground. Well, that’s a personnel mine the Germans had planted since we went into lunch. So the fellow I was with, we ate together, I told him go back and get some help. They came in with a demolition crew, and they blew it up.
Women Coming to Seaford to Work
What came here during the war were a lot of women from around the areas. They worked all shifts. Women in industry. They had brown slacks, light brown blouse, that’s what they all wore. Men could wear what they wanted to wear, but the women didn’t [unintelligible]. And a lot of people that lived in Cambridge, Georgetown, Milford, Dover, even Salisbury would come up here and buy a house and come up with the family or rent a room. Most of them, a lot of people, rented rooms. They just—there weren’t any homes here. If you know where Morton Farms is out here, if you turn and go back over to the second stoplight, stop sign, turn right, you go down, turn left, all those homes are built by DuPont. Every one of them. DuPont built them because they had no place for their management. They all got that. Wage [unintelligible] people, they had to get their own wherever.