Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Branch:
Army 1
Birth:
09 May 1919 2
1919 1
Burfield, KY 2
Kentucky 1
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Pictures & Records (27)

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DavidAdkins.jpg
DavidAdkins.jpg
David C. Adkins - Oran, Africa 1943
Troop Landing at Fedala
Troop Landing at Fedala
David C. Adkins troop landing at Fedala, Morocco on the morning of November 8, 1942.
USS Joseph Hewes (AP-50)
USS Joseph Hewes (AP-50)
Troop Transport Ship that carried David C. Adkins from Newport News, VA on October 24, 1942 to Fedala, Morocco. The ship was torpedoed and sank on November 11, 1942 off the shore of Fedala.
Casablanca Conference
Casablanca Conference
David C. Adkins stood guard duty near where they were sitting.
USS General M.C. Meigs (AP-116)
USS General M.C. Meigs (AP-116)
Ship which carried David C. Adkins back home after WWII.
David C. Adkins, MIA
David C. Adkins, MIA
Adkins.jpg
Adkins.jpg
Company I of the 30th Army Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Division - David is in the 3rd row down from top, and 13th man from left
On_Leave_in_SF.jpg
On_Leave_in_SF.jpg
David_&_Ted.jpg
David_&_Ted.jpg
Sicily.jpg
Sicily.jpg
David C. Adkins - Landed Licata Sicily 07/10/1943 & Wounded Sant' Agata 08/06/1943
North Africa.jpg
North Africa.jpg
German Hotel 1945.jpg
German Hotel 1945.jpg
Souvenir from German Hotel where David C Adkins was taken after being liberated as a POW in April 1945
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pow money.jpg
08May2012.jpg
08May2012.jpg
POW.jpg
POW.jpg
POW Record for David C. Adkins
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Honorable Discharge for David C. Adkins
Western_Union.jpg
Western_Union.jpg
Adkins & Harbour 1937.jpg
Adkins & Harbour 1937.jpg
8thgrade.jpg
8thgrade.jpg
8th Grade Graduation Picture - David is standing on far right
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WWIImem2004.jpg
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photo-57.PNG
95th Birthday on 05/09/2014
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1939pic.jpg
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1939article.jpg
94th Birthday.jpg
94th Birthday.jpg
ArmyMedals.jpg
ArmyMedals.jpg
DogTag2.jpg
DogTag2.jpg
Army Serial Number
Stalag7Anumber.jpg
Stalag7Anumber.jpg
POW ID Tag for Stalag VII / A

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Personal Details

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Person:
David Coy Adkins 2
David C Adkins 1
Level of Education: 2 years of high school 1
Marital Status: Single, without dependents 1
Birth:
09 May 1919 2
1919 1
Burfield, KY 2
Kentucky 1
Residence:
Place: Sangamon County, Illinois 1
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Marriage:
Norma Jean Hart 2
05 May 1950 2
Springfield, IL 2
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World War II 1

Branch:
Army 1
Enlistment Date:
26 Jul 1940 1
Army Branch:
Infantry 1
Army Component:
Regular Army (including Officers, Nurses, Warrant Officers, and Enlisted Men) 1
Army Serial Number:
16015222 1
Enlistment Place:
Peoria Illinois 1
Enlistment Term:
Enlistment for assignment to another corps area 1
Source of Army Personnel:
Civil Life 1
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Race or Ethnicity:
White 1
Source Information:
Box Number: 0206 1
Film Reel Number: 2.63 1

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Stories

Army Experiences of David C. Adkins during WWII

WWII

Troop Landing at Fedala
13 images

I went into the Army Infantry on July 26th, 1940 and was stationed at Fort Ord, California as a member of the 7th Infantry Division, which was being re-activated.

When the first group of draftees came, in about the month of November, several of us who had our basic training, were transferred to the 3rd Division to bring it to full fighting strength.

We joined the 30th Infantry that was stationed at Presidio of San Francisco, which was located near the entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge. The rest of our Division, the 7th and 15th Infantry was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, near Seattle. Over the next year and a half, we made 3 trips to Fort Lewis to train with the rest of the division. During the summer of 1941, we spent about 6 weeks at San Diego making beach landings and also desert training.

On December 7th 1941, 2 buddies and I were on a weekend pass in Seattle. In the lobby of the hotel we stayed, just before noon, we heard on the radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. We ate lunch and had dates to go to an early movie. They also made an announcement at the movie about the bombing. When the movie was over and we were outside, there were army vehicles driving around the streets with loud speakers telling all military personnel to report back immediately to their unit. After walking a block or two, we were offered a ride back to Fort Lewis.

A couple of days later, we shipped out and did guard duty along Puget Sound. They thought there was a possibility the Japanese might try to make a landing on the West Coast. We were housed in a high school gym in Sequim, Washington, population about 200.

The first pass I received after Pearl Harbor was St. Patrick's Day in 1942. I went to Bremerton, Washington on an overnight pass. I remember a couple of our ships that were hit at Pearl Harbor were there being repaired.

During the spring of 1942, our division was sent to Ford Ord, California where we went through some very vigorous training. Then in late July, we boarded a troop train in San Francisco, and six days later we arrived at a camp near Blackstone, Virginia. We spent much of our time on the rifle range and also taking hikes of 20 or more miles with full field packs.

On October 23rd, we boarded a troop ship (USS Joseph Hewes AP50) at Newport News, Virginia and were told that it was a practice landing maneuver. After 2 days at sea, we were told that we were making a landing near Casablanca, Morocco.

We had an escort of several Battleships, destroyers, and destroyer escorts, also a couple of aircraft carriers. We took a course in case we were spotted to make the enemy believe we were landing near Dakar, which was the central part of Africa.

Early on the morning of November 8, 1942, we climbed down the rope nets into small Higgins boats in preparation to making a landing at Fedala, Morocco near Casablanca.

On the way to shore, which was about 3 miles from where the ship was anchored, we began taking on water because of the high waves. We hit a huge wave, and the front half of the boat went under, but righted itself because of a center partition that kept water out of the back portion of the boat. The navy man who was driving, jumped overboard, but got back in when the boat righted itself. We bailed out the water with our helmets and continued with the landing shortly after daybreak.

About 300 or 400 yards before we hit shore, we began to draw artillery fire from a battery about a mile downshore. We had 3 casualties, one killed and 2 wounded (before we hit shore).

Our platoon had just landed and I was about 30 feet from the water, when I was hit by shrapnel from an 88 artillery shell. I was hit in my upper thigh, shoulder and head which was slowed by my helmet.

I spent the day just off the beach and was attended by a medic. That evening, I was taken back to the ship that I had just left that morning. A navy doctor operated on me that night and removed the shrapnel that was deep in my thigh. He said it would have been better if the shrapnel had gone through, as it would have eliminated the cutting to get to the shrapnel.

We were told that the wounded would be going back to the U.S. after the ship was unloaded. They couldn't get into the harbor to unload because of the enemy ships that were sunk in the harbor by our battleships.

Just before dark on November 11th, several enemy submarines floated in with the tide and opened fire. 3 ships were hit, including the one I was on. Our ship was hit near the tail and also near the center. The wounded were loaded into a landing boat.   I was wearing only thin pajamas and no shoes and had to climb down a rope net into the landing boat, having just been operated on a few days before. While we were being loaded, we were strafed by a couple of German fighters. The navy personnel had to jump overboard and were picked up by boats shortly after. Our ship sank in only 42 minutes after it was hit. One ship that carried oil and ammunitions burned and explosives went off for several hours.

An old hotel in Fedala was set up as a hospital. Many of the patients were burn victims from the oil tanker that caught fire after being torpedoed.

While recovering from wounds, six or seven of us were sitting on the front porch of this old hotel when George Patton drove up in his jeep. Two ambulance drivers really got chewed out for not saluting, but he couldn't have been nicer to us. He shook hands with each of us and seemed real concerned about our welfare.

After about a month, I was reunited with my company.

In January of 1943, our company was picked to guard the leaders of the U.S., England, and France at the "Casablanca Conference". I had the opportunity to see Roosevelt, Churchill, Eisenhower, Montgomery, De Gualle, and many other Generals and Secretaries of State. I was on guard duty immediately in front of where they were lined up on the hotel patio to have pictures taken. Later, Roosevelt rode through our ranks in a jeep, for a Saturday morning inspection.

Shortly after, we moved to Oran, Algeria by cattle cars to be back up to the fighting in Tunisia. Later, we moved to Tunisia as the Germans surrendered. About 200,000 German solders were taken prisoner. This was in May 1943.

On July 9th 1943, we boarded landing craft near Tunis for a landing the next morning near Licata, Sicily. The British also landed on the southeast coast. We had very few casualties on the initial landing. We headed across the island and ended up in Palermo about a week later after a few skirmishes along the way. We then headed toward Messina and ran into much more resistance.

On August 6th, 1943 while on a scouting patrol, my partner tripped on a wire setting off a land mine and we were both hit by shrapnel, his in the thigh and mine in the elbow.

We were shipped back to Oran in North Africa to a convalescent hospital. My arm was in a cast for a couple of months and then a couple of more months to get the full use of it. They did not remove the shrapnel so as not to do more harm to the elbow. I had a chance to see Bob Hope while there.

I had my tonsils removed while at the hospital and a week later I came down with a fever of 106 and pneumonia. After recovering from that, I was ready to rejoin my unit.

In February 1944, we loaded on an L.C.T. and headed for Naples, Italy where I was supplied with equipment to return to Anzio, where our division had landed just the month before. While at Naples, we were privileged to see the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the first eruption in many years.

On Anzio, we were joined with our division down just a few miles from shore. While there, we went on several night patrols, usually a squad or platoon strength. We were outnumbered 10 German divisions to our two. We had a lot of artillery support from our Battleships offshore. We had a lot of casualties from their constant artillery barrage.

On March 8th, 1944, we went on a night patrol. Our mission was to seize a large stucco farmhouse about 1/2 mile in front of our lines. We had platoon strength, and we were to take prisoners and booby trap the house and then withdraw.

As we got to within 300 or 400 yards, we were fired upon by rifle and machine gun fire, and shortly after, by artillery fire. Two of the squads had orders to withdraw, but the order never got to us. We were the forward squad and were pinned down. Before we realized what had happened, the enemy moved around behind us. When we ran out of ammunition, most of the squad was either killed or wounded. I received a wound to the forehead from a machine gun blast. My friend, who was 3 or 4 feet away, was hit from the same blast and was killed instantly. My helmet saved my life, as it caused the bullet to ricochet. A piece of the helmet is what gave me the cut on my forehead.

The three of us that were taken prisoners were taken to a prison camp near Rome. They treated our wounds there. We spent about 1 month there and were fed one bowl of soup and one piece of bread a day. We slept on the floor where they had dumped straw which was lice infected.

After a month in Italy, we were loaded into cattle cars and shipped by train to a prison camp near Munich (Stalag 7A). The guards took all of our shoes before we were loaded and after we got to the prison camp, they dumped all the shoes in a big pile and the prisoners had to scramble to find shoes that fit. I doubt if anyone ever got back his old shoes.

The conditions in Germany were much better. We had double bunk beds and we received Red Cross Parcels from the U.S. every week. About 200 of us were sent to Munich on a work detail where they had us clearing the streets after American and British air raids.

During that summer of 1944, Munich was almost leveled by air raids. The Americans bombed during the day and the British bombed at night. We had several close calls, but we were glad when the planes came. One 500-pound bomb landed within a block of where we were housed and I completely lost my hearing for almost an hour from the concussion.

While we were there, the airport was hit heavily by an air raid. They took the 200 of us out to clean it up. We refused to work since it was a military installation. They threatened to shoot us if we didn't do the work. They lined up a few machine guns on the perimeter and we weren't sure what to expect. After an hour or so, and evidently after they called superior officers, they shipped us out and brought in Russian prisoners to get the work done.

We arrived in Munich in May, and shortly after the airport incident, which was in September, we were shipped to Stalag 2B, East of Berlin and near the Polish Border.

We spent about a month at Stalag 2B, then we were sent to Janikow on a work detail. About 30 of us were split into 3 groups. One group unloaded boxcars of potatoes. Another group worked in a mill where they made flour from the potatoes. Our group loaded the flour on boxcars to be shipped out.

About February 1945, we began to hear Russian artillery to the east. We were given a couple of days notice that we would be moving out.

They started moving us to the north and west, toward the Baltic Sea. We hiked on the average 20 or 25 miles a day. We were mostly on the back roads and passed through small towns. At night, we usually stayed in large barns and started getting only 1 piece of bread or thin soup a day since we were no longer getting Red Cross parcels.

Along the way, other prisoners joined us and we became a group of about 200. A few of the prisoners decided to hide out hoping to be liberated by the Russians as they overran the area. Sometimes we would stay in the same location for 3 or 4 days before moving on.

On April 12th, 1945, our guards told us about the death of President Roosevelt. It was about this time that we began to hear American artillery. We were now about 100 miles west of Berlin. We estimated that we had walked 500 miles since we started 2 months earlier.

On April 14th, 1945, Patton's 3rd Army was on a drive toward Berlin and when the forward echelon of tanks began to be sighted, all the German guards took off and we were on our own until our troops appeared. After a few hours, we were taken by truck to the town of Salzwedel, where we spent the night at the hotel Deutcherhof.

The next day, we were transported by a C-47 transport plane to a camp near Le Havre, France (Camp Lucky Strike). We waited there about 2 weeks for a ship to transport us back to the U.S.   We boarded the USS General MC Meigs (AP-116) on April 28th in Le Havre and set sail for the U.S. via Southampton, England on April 30th, 1945.

We were on our way back when on May 8th, 1945 we heard word that the war was over in Europe. Our escort ships were still on the lookout for German subs, just in case they hadn't gotten the word that the war was over. We landed at Newport News, Virginia on May 14th 1945, the same port that I had left 31 months earlier. From there, I went to Fort Sheridan by train where I was issued a 60-day furlough and was to report to Miami Beach for examination.

After about 30 days, I was transferred to a convalescent hospital at Daytona Beach, where we made roll call once a day and then we were on our own to go swimming, play golf or tennis, or whatever we chose to do. After 60 days at Welch Convalescent, I put on 12 or 15 pounds to the 40 that I lost while prisoner. I received an honorable discharge from the army on October 18, 1945.

Interesting story. I would like to contact David since I have some photos my dad took of liberated prisoners at Salzwedel at that time. Perhaps he is in one of the photos, or recognizes others. I could not find any contact information. Mine is: Contact M Miller mjmphotos@yahoo.com thanks

Childhood Memories of David C. Adkins

Western_Union.jpg
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     I was born in a log cabin in a rural area near Monticello, Kentucky on May 9, 1919.

     We lived on an eighty-five acre farm and we had a big garden. I remember hoeing weeds when I was five or six years old. My mother canned at least one hundred quarts of fruits and vegetables each year for the winter.

     Most of the land around our house was hilly and we had a lot of apple trees. We ate apples almost every day. In the fall, we picked the apples and put them in the apple barn. We then covered the apples with straw, so that the apples would keep longer.

     We also had about two dozen Sugar Maple trees. In the fall when the sap was running, my dad would drill a hole and insert a drain pipe in each tree and then he would hang a bucket on each pipe. We emptied the buckets every day until the sap stopped running. My parents would boil the sap to make maple sugar. They sold some of the maple sugar to the grocery store in town and we kept the rest for ourselves.

     After the spring planting, my dad would go to West Virginia to work in the oil fields for part of the year. We raised a lot of corn and after it was picked and dried, we took some of it to the mill and had it ground into cornmeal. We had to feed a cow, a couple of horses and also a pig, which my dad and uncle butchered in the fall. We kept the meat from the pig in the smokehouse for the winter.

     Our log cabin had a fireplace with a big kettle hanging over the fire. It also had a kitchen with a stove. My older brother, Wendell, and I slept in the loft, which had a ladder for us to get up and down. Sometimes when it snowed, we would wake up with snow on our blankets if the wind was right.

     There were a lot of snakes in the area where we lived. There were black snakes, green snakes, rattlesnakes and copperheads to name a few. One day when I was picking blackberries, there was a black snake in the bush that I was picking from, so I just moved to a different bush. Once, a rattlesnake got into the house at night when we were in bed and our parents told us not to get up. My dad shot the snake after daylight.

     We had a spring about 100 yards from our house, which is where we got all of our water. My dad built a shed around the spring and inserted a steel pipe where the water came out of the side of the mountain. When we needed water, we just put a bucket under the spout until it was full and then carried it into the house.

     When I was about four years old, my dad took me on horseback to the county fair in Monticello. That’s where I first saw an automobile. Most people still had horses and wagons. We had a horse-drawn carriage that we used when the whole family went anywhere.

     I was always climbing trees, even when I was only five or six years old. I was up in a tree when I was about that age, and I was out on a limb that was ten or twelve feet above the ground when I fell and I was knocked unconscious. My older brother went in the house and told our mother that I was dead and I can only imagine how she reacted.

     When I was six years old, I started to school. It was a rural school which was three miles from where we lived. The first day, my dad took me on horseback and registered me. From then on, I walked to school with my older brother and some of my neighbors. The school had about thirty students and all eight grades were in the same room.

     My dad died from influenza at the age of 41 in June of 1926, when I was seven years old. My mother, who was 30 at the time, was left with 5 children between the ages of eight and one; Wendell, myself, Mary, Woodrow, and Thelma.

     In the summer of 1926, my aunt and uncle came down to talk my mom into moving to Illinois. We moved in April 1927, and we lived with different relatives in rural areas near Springfield. My sister, Mary, and I lived for a time at a neighbors' house who had no children of their own because there was not enough room at one relative’s house. That first year, I went to four different schools. My brother and I had to repeat a year in school because we only attended school for six months out of the year in Kentucky, where we started in July and went until the end of the year.

     When I attended school in Cantrall, the teacher skipped me past second grade and I was in the same grade as my older brother. We graduated from eighth grade at the same time.

     After about a year in Illinois, my mother got a job working in the nursery at an orphans’ home in Springfield. The whole family lived together at the orphans’ home until October of 1928, when my mother got remarried to Henry Harbour, and we changed schools again. I went to the public schools in Springfield from then on.

     My mom had four more children over the next eight years; Henry, Betty, Robert and Gladys. My stepfather, Henry, worked in a machine shop, but late in 1936 he was unable to work after he injured his leg on the job. Early in the fall of 1938, my stepfather’s leg got gangrene and it had to be removed. A few months later, in November of 1938, my stepfather died. My mother was widowed again at age 42, this time with nine children.

     When I was growing up, we didn’t have radio or television. The kids in the neighborhood would participate in all kinds of sports. Baseball was the most popular sport and a game was going on most of the time during the summer. Early in the spring, marbles was a popular sport for the boys and the girls liked to jump rope.

     In the early 1930’s, the dam was built and Lake Springfield was full in about two years. Shortly after that, they built the beach house and it was a popular place to go swimming.

     In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, I went to several silent movies. When the talking movies came in the 1930’s, they began showing the old silent movies at several parks for free. During the depression, most people didn’t have the money to go to the talking movies; therefore, there was always a big turnout for the silent movies.

     In the 1930’s and 1940’s, there were thirteen movie theaters in Springfield and ten of them were downtown. On a Saturday afternoon during the 1930’s, kids under twelve could go to the Southtown theater for three cents. I remember paying five cents to go to a theater downtown on a Sunday afternoon.

     I got a paper route when I was in high school and then when I was in my third year of high school, I had to quit school and go to work full-time to help support the family when my stepfather could no longer work.

     I went to work as a messenger delivering telegrams on a bicycle for Western Union. Most people didn’t have telephones back in the 1930’s, so they had about a dozen messengers in Springfield. I put in my application late in 1936. About the second week in January of 1937, when it was about 15 degrees below zero, a messenger stopped by our house and told me to report the next day. I found out that there was an opening because two messengers had quit the day before on account of the cold weather.

     I worked at the Western Union for about three and a half years. The city was divided into zones. I got three cents for a couple of blocks and twenty cents to the city limits. The west limit was Pasfield Park, east was Bergen Park, north was Sangamon Avenue and south was Lynn Street, a two lane dirt road which is now Stevenson Drive. I made an average of $1.00 to $1.50 a day. In 1938, the minimum wage went into effect and my wage went up to twenty-five cents an hour, so I got a raise to $2.00 a day.

     After the war, I stopped by the Western Union office and they told me that I had the record for the most money earned in a week prior to the minimum wage. I figure that I averaged about thirty to forty miles a day on my bicycle while working. We lived over three miles from downtown, so that was an additional six miles. After supper, I would ride another five or ten miles going on dates or to ball games.

     Also in 1938, I got my first car. It was a 1930 Chevrolet with a rumble seat. I paid $40 for it with $10 down and a couple of dollars a week until it was paid off. We didn’t have a drivers’ license back then. They started that after World War II.

     In May 1939, a movie about Abraham Lincoln was premiering in Springfield and a bunch of us Western Union messengers were out in front of the office when a motorcade passed by. I especially remember Caesar Romero and Binnie Barnes, as they made a point of recognizing the messengers.

     In 1938 and 1939, I spent about a year working at the State Capitol. The Western Union had an office in the Rotunda on the first floor. When the legislature was in session, I sat through the meetings with a reporter from Chicago. Every so often, I carried press copy down to the Western Union office and it was sent to his paper in Chicago.

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