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TitleA Personal Memoir
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Page 1

A PersonalMemoir

The Author - Paris,September1945

Paul F. Mosher

Page 2


A PersonalMemoir

PaulF. Mosher

Page 69


lay-out was very similar to many basketball gyms in the

States, with added sleeping quarters.

Also, there was a bar. Well stocked, too. Whiskey, gin,

scotch--all name brands. And very competentGI bartenders

who could fix excellent mixed drinks. Sit down, order up.

But use your three coupons wisely! That's right. The limit

was three drinks per day. This was the reward for a hard-

bitten, battle-wise, live-today-for-tornorrow-you-die,

needing-a-haircutinfantry veteran?No broads?Rationed

drinking? They never treated infantry people like this at

the Rest centers in France!

In desperatetimes, desperatemen turn to desperate

measures. I had no choice--I sacrificed my principles--I

kissed butt. However, with a great deal of skill and, if I

may say so, with considerabledignity.

In truth, it was rather easy. Since we were essentially

confined to quarters in this Rest camp, the organizersmust

have realized we would need to be entertained.And while Bob

Hope would not be appearing, we did have Marlene Dietrich

performing in three shows a day. And Bobby Breen. And the

fUll band which accompaniedher was led by Jimmy James.

Bobby Breen? and Jimmy James?--not exactly householdnames

even in those days!

I startedmy clever scheme at the conclusion of the

afternoon program. I approachedthe band leader and

asked,"Are you the guy that had the early evening radio

program on station WLW in Cincinnati? Jimmy James, his

clarinet, and his orchestra?" I thought the guy would break

into tears. Apparently, very few of those in his audiences

had ever recognizedhis pre-Army fame as a radio personality

and celebrity from Cincinnati, Ohio. Maybe none. I almost

expectedhim to hug me and say,"Oh! you rememberedme!" But

he didn't, and instead, recognizing me for a true fan,

invited me to have a drink with him. Imagine that. It was so


Now if you will read again the above question which I

Marlene and Me Page 54

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asked Jimmy James, you will note I didn't say I listened to

his program. Actually, I didn't. The Jimmy James orchestra

was sponsoredby Jergins Lotion ("the hand cream for

beautiful hands") and his music was the type of smaltz made

popular by GUy Lombardo. Hell! I was a Benny Goodman fan!

But a thirsty one! We went up to the dorm room occupied

by the band and Jimmy reached under his bunk and pUlled out

a gunny sack containing 15 or 20 bottles of wine. We drank

from the bottle and exchangedtales of Ohio. Actually, he

was a real nice guy. He introduced me to the other members

of the band. All of them were in their late twenties or

early thirties. Caught up in the draft, they were placed in

the Special Forces and their job was entertainment.Most

likely the best place for them. Wars are for old men--the

Generals--andyoung men--the fighters! Not much room for

"middle-agedguys". To earn my drinks, I spun a couple of

tales "from the Front" and from their reactions and

questions, I don't think they had ever spent any time with

an Infantry soldier before. I enjoyed myself, they liked my

stories and we all got pleasantlydrunk.

I was invited back and did return for a couple of

drinking afternoonsduring my short stay at the Rest Center.

To the best of my knowledge, I never did tell Jimmy James

what I really thought of his music. I hope not.

And what about Marlene? Our "affair" started out

innocently enough. Obviously, this Rest Center was not a

very exciting place. But who needs it? Particularly, the

someone-is-always-shooting-at-youkind of excitement!

Getting a cup of coffee in the middle of the morning without

worrying about an unexpectedenemy mortar shell does have

considerableappeal. And, I was getting coffee when Marlene

joined me at the urn. She was alone. Never one to be

bashful, I told her how much I enjoyed her singing

--particularly, every soldier's favorite--"Lili Marlane."

(This song, an old German barracks tune was taken across

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Division which was poised to go overseas.So, these

divisions were stripped of their privates and the men sent

out as infantry replacementsin early 1944.

You can probably guess what happenednext. That's

right, these now skeleton divisions needed fresh faces to

fill in the lower ranks and here was this very large group

of young men in the ASTP program studying in various

colleges and universities. ASTP was shut down forthwith in

the spring of 1944.

In less that 30 days, I found myself at Fort Bragg, NC

in Company I, Third Battalion, 397th Infantry Regiment,

100th Infantry Division. This was to be my "home" until

discharge in January, 1946. Some 3500 other ASTP men joined

the three infantry regiments of the lOOth Division under

similar circumstances.This sudden influx of us "cOllich"

kids could have set up a conflict with the somewhat older

and well entrenchednon-commissionedofficers in the rifle

companies. But none occurred. We were perhapswary of one

another at first, but soon mutual trust developed.

We trained hard that summer of 1944 and when we shipped

out for France in October we were a well-trained combat

ready organization.

These Memoirs attempt to reflect some of results of

this training and, even more, the spirit of comradeshipthat

exists within an infantry company.

A couple of footnotes:

Although we ASTP guys were mostly privates when we

joined the 100th Division, by the end of combat service we

were the sergeantsand officers who formed the backboneof

the various infantry companies.

Service in the Army also enabled me to return to Ohio

Wesleyan University under the GI Bill and obtain a degree in

1948. Both of these experienceshave been most valuable my

entire life.

Paul F Mosher

August 1, 1993
Page 120

Page 139


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