James Newman
Birthday: January 11, 1917
Birthplace: Federal Dam, Minnesota
Family: David and Pearl Newman
Occupation: Drove trucks delivering candy for Curtiss Candy
Branch: U.S. Army
Unit: 1st Armored Division
Post: 6th Armored Infantry Battalion
Rank: Sergeant of 60 MM mortar squad

James Newman

James Newman

The invasion of French North Africa was swiftly successful. Within seventy-six hours of the first landings, Allied troops were in undisputed control of 1,300 miles of African coast, from Safi to Algiers.

"I was born in Federal Dam, Minnesota. In 1927, I moved to the village of Biron. Before the war, I drove a milk truck. I was 21 years old when the war started. I volunteered for the Air Corps in 1942. I passed the Air Corps test, but my brother didn't pass it. My brother was drafted and put in the Air Corps. I was put in the 1st Armored Division that dealed with tanks and cannons. The 1st Armored Division was activated at Fort Knox Kentucky on July 15, 1940 in a town. I used 60 MM mortar cannons in my division. It could shoot up to a mile and a quarter (1 Miles) It was very accurate with hitting targets. I would use it on groups of soldiers, tanks, or cars or trucks, not on 1 or 2 people. I used half-tracks, which are smaller than tanks. The half-tracks were easier to get around in but were less safer than tanks."

"One day during training in Fort Knox, Kentucky, we were at Big Nells Tavern. `She had the best hamburgers.' I stole an MP's motorcycle and rode it for 2 hours. Newman said many times, "You got to have fun" talking about surviving the war.

"We left May 28, 1942, and arrived in Belfast Ireland on June 9th. The Irishmen called me the `wee yank.' All my army bodies were six feet tall; I was the five-foot tall guy. Most of us lived in Castles. I lived in a castle in the town Ardglass. Me and my squad had a tremendous room with a great big fireplace. That was our home. It was a stone castle. It was about 30 miles south of Belfast. You could see the Isle of Man form our window."

"We had a choice of taking two thirty-mile road marches, full pack, or one forty-mile walk. We took the forty-mile walk and had soar feet. You had your regular training everyday using the half-tracks. We would fight the British in Mock Battle. That's how you got your training."

"You were told you could go in a restaurant in Ireland but we were told we couldn't drink the milk. You could eat all the beans and eggs you want."

"We left Ireland about the third week of October to Scotland. That's where we took our boarding and commands tactics."

"From then we went Gibraltar. At that time that was the largest naval armada ever assembled."

Newman was a part of Operation Torch. The largest amphibious invasion force thus far in the history of warfare: 300 warships, 370 merchant ships, and 107,000 men. "Some time on November 7th we left and went to Oran to try to secure the harbor. I took part in the invasion of the harbor of Oran, Algeria, on November 8, 1942. I came over there on two cutter ships, the HMS Hartland and Walney. The ships started bombing the harbor, but were also under heavy bombardment back. The ships were both sunk. 600 men came over on the ships, only 167 survived. In Oran, we got the hell beat out of us. You know we're angels because of that. The Vichy people captured twenty-seven Americans rode in the half tracks over the Atlas Mountains in four days and then put in barracks. I was prisoner for eight days straight. Then the Americans came with tanks and set the prisoners free. I was relieved to see the Americans coming to help."

"I was wounded while on train en route to Algiers to pick up replacements. The train was bombed and my knee was blown out. I was sent to the British field hospital in Algeria, then flown to Algiers and put on an English hospital ship that sent me back to Oran. Then, instead of going home, my ship was sent to England for 6 months before going to the United States. After the war was over, I had to have surgery done to fix my knee."

"I was one of 3 family members (boys) in the war."

"My older brother was in the Air Force. My younger brother was in the Navy and on the USS Missouri, the same ship that the Japanese surrendered on."

Today, my wife and I still live in the village of Biron. Speaking about Mr. Newman, his wife said, "I am glad and proud of him for not complaining too much about his knee."