Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

19 Jan 1945




Iowans Wade in Deep Italian Mud

Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent

With the 5th Army in Italy, Jan.18 -- "We shall have to quit wading and swim or paddle in and out of here if the mud gets much deeper." smiled Tech. Sgt. Arthur De Long, Waterloo, as he looked over the area in which his outfit, the 63rd signal battalion, was tented in the Apennine mountains. The 63rd is the oldest battalion of its kind overseas.

A bomb from a nazi airplane had demolished the enlisted men's latrine of one of the companies a few nights earlier.

"We don't like a pitch dark night especially if it rains," Sgt. De Long added, "but on a clear night we may be strafed from the sky." Rain has fallen some or all of the time almost every 24 hours for weeks in the sector.

Sgt. De Long, who was inducted into the army May 4, 1941, landed in Ireland Jan. 5, 1942, and has not been home since. He is acting section chief of radio. Sgt. De Long was in England, Gibraltar and Africa before coming to Italy.

The Rev. John E. De Long of the First Methodist church, Cedar Rapids, is his brother. The clergyman was a flyer in the Italian Alps in World war I, and his son, Paul, was killed serving as an air corps instructor at Randolph Field, Tex., on Sept 6, 1943.

Among Sgt. De Long's buddies were Staff Sgt. Carl Peterson and T/4 Leroy Halverson, both of Mason City; T/5 William Polson, Estherville; Tech. Sgt. Charles R. Weiss, Davenport, and T/5 Lowell Harlan, Clinton. Peterson is crew chief in the message center; Halverson is a mechanic in the motor pool. Polson, who went from high school into the service, is on supply duty. He played for Estherville in a football game with Roosevelt high of Des Moines in September of 1941 in which the writer's son, Bill, participated as center for the capital city aggregation. Weiss is acting chief of radio repair. Harlan is the son of the Rev. S.D. Harlan, a Disciples of Christ minister, formerly at Van Wert.

Pfc. Ronald Stockdale, Chicago, who was in a tent where De Long, Polson and I were visiting, said his uncle, Lawrence Billiter, of Keokuk, Iowa, has lost 3 sons in the army air forces in the war.

"What are you doing about the 3rd anniversary of Pearl Harbor?" I asked a number of GI's on duty in this sector on Dec. 7.

"Just what I did yesterday and probably will do tomorrow," replied one, which in effect was the answer in all.

"Yes, I get homesick every day," said Private Stockdale, "and most of the guys I know do too, but we are not griping about it. We don't want any crying done over us at home. What we want most back there is plenty of work in the war effort. We don't like the reports we get of soft treatment of German and Italian prisoners.

A buddy of mine actually told me he had a letter from his wife what she had danced with a prisoner the night before. I'll not repeat what he said or tell you what I think about that."

Staff Sgt. Walter L Archibald, Ottumwa, has been decorated with the bronze star for meritorious service in combat June 13, 1944. He is in the 91st division and also has the combat infantryman badge.

Second Lt. Wendell L Blythe, Dubuque, has been promoted from sergeant to his present rank, in recognition of combat valor and his giving first aid to a wounded comrade before he would allow himself to be evacuated after being wounded. That was at Pisa. Previously he had been ill for 4 days before he would go to the medic because he wanted to stay with his men in the field.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, January 19, 1945

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