Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Fred Shiosaki Interview
Narrator: Fred Shiosaki
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Spokane, Washington
Date: April 26 & 27, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-sfred-01-0030

<Begin Segment 30>

TI: So let's, let's go there. So what was, what was next? Where did you go?

FS: God... and this is really confusing, because in France, that in France, they... no, let me go back. In Italy, we always knew that we were moving north, that the ocean was on our (left) side, and the Germans were in front of us to the north, and somebody else, some other outfit was on our right. But you pretty much knew which, which direction you were going, it was kind of, it went this way and that way a little bit. But in France, I didn't know where the hell we were. The, as we, as we were committed into going into Bruyeres, and I just, we, we just at some point were committed, and I can't remember where that was. But I can remember we approached the town, the town of Bruyeres, and our guys, we were on, on, I think, the east side of the town, and I can remember that the guy, the rifle companies moved ahead of us, and we were right behind 'em as I recall. My own sergeant, George Iwamoto, was the platoon sergeant, was standing, standing, we came around I think a road and then a long wall, and then he said, "Come on, you guys," and he was pushing us to get out of there, he figured we were exposed. Sure enough, a shell landed behind us, and he got hit there. And George, George has been paralyzed these last sixty years, sixty-three years. He's a (Washingtonian), he was the only other Washingtonian in the, in the platoon, so we were kindred spirits.

TI: But he was just trying to get you guys to go fast...

FS: He was, he was moving us through there.

TI: But he was the one, last one there.

FS: He was there, he was pushing the platoon through there, yeah. It's just... damn. We, we... we pushed through the edge of town and down through the valley, the base of the valley, and then we were, I guess, like I say, on the left end of the, left end of the attack, left side of the attack. As we started up the other side of town, there was this, obviously this bottling plant there. And here was this old French woman standing there with these crates of soda pop or something trying to pass it out, and we're running through there. [Laughs] She was trying to give us --

TI: So this is in the middle of combat.

FS: Combat, there's shells flying and bullets flying, and this gal is standing there trying to give us this soda pop.

TI: Now, was this just like out of appreciation, just trying to help you in her little way?

FS: Yeah, I guess, you know. She was trying to cheer us on, I guess. It was one of those things you just, "God, that crazy old woman," you know. [Laughs] But I still, I tell those other guys that, and they don't remember that, but I just remember that, seeing that old gal there trying to get us to take, take that pop. I said, God, I didn't have, I wasn't in, I was in a hurry; I just had to get out of there.

TI: Oh, that's a, a powerful image.

FS: And then behind, and then behind that, behind the town is this big hill, and the Germans had, had troops and people up there, soldiers up there. And they had an observer, artillery observer, so that's where their shells were coming from. But one thing that our artillery, the 522nd, they were, oh God, they were hotshots. They absolutely plastered that hill. They, I think they cut every tree down from those shells. And so if we'd have had to fight our away, the riflemen had to fight their way through that, that'd have been a slaughter. But they just absolutely covered every inch of that hillside. When our guys went up through there, the Germans were still dazed. There, I don't know whether it was a walkthrough, but they got through there quickly.

TI: Okay, and then outside of Bruyeres, there's a, around a railroad embankment?

FS: Yes, yeah.

TI: And so why don't you talk about that?

FS: Oh, God, I just, yeah, now that -- okay, well, in Marseilles, we got replacements. We got all new, got a whole bunch of replacements, and so we had new guys mixed in with us, okay? And the, as we approached this railroad thing, they could see the Germans coming, so our guys were on the side, and then told them, "Hold on, hold on, we'll get 'em right." And unfortunately some new guy opened fire at those guys, the trap didn't shut.

TI: So he just panicked.

FS: They guy, guy got, just got panicked and fired, but they, they'd have got those guys out in the open, they'd have creamed them. What can you do? Yeah, that's too bad.

TI: But during that battle, I think there was a capture of some, of some plans from an officer?

FS: Well, yeah, that, now, that, I don't know what company did that, but yeah, they, they actually trapped some, a German major or something and cut him down, and he had all the battle plans, apparently. This is part of the history I read, and that, I guess, made it easier. But nobody told us, nobody, he didn't tell us about the "Lost Battalion," I guess. [Laughs]

TI: Yeah, yeah. Going back to that earlier comment about how you have someone who's green, who perhaps fires too early, so after that happens, what do you guys, do you say anything to him, do you kind of like...

FS: I'm sure his platoon sergeant said something, but what can you do? We were all green sometime, at some point.

TI: So you're pretty, you accepted it.

FS: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

TI: Even though it potentially cost lives?

FS: It does, it does. But we all make mistakes. I, I think, unless a guy really screws up a couple times, they, they understand. We were all, we were all scared, we were all, we were all scared all the time, so I don't recall there were any incidents like that, you know, really putting these people down.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.