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Collection Ross Blanchard
WVM ID Number OH 1557
Object Name Oral History
Title Oral History Interview with Ross Blanchard, Stephen E. Ambrose WWII Oral History Class Project, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Date 1996
Event World War II
Narrator's Name Ross Blanchard
Interviewer's Name Philip Hunter
Description In this oral history interview, Ross Blanchard discusses his World War II service in the 406th Infantry Regiment, 102nd Division.

Blanchard recalls his reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Blanchard mentions having a deferment for farming and being drafted in 1944. He talks about basic training at Fort Dix (New Jersey) and heavy weapons training at Camp Wheeler (Georgia). Blanchard discusses the crowded ship ride to Scotland aboard the Queen Mary, including frequent course changes and daily fire drills. He touches on crossing to Le Havre (France) and being transported by boxcar to Linnich (Germany), where he joined H Company of the 406th Regiment as a machine gunner. Blanchard tells of spending his first night on the front lines in a foxhole and seeing his first combat at Brachelen. He talks about crossing the Roer River on a pontoon bridge, receiving support from new tanks during the march to the Rhine River, and having brief R&R in Holland. Blanchard details the fighting near Wesel: thinking the armored units had cleared the way, hitting a pocket of fierce resistance, getting pinned by enemy artillery, and setting up and firing his gun despite poor visibility. He mentions German soldiers in the area broke conventions by taking cover in a hospital. Blanchard comments on capturing fourteen- and fifteen-year-old German soldiers. After securing Wesel building by building, he talks about easy travel to the Elbe River, raiding farmhouses, and taking many prisoners of war as German soldiers and civilians fled the Russians coming into Berlin. He expresses disappointment that his unit was ordered to hold back from capturing Berlin.

Blanchard talks about celebrating and drinking vodka with Russian soldiers, the continued surrender of German soldiers to the occupation force, and moving to a tent city in Bavaria. Transferred to the 611th Quartermaster Grave Registration Company, he mentions duty as a clerk and eventual promotion to acting first sergeant. Blanchard speaks of staging raids to capture war criminals, and he recounts hearing about the Gardelegen Massacre and the establishment of the cemetery dedicated to its victims. He was discharged in June of 1946.
Extent and Medium of Description Transcript: 17 pgs.
(Transcript only)
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Biographical Record Blanchard, Ross