Posted: August 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

All stories come to an end. My grandfather’s self-written story is done, but I’ll still try to update as I can. I have some ideas.

In the meantime, here are wedding announcements from 1942 to pause on a happy note! And don’t forget to check out Dorothy’s recipes at, too!

I caught a bus outside the gate and settled back to enjoy myself. This was late in the afternoon. About midnight, the bus driver told us this was the end of his run and to catch another bus, but he didn’t know where it was and left. I got out, watched people get off when I saw a guy head off like he knew where he was going. I followed him and he took me right to the next bus. The others were straggling in for about an hour. It was two blocks from where the guy let us out.

I finally made it to LA then took the bus to Whittier. Got in town just as it was getting light. I headed up Comstock to my parents, left my stuff there and headed up to Dorothy’s parents to see Dorothy. She was very glad to see me again. I was lucky she took me back as a husband. I had been gone for so long.

We stayed with her parents until we could get property to build a house on Sunset Dr. We worked hard to get it and start having it built. It took a full year to build because there were so many houses being built. There were not enough houses for people coming back from the war. The builders were stalling on ours so I got permission to take lumber from one house that they started after ours. I got permission from the police to pick it up at night after work so they could start building again.

We were out at Ruth and Malcom’s house one day and he kept saying I should be a plumbing contractor. So I took the test and got my master plumber’s license and started my own business as Sunset Plumbing. I took service calls 24 hours and any work I could get. Built it up to a very good business.

After a long time, I was working on a house about 5 miles from home. I had picked up my tools to leave and walked back in to see if I had everything. The owner had just gone to the garage to lock up. He came back and walked through the big glass sliding door without opening it. He got cut in his throat and had a lot of other cuts. I grabbed his throat and stopped the blood with one arm and held his arm with the other. I pulled him over to the phone and told him to call for help. They took 45 minutes to get there. I had to hold him together. The medics had to pry my hands off because I had to hold on so long I couldn’t release my fingers to let go of him. Even then, the drawer under the phone was a quarter full of blood. I drove home and Dorothy had to help me in the house. I was in shock. After the man got well, he told me he had the worst sore neck, but he was happy to be alive and thanked me.

Army Service Forces – Transportation Corps – Army of the United States
New York Port of Embarkation
Claude E. Hoskins 39 243 452 Tech 5
826 Engineer Aviation Battalion – Army of the United States
returned to the United Stateson the ship “Queen Mary” (Cunard White Star)
which sailed from Southampton, England on 11th October, 1945
Sig. (Dallas D?) Col., T.C., Transport Commander

Finally, I got a space on the Queen Mary. This is a beautiful ship and we enjoyed this. It took us five days to cross the Atlantic and into New York. As we came into the harbor, it was beautiful, but the prettiest sight was the Statue of Liberty. As we came in, there were all kinds of boats and people, horns and fire boats with their hoses spraying. It was gorgeous.

They took us into Fort Dix and there they set us up with a big steak dinner. Boy, was that good. In Europe, food wasn’t as good as at home.

I didn’t stay there very long. The first thing they asked was who would volunteer to fly to the West Coast. I was the first one. They took us to the plane, which happened to be a two engine cargo plane. It had notched seats along both sides, similar to the seats on a machine that cuts alfalfa like when I was a kid. We headed south and had to stop to pick up gas every so often. The second stop, after getting in the air, we saw oil sliding across the window and thought maybe we had a problem. The pilot turned around and landed. The mechanics fixed the oil leak. We got back on the plane and they tried to start it. It wouldn’t, so this man gets a big tool out, sticks it into the wing and begins to crank. Evidently, it was a starter generator that takes a crank to work. Anyway, it started and we headed out again. Everything worked good until we started over the mountain range. The plane would go along and suddenly drop a few hundred feet. Your stomach would come up in your throat and give an awful feeling. Everyone around me started throwing up. It was a mess. I found out quickly that if I hollered as loud as I could on the drop, I could keep my stomach settled. I was the only one that didn’t get sick.

It took 48 hours to come from New York to Camp Beale near San Francisco. We came into Palm Springs and picked up gas. Then, to get altitude to get over the pass, we climbed and circled around for ten minutes before we could be high enough. They took us back to Camp Beale where I was discharged from the Army. They asked if I wanted to stay in the Reserves. I said NO.

The War Years: The Way Home

Posted: July 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

Now we are finished and waiting for a way home. Every morning we would pack up and go out on an airfield to sit and wait for a plane, and at night, go back to camp. This went on for a week which seemed like a year. Finally, we got a plane. It was a two engine cargo plane in rough shape, but it looked beautiful. We flew to the coast and there was so much fog and rain, you couldn’t see. The radio was out, so we turned back and landed in Belgium, got a weather report, then headed back over the channel to England. It was so foggy that we went way up in the midlands before we could land.

They set us up for another wait. It seemed that we had no luck, even though we’d been there three and a half years. They were supposed to use the point system, but even with 5 battle stars, I didn’t have enough points to beat a WAC that had only been there six months. It was enough to make one a little bitter.

In London, the trains were great: underground, and you could get on and off anytime. They had double decker trolley cars. I was on the upper deck and every time we came to a bridge, I thought it was going to hit the top of the bus. I went to see the Robin Hood country and town. There were no empty places to sleep, so we got in a building with only chairs. It was colder than heck. But we had a good time.

I went to get a haircut. The barber set me in the chair and started to cut my hair, then at three o’clock, he took off his apron and said he had to go eat. My hair was half cut, so I had to wait until he came back to finish. He pulled a match and set my hair on fire. He took a towel and put out the fire. He said he was just firing the ends. I payed him, but I never had an English haircut again.

I was in London with a friend and we went into a café to get a meal. There was a gate to go through and in doing that, someone picked my pocket and stole my wallet. I never felt him take it. After that, I got one that tied around my body under my clothes and never lost it again.

We now moved back to Frankfurt. The Germans had surrendered.We are now waiting for a chance to go home. We are repairing airfields. Our job was on a rock crusher and deliver the rock to the field.We have the crusher a long way out of the quarry and bring the rock out on mine cars. They blast the rock to get it loose.

One time in Germany, I had a little six year old boy come up to me and my friend. He looked like he was starved. We started giving him food and candy. He was always alone. It wasn’t long until we had some fat on him. We called him “Buchenwald” because he was so skinny at first. He would just smile at us. He was skinny like the people we had seen in the concentration camp. We also had a little girl come into us and we would feed her, too. One day she came in with two little wooden shoes and gave them to me. It made me feel good.

When I was working on the rock crusher, the sergeant brought a motor that pulls rocks up to the crusher, but this one was a German make and our people couldn’t fix it, so they put it on the train tracks. I didn’t have anything to do, so I went over. It would start the engine, but wouldn’t move. I looked it over and saw it didn’t have the belt on it to make it go, so my sergeant took it back and told them what was wrong. They fixed it and it ran very good.

One day, I was on top of the crusher, which is a big machine with a big hammer in it to pulverize the rock. My job was to keep the big rocks moving so the hammer would get them. I was 20 feet off the ground inside this railing on a catwalk, but inside there was no railing, only the hammer. They set off a blast in the quarry a half mile away. I watched for falling rock and just as I turned back to go work, I heard this buzzing and something hit me in the head just above the temple.  It was a glancing blow, but I felt myself going unconscious. I just had enough time to drape myself over the rail and hang there. The crane operator saw me and thought I was being funny until he saw the blood running down the machine. I was out like a light. The came up and carried me down and worked on me. I came to about an hour later. They took me to the hospital for x-rays. They laid me on the table but I couldn’t lie there because my head would spin like a top when I laid down. Finally, three guys held me still while the doctors took the pictures. I guess it didn’t break my skull because I didn’t get a report. The next three days and nights, I had to sit up to sleep because the moment I laid down, my head would spin, and you could not just lay and let spin. It was a weird feeling.

Historical notes from
After the U.S. 7th Army moved through the Frankfurt area, the 826th Engineer Aviation Battalion (EAB), a unit of the IX Engineer Command, arrived at Frankfurt/Rhein-Main Airfield 26 April 1945 It was classified as Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) Y-73. On 11 May 1945, the engineers began the task of clearing rubble and reconstructing major buildings. The Army engineers also built new runways and extended and widened the existing runway, constructed aprons and hardstands as well as taxiways leading to the terminal.

Note: This blog entry contains images my grandfather took while at Buchenwald. While I believe it is important to show people the atrocities that happened during the war, the images may be inappropriate for younger readers.

Cologne city was very big. We were about a mile from it in a barn. About midnight, our bombers came over and started bombing the town. We went outside and watched the bombs come down. The next morning when we went past it, there wasn’t anything left of the big city no taller than two feet.

Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Read the rest of this entry »

Collection of news clippings about IX Engineering Command building combat airfields, 1945.

This goes back to the third day in France. We were moving forward to get to the start and the leader got lost and we suddenly found ourselves at the front line. We came into a small town and the infantry was just in the process of going through the houses searching out the Germans and shooting and the big shells going overhead sounding like a freight train going overhead was an eerie sound and a frightening feeling. The Captain finally walked up and we went back where we belonged. I must have had a guardian angel looking after me. The scenes are etched on my brain. It still gives me cold chills down my back.

The first Christmas was spent near Haguenau. We, meaning Dutch, Viggo and me, went to town on pass. We found a small café with plenty of wine in the place. We tried to drink up everything they had and finally headed back to camp. It was chow time, so we got in line. The wine suddenly put us on a laughing jag. We had everyone in the camp laughing at us or with us. The next morning, the Germans started a drive, so we blew up the fields and dropped back to Nancy, France. In Haguenau, I had written a letter to Dorothy and told he where I was and all about it. It was the letter the censors did not cut out the information. When Dorothy got the letter, the Germans were retaking Hagenau, and everyone was fighting on the front lines, even the cooks. What she didn’t know was that we had blown up the field and left the territory and went back to Nancy, France. It was a shock to her, and a long time before she knew that I wasn’t in this battle.

After we dropped back, we had it easy for a while. The weather was not too good, as it rained a lot. The air field was made of mesh to keep the planes from going in the mud too deep. We had the job of sweeping mud off the runways after the planes took off or landed. Not a very nice job. I felt a little devilish, so I heckled Sergeant until he got so mad he took his hat off and threw it in the mud and jumped up and down on it. The next day it turn cold and started to snow. Then in the afternoon, it became a blizzard. We stood under the wings of the planes. The snow built up 18 inches around us in freezing weather. It made me mad because it was not necessary to be out in that weather. The officers got promotions for having the men on duty for man hours worked. I sure got the Sergeant mad again because I kept telling him how dumb he and the officers were. He sure didn’t like me very much. This was the time of the Battle of the Bulge and we couldn’t get the planes off the ground on account of the weather. The battle wouldn’t have been so bad if we could get the planes to help.

Historical note from Wikipedia:
The Haguenau area was the scene of heavy fighting between Allied ground forces and the Wehrmacht in late 1944 and early 1945. The airport was liberated in mid-December 1944. Once cleared of enemy forces, the USAAF IX Engineering Command 826th Engineer Aviation Battalion began clearing the airport of mines and destroyed Luftwaffe aircraft, and repairing operational facilities for use by American aircraft. By 20 December the airfield was declared ready for Allied use and was designated as Advanced Landing Ground “Y-39 Haguenau”.[4] The airfield was immediately put to use as a Resupply and Casualty evacuation (S&E) airfield to support the combat units in the area and move combat wounded back to hospitals in the rear area. The airfield was briefly evacuated due to heavy fighting in the area and it being shelled by German artillery during late December and early January, however it was secured and put back into operation by mid January.[5]