Testimonies from the Midwest

 

John William Malone, Co. B, 411 Bn., 103 Infantry Division

John William Malone, Co. B, 411 Bn., 103 Infantry Division          Division Patch          Photo of John William Malone

John William Malone was born on October 28, 1922. John was raised as a Baptist and was a farm hand before entering the service on December 8, 1941, and again on January 8, 1942.

Service Record: I was going to school in Rawlins, Wyoming in 1941; when war broke out, I enlisted in the Army. I was underage and almost was kicked out. My guardian, my aunt, signed papers for me on January 8, 1942. Basic training was completed in Cheyenne, Wyoming; from there I went to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, then to Rapid City, South Dakota; from there I went to Battle Creek, Michigan. Throughout these transfers, I was Quartermaster Supply. Then I went into Escort Guard, transferred to Hereford, Texas in 1943. Temporary duty was in Albuquerque, New Mexico for three months and then back to Hereford, Texas, on to Camp Houze in Gainesville, Texas, as part of the 103rd Infantry Division. From there I went to France and Germany. While I was in Germany, I was wounded on April 28 or 29th , 1945, while in sight of the town of Landsberg.

The specifics of his injuries and his camp encounter were discussed during an interview. Malone's injuries included shrapnel through his arm, hearing loss, and loss of teeth. Unbeknownst to John,  his younger  brother was wounded at the same time in another location.

John first was cared for in a temporary aid station and then later woke up in a hospital in Germany, later moved to locations in France, then on to London before being shipped back to the United States via a hospital ship, landing at Boston, Massachusetts. He then spent time in Brook General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, where he was discharged from the Army.

Camp Encounter: As do most of the GIs, John finds it difficult to discuss his experiences in regards to the liberation of Landsberg. His 103rd Infantry Division's Trail of the Cactus served as a source for the interview. John said that he started to read the account of the liberation of Landsberg in the book but still cannot get through it, even after all these years. He was wounded just hours after he witnessed the Landsberg concentration camp. He said that he still has recurring bad dreams.  John also recalls that his unit had been given some forewarning and training in regards to the camps that  they might witness, so he wasn't completely surprised. He remembers the townspeople being forced to bury the dead. His last statement was, "It was the ones who were alive that I felt most sorry for; the dead were dead." Perhaps the most revealing of his comments was his reference to his own injury when he said, "The camp sight bothered me more than getting hurt."

 

After the War: John was discharged on July 21, 1945, in San Antonio, Texas, where he spent 9 months recovering from his wounds in a VA hospital. John then spent 8 years working with the railroad and then 28 years in civil service at Ellsworth Air Force Base. John retired on April 28, 1978. After an 18-month hiatus, he then went to work at the Alex Johnson Hotel for 5 years and then retired again. Married for 58 years, John and his wife have one daughter who also lives in Rapid City.

Advice from a WW II Veteran to Today's Youth:

Obey your parents. Avoid drug and alcohol. I saw the death of a comrade who was under the influence. Obedience is necessary within a squad. The buddy system--loving your fellow man--is necessary. I learned to love and to share and used that experience in the war and afterward with others. If you can't do that, you're lost. 

Malone is second from left; he knew the photographer, remembers that photo well, and said that the Germans they captured, "were glad to give up."

Malone is second from left; he knew the photographer, remembers that photo well, and said that the Germans they captured, "were glad to give up."

Photo courtesy of 103rd Division's Trail of the Cactus

Landsberg, Dachau subcamp; photo courtesy of James Pepper, via 103rd Division's Trail of the Cactus

Landsberg, Dachau subcamp; photo courtesy of James Pepper, via 103rd Division's Trail of the Cactus

http://www.eastmill.com/103rd/index.htm

he forest gives a  clue of the violent end suffered by many of the inmates of Landsberg camps; http://www.acu.edu/academics/history/12ad/campsx/camps3.gif photo courtesy of the Julien D. Saks Collection

The forest gives a  clue of the violent end suffered by many of the inmates of Landsberg camps; http://www.acu.edu/academics/history/12ad/campsx/camps3.gif photo courtesy of the Julien D. Saks Collection

Landsbergers wait inside Kaufering IV with 12th Armored;  http://www.acu.edu/academics/history/12ad/campsx/camps3.gif photo courtesy of the Julien D. Saks Collection

Landsbergers wait inside Kaufering IV with 12th Armored;  http://www.acu.edu/academics/history/12ad/campsx/camps3.gif photo courtesy of the Julien D. Saks Collection