War on Their Minds
  Edward D. Lee
Age in 1941: 18

Dorothy W. Lee
Age in 1941: 16

Interview Team: Vicki Castellucci, and Rebecca Harrington
  2001



This is Rebecca Harrington I'm here with
my partner Vikki Castellucci and we are interviewing Mr. Edward Lee
and Mrs. Dorothy Lee in the teacher conference room at Wayland High
School. The date is May 14, 2001.

Q: How old were you in 1941?

Mrs. Lee: I was sixteen.

Mr. Lee: Eighteen.
 

Q: Where were you born?

Mrs. Lee: I was born in Medford
Massachusetts.

Mr. Lee: I was born in Wayland Massachusetts.
Plain Road.
 

Q: You were born in Wayland?

Mr. Lee: Wayland, quite a difference.

Mrs. Lee: At home.
 

Q: So you lived in Wayland for your whole
life?

Mr. Lee: Yeah.
 

Q: Must have changed a lot.

Mr. Lee: Yeah. There were three houses up on
Plain Road when I was living there.
 

Q: Were you raised in Medford?

Mrs. Lee: No, I was raised really in Natick. I
came to Wayland when I was in high school; freshman in high
school.
 

Q:How did you guys meet?

Mr. Lee: In high school.
 

Q:Were you high school sweet hearts?

Mrs. Lee: We went out but we weren't
together. You never know what's going to happen.

Mr. Lee: I liked your sister a lot,
remember?

Mrs. Lee: Yeah.

Mr. Lee: Yeah. Anne and Phil.

Mrs. Lee: He was the only one that had a
license, so his buddy liked my sister. In order for him to come over,
then they'd get him to drive them and I'd have to go
too.

Mr. Lee: You could get eight gallons of gas for
a buck. Yeah, so we could drive far.
 

Q:To what extent where you aware of the happenings in Japan, Italy, and Germany during the 1930's? Was it something you were really aware of or...

Mrs. Lee: You were aware of it, but you
were more interested in what was happening.

 
Q: Because you were young right?

Mrs. Lee: Yeah because we were young. I mean it
was just as much...

Mr. Lee: We were going through some
rough times.

Mrs. Lee: I think that you're probably
more aware now than we were in those days.

 
Q: Had the thought ever entered your mind of
ending up in the war? When you were around in Wayland during the
1930's did you ever think that you could end up going to war?

Mr. Lee: Oh yeah, yeah.

Mrs. Lee: You didn't think there would be a war going on.

Mr. Lee: Oh I didn't think, no. But I mean before Pearl, the National Guard was going.

 

Q: Did most of the guys you know go to war too?

Mr. Lee: Yeah, most everybody.

Mrs. Lee: His two brothers were in it too.

Mr. Lee: Yeah, my two brothers.

Mrs. Lee: All his friends.

Mr. Lee: They had the star that your mother would hang in the window for each one that was in the service. Some of them had probably five stars. We had three.

 
Q: So, can you explain how you first became aware of what was going on, the dangers in Europe?

Mrs. Lee: Of course we didn't have television, like you have now. So it would come over the radio, and that's how we found out.

Mr. Lee: Pearl Harbor.

Mrs. Lee: Before that, we heard out about over there in Europe.
 

Q: So, how were you involved, during the time of the war, what was your position?

Mrs. Lee: Well, I was in the Massachusetts Women's Defense Club. I was company clerk. We supported the, State Guard. Then my father was the Civil Air Raid Warden, so I was
right with the Civil Defense too. In your skit the other night, when you were doing the warden going out seeing the light in the window, that's what we saw. It brought back so many memories.

Mr. Lee: Right, a lot of that stuff.

Mrs. Lee: That play was wonderful, it really was.

Mr. Lee: Everything had to be rationed, if you could get in the ration line.

Mrs. Lee: You know, if you see a line, you'd stand in it because you didn't know whether you were going to get sugar, or cigarettes for my father, or stockings for myself.

 
Q: How was it when you first entered the war, what were the conditions, and how did you feel? Were you scared?

Mr. Lee: Well you're young, and all you think of is getting the weekend pass; getting home, you know. There's a lot of things, that you didn't even think about.
You thought of the good times, and that's all. A lot of good times and a lot of bad times.
 

Q: Now what did you do during the war?

Mr. Lee: I was on the landing barges, special outfit, fifty-six foot landing barge. We'd land the troops, once we landed the troops, then we'd haul up the ships, and supplies.

Mrs. Lee: That's everything that he did during the war. But you find that most of the fellows that served in the war, they don't talk to much about it since they've
been home. You have to get them with... if they have a reunion, and then you hear a lot of things that went on.
 

Q: Have you ever had a reunion?

Mrs. Lee: Yes.

Mr. Lee: Now we went to Devens, down the Cape, and we set sail, and then it was
twenty below zero, and boy down the Cape we were living in tents. And you put anything you had on to keep warm you know?

Mrs. Lee: Tell them about the guys in the South.

Mr. Lee: Yeah, I told them, from the South, they'd come in, and then go in for frost bite, right off. Oh it was rough. I mean they were not use to twenty degrees. We
went in in February. It's cold up here in February, at least it was in those days.
 

Q:What would you wear? Did you have any layers to keep warm?

Mr. Lee: Oh yeah, we had heavy, long johns, one piece. They were welcome.
 

Q:What year did you go into the service?

Mr. Lee: 1943. In fact we would go out at night, and beach in the morning. So I had this bunch of brass, right, and they were in the jeep. We come whaling into the beach, and I hit a sand bar, backed up, the last I see is the hats floating. Colonels, every one.
 

Q:What were your remembrances of the attack on Pearl Harbor?

Mr. Lee: Shock, really shocked.
 

Q:Do you remember where you were?

Mr. Lee: Yes, I was on Plain Road. Right in Wayland.

Mrs. Lee: I was in the movies.
 

Q: So that is one of the things you'll always remember, where were you and how did you feel?

Mrs. Lee: and Mr. Lee: Yes, it was unbelievable. You couldn't believe it.

Mrs. Lee: It wasn't instant like you can see the pictures like you do now. You imagined, you heard it, but you didn't see it, you couldn't really believe it. All the boys
got started signing up.
 

Q: Did you expect something to happen, along the lines with the Japanese attacking?

Mr. Lee: Not really, that was kind of a sneak. A sneak attack, I mean even I, the guys on Pearl they weren't...nowhere near ready at all.
 

Q: So what were you feelings about the American involvement in Pearl Harbor, after the bombing?

Mrs. Lee: We felt that they should go over.

Mr. Lee: Hey, everybody ran right up, a lot of them signed up the first thing.
 

Q: So, was that the major impact that made you sign up?

Mr. Lee: I didn't sign, I was drafted. I was working at an iron factory, in Framingham, there was an iron factory. Probably building stuff for...we didn't know what we were building, but it was probably for the war.
 

Q: How was your relationship through the war? Did you write letters to one another?

Mr. Lee: Oh yeah. And then the same thing, there was different ones around the town. I mean they'd write letters to us, not that there was that many in the town, but a
few. They'd write to all the boys.
 

Q: Were you nervous for each other's safety?

Mrs. Lee: I was worried about him. Of course he wasn't worried about me because I was home. Being protected with everyone else. But we all worried about all the guys that were in the service. I mean my brothers in law were in the service, and all my
friends were in so...

Mr. Lee: I was in the Philippine Islands, when my father died I couldn't even get home.

Mrs. Lee: The Red Cross tried to get him home.

Mr. Lee: No way.
 

Q: Did your two brothers make it through the war?

Mr. Lee: Yes.
 

Q: Now, I assume that everyone had the same feelings, but was there a general mood, that the country was in, I know that you said...

Mrs. Lee: Everybody was patriotic, yeah they were all for the boys.

Mr. Lee: If you were on a troop train, you'd pull into a little station, they'd be down with cookies, or whatever the women could cook. You were so loved.
 

Q: What was it like when you had to say goodbye to all your loved ones, when you were leaving for the war?

Mr. Lee: No fun. Very hard.
 

Q: Do you remember where you were when you were saying goodbye to them?

Mr. Lee: I went to Concord. I caught a train in Concord for Fort Devens.

Mrs. Lee: Your father probably took you over there didn't he?

Mr. Lee: No, I think right down town there was a group of us. I don't really recall, they got us there somehow, and then we took the train.
 

Q: What were you remembrance of boot camp?

Mr. Lee: Boot camp, oh man. Plenty of KP, and then have you ever been to sea, they'd ask you, well here is a mop scrub the floor.
 

Q: Where were you sent after boot camp?

Mr. Lee: Well we started in Fort Devens, and we had a couple of months there. And then we rode on a train downin Camp Edwards, and Camp Edwards to Florida. We would train with the boats down there. Well we'd train with the boats on the Cape Martha's Vineyard, and Woods Hole, and Wichaven (?), all those places. In fact this heavy surf up Martha's Vineyard, we'd beach the boats in practice. Some of them didn't beach they rolled them over. Then from Florida to California by train. And from
California, New Guinea, and the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, all those places, the Philippines etc.... and a few others. But like from Florida coming back we'd get furlough. The only way back, we'd come back on the train, standing up, no seats. So standing up from Florida, with a duffel bag. It was a long trip, but you were
glad to get home.
 

Q: How were your basic food, clothing, and shelter affected by the war?

Mr. Lee: Food, like K-rations? You get a little box of K-rations, and that was your meal. Prunes, dried prunes. A little can of beans or something.

Mrs. Lee: Tell them about the fruit cake they gave you.

Mr. Lee: Oh yeah. They'd send stuff from home, that was great. The only trouble was I was in New Guinea, mail call, I get a package. My mother had told me there was a fruit cake on the way, and when I got it was flattened out and molded. Well
it took us thirty days to go over on the troop ship, but thirty days on the ship, and seven bunks high. Believe me people can carry conversation in their sleep. We used to sneak up on a deck, sleep up on deck the whole time. Fresh air.
 

Q: How did your social life change? I'm sure you bonded with people that you were with, and I guess the people you were with and neighbors...

Mrs. Lee: I was in high school, we didn't have any buses, so that we couldn't to games, couldn't have dances, because there were no buses, so we had to walk everywhere. We didn't even have a junior prom, or senior prom.
 

Q: What special skills were you taught in the armed forces?

Mr. Lee: Rifles, machine guns, grenades, TNT, working on diesels, motors, keeping the ship afloat, and repaired. A lot of them went to Flint Michigan, if they got the chance, I never did get a chance to go to Flint. On green marine.
 

Q: How do you remember the movies?

Mrs. Lee: That was the social event, on weekends that was thing to do was either go to the movies, or bowl, or roller skating. That was our entertainment, and I could get a bus.

Mr. Lee: The little route down in Waltham there.

Mrs. Lee: I could get a bus, and we could go into Natick, and get a transfer it was ten cents, you could get a transfer and then go to Framingham to the movies, or go to Natick for the movies. But the Wayland end of town use to go to Maynard or Waltham.

Mr. Lee: Waltham.

Mrs. Lee: And they could get buses, but you couldn't get a bus from Natick over to Wayland. You could get transportation anywhere out of town, from Wayland in. There were trains running, buses, but you couldn't come over to Natick.

Mr. Lee: No, we went to Waltham, that was later.

Mrs. Lee: We could get a train in Natick too, or Framingham.

Mr. Lee: They had a trolley car, that went from Cochituate to Wayland.

Mrs. Lee: But that was before your time,though.
 

Q: How did you faith impact your thoughts of the war? Did it keep you together?

Mrs. Lee: We always had faith that things would work out.

Mr. Lee: Oh yeah. But you got in with a bunch of guys, you hate to leave them, after three years with them. You banked on them, and they banked on you.
 

Q: So you always tried to be optimistic about things?

Mr. Lee: Oh yeah. Hey, just remember the good things, forget the bad. There's too many of them.
 

Q: Do you still keep in touch with people thatyou were in war with.

Mr. Lee: Yes.

 

Q: Did any of the people you knew from Wayland go?

Mr. Lee: No.

Mrs. Lee: One of his buddies went in with him from Wayland, but once they got over to Fort Devens they got separated. One got in A company, and the other one got in B company. So they never saw each other after that. Then his buddy there, his mother moved out of town, so when he got out of the service he was gone. Of course Ed's father died while he was in the service so his mother moved to a different part of town. So after that, it was over fifty years, we had a reunion, and this guy came from this other company to see how we did ours, I think it was at Myrtle Beach. So it's funny the guy I went into the service with was in your company. Do you know him. So he says yeah, he went home, and called him, and told him, and the next thing you knew we got a letter. We've kept in touch since then, we've been down to their building in Florida now.

Mr. Lee: We found them in Florida, finally one day, and got out of the van, and he says "Hey you'renot the skinny little kid that I went into the service with!"
 


Q: What did you think of the media coverage of the war? Did you find it truthful, or did you see it favoring one side, or the propaganda?

Mrs. Lee: Well of course at that time, we just took it as it was. We used to read about it...

Mr. Lee: Tokyo Rose on the radio we'd get it when we got to New Guinea. They'd be telling us that they landed in California, and all that business. You heard, you'd just go on.

Mrs. Lee: You knew, you didn't believe it, right?

Mr. Lee: Yeah, but they tried to make you believe.
 

Q: Were you ever involved in direct combat?

Mr. Lee: Plenty.
 

Q: What were your greatest challenges in combat?

Mrs. Lee: Staying out of the way.

Mr. Lee: I think the worse one was the Manila. Iwas on the ship and a Kamikazi plane...I mean too close. But we had plenty of chances to not talk about it.

 
Q: Can you describe the whole process of landing the craft, how you beached it?

Mr. Lee: Yeah, you get your clothes, andyou get a wave. You'd have waves off of the big ships.They'd come down the side of a net, you pull up along side, you load your troops, a full fleet of them, and then you'd go out and you'd circle around in your wave, until that wave was at a certain time was going to hit the beach. Generally it was first thing in the morning. Dawn. As early as you could. Then you'd go in,
hope that if you could get to beach without hitting a sandbar, the minute you got in you dropped the ramp, and off. You had to get back to get another load. It'd be a big circle. Once you got the troops in, then all the ships in the bay had supplies there.
 

Q: This might be a touchy subject, but were there people that didn't make it off the landing crafts when you went up to the beaches?

Mr. Lee: We were pretty lucky, we didn't lose to many. I mean, we left them I don't know.
 

Q: What did you miss most about the United States?

Mr. Lee: You're always thinking about getting home! There were some beautiful places, like down in New Guinea, the coral, the water was so clear. We docked in one spot
there, and right off the back of the boat it looked like sixty feet of water. The same as coming in some of those places, and the coral, it's so clear you have to keep dropping a line, you think you're going to hit any minute. But it was always still deep.You run into all kinds of people, and all kinds of diseases.
Elephantiasis, Malaria, Leprosy. On one island we had the shell they had leprosy. They just shelled it, and then sprayed it. Down in New Guinea, you'd be trading with the head hunters. They had nice bananas though, so you'd trade them off with whatever you had. They had some nice Papayas and all that stuff.
 

Q: What were your attitudes towards who didn't go into the Armed Forces, actually in war?

Mrs. Lee: There wasn't many. They were called Conscientious Objectors, but I didn't really know anybody.

Mr. Lee: When we came home we had an honor role in the square, but they tore it down in the sixties. We had one on each end of town.

 
Q: What was you attitude towards the Japaneseor the Germans on a personal level?

Mr. Lee: We didn't like them too well. Not when the sky is red with fire coming at you. And they didn't like us.
 

Q: How in anyway did the roles of the women change?

Mrs. Lee: We had to do jobs that the men generally did. I remember being in the Mass. Women's Defense Corps, and had to go to the firing range, and the first time I shot a gun, it knocked me down. I wasn't expecting it. Not in anyway did I want to do that.

Mr. Lee: You should try a thirtycaliber.
 

Q: What was your most memorable experience?

Mrs. Lee: Coming home?

Mr. Lee: Yeah, seeing that Golden Gate.

Mrs. Lee: Knowing it was over.
 

Q: Were you aware of the internment of the Japanese-Americans? About one hundred thousand in the detention camps.

Mrs. Lee: No, we were too busy.

Mr. Lee: That was somebody else's job.

 
Q: Did you participate in a welcoming home celebration?

Mrs. Lee: No we didn't really have one here.

Mr. Lee: No big parties. Just glad to get home, they gave us fifty-two, twenty club. You could collect twenty dollars a week for a year. I got one week out of it, then I went to work. Had to go to Waltham for that.
 

Q: What was it like seeing your family, and friends again after you got home?

Mr. Lee: Heaven.
 

Q: At the end of the war did you anticipate seeing any future wars?

Mrs. Lee: No.

Mr. Lee: That was supposed to be the war to end all wars, and that's what we believed. Didn't work out though.

 
Q: What were any lessons you learned from World War II? That you learned about yourself, or that the country could learn from. With you own experience from the war.

Mr. Lee: Stay out of them, (wars) They're no good.
 

Q: What do you think of the generation of Americans today?

Mr. Lee: In a way they forgot what happened.

Mrs. Lee: They really didn't know what happened, that was before they were born. They didn't live through it. I'm proud of the generation today.

Mr. Lee: Definitely. We just went to that play the other night. Beautiful.

Mrs. Lee: I think we hear too much about the bad things that kids do, and not enough about the good things they do.

Mr. Lee: I'm glad I went through it, but I was glad to get home.

Mrs. Lee: He'd do it again if it happened.

Mr. Lee: Oh yes!

Mrs. Lee: I think we were more patriotic.

Mr. Lee: We realized we had to pull together, and everybody did.
 

Q: How did you view President Franklin D. Roosevelt's leadership during the war?

Mr. Lee: Good. He was a strong leader.

Mrs. Lee: I'm a Republican, but I voted for him, and I though he did a good job!

Mr. Lee: Everybody pitched in too.
 

Q: How did you react to Franklin D. Roosevelt's death?

Mr. Lee: Sad.

Mrs. Lee: Sad, it was a sad day for the world.
 

Q: What was your opinion on President Truman's wartime leadership?

Mr. Lee: He'd done all right, the main problem now is you don't help one another, just parties, that stuff is no good. I mean if you got somebody in there and he's trying to do something, give him a hand. That's what we use to do. If we had a boat up on the beach, we wouldn't leave them there we'd trying to get them off, hook a line on
them. Everyone would bail in, instead of trying to find all the faults.

Mrs. Lee: Whoever is president he's your president you just do everything you can do to help him. One man can't do it all; he needs the Congress, and the Senate, and
everyone else. They blame the president, but one guy can't do it all.

Mr. Lee: It's the same with the school here, the janitor can't run the thing you gotta have some hands.
 

Q: What was your reaction to Truman's decision to drop the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima?

Mr. Lee: Well, I wouldn't have been here if they hadn't. They were ready, hey a lot more wouldn't have come home.

Mrs. Lee: It wasn't a good thing, and I'm sorry it happened but we would have lost a more of our people.

Q: Do you have any advice for the younger generation?

Mr. Lee: Just help one another that's it.

Mrs. Lee: Learn all you can, and do all you can.

Mr. Lee: Don't try to down any body, give them a hand.

Mrs. Lee: Everybody is important.

 


Mr. Lee explains how to beach a landing barge during the Island Hopping campaign. (Quicktime)


Mr. & Mrs. Lee 2001

Certificate
Sgt. Lee's Certificate for Meritorious Service

date line certificate
Sailors' Certificate

dog tags
Dog Tags and Lucky Charms

Japanese Flag
Japanese Flag


Boat Manual Excerpt


Boat Crew Manual


Sgt. Lee's Uniform