Douglas Torrey, 85, of Winter Harbor was drafted into the Army in November 1945. “I trained in a radio outfit in Ft. McClellan, Ala. I got pneumonia after 14 weeks of training in February 1946,and ended up in the hospital for 90 days.
Torrey finished training in heavy equipment and in June 1946 went to Europe on a troop ship. He joined the 1st Infantry Division, known as “The Big Red One.”
Torrey landed in LeHavre, France, which he found had been “blown all to bits” during the German occupation. “We went from there right onto trains, passing Paris on the way to Germany,” he said.
After two weeks Torrey went to Regensburg on the Danube. “Beautiful country down there…very much like Maine…same kind of trees, same kind of weather,” he recalled. “In Amberg, I rode a horse, asked to go hunting, and got a military hunting license. I still have it.”
He was assigned to Nuremberg, “where the [Nazi leader] trials and hangings occurred. I was there when it was going on and listened to the trials and hanging on the radio in the mess hall. The outside of the Nuremberg trial building…was my guard duty station.”
Usually Torrey guarded places where radios were stored, and “I didn’t know ‘A’ from ‘C’ about ‘em! Just kept ‘em dusted!” Bored, he was around the mess hall a lot, and started to peel potatoes to help. The head cook took him on as another cook for the mess. “All the food came from America, but the potatoes,” Torrey recalled.
Later “I met this girl on my way to the Red Cross Hut, as she was going to get a bucket of beer, and I offered to walk her to the beer garden. Her name was spelled ‘Louse,’ but I called her ‘Louise.’ She was 16,” he said.
“I met her parents and family. She had a little sister, one of ‘Hitler’s Children,’ about 2 or 3 years old, covered with sores and crying,” Torrey said. He explained that “Hitler’s Children” were the offspring of blond “Aryan” mothers who had to breed children with true Aryan men.
Louise’s “little sister had no vitamin C and had scurvy.” Since he worked in the mess hall, “I could get her anything, oranges, lemons, and a jug of zinc oxide from the medic.” Torrey supplied this vitamin C sources to Louise’s family, and her little sister got better.
In February 1947 Torrey was shipped home. He had been accepted for Officer’s Candidate School, but his discharge came through, and he left the Army. He traveled by train to Bremerhaven, Germany on the North Sea and boarded a troop ship.
“It took 20 days coming back….the worst winter recorded! Everyone was sick the whole way, except for me and another soldier from Maine, so we had clean-up duty,” Torrey said.
He went to Ft. Dix, N.J. to be demobilized and was discharged on March 10, 1947.
On October 28, 2012, I took photos of Douglas with his decorated “Ike jacket,” his Special Privilege Pass to travel the German countryside, the military hunting license, and two 20,000 German marks.
Douglas Lamarr Torrey, 85, is a recently retired lobster fisherman who loves to read. He does not consider himself to be a World War II veteran, because D-Day had already occurred when he was drafted. “That war was over, and I was just guarding things,” he said.