Veteran Stories:
Samuel James “Sam” Eros

Army

  • A 6-2 Section of the First Special Service Force during a battle drill in the Anzio beachhead, Italy, ca. 20-27 April 1944. (R-L): Staff-Sergeant K.S. Chapman, carrying a Thompson submachine gun; Sergeant T.C. Potenza, carrying a Johnson light machine gun; Sergeant N.J. Overall, carrying a Bazooka; Sergeant T.F. Olynyk, carrying an SCR-536 radio; Sergeant H.W. McCarthy, carrying a Thompson submachine gun.

    Credit: Lieut. C.E. Nye / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-183877
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"It was rough but then, that was the thing you had to accept. You either got killed or you got wounded, or you survived. And a lot of them were killed."

Transcript

I … went to Regina and I worked in the canteen there for about nine months. And then the women came in and so I was instructing for a while. And then the steel came up, they wanted volunteers for the First Special Service Force [joint American-Canadian commando unit]. And I volunteered for that. And that was down in Montana. And we were at that and we trained there for about two years, and then we went to Kiska. We were on a little island not far from Kiska; and one of our regiments went and invaded Kiska. We thought there was Japanese there, but they must have pulled out about two days before. My regiment was in Amchitka and we were in planes waiting to jump in if they needed us. But they didn’t need us, so when they came back to Amchitka, and we got on a boat and came back to San Francisco. And we got a leave and I took my leave in the east. So I went to Detroit; I had an uncle who lived there. And [then] I went back to camp. And then we took more training and I got a few more recruits and went overseas. We got on our boats and we landed in North Africa; and went up to Algiers and up into the Aleutians [Apennines], just outside of Naples. We fought there for about 10 weeks, had a week off or so, and then we went into action again. And we took the highest peak in Italy. And I got wounded there and I was sent back to Africa. And I was there for about three months. And I came back and by that time, the outfit had moved, weren’t too many troops there. But we were just a small group of 2,500 men. And we had as much area, we had one-third of the whole front. The American 3rd [Infantry] Division and the [American] 36th [Infantry] Division had the rest. And we were there for about, oh, about six months; and then we broke out from there and we went up north. We finally were getting ready to move up into Rome, but I was wounded that afternoon again, for the second time. And this time, I was seriously wounded. So from there, I was sent back to England and from England, I was sent back to Canada on a hospital ship. And that was about all. I was in the hospital for about three years after I came back. But the first time, I was just wounded in the leg, after fighting for about three days, and I was sent back to North Africa until I recuperated and then I came back and then I went to Anzio beachhead. And the second time I was wounded in the neck and the arm and chest; and I was in bad shape. It was rough but then, that was the thing you had to accept. You either got killed or you got wounded, or you survived. And a lot of them were killed. I have a picture here of us at Anzio beachhead, there was about 15 of us there in this picture and there’s only myself that’s alive today. The rest are all dead already. Well, my arm was almost shot off, but it got back and surprisingly, I still use my hand and I was shot through the neck. That’s why my voice is not very loud because I got shot through the neck.
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