The following article by Graham Kislingbury, entitled “Escape from Nazis in Italy Close Call for D-1 Soldier,” appeared in the Thursday, April 26, 1945 edition of The Bealiner. The Bealiner is the newspaper of the Beal Air Force Base in Yuba County, California.
Capture in North Africa, escape from Italy, and a game of hide-and-seek from the enemy in the high mountains of northern Italy is but a small portion of the adventure story told by Pfc. Luther C. Shields, 25, of D-1, PRD.
I was with the 16th Combat Engineers, attached to the First Armored Division in North Africa, when captured in Dec. 10, 1942,” said Shields. “My platoon was building a road block about 18 miles west of Tunesia to delay the enemy counter attack, when a whole German Panzer Division moved in on us, with their tanks sweeping right by. The few of us that lived were surrounded by German Infantry and had to give up.”
Prior to being drafted, I attended Garrett Ridge High School in the Cortez area of Colorado during my freshman and sophomore years. My mom and dad had no money to pay tuition for me to finish high school, so I went to Kuna, Idaho where I lived with my granddad and grandma Walker. I milked cows in Boise, Idaho. My granddad had an old radio in the barn that he played when milking cows. He swore the cows gave more milk when the radio was playing.
I was drafted in fall of 1941 to serve one year. Beginning in September 1941, I spent 13 weeks in basic training at Fort Knox in Kentucky, and I also trained at Fort Bliss in Texas.
Then Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 7, 1941 and World War II broke out.
World War II was everywhere. Yugoslavia and Greece had fallen to Nazi troops, Russia was being heavily attacked by powerful German artillery, American forces had whipped a Japanese fleet in the Coral Sea, and Mussolini was fighting for control over Italy in an alignment with Hitler. By November of 1942, most of the Allies’ concentration was on the European theater. Rommel masterminded a series of surprise advances in North Africa. On November 8th, our 16th Combat Engineers were attached to the First Armored Division of the U.S. Second Corps.