Shiroku "Whitey" Yamamoto
442nd Antitank Company

First War Experience

In Civitavecchia, before joining the 100th, Whitey receives a grim introduction to war: he sees on a roadside the swollen corpse of a German soldier.

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My first experience, after we landed in Civitavecchia, going up to where the 100th were located, we were assigned on the trucks. . .my first experience about the war, is that I saw a dead German soldier on the roadside laying down, minus his shoes, and with his leg all swollen up, because this is during the summer already.

Shiroku "Whitey" Yamamoto writes home about his war experiences

And, gosh, that kind of hit you in a realistic way, hey, chee, boy, are we going to be facing with this kind of situation fighting the war? And that kind of sobered everybody up, who saw that body. But we just continue on, going to join up with the 100th. So when we came to the area where the 100th were assigned, we joined up with them.

Another incident, the funny part, is that once we settled down, and our first sergeant — we were getting organized and getting settled down — our first sergeant took a shovel and then went into the bushes area to relieve himself. And before you know it, he was coming back with a German prisoner.

So we were all surprised. Here we were thinking, oh gosh, what’s going on, and we didn’t realize how close we were in the front. But I guess this young German soldier realized he’s going to be overrun by the Allies, so he was isolated, I suppose, and he was hiding, not to be caught by the Allies, the Americans. But the first sergeant went into the bushes (chuckles), didn’t realize it, I don’t know what happened between them two, but here he comes out with a German prisoner (laughs), and all he had was a shovel.

Must have had a roll of toilet paper, you know, toilet tissue.

Oh, that incident. But it was sort of comical, when you stop and think back again.

But that was kind of a sobering incident to start the war on the front line. Here I saw a dead German prisoner that sobered you up, and here, (chuckles) the first sergeant comes back with a German prisoner, young boy.

Whitey Yamamoto's interview courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Whitey Yamamoto.

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