Within the archives of the State Historical Society of North Dakota’s Veteran’s History Project you can track down any one of the veteran oral histories. So upon hearing this morning that Charles Eugene (“Bud”) Barth passed away sometime last night at 92 years of age, I thought it would be good to track down the oral history he and I put together some years ago. I’m in the process of obtaining the entire file of his history, and it seemed reasonable to reflect a bit on exactly what he did in the Second World War.
Charles was known as “Bud” by any number of people. He hailed from a farmstead just outside of Braddock, North Dakota, and was called to serve not too long after the U.S. entered the Second World War. Charles was rolled into the 409th Infantry Medical Detachment, 103rd Infantry Division, and he served as a front line medic in the Battle of the Bulge. I did a bit of checking around to see about this division’s feats during the Second World War, and it also turns out that Charles along with the rest of the 103rd Infantry Division liberated one of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps, the details of which can be found in the link here.
I think it has been approximately 10 years since Charles and I recorded this conversation about his time in WWII. I remember that he gave me the stories primarily because he was getting up there in age and he thought it might be important to set this information down. I agreed with him. After the interview, at least after the tape recorder was shut off, I also remember Charles saying that he wanted to tell me a bit more about the war, but sans recording device. Vets carry the raw elements of war with them throughout life, and as Charles mentioned to me, every vet deals with it differently. I remember Charles telling me how guilty he felt for making it out of the Second World War while so many others perished. This feeling of “Why not me?” is not at all uncommon, and even quite normal as well.
Later this afternoon I will listen to the interview with Charles that was recorded some 10 years ago. I remember that for a short time he was captured but then escaped from the German Army. When he found his way back to the Allied front lines, his commanding officer told him to get back to work: no time to sit around and celebrate one’s escape after being captured. After all there was a war going on out there.
…More soon after I revisit the interview.
Note: Charles was my great uncle.