Glasscock joined the U.S. Navy in 1943

Joe Todd Historian

GLASSCOCK, THOMAS Interviewed 3 Dec 2019 by Joe L. Todd Ponca City, OK

Todd: Today is December 3, 2019. My name is Joe Todd and this is an interview with Thomas Glasscock in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Sir, where were you born?

Glasscock: I was born in Finland, North Dakota.

T: When is your birthday?

G: May 2, 1918.

T: Who was your father?

G: Dr. Timothy Glasscock.

T: And your mother?

G: Sadie G. Glasscock.

T: What was her maiden name?

G: Savre.

T: Did you go through school in Finland?

G: I went to grade school in Finland then we moved to Haywood, Iowa. I went to high school there then back to North Dakota to college.

T: What year did you graduate high school?

G: 1934, I think but it has been so long I have forgotten.

T: Where did you go to college?

G: The University of North Dakota.

T: What did you study?

G: Pre-med. I got my degree then I transferred to the University of Chicago for medical school. I finished my MD in 1942.

T: Do you remember when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor?

G: Yes.

T: Where were you?

H: I was in Chicago in school.

T: When you heard about the attack, what did you think?

G: Not much of anything other than we were at war.

T: After you got your MD, what did you do?

G: I took my internship in Chicago and following that, I took a residency in Chicago then I joined the Navy.

T: When did you join the Navy?

G: I joined in 1943 as a medical officer. I was sent to New Orleans to the Higgins Boat Company and assigned to Squadron 30 in New Orleans.

T: What were your duties with the Higgins Boat Company. I was organizing the medical department for the men, getting their records straightened out.

T: How long did it take to get all the medical records for the squadron?

G: It took about three months. I had three hospital corpsmen working with me at the Higgins Boat Company.

T: From New Orleans, where did you go?

H: Got all the records together and organized the men for the squadron. The hospital corpsmen got the records straightened out and organized the medical department for the whole group of boats.

T: How many men were in the medical department?

G: There was a chief, two first classes and myself. That was the medical department for the boats.

T: What was your rank at this time?

G: Lieutenant.

T: From New Orleans, where did you go?

G: We went to New York in the inland water way and put out boats in the group that was going to England. They were put in an attack transport ship. They were lifted and put on the ship.

T: Do you recall the name of the ship you were on?

G: I have no idea.

T: Tell me about the trip to England.

G: It was cold and we did a lot of maneuvering around the North Atlantic to avoid the German submarines. We were lucky, we didn’t have any real bad storms. It took a while to get there because of all the maneuvers we had to make, we had to zig zag.

T: Where were your quarters on the ship?

G: Mine were in the sick bay with the doctor. We were in the sickbay and some sailors studied with us.

T: Did many guys get seasick?

G: I don’t remember but I’m sure they did. I don’t remember anyone so sick we had a bad Glasscock - page 3


T: How did you pass the time on the trip?

G: Doing medical work on the boys that were sick, but none were real sick. We played cards and ate and wondered what we were going to do next.

T: How long did the trip take?

G: I think it was at least eight days.

T: Where did the ship land?

G: We landed on the north coast of England. I think it was Liverpool. Some of the boys were put on boats down to the south part of England and some of us got on a train and went south. All the officer went by train. We went down to Southampton and the British had built a building for the PT boats to come into. They had a real nice area called tent city and they had everything we needed. They had a place where we practiced and eating and sleeping were pretty nice.

T: How did you prepare for D-Day?

G: We weren’t too involved with that.

T: When did you get to France?

G: We got there on D-Day.

T: Tell me about going to France.

G: We got on the boats and cruised and kept in touch with the other boats. We were going to do what we had been practicing doing.

T: What did you practice to do?

G: Taking aboard the injured and identifying what should be done. It was kind of vague because no one had done that before. We had no specific identification except if someone was injured, we took care of them. We were on the PT Boats doing sea rescue.

T: When you treated the wounded, where were they sent?

G: We sent them to a hospital ship.

T: Tell me about D-Day.

G: It wasn’t an organized thing as far as taking care of the wounded. We took care of them and shipped them to the hospital ship.

T: How did you get the wounded on the PT Boat?

G: We fished them out of the water.

T: You were off which beach, Omaha or Utah?

G: We were in the English Channel off all the beaches at Normandy.

T: How long were you off Normandy?

G: We were there until things quieted down. I can’t remember the number of days.

T: Did you land in France or got back to England?

G: Our base was in England. We really didn’t have a base there, we just anchored the boats in England.

T: What did you do when you went back?

G: We got them back in the water and sent them back to pick up survivors.

T: Were you in a hospital in England?

G: No, we stayed on the boats all the time.

T: Did you land in France?

G: Not early in the invasion. We landed later and took medicine where needed it. We then were based in Cherbourg. The wounded were brought in and we treated them and went sent some to the field hospital in Cherbourg and if they were not badly wounded, they were sent back to their unit.

T: How long were you at Cherbourg?

G: That was our base the whole time. We never got orders to go anyplace else. We never went any place in France except Cherbourg. There was the hospital in Cherbourg that the United States used.

T: Did you get to Germany?

G: No, I spent the rest of the war in Cherbourg. I remember, we had just finished Christmas Ever dinner and we were notified to get to the boats at five o’clock in the morning and head out. We were in Cherbourg and a troop ship had sunk but when we got there everyone we pulled out of the water was dead from the cold. Our whole squadron went out and worked all night long. We never pulled anyone out of the water that survived. We put some in the engine room but none of them but they never came to. That was a cold night.

T: That was the SS Leopoldville. It was a Belgian troop ship taking troops to France from England for the Battle of the Bulge. Don Shaub in Bartlesville survived the Leopoldville by getting on a British destroyer that was escorting he Leopoldville.

G: We found no one alive in the water.

T: What did you do on V-E Day?

G: I don’t remember. I suspect I celebrated like everybody else, but I don’t remember.

T: Did you think you would go to the Pacific?

G: There were a lot pf PT Boats in the Pacific and we wondered if we were going there. But we didn’t. The whole group came back to the United States.

T: How long were you in the Navy?

G: Four years.

T: When you left the Navy, where did you go?

G: There was a group in Chicago that were helping veterans find a place to go. There was a clinic in Ponca City and I interviewed with them and came to Ponca City in 1946. I was with the clinic for five years then I moved out to my private practice.

T: Would you join the Navy again?

G: I would join the Navy over the other services.

T: Today when you hear the name Franklin Roosevelt, what is your reaction?

G: We took the advice of what they told us to do. It is hard to evaluate him because things were not too well organized.

T: Harry Truman.

G: He was a little bit hard to evaluate.

T: Dwight Eisenhower.

G: He had been in the service and went along with him pretty good.

T: How do you want to be remembered?

G: I did good for the government.

T: Sir, this is an excellent interview. I want to thank you for your service and thank you for the interview.

G: Thank you. I see many of my patients here in Ponca City. I was a doctor here fifty-three years.