|Editor s Note: William J. Mares, who lived for many years in Interlaken and Asbury Park before moving to Neptune just before he died, was a WWII veteran who was drafted before he finished high school. It was May 14, 1944 at the height of the WWII: A decorated rifleman, his infantry unit was part of tbe historical Battle of the Bulge, the offensive thrust that became the turning point of the war. Below is an essay he wrote when he returned to his family. William Mares died in early summer just after his 81st birthday.|
|William Mares, who lived for many years in Interlaken and Asbury Park, is a WWII vet who died early this summer. He is pictured here in uniform with his mother.|
By WILLIAM MARES
Having been a veteran, I traveled through many a country in Europe. There I saw houses and what was left of some of those houses. I could also say I lived in some of those houses which sheltered me over-night. This was because of our position as an infantry outfit. There was one house I remember in England, where I spent a week. This house was one of a row of houses like (those) in America here. It reminded me of the lower East Side of New York. The people that three of my buddies and I stayed with, tried to make us as comfortable as possible in their overcrowded home. Their house was dark and gloomy because of the prevailing circumstances of war. The people were very kind to us though and tried to make us welcome. When we left this house we all collected some of our rations and left it with those wonderful people. for which they thanked us. My next house wasn't as pleasant as the frrst. As a matter of fact it wasn't much of a house. This, what was once known as a house, was half a building, torn by the constant shelling of our guns.
|Here we spent but one night, so that we could move on to the next village. The funniest thing I remember, about this house, was that there wasn't a ceiling above us. When we went to sleep that night we had the stars and the sky for our ceiling. Before morning some clouds came overhead and then, before any of us knew what happened, rain came down in buckets . .No, this is one of the houses I'll never forget. When we moved on in France, we came to a beautiful chateau situated on top of a large hill. It looked like the war had bypassed it because of its silence. Most of us were figuring where we would spend that night. We pictured sleeping in a nice clean bed with sheets and a pillow. These thoughts were soon erased by the crack of a rifle bullet smacking into the dirt at our feet. We all ducked for cover and kept watching that house. Someone gave the order to surround the chateau and|
|as we moved there were more rifle shots fired at us. Our returning fire didn't stop the fIring from within the chateau. The firing didn't stop. After a couple of hours of being pinned down, our commander grew impatient and ordered several white phosphorous grenades to be fired at the chateau. I sat there watching those grenades hit the house and cause it to catch on frre. Well the fire stopped the shooting from within the chateau but it also destroyed this beautiful piece of architecture. That night, instead of sleeping in a nice, warm, clean bed, we slept on the cold ground and cursed the Germans, who were sniping from the chateau. There were many more houses I remember but the best house I remember was the house back home, the house that was waiting for me. The house that waited for all those who help serve to defend our country so that it wouldn't happen to our house.|