This interview with Theophilus Bryan Wells, Jr., a World War II veteran, was conducted by his wife Ruth Garrett Wells and written up by his granddaughter Scarlet Wells as a school project. Wells was born in 1911 in Whitakers in Edgecombe County. He recalls being at home listening to the radio when the bombing of Pearl Harbor was announced. Wells joined the Army in November 1942 and did his basic training at Fort Bragg. He went on to Keesler Field, Mississippi, and then received radio operator and mechanic training at Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After coming back to North Carolina for a short while he went to Camp Patrick Henry in Virginia and shipped out on the HMS Andes, a British troop ship, arriving in Casablanca, Morocco for more training at Camp Don B. Passage. He traveled then to Bombay and Calcutta, finally arriving in Kunming, China in April, 1944. He worked as a member of the 21st Photo Reconnaissance Squadron. Among specific memories of wartime America, he speaks about the blue and gold star flags that households displayed to show they had a family member in the armed services; rationing; gas stickers (one category for pleasure driving, another for business purposes); Victory Gardens; V Mail; scrap metal and rubber collection drives; War Bonds, and their promotion via movie newsreels; rationing boards; the Uncle Sam poster; blackouts along the East Coast; and the role of women in wartime factories and on farms. He gives his impressions of Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, and Omar Bradley (all favorable). He also remembers a friend of his from Whitakers, Homer P. Braswell, who as a prisoner of war survived the Bataan Death March but was ultimately killed when the Japanese ship he and other American prisoners were on was torpedoed by U.S. forces. Wells regrets the tragic loss of life in Japan when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed, because those innocent people “paid a price for someone else’s decision,” but feels that the bombings were necessary to end the war. He also feels that the internment of Japanese Americans during the war was regrettable but necessary.





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