Jack G. Bullis

Lieutenant Jack Bullis, U.S. Army Signal Corps, has landed in England, according to word received by his wife, formerly Miss Ruth Thorpe of Stanley.

Lieutenant Bullis is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Verne Bullis, Route 1.

He entered the service on July 7, 1941 and has been stationed in this country since that time.

Contributed by Dottie Carpenter, Eau Claire

Holiday Memories: World War II
Relatives, just like ships, pass each other in night
By Jack Bullis Eau Claire

When a serviceman is in the service, he does a lot of thinking about home, family and friends. The holiday season is one of the times that seems to bring out those thoughts more than any other time. 

Christmas 1944 was one of those tunes for me.

I was in the Army Signal Corps and, after several months of preparation, our unit, the 3186 Signal Service Battalion, had been sent to the European Theater to establish communications of a more permanent type in Germany and eastern France.

We landed in Liverpool, England in the middle of December and established a headquarters in a vacant school complex just south of town. Most of  our time was spent getting better organized and accumulating our roads relay equipment. We were kept quite busy and there was a lot to do.

After a week or so, the unit was contacted and told to form security teams to help guard the warehouses down at the harbor. It seems that the English longshoremen were not as patriotic as some of their more affluent neighbors, and they were stealing supplies at an alarming rate.

The stevadores and longshoremen were dressed in long black coats and knew their way around the dock area. When the freighters pulled up alongside the wharves, their task was to unload the freight from the USA. They would send a crew into the holds of the freighter, and they were to load the pallets so the crane operators could lift them out of the holds and swing the pallet over to the dock.

The men there would unload the material and store it in the warehouses alongside the docks. It sounded simple enough, but there were several problems that we found a bit difficult to solve.

The men in the hold identified the kind of freight being unloaded and got the word to the rest of the crews. At a given signal, the pallet was lifted out of the hold and slowly lowered toward the dock. But as it always happened, the crane operator's foot slipped and the somewhat lop-sided load was dumped to the cement.

The crew came from everywhere. They surrounded the load, making a tight screen around it. When a lone soldier rushed up to the group telling them to get back, he wasn't very successful. When the men backed away, the pallet was completely empty.

How does a single soldier prevent this? We were not allowed to carry firearms but were finally allowed to carry wooden sticks, which were not effective.

I doubled up the number of men in my crews, and that helped some. But those men on the dock were too much for us, and they got away with a very large amount of our supplies.

On the 24th of December 1944, my platoon was assigned the task of patrolling and guarding the dockside in the Liverpool harbor. Several big freighters were tied up, and a couple were being unloaded.

This time, however, the scene was different. A large troop ship was tied at one end of the pier where we were working. Many men were at the rail of the ship, and the soldiers on the dock were shouting back and forth to the men on deck. "Where are you from?" and "Where are you going?" were the common questions.

Once in a while, one or the other would find a state or town they had in common. Most all the fellows had served their time and accumulated enough "points" to go home.

It was fun to hear the comments that only soldiers can make, and we were happy for them. They left during the night, and we returned to our barracks for the traditional turkey Christmas dinner.

This is not the end of the story. When I returned home to Eau Claire and got together with my family again, we did some reminiscing and recalled some of the times we had spent in the service. My brother-in-law, Arnie Carpenter, mentioned that he had come home early after serving in the Air Force as an armourer. He had been shipped home by boat and had been in Liverpool,  England on Christmas Eve 1944!

So near and yet so far. It would have been easy to have visited with him, if only I had known! We passed in the night!

Leader-Telegram Lifestyles, Saturday, December 23, 1995

(Click for larger photo)

Christmas Past 1945
Lights illuminate Grand Avenue at Christmastime 1945. The photo was taken by Warren Brunner, a high school student who worked at the Daily Leader from 1944 to 1946 because another photographer was drafted. Brunner now owns and operates a photography studio in Berea, KY.