Severe Consequences

Salisbury Plain, England

In February of 1944, Jack was sent with his men to Salisbury Plain, England to build assembly lines in preparation for the upcoming invasion. A few weeks before their departure, Jack’s outfit had been assigned a New Executive Officer, Major Smiley (Jack Nemerov, We Remember History Oral Interview). Major Smiley requested to interview each individual officer in the outfit. When it came time for Jack's turn, he said to him, “I want to make something very clear to you, I don't like 90-day wonders and I don't like Jews,” (Jack Nemerov, We Remember History Oral Interview). Thus, Jack already had two strikes against him. The two did not get along from this moment on. Major Smiley would only refer to Jack by saying “Hey You” rather than addressing him by name or rank and would constantly doubt Jack’s integrity and competence (Jack Nemerov, We Remember History Oral Interview).

While in Salisbury Plain, Jack’s first responsibility was to check out four assembly lines that were already in production. These lines were about two blocks long and were assembling all units earmarked for use in the invasion to come (Jack Nemerov, We Remember History Oral Interview). As soon as the rest of the assembly lines were built in and progress was in motion, Major Smiley removed Jack from the assembly lines and sent him on detached duty with the British Amphibious Warfare School in Bideford, England (Jack Nemerov, WWII Memoir). Here, they were working on invasion maneuvers.

Jack was working in a group of 100 American and British officers (Jack Nemerov, WWII Memoir). Their responsibility was to figure out a way to get the rolling equipment off the landing craft, through the water, up onto the shore, and ready for use in an invasion. The objective was to find a substance that could be used to seal any openings to prevent sea water seeping into the engines. To experiment with the different types of substances, they would take the units that were being waterproofed out into the ocean on landing crafts, drop them into the water and attempt to get them up onshore. They found that a playdough-like substance, made by Minnesota Mining, was the most effective substance they experimented with (Jack Nemerov, WWII Memoir). From here, they proceeded to train the units earmarked for the invasion on waterproofing their vehicles, such as tanks.

Jack returned to his outfit in Salisbury Plain in late March (Jack Nemerov, WWII Memoir). He was met by Major Smiley, who immediately told him what a big failure the assembly line was because it had not been producing the number of vehicles it was supposed to complete. He then put Jack back in charge of the line. By this time, Jack was a 1st Lieutenant, so he knew this was Major Smiley’s attempt to prove he was not capable of holding a commission and bust him back in rank. Jack went back to the assembly lines and found out rather quickly what the problems were, corrected them, and began to get equipment rolling through. After about one week, he had the lines catching up on the units that were needed at a rapid pace (Jack Nemerov, WWII Memoir). They were assembling jeeps, half-tracks, 3 quarter ton weapons carriers, 6x6 trucks, bomb carriers, and M-8 and M-20 armored cars (Jack Nemerov, WWII Memoir).

Throughout the busiest of times, Major Smiley frequently inspected the assembly line. Jack quickly grew tired of the Major’s pointless interruptions. During one inspection in the first week of May in 1944, Major Smiley yelled, “Hey you,” as usual, and Jack saluted him. He continued to say, "You are doing your job, what do you say that we call a truce." (Jack Nemerov, We Remember History Oral Interview). Jack responded by telling him, "Yes Sir, you stay the hell away from me, and I will stay the hell away from you," (Jack Nemerov, We Remember History Oral Interview. Angered by this response, Major Smiley climbed out of the jeep and approached Jack to fight. Within seconds, Major Smiley was face forward in the cement. Jack had hit him about five or six times in the gut and then once on the back of his head as he fell.

Jack was immediately arrested and confined to his quarters while Major Smiley was taken to the field hospital. Jack was informed of the damage he had caused to the Major which included a broken cheekbone, a broken jaw, and a broken nose (Jack Nemerov, We Remember History Oral Interview). The investigating officer they sent to take Jack’s statement turned out to be a friend of his, Captain Nelson. He explained that none of the officers wanted to court-martial Jack, but nonetheless, there had to be consequences for striking a superior. He told Jack “We're trying to make a deal; you will be put down at the bottom of the promotion list, and you just volunteered for the invasion” (Jack Nemerov, We Remember History Oral Interview. Jack was not particularly affected by the promotion aspect of the deal because he did not desire to make the military his career. He looked forward to his return home after the war. The part that deeply displeased him was that he would be going into the invasion as punishment. Jack viewed this as less of a compromise and more of what he assumed an “easy way out” for the officers, considering he could likely be killed in battle (Jack Nemerov, We Remember History Oral Interview).