Albion Central Schools Veterans History Project
Calvin J. Warne
CALVIN J. WARNE: BIOGRAPHICAL & MILITARY SERVICE INFORMATION
- Birthplace: Clarendon, NY
- Place of Residence*: Winter Haven, Fla.
*at time of interview
- Wars of Service: World War II
- Branch of Service: Navy
- Unit/Division/Regiment/Ship: LST (Landing Ship Tank) 285C
- Date of Birth: Jan. 4, 1926
- Method of Induction: Enlisted
- Service Dates: 1/4/43 - 1/1947
- Place of Service: Sampson, European Theater, Pacific Theater, D-Day
Mr. Warne wanted to join the Navy and defend his country immediately after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but there was one problem…he was only 15 at the time and the Navy wouldn’t let him join until he was older. So he waited a year and joined on the very first day he could, on his 17th birthday: January 4th, 1943. To do this, he had to get his parent’s permission, and had to leave school in the middle of his senior year.
Even when Mr. Warne did finally get let into the Navy, it seemed like he had to wait a lot…the bus ride that took him from Buffalo to the Sampson Naval Training Station (where he would begin his training) near Seneca Lake a just over 100 miles away took about 18 hours…they left Buffalo at 6 a.m. and didn’t reach the base until 12 midnight! When they got to the training station, they spent their first night in a drill hall, since the barracks they were going to stay in had just been built and didn’t have heat yet…which made them very cold, since it was still the middle of winter.
Although Mr. Warne had joined the Navy because of the Japanese attack on the American naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, he did not go to the Pacific area of fighting…instead, he was first sent to Europe to take part in one of the major invasions and battles of the war: D-Day. Germany had taken over most of mainland Europe. The United States and its allies needed to fight their way back onto Europe so they could take back the land Germany had captured. To do this, they planned a massive attack on Normandy, a part of France that the Germans had taken over, which was just across the English Channel. The invasion was extremely dangerous and thousands of American soldiers lost their lives, but they knew they had no other choice if they wanted to defeat the Germans. During the invasion of D-Day, Mr. Warne was assigned to an LST, a Landing Ship Tank, which is a ship that carries tanks, infantry troops, and other weapons. When Mr. Warne’s ship got close enough to the shore, about three hours after the battle started, they dropped the troops and then unloaded the tanks, weapons carriers and other, larger equipment. After dropping off these vehicles and their drivers/operators, Mr. Warne’s LST began picking up injured soldiers to carry back to safety. To take care of the wounded, the ship also carried about five doctors and 20 pharmacists’ mates (medical assistants). In addition to allied soldiers hurt in the invasion, Mr. Warne’s ship also brought back a few enemy German soldiers as prisoners of war.
The city of Batavia, where Mr. Warne grew up, was thankful to him for his service to the country. For example, when he returned to Batavia on leave during the war, a gas station on Main Street (which would only sell a certain number of gallons to each customer each week because of the wartime shortage of gas) told Mr. Warne that they’d sell to him as much as he wanted…which was a real treat for him. Likewise, Oliver’s Candy store in Batavia wanted to show their gratitude to Mr. Warne, and sent him a box of chocolates every month he was in the service.
After serving in Europe, Mr. Warne was sent to the Pacific Ocean, to help in the fight against Japan. Amazingly, after serving at D-Day (the biggest invasion in Europe) Mr. Warne was also assigned to be part of what would have been the biggest invasion in the Pacific as well…the invasion of Okinawa, Japan. But luckily, shortly before the invasion was to take place, the Japanese surrendered and the war was over---Mr. Warne didn’t have to take part in this major attack after all!
Several years after the war, Mr. Warne’s high school in Batavia, New York held a special ceremony to give him and other classmates who had left to fight in World War II an official certificate of graduation from Batavia High School. Mr. Warne also took some college courses after the war, which were paid for by the G.I. Bill, a bonus/benefit program for former soldiers.
Mr. Warne’s four years of volunteer services ended in January 1947, when he was at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City. In the late 1980’s, Mr. Warne reunited with some of his fellow soldiers in New Jersey. It was the first time many of them had seen each other in 40 years, and they shook a lot of hands and told a lot of old war stories. Since that first gathering, Mr. Warne has gone to several other reunions all over the United States…in places like Houston, Texas, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Norfolk, Virginia, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, San Antonio, Texas, and Cleveland, Ohio.
One of Mr. Warne’s most memorable experiences since the end of the war was when he attended the 50th Anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy in France. This was a huge celebration and both he and his wife recall the journey warmly. First, Mr. Warne and his fellow sailors spent a week in England, visiting the places where they had been quartered (housed) and trained. Then they crossed the English Channel and went to Normandy, the site of the incredible D-Day invasion, where they were given special medals. Several important world leaders and politicians were also present at the ceremonies. In both England and France, Mr. Warne and his fellow veterans were treated like heroes.