Army Signal OCS - Candidate History

     Classmate Harold Sidney (Bob) Bercu - Class 42-11    

WWII - Ft. Monmouth, Camp Crowder, Tinian, Ft. Bragg


This mini-bio was submitted by Candidate Harold Bercu's daughter, Julie. Julie commented in her letter to the Association that her father was an entrepreneur and had several successful businesses during his lifetime, and most importantly, he had a wonderful sense of humor. To this day Julie's friends still quote what they all call "Bob-isms". 


Harold “Bob” Bercu WW II Memoirs (Taken at age 92)

Army Signal OCS Candidate Bercu - Class 42-11I was drafted while living in St. Louis, but I'm not sure of my age. They sent me to a camp near St. Louis. They asked anyone who could type to step forward. I stepped forward, because I could type at 90 words per minute. They had me type up the cards for the men coming in. I did that for several weeks, and then they assigned me to the Signal Corps.

From there I went to Ft. Monmouth, NJ.  I had just been there a short time, when they called my name out to report to the company office, and I was told I would be going on a top secret mission. The mission was to guard a box car load of radar equipment being shipped from Ft. Monmouth to the west coast. During that trip, I became friendly with the lieutenant in charge of us. We lived in the caboose, and guarded the box car load, being careful not to let the car be bumped in the switch yards, until we got to California.

I was reassigned  from California to a new camp, called Camp Crowder, in Missouri, and was promoted to corporal. I was teaching handling the rifle, marching in formation, and such to the new recruits. One day when I had a column of recruits out jogging, one recruit said “It's easy for you. You don't have a heavy pack like we do.” So I said “Here, I'll switch with you”. When we did, his knees buckled because I had about 50 pounds in the pack. 

The lieutenant I became friendly with was also assigned there. He encouraged me to apply to officer's school back at Fort Monmouth. I applied and was accepted into the Signal Corps Officer Candidate School.

Army Signal Corps Captain Harold S. BercuThe school was highly condensed into 90 days, so we were called 90-day wonders. I was very conscientious and graduated at the head of my class as a second lieutenant. From Ft. Monmouth, I was assigned to a training camp in California where I taught pole line construction and installation of telephone and telegraph lines. As a pole line instructor, I taught men how to climb wooden poles using strap on spikes and a belt around the pole. I had become very adept at running up & down poles.

As the war progressed, I was transferred to Oahu, HI, and assigned as commanding officer for a group of Signal Corps technicians. From Hawaii, we went aboard a ship, and opened our orders at sea. We found we were going to Tinian in the Marianas Islands. We had no idea where it was, but we knew we would be somewhere out in the Pacific. We heard there were still Japanese troops hiding on the island, even though it was only 4 by 8 miles.

When we arrived we had to climb down nets into small boats which took us to shore. There we set up a camp for the unit, which had about 50 men. The men I commanded were all repairmen and could fix Signal Corps and other Army equipment. This was called the Signal Supply Depot. There were thousands of parts and supplies. So we were called on to fix gear, and issue equipment that the Signal Corps had. This included equipment and supplies that were shipped to the wrong place, such as enormous spools of wire. I was on Tinian for about 2 years. At one point a wrecked double-ender washed up on shore. We rigged a mast & a boom for it. Some of the guys could sail and taught us some things, and I was able to teach them a bit. Another time we were out looking for sea shells, and a guy got into deep water and started flailing around. I went in and pulled him out. Someone turned in my name, and I later received the Soldier's Medal for saving his life. Another time, 6 Japanese soldiers jumped out of the bushes and surrendered to me.

U.S. Army Soldiers MedalOne of our most important pieces of equipment was the “sigaba”, which was an encryption/decryption device, which was guarded at all times. By this time, all the Japanese had been cleared out, and the fighting forces had moved on to Iwo Jima. Somewhere in that time I was promoted to first lieutenant. I returned the “sigaba” to Hawaii. It was chained to me on the ship along with guards.

While I was on Tinian, the atomic bomb was delivered there on the Indianapolis. It was from that air strip that Paul Tibbets dropped it on Hiroshima in the Enola Gay. We knew it was a big bomb, but had no idea how powerful it was. 

After the atomic bombs ended the war, I was reassigned to Los Angeles, and left the army there after having been promoted to captain.

When the Korean War broke out, as a captain in the reserves, I was reactivated. By that time, I was married with 2 children, and we were expecting our 3rd. I was a salesman for a printing firm in Los Angeles. 

The army first sent me to a camp commanded by an officer who had employed most of the men in civilian life. I was not happy with the very little they had me doing, so I contacted the head of the Signal Corps about it. I was promptly transferred to Fort Bragg, NC. 

At Fort Bragg, one of my duties was to find out why, when men jumped from B29s, and some other aircraft, the T7 parachute would snag something on the plane. Men were getting broken shoulders, and worse. I went up many times in a fighter plane to photograph the B29 as men were jumping out from all angles. As a result of that the chute design was changed. (At the time I was also an amateur photographer.)

At the end of the war I was discharged into civilian life.






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