Thursday, March 30, 2023

August 1944: The American Conscientious Objector, Part 3

I got another response from a command historian with the U.S. Army about my request to better understand how a Conscientious Objector wound up as a radio operator and paratrooper in France in August of 1944:

Finally, I find a conscientious objector serving in the field with the OSS unlikely.  Extremely UNLIKELY.  While I could see the OSS having conscientious objectors, especially if they had special technical or language skills.  

However, it had plenty of analytical, behind-the-lines jobs that would use those skills. So it doesn't make sense that an operational group would have a conscientious objector.  It's not so much that they were considered cowards as the team needed to have confidence in everyone else.  If you were in enemy territory, would you want someone on your team that would not carry a weapon and be prepared to shot someone that was threatening you?  Yes, this conscientious objector might have wanted to volunteer, but would the team have taken him?  

On the other hand, stuff happens in war.  Did the primary radio operator break his ankle/leg in a training accident just before the mission? Then the OSS couldn't get a replacement in time so had to scrape up one from England or North Africa (wherever they started from).   

My initial impression was that the American was more or less teasing your grandfather--it's something that I might have done: making light of the dangerous or stressful situation with absurdity.  But that's all guessing on my part.  

So, another "unlikely but not impossible" response. :-)

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