Oral history interview of Sidney Harry Saper. Interview conducted by Cameron Haney at Mr. Saper's home in Summerfield, Florida.
0:30 Begins a discussion of his childhood; notes that his parents “split up”; 0:44 Was placed in a home until he was 15; 1:10 Mentions that he married his wife in 1941; 1:30 Discusses how he met his wife; 1:57 He and his friend introduce themselves to his future wife in Cleveland; 3:02 Upon meeting her he says “I think I want to marry you.”; 3:34 Went to Akron, Ohio, for work; 3:55 Was drafted at the end of December, 1941; 4:20 He discusses his awareness of his role in the coming war; 4:25 Refers to himself as “cannon fodder”; 4:58 Begins to discuss his experiences in boot camp; 5:30 Expresses that unions were “worse enemies than the Axis”; 6:15 He felt fighting was his responsibility; 6:37 Notes that he had opportunities to withdraw from combat but chose not to; 7:15 Talks about how he was assigned to his position within the Army; 8:16 He was chosen to be promoted to technical Sergeant; 9:05 Initially deployed to North Africa; 9:45 Discusses the impact of unexploded ordinance; 10:23 Notes that there is still ordinance left in Florida; 11:10 Discusses the manufacturing of fuses; 11:40 Preferred to detonate the bombs in empty areas; 12:06 Claims he defused somewhere between 300-400 bombs; 12:28 Admits to extreme fear of grenades; 13:23 Talks about a medic that was shot and fell on a grenade; 14:20 Interlude – Mrs. Saper offers drinks; 14:45 Corrects his earlier statement 00 drafted from Cleveland; 15:40 Wanted to detonate the grenade instead of moving it; 16:10 Notes that he moved very quickly on the African front; 16:23 Was only in North Africa for one year; 16:30 Discusses his awareness of other theaters of operation; 17:05 Takes out some maps; 17:40 He landed in Sicily at Palermo to little resistance; 18:00 Was among the first to land in Sicily; 18:22 Says that it was “peace and quiet”; 19:25 Discusses the land at Salerno on the Italian province; 19:50 Consistent fighting for five days; 20:22 Was unable to tell his wife where he was going; 21:01 They had to build bridges for the tanks; 21:30 Discusses the problems they faced with terrain; 22:10 Africa to Italy was “village to urban”; 22:20 The Italians were very proud; 22:35 Had little interaction with civilians in North Africa; 23:15 Learned to speak Italian during the war; 23:30 Discovered he had an affinity for languages; 24:30 He considered the Germans very animalistic; 26:30 Notes that he eventually went to Auschwitz; 27:11 When they invaded Italy they made a break for wineries; 27:36 Was hesitant to make friends for fear they would die; 28:09 No consistent schedule for being on the line; 29:21 Had a poor relationship with his commanding officer; 29:40 He discusses leading the charge up a hill to a monastery; 30:03 Notes that ineffectiveness of Air Force bombing; 32:01 Didn’t take the time to consider Germans, just fought; 32:26 Couldn’t understand why the Germans hated the Jews so much; 32:43 Considered putting Hitler into power a smart move; 32:50 Suggests that Hitler could have been stopped; 34:02 Discusses how they intended to city hop to Rome; 34:41 They had captured Rome but were ordered back from the city; 34:57 They had to recapture Rome from the Germans; 35:15 Traveled up north to Florence; 35:22 Saw 10,000 Germans killed when they retreated and were strafed; 35:45 No glory or romance in war; 37:01 Medals do no good; 37:21 Received a purple heart for shrapnel in his arm; 37:37 Did not consider his wound to be a real wound; 38:50 Discusses helping an Italian family that was starving; 39:11 Suggests the Italians didn’t really want a part in WWII; 40:27 Talks about avoiding an incoming shell; 41:02 The shell turned out to be a dud; 41:15 Empathizes with current soldiers; 41:31 Suggests that fear was necessary to survive; 41:44 If a man suggests he wasn’t afraid he was a liar; 42:08 Fear was a means of staying aware; 42:20 Notes that he survived the dud shell by being aware because of fear; 43:13 Admits he was very angry during the war; 43:27 Suggests there was no reason for World War II to have happened; 43:54 Emotions were kept private between soldiers; 44:21 Soldiers quickly learned that death was a reality; 45:31 They advanced through Naples; 45:42 They were put on boats and told they were going to the Japanese theater; 46:14 Was thankful the Japanese were smart enough to surrender; 46:28 Was in the middle of the ocean when he found out the war was over; 46:48 The soldiers went nuts on the ship and threw things overboard; 47:06 They were diverted back to New York; 47:24 Was relieved to be going home; 47:41 Was happy that all the soldiers were returning; 48:01 Does not recall ever being given leave; 48:30 He was mailed his discharge papers; 48:47 Returned to his wife after three years of war; 49:03 Was concerned about making a living upon returning; 49:11 He was very angry for awhile; 49:45 He did not feel changed by the war; 50:01 Felt it was a stupid war, but he was doing his part; 50:25 Was thankful he wasn’t changed by the experience; 50:54 Experienced a few nightmares, but he was fortunate overall; 51:35 Doesn’t want to compare his experience with other veterans;
Date of Birth
Place of Birth
New York (N.Y.)
White - Non Hispanic
War or Conflict
World War II
Begin/End date of Service - 1st
Entrance into Service
Branch of Service
Unit of Service
236th Ord. AMM Co.
Location of Service
Casablanca (Morocco); Sicily (Italy); Anzio (Italy); Salerno (Italy); Monte Cassino (Italy); Rome (Italy); Po Valley (Italy); North Apennines; Florence (Italy); Venice (Italy)
Technical Sergeant; TSgt
Prisoner of War
Service Related Injury
Casa Blanca, North Africa; Battle of Anzio; Naples-Foggia; Po Valley; North Apennines; Rome-Arno
See the Video
City of Birth
Country of Birth
Location of Interview
Mr. Saper's home in Summerfield, Fla.
Saper, Sidney H.; World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives; United States. Army
Contains logs, audio and video recordings of interviews with Central Florida's veterans as part of a history class project for the students at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The UCF Community Veterans History Project(CVHP) started in fall 2010. It collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public the experiences of Central Florida's veterans so that future generations will better understand the realities of conflict. It is a collaborative endeavor supported by multiple departments and offices at UCF. The veterans' histories are archived and made digitally available through the UCF library and selected materials are contributed to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.
Contributor Affiliation / Organization
RICHES; University of Central Florida
Length of Interview
Department of History, University of Central Florida
All rights are held by the respective holding institution. This material is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. For permission to reproduce and/or for copyright information contact Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries, (407) 823-2576. http://library.ucf.edu/about/departments/special-collections-university-archives/
University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UCF Community Veterans History Project
Central Florida, RICHES of, "Saper, Sidney Harry interview" (2010). Veterans Oral Histories. 18.