World War II infantryman Victor DiCarlo got into the war late, but he packed much action in his four months of combat in Europe. He joined the 80th Infantry Division in January, 1945 long after the division had hit the beach on D+51. They were in Luxembourg when Vic arrived on a truck, an 18-year-old trained as a demolition man. On February 8, Vic received his first Bronze Star for heroic actions against an enemy pillbox on the Siegfried Line. The pillbox was laying down devastating fire and had halted his regiment’s advance. Vic crawled through a minefield under fire and put a demolition charge into the pillbox and blew it up. There was a lot more to come—more pillboxes, more firefights, and then something he could never have imagined: Concentration Camps.
Delia DiCarlo was born near Caserta, Italy in 1929. Her parents emigrated to the US in 1938, leaving Delia with her godparents. Delia recalls how the war pervaded every aspect of her life as a child. She describes the experience of hiding in the basement, windows and doors closed, as the Allied forces bombed her village. Her home was shelled, but never destroyed. Delia’s school was bombed, so continued her education at home under the tutelage of her godfather. When German forces moved into Italy, Delia and her family were forced to evacuate their village and move to the nearby hills, where they lived in tents and cabins, lacking basic necessities and waiting for the fighting to end. Upon her return to her village, she witnessed even further destruction – homes had been raided and stripped of food and valuables, first by the Germans and then by American and Allied forces. Delia came to the US in 1947, where she finished her education, first at an immigrant school and then at Pittsburgh’s Peabody High School. She later earned degrees in nursing from St. Francis University and the University of Pittsburgh. Delia met Vic through a club for Italian-American alumni of the University of Pittsburgh.
During this interview, the DiCarlos spent the afternoon speaking and answering questions about their memories of the war, Vic as an infantryman in Europe and Delia as a teenager growing up in Mussolini’s Italy and enduring the destruction that raked her country after the Germans occupied it.
This interview is a production of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative, in partnership with the Veterans Breakfast Club. It was recorded on June 7, 2013 as part of Professor Todd DePastino’s World War II History class at Waynesburg University’s Graduate and Professional Studies Program, Cranberry, PA.
KEYWORDS: QUEEN ELIZABETH; LST; FRANCE; LUXEMBOURG; GERMANY; AUSTRIA; ITALY; 80TH INFANTRY DIVISION; DEMOLITION SQUAD; SIEGFRIED LINE; PILLBOX; BOUNCING BETTY; BRONZE STAR; POW (GERMAN); CONCENTRATION CAMPS; ALSACE-LORRAINE; DRAGON TEETH; WEIMAR, GERMANY; BUCHENWALD; EBENSEE; VE DAY; K-RATIONS; M1 RIFLE; RECONNAISSANCE; CASERTA, ITALY; NAPLES, ITALY; MUSSOLINI; UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH