Thursday, January 29, 2009

Letter 9- October 27, 1943

October 27, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon

Dear Folks,
I have only a few minutes free time to write this note tonight. I have to make up a pack, clean my rifle, take a bath and about 40 other things, but I did want to get at last a short note off.

I received daddy’s letters yesterday as I told you on the phone. Don’t worry about asking questions. I only wish you were around asking me some now.

At the end of the week we get out of quarantine and then I get the red and white ----- ( I can’t think of the word) trimming for my cap.

I’ll write a real letter as soon as possible.

Best Love,



  1. The trim that Bill refers to is the scarlet and white piping in the cap signifying the Corps of Engineers. Scarlet is the word Bill couldn't think of.

    Bill is lucky that he isn't getting more war news. Operation Avalanche, the invasion of southern Italy, has just wound up with horrific casualties. The U.S. and British landed at Salerno and established a narrow beachhead. The Germans counterattacked, but finally withdrew under withering naval gunfire and air strikes. The Western Allies needed to demonstrate to Josef Stalin that they could fight Germans as well as he could.

    The Germans trashed every Italian road, aquaduct, sewer, bridge, public building, and harbor they could find. They stole everything from typewriters to dinnerware, automobiles to mules (those they didn't shoot). They set booby traps all over Naples, and time bombs killed hundreds.

    It fell to the Corps of Engineers to find and disarm all the mines and bombs, and to rebuild the roads and bridges. The Germans fell back to every ridgeline and mountaintop that offered observation and defensive advantage while the Allies rebuilt. Italy was to be an engineer's war.

    At about this time planners in Washington, DC are looking at lists of units being trained - including Company B at Camp Abbott - and projecting when they would be available for deployment overseas. Is Bill going to learn about bomb disposal? Mine clearance? Building bridges? He's probably better off in the dark at Camp Abbott.

    As we know, Bill will eventually exchange his scarlet and white piping for the Infantry's robin's egg blue.

  2. Bill will be telling us all about bomb disposal, demolition, bridge building and a host of other training procedures in upcoming letters.

    He is frustrated by the lack of news from the war front as he is keenly interested in politics and world affairs. In his letter of October 29 Bill makes reference to Hull, Eden and Molotov having their first meeting, which was a prelude to the Teheran conference between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin which would be held in November of 1943. Most of the war news Bill would get while at Abbot was "good" news. In this regard he was no different than the general population of Americans who received their news filtered through the "War Department" and a press that promoted "morale" above the cold hard realities of the war.

  3. The way wars are reported have changed greatly since WWII. Often times the press seems to hinder the military and emphasise negative news over "good" news.


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