Saturday, February 28, 2009

About Letter 24

Bill urges his folks to reconsider their idea to visit him at Christmas time. He states, “Camp Abbot is a million miles from nowhere.” He points out that the railroad stops at Klamath Falls, 145 miles south of the camp and the rest of the way is by bus. As for driving, Bill reminds his folks that gasoline rationing makes that impossible. He thanks Mother and Daddy for all the goodies they have sent him and begs for some chocolate saying, “such things mean more to the fellows in camp than a 3 day pass.”

Letter 24- November 12, 1943

November 12, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

As per usual I’ve got no time to write, but in spite of all I’ll try to get off a decent letter. I received a letter apiece from both you Mother and you Daddy today and they sure made me feel good. The cookies are almost gone but I’m hoarding the few crumbs like a miser. I want to thank you again for them and the other swell stuff you sent me. Such things mean more to fellows in camp than 3 day passes. Keep up the good work. Something I hate to ask you for because it’s so hard to get is chocolate. Up here in all this cold chocolate means a heck of a lot –especially when it’s 5 or 10 deg. F, a dark night and you’re doing guard duty-by the way I get my first guard duty about a week tomorrow.

In one of your recent letters you spoke of coming to see me at Christmas. You know that I want to see you more than anything else in the world, but this is the situation. Camp Abbot is a million miles from nowhere. Bend is very small and has been completely taken over by the Army. There is no railroad into Bend except a freight line. The S.P. stops at Klamath Falls 145 miles south of here and the only communication between there and camp is a two by four bus line. And then even when you get to Bend chances are 100 to 1 that you can’t get lodging anywhere. If it wasn’t for gasoline rationing there’d be no problem because you could drive up and stay at Klamath Falls and then drive to the camp but since that isn’t possible, I don’t see how it can be done.

Seems as though I might be able to qualify as Expert Rifleman. Don’t know yet. There are a lot of “ifs”-but I can try.

Best Love,


Thursday, February 26, 2009

About Letter 23

Bill gets “sucker punched” during a free-for-all boxing match and suffers a broken nose. He draws a sketch entitled “Canvas back Taylor” depicting his swollen mug. He reassures mom that despite the tone of his letters he is not down or depressed, just disgusted with the inefficiency and graft he sees around him. Bill reveals his political leanings and adds that “I hope this isn’t censored.”

Letter 23- November 10, 1943

November 10, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear folks,

This is about the 4th. time I’ve started this letter. This time if the ink runs I’m going to keep right on writing.

Daddy wrote in one of his recent letters that Horton Grant had broken his nose a’ la Dude. Well, guess who’s a’ la Dude right now-nobody else but ‘Yours truly”. Today we were having a free for all boxing match between two squads when some dirty stinkers sneaked up on me while I was slugging it out with another fellow and clouted me in the face. It’s a good thing for him I never saw who it was that did that because when I woke up I sure was mad. The rest of the day I got to lie around the barracks in spite of the fact that I felt fine. It was almost worth the busted puss. Tomorrow I’m going down to have it set. It never hurt a bit but now when I move it I can hear it go “pop” “pop”. Wot a sensation! Well, that’s enough on my ailments.

I your last letter, Mother, you wrote as if you thought the Army was getting me down. If my letters seem to convey that impression, don’t you believe it. Hell, this lousy Army just hasn’t got what it takes to really get me down. Sure, I want to come home; everybody does. I’m disgusted with the terrible inefficiency and GRAFT that even I can see in certain places, but I’m nowhere near down or anything like that. Don’t worry, I’ll make out.

I’ve met some swell fellows here and now I’m glad I’ve been sent to the 54th. I like the cadre, the fellows, and the conditions here better than in the 53rd. A kid named Hamilton from Alameda sleeps next to me & we get along swell. He went to Cal. and is more like the fellows I knew at school than anybody I’ve known in the Army. He’s even a Rep. and a Roosevelt hater. (I hope this isn’t censored)

Gotta close now. The Sarge just blew in about some crap.

Best Love in the World,

(sketch here)
“Canvas back’ Taylor

Letter 22- November 8, 1943

November 8, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

I received both packages last night. Gee! It was just like Christmas. Everything was wonderful. The cookies went over big with everyone-especially me to whom the great majority of them went. They should last me a week or so yet in that can. The scarf is swell too. Everybody’s as jealous as hell. And the sweater too. It’s great. The hard candies were a swell idea too. I can put a couple in my pocket everyday to take out into the field. Thanks for everything.

I’ve been running my fanny off here today as usual, and I can’t write as much as I want. Guess I’ll have to quit here. Will write a real letter later.



Saturday, February 21, 2009

About Letter 21

Arising at 5:15 am. Bill and the boys go to the rifle range. It is so cold on the firing line that “nobody could shoot worth a damn”. Bill draws a humorous sketch depicting the situation. He tells his mother that he is exploring the idea of applying for “some special branch” of the ASTP program such as photography or camouflage. Bill describes a soldier in his barracks who appears to be having a mental breakdown and closes the letter with a ditty which describes “our snappy outfit.”

Letter 21- November 7, 1943

November 7, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Wot a life! Wot a life! Today is Sunday –the day when the Army rests supposedly. Well, we got up at 5:15 this morning and went out on the range. When we go there it was still so dark that we couldn’t fire. Soooooo -, we had to wait 45 minutes for the sun to come up. Of course, that 45 minutes could have just as well been spent in bed, but the Army wouldn’t take that into consideration. After we started firing it got so cold that nobody could shoot worth a damn. Whenever I wasn’t coaching or firing I stood almost on top of a big fire and drunk gallons of soup. The soup was at least some consulation (sp). After we finally got back from that we got the rest of the day off, but hell!

Yesterday was really a beautiful day though. It was so cold that in spite of the bright sun the frost didn’t melt until about 2:00 in the afternoon. All the trees around here looked as if they had been sprayed with white paint. Otherwise and anyway to hell with the jernt.

I promised in my last letter last night I’d answer your latest letters so here it is.

In your letter of Nov. 1, Mother, you asked what I was going to do if asked about a transfer. Well, I really don’t know yet. I’ve got a couple of interviews coming up yet and I’ll find out a lot more then.

As far as A.S.T.P is concerned I’m sort of behind the 8 ball. All the A.S.T.P. here is Engineering and as far as that’s concerned I’m pretty limited. However, I’m going to tell what I’ve taken in school, my grades, etc. and maybe I’ll get a chance at some special branch. There are a number of things like photography (camouflage?) and others I haven’t found out about yet.

I haven’t received any package yet, but if any buzzard tries to swipe it he’s going to meet a sudden and violent end.

In answer to your letter, Dad-I think that our C.O. is a descendant of Paul Revere. I think his main purpose in life is breaking down morale. Most of us can take it, but there’s one bird in the barracks that doesn’t do anything but lie in bed and blubber. Nevertheless we sure do a lot of talking about home here.

I’ve only one thing about Bob Chilcott in the Engineer A.S.T.P. Either it’s a hell of a lot easyier(sp) than they let on here, or

About the camouflage (I don’t know how it’s spelled) branch of engineers I know very little, but I know that we get quite a bit of it in basic.

One thing I’ve got to say about the Engineers is that it’s a snappy outfit and we know it. There’s a lot of dirty work in it but that little “Golden Outhouse” on my lapel means quite a bit in the Army. These are the words to our Engineers song.

We’re the fighting Engineers,
the fighting Engineers.
We do all the dirty work,
the doughboy gets the cheers.
We keep the outfit moving,
we cover up the rear.
We’re the God damned heroes,
the fighting Engineers-hey!

Keep sending the news; it’s the only way I ever hear it.



About Letter 20

The mail problem seems to be resolved. The routine continues with "lots of marching and lots of marksmanship." Bill is given the chance to do some instruction. In closing he urges Dad to keep sending him the news. "It really surprises me."

Letter 20- November 6, 1943

November 6, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Well, I’ve started getting my mail again. That moroon’ of a co. clerk over at the 53rd. in spite of what I told him, sent my mail to the “new 55th.", a non-existent outfit. What a dope! It’s funny about the mail. I got two letters from Mother today. One was written Nov. 1 & the other was written Nov. 3. But! the North Hollywood dateline on the first letter was Nov. 3, and the dateline on the later one was Nov. 2. What’s going on at that post office, anyway?

I haven’t received the package yet, but the way things are here I don’t expect it for a couple of days. It gives me something to be excited about, anyway-almost like Christmas.

Things are pretty much the same around here. Lots of marching and lots of marksmanship. I’m doing pretty good and they’re beginning to let me do a little instructing. Cripes, maybe I’ll end up as cadre.

I’ll write another letter tomorrow concerning the letters I got today, but right now I’ve got to clean my rifle. Keep on sending the news, Dad. It really surprised me.

Love & Kisses
P.S. Con’t. tomorrow

Monday, February 16, 2009

About Bill

Bill was born in Los Angeles on August 15, 1925, the only child of William W. Taylor, Sr. and Alice Aten Taylor, formerly of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Bill Sr. was the head of the English Department at Harvard Military School, an exclusive school for boys. Alice was a typical housewife of the era. During Bill’s formative years the family lived at 12928 Bloomfield St., North Hollywood, California in a typical California bungalow style house in a typical neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley.

Bill was an excellent student and he got top grades at Harvard School. He particularly excelled in English as would be expected with his father’s background. He had the dubious distinction of being a student in his father’s English class and earned A’s in the class despite having to work twice as hard as the other students. Bill attended Harvard for six years and spent many hours in military drill and related military subjects. This gave him a great advantage over most of his peers at Camp Abbot.

Following his graduation from Harvard School in June of 1943, Bill enrolled as a freshman at UCLA, where he was recruited to join the Army under the auspices of the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). ASTP was established in December 1942 to identify, train and educate academically-talented enlisted men as a specialized corp of Army Officers. To qualify for this program Bill had to score 10 points over the score needed to qualify for Officer Candidate School. The plan was for Bill to complete his engineer training at Camp Abbot and then return to UCLA to continue his education as a member of the United States Army. Following the completion of the UCLA course of study Bill expected to go to OCS and ultimately be commissioned an officer. Alas, this was not to be, and Bill ended up in the infantry, as did most ASTP candidates.

Bill Taylor, Jr. left home on Monday, October 4, 1943 for Fort MacArthur. The following day he wrote letter 1 of this collection and we pick up the story from there.

About Letter 19

Bill continues a routine he describes as “strenuous and yet boring as hell.” He quotes a phrase his mother often uses, “I ain’t never gonna like this war!” After a month in the “bloomin’ army”, Bill states that “it’s the longest month I’ve ever spent.” He says his experiences have made him appreciate home.

Letter 19- November 5, 1943

November 5, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Will wonders never cease? This afternoon I’ve got a little time to write a letter. Last night I didn’t have time to even write a note. I know how much you want to get a line every day, but I’ll be darned if I had the time. I haven’t had any mail from you for two days now so I know how it feels. I imagine it’s the fault of that goddamned son of a bitch of a Co. clerk over in the 53rd. He probably just doesn’t want to take the trouble to send it across the street over here. It would take me only five minutes to go and get it but they want to make things difficult, I guess, so I can’t even do that. What I’m worried about is that package (there’s nothing I wouldn’t put passed that clerk). I’d better get it though or there’s going to be hell to pay because if I must I’ll take (it) right up to the company commander.

Things have been as strenuous and yet boring as hell. March-march-march-run-run-run-freeze-freeze. I’ve got a peach of a cold in my chest and throat, but I think it’s beginning to break. This morning we had extended order drill and although all the snow from last week has melted, there were sharp ice crystals al over the ground and I just about cut my hands to pieces. This sort of thing goes on all the time. When we get through with this training we’re going to be pretty tough babies.

There’s really nothing else very important to write. Most of what I’m doing right now is merely a violent reproduction of what I learned at Harvard¹. One thing I can truthfully say though is, to quote Mother, “I ain’t never gonna like this war!” There’s one thing all this is doing for me, however; and that’s making me appreciate home. When I think of how great a brat I was when I was home, it makes me sick. What a pile I was! The things I used to gripe about having to do. God, what a idiot! That’s one thing you can be thankful for when I get home. No matter what you want me to do I’ll do it without a word. Oh! Oh! Gotta close, dammit!

Notice the date on the head. I’ve been in the bloomin’ Army just a month & a day. It’s the longest month I’ve ever spent.

Write all the news from home.

All the Love in the World,


1. Harvard Military School. Harvard was an exclusive school for boys in Los Angeles. Bill’s father, William Wellington Taylor, Sr., was the head of the English Department. He retired in 1957 after 36 years at the school.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

About Letter 18

Bill is settling into his new platoon. He is a bit sardonic when he proclaims that "[here]I'm a veritable genius among jerks." He notes that the food is better and the barracks are "bigger and better in every way".

Letter 18 -November 3, 1943

November 3, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Sorry but I’ve only time for a short note again tonight. I was pretty sore yesterday, but today I had some pleasant surprises. I knew more than most the other trainees in the 53rd. but in the 54th. I’m a veritable “genius among jerks”. Honest to God if I don’t think I know more than the bloomin” platoon commander. Another thing is the food. There’s more of it and it’s better.

The only thing that’s getting (me) down is the fact I’m in quarantine and have to do so much over again. Otherwise everything is O.K. The barracks I’m in now is bigger and nicer in every way.

Sorry I’ve got to close. Lights out, you know.

All the Love in the World


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Letter 17- November 2, 1943

November 2, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

I’ve only time for a short note tonight. It seems my worst fears are realized. I’ve been set back. Now I’m in the 54th., 2 whole weeks behind my old outfit---Hell! Don’t worry about the mail. I’ve made arrangements so I’ll be sure to keep getting my mail. My new address is as follows:

Pvt. William W. Taylor, Jr.
A.S.N. 19203811
Co. “C” 54 bn.

(5th. barracks)
Camp Abbot, Oregon

I’m back in quarantine HELL!

I hope you will write a lot during the next couple of weeks. I’ll be feeling pretty low and won’t have a damn thing to do. Gosh, I feel as if I’d flunked a grade in school.

All the love in the world,


P.S. This was the only paper and envelope available

About Letter 16

Bill receives the ominous news that he is being shipped to another platoon. He fears that he is being put back in the training cycle due to the week he spent in the hospital. His frustration boils over as he exclaims, “I know about 3 times as much as these bags here will ever know, but they won’t give me a chance to show it. They’ll be sorry.”

Letter 16- November 1, 1943

November 1, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

Tonight I feel so low I could crawl under a snake’s belly. A few minutes ago I was informed that I was being shipped to another platoon. They didn’t say where I was going but I can guess. Just because I was in the damn hospital for a week they’re going to put me back a battalion & that’ll mean I’ll have to go thru quarantine again and all that crap.

By God, if they do that, I’m going to start hounding them for a transfer; and while I’m waiting for it, I’m going to be such a damn good soldier that they’ll wonder why the hell they ever let me go-damn ‘em!-god damn ‘em to hell! I know about 3 times as much as these bags here will ever know, but they won’t give me a chance to show it. They’ll be sorry. The first thing I’m going to do is go and ask whether I’m still in the A.S.T.P. If not, I’m going to ask to take the General Classification test all over again. Next time I’m just going to concentrate on the English and the stuff I already know and not spend so much time on the math.

Honest to Pete! If anyone’d say a damn word to me right now, it would be his last utterance. God! I’m mad.

Well, I can’t write on that for a whole letter, but I’m sure sore. Again I might be wrong about what they’re going to do with me, but chances of it are awfully slim.

Well, I received a letter from you, Mother, and you, Dad, and Ben Cottle also today. It sure is swell to get a lot of mail. If you didn’t get a letter one day, Mother, you should get two the next because I’ve been writing every day. Another thing is that I wouldn’t send anymore mail via air. Daddy’s regular mail letters are getting here just as fast as Mother’s air mail letters. Ben said in his letter that he has been let in the air corps as a Cadet in spite of bad eyes and a heart murmur!! God! They must be hard up for manpower.

If they set me back I guess all I’ll have to say in my letters is that “Today I did exactly what I did on Oct. 26 etc.” Crap!

Keep sending mail to the same address.
Best Love, Bill

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Camp Abbot Training Cycle

Camp Abbot was constructed to train up to 10,000 men at a time. The 17 week training cycle consisted of three phases: six weeks of general “basic training”, a specialty training period of eight weeks, and a final three weeks of living in the field under simulated battle conditions.

In the first phase the men received basic instruction in map reading, close order drill, rigging, first aid, camouflage, and military security. The program included rigorous physical training and a variety of combat drills such as hand-to-hand combat, hand and anti-tank grenades, defense against chemical, air, and mechanized attack, and rifle marksmanship.

The second phase of specialized training offered an eight week program in one of eight specialist training courses: carpentry, sawmill operation, demolition, cooking, administration, automotive maintenance, motor vehicle operation, and heavy equipment operation.
If a trainee was not selected for one of these specialties he advanced to the technical and tactical phase, also eight weeks in duration. He became part of a team that learned to build bridges under fire, engage in village combat, lay and pass through mine fields, and perform engineer reconnaissance. In essence, the combat engineer was trained to prepare the way for an attacking army.

The third phase of the ERTC program was a three week field maneuver conducted under simulated battle conditions know as a “problem”. The problem was delivered to the training battalion in the form of a sealed order, usually setting down a set of circumstances and a “mission” to repel a hypothetical enemy. The three weeks typically included a short bivouac, building a bridge, road, clearing obstacles, and preparing a defensive position with barbed wire and mine fields. After 17 consecutive days in the field, marching under full packs, eating field rations and performing the function of combat engineers, Bill and his fellow trainees would be ready for the looming invasion of Europe.

Monday, February 9, 2009

About Letter 15

Bill writes his 4th. letter of Halloween 1943. It comes at the end of a rare day of leisure at Camp Abbot. He enjoys this “postman’s holiday” by taking a walk to “find out what Camp Abbot looks like”. The first stop is the service club where Bill buys a 25¢ malt. Following a meal which includes the ham he longed for, our “engineer in training” goes to the show and sees “Flesh and Fantasy” starring Charles Boyer, Edward G. Robinson and Barbara Stanwyck. He tops off the day with a follow-up visit to the service club for a sundae.

Letter 15- October 31, 1943

October 31, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mother,

This is the conclusion to the letter I started this morning. I had to go out on a short detail for about one half hour. After that I came back to the barracks and put on my O.D.s. Then I went out for a walk to find out what Camp Abbot looks like. Talk about a postman’s holiday. Well, anyway it was a beautiful day; sun out and blue sky. I went down to the service club first of all and got myself a nice big malt. It was darn good, but it ought to be for 25 cents. Other stuff is pretty cheap. There are a lot of comfortable chairs there and a good, if small library.

For lunch we had for the first time a really good meal-ham (plenty of it with pineapple), corn, lettuce salad, potatoes and gravy, and plums for dessert. After that I went to the show and saw this picture “Flesh & Fantasy”. What a picture! After the picture I went back to the service club for a sundae, and there I met the other fellows from Co. ‘A” who were down at Fort MacArthur. They had thought I was in the hospital with pneumonia-typical accuracy of a Camp Abbot rumor.

For dinner tonight we had Spanish rice. It was as lousy as the noon meal was good. However, for the first time they had canned tomatoes. Most of the fellows at my table didn’t care for it so I was able to eat all I could hold. Hot dogs!

Better close now.



Letter 14- October 31, 1943

October 31, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Dad,

I received your letter of the 26th. and got quite a kick out of the time you had trying to get a hold of me. I remember, however, that it wasn’t so funny at the time. For a while I must have been a pretty important guy around Camp Abbot.

You asked in red letters whether I was jealous of the swell ham you had for dinner. Fifteen minutes later we went to chow and had macaroni and cheese. Does that answer your question?

We get 6 weeks Infantry basic here and 11 weeks of Engineer basic. It’s pretty tough.

Nearly all the fellows I knew at MacArthur are here although Remington is the only one in my co. He sleeps right across from me.

Doug Rose is sure having a tough time in the Army isn’t he? Hell! When I was in the hospital, all those “bedpan commandos” did was sleep.

We have a regular P.X. for each battalion here and a swell service club.

About a garrison cap and belt. I don’t think I should get them now. I have no place to go and if I go across immediately after basic I can’t take them.



Saturday, February 7, 2009

About Letter 13

Bill and company spend an hour performing close order drill in the snow wearing gas masks, followed by a trip into a chamber filled with tear gas. The men are lectured on various types of gas and made to walk through a cloud of phosgene. The afternoon is spent in Judo training. Camp Abbot weather takes a dramatic turn. After a night when it “snowed out of a clear sky”, morning breaks to bright sunshine revealing “The Bachelor”, a large extinct volcano shining brightly 20 miles to the west.

Letter 13- October 31, 1943

October 31, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

I have in my pocket at this moment 4 letters: two from you Daddy. This being Sunday I have plenty of time to write so I plan to get off three letters: This, my regular letter; one to Mother; and one to Pappy-A pretty ambitious plan if I do say so myself.

Yesterday and the night before were the most interesting periods I’ve had since I’ve been in the Army. The night before last it snowed out of a clear sky. I have never seen anything like it before. There was no moon but the stars were so bright that they reflected on the falling flakes. It was about the first pretty thing I’ve seen since I’ve been here. The next morning, believe it or not, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and a large extinct volcano, The Batchlor, shone brightly about 20 miles away. For about the first time since I’ve been here, I felt like a human being. After breakfast, we had about an hour of close order drill in the snow with our gas masks on, and let me tell you that’s not very pleasant-my face was sweatin’ at the same time my feet and ears were freezin’. Some fun, eh? As soon as we got finished with that they took us to the gas chamber. First we had to put on our masks and go into a little room full of tear gas. That was swell, but then they told us to take off our masks and walk not run to the door. Phooey! I thought my eyes and nose were burned off. After we got out of there, they said that we would then go into the clorine chamber and then they’d turn on the gas and we’d have to put our masks on but quick. The only thing wrong was that we found out the chamber was already full of gas when we got in there. I got my mask on pronto but Remington couldn’t get his on and damn near passed out before he got out of there. After that we were given a lecture outside on the various types of gas, and they shot small doses which we walked through in order to find out how they smell. I stepped into a cloud of phosgene and wow!! We learned some pretty interesting things too. The Germans have a gas now called Nitrogen Mustard. It can’t be smelled and 4 days after getting it you drop dead. We got the same stuff, and we’ve got a new protection against it.

We have a new gas called Adamsite. It depresses the mind so that people affected with it want to commit suicide. Hot stuff, huh? After being gassed, we went to the show and there I learned that the Engineers must learn how to disembark from ships like the Marines.

In the afternoon we had inspection followed by Judo. Honest to God, we’re going to be tough babies when we finish this training.

Last night we got our hats back and they had the red & white piping on them. I went to the show.
Best Love, Bill

Letter 12- October 31, 1943

October 31, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mother,

This letter is in answer to yours of the 27th. About the field rations that we’re on. Don’t mistake them for combat rations. There not that bad.

You asked me if I could do with some more wool sox. The answer is yes.

Oh! Oh! I gotta go now. This is a “hellava” letter I know, but duty calls.

Bestus Love,


Thursday, February 5, 2009

About Letter 11

Bill continues to have difficulty with the weather. He recites a “rather bawdy song” making the rounds of camp. The food is “confidentially stinky” and he asks mother to send some Toll House cookies. Bill begs for some world news from home. The latest news he hears is “to the effect that Hull, Eden & Molotov had their first meeting." This would be a prelude to the Teheran Conference held in November between the “Big Three”, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin. Among other things at Teheran, Roosevelt would commit to a spring invasion of France thereby creating the Western Front Stalin so fervently wanted, and setting into motion the wheels that would eventially take Bill to France and Germany.

Letter 11- October 29, 1943

October 29, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

I am writing this before mail call so I don’t know whether or not I’ll get any from you today. Ordinarily I would wait, but tomorrow we’ve got Sat. inspection and I’m not sure I’ll have any spare time tonight. If I do get some mail from you and do have some spare time I’ll write another letter.

Things are pretty much the same here as always. I fell out for sick call this morning in order to get some nose drops. Everyone here has a miserable cold. As a result I got “Shit Detail” or in other nicer words- clean the latrine, etc.

The weather here is as bad as ever-rain-sleet-slush. The situation is getting so bad that there’s a song making it’s way around the camp right now. It’s rather bawdy, but it expresses our feelings perfectly. Here’s how it goes:

Oregon is a hellava state
Oregon is a hellava state
Oregon is a hellava state
It’s the asshole of the 48
hinkey dinkey parley-voo

At any rate, the weather’s making me pretty homesick (I’d be homesick anyway). Your letter of last week in which you spoke of the chocolate cake and baked beans made my mouth water terrifically. I don’t expect you to send me a chocolate cake or candy, I know how hard it is to get those things but I sure could go for some of your Toll House Cookies right now, Mother. If you do send some make ‘em small. I’ll have to pass some around. A few such delicacies from home mean a lot to the fellows here because we get food in the messhall, which in the words of the great whoozis is “confidentially stinky”.

I wish you would tell me in your letters a little world news. Believe it or not (trite), the last news that I heard was to the effect that Hull, Eden & Molotov had their first meeting. Has anything important happened since then? Sometime next week we should get a radio in here but until then we don’t know from nothing.

Best Love to Mudder
Daddy and Her Nibbs
From, Bill

P.S. It’s raining
P.P.S. The Army. Phooey!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

About Letter 10

Bill is getting up to speed with his basic training. He has completed a 5 mile hike including “4 miles with combat pack and gas mask.” His griping is also up to speed. He complains about the weather, his lack of free time and states that “I’m sure getting sick of the Engineers.” His mood improves dramatically when he receives his back mail- 8 letters in all. The officers are telling the men that they will “never get into combat” and that “the War in Europe will be over before the end of winter and possibly before Christmas [1943].”

Letter 10- October 28, 1943

October 28, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Folks,

At some risk, I am writing this letter. I should be shining my shoes, cleaning my rifle, or doing about a ton of other work; but I ain’t.

Well, training is getting pretty tough. Yesterday we went on a 5 mile hike. This isn’t so bad, but we had to march 4 miles with combat pack and gas mask.

In a couple of days we’ll get out of quarantine and then things will be a little better. Right now we can’t even leave the Co. area without a corporal. I’ve only been to the P.X. once since I’ve been here.

I’m sure getting sick of the Engineers. I don’t say anything but everyone else does. All they talk about is transfers. The training itself is not too bad and the officers are good, but the location of the camp, the weather, and the way in which the damn camp is run (not G.I.) is the craps. The weather is what gets me down. We haven’t had one sunny day since we got here, and every day we’ve had at least some rain or snow. Everybody has a cold and feels punk. Phooey!! (with expression)

Another thing is the lack of free time. I don’t expect much, but I would like to have enough to write a letter now and then. The only way I can write these is by not doing something I should.

I haven’t heard the news lately and don’t know what’s going on, but the officers are already telling us that we’ll never get into combat. They all seem to believe (or have some kind of information) that the war in Europe will be over before the end of winter and possibly before Christmas. Sounds good anyway. A lot of Engineers who get through with their training here are immediately sent overseas but it doesn’t mean anything since they train for another full year over there before they go into combat. Also overseas is usually Hawaii or Panama.

I hate to disappoint you about being home for Christmas but I can’t possibly get a furlough until my 17 weeks is up and then it’s impossible if I go to A.S.T.P. It’s the craps, I know, but if I ever get a chance to pull any strings, will. Sometime in the future they are going to give us another classification test and at that time we’re supposed to have some say about being transferred, etc.

Yesterday I received all my back mail, 7 letters- 5 from mother, 1 from daddy and one from Horton Grant. Tonight I got another from daddy so I’m pretty pepped up. I am sure glad to hear the news from school, about the neighbors, etc.

I received Mrs. Ferber’s gift. The card gave the fellows here quite a laugh.

I like mother’s serial letter very much. I wish she would keep them up.

Oceans of Love,