Tuesday, February 3, 2009

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,



  1. I have hiked near old Camp Abbott and the soil there is a fine volcanic dust which must be a sticky, gooey mud in the winter. In 1943, the standard field kit - rifle, pack, and other equipment - tipped the scales north of 80 pounds, probably half of what Bill weighed.

    In 1943 only a few U.S. Army divisions in Europoe and the Pacific are in contact with the enemy, but that will change. World War II would enter it's most horrific phase in less than a year. Bill's officers are kidding themselves.

    A.S.T.P. was the Army Specialized Training Program where they took bright enlisted men and sent them to colleges and universities to learn engineering, languages, and other specialties. Graduates received commissions as officers. What a deal! While their fellow GIs climbed gangplanks onto troopships, ASTP soldiers hit the books in dorm rooms and flirted with coeds (there being a manpower shortage stateside). ASTP came to stand for All Safe Til Peace. Bill's expectations of an ivy league billet will fall victim to the needs of the service.

  2. As you will recall in Letter 1, Bill did very well in his first day aptitude tests and was offered "Aviation Cadet" training, which he turned down because he had enlisted with the promise of A.S.T.P. To qualify for the A.S.T.P. program Bill had scored at least 10 points above the qualification level for Officer Candidate School in the Army intelligence tests.

  3. Ward Griffing's son (my dad) actually served in the A.S.T.P. during WWII. He was in Veterinary College at Kansas State University during the war. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant upon graduation in 1944 and then was excused from active service to go into Vet practice. He had to join the Army Reserves and did not resign his commission as Captain until 1957. I have never heard the alternative meaning of the acronym but I find it really humorous! Thanks for sharing that bit of trivia, David. I think my dad (now 86) will love it. -- griff

  4. Greg, your father's letters surely come alive with his accompanying sketches. I am really enjoying reading them. -- griff

  5. Griff, yes the sketches are a great complement to the letters. Not only are Bill's artistic renditions good, he has the ability to catch the emotion of the moment in his drawings. Dad continued to use his artistic ability after the war. Each Christmas he would make silk screen Christmas cards depicting a humorous event in the life of the Taylor family during the course of that year.
    When I was about 10 years old he painted a picture of Popeye on my grammar school notebook. When he became the "Den Father" of my Cub Scout group he made silk screened tee shirts for all the kids with a hilarious picture of the group. This was in 1959 long before I had ever seen a tee shirt with an image on it.


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