Saturday, February 14, 2009

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


  1. Moving Bill is so typical of the Army. What is also typical is the degree to Bill is personally invested in his training and probably in the other men in his platoon. Despite what he says about them, I suspect he has formed an attachment to this family. I suspect that his expectations about being able to transfer will be dashed. The Army does that.

  2. It is easy to sympathize with Bill. Just as he is beginning to form relationships with his fellow soldiers, after spending the first week in the hospital isolated from his peers, he is facing having to start all over. Bill has an active mind and obviously gets bored easily, so having to repeat anything, much less basic training must be a real letdown.

  3. Though I didn't have to repeat training, I know the frustration of being held back two weeks in the army. As I was being processed for graduation from Basic Training, some dufus questioned my dog tags that had "Jr." on them. My legal name does not include "Jr." and so my signature did not match my dog tags. Even though there was no question about my service number, they held me back two weeks until I could send away for my birth certificate to prove my name. I finally graduated with the class that was two weeks behind mine, but they put me to work on a construction crew during those two weeks doing hard labor (busting up sidewalk and repaving!). It was ridiculous and not my fault since the guy who made up my dog tags was the one who made the mistake. He just assumed my legal name included "Jr." since he saw my father's name (whom I had listed as next of kin) had the same name. - wg

  4. This sounds like a prototype for the army acronym SNAFU. I understand the need for military ranks and protocol, but it must be frustrating when a "dufus" of obviously less intelligence and lacking in common sense can make decisions over which one has no control. Bill seems to deal with this dilemma by using sarcasm as a release.


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