Thursday, February 26, 2009

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


  1. Yikes, Bill broke his nose!? It sounds more like a concussion. This is so like the Army to rig up a free for all boxing match to somehow toughen the men. Only it just results in mindless injuries. I'm willing to bet that when Bill was in the Infantry he had no - zero - boxing matches with the enemy.

    Does anyone remember pugil sticks? That was to teach us the bayonet. Like that was useful too.

    One thing that gets lost in the history of the Depression and World War II is that many people didn't care for FDR and the New Deal. In this case it's a young man from the University of California. It would be interesting to learn his reasons for disliking the president.

  2. Bill makes light of his broken nose, but this injury would plague him for the rest of his life. He suffered from chronic nosebleeds and if the army reset his nose they did a lousy job for it remained noticeably crooked.

    Bill comes from a long line of Republicans stretching back to the Civil War and his great grandfather, Adjutant William B.Phillip of the 2nd. Pennsylvania Provisional Heavy Artillary. His parents had a keen interest in politics which Bill inherited. Needless to say, as staunch Republicans the Taylor's had little use for Roosevelt. I think the dislike for Roosevelt is more for his New Deal policies than as a war time leader.

  3. I like Bill's spunk. He reminds me of my uncle -- always ready to speak his mind without fear. -- wg

  4. wg, I believe you nailed the essence of Bill. He is a keen observer of human nature, always ready to put his opinion out there. He blows off much of his steam in these letters, and I suspect he was far more measured and diplomatic when dealing with the "powers that be."


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