Monday, March 9, 2009

Letter 31- November 23, 1943

November 23, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)
Dear Folks,

Well, today I received two swell letters from you. They really made me feel good. I hope you will understand about my not writing regularly of late, but if you could see my schedule for this and last week, I’m sure that you would forgive me. I had guard duty during my supposedly free weekend, and this week we’ve got night problems. I don’t know how long they intend to keep it up, but almost everyone’s beginning to get to the end of his rope. I’m not doing so bad but I’m getting a little irritable, and a lot of the fellows are getting downright nasty.

In my last letter I said that I would tell you about being chased by tanks. It’s quite an experience. A foot soldier rolls out of the way when charged by a tank, and we all had to try it out. We’re marching along an open road when suddenly we get the signal for tanks. Boy did we scatter! At first we couldn’t see the damn thing but could only hear it. Then over the hill he came, about 20 miles per hour. Then for about 10 minutes he charges up and down as if he was trying to run over us. If a fellow doesn’t lose his head and he rolls, it’s impossible for the tank to hit him even if the driver wants to. However, several fellows got up and ran-the worst thing they could do-so the tank chased them until they dropped over exhausted.

I’ve gone all over camp and have had several fellows try to get me some of the Engineer pins but with no luck. I guess I’ll have to go to Bend myself and try to get them. I haven’t gone there myself yet because from all reports a person can have more fun in camp than in Bend.

I’m sure glad to hear that the candy is on the way and also the apron. I’m sure going to like both.

I’d sure like to be home right now so that I could get by that fire. The temp. is so low here that I hate to think about it.

I don’t know how these birds manage to get leaves. After 6 weeks, 8 weeks. Hell! It just about takes an act of Congress to get a furlough around here.

You asked me whether my K.P. was regular detail or otherwise. Don’t worry. I’m not in trouble.

No, I haven’t fired for record yet. We get that the 26th. Wish me luck. I’m doing okay in practice. The only thing that can mess me up is the cold. My hands get stiff and I’m not so hot.

About my nose, I’ve rather hated to tell you. When I went to the hospital the “Doc” (horse doctor) told me it wasn’t broken and gave me the brush-off. It’s healed now, but it’s just a little crooked. If I ever see that so called doctor after the war, he’s going to be the one with the busted snozzle. It doesn’t bother me, however.

Your talk about hamburgers damn near moidered me. I haven’t had one since I left home. We are going to have turkey for Thanksgiving, but we’re going to have work all day and have a night problem. Damn white of them isn’t it?

You ask what I’d like for Christmas. Well, here’s what I’d like in order of importance; food, gadgets, clothing. I’m regaining the weight I lost pretty fast now.

I’m trying to get some snapshots and am going to Bend as soon as possible to see about having some pictures made. They’re very strict about taking snapshots here for some ungodly reason. It’s almost lights out soooo.

Good night and all
My love,



  1. As an instructor once told us, "There isn't an infantryman in the world who doesn't get a sinking feeling when he hears the chop-chop-chop-chop of a tank." I'd be curious to know if any of this training served Bill in combat.

    I wonder about the tactics though. All the tanks of the day had a forward firing machine gun that would clear away any infantrymen in the way. Even the U.S. tanks had this feature.

    What sort of "gadgets" would Bill want for Christmas?

  2. As to Bill's combat encounters with tanks I cannot say. As I said in the Introduction to this letter collection, he spoke very little about his combat experiences and nothing about tanks. I have not yet read the letters written during the combat phase of his duty, but it seems unlikely that he would write about such experiences. One of the very few things he told me about his combat experiences was about the time his unit was straffed by a Luftwaffe fighter. They were on a road when the fighter roared by straffing the road with machine gun fire. He hit the dirt and rolled into the ditch. The line of machine gun fire peppered the road exactly where he had been laying just seconds before. He said this was one of the closest calls he had in combat. So who knows, maybe the rolling practice at Abbot saved his life.

  3. As for gadgets, I don't know what Bill would want. As my father he didn't seem to be that interested in gadgets, at least not things that are my idea of gadgets. In his letters he does mention pins and emblems a number of times.


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