Thursday, April 2, 2009

Letter 46- December 16, 1943

December 16, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mudder & Dad,

Today I’m on duty as latrine orderly or as the GI’s less delicately put it, “turd sergeant”. In spite of that, it’s a plenty soft job. In the morning a squad comes in and cleans up so all I have to do for the rest of the day is stoke a small furnace and a couple of space heaters. Pretty good, huh? Another good feature about it is the fact that it lets me out of guard duty tonight. So I get all day to sit around and write letters and all night to sleep. This is how army life should always be.

Tomorrow we get the entire day off and all afternoon and evening to go to Bend for Christmas shopping. I think that they’re beginning to realize that men can be driven so far in this weather before they break. The number of AWOL’s and desertions around here is pretty high for engineers.

Last night I sent the pictures home. It was late but the best I could do. I insured the packages. I definitely don’t think the pictures are so hot. I especially don’t like the oils. On one of them my nose looks as if it were wrapped around my face and the other was made up sloppily. I rather like the little picture, however. I’m s’posed to have a fellow take some snapshots of me sometime over the weekend. If so I’ll send some to you. How would you like me dressed with full field equipment? As I said in last night’s letter, “you should live so long.”

About this A.S.T.P deal---I’ve just about decided that the best thing to do would be to continue on with my basic and then see what’s up. I might just might be able to get to be cadre. They’re going to move all the old cadre to line outfits after this period. That means they may get some of the new from the present bunch. Of course, this is just speculation but I’ve got my eyes open in all directions. Somewhere in this army there must be a decent opening for me.

Of course the war may not last so much longer. In spite of some recent allied setbacks, I don’t see how Germany will get thru the winter. In that case my chances of advancing in any direction will be slim.

Only 9 more days until Christmas, gee. This year has sure gone by fast. I do hope you do some kind of celebrating over the holidays. I’m going to try and have as nice a Christmas as possible under the circumstances and I’d like to think you were doing the same. I’ve got it all figured out how I can have a tree. It’ll be about a foot high and will stand on my shelf.

Since that last paragraph was written about 2 hours have passed. I ate lunch and generally “futzed” around during all that time. I’m getting to be an expert goldbrick. What little work I had to do on the stoves this morning I don’t have to do this afternoon because I was told to let them go out for some reason or another. So here I sit----Ahhh.

That little note from the paper about Shirley Temple and Hotchkiss, the sap, sure gave me a laugh. The more I see and hear about people the more I like and admire dogs. That may be corny but it is oh so true. Speaking of dogs, always when I’m down in the dumps I get cheered up (by) one of the company mutts. He’s a fat, spoiled (by the mess sarge) little cocker spaniel named Pup that reminds me so much of Johanna that it hurts. He sure is cute and so fat he can hardly waddle. By the way, how is Johanna—just as big a pest as ever I suppose.

As Christmas gets closer I’m sure getting homesick. At night I’ll lay in my bunk and think about it. God, this war’s a pain in the neck.

I was wondering if you could pick up a camera somewhere and send it. I can get films and I sure could get a lot of pictures.

Well, I’d better close. I’m beginning to bore even myself.

Best Love,

(Sketch Here)

PS. Thanks for the $15.00


  1. Bill's comments about the progress of the war reflects the news coverage that omits some of the harsher realities. Allied troops in southern Italy are locked in bitter fighting and the much-touted invasion of northern Europe - Operation Overlord - is six months away. The war has yet to reach its bloodiest phase beginning in the summer of '44.

    I got a laugh at Bill's description of latrine duties. As the map shows us, the latrine was separate from the barracks. Imagine the middle-of-the-night visit in sub-zero weather. I bet that the seats closest to the stove were the most popular. But most folks in those days were accustomed to "three rooms and a path".

  2. It is interesting to read these letters with hindsight and see how accurate Bill is with his conjectures about the prospects for the end of the war. In the words of Alexander Pope,

    "Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
    Man never is, but always to be blest."

    From almost day one Bill sees the end of the war right around the corner. As we know, it had barely started in terms of American involvement.


If you receive an error message when posting a comment or preview please hit "Post Comment" or "Preview" a second time and it should go through.--Greg