Thursday, April 16, 2009

Letter 52- December 26, 1943

December 26, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Hiya Folks,

It’s sure some laugh. They told us that we’d have to work today Sunday, because we got yesterday off, but when this morning rolled around the officers and noncoms had such hangovers that it was a real laugh. We fooled around all morning and got the afternoon off, so I’ve got enough time for a letter.

This next week is really going to be the nuts. We’ve got 2 night problems and one of them is an all night affair—sleeping out in the snow with sleeping bags. Phooey! In spite of this, however, the work is getting relatively easy now—no more rat races and we get a lot more time to do just such things as this. The toughest part of army life with the exception of combat is over.

Well, we had a white Christmas and today the roads and walls around camp are as slippery as hell. Blair Hamilton and I have fallen on our fannies at least 10 times apiece in the last 2 days. Wot a life.
Boy! am I enjoying the candy that you sent me for Christmas and that cake---wow! As Awful Fresh MacFarlane would say “It’s gooder than anything.” Talking about Awful Fresh MacFarlane—he is a friend of Blair Hamilton’s father and so we had some swell candy for Christmas.

I’m glad that you’re sending a camera up. I can take some swell shots around here, and I know you’ll be glad to see them. The scenery is beautiful around here, and I know you’ll get a kick out of pictures of us in uniform.

I’m on K.P. again tomorrow so I probably won’t get a chance to write. Tonight I’m going to the show. I haven’t received any mail from you for quite some time now but I expect some tonight. The way the mail is run around here anything can happen.

The food here is steadily improving now that we’re off field rations and are on garrison rations. This afternoon we had steak—imagine! It sure is great to get steak after you get to the point where you can’t look a hunk of goat in the face.

Tomorrow the 51st. goes out on the 3 week problem. They’re well equipped and the weather’s not too bad but we’re all praying they can’t make it. The poor guys have got a hex on them. Everybody hopes they fold up so the rest of us can get out of here. (That is, get out of the last 3 weeks).

I’d better close before this gets too boring.

Bestus Love,
(sketch here)


  1. That's a great picture. Your dad was quite the artist. These sketches really add a lot to the letters.

  2. I will speculate that what Bill is seeing among his officers and sergeants is the sense that they are in a low-priority backwater to the war effort. It is obvious to all now that Camp Abbot was a mistake and rumors that they will all be transferred to a new camp does not engender high morale. No one is going anywhere soon, the War Department films show Germany on the ropes, and how can we do a reasonable job training men when so many of them are down with colds and flu? I suspect the core training cadres are old army and National Guard who were filtered out of the units which went overseas. Historian Rick Atkinson called the pre-war Guard in "ossified."

    The only advantage to the Camp Abbot experience is the cold weather training. Bill does not know that his next winter in northern Europe will be one of the coldest on record.

  3. I always envied my father's drawing ability, a gift I did not inherit. Bill's drawings are part of his keen powers of observation and certainly do make the letters more appealing.

  4. Bill certainly does paint a rather bleak picture of Camp Abbot, much of it for apparently good reason. Backwater is an excellent term to describe it's location.

    It is interesting to follow Bill's take on the "propaganda" being fed to the men. He is a cynic by nature and he isn't afraid to voice an opinion, at least in his letters home. Bill inherited his cynicism from his mother and sense of humor from his "daddy".


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