Sunday, April 19, 2009

Letter 54- December 28, 1943

December 28, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Hiya Mudder & Dad,

Tomorrow we go on our all night bivouac. That’s a phrase that strikes terror into the heart of the poor unfortunate rookie. Woe is me and all stuff like that there. Personally I’m looking forward to the damn thing with great enthusiasm. I’ll probably be cured of that quick enough, however. I believe that we march some 23 miles all together. I won’t like that but I’m afraid my likes and dislikes won’t amount to an awful lot as far as the big shots are concerned. In the afternoon we have to charge up a lousy hill with bayonets and gas masks on. I won’t like that either. Come to think of it, there’s very little about this man’s army I do like. Oh well ya can’t have everything. The only trouble with that is that we don’t get anything.

Today we had a nice little problem in combat principles. One thing—that is, problem—required us to take a hill on which an enemy platoon was stationed. They were armed with firecrackers which they were supposed to shoot off when they spot us. We had to crawl 300 yds. through the snow to take the position—I was soaked from head to foot.

I received your swell letter, Mudder, the one you wrote Christmas Day. I guess your Christmas must have been as corny as mine. Well, we did get to talk to one another anyway. That was sumpin’. I plan on calling every so often from now on since they’ve built a telephone building on the post. All one has to do is make out a slip and let them put through the call. It’s really okay.

I finished up the fruit cake today and finagled me another one from some guy who got too many Christmas presents. It’s not as good as yours, but who am I to get snooty about it.

Now I’m stuck—I can’t think of anything to write but I’m too Scotch to waste this entire sheet of paper. Now let’s see—hummmmm.

I’ll talk about the news. I had the misfortune of hearing Roosy’s speech the other night.¹ One thing I noticed, however, was the attitude of the men in the barracks toward the old bag. “That great man” is a thing of the past which has been replaced by “That son of a bitch”. It does my heart good. I see where Eisenhower says the war in Europe will be over by the end of this coming year and the experts give Germany only a 50—50 chance of going through the winter. Here’s hoping.

This is the 2nd day of the 51st. 3 week bivouac. I wonder how they’re doing. They should be okay since the weather here is pretty good right now.

Good night & Best Love,

1. The speech to which Bill refers is probably Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat of December 24, 1943 in which he reports on his recently concluded conferences in Cairo and Teheran with Churchill, Stalin and Chiang Kai-shek. In this broadcast Roosevelt hints at the coming invasion of Europe and announces Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.


  1. I continue to be intrigued by Bill's antipathy towards FDR. I wonder if this is based on his opinion of the New Deal or some sense that the war effort is being mismanaged. What evidence of that would Bill have from where he is sitting. I know that there were many "Roosevelt haters" in the nation and Bill probably came from that orientation.

  2. As is evident from Bill’s letters, he comes from a family with very strong opinions about a variety of subjects, particularly those of a political nature. The Taylor’s were dyed-in-the-wool conservative Republicans. It is therefore not surprising that Bill had a jaundiced view of Roosevelt, a liberal Democrat. As you surmised, I believe that the New Deal policies of the Roosevelt administration were the primary object of Bill’s scorn, not the Roosevelt war policy.

  3. As I recall, Bill's dad was a teacher and, I assume, remained employed during the 30s. My grandfather also remained employed most of the time, but as a construction worker, union member, and shop steward. The family benefitted from the pre-war defense buildup with more and better paying work. Nonetheless my father ended up being a pretty serious Republican.

    Recently historians and economists begun to question the unqualified devotion to FDR's policies. But people on the ground have their own experiences of historical events.

  4. I think that Roosevelt's domestic policies are more open to debate than his War leadership. Recent discussions about Roosevelt's handling of the Depression suggest that some of his domestic policies may have actually prolonged the downturn. True or not, I believe most historians and certainly citizens at the time felt that Roosevelt was the right man to lead the American war effort. They voted for him in 4 straight elections, including twice during the war years.

    As for Bill's "feet on the ground" experiences as related to FDR I can't say. Perhaps he blames Roosevelt for the raw deal he felt he got regarding A.S.T.P


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