Saturday, May 30, 2009

Letter 65- January 23, 1944

January 23, 1944
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mudder & Dad,

Well, I’ve just got back from making a phone call to you. I guess you told me, Mother. Well, I had it coming, but really I did think I wasn’t s’posed to call until today. Time flies so fast here that it makes my head spin.

When I said that I didn’t answer a lot of your questions because I didn’t know anything more than you about them I wasn’t kidding. Really—in spite of the bull one hears over the radio about ours being an informed army. We just don’t know what’s going on. They really keep us in the dark as much as possible. As a result there is a strained relationship between the enlisted man and the officer. When it comes right to bare facts the half assed way things are run around here in the whole army as far as that’s concerned is causing a lot of the trouble. Most the men in this barracks feel as if the higher ups are afraid to let them know what’s going on. At an orientation lecture the other day an officer after making a simple statement said he would go over it again so we wouldn’t be confused. It was so simple that a moron could understand it. Of course everybody was sore then.

We sure caught the Germans flat footed there below Rome. Imagine 6 hours before a single Nazi plane showed up.

Dad, this part of the letter is especially for you. I hope it answers all the questions in your letter of the 18th. I just can’t see why in the devil the War Dept. finds it necessary to send boogie overseas. I think they’re trying to sabotage the war effort.

By the way I’m going to write a dirty letter to school if they let those kids get away with what I couldn’t get away with last year.

Don’t worry about me falling for any (ahem) Victory Girls. Most the girls one sees in Bend look like the girls one sees from the old country.

Now to get down to the questions. You asked if anyone fell in the drink on the debarkation tower. No, but a lot of equipment did. That’s what I was afraid of. I had over $100.00 slung loosely on me when I went over. The 51st. did all right on their bivouac but the weather’s been unusually mild here lately. We had rain yesterday.

About getting mail on the bivouac I don’t know but I’ll only be able to write when in over weekends. The casual company, which is just around the corner, is just a place for us to hang our coats and sleep while we’re waiting for furlough and shipping. You asked if I’ve decided what I’d like to go in for. I’d like special weapons or camouflage but in true democratic manner the Army is going to decide for me.

I’m afraid that the film situation here is no better than it is at home. We’re supposed to get them but don’t. If I could get the film I’d be taking pictures constantly. I know how you’d enjoy them.

As I told you I’ve finally got my medal after all this time. As far as firing over again is concerned I don’t know. One must fire for record at least once a year but no one can tell when I can shoot again if I wish.

Bestus Love,

P.S. The S.M.R.L.H on the envelope stands for Service Mail Rush Like HELL.

P.P.S. Sure am homesick today, Love, Bill


  1. Catching the Germans flat footed below Rome refers to the landings at Anzio. The allies were very nearly driven back into the sea and the operation did not achieve what the planners had hoped.

  2. What is the meaning of "sending boogie overseas"??

  3. The only thing I can imagine is that Bill is referring to modern music - boogey woogie. We have seen that he comes from conservative roots. Perhaps he has not engaged popular culture the way we are led to believe that all GIs did. GIs reading in the library are not as cinemagenic as those frollicking on the dancefloor with Victory Girls.

  4. I too was stymied by Bill's "boogie" remark,but David, I think you have hit upon it. Knowing Bill, I believe, particularly at this stage of his development, he would have considered boogie woogie to be "low brow". As you said he would be more likely to be found at the Camp Abbot library reading Kipling or studying the history of the Norman Conquest than to be cruising the service clubs of Bend looking for Victory Girls. I think that as he matured, Bill developed a more flexible attitude about many things, but he did remain a political conservative throughout his lifetime.


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