Wednesday, July 29, 2009

About Letter 94

Bill is "floating in the middle of a great void", waiting to be "tossed out of radio school." Turning to "pleasanter things" he notes that he heard the last few words of the popular Bing Crosby song, "The San Fernando Valley" and it sounded "swell".

Letter 94- April 24. 1944

April 24, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Mother and Dad,

I received 3 swell letters from you today so I thought I’d at least better write you a note. It looks as if I’ll be out in the cold for the next 2 nights so I won’t be able to write. All this Boy Scout stuff you know. Things are pretty much the same around here—lousy in short—so I really don’t know what to write. I’ve been expecting to get tossed out of radio every day but they still haven’t heard anything so; I haven’t heard anything rather; so I don’t what is coming off. I find radio installation pretty interesting but without code there’s not much profit in it. I’m really floating in the middle of a great void. Nobody seems to know what goes and myself most of all.

Let’s talk about some pleasanter things. At the very most I’ll be out of here in about a month and maybe sooner, and the minute I get out of here I can apply for a furlough and don’t think I won’t be quick about it. They really don’t have to give me a leave but I’ll make ‘em wish they had. I’ll make an application every day if I must. I think I’ll be able to, however.

All I’ve heard about that song about San Fernando is the last few words I happened to hear in the Recreation Hall. You know, “and make my home in [the] beautiful San Fernando Valley.” That little bit sounded swell.

When you wrote about how Richard felt about leaving I felt awfully sorry. As much as he used to talk and all that he seemed to me less suited to military life than any of the rest of us. It’s probably pretty hard for him.

Best Love,


[Note: “The San Fernando Valley” was recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943. It was a huge hit. Bill was raised in "the Valley"]

About Letter 93

The men go out on a "night problem" which Bill describes as "typical Camp Crowder Boy Scout stuff." He says that even if they let him finish the radio course he won't have the requirements to be an operator. Bill continues to work on a furlough but says, "don't get your hopes up."

Letter 93- April 21, 1944

April 21, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dearest Folks,

I’ve been getting 2 letters every day from you for quite some time now and you have no idea how good it makes me feel. I had good intentions of writing you at least every other day myself but this bloomin’ army is no respecter of my good intentions. Wednesday it was K.P; Thursday—guard; tonight G.I. Party (scrubbing out the barracks) No! I have it wrong. Thursday we had a night problem & Tuesday K.P. & Wed.—guard.

The night problem was typical Camp Crowder Boy Scout stuff. It was night compass work. We had a typical dumbbell corporal in charge (a clerk). Well, as you can guess we got hopelessly lost. Finally the dope gives me the compass and says that I should find the way out. Six years of that crap at Harvard did me good then. I’d been watching the stars so we got out in about 20 minutes. Then this so called corporal said he’d got us lost in order to see if we could get out of a tight spot. Holland (one of my bunch) then proceeded to tell him off. Boy! We’re about as popular around here as a bunch of cobras. Really though we’re not trying to act smart. They’ve just got an inferiority complex.

I seem to be doing the same as ever in radio. I’m doing fine in radio installation and procedure but I still don’t know code. Even if they let me finish the course I don’t have the requirements to be an operator. I can’t complain though. That just means that I get the pleasure of taking the course and then stand a chance of going to yet another school.

The more one learns the better he’s off.

I’m glad the fellows told you code was tough. It makes me feel a little better anyhoo. Rice said that after 10 weeks he got out of code. We got out in 5 (I could use the other five).

Don’t get your hopes up, but I’m working on a furlough. I might transfer out of here in a week or so and then I’m immediately eligible for a furlough.

P.S. got the figs and funnies.

P.S. I lost the post cards-I think


Monday, July 27, 2009

About Letter 92

Bill is still in Radio School but expects to be reclassified. This is OK with him and he draws a diagram to illustrate his reasoning. It depicts him being "triangulated" by enemy direction finders and shot.

Letter 92- April 17, 1944

April 17, 1944

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’ve only got time to write another note but I guess you’d rather get the note than nothing at all.

I’m still in radio studying procedure and radio installation but I won’t bet on how long I’m going to stay in it. For me the perfect deal would to be able to stay in radio until I had learned everything I want to and then be reclassified. You probably wonder why. The reason is quite well explained by the following diagram.

[diagram here of Bill being “triangulated” and shot]

I think this is self explanatory. I haven’t mentioned the high number of radio operator casualties before because I figured you’d think it just an alibi but now I’m either in or out and it doesn’t make so much difference. What I’m doing is extremely easy and for the most part quite interesting, but I know that code is still pretty bad and I don’t relish the idea of getting myself blown to hell. I’m afraid there’s a lot of things in this army I don’t relish. Maybe the war’ll be over by the time I have to go overseas.

There go the lights.
Best Love,

P.S. Ain’t that Ruby sumpin!

About Letter 91

With a code operating speed of 6 words per minute Bill is now the lowest in his class. He expects to soon be transferred out of radio. Bill is on duty as night fireman "stoking 5 furnaces and 5 hot water heaters.

Letter 91- April 15, 1944

April 15, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Here it is the middle of the night and I’ve got another GOD DAMNED detail—that’s exactly how I feel about it. This time it’s night fireman. I’m stoking 5 furnaces & 5 hot water heaters. I’m on all night and will probably get about 3 hours sleep tonight. Nice, huh? Yeah.

Well, here comes the bad news. It looks like I’m going to be transferred out of radio. I know that sounds bad but it may not be. I’ve worked as hard as I know how with it but for the last week and a half I’ve made no progress. I’ll not make any excuses because now they’d merely sound like alibis. However, believe me this radio is not what it’s cracked up to be. I’ve worked hard at it because I wanted my army record to be flawless but if I only knew back at Abbot what I’ve found out since here. Today the two lowest fellows from the Engineers were called up for reclassification. That leaves me the lowest in the class. I have an operating speed of about 6 words a minute. Murphy , who was in my platoon back at abbot, and who has a background in education exactly like mine was offered a course in administration. That’s mainly clerk work but hell, all the clerks end up 1st. sgt. these days.

Your mail is coming through pretty good these days although some old stuff pops in every so often. Those post cards for instance did not arrive ‘till just a few days ago. That’s about all of everything for now. I’ll write you more about this transfer the minute I find out about it. One thing you’ll be glad to hear is I stay in the camp for 12 weeks anyway, whether I take radio or not. At least that’s what they told Murph.

Best Love and don’t worry
about me


Thursday, July 23, 2009

About Letter 90

Bill is feeling "corny as hell tonight as you can tell from the salutation." He tells his folks that nothing he is learning at radio school is of practical use when it comes to commercial radio. He goes on a 16 mile hike and gets his "fanny in a sling" for marching too fast, sarcastically saying, '"the poor little Signal Corp Boy Scouts couldn't keep up." Bill closes commenting on the political view of the Chinese fellows in camp

Letter 90- April 13, 1944

April 13, 1944
(Camp Holeinthewall Misery)

Dearest Mater and Pater,

I feel as corny as hell tonight as you can tell from the salutation, so I guess you’re just out of luck.

Before I go any farther or is it further let’s get a few questions settled. Yes, do sell the bow and arrow. It’s too powerful to use around home. About the amateur handbook—I believe I have one already. I bought it up at the P.X.

One question you asked about was whether or not I was learning anything practical about radio repair. No, the fact of the matter is that despite the fact I’m racking my brains trying to learn this crap. It’s really of no real value to us. All we learn is 5 letter code groups, cryptographs, and that’s no good when it comes to commercial radio. One thing I have learned is how to read new ticker tapes, but I taught that to myself.

You wrote that you find it difficult to write a newsy letter. Well, it’s no different in the army and I imagine it’s even worse. We follow a routine that’s just the same day in and day out. It’s really discouraging.

Last night we went on a 16 mile hike and [I] got my fanny in a sling for marching too fast. The poor little Signal Corp Boy Scouts couldn’t keep up. To top that off all the Engineers got in dutch for singing in ranks on the hike. At Abbot the made you sing—damn near, but here “Es ist verboten”. Wot a life! We work like dogs doing nothing; it’s the truth.

Richard must be some pumpkins on that mandolin. I’d hate to hear him.

You were talking about the political views of the Chinese and about the Russians muscling in. According to the Chinese fellows I know the communist army in China is much more insignificant than we are led to believe and as far as giving Chaing the air they say the average Chinese especially peasants and common people worship the very ground he walks on.

I’m on fireman here all night tomorrow. Nice what? They give me about 3 hours sleep the next morning and then send me back to code. Baw!

Best Love,

About Letter 89

Bill is on Barracks Guard at 2 am. He says that Radio School, "which looked so good at Abbot now appears to be a hellova job." He points out that field radiomen go overseas "very quickly" and that casualties are "extremely high." The word around camp is that there will be no 2nd. front until after the election and Bill opines that, "most of the fellows here in camp are getting sore as hell about the war."

Letter 89- April 11, 1944

April 11, 1944 (2 am.)
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dearest Mother and Dad,

Here I am on another detail, damit! It just seems impossible for these palookas to get it through their thick skulls that the men need some sleep occasionally. Aw! I’m getting so damn tired of this army that I could die. Tonight I’m on Barracks Guard which is just what the name implies----but why they need a guard is what I can’t understand.

Well, this code business is reaching a crisis fast. Two of the fellows I came down here with have already flunked out and have gone to Ft. Leonard Wood and 4 others including me are pretty low. I have been doing a little better, however; so we’ll just have to do the best we can and hope.

This radio which looked so good back at Abbot now appears to be a hellova job. There’s only one thing I can say about it and that is that I’d like to know radio, but I don’t want to be an operator in the army. This is mainly because the strain of the taking code hour on end plus the strain [one] must endure on the battlefield anyway would be just too damned much. I may sound like I’m making excuses for myself but there are even better reasons----one being that field radiomen go overseas very quickly and another is that casualties among field radiomen are extremely high. If you’ve seen pictures of the marines invading the Marshalls you know why.

They’ve discontinued radio night classes now because so many students complained of nervousness due to them so I don’t have to worry about that anymore. Most nights I don’t do much, however, because I’m so tired. Sometimes I go to a movie—the ones we get here are new and usually good—but more often I stay in.

When it comes to weather I sure pull the lousy camps. On Sunday the temperature was 80, the next day it rained and today it snowed. Oh god! Puleeze send me back to California.

Most of the fellows here in camp are getting sore as hell about the war (not that it will do any good) but now they say no 2nd. front until after the election. There’s certainly a shift of opinion against Roosey these days.
I could write a lot more but it’s cold soooo--.

Bestus Love,

Saturday, July 18, 2009

About Letter 88

Bill gives up trying to call home on Easter Day after waiting for 7 hours and being told the wait could be "6 or 7 hours longer." Radio is getting " worse and worser" as Bill says, "if I stagger in the door someday waiving a C.C.D (medical discharge) you'll know I went nuts."

Letter 88- April 9, 1944

April 9, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dearest Folks,

I have spent all day trying to get you on the phone but the delays are so bad that I couldn’t get through. You don’t realize just how difficult it is to make East-West calls----7-8 hours delay ordinarily and today it was 8 or 9 and longer sooo--------. I put the call in this morning at 10:00 and when I went back at 5:00 they said it might be 6 or 7 hours longer so I canceled the whole damn thing.

I’ve been having a fairly good time today going to free shows and such. Things in camp were pretty lively. The trainees and their wives and friends were parading up and down in all their Easter finery and the hot sunlight it made a very pretty picture.

I made some inquiry into the status of the towns around here. One is Joplin and the other Carthage. Evidently is easy to get reservations in both except over the weekends when they’re full of soldiers. However, if it takes a month to get transportation there’s not much sense in coming here because by then I’ll either be out of camp or in the field on another bivouac (Bivouacs here are equivalent to Camp Fire Girl outings.)

We got some letters from some of the old gang today. They’re at Camp Beale, California awaiting shipment overseas. They are evidently having a swell time. I rather wish I were with them at times.

Radio is getting worse and worse and worser. All the Signal Corps men are trying to get into something else. We can’t. If I stagger in the door someday waving a C.C.D. (medical discharge) you’ll know I went nuts.

Bill (lots of love)

About Letter 87

As Bill continues his struggle with radio school his mother suggests that he might like "explosives" better than radio. Bill responds by saying that " I do think they're safer than radio and that's no kidding."

Letter 87- April 6, 1944

April 6, 1944

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Again I start a letter by saying I just got off K.P. I say this with a mighty groan for I have been quite ill with an upset stomach for 2 days and somewhat weak from lack of food. This evening I’m much better, however and so I’m writing. School is dragging along as badly as ever. I’m getting so nervous that I snap at everyone. Of course they’re nervous too and snap right back. Many are starting to drop out of radio now, but I guess I’m doing well enough. I don’t give a damn as far as radio itself is concerned but as I’ve written before, I don’t want to fail. You mentioned explosives in one of your recent letters saying I might like them better than radio. I do think they’re safer than radio and that’s no kidding.

Details are coming thick and fast around here now and it seems I never get a minute off. OH WELL, WHAT THE HELL (old army saying).

The pictures are coming along swell and I sure enjoy them.

This isn’t much of a letter but I’d better close.

Say, I’d like to write Richard but you didn’t say how long he’d be in town.

Best Love,

About Letter 86

Bill continues to progress at code taking. He is attempting 10 words a minute and "doing fairly well." Bill remarks that the weather is adding to his "state of misery- "yesterday...80 deg.--this morning it SNOWED."

Letter 86- April 4, 1944

April 4, 1944
Dear Mudder and Dad,

I don’t even intend to send this letter if I can help it, but last night I was on guard and tonight I must help G.I. the barracks so I don’t know whether I can get time to write a real letter or not.

Yesterday I received the Easter package and letter from you. I concluded from certain “derogerary” remarks in the letter that I had better write. I’m writing this in class and therefore the “yaller” paper and G.I. printing. I’m having a wonderful time eating the eggs. They’re delicious. I cut the chocolate eggs up into slices. (not in class)

I’m progressing a little better in my code at present and it seems that the crisis may be passed. I’m now attempting to take 10 words a minute and am doing fairly well.

With every day that passes I get more fed up with the state of “misery”. Yesterday the temp. was actually 80° --this morning it snowed.

I just got back from lunch and mail call. I received 3 letters from you. The pictures are swell and I was sure glad to get them.

Well, I guess this damn thing is going to have to do for a letter after all. It’s late in the evening now, and after being up all last night I just haven’t the courage to start a letter. Hope you’ll forgive me.

Bestus, Love

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

About Letter 85

Now that he is up to receiving 10 words a minute Bill is feeling a bit better about his code work. He is also working as an instructor in demolition, mines, and booby traps. The additional responsibility suits him. Bill complains that most of the men in his barracks are "the dumbest bunch of Bohemians I ever saw." He says that he does get to "talk a little common sense now and then with a few A.S.T.P. men and a few Chinese fellows here", including Tall Kay Loo, a cousin of the actor Richard Loo. Bill closes the letter with a comical sketch.

Letter 85- April 1, 1944

April 1, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Mudder and Dad,
At last! After not receiving any mail from you for over a week today I got a pile of letters and also two packages. I received the money order too. It seems that my mail has been floating around all over the camp for the last week or so. And I thought the Camp Abbot P.O. was bad. Thanks a lot for the money and the packages.

Today is G.I. Sunday. It’s really Saturday but for the first time I’ve been in the army I’m getting a two day weekend. It’s really sumpin’. I slept this morning until 8:00. That wasn’t so late but after getting up at 5:30 all the time it was like staying in bed all day. After getting up, getting a shower and shaving I went to the Service Club for breakfast. Then I went to the library and started reading the March “Atlantic.” I got pretty interested in that and the next thing I knew it was noon. Since then I’ve been reading my mail and eating those swell cookies.

I’m picking up a little in my code work. I was getting pretty discouraged awhile there but now I’m up to receiving ten words a minute so I feel a little better. It’s funny but my trouble lies in distinguishing between the characters. I have them memorized perfectly and can transmit quite fast but when it comes to receiving I have a tough time. I am getting there though. I’m determined not to fail. Fizzling out on things was always my great weakness but this army life has made me so aware of the necessity of succeeding that I’ve just got to make it. Of course, there’s no reason to believe now that I won’t succeed.

I’m enjoying life around here more and more all the time mainly because I’m now treated like a soldier instead of a trainee. I get more work and responsibility but I’d rather have it that way. Being an Engineer they’re using me now as an instructor in demolition, mines, and booby traps, the basic techniques of which are being taught to the Signalmen in this company. Life is pretty easy compared with Abbot but this sitting all day long is ruining my appetite. I now weigh a good ten pounds less than I did when I came in the army—160 now. However, my shoulders are becoming better developed and I’m hard all over.

Here in the barracks everyone’s from New York. You know the kind. Either you’re from New York or from the sticks. What saps! Here’s some of their names—Wasielewski, Wartislavski, Merriaslowski—the dumbest bunch of Bohemians I ever saw.

However, there are also some A.S.T.P. college men here too, so I do get to talk a little common sense now and then. We have quite a few Chinese fellows here and you couldn’t find a nicer bunch. One sleeps right next to me and we pal around quite a bit. His name’s Tall Kay Lou and he’s a cousin of the Richard Lou who is in the movies. He’s a swell fellow. He was born in this country but was brought up in Hong Kong. His family is evidently quite wealthy. His father runs several businesses in Seattle and several in China. Most Chinese here are pretty stiff in the way they act until they see you don’t hold their color against them but then you couldn’t find a more pleasant people nor as sensible. Lou is really a funny duck. He was asking one day what I thought of England. After I told him, he said he (was) surprised so many Americans dislike England. Then he told me what the Chinese think of England—Wow! What a speech.

The war news sounds pretty good these days. Despite our air losses and the Italian fiasco, the Russian drive toward Czechoslovakia and Hungary looks pretty good. So does our raids on islands like this Palau—so near the Philippines. Maybe this war is nearer over than we think—I hope.

Must close,

Best Love,

P.S. If Richard is still around say hello to him for me.

(sketch here)

About Letter 84

Bill laments that "Radio code is getting worse and worse for me." He learns to his dismay that he is a "guinea pig" in Signal School whereby low scorers in the Signal test are taught under a new system. Worst of all is the boring repetition of code where "a man becomes a machine." Bill undergoes the Signal Corps version of booby trap training which he lambasts saying, "just about everything they teach here is wrong."

Letter 84- March 29, 1944

March 29, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Folks,
I planned to make this a long letter but now I have a nosebleed and I don’t know.

Well, things are getting pretty rough around here. Radio code is getting worse and worse for me. It’s funny but I think I’m working harder for this than anything I’ve done yet I’m doing so poorly. I asked one of the officers about it and he said I was doing alright but that I was at a disadvantage since I received such a low score in the Signal test I took at MacArthur. I found out that certain of us in my class are guinea pigs. We are supposed to be somewhat inept at distinguishing signals, but under this new system they think they can teach us anyway. I hope so. I know I can make it if they give me time. I do have a lot of trouble, however. I’m taking your advice, Mother and not worrying. That’s the worst thing a person can do.

It’s certainly boring though. Radio sounds interesting but it isn’t. When receiving code a man becomes a machine. He automatically takes the stuff down and doesn’t even know what it is since it’s all in cryptograph.


The sets we have are practically useless as far as interest is concerned since they can’t pick up much. Between you and me it’s the nuts. I do want to succeed though. I haven’t failed in anything in the army yet and I don’t want to S.N.A.F.U. now.

The other day we had a big inspection by the Chief of the British Signal Corp and a lot of other officers. It was the usual “baloney”. We had to pretend we were new students and everything we did was rehearsed. The Eng. general was supposed to get a true picture from that----Phooey!

As you know we have an hour of basic every afternoon after school. The boys are now on an Engineer Specialty, “Booby Traps”. These poor guys won’t have a chance on the battlefield. Just about everything they teach there is wrong. The cadre here knows nothing about such things but they get sore if you try to tell them anything. I shoot off my mouth anyway. I’ll be damned if I’ll let ‘em give these poor guys a bum steer that may kill them. The rest of the Engineers feel the same way. They should teach them only 2 things about booby traps-how to recognize and mark them, and then HANDS OFF. I’ve had a lot more experience with explosives than these guys will ever have and I wouldn’t fool with ‘em. I’d let the demolition men handle them.

Boy! I’m sure hepped up over those cookies---drool! Talking about food I bet you’ll be surprised to hear that I’ve become a tea fiend in the last 6 months. Ain’t it a laugh?

Congratulate Ann for me on becoming a citizen.

Best Love,

Sunday, July 12, 2009

About Letter 83

Bill is now copying code at 7 words a minute but has not yet started sending. A rumor that Roosevelt and a "bunch of big shots from England" are going to hold a conference at Crowder fails to materilize. In typical fashion Bill sarcastically states, "They were probably all somewhere hoisting a few." He closes by sending a coded message to his folks.

Letter 83- March 26, 1944

March 26, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Mother and Dad,

Today I received two letters from you in which you quite rightfully bawl me out for not writing. It just goes to show you what code is doing to me. I don’t even know whether or not I’m coming or going. Believe me, I’m sorry. I guess I’ve been spending too much time at the show and P.X. lately. I’m now copying code at 7 words a minute but have not started sending yet. We have 7 hours a day receiving that code so you can imagine how refreshing it is to get away in the evening. You were right about code though; it doesn’t bother me anywhere as much as it did.

Things are pretty much the same here, however. We follow an easy routine day in and day out without much change. However, today we got schneidered. Today is Sunday but we had to go to school anyway because a bunch of big shots from England were here on a tour of inspection. They’re holding some sort of a conference here and there’s a rumor going around that Roosie is going to be here too. Anyway I worked all day. No generals came around, however. They were probably all somewhere hoisting a few.

Gee! I really don’t know what else to write. We haven’t been doing anything remarkable of late. Yesterday we went on a hike. The Signal Corps thought it was tough stuff—The Corp of Eng. almost died laughing. I’ll write more regularly from now on. It may not be much but I’ll write.

Best Love,

— ••• • ••• — • — •• ——— ••• — • — ——— — •••• • — ••• • ••• —
••—• ——— •—• —•— ••• •• — • — •••• • • —— ——— •—• •— •• —••

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

About Letter 82

Bill has been at Camp Crowder for over a week and is struggling with radio school. He says that, "it is about the dullest and most nerve wracking thing I've ever done." As for the German POW's Bill contemptuously states, "those dumb Nazi's still think Hitler's going to win the war." Continuing in this sarcastic vein he exclaims, "the more I see of people, the more I love dogs."

Letter 82- March 20, 1944

March 20, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

In the last few days I’ve received 3 letters from you, and they sure have given my old morale a boost. Well I’ve been in Camp Crowder for over a week and to be perfectly frank with you I find the place rather disappointing. Of course it’s been so long since I’ve been home that I can’t really be satisfied wherever I go. The camp itself is really nice, and the weather is somewhat better that that at Abbot but the officers and non-coms certainly don’t measure up. Most of the officers don’t do any work themselves and most of them act rather “superior”. They pick on everyone constantly and yet there is little in the way of discipline. I guess I just ain’t never goin’ to like this here war.

The thing that is really getting me down, however, is this radio school. It’s about the dullest and most nerve wracking thing I’ve ever done. I thought it would be interesting but it isn’t. We just sit in class all day long hour after hour and have that crap banged in our ears. One finally gets so he can’t distinguish one letter from another. It makes me awfully nervous and to top that I don’t have much of an hearing or ear for it, so I have just about twice as hard a time as most fellows. I am working hard though and I’ll get it in the end. They’re now thinking of giving night classes and that will be hell. I guess you just can’t get a good deal in this army. I’d sure wish I could just write one letter to you in which I had nothing to gripe about.

I’ll answer the letters by just taking one and starting in.

The situation with the folks back East is certainly the nuts isn’t it? It appears to me to be a very unhealthy situation. I guess it’s just another one of those things that have been giving us a pain in the neck all these years.

I certainly have missed you of late. I guess even though I knew that I couldn’t get home on furlough I had some forlorn hope of seeing you right up until I left.

You mention the P.W.’s here and ask how they’re taking it. Those dumb Nazis still think Hitler’s going to win the war. Imagine! What can anybody do with saps like that? They stand around and laugh at the rookies here and never realize that it was a bunch of amateurs not so much better than the rookies that licked the pants off them. They all wear their hair long like Johnny Weissmuller and love to flirt with the girls around camp.

I sure like that deal about Higgins wanting me for Major—after all this time. God, the more I see of people the more I love dogs. By the way, how is “her Nibbs”?

That guy, Dude, sure has turned out to be a false alarm. Not saying I should have been Major, but he’s certainly not making much of a showing for an “ex-Harvard School cadet commander” is he? He’s evidently about the biggest pill I’ve ever known.

About Crowder to get back to the dreary side of life, they’re beginning to chicken out on this rating business for radio men. I might have known it. I can see the dirty end of the stick coming my way already.

Evidently I’m not getting payed (paid?) this month end so I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask for a few bucks.

Best Love,
Your pore sad sack son,

About Letter 81

After a day and a half of radio Bill is showing signs of stress saying, "this is the kind of stuff that can actually drive a man screwy." He continues to strongly identify as an engineer and proudly states that, "as engineers we rate around this joint. We're combat troops and the Signal Corps boys aren't."

Letter 81- March 16, 1944

March 16, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dearest Folks,

Well, I’m just about getting into the swing of things here at Camp Crowder. I’ve had about a day and a half of radio and if one of these days they drag me home in a straight jacket, don’t be surprised. This is the kind of stuff that can actually drive a man screwy. If I don’t have a nervous breakdown I should make a good operator. I’m slower than most, as usual; but I’m a lot surer of myself than most. Code is very simple and surprisingly enough for this reason it’s pretty tough. One’s mind has a tendency to rebel against that constant repetition. It’ll be a cinch if I can get into the rhythm of the thing, but meanwhile it’s certainly no nerve tonic.

As I’ve told you before this is really a nice camp, but it’s still just an Army camp and therefore—phhht! As Engineers we rate around this joint. We’re combat troops and the Signal Corps boys aren’t. For some reason the cadre around here seems to respect us. In fact I think they must be afraid of us. Of course, maybe that’s because “rough, tough and robust”. In the Engineers if you don’t agree with a non-com you tell them so—not disrespectfully mind you, but the important thing out at Abbot was to get the job done and if we had a better way to do a thing we were free to say so. Well, we can do that here and these boys go into a spin. They don’t know whether we really know out oats or (are) just tough. We don’t try to act tough but compared to this bunch we do know our oats.

Closing now. Be sure to address letter exactly as below.

Pvt. William W. Taylor, Jr. 19203811
Co. B-37
Camp Crowder, Mo.

Bestus Love,


Sunday, July 5, 2009

About Letter 80

Bill is starting to learn code at Radio School. He remains decidedly unimpressed with the regimen at Camp Crowder saying, "I've never seen such a boy scout outfit yet." Bill says that he is shocked at seeing so many POW's in camp noting that, "you may run into them at any time."

Letter 80- March 13, 1944

March 13, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’ve only time to write a short note tonight, I think. Boy is this camp sumpin’. The fellows from Camp Abbot and Leonard Wood are just floating in a sea of amazement. I’ve never seen such a boy scout outfit yet. They don’t carry rifles and their training is a laugh. I found out today that they, and myself, therefore, get ten minutes free time out of every hour all day long. Though life, huh? I don’t know whether I can take it or not. The funny thing about it is that these signal boys think they’re having a tough time. Boy! would the old Camp Abbot boys get a laugh if they could hear them.

Today at radio school we started code work. It’s pretty nerve-racking but in true Camp Crowder style they make up for it by having the radio play nice soft music over the earphones whenever the key is not in use. Some stuff.

I sure have gotten a shock around here as far as prisoners of war are concerned. They’re all over the camp working at various trivial jobs and you may run into ‘em any time. A group of 20 or so will only have one guard. They look and act a lot like Americans and seem to be very interested in us. Of course, we can’t talk to them and it wouldn’t do much good since their English is atrocious. I hear they keep the one’s that speak good English locked up all the time.

Well, I’d better close now. I know my letters have been not too informative of late but it’s the same old story. Nobody knows nuttin’.
Best love in the whole world,