Saturday, July 18, 2009

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)


  1. I'm surprised that Bill expects his folks to travel so far to visit him. Transportation was in seriously short supply and all the public information asked people, "Is this trip necessary?" Dad left home in the summer of '42 and even though he was in the Air Corps and flew all over the country, he didn't get home for three years. Certainly his folks didn't have the means to take the train to meet him.

    If Bill got into Joplin or Carthage he might be disappointed. He will probably find the prices outrageous, the supply of goods limited, and the entertainments available to soldiers not something he would write home about.

    Dad was at Joplin in late '43 to attend B-25 school for several weeks. He never saw another B-25.

  2. I don't believe that Bill really expected his folks to visit him at Camp Crowder. It's more likely that his mother wanted to come. She was very strong willed. He no doubt checked it out to satisfy her. She also pushed very hard to arrange a trip to Bend to see Bill at Camp Abbot and he wrote back to her that it was impractical due to rationing and a lack of facilities in Bend.

    I don't think Bill had any more interest in Joblin or Carthage than he did in Bend. Being from Los Angeles those towns seemed pedestrian to him, especially as Bill wasn't one to go out, get drunk and chase girls. A good library was a greater attraction to him.

    It's amazing how far reaching was the U.S. military during WWII. It seems that every community had at least one service facility, including Joplin.

    Interestingly, your father never flew a B-25 and my father never used a radio in combat or built a bridge.

  3. Greg,

    These letters continue to fascinate me and I very much enjoy David Wilma's comments too. Keep up the good work. I just know that other readers will stumble on these and be thrilled that you have posted them. The other day I was contacted by the granddaughter of the family that my grandmother, Minnie Frey, had lived with while she was teaching school in Riley County, Kansas. She and her husband thanked me for posting up Minnie's letters because it gave them a glimpse of what life was like for their relatives in 1918. The granddaughter actually lived in the same house during the 1940's. They sent me some pictures which I have added to my blog, "The Great War Comes to Kansas."

  4. Dad flew the B-25 in training. Then he went to another school for the C-46 Commando, a transport. Transports and ferrying combat aircraft were his Air Corps career. I think he said he did the C-46 school three times because of some Army foul-up.

    Yes, the Army and the Navy threw up camps everywhere. In my mother's home town of Longview, Washington, the Signal Corps planted a camp in the middle of town (her best friend married a soldier).

    Just a few hundred feet from where I write this they dug in an anti-aircraft battery in a vacant portion of a cemetery. The hilltop was deemed ideal to help protect the B-17 plant at Boeing. At the end of the war, the Army paid something like $600 to the City for damages to the city parks. The biggest problem for the Army in Seattle was showers for the soldiers. Neighbors often offered their bathrooms on a reservation basis. Imagine soldiers walking through the neighborhoods with towels, soap dishes, and fresh underwear.

  5. Griff,
    I'm headed over to "The Great War..." to see the photos. Thanks for the encouragement. At times it seems that you and David are the only one's paying any attention to my dad's letters, but I know there are "lurker's" out there and it is only a matter of time before someone appears with great new information.

  6. Much of the land for the camps that the army and navy "threw up" was literally stolen from ordinary farmers and landowners. If you read some of the comments about "bitter farmers" in the guestbook at the link on "Greetings from Camp Crowder" you will see that Camp Crowder is no exception

  7. I just made a fascinating discovery when checking the guestbook at the Camp Crowder link to the left. In Seattle the citizens offered showers to the soldiers, but in Neosho and Carthage the citizens actually opened their homes to POW's for dinner and delivered Pepsi to their compound at Crowder. Here is the text:

    "I was born and raisd in Carthage 25 mi.n.of Neosho.My father was an electrical inspector during the construction of Crowder. There were a lot of bitter farmers that were forced off their land when the Govt built the Camp. Locals would intertain the POW's with Sunday dinners in their homes. There were German, Italian & Jap internees.Their treatment was outstanding. A close buddy of mine delivered Pepsi to their compounds. There are so many stories.

  8. A factoid about World War II not well known is that not all the POWs made it home. Some escaped and blended into U.S. society. That was easier for the Germans and Italians than for the Japanese, of course. I met an FBI agent in the 1970s who had on his caseload that included a German escapee.


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