Monday, August 31, 2009

About Letter 121

To Bill's utter amazement he is transferred to the Infantry. He now is slated to go through infantry basic training. Rather than fearing the possibility of combat, Bill is convinced that he will never see active service in the ETO saying, "at least you don't have to worry about me going into's very doubtful that this war will last as long as the training."

Letter 121- September 17, 1944

September 17, 1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

Well, at last I’m settled. My future is assured for some time to come. In short I’ve been transferred to the Infantry, the Infantry. When they told me that I was transferred and to go through an infantry basic I damn near dropped dead. I still don’t know exactly what to say. At least you don’t have to worry about me going into battle.

As a combat engineer I was more or less a finished product ready for the front lines, but as an Infantryman, I’m only a rooky. I can’t tell you how long a period of training we’re going to get but I can say that it’s very doubtful that this war will last as long as the training.

I actually believe that the reason for all this lies in the fact that they just don’t know what in the devil to do with us. We’ve finished training yet they can’t use us so they stick us in another branch and start all over again. If pretty soon I write and tell you I am in the Horse Cavalry don’t be surprised.

I am now quite a distance (as distances go in England) from my old camp. This place is just about 1000 times better than was the jernt I just came from. The quarters are odd for a soldier, but comfortable. They won’t let me elaborate on this for some silly reason. The entertainment facilities are much better, the food is good and unlike the last camp I can get all I want. (I went hungry more than once back there) The training is easy (at least so far) and the weather here is a “helluva” lot better.

All in all this place is not bad but on the other hand I’ve lost all interest. Before I was (or thought I was) getting all set to go over. Now I feel that I’m not needed. Before I wanted to get all I could in the way of training because I felt that my very life depended on it. Now—I know it’s just so much baloney.

At last I think I can put in for that course in German. I’ll be settled here long enough to make it worthwhile.

I read by this morning’s paper that we’ve cut a hole through the Siegfried Line. It looks as if Germany is all washed up.

I don’t hear much about the election over here but from the weekly straw votes I see where Dewey is steadily mounting attacks made upon him by the British press. Of course, they would know how England benefits by the present regime in Washington. We’re not supposed to say anything against England in our letters but you know what I think.

I haven’t received any mail from you for several days due to the troop movement (me), but I suppose they’ll be along any time.

I’ve decided to send in now for the course in German. I’ll be for long enough to get started “anyhoo”. Always before I’ve been so busy and so uncertain about what came next that I didn’t care to go in for anything like that.

Well, I think I’ll go get a haircut this afternoon. I can listen to the radio while I wait. Then maybe I’ll go to the Red Cross and get a “Coke”.

They finished up the blackout over here today and that’ll make things a lot more agreeable than they’ve been before. If there’s anything I hate to do it’s having to fake around in the dark.

Sometime in the near future I may get a pass to London. If so, I’ll write all about it. That’s about all for now.

Best Love,

Sunday, August 30, 2009

About Letter 120

Bill continues to "train, wait and wonder". He says the "dull, dreary life is dulling my mind." He believes that he will be moving out before long but won't be going very far.

Letter 120- September 9, 1944

September 9, 1944

Dear Mother,

This is a poor excuse for a birthday card, I know; but I haven’t been able to get a hold of anything that would be worth a damn. Happy birthday anyway. I just hope we’re able to spend the next one together.

I think I’ll be moving out of here before long so don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for even a longer time than you usually have to wait. I don’t think I’m going very far, however.

One of the reasons I haven’t been on the ball about writing since I’ve been here is the depressed way I fell about 9/10 of the time. There’s so little to do except train and wait and wonder. I splash around in the rain all day and then catch cold, sit around when you do get some time off with nothing to do. Really it just about drives everyone off his nut.

You don’t know how much your letters mean to me over here. They make the only bright spot in an otherwise godawful existence. That in itself makes me damned ashamed of myself for not doing better in my letter writing, but it’s the same old story. This dull dreary life is dulling my mind I guess. (This makes a dismal birthday greeting, huh? Sorry.)

Best love,

About Letter 119

It's Saturday, Bill hasn't got a pass, and tomorrow he has K.P. The weather as usual is bad and Bill has another cold in addition to diarrhea. Needless to say, he's "overcome with the blues."

Letter 119- September 1, 1944

September 1-2, 1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

I received three letters from you today: one dated Aug. 15, one Aug. 17, and one dated Aug.21. The V-mail letter of the 15th took a week to get to me after it had arrived in the U.K. Wot a system. Your letters were certainly newsy, however I was rather surprised to hear about Herbert¹. I guess in his condition any illness is pretty bad, however, I note by your latest letter that he’s better or at least there is no worse news.

By the time you get this letter you’ll probably be pretty discouraged by the scarcity of letters from me, but believe me over here it’s a “hellova” lot different than it is in the states.

The Harvard boys sure get around don’t they. (I read Ozzy’s write-up) Ozzy sure never impressed me as the type of fellow that would make a Fortress pilot. I noticed also that Tony Trainor was killed over in France. It’s sure a hellish thing when a man does all he’s done and then gets run over by a friendly tank. He got quite a write-up in all the British papers.

The war news is so exciting and fast moving these days that I hardly dare mention it. The bloomin’ war might be over by the time you receive this letter.

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

Best Love,

September 2, 1944

Dear Folks,

Well, I didn’t write or I should say send the letter. That’s obvious isn’t it. I’m sure down in the dumps tonight. It’s Saturday. I haven’t got a pass. Tomorrow (Sunday) I’ve got K.P. We’re having some lovely English weather, and I’m overcome with the blues in general. My cold is worse and I’ve got a touch of diareaha, diarrhea, diarrhea (I’ll take a chance on that last spelling). All in all everything is just wonderful.

I hardly know where to start tonight. Several questions that you’ve asked and which I should have answered long ago have just popped into my mind. One thing is that course in German. I’ve still got the papers and all I have to do is send it to the London offices but I’ve kept hesitating due to the uncertainty of the situation over here. I don’t know from one day to another how long I’ll be here or where I go when I do leave.

I never did receive that telegram from Elizabeth² but I have written to her. You know, as much as I hate this army life it’s doing a lot for me in some respects. I think it’s making me more certain of myself. I’ve had a greater chance to stand on my principles, such as they are, and have succeeded in this so far. Having principles is a drawback in the army and one has to pay for living up to them, but nevertheless personally I feel stronger for having them. As I reread the above, it sounds like so much baloney and muddled at that. I was trying to be serious, however.

At any rate I think I shall be able to live a fuller life when this is over. I want to do things and see things and just for the “helluvit" I want to kick the pants off the very first gazebo who up and sez “Hey! You!”

Best Love,

1. Herbert is Bill’s paternal uncle.

2. Elizabeth is Bill’s paternal aunt.

Friday, August 28, 2009

About Letter 118

Bill quits smoking saying, "my tongue still hangs out every time anyone lights up." His smoking career only lasted 2 months but he was "killing about a pack and a half a day." The mail service is still bad and Bill complains that "when I write anything about the war it is ancient history before it gets home."

Letter 118- August 27, 1944

August 27, 1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

It seems like Sunday is about the only day I ever get the chance to do any writing. Since I wrote my last letter to you I’ve received two. To get mail over here is really wonderful. These last two that I received were postmarked on the fourteenth but written on the twelfth. Don’t apologize for not sending a birthday present. I probably wouldn’t have received it ‘till Christmas “anyhoo”. However, I won’t say that I don’t want to get any boxes from home. Over here it’s impossible to buy anything. They feed us fairly well but I’m really hungry all the time without any candy, etc. I don’t know how the regulations are but I think they’re clamping down to make room for the Christmas rush. However, if possible make it food.

Right now I’m so hungry I could eat a horse. Maybe this is because I’ve quit smoking. I didn’t smoke at all before Reynolds but since then I’ve been smoking more and more until within two months I was killing about a pack and a half of cigarettes a day. That’s when I stopped. My tongue still hangs out every time anyone lights up. It’s funny how quickly that habit can get hold of a body.

I wish we were having a little of that hot weather over here. It’s so cold and damp that I feel like a wet sponge.

You asked me to send any kind of news and I’ll be damned if I can think of anything. Everything I think of is something that I wrote in my last letter. It seems that the longer I stay in the army the worse I get at writing.

I’m going to start sending some air mail V-mail and see if they don’t go faster. When I write anything about the war, etc. its ancient history before it gets home.

Well, I’ll try to think of something good to write next time.

Best Love,

P.S. Note new address

About Letter 117

Bill turns 19 years of age on August 15, 1944. The weather is miserable and Bill is craving ice cream and cake. He says that the rumor situation in England is worse than in the states, "the war's over every 5 minutes over here". As he closes the letter Bill's frustration over censorship restrictions boil over and he exclaims, "oh Hell, everything I want to write I Can't!"

Letter 117- August 20, 1944

August 20, 1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

It’s been a week now since I’ve written to you and I apologize but not until yesterday did I receive any mail from you for this week. I don’t know but over here it’s hard to write when I don’t get word from you. However, yesterday I received letters dating from August first to seventh including the birthday card.¹ They sure pepped me up a lot.

The weather here has been miserable or better “mizzuble”. I’ll be damned if I can see why anyone wants to live here. Here it is the middle of August and it’s as cold and damp as hell. It’s a wonder I don’t have a worse cold.

I’m sorry your special hocus-pocus couldn’t get my letters through to you but you know how the mail goes.

You just about kill me everyday or should I say when I get mail with your vivid descriptions of ice-cream, cakes, etc. They don’t know what those things are over here.

Everybody’s chewing the fat around me right now—I keep forgetting what I want to write.

I thought the rumor situation was bad over in the states but here….God! The war’s over every five minutes over here. Newspapers are a valuable possession.

Oh Hell, everything I want to write I can’t.

Best Love,

1. ed. note: Bill turned 19 years of age on August 15, 1944.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

About Letter 116

Once again Bill's request for a pass is turned down. The war news seems good with reports saying "Monty" claims that "the German 7th. Army will give up within 72 hours." Bill complains that it is hard to write because of the poor mail service and "because of the many restrictions covering what I can say."

Letter 116- August 13, 1944

August 13, 1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

It has been now just one week since I received any mail from you and I have to admit that I don’t like it even a little bit. I know it isn’t your fault but when day after day I’m the only fellow in the barracks that doesn’t get mail—well—I get pretty burned up with this army mail service. I find it awfully hard to write when I don’t receive mail from you because of the many restrictions covering what I can say.

Today is Sunday and I’ve been turned down on a pass again. It seems that I have less chance at a pass than anybody around here. I’ve only had one since I’ve been here. They tell us they want us to get acquainted with the people over here but then see to it that we don’t get the chance.

The war news sure seems to be good these days. Monty says I hear, that the German 7th Army will give up within 72 hours. I guess that by the time you get this the situation will be a lot clearer. Everyone over here seems to think that Germany can’t hold out much longer. I hope so.

I’m feeling well although I can’t seem to get rid of this cold. That’s about all I can say now.

Best Love,

About Letter 115

The scuttlebutt floating around camp includes a report that Argentina has declared war on the U.S. and that riot squads in New York have been called out to quell the mobs celebrating the impending armistice which is expected momentarily. Bill cites these reports as "the kind of balony that floats around an army camp."

Letter 115- August 9, 1944

August 9, 1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

It’s been several days since I last wrote to you but I’ve been pretty much on the go all the time. We have a tough training schedule and not a hellova lot of time in which to do anything else. We get a good dosage of hiking every day almost. I don’t mind that, however, because I never tire of looking at the English countryside.

I’ve been getting mail regularly from you for almost a week and it sure keeps my spirits up. I only hope my letters are getting to you as fast.

It looks as if things across the Channel are really getting into high gear now. We get pretty confused sometimes, however. We don’t get much in the way of radio news during the day and the way things are going, an awful lot can happen in 24 hours.

The other day we heard that riot squads had been called out in New York and other large cities to quell the mobs celebrating the “armistice”, which seemed to be expected momentarily. Hot Stuff, huh? Another was that Argentina had declared war on us. I liked that one. You can see the kind of baloney that floats around an army camp.

I still don’t know how the War in the Pacific is going. Here in the E.T.O only one war is of importance.

My cold seems to be pretty well broken but this weather is so bad that everyone is always down with one. I had my first pass the other night so I walked to a small town nearby to get a firsthand look at England. To quote Richard—“It’s a dump”. Oh well, maybe I’m prejudiced (has that got another “d” in it?)

Now I’m down to the point where I can only think of militarily confidential stuff, sooo--.

Best Love,

Monday, August 24, 2009

About Letter 114

The English weather and a cold had Bill down, but today a letter from home and a nice day improves his spirits. He describes the countryside as pretty "what with it's clipped hedges and winding lanes", but complains that the English children, "brats" follow American soldiers around hollering "any gum chum?" and "gimme this or that." Bill makes reference to the death of his grandfather, Herbert L. Taylor, Jr.

Letter 114- August 5, 1944

August 5, 1944

Dear Mother and Dad,

I received my first mail from you yesterday and it sure gave my morale a big boost. The “bee-oo-ti-fool” English weather plus a cold plus the lack of anything to do over here just about had me down and out, but the letter and also the nice day we’re having today has me feeling like a human being again. By the time this gets to you, you should have received several V-Mail letters most of which will have been notable for their lack of information. One is not even dated. The reason for all this is that things were pretty well messed up when we first arrived and no one knew if we could write anything or not. still yet there are a million things I’d like to write about but can’t—the voyage over and so forth.

Living conditions over here can’t compare with the states but things aren’t as bad as I thought they’d be. The food we get is good and besides we get certain rations. This makes us very popular among the children. Generally a whole slew of brats will follow a soldier around hollering “any gum chum” and “any lifesavers” and “gimmie this or that.” It gets a guy down. The people over here try to be nice but already I’m getting that “I wanna go home’ feeling. The English countryside is very pretty what with it’s clipped hedges and winding lanes. Most of the houses are very old and it’s obvious that many of them were built without the aid of a straight edge or a level—damndest things I ever saw—quaint though. They’d look like the devil, however, if it weren’t for the beautiful gardens that they are almost always surrounded by.

The roads are good but narrow and are generally made of asphalt. If we go on a hike and it’s hot, (it usually gets warm in the afternoon), we come back to camp with half the road stuck to the soles of our shoes.

I can’t say I was sorry to hear about Gramp’s death. In his condition it was a blessing for those around him as well as himself.

Why did you have to write about that ice-cream, Dad? Over “hyar” they don’t know what the stuff is, and you know me. My tongue is just about draggin’ on the ground.

I did get those last letters you sent me along with the stamps I can use very nicely. The nice thing about those letters was that I received them when I was a day out at sea. I also received a letter from Elizabeth in which she said that it looked as if Gramps was headed for pneumonia.
That’s about all for now. I think my cold is about broken. “Those goims can’t stand dis army life.”

Best love,


About Letter 113

Bill sends his second V-Mail from somewhere in England

Letter 113- August 1, 1944

August 1, 1944 (England) V-MAIL

Dear Mother and Dad,

I’m awfully busy and have very little time in which to write. However, I’m sure you want at least a word from me. I’m well and working hard but I already miss the good old U.S.A. England’s all right but you know how it is. That’s about all I have to say.

Best love, Bill

Friday, August 21, 2009

About Bill's Queen Mary Crossing

According to a log kept by Colonel Dallas D. Dennis of the New York Port of Embarkation, Bill and his company of Replacements departed from New York harbor on Sunday July 23, 1944 and landed at Gourock, Scotland on the following Friday July 28. The passage took 4 days, 22 hours, and 18 minutes. Average speed for the voyage was 28.02 knots and the troop transport traversed 3,315 nautical miles of ocean. There were 12,009 troops and a crew of 1,130 for a total of 13,139 passengers aboard.

Departures of the Queen Mary were usually made early in the morning or late in the evening to take advantage of high tide and screen the liner’s movements from view. As a precaution against Axis attacks, the ship never followed the same route twice. Even the ship’s Captain didn’t know her exact course until leaving port. A group of four or five destroyers escorted the liner for some 150 miles, and were then relieved by Navy patrol planes or blimps.

Once aboard ship life for the troops was regulated by the ships Standing Orders and the routine Daily Orders. Two meals were served aboard the Queen Mary daily, each in six staggered sittings with breakfast available from 6:30 to 11:00 am and dinner from 3:00 to 7:30 pm. The rotational system that governed meals also applied to sleeping arrangements. Only two thirds of the embarked troops could be accommodated in the liners 12,500 bunks, so 2,500 men were assigned sleeping areas on the ship’s deck. A regular rotation ensured that no one spent more than two nights “topside”. Many of the GI’s preferred the deck to the crowded spaces below, where the bunks were stacked six high in every available area and separated by only 18 inches. Understandably, most troops felt claustrophobic in such cramped quarters and felt that a man sleeping on deck had a better chance of survival should the ship be torpedoed.

After the Queen Mary was safely moored at the port of Gourock the soldiers would be loaded aboard waiting British Army trucks. The vehicles, forming a convoy that often stretched for miles, then wound through the streets of Gourock toward staging areas outside Glasgow. From there Bill and his fellow American troops would be sent to camps throughout Britain and, ultimately to the battlefronts of Europe.

About Letter 112

In his first letter from England Bill reports of a "pleasant crossing" and notes that "England is very pretty and the people quite friendly."

Letter 112- July 30, 1944 (est.)

July 30, 1944)
(estimated date)

Dear Mother and Dad,

I have arrived safely in England. I had a pleasant crossing and am feeling well. Of course I can’t say anything definite, but I am having an interesting time. England is very pretty and the people quite friendly. I’m busy now so I’ll have to close now. I’ll write again soon.


About Letter 111

Bill sends his first of many censored letters. He is "somewhere on the East Coast." He tells his folks that he doesn't know when they will next hear from him.

Letter 111- July 19, 1944

July 19, 1944
(Somewhere on East Coast)

Dear Mother and Dad,

The plot thickens. I’m somewhere on the East Coast. That’s the sum and substance of what I can tell you. It sounds like a mystery thriller doesn’t it, but it’s really necessary. I don’t know whether or not the envelope shows it, but this letter has been censored. If I have written anything wrong it will have been pointed out to me in no uncertain terms.

It’s not half bad here although most of these poor souls around this place don’t realize it. The food is excellent although we have to eat out of our mess gear. You’ll notice that I overwork the word although. That’s the trouble with the army, too many althoughs.

Well, I don’t know what’s going to happen; you may hear from me tomorrow or you may not hear from me for quite some time.

All the love in the world,


Pvt. Wm. W. Taylor, Jr.
C.E. Co. “M” A.P.O. #7946
℅ Postmaster New York, N.Y.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

About Letter 110

Bill's company is alerted that it will ship in the next several days. They are issued field equipment and clothes that indicate shipment to Europe. Bill sends his folks an urgent telegram for "25 smackers" after the company is "robbed of a total of about $500", including his wallet, $27, and his first class stamps. He gives his opinionated take on the current war news and President Roosevelt.

Letter 110- July 15, 1944

July 15, 1944
(Camp Reynolds, Pa.)

Dear Mother and Dad,

We’ve been alerted and within the next several days we will ship. I’ve received all new clothing including the new type field jackets, gas masks, inside-out shoes and so forth. Evidentially we’re to be a part of a Class “A” shipment which means—swish ! This I shouldn’t just say but it’s a pretty safe bet that we’re going to Europe since our issue is medium heavy—just about suited to English climate—but one can never tell.

You probably want to know why the urgent wire for 25 smackers. You may have guessed it. I and about half the fellows in the company were robbed of a total of about $500.00. There’s nothing lower in a military society than a thief due to small wages and inadequate means of protecting one’s property. Our first sergeant is going to have a shakedown arraigned, I think; and he says we may do with him what we please before they Court Martial him. In the 44th Inf. Div. they nailed a thief to a wall literally by his hands and feet (I’m not kidding). I think we’d be satisfied to merely break all his fingers. (this is fairly common.) He got over $27.00 from me as well as the wallet and my stamps. The only hope I have of catching up with the bast’d—is if he’s fool enough to use those Special Delivery stamps. I’m the only one in the Co. who uses them regularly. However I’m flat and with shipping and all I don’t know when I’ll be payed.

By tonight’s paper I see that the Japs are murdering our fliers again. God, I can’t understand why we feel so obliged to follow the International Law with the Japs. We might as well give them the guns with which to kill our boys. If it were up to me I’d give ‘em some really good doses of poison gas like their giving the Chinese, and second, I’d blow Tokyo—hospitals, Emperor’s Palace and all right off the map. To hell with this cricket stuff. I’d show them they’re only amateur rats compared to us. The same with the Germans who fight as long as they can kill us without endangering themselves, but give up when the going gets tough. I hardly call it a victory when a lot of Americans have to die while Germans live to raise another generation of “scum”.

Hope your cold is better, Mudder. I have a slight one but it’s pretty well sweated out of me.

I see the “Great Man” has with great reluctance decided to run again. That’s like me accepting $1,000,000 with great reluctance. I’ll close on that sour note.

Best Love

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

About Letter 109

It's beginning to look as if Bill will ship out very soon. The men have been given "the lowdown" about troop-transport procedures. He says that "if I go to Europe I get 12 hours in NewYork before going to the P.O.E.!"

Letter 109- July 10, 1944

July 10, 1944
(Camp Reynolds, Pa.)

Dear Mother and Dad,

For the last half hour I’ve been trying to write you a letter with this pen. I hope this time I have a little success. It’s beginning to look as if I may be getting out of here before very long. There are supposed to be 2 overseas shipments within the near future. I don’t know exactly where but soon and I imagine I’ll be one of them. We got some of the lowdown from a troop-transport commander the other day and it must be quite a picnic. We get on the train here fully equipped except for primary weapons—rifles, carbines, tommy guns, and go to P.O.E. There we get weapons, any new equipment that may have been introduced and a little training. As soon as the boat (banana boat) arrives, we are dragged with everything on our backs to the ship, given bunk numbers, chow numbers, and introduced to ship routine. It’s just like a post. We get 2 meals a day and have various drills frequently. In wherever we are going they dump us on a train, give us some “K” rations and send us to a reception center where we start training all over again just like we did when we came in the army. How I love it! --------. If I go to Europe I get 12 hours in New York before going to the P.O.E.!

I haven’t sent in my Education form yet but that’s only because I haven’t got to the post office to get a money order. While I’m waiting for my lessons to arrive I’m going to attend conversational classes and try to brush up on what little German I know.

The routine around here is driving me screwy (nuts). They don’t have any imagination at all—every day is the some damn thing. Tomorrow I’m afraid they’re sending us out on another overnight bivouac. Unfortunate, isn’t it? I’ll close now before this gets gruesome.

Best Love,


About Letter 108

Bill attends a lecture on the "Armed Forces Educational Program" and learns that he can "once again be a student at U.C.L.A." via a correspondence course. He decides to take a second semester of German.

Letter 108- July 6, 1944

July 6, 1944
(Camp Reynolds, Pa.)

Dear Mother and Dad,

I’m again going to be a student at U.C.L.A. Yesterday I attended a lecture at the Orientation Center here on the post where they explained the new ‘Armed Forces Educational Program” which I found very promising, so today I went to the Education Office and got the whole dope. This is it. It’s more or less a correspondence course worked thru the Armed Forces Institute at Madison, Wis. I was advised to and also decided that my best course would be to take my second semester of Elementary German. If I can successfully complete that subject I will have a year’s standing at U.C.L.A. in both French and German. Then if next term I devoted myself to English I would damn near go back to U.C.L.A as a Sophomore. The army handles all details and supplies textbooks and lessons. The only cost to me is the enrollment fee (half of the original $27.00) However, that goes to U.C.L.A. not the army. I think it’s worth a try.

Well, that’s all about that and it’s about all I have to write now. I’ll try to write again soon.



Monday, August 17, 2009

About Letter 107

Bill's aunt Jessie Bonser comes from her home in State College, Pa. to visit him at Camp Reynolds. His unit spends Independence Day marching through local towns as they return from bivouac. The war news is good but Bill's enthusiasm is tempered by his notion that "certain commentators try and make it appear that every victory is due solely to the efforts of the 'Great Man' [Roosevelt]." Bill closes his letter with another humorous sketch.

Letter 107- July 4, 1944

July 4, 1944
(Camp Reynolds, Pa.)

Dearest Mudder and Dad,

If I’d written this when I intended to you’d have it by now. On Saturday evening I came here into the “Dayroom” and sat down to write a note but I got listening to the radio and so forth and before I knew it –no letter. On Sunday I intended to write but Jess came (I’ll tell you more about that later). Last night we went out on one of those screwy bivouacs and then went another evening. So here it is July 4 and the writing.

Today’s been the most dismal thing next to Christmas that I ever saw. All morning we marched in from bivouac thru little towns etc. where people looked at us and said, “Oh those poor boys—having to work on the 4th. Tch! Tch!” So we tramped on.

Right now I can hear the very good news of the day pouring out the radio; Russians 150 miles from German soil; Jap resistance crumbling on Saipan. We’re going forward in France. Maybe this European conflict is nearly over. Maybe it’s nearer over than any of us know. I hope so anyway. Maybe I hope too much. What gripes me is that certain commentators try and make it appear that every victory is due solely to the efforts of the “Great Man”. What is sickening, however, is the way the boobs drink it in. At times I despair of the future.

Well, I was sure glad to see Jess. I found out thru a girl she knows here in camp that she wanted to come but I was surprised when she came the very next day. We spent the evening at the home of these people she knows about 10 miles from here and I must say I enjoyed myself.

They have a very old house—run down and about 100 yrs. Old—along the old Erie Canal. The canal was closed over 90 years ago but the “ditch” is still almost intact—surprising when one realizes that it was dug 118 years ago.

I thought I’d try and get a 3 day pass to go to State College but it looks now as if it’s no go. That’s the way it always is in the army. Phooey on everything!

“Bless ‘em all”- Bill

Sketch here- “Me and my usual mood these days-first thing I know I’ll get stripes”

Sunday, August 16, 2009

About Bill's Politics

As is evidenced in his letters, Bill has a keen interest in politics. The Taylor household in which he was raised was alive with passionate, opinionated political discussion. From an early age Bill was infused with the conservative political philosophy of his parents. In his writing it is clear that Bill is no fan of President Roosevelt and embraces the Republican point of view.

From June 26-28, 1944 the Republican Party held it's National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York was nominated as the Republican Presidential candidate on the first ballot. He was the first Republican candidate to accept the nomination in person. Ohio Governor John Bricker was the Vice-Presidential nominee. Earl Warren does not appear to be a factor in the contest to be the Vice-Presidential candidate in 1944.

A brief survey of the 1944 Republican Party Platform of 1944 does not present any major planks critical of the Roosevelt war effort. Most of the platform deals with domestic issues.

Friday, August 14, 2009

About Letter 106

In this informative letter Bill covers a variety of subjects. The men get a chance to talk to a number of "Nazi prisoners" and are heartened to learn that reports of "the Germans using crack troops were not true." Bill goes to another movie, "Hail the Conquering Hero". The Pittsburgh Pirates play an exhibition game in camp. He closes the letter with his take on the 1944 Republican National Convention.

Letter 106- June 29, 1944

June 29, 1944
(Camp Reynolds, Pa.)

Dear Mother and Dad,

Here’s another letter way late, and if it sounds pretty bad don’t blame me too much. Everything’s been pretty blah lately. We’re having some of the damnedest weather I’ve ever heard of. I suppose you already heard about our tornado. It never came this far north but we had some damned screwy winds. Since then it’s been insufferably hot. You know how it is bad here--sweat just runs off a person in rivulets. Nobody can sleep at night and then they work up a hike with full field pack for everyday. I went on one the day before yesterday right after taking the Typhus shot. That night I had a terrible fever for several hours. They had to take one guy to the hospital. God! The things we do.

We just got a new load of Nazi prisoners in this camp and we talked to a few through one of the boys who can speak German. What they said was very heartening. One was a paratrooper who went into the German Army in November (after I went). He just turned 18 about two days ago. He fought at Cassino and told us a great deal. He said the reports were that the Germans were using crack paratroopers weren’t true and that most of them hadn’t been in combat before. He said that his sergeant told him at Cassino the Americans shot in a minimum of 60,000 shells a day. He added that they were all so frightened that they were more than glad to surrender. Another German artillery man said that they feared worst of all American artillery and infantry. The accuracy of our riflemen seem to awe them especially. One German infantryman said he had received only the bare essentials of rifle marksmanship and no training at all with the bayonet. He said he could handle artillery, tanks, radios, etc. but oddly he knew nothing of the most important work of the infantryman.

I’ve been going to quite a few movies lately—mainly to benefit from the air conditioning. Last night I saw “Hail the Conquering Hero” with William Demerest and Eddie Bracken (remember them in “Miracle of Morgan’s Creek?). I don’t think this is as good but it is quite entertaining, nevertheless.

Yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates came up here and played an exhibition game with some Youngstown club. The game of course wasn’t much and the heat was unbearable. However the Pirates pulled a lot of funny routines which were pretty good. The Pirate pitcher was the inventor of this “Blooper ball” that was mentioned in Life or Look a while back. It drops almost straight down on the plate.

Best Love,

Hell, I don’t want to stop here. I haven’t mentioned the convention. I’m sure glad to see Dewey doing so well. I think he is the only man who has a chance. By the time you get this you’ll probably know whether or not Warren will run for vice- president on the ticket. It will be hard on him to accept but I think it’ll help the cause along. In the army the political argument is going hot and heavy and I believe the majority is for Dewey. I find this especially among the Southerners. Maybe things are finally going our way.

Best Love,

About Letter 105

Bill warns mother and dad that in the near future his letters will be censored. "In short my stuff will be even less informative than it is now." He goes to the movies and sees "This is the Army" starring Lt. Ronald Reagan.

Letter 105- June 23, 1944

June 23, 1944
(Camp Reynolds, Pa.)

Dearest Mother and Dad,

The wind’s a blowin’ and the rain’s a rainin’ and all told it’s a “hellova” evening. Things are bad all over though, I guess. Don’t let the tone of that fool you though, I’m doing pretty good ‘n well these days. I don’t mean I’m living “the Life of Reilly” because I’m not, but still I’m doin’ all right—as I’ve said before—I’m getting to be an awful letter writer. I can’t write a single paragraph without saying the same thing twice.

Tonight I finally got some clean sun tans. I’d been wearing the other set since I left home. Ain’t that awful? On the strength of the occasion of getting the new duds I went to the movies and saw “This is the Army”. I really enjoyed it. The humor was typically G.I. not synthetic as is the rule with most army pictures.

I’m going to be working even harder the next couple of days, I suppose. We’re losing most of our company on shipment and they’ll only be enough left to fill out the detail roster. "Oi" is the word for it.

Lately I’ve been finding out some of what’s what around here, so here it is. I’ll be able to send mail to you but my letters will be censored. In short my stuff will be even less informative than it is now. Example--: Dear Folks,--everything is fine. Yesterday I went for a walk around the barracks—how thrilling. Well that’s all I can say now, etc. Won’t that be nice? After we’re alerted I may get letters to you but probably not.


Love, Bill

Sounds like an excuse for closing doesn’t it.


It ain’t

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

About Camp Reynolds

Camp Reynolds was a 3300 acre U.S. Army facility located three miles south of Greenville, Mercer County, in northwestern Pennsylvania. During World War II about a million troops passed through the camp. Most troops were at the camp for a week or less and shipped to the European theater of war. At the peak, about the time of Bill’s arrival, 75,000 men and women were housed here. The camp also was home to over 1800 German POW’s.

Needing a central camp for replacement soldiers heading for Europe, the Federal government chose the site because of the proximity of two major railroads. The camp was designed to last for no more than three years with wooden barracks, headquarters, hospitals, warehouses and other related structures. Camp Reynolds opened in late 1942 and was permanently closed in January 1946.

About Letter 104

Bill is now slated for overseas shipment. He doesn't know which direction he is going but speculates,"maybe west". He has had K.P for 3 days in a row.

Letter 104- June 22, 1944

June 22, 1944
(Camp Reynolds, Pa.)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Sorry I haven’t written but I’ve had 3 days K.P. in a row and up until tonight I’ve gotten off after lights out. They’re working me to death. Wot a life.

I know now I’m slated for overseas shipment and am getting all the newest equipment. However, I don’t know what direction I’m going (maybe west) (I hope not), but anyhoo—We’re not doing anything terrific but there’s so much of it.

My address is—
(Co. “K” 4th. Regt.)

This is no letter but I just haven’t any more time.

Best Love,

I’ll write a real letter tomorrow if it kills me.

About Letter 103

Bill arrives at Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania. He says that the camp is "better than Crowder....but at best it's just another army camp."

Letter 103- June 19, 1944

June 19, 1944
(Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania)

Dear Mother and Dad,

I’ve arrived in Camp Reynolds as of 8:00 P.M. last night—about 2 hours before dark—I had spent all day in Greenville, Pa.


This camp’s not much of a place but God knows it’s better than Crowder. They treat us well but at best it’s still just another army camp, a hot one at that. I still don’t know much about what goes here, but I don’t think I’ll be here much over 3 weeks.

Best Love,



Sunday, August 9, 2009

About Letter 102

Bill writes from Chicago enroute to his new assignment. He describes the train ride as "awful-it's very crowded and the cars are so hot and filthy." Along the way he gets a look at "those new B-29's. They're really tremendous."

Letter 102- June 16, 1944

June 16, 1944
(Chicago Illinois)

Dear Mother and Dad,

I have a few hours here in Chicago so I thought it would be a good opportunity to write you [to] let you know that everything is O.K. So far the train ride has been awful. We’ve had seats all the way but it’s very crowded and the cars are so damned hot and filthy that it’s disgusting. We had a holdup at Omaha due to the floods and our train was 7 hours late into Chicago. We missed our connection with the Erie but we found that another train leaves tonight about 9:30 so we would have taken that one anyway.

Just after we heard about the new bombing of Tokyo I got a look at one of these new B-29’s. They’re really tremendous.
That’s about all.


About Letter 101

Bill is "in the bush" . He writes that after 30 hours without sleep the men took tests and "of course everyone flunked, including me."

Letter 101- May 23, 1944

May 23, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)
“In the Bush”

Dear Mother and Dad,

Well, now after all this time I can finally write you a letter. I don’t know what kind of a letter it’ll be but under the circumstances it’s about the best I can do.

I’m now almost finished with bivouac. It’s been very nice in some way and not so hot in others. The work has been easy but it hasn’t given me any free time. It hasn’t given me any more respect for the Signal Corps. I don’t know but I’m coming to think less and less of this army all the time. Just SNAFU all the time. When one thinks of the high stakes and cost involved in this war it doesn’t make pleasant thinking.

Today after not getting any sleep for 30 hours we took tests and of course everyone flunked including me.

The mail service out here smells. I haven’t received anything from you for over a week.

Love Bill

“Hell of a letter”, “huh!”

Saturday, August 8, 2009

About Letter 100

Bill writes from "a little sandbag shelter about 8 miles out of camp." The men are writing letters and operating a 284 radio. He ridicules the C.P.X. bivouac saying, "there is about as much similarity between this and bivouac 'ala Camp Abbot as there is between Wall St. and the Kremlin."

Letter 100- May 11, 1944

May 11, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Mother and Dad,

I’m writing this note from a little sandbag shelter on the side of a little hill about 8 miles out of camp. I’m completely surrounded by trees and whatnot. In the shelter there are 5 of us. Two are operating a 284 (radio) and the rest of us are writing letters by the 25 watt bulb which is the only light for miles around. Hot stuff, huh?

This C.P.X on bivouac or whatever it’s called is really a laugh. We might as well be back in camp. There’s about as much similarity between this and bivouac ‘ala camp Abbot as there is between Wall St. and the Kremlin.

May 12, 1944

At the end of that last line we had a power failure so I went t0 bed. It’s now nine o’ clock in the morning. In two hours I go on shift. We’re on 6 hours and off 18!?!!! It’s really very nice here as long as you watch out for snakes. I’ve never got so much sleep since I’ve been in the army.
I’ve got detail, sorry, must close now.

Best Love,

About Letter 99

It seems that Bill is going out on C.P.X. bivouac "whether I like it or not". He doesn't see the point " if Ican't send and receive code over the radio." He is confident that he is in line for a furlough and 12-18 days at home.

Letter 99- May 7, 1944

May 7, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Mother and Dad,

About now you are probably wondering just where in the hell I am. Well, it seems that I’m going out on C.P.X. whether I like it or not. I guess they still think they can make a radio operator out of me. If so it’s all right with me. It seems like a big waste of time but on the other hand time is something I’ve got loads of.

This C.P.X. as I’ve told you before is supposed to be pretty soft. I’ve found out that I’ll have no trouble at all writing or receiving mail so that’s OK. I don’t know exactly what they’ll do with me out there but I can’t see what good I’ll be if I can’t send and receive code over the radio.

Along with this note I’m sending another note I wrote yesterday in school.

From what I make out this furlough business is really going to be swell. I’ll probably be here in Crowder for another 3 or 4 weeks and then go to Leonard Wood where I’ll get my furlough. These new furloughs (they call them “delays in orders”) allow a minimum of 12 days at home and a maximum of 18. Oh Boy!

That’s about all I can tell you right now.

Best Love,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

About Letter 98

It's the last day of Radio School and Bill receives his grades. He is pleased to learn that "with the exception of code I did excellent." Bill sends his mother a "Mudders" Day gift of $10 and tells her to "get yourself sumpin' nice."

Letter 98- May 6, 1944

May 6, 1944 (0906)
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

To: Mudder and Dad,

This is my last day at radio school and likewise my last day in B-37. This afternoon we move and after that I don’t know what. Today I received my grades in radio and am glad to say that with the exception of code I did excellent. I made 96 in procedure, the most important test, and 92 in installation. That makes me feel better.

Happy Mudder’s Day, Mudder. This may be a little premature but I doubt if I could get a letter to you on next Saturday or Monday so this is it. Get yourself sumpin’ nice. Maybe you can get Daddy to chip in a few sheckels too.

I’m a little stumped on this letter writing business by now. I don’t know whether or not I’m going out. I don’t know just what kind of mailing facilities they’ve got out there. From what I hear it’ll be more like a picnic than a bivouac (mobile PX’s and all that), but we don’t get in on weekends so I don’t think I’ll be able to do much writing. However, I hear that they do deliver mail out there.

How’s everyone and how’s the lawsuit coming?

Bill (0925)

Don’t send mail ‘till you get another note from me

About Letter 97

Bill gets paid $23 including a war bond. It's the last week of Radio School and everything is up in the air. Thankfully for Bill he has guard duty and therefore is missing "one of those silly night problems" the rest of the company has to suffer through.

Letter 97- May 3, 1944

May 3, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, I’m off in the damn Guard House again. Woe is me. This is getting to be a nasty habit. I even wish at times that I weren’t in the army. Am I kiddin’? I’m somewhat lucky, however. The rest of the company has got one of those silly night problems and I’m getting out of that, thus killing two birds with one stone.

As I have [said] many times before, things are pretty much [the same] in radio school, but it’ll probably be the last time I’ll ever say so because training ends this week. I may go out on C.P.X. and then I may go out and have a continuation of radio. Still again I may go to Leonard Wood, then again I may go to another school here. That’s what I like about the army; one is always so certain of what comes next.

I got paid just the other day so my finances are pretty good. I got $23.00 and a bond came out of that. With the money I have left over from last month I’m doing O.K. I wish I had a little more chance to blow some of it.

As the papers say, we’ve been having a bit of “weathuh” up here. No floods but so damn much rain that on rare occasions I see the sun I feel as if I should worship it like a Druid or sumpin’.

Write me all the details of the trial Mudder. I think the laughs will be priceless. Wot a gal!!

Mudder, I’ve been looking for a Mother’s Day gift for you around here but have found nothing really suitable so I think I’ll just send a money order for $10.00 instead. Is that okay?

Best Love,
Your Brat

P.S. Please pardon the horrible handwriting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

About Dad

Bill's father, William Wellington Taylor, Sr. was born on June 2, 1898 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The first Taylor born in the new world, John Taylor was born in 1641 in Berkshire, Co. Massachusetts. Bill Sr.'s mother, Minnie Phillips Taylor was the daughter of Civil War veteran, William Beynon Phillips, who was captured at "The Battle of the Crater" and spent 8 months in a Confederate prison camp.

Bill Sr. graduated from Lafayette College in 1919 with a degree in English. Following his marriage to Alice Aten in 1920, Bill Sr. was offered a job to teach English at Harvard Military School in Los Angeles, California. His entire professional career would be spent at Harvard School where he would become head of the English Department before retiring after 35 years.

As is evidenced by the photo accompanying this profile, Bill's father had a broad sense of humor in addition to an outgoing personality. Both of these qualities were passed down to his only son.

About Mudder

Bill's mother Alice Aten Taylor was born on September 26, 1900 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The first Aten arrived in the new world from Holland in 1650. Not much is known about Alice's early life. The Aten family consisted of Elijah and Elizabeth Aten, two daughters, including Alice and a boy and girl from Elizabeth's first marriage.

Alice married William Wellington Taylor in 1920 and shortly thereafter they moved from Scranton to Los Angeles. The Taylor's only child, Bill Jr. was born in 1925.

Although little is known about Alice's formal education it is clear that she was well educated and very informed about current affairs. She had a keen interest in politics and was very opinionated. Much of Bill's political awareness, cynicism and sarcasm is inherited from his mother. Alice characterized herself as a housewife and homemaker. She was devoted to her husband and only son.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

About Letter 96

Invasion speculation continues to run rampant. The latest prediction is between May 2nd. and May 17th. It is the last week of Radio School and Bill says unless "they remove me" he will go out on C.P.X. or as Bill contemptiously calls it "a Boy Scout Signal Corps version of buvouac."

Letter 96- May 1, 1944

May 1, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

This has been some Mayday, rainy and windy as hell. I guess there’s not a “hellova” lot to write again tonight. I certainly haven’t been doing anything outstanding so I might as well not try to write much along that line.

I’m still in radio school. I’m very much mystified to say and this is the last week. After that unless they “remove” me we go out on C.P.X. That’s a Boy Scout Signal Corps version of bivouac. There’s only 2 things I don’t like about it. We don’t come in over the weekends and “wood ticks”. There’s no use saying anything about this either since nothing is definite yet.

Murphy, who was to get clerk schooling here went to Ft. Leonard Wood and from what he writes it’s pretty nice. They told him he’d get a furlough as soon as he finds out where he goes next.

Speculation is running high here over when the invasion will come. I hope it’s soon. I don’t like this lousy war. I heard an announcer predict that it’ll come between May 2nd & 17th. Who knows—not me.

What’ll I write now? I haven’t got any good ideas at all. This business of letter writing at night ain’t so hot. I’m always too sleepy to really tell you anything interesting.

I hope I get a furlough pretty soon. I’d like to get home before you forget what I look like.

How’s the bloomin’ lawsuit coming along??


About Letter 95

Invasion rumors are "humming" around Camp Crowder. The Germans have announced that the Allies are massing shipping in England. Delsin, a company "screwball", and former soldier in the British Eighth Army predicts the invasion will come in 10 days or less. Bill says that he is "just as dumb at code as ever, but still in radio."

Letter 95- April 28, 1944

April 28, 1944
(Camp Crowder, Missouri)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Here I am again, way behind in my writing, Tuesday Guard Duty, Wednesday night hike 22 miles, Thurs. went to show, tonight “G.I. Party” so I’m still behind. I'm a bum.

I’m still in radio—just as dumb at code as ever but still in radio. The course is good as over so even if I do get kicked out I’ve had a course in radio. However, they’re beginning to hint around that somebody’s going to be dropped, but they’re nice about it anyway. They just say some fellows just aren’t cut out to be radio operators.

There’s a lot of rumors humming around here and most of them are about the invasion. There’s a fellow named Dalsin in our company who served for over a year in the British Eighth Army. He’s quite a character. One of those screwballs who probably get a commission but who’d rather be a private. He’s obviously very well educated and a very interesting talker. He’s spent some 5 or 6 years travelling in Europe and the Near East and can tell and show a person many interesting things. Anyhow—this Dalkin predicted this afternoon that the Invasion would take place in 10 days or less. He admitted it was quite a bold prediction yet who knows? This afternoon the Germans announced that the Allies are massing shipping in England.

Haven’t much else to write—Sorry. Guess I’m just getting sleepy.


Best Love,

P.S. Could use some stamps.