Friday, August 14, 2009

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,


  1. Who can forget Truman's landmark upset of Dewey and Warren in '48. But I guess I had forgotten these same two Republicans lost to Roosevelt in '44.

    Greg, let me say again how great it is that you are posting your father's letters. The history contained within them is incredible. It's the greatest thing you can do to honor your father, and others of his generation. -- Griff

  2. Earl Warren was the only person elected Governor of California three times. He served from 1943 until 1953 when he resigned to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It is natural that Bill, a native Californian would be interested in Warren's political career.

    As I have said before, I feel privileged to share these letters. My father would be amazed and probably a bit embarrassed to see them available to billions of people via the internet.

  3. Bill's experience is so Army. He goes through combat engineer training in the winter then got shipped off to stumble his way through signal school. Now he's in a stateside camp waiting to be dumped into the war in Europe.

    Greg, you might want to look into the issues in the '44 election. What did the Republicans offer the nation in the middle of a war? To be sure, Thomas Dewey was healthier than FDR although FDR's serious medical issues were a closely held secret. Other than Bill's conservative upbringing the policy differences might give us a peek at Bill's interests and values.

  4. It seems that what the army needed above all else was infantrymen. Still, it is baffling to me that Bill, with his talents and intelligence ended up in a foxhole. But as you point out, that seems to be the Army way- SNAFU.

    David, you make an interesting proposal regarding Bill's political bent. I suspect that the typical GI was less concerned about national politics than Bill and more "middle-of-the-road" in his views. I also suspect that Bill overstates the anti-FDR sentiment among his fellow soldiers. I will take a look at the 1944 Republican Platform and report back.


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