Monday, August 17, 2009

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”


  1. Greg, do we know who Jess is?

    Bill's relating the war news is very interesting because it reflects how the conflict was pitched to the Home Front. Yes, the Russians are 150 miles from German soil (probably East Prussia), and Saipan is winding down, but things in France are still up in the air. The U.S. will launch Operation Cobra to break out of the Normandy beachhead and then things will get rolling. I forget the actual statistic, but some 40 percent of the casualties in Europe will be from now until the final surrender.

  2. If you read the "About Letter" post you will see that Jess is Bill's aunt (actually his mother's half-sister). Jess and her husband ran a restaurant in State College, Pennsylvania. I remember my grandmother saying that they charged 5 cents for a cup of coffee and that most of their profit was from coffee sales!

    Bill always seems to be overly optimistic about the progress of the war effort. I'm not sure if this is due to rosy reports from the media or wishful thinking on his part.


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