Friday, August 28, 2009

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


  1. I suppose that at this point about all a GI can tell the folks at home is that he is healthy and that he misses them.

    Everybody smoked then. I'm surprised Bill bothered to quit.

  2. Bill was an "off again, on again" smoker all his life. Most of the time he did not smoke. His attitude in the letter is clearly anti-smoking. I wonder if he will resume the habit once he is in combat.

  3. One thing I will say about Bill's experience so far is his extensive training. By this time, German troops are being given just a smattering of skills before being thrown onto the line. Of course Bill is not apparently training with a unit with which he will serve.

    U.S. military leaders learned, or relearned, that men fight best around men who they know and trust. The World War II system of using men like interchangeable parts to a machine looked good on paper and appealed to the industrial mentality of society, but it failed in practice.

    Bill will arrive in France one of the best trained soldiers in history. If only he could go with men he knows.

  4. Bill will also be "orders of magnitude" better trained than the typical replacement soldier. According to Steven Ambrose in "Citizen Soldiers"' about half of the three million plus American soldiers who served in ETO came into the continent as replacements. Many went from basic training directly to infantry rifle companies. Some of these men had never handled, much less fired an M-1. At least when the army sent Bill into a rifle company he had gone through intensive training as a combat engineer, radio operator and had qualified with the M-1.


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