Sunday, August 30, 2009

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.


  1. One thing History Channel fans often fail to realize is just how inherently dangerous military operations are. Bill's acquaintance Tony Trainor was apparently killed by a friendly tank. One can only imagine the number of casualties that occurred because of the accidental discharge of firearms and automobile and tank accidents. Remember, in combat vehicles are driving around in the dark, without lights, and without regard to who might be on the ground. I'm certain that the true number of DNB (Died Non Battle) losses were minimized by officers to make the folks back home feel better.

  2. I just heard on the news that 2 firefighters died last night fighting a huge forest fire here in Southern California. The fire didn't kill them, rather they drove the firetruck off a narrow mountainside road as they were fleeing the oncoming flames and billowing smoke. Similarly, I imagine the chaos of a large scale battle would cause numerous casualties not inflicted by bullet, shell or bomb, but rather by the confusion of battle.

  3. I was just looking at the dates of the letters from home. Two or three weeks ain't bad for a letter that had to cross the U.S., go into the Army postal system, cross the Atlantic, and then get to Bill. All for the price of a First Class stamp. Today we expect next day service, but then it was all by rail and by ship. And not automated sorting either. No zip code.

  4. I too am impressed with the mail service from Los Angeles to England and back. Not bad. Packages also get there. Bill gets his fair share of cookies and other goodies. He even get his treasured fruitcake in good order.


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