Sunday, August 2, 2009

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??



  1. Do you know what the lawsuit is about? Maybe I missed an earlier reference to it. I fell behind a little on Bill's letters but am caught up now. Say, as I read through the letters, I can't help thinking about what Bill's parents looked like. Do you have a photo of them in 1944 you could post up with the letters?

  2. Bill is like everyone else, looking ahead to the invasion of Europe. U.S. leaders wanted to invade Europe in 1942, but were persuaded by the British to attack North Africa, then Sicily and Italy first. In hindsight the Mediterranean strategy was a better move since the Allies did not have the material or human resources to sustain an invasion of Europe in 1942 as demonstrated by the abysmal performance of U.S. forces in Africa.

    By 1944, everyone, the Germans included, knew that the invasion would come to northern France in the spring. The date and exact location were kept secret, even from the troops until the last minute.

    After D-Day, the war would shift into high gear consuming lives in unprecedented numbers until May 1945.

  3. Griff,
    I don't know about the lawsuit and I don't recall seeing references to it in any other letter.

    I don't have any period photos of Bill's parents, but I do have some taken in the early 1920's, around the time they were married. How about a post entitled "About Bill's Parents"? I can put up a brief bio of them. This seems appropriate as the letters are all addressed to them.

  4. David,
    As I understand it, Churchill was adamant about opening up a second front in the Mediterranean. The Allies were under tremendous pressure from Stalin to open up a second front thereby drawing German forces from the Eastern Front and reducing pressure on the Soviet Army. In retrospect, after the abysmal performance by the U.S. Army at Kasserine Pass it is clear we were nowhere ready to even consider an invasion of Western Europe in 1942.

  5. The British had their own agenda for the Med strategy. They wanted to secure the sea route to the Far East, they had political designs on the region, as well as satisfying Stalin's demands for a Second Front. The U.S. generals wanted to go right into France, but luckily were ordered to do otherwise.

    Kasserine Pass was definitely the nadir of the U.S. fortunes in Africa, but the rest of the operation was fraught with problems starting with the landings. The allies had much to learn about putting an army ashore and supporting it. It took the landings at Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio to get up to speed for Normandy.

    I suppose everyone was a strategist in those days looking at the maps printed in the papers and writing to the president and the War Department. The fact remains that U.S. military might didn't really come online until '44 and would continue to climb through '45.

  6. I'm currently reading Steven Ambrose's book "Citizen Soldiers". Aside from the heroics of the ordinary American soldier what strikes me most is the overwhelming advantage the U.S. military had in terms of weapons,airpower, equipment,fuel and supporting materials. I actually feel sorry for the German soldier who had to endure a P-47 Jabo bombing run or concentrated American artillery attack with unlimited shells.


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