Thursday, September 3, 2009

Letter 122- September 19, 1944

September 19, 1944
(England-That other Eden: Shakespeare)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I was planning to sit down tonight and write you a long tale of woe about my being in the army a year almost with no promotions, no outfit, no nothing when some ‘gazebo” slaps me on the shoulder and says, “You Taylor? Ya got some mail.” Suddenly my world brightened and thoughts of how lucky I am began to race through my mind. After all, tonight I’m sitting in a comfortable warm barracks. I could be in a bloomin’ foxhole. I’ve got a lot of advantages when it comes right down to it. I’m safe and could be “daid”. That may sound silly but it could have been—very easily. I was talking to a fellow a few moments ago and he casually mentioned that he couldn’t read or write. I was somewhat taken back but it was not until I’d talked to him that I really understood what a handicap it was. Although he was extremely interested in the war news he knew nothing of what was going on other than the unreliable word of mouth information that he picked up in conversation. He asked me to read him the headlines. I don’t know, but there was something about that that made me feel so damn lucky. Well-----------.

I got a letter from Richard and from what he says the Navy routine must be getting him down.

Sketch here: “This is ‘Sad Sack’ Taylor contemplating a good day”- 5:00 P.M.
Sketch here: “Top ‘o the Heap Taylor. Master of all he surveys”- 5:10 P.M.

Dear Censor- Don’t you think this deserves a section 8?

Dear Folks- A section 8 is a discharge from the army for those who prove mentally unbalanced.

He thinks that I’m quite lucky to be stationed in England. Probably so but just because this is better than 49,000,000 other dumps hardly makes me feel like cheering.

Your letters sure were swell even if you did have to mention that delicious ice-cream. That Air Mail stationary is pretty nice.

That about does it.

Best Love, Bill


  1. I believe that this is the first time that Bill has alluded to his parents the lethal nature of the Second World War. I suspect that his training includes lots of the reality of combat with the Germans including accounts by eyewitnesses. Wounded men were usually treated in English hospitals and, if returned to duty, were often just dropped into the replacement system. He is meeting men who have been "in it."

    This particular practice led to many almost-healed soldiers absenting themselves from hospitals to get back to their "home" units. The television series Band of Brothers mentions this. I know a vet who left the hospital with a buddy to get back to France. They hitched a ride with the Air Corps. In France, even the MPs didn't question men headed toward the front.

    We can see Bill's transformation from trainee to soldier.

  2. In "Citizen Soldiers" Steven E. Ambrose devotes an entire chapter to the subject of "Replacements and Reinforcements" and he is not complimentary about the system. Bill is stuck smack-dab in the middle of the replacement system and is apparently clueless about his future aside from the fact that it looks more and more as if that future includes a foxhole!

    I think I will make an "About the Replacement System" post . Stay tuned.


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