Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Letter 136- October 19, 1944

October 19, 1944

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Over the last two days I’ve received “FOURTEEN” letters from you. Imagine! They dated all the way from Sept. 6 to Oct. 7. No wonder I haven’t got much mail, damn their “ornary” hides anyway. Talk about material for letter writing. Whooee! I think I’ll finish up about going to London first.

I told you about where I went prior to leaving for the Houses of Parliament & the Abbey. I guess it’s unfortunate that I could see only the outside of many of these famous places. No. 10 Downing St. and so forth. From the outside most places look like absolutely “nottinks” at all. There’s so much that is shabby. The famous Bond St. where all the snazzy clothes come from is slightly reminiscent of East Los Angeles St. at home. In fact, all London reminded me of the East Side. You just can’t compare Europe to the United States. It’s just a dump by comparison. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot of interest here.

I arrived at the Houses of Parliament just as the clock in St. Stevens that houses the famous Big Ben started chiming. Then the bell itself thundered out 12 times—really sumpin’. I understand that the bell itself is slightly cracked and that’s what gives it that peculiar sound. We then walked out onto Westminster Bridge and looked up and down the Themes—muddy ditch. We could see just about all London from there. Next we walked around the place. The guide pointed out the ancient Westminster palace and the 19th. century buildings that surround it. Then we crossed over to a small square which lies in the “L” formed by the Parliament buildings and the Abbey. The dominating figure in the square is a large statue of Abraham Lincoln no less. We all had our picture taken there but later when I came to buy one the bloke was gone. It would have been nice with me, Lincoln and Big Ben in it.

Then we crossed over to the Abbey which again doesn’t look like much from the outside. However, once inside it’s beautiful. The first thing one becomes aware of is the high vaulted roof formed by a series of pointed arches. Its 102 ft. from floor to the highest part of the ceiling. It’s rather gloomy and when I mentioned it to the guide he said it was because there’s 700 years of London smoke and grime on the walls. Most people think the place is built of stone but actually its dirty marble. Just as one enters the door he sees the tomb of Britain’s unknown soldier set in the floor—the Congressional Medal of Honor hangs on the wall nearby. In walls and floor are buried everybody under the sun and there’s all kinds of statues and plaques to let you know it. More than once I found myself standing on top of Gladstone or William Pitt. Unfortunately much of the stuff around the alter is sandbagged and out of sight. That’s about all now. I’ll touch a few details in my next letter.

Best Love,


  1. Does Bill ever mention seeing any of the effects of the bombing of London from some three years earlier?

  2. No, Bill's doesn't mention war damage of any kind. They must have done a good job keeping London as "normal" as possible under the circumstances. I'm sure morale was extremely important and the authorities did as much as possible to preserve the sense of normalcy, particularly in the historical districts.


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