Saturday, October 10, 2009

Letter 137- October 20, 1944

October 20, 1944

Dear Mudder and Dad,

It’s not yet noon but since I’m barracks orderly and I’ve finished my work I thought I’d might as well start anyway. After looking over all the letters I’ve received during the last few days I hardly know where to start at all. Well now let’s see. To go all the way back to Sept. 5 most of the questions you ask have been answered by the time I get the letter. About the V-mail, however, it comes about as fast as the fastest ordinary airmail, and the typing comes out fine. I don’t like it as well as regular airmail by far but according to the Stars and Stripes the approaching winter weather is going to cut down air travel across the Atlantic so that only V-mail will be sure of getting there.

I’m glad to know you got that diamond. It must be very pretty.

Next is dad’s letter of Sept. 9, #6. There’s only one thing that I’ve been intending to write about for a month now but it’s always slipped my mind. I got several letters from you referring to a letter you evidently sent me which Mrs. Ferber was sending this Mrs. Brotherhood. I always thought that I’d get the thing in a few days and then I’d know what’s what . I still haven’t got it, however. Now that my mail is catching up with me I might get it but so far “nuttin’”.

You said you’d like to know more about the people, their attitude toward us, and so forth. That’s hard to say. We’re not supposed to write anything malicious about our British allies but that’s more of at request than an order.

The people themselves seem quite different from Americans. That famous British reserve generally annoys Americans and that doesn’t help matters any. However, one must remember that most G.I.’s don’t make very hot ambassadors of good will. The only thing that annoys me about them is that insular attitude of “Hell we don’t need you.” Actually their attitude toward us is rather derisive. They take us for being rather stupid. It’s easy to laugh at this. Britishers who have ever been to America certainly don’t feel that way. British food is quite unimaginative; however wartime restrictions may have much to do with that—never enough salt.

With letter number 7 comes the first news about the swell Christmas packages you’re sending. Drool! I note by the papers that the U-boats are out again. Dammit, if they sink even one package I’ll murder the whole German navy personally.

I’m having one devil of a time finding out about these language courses. Everything’s mixed up over here and nobody knows anything. I’m going to classes at the Red Cross but that’s all so far.
Yes, Fred Roberts is here. I saw him for the 1st. time in several weeks last night. He’s still in the Engineers it seems.

Letter No. 9—“Chow”. I’ll finish this tonight or tomorrow.

Best Love,



  1. The joke among the British about the Americans ran, "They're over paid, over sexed, and over here."

  2. Over paid? According to an April 1944 analysis by "Barron's National Business and Financial Weekly", Bill as a Private in the United States Army in foreign service received the equivalent of $45 per month after deductions for "normal expenditures out of pay." This compares with $300 per month for his U.S. civilian counterpart.

    Over sexed? Cerebral Bill hardly seems the type of soldier prone to cavort with members of the fairer sex. At Camp Abbot he preferred to spend his leasure time in the camp library rather than cruising the clubs of Bend looking for female "prey". At Piccadilly Circus he is certainly aware of the prostitutes plying their trade, but if he indulged in their services, which seems unlikely, he doesn't let on to "Mudder and Dad".

    Over there? Yep. He was there alright!

  3. Compared to British soldiers and civilians Bill made a lot of money. There were millions of U.S. servicemen in Britain including airmen who got extra pay. That extra money entering the economy drove up prices that civilians were ill prepared to afford. British soldiers were particularly resentful of the pay disparity.

    As for over sexed, well, they were young soldiers. And the large number of British males in military service left a demographic imbalance. On top of it all, it was a crazy time.

  4. There were certainly plenty of opportiunities for resentments to flourish. As Bill observantly notes, "most G.I.'s don't make very hot ambassadors of good will." That said, I believe that the British owed a tremendous debt to the American fighting men who put their lives on the line for the allied cause and that the majority were glad that they were there.


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