Sunday, December 26, 2010

About Letter 282


Bill is dating Rosemarie, a student nurse at the POW hospital. Her father is head of the Physics Dept. at the University of Giessen. Bill reassures Mudder that "It ain't love". He says that she is nice, well educated and strictly on the "up and up." Rosemarie is helping Bill with his German and he with her English. Bill's redeployment date seems to be getting closer and closer, but nothing is definite. He alludes to a clothing shortage at home and says that "before I spend fourteen dollars for a shirt I"ll wear old burlap."

Letter 282- March 1, 1946


Giessen, Germany (Hesse)
March 1, 1946

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Boy! Yesterday I received three letters from you. Two of them had been written on the 18th. of February and one on the 20th. That’s the fastest I’ve seen in a long time. I got quite a kick over the concern you had over my date. So I guess that I’ll have to tell you about it. In the first place don’t get excited; it ain’t love. Around Christmas time I met this girl, Rosemarie, up at the POW hospital. She’s a student nurse. Her father is head of the Physics dept. here at the University of Giessen and is slated for General Director of the University due to the fact that he was never a Nazi. Rosemarie is a very nice well educated girl and everything with her is strictly on the up and up. It’s rather rare that an American soldier can make acquaintance of a nice girl over here so I consider myself fortunate. Of course, remember that I don’t consider myself merely an average soldier. We’ve been going out to the dances that are held here in town and in general that’s about all. She’s not exceptionally pretty but she has a pleasing personality and is a very good conversationalist despite the rather odd kind of English she speaks. She’s the one who is teaching me German and I’m teaching her English. She claims that I’m too afraid to speak it for for fear of making mistakes, and she says I shouldn’t be because I speak it rather well. I hope so. At any rate don’t worry about it. You should see me dance a German waltz now—Yoost like I was borned in Wien.

The date for my leaving seems to be getting closer and closer but as yet I’ve heard nothing about it. Forty-nine pointers are leaving today so you can figure it out for yourself. During all this time I’ve been over here I’ve always expected the worst, but now I’m getting so I can’t sit still. I guess I’m just like a little kid getting ready to go to the circus. About every five minutes I say to myself, “I wonder how long it will be now” or “I ought to be on shipboard in about 45 days now.” Boy I just can’t wait. “The Conquering Hero Returns”. Oh Yes! I can see it now as I get off the boat. The first thing someone will say is- “Out of the way, Bum”. All kidding aside, that’s what I expect. At least I don’t have any illusions about how it’s going to be.

You claim that all the relatives want me to come and see them now that I’m out of the thing almost. Well, they can go straight to you know where. When I was over here fighting for them, Jessie was the only one who wrote to me and she managed to talk about almost nothing but how tough a time poor dear Bob was having flying all over the world weighed down with his Major leaves and responsibilities. That didn’t go very well on my empty frostbitten guts. In short, if they want to see me they can come to me. Maybe I shouldn’t feel that way but I do. All I want is to get back and see you. T’hell wit everybody else.

How’s the clothing situation now? I suppose I’ll be like the Krauts going around in a ragged uniform for years and years. Boy! Such a situation. I suppose the boys will be wondering around like a lot of Confederate irregulars or something. I’ll tell you one thing. Before I spend fourteen dollars for a shirt I’ll wear old burlap. I don’t see how they’ve got the damn nerve to ask prices like that. And for that jerk, Ben, he must think that money grows on trees or something--$600.00 for clothes. Yipe!

March certainly came in like a lion this year. This is a miserable day if ever I saw one. It’s supposed to be a good omen and I sure hope so. We’ve had only one day of decent weather since I can remember and it only served as an appetizer.

The picture was taken last week by Lt. Romano. From right to left, Weber my roommate, Schnappsie the Lt’s pooch, and old drizzlepuss himself. I really don’t know how I manage to look quite so stupid.

Well, that does it for today.

Best love,
Bill

Saturday, December 18, 2010

About Letter 281


Bill rereads last night's letter and says that he debated tearing it up. "It seemed to me to be terribly unbalanced and incoherent." He decided to send it, however, because it took him 3 hours to write and "it was one of the most difficult letters that I ever wrote." As Bill's redeployment nears he notes that "I've got the darndest curiosity about things at home" and "I can't wait to sink my teeth into a hamburger again."

Letter 281- February 25, 1946


Giessen, Germany (Hesse)
February 25, 1946

Dear Mudder and Dad,

After I finished last night’s letter I reread the damn thing and debated whether or not to tear it up. It seemed to me terribly unbalanced and inher—that is incoherent. However, since it was one of the most difficult letters that I ever wrote and I had spent about three hours on it I decided that I’d send it anyway. I hope that you don’t think it is too insane or merely the usual blah that fills young kids minds. At any rate I promised that I wouldn’t say any more about it and I won’t.

Today is the most glorious sunshiney day that I’ve seen in Europe. The sun is so bright that I think I’m back home. It’s quite warm after the snowstorms that we’ve had the past week and this is the first day since I can remember that I’ve been able to hang out my bedding. It’s really swell. I didn’t know that Germany was capable of such weather. I guess I shouldn’t complain about Germany though. The weather here is about ten times better than it is in England and “sunny France” is not much better than England. By the way, Giessen means gushing rain literally so I guess the weather here is not exactly like the Mohave Desert—That’s Mojave isn’t it?

There seems to be some indications that our company may fold up before very long and I don’t know where we’ll go. I’ve always hoped to stay right here until I get my travel orders but it looks now as if we may move. Of course, it takes so long for these birds at our center to do anything that God knows when they’ll get going. This past week I’ve spent most of my time closing out our DEF files so that leaves us with nothing to do. I only wish that they’d be a little more definite about what they are going to do. There are people I would like to see before I leave and I’m always afraid that we’ll get a sudden order to leave while all our clothes are being washed or some such thing. It’s the usual procedure.

We’re waiting on pins and needles around here to see what the point business is going to be next. The next change will make it possible for me to know exactly what they are going to do as far as I’m concerned. They may wait until the Ides of March and then take everyone with 45 points and above or they may take 48 and 49 pointers first and others later. According to the paper today they’ve got the redeployment schedule behind time again.

Just lately I’ve got the darndest curiosity about things at home. I really can’t wait to get back and see how things are. According to the way the fellows who just got here talk things must be in one helluva pickle. I don’t mean that things are bad but that everything is in a big hubbub. I’m beginning to realize now that I’ve been in Europe too long to really have a good picture of things back there. I remember looking back from the Queen Mary as Sandy Hook disappeared and I wondered how long it would be until I saw the ole U.S. again. Now as the time draws near I’m getting restless as hell. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into a hamburger again. Oh Boy! I guess I’m getting a little ahead of myself but I still can hardly wait.

I guess that’s all for right now. Sooooo


Best Love,
Bill

Saturday, December 11, 2010

About Letter 280


In this extraordinary letter Bill gives Mudder and Dad a "dose of my philosophy" regarding post war politics and economics. He also discusses with some shame and disgust "a lot of things I've seen and done in this war that I've never mentioned to you because I thought that you'd rather not hear about them.

Letter 280- February 24, 1946


Giessen/Lahn- Gross Hessen
24 Februar 1946

Liebe Mutter und Vater-

Na, heute ist Sonntag und hier bin ich jetzt in Deutschland. Jeder Tag sage ich zu mir, “Wie lange”. Immer noch weiss ich nichts. Ich will zu Hause komen. Das ist all und das ist alles. Vielleicht habe ich zu viel Ungedulden.

Ju, heute ist Sonntag aber ich muss noch arbeiten. Es gibt drei Berichter dass ich muss vor zehn Uhr schreiben. Die Arbeit des Oberfeldwebels nie endet. (Ha! Ha!)

Now don’t laugh. I’m doing the best I can. It’s common knowledge that I’m an expert at murdering the English language so you can imagine what kind of torture I can impose on the German language. Honestly though I get quite a kick out of this. I like German much better than French or anything else I’ve studied and I’m going to take it when I get back to school. An old German University professor here in Giessen told me yesterday that it would be worthwhile to learn German if for no other reason than to read Goethe. I do like it and I’m making at least a little headway with it so I think I’ll keep right on with it when I get home. When I get home you’ll probably be surprised by the different things which interest me now as compared with what I thought about before. For one thing there is one thing that I’ve been interested in ever since I got over here and that is economics. It always seemed like something good to know but boring to me before but after watching the European muddle for awhile I decided that it’s really important and that all people ought to have a better knowledge of it than they do. I’ll tell you something. It may seem silly to you but ever since the war ended I’ve been trying to get the slant of the average European on everything in general. I believe that the average GI will leave Europe knowing no more about these people and their problems than he ever did. That’s not so much a tribute to American ignorance as it is to American arrogance. One thing that I hear so much is, “These Limeys or these Frogs or these Krauts or these Polskies or Russkies are so damn dumb.” Sometimes I wonder if we’re not the dumb ones. Anyway it always gets back to the same old story—economics. I know that I’m not making any revelations as this stuff has been hashed over a thousand times by everybody and his sister but everyday now I read about this political mess with its spheres of influence talk stressing national characteristics as opposed to the “common brotherhood of man” etc. and I realize more and more that all the talk that is going on is nothing more than rather skillful evasion of the real problem. The other night I heard a translation of a speech by Joseph Stalin. Among the mountain of bullcrap which he threw was that old pearl of wisdom about the causes of war being the unequal distribution of raw materials and markets in the world. So as not to sound like a Communist I’ll say that I’m not opposed to the economic “stranglehold” as long as it gets results, but it doesn’t. There is the trouble—there I go again. Maybe I ought to get a soapbox. I think about this stuff a lot these days and somehow I can’t seem to write a letter without getting this stuff in. I’m sorry but when I was fighting I figured that I was fighting for some kind of a better world. I suppose that I had to think that I was fighting for a little more than the right to go home as did most fellows up there and now when I see all this I feel a little bitter—not cynical as most GI’s mind you but nevertheless bitter.

I don’t know what you’ll think about what I’m going to say but I’ve given you a dose of my philosophy in nearly every letter that I’ve written lately so I might as well tell you everything I know and think for once and for all. There are a lot of things that I’ve seen and done in this war that I’ve never mentioned to you because I thought that you’d rather not hear about them but now I’ll tell you the whole story insofar as it concerns what I believe.

One day last April I stood on a street in Stuttgart with a group of the fellows and saw a French soldier hit a pregnant German woman in the belly with the butt of his rifle. A couple of men in our group laughed but most of us were horrified, yet none of us did a thing. From that day until this I’ve felt like a rotten coward for that one thing. We all said among ourselves that the bastard ought to be strung up but none of us had the Moral Courage to do a damned thing about it. I thought up on line that I had guts because I could face machine-gun fire but 99 men out of every hundred have that kind of courage. It’s a rare few that have the other kind. Also I liked to think that I was a civilized human being because I could kill and yet detest killing but now I realize what a rotten egotist I was. I still don’t know whether what I did was right or wrong but I don’t believe I have the right to pat myself on the back. I believe that this is true of all men including Germans and Japs. We actually live in an ideal situation so we have a tendency to think that everyone else is a rat if they show weakness toward their own sins. Here in Germany I’ve talked with a lot of people and I did the same in England and France and my conclusions are always the same. That is that people in general everywhere are pretty much the same. But also everywhere people are morally weak. Just as I deplored what that French soldier did and yet did nothing myself for fear of getting in trouble the Germans deplored what some of their own people did but did nothing. One German said to me, “Yes, I knew that such and such was wrong but I had my wife and children to think about.” I was about to make a remark when it just struck me. Just what would I do in such a spot? Nothing. There are things that American soldiers have done that you can be sure I will never tell my grandchildren about. More than one German prisoner captured by my outfit was told to run then was shot down “trying to escape”. At the time I tried to tell myself that he probably deserved it or something of that sort but wasn’t that the same thing the Germans told themselves? Yes, and it was still murder, and I condoned murder because I didn’t have the guts to say anything.

Well now to get back to what I was talking about in the first place. Just as Germany tried to conquer the world by force of arms we’re trying to do the same economically. Oh I’m not well enough informed to say whether this is true everywhere but I can see it here. It’s always been England’s big stick (no German ever told to me just in case you believe the newspapers when they claim the GI’s are being swayed by the Frauleins). Anyway I don’t think it’ll work. It just stirs up the same old hate and drives people into the arms of guys like Hitler. In the twenties the Nazis use to say times must get bad or the cause is lost. We’re well on our way toward making bad times here in Germany already and paradoxically it seems we’re even supplying the Nazis if what the Reader’s Digest is true. Anyway I’ve learned from living over here that a hungry man is a dangerous man no matter whether he’s a German or a Russian or an American. If he sees his children go hungry he’ll do anything or accept any scheme to save them. I don’t believe it would make any difference what nationalities were involved. In fact if Germany or France or any of these other hemmed-in countries were populated or over-populated with Americans instead of the ones who are here there would even be more hell to pay. But there you are—economics.

I’ll tell you something that I’ve noticed here in Germany. Even though they’ve been utterly crushed in this war they are the only people I’ve seen in Europe who actually aspire to a better life. By this I mean they are the only ones that I’ve seen who really seem to want those things that we are always working for like automobiles, refrigerators, new clothes, homes, etc. If you speak to them about such things their eyes light up like electric lights. You won’t find that among the French or English or anyone else over here for that matter. They’re satisfied with what they’ve got and I believe that fact irks the Germans a great deal.

In short I wonder if we’re doing the right thing over here. It’s very easy to sit back in Washington and write off millions of people as scum unworthy of anything better in life than the role of a dangerous prisoner. I don’t say that we should just step out and let everything go to hell again but it seems to me that lowering the standard of living is just asking for trouble.

I probably didn’t get over the way I wanted to but soon now I’ll be coming home and I’ll be able to talk it over with you anyway.

I guess you can get out the shovels now. Anyway I promise that I won’t write anymore of this stuff again. I’ve got it pretty well out of my system.

I’ll try to write you a really good letter tomorrow night so for tonight I guess that’s all.

Best Love,
Bill

Saturday, December 4, 2010

About Letter 279


Bill takes over First Sgt. duties for the Company which are mostly making out reports and answering the phone. "I think that I got the job mainly because I can spell better than the rest of the boys." He is now expecting to leave Germany no later than the first week in March. He wins a watch at the PX which "would cost about $30 in the states."

Letter 279- February 19, 1946


Giessen, Germany (Hesse)
February 19, 1946


Dear Mudder and Dad,

Today I took over my first duties as First Sgt. in this Company. Sergeant Conrad received his orders that he leave tomorrow morning bright and early so that leaves me suddenly with a new job. It won’t be too difficult since I’ve been Co. clerk for quite some time now and because we haven’t got a DEF left in the Company. Unless I miss my guess though we’ll have one before the week is out. One company down the line is getting five-hundred in before next week and that’s a helluva lot of prisoners for one officer and seven men to handle. My guess is that we will probably move down into town somewhere and acquire a company. I’d be just as happy if we didn’t but that’s the way it goes. On the other hand there is talk that we’ll be transferred to another Labor Supervision Area. I prefer not but there’s no reason to fret since I doubt whether I’ll be here long enough for it to make any difference at all. I don’t see at all how we can be here after the first week of March and I wouldn’t be surprised if we leave before then. The only thing wrong with that picture is that once we do move into the pipeline there is a lot of rigamarole and weeks of waiting before we actually get on the boat. They have a program called “The Privates Meet the Generals” broadcast from Frankfurt once a week and they made the statement that it takes about eight weeks to go from the beginning to the end of the pipeline so that’s about it.

The job of being First Sgt. around here is merely making out the various reports and answering the phone. I think that I got the job mainly because I can spell better than the rest of the boys. Anyway it means I won’t have to drive anymore and that’s okay with me. I’ve had enough jouncing around in that truck to last me a lifetime.

I received some more back mail today so I guess that the post office boys are really scared. I though there for awhile that you’d given such a scare that they’d be sending my mail by special courier in an armored car or something. I don’t know what you wrote in that last letter but it sure must have been good. It seems to have accomplished more than the protests of everyone in the ETO for the last two years.

Did I tell you that I won a watch in the PX? I shouldn’t say that because I had to pay $9.00 for it but the same watch would cost about $30 in the states. I really got it at a good time since the mainspring on my other watch had broken only two days before. My other watch is really a damn good watch so I didn’t want to take a chance on sending it to a jeweler over here, not that they are not good jewelers but rather that they don’t have anything to work with these days. My other watch only cost me $16.00 but since then I’ve found out that they retail for around $50.00 at home.

That’s about all for tonight. I hope that everything is “prime” at home. If you see Lee tell him I’d like to talk to him too. You just put two Infantrymen together and we can chin anyone else under the table.

Best Love,
Bill

Sunday, November 28, 2010

About Letter 278


Bill's father writes a letter to the Chief of the Postal System-European Theatre that has "precipitated a mighty upheaval." The men continue to await word about their redeployment status. Bill says he doesn't mind sitting around a little longer noting that "from all reports I've heard these camps they've set up in Bremen and LeHavre are the craps." Bill's truck is still on the "fritz".

Letter 278- February 18, 1946


Giessen, Germany (Hesse)
18 February 1946

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I guess that you’ll be pleased to hear that you’ve precipitated a mighty upheaval throughout the entire European theatre. Is seems that a certain Mr. W.W. Taylor sent a letter to the Chief of the Postal System European Theatre. To everyone’s great surprise and rapture it seems that the Chief of the postal system took Mr. Taylor’s letter very much to heart and now all hell is being raised from one end of the continent to the other. The lieutenant came in the office this afternoon with a broad grin on his face and sez to me he sez, “Taylor, you ain’t ever goin’ to get no mo mail.” Of course, I wondered what in hell was going on. It seems that yesterday a general directive came down to the APO here with a mimeographed copy of your letter and a real beef from a big shot in Frankfurt saying that they were a bunch of no good loafers who will be making little rocks out of big rocks if they don’t get on the ball and off their fat fannies. Very enjoyable, VERY enjoyable-. I hope that ten generals inspect them every five minutes for the next six months. They’ve had this coming for a long time.

Otherwise there is not a great deal to write you about. We’ve been sitting around again waiting for something to happen. They tell us to sit tight until they make up their minds to evacuate the company and we have no idea when that will be. If it takes them as long to do that as it takes them to do everything else we’ll probably leave sometime in the spring of 1967. The lack of efficiency around here is appalling. It’s really hard to believe that some of these guys were part of the army that smashed the mighty Wehrmacht. If you cut off all their fingers they wouldn’t be able to count above two. Anyway we wait and wonder just what comes next. It’s getting like the old days when I was afraid to send out my washing for fear I wouldn’t be there when the washing came back. To tell you the truth I don’t mind staying here a little longer just so I move fast once I do get going. From all reports that I’ve heard these redeployment camps that they’ve set up in Bremen and LeHavre are the very craps and I hate to be in the position of some of the fellows there who’ve had to wait and freeze in those tents for four or five weeks before they could get on board a ship. To tell you the truth I don’t mind staying here a little longer just so I move fast once I do get going. From all reports that I’ve heard these redeployment camps that they’ve set up in Bremen and LeHavre are the very craps and I hate to be in the position of some of the fellows there who’ve has to wait and freeze in those tents for four or five weeks before they could get on board a ship. To tell you the truth there are a lot of guys who are actually volunteering to stay over here until summertime just so the weather will be better during the crossing. Some of them I don’t blame. They got so seasick coming over that it’s a wonder they don’t settle here just so they won’t have to sail back. Some guys I guess would get sick in a bathtub.

My truck is more or less on the fritz still. Actually there isn’t anything wrong with it but we’re rationed on gas now and the damn thing sops up gas like a sponge so we use the smaller vehicles for almost everything we do. That leaves me without anything to do except sit around and act like a Non-com. That’s easy enough. Anymore, however, I am too nervous to just sit around and I get the blues if I don’t have any work to keep me occupied.

I’m trying to get along with my German still but as yet I understand a great deal more than I can speak. That’s the way it’s been for a long time now. Is sure wish I could get it down a little better before I leave Germany.

Well, that’s about all for tonight. I’ll write again as soon as anything comes up or even if it doesn’t.

Best Love,
Bill

Monday, November 22, 2010

About Letter 277


With nothing to do Bill is working on his German with Hans Hauser. He says that the 2 years of Latin he had at school is a help, but he continues to struggle speaking the language. He goes to the movies and sees "The Dolly Sisters" starring Betty Grable and John Payne. Bill opines that the plot was "the same old mush, but the photography was excellent."

Letter 277- February 16, 1946


Giessen, Germany (Hesse)
February 16, 1946

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, it’s about 2000 hours Central European Standard Time right now and I’m sitting in the office listening to a symphony program over the radio. I really don’t have a great deal to write about tonight but I never know just when I will get the time so I’d better write now. Today for the first time since I got in this outfit I had a Saturday afternoon off, the reason being that we’re now without a job. We have discharged or transferred the last of our DEF’s and that’s that. There’s a possibility that we may be transferred to the QM department right here rather than move us somewhere else where we will no more than get started before we leave for home. For instance, today we got a replacement. He has 49 points and is due to go into the demobilization pipe-line within about three days. Some stuff.

We have seven men and one officer in our company and all but one EM and the officer will be going home very shortly. That puts everything here in an uproar naturally. The Lieutenant moans from one end of the day to the other that when we leave he’s going to be in one helluva spot. I agree but I’ll be damned if I’ll sign a waiver to stay here just because of that. Don’t get me wrong. He’s not so foolish as to ask any of us to stay.

The mail has started to come in again at a reasonably decent time. The only trouble is that I always get the latest letters first then the older ones follow up. That takes some of the zest out of getting a letter although I’m still very happy to get them.

Today I went to the movies for the first time in a month and saw “The Dolly Sisters” which as far as plot goes was the same old mush. However, I thought the photography was excellent and somewhat made up for the lack of everything else. When I don’t go to a movie for a while I lose all interest in them. For one thing I never know what’s playing so I never think that I’d like to see any of it. That was a brilliant statement. Anyhow- “eigentlich”-

With nothing to do here right now and plenty of men to do it things get pretty boring. I study German a little and have a German girl giving me a little help. I can’t seem to break the wall, however. I believe if I were only made to speak it more I’d be all set. Now I still try to think in English and talk German and that doesn’t work. As a result I can’t seem to expand my vocabulary. All the Krauts tell me that my German is excellent insofar as it goes but it doesn’t go very far. Hans Hauser says that when I stick to simple sentences it is impossible to tell my German from that of a native, but beyond that I begin to slip. I feel now that if I could only enlarge my vocabulary to even that 300 word limit the rest would be easy. I find too that the two years of Latin that I took in school is quite a help. I like the German language very much and even with as little as I’ve picked up I find that it gives an insight into the character of the people. It may sound funny but “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer has a different-what shall I call it-pattern? than the literal “one people, one realm, one leader.” I don’t know how to explain it but I can sense it. Some things that sound ridiculous in English sound sensible in German. I’m not referring to the quotation above, however.

That’s about all for tonight. The weather report remains the same. The weather stinks. The Jerries have a saying for it which I hear every morning. “Beim wetter kann man sich nur noch betrinken” which means roughly “The only thing you can do in weather like this is go on a toot.” I guess they’ve got something there.

Best Love,
Bill

Saturday, November 13, 2010

About Letter 276


The last of the POW's have been discharged so the men are essentially out of a job. Bill's truck is "on the fritz again so I am not doing much of anything." News from home that "they are again clamping down on the rationing" triggers an analysis from Bill on postwar economics.

Letter 276- February 15, 1946


February 15, 1946
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Here it is past the middle of February and here I am still sitting and still wondering. Today we discharged the last of our DEF’s and that means that we’re out of a job. I really haven’t the slightest idea what they are going to do with us but as usual they have everything in such a state of confusion that nobody knows anything. Today they’ve issued about twenty contradictory orders. The Lieutenant called up and asked what we are going to do now and they told us that we’d probably get another company of DEF’s. I don’t see that. Where are they going to come from? If you discharge all the POW’s more of them don’t just materialize out of thin air. As far as I’m concerned I’d just as soon sit right here until my turn comes to go home. That shouldn’t be too long now. Beyond that I know that I can have a better time right here than I can anywhere else. All I want is to go home and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for me to stay now. About the only thing that we can do now is security guard work and I don’t care to think about guard duty at this stage of the game. Well, it shouldn’t be too long now. Men with 48 points are supposed to start moving into the pipeline starting next week. Occupation is a none too pleasant job at best and I’ll be glad to be out of it.

Your mail is coming in trickles. Yesterday I received two letters which were written on the 27th. of January but today I got one dated the 17th. Now I probably won’t get anything for a week. It’s really a pain in the neck.

My truck is on the fritz again so I’m not doing much of anything. That always makes me feel blue as hell. Anymore if I don’t have at least some sort of work to keep me occupied I feel like the devil. I read all the bad news in the newspaper and see the helluva state everything is in around me then I feel like crying in my beer. If feel like another Hamlet or something. I guess that I’m just getting “Fed up with the setup” or “ETO Happy”.

Well, that’s enough of the grief that weights me down. How’s everything at home? I see by the paper that they are again clamping down on the rationing. I suppose that everybody is mad although I can’t see any other thing we can do. Say what you will we just can’t let people starve. When things get that bad people will grasp any straw in order to save themselves. In Germany for instance it’s exactly what the Nazis who have gone underground hope for. As long as the people get enough to eat they will be satisfied and even consider themselves fortunate to be rid of Fascism; when they begin to starve they’ll do anything to save themselves. It’s only human. That’s what the Nazis are depending on. They want to be able to say “See, we are no worse than they are.” These birds who sit at home on their fat fannies fail to realize the difference between right and wrong in all Europe is balanced one way or the other by a piece of meat or a loaf of bread. You really have no idea how badly beaten these people are. I don’t mean only the Germans. I mean everyone. They’ve practically lost all hope for the future. They feel stuck and don’t know what to do. I may sound like a radical or something but I can tell you one thing. That is that there’s a great change coming. If we take the bull by the horns we can make change favorable to us. If we don’t someone else will and that’s no kidding. All Europe wants to push ahead but in what direction? As I said before if worse comes to worse they’ll grab at anything. It may be Nazism, it’s not dead yet, Communism or what have you but it’ll be something. I suppose that I sound like a sermon again but I think about these things a lot and I just have to get them off my chest.

Well, that’s about all for tonight again. I hope I haven’t bored you too damn much.


Best Love,
Bill

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

About Letter 275


At long last Bill receives his promotion to Corporal. There is talk of giving his unit a Polish guard company to manage. "Boy, I sure hope not. Those Pollacks are a bunch of trigger happy jerks." As a postscript Bill sends a photo of Hans Hauser, the German company interpreter. "He is 17 years old and came to the Wehrmacht 2 years ago."

Letter 275- February 11, 1946


February 11, 1946
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I suppose you are about ready to murder me for not writing but you have no idea how busy I’ve been. Our vehicles aren’t working, we are in the midst of discharging about 250 DEF’s this week and God knows what else is coming up. We’ve got two new replacements here fresh in from the states but still there is more work to do with us. There’s some talk of giving us a Polish Guard Co. to manage. Boy, we sure hope not! Those Pollacks are a bunch of trigger happy jerks. They are drunk so much of the time that it’s a pity. I’d hate to get shot some night by one of those bums after all I’ve lived through. I don’t know though. Almost all of us here in this company will be going home before long and there’s not much sense in taking us out of here just for a couple of weeks. What I’m hoping that they do is just let us sit. Some companies have been doing that.

I think that you must have noticed the change in grade on the outside of the letter. That’ll mean a little more money and maybe a little better break while I’m on my way home. It took so long to get here that I really doubted that it would ever come through at all. The Lieutenant said that I’m now an officer, non-commissioned. That’s his idea of a joke I guess. It sure must have broken somebody’s heart to see me get that.

I’ve been getting shots for dyptheria for the last few days and as a result I feel pretty lousy. However, I’m glad that I’m getting them since dyptheria is rather prevalent around here at the present time and I’d hate to come down with it. A girl who lived down the street from here and who used to develop pictures for the fellows died with it only the other day. She worked for the American hospital and she received the best of treatment but I guess she just didn’t have enough pep to pull through. There is a lot of flu around to boot. Several people I know are down with it and everybody has at least a touch of it.

The weather continues to amaze everybody in Giessen. Every day it rains and the sky is always cloudy. In fact there are flood levels everywhere. Actually we haven’t had any snow since November and you can see for yourself how far north Giessen in situated. All the Germans claim that people would be feeling better if there were at least a little snow around.

I still have not received anything in the way of mail so I suppose that you are still getting your letters back. That’s what you said in the last letter I did receive. The trouble seems to be that there is more than one 1297 LSC in the theatre.

Well, that’s about all for tonight. I hope that you are feeling well.

Best Love,
Bill

(enclosure)

Dear Folks,

Here is a picture of Hans Hauser our company interpreter. He is 17 years old and came into the Wehrmacht 2 years ago—some stuff, huh? He’s a good kid but we like to kid him about his superman expression in this picture. He’s one of those brats that always has a milewide grin on his kisser so he must have almost sprained his schnozzle for this picture.

Bill


(photo enclosed)-with inscription “in memory of our friendship in Giessen, Germany
Yours,
Hans Hauser
CuLw/Schiessberg O.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

About Letter 274


The trip to Switzerland is off. Bill does not want to risk "missing the boat" should his stateside reassignment come though earlier than expected. He continues to rail against the "monumental piece of incompetance and inefficiency" that he has experienced in the service.  With disgust he exclaims "When I get out of the army I think I'll write a book about the whole thing."

Letter 274- February 6, 1946


Giessen, Germany (Hesse)
February 6, 1946

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Every time I write you a letter the entire situation has changed. Things are really beginning to pop here and it’s hard to say just what is coming next. Tomorrow they are coming around and ask all of those men with over forty-six points who will volunteer to stay over here until March 31. We believe that is what is wrong with our ratings not coming through. It’s one of those things where they say, “If you hang around a little longer the ratings may come through but if you leave now no soap”. Well, they know what they can do with their ratings. The sooner I can come home the better. This whole service deal has been a monumental piece of incompetence and inefficiency. I wouldn’t stay here a minute longer than I absolutely must. I must admit that I’ve had a good deal here inasmuch as there hasn’t been much Army to bother me but that doesn’t alter the situation one iota. When I get out of the army I think I’ll write a book about the whole thing.

This thing about the ratings is really dirty though. We’ve earned the damn things and we ought to have them. It takes the QM Dept. here just one day to put through their ratings but we’ve had ours in for over a month and one-half and still nothing. Actually while I’ve waited for one grade jump some other birds I know have gone up three grades.

As I told you in my last letter my trip to Switzerland is off. At first I thought I might be able to make it but now I know I don’t go since I’m not going to take a chance on missing the boat merely to spend a few more days in Europe.

I may be leaving for my shipping unit sooner than I have been led to think but at any rate I should be out of here by the end of the month. Of course that doesn’t mean that I’ll be home just like a flash. They say that it takes approximately eight weeks in all before I’m actually home in my own house. It won’t be too bad though as long as I know that I’m at least on my way.

They’re shooting me full of diphtheria shots now and they really make a guy feel lousy. Everyone here must take them so they must fear an epidemic of some sort.

This doesn’t make much of a letter but I’ve got a date for tonight??? So I’d better finish up now.

Best Love,
Bill

Thursday, October 28, 2010

About Letter 273


Bill is leaving soon for a trip to Switzerland. "From what I've heard it should really be a swell trip. The trip will cost a flat rate of thirty-five dollars." According to the army point plan Bill must be waterborne by April 15th. The weather is "still incredibly mild with no snow and only a little rain."

Letter 273- January 31, 1946


January 31, 1946

Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I decided the other day that I wouldn’t write to you until my promotion came through, but now I see that the same old incompetence prevails. Captain Wollner has started home and without him around to give these guys a kick in the pants every five minutes they don’t get anything done. My recommendation has been in for over a month now but we still haven’t heard a thing about it. Twice Captain Wollner found our papers lying around in some office and jumped somebody about it but now that he’s gone I don’t know what will happen. Likely as not the papers will be lost and we shall never hear anything more about it. You remember some orders for the recommendation of a Bronze Star were lost in the same way. After all that they come around and tell us that we’ll really be passing up a great chance by not reenlisting in the Regular Army. HA! They should live so long.

I’ve finally got one break anyway. That is that on the fifth I’m leaving for Switzerland. From what I’ve heard it should really be a swell trip. The army has taken over a couple of the finest hotels available and really made a swell thing out of it. Everybody that’s been there says that they’ve never seen a nicer setup. The trip will cost me a flat rate of thirty-five dollars but since I’ll probably never get a chance to see it again I believe that it’ll be well worth it.

I’ll be sure to write you a couple of letters from there to save as souvenirs, and try to get some presents if it is still possible. I doubt very seriously if Switzerland will compare very well with California the way I feel right now but it will make a nice break in the damn waiting. If I leave here on the fifth I probably won’t be back for ten days anyway and then it shouldn’t be much more than a month at the outside before I enter the pipe line. The order to turn in the names of all fifty pointers came through today so you can see how the situation is going. According to the plan now in use I must be waterborne by April fifteenth and I believe that the army will try to get ahead on the schedule in order to get back into the good graces of the people at home.

There’s not much else to write tonight. The weather is still incredibly mild with no snow and only a little rain. We haven’t even had a slight freeze for more than a week now. Most of the people here are afraid that it will be a late winter with snow in March and April. Maybe so but it will have to get a helluva lot colder than it is right now.

We’re having a lot of trouble with the flu right here now. I’ve had a slight touch of it but nothing to amount to anything though. Some of the P.W.’s however, have been quite ill. I guess it’s the weather that’s doing it. It’s a lot like late March or April right now.

Well, this doesn’t make much of a letter but it’s about all that I have to say for tonight soooooooooo-

Best Love,
Bill

Sunday, October 24, 2010

About Letter 272


In a sign that the Occupation is winding down Bill's Labor Supervision Company gets the news that all non SS and Gustapo prisoners are being released, even Nazi Party members. He notes that "the people here are just beginning to realize how fortunate they are to live in the US Zone of Germany." The change in policy "confuses the situation in regards to our status" but Bill notes that no matter what "on the 4th. of April I will be eligible for discharge on both points and length of service.

Letter 272- January 27, 1946


Sunday, January 27, 1946
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I hope that you will forgive me for not writing for the last several days but again it’s the same old story. I’m not receiving any letters from you. The Stars and Stripes makes claims about the bad weather and all that but I believe that it is just a case of slow and careless handling by the postal authorities over here. The mail seems to come in bunches which leads me to believe that somewhere they just leave it lie around until they have so much that they must get rid of it.

The day before yesterday they dropped a bombshell in here by ordering the release of all prisoners who are not SS or Gestapo. We didn’t think that the release of general prisoners would start before next March and then we thought that Nazi Party members would be held for further screening. Evidently this is being done to reduce the number of troops needed for the occupation. Of course this is okay with us but it sure came suddenly. Most of the men will be discharged under contract to the government so they will hold their present jobs. I can’t say that I blame them. To use an old army axiom, “They never had it so good.” When they work for the US they are sure of one thing anyway and that’s three squares a day. The people here are just beginning to realize how fortunate they are to live in the US Zone of Germany. The big German military hospital near here is beginning to fill up with patients from the Russian zone and Poland. I can’t say that the Germans aren’t getting exactly what they’ve always asked for but when I see some of the poor wrecks of humanity that they bring in over there I can’t help but feel a great pity for them. That’s the trouble with these people over here. They think that two wrongs make a right somehow. It’s always an eye for an eye and hate triumphant marches on. To all these people we remain the great enigma. They don’t understand us so they fear us all the more. I wonder if they will ever wake up.

This change in policy rather confuses the situation in regards to our status. Most of us will be entering the redeployment pipe line within a month so there is not much sense moving us somewhere else unless they bring some low pointers to take our places. According to the schedule I must be at sea by April 15th. That means I must be in my carrier unit by March 15th at the very latest. It might be March 1st even. Fifty-three pointers are on the move now so you can figure it out for yourself. On the 4th of April I will be eligible for discharge on both points and length of service.

I’m sure happy now that I didn’t push that OCS business. I’d be stuck for another couple of years—WHOOOEEE!

The weather over here has been amazing for the last few weeks. There hasn’t been a sign of snow nor rain for that matter. The Krauts don’t know what to make of it. They said that the winter of 1937 was very warm and dry but nothing like this. It’s swell with me if everything stays the same all winter.

I sure hope that I get some mail tomorrow. It sure won’t hurt my feelings if I get a whole fist full even. I hate the feeling of being cut off from home. I suppose these mail clerks don’t give a damn.

Things must be in a great muddle at home. In today’s S&S there is a picture of a guy looking at a sign with “LA city limits” on it and a no vacancy sign above it. The impression is getting around over here that things in the states are pretty rough. Of course such a wide spread belief wouldn’t hurt the army recruiting drive any.

That’s about the whole story for today.

Best Love,
Bill

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

About Letter 271


Bill earnestly argues the necessity of the Occupation. "I want to come home in the worst way, but others will have to fill my shoes. Most Germans realize that they have been so wrong in this war but there's at least one in four whose soul is so warped with hate that he has lost all sense of perspective. They are the dangerous ones. In fact they are the deadly ones. As a civilized human being I say they will have to be watched. As a soldier I say they should be exterminated."

Letter 271- January 23, 1946


January 23, 1946
Giessen, Gemany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

The mail situation over here became much better yesterday when I received from you seven letters. Three of them were recent while the other four were rather old. One of them was dated Nov. 28th. Two others two were postmarked the tenth and eleventh of December. The last three were written on the sixth and seventh of January. That’s something anyhoo.

The vacuum cleaner belongs to you all right so don’t send it back or anything. I wrote you a letter about the damn thing but evidently it like so many other letters was lost in the rush somewhere. I see that you don’t care particularly for the new setup on points and so forth. I don’t care particularly for it myself but that’s the way it goes. I’ve been in the army so long now that I’ve become dulled to the whole thing. I guess that’s the thing that they want. I will tell you one thing, however. Some of what they say is the truth. Most of the Germans realize that they have been so wrong in this war but there’s at least one out of four whose soul is so warped with hate that he has lost all sense of perspective. They are the dangerous ones. In fact they are the deadly ones. As long as people like that exist in this country we will have to keep the imperative. I sometimes have Germans approach me and say, “You don’t realize how insane some of our people are. They will have to be watched like a hawk or they will try to do the same thing again.” As a civilized human being I say they will have to be watched. As a soldier I say they should be exterminated. Many of the more balanced Germans will agree with me on that. I don’t know what to say about people who would gladly destroy themselves and the rest of the world just to satisfy their hatred. I know what I’m talking about. The world will have to be willing to pay the price or perish. I hope this doesn’t sound too much like a sermon but it is the truth. You just have no idea how some of these people think. I want to come home in the worst way but others will have to fill my shoes. They can blab all they want and it won’t change the situation. In short I don’t disagree with what the army wants to do as much as I disagree with the method they are attempting to use. It would seem to the average GI over here that the people at home are divided into two camps. Those who in their earnestness to get us home would throw our victory away and those who wish to keep the original crew over here while they forget everything. Both attitudes are altogether wrong. Enough of that.

I certainly am becoming interested in the changes that are being made in our house. The old shack must be getting to be quite a jernt. It seems that everybody that I’ve ever know is getting out of the service but yours truly. Do you think I’ll ever get out? I’m afraid that pretty soon I’ll even begin to look like a Kraut. Oh! What a horrible thought. If I have to stay in the army another 8 months (I’m not contemplating it) I will be entitled to wear a hash mark and will be able to start drawing longevity pay.

Thanks for the condensation of all the letters that you’ve written to me. It’s nice to at least know what I would have received in the mail.

That’s about all for tonight, I guess. I drove over 200 miles today and in a two and one-half ton truck on these lousy cow paths that they have the nerve to call roads over here it’s no mean job.

Good night.


Best Love,
Bill

Thursday, October 14, 2010

About Letter 270


Bill has 47 points toward rotation home but with the newest changes in the schedule he doesn't expect to be on his way until mid April. He expresses his frustration with the point system but acknowledges the need for an Occupation force. Strikes at home continue to dominate the news. The weather in Giessen is quite a mystery with no snow or ice despite it being the dead of winter.

Letter 270- January 20, 1946


January 20, 1946
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I suppose you were about beginning to wonder why I haven’t written again and I must say that it’s the same old reason. I haven’t been receiving any mail from you. This morning, however, I got a letter dated Jan. 1. As far as I can see there is no reason why it must take 20 days for a letter to get to me. Even during the worst part of the fighting the mail situation was better than that.

Well, what do you think about the new point arrangement? In every other theatre men with 47 points are on their way home with the exception of the ETO. And they say that I won’t be on my way until the middle of April. It certainly is quite a comedown. I really don’t feel that this is the fault of the army however, and I believe that the theatre commanders who are taking the worst beating are the least to blame of anybody. They get orders on exactly what they must do and they have no choice on how they’re going to do them. These big shots back in the states seem to think that the U.S. can maintain a major occupation force over here without any troops. That is stupid no matter how one looks at it. I’m afraid the real trouble is that the majority of people don’t understand just what the situation is and that those who do know are keeping it to themselves for certain reasons that are beyond me. I believe General Eisenhower himself is as unaware of the real problem as are the people. I know that there is hardly a single soldier who actually fought in the war who is in favor of a complete demobilization of our armed forces. In that way we would not only lose everything that we fought for but would lose all the prestige that we now hold. Today everyone in Europe looks to America as their only hope for a decent future. This may sound like so much bull but after one gets a slant on these people he realizes that is so. They’re all afraid of us yet they all respect and trust us. If we leave altogether they will get the feeling that America has gone isolationist again and then will come despair and the usual results.

There is a great deal of aap—beg pardon—misapprehension now about troops over here. The general consensus of opinion among government representatives and even high army officials is that there are very few combat troops left in the ETO when just the opposite is true. The B Bag article is just a sample. Actually there has been less agitation by actual fighting soldiers than by the others. Maybe this is because the combat soldier feels himself so fortunate to still be in one piece that complaining would be an ungrateful act.

There certainly is a lot of difference between leaving for home on the 15 of April and on the 5 of February as was promised only about 2 weeks ago. There is only one thing that I can say in favor of the new setup and that is that we at least know what the score is now and we can base all our suppositions on some concrete facts.

Well, glory Be! If there ain’t anudder strike in the news. What’s going to happen anyway? Some writers for TIME say they never saw the U.S. in such a state of selfishness. I really don’t know what to think. I always tell these Krauts that the strikes are very praiseworthy and they express American freedom and such, but I wonder if in the end everybody isn’t going to be on strike against everybody else. We got it all arranged here where the LSC will go on strike against the Railhead Co. and so on.

The weather here continues to be quite a mystery. Here it is the middle of January and no snow and no ice and not very much rain even. I certainly don’t mind it but according to everybody in Giessen there should be a couple of feet of snow on the ground. I’m just getting over the worst cold that I’ve had in a couple of years now. I even had a touch of sinus which I’ve never been bothered by before that I can remember. Since yesterday my nose has been running like the devil and today I feel pretty good.

You can forget about my “dark secret” now. Like everything else in this army that sounds good it didn’t pan out. Even my rating doesn’t seem to be coming through for about half a dozen foolish reasons like “We can’t find this record.” You know the usual army runaround. It no longer angers me; it merely bores me.

I guess that about does it for today. I’ll write again soon.


Best Love,
Bill

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

About Letter 269


Bill is more pessimistic than ever about getting home. "The way they talk I guess I haven't got much of a chance before May or June." He acknowledges that an an Occupation force is needed because "these people respect the force we maintain."

Letter 269- January 14, 1946


January 14, 1946
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Today after not receiving any mail for a long time I got another letter. I was beginning to think that the mail was lost again or something. I don’t know what to say about the letters that you’ve sent me during the last two months but if I don’t receive them I’m afraid that I won’t be able to answer the questions that you’ve been bawling me out about. I’m sure that the new set for the kitchen must be very beautiful. I certainly are—are? Listen to that—am eager to get home but the way they talk now I guess that I haven’t got much chance before May or June. It’s an awful blow but that’s the way it goes. They’re talking now a great deal about devising the discharge system but as sure as God made little green apples if they change it I’ll even get a worse kick in the pants than I’ve received already. I guess a guy just can’t win in the army. I’ve about given up hope. Unless the people are willing to send us replacements we don’t get out. Never believe that we don’t need an occupation force. We may not be doing much over here but the only reason we’re not doing a lot is the fact that these people respect the force we maintain. It’s a bad situation but it’s not one that cannot be figured out if people are only willing to think realistically. I don’t care but a year or so in the army under peacetime conditions certainly won’t hurt anybody.

It’s about time I start a new paragraph. We have not been doing much as usual around here lately. We’ve got an enlisted men’s club going now for the men of the various labor supervision company groups around here. I go there quite a bit but you know how it is. Nothing’s any good over here.

It’s late now so I’d better close now.

God, what English. That’s what happens when I try to write a letter late at night.

Best Love,
Bill

Saturday, October 2, 2010

About Letter 268


After 8 months of Occupation Bill and his fellow soldiers are about at the breaking point. He encloses an article in "Stars and Stripes" reporting on a mass march and protest of 4,000 U.S. soldiers in Frankfurt. Bill is furious over comments in the New York Times that "soldiers are making unwarrented use of the freedom of speech in order to make their complaints." With disgust he exclaims "all these years we've taken the kick in the pants without much complaint; we won the war and saved their necks...and now he has the confounded gall to make a statement like that."

Letter 268- January 10, 1946




January 10, 1946
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

During the last several days I’ve been holding off on my letters just to see what would happen next. I have here in this letter the headlines of the Stars and Stripes for the last several days I really think that they are beauts. Today when some—I can’t write what I’m thinking—wrote in the New York Times that the soldiers are making unwarranted use of the freedom of speech in order to make their complaints, I really felt my blood pressure hit the ceiling. Just who in the hell does he think he is? I love to hear these guys who’ve been dodging their draft boards for the last five years bawling out the Gi’s who have no rights in the world according to him. All these years we’ve taken the kick in the pants without much complaint; we won the war and saved their necks; we listened to the lies that have been passed out; we’ve more than won our right to speak; and now that whatever he is has the confounded gall to make a statement like that. I don’t know yet how many of these articles I’ll be able to get into this letter without making it too heavy. Now the Marine Corps with exactly the same system as the Army is letting out men with 45 points and in the Pacific he army states that men with 50 points will be home by January 31. But in the ETO what? Maybe by the time you receive this letter things will have straightened themselves out. I certainly hope so. I want to get home in the very worst way and believe that I’M entitled to it as much as the next guy. [I didn’t mean to capitalize that I’m].

I received 3 more letters from you today dated the 5th, 14th and 15th of December. These letters are older than the ones that I got the other day but nevertheless I was happy to receive them. It sure seems as if there are being some changes make at Harvard. I was rather surprised to hear that they are going to build a swimming pool at school. I thought that the Bishop was rather opposed to the idea.

So Leon is home now. I’m glad to hear it he’s really had a pretty raw deal and he’s not the type that can take it very well. That’s one thing about the infantry. Having been in it gives a man as much inward satisfaction as is possible but there is almost no outward glory such as the air corps has.

Boy! I’d sure like to see that room of mine. It must be the stuff of the stuff. I really have my doubts whether I’ll be able to sleep in such luxury after 2 years of army cots and cold hard ground. I’ll sure have a swell time adjusting myself, anyway.

That’s about all I have to say for tonight.

Best Love,
Bill

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

About Letter 267


Bill's transfer snafu is ironed out and he is back in Giessen after packing and being sent to Rodheim. With pessimism he notes that "with this strike situation the way it is in the States I guess nobody will be thinking much about the soldiers over here. Tonight he plans to see a show or "head out to the Red Cross for a cup of coffee."

Letter 267- January 6, 1946


January 6, 1946
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

God! What a week this last one has been. I really don’t know where to start this letter. First you’ll notice that I’m still in Giessen and that I haven’t been transferred. That’s not really quite the truth. I should say that I’m back in Giessen. I was all packed and down at Rodheim when they finally got my service record straightened out. I’m thankful that I wasn’t transferred but I do wish that I could get home before too very long. Today one of the Third Division guards came storming in here and said that General McNarny had said last night over the radio that all men with under fifty points would have to stay here until sometime after June. That seems impossible but I’ve heard nothing about it over the news broadcasts today so it may be just some wild rumor. I hope to God it is. Another six months overseas would mean two years over here. That would be terribly unfair when they’re not sending guys overseas who’ve had only 21 months service and all of that in the states. It wouldn’t surprise me any, however, since as Bouillion says that the one word the army doesn’t understand is fairness. If it does come about that way I’m going to write some pretty insulting letters to somebody. With this damn strike situation in the states the way it is I guess nobody will be thinking much about the soldiers over here and the army will be able to do just about what it damn well pleases. That’s what I’m afraid of.

After all this time I finally received a letter from you which was postmarked December 4th. I’m glad to hear that you finally received that package that I sent you in October. I was afraid that we’d seen the last of it. I also received a letter from Ben so I can at least say that I have some mail anyway. I miss getting mail from you like the very devil. The only two things that a soldier has to look forward to are chow and mail. Over here chow is never anything to get excited over so that leaves only mail. Without that life is pretty boring. This is another one of those dead Sundays that are even worse than work days because there is little or nothing to do except listen to the radio and write letters. Last night and this morning I was on CQ so that gave me a little to do but I can’t say that I was having a very good time.

Tonight I’ll probably go to the show or out to the Red Cross for a cup of coffee. Then I’ll probably come home and go to bed—another Sunday shot. Some life, huh?

It’s almost chow time now and I have to get cleaned up so I guess that I’ll close it for tonight.

Best Love,
Bill

Thursday, September 23, 2010

About Letter 266


Bill is steamed over an army snafu that may delay his return home. "It's one of the rawest deals I've ever had and I've had plenty in this damn army." He sarcastically signs off the letter saying "Long live Joe Stalin!"

Letter 266- January 2, 1946


January 2, 1946

Giessen, Germany (Hesse)
Dear Mudder and Dad,


I hardly know how to start this letter. Today I received orders to be at the Labor Center tomorrow for transfer to an AAA outfit for shipment home and it’s one of the rawest deals I’ve ever had and I’ve had plenty in this damn army. Some damn fool has blundered with my records and rated me as having 57 points instead of 47 which I actually have. The Captain called this to their attention but they’ve done nothing to correct the error. In short I’ll be transferred and when they find out that I haven’t the right number of points I’ll get canned and will undoubtedly end up in some stinking hole as full time KP or something—all this when I’m only 5 days from having a rating for which I’ve slaved for 2 months now. My whole army career has a story of me getting the dirty end of the stick. I thought that it couldn’t happen again and I’ll be damned if it hasn’t. I feel mad, sick and hurt about the whole deal. This has been the only place I’ve ever been in the army where I was treated really decently and now I’m transferred just because some damn son of a bitch is too lazy to pay attention to what he’s doing. It just seems that if you do your best and try to do right you end up out of luck. The captain says that he’ll call up tomorrow and try to get something done about it but he admits that my chances are pretty slim. Actually this will hold up my getting home because LSC gets first priority always.


That’s really all I’ve got to say. I’m so sick about the whole thing that I can’t write a real letter. If anything breaks I’ll let you know.

Long live Joe Stalin!


Bill

Saturday, September 18, 2010

About Letter 265


It's New Year's Day 1946. Bill notes that "last year at this time I was actually fighting for my life against the German New Year offensive. I was cold, miserable and I might add desperate." He spends much of the day "chewing the rag" with Hans the German interpreter. "He's only 17 years old and quite intelligent. One can learn more about Nazi Germany from him in five minutes than from anyone else in ten years."

Letter 265- January 1, 1946


January 1, 1946
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

The new year is here at last. I don’t know what will hold for us all but at least the outlook is pretty good. It’s quite different this year. Last year at this time I was actually fighting for my life against the German New year offensive. I was cold, miserable and I might add desperate although that word smacks of the dramatic. This year I’m warm and well fed, yet if anything I’m more homesick. I’m getting so tired of it all that I just don’t know what to say. I was reading in the Stars and Stripes yesterday that the morale of the troops in the Pacific is cracking because they’ve been fighting so long and are now being treated like pawns in a chess game. It’s really confusing to the average soldier when he hears that men in the states are being discharged in the belief that they are unessential and surplus, and yet at the same time men who have fought for years are told that they will have to stay. It’s just the same as saying, “Okay, you won the war; now to hell with you. They talk about stopping the draft and yet also talk about years and years of occupation. If that is so only we can make the occupation force. In other words some men must give everything to their country while others give nothing. I believe that I’m at least half way intelligent but I can’t understand this.

I still haven’t received any mail from you, but the sky does look a little brighter in as much as one of the boys in this company did get a letter the other day that was mailed to this address. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get something. I sure hope so. I’ve really lost touch with you. The last letter that I got was written in early November.

Last night I stayed up to welcome the New Year in. At twelve the GI’s started to shoot off everything they could lay their hands on and the Jerries threw old electric light globes out the window. One of the POW’s had a crying jag on and was determined to tell someone about all his troubles. Wot a life. I got to bed about 2:oo am this morning so I didn’t get much of a night’s sleep.

I don’t know what to do with myself today but you can bet on one thing and that is that it won’t amount to a hell of a lot. I spend about half my time chewing the rag with hans who is our interpreter here. He’s only 17 years old but he speaks good English and is quite intelligent. One can learn more about Nazi Germany from him in five minutes than you can from anyone else in ten years. That’s mainly because he tells the truth instead of giving you a song and dance. He’s interesting in as much as he is a product of Nazi teaching. Until he came here he hadn’t the slightest idea about so many things that we take for granted. He told me last night that only now does he realize that “the happy ending” was impossible under Nazism. He thinks that we should start some extensive educational plans over here. He says that the most fanatical young Nazi is better adapted to learning democracy than the old people who always say that they don’t want anything to do with politics.

That’s all for now.

Best love, Bill

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

About Letter 264


It is Sunday and the weather is lousy. "We've had rain, sleet and snow all mixed together....in short it's the time of year in which your's truly would rather be home than sitting in Germany wasting his time." A new rookie is "outside pacing up and down his post in the rain. "He's new enough in the army to take his his job seriously which is good because it impresses the Germans." Bill awaits his promotion to Corporal, which will raise his pay to $88.00 a month.

Letter 264- December 30, 1945


December 30, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

It’s been several days since I’ve written you a letter and with the storms at sea and so forth it’s hard to say just when you’ll be receiving any letters from me. As for me I haven’t received any mail yet so I’m requesting a telegram for you to send me. I haven’t had any mail in so long that I’m beginning to get a little worried. Nobody here has been getting any so I know that everything is probably all right but still I’d like to get some word from you.

It’s Sunday today and the weather is lousy. We’ve had rain, sleet and snow all mixed together. Everyone here says the weather is unusually mild for this time of year but nevertheless it’s pretty depressing. We’re in that crumby lull between Christmas and New Years right now in which we’re not doing anything really and yet we’re not really getting any free time. In short it’s the time of year in which yours truly would rather be home than sitting in Germany wasting his time. The other day an order came down from higher headquarters for men eligible for shipment home and somehow my name was on it by mistake. Boy! Was I mad. I was so close and yet so far. The men with 45-49 points in the 15th Infantry of the 3rd Division have been alerted for the 20th of January so I’m holding my breath. As far as I know I’m still slated to leave on the 5th of February but it can be changed any time.

Our radio here is a godsend. I think that I’d practically go screwy if I didn’t have it to listen to. Right now I’m listening to some of the Sunday programs over ASN which takes my mind off the general pain in the neck that I have to think about all the time. About 20 feet from my window there’s a new rookie pacing up and down his post in the rain. He’s new enough in the army to take his job seriously which is good because it impresses the Germans. The rest of us are getting to that “I don’t give a damn” point which is no good for an army of occupation. At any rate I’m glad that its he instead of I out there walking a post. If there’s anything in the whole world I hate its guard duty.

I just heard the news and what they had to say about the redeployment set-up for the next few months didn’t sound any too good. I wish to heaven they’d come right out and tell us what the score is instead of hedging around and giving out a lot of figures that sound good but don’t mean a damn thing.

Well, my recommendation for Cpl. has gone in now and all I have to do is wait and see what the devil happens. If all goes well the okay will be back here within the next week or ten days. If it comes through all right I’ll be a lot better off when the time does come for me to go home. It’ll mean less K.P. and guard duty, not to mention the money that I’ll be getting. That’ll be about $88.00 a month while I stay here and about $76.00 when I get back to the states. That combat infantry pay does come in pretty handy.

I guess that’s about all for today so Happy New Year.



Best Love,
Bill

Saturday, September 11, 2010

About Letter 263


Bill is officially recommended for the rank of Corporal. "That puts me right up there with Hitler and Napoleon. Ain't it grand???" More importantly it has been repeated that he will be leaving Germany "on Feb. 5, at the very latest for the good old everlovin' USA." Bill notes talk from home wondering if combat veterans can readjust to civilian life. "One fellow here received a letter from his sister in which she said that maybe all this killing has made him too hard to fit back into life at home."

Letter 263- December 23, 1945


December 23, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’ve hoped against hope that I would get some letters from you before Christmas but I guess I’m just out of luck. That’s why I haven’t written to you as often as I should lately. I keep hoping every day that the next day will bring some letters. At any rate they changed our APO yesterday and that may bring about some sort of change in the situation.
The APO is now 169. The Captain drove all the way down to Heidelberg the other day to see if he could find out anything but it was the same old story. As far as I know you may not even know that I’ve been transferred yet. It’s a sorry situation.

This week I was officially notified that I’ve been put in for the rank of Corporal. That puts me right up there with Hitler and Napoleon. Ain’t it grand??? What’s more important, however, is that it’s been repeated that I would be leaving here on Feb. 5, at the very latest for the good old everlovin’ USA. I just hope to heaven that nothing at the last minute comes up and dashes everything to the ground. I note some Senators now saying that continuation of the draft is now unnecessary and other such crap. I tell you that if they stop it altogether it’ll mean just one thing and that is that fellows like me who’ve already served and fought will have to go right on serving with no hope of ever getting out for an indefinite period of time. That, while others who’ve never done anything for their country continue to get all the breaks. They keep hollering about all the men who are volunteering but they’ll never get enough to make any kind of an effective force that way.

The way some people talk you’d think that we were just a bunch of bums that everyone would rather have on that side of the world which is most distant from home. I hope that it’s not that way all over or it’s going to be pretty rough. During the war we were always so much more wonderful than we really were and now it seems that we’re a lot worse than we ever were. One fellow here received a letter from his sister in which she said that maybe all this killing has made him too hard to fit back into life at home. Pleasant, huh? That’s an extreme example of course, but I’ve heard other things that have hinted at the same thing.

I hear that so many veterans are going back to school that there are definite shortages of space, material and instructors at the colleges and universities in the whole US. Have there been any such signs at home? I’d like to get back to it as soon as possible and would hate to have to wait.

If I didn’t know better I’d think it was Infantry Day or something. Right now they’re playing the “Story of Roger Young” on the radio and it’s the third time that I’ve heard it today.

Well, it’s only 2 days until Christmas now and we’re having a four day holiday. Here that doesn’t mean much, however, since I will be working anyway. It’s better than sitting around feeling sorry for myself.

That’s all for tonight. I didn’t make it for Christmas but I should be home for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s too bad I’m not an Irisher. Oh well…….


Best Love,
Bill

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

About Letter 262


Bill notes that Giessen is "almost a 100th. Division camp. He runs into Col. Zehner, his old Battalion commander who asks him "How in hell did you ever get into this hole?" He is hopeful of receiving a promotion to Corporal but "I'm not depending on it though." He sees the movie "The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry".

Letter 262- December 15, 1945


December 15, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I really don’t feel like writing tonight but on the other hand I haven’t written in so long that I’ll feel like a heel if I don’t write. The entire situation boils down to the fact that I’m not getting any mail. Some of the boys haven’t had any mail in 9 weeks now and that is pretty bad. The Captain has written letters to practically everybody in the ETO trying to get a lead on the stuff but as of yet we’ve had no results. I guess that somewhere they don’t even know that there is a 1297 LSC. I really haven’t the slightest idea what’s going on but I do know one thing and that is that I don’t like it.

There’s one bright spot in this letter, however, and that is that to date I’ve received three packages from you. The only reason that I got them is that they were mailed to my old address in the 100th.

Talking about the old outfit reminds me. This town of Giessen is almost a 100th Div. camp. It seems that everybody who has shipped out of the outfit has sooner or later come to this hole in the wall. The other day I bumped into my old battalion commander, Col. Zehner. The first thing he said to me was “How in the hell did you ever get into this hole?” I guess we all have the same opinion regardless of our rank.

I went to the movies again tonight and saw “Uncle Harry” which was nothing exceptional. I thought that the cast was good but as usual Hollywood did things to the damn plot that made a mess out of it. About my only entertainment around here is the blooming movies so I wish they’d get something I could enjoy. Right now I am listening to the “New World Symphony” on the radio. Now that we have a radio here it’s a little less boring.

Here’s something that I hesitate to tell you………………….I’m still hesitating. No, on second thought I won’t tell you. I’m a cad, what? I will tell you about something that’s a little more certain, however; and that is that I’ve been put in for a rating. The captain has been hinting around about it for a week now and today he made it clear that I would go in for it. I’m not depending on it though. I’ve had too much experience with Bronze Stars and things. Anyway keep your fingers crossed and I may be T/5 or Cpl. Taylor one of these days. Not that it makes a helluva lot of difference. After having been in combat stripes don’t mean a damn thing among a group of men. Other people, however, believe that a person must not be much of a man unless he has his honor and courage stuck somewhere on the outside where it shows.

Well, here it is almost Christmas---nuff sed.

The replacements are pouring in but as yet we haven’t received any. Today I was driving along and picked up a couple of G.I.’s. As always my first question was “Well, when are you boys going home?” One of them says, “Christ, we only just got here. How many days have you been over here?” That stopped me cold. I mumbled something about as long as I can remember and went back to my driving.

That’s about all for tonight. I sure hope to get some mail before long so I can have something to write about.


Best Love,
Bill

Friday, September 3, 2010

About Letter 261


It's Tuesday night and Bill is on CQ again. He is his typical opinionated self. The weather is "lousy as usual". The Company Captain is a cousin of General Eisenhower "and he never lets a person forget it either." Yesterday Bill had to drive to Mannheim "just to have five minutes of work done on a sewing machine...wonderful, ain't it?" Today marks his 800th. day in the army.

Letter 261- December 11, 1945


December 11, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, it’s Tuesday night and I’m on CQ again. It seems that this is beginning to get to be a bad habit. One is supposed to be either a Cpl. or a Sgt. to pull CQ so I think that I’m getting the dirty end of the stick. Anyway here I sit in this dreary office looking at the posters on the wall which proclaim the Army Enlistment Program and other such repulsive things. I know that I should have a better reason to write you a letter than having nothing else to do but I’m afraid that’s the situation. I haven’t received any mail from you to this address as I suspected I would by now. I think there’s something phoney here in regards to that. None of the fellows in our group have been getting any mail at all for a damn longest time now. This Captain we have here always claims to be the top thing when it comes to efficiency, but I notice that he hasn’t done a damn thing about the mail. Oh well! He’ll be leaving pretty soon and the lieutenant that’s here to take his place is a pretty good guy. I get along good with the Captain as far as that goes but I don’t believe he’s got a helluva lot behind that eagle on his cap. He’s a cousin of General Eisenhower and he never lets a person forget it either. I think that everything would be fine if I only had the authority to tell him to get down off his high horse. He loves to start an argument with somebody and then when the other fellow puts him in his place he says “Don’t forget you’re talking to an officer.” He’s just another of these rear echelon commandos who cannot tell the difference between the armed civilian troops and the toy soldiers of the peace time army.

Well, now that I’ve vented my spleen on him I go on with the letter. The weather as usual is lousy. It snows all the time and it’s too cold to do much of anything. Boy, will I be glad to get back to good old Southern California. Some people may think that snow and ice are the berries but give me the good warm sunshine any time of the week. Probably it will be raining when you get this, but I’ll even take the rain in preference to this. I’m not doing a great deal these days. I drive maybe fifty or sixty miles a day as a rule but it never amounts to much. In between times I type out a few letters and that’s about all. This is all so useless though that I feel that it’s all a waste of time. You know anything to keep us in until they can get another war started with somebody. I honestly am beginning to believe that. I think that there definitely are some elements of the armed forces that are very unhappy over the pending reductions in rank and authority who would even be willing to plunge us into another war just to maintain their own personal power.

Had to drive over to Mannheim yesterday just to have five minutes work done on a sewing machine. Wonderful, ain’t it? The truck only burned up thirty-five gallons of gas going over there. Just another example of the way things are done.

All I’m hoping for now is that they put the two year plan for discharge into effect before I grow too old for the service. I don’t see why not now. There are many going home now who haven’t got as much service as I but who’ve been more fortunate on the battle star situation. Forty-seven points still doesn’t look too good but 26 months service does. Maybe I ought to start my letters like the Army Hour, you know, “On this my 800th day of service in the Army of the United States--.” By the way this is either my 799th day of agony or the 800th day of misery. I can’t quite figure it out.

Really that’s about all I can say. I haven’t seen any of those replacements that we’re supposed to get yet. I sure hope some of them come and replace me pretty soon.


Best Love,
Bill








(MY MY SO MUCH EMPTY PAPER)

Monday, August 30, 2010

About Letter 260


Bill notes the date saying, "Four years ago tonight I was saying it won't last. We'll clean 'em up in short order. HA! " In a moment of reflection he looks back saying, "I've done things during the last two years that I regret now...this war has caused all of us to do things that we'd never have thought of doing before but it's over now and everyone ought to get ahold of himself." Bill makes a comment about Shirley Temple's husband and opines about unions and Germany's military rationing system.

Letter 260- December 7, 1945


December 7, 1945
Geissen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, if you wish to shoot me when I get home you’ve got a perfect right to do so. I’m afraid to think back to the night that I last wrote you a letter. It must be somewhere back into the distant past. At any rate believe this. I’ve received no letters from you since I last wrote. But today, however, I hit the jackpot again. Five letters from you and one from Richard. By the way, Richard seems to be getting to be quite the man about town these days and Ben also if what Richard says is true. I can’t point back to a spotless career myself and I’ve done things during the last two years that I regret now, but I’ve never allowed anything to run away with me. I’m afraid that’s what’s happening with them. This war has caused all of us to do things that we’d have never thought of doing before but it’s over now everyone ought to get a hold of himself. On the other hand it’s none of my goddam business and I suppose I should keep my mouth shut.

Oh! I almost forgot. I received two packages from you today also. I got one with the hair tonic and another with food. Thanks a lot.

Things are about the same as ever which to use a different phraseology means-“confidentially it stinks.” The weather here is so cold that you’d think that Giessen was somewhere near the South Pole instead of in Germany. This same old routine is getting me down. I’m actually having it easy but the way I feel now about the army and the entire set up over here I just don’t give a damn. They’d better get all the combat men out of here before long if they don’t want some pretty strong opposition to everything they do. We’ve taken the kick in the pants for years now and never said a word but times are changing now. Which, by the way, reminds me. I see where Shirley Temple’s husband doesn’t have to come overseas now because he’s spent 21 grueling and dangerous months in that hell hole Santa Ana Army Air Base. You can be sure that we’re all shedding tears of sorrow for him now that he’s missed out on that long vacation in the Pacific.

It reminds me of some of the stuff we must suffer when we go to the movies. Always the heroine looks horrified at the hero and says. “No John, not overseas already.” Hollywood dramatizes itself right into a pickle with the G.I.’s.

Another thing I know you will feel good about is that the unions are doing the same thing. Some of the G.I.’s are still pro-unions but the difference in attitude since 1943 when I came into the army is terrific. Labor at home certainly seems to be cutting its own throat. They want a lot of money in their pockets even if the nation’s entire financial structure comes tumbling down on it. They should get a load of Germany. Only a strict military rationing system is holding the currency up. Take that away and the money wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s printed on. I sure don’t see any advantage in making a million dollars a day if it takes a million dollars a day to live.

That about does it I guess. It’s getting late and I still have work to type up before I go to bed.

Best Love,

Bill

P.S. Note the date. Four years ago tonight I was saying, ‘It won’t last. We’ll clean ‘em up in short order.