Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Quiz Sheet Deluxe- June 17, 1945


About Letter 206

Bill responds to an 86 question "Quiz Sheet Deluxe" written by his father designed to "get a whole lot of things [answered] -insignificant, and, otherwise that have been bothering us. I know you will appreciate just how quickly you can relief our minds on a lot of things."

Letter 206- June 26, 1945

June 26, 1945
(Nürtigen, Germany)

Dear Folks,

I answered this as well as I could and as truthfully as I could. I hope they satisfy your curiosity.

If you can get 2 C.I.B.’s do so and send me one preferably in some sort of letter.

Best Love,

P.S. Easiest letter I ever wrote.

“Quiz Sheet Deluxe”—attached here

About Letter 205

Under the misguided belief that he will not be with the Occupation forces Bill decides to apply for O.C.S. He sees "Skylark" with Claudette Colbert and Ray Milland. On Tuesday the unit is expected to return to Nurtigen.

Letter 205- June 24, 1945

June 24, 1945
(Göppingen, Ger.)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’ve been trying to get up enough energy to write for two days now but the weather is hot and sticky here right now and it just seems to take the pep right out of a body.

Someday, or rather sometime today I’m going down and make my O.C.S. application. I don’t know what the score is but I’m going to find out.

It seems pretty definite now that we’re not going to be occupation over here so I might as well make a stab at it. I’m getting rather up now with everything as it is.

If the O.C.S. doesn’t work out I should be home for 30 days sometime before Christmas. Otherwise things are pretty much the same here. On Tuesday we’re moving back to Nürtigen I believe. That will mean more training but less hikes, etc.

Last night I took in a show, “Skylark” with Claudette Colbert and Ray Milan. I enjoyed it although I didn’t think it remarkable.

I’ve had quite a number of snapshots taken during the last few days. I hope they come out so I can send them to you.

Well, this doesn’t make much of a letter but I guess that’s all anyway.

Best Love,

Sunday, March 28, 2010

About Letter 204

Bill has the good fortune to see a Russian show. "It was mostly Russian Swing and good. In fact, it was remarkable since only 6 weeks ago they were working in slave camps and had no orchestrated music." A Polish girl with a concentration camp "brand" on her left forearm put on a Spanish dance. After the show "a Russian girl in terribly broken English thanked us for releasing them. God! It made the tears come to everyone's eyes."

Letter 204- June 22, 1945

June 22, 1945
(Goppingen, Germany)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I know I haven’t written in a coon’s age but likewise I haven’t heard from you in a long time. The only difference is that I know you are writing even if I’m not getting any mail.

Last night we had some pretty wild weather here—especially for the first day of summer. We had an electrical storm and the wind blew so hard that a lot of glass was broken in this bloomin’ town. There wasn’t too much rain though. The Russians have been moving out for the past week now so every 5 minutes a G.I. truck swishes past covered with red flags and full of singing ‘Russkies”. I went into one of the camps after they left and boy did they leave it a mess. The Krauts had their volunteer fire brigade there all morning because they were afraid the Russians would set the “jernt” afire before they left. That afternoon I recruited my own little army of 25 firemen to keep the civilians and Pollocks out of the camp until the military govt. had made its inspection of the place.

Speaking of the Russians they put on a show for us the other evening. I went for lack of anything else to do but was certainly surprised by how good it was. It was mostly Russian swing and good. In fact, it was remarkable since only 6 weeks ago they were working in slave camps and even yet have no orchestrated music. As I said, it was mostly swing and gay Russian music—“Russian sailors dance, etc. with very good dancers; and a few off color jokes all of which goes over big with the G.I.’s. There was one Polish girl who put on a Spanish dance and one could see where her concentration camp number had been branded on her left forearm. After the show was over one Russian girl in terribly broken English thanked us for releasing them. God! It made the tears come to everyone’s eyes. You don’t have to worry about our relations with the Russians. The big shots may be having a tough time but the Russians here think that the average G.I. is about 2 removed from God. The average American, by merely being his own easy going friendly self is accomplishing more than all the treaties and conferences put together.

Last night’s S. & S. (Stars and Stripes) claimed that the Air Corps will run out of targets in Japan in about 3 months. It would sure be swell if they could knock her out by air. I can’t see how they’ll manage at all by the time the combined air fleets of the U.S. and Great Britain get working on them night and day if 450 plane raids are ruining them already.

Well that does it.

Best Love,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

About Letter 203

Bill is very interested to hear about Patton's visit to his home town of Los Angeles. He has returned to Goppingen, population 75,000. Bill notes the "extreme bitterness" over the Point System and what he says is indifference toward the combat infantry. "Bitter? Why not? The
Stars and Stripes announced tonight that 2/3 of our dead were infantrymen. Personally I don't think an infantryman lives long enough to get many points."

Letter 203- June 17, 1945

June 17, 1945
(Göppingen, Germany)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well today I received 3 very newsy letters from you which considerably helped brighten what would have been one stinko day.

I was very interested in your letter about Patton’s stay in L.A., especially since the Col. Elery Zehner (not Zuir) that you mentioned is my battalion commander. Anything he takes a bow for I’ve got a personal hand in. Modern air travel is really sumpin’ though. I spoke to Zehner one day and then about three days later he’s in my own home town. “Coises and Zounds”. Why ain’t I, ‘er sumpin’.

You’ll note I’m back in Göppingen after having been away. This is just a little temporary guard work. I’ll probably be back in Nürtingen before long. Göppingen, by the way is bigger than 30,000; about 75,000.

I’m glad you’ve been seeing the Cottles & Levinsons. I like them all.

I see where you’re somewhat disappointed over my lack of points—me too. Right now there is extreme bitterness in the Combat Infantry about it. I’ve even heard officers complain bitterly. One man said the only thing the Inf. has priority on is Purple Hearts—generally posthumously. The following is a piece from “YANK”—some romantic fool called the Inf. the “Queen of Battles”. We say he’s a liar. She’s just an old whore who’s flattered a bit, and is tossed a few pennies for her body but is shamefacedly set aside when her duties are no longer required.” Bitter? Why not? The Stars and Stripes announced tonight that 2/3 of our dead were Infantrymen. Personally I don’t think an Infantryman lives long enough to get many points.

It does hurt to see Ben with 65 points though. Not that I want him to get “skunked” but I don’t like to keep getting “skunked” myself. Not to keep “harping” on this same old subject but Maudlin put it aptly when he depicted the “chairborne paragraph” trooper telling the old Infantry man that his Combat badge didn’t count. What he needed was more of these battle participation stars, pointing at his own well tailored breast.

Don’t worry about the coins. They repose in a place of safety.

Well, that about does it for now.

Best Love,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

About Letter 202

Bill writes using official Nazi letterhead he believes to have belonged to a teacher association. He sarcastically remarks, "One doesn't have to be very intelligent to be a teacher over here-just follow the daily instructions-Adolf Hitler is our savior, Adolf Hitler is God!" He notes that "Bitche is correctly pronounced just what you think...and believe me it was a real bitch." Bill indicates to Mudder that he has no interest in O.C.S. saying, "it means an automatic transfer to the Pacific."

Letter 202- June 15, 1945

June 15, 1945
(Nürtingen, Germany)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Greetings and Salutations!

I’m writing you this letter thru the courtesy of the Nationalsozialislischer Lehrerbund—whatever that may be and I don’t give a good goddam. I think it’s a teacher association. One doesn’t have to be very intelligent to be a teacher over here—just follow the daily instructions—Adolf Hitler is our savior, Adolf Hitler is God! That is repeated to the little adolescent idiots 3472 times a day, thus producing in merely 10 short years a race of master morons. (Tenno heizo Bautzai) I’m learning Japanese.

I’m really sorry I haven’t been able to write in the last few days but as you can see we’ve been moving. Tomorrow I’m moving again back to Göppinger, but only for a few days. Nürtigen is a somewhat smaller, older town than Göppinger with some rather old buildings and part of what I believe is an old town wall. In the distance can be seen two very forbidding looking medieval castles or “Schloss” as they are called hereabouts. We’re living in an old school building.

As I’ve written before things are not happening very fast these days. Mostly it’s a matter of training and guard.

Oh, oh! Someone just brought in some Cognac. Excuse me. One doesn’t get much of a drink when the entire squad is battling over the bottle. Just as well, I suppose.

Bitche is correctly pronounced just what you think. (Bad English but pointed) When they try to clean it up they ain’t calling it by its correct name and believe me it was a “bitch”.

In several letters you’ve mentioned O.C.S. Well I don’t know about it. I know that I’ll never get very far in this outfit—too many non-coms anyway, but O.C.S. means automatic transfer to the Pacific while there is a good chance of occupation for this outfit.

I thought the Alumni Dinner card was rather cute considering.

I’ve got lots more to write but I’ll give it to you tomorrow.

Best Love,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

About Letter 201

Bill sends home the booklet "The Story of the Century" which describes the 100th. Division's Rheinland campaign. "It's a good booklet, of course it doesn't cover the little the day when our platoon was caught by the cross fire of 3 machine guns outside of Bitche and I lay on the open ground watching machine gun slugs tear up the ground two feet from my face, or the next day when 7 Jerry tanks opened up on us with direct fire."

Letter 201- June 10, 1945

June 10, 1945

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Just yesterday I received a letter from you asking what action I had been in and so forth. The bulletins that have been put out concerning this up ‘til now have been pretty hazy. However, today they handed us the enclosed booklet. It covers pretty well our Rhineland campaign but doesn’t cover the South German action. Of course, it dwells on our breaking of the Maginot Line in the Bitche area to the greatest extent because it was our most remarkable feat and also it was there that we earned the title of “Sons of Bitche” from the rest of the A.E.F and “Bloody Underpaid Butchers of Bitche” by Herr Gobbels propaganda ministry. There were quite a few dead Jerries thereabout. All in all it’s a good booklet. Of course it doesn’t cover the little instances that were so all fired important to each of us as individuals like the day when our platoon was caught by the cross fire of 3 machine guns outside of Bitche and I lay on the open ground watching machine gun slugs tear up the ground two feet from my face or the next day when 7 Jerry tanks opened up on us with direct fire. I do believe that picture on the inside of the cover will give you some idea of the cold.

I’ll try and write again tomorrow.

Best Love,

About Letter 200

Bill notes that it has been one year since D Day. "God, what a year it's been! Sometimes I wonder if I'm the same person that waved goodbye to you from that train nearly a year ago. I've crammed a helluva lot of living into the last year."
He concocts a wild scheme to"lick Japan without invading" using high altitude gas spray. He tells the folks to expect a variety of packages soon, including an electric train.

Letter 200- June 5, 1945

June 5, 1945

Dear Mudder and Dad,

A year ago tonight I went to the show with you, Mudder; and we came home to learn the great long awaited invasion of Western Europe had taken place. I remember you said something about how glad you were that I was home and not “over there”. God! What a year it’s been! Camp Reynolds, Shanks, New York, the Queen Mary, Scotland, England, France, Belgium, Germany, Paris. Something that wouldn’t happen in a lifetime ordinarily crammed into weeks, days, seconds. So much has happened and yet it’s only been 1 year. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the same person that waved goodbye to you from that train nearly a year ago. I’ve crammed a helluva lot of living into the last year. For the most part it wasn’t pleasant living. I hope it hasn’t changed me too much.

“Happy Birthday”, Dad. It’s a somewhat belated greeting, I know; but—no excuse. You mentioned something about my being home for your vacation. I sure wish I could but that’s how it goes. Maybe I’m better off where I am. (ANY DISSIMILARITY BETWEEN EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHICS AND MY HANDWRITING IS PURELY COINCIDENCIAL)

I have just figured out a way to lick Japan without invading. It’s gas—not used as one naturally thinks against cities and such but rather as a high altitude spray—it would hardly be effective against human beings but against livestock and especially against Japan’s waterborne rice crop it would be devastating. I’m going to submit this idea to the “Stars and Stripes” and wait for the kickback I’ll get from the old “biddies”—“Oh how inhuman. How could you think of such a ghastly thing?” They would rather see our boys die by the thousands storming the shores of Japan. The ones who have to do the dying ought to be asked.

Before long you’re going to begin to get some packages from me, I hope. Don’t be too surprised at what comes. For instance; one linen tablecloth 160 cm x 160 cm and six large napkins, one electric train, gauge ‘oo’minus the engine (that’s for me after the war) and I’m still trying to find something unique for you, Dad. Maybe one of those German pipes the bowl of which sits on the floor while you smoke. No, huh? Well, I’ll get something good! At the rate the fellas are going over here they’ll have all Germany bought and sent home in 40 pound packages in a few months. I couldn’t resist the electric train. It’s one of the best in the world. Cost about $75.00 in the states—cost me $7.30; has automatic switches, uncoupler and signals. The cars are what is of interest though. They are purely German; quaint little things with even the usual run of advertising on the sides of the boxcars. Even if I must buy an American engine for it, it will be still authentic since 50% of European railways these days are using American locomotives.

That about does it.

Best Love, Bill

Monday, March 15, 2010

About Letter 199

The "Jerries" are being let out of the camps by the thousands. Bill is irked because the officers are allowed to carry pistols and every 50th enlisted man can carry a rifle. With disgust he exclaims, "Sometimes I wonder why the hell I fought." He makes an interesting find, a leather change case on a vacant lot. It contains a variety of interesting coins dating to 1624. The war news tells of the B-29 bombing of Yokohama. Rumors of redeployment are rife but the men are told that "we may be here for a long time."

Letter 199- May 30, 1945

May 30, 1945

Dear Mudder and Dad,

This morning I got to thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve written you a letter and I’ve got to say that it made me just a little ashamed. I guess that I’ve been too interested in going to the movies, swimming and so forth. What even makes it worse is the fact that I’m receiving your letters now within 7 days. According to the “Stars and Stripes” it’s flown all the way now and service may be even quicker now. Yesterday I received mail from you post-marked in North Hollywood on the 22nd. That’s really traveling.

Everything is about the same as before here. Yesterday we got shots—no yellow fever, and now ma (southern accent) left arm is stiff as a board.

They’re letting Jerries out of the camps by the thousands now & what gets me down is that the officers all are allowed to carry pistols and every 50th. enlisted man can carry a rifle. Sometimes I wonder why the hell I fought.

I hate to think of some of our boys getting murdered some dark night by those very same weapons.

We have a swimming pool in our company area now and yesterday I took a swim. It was nice but the weather is still a little too cool.

I found something very interesting yesterday or rather the day before. I took some papers out in a vacant lot to burn and on the ground I saw a brown little leather change case. It was in miserable shape and as I picked it up to throw in the fire it was heavy. When I opened it I found a odd assortment of old coins, the oldest of which dates to 1671—no by God, a little brass coin here in front of me says 1624—321 years old. I’ll put it in the letter. Several of the coins date back to the Napoleonic Wars but the most interesting of all is an American “half-dime” dated 1857, and again there is a Civil War “brass” Indian head penny. You’ll note that the coin I’m sending you was clipped by some 17th. Century crook. He probably ended up on a noose.

In front of me now is a half a dozen or so letters from you I need to answer. Oh! Oh! I guess that thing you’re most interested in is if and when I go into the Pacific. There are rumors galore but we’ve been told to settle down as we may be here for a long time. Good, huh?

Right now I can hear the radio down stair raving about the blasting of Yokohama. Evidently “allies ist kaput” both in Tokyo and Yokohama.

If this keeps up all the Japs will be sleeping in their rice paddies by the late summer.

Well, that’s about –30—

Best Love, Bill

About Letter 198

Bill comes off guard duty at a military hospital caring for paralyzed S.S. troops saying, "I'd like to shoot the lot of 'em--still cocky as hell." The routine is monotonous , "we train and guard, eat and sleep." The only action is when "the 'Ruskies' (Russian slave labor) gets on a drunk and start beating one another over the head with vodka bottles."

Letter 198- May 21, 1945

May 21, 1945
(Göppingen, Germany)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Received your letter of May 2, today, Mudder. Damn this postal service anyway. Nineteen or twenty days is just too damn long. Anyway I just came off guard duty at a military hospital here in town. Paralyzed S.S. troops. I’d like to shoot the lot of ‘em—still cocky as hell. But that’s getting away from the main subject. It’s raining like all hell so I thought there couldn’t be a better time to write a letter. Just the same as yesterday, we train and guard, eat and sleep. Once in a while we have a little action when the “Ruskies” (Russian slave labor) gets on a drunk and start beating one another over the head with vodka bottles; but all in all there’s little to break the monotony. I love it though.

I was sorry to hear that Ben had been wounded. I wouldn’t take that War Dept. telegram too literally, however. Anything more than a little scratch is a serious wound in their estimation.
So they’re still piddling around with the settlement of the estate. I wonder if any of us will live long enough to get any good from it. Maybe my great-great grandchildren will be the ones to reap the benefits. As the French say—“No compris American bulls_ _ _.” Me neither.

They’re beginning to hand out passes to places all over Europe now—Paris, Brussels, Nice, Rome, England, etc. and in such quantities that maybe before too long I can get to go somewhere again. I hope.

Chow here is getting fierce—beans, beans, beans and boiled water (coffee it says here). I don’t know what’s wrong. Can’t blame the cooks. They can’t cook with what they ain’t got.

That about does it for today. Good evening, Auf Wiedersehen and stuff like that there.

Best Love,

Saturday, March 13, 2010

About Letter 197

Censorship has ended. Bill reveals that “I’m located in a small town named Göppingen about halfway between Ulm and Stuttgart." Life is "Heaven. No machine guns, 88's, burp guns and so forth." Bill is learning to speak "pretty good German." He receives 34 points under the system established to determine when a soldier is reassigned to stateside duty. He needs 85 points.

Letter 197- May 20, 1945

May 20, 1945
(Göppingen, Germany)

Dear Folks,

Today I received my first letter from you in over a week. I haven’t been writing for just that reason. It’s wrong, I know; but when I don’t get mail I just can’t seem to think of anything.

Censorship has just come to an end over here, sooo--. I’m located in a small town named Göppingen about halfway between Ulm and Stuttgart. We are living swell in houses—new modern, mostly the homes of German army officers. We don’t do much but guard and train. They would have movies and so forth but it seems that they move us every time we get settled.

Boy, this is the life though. You know what this last month or so has been to me? Heaven. No machine guns, 88’s burp guns and so forth. From Bitche to Heilbronn I never got a good sleep, but now—ahh.

Got my points today but we don’t talk about that. (34) C.B.I. here I come, Japs look out-und so weiter!

I’m getting so I can speak pretty good German. Kommen Sie hier! Sitzens sich Austehen! Raus mit Ihnen Halt! Deutschland ist kaput. I scare ‘em to death, the b_ _ _ _ _ _ ds. I love ‘em though—all those under 3 years old.

Next to the French I hate them best. By the way, you heard about Stuttgart. I was ashamed at what we allowed them to do there. It’d make your hair stand on end. In the next war the German rallying cry will probably be, “Remember Stuttgart.”

Gotta close now.

Best Love,

About Letter 196

With the cessation of hostilities Bill and his company are settling into mundane activity, " Just the same old routine-like close order drill and so forth." It's Mother's day, 1945 and one can only imagine the relief and gratitude "Mudder" must feel seeing her only child survive the battle for Europe unhurt. Still, the specter of redeployment hangs in the air.

Letter 196- May 13, 1945

May 13, 1945

Dear Mudder,

This is Mother’s Day and I didn’t even think about it until I wrote down the date on the top of the letter. Being Sunday this has been a day of rest so to speak. I’ve been washing and pressing my clothes and so forth all day. I should look pretty sharp by tonight.

All day we’ve been hearing rumors and so forth about the point system, discharge, redeployment, furloughs and what not. First it’s one story and then it’s another. I don’t believe any of them. All I hope is that I get a furlough before paying a visit to the Far East. Oh well! C’est la guerre—dammit!

It’s really hard to write anything when I’m not doing a damn thing that amounts to anything. Just the same old routine—like close order drill and so forth. Every day it’s the same thing.
Moreover, I haven’t received any mail from you for about a week. I don’t know what is wrong but no one seems to be getting mail.
Since my mind is such a blank I guess I’ll have to close this note.

Best Love,

Monday, March 8, 2010

About Letter 195

It's V-E Day+3 and Bill is philosophical. "It's hard to believe that the war here is really over. To tell you the truth there's been a 'helluva' lot of times when I've seriously doubted that I'd be alive to see this day. After having gone through that there's certainly no doubt in my mind about there being a God. Shrapnel and machine gun bullets can just miss a person so many times and still remain in the realm of coincidence."

Letter 195- May 11, 1945

May 11, 1945 (V-E+3)

Dear Mudder and Dad,
I know I’ve been neglecting you “sumpin” fierce for the last few days and if you’re mad I don’t blame you in the least. I did write you a letter on V-E Day but the paper was so thick that I couldn’t get the damn thing into any envelope I could find.

Well, the great day has come and gone. On V-E night I believe 99.44% of everybody in the E.T.O. was plastered—even the kraut civilians. I guess everyone is happy that the thing is finished. To quote a popular G.I. phrase—“all is Kaput fur Deutschland.”

Considering the fact that we were fighting so bitterly such a short time ago, it’s awfully hard to believe that the war here is really over. To tell you the truth there’s been a “helluva” lot of times when I’ve seriously doubted that I’d be alive to see this day. After having gone through that there’s certainly no doubt in my mind about there being a God. Shrapnel and machine gun bullets can just miss a person so many times and still remain in the realm of coincidence.

Right now I’m in a small town “Somewhere in Germany” and it seems there’s a good chance of my staying here even as long as a year. I hope so. It’s about time combat troops got a break.

Last night they announced the point system and there’s a good chance of me getting my discharge sometime in the fall of nineteen-eleventy five; that’s if I’m lucky. I’m not complaining though as long as they keep me on this side of the world. I hope, I hope, I hope.

We’re quickly adjusting ourselves to garrison life. Military courtesy, clean uniforms, clean shaves, this and that. You know Harvard School stuff. Not that it isn’t a very good thing, but after living like a bum for months it’s a bit confusing to say the least—but I love it. I don’t care how tough they get with us. The toughest training schedule in the world would be a picnic as compared to our lines.

I’m due to get new clothes in a few days—clean new trousers and shirt, shiny shoes, overseas cap, Eisenhower jacket, the works—Boy! Will I slay ‘em. That’s what it takes to impress these dumb Jerries. The fact that we chewed up one German army after another doesn’t mean a thing. We’re not good soldiers if we don’t wear a snazzy uniform. What jerks! When I get the outlay I’ll have a snapshot taken and send it to you.

That about does it. I know you feel as happy as I do right now and let’s hope all the Japs slit their throats to save their faces so we’ll be together again in the near future.

Best Love, Bill

Sunday, March 7, 2010

About Letter 194

The war news is coming at a furious rate now. Bill hears of the German surrenders in Italy and the fall of Berlin. In a sure sign that combat is over Company A and Company B play a baseball game. Bill complains that "the kids here are pestering me something fierce, "every two minutes they come and hand me a couple of Jerry bullets that the Krauts left behind in their haste."

Letter 194- May 3, 1945

May 3, 1945

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’m standing guard this morning which entails doing practically nothing so I figured that it would be a good time to get a letter off to you.

We seem to be having a bad cold spell here with frost and even an occasional flurry of snow. It’s pretty cheesy weather for May at any rate. Of course it’s pretty nice when we go on a hike but otherwise I don’t like it. When I think of last winter, however, it seems pretty tame.

The setup here is pretty nice—good houses, meals, shower baths and generally peaceful atmosphere.

Last night after I sent my letter we heard of the surrender of the Italian forces, or rather the German armies in Italy and the fall of Berlin. It must be all over but the shouting.

The kids here are pestering me something fierce. Every two minutes they come and hand me a couple of Jerry bullets that the Krauts left behind in their haste.

Yesterday A Company had a baseball game with B Co. We lost. It was a lot of fun though. I was lousy. I never could bat but now I couldn’t do “nuttin’”. I haven’t had a ball in my hand for such a long time.

I can’t think of anything else to write. Isn’t it awful? If they keep me in this blooming army much longer I won’t know my own name. There’s two Taylors in the squad now and I’m getting so I answer to the name Powell too. It’s on the back of my helmet liner and everyone who doesn’t know me just takes it for granted that I’m Powell.

Well, I think I’ll try to get something on the radio.

Bestus Love,

Friday, March 5, 2010

About Letter 193

Bill receives the news over Radio Hamburg that Hitler is dead. "Achtung! Achtung! Unser Furher, Adolf Hitler ist gefallen." His terse comment is "Strange and simple. Twelve years of tyranny gone in a few words."

Letter 193- May 2, 1945

May 2, 1945

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Heil Hitler the dog is dead!!! I remember that as being the punchline to a joke and it seems appropriate now. Last night I heard the first announcement of his death over Radio Hamburg. I pride myself that I was able to translate it from the German. “Achtung! Achtung! Unser Furher, Adolf Hetter ist gefallen”. Strange and simple. Twelve years of tyranny gone in a few words. Tonight we understand the old S.O.B. died of a brain hemorrhage. No heroes’ death. Tonight the entire Wehrmacht appears to be dying. All German troops on the Italian Front have just surrendered unconditionally. Three German Field Marshalls, including Von Rundstedt himself, have been captured within the last 48 hours. When you get this letter it will be ancient history but now it’s all too much to take in. The war here must end in a few days at most and then I’ll be “sweating out the C.B.I. (China Burma India). So much has happened recently that it’s just too much.

Well, I haven’t received any mail from you for several days now but I guess we’re using so many trucks for hauling Kraut prisoners to the rear there aren’t any left to carry mail. That’s okay with me. It’s not bad, however, since I’m now in training again—just like the States. Really life is pretty pleasant these days. It’s nice to be a human being once again.

I really don’t know what else to write. I am well. I’ll write a good letter tomorrow.

Best Love,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

About Letter 192

In this expansive letter Bill expresses his scorn for those people back in the states who say "go get 'em boys! Show 'em what you're made of". "If they only knew how desperately scared we are at times like that they'd keep their big mouths shut." Bill says "that's why the average doughboy had such a great affection for Ernie Pyle. He knew how miserable war is and wasn't afraid to admit he was scared."

Letter 192- April 28, 1945

April 28, 1945
Somewhere in Deutschland

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I just received 4 letters from you and my only complaint is that the damn things don’t come in the right order. First I get one letter dated the 17th. or 18th. of the month then in a few days I get letters dated the 6, 13, 15, und so weiter—how do you like the Jerry lingo? If I stay over here much longer you won’t be able to tell me from the rest of the lousy Krauts—I hope not. It gives me a laugh to hear all the places the news commentators put this outfit. We’d have to have wings to be all those places. That doesn’t burn me up though it’s just these people back in the states who say, “go get ‘em, boys! Show ‘em what you’re made of.” If they only knew how desperately scared we are at times like that they’d keep their big mouths shut. They ought to come here and try it out. I think that’s why the average doughboy had such great affection for Ernie Pyle. He knew how miserable war is and wasn’t afraid to admit he was scared—flag waving heroics from the sideline is just plain bad taste.

I’m sorry that my combat badge won’t be in with the rest of those souvenirs. Here’s the story. I lent the badge to a buddy of mine to wear to Paris. While he was there he was approached by another palooka from my platoon who told him that I said he could borrow it. Well, that’s alright but the palooka then proceeds to get sick and go to the hospital. That doesn’t bring my badge back, however. I figure I can get my C.O. to write a note as you once suggested, but I’m still sore.

I’m getting all set for garrison life, training schedule, pressed uniform, newly painted helmet, etc. I sure hope it lasts a long time. There was a report tonight that Hitler offered to surrender unconditionally to the Western allies but not Russia. With “fat stuff” resigning “á la bad heart” the Jerries must be pretty well finished. That they continue to resist at all is stupid. It’s a far cry from the summer of 1942 isn’t it?

You don’t have to worry about me falling for one of these Kraut heifers. I see an American girl around here every now and then and they make these fraus and freuleins look pretty damn sick even if our girls are dressed in khaki. It is strange to see these Red Cross girls though dressed in OD’s, combat boots, field jackets and steel helmets.

Some people have all the luck. Dude Robinson in my humble opinion hasn’t got enough brains to come in out of the rain yet he gets this swell deal out of the A.S.T.P. What do I get—glory—phooey—two phooeys. Of course, I’m grateful that I’m alive a kicking. Considering everything that’s remarkable, but still…..

I was sorry to hear about Freddie Brennen—first mission too. There’s always something pitiful about being cut off so damn short.

No! I wasn’t part of the gang that took that outfit of Jerries who were running that “horror camp.” I believe that if my outfit had caught those birds there wouldn’t be anyone left to try.

You don’t have to worry about me endangering myself by getting souvenirs the hard way. I’m just a scavenger at heart—that’s all. Someday I’ll tell you about Aunt Marge.

I saved this for last. I got packages yesterday. The orange loaf was so strong that it was just about ready to start taking vitamin pills. Everything else was O.K. though and Jesse’s candy all right.

That does it.

Bestus Love,

About Letter 191

Bill is safe, warm and dry. He says with satisfaction "I move around and can't hear the 88's and burp guns." He is recommended for the Bronze Star but doubts that he will get it. In a sign that combat is over he expects to get K.P in a few days, the first in more than 6 months.

Letter 191- April 26, 1945

April 26, 1945

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Everything around here is nice and quiet now, the payday poker game is all over, most everyone is asleep, I just found some stationery and some ink—put it all together and a letter is inevitable. I even have a “conquered” German pen that writes half way decently. All in all everything seems pretty copisidec, copesedic--I got a “helluva” nerve trying to use those two-bit words.

It looks like rain outside but I should worry. I shouldn’t say that. There’s a lot of fellows over here that aren’t in houses and for their sake I hope it doesn’t rain. As for myself I’m back for a rest of undetermined length of time; the longer the better. I move around and can’t hear the “88’s” and “burp guns”. I’m quite satisfied.

Here’s something that will give you a laugh. I’ve been recommended for the Bronze Star. I doubt very seriously whether I will get it but anyway I’ve been recommended.

If this army doesn’t stop getting all bawled up I’ll be a millionaire before this war is over. When I went to Paris I drew $30.oo partial payment for expenses. Therefore, I went to get paid today without any hope of getting money. However, they paid me anyway. Later on they called me over to the C.P. and paid me again--???!! Since I have no aversion to money, I said nothing.

I think I’m going to get K.P. in a few days. It’s been better than 6 months since I last had it so it’ll be quite an experience.

That about does it so--

Best Love,