Wednesday, March 3, 2010

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 “รก 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,


  1. "Fat stuff" probably refers to Herman Goering.

    Wearing medals and badges on leave became a real underground economy among GIs. The Combat Infantryman's Badge that Bill mentions was probably the most coveted hence the extensive borrowing. They didn't give out duplicates for that reason.

    GIs on leave even went through waves of style on leave depending on coverage in the papers and news magazines. If the most recent stories extolled the glamor of the Air Corps rear-echelon men affected sunglasses and leather jackets. If the infantry received press they bought and traded field jackets, even damaged ones. This was most often attributed to the clerks and jerks, but as Bill recounts, members of a combat unit were not above "dressing up."

  2. Ernie Pyle was a travel writer who became a war correspondent and stared covering the regular soldier while in North Africa. He described their lives and their war far from the press briefings from the generals and he endeared himself to soldiers and sailors as well as to their families. He received a Pulitzer Prize in 1944.

    His columns were published in four books which remain excellent reading.

    Ernie was killed in 1945 on the island of Ie Shima in the Pacific showing just how far forward he traveled to get his stories. Wikipedia has a good article on Ernie.

  3. I am touched by Bill's admission of how scared the men were at times of battle and his heartfelt tribute to Ernie Pyle. It sure makes those old John Wayne movies seem silly and trite.

    I once had an original issue copy of one of the Ernie Pyle books. It was in my father's library. Sadly, I left it in my hotel room a number of years ago while traveling on business.
    This letter inspires me to purchase all four of the books.


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