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.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

About Letter 259


Bill is keeping busy acting as Co. Clerk and driving a truck. The future remains unclear as "the Point System is going to the dogs." He runs into a civilian employee who comes from North Hollywood and "in fact he lives only a few blocks from us." Bill closes with a sketch of the castle at Weinheim that is adorned with "advertising" from the 84th. Division "Rail Splitters".

Letter 259- December 2, 1945


December 2, 1945
Giessen, Germany

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I know what you are thinking about now. Why hasn’t that no good unfilial brat written a letter in so long? Well, it’s like this. I’ve been working like the very devil for the last week and I’ve hardly had time to shave much less write. They’ve got me acting as Co. clerk as well as drive a truck. Right now I should be hauling some trash but I’ve managed to put it off in order to write this letter. Yesterday I received a whole mess of back mail so I at least have something to write about.

I received the stuff from Matson’s as well as a dozen or so letters and so I spent half a day trying to read them all between runs with the truck. The ribbons look swell on my jacket and there’s been some comment about the Victory ribbon. The only outfit that has had them issued to date is USFET itself. Now if that Bronze Star would only come through I’d look like a blooming Christmas tree.

What really hurt about the letters though was the fact that you were counting so much on the fact that that I might have been able to get home with the Division. Apparently some of my more dampening were slow about getting to you so the situation continued to look quite rosy. That the way it goes in this army, however. I honestly believe that there are a lot of people around here that enjoy letting a person get his hopes up only to dash them down again.

I suppose I have no real reason to complain at that. The work is hard here for the army but on the other hand it’s quite instructive and I’m learning to do a great many new things. Of course, the thing I really want to do is come home as soon as possible.

The way things are shaping up at the present time it’s difficult to tell what’s in store for the immediate future. The way the point system is going to the dogs in a big way at the present time and so we don’t know what comes next. They’re all up in the air at the present time about the way the MG’s are going to the dogs but what the hell can they expect. No officer or EM with any ability at all is going to get himself mixed up with that bunch of 8-balls. The Military Government has for the last six months been stepping on the rest of the army’s toes just to make things easier for themselves with the Krauts over here.

In the next few days I should begin receiving mail from you direct to this address. That’ll be a lot better than not getting any mail for 3 weeks and then getting it all at once.

I ran into a fellow over at one of the giant ordinance depots near here yesterday that comes from North Hollywood. In fact he lives only a few blocks from us. He’s a civilian now but is staying over here in order to take a job with the American Legion in Switzerland. He is quite an automotive expert and he believes that there will be a great amount of American interests there which will mean something for the man that stays over here. As far as I’m concerned he can have it just as long as they send me home. But anyway I became quite chummy with him and he said that he’d gladly work on any of our vehicles at any time. Considering how difficult it is as the present time to get work done that seems a godsend. So now I’m the fair haired boy around here insofar as the Captain is concerned. It never hurts you know to smooth the way a little.

This picture below is an actual representation of what I say recently at Weinheim, Germany. The American love of advertising has not been lost.

Outside of that there’s nothing much else to say so I guess that’s all for tonight.

-30-

(sketch here)



Best Love,
Bill

Saturday, August 21, 2010

About Letter 160- Mudder to Bill


This letter, which never reached Bill and was returned as "undeliverable" is the only known letter from "Mudder" included in this collection. She has lost all interest in Christmas now that it is certain Bill will not be home. Mudder is puzzled about a wooden crate they received in the mail marked as from Bill which contained "one very swell vacuum cleaner" and speculates that it must have been sent to the wrong address. (note: In fact Bill did send it and eventually the vacuum cleaner ended up with Bill and his new family after the war. As a child I distinctly remember it being used by my mother and, believe it or not, she told me recently that after all these years she still has it buried away with the junk in her garage-Greg Taylor). In closing Mudder sends a newspaper clipping of a Drew Pearson article on "the caste system in the navy".

Letter 160 (Mudder to Bill) November 26, 1945


Monday-November 26th. 1945
North Hollywood, California
Letter # 160

Dearest Bill,

Just finished wrapping some Christmas presents to send back east to Jess, Mother, Kim and Kitt. I went down town this morning and bought them. It certainly is hard for me to bother with any idea of Christmas. I lost all interest in it when I learned that you were not coming home and now all I want is to get it behind me. I don’t even want to think about it. Tonight they said that all men with fifty-five points would be home for Christmas and all men with forty or over would be home shortly after New Years. If they could do that they could let you come home before Christmas but that might look as though they were giving the fighting men a little consideration and of course, they wouldn’t want to appear in that light.

When I got home I looked for mail but he had not been around. I had a cigarette and sat around for a while and then he came and brought your letter of the 17th. I was sorry that you had not been receiving our letters but you know we are really writing them and we also sent your campaign ribbons. They were sent on the 25th of October and you must have them by now. However, don’t worry about them because we still have the letter of authorization and if they don’t come through we will get them again for you.

The thing that really has us going now is the vacuum cleaner. We are inclined to think there is a mistake somewhere. You speak of a package with things and I know that you mentioned a cigarette case, your pictures that were taken in Paris, your little engine and other things in one of your letters. The package containing those things have not arrived but we certainly are in possession of one very swell vacuum cleaner. I feel sure that you would have mentioned it if you sent it so just what if anything has happened? Your name was written all over the crate (wood) and Lt. Shemwell passed the contents. If it is a mistake I don’t see just how it happened. It is not a bad swap because I could sell it tomorrow for all kinds of money. They are among the hardest things to get but if you did not send it and had a lot of valuable things in another package I would rather have that. Is there any way you could check up from your end? Perhaps you know who bought a vacuum cleaner if you did not and he may have your things. If you can’t check up from your end I have a way to do it here. We have your roster and could send a letter or card to each member of your outfit asking about it. That might get results as I’m sure whoever got it would rather have what they bought.

It is too bad that you could not attend the party of the 100th but I don’t blame you for not wanting to hitch-hike for that distance. It would have to be some party and I suppose it was but I still doubt if it would be worth that much effort.

Apropos of your remarks about the Third Infantry Division and their MP’s- I am enclosing an article of Drew Pearson’s on the caste system in the Navy. Boy, are these services having a time selling the boys on re-enlistment. Phooey! says most of them. I guess it’s worse in the Navy than in the Army.

I do hope that your mail is reaching you by now. There are so many things that we will be looking for answers about- the VC, the Ribbons and Ex. Rfm. Badge etc. Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait.

Thatz’s all for tonight. I liked your description of Giessen and the historical background.



Bestus love and kisses,
Mudder

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

About Letter 258


Its Bill's third consecutive holiday season away from home. Thanksgiving dinner was swell..."the whole works. You should have seen the Kraut cooks when we dived into that meal. I thought they were going to burst with pride." The weather is miserable "as bad or worse than England." Bill congratulates Mudder and Dad on their wedding anniversary.

Letter 258- Thanksgiving Day 1945


Thanksgiving Day 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, its 9 o’clock at night and Thanksgiving is practically over with. Down the road a piece from here is a large apartment building with a company or so of Infantry living there and tonight when I passed there coming back from the movies I saw them unloading fresh cut Christmas trees so I guess that the Christmas season is just around the corner. These other holidays don’t mean a great deal to me but I really dread Christmas. In ’43 at Camp Abbot I was miserable. Last year at Bitche I was so miserable anyway that I didn’t know the difference. And so it goes. At least I’m reasonably sure that this will be my last Christmas away from home for a while.

In some ways I feel sorry for the fellows that are going home with the 100th. They’re going to come close to making it but I doubt if any of them will be actually home Christmas Day. We really had a swell dinner today anyway. The whole works and you should have seen the Kraut cooks when we dived into that meal. I thought they were going to bust with pride. I gotta hand it to them. They worked like slaves all last night to get that meal out and they really did themselves proud.

Still no mail and I’m getting sunk down to the point where I can just barely see over the bow in my shoelaces. It’s been practically two weeks now since I’ve received a letter. There’s no use griping though because all the griping I’ve done in the past two years seems to have fallen on deaf ears. They’re still running the thing the way I think it shouldn’t be run.

I’m beginning to get over this damn cold that’s been plaguing me for the last week anyway. That good old “Deutch Klima” is slowly exterminating the AEF. I think they must be supermen to live in this climate because it’s as bad or worse than England and that is saying a lot. I’ve been here two weeks now and I’ve yet to see the sun. I still doubt that they have one in this part of the country.

There’s something I want to tell you but I’m keeping my yap shut for once because every time I’ve had good news for you before the boomin’ things have blown up in my face.

I hope you’ll excuse some of the lousy English and spelling in this letter. The typewriter that I’m using is one of those noiseless affairs that you have to jump up and down on the keyboard in order to put enough weight on the keys.

That’s it I guess. Hope you spent an enjoyable Thanksgiving as well as a happy wedding anniversary.

Best Love,
Bill

Saturday, August 14, 2010

About Letter 257


Bill writes this letter in the form of an Inter Office Memo on the subject: "Laxity of Mail Clerks in the European Theatre." In addition to mail woes he is learning the art of being a temporary Company Clerk, hence the formal letter format. The weather is foul but at least Bill has an indoors job. For the first time the men are hearing that stateside replacements are in training to take over Occupation duties.

Letter 257- November 24, 1945



HEADQUARTERS
1297 LABOR SUPERVISION COMPANY
APO 758 US ARMY

24 November 1945

SUBJECT: Laxity of Mail Clerks in the European Theatre.

To: Mr. and Mrs. Wm. W. Taylor, Sr. 12928 Bloomfield St.

North Hollywood, California, U.S.A

1. Where is my mail? That’s the question that has been on everyone’s lips for the last two weeks. I honestly think that I’m no longer in Germany. It’s the same way with everything and everybody. Everything is in such a state that we don’t know what is coming next. Some of our fellows haven’t had any mail in nine weeks so I guess that I’m the lucky one.

2. Well, temporarily anyway I’m Company Clerk in this company. It’s not a tough job by any means but I’m not up on the army method of doing things so very well yet, so I have quite a bit of studying to do. You’ll note the form of this letter. That’s just a sample of it. It’s not difficult but as an old gun slinger I’m still a little confused or should I say confoozed.

3. Nothing much doing here right now but the place is operating with too few men so everyone is kept fairly well occupied. There’s one thing I can say about this job and that is that it is indoors. The weather is getting fouler all the time so indoors is a good place to be. I sure wish now that I could type the right way. I can type reasonably fast, but after a full day my fingers feel as if an elephant had been trompin’ on them.

4. The thinning out process over here is moving right aalong. Is that English I’m writing? There seems to be more troops than ever in the big cities but very few in the cow towns. For the first time since the war ended we’re beginning to get some dope on replacements. We’re having men assigned to us right now that are still in the states taking basic training. That in itself makes us breathe a little easier.

5. Tomorrow’s Sunday and a day off but tonight I’m on C.Q. so I can’t go out. Not that there is anything to go out for but a person likes to feel that he can go out if he wishes even if there isn’t any reason for it. They’ve opened up a new Red Cross Club in town and it’s really nice. It has a library, coffee shop, game rooms, reading rooms, and a music room. They even have pin ball machines there.

6. I don’t know that there’s much more to write tonight. In fact I’m not sure when I’ll be able to send this right away. The mail clerk hasn’t been able to get any stamps at the POST OFFICE even for the last few days.



Best Love,

WILLIAM W. TAYLOR, JR.
Pfc. Inf.
Demanding


WWT/wwt

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

About Letter 256


Bill is "getting along fine" in his new job supervising German laborers. He has heard a number of interesting stories from them, particularly the sailors whom he describes as "far more cosmopolitan than the soldiers and one tenth so naive." He goes to the show and sees "Sons of Fun", a zany Olsen and Johnson production.

Letter 256- November 21, 1945




November 21, 1945
Giessen, Germany
.
Dear Mudder and Dad,

I still haven’t received any mail from you since I left the company. In fact nobody that came here from the 100th has received anything yet. It’s truly a discouraging situation. I can just close my eyes and see one of the mail clerks back there leaning back with his feet on his desk and letting everything go to pot. It’s just typical of the army.

Everything here is in one helluva rush right now. Thanksgiving’s tomorrow and I’m afraid we’ll have to work. This Q.M. racket is a laugh. Some of the officers are so dumb that even the Krauts have caught on to them. That is saying a lot. They think that anything with a bar on its shoulder is some sort of god. The Quartermasters is a good racket during a war but when the shooting’s over it’s an awful pain. Today a QM officer asked one of our boys if he was tough enough to handle the Jerries. Our man, Weber, is an old Infantryman. He said, “Well, I’ve been shot three times and run over by a Jeep once, so you can draw your own conclusions.” I’ll bet the QM officer never heard a gun fired during the whole war.

I’m getting along fine in my new job at that, however I spend plenty of time batting the breeze with these Krauts, not so much because I love the Krauts but rather because doing so helps me to speak German about three times as much as any book could do. At that I learn a lot of interesting things from them. The other day we got in a bunch of German sailors from Norway. Their story of what happened immediately before and after the invasion of Norway is quite interesting. It seems that the situation up there must have been pretty interesting with the Germans fully armed wanting to surrender but with no one to surrender to; Story of a German admiral trying to get out of the country with practically all of Norway under his suitcase. It makes quite a yarn. Of course that they are sailors and sailors aren’t any too addicted to the truth. They’re an interesting bunch. They’re far more cosmopolitan than the soldiers and one tenth so na├»ve. There is so much difference that except for the language you would hardly know that they were from the same country.

I think that I’ve got these Jerries pretty much afraid of me. These QM boys who never faced these bums on the line have an awful tendency to baby them but not me. Nothing in the whole wide world could make me forget what they did to some of my friends. And so that’s the way I carry on with them. I’m the boss and that is that. Surprisingly enough that’s what they like, which again only lowers my opinion of them.

Tomorrow even though we do have to work we should have a damn nice dinner. The cooks have been working all day preparing the turkeys and they seen to take a great relish in their work. These German cooks say that they never knew that there were so many different dishes in the world as the army serves. God knows the army fare is simple enough but I guess all they’ve ever known is cabbage and potatoes and potatoes and cabbage. We got in a load of fruitcake, cranberries and fresh celery today so it shouldn’t be bad.

I went to the show last night and saw the stage show “Sons of Fun”. It’s an Olson and Johnson production so you can imagine what it was like. I got hit right in the kisser with a rubber doughnut first thing. The show was quite entertaining at that and I think we all had a good time. After the show we went to the new Red Cross club in Giessen and had coffee and doughnuts (real ones) and played a few games of table tennis.

Well, I guess that’s about all for tonight. I sure wish I’d get some mail. When a fellow doesn’t get any for a long time he begins to wonder if the good ole U.S. is still there.

Best Love,
Bill

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

About Letter 255


Bill relates some interesting facts about Giessen. It is part of the Medieval Duchy of Hesse, where the famous Hessians of the Revolutionary War days came from. Above town are two castles dating from 1240 and 1280. The area is controlled by the Third Infantry Divison and "going to town is no fun...their MP's are the meanest in the world." The 100th. is having a big party down in Stuttgart the coming weekend, but Bill isn't going because, "I'll be damned if I'll hitchhike 300 kilometers for any party."

Letter 255- November 17, 1945


November 17, 1945
Giessen, Germany

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I still haven’t received any mail from you up until today. I know that it’s no fault of yours, but that still doesn’t make me feel any better about the situation. It just seems that the system over here is so well set that it takes a month of Sundays to get any changes made. I sent my change of address card into my old company over a week ago but still I’ve not heard anything about the letters you’ve sent to my old address. Have you received my package yet? I’m beginning to worry about it. There was a great deal of valuable stuff in it so I’d hate like the very devil to have the thing lost.

Things are pretty much the same here except that I’ve learned a few things about this part of Germany that are fairly interesting. Giessen is part of the Medieval Duchy of Hesse, where the famous Hessians of the Revolutionary War days came from. The people here say that in those days the old Dukes use to sell the citizens of those towns around here outright into foreign armies. They say the ones that went into the British army were lucky although few of them ever came back. I can easily see why they never came back even if they were free to do so. These Krauts are all the same though. They seem to think that being a soldier is hot stuff no matter whose army it is.

Above the town here are two ancient castles, one dating from 1240 and the other from 1280. They are built of grey stone and look more like I have always imagined a castle should look like. Somehow a castle built of red sandstone doesn’t look the part.

Going to town from here is no fun. This area is controlled by the Third Infantry Division and their MP’s are undoubtedly the meanest in the world. No matter what you do you’re wrong. I got bawled out for failure to salute an officer who was standing in a dark cubbyhole where I couldn’t even see him, much less his rank.

The work here is going on very much the same as always except that today we received the first shipment of 10 carloads of potatoes that will come in during the next few days. I sure don’t know where in hell they plan to put them. We’ve enough stuff here now to supply three armies for an entire year.

The 100th is having a big party down in Stuttgart this weekend and all former members of the division are invited to come but I’ll be damned is I’ll hitchhike 300 kilometers for any party. Some of the other fellows went, however. The party is in celebration of the third anniversary of the activation of the division into the army. With the outfit headed for home next month the party will really be a double celebration.

Have you received my letter with the authorization for the expert’s badge, etc. in it? After I’ve gone to so much trouble to get the thing I’m going to damn sore if it gets lost anywhere in the darn mail.

Well, that about does it for tonight. As usual this hasn’t been much of a letter but with my now receiving any mail I find it pretty difficult to write anything.


Best Love,
Bill

Monday, August 2, 2010

About Letter 254


Bill expresses disgust with his new assignment as a member of Labor Supervision Co. 1297. His main complaint is the boredom..."this army can figure more ways to do nothing unpleasantly than any other organization in the world." The weather adds to Bill's misery.

Letter 254- November 14, 1945


November 14, 1945
Giessen, Germany

Dear Mudder and Dad,

What can I write about? What have I been doing that’s new and different? “Nuttin”. Damn it! I’m getting into a terrible rut. This morning I get out of bed at 7:00. I dress quickly and go to breakfast. I come back, wash, shave, put on my overcoat, and go over to the warehouse. Until noon I stand around trying to look as intelligent as possible and practice my German on any Jerry who’s got the time to listen. After eating lunch I read the paper and go back to the warehouse—etc.,etc. In the evening I go to a movie, grade “Q”, and then come back and try to compose a letter. Phooey! This army can figure more ways to do nothing unpleasantly than any other organization in the world. “No other army can make that statement!”

It’s been so long since I’ve seen the sun that I’m beginning to wonder if we still have one. Maybe somebody stole it. Please give me some information on this subject.

My mail still hasn’t caught up with me so I don’t from nothing what goes. That makes it all the tougher to write. I see where the 100th has been alerted. Sure wish I was coming home with her. In the little things I’ve not been very lucky in the army. In important things, namely my being alive and in one piece, I’ve been quite fortunate. Can’t have good looks and money too—or can ya?

Morale here is lower than a snake’s belly. There just seems to be no sense in what we’re doing here. I feel funny as hell doing nothing. All I can say is “The sooner I get home the better.” It seems I’ve been taking orders so long that I’ve forgot how to think. At the warehouse I’m boss but if I don’t watch myself I’m always asking someone else what to do next. Just force of habit. I can do it better myself but it’s been so long.

These Krauts are a pain. They’re honest hard workers but so slow, and they’ve got to have a boss to tell them what to do every minute. “Sweep the floor.” “Right to left or left to right?” Wot a life!

Have you received my package yet? I sure hope so.

Well, that’s it.

Best Love,
Bill