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,

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,

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,

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,


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.


(photo enclosed)-with inscription “in memory of our friendship in Giessen, Germany
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,