April 1945

LETTER 187

Bill says “I’ve been pretty busy as you can see from the papers.” He notes that he is sending home a box of Nazi souvenirs that “I’ve picked up in my wanderings.” It includes 3 belt buckles, 2 breast emblems, shoulder flap, collar patch, various campaign ribbons, metal wreaths, postcards, among other collectables.

April 2, 1945
[Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I suppose that you’re surprised to hear from me. I’m surprised myself. I’ve been pretty busy lately as you can well see from the papers. Now it seems at least possible that the damn war could be over before too long. In fact, it could be over before you receive this letter. I hope, I hope.

I received 3 letters dated March 13, March 17 and October “sumthin.” I wonder where that last one was hiding all this time. As the French say, “Cest la guirre.” I’ve said that before, haven’t I?

At this time I’m sending home a box of souvenirs that I’ve picked up in my wanderings. There’s nothing that amounts to much but I think it’ll interest you. As follows: First there’s the little Nazi pennant. I don’t know where it came from. One of the fellows in my squad found several of them. Then there’s the green and silver tassel from an officer’s sabre—left behind in one of the Jerries speedier retreats. Later I hope to obtain an entire sword. There are 3 belt buckles, each of them different. The dull metal one is Luftwaffe. The O.D. buckle is regular army and the shiny one is Hitler Jugend or Hitler Youth. There are 2 breast emblems. The green on white cloth eagle is regular army and the other Luftwaffe. Next there is a shoulder flap and collar patch. The silver shows our “caput” friend was a buck sergeant and the pink piping shows that he was a member of an armored infantry outfit. I don’t know what the campaign ribbons represent—probably honorable mention for kicking some defenseless civilian in the face. The same goes for the red, white and black ribbon. The metal wreaths, pips and eagles are from Nazi officers caps. I don’t know exactly what the rest is, but the Cross of Lorraine is Free French. The postcard’s of “Unsere” “Wehrmacht” I also thought interesting. I thought I’d send all this stuff home so that Daddy can pass it out to the kids at school if he likes.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 188

Bill writes from the comforts of a house. With continued good war news he opines that “I can’t see how or why these Jerries manage to hang on. Evidently they believe their own propaganda and think that if we capture them we will slit their throats.” Bill is in the last stages of a lingering cold and adds that the only thing that seems to cure his coughing spells is “a cigarette-strangely enough.”

April 5, 1945
[Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

This letter will have to go “free” as I’ve got no V-Mails or airmail stamps, but most fellows say that these get there about as quick as any. I doubt it but it’ll have to do.

I haven’t received any letters from you for several days but I guess it’s just a normal delay. Such big things are going on that it’s a wonder that anything is running smoothly. I don’t get to see a paper for 3 days and I’m so far behind the news that it’s pitiful. I can’t see how or why these Jerries manage to hang on. Evidently, however, they believe their own propaganda and think that if we capture them we will slit their throats. Wot a life. It’s a sad thing when the only people one ever runs across are a bunch of “jerks.” That’s Germany; a few rats and 90,000,000 jerks. I repeat, “wot a life.” To quote our beloved President, “Ah hate woah.”

That’s enough corn for the present so let’s proceed with the letter. I’m getting over the damnedest cold I ever had in my life. It was a cold to end all colds. I’d get coughing spells and darn near choke to death before I was through. The only thing that seemed to do any good is a cigarette—strangely enough. I have “beaucoup” cigarettes by the way. I have 2 unopened packs of butts in my pocket right now, heh! Heh! I can see you drooling now. A fiend ain’t I! Anyhoo, to get back to my ailment; it’s pretty well broken up now.

I wonder what it is like to be home now. It won’t be long ‘till I’ve been overseas a year. Gee! I’ll probably look like an immigrant when I get back. You know, “no spikka da Englush.” No kidding though. I’m getting awfully homesick. It’s worse here in Germany where no one can talk to the civilians.

We’re having nasty weather today, but I’m in a house and that helps matters immeasurably.

I got quite a kick out of our “assets” in German utilities. Hot stuff. Here I am putting the skids under our own dough. I’m glad that the rest of the money is in somewhat better shape.

Well, I’ll close now. I’d like to get a letter off to Jess before dark.

Best Love, — Bill

For a summary of the war action in Bill’s vicinity, see
Bill in Combat March 25 – April 5, 1945,
Bill in Combat April 6-9,
Bill in Combat April 10-15, 1945.

LETTER 189

In the midst of battle Bill remarkably draws a pass to Paris. He says that, “maybe it’s only because I’ve just come off the lines, but Paris seems to be all it was ever claimed to be……there’s only one place I’d rather be and that is home.” In addition to “seeing almost all the important sights” Bill has a number of photos taken and an artists sketch, all of which he plans to send home.

April 20, 1945
[Paris, France]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Bill Taylor in Paris, April 1945

You said that there would be a blank spot in the mail from me and I guess this breaks it. I really can’t remember myself how long it’s been. This war is like that. A person seems to lose thought of everything. You know what the situation is from the newspapers. I don’t see how this damn thing keeps going but it does. I can’t make heads of tails of it.

Anyway I’m in Paris in the spring. “April in Paris.” This sounds romantic doesn’t it? I was fortunate enough to draw a pass for Paris last week and I must say it came at a wonderful time. I was getting so fed up that I almost blew my top. My outfit all feel that way.

Maybe it’s only because I’ve just come off the lines, but Paris seems to be all it was ever claimed to be. It’s broad tree-lined streets, perfumed atmosphere, its millions of apparently worthless but charming people—it’s all here.

There are automobiles everywhere and at night the city is lit up as if there never was such a thing as war. In fact all of Paris is out at night. I do believe that there are more people around at night than in the daytime. There’s only one place I’d rather be and that’s home.

Streets of Paris, 1945

I went on a tour yesterday and had this picture taken in the “Place de Concorde.” Where we stand is the spot where the guillotine stood during the Revolution. Just out of the picture, on the left is the American embassy. In front of us is the famous Egyptian obelisque of Luxor and beyond is the Seine and the Chambre of Deputies. I’m standing in approximately the center of the third row. We saw almost all the important sights. The Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, I think, were the least impressive. The Arc d` Tromphe was impressive. We paid our respects to France’s “Unknown Soldier.” Napoleon’s Tomb, I believe, was the most impressive of all. The church was built in the 17th century. The windows are made in such a way that there is sunlight in the church even on a cloudy day. I couldn’t swear to that, however, since the day was beautiful.

I’ve had some pictures taken while I was here. I don’t know how long they’ll be but they’ll be along anytime.

An artist here drew a fair sketch of me the other day. I’ll send that along too.

I’ll try to write again tomorrow.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 190

Bill is back with Company A, having returned from Paris. He is in a “nice, comfortable and what is more important a safe place.” The war news is good. “Unless the Jerries try to make a stand in the Bavarian Alps the thing should be over in a few days or week at the most.”

April 24, 1945
[Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, I’m back from Paris now. The beautiful interlude is “finis, caput.” Alas, alas. However, I’m in a nice, comfortable and what is more important a safe place and it looks as if I may stay here for quite some time. I know that’ll make you feel better. If feel much better myself. Here I live among the comforts of home—running water, electric lights, radio and the like. Almost as good as Paris. On second thought it couldn’t be that good. First thing you know I’ll be off in a blue daze of shined shoes, clean shave, ties, etc. I’ll be back in the army.

The news sure looks good these days. The armies are moving around so fast that nobody knows what the score is. Unless the Jerries try to make a stand in the Bavarian Alps the thing should be over in a few days or week at the most. I hate to make predictions, however.

The weather here has been beautiful for the last few days; real California weather. I never have seen such bright clear days in Europe. The horizon is even rippling with heat waves.

I received several letters from you yesterday. They were the first ones in about 2 weeks so they really were appreciated.

There’s not much else to say right now so until I work up enough energy to write again…..

Best Love, — Bill

For a summary of the war in Bill’s vicinity, see: Bill in Combat April 16-24, 1945.

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.

April 26, 1945
[Germany]

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, — Bill

† Bill never received the Bronze Star and never told his family what he did that to deserve the consideration. He never boasted of his war exploits. Several years ago I applied for my father’s Official Military Personnel File and received a letter informing me that his file along with over 80% all Army personnel files from 1913-1960 were destroyed in the disasterous 1973 fire at the St. Louis National Personnel Records Center. The only other official file on record for Bill is his Final Pay Voucher. I did not apply for this document as it did not appear to provide any information I don’t already have. The letter says that it does possibly include “character of service” information but it seems highly unlikely that this would have anything about a Bronze Star.

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 adds “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.”

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, — Bill

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