August 1944

LETTER 113

Bill sends his second V-Mail from somewhere in England.

August 1, 1944
[England] V-MAIL

Dear Mother and Dad,

I’m awfully busy and have very little time in which to write. However, I’m sure you want at least a word from me. I’m well and working hard but I already miss the good old U.S.A. England’s all right but you know how it is. That’s about all I have to say.

Best love, Bill

LETTER 114

The English weather and a cold had Bill down, but today a letter from home and a nice day improves his spirits. He describes the countryside as pretty “what with it’s clipped hedges and winding lanes,” but complains that the English children — “brats”  — follow American soldiers around hollering “any gum chum?” and “gimme this or that.” Bill makes reference to the death of his grandfather, Herbert L. Taylor, Jr.

August 5, 1944
[England]

Dear Mother and Dad,

I received my first mail from you yesterday and it sure gave my morale a big boost. The “bee-oo-ti-fool” English weather plus a cold plus the lack of anything to do over here just about had me down and out, but the letter and also the nice day we’re having today has me feeling like a human being again. By the time this gets to you, you should have received several V-Mail letters most of which will have been notable for their lack of information. One is not even dated. The reason for all this is that things were pretty well messed up when we first arrived and no one knew if we could write anything or not. Still yet there are a million things I’d like to write about but can’t—the voyage over and so forth.

Living conditions over here can’t compare with the states but things aren’t as bad as I thought they’d be. The food we get is good and besides we get certain rations. This makes us very popular among the children. Generally a whole slew of brats will follow a soldier around hollering “any gum chum” and “any lifesavers” and “gimmie this or that.” It gets a guy down. The people over here try to be nice but already I’m getting that “I wanna go home’ feeling. The English countryside is very pretty what with its clipped hedges and winding lanes. Most of the houses are very old and it’s obvious that many of them were built without the aid of a straight edge or a level—damndest things I ever saw—quaint though. They’d look like the devil, however, if it weren’t for the beautiful gardens that they are almost always surrounded by.

The roads are good but narrow and are generally made of asphalt. If we go on a hike and it’s hot, (it usually gets warm in the afternoon), we come back to camp with half the road stuck to the soles of our shoes.

I can’t say I was sorry to hear about Gramp’s death. In his condition it was a blessing for those around him as well as himself.

Why did you have to write about that ice-cream, Dad? Over “hyar” they don’t know what the stuff is, and you know me. My tongue is just about draggin’ on the ground.

I did get those last letters you sent me along with the stamps I can use very nicely. The nice thing about those letters was that I received them when I was a day out at sea. I also received a letter from Elizabeth in which she said that it looked as if Gramps was headed for pneumonia.

That’s about all for now. I think my cold is about broken. “Those goims can’t stand dis army life.”

Best love, — Bill

LETTER 115

The scuttlebutt floating around camp includes a report that Argentina has declared war on the U.S. and that riot squads in New York have been called out to quell the mobs celebrating the impending armistice which is expected momentarily. Bill cites these reports as “the kind of balony that floats around an army camp.”

August 9, 1944
[England]

Dear Mother and Dad,

It’s been several days since I last wrote to you but I’ve been pretty much on the go all the time. We have a tough training schedule and not a hellova lot of time in which to do anything else. We get a good dosage of hiking every day almost. I don’t mind that, however, because I never tire of looking at the English countryside.

I’ve been getting mail regularly from you for almost a week and it sure keeps my spirits up. I only hope my letters are getting to you as fast.

It looks as if things across the Channel are really getting into high gear now. We get pretty confused sometimes, however. We don’t get much in the way of radio news during the day and the way things are going, an awful lot can happen in 24 hours.

The other day we heard that riot squads had been called out in New York and other large cities to quell the mobs celebrating the “armistice”, which seemed to be expected momentarily. Hot Stuff, huh? Another was that Argentina had declared war on us. I liked that one. You can see the kind of baloney that floats around an army camp.

I still don’t know how the War in the Pacific is going. Here in the E.T.O only one war is of importance.

My cold seems to be pretty well broken but this weather is so bad that everyone is always down with one. I had my first pass the other night so I walked to a small town nearby to get a firsthand look at England. To quote Richard —“It’s a dump”. Oh well, maybe I’m prejudiced (has that got another “d” in it?)

Now I’m down to the point where I can only think of militarily confidential stuff, sooo–.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 116

Once again Bill’s request for a pass is turned down. The war news seems good with reports saying “Monty” claims that “the German 7th Army will give up within 72 hours.” Bill complains that it is hard to write because of the poor mail service and “because of the many restrictions covering what I can say.”

August 13, 1944
[England]

Dear Mother and Dad,

It has been now just one week since I received any mail from you and I have to admit that I don’t like it even a little bit. I know it isn’t your fault but when day after day I’m the only fellow in the barracks that doesn’t get mail—well—I get pretty burned up with this army mail service. I find it awfully hard to write when I don’t receive mail from you because of the many restrictions covering what I can say.

Today is Sunday and I’ve been turned down on a pass again. It seems that I have less chance at a pass than anybody around here. I’ve only had one since I’ve been here. They tell us they want us to get acquainted with the people over here but then see to it that we don’t get the chance.

The war news sure seems to be good these days. Monty says I hear, that the German 7th Army will give up within 72 hours. I guess that by the time you get this the situation will be a lot clearer. Everyone over here seems to think that Germany can’t hold out much longer. I hope so.

I’m feeling well although I can’t seem to get rid of this cold. That’s about all I can say now.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 117

Bill turns 19 years of age on August 15, 1944. The weather is miserable and Bill is craving ice cream and cake. He says that the rumor situation in England is worse than in the states, “the war’s over every 5 minutes over here.” As he closes the letter Bill’s frustration over censorship restrictions boil over and he exclaims, “oh Hell, everything I want to write I can’t!”

August 20, 1944
[England]

Dear Mother and Dad,

It’s been a week now since I’ve written to you and I apologize but not until yesterday did I receive any mail from you for this week. I don’t know but over here it’s hard to write when I don’t get word from you. However, yesterday I received letters dating from August first to seventh including the birthday card. They sure pepped me up a lot.

The weather here has been miserable or better “mizzuble”. I’ll be damned if I can see why anyone wants to live here. Here it is the middle of August and it’s as cold and damp as hell. It’s a wonder I don’t have a worse cold.

I’m sorry your special hocus-pocus couldn’t get my letters through to you but you know how the mail goes.

You just about kill me everyday or should I say when I get mail with your vivid descriptions of ice-cream, cakes, etc. They don’t know what those things are over here.

Everybody’s chewing the fat around me right now—I keep forgetting what I want to write.

I thought the rumor situation was bad over in the states but here….God! The war’s over every five minutes over here. Newspapers are a valuable possession.

Oh Hell, everything I want to write I can’t.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 118

Bill quits smoking saying, “my tongue still hangs out every time anyone lights up.” His smoking career only lasted 2 months but he was “killing about a pack and a half a day.” The mail service is still bad and Bill complains that “when I write anything about the war it is ancient history before it gets home.”

August 27, 1944
[England]

Dear Mother and Dad,

It seems like Sunday is about the only day I ever get the chance to do any writing. Since I wrote my last letter to you I’ve received two. To get mail over here is really wonderful. These last two that I received were postmarked on the fourteenth but written on the twelfth. Don’t apologize for not sending a birthday present. I probably wouldn’t have received it ‘till Christmas “anyhoo.” However, I won’t say that I don’t want to get any boxes from home. Over here it’s impossible to buy anything. They feed us fairly well but I’m really hungry all the time without any candy, etc. I don’t know how the regulations are but I think they’re clamping down to make room for the Christmas rush. However, if possible make it food.

Right now I’m so hungry I could eat a horse. Maybe this is because I’ve quit smoking. I didn’t smoke at all before [Camp] Reynolds but since then I’ve been smoking more and more until within two months I was killing about a pack and a half of cigarettes a day. That’s when I stopped. My tongue still hangs out every time anyone lights up. It’s funny how quickly that habit can get hold of a body.

I wish we were having a little of that hot weather over here. It’s so cold and damp that I feel like a wet sponge.

You asked me to send any kind of news and I’ll be damned if I can think of anything. Everything I think of is something that I wrote in my last letter. It seems that the longer I stay in the army the worse I get at writing.

I’m going to start sending some air mail V-mail and see if they don’t go faster. When I write anything about the war, etc. its ancient history before it gets home.

Well, I’ll try to think of something good to write next time.

Best Love, — Bill

P.S. Note new address

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