December 1945

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.”

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 [see sketch] is an actual representation of what I saw 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.

Best Love, — Bill

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.

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.

LETTER 261

It’s Tuesday night and Bill is on CQ again. He is his typical opinionated self. The weather is “lousy as usual.” The Company Captain is a cousin of General Eisenhower “and he never lets a person forget it either.” Yesterday Bill had to drive to Mannheim,”just to have five minutes of work done on a sewing machine…wonderful, ain’t it?” Today marks his 800th day in the army.

December 11, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, it’s Tuesday night and I’m on CQ again. It seems that this is beginning to get to be a bad habit. One is supposed to be either a Cpl. or a Sgt. to pull CQ so I think that I’m getting the dirty end of the stick. Anyway here I sit in this dreary office looking at the posters on the wall which proclaim the Army Enlistment Program and other such repulsive things. I know that I should have a better reason to write you a letter than having nothing else to do but I’m afraid that’s the situation. I haven’t received any mail from you to this address as I suspected I would by now. I think there’s something phoney here in regards to that. None of the fellows in our group have been getting any mail at all for a damn longest time now. This Captain we have here always claims to be the top thing when it comes to efficiency, but I notice that he hasn’t done a damn thing about the mail. Oh well! He’ll be leaving pretty soon and the lieutenant that’s here to take his place is a pretty good guy. I get along good with the Captain as far as that goes but I don’t believe he’s got a helluva lot behind that eagle on his cap. He’s a cousin of General Eisenhower and he never lets a person forget it either. I think that everything would be fine if I only had the authority to tell him to get down off his high horse. He loves to start an argument with somebody and then when the other fellow puts him in his place he says “Don’t forget you’re talking to an officer.” He’s just another of these rear echelon commandos who cannot tell the difference between the armed civilian troops and the toy soldiers of the peace time army.

Well, now that I’ve vented my spleen on him I go on with the letter. The weather as usual is lousy. It snows all the time and it’s too cold to do much of anything. Boy, will I be glad to get back to good old Southern California. Some people may think that snow and ice are the berries but give me the good warm sunshine any time of the week. Probably it will be raining when you get this, but I’ll even take the rain in preference to this. I’m not doing a great deal these days. I drive maybe fifty or sixty miles a day as a rule but it never amounts to much. In between times I type out a few letters and that’s about all. This is all so useless though that I feel that it’s all a waste of time. You know anything to keep us in until they can get another war started with somebody. I honestly am beginning to believe that. I think that there definitely are some elements of the armed forces that are very unhappy over the pending reductions in rank and authority who would even be willing to plunge us into another war just to maintain their own personal power.

Had to drive over to Mannheim yesterday just to have five minutes work done on a sewing machine. Wonderful, ain’t it? The truck only burned up thirty-five gallons of gas going over there. Just another example of the way things are done.

All I’m hoping for now is that they put the two year plan for discharge into effect before I grow too old for the service. I don’t see why not now. There are many going home now who haven’t got as much service as I but who’ve been more fortunate on the battle star situation. Forty-seven points still doesn’t look too good but 26 months service does. Maybe I ought to start my letters like the Army Hour, you know, “On this my 800th day of service in the Army of the United States–.” By the way this is either my 799th day of agony or the 800th day of misery. I can’t quite figure it out.

Really that’s about all I can say. I haven’t seen any of those replacements that we’re supposed to get yet. I sure hope some of them come and replace me pretty soon.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 262

Bill notes that Giessen is “almost a 100th Division camp. He runs into Col. Zehner, his old Battalion commander who asks him, “How in hell did you ever get into this hole?” He is hopeful of receiving a promotion to Corporal but “I’m not depending on it though.” He sees the movie “The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry.”

December 15, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I really don’t feel like writing tonight but on the other hand I haven’t written in so long that I’ll feel like a heel if I don’t write. The entire situation boils down to the fact that I’m not getting any mail. Some of the boys haven’t had any mail in 9 weeks now and that is pretty bad. The Captain has written letters to practically everybody in the ETO trying to get a lead on the stuff but as of yet we’ve had no results. I guess that somewhere they don’t even know that there is a 1297 LSC. I really haven’t the slightest idea what’s going on but I do know one thing and that is that I don’t like it.

There’s one bright spot in this letter, however, and that is that to date I’ve received three packages from you. The only reason that I got them is that they were mailed to my old address in the 100th.

Talking about the old outfit reminds me. This town of Giessen is almost a 100th Div. camp. It seems that everybody who has shipped out of the outfit has sooner or later come to this hole in the wall. The other day I bumped into my old battalion commander, Col. Zehner. The first thing he said to me was “How in the hell did you ever get into this hole?” I guess we all have the same opinion regardless of our rank.

I went to the movies again tonight and saw “Uncle Harry” which was nothing exceptional. I thought that the cast was good but as usual Hollywood did things to the damn plot that made a mess out of it. About my only entertainment around here is the blooming movies so I wish they’d get something I could enjoy. Right now I am listening to the “New World Symphony” on the radio. Now that we have a radio here it’s a little less boring.

Here’s something that I hesitate to tell you………………….I’m still hesitating. No, on second thought I won’t tell you. I’m a cad, what? I will tell you about something that’s a little more certain, however; and that is that I’ve been put in for a rating. The captain has been hinting around about it for a week now and today he made it clear that I would go in for it. I’m not depending on it though. I’ve had too much experience with Bronze Stars and things. Anyway keep your fingers crossed and I may be T/5 or Cpl. Taylor one of these days. Not that it makes a helluva lot of difference. After having been in combat stripes don’t mean a damn thing among a group of men. Other people, however, believe that a person must not be much of a man unless he has his honor and courage stuck somewhere on the outside where it shows.

Well, here it is almost Christmas—nuff sed.

The replacements are pouring in but as yet we haven’t received any. Today I was driving along and picked up a couple of G.I.’s. As always my first question was, “Well, when are you boys going home?” One of them says, “Christ, we only just got here. How many days have you been over here?” That stopped me cold. I mumbled something about as long as I can remember and went back to my driving.

That’s about all for tonight. I sure hope to get some mail before long so I can have something to write about.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 263

Bill is officially recommended for the rank of Corporal. “That puts me right up there with Hitler and Napoleon. Ain’t it grand???” More importantly it has been repeated that he will be leaving Germany “on Feb. 5, at the very latest for the good old everlovin’ USA.” Bill notes talk from home wondering if combat veterans can readjust to civilian life. “One fellow here received a letter from his sister in which she said that maybe all this killing has made him too hard to fit back into life at home.”

December 23, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’ve hoped against hope that I would get some letters from you before Christmas but I guess I’m just out of luck. That’s why I haven’t written to you as often as I should lately. I keep hoping every day that the next day will bring some letters. At any rate they changed our APO yesterday and that may bring about some sort of change in the situation.

The APO is now 169. The Captain drove all the way down to Heidelberg the other day to see if he could find out anything but it was the same old story. As far as I know you may not even know that I’ve been transferred yet. It’s a sorry situation.

This week I was officially notified that I’ve been put in for the rank of Corporal. That puts me right up there with Hitler and Napoleon. Ain’t it grand??? What’s more important, however, is that it’s been repeated that I would be leaving here on Feb. 5, at the very latest for the good old everlovin’ USA. I just hope to heaven that nothing at the last minute comes up and dashes everything to the ground. I note some Senators now saying that continuation of the draft is now unnecessary and other such crap. I tell you that if they stop it altogether it’ll mean just one thing and that is that fellows like me who’ve already served and fought will have to go right on serving with no hope of ever getting out for an indefinite period of time. That, while others who’ve never done anything for their country continue to get all the breaks. They keep hollering about all the men who are volunteering but they’ll never get enough to make any kind of an effective force that way.

The way some people talk you’d think that we were just a bunch of bums that everyone would rather have on that side of the world which is most distant from home. I hope that it’s not that way all over or it’s going to be pretty rough. During the war we were always so much more wonderful than we really were and now it seems that we’re a lot worse than we ever were. One fellow here received a letter from his sister in which she said that maybe all this killing has made him too hard to fit back into life at home. Pleasant, huh? That’s an extreme example of course, but I’ve heard other things that have hinted at the same thing.

I hear that so many veterans are going back to school that there are definite shortages of space, material and instructors at the colleges and universities in the whole US. Have there been any such signs at home? I’d like to get back to it as soon as possible and would hate to have to wait.

If I didn’t know better I’d think it was Infantry Day or something. Right now they’re playing the “Story of Roger Young” on the radio and it’s the third time that I’ve heard it today.

Well, it’s only 2 days until Christmas now and we’re having a four day holiday. Here that doesn’t mean much, however, since I will be working anyway. It’s better than sitting around feeling sorry for myself.

That’s all for tonight. I didn’t make it for Christmas but I should be home for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s too bad I’m not an Irisher. Oh well…….

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 264

It is Sunday and the weather is lousy. “We’ve had rain, sleet and snow all mixed together….in short it’s the time of year in which your’s truly would rather be home than sitting in Germany wasting his time.” A new rookie is “outside pacing up and down his post in the rain. He’s new enough in the army to take his his job seriously which is good because it impresses the Germans.” Bill awaits his promotion to Corporal, which will raise his pay to $88.00 a month.

December 30, 1945
Giessen, Germany (Hesse)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

It’s been several days since I’ve written you a letter and with the storms at sea and so forth it’s hard to say just when you’ll be receiving any letters from me. As for me I haven’t received any mail yet so I’m requesting a telegram for you to send me. I haven’t had any mail in so long that I’m beginning to get a little worried. Nobody here has been getting any so I know that everything is probably all right but still I’d like to get some word from you.

It’s Sunday today and the weather is lousy. We’ve had rain, sleet and snow all mixed together. Everyone here says the weather is unusually mild for this time of year but nevertheless it’s pretty depressing. We’re in that crumby lull between Christmas and New Years right now in which we’re not doing anything really and yet we’re not really getting any free time. In short it’s the time of year in which yours truly would rather be home than sitting in Germany wasting his time. The other day an order came down from higher headquarters for men eligible for shipment home and somehow my name was on it by mistake. Boy! Was I mad. I was so close and yet so far. The men with 45-49 points in the 15th Infantry of the 3rd Division have been alerted for the 20th of January so I’m holding my breath. As far as I know I’m still slated to leave on the 5th of February but it can be changed any time.

Our radio here is a godsend. I think that I’d practically go screwy if I didn’t have it to listen to. Right now I’m listening to some of the Sunday programs over ASN which takes my mind off the general pain in the neck that I have to think about all the time. About 20 feet from my window there’s a new rookie pacing up and down his post in the rain. He’s new enough in the army to take his job seriously which is good because it impresses the Germans. The rest of us are getting to that “I don’t give a damn” point which is no good for an army of occupation. At any rate I’m glad that its he instead of I out there walking a post. If there’s anything in the whole world I hate its guard duty.

I just heard the news and what they had to say about the redeployment set-up for the next few months didn’t sound any too good. I wish to heaven they’d come right out and tell us what the score is instead of hedging around and giving out a lot of figures that sound good but don’t mean a damn thing.

Well, my recommendation for Cpl. has gone in now and all I have to do is wait and see what the devil happens. If all goes well the okay will be back here within the next week or ten days. If it comes through all right I’ll be a lot better off when the time does come for me to go home. It’ll mean less K.P. and guard duty, not to mention the money that I’ll be getting. That’ll be about $88.00 a month while I stay here and about $76.00 when I get back to the states. That combat infantry pay does come in pretty handy.

I guess that’s about all for today so Happy New Year.

Best Love, — Bill

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