February 1945

LETTER 175

It’s been a week since Bill has written, but “not a ‘hellova’ lot has happened in the interim. It is warmer and the snow has turned to rain. The ground is thawing, becoming mud. The war news is “heartening” but Bill remains skeptical about it ending anytime soon.

February 6, 1945
[France]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Yesterday I received a radiogram from you and it certainly made me feel rotten. Evidently you’re not getting any mail from me and I know how worried you must be but the worst of it is that there’s not a damned thing I can do about it. Generally it’s too cold, too wet—just impossible to write except when I’m back for a rest or in a house or building. My paper gets all wet or the officers are too busy to censor them or a combination of these things hinder my letter writing. As it is I don’t know when I’ll be able to answer your radiogram. Maybe in a few days, I hope.

It’s been a week again since I’ve written but not a “helluva” lot has happened in the interim. The weather here has turned better or worse as you will have it. The weather is warmer and that’s good, but it’s raining, the snow’s melting and the ground is thawing—mud; that’s bad, but “pozzitivle”.

The news is sure heartening these days. I guess the damn thing could end anytime but it possibly won’t; stubborn cusses, these damn Dutchmen. It looks as if I’m going home by way of the Suez Canal anyway.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 176

From “somewhere in France” Bill continues to await additional combat action. He complains that “it’s hard to write when there’s so little to write about. Either they won’t let me write about a thing or it isn’t worth writing about anyway.”

February 8 or 7, 1945
[Somewhere in France; V-Mail]

Dear Mudder and Dad

It’s Feb. 7 just in case you’re curious. I couldn’t recall for just a minute. How time flies. One would think that it would go “as slow as molasses in January,” to quote an old cliché; but it doesn’t. It doesn’t seem possible that it is February already and I’ve been with the 399th. for better than 2 months and been overseas for better than 6. By the way when I get home you’ll probably not be able to recognize me for the “fruit salad” I’ll be wearing: combat infantry badge, good conduct ribbon, E.T.O. ribbon with at least one campaign star, I don’t know how many overseas service bars on my sleeve—I’m entitled to one now, regimental badges, divisional patch and if they do send me to the Pacific I’ll end up looking like a Christmas tree.

Jesus Christ! It’s hard to write when there’s so little to write about. Either they won’t let me write about a thing or it isn’t worth writing about anyway. I can tell you the weather’s rotten which you know anyhow. I can say that things are about the same but the only trouble with that is that I couldn’t tell you how they were in the first place. Well, anyway I’m well and I guess that’s what you want to hear; running off the page so….

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 177

From the safety of “a comfortable room at a table with plenty of sunshine to write by,” Bill tells his folks, “I’m growing a mustache…you’d be surprised how much it makes me look like you, Dad.” Bill notes that the papers are reporting “the 3 big cheeses have finished their ‘momentous confab’.” He sarcastically adds that “I think we’d all be better off if all 3 of ’em were in hell.”

February 14, 1945
(“Somewhere” as usual)

Dear Mudder and Dad,

The “3 Big Cheeses” — Churchill, FDR, & Stalin

Well, once again I am in a place where writing a letter is possible. I’m sitting in a comfortable room at a table with plenty of sunshine to write by—yes, I said sunshine. It seems as if spring has hit this country at last. Since I last wrote there’s been a steady rise in temperature; and now there’s not even a trace of snow left on the ground. It’s amazing how green everything has suddenly become. But inevitably with the last of the snow came the spring rains. Oi! Mud. I guess one must accept the bitter with the sweet. Anyway, today is beautiful. Temporarily, at least. I think of France without muttering something unprintable to myself. I can even see myself visiting this place again in the distant future.

I’ve got a laugh for you. I’m growing a mustache. As yet it doesn’t amount to much—maybe it never will–but you’d be surprised how much it makes me look like you, Dad.

As yet I’ve received no mail from you written later than the radiogram so I don’t know whether or not you’re receiving my mail or not. I sure hope so. I got quite a kick out of the clippings about Elliot’s pooch. Millions of men involved in such a desperate struggle and then that palooka can pull something like that—Jesus!

I’m surprised I haven’t received any more packages as yet since you mailed them all just about the same time. They’ll probably be along any time now.

I note by the paper that the 3 big cheeses have finished their “momentous” confab. I think we’d all be better off if all 3 of ‘em were in hell. I wonder if they ever really accomplish anything with these meetings.

The news these days seems damned good even if not as sensational as it was a week or so ago. However, the darned Jerries around here don’t seem too downhearted. They still shoot at me now and then.

I’ll close now with a gentle hint—How about a box of candy or cookies—subtle, huh? Lots of love—in fact.

Bestus Love, — Bill

LETTER 178

Bill gets paid and discovers that “for the past month I’ve been a Private First Class.” With his $4.80 raise and combat infantry pay he now makes “about $75 a month.” He learns that his grandfather’s estate “back east” has settled to the tune of about “twenty-five thousand greenbacks. That would certainly make for post war security in the old homestead.”

February 15, 1945
[France]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I don’t plan to send this letter V-Mail but it’s all I can find to write on. It’s another lovely day with me in a passably comfortable place. Yesterday I got paid and found out that for this past month I’ve been a Private First Class. Some stuff, huh? At this rate I might make buck sergeant in 30 or 40 years. I don’t think I can wait that long, however. Anyway it means about $4.80 more a month. That’ll help a little. Along with that Combat Infantry pay I’ll be making about $75 a month. Tomorrow, by the way, I’m sending home a money order for $50. That ought to do my account some good. How much have I got now, anyway?

The news of the settlement of the estate back east is being eagerly awaited by me. It sure sounds good to me. Twenty-five thousand of those “greenbacks” would certainly make for post war security in the old homestead, what?

I received 3 letters from you today written between Jan. 20 and Feb. 2 and still you’ve received no mail from me. Circumstances make it impossible for me to write for quite some time but you should be getting mail by now unless something I don’t know about has happened. I know how worried you must be, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I won’t say “C`est la guerre,” however, since that phrase has always seemed rather provoking to me. Someone uses that for an explanation and I feel like slamming the bloke in the kisser.

The news is pretty good these days and I hope it’s better by the time you get this letter. We had an orientation lecture today and the Russians claim their big drive hasn’t even begun yet. Oh boy!

Gotta close.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 179

Bill and Company A continue to be “off the lines” and “there is not a ‘helluva’ lot to do except eat, sleep and write letters.” From what he reads in “Stars and Stripes” Bill understands that things are going OK, but he adds that “Frankly I’m damn sick and tired of this mess.”

February 18, 1945
[Somewhere in France]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

While I’m trying to invent a new way to start this letter I might as well begin writing. Enclosed is a money order for 50.oo. It’s been some time since I’ve been able to get off $50 to $75 a month. This month I saved some of my pay for rations or so that if I get back for a rest, to Paris or something else equally as unlikely I will have a little cash on hand. That’s somewhat awkward, but I imagine that you can understand it.

I’ve been fortunate in being able to see 2 movies during the last couple of days. The pictures were both old, I guess, but they were new to me so I’m content.

While I’m back off the lines like this there’s not a “helluva” lot to do except eat, sleep and write letters. As usual it’s all just a matter of sitting and waiting. I’m waiting for mail, or “chow”, or a rest, or an attack, or some other damn thing. We call it “sweating it out”. I guess I’ll never quit “sweating it out” ‘til they hand me my discharge papers.

I haven’t heard much news for the last few days but from what I read in the “Stars and Stripes” I understand things are going all right. Frankly I’m damn sick and tired of this mess and hope we begin pushing on the Western Front before long.

I received 3 letters from you today, the last having been dated February 4. You did manage to sound cheerful despite the fact that you had received no mail from me for nearly 3 weeks.

I’ve got some bad news for you. I lost my watch. I know where it is but that doesn’t do me any good now. Probably some Kraut has it or maybe another G.I., I hope. At any rate it’s gone and “I ain’t got no watch.” Too, it was practically the last one in the platoon. What I should have is a pocket watch. Maybe I can pick one up somewhere.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 180

In this short note Bill writes to let the folks know that, “I’m well and so forth.”

February 20, 1945
[France; V-Mail]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I thought I’d get off a short note while the sun shines. You know, just to let you know I’m well and so forth. I received two letters from you this morning dated the 9th. and 10th. One of them was the one in which you told of Bob Brewer coming to school. He was right about my outfit the second time. I’m surprised that he only gets 90 days in the States after what he went through. He should get a discharge.

I must close now. I will write again as soon as possible.

Best Love, — Bill

To learn more about troop strength, see Attrition and Troop Replacements.

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