July 1944

LETTER 107

Bill’s aunt Jessie Bonser comes from her home in State College, Pa. to visit him at Camp Reynolds. His unit spends Independence Day marching through local towns as they return from bivouac. The war news is good but Bill’s enthusiasm is tempered by his notion that “certain commentators try and make it appear that every victory is due solely to the efforts of the ‘Great Man’ [Roosevelt].” Bill closes his letter with another humorous sketch.

July 4, 1944
[Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania]

Dearest Mudder and Dad,

If I’d written this when I intended to you’d have it by now. On Saturday evening I came here into the “Dayroom” and sat down to write a note but I got listening to the radio and so forth and before I knew it –no letter. On Sunday I intended to write but Jess came (I’ll tell you more about that later). Last night we went out on one of those screwy bivouacs and then went another evening. So here it is July 4 and the writing.

Today’s been the most dismal thing next to Christmas that I ever saw. All morning we marched in from bivouac thru little towns etc. where people looked at us and said, “Oh those poor boys—having to work on the 4th. Tch! Tch!” So we tramped on.

Right now I can hear the very good news of the day pouring out the radio; Russians 150 miles from German soil; Jap resistance crumbling on Saipan. We’re going forward in France. Maybe this European conflict is nearly over. Maybe it’s nearer over than any of us know. I hope so anyway. Maybe I hope too much. What gripes me is that certain commentators try and make it appear that every victory is due solely to the efforts of the “Great Man.” What is sickening, however, is the way the boobs drink it in. At times I despair of the future.

“Me and my usual mood these days — first thing I know I’ll get stripes.”

Well, I was sure glad to see Jess. I found out thru a girl she knows here in camp that she wanted to come but I was surprised when she came the very next day. We spent the evening at the home of these people she knows about 10 miles from here and I must say I enjoyed myself.

They have a very old house—run down and about 100 yrs. old—along the old Erie Canal. The canal was closed over 90 years ago but the “ditch” is still almost intact—surprising when one realizes that it was dug 118 years ago.

I thought I’d try and get a 3 day pass to go to State College but it looks now as if it’s no go. That’s the way it always is in the army. Phooey on everything!

Love,

“Bless ‘em all” — Bill

LETTER 108

Bill attends a lecture on the “Armed Forces Educational Program” and learns that he can “once again be a student at U.C.L.A.” via a correspondence course. He decides to take a second semester of German.

July 6, 1944
[Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania]

Dear Mother and Dad,

I’m again going to be a student at U.C.L.A. Yesterday I attended a lecture at the Orientation Center here on the post where they explained the new ‘Armed Forces Educational Program” which I found very promising, so today I went to the Education Office and got the whole dope. This is it. It’s more or less a correspondence course worked thru the Armed Forces Institute at Madison, Wis. I was advised to and also decided that my best course would be to take my second semester of Elementary German. If I can successfully complete that subject I will have a year’s standing at U.C.L.A. in both French and German. Then if next term I devoted myself to English I would damn near go back to U.C.L.A as a Sophomore. The army handles all details and supplies textbooks and lessons. The only cost to me is the enrollment fee (half of the original $27.00) However, that goes to U.C.L.A. not the army. I think it’s worth a try.

Well, that’s all about that and it’s about all I have to write now. I’ll try to write again soon.

Love, — Bill

LETTER 109

It’s beginning to look as if Bill will ship out very soon. The men have been given “the lowdown” about troop-transport procedures. He says that “if I go to Europe, I get 12 hours in NewYork before going to the P.O.E.!”

July 10, 1944
[Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania]

Dear Mother and Dad,

Barracks at Camp Reynolds (1944)

For the last half hour I’ve been trying to write you a letter with this pen. I hope this time I have a little success. It’s beginning to look as if I may be getting out of here before very long. There are supposed to be 2 overseas shipments within the near future. I don’t know exactly where but soon and I imagine I’ll be one of them. We got some of the lowdown from a troop-transport commander the other day and it must be quite a picnic. We get on the train here fully equipped except for primary weapons—rifles, carbines, tommy guns, and go to P.O.E. There we get weapons, any new equipment that may have been introduced and a little training. As soon as the boat (banana boat) arrives, we are dragged with everything on our backs to the ship, given bunk numbers, chow numbers, and introduced to ship routine. It’s just like a post. We get 2 meals a day and have various drills frequently. In wherever we are going they dump us on a train, give us some “K” rations and send us to a reception center where we start training all over again just like we did when we came in the army. How I love it! ——–. If I go to Europe I get 12 hours in New York before going to the P.O.E.!

I haven’t sent in my Education form yet but that’s only because I haven’t got to the post office to get a money order. While I’m waiting for my lessons to arrive I’m going to attend conversational classes and try to brush up on what little German I know.

The routine around here is driving me screwy (nuts). They don’t have any imagination at all—every day is the some damn thing. Tomorrow I’m afraid they’re sending us out on another overnight bivouac. Unfortunate, isn’t it? I’ll close now before this gets gruesome.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 110

Bill’s company is alerted that it will ship in the next several days. They are issued field equipment and clothes that indicate shipment to Europe. Bill sends his folks an urgent telegram for “25 smackers” after the company is “robbed of a total of about $500”, including his wallet, $27, and his first class stamps. He gives his opinionated take on the current war news and President Roosevelt.

July 15, 1944
[Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania]

Dear Mother and Dad,

We’ve been alerted and within the next several days we will ship. I’ve received all new clothing including the new type field jackets, gas masks, inside-out shoes and so forth. Evidentially we’re to be a part of a Class “A” shipment which means—swish ! This I shouldn’t just say but it’s a pretty safe bet that we’re going to Europe since our issue is medium heavy—just about suited to English climate—but one can never tell.

You probably want to know why the urgent wire for 25 smackers. You may have guessed it. I and about half the fellows in the company were robbed of a total of about $500.00. There’s nothing lower in a military society than a thief due to small wages and inadequate means of protecting one’s property. Our first sergeant is going to have a shakedown arraigned, I think; and he says we may do with him what we please before they Court Martial him. In the 44th Inf. Div. they nailed a thief to a wall literally by his hands and feet (I’m not kidding). I think we’d be satisfied to merely break all his fingers. (this is fairly common.) He got over $27.00 from me as well as the wallet and my stamps. The only hope I have of catching up with the bast’d—is if he’s fool enough to use those Special Delivery stamps. I’m the only one in the Co. who uses them regularly. However I’m flat and with shipping and all I don’t know when I’ll be payed.

By tonight’s paper I see that the Japs are murdering our fliers again. God, I can’t understand why we feel so obliged to follow the International Law with the Japs. We might as well give them the guns with which to kill our boys. If it were up to me I’d give ‘em some really good doses of poison gas like their giving the Chinese, and second, I’d blow Tokyo—hospitals, Emperor’s Palace and all right off the map. To hell with this cricket stuff. I’d show them they’re only amateur rats compared to us. The same with the Germans who fight as long as they can kill us without endangering themselves, but give up when the going gets tough. I hardly call it a victory when a lot of Americans have to die while Germans live to raise another generation of “scum.”

Hope your cold is better, Mudder. I have a slight one but it’s pretty well sweated out of me.

I see the “Great Man” has with great reluctance decided to run again. That’s like me accepting $1,000,000 with great reluctance. I’ll close on that sour note.

Best Love — Bill

LETTER 111

Bill sends his first of many censored letters. He is “somewhere on the East Coast.” He tells his folks that he doesn’t know when they will next hear from him.

July 19, 1944
(Somewhere on East Coast)

Dear Mother and Dad,

The plot thickens. I’m somewhere on the East Coast. That’s the sum and substance of what I can tell you. It sounds like a mystery thriller doesn’t it, but it’s really necessary. I don’t know whether or not the envelope shows it, but this letter has been censored. If I have written anything wrong it will have been pointed out to me in no uncertain terms.

It’s not half bad here although most of these poor souls around this place don’t realize it. The food is excellent although we have to eat out of our mess gear. You’ll notice that I overwork the word although. That’s the trouble with the army, too many althoughs.

Well, I don’t know what’s going to happen; you may hear from me tomorrow or you may not hear from me for quite some time.

All the love in the world, — Bill

Pvt. Wm. W. Taylor, Jr.
19203811
C.E. Co. “M” A.P.O. #7946
℅ Postmaster New York, N.Y.

LETTER 112

In his first letter from England Bill reports of a “pleasant crossing” and notes that “England is very pretty and the people quite friendly.”

July 30, 1944
(estimated date)

(V-MAIL)

Dear Mother and Dad,

I have arrived safely in England. I had a pleasant crossing and am feeling well. Of course I can’t say anything definite, but I am having an interesting time.

England is very pretty and the people quite friendly. I’m busy now so I’ll have to close now.

I’ll write again soon.

Love, — Bill

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