June 1944

Editor’s Note: There is a three week gap in the letters due to Bill’s return home on a much appreciated furlough.

LETTER 102

Bill writes from Chicago enroute to his new assignment. He describes the train ride as “awful — it’s very crowded and the cars are so hot and filthy.” Along the way he gets a look at “those new B-29’s. They’re really tremendous.”

June 16, 1944
[Chicago Illinois]

Dear Mother and Dad,

I have a few hours here in Chicago so I thought it would be a good opportunity to write you [to] let you know that everything is O.K. So far the train ride has been awful. We’ve had seats all the way but it’s very crowded and the cars are so damned hot and filthy that it’s disgusting. We had a holdup at Omaha due to the floods and our train was 7 hours late into Chicago. We missed our connection with the Erie but we found that another train leaves tonight about 9:30 so we would have taken that one anyway.

Just after we heard about the new bombing of Tokyo I got a look at one of these new B-29’s. They’re really tremendous.

That’s about all.

Love, — Bill

LETTER 103

Bill arrives at Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania. He says that the camp is “better than Crowder….but at best it’s just another army camp.”

June 19, 1944
[Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania]

Postcard

Dear Mother and Dad,

I’ve arrived in Camp Reynolds as of 8:00 P.M. last night—about 2 hours before dark—I had spent all day in Greenville, Pa.

“SNIFF SNIFF”

This camp’s not much of a place but God knows it’s better than Crowder. They treat us well but at best it’s still just another army camp, a hot one at that. I still don’t know much about what goes here, but I don’t think I’ll be here much over 3 weeks.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 104

Bill is now slated for overseas shipment. He doesn’t know which direction he is going but speculates,”maybe west.” He has had K.P for 3 days in a row.

June 22, 1944
[Camp Reynolds, Pa.]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Sorry I haven’t written but I’ve had 3 days K.P. in a row and up until tonight I’ve gotten off after lights out. They’re working me to death. Wot a life.

I know now I’m slated for overseas shipment and am getting all the newest equipment. However, I don’t know what direction I’m going (maybe west) (I hope not), but anyhoo—We’re not doing anything terrific but there’s so much of it.

My address is—

(Co. “K” 4th. Regt.)

This is no letter but I just haven’t any more time.

Best Love, — Bill

I’ll write a real letter tomorrow if it kills me.

LETTER 105

Bill warns mother and dad that in the near future his letters will be censored. “In short my stuff will be even less informative than it is now.” He goes to the movies and sees “This is the Army” starring Lt. Ronald Reagan.

June 23, 1944
[Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania]

Dearest Mother and Dad,

The wind’s a blowin’ and the rain’s a rainin’ and all told it’s a “hellova” evening. Things are bad all over though, I guess. Don’t let the tone of that fool you though, I’m doing pretty good ‘n well these days. I don’t mean I’m living “the Life of Reilly” because I’m not, but still I’m doin’ all right—as I’ve said before—I’m getting to be an awful letter writer. I can’t write a single paragraph without saying the same thing twice.

Tonight I finally got some clean sun tans. I’d been wearing the other set since I left home. Ain’t that awful? On the strength of the occasion of getting the new duds I went to the movies and saw “This is the Army.” I really enjoyed it. The humor was typically G.I. — not synthetic as is the rule with most army pictures.

I’m going to be working even harder the next couple of days, I suppose. We’re losing most of our company on shipment and they’ll only be enough left to fill out the detail roster. “Oi” is the word for it.

Lately I’ve been finding out some of what’s what around here, so here it is. I’ll be able to send mail to you but my letters will be censored. In short my stuff will be even less informative than it is now. Example–: Dear Folks,–everything is fine. Yesterday I went for a walk around the barracks—how thrilling. Well that’s all I can say now, etc. Won’t that be nice? After we’re alerted I may get letters to you but probably not.

LIGHTS OUT

Love, Bill

Sounds like an excuse for closing doesn’t it…….It ain’t

LETTER 106

In this informative letter Bill covers a variety of subjects. The men get a chance to talk to a number of “Nazi prisoners” and are heartened to learn that reports of “the Germans using crack troops were not true.” Bill goes to another movie, “Hail the Conquering Hero.” The Pittsburgh Pirates play an exhibition game in camp. He closes the letter with his take on the 1944 Republican National Convention.

June 29, 1944
[Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania]

Dear Mother and Dad,

Here’s another letter way late, and if it sounds pretty bad don’t blame me too much. Everything’s been pretty blah lately. We’re having some of the damnedest weather I’ve ever heard of. I suppose you already heard about our tornado. It never came this far north but we had some damned screwy winds. Since then it’s been insufferably hot. You know how it is bad here–sweat just runs off a person in rivulets. Nobody can sleep at night and then they work up a hike with full field pack for everyday. I went on one the day before yesterday right after taking the Typhus shot. That night I had a terrible fever for several hours. They had to take one guy to the hospital. God! The things we do.

We just got a new load of Nazi prisoners in this camp and we talked to a few through one of the boys who can speak German. What they said was very heartening. One was a paratrooper who went into the German Army in November (after I went). He just turned 18 about two days ago. He fought at Cassino and told us a great deal. He said the reports were that the Germans were using crack paratroopers weren’t true and that most of them hadn’t been in combat before. He said that his sergeant told him at Cassino the Americans shot in a minimum of 60,000 shells a day. He added that they were all so frightened that they were more than glad to surrender. Another German artillery man said that they feared worst of all American artillery and infantry. The accuracy of our riflemen seem to awe them especially. One German infantryman said he had received only the bare essentials of rifle marksmanship and no training at all with the bayonet. He said he could handle artillery, tanks, radios, etc. but oddly he knew nothing of the most important work of the infantryman.

I’ve been going to quite a few movies lately—mainly to benefit from the air conditioning. Last night I saw “Hail the Conquering Hero” with William Demerest and Eddie Bracken (remember them in “Miracle of Morgan’s Creek?). I don’t think this is as good but it is quite entertaining, nevertheless.

Yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates came up here and played an exhibition game with some Youngstown club. The game of course wasn’t much and the heat was unbearable. However the Pirates pulled a lot of funny routines which were pretty good. The Pirate pitcher was the inventor of this “Blooper ball” that was mentioned in Life or Look a while back. It drops almost straight down on the plate.†

Best Love, –Bill

Pirates Pitcher Rip Sewell

Hell, I don’t want to stop here. I haven’t mentioned the convention. I’m sure glad to see [Thomas] Dewey doing so well. I think he is the only man who has a chance. By the time you get this you’ll probably know whether or not [Earl] Warren will run for vice-president on the ticket. It will be hard on him to accept but I think it’ll help the cause along. In the army the political argument is going hot and heavy and I believe the majority is for Dewey. I find this especially among the Southerners. Maybe things are finally going our way.

Best Love, –Bill

† The famous “blooper” pitch was thrown by Truett Banks “Rip” Sewell (1907-1889) who played with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1938-1949. Sewell developed the pitching motion for the unusual pitch after suffering the loss of a toe in a 1941 hunting accident. 

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