June 1945

LETTER 200

Bill notes that it has been one year since D Day. “God, what a year it’s been! Sometimes I wonder if I’m the same person that waved goodbye to you from that train nearly a year ago. I’ve crammed a helluva lot of living into the last year.” He concocts a wild scheme to”lick Japan without invading” using high altitude gas spray. He tells the folks to expect a variety of packages soon, including an electric train.

June 5, 1945
[Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

A year ago tonight I went to the show with you, Mudder; and we came home to learn the great long awaited invasion of Western Europe had taken place. I remember you said something about how glad you were that I was home and not “over there.” God! What a year it’s been! Camp Reynolds, Shanks, New York, the Queen Mary, Scotland, England, France, Belgium, Germany, Paris. Something that wouldn’t happen in a lifetime ordinarily crammed into weeks, days, seconds. So much has happened and yet it’s only been 1 year. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the same person that waved goodbye to you from that train nearly a year ago. I’ve crammed a helluva lot of living into the last year. For the most part it wasn’t pleasant living. I hope it hasn’t changed me too much.

“Happy Birthday,” Dad. It’s a somewhat belated greeting, I know; but—no excuse. You mentioned something about my being home for your vacation. I sure wish I could but that’s how it goes. Maybe I’m better off where I am. (ANY DISSIMILARITY BETWEEN EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHICS AND MY HANDWRITING IS PURELY COINCIDENCIAL)

I have just figured out a way to lick Japan without invading. It’s gas—not used as one naturally thinks against cities and such but rather as a high altitude spray—it would hardly be effective against human beings but against livestock and especially against Japan’s waterborne rice crop it would be devastating. I’m going to submit this idea to the “Stars and Stripes” and wait for the kickback I’ll get from the old “biddies”—“Oh how inhuman. How could you think of such a ghastly thing?” They would rather see our boys die by the thousands storming the shores of Japan. The ones who have to do the dying ought to be asked.

Before long you’re going to begin to get some packages from me, I hope. Don’t be too surprised at what comes. For instance; one linen tablecloth 160 cm x 160 cm and six large napkins, one electric train, gauge ‘oo’ minus the engine (that’s for me after the war) and I’m still trying to find something unique for you, Dad. Maybe one of those German pipes the bowl of which sits on the floor while you smoke. No, huh? Well, I’ll get something good! At the rate the fellas are going over here they’ll have all Germany bought and sent home in 40 pound packages in a few months. I couldn’t resist the electric train. It’s one of the best in the world. Cost about $75.00 in the states—cost me $7.30; has automatic switches, uncoupler and signals. The cars are what is of interest though. They are purely German; quaint little things with even the usual run of advertising on the sides of the boxcars. Even if I must buy an American engine for it, it will be still authentic since 50% of European railways these days are using American locomotives.

That about does it.

Best Love, Bill

LETTER 201

Bill sends home the booklet “The Story of the Century” which describes the 100th Division’s Rheinland campaign. “It’s a good booklet, of course it doesn’t cover the little instances…like the day when our platoon was caught by the cross fire of 3 machine guns outside of Bitche and I lay on the open ground watching machine gun slugs tear up the ground two feet from my face, or the next day when 7 Jerry tanks opened up on us with direct fire.”

June 10, 1945
Göppengen, Germany

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Just yesterday I received a letter from you asking what action I had been in and so forth. The bulletins that have been put out concerning this up ‘til now have been pretty hazy. However, today they handed us the enclosed booklet. It covers pretty well our Rhineland campaign but doesn’t cover the South German action. Of course, it dwells on our breaking of the Maginot Line in the Bitche area to the greatest extent because it was our most remarkable feat and also it was there that we earned the title of “Sons of Bitche” from the rest of the A.E.F and “Bloody Underpaid Butchers of Bitche” by Herr Gobbels propaganda ministry. There were quite a few dead Jerries thereabout. All in all it’s a good booklet. Of course it doesn’t cover the little instances that were so all fired important to each of us as individuals like the day when our platoon was caught by the cross fire of 3 machine guns outside of Bitche and I lay on the open ground watching machine gun slugs tear up the ground two feet from my face or the next day when 7 Jerry tanks opened up on us with direct fire. I do believe that picture on the inside of the cover will give you some idea of the cold.

I’ll try and write again tomorrow.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 202

Bill writes using official Nazi letterhead he believes to have belonged to a teacher association. He sarcastically remarks, “One doesn’t have to be very intelligent to be a teacher over here-just follow the daily instructions-Adolf Hitler is our savior, Adolf Hitler is God!” He notes that “Bitche is correctly pronounced just what you think…and believe me it was a real bitch.” Bill indicates to Mudder that he has no interest in O.C.S. saying, “it means an automatic transfer to the Pacific.”

June 15, 1945
Nürtingen, Germany

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Greetings and Salutations!

I’m writing you this letter thru the courtesy of the Nationalsozialislischer Lehrerbund—whatever that may be and I don’t give a good goddam. I think it’s a teacher association. One doesn’t have to be very intelligent to be a teacher over here—just follow the daily instructions—Adolf Hitler is our savior, Adolf Hitler is God! That is repeated to the little adolescent idiots 3472 times a day, thus producing in merely 10 short years a race of master morons. (Tenno heizo Bautzai) I’m learning Japanese.

I’m really sorry I haven’t been able to write in the last few days but as you can see we’ve been moving. Tomorrow I’m moving again back to Göppinger, but only for a few days. Nürtigen is a somewhat smaller, older town than Göppinger with some rather old buildings and part of what I believe is an old town wall. In the distance can be seen two very forbidding looking medieval castles or “Schloss” as they are called hereabouts. We’re living in an old school building.

As I’ve written before things are not happening very fast these days. Mostly it’s a matter of training and guard.

Oh, oh! Someone just brought in some Cognac. Excuse me. One doesn’t get much of a drink when the entire squad is battling over the bottle. Just as well, I suppose.

Bitche is correctly pronounced just what you think. (Bad English but pointed) When they try to clean it up they ain’t calling it by its correct name and believe me it was a “bitch”.

In several letters you’ve mentioned O.C.S. Well I don’t know about it. I know that I’ll never get very far in this outfit—too many non-coms anyway, but O.C.S. means automatic transfer to the Pacific while there is a good chance of occupation for this outfit.

I thought the Alumni Dinner card was rather cute considering.

I’ve got lots more to write but I’ll give it to you tomorrow.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 203

Bill is very interested to hear about Patton’s visit to his home town of Los Angeles. He has returned to Goppingen, population 75,000. Bill notes the “extreme bitterness” over the Point System and what he says is indifference toward the combat infantry. “Bitter? Why not? The Stars and Stripes announced tonight that 2/3 of our dead were infantrymen. Personally I don’t think an infantryman lives long enough to get many points.”

June 17, 1945
Göppingen, Germany

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well today I received 3 very newsy letters from you which considerably helped brighten what would have been one stinko day.

Gen. Patton’s return to L.A.

I was very interested in your letter about Patton’s stay in L.A., especially since the Col. Elery Zehner (not Zuir) that you mentioned is my battalion commander. Anything he takes a bow for I’ve got a personal hand in. Modern air travel is really sumpin’ though. I spoke to Zehner one day and then about three days later he’s in my own home town. “Coises and Zounds.” Why ain’t I, ‘er sumpin.’

You’ll note I’m back in Göppingen after having been away. This is just a little temporary guard work. I’ll probably be back in Nürtingen before long. Göppingen, by the way is bigger than 30,000; about 75,000.

I’m glad you’ve been seeing the Cottles & Levinsons. I like them all.

I see where you’re somewhat disappointed over my lack of points—me too. Right now there is extreme bitterness in the Combat Infantry about it. I’ve even heard officers complain bitterly. One man said the only thing the Inf. has priority on is Purple Hearts—generally posthumously. The following is a piece from “YANK”—some romantic fool called the Inf. the “Queen of Battles.” We say he’s a liar. She’s just an old whore who’s flattered a bit, and is tossed a few pennies for her body but is shamefacedly set aside when her duties are no longer required.” Bitter? Why not? The Stars and Stripes announced tonight that 2/3 of our dead were Infantrymen. Personally I don’t think an Infantryman lives long enough to get many points.

It does hurt to see Ben with 65 points though. Not that I want him to get “skunked” but I don’t like to keep getting “skunked” myself. Not to keep “harping” on this same old subject but Maudlin put it aptly when he depicted the “chairborne paragraph” trooper telling the old Infantry man that his Combat badge didn’t count. What he needed was more of these battle participation stars, pointing at his own well tailored breast.

Don’t worry about the coins. They repose in a place of safety.

Well, that about does it for now.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 204

Bill has the good fortune to see a Russian show. “It was mostly Russian Swing and good. In fact, it was remarkable since only 6 weeks ago they were working in slave camps and had no orchestrated music.” A Polish girl with a concentration camp “brand” on her left forearm put on a Spanish dance. After the show “a Russian girl in terribly broken English thanked us for releasing them. God! It made the tears come to everyone’s eyes.”

June 22, 1945
Goppingen, Germany

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I know I haven’t written in a coon’s age but likewise I haven’t heard from you in a long time. The only difference is that I know you are writing even if I’m not getting any mail.

Last night we had some pretty wild weather here—especially for the first day of summer. We had an electrical storm and the wind blew so hard that a lot of glass was broken in this bloomin’ town. There wasn’t too much rain though. The Russians have been moving out for the past week now so every 5 minutes a G.I. truck swishes past covered with red flags and full of singing ‘Russkies.” I went into one of the camps after they left and boy did they leave it a mess. The Krauts had their volunteer fire brigade there all morning because they were afraid the Russians would set the “jernt” afire before they left. That afternoon I recruited my own little army of 25 firemen to keep the civilians and Pollocks out of the camp until the military govt. had made its inspection of the place.

Speaking of the Russians they put on a show for us the other evening. I went for lack of anything else to do but was certainly surprised by how good it was. It was mostly Russian swing and good. In fact, it was remarkable since only 6 weeks ago they were working in slave camps and even yet have no orchestrated music. As I said, it was mostly swing and gay Russian music—“Russian sailors dance, etc. with very good dancers; and a few off color jokes all of which goes over big with the G.I.’s. There was one Polish girl who put on a Spanish dance and one could see where her concentration camp number had been branded on her left forearm. After the show was over one Russian girl in terribly broken English thanked us for releasing them. God! It made the tears come to everyone’s eyes. You don’t have to worry about our relations with the Russians. The big shots may be having a tough time but the Russians here think that the average G.I. is about 2 removed from God. The average American, by merely being his own easy going friendly self is accomplishing more than all the treaties and conferences put together.

Last night’s S. & S. (Stars and Stripes) claimed that the Air Corps will run out of targets in Japan in about 3 months. It would sure be swell if they could knock her out by air. I can’t see how they’ll manage at all by the time the combined air fleets of the U.S. and Great Britain get working on them night and day if 450 plane raids are ruining them already.

Well that does it.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 205

Under the misguided belief that he will not be with the Occupation forces Bill decides to apply for O.C.S. He sees “Skylark” with Claudette Colbert and Ray Milland. On Tuesday the unit is expected to return to Nurtigen.

June 24, 1945
Göppingen, Germany

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’ve been trying to get up enough energy to write for two days now but the weather is hot and sticky here right now and it just seems to take the pep right out of a body.

Someday, or rather sometime today I’m going down and make my O.C.S. application. I don’t know what the score is but I’m going to find out.

It seems pretty definite now that we’re not going to be occupation over here so I might as well make a stab at it. I’m getting rather up now with everything as it is.

If the O.C.S. doesn’t work out I should be home for 30 days sometime before Christmas. Otherwise things are pretty much the same here. On Tuesday we’re moving back to Nürtigen I believe. That will mean more training but less hikes, etc.

Last night I took in a show, “Skylark” with Claudette Colbert and Ray Milan. I enjoyed it although I didn’t think it remarkable.

I’ve had quite a number of snapshots taken during the last few days. I hope they come out so I can send them to you.

Well, this doesn’t make much of a letter but I guess that’s all anyway.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 206

Bill responds to an 86 question “Quiz Sheet Deluxe” written by his father designed to “get a whole lot of things [answered] — insignificant, and, otherwise that have been bothering us. I know you will appreciate just how quickly you can relief our minds on a lot of things.”

June 26, 1945
Nürtigen, Germany

Dear Folks,

I answered this as well as I could and as truthfully as I could. I hope they satisfy your curiosity.

If you can get 2 C.I.B.’s do so and send me one preferably in some sort of letter.

Best Love, — Bill

P.S. Easiest letter I ever wrote.

 

 

 

 

LETTER 207

Bill gets some advise about O.C.S from his friend, Lt. Landis the Battalion liason officer. If things go the way Bill hopes his unit could be transfered to Continental Security Reserve on the West Coast, near his hometown. O.C.S. would be…”Wham! Someplace like Okinawa.” The Division starts it’s educational program August 1 using German factories and chemical plants as schools. “The American conqueror is putting the spoils of war to good use.”

June 28, 1945
Nürtigen, Germany

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, today has been a red letter day for me—6 no less. Just about the time I was beginning to get disgusted too. I hadn’t had any for several days then bingo!

I’ll get down to brass tacks to start with. The day I wrote you that last letter in which I said I was going to see about O.C.S. I ran into an old friend of mine who is battalion liaison officer (liaison between battalion C.O. and regimental C.O., Lt. Landis). He used to be our executive officer. I asked his advice on the matter and he said for me to hold off because he had some inside dope that we might remain here some length of time. Today he told me he had seen the assistant of the division and we aren’t leaving this area for some time, maybe not until next spring and if we do leave it won’t be for several months at worst, and the division will go into continental security reserve presumably on the West Coast. In short I may be stationed permanently on the West Coast. If I do go to O.C.S. it’s the Officer’s Replacement Pool in about 4 months at best and then—Wham! Someplace like Okinawa. At any rate we’re due to find out exactly what the score is sometime next week.

A hint of what we’re to hear lies in the fact that the div. is going to start it’s educational program August 1. I don’t believe they’d do this if they thought we’d be leaving within a month.

The program is going to be very complete. We have even taken over the services of German industrial experts to teach mechanical engineering students new German techniques developed during the war, German factories to serve as shops for machinist students, German chemical plants and research laboratories for the same purpose. The American conqueror is putting the spoils of war to good use. If the plan us correctly carried out some of our people should go home with knowledge and experience that would be of inestimable value at home. Some common soldier would know things that our nation’s scientists would be eager to learn. What all this leads to obvious. I certainly hope I get the chance to share in all this.

Well, that’s about all.

Best Love, — Bill

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