March 1946

LETTER 282

Bill is dating Rosemarie, a student nurse at the POW hospital. Her father is head of the Physics Department at the University of Giessen. Bill reassures Mudder that “It ain’t love.” He says that she is nice, well educated and strictly on the “up and up.” Rosemarie is helping Bill with his German and he with her English. Bill’s redeployment date seems to be getting closer and closer, but nothing is definite. He alludes to a clothing shortage at home and says that “before I spend fourteen dollars for a shirt I”ll wear old burlap.”

Giessen, Germany (Hesse)
March 1, 1946

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Boy! Yesterday I received three letters from you. Two of them had been written on the 18th. of February and one on the 20th. That’s the fastest I’ve seen in a long time. I got quite a kick over the concern you had over my date. So I guess that I’ll have to tell you about it. In the first place don’t get excited; it ain’t love. Around Christmas time I met this girl, Rosemarie, up at the POW hospital. She’s a student nurse. Her father is head of the Physics dept. here at the University of Giessen and is slated for General Director of the University due to the fact that he was never a Nazi. Rosemarie is a very nice well educated girl and everything with her is strictly on the up and up. It’s rather rare that an American soldier can make acquaintance of a nice girl over here so I consider myself fortunate. Of course, remember that I don’t consider myself merely an average soldier. We’ve been going out to the dances that are held here in town and in general that’s about all. She’s not exceptionally pretty but she has a pleasing personality and is a very good conversationalist despite the rather odd kind of English she speaks. She’s the one who is teaching me German and I’m teaching her English. She claims that I’m too afraid to speak it for for fear of making mistakes, and she says I shouldn’t be because I speak it rather well. I hope so. At any rate don’t worry about it. You should see me dance a German waltz now — Yoost like I was borned in Wien.

The date for my leaving seems to be getting closer and closer but as yet I’ve heard nothing about it. Forty-nine pointers are leaving today so you can figure it out for yourself. During all this time I’ve been over here I’ve always expected the worst, but now I’m getting so I can’t sit still. I guess I’m just like a little kid getting ready to go to the circus. About every five minutes I say to myself, “I wonder how long it will be now” or “I ought to be on shipboard in about 45 days now.” Boy I just can’t wait. “The Conquering Hero Returns.” Oh Yes! I can see it now as I get off the boat. The first thing someone will say is — “Out of the way, Bum.” All kidding aside, that’s what I expect. At least I don’t have any illusions about how it’s going to be.

You claim that all the relatives want me to come and see them now that I’m out of the thing almost. Well, they can go straight to you know where. When I was over here fighting for them, Jessie was the only one who wrote to me and she managed to talk about almost nothing but how tough a time poor dear Bob was having flying all over the world weighed down with his Major leaves and responsibilities. That didn’t go very well on my empty frostbitten guts. In short, if they want to see me they can come to me. Maybe I shouldn’t feel that way but I do. All I want is to get back and see you. T’hell wit everybody else.

How’s the clothing situation now? I suppose I’ll be like the Krauts going around in a ragged uniform for years and years. Boy! Such a situation. I suppose the boys will be wondering around like a lot of Confederate irregulars or something. I’ll tell you one thing. Before I spend fourteen dollars for a shirt I’ll wear old burlap. I don’t see how they’ve got the damn nerve to ask prices like that. And for that jerk, Ben, he must think that money grows on trees or something–$600.00 for clothes. Yipe!

March certainly came in like a lion this year. This is a miserable day if ever I saw one. It’s supposed to be a good omen and I sure hope so. We’ve had only one day of decent weather since I can remember and it only served as an appetizer.

The picture was taken last week by Lt. Romano. From right to left, Weber my roommate, Schnappsie the Lt’s pooch, and old drizzlepuss himself. I really don’t know how I manage to look quite so stupid.

Well, that does it for today.

Best love, — Bill

LETTER 283

It’s Sunday and Bill remains homesick and “on pins and needles” about word on his redeployment stateside. Taking Rosemarie’s advice that “work is the only cure for the blues” he has saved up his workweek chores for Sunday. The food situation in the British Zone is critical with news that the rations are being cut by two thirds. Bill notes that “that is starvation and nothing else.”

Giessen, Germany (Hesse)
3 March 1946

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, here it is Sunday again and here I am waiting on pins and needles for something to happen. This waiting is really beginning to get me down. If only I knew something for sure it wouldn’t be so bad, but the way things are now I can’t say anything for sure. Replacements are beginning to come into this area in droves so it shouldn’t be long but on the other hand with the terrible food shortage that is beginning to be felt over here they are probably going to need more troops than ever. It makes me so damn mad to see the damn inefficiency that is causing all this trouble. Democracy is sure making a great showing for itself. They announced in the paper today that the food rations in the British Zone is to be cut to about a third of what the British ration is. That is starvation and nothing else. It’s easy enough to say that the Germans have brought it on themselves but starving women and children will certainly be a great advertisement for the champions of the “Four Freedoms.” The Germans are really getting scared and if things get in the American Zone like they are in the British Zone it’s going to take a helluva lot more than 300,000 troops to keep the people in line. All I hope is that I can get out of here before things get to that stage.

One of the fellows in our company has just come back from Italy where he says the situation is terrible. Everyone says to hell with democratic processes and that they need someone in government who will do something. That’s the sort of thing that reminds you of 1933.

I received another February 20th letter from you today so you can see that my mail situation is somewhat better at present. However, I believe that your letter had something to do with that. Yesterday we received a packet of mail from New York with a special airmail ticket on it so evidently the 1297th is getting a little thought for once. It’s a pleasant feeling after all this time.

These Sundays really get me down so anymore I save up some work during the week to take care of on Sunday. Rosemarie — the girl I told you about in my last letter — claims that work is the only sure cure for the blues that she knows of. I’m prone to agree with her although I’m one of the laziest people in the world. Anymore if I don’t have something constructive to keep me occupied I feel like the fifth wheel on a stationary engine. I’ll tell you one thing. If a couple of years in the army doesn’t make a bum out of you nothing will. Either you do nothing or they keep you busy doing something that amounts to nothing. As father Gabriel Heater used to say over the radio on the days when the Jerries kicked the royal living daylights out of us, “Oh Yes, there’s great news coming out of Europe tonight.” I guess it’s all in the way you look at it, and the way I look at it the situation sticks—that’s a slight misspelling.

That’s about all for today so here’s hoping that I’ll know something by the time I write again.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 284

The word is that Bill’s Labor Supervision Company is moving to Munich. He doesn’t think it will have any effect on his homecoming. Giessen is having typical spring weather”you know, a half rain, half snow, all slop kind of weather.” Yesterday a Jerry asked Bill if he could join the American army if there is another war.

Giessen, Hesse, Germany
March 6, 1946

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’ve got something odd to tell you today. That is that we’re moving to Munich. It came very suddenly and surprised us all. Of course, it’s a week away and many things can happen between now and then. I’ve always wanted to see Munich but at this time I’m not interested in seeing anything but home. All this, however, will have no effect on my homecoming. Maybe it would delay me a couple of days but not more. We’re being transferred from the 8th Labor Area to the 9th so I can’t tell you what the setup is supposed to be. Personally I hoped that we would stay here until we got our redeployment orders but you never know what the army is going to do next. From Munich it will be a helluva lot farther to port than from Giessen and that will probably mean more horsing around on forty and eights. Actually we will probably no more than get there then four or five men out of our company of eight men will be on their way. I doubt very much, however, if the brass ever took that into consideration. They’ll wonder why after they sent our company down there there will be no one left. Well, I know that I don’t give a damn.

I’m waiting for the mail right now and I sure hope I get some. Once I leave here I’ll probably never get anymore until I get home. The last one that I received was written on February 20th. I’m actually getting to the point at which I don’t give a damn about anything.

Well, by the time I write again, however, I should know for certain what we’re going to do. Now the only problem is getting home before they start another defugalty over here. Boy! It just seems that we can’t have any kind of decent peace. There’s a lot of things going on over here that I’d like to tell you about but I’ll just have to wait until the time when I get home.

We’re having a nice slice of sloppy spring weather here right now—you know, a half rain, half snow, all slop kind of weather.

Since I wrote the last paragraph, I’ve read the “Stars and Stripes” and listened to the news in German over the radio. What a mess. All I hope is that I can get home for a while before they start another fracus over here. From the news it is obvious that Britain and ourselves are working very hard to win the confidence of the krauts or anybody else who might have any sort of a grudge against our friends, the you know whos. Boy, oh Boy. What a life. Yesterday one of the Jerries asked me if it would be possible to join the American army if we have a war. That left a beautiful taste in my mouth. I don’t know what’s going on but God knows I’m sure sick of the whole damn setup. I always feel like we’re sitting on a powder keg playing with dynamite caps.

And with all the trouble in the world I look at the newspaper and see that they’re still making with the strikes back home. Bah!

Well, that’s about all for today. I hope that I can tell you something more definite about what we will be doing by the next time I write.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 285

At long last Bill’s name is turned in for redeployment back to the States. His 19-month overseas deployment will soon be over. The men in Bill’s company celebrate the news by getting “high as a kite.” The one exception is Bill, who doesn’t drink. To his chagrin he is the only one sick the next morning. Disgustingly he exclaims, “Hell, if I knew that I was going to feel so bad this morning anyway I would have gone on a real toot.”

7 March 1946
Giessen, Germany

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Oh Happy Day! Oh World of Joy! Today I was informed that yesterday my name was turned in for redeployment. Yippie! Now all that I have to wait for is my orders. Oh, I wonder how long that will be. I hope to heaven that they will come down next week before the company must leave for Munich. I’m afraid that if we are in transit when they come through everything will be a mess. However, if our orders come through the Lieutenant is going to have one sweet time trying to get down there with only 3 men and three vehicles. Ha, I should worry. Out of the eight men in our company 5 of us will be leaving all at the same time. I think that that will about settle the hash of the1297th for once and for all. The two men that the Lieutenant will have are new and unexperienced in this work and any replacements will be as green as grass. Of course I’m not shedding any tears though. Once I’m out of here t’hell with all of it.

This morning I felt a little sick so I asked the Lieutenant if I could lie down—ate too many French fried potatoes last night. So I just got to sleep when Weber, the jeep drier came dashing in and threw me out of bed. Of course I appreciated that very much but before I could strangle him with a blanket he told me about the shipment. You know suddenly I felt like a new man. My stomach didn’t feel like an old sash weight anymore. Alles war wunderbar.

All I have to sweat out now is about 747,000 little details like who, how, when, where, why, and sundry other trivialities, but at least I know something for definite and that will be something.

Boy! Do I get mad. Everybody in the company last night with the exception of myself was as high as a kite but guess who had the hangover this morning. Yep, that’s right. Honestly, I haven’t drunk anything stronger than beer since VJ and yet I’m the one who must suffer in the morning after. Hell, if I knew that I was going to feel so bad this morning anyway I would have gone on a real toot. Oh well, C’est las Vie or sumpin.’

I’m afraid that these next couples of weeks are really going to be the longest in a long time. As long as I wasn’t sure about the thing I could be as philosophic as Zeno himself. But now I’ll be sitting on the edge of my seat all the time. It’s a good that I cut my fingernails short or I’d probably gnaw my hands off.

I’m afraid that I can’t think about anything else except coming home right now. I don’t kid myself though. There’s a lot of difference between getting orders and getting off the train in L.A. but I’ve got to start somewhere.

Well, that’s about all I’ve got to say for tonight. I haven’t received any mail for several days now so I guess that they have everything in a muddle again.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 286

Bill tells his folks to stop writing him as “By the time you get this letter I should be well on my way home.” A large shipment of troops are leaving port on the 28th or 29th of the months and Bill hopefully says “if I’m lucky I will be with that shipment.” He is making the rounds of people he knows to tell them goodbye. The first thing that those who are German say to him is, “I wish I were going too, you lucky guy.”

Giessen, Germany (Hesse)
March 11, 1946

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’m writing you today to tell you to stop writing to me. By the time you get this letter I should be well on my way home. Yesterday we were informed that we would be leaving for our carrier unit or casual packet sometime this week. The fact of the matter is that we may leave tomorrow or we may leave sometime late this week. At any rate it can’t be much longer than that. There is a large shipment of troops leaving port on the 28th or 29th of this month and if I’m lucky I will be with that shipment. Of course, everything is too indefinite to tell for sure. That’s the same old thing that makes me love the army so damn much. You never can tell when they’re going to do something. A fellow will get ready to go somewhere ten times only to have the date set back and then when he expects it the least they come rushing in with the orders for him to be ready to move in about five minutes.

Anyway they called yesterday morning and wanted to know if any of us wanted to stay over here. I like the way they go at it. They call up and with an unusual sweetness of voice say that if we wish there is no reason why we have to go. Ha! This army kicks you in the pants for years and then they think that you will fall in love with them if they merely pat you on the back once.

I received a letter from you yesterday dated the 27th of Feb. which made pretty good time considering how the mails usually go over here. I doubt very much that you waited a whole week between letters, but that’s the way I usually get them. So they wrote to you about the book of the Regt. during combat. I really want one of those but the dirty so and so who wrote to you also wrote to me and I already ordered one. It shouldn’t be too long now before I get a book from division also. It is 400 pages and is called “The Story of the Century”. With all three of the books that we will have you should have a pretty good idea what in hell I did over here. What’s more I should get an idea what in hell I did over here. I’ve often wondered just what in the devil was going on.

Yesterday they said that we’d be leaving here Tuesday or Wednesday so I spent a good part of the day saying goodbye to people I know around here. The first thing that those who are German said was, “I wish I were going too, you lucky guy.” Of course that’s the same thing the Americans said too. In fact I have a sneaking suspicion that these people are slightly envious of me around here. Now, however, it seems that I may be stuck around here for some time to come—maybe a week or so. It’s really hard to say.

I really have a hard time believing that this can be true. I’ve nothing but bad news for so long that I’m not conditioned to good news. I need some sort of refresher course in it or something.

The weather at last is beginning to break up around this neck of the woods. You might know it. It’ll probably be nice as can be from the time that I leave until next winter. Right now the weather is warm and just a bit foggy. It’s a lot like home about this time of year. For all my complaining though this has not been a hard winter for Germany. We’ve had very little snow and not enough cold to really make things bad. It really would have been bad if it had. The people here are not starving yet but they are not eating as well as the people in the other parts of Europe no matter what these idiot reporters for PM and other such publications say. The only thing is that they don’t moan about it so much. They’re just happy that things are as good as they are.

Well, I guess that about does it for now.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 287

After almost two and a half years of writing, this is Bill’s final letter home from World War II. Things have “all come about very suddenly. In four days we are supposed to leave for port, which means that within 15 days we should be aboard a ship.” Bill notes that “generally it takes about a month in the pipeline but he is hopeful that “I may be in it in less than half that time.”

Heidenheim, Germany
March 14, 1946

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, you see where I’m now stationed. We came down here yesterday from Giessen and I’m certainly surprised in the difference between Giessen and Heidenheim. Things are tough up there but here you’d never know that there even was a war. No bomb damage (there’s an American owned munitions plant here), plenty of food in the shop windows, clothing—everything. I can see now why the people up there are bitter about these people—“Catholic scum” they call them. That’s an example of their intolerance, but these people here are very pro—American, now claiming that they are good Catholics and that they never liked Hitler, etc. (the usual line). Up north they at least admitted that they were Nazis.

Anyway this has all come about very suddenly. In four days we are supposed to leave for the port, which means that within 15 days we should be aboard a ship—that my friends, is fast moving—very fast. Generally it takes about a month in the pipeline but I may be in it less than half that time.

I probably won’t have much time to write for the next couple of weeks so don’t expect much mail. In fact, I may not be able to send more than a couple of letters before I get home. I won’t make any promises, but that’s the story.

I hope you’ll excuse my poor penmanship but this is the first letter I’ve written by hand in a long time.

That about does it for tonight. If you want to find Heidenheim on the map, it’s in the Schwabish Alps east of Goppingen.

Best Love, — Bill

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