October 1945

LETTER 243

This letter marks the second anniversary of Bill’s service in the U.S. Army. He notes that, “it seems like a strange terrible dream — with a happy ending.” The 100th Division is “just a shadow of its former self…it’s the same with every outfit.” The division or “whats left of it” is set to sail December 15th.

October 4, 1945
[Derdingen, Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

You’ll note the date. One October 4, two years ago as the calendar reads a young man I know left home to start in on a great adventure. God! If he’d only known then what lay ahead of him.

I guess it’s been a harder two years for you than me. It seems like a strange terrible dream—with a happy ending, however. Sometimes I wonder if there ever had been a time when I wasn’t just a small part of an immense machine.

It’s a funny thing to watch an army die around you. For two years I’ve been part of a great force, a juggernaut the throbbing pulse of which I was always aware. Men came and went but it went on as if it would forever. I’ve always hated war with its death and misery, waste and stupidity but still I’ve had a deep pride in this machine. It represented so much—you, America and myself. The only time in my life that I was ready to fight to the death was when it was threatened. And now it’s dying. Our division is just a shadow of its former self. It’s the same with every outfit. It’s a happy and natural ending though.

Well, the division, that is what’s left of it, is supposed to sail December 15th. I may with and then again maybe not. If the “close out force” needs more men I leave the Division, if not I stay. They ask me if I can drive a truck? No! A jeep? No! Pound a typewriter? No! Crate equipment? No! In short, I’m the most stupid, useless person in the E.T.O. That’s exactly what I want them to think. Being smart never did me any good; maybe being a dope will.

I’m still waiting on my pass.

P.X. rations are coming in so I’ll have to close here. (that’s a new one, huh?) So…

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 244

Bill attempts to get his lost Expert Infantry Rifleman’s badge replaced. Men are leaving the unit at a rapid pace. Three weeks ago there were 273 men in the company and now Bill doubts that “after Friday we’ll have 73 period.”

October 5, 1945
[Ober-Derdingen, Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I’ve been putting off writing now for 2 days trying to get somebody around here to believe that I’m entitled to wear the Expert Infantry Rifleman’s badge, but now it’s done so that’s it. I hope their satisfied. They should be. I’ve gone to enough trouble.

Everybody’s leaving the outfit—that is except me. Everybody above 50 points and everybody below 44. We had 273 men in the company only 3 weeks ago. After Friday I doubt that we’ll have 73—period. It seems that all the old gang is going or gone. It was a swell crowd and I’m sorry to see the last of it. Anyway it’s a happy parting.

My buddy, Dye — Hubert Dye — to be exact, will be about the only one left. He’s from Cal. We have a lot in common. Only men in the 45 to 59 point category will stay and many of us may go to work in Redeployment Centers.

That’s about all for now.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 245

The 100th Infantry Division has been scheduled for deactivation. Bill is slated to stay with the Division and is hoping to be on the “high seas” by January 15. He makes an unflattering remark about an acquaintance at home and buys Mudder a bottle of “parfum.”

October 6, 1945
[Derdingen, Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Ye Olde 100th Inf.Division has been alerted and placed in category 4 which means home and deactivation. What’s more important is that I’m scheduled to stay with the Division. Evidently it’s not close out force for me and shipment home much sooner than I expected. I’m still liable for closeout duty being under 50 points in score but as a Rifleman I’m pretty safe. My idea about “not knowing nutin” seems to be bearing fruit.

At any rate, the date at which we are supposed to clear the 7th Army area is Dec. 15. That means that by Jan. 15 I should be on the high seas. The paper states that there’s a very, very, very slim chance we could be in the states by Christmas.

Now this is strictly on the O.T. but Major Young, our old Company commander, who is now in the 6th Corps G2 which of course Intelligence, says that at the present rates of movement we will actually leave this area between Nov. 11 & 17. That means I could be in the states on Christmas and home possibly for New Years. Don’t count on anything, but it looks pretty damn good; and even at worst it’s going to be far better than what I counted on.

I received a letter from you today, Dad, and when you mentioned my numbering my letters I thought, oh, oh! The last 3 letters I’ve written had no numbers—what a memory!

Oh! I wish I was a moron
I wouldn’t give a damn.
Oh! I wish I was a moron
My God! Maybe I am.

So Elaine got married, huh? God have mercy on the poor sap of a groom. The first time he sees her without the war paint she’ll be a widow.

About the boxes—I haven’t received the last 2 yet, Sept. 6, Sept. 12, but that’s only natural.

By the way I bought a bottle of parfum for you Mudder. It’s a small bottle made by Ary’s, Paris, and is called Caresse Infinie. As far as I know it could be cabbage juice.

That’s all.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 246

Bill is on detached service from “A” Company and is driving for the motor pool. Official word is that the 100th. will be home by Christmas. Bill is trying to keep his emotions in check saying “…I don’t want to be too optimistic. I’ve been in the army too long for that.”

October 9, 1945
[Vailhingen, Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, for awhile anyway I’m doing a little work. I’m now on detached service from “A” Company working at bn. HQ. I’m driving for the motor pool. So many drivers are shipping out that they had to call on the line companies for help. I don’t know how long I’ll be here but probably until we clear the area. I’m still with “A” Co. officially though and all my mail, passes, etc. go through there. This is pretty easy work but when it gets a little colder we’ll all freeze on the road.

We received it officially last night that the Division would be home by Christmas. That means the sailing has been moved up again. This time we are supposed to sail December 5 so by the 15th we should be in New York. The only thing marring that beautiful picture is the very remote possibility that I might get shipped out of the outfit. I don’t see why I should but I don’t want to be too optimistic. I’ve been in the army too long for that.

It’s nicer here in Vailingen than it is in Derdingen. We live in a house right next to the movie. We have good laundry service. All in all it’s a lot better setup. Another thing is that now I’m in an essential job for battalion and am much more likely to stay with the division no matter what happens. The division is supposed to go home with 45-59 points. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I’ll probably get mail tonight so I’ll have more to write about tomorrow.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 247

Bill is now driving in Stuttgart for the “Century Sentinel,” —  the divisional newspaper. His resentment toward the brass boils over as he exclaims that “while the line company men who actually fought and shed blood linger in Derdingen, at the divisional headquarters officers and enlisted men alike live like Turkish sultans.” As an added insult Bill notes that “today they again approached me to see if I would re-enlist. Ha!”

October 16, 1945
[Stuttgart, Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

The last time I wrote I said that I was on detached service. Now I’m on detached service from detached service. I’m driving in Stuttgart for the “Century Sentinel” the divisional newspaper.

Here it is difficult to believe that 30 miles away in Derdingen a line company that actually fought and shed blood is living in relative discomfort with nothing in the way of amusement or convenience. Tonight I had a long talk with Ralph Taylor, an old combat man from my squad and he gave me a pretty comprehensive picture of the situation. It’s rotten throughout. While lower echelon units are crying for men divisional headquarters is packed with men doing nothing but live like Turkish Sultans. Officers and enlisted men alike live in mansions like the one in which I write this letter. This is Stuttgart’s most fashionable district. There’s not a house around here that has less than 20 rooms. Here they live amidst all this splendor with their myriads of servants, personal autos, convenients or mistresses or whatever you will, all of which are currying the favor of the conquerors. They sit in their sumptuous offices and award one another various awards and decorations for valorous and meritorious achievement (Division Headquarters was never closer than 40 miles from the front lines). They eat excellent food and can easily obtain any of the luxuries that the line outfits are so tightly rationed on—candy, cigarettes, liquor, gifts—anything–! And this is what I fought for, what men gave their lives and limbs for. There’s a lot of bitterness welling up in me and the rest.

I guess you can forget about my Bronze Star. The Public Relations Officer’s third assistant pencil sharpener got it instead. Of course he never heard of a gun or saw a Kraut, but he’s so much more important and I such an excellent procurer for the officers that well—. Today they again approached me to see if I would re-enlist. Ha!

I received two more packages from you this week; the one with the T-shirts and another with food. They were swell. I especially enjoyed the tuna. We never get fish at chow and I’m very fond of it.

The weather here has taken an amazing turn for the better recently. We’ve had warm sunny days and since I must be driving an open jeep it’s been a Godsend.

It seems now that I’m going to be transferred out of the Division. I’ve managed to stay much longer than most but I’m about at the end of my rope—there’s almost no one left. There are several places I might go—3rd Div., 78th Div., 386th Div., AAA (anti aircraft ), or military govt. It’s hard to say. The 78th is in Berlin.

It’s sure murder with these strikes, etc. these days. We don’t know if we’ll ever get home. The Germans claim that we’re cynical—small wonder.

Well, I’ll close now with a request–2 bottles of Sergeant’s Mange Cure and 2 bottles of Fitch Shampoo. It did my hair good last time and maybe it’ll save some of it now.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 248

The “Century Sentinel” gets a scoop as the only newspapermen covering an important meeting of the “military governors of all of Germany.” The participants include Lt. General Lucius Clay, “a mess of 2 and 3 star generals” and Robert Murphy” U.S. Ambassador to Germany so to speak.” Bill is incensed over Juan Peron’s protection of Nazi war criminals saying, “Right now I would stay in the army long enough to do one thing…kick the living daylights out of Argentina.”

October 19, 1945
[Stuttgart, Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Juan Peron

Things have really been hopping along for the last few days since I’ve been driving for the “Century Sentinel.” The other day there was a very important meeting of the military governors of all Germany here and somehow AP, UP & INS slipped up so we had the only newspaperman attending the conference. Lt. Gen. Lucius Clay was there (Mil. Gov. of American occupied Germany and Gen. Eisenhower’s deputy). Also present were a mess of 2 and 3 star generals and Mr. Robt. Murphy, U.S. Ambassador so to speak to Germany. I looked like a bum—dirty clothes and unshaven but you should have seen them fall all over us—the power of the press you know. We talked to Murphy. He seemed a pretty nice old gink. The whole thing was quite a feather in the cap of O’Connor, the editor of the Sentinel. He used to be Foreign News Editor for N.B.C. Chicago. I’m only a driver but with my press card they thought I might be somebody so they leaned over backward to be nice to me.

Right now I would volunteer to stay in the army long enough to do one more thing. That’s to go and kick the living daylights out of Argentina. I’d like to see us do it now before we’re demobilized. That Peron and his army clique I would take care of in about 3 days. We spent 3 ½ years licking the big Fascheats (how do you spell it?). Now I suppose we’re going to sit around and let those 2 for a nickel Nazilands, Spain and Argentina lord it around. Phooey!

That about does it.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 249

While covering a football game in Stuttgart, Bill’s motor pool jeep is stolen. He expresses his disillusionment saying, “this Europe stinks. I’m sure getting fed up with it all. The only business that I really know is the fine art of human extermination. That is one helluva purpose in life.” He sends home several “Son’s of Bitche” cards. In closing, as if to punctuate his foul mood he makes several sarcastic remarks about people at home in California.

October 23, 1945
[Vailhingen, Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, I’m back at the motor pool in Vailingen after a rather eventful week in Stuttgart. On Saturday I drove the fellows down to Ulm to cover the football game between the 100th and 36th Div. T—for Texas. It was a good game and we won 7-6. When we came out my jeep was gone despite the fact that I’d left it in a guarded area and removed both the distributor rotor and rotary coil wire. Some nerve, huh? A guy lost one the week before and now must pay $900. I’m in the clear, however. Thank God. I took all the cautions—precautions that is, and I have an officer’s word to prove it.

I’m still with the division but I don’t think it can be for long. I just don’t have enough points to stay with the division. The 100th is supposed to set sail on December 5 for the states but it is supposed to take only men with 55-62 points so –draw your own conclusions.

I haven’t had any mail from you for several days now so I’ve been wondering if you’ve received my package yet? No?

I’m still trying to get a pass to Switzerland, I hope. From there I can call you on the telephone. No such luck I guess.

This Europe stinks. I’m sure getting fed up with it all. I dream about home more and more these days. I want to get back to school too. The other day I sat down and thought it over. The only business that I really know is the fine art of human extermination. That is one helluva purpose in life, and I’d hate to go out of the world with that as my sole accomplishment. You asked recently in a letter if I want to return to school. You can bet your boots I do.

I’m sending you a couple more “Sons of Bitche” cards. I’m going to mount one of them in a glass picture holder and set it on my desk when I get home. Good idea, huh?

Yesterday the weather was lousy but today the sun’s trying to come out. I hope tomorrow is a nice day again. Nothing dampens my morale like bad weather.

Ahh! One of the boys just brought in 3 letters from you so I’ll read them now.

I’ve finished the one you wrote Oct. 4, Dad. I’m glad you saw G.I. Joe. True it was a little dull but it was true also that it wasn’t colored up by Hollywood. That sort of thing doesn’t make a good picture. The action shots of that picture were of the 143rd Inf, 36th Div. at San Pietro, Italy. They’re located just south of here now and are quite proud about it. They’re a damn good outfit.

The stuff about Betty and Red Menkin are quite interesting. He always impressed me as awfully irresponsible and the breaks that he’s had during the war won’t help to straighten him out either. I met Red’s mother once but that was quite enough. I think she’s a jerk.

You said it that that 24 grand won’t be hard to take. I ain’t the least bit allergic to money.

Now I’ll read your letters of Oct. 7th and 8. So you say Elaine’s new husband neither smokes nor drinks. If I were her husband I’d stay plastered all the time.

Well, I guess that’s about all for today. I think there’s going to be a good dinner this noon so I better get washed up.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 250

Bill refuses a motor pool assignment going to Stuttgart saying, “I’ll be damned if I’ll take on a $1500.00 responsibility again with Jeep thieves as numerous and very crafty.” Bill goes to the movies and sees “Along Came Jones” with Gary Cooper. The weather is getting colder every day.

October 26, 1945
[Vailhingen, Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

It’s been several days since I’ve written to you and unfortunately I haven’t received any mail from you in the time since then. It appears that there’s quite a mail tie-up over here. The army claims that high priority passengers have been bumping our mail off planes bound for the states. Undoubtedly these high priority passengers are a bunch of political bums that should have stayed home in the first place or maybe Elliot’s over here sending livestock home on class “1” priority. I don’t know but it’s a pain anyway.

There’s really not much to write about. They want me to go to Stuttgart again tomorrow but they can go to hell. I’ll be damned if I’ll take on a $1500.00 responsibility again with Jeep thieves as numerous and very crafty. In the army proof that I have taken all precautions against theft will work once but not twice.

I went to the movies tonight as I do practically every night and saw “Along Came Jones” with Gary Cooper. I thought the picture dragged a little and that the plot was a little confused, but for once the cowboy hero was a little slow on the draw. In fact he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn so that was something. I had to stop writing a minute ago and chase a drunk out of the motor pool. What a life!

The weather here is getting colder every day there was a lot of wind all day today and the sky partially cloudy this morning. All in all it was not a good day and I don’t like it. These “open air Cadillacs” are no fun to drive in bad weather.

This hasn’t been much of a letter but under the circumstances it’s the best I can do.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 251

Bill’s funk continues. It’s 10:30 pm at the motor pool, he is on C.Q. and comments, “God has it been dead and lonely around here.” He has 47 points and no prospect of shipping home anytime soon. His vanity “is sure a hurtin’ these days” as he remarks, “..I sure wish I had an arm load of medals to bring home with me so you could be proud. Just Pfc. Taylor with no honors, no rank.”

October 29, 1945
Vailhingen, Germany

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I sure don’t feel like writing tonight but I do owe you a letter so here goes. It’s about 10:30 now and I’m on C.Q. again (Charge of quarters) at the motor pool until 2:00am. It’s a lonely job but I can at least get the time to write.

God! Has it been dead and lonely around here. Up until today there’s been some 200 men left in our entire bn. and that’s counting the men on Detached Service and on pass. There are 7 men present at A Co., 23 at B Co. and so forth. Ten weeks ago there were 1600 men in the battalion. I eat at D Co mess, and whereas we use to stand in line ½ hour or more for chow now it’s over in about 2 minutes.

There’s been a new point reorganization again, however; and we’re getting a lot of men back from the 12 Armored Div. and the 36th. The 100th. is now supposed to go home with men between 56 and 65 points. You’ll note that there ain’t no 47 points in there anywhere. Boy, do I get griped occasionally! Over 2 years in the army, 16 months overseas, 6 months combat and only 47 points. Phfttt!

My vanity is sure a hurtin’ these days. I know it isn’t really important but sometimes I sure wish I had an arm load of stripes or a chest load of medals to bring home with me so you could be proud. Just P.F.C. Taylor with no honors, no rank. I know I did my share and maybe more but wonder what others will think. The Infantryman sure has a hard, thankless task in war. Don’t think it’s got me down though. If anyone ever says anything I’ll kill ‘em with a glance.

You speak of having received my letters of Oct. 6 & 9 but you haven’t mentioned my letter with the O.K on my Expert Rifleman’s badge and so forth. If that letter’s lost after all the trouble I’ve had getting it signed there’ll be dead mail clerks from here to Le Harve and back.

Well this has been a sad sack of a letter but I guess the old thinker is about through for the day so…….

Best Love, — Bill

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