Just By Accident

Thurs. April 20, 1944

5:25 p.m.


Dear folks,

Another day’s work done. Oh how good it is. I wonder how long it can last. Last night after I finished writing to you I decided to go to the show instead of writing letters so I took off. After standing in line ½ hour or so I got in. The picture was “Follow the Boys.” It had a lot of stars & bands to make it worth seeing but the story itself was sort of lousey. It was an attempt to play up the part of the movie & radio stars in entertaining service men. I got back at nearly 11:00, shaved and got to bed. We were up at 6:00 again this morning. It seems so good to sleep a little later than 5:15. Back at 8:45. We dressed and fell out for reveille. Then we made our beds and swept and mopped. For breakfast I had eggs, bread, jam, bran flakes & milk. After breakfast we had to lay out our G.I. equipment to have it checked against our records. At about 8:00 I reported at Br. Hdqs. for work. I was supposed to be on K.P. today but the personnel sgt. at hdqs. fixed it up for me. So far as I know I’ll get out of K.P. and guard. That’s worth it if for nothing else. First I made out our morning report. We had quite a time with it but finally we got it done. I have to fall back on the others as much as possible because I don’t know much about it. We studied all this stuff a little back at school but I guess I didn’t learn much. After I got that all set I worked on service records until I finished them. I’ve got all the dope on myself. In order to get a good conduct ribbon a person must have a rating of excellent in character and in efficiency as a soldier. At Custer & at McCoy they put unknown on my record. Then while I was in Calif. in the AA I got Excellent for character but only “satisfactory” for efficiency. But since May 21 I had had excellent in the A.S.T.P. and over here in the 393rd. They recommended me for a ribbon when I left school. I Co. didn’t but if I can keep a rating of excellent here I’ll be eligible for one in another month. I’d like to get one just on general principles. People wonder why you don’t have one. They don’t realize how easily some officer can write “satisfactory” on your record & spoil it. At 12 we quit for dinner – potatoes, salad, bread, butter, jam, and pumpkin pie. At 1 I went back to work. The other clerks went someplace else but I am not up on it enough yet so I stayed and typed up pay books all afternoon. I have to keep everything in order for my Co. There are only 21 now but there will be about 170 later. My typing is coming back fast I find. At 4:30 we quit. I brought some stuff back and stayed in the orderly room until after retreat. Then I ate – potatoes, peas, bread, butter, jam, pickles, cocoa, & peaches. After eating I took off. Helle was moving so I went over to the P.X. & got some Engr. braid put on my hat. Then I came back & helped him & we went over to the 393rd to see Ferd & the boys. Ferd made expert with the rifle. Incidentally I’m an expert with the bayonet according to my records. We were over there awhile & then came back & here I am. Crisman has disappeared. None of the boys know where he is. So that’s today. No mail yet from you. Tomorrow morning I have to take a 10 mile hike with the rest. This morning they ran the obstacle course but I missed all of that. I really have a good setup but I don’t think it will last long. Two things can interfere. One is they have been getting men from other outfits in and I’m afraid they’ll stumble on to an old company clerk who knows the work and is already a Cpl. Of course that may not happen. But once the company is filled I’ll probably have to take basic training with the rest so I may lose out that way. You see it was just by accident that I was lucky enough to get this. In the cadre of non coms sent here, each company had a clerk who was a corporal. But the one in this company was made Br. Mail Clerk so an opening was made. So I have a job that should be held by one of the cadre. I don’t know if I can hold it or not. I’m trying to catch on as fast as I can & everybody is pretty decent. If I can make it stick it will be a good deal. It means two stripes as soon as any ratings are handed out. Right now I’m the only pvt. over there. The other clerks are corporals who came in with the cadre. I’ve got about 10 months service on most of the cpls. & sgts. in the cadre but it doesn’t mean too much. I’ve got my fingers crossed and I’m going to do my best. The Engineers is plenty rough & if I can soften it boy I’m going to do it. Next Tues. I’m Charge of Quarters at Br. Hdqs. We get no guard or K.P. but we pull C.Q. about every 6 days. That’s not too bad though. Maybe I’ll get my mail caught up for a change. So that’s all there is to tell for today. I ought to get your San.-Sun. letter tomorrow as you probably mailed it before you knew I was moving a little. So for tonight I’ll sign off.


Be seein’ you,



Personally I’ll Take Ping Pong

Thurs. April 13, 1944

9:15 p.m.


Dear folks,

Well I’m off again. So far I don’t know when, where or what for but I’m leaving before very long. The first Sgt. called about 15 of us in tonight and told us we are leaving. He said he didn’t know where we are going, when, if we are going to all go to the same place or anything. All he had was a list of our names and instructions to ask us if we preferred gov’t or private transportation. Sam & I are the only 2 Arkansas men in our company who are leaving. Most fellows asked for gov’t transportation. He & I took a chance & took private. I did it in hopes of a delay in route. Sometimes fellows get a delay of 7 or 8 days en-route. That’s all we can find out so far. He told us our clearance papers were coming through tonight so we may not be here long. You better hold up the mail until I’m arrived. Last night I shaved and got to bed as soon as I finished writing. We had the same old lineup this morning – up at 5:30, dressed, made bed & cleaned the barracks. Then reveille and breakfast – French toast, syrup, butter, bran flakes, milk & an orange. After breakfast we policed up and then fell out. After our morning parade we spent the whole morning on rifle firing positions, trigger squeeze, rifle calisthenics and assuming positions. My muscles are pretty well stretched by now. We came in at 11:30 for dinner. I had Swiss steak, potatoes, gravy, string beans, salad, bread, butter, and fruit salad. I got your Mon. letter this noon. At 12:30 we fell out again. Our 1st hour was on sight setting. Then we had an hour of unarmed combat on how to tie up a person. Then an hour of grenade throwing and an hour of physical hardening (they call it). At 4:30 we came in and changed to O.D.’s for retreat. After retreat we got the word from the Sgt. about our departure. For supper I had stew, salad, lima beans, butter, crackers & cake. After eating I cleaned my bayonet. Then I went over to L. Co. to see what they knew. A large number of men is leaving this Regt. Helle is going but Ferd & Freese aren’t. Nobody knows what it’s all about but a lot of guesses & rumors are afloat. At first I was happy to get out of this outfit but the more I think about it the more I’m wondering. I’ll know before long if it’s better or worse. I hope it’s better but with a large group like this going, it would appear to be just getting rid of the over strength in this division. My guess is we’ll go to some other division but I hope I’m wrong. We’ll probably know more before long. In case you don’t get any letters for a few days after this one don’t get excited. I might not be able to write for a while. I hope we are going north but I imagine we’ll stay in beautiful (?) Texas. I wish I could give you something definite because I know you’ll feel sort of uncertain but it’s all I know myself now. I hope we leave before we fire next Mon. I’d like to miss it if I could. When I got back from L. Comp. I cleaned my rifle. Then Sam & I walked down to the 395th to see some fellows we knew & see what they knew about things. They didn’t know about it so maybe it’s just from the 393rd. We talked awhile & then ate some ice cream & came back. That’s today. We’ve tried to add up 2 & 2 and see if we could figure out something but haven’t gotten far. We represent just about every branch, all kinds of training and all terms A.S.T.P. so there’s nothing to go by. My guess is we’re over strength here and are being sent to fill up some other division. Well that’s that so I’ll get to your letters –

Sat. –Sun. – April 8-9 – There are lots like Joe Lewis in this army. Send me the pictures from that roll when you get them. I’ve forgotten what some of them were. I’ve got some that Freese took Sunday if I’m here long enough to get them. Brown is crazy to enlist now. He might as well wait. There are no good deals left anymore. All they need are replacements so it’s just too bad for the guy coming in now. We are practically in the same position. Julius was deferred until Aug. 15. Property is high now but it will drop after the war. I’ve enough for a substantial down payment if you ever want it. You know where it is. Free time has about disappeared. I wish they’d send me someplace, put me on a job with something to do & none of this training & leave me there for the duration. I guess that’s too much to expect. We had had it pretty easy here for the infantry. It may get rougher at the next place. I’m prepared to meet most any situation from now on. Maybe Pop is letting the teeth get the better of him. He’s sort of a baby about stuff like that. You practically had to force him to wear glasses too. I haven’t waded any streams yet. Freese & I work on each other on this throwing stuff so we take it pretty easy on each other. The old men went some to weapons companies & hdqs. and about 2000 went to a P.O.E. when we came so I heard. I’m not very practical sometimes when I should be. They had Easter services here. Would you rather I’d go once in awhile. I don’t imagine it would hurt me any. I’m just a bit lazy. You 2 sure spend some rough Sundays. It never got to rain here Easter but it looked like it quite a lot during the day. Mon. – April 10 – There’ll be quite a space where that tree used to be. I’m way behind with my letters but I may as well wait now until I get a new address. I hope it’s minus an APO. It would be nice if you could find a good buy in a place but I imagine it’s pretty hard now. You two looked pretty perky while I was home & I felt pretty good too as you know. Still a person doesn’t feel secure or whatever the word is I’m trying to use when home on furlough. You sort of keep yourself from falling back into the good old groove because you know it will be so much harder to leave. Oh yes we have some great games if you like them. Personally I’ll take ping pong to bayonet or grenade. Believe it or not, a person is better off  in a heavy woods during lightning than outside. Never go to a lone tree but a heavy woods forms a grounded roof & acts the same as lightning rods. That’s a fact although many people don’t believe it. There were plenty of blisters. Some of the air corps feet can’t take it very well. I’m keeping the cocoa. It may come in pretty handy. Mrs. C. doesn’t write so I don’t either. Well that’s your letters and all the new I know. Its 10:15 and I want to shower yet so I’ll sign off. I hope we get some sort of a break out of this. So long for tonight.



Your wandering wondering


You May Not Like Broccoli

Wed. Mar. 29, 1944

7:40 p.m.


Dear folks,

Another day finished. This one was a little better than yesterday. I shaved last night and then got to bed. I was up as usual this morning. After reveille I made up my bed. For breakfast I had eggs, bread, butter, Wheatena (I believe), milk, and an orange. After breakfast we cleaned up everything and policed up the state. I was in a goldbricking mood this morning so I decided to go on sick call and see what they had to say about my wrist. We fell out at 7:30 and went down to the dispensary. It froze ice here last night, and the wind just about blew thru us this morning. We were down there until 9:30 or so. The Capt. or Dr. said the same thing just about that the old boy said in Ark. He felt it all over and said nothing is wrong except I have strained the ligaments and he called it a chronic strain. Sounds good. He had a fellow bind it up tight as a sort of brace and he gave me some liniment so that’s that. I guess I just have a weak wrist. We got back and put on our equipment – light packs and gas masks and hunted up our group. We took our time and finally found them at the Recreation Hall. I managed to miss an hour of drill and a health lecture. We had more health stuff from 10 to 11 and then an hour on the 45 cal. pistol before we came in for dinner. I had corned beef, potatoes, kidney beans, salad, bread, butter, and fruit salad. At mail call I got your Sat. –Sun. letter & read it before we loaded up and fell out again at 12:50. We had one more hour on the pistol. Then we had 2 hours on Chemical Warfare. We had just a general lecture & practiced gas mask drill. Then they exploded chloropicrin, phosgene, lewisite, and nustard so we could learn the odors. Wow. Some of that stuff is really potent. I didn’t get anymore of any of it that I had to but I knew it was there. It makes my eyes water. The mustard almost smells good, the chloropicrin is sickening and the phosgene is sort of choking. We will go through the gas chamber pretty soon. They use chlorine in it. I don’t mind it much. I’m used to breathing it in Chem. lab. It is supposed to help a cold if you have one. It gives the feeling of a chest cold itself. At 4 we had an hour of so-called physical hardening instead of bayonet drill. I like it better but at the end of an hour I’m rather tired. We did all kinds of exercises and then ran about ¼ mile through the woods. At 5 we came in for the day. I got right on the ball & cleaned off my equipment. For supper I had potatoes, peas, salad, bread, butter, and cake. After supper I shined my shoes, cleaned out my rifle, wrote a message (our assignment for tonight) and then changed clothes. At 6:50 they let a group of us go to the P.X. so I finally mailed my laundry out. I got my dry cleaning and some cookies and ice cream. I came back and ate and here I am. A group can go to the last show at 8:40. Its 8 now so maybe I’ll go. I don’t know how it will be tomorrow night. We have night problems Thurs. & Fri. nights. We eat supper out tomorrow night and dinner & supper Fri. so we hear. So I may not be able to write much if any. We’ll see.

Now to your letter – I don’t expect to vote. I never have so I don’t see any sense in fooling with it now. Since I haven’t voted it requires more red tape than I want to bother with. I have all of your letters up to date again now. I guess spring hit a detour. It is warmer tonight again but this Texas weather is unreliable. When the sun shines the wind blows, when it doesn’t shine well you know what happens. It seems rivers of water fall in no time. There are ditches all over and in 5 minutes they can be filled up like creeks. Snow in March isn’t too unusual for Michigan though. Babe has a good dog’s life. Such a life as I’m living I wouldn’t [be] letting mine dog be living. Yah! This is no life. At least it doesn’t fill any definition of true life as I see it. It’s merely an existence. Oh we are having it good now. They tell us every time we turn around how rough they’ve had it on maneuvers and stuff. Sometimes I wonder & I do a powerful lot of thinking about things. All I can do is let things take their course. So far I’ve been taken care of pretty well. Oh I’ve had little tastes of the not so easy, but not too much. I don’t know. Maybe if I did I’d wish I didn’t. It’s probably good we can’t see the future. You may not like broccoli. I eat it as something to eat. It’s a lot better than turnip greens or raw endive salad. They used to serve endive cut up like lettuce as a salad at school. Was it bitter! I haven’t been told for rust but I’m afraid there’s some in the barrel. I used bore cleaner tonight but it still didn’t all come out. I’m afraid there won’t be any time for me to relax & enjoy spring fever. My head isn’t shaved. I have a short cut but it still looks human I believe. I imagine Marie does a lot of worrying. He really got a pretty rough deal all right. She hadn’t heard from him for 4 weeks. There won’t be any labor draft until after Nov. I wonder how many fellows actually are fighting for freedom. Most of them are merely fighting the enemy with the same spirit they put into football or everything they do so they can go home. That’s what everyone is thinking – “Let’s get it over so we can go home & stay.” Maybe that is freedom after all. Nobody will ransack any homes yet. I wish I could slip in from a show some night and stay. It all is so “I don’t know what” when one stops to think. It sort of knocks the bottom out of your stomach and everything else at times. You’ve done a good job of keeping your best foot forward. Just keep it up for me. See! Julius is a lot like you in a lot of ways. He’s sincere all right. He’s too set in his way to agree with anybody just to get along or sound agreeable. Well that’s today & your letter. It’s about 8:30 so I think I’ll go to the last show. So for tonight,



Arlington A.A.