I have received Mildred’s two letters of the 15th,
Mom’s letter of the 16th, and the package. Thanks
for everything. You all know what my movements
were in the States, but I’ll run over them to make
the following journal complete.
Received a little telegram from our Uncle Sat-
urday morning, August 7th, stating that he would
like to see me at 8 o’clock the next Tuesday. I
reached Dallas about dark on Monday night. I told
myself that I would sleep in the first hotel I came
to. It was the Baker and I did. Walked to the Federal
building the next morning. Interviewed and put
on train with fifty-six others at 1 o’clock. Passed
through Shreveport late that night and woke up
in New Orleans. Traveled all day, slept under
a seat and woke up in Florida. Reached Miami
about dusk that evening, Thursday, August 12th.
Trucks were there to take us to Miami Beach, where
they were not ready for us. They put 22 of us
in the basement of the Congress Hotel on Ocean Front.
The other 35 were in the lobby of another Hotel.
That for five days while we were taking tests,
etc. Then we got rooms in the Evans Hotel. Two days
later I went to the hospital in Coral Gables. One
week later I had my operation. One week later I
got out of bed. About six weeks later on October 6th
I went back to Miami Beach. My old outfit had
finished basic and shipped to some college in Ohio.
I completed my basic on Nov. 12th and was transferred
to the 912th Training Group for shipment. Somebody slipped
up and about 35 of us didn’t ship. We went to the
Drill Field, swept sand on the beach, cleaned hotels
and offices, pulled guard duty at night, pulled K.P.
until the first week in December. Three of us
got a soft permanent guard detail. We carried our
empty Springfield around an empty mess hall
until the middle of January. The week before
Christmas we took the three day tests that cadets
usually took after six to nine months of college.
I washed out because of my height and a speech defect.
I chose Airplane Mechanic School as the best bet for me.
Left Miami January 19th, arrived Gulfport morning
of the 21st. Twenty-seven of us were put in one of
the barracks. We saw no one connected with the
school for three days. On the fourth morning we
were awakened at 4:30 told that we were not going
to school but we were going overseas. On February
the 1st we were on a train heading for Scott Field, Ill.
for advanced training (in what I still don’t know). It was
so cold that we did very little more than nothing.
On Feb. 12th we were on our way to Camp Kilmer, N.J.,
Port of Embarkation. I went on sick call with a cold the
first day. Five days in the hospital. They closed
down passed to New York and Philadelphia the day I
got out. On the 25th we boarded the train for New York.
I got my first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and
the Manhattan skyline. With that pack on my back,
a heavy duffel bag and a barracks bag, I wouldn’t
have looked twice at the Smith County courthouse.
That night I spent my first and only night in a
hammock. It was about a foot too short for me.
Now on Feb. 26th after three pages my overseas time
starts. ‘Twas a Limey (English) boat named the
Samaria. The Captain probably called it a ship, but
it will always be a dirty Limey cattle boat to me.
I ate the first three meals and the last three meals.
The ten days in between I lived on fresh air and
vanilla wafers. Ten cartons or 120 boxes would be a
conservative count. Yet they never, repeat never,
stayed down more than thirty minutes. I was as
sick as a seasick person can be and still live. Because
I sat at the end of a table in our hold so I could run
when the “notion” hit me, I was picked seven days
out of the 12 to serve on deck detail. Three times
a day we swept that boat’s various decks from
bow to stern, from port to starboard. And I, L.E.G., didn’t
feel like living, much less working. For an hour
every morning we (everyone) stood on specified portions
of the deck. That is known as a boat drill. For another
half hour everyone stayed below for air raid drill
(while this select group swept the decks). That and lights
out were the main restrictions on us. The food
wasn’t any good and there wasn’t enough of it.
One day three bushels of raw potatoes vanished one
by one. The officers, nurses, civilians, and crew
were well fed. Our commanding officer came down
to eat with us one day. He couldn’t get the food down.
He put in a complaint for us but nothing happened.
Black-market steak sandwiches sold at a dollar a
piece at midnight. I’ll bet the cooks made
more money on each trip than I have in the Army.
I slept under a table every night after that first
night. We docked at Liverpool on Mar. 10th. We
went by train to a station near Diss in East Anglia
about 90 miles north of London. Closest to the enemy
there. German raiders overhead for three nights.
We weren’t the target, however. We then went to
the 13th Replacement Control Depot at Bamber Bridge about
midway between Liverpool and Manchester. Spent
four days in hospital there with a cold. We
were attached to the 8th Air Force during this time.
On April 1st we boarded a train for the village
of Dinton, county of Wilts (or Wiltshire). Location –
90 miles west of London, 8 miles west of Salisbury,
45 miles east of Bristol, and 25 miles north
of Bournemouth. Those figures represent guesses
on my part, but maybe you can locate me
on a map.
Here we were assigned to the 9th Base Depot
Supply Group, a part of the 9th Air Force. I
worked as a clerk in Depot Personnel from about
April 5th to December 12th of last year. My work
was similar to my work in T.J.C. I kept records
of the days off duty, days on K.P. and guard duty, and
the place of work for a certain section of the men.
That’s all I can say about that now. I made
both stripes there. I don’t remember just when we
faded out of the 9th Air Force into just the Air Corps again.
You might remember when my address changed.
In December I got a job in the Overseas Office.
I’m still there. We keep records on every box that is
or has been on the base. I can tell what day it left,
on what truck, weight, cubage, and the day it reached
France. Interesting work. I am assistant chief of
the Logistics Section of the Overseas Office.
Did I tell you about my pass to Bristol last May?
I wrote a couple of letters before I learned that I
wasn’t supposed to write about it. The Rock of
Ages and the Suspension Bridge across the River Avon
were the main points of interest. Incidentally there
are no less than seven River Avons in this country.
Next visit was to Bath, the home of Chaucer’s
Wyfe of Bath. Will be remembered by me for the steep
hill from the main drag to the Red Cross Club. The
ancient Roman Baths and the Bath Abbey are perhaps
better known. And I have told you about
Edinburgh and London. Salisbury is the only other
city that I have been to. Bournemouth, Oxford,
and Stratford-on-Avon have all been on my list for
some time but I haven’t gotten to them. Transportation
is mighty slow to those places from here.
I will tell about Salisbury and vicinity later. I’ll
have to fill in these big sheets of paper with something.
I’ve been writing about two sheets of that small paper,
which would make about one of this. And one sheet
doesn’t look good to me.
I believe yesterday was Mildred’s last day of trials
and tribulations. Here’s hoping you did good on all of
your exams, Sis. The same to you – Melvin, Garland,
and Bertie Jo. Hope that you are feeling well by now,
Mom. If not, put her to bed, Mildred.
Love to all,