Posted by: notsofancynancy | August 23, 2012

World War II, chapter 26, More Field Maneuvers

World War II

Chapter 26

More Field Maneuvers

Dad is on field maneuvers somewhere in Tennessee. It seems they are not camped in one area but are moving from day to day. Dad is expecting to be in the field for another seven weeks.  It is cold out and Dad is spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to stay warm, praying for the weather to warm.

Quartermaster Insignia Quartermaster Museum, Virginia

22 November 1943, Postmarked Nashville, Tennessee

Hi Sweet, How’s everything now? I hope you are twice as warm as I. If you’re not for God’s sake put more clothes on. I’m afraid to go for fear I won’t have anything to put on when it gets cold. I think I have everything on now but a couple of pairs of socks. If my shoes were bigger I’d put them on. It has started warming up again though. So that won’t be so bad. As I said yesterday it was going to be a bad night. Well I prepared myself for it and was quite comfortable. I dug a hole about 1 foot wider than my bed roll and 3 feet longer and about 1 foot deep than put leaves in about 3 inches then my bed roll and then I staked my shelter half over that and put dirt around the edges so no wind could get in. I slept warm except my feet and they got kind of chilly. Of course I just took my fatigue jacket and sweat shirt off and left pants and socks on. I guess I’ll have to leave the rest on tonight. But then we can’t all be warm or we wouldn’t have anything to talk about the next day. It sure did frost and freeze though. It froze the dirt that I had took out of the hole last night. It looked about like snow on the ground this morning. I guess cookies would be good for Xmas. And I could do away with them easy enough. But I sure couldn’t do with anything that couldn’t be disposed with. 

Dad sounds like he made himself a fine little bed.  Good thinking Dad, I bet a lot of others took a lesson from him.

Gosh honey how can I keep up with you. Your [sic] going to church I mean. Here I haven’t been to church service since I came out there and probably wont [sic] go again until I get back if I have to go to the G.I. Church. They are OK but I don’t like them. No none of the radiators were hurt on the trucks. Lucky. It could have broken them all though. They are sure getting a beating here. Man it is awful. Can’t be helped though. Want to come down and have thanksgiving turkey with me. We are suppose [sic] to have 1 pound apiece. And I’m sure I wont eat that much. We’ll hold it over until Friday. We are anyway. I guess we can’t call the war off long enough for Thanksgiving so we are postponing our dinner if it isn’t any warmer. Now you better bring an Ice Pick along. Its hot when you get it but is cold soon after. Of course I don’t know. But maybe we will on desert maneuvers. Sounds warm doesn’t it? Its about time for me to stop now darling. I love you lots. I only wish I could explain how much. But its late. So for now my sweet I’ll say goodbye and I love you. All my love, your Lefty.

Grandma Susie was always big on going to church so I have to assume that when he was stationed in California he accompanied them one Sunday.

Viola, Vance and Rose Wikoff 1940’s

I guess it does not matter when they get the turkey as long as they get a day to celebrate. But as Dad says, “you can’t call the war off long enough for Thanksgiving.”  What about that pound of turkey? How many turkeys would it take to give each soldier there a pound of turkey? Someone has a lot of cooking to do.

25 November

Well hows [sic] my little lady this nice cool day. If she isn’t good state all the facts and I’ll send a pill. I haven’t heard whether we are going to have warm weather or cold. In the daytime it seems like it is going to be swell then at night she cools off and God how it does get cold. It sure sprung a leak last night though. It really got cold. Bob and I went to bed at about 7:00 and the last thing I remember Bob saying was he’d bet it was about 10 below out.  It wasn’t of course but it was cold. Me I wouldn’t know. I had three blankets the cape of my bed roll and a shelter half over my head and did I sleep warm. Boy I sure did. Of course between the top of my bed roll and the shelter half I had leaves piled so they were over me also. Even then this morning I had to knock the frost off to get out. By tomorrow though this problem should be over and we’ll be able to have fires again. Boy that will be nice. Then Bob and I can come back and sleep here instead of out on a machine gun emplacement. That will be more fun too. We only went out there to keep from driving and no one has driven so we got duped. We have a rifle inspection about any minute now. So I have to go to see about cleaning this rifle for that. Well that wasn’t bad. We also had our machine guns inspected. You see we got a new Lt. Lt. Moser and he seems to be a darn nice fellow.

From Marvin Cain’s Scrapbook- Mr. Moser is one of theses soldiers

I found an Ernest Moser from Richville, Michigan on the 1945 Roster. I also found a Mr. Moser on Find a Grave.

(Visit Mr. Moser’s Find a Grave memorial by clicking here)

Anyway we only got him this morning and up to now he has all the men in the platoon for him. Sure hope he does not change. We could certainly use a good egg for awhile. Say Honey remind me to ask you to marry me about 7 times a day when we finish maneuvers. If you didn’t want to get married you should have said that. Because sweet if we get into a place where theres [sic] a chance of staying I’m going to want to. And believe me I have wanted to for some time. I don’t know what I could have said before that made you think I didn’t want you to come down. Because Honey I certainly did.  Only I was a little worried about getting along until we got our allotment through. But honey some (unreadable) Pvts are making it. Why can’t we? Did I tell you I got my first bond last month. I have an allotment and will get one every three months. That a long time but every little helps. And maybe in 10 years we will need that. Dad is putting $10 a month in the bank for me also. As I say every little bit helps. I hope you have a swell Thanksgiving. We sure will. I mean would if the Army would furnish something to break it up with after it freezes. It cools off to soon. I guess we will live though. Because we usually do. Honey who writes less and says no more than I. I know I don’t make much sense when I write but I haven’t anything to start with. Hope you don’t mind to [sic] much. Didn’t think you would. I love you my darling. I guess you’re the little woman for me also. Because I can’t stand to be around any others. It just isn’t right so I just stay home and save my money for us. And that isn’t much. I do love you darling and always will. All my love, your Lefty.

I remember Dad talking about how cold it was when he was overseas. It is a good thing they are doing these maneuvers but I don’t think they will ever be prepared for when they get into the snow overseas.

Camp Overseas

26 November

Well here is the fire side chat again. I haven’t been busy today but we moved last night and had to set up housekeeping. We are sure in a nice area as far as camping is concerned. But as a camouflage cover it isn’t so good. But we are making the best of it. I didn’t have time to write yesterday. The first problem ended Wednesday afternoon and you should have seen the fires go on that night. Then the order came that we were to move early Thursday. We sure did. We loaded about 2:00 and pulled out at 6:00. It was 22 miles one way to this area and 66 another. We took the long way and it was 12:00 when we got here and were we dirty and tired. We first rolled out on the ground and put in a horrible nights sleep. This morning we looked over this situation and believe me in the summer time it would be swell. I guess I should finish this now. I finally decided last night that I couldn’t see so I quit. This damn fine place we have doesn’t give much light. I don’t have to worry about my Beep now. We loaned it to the supply Sgt last night and someone swiped it. He had it parked in town in front of a café. And I guess someone drove off with it. When it was reported to the M.P’s this morning they just laughed and said it might turn up in a couple of weeks and then it may never turn up. So now I am free from it. Goody, Goody. Gosh honey one morning sleep and they have a formation and there I was. Well anyway I sure wasn’t in the correct uniform to fall right in. After such a time I make it through. Well how would you like to fall in your underwear. No-well I didn’t either. So I didn’t. Well honey I guess we should take up knitting. But it would take a lot of coaxing to get any yarn out here. So I take nature at its course and whittle. That sure is a pass time. But you never get nothing out of it.

Some of Dad’s wood carvings

After the war and when Dad retired he picked whittling back up. I loved his whittling and proudly display some of his work. It is so much more meaningful now that Dad is gone.

I tried making knives and still would. But the ordnance took our torch away and we can’t do any welding. So we have to waite [sic] on that. The candy business was OK only I ate up all the profit. So I sold that out. I guess I’m just a worn out business man. Taking up sleeping as a side line now. The USO Wagon is in the area and is going to show a picture after a while. “Stormy Weather”

According to Wikipedia “Stormy Weather is a 1943 American musical film produced and released by 20th Century Fox. The movie is considered one of the best Hollywood musicals produced in 1943 with African-American casts.”

(Click here to see Lena Horne perform the song, Stormy Weather  from the Movie)

I have seen it though so I guess I’ll have an (unreadable) Gosh honey I guess I love you heaps and heaps and really do with I could be wish you. Its [sic] really nice to have you say you love me. I just read and reread your letters and wish there were 10 instead of one. OK Honey I wish this was over so we could be together. I have never wanted anything so much in all my life. I love you so much Darling. Wish maneuvers were over and you were on your way here or where I was. Only 7 weeks but it seems like 10 years are ahead of us. I must stop now Honey. Its [sic] getting to dark to write and the fire is about out. So with all my love my darling sweetheart. I’m yours, Lefty.

29 November

Hi Honey, How’s the future Mrs. Woodside this fine afternoon. It is swell too. Although a fire sure feels good when you are sitting around. But if you are up and moving you hardly need nothing  extra. We have been hoping that we would stay here for another weekend but the order came that we move to a new area at 7:00 in the morning. So now we start making preparations for that. They won’t be much though. We haven’t been here long enough. Bob went to town to church again this morning. I went out here to a field chapel. Not because I wanted to but could find no excuse to fall out. It didn’t hurt me any and it was short so we didn’t freeze.  I would like to go to church but hate the GI set up. I guess our kids are doomed to be poor writers. I know I can’t write for s___ and although you do much better we both could stand improvement. Or as you say buy them a typewriter. But I think they are doomed. There sure isn’t much to write about only I love you. I went to the USO show last night and almost froze my feet but it was good even if it was the second time I had seen it. We came back here and built a fire and then went to bed. And did I sleep. Boy I guess I just died. But this morning I heard someone call “Lets[sic] go third platoon” So I thought everyone was up. I rushed into my clothes and got down here in time to build the fire. The first Sgt had called from the Cpt. It was time we were up anyway. There still hasn’t been anything done about my beep.  I still have hopes that they won’t find it and probably they won’t. Say you want to watch Herman. He will be turning into a bubble dancer eating all of those bubbles and that’s no place for a man.  Thinks of his understanding my gosh lady. We can’t even do a strip tease out here without getting laughed at.  I guess the Army must have held that letter. I think I mailed it before I left Rucker. Where it went from there I don’t know. I was in hopes it would get to you before that. We had one man caught for speeding the other night. He was busted and also the man riding with him. You see when you are caught speeding out here every non-com in the truck is busted and if you aren’t so lucky the driver will get 6 months. But first you are taken right to the stockade. And a field officer or above has to get you out. Then proceedings start Thats not bad because the army is just hurry and waite [sic]. So why hurry so much you just have to waite [sic]. When one brings up what I was when a baby always reminds me of things gone bye. And I wasn’t such a good one either. I used to cry when Mom left and wouldn’t take me. God how I would cry. I usually won the argument though and got to go along. I guess I was the baby in our family too.

This is the only thing I remember my dad talking about referring to his childhood, other than to tell of nursing his mom before she passed away when he was 16 and that was never a good memory for him.

I had to help dig a latrine so now I will try to continue this maybe it will be better or worse after finishing that I went for a hike though the woods. I was looking for that cave everyone talked about. I didn’t find it but found several small ones. And a few cracks in the rock you couldn’t see the bottom in. Well honey this about ends another day. Just one more day gone and one closer to when I will see you.  You say I should go home on my next furlough. What about you? How would I see you then? I certainly wouldn’t go unless you were coming out or something. A furlough without you darling wouldn’t be worth much. So believe me either you come out home or I come out there. I love you my darling and want to be with you so home doesn’t count. Besides I haven’t anything at home. I must stop for sure now. So I am always you’re my Darling and love you, your Lefty

It had to be a tough decision.  They got engaged in July and have not seen each other since. To have to make a decision over seeing his ailing father or see his betrothed, who he has not seen since July must be a hard choice.  The big question is will he really get a furlough?

Lefty

We have finally come to the end of the first row of letters in the suitcase. It is hard to get to the next row as they are still tied with the ribbon my mom lovingly tied with her own hands. Although they are in chronological order by stack I still have to go through them after I take the ribbon off and see what we have. So it sounds like I have a job to get to.

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Ernest Moser, Robert Winter,

 

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Responses

  1. Thanks for this story and for the link to “Stormy Weather”,we were totally quiet while Lena Horne sang… I think about if I would open the ribbon, my mom tied, or not … but I have no answer (crazy, I know) :o)

    • It was a hard decision. But how can I tell the story without doing it????

      • That is the question… I think, for posting the letters and sharing to a lot of readers – it was worth, isn’t it

      • Yes it is. I truly appreciate all the people who read them and comment. It is what has kept me reading and blogging. There are so many of them it is easy to feel overwhelmed. If not for all the great comments I get I am not sure I would have made it so far. Thanks to you!

  2. All that camping could get you down – the cold sure sounds like it gets to Lefty. As you say, what on earth did they think of the snow in Europe? Look forward to hearing.

    • We can only imagine what they went through. But then with Dad’s letters we can hear first hand. I am looking forward to getting to the letters from overseas. It should be interesting to say the least.

  3. Your dad writes “lovingly” about sleeping in his leaf-lined foxholes. Just about a year later, thousands of GI’s – just like your dad – will still be in their SUMMER uniforms freezing in the Ardennes in the now famous Battle of the Bulge. Some would freeze to death; many would have frostbite. At times, the shelling would be so bad the GIs would have to poop right there in their “bed” as they wouldn’t dare climb out of the safety of their foxhole.

    Great keepsakes, these letters, and your dad’s “whittlin’s”.

    • It almost makes me afraid to blog the letters when he gets overseas. I know I have pictures of snow when they were in Belgium. It will be interesting to hear what Dad has to say about those days.

  4. You must be very proud to have those keep sakes of you fathers’. So glad for you.

  5. It makes me wonder how challenging the situation was overseas considering how rough it is here when they are not even fighting yet.

    • Yes it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds when he gets overseas. I do know the letters are censored so I am not sure how much he can share. We will see.

  6. What a wonderful legacy was left to you, and now that legacy goes on through you. Thank you.

  7. What a treasure trove your father’s letters are! I love the way they give a glimpse into his world and into his relationship with your mother too!

    • Thank you! It sure is eye opening about what he went through. It has been like reading a history book only better!

      • I agree. It is so much more immediate to experience history as personal narrative.

  8. I will look forward to the next batch of letters.- to imagine they are still tied with the ribbon from your mother. What a blessing to have so much of your parents with you. You dad must have been very talented to whittle, my dad sort of did, but never got the hang of it, it takes a steady hand and enough imagination to see what is in the wood, dad would say. Blessings – Patty

    • Dad was a great whittler. I got his tools when he passed and just passed them on to my brother since I tried more than once to cut off my finger! lol I feel blessed to have his letters and that I found this forum to share them.

      • Glad you did not cut off your finger!! 😉 I think we are all lucky to share in your legacy! Patty

  9. Nancy, this series continues to intrigue me! Thanks so much for going to all the love-work of posting it with pictures and all the research you’re doing! We all appreciate it so much!

    • I work for great comments! lol thank you I cannot tell you how much it means to me to hear that but really it is what keeps me going.


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