Posted by: notsofancynancy | August 30, 2012

World War II, chapter 27, Cold and Lonely

World War II

Cold and Lonely

Chapter 27

Letters with Ribbon Mom Tied

I sit with the next batch of letters in my hand hesitant of untying the ribbon holding them together and unleashing the memories they hold. We have now started the second row of letters in the suitcase. The last chapter was November 1943 and it is hard because I know that Dad goes overseas in 1944 and I am fearful for him. This next year will change his life for many reasons. This row of letters still is tied with the ribbons Mom put on them back in that long forgotten era. This means they have not been read by anyone since Mom lovingly tied the ribbon with her own hands. We are the first to see what the future held for my parents.

This first letter is eight pages long and Dad continues writing on it for the next two days. He is on field maneuvers in Tennessee. He is not receiving any mail as well as not being able to send any letters, So he just continues writing. This letter is written with three different writing implements and you can see his writing change as if he is in a hurry some places, he is wistful in some places, and hopeful in others.

First Row Down One and a Half to Go

30 November 1943

Dearest Vi, Gosh I missed yesterday but will try to make up for it now. You see I got hooked into going out on convoy as a machine gunner on one of the turret trucks. God is it ever cold and I guess we are now hooked until this problem is finished.

My understanding of a “problem” is when the troops are in the field they come across a “problem” they have to deal with, such as coming under enemy fire, and they have to learn how to overcome these “problems.”

Anyway we have been going since last night at 7:00. Although we did get to stop for a couple of hours sleep. I don’t know when we will have to go out again. What I mean we are parked now and are some distance for the front lines. Maybe if by luck the problem will be over tomorrow and we can go back to the other Co. (Company) Anyway Darling I love you and you can see I am at least thinking of you. Because we have about time to sleep now. I imagine we will be out again tonight. You asked what Bob has heard from Madeline. I guess he has heard lots. And she is coming down when maneuvers are over. I guess that is definite She might even be down for Xmas. The deal we have had up until now that sure sounds swell. Because I think we are going to get some pretty good passes then. Lt. Moser said we would. 

Lieutenant Moser is Ernest Moser from Richville Michigan according to the 1945 roster I have. I am not sure but I believe I have found him on Find a Grave Here.

From Marvin Cain’s Scrapbook- Ernest Moser is one of theses soldiers-also shown Edward W. Boxler, Charles E. Burress, Hans Gehlsen, John Scavorelli, and Harold F. Horton

Bob gets a letter every day and I guess she gets more in the mood for getting married (with every) one. He said. “She would write until I came back to decide she would marry me. What a chance have I now unless we get to some place when this is over.”  No Sweet I am not mad at you. You didn’t hear because I didn’t have time to write. The letters you are missing now are the ones I didn’t have time to write while we were moving. But darling I wasn’t mad at you. Believe me I wasn’t I am sorry I couldn’t write but you know how it is. I do love you. The pictures were swell. Mind if I don’t send them back until about Sunday. I have to show them around besides I want to look at them myself some more. On the other hand I probably won’t get any mail sent until then. At least not until Friday. We went back and had chow. That was our second breakfast this morning. It was suppose [sic] to be lunch but you can’t kid me. Scrambled eggs is breakfast chow. We also got a couple such lunches. You soon learn that when you are with the Inf (infantry) you better eat all you can when you can. They may not feed you the second time. We haven’t done bad at all this time. I have a little poem here I’ll write if I have time. I see the trucks are pulling out.

When God gave out brains-I thought he said trains-I missed mine. When he gave looks I thought he said books and I didn’t want any-When he gave out noses-I thought he said roses and I ordered a big one-When he gave out legs. I thought he said Kegs- I ordered two fat ones-When he gave out ears-I thought he said beers-I ordered two long ones. When he gave out chins-I thought he said gins-So I said “Give me a double”

God am I ever a mess. I love you honey Continued tomorrow.

Another View of the Tied Letters

1 December-This is continued in the same letter.

Here goes nothing. We were out as I said we would be. Drove until after one and then had to get up at 6:00 this morning and camouflage our trucks. We only have 14 left out of the 25 we started with. So in two nights and one day we have lost 11 trucks. We think they have been captured but maybe some have been blown up. The Lt in charge says the problem should be over today I sure hope so. Maybe I have a letter or two waiting for me back at the company. We haven’t had a chance to mail any since Monday. And also get any. We haven’t even been paid this month.  

Once again he is using the term “problem,” What happened to the trucks? Is this all part of the “problem” they encountered on their maneuvers?

It sure is chilly here. Man the wind is blowing about 60 and right now the sun is shining but that is the first this morning. When I got up I thought sure it was going to snow. It didn’t though. Have I told you. It has been freezing every nite [sic] for over a week. So you can see it is cold. I don’t keep water in my canteen for fear it will freeze.  How would you like to see me now. I have washed once in two days. Haven’t shaved since Sunday and we haven’t been anywhere to shower since Sat. I just feel dirty and for once I feel right. I don’t know how I will ever get clean. God what a mess I am.

I bet he and his fellow soldiers are pretty stinky by now. In his later years Dad was always clean shaven. I can only remember a handful of times when he let his beard grow. It was always a shock to see him with hair covering his usually clean face. Something I will never forget.

You know something honey. I owe you 60 cents now for stamps. Gosh it does count up doesn’t it. I look at the pictures again and they are good. It was certainly swell of you to send them. I love you lots sweet. You’re the little woman for me. Sure wish we were together. Maybe before long we can be. One never knows. I do know though I love you lots. I must stop now I see a bunch of tanks going by and they might be the enemy. And I have to be ready. I love you honey.

Was it the enemy? I wonder how they told the difference. This next part is written in the same letter, different writing utensil.

After two days trying I guess I am going to get this finished and sent. We got back to the company at about 4:00 this morning. But since 2:10 last night you haven’t had a future husband. Because at that time I was blown up. We (5 trucks) ran into art (artillery) fire and were put out of action. So you see I’m dead. If it hadn’t been for that we would still have been going. We drove until then anyway. Honey I love you so much. You know I think your [sic]so swell. And you are swell to me also. There isn’t very many girls who would give up everything and waite [sic] for a punk like me. God Darling I wish this waiting were over. I must stop now. It’s trying to rain. Has been off and on all morning. I love you my darling “VI” So until I can see you I hope you will love me. Love forever, Your Lefty

Well it seems that the “problem” is over and it did not turn out so well. I can only imagine what it was like. It can’t be much different than what our service people go through these days.  My question is can we, as civilians actually understand what went on during those maneuvers?

Letter Head 1943

2 December

I can’t sleep so I am going to try to write you a sweet letter. We have moved. I am not sure where to.  We are suppose [sic] to end up 15 miles from where we were. Only we drove 78 and that’s a long way to go to get 15 miles. We are sure in a poor area too. So far we haven’t found any trees to camouflage the trucks under.  Oh! There’s a few here but not near enough. I believe we have gotten into the mountains also because we have some awful big shadows. You see we moved in after dark and as yet we haven’t seen what we really have. I do know it has been raining almost all day and it’s damn wet.  But we have that fixed too. We had two extra tarps from the trucks and have one tied from a truck to a trailer and the other on the ground. So we are protected practically each way. We haven’t any trucks in so we couldn’t sleep in them. Besides the officers moved into the one we did have and now they had to get out because that truck had to go out. What a mess. Honey you know what. I love you. Very very much my sweet. I only wish I could tell you how much. But I don’t think words will express it. At least not the ones in my vocabulary. But darling I do love you and am certainly wishing we were together. But I guess we have a wait ahead of us.

I bet the men were miserable being wet all day. Dad was pretty smart when it came to camping after the war. He jerry rigged lots of tarps when we were growing up. Dad used to get up to four weeks vacation each year and we would go camping. My brother and I got to see a lot of the United States from the bed of the camper that was over the cab looking out the front window. It was like we were flying along the highway.

This is the day after. And it did rain last night. But we had everything under control. Although we did get a couple of bedrolls wet and some fellows clothes. But everyone is happy. We had to move the trucks out so we just pitched a tent out of a tarp. We have cleaned machine guns under it. The sun came out for while but it looks as if it will rain again soon. I am going to send those pictures back. I do want some of them, but I have no place to keep anything. I guess we shouldn’t complain. We have it nice beside the Inf (infantry). Remember when I said 5% had to come through this maneuver. Well General Boade is in the hospital with Pneumonia.  They said it was in the third stage. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad. Also some of his staff are there. I guess they have been setting to near the gas stoves.  They should be rough and tough like us. Cough! Cough!

Dad and Bob overseas

I could find no information for General Boade.  I can’t remember Dad complaining about being in rough weather while training. Maybe it is because once they get overseas the weather is worse than what they are in now, but that is getting ahead of myself.

This area I find this morning is certainly screwy. Its on the side of a mountain and no trees at all. We haven’t been so bad. The water works are good. I mean it all runs down. And I do mean down.  I guess it is going to rain again because it looks like a Calif fog and I find around here that that means rain. But if it keeps this warm we can stand some rain. So whatever comes we have to take it. Some say this will be called off this month.  God I hope so because then maybe we will get into a camp. Do you realize we have been out of camp three weeks. This ground is getting to feel like a feather bed. At first though it was hard. I still love you my sweet and its getting about time for mail call. God I hope I have a letter from you. We haven’t had a mail for two days and I’m certainly hoping. I must quit now honey. You see I am back writing by flashlight and its getting weak. So I love you darling. Be good and write when you have time. All my love, Your Lefty.

Boy they are really giving these men some “problems.” God provided the rain and the mountain but the Army chose to put a bunch of soldiers on the side of that mountain. Is he still out of the game as he mentioned when he told us he was “dead” or once they get through the present “problem” did they all start over being alive again?  Is he still on the machine gun turret when they are driving or is he back to driving a Beep?  Maybe he will tell us in the next chapter.

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Robert Winter, General Boade, Ernest Moser, (Shown in Picture)Edward W. Boxler, Charles E. Burress, Hans Gehlsen, John Scavorelli, and Harold F. Horton

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Responses

  1. Have I said this before? I’d love to see this in a book. Thank you for sharing these. They’re priceless!

    • Thank you, Now I just need to find a publisher to put them into a book.

  2. Thanks for this post… Are they sitting on a cannon?

    • Yes a cannon. Not sure where they are though. You can click on the picture to make it bigger, if you want.

  3. Love the photo of the bundle of letters. It’s beautiful.

    • Thanks I am glad I thought to take a picture of it before I took the ribbon off.

  4. Love it. I’m not sure but I think the year is wrong. It is the one under the 1/2 empty suitcase. Think it still should be 1943 not 1944.That’s what QMSisters are for…..to help you keep things straight!!!

    • Whew! What would I do without my Quartermaster Sister. For others who might read this comment allow me to introduce Doris. Doris’s father-in-law Marvin Cain served with my father in the 1110th Quartermaster which then became the 35th. They went overseas together! She is my Quartermaster Sister and for that I am thankful!

  5. Wow, that is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Thank you for taking the time to read it and leave a great comment!

  6. The anxiety in removing the ribbon and “opening” the letters is palpable. I would feel exactly the same way, Nancy. How brave it was of you to not only open the letters, but then translate them. You journeyed into a world that others would fear to journey. Bravo. Keep these stories coming, please. How incredible your parents’ – and now your – journey.

    • Your comment brought a tear to my eye and assures me I did the right thing. Thank you my friend. It really means a lot to me!

  7. These letters should be a book AND a movie. Such an amazing personal history.

  8. These are priceless, and I do hope you can publish them. I have some photos of my father’s military service, but I do not know what happened to the letters. I would love to have them now. Sigh.

    • Yes they are priceless. I am so glad they got to me and I began this journey. I am grateful there are people who are following along. It means so much.

  9. So sweet . . . a ribbon, not a rubber band. That says something about your mom.

    • Yes it sure does. She really loved him and that is nice to know.

  10. This is such a wonderful story Nancy. Thx for sharing with us…

    • Thanks for the comment it is people like you that make it all worth it.

  11. How amazing, to have a piece of history that you can read and almost “look back” through his eyes. Great post! I’d love to run across something like this, especially if it was my grandfather’s or my uncle’s.

    • I feel very lucky. I did not remember this suitcase existed. It was found in the attic of our old house. Good thing my daughter bought it and found them.

  12. I’ve never known anyone to have such a treasury of letters from WW II. Wouldn’t your parents be amazed that so many people are caught up in their love story? D

    • I know they would be amazed! I feel very lucky to have them.

  13. What an absolute treasure you have here. I agree – a book.

    • Why thank you! I just hope someday someone is willing to publish it!

      • You could self-publish it … have you heard of Blurb? http://www.blurb.com/ – I’m in the process of puting something together on my ancestors using Blurb.

      • Never heard of it, I will check it out. Thank you so much!

  14. I’ve never heard of Blurb either. I was going to work with Smashwords for my self-publishing attempt. 🙂 Goodluck either way!


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