Posted by: notsofancynancy | September 13, 2012

World War II, chapter 29, Watertown

World War II


Chapter 29

Watertown Tennessee City Hall Courtesy of Wikipedia

Still on field maneuvers in Tennessee, Dad and his fellow soldiers are working in freezing temperatures.  I believe the Army is trying to toughen up these soldiers for what is to come overseas.

15 December 1943

Dearest Sweet, Hows my one big moment tonight. Are you setting by a fire. If not I should kick your little butt. It didn’t snow last night but it sure got cold. It was 10 above at 4:00 this morning and I believe it got colder. My God it was cold and still is. We finished the 4th Problem today. I guess they had to stop it was to [sic] cold. We had one truck without Prestone [sic] and it froze and busted all to h___! I guess the kid is going to have to pay for it though. Because he was told to drain it. If this paper is a little brown or black don’t mind. I hold it over the fire every so often to warm it up so I can write. If I don’t my fingers get cold and then I have to warm them. I guess Bob knows how I feel when I don’t get a letter from you. He hasn’t gotten one from Madeline for a couple of days and is about nuts.  He has been cussing all evening. Just think only 4 more problems and then______? I hope we get to a good camp. There is a big rumor that we will go back to Little Rock again. The 68th Div is there and are coming here when they finish. This is one bad life but time seems to go fast. I should say first that there is a bigger rumor of us going overseas. We are doing so well on these maneuvers. So far we have done better than any Division. And its cold too. We are near a little town of 8,000. Watertown to be exact. Bob wanted to go in and get some Xmas cards and nuts. Well I wouldn’t go so we called the whole thing off. God I can’t see myself going to town like this. Even if we put on wool we wouldn’t look half dressed. They are wrinkled and I hate that. Guess I’ll have to stay home. Someone will be going in tomorrow.

Watertown is located 22 miles from Murfreesboro and was incorporated in 1905. I could find no stats saying how many lived there back in 1943 but I did find a great article on the Tennessee Maneuvers called “Maneuvers Help Win the War on the Western Front,” by Ken Beck.” (Click on the name to read the whole article, I highly recommend it.) Here is a quote I found most interesting.

The maneuvers were held here in Tennessee because of the climate and terrain,“ McMillin said. “The terrain here is so much like Germany and Belgium with its rolling rivers and hillsides. Twenty-one of the divisions that trained here went to Europe, three went to the Pacific and one went to occupy Japan.

I was wondering why they kept going back to Tennessee and that explains it. At first I thought maybe because of its close proximity to Camp Robinson, Arkansas. It is nice to know they are trying to get them ready for Germany and more important the snow they will encounter in Belgium.


Now back to the letter.

Darling I sure wish there was something interesting to write once in a while. I sure hate to say the same thing. I’ll bet you hate to hear my troubles when I should be talking to the Chaplin. Bare [sic] with me and maybe someday I’ll learn.

I wonder what Dad would have thought about how interesting we are finding his letters. According to the article by Ken Beck, a lot of information about what happened on in these maneuvers was classified so not a lot was known about it. I am glad we have Dad’s take on them.

Dad and his Beep

We had another truck wrecked in our platoon the other night. Some kid did it. He has been having his share of bad luck. Again it wasn’t his fault. They forged a river and its brakes got wet and wouldn’t hold.  Say Honey. I just sat on the first page of this. Maybe it is getting a little wrinkled. I love you my darling more than words can tell. Bob just gave up writing tonight too cold. And I think it’s the same way. So for tonight I love you lots and lots my Darling. Love always, Your Lefty. PS The stationary is sure swell.

16 December

Hi My Sweet, I got your package and also Mom’s today and was I ever glad to get them both. Gosh honey the picture is swell. Everyone says “Gosh I wish I had a girl like that.”  I really do think its good and I’m not sending it back. We had to send all pictures home but not that one. It goes with me. Mom’s box sure came in handy too. Man was I hungry when it came. That candy was the best I have tasted and the cookies-Oh Boy! I want to thank you both for them and say again they were really good.

Look at how much joy Dad got from those packages. I know that packages from home mean a lot to our service people even today. You might ask yourself,” how can I send a package when I do not know anyone serving?” Check out Operation Gratitude’s Blog. They actually facilitate getting care packages out to our military. What a great charity!

It was cold again last night. At midnight it was 0 and got colder. About all we got done today was thaw out 2 fellows in the Inf (Infantry) Froze to death and I imagine more were damn cold. Bob and I had a stove going in our pup tent again and wouldn’t even warm it up. We gave up writing. I did finish your letter but didn’t remember to send it today. Or should I say didn’t get away from the fire long enough. I’ll just send them both together. Then you can really be (unreadable) for once. The rumor is getting stronger that maneuvers won’t last the full time. I hope not. Maybe I’ll get to see you sooner. Also I might get a 6 day furlough over Xmas. We have lots of rumors and really don’t know which to think about. If I were sure we were going to get 6 days off I could plan lots. But am not sure. No one knows anything. If we do get it I guess I’ll just have to get drunk and stay that way for 6 days.

Once again living with that uncertainty must have been tough. I know Dad wants to get married and he is still over two thousand miles from where Mom is living in California. They have not seen each other since his trip to California in July when he proposed.  Now that I know that they are training in Tennessee because it has the same kind of weather and terrain they will encounter overseas I understand how important these maneuvers are.


Bob got three letters from Madeline today so he is very happy. I guess the mad was lost somewhere. He was sure getting down. He hasn’t missed a letter in over two months. I guess she is on the ball. I just had to look at the picture again Darling its sure swell. Wish I had a pictures of this tent to send. God would you ever be surprised. I’m letting my whiskers grow. Do they look rough and feel worse. Man!!! Darling I love you. Gosh I do. Sure wish I could see you. Well maybe someday I can. If the war doesn’t last to [sic] long. I do love you though. Its [sic] about bed time so I had better stop. All my love, Your lefty. PS Thank Mom and Pop for the box. And also thanks for yours. They are both Grand. Love again.

18 December

Dearest Sweet, Gosh I got two letters from you today and was I surprised. I didn’t think I rated that well anymore. Usually I feel damn happy if I get one. Thanks anyway.It has warmed up quite a lot. In fact it is almost back to normal again. Imagine the area we are in causes quite a lot of that though. We are in a well wooded area and it has a lot of wind break. But its awful muddy and the ground is damp. And the frost is still here. It isn’t very warm though. I hope it stays warm over the Holiday’s. Talking about Holidays I said we night get 6 day furlough. We won’t. We have problems straight through until the 17th of Jan. Then about three months in a camp and then over (seas) we go. That is about definite now. As a matter of fact the General said we were going over as soon as we finish here. Of course he is in the hospital, but maybe he knows. He should. You made a remark about how much I lost before I won that money. I haven’t lost any. You see I don’t lose when I see I am going to I quit. Another thing I never play on my own money. That always helps. One more thing. I haven’t played for over 4 months. So Mom and Pop got you a fur jacket for Xmas. I guess there is a Santa. After all I have been told. You don’t know it, but that works two ways. I am sure glad you got it though. I guess there isn’t much more to talk about. Besides I have some laundry to do so I had better stop. I love you darling. So I’ll stop this line. I do love you very much. I’ll write tomorrow if I get a chance. Who knows. All my love, Your lefty.

I remember that fur jacket. It was still hanging in Mom’s closet when she passed away. I wonder what happened to it.  I don’t think I ever related that fur coat to have actually been real fur though.

Mom and her Fur Coat

I can certainly understand the mad tone of the letter. He has just been told he is going to be shipped overseas anytime. It would have made anyone of us mad but especially someone who has been in the field for the last three weeks. Living out in the elements, the cold and mud must have put all of the men on edge. Of course they are also dealing with the uncertainty of whether they will go now or later but knowing they will go.

The next letter is a long one. There are five pages instead of the usual two, so I will end this chapter here.  I am finding a lot of great information about the Tennessee maneuvers. I don’t remember Dad saying much about training.  But then he did not say much about the war either.

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Robert Winter, Chaplin Bare,



  1. Thank you, this chapter was very touching……

  2. Doing a fine job, my friend, very interestin’ stuff–spying on someone.

    • I know right? I had no idea what I would find when I started this journey. I had no idea how historical they would be. Great Stuff!

  3. Fascinating, fascinating. Loving your dad’s letters, the photos and your short comments woven in. Thanks.

    • Thank you so much for this great comment, it is what keeps me going!

  4. It’s getting more and more interesting… chapter by chapter and you are doing a great job with it. 🙂

    • Thank you! I am a couple of chapters ahead of you in my writing and chapter 31 was very interesting to write! Coming in two weeks…lol

      • Eagerly waiting. 🙂

      • Thank you, it really means a lot!

  5. Interesting reading these letters from WWII. The history in itself is interesting and important to remember. I have a few pics on my on blog from some Norwegian world war remains. Maybe youll like some of them or the other ones I have.

    • Thank you so much I come over and check it out!

  6. OK, five pages next time…. that means two bags of popcorn and two cups of coffee!!!! Take Care and God Bless 🙂

    • I love that you are enjoying the story!

  7. I love the picture of your mother in her fur coat. When I was a child I always a fur coat when I grew up. Then I grew up and fur coats went out of style. 🙂

    • Thanks Sheryl, I do remember how much this coat meant to my Mom. She always kept it in a plastic covered hanger in the back of the closet. I do not ever remember her wearing it though.

  8. Such sweet and tender words. I loved the comment your dad made about being sorry that he didn’t have something new to talk about…I’m sure your mother literally clung to every single word! 🙂 Debra

    • I know, right? I wonder what Dad would think about how we all cling to the bits of history he included in the letters.

  9. I always think how lonely they must have been – it is so hard to be separated from the ones you love. I never stress enough that even though we have emails and Skype to keep sending regular snail mail, in letters, cards and even post cards and most definitely those packages. It doesn’t take away the loneliness but it sure adds to the moral to have something to hold when they are unable to email or Skype. Just think of all the years those letters brought happiness to your parents after those years of pain of separation.

    • Yes it is important for our soldiers even today. I can see even with my dad how much joy he got receiving those packages. They really made his day.

  10. Hi Nancy,

    Great blog! I’m wriing for the publishing house Simon and Schuster and wondered if you would be interested in reviewing, on your blog, a soon-to-be-published book about WWII called ‘Soldaten’:

    If you are then drop me an email ( and I can send you a review copy!



  11. Oh Nancy. How I love reading your Dad’s letters! How very touching. And luck you are to have them!

    aroooo, Stuart’s peep

    • Thank you so much, it really means a lot to me to know people are enjoying them.

  12. I love this. I am working on a family project of my own at My great-great Aunt Fan took a Grand Tour Honeymoon in 1902-1903 and I am as fascinated about the period details as you are about your family’s bits and pieces.

    • Thank you! I will stop by and check it out!

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