Posted by: notsofancynancy | September 28, 2012

World War II, chapter 31, Christmas 1943

World War II

Christmas 1943

Chapter 31

The next couple of letters cover Christmas and the last days of 1943. The men are still in Tennessee on field maneuvers. It is cold, and wet. It was a hard time for a lot of our service men. Being away from their families must have been hard. These letters give you a good idea of how my father chose to spend his time. I wonder how many others chose this path.

They popular song that Christmas was White Christmas by Bing Crosby. They would have been listening to it if they ever get near a radio. Click here to listen to it on youtube. It should open in a new tab and really sets the stage for reading these next letters.

24 December 1943

Dearest Sweet, Well honey here I am. Christmas Eve. It’s a beautiful night. All cloudy and looking like snow. Wish it would snow. Then we would have something to talk about. We have a good fire and everyone is in good spirits with each having his own wise cracks to put out. We are all in good humor anyway. I said last night it was going to be cold and probably snow. Well it wasn’t long after that that I had to go out and drive. I drove until this morning. It wasn’t so cold, but cold enough. When we came back we went to the kitchen and swiped 6 eggs and a box of Wieners. Well we were going to have fried eggs and roasted Wieners. The stove wouldn’t work so Judson and I were going to boil our eggs.

“Chow Time French Style” Judson Haviland Toul 1944-45

Judson is Judson C. Haviland from Sandpoint, Idaho. Mr. Haviland passed away in January of 1961.

(You can visit his Find a Grave Memorial by clicking here)

We did one thing wrong. Made stew out of them. You see we boiled the water then dipped the eggs in and busted every one of them. They were frozen. That water boiled like soap suds. We toasted the wieners though. They were frozen and tasteless so we went to bed about 4:00. God it sure was warm in bed. In fact I slept until noon. It was certainly the best sleep I have had since I came out. Hope tonight turns out the same. But can you picture me roasting wieners at 3:00 in the morning. With it about 0 (degrees) It froze water not 4 feet from the  fire. In less than 10 minutes. It was a good fire too. We sent to town after $13.50 work of drinking liquor and $3.00 worth of nuts. So I’ll bet we have a rip roaring time when it gets here. Our next problem starts at 8:00 Sunday morning. Its either going to be a long problem or the last one. I can’t figure why it starts on Sun. Especially after Christmas. We have a rumor now that we are going to North Carolina when we finish. Sounds rough to me. If we do go there it will be to [sic] far to come out on my furlough. So you can figure on that. I just threw another cord of wood on the fire so I could see what I was doing. Man this cedar sure does burn. I cleaned out my pockets on my coveralls today. Guess what I found. 7 large delicious apples two pairs of gloves. My bill fold. Some old letters and a few odds and ends. Quite a few items for two pockets, huh! As bad as your purse. Its raining I better stop. Be with you tomorrow Honey.

25 December (written in the same letter)

Darling, All I can say I wish I would have been with you today. What a day. It rained all night and all day today. And I don’t know how it did it but everything was covered with ice. Although it was raining. Now we have ice mud rain and a headache. I got up about 9:30 this morning. Our order of drinking material had come through with flying colors. 1 qt. of rum and three pts of whiskey. Without any breakfast (to [sic] wet to get up for that) We began to consume it. We had a case of 7up so didn’t have to drink it straight. Well by one o’clock here is what I looked like.

Dad felt like a Jackass?

25 December 1943 Letter

Guess I furnished the entertainment for the whole company. Shook hands with the Captain Wished him a Happy Christmas & Merry New Year. Dropped my mess kit about 10 times trying to get to eat turkey. Then when I did get up to the mess I went clear on by. Bob brought me back and finally I got my meal and went over to eat. Well I got one bite and walk [sic] off leaving the whole works setting. Bob washed my equipment and brought it back. Was I sick. Not long after Lt Gordon came down to wish us a Merry Xmas. I arose from my seat and very gentlemanly like shook hands and asked if he had brought us a bottle of Xmas cheer. He said no so I told him I guess we are going to have to find a new Lt. Of course he was in a good mood so it didn’t matter. This is all second hand information. I am giving you see all I can remember of it was seeing Judson in the mess line and he was laughing at me. We were all feeling good so this afternoon we all went to bed out of the rain. Sometime during the morning I had gone up there and fell over the tent and knocked the whole thing down. God honey I must be a mess when I get to feeling good. God sweet I hate to go to bed tonight not because I was drinking or anything like that. I know what is going to happen. I am just going to roll and toss until I half freeze and get no sleep. That’s the way it has been for a week. Except one night. I’m getting so I hate everything about a bed. Wish I didn’t have to sleep. I am glad you got the money. I know it wasn’t much Darling, but that was the best I could do. I tried to get to town and no go. I guess I am just no good. Perhaps two heads are better than one. Maybe someday it will be different___????? After this line Sweet I guess I should stop. You are probably tired now anyway. And I know I have used up your spare time so I’ll bring this to an abrupt stop by saying I love you very much my Dear and wish you were here or I was there. This has been about the bluest Christmas I have known. Even the one after Mother died wasn’t as bad as this and it was damn bad. I’ll stop for now Darling by saying I love you again. Hoping you had a nice Christmas and all. Love your Lefty.

28 December

Dearest Vi, How’s my Honey tonight. In good spirits I hope. Anyway better than mine. I should have written last night but was to [sic] low. Boy what a mood I was in. It has been raining since Christmas Eve and there seems to be no let up for tonight. I’m telling you there is more mud in Tennessee than I have ever seen. And it is as slick as Kansas. We certainly have a mess too. Trucks stuck in the ditch. I don’t know? Last night if I would have had 15 cents I would have gone over the hill. I have my machine gun out tonight. Bob and I had to Post Company. He is on guard and I and Morris is out here.

Myron J. Morris Overseas 1944-45

Morris is Myron J. Morris from Kearney, Nebraska. I also found Mr. Morris on Find a Grave. He passed away in November 1965.

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

We have a trailer so are in the dry for at least a few hours if we don’t have to move or something tonight. I hope not because we would have on hell of a time getting gone. And if we did move it would only be to a worse place. I guess it is almost certain we go to Carolina. At least General Sebree is leaving the second. Why did they have to do this to me.

Edmund Sebree Courtesy of Wikipedia

According to Wikipedia General Sebree was:

Edmund Bower Sebree (January 7, 1898 – June 25, 1966) was a general and commander of US Army forces during World War II.

During the strategically significant Guadalcanal Campaign he briefly commanded the Americal Division units engaged with Japanese forces for control of the island. Following the Guadalcanal Campaign, General Sebree was returned to the U.S. to train and deploy with the 35th Infantry Division, serving as its Assistant Division Commander. During the Lorraine Campaign, Sebree led an independent task force of infantry and armored units with artillery and supporting arms in the liberation of Nancy. After the war, he served as the first Defense Attache to Australia.

The 35th Infantry was the unit Dad’s Quartermaster Division was attached to when they went overseas. Now back to Dad’s letter.

I still have one hope sometimes orders can change. I hope so. By the end of this week we should know. I have been feeling kind of ill today. Nothing a few days won’t cure thought, Then maybe I can get into some dry clothes and such. I have an awful pain between my shoulders and a slight headache. Maybe you sent your flu this way. Here I try writing and can’t find a darn thing to write about.  Say did you hear the President’s speech last Fri or Saturday. I didn’t but I guess he informed everyone that quite a number of men were going across. And I guess he means it too.

I love the internet! I was able to find a copy of President Roosevelt’s 24 December 1943 speech. The part my dad was talking about is this,

On this Christmas Eve there are over ten million men in the armed forces of the United States alone. One year ago 1,700,000 were serving overseas. Today, this figure has been more than doubled to 3,800,000 on duty overseas. By next July first that number overseas will rise to over 5,000,000 men and women.

(You can read the whole speech by clicking here! How awesome is that?)

Also along the same line what has happened about the railroad walkout. I heard the Gov took over the railroad. I hope he puts ever man on it on an Army pay basis. Even if I do have a bro who was in on it. He made me so damn mad when he wrote he was walking out. I haven’t  even answered. As a matter of fact I don’t intend to.

It seems that President Roosevelt had a busy December in 1943. On 27 December he told the country,

Railroad strikes by three Brotherhoods have been ordered for next Thursday. I cannot wait until the last moment to take action to see that the supplies to our fighting men are not interrupted. I am accordingly obliged to take over at once temporary possession and control of the railroads to insure their continued operation. The Government will expect every railroad man to continue at his post of duty. The major military offensives now planned must not be delayed by the interruption of vital transportation facilities. If any employees of the railroads now strike, they will be striking against the Government of the United States.

(Read the whole Executive Order 9412 on the Seizure and Operation of the Railroads here)

It amazes me that we can find the exact wording of the speeches my father is talking about in December of 1943.

Well darling I haven’t said much but every little bit helps or does it. I love you my sweet but it looks hopeless now. I told Bob if we went to Carolina I would wait until he got his furlough and we would go home together. So that will be next April if they keep on giving them as they were. Of course you know about where we will be by April. I must stop now Sweet Have a couple more to scribble and then to bed. I even hate the word anymore but it’s the only warm dry thing I have. So its [sic] almost heaven. Besides I’m getting cold. I love you my sweet so for tonight. That’s all Folks, All my love, Your Lefty.

With that we end the 1943 letters. What will the New Year bring for my father and his fellow soldiers? I think we all know what will happen. Sometime they will all be sent overseas then the fight will begin for these soldiers. According to Dad’s discharge papers he will spend one year, two months, and 23 days overseas.

 

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Judson C. Haviland, Robert Winter, Claude R. Gordon, Myron J. Morris, General Edmund Sebree

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Responses

  1. This is such fascinating reading. I am so glad you have the letters and are sharing them and archiving them as you are.

    How’s the baby girl?!

    • Thanks I feel honored that others are interested in reading them. I wonder how Dad would feel about it. The baby is great! Man o man I am blessed!

      • Hi – Stumbled across your site doing other research; my grandfather was General Edmund B. Sebree, whose picture you have posted. Fun to read a view from one of his troopers as to how the Tennessee Maneuvers went. My grandfather always referred to them as miserable in terms of weather, but incredibly useful in training the Division up to standards. The unit’s performance in France bore this out; the 35th was always one of the better divisions in Europe. As for my grandfather, he had a long and distinguished career, and had the distinction of being wounded twice (once in the Pacific and later in France) as a Brigadier General. Again, nice site, and a fine way to honor your father’s service. All the best. –Ed McAlister (Edmund Sebree McAlister)

      • Oh my goodness! It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I never in my wildest dreams thought that one of the “Big Kicks” as my father called them, families would contact me. Dad did talk about the Tennessee maneuvers. I would have to agree that they were all miserable, but not as miserable as he is in Chapter 52, Bombed. He talked about the weather, poison oak, as well as the snakes, some of the biggest he ever saw. In my research I found that the terrain in Tennessee resembled what they encountered in France. Although I am sure the men did not like what they went through it certainly prepared them for what was to come.

        There was an interesting incident that happened on the way back from those maneuvers to Camp Robinson in Arkansas, which would earn the 35th QM the first nickname of WWII. In case you have not read it I will post the link below.

        I must thank you for General Sebree’s service and for leading these men to victory. God bless and thank you for his service.

        Sincerely
        Nancy
        The Yoo Hoo incident
        http://wp.me/p2eEip-4a

  2. HIs letters are wonderful – so honest! They give such a charming picture of him. And I too, love the internet for what it can fill in for us. Keep on posting!

    • Thank you Donna! I really enjoy learning things I did not know about him.

  3. Ah, the bad old days.

    • Makes me laugh every time I think about it. I did not know this about my dad! lol

  4. Invaluable! Thank you so much for posting these letters and links to the historical documents.

    • I find it so fascinating and love that others are interested. Thank YOU!

  5. What a treasure to have your dad’s letters. Have a great weekend. Hugs

    • Thanks for stopping by! Great to see you !

  6. I loved hearing about his good sleep. Amazing that any sleep in these situations would be good. But his description on this chilly evening here made me excited to turn in and sleep in tomorrow. 🙂

    • Thanks Patrick. Yes a good sleep was much needed for these men. I was happy to read it too. I hope YOU had a a good sleep and were able to sleep in.

  7. Ah, it’s hotting up now. Great stories.


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