Posted by: notsofancynancy | October 4, 2012

World War II, chapter 32, 1944

World War II


Chapter 32

A Picture from Overseas Dad Wrote “One area we turned in Check out the Mud”

Still on field maneuvers in Tennessee, Dad and his fellow soldiers are having a rough time wading through the mud and muck of the Tennessee winter. It is cold, raining, and they just spent the last days of 1943 in camp as there was nowhere for them to go. The only place they have to get out of the rain and cold weather is in their trucks or the pup tents they carry with them. That is all fine and dandy if you are a truck driver but I have to wonder how the other soldiers dealt with the unrelenting rain in Tennessee.

3 January 1944

Dearest Vi, Just a line and I imagine that’s about all. We are in mud up to our necks and this time I am not kidding. We moved into an area last night and it had no bottom. Every truck that went in got stuck and we only had about 2 out. The third platoon winch truck had been going all day and have them about done up. Or should I say out. We are about 7 miles from the Kentucky border now. I guess we move back south as soon as we finish this problem. Some say this one has been cancelled because of mud. We saw whole companys [sic] logged down in places and God knows we were one of them. Sounds like you got about everything for Christmas. Nice going. The President gave us something. Said the Railroad walkout prolonged the war 6 months. So whats [sic] the use. I said this would only be a line and I wasn’t kidding. I’m wet, cold, but so are 500,000 others but we all have hopes. I love you, Your Lefty.

President Roosevelt Courtesy of Wikipedia

According to The Donnelly Collection of Executive orders the President worded his speech like this.

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.             

This must have been a hard thing to hear. This strike had a big impact on the war effort. No wonder Dad was so mad at his brother for writing him about walking out. It was affecting Dad directly, at least in his mind.  Dad must have had a good idea of the Railroad Workers pay scale and it is nowhere near what Dad was making in the Army. Dad wishes that the workers would get paid on his pay scale. It just does not seem fair that the workers are paid more than he is and they are complaining. (Read chapter 31 here.)

(Read the presidents speech and the order here.)

4 January

Dearest Vi. Hows [sic] my honey tonight. Gosh what a night. And just think it hasn’t rained since about 4 this morning. And that is something. Boy oh boy 12 hours without rain. Well we have one day in of the 7th problem. Only 3 more to go and then one problem. Then to camp where we can get cleaned up and get some work done. We are going to N. Carolina though. But I’m not sure about going across. Say Honey would you mind waiting until I get into a camp before I send you a birthday present. Otherwise I would have to send the money. And I can see you don’t want it that way. So until then I want to wish you the happiest birthday you have ever had my darling and many more. I hate like hell to have you waite [sic] but I guess I won’t be getting to town. Madeline asked Bob the other day if you were coming down after maneuvers. I told them I guessed you weren’t at least you hadn’t said anything. I guess Madeline is although she will probably waite [sic] until Bob goes home on his furlough. Maybe I’ll get to be best man. Come out and we will make it a double wedding. I was in a pretty bad mood when I wrote yesterday. Guess I should have waited only I hadn’t written for a week and thought I should. Anyway if you would have been in mud up to you’re a__ all day and dragging cables and chains you wouldn’t have felt so good either.  Guess I had better be stopping now. I haven’t much to say. The box Mom sent was certainly good. Again I wish you a happy birthday. Wish I would make it more right now only I can’t. But I love you maybe that will help. All my love, your Lefty.

I found this great website that has pictures of the field maneuvers in Tennessee. Follow this link to see these historical pictures. I also have found excerpts from letters home of another soldier who attended the maneuvers. It is very interesting and according to Pfc. Mitchell J. Dabrowski, “These maneuvers are pretty tough. In fact it’s about the toughest thing I ever had in the Army.”

(Click here to read more about the Tennessee maneuvers from Mr. Dabrowski)

This next letter seems strange. It is in a longer envelope than the others and is on lined paper. In all of the letters so far this is the first time I have seen Dad use this kind of paper.

6 January

Dearest Vi. Well gosh honey I guess I haven’t helped your blue feeling much by missing a week in writing. Anyway It was about as long since I had heard from you. I’m sorry though sweet. I guess I should have been writing. But I can’t get much interested in someone who doesn’t write me. You have really been sweet in writing as much as you have I shouldn’t be complaining at all. I guess our seventh problem is about ended. Anyway the Colonel went at about 6 to see about it. We haven’t heard anything official though. Just one more. I guess they have let the armored divisions go. The outfit that is located close to us is moving to Kansas. My God what a break. We go back to a training camp though. So I wonder who is getting a break. I received the post Mom sent. It sure was swell. I love the picture on the cover very nice. Reading material though that’s the best.  We moved out of the old gent’s yard this morning. Bet he is glad we are gone. Only we sure raised cane with his grass. Man Oh! Man we dug up his lawn. You know he had one of these large lawns about an acre. Well he still has a lawn but now he can measure it in inches. Now we are close to Gallatin anyway you can see the lights from here. I trimmed my whiskers down to a little mustache and goatee. You know a little on the chin. The first Sergeant said “Uh you know Woodside you would be a good looking man if you shaved that off too.” Who does he think he is kidding? It cleared off last night and did it get cold again. I’ll bet it was below 15 above.  It sure froze things up. The sun came out today but it has been a little cold. And tonight-Damn cold but a beautiful moon. God honey I wish you were here. Remember the blonde I told you sent Bob some pictures. She got married. Mrs. Johnson wrote and told us today. Did we ever have a laugh over that. Of course Mrs. Johnson said the blond terrier finally got her man. So that was a laugh there. I mean If you knew the story it would be. She also said her daughter Dot went to Arizona and might be married when she returned. Although she promised not to. Oh Yes! I got a letter from home. I guess Ira Vance is about dead. Anyway they called Dean and Frank home and was going to wire George. I guess Virginia said he was better though. You have probably heard more than I anyway. I guess I will quit on this. Anyway Darling I love you. Hope your blue feeling has passed without to much let down. I know how you feel. Haven’t been feeling spry myself lately. Again I love you. All my love, your Lefty.

I am not sure who Ira Vance is. My Great-Great Grandma on my mother’s side was a Vance so I am assuming they are related. If you did not catch it in the early chapters my parents met at a dance in Nebraska in 1937. My father was hanging around with a kid named George Vance which was Mom’s cousin. George and Dad went to a dance and my mother happened to be there, the rest is history.

9 January

Dearest Vi, I guess you’ll guess what I have here in the cab of my truck with me. If you only knew I’d bet you would go wild. It’s a Mexican Chow Wow. It was just trying to go up my sleeve and would have made it with a little help. So you can see how small he really is. He came back again I had to put him in my coveralls. He hasn’t moved since so I guess he is happy. I swiped him. He belongs to a kid in the Co. So I’ll have to return him tomorrow. I was coming back from a filling station across the road and he was making an awful racket so I just picked him up. He sure is cute. About one hand high and three fingers wide and long enough to match. Right now he is confident I am a friend because he is sleeping where I put him.

Now you know where I get my love of dogs from. My dad showed me early on what great companions dogs were. I got my first dog when I was about ten years old. I have not been without a dog since then. Today I have four, all rescues.  I don’t think I would be a happy camper if I did not have them in my life. I am lucky Dad shared this love with me.

It’s a little chilly tonight about zero again. Anyway it is too cold to snow. I know because it has been doing that all day and since it got dark it quit. So we have about 2 inches of snow. We were wishing it had snowed more so we could have it last the next problem. That sounds strange but we have had everything else so we should have snow. Then it may keep the ground frozen even though it would be cold we wouldn’t have the mud. These trucks are enough bother without that. We moved across the river on pontoon bridges last night. About ½ a mile we pulled into a field and was to pull out at 8 this morning. Well we moved at 4 this afternoon so you can see everything was normal. And it was snowing all the time and over 100 miles were without a place to go to get out of it.  It would have been a wonderful snow had we a window to look out of. We are to be in Camp Forrest 2 days this week and then on to Camp Butner.

Camp Forrest is located near Tullahoma Tennessee and according to Wikipedia it was the largest training facility in World War II. Interesting enough it also became a POW camp in 1942 housing what was termed as “Alien Enemy Control.” They were people who were arrested here in the states. Many were incarcerated without legal process.  In 1943 they were transferred to other Internment Camps to make room for actual POWs captured on the field of battle.

Letter Head 1943

The two days are to service vehicles and propane for the drive. I also think 25% of the Co. will get furlough from there. I am waiting until later. We haven’t any decent clothes to go in (to town) and also ain’t sure of anything. Besides that I don’t think mine will come up then. Probably 15 days later. If I waite [sic] for Bob it won’t be any longer than the first of March. So I might be getting one anytime between now and then. But I have hopes of waiting for Bob. Well I started this yesterday will try to finish it today and send it. Not bad huh! Well good for me. It saves paper and such or maybe just the envelope. Bob and I went over to a farmers [sic] house tonight. I met him this afternoon while we were up in the woods and he invited us over. He said he had two sons-in-laws in the army so we thought the daughters would be home. Had we known they weren’t we wouldn’t have gone. We listened to the radio and talked for an hour then we came back. You should have seen that though. The old man, old lady and also son, we were all dipping snuff (as they call it here) The old man would let go at the fire place there the son then the old lady would lean over and kind of blow hers out and a little would run down her cheek. I about busted to laugh. They invited us to stay all night though. But we thought better of it.

I have heard of snuff but I had not really looked into what it was. Once again consulting Wikipedia snuff is a product made from ground or pulverized tobacco leaves. It is an example of smokeless tobacco. That had to be a sight to these young soldiers, to see that family sharing their snuff. Dad sure got a kick out of it and with it he had something to write Mom about.

I was only kidding about the daughters though. He hadn’t said anything about them Bob and I just cooked that up. When we came back we went over to a honky tonk close by but the M.P.’s run us out of there so now we are writing. This problem starts tomorrow noon and ends Wed morning. Then I guess we start moving to Camp Forrest. So such was heard anyway.  You say if I waited until April to take my furlough you would see me in Lex. (Lexington, Nebraska)  I can send a hundred dollars if that would help any. We might be a little short while there but I think we would get along. And as you say we hardly know each other. I’ll guarantee you though if you come out we’ll know each other lots better. I haven’t much more to say Darling so I’ll say I love you and quit. I do darling very much. Anyways its damn cold and I have to go to bed. All my love, your Lefty.

Dad was always a jokester. I bet he had my mom going for a bit thinking the two were trying to visit a couple of women. I am not sure my mom would have found this very funny.

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Robert Winter



  1. Your father describes the mud and wet well. At least he was on maneuvers…meaning the enemy wasn’t shelling them. As for the chaw, well, it was pretty common!

    • Yes no enemy YET! It wont be long now before he is shipped overseas and will be facing the devil.

  2. “Dad was always a jokester.” That’s great—I love jokester’s.

  3. I have great admiration for the men and women who defend our country. Your dad is a hero in my eyes — just to endure all this mud-sopped training makes him larger than life! 🙂

    • Thanks Natalie. He is a hero in my eyes too!

  4. So you have the “rescue dog gene,” huh? That’s a fine attribute! 🙂

  5. I like the way you add in what is happening out your father’s realm while you tell his story. Excelllent blog!

    • Thanks it means a lot to know I am doing it right! Sometimes I wonder! lol

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