Posted by: notsofancynancy | October 11, 2012

World War II, chapter 33, Planning

World War II

Planning

Chapter 33

How lucky are we with our fancy technology. In Dad’s time their were no instant messages and I would wager phones were not easily accessible. My dad would write a letter and wait for it to get to Mom then she would have to write and Dad would have to wait that amount of time to get answers to his questions. Never is this more apparent with these next letters.

Dad’s division is still in Tennessee on field maneuvers.  During these maneuvers one million soldiers passed though Tennessee.  This was where they went to prepare for the fight they would get into overseas. It was the last camp many saw before they left the states.

Dad looking exhausted, St Jean, France 1944-45

10 January 1944

Dearest Vi, Well honey I’ll start this tonight finish it tomorrow (probably) and next week I’ll send it. I believe I am losing my mind. Can’t remember much of anything. I know that the furloughs start the day after this problem is over. That means we’ll be going into camp short handed [sic]. Because we’ll have damn few drivers and lots of trucks. So for the next couple weeks we will be busy. You should see the moon here tonight. Boy what we couldn’t do to it. It’s the first time in a couple of weeks we have been able to see it. But man its [sic] still there. I hope it keeps . Maybe within the next couple of months we’ll be able to enjoy it. Who knows?  They are giving 7 day furloughs and travel time to your home town and no one furlough to exceed 15 days. So I still can’t come out. And as yet I haven’t found when mine comes up. Guess they aren’t putting out any Military Information. I’ll get it out of Lt. Gordon sometime soon. Just waite [sic] until he and I have one of our try [sic]-weekly talks. If he isn’t too mad at me maybe he will let it out. Now maybe some news from home. Nothing much has happened. The old cat had kittens. One nephew had on operation and I guess about all the rest have the flu. Sis said they shelled 615 bushels of corn. That’s more corn than they have picked in the last 10 years. I guess they have enough left for feed. Oh Yes and Dad said to tell me hello. That’s the first word from him in 3 years. I haven’t heard how Ira Vance is. I guess they don’t know. Well you know its darn cold here and I’m about ran [sic] down for tonight. So adios for now.

I bet Dad felt really alone. His mother passed away a month before he turned 17 and he has not heard from his dad in three years. I don’t think that Grandpa Harry was very educated. It really makes me understand how important the letters from my mom were.

11 January (continued on the same page.)

Here comes some more nonsense. All the fellows are all ready to leave on furloughs and everyone is excited about the end of maneuvers. This problem isn’t finished but should be anytime now. They have changed it. They get to leave as soon as possible afterwards. The Platoon Sgt. came back just now and said not to be surprised if things start happening about three in the morning. They might leave then. Don’t know what else to write about. Can’t see the moon so that’s out. It did warm up enough so I laid in my tent about 20 minutes and didn’t freeze anything. It was nice. Lt. Gordon said our platoon was the best in the company. He said he was right proud of us. Also said we would all be sure to get furlough and as soon as we got into camp he would send as many more as can be spared. Man has he changed since he came back from school. He even told me someone up at the C.P. told him that all one needed was friends only he didn’t find it out soon enough. He is darn good to us too. AND seldom says much. Bob wants to write so I’ll stop now darling. And I better send this so I love you darling very much. Nite now my love. All my love, your Lefty.

When we first started this journey Dad did not get along well with Lieutenant Gordon. Then the Lieutenant was sent off to school and now he seems to have a better idea on how to deal with the soldiers. I know that “Pop” Gordon as he was called after the war, became a good friend to my father which continued until Mr. Gordon passed away.

12 January

Hi Sweet. Happy Birthday Darling. This is a fine time to be saying something like that. Or did you consider me yet for not sending anything. I hope you aren’t angry at me. Or that is too angry. I know I should have sent something. I didn’t forget your birthday and wanted to send something more than anything in the world And if you don’t believe me write Bob and see if I haven’t been bitching about it for some time. Here is the set up. As I have found out about my furlough. Six men have gone. When we get into Butner as many more will go as possible. (2 more from this platoon making 8) Starting the first (Of the month) 5 more will go. About 14. Then the rest will leave February 16 or about that time. That doesn’t give us much time to dilly around. Can you come out home? If so I will send home for that money. If not-well lets waite [sic] until then and see if I can’t make it out there. Three days is all we will have together and likely only one. Vi I’ll have about time to get a letter home after I get yours. So I want a definite answer Can or can’t you. We are going into another training camp. And maybe Carolina’s from there. My record is good so maybe I’ll miss those. I want to go across but wish to know the men I go with. If I had time I could explain the whole set up. But haven’t. Perhaps Mom will come with you. If she does we’ll get to Kansas somehow. Do what you want to. Maybe later we’ll be closer to there. And I guess my furlough will waite [sic]. Only don’t waite [sic] until the last minute to decide because I can’t. 

It is almost scaring me at how desperate he sounds in this letter. What if they are not able to get together before he goes overseas? What would that mean for their relationship? Will he actually get a furlough or will they cancel them and send them overseas? These are probably all the same questions Dad had at the time.

Last night was zero again and it (is) awful cold tonight and the moon was out. Here I told you the problems over maneuver are over as far as training is concerned. Now moving.  We go to Camp Forrest soon and leave there by the 18th. So I was right we clear the Maneuver area by the 18th. That means everything done by the 17th.

Courtesy of campforrest.com

Camp Forrest in Tennessee, according to campforrest.com, was the perfect training terrain. The Army perceived “the Cumberland River and the hilly country to the south and north similar to the Rhine and Western Europe, they decided to send divisions into the state for their last preparation before actual combat. Between September 1942 and March 1944 nearly one million soldiers passed through the Tennessee Maneuvers area.”

Bob and a whole bunch went over across the road to a Honky Tonk to celebrate. Well I am here so guess I’ll do my celebrating later. I hope. I don’t know what else there is to write. So I’ll say I’m leaving this all up to you. The money’s home waiting to be sent. Or as I’m waiting to cancel my furlough until later and save some money. If possible. I won’t go home unless you come out. There is still the rumor of going across. BUT if you do come out and we don’t get married I’m damn sure we won’t until after the war. Or if you don’t I’m sure we won’t . You have your choice.

That was direct, no beating around the bush. What an important decision my mother must make. Will she marry this soldier before he is shipped overseas? The have been penpals since 1937 but they have not spent much time together. Well other than the few times Dad got weekend passes while he was stationed near Mom. It couldn’t have been more than a handful of times. They have been engaged for six months and have only seen each other when he asked her to marry him.

I can see many reasons why you won’t want to come out. And also see many reasons why you should. Putting 2 and 2 together its [sic] about half and half. Rightly I don’t want you to. Because traveling alone or even with Mom it will be rough and I don’t mean perhaps. I am stopping now my sweet so again Happy Birthday Darling and I love you lots. So until later I’m always, your Lefty.

I wonder if he is talking about the railroad trouble surrounding the government takeover, or is he worried because there are so many service men that are traveling the railways. I guess we will never know.

There are two letters in the next envelope. Dad wrote on one of them as to which to read first.

January Letter

14 January

Dearest Vi, Well Bob and I are in Manchester (Tennessee) now at a so called U.S.O. At least we are warm on all sides at once. We started to Camp Forrest to take a shower and clean up. God we didn’t even get there in time. We did get to a show though. But everything else closed before supper. Man the stores close early here. I guess they have a Gov. Inspection every night. You know Uncle Sam has to take care of his soldiers. The show wasn’t bad though.

I did a little research on the U.S.O and I found that I did not know much about how and when it was formed. I was amazed to find that its roots were deep in some of the most famous organizations in our history. According to USO.org,

The Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), National Catholic Community Services, National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board (came together to form the USO)

These organizations wanted to do something to help boost the morale of the people serving in the military. President Roosevelt heard them and had enough foresight to get these organizations to work together to form the U.S.O. I had no idea that it was formed by the YMCA and such.

Remember me telling you about Madelyn Murphy’s mother dying. Well I received another letter from her and her dad has been in the hospital with a ruptured ulcer. I guess he almost died too. He was in a straight jacket for a week. I guess the family has blown apart. The kids have come east. One  in Ill. And one in Va. I guess the family has really gone to pieces. I hate to see that too. That was such a happy family fun and all. Madelyn said I might get to see Jane if I had the chance. She isn’t far from where we will be. I don’t believe I have told you yet. It is raining again here and we have nothing to do until 11:30 then home. God I hope our stuff hasn’t gotten wet. We had it inside though so maybe—. It looks as if we are going to get run out of here too. They have started to clean up the place. If I can hold out a few minutes longer. There isn’t much else to write about Darling. I hope you are feeling OK. I feel as if I have a cold in every joint in my body. God they hurt. Getting old young ain’t I. To[sic] much sleeping on the ground I guess. Well I love you my Sweet. The lady has all but said get out so I’ll quit. I love you sweet. All my love, your Lefty.

16 January (in the same envelope)

Dearest Vi, Gosh honey this is about the third time I have started writing you. I have been awful busy about time enough to sleep a little and eat and am going from then on. I did write the other night in Manchester and then got run out of the place I was writing and didn’t even get it sent. And haven’t yet. So I’ll send it with this. Yesterday I took 4 trucks to Nashville and did I have a time. We left here in rain then sleet and finally snow. And did it snow. We couldn’t see a hundred feet. It stopped snowing before we left there and then it froze. Believe me we had a time then. Had to drive about 20 all the way back and was last in getting started. When we got down about ½ miles from here and the ordnance said the road was impassable. Swell I had one choice. Risk being stuck all night or make it through with no trouble but sure gave the truck a beating. We got home about 10 but I was so tired I just went to sleep. Today I started writing you about that time our trucks came in from the engineers and I was to give up one of them so had to get it ready. That was a hard job it was in bad shape. (not much better now.) I tore up that other and proceeded to again tonight. I guess if I live that long I have to drive all the way through. Its only 550 miles and we have 4 days to do it in so it won’t be so bad. We have some rough mountains I guess though. Imagine I will be tired though. It gets cold there too. Hope we don’t get parked up on the top of one and have a snow storm. We leave sometime Tuesday night so I imagine Darling this well be the last letter I’ll write for while. They brought down an order that assistant drivers would ride in front. And half the trucks have assistants. Boy what trucks. I have to drive for once not as assistant and don’t get any enjoyment out of such an order. I sure caught a good cold again. I guess I was out to[sic] long yesterday with cold feet. They were wet too. I guess I’ll get over it though. I’m not feeling sick or anything. Just cough a little. I guess by the time you have read the letter I wrote the other day and this you’ll have enough bull for once. So darling I’ll close for tonight and get to bed. I’m awful tired. I love you my sweet. How much I don’t know as yet. I haven’t found the end. Nite [sic] Darling. All my love, your Lefty

Grandma Susie, Pop, and Mom

Dad’s division is on the move, headed to Camp Butner, North Carolina. What will they encounter on the way? I mean it seems as though each time they have to go far with these trucks one or another breaks down. Now I have to wonder if these are the trucks that they will take overseas.  I guess only time will tell.

© 2012 notsofancynancy

Robert Winter, Claude R. Gordon

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Responses

  1. What a sad time for your parents, I feel sorry for your dads loss and for your mom too for being without your dad on her bd.

    • I think more so for Dad. At least Mom has her family, Dad seems to have no one except for Mom and her Mom. Dad always had a huge respect for Grandma Susie (mom’s mom) it is certainly apparent why as Grandma Susie kept up a pen pal relationship with him too.

  2. What a great story and beautiful documents.
    Thanks for sharing.
    —–Felicia

  3. I do enjoy his letters home – I guess he would not mind us all reading them (?) – they are so well written and chatty

    • I am not sure I could have done this when he was alive. Although I wish I could have his input on all the historical information.

  4. I can’t imagine having to wait WEEKS to hear from someone you love – we are very lucky today.

  5. I feel so sorry for your dad, and your mother. I wrote to my boyfriend (later, husband) when he was in the service during WW II and I know about that waiting. In those days, we had two mail deliveries a day; I used to walk home from school at noon to see if I got a letter, then walk back.

    • Wow! I did not know you all had two mail deliveries a day. There was certainly a lot more mail back then. Thanks for reading!

  6. Simply amazing that you still have all this history! Thanks for sharing (letting us peek). 😉

  7. The amount of training, the sad times… your Dad and the World as a whole was going through really bad times, it seems. It is important that we understand the pains and gains of the generations that went before us. Nice post, as always, Nancy. 🙂

    • Thank you so much! It really means a lot to know others understand how important this part of history is. I am blessed that I can share it.

  8. You’ve had such intimate contact with your parents’ relationship through these wonderful letters. Have you ever thought about whether relationships were stronger and more in-depth because of separation, the long distance and time between conversations, and not having the immediacy we do? I don’t think I want to roll back the clock, but I wonder about that sometimes. Maybe we take other people, even our most important relationship, just a little bit for granted because of the immediacy of our communication. I just wonder. We will never really know that, but I just love your dad’s letters. Debra

    • Thanks and I am grateful that I am learning so much about my parents before they married. I do wonder what it would have been like had they gotten to know each other better before they married. I don’t think I knew how much he loved her.

  9. You never cease to amaze me Nancy. The time and the love you put into these writings. 🙂

    • Thank you LuAnn it really means a lot to hear that.


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