Category Archives: 1945 Letters

01.07.1945 Letter

Dear Elizabeth;

You’ve probably been wondering whether or not I’ve received the package which you sent. I got it just before Christmas and in good condition. So I want to thank you all for it.

We’re having our first taste of winter here now, with the ground being covered with snow, but it wasn’t very cold though.

Had an enjoyable Christmas and New Years and had champagne which cost us about 2.28 for a quart bottle. It’s delicious, but not at the price one would pay for it back home. Went to a party Christmas eve which lasted all night. We ate for half the night. The people were very nice, or as the French would say “tres bien”.

So long for now.

Russell

France

01.10.1945 Letter

Dear Helen and Wilson;

Guess it’s pretty nearly time that I dropped you a line and let you know where I stand again but I hardly know what to begin to say.

Anyway, winter has finally caught up with us over here and the ground is covered with a fine layer of snow. The snow hasn’t been on the ground very long, but the first day that it came we were issued long undies and though I haven’t started to wear them regularly as yet, I may have to before very long. Frankly, I’m glad that it’s colder now than it was a few weeks back, a few weeks ago as I prefer to walk on frozen ground rather than in mud.

Got a letter the other day from a friend of mine who I met back in Niagara when I first came in the Army. It was the first that I had heard from him in two years, and I hadn’t expected to hear from him at all. Anyway, he ended up in India, and his letter came to me by way of Niagara. So, you can imagine what a journey that letter had. It was almost three months on the way having been mailed last October.

As far as I know now, I’ve received all of my Christmas packages except one and that’s the one that Grace said she mailed to me. I got three from IBM alone, one from New York and two from Endicott. And now I’m getting both Collier’s and the Post and they’re coming in so fast right now that I can hardly keep up with them. They’re dated from October.

Went out and got a little French lesson tonight, and though it is still difficult for me to understand them, I am getting successful enough to make myself understood and I guess that’s progress. Not much I can add for this time, so will close.

Russell

France

01.12.1945 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace;

I know that I owe you a letter, but have been holding off just to see if the package you had sent would arrive. Said package arrive this morning and the contents were in good condition. Thanks a lot for it. I want to especially thank you for the pocket dictionary which you included; it is the best dictionary of its kind that I’ve laid eyes on, and another fellow here is going to write home and get the same thing in German-English. I certainly would like to get the French grammar book which is put out by the same author – HUGO -.

As for myself, everything is fine for the moment at least. Snow now covers the ground and it is considerably colder than it was a month or so ago. It freezes ice in our barracks, or I should say warehouse, every night, and I use all the blankets I have plus my tent half and overcoat when I go to bed at night.

I am now receiving both Collier’s and the Post and some of the copies are dated back as far as Sept.

Another fellow and I are doing our housework tonight, namely ironing. Of course we do it the old fashioned way of heating the irons on a stove, not because we don’t have electricity but because we don’t have any electric iron. This way is just as good anyway / two irons going, one on the stove and one off.

Sunday we had our pictures taken — in German uniforms. The uniform I had on was that of a German tankman. My buddy had on that of a German officer. Then we had another friend point a gun at us and we placed our hands over our heads as though we were his prisoners. We’d probably been shot if any guards here had seen us as they are a trigger happy lot.

You know, I’ll be the stores at home are not as cold as they are here in France. I was in one the other day, and of course, the clerk came up and waited on me just like in a department store at home. But most of the clerks dress just as you would when going outdoors here. It was almost as cold inside as out.

But the French know how to decorate store windows. No matter how shabby the shop may look from the outside, it is usually quite orderly and neat on the inside. But prices of practically all articles are very high. I looked at silk scarfs in windows (I took them to be silk) and they were priced up around 800-900 francs- around sixteen dollars in our money. That’s too much for me. The French do dress well, however.

I’m enclosing a money order for $3.00 in this letter, which you may have for buying all those different items for me. It isn’t as much as I would like to send, but is about all I can manage at present. Will drop you a little more at some future date.

That’s about all I have to offer for this time.

Russell

France

01.21.1945 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace;

Haven’t had any mail for several days now, but neither has anyone else. Won’t have any for a few days yet, and then there’ll probably be a lot of it. I have received several packages that I never expected, and if every guy over did as well, it can be readily understood why mail might be delayed. Most of us in here did well in that respect.

Am still feeling well, even though the weather has been bad. Only had one cold — the one I told you about in a previous letter a while back. We had quite a bit of snow for today.

I am enclosing some pictures in this letter, some which I took in England, and some which were taken by other fellows. That picture of the tent in the thickest pines is the one I slept in for some time since coming over here. Notice how we put sides on it, and built it up. Some of the pictures were taken in the office. I have sent in some that I took in color. They haven’t been returned yet. Pass ’em around, but don’t lose them.

Things look pretty good on the Russian front right now. If they keep going at their present rate, they’ll be in Berlin before we are. What care who gets there first as long as the thing is over with.

I don’t know whether I mentioned it before or not, but we have movies here twice a week now. Get some pretty good pictures too. The screen is a makeshift one, being a big piece of plywood painted with silver. It works good now, but at first you didn’t know whether you’d see a complete picture or not.

Guess I’ll close off for this issue.

Russell

France

02.05.1945 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace;

By the time you receive this letter you probably will have received a letter which will answer most of the questions in your V-Mail of the 14th.

There seems to be a “nigger in the woodpile” as far as Don is concerned, as we have a lot of fellows like him here.

I got a letter from Bertha and Miles today. I guess mail is pretty slow both ways across the water. However, I think it’s improving slowly.

News reports are sure looking good these days. At 10PM a transcribed home news broadcast is heard here right after a regular newscast. Sometimes we listen to German propaganda broadcasts. They certainly are a bunch of stupes to think we believe their hooey. But they play good music.

Russell

France

02.19.1945 Letter

Dear Helen and Wilson;

Well, I can understand that you are having a real winter now. It should be swell for skiing with all that snow. But how about the floods later. Now listen to this. The weather here has been so warm for the past few days that we’ve been tossing baseballs around. I’ve never been so warm in February.

The other day I sent you some stamps that I got in town. Let me know if you like them. I’ll send you more from time to time. I meant to send you some long before this. You’ll have a collection when I get through finding stamps because there’s all kinds of them.

Sorry for such a short letter, but I just haven’t anything more to write.

Russell

France

02.21.1945 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace;

I thought I’d better answer your V-Mail of January 26 which I’ve had for quite some time now. From all indications up to the time I received it, you had no word that I did receive the package with the French-English dictionary in it, but I did mail you a letter shortly after it’s receipt letting you know that I did receive same. Now you tell me that you’re sending another dictionary along with some other stuff. I’m sorry that you did not receive my letter, or receive it in time, to prevent duplication of this item. However, when it comes, I’ll sell it to somebody else as there are plenty of guys looking for just such a book. How much is it anyhow. In the meantime, I’ll get another money order off to you as I feel that you are spending quite a bit of money for these things. Did you get my last money order?

In regard to these packages which you send out to me from time to time, I wouldn’t worry too much about them after you once put them in the mail as, to the best of my knowledge, I have received every package that has been sent to me. However, the time element varies anywhere from 1 to 4 months. Mildred mailed two to me in the later part of November, one of which I received a couple of weeks ago and the other I’m still waiting for.

No, I have never received a letter from Emma’s sister…. Maybe she’s the bashful type.

But don’t forget me on the film. If you can’t get the regular black and white film, I’ll take the Kodachrome daylight same size. It costs considerably more money though.

Our weather here is just the opposite of what you are having or had. We’ve been tossing baseballs around for several days now. Maybe it’s unseasonal though and we’re a little premature getting out the baseball equipment. If you have any newspaper pictures of all that snow, enclose them in one of your subsequent letters. You’ll probably have plenty of floodwater this year too. If it goes out all of a sudden.

The other day, we had a delicacy here. One of the fellows managed to latch on to a dozen eggs. We fried them here in the office in our mess kits and they sure tasted good. I’ll probably make a good hobo when I get out of this Army.

Guess I’ve about run out of stuff for this time.

Russell

France

02.25.1945 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace;

Well, I guess the best way to start this letter is to tell you that you can certainly anticipate my needs to a “T”. I had a hunch all along that you would probably return the money I sent, doggonit…Anyway, I want to thank you for your thoughtfulness..

I certainly glad to see your paragraph on getting film too. PLEASE get me six (6) rolls of film, size 828, and if at all possible I would like SUPER XX… Of course, I’ll take anything I can get. If and when you do obtain this film, I would appreciate your sending to me by first class mail. Send it alone.

Thanks also for the clippings which you sent showing the snow back there. I had just asked you in a letter the other day to send some to me if they could be found. I had one that was sent to me by John, my red-headed friend over here, but I don’t know where the picture was taken. Anyway, it showed some street with only the roofs of cars sticking out of it, and I don’t believe I ever saw that much snow back there…not since I was a kid anyway, as I remember it used to come almost to the tops of fences at one time. It seems that our winter is about over, over here.

You should see the sleeping bags we now have. They cover up everything including the top of your head, leaving only the opening for your face. I might mention that they have a big zipper on them and you can pull this up to suit yourself. But I can’t get used to having something around my head. I’m zipped right up from head to foot and feel like a snail, as I can stick my head out every once in a while and a tentacle-like hand moves out every once in a while as well. We get into one of the things and feel like a bunch of mummies or a bunch of seals.

As regards to my French, though….There’s only one way to really learn it and that is to get out and talk to people. Therefore whenever I go out, I always take the dictionary with me, so that when I get stuck for a word, all I do is look for it in there, show it to the French and have them pronounce it for me and try to remember the pronunciation. I have made progress, but I cannot measure my progress until I go out with someone who does not or has not made an attempt to speak French. Then I feel fluent in comparison. You take words in English that end in TION, change the pronunciation a little, and you have a French word. The same is true of many of our words that end in ABLE or IBLE. So once I get a working knowledge of the verbs, my progress will be a lot better. It’s surprising how, if you twist the pronunciation of some of their words, you can draw out a diminutive of the English word (Boy, is my typing lousy tonight). It really helps one’s vocabulary to know French due to the similarity of many of its words with English.

I have both the addresses of Jack and Don now. Did you forward my last letter on to Jack? I sent it in one to Romayne.

During the past week, we have had fried eggs and oranges for a change. A fried egg is just about as popular as an ice cream cone to me, and to everyone else as well. I had four this morning, getting two in my first trip down the line and going back for seconds. Have also had oranges during the same period. Boy it sure seems good to get something fresh like that.

Guess I’ve run out of stuff for now, so will close and go see the movie we’re having here tonight.

Russell

France

03.13.1945 Letter

Dear Willard and Grace;

Guess I’ll have to call this a business letter. To start things off, I am going to ask you if you will do another favor for me. Enclosed are two numbered packets of colored negatives; one is marked No. 1 and the other marked No. II. I would appreciate if you would take them to Hamlin’s and leave the following instructions:

1. Have the negatives mounted in slides (they don’t do it on this side of the pond)

2. Order 4 prints each of all the printable negatives in packet No I

3. Order 3 prints each of all the printable negatives in packet No II

When you look at these negatives, please hold only the edges between your fingers as otherwise you will get fingerprints on the face and thus mar them.

When they are returned to you, which may be several weeks after you leave them at Hamlin’s, return only the prints to me. Keep the mounted negatives as I don’t want to lose them, and after seeing them, you will understand why. Just return them by regular first class mail as I’m not even taking a chance on air mail.

Since this sort of work is quite expensive, and I’m not sure of the cost, I am enclosing a money order for $15.00 to cover the job. This is plenty to cover the cost, I feel sure, but let me know the exact cost so that I will know exactly what to charge the other fellows who ordered these prints. If there is enough left over, see if you can pick up some Kodachrome Daylight film; it costs around $1.50 per roll.

Otherwise, there is very little new around her. I have three letters that I received from Helen just yesterday – two V-Mails and one regular.

Got a lot of work to do right now, so will close off.

Russell

France