Category Archives: Written to Elizabeth

06.14.1944 Letter

Dear Elizabeth:

Well how are you and Grant doing? I suppose Mildred’s keeping you up on the latest dope about myself. I had a letter from Howard quite some time ago, and wrote him one just about the time he arrived here.

I wrote Mildred a while back that I had seen Coventry. Did you see that letter yet. I’m telling you, it’s quite a sight. I’ve also seen a few old cathedrals. It almost gives you the creeps when you walk into one and think about the place being over a thousand years old. On top of that they used to bury the dead right in the Church. You know I think some of the homes must be that old too. I know I never saw thatched roofs until I got here. By 11:30PM it gets dark and around 5AM it gets light. I suppose it’s just vise versa in winter.

Last night and this morning I had my first taste of “C” Rations. We were out a few miles from here and pitched our tents for overnight. Plenty of beans in them. Not bad tho. Woke us up in the AM with tear gas. You should see me get into my mask. One officer in BVDs left his mask in the truck and tore cross country in there to find the mask.

What a sight!! What a laugh!! Now it’s your turn. Thanks for keeping personal papers.

Russell

England

10.04.1944 Letter

Dear Elizabeth;

Well, what do you think of where I am now. It sure was some experience coming here though. I saw a lot of stuff. If I could write every detail as I saw it I could probably write a book, but there’s a lot you can’t write, and eventually I’ll probably forget some of the interesting highlights.

Anyway, on the way here, I was separated from my baggage — the only clothes I had were those I wore. Naturally, that was the time for me to meet with an accident. Sure!! I split the seam in the seat of my trousers and could do nothing about it. It was that way for days, and every guy who watched me walk away sure did his duty in calling the fact to my attention.

Now, I have my hair cut so short that there really is nothing there.

Of course, I’m picking up a few things in French. I really wish that I had studied it. A lot of our fellows speak it like a native. But, I’m also surprised at the number of people who speak some English or speak it well. I noticed this especially in Paris. Yes, I’ve seen it, and in a lot of the shops, they speak English. It is certainly a beautiful city and has hardly been maimed by the war.

I walked down the Champs Elysees, saw the Arc de Triumph, Notre Dame, Chamber of Deputies, Napoleon’s Tomb and many other places. I also dropped into the IBM office, and they told me that it has been operating all during the war.

Taxis are either bicycle or horse drawn carts, all sizes and shapes, and usually haul one person. Some of the bicycle type look like miniature auto coupes, others are open.

It was interesting enough so that I hope I can go there for another day.

Mildred says you got some Nescafe for the package which she says is on the way. Thanks!

So long for now.

Russell

France

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

03.25.1945 Letter

Dear Elizabeth;

Well, I received your Easter Card with the letter. I intended to write a lot sooner, but I simply had nothing about which to write and consequently, just kept putting it off until this afternoon.

To start off, thanks for sending me the pictures. That one is the first one that I’ve had of Howard since he got in the Army. I shoved off the day he was being inducted. When he wears that hat, I think that he should cock it a little more on the side of his head. Ahem. From those pictures you and Grant are looking as good as ever.

I had some colored pictures returned to me recently and I sent them on to Grace to have prints made of them. If you happen to be up that way, and she has them, ask her to show them to you. Some of them turned out beautiful.

Our company had a party in a city nearby recently and it turned out very well. Nobody got too drunk, and we had music by an American Negro orchestra, soldiers, they played real well. Of course, girls came by invitation only, and had to be approved by the local “Elsa Maxwell” who happens to be really known as Countess McMahon. The Irish operate everywhere. I don’t know where she got the title of Countess, but the story goes around here that she married some relative of Napolean. Perhaps, but how come she retains the name of McMahon. But, she ruled the dance with an iron hand just like hague rules Jersey City.

I know I owe Howard a letter so I may get at that shortly.

Russell

France

05.14.1945 Letter

Dear Elizabeth:

Just imagine this set up. Living in a nice hotel room which I share with three other fellows. My particular bed has an inner spring mattress — at least it feels like it. Adjoining the room is a bathroom with all conveniences including hot and cold running water. It sure feels good to take a bath in a tub again. The water here is soft too. Tomorrow I send my laundry out and it’s done free — by the Germans. We make them do it.

To make life complete, all I would need are sheets and pillowcases for my bed.

We eat in the same hotel and waitresses do the KP work. The meals are so good as any I’ve had in the Army. And it doesn’t detract from a meal when you eat it from real plates, and coffee from real cups.

But there’s a dark side too. No fraternizing. It may get a little monotonous after a while. But I understand the furloughs and passes will be pretty liberal after a bit.

This is a picturesque little place. It reminds me a little of Endicott – neat and clean. There is a beautiful park just across the street here with various healthfully good spring water, if you can stand the taste!! When you see all these things, you wonder why this country insists on making war all the time.

I saw it first-hand the results of much bomb damage though. You can’t imagine what it is to drive down a street amid mountains of rubble and ghost-like walls and shells of buildings.

There were big celebrations of victory in France. Some fireworks. Dancing whenever there was music in the middle of the street. I stayed out until 5:30AM. Was I fagged.

I’ll close off for now so I’ll have wind for the next letter. More later.

Russell

Germany