Category Archives: Written to Howard

05.20.1944 Letter

Dear Howard:

I got a letter from Mildred and Ralph this morning and your address was included in it. So here goes.

As you already know, I am over here in “jolly old England” but I think it is anything but jolly in my estimation.

One of my first problems after arriving here was how to use English money. I have gotten used to it by this time and this is how it works. A Pound worth about $4.00, is a note which reminds me of a Mother’s Oats coupon. Twenty Shillings make a pound. There is a Ten Shilling note which is half a pound. The rest of it consists of coins which are half crowns, which are two shillings, six pence; two shilling pieces, one shilling pieces, six pence pieces, three pence; pennies and half pennies. Curious thing about them is the pronunciation given to three pence, two pence, and half penny. They say throuppence for threepence; toppence for two pence and ‘aypenny’ for half penny. I got on a train (trolley) before I became accustomed to it when I told her where I wanted to go, she said tuppence and aypenny please. I didn’t know what she was talking about, so simply held a handful of change in front of her and told her to take her pick and I watched.

Of course you know all of the traffic is on the left side of the street here. So you have to learn to look when crossing, just the opposite of the way you do in the states. You get on the trams and buses in the rear, and practically all of these are double Decker. Most of the trams practically never come to a complete stop when picking up or discharging passengers, everybody waiting to hop on freight-train fashion.

As for me; well as you can see from my address that I am with the European Civil Affairs Division. You’ve probably read about it in the papers back there. I saw a picture of part of a unit in “Stars and Stripes” which was taken from New York Times. The name of the Division in itself is self-explanatory. We’re waiting for things to happen like everyone else.

The beer is lousy and the whiskey (where you can find it) is weak. There’s not much use in drinking it. They call a beer garden a “Pub”. In most places the beer costs like hell. Why a glass that you would pay ten cents for in the states, would cost more than twice that here.

I think the thing I miss most in the eating line is milk. This powdered stuff is only a fair substitute. But otherwise the eats are pretty good. I had steak for dinner today and it was alright. Coffee isn’t too good. I’ve been at Mildred to get me some Nescafe and she tells me that thanks to Elizabeth she has been able to get a can.

The influence of the states on this place is quite strong. Theatres (cinemas) show practically all American films. Their popular music for dancing is practically all from ours. If the buildings were more modern here you probably wouldn’t be able to tell it from an ordinary American city.

This fast time here doesn’t let it get dark until around 11 o’clock at night. Think of what it will be next month.

I guess that’s about all I can say for this time. Give my regards to Elizabeth and Grant.

Russell

England

P.S. What does the sun look like anymore? Is it still round?

07.18.1944 Letter

Dear Howard:

Well, since I last wrote to you, I’ve had a considerable change in my way of living in that I have since been billeted in a couple of English homes, and I must say that the people really treat us swell. The people I am with now are just the average over here, but here’s what they do for us. They call us every morning just about 6:45 and always bring up a cup of hot coffee for each of us. They welcome us practically as one of the family and really want us to feel that way. Last nite for instance I did a little washing which consisted of my underwear, and field jacket. All I asked for was a place to hang up the stuff to dry. She actually felt put out to think that she shouldn’t be doing it for me. So she took particular pains to see that the stuff got dry and then ironed everything including a pair of socks. The field jacket came out very clean and I would have been satisfied with it when it was dry, but no, she had to iron that too, and took a lot of pains with it too because frankly, I believe it looks better now than when it was new.

I know that they are rationed pretty strict over here, but no matter what it is, practically all will offer you something and will insist on your taking it, and I’m telling you, you sometimes have a hell of a time turning them down, because they do actually appear to be hurt when you refuse.

You’ve probably heard something about the English beer. Well, I know when I first started of it, I didn’t think it was so hot, but I find that by shopping around, you can find some that will suit your taste. Maybe it isn’t quite as good as the beer at home, but one gets used to it. I’ve found that some lagers or ales, though not served cold except at a few choice places, are almost on par with some of the beer back home.

And the majority of the people are as friendly as can be found anywhere. They like to talk and ask questions about the states which is only natural and they are getting an impression of us that they don’t get in the movies, which is the way they thought we all were at one time. Its really quite an experience and I don’t believe that I would miss any of it up to now.

By the way, I might mention that I have your letter of June 17, but it took quite a while to come. Why don’t you use V-Mail? Much more consistent.

Guess I will close for now. Regards to Elizabeth and Grant.

Russell

England

10.29.1944 Letter

Dear Howard;

Now after you read this letter, why don’t you sit down and drop me a line and let me know just what the hell you are doing. The only way I find out anything about you is when your wife writes to me. Yeah, I got a letter from her today, and in it was your address, which I didn’t know before. Do you know where I am. No, you don’t. The best way for you to find out, is to place your finger somewhere on a map of France and take a good guess; and one thousand to one you won’t guess right.

But away with this idle chatter — this will give you some idea of what has happened or what I have been doing with my time… For a time we were stationed at a beautiful chateau – or was once a beautiful – and slept out most of the time, you guessed it in our pup tents with good old hay for a mattress. From there I managed to see Paris a couple of times. Since Elizabeth said she sent my last letter to her, to you, I don’t believe that I will have to tell you much about that. By the way, I did buy some perfume for her while there and have already sent it to Grace with a lot of other stuff.

Right now, though, we have conquered the confining walls of what was a place used by Hair Schicklegruber and his Heiling Henchman. We eat in buildings that he once built and work as well. Good buildings these Heinies built too. There no pikers along these lines. However, we G.I.’s really go to work on a place once we come in. The other day, the whole company had to report for a policing detail at 12:45. At least we thought it was the ordinary policing detail; however we did the job. I will always regret not having the film on which to record it. You see the company street is a concrete road and it is several hundred feet long. A battery of brooms was brought up and the command to sweep street was given. It certainly was a wonderful sight to see former schoolteachers, college professors, athletic directors, lawyers, and master sergeants and me just sweeping the dirt off the company’s street. We stirred up enough dust so that one would think a company of cavalry was going through. A few hours later it rained and got the street all muddy again. We’ll probably sweep it again because I don’t think rain was mentioned anywhere in the order.

One night awhile back, another fellow and I decided to go out on pass to a little town about five kilometers from where we were stationed. Plenty of G.I. traffic along the road, and it wasn’t long before we were picked up by a Red Ball express truck – that’s what particular supply lines are called.

We got into town OK, spent the evening at a Frenchman’s house, there being a femme that this buddy of mine had met previously at a dance a couple of weeks before. He could speak French; so that cut me out along that line. But Pop – her Pop – and I had a good chat as he spoke English very well. He related to me just how the people in this town which bore no scars of battle, but which had been used by the Germans, felt at the coming of the Americans. He stated that he first saw an American patrol in the town and at first he was so surprised that he could hardly believe it. But when he observed more closely he was sure of it. They remained in the town for about two hours before departing. A day or so later, they returned again, to see if anything new and different had turned up. From then on, nothing but French flags were flown in the town. “I’ll have to continue on sheet 2”

#2
Only a short time has elapsed before the main body of the outfit passed through this little village. His own words best expressed just what his reaction was. They were to the effect that the parade through Paris “down Champs de Elysees” was probably the more beautiful to look at but the parade which passed by his front door was the real thing. “Tanks, tanks, tanks” he explained. “Always the Americans ride”, he said. The Germans had nothing but carts. Horse drawn, and bicycles for their transportation. This particular outfit or outfits must have taken four hours to pass through he said. Everybody in town or in near it was covered with the dust that it stirred up. He expressed the feelings of most Frenchmen by giving a sigh when asked how they felt about the Americans coming. He stated that it was hard for one to exactly imagine just how it felt on such an occasion if one hadn’t undergone similar conditions. It was particularly impossible to speak freely while the Germans were there, at the same time pointing out that someone in this community was working for the Gestapo, and he had not been suspected simply because he had lived in the community for a long time and apparently acted the part of a stalwart citizen. But the marquis found out and shot him. They wasted no time. So said he….

Anyway, on the way back from this particular town, he picked up a ride with a couple of G.I.’s deadheading on the Red Ball Express. They had a few shots of cognac which is what I call “rot gut” and when we arrived at our camp I was sure glad to get out of that truck. There were a pair of trucks in the deal and we were in the land truck. Well, these French wind about like some of the country roads back in Pennsylvania and whenever they came to a curve in the road, they made it as short as possible straightening out the road wherever possible. Most of the time, I just sat there ready to jump if anything did go wrong. But I guess being fortified with cognac just makes them better drivers, because we arrived save and sound thought we did have to just about yell our brains out to get the driver to stop.

But as long as we’re in France, I’m going to see just how much French I can pick up — I mean the language. A fellow here in the office speaks it fluently and spends quite a bit of time with me on it, for which I’m very grateful.

But I guess that’s about all I have to offer for now.

Russell

France

05.17.1945 Letter

Dear Howard;

Well, how many points have you. I’ve only 59 so I’ll sweat out the Army for some time. You know, in a week or so I’m going to tack on a hash mark. Yep, three years ago this month.

A little over a year ago, I left New York and landed in Scotland on a damn big boat with several thousands of GIs. It took us eight days to make the crossing and I remember some pretty rough weather. I think I left the day you came in the Army.

Don’t tell anybody — I wear two campaign stars now. What battles!!!

Right now I’m housed in a hotel in this little German town. The hotel room has beds for three of us and a bathroom adjoins the rooms. One of the first things I did was take a bath in the tub — the first since I left England in a tub.

Mess is in a real dining room with waitresses, mostly displaced persons. I don’t know whether you’re eating from a mess kit or how, but we’re giving ours a rest now and eating from china once again. Meals are a lot better tasting and a cup of coffee tastes like a cup of coffee.

The town itself is picturesque, neat, clean modern. And from a personal viewpoint, those are all the typical German traits. It’s really a lot like say Endicott for example. There’s a beautiful park nearby with deep wells that bring various kinds of health giving water to the surface. Tennis courts are available, a baseball diamond has been laid out. A theatre is to be taken over. If a break comes on furlough and passes things will be fairly nice. We’ll need the latter because of the not-fraternization policy.

Guess I’ll close off for now.

PS Today is the 20th. Couldn’t find your address before. Received letter from Elizabeth today with it in so —

Russell

Germany

06.08.1945 Letter

S/Sgt Russell F Wadsworth
ASN 52288468
G-2 Sec., Hq. E.C.A.D.
APO 658, c/o Postmaster
New York, NY

The girl spoke a little English where I bought this postcard. She looked at the card and said “Beautiful”, and after a moment’s pause said, “was”. I have a picture of just how it looks now. It was just a typical example of pin point bombing.

Russell

Bad Homburg, Germany