Dear Willard and Grace:
I am enclosing a letter to give to Mom. Thought I just as well might enclose it with yours.
Things are not going so bad right now; all the fellows here are about like those at Ft. Niagara except that they seem much easier to become acquainted with. Probably because we’re all in the same boat. Anyway, my inquiries have brought out the fact that most of the fellows are paper workers. Spirits are high, and everybody gets a kick out of conjecturing where we will end up. However, the guy who came down with me is kind of low. He was at the Fort for three years, wife in Buffalo, and he seems to be worried. He doesn’t say much, and sort of waits for me to take the initiative even in going to the latrine.
The eats are good and entertainment facilities are on a much larger scale than at the Ft. since this camp is a big place. We’re 26 miles from Youngstown Ohio and about 14 miles from Sharon, Pa.
I’m in a casual company at present and as soon as I get assigned to a unit, and if I am still here long enough, it will be possible to get another pass, and I certainly will attempt to.
By the way, I left two or three pairs of glasses in my suitcase. Will you put them in a little package and be prepared to send them to me if I write for them or get a chance to pick them up. Otherwise, if you send them now, it’s hard telling when I would get them. Same goes for writing.
Guess that’s all now.
Fort Niagara, NY
Dear Willard, Grace and all:
This will let you know that I have arrived here safe and well. The trip was interesting, but uneventful.
I have seen a little of the English country-side and it was quite picturesque. It’s neatness would knock your eye out. I know you would be interested in these dinky railroads. The reminded me of those little “baby” trains around the mines thought they are quite a bit larger that those. It was better than any troop train I have ridden on in the U.S.
Say, better not type V-Mail letters because when they are reduced that type might not be legible. I received your letter before it had been reduced, so it was OK.
Our food is good thus far and I believe it will remain that way. More details will follow when I can get a little better situated.
In this letter, Russell discovers that his next oldest brother (Howard, who is 10 years older than Russell) has been drafted into the war. Russell is not happy that his older brother was drafted – as Howard was in a serious accident in the late 1930’s where his arm was severely injured, and a finger had to be amputated.
Dear Willard, Grace and All:
I have received the letters which you sent through various methods of mailing. I might say that I have also received the letter in which you mentioned the glasses – that long one on V-Mail. I answered that and probably neglected to give you the impression that I received it OK by not mentioning the glasses. However, I mentioned something in one of my letters about not trying the V-Mail. That was just to make sure I could read them when I got them. I got that one letter before I came here – that long one. Go ahead and type them just use a good ribbon and fairly clean letters.
Now, about the glasses. I did things in such a hurry before leaving that I did not realize how efficient I really was. I managed to carry along about everything I needed and the glasses were eventually found. So hold onto those until a later date. You can see that the answers to your latest letters — three which I just received — is a little behind, but mail is gradually beginning to catch up and as I receive yours more promptly after you begin to use this address — all the others I have received so far have been addressed to APO 7712 — you will get more up to date answers. My mail should reach you more promptly than yours reaches me when I move around and you can probably understand why that is. Let me know what kind of service you are getting on V-Mail or any Air Mail that I might happen to send.
So they finally got Howard in. Taking him in is one of those things that gripes me. After all, you might as well take a man with one arm. Of course there are many others in the Army with similar handicaps, but the gripe I have against it is the fact that they leave so doggone many of those baseball players stay out — these guys that are physically fit to play only 150 games per year, slide all over a field on their fannies, collect anywhere from $5 to $50,000 dollars, and yet they’re not good enough for this Army. Seems to me they bend over backwards to keep them out, and I think it’s time people should do something about such things. After all, they are no better than the rest of us who have to stick our necks out. What do you think? So much for that.
I can say something here about English money that we use. A pound is worth about 4 dollars. When I first got one in my hands it reminded me of a Mother’s Oats coupon. It’s just a little bigger than that. Then the coins are half-penny, pronounced “aypenny” which is worth about one cent; next is a penny which is worth about two cents. Then there is Threepence which is pronounced “thruppence” and is worth about 5 cents. Then there is a Sixpence which is worth about a dime. A shilling comes next and is worth about 20 cents. Then a two shilling piece. Then a Half-Crown which is worth about half a dollar. Everything is figured on a penny basis. For instance, Threepence piece is equivalent to 3 pennies. A shilling, 12 pennies. A Half-Crown is two shillings, 6 pence or equivalent to 30 pennies. 20 shillings make a pound. Just thought you might be interested in this.
I’ll send you an Air Mail letter with my account number over my signature, and you can deposit it at Endicott Trust Co.
I saw a funny incident down town the other night. I rounded a corner and happened to be looking out at the bus stand. There stood a woman bent over holding the baby in her arms, the baby being bent, with his pants down his legs and dress pulled up, and reminding me very much like a kinked piece of rubber hose. She was simply letting his little radiator drain right over the curb. What a laugh we got out of that. Never saw that expedient used before.
I just this minute was handed a letter from Howard, so I’m reading it. Nothing new except he said that he had an X-ray taken of his arm. That’s a good beginning.
Hope you get both these letters at the same time. I’m going to close and go eat supper.
(the day before the invasion of Normandy – written from Winchester Cathedral)
Dear Willard, Grace and all;
I answered a letter I received from you around a week ago. This morning I received 3 more which you wrote at about the same time, one when you went for groceries. On reading them over, I find that that letter just about answered everything in all of them. The V-Mail was damaged in the machine and could not be photographed so it was sent as a regular letter. I don’t know where they were but don’t forget to leave off “Advance Echelon” in the address.
I have a V-Mail here which I have written to Jack. I’ll mail it today. By the way, I know of boys who have received something like Aqua Velva etc., and if it is packed well, it will get through OK. On the mail, V-Mail is probably your best bet — most consistent — 8 or ten days. Mine is probably Air Mail.
I’ll give you a little thumbnail story of what I did yesterday. I had an opportunity to go on a tour to a town which has quite a historic background. Where it is or its name I am not permitted to mention at this time. But some of this particular cathedral was perhaps more than a thousand years old. Construction of which may have begun somewhere around 900 A.D. You walk around inside the place and walk on top of old tombstones. The date on one being 1680. There may be some older, but I couldn’t find any older that that. They were all worn out from walking over them. But the stone work inside was beautifully carved and the Norman and Early English architecture really stand out. It is a massive building and church services are still held in it. They have some sort of preservative on the stone for protection from crumbling.
But getting back to the mail — I like the V-Mail because I can keep a little file of it, and where the circle is I used that to note when I answer it.
Mildred sent a package out to me so she said in the letter I got from her today.
With that I’ll close.
This letter was written, the day before D-Day.
Dear Willard and Grace:
Thanks for the razor blades. I’ve got a pretty good supply now.
Don’t suppose you have received my mail that I wrote prior to D-Day, but I guess it is starting to go through again by now.
I wrote a letter (V-Mail) to Jack about the 8th. It’ll probably catch him before long if he should move. He’d certainly get a kick out of things here.
As to what I will be able to do about the address of the Guillon family, I don’t know. There is no possibility of my looking it up at the present time. It’s one of those things I’ll just have to leave to chance.
I get a kick out of watching planes go by here. A lot of them fly plenty high — in fact, you can’t see them sometime except for a white vapor trail that they leave behind. It looks ghost like, you see the trail and can’t see what makes it. You can hear them though. Sometimes I watch a formation and they remind me of a flock of wild geese. They maneuver around in formation just the same. I suppose around big air bases at home, similar stuff happens all the time, but I never happened to see it until I came over here.
We went out the other night after supper and took some pictures. We were walking along the road and came up to a pasture where a couple of horses were grazing. We enticed them over to the fence with fresh grass and they were pretty tame, so we patted them and had our pictures taken with them. Hope they came out as it was getting rather dark.
What did you think of the invasion news? You probably get it for breakfast, dinner and supper.
We’ve been having some nice weather around here lately. I’m glad of that because we were out on a bivouac and I don’t like it to rain on those things. We walked back the next day and that helps to keep you in shape.
Last night I took in a doggone good show. It starred Margaret O’Brien who it seems is turning out to be another Shirley Temple type of actress. She’s only around six and very good. The name of the show was “Lost Angel”. Maybe you’ve seen it.
Guess that’s all that’s on the fire for now.
Dear Willard and Grace:
Just a few lines for this time as I noticed a couple of clippings in the paper and am enclosing them.
Apparently some of my mail hasn’t gotten through. I had a letter from Mildred dated the 14th, but some of mine must be held up somewhere as I haven’t seen any other for about a week now.
By the way, I am now billeted in a private – an other fellow and myself. It’s a pretty nice home too. They have fireplaces in every room. All the windows in the house have some sort of design painted on them. I used to think the glass was cut fancy, but the illusion came from seeing these designs. The couple keep the place as neat as a pin too. But we still sleep on army cots. To be able to wash and clean up in a bathroom is the least I ever expected to do over here outside of a hotel.
If you may have been thinking about the flying bombs, I just like to say that the only place I’ve seen them has been in the movies.
Dear Willard and Grace;
I’m C Q this noon so thought I’d take time out and drop you a short one. Don’t believe that I have written you since I have been billeted in a private home over here — or have I? Well, anyway, I am, and it is quite a nice experience. The people really treat us very well. Sunday, for instance, the fellow who shares this room with me (a G.I.) thought we’d sleep in for a change. Along about nine o’clock I guess the people thought we had slept long enough. So a know came on the door calling us at the same time. Then what do you think happened. In comes a tray with coffee and graham crackers — so we had our breakfast in our bedroom. Do you think stuff like that will give me bad habits? Maybe!!!!
I am beginning to receive the Endicott Daily Bulletin again now. The company has apparently taken care of that. The only trouble is that I don’t get consecutive issues. For instance I have gotten the last issues first and vice versa. Not it is kind of hard to keep up with the “Phantom” and “King of the Royal Mounted” as I think I’ll cut the funnies out and get them in order and read them. Of course I look at the rest of the paper too.
My stock of razor blades is pretty good now. That was a good idea of yours. If you can lay your hands on any Sat. Evening Post or Collier’s send them on to me. It’s even good to just look at the ads. Mildred sent a package to me over a month ago, but haven’t received it yet. I’m beginning to think I won’t get it now. In fact, it will soon be two months.
Dear Willard and Grace;
Thought I’d take a break and drop you a line as I believe I’m probably a little behind in writing to you. I’ve been pretty busy and just haven’t taken much time to write any detailed letters lately. Anyway, I may have thanked Helen and Wilson for the goodies in the package and not have thanked you. So I do now. It was really a very good package.
I’m still billeted in a home but not the same as I was a couple of weeks ago. That is, the place isn’t quite as nice. But the people are really very nice to us. The other day, I washed out my field jacket and just asked the lady of the house if she wouldn’t hang it out on the line the next day to dry out. She not only did that, but she ironed it as well. The thing actually looks like new and I almost hate to get it dirty again. She did the same with some underwear I washed.
Hear that the weather has been quite warm around your neighborhood — 90 or so. Seal a little of it up in a letter and send it over to me. Incidentally, I think I left my suitcase at Wilson’s and in it are a few pictures, i.e. in the album (loose). If they are still around, pick out a few scenes and put a couple in a letter and send them to me. These people are always interested in seeing pictures of things back there. I didn’t bring any with me at all.
Tomorrow is Sunday and of course I’m on duty again. Don’t get much time off at all. Maybe can bang out a couple more letters then.
Dear Willard and Grace;
Have received your letter of the 25th OK and was certainly surprised to know that you have not received any mail from me dated after May the 7th. I certainly can’t figure that one out. I would say that you should have around a half dozen since then. This is the second one this week. And I am receiving the blades. I also got the Guillon address before and mentioned it. I mentioned also that I wrote to Jack. Oh, I guess I replied to everything even what to do with the money from the typewriter. Maybe they’ll catch up all at once.
Send me the hand cream, shave cream, candy and a few blades. My stock is pretty good right now what with receipt of the package from Helen and Wilson. By the way I mentioned that it was mailed 6 June 44. That’s considered good time. Everything in good condition.
I sent yo a letter (typed) earlier in the week giving latest details. Let’s see if we can’t establish contact again.