September 21 and 26, 1943. Two letters to Dad from his brother Stanley. Writing from Cut Bank, Montana, it looks like Stanley and the rest of the 401st are getting ready for overseas deployment. Both letters are relatively short one page affairs. On the 21st he writes that they “had a camouflage school…in a theater here. They showed us ways in camouflaging an area and draping and covering trucks and everything like that.” Additionally, he writes that “things have sort of slowed down here… and everything is running smoothly till towards the first of the month when again it will all start picking up and have more trouble.” This apparently is a reference to the expected ship out date coming up in the beginning of the next month.
On the 26th, Stanley mentions that “One of our planes cracked up a while back and I got some of the stuff from the motor pool. They got it from the ship. I sent home…a small cross which I made out of Plexiglass. They use it to make the nose of the plane. …One fellow gave me the chain and now I have a complete outfit. I am sending it to Terry. It will be a remembrance of the 840 ship which cracked up.” The reference to the “840 ship” is likely a reference to the registration number of the plane. Records show that plane #42-29840 crashed in Cut Bank on August 18, 1943. No fatalities were reported, although the plane was deemed to be damaged beyond repair and written off.
His letter gets a little more specific, writing that “There is not much cooking around here with the exception that we may pull out of here before long. …we were issued our carbines and you know what that means, without me telling you – the POE. Everybody was looking to that day.” He writes that he has not written home about the issuance of the carbine or a possible date for when they might be sent overseas.
He continues, “We may leave in a few days or a week or so. No one knows. Tomorrow night they are going to have a Squadron party here in the mess hall. They are going to give a whole carton of cigarettes to each and everyone and cigars and enough food until you slump under the table and soft drinks and plenty of beer – about 250 gallons. That ought to be enough eh? That sure is going to be a blow out. They will have a small band which they rigged up today from a few fellows.”
He writes that “Most of the fellows are ready to go over”, although “there are a few yellow bellies”. In an interesting note, Stanley mentions that “People in town are telling the fellows that they would leave a few days after the first. How they get that information I don’t know.” He tells Dad that once they are shipped out the “APO cards” which list their new mailing address will be sent. With those details, Stanley closes “Well, if you don’t hear from me for some time you will know what they score is You will probably hear from me within the next few days before the mail starts to be censored by the adjutant.”