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I Have Seen Plenty So Far

Posted by on July 20, 2014

May 20 & 21, 1943. Dad writes a few letters home. He writes his letter of the 20th from the USO in Salina, the town next to the base.  He writes “I got a pass and thought that I should take a look around town.” Commenting, “The City of Salina has a very nice attitude and reminds me of Savanna. However color discrimination is evident.”

Image from the note paper provided at the USO club in Salina, Kansas.

Image from the note paper provided at the USO club in Salina, Kansas.

He mentions that while he was in town he passed by the Sacred Heart Church and saw a high school graduating class. He observes, “The girls had white graduating gowns and the boys had a distinct blue graduating gown. I stood across the street and watched the proceedings just thinking that when I was graduating I never did have it in my mind that I would do a lot of travelling and then wind up in Salina, Kansas on a beautiful May evening and watch a high school graduating class of 1943 just three years after my graduation. Boy! Oh, Boy! I sure have seen plenty so far.”

He notes that “a 1st Lt. at the 276th where I report for duty is strictly military. He arranged the desks in a line in the office and he believes in military discipline. It’s alright by me.” He also reports, “By the end of this month I may end up in Topeka… I’ve heard that Topeka is a very nice place with barracks like we had at Savanna with the latrines inside the building” and that it will be nice to have indoor latrines in the winter.

He expects that he will be assistant to the Tech Sergeant when he gets to Topeka.  He notes that most of the people in Ordnance have not had formal training like he had been subject to. Most “just learned from experience” He also writes “I expect to be a sergeant in a month and come home on furlough with them stripes. I still haven’t sewn on my PFC stripe.”

He writes that “we saw movies of the war taken from Germans. It showed prior to Holland’s invasion, how the Nazis were in a large hall in a big mob. After Hitler got through talking, it showed a close-up of Hess as he led the crowd in thunderous roars of ‘Seig Heil’ – Hail Victory. Rudolph Hess is the fellow who is in England now. What a difference!”

As a final note, he says that the weather has been nice and that on clear nights he “likes to look at the stars and the moon, and the planes as they swing through the skies. They don’t keep us awake as we are used to them making noise.”

He wraps with the P.S. that “there will be plenty of work for me when we get to our new place. Our former Capt. who is now in the 21st is going with us. We shouldn’t have too bad of a time.”

As you may have noticed throughout the letters, very little is revealed about exactly what Dad’s and Uncle Stanley’s duties are. Frankly, these two letters have a little more details than most, but still Dad does not write extensively about what he does in the office. As much as they might like to discuss things with the folks back home, Dad and Stanley are under strict orders not to talk about their duties. At the time (and even now) military personnel are ordered not to discuss details, even with family as there is concern about word getting back to enemies.  Bottom line is that no one is to be trusted. As we have already seen, the local jeweler was arrested on charges of being a spy. One documents that was included with Dad’s letters was a memo regarding security discipline that outlines policy regarding what recruits may not discuss with those on the outside. I’ve uploaded it and you can see it here.

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