December 24 and 26, 1943. Dad writes two letters home from Topeka. He sends his thanks home to everyone for everything they have done to let him know he is not forgotten. He makes it to Midnight mass in town with a friend of his and tells about how he spent Christmas Day. He reflects on how things have changed, and gives his thoughts on the latest war news.
He starts the letter with his gratitude “for all the Masses which are being offered up for me and Stanley as well. …Whatever you folks have done to make a fine Christmas for me, I appreciate everything. Tell ma not to worry over me…” He continues, “…once in a while I think it would be fine if this war ended so’s when we get through fighting this war, we can get back home and scrap between ourselves ever happily thereafter…”
Dad writes about his friend that he is going to Midnight Mass with at the Church of the Assumption. “He is of German descent, name being Stueve, but a very nice kid. …he must have had fine parents as he don’t swear or get drunk. His father died when he was young and his twin brother (not in the Army) and mother made a living for themselves. …We met while in Salina, and since meeting him again in Topeka about 3 months ago, we’ve been having good times together.”
Dad was invited to Christmas turkey dinner by a girl that he knows. He further explains, “The girl comes from North Carolina and the people she lives with are very nice. The lady’s husband is an officer in the Navy and her 17 yr. old son in the Navy was home for Christmas. After [dinner] the 17 yr. old fellow named David called up his girl, a Major’s daughter, and we went bowling. …we had a pretty good evening together. I got back to camp rather late but today being Sunday, we don’t fall out for roll call and have that much more time to sleep. I hope that you people and Stanley had a fine time as I know I did.”
Dad reflects, “I thought I’d feel lousy on Christmas being away from home, but the only time I felt lousy was 2 days before Christmas, but everything turned out alright.” As far as the girl, Dad writes, “Tell mama not to worry…”
In other news:
- He received a package from his friends in the choir back home.
- He expects that after the New Year he will be “going on the road again for several days”.
As always, Dad keeps up to date on the latest war news. “The news on the radio was good. The German ship, 26,000 ton Scharnhorst was sunk by the British, and Russia regained the territory she lost a couple of weeks ago to the Germans in the Kiev bulge. I guess around Easter Sunday we’ll know for sure how well Germany can take it… I still have no idea if I’ll see the other side. I’m qualified for overseas service and so are many other fellows who are still in the states.”
The fighting in the Russian Kiev bulge mentioned above is not to be confused with the more well known Battle of the Bulge which will be fought the following winter along the western front.
Below is a British Pathé newsreel report on the sinking of the Scharnhorst which includes captured German footage of the battle.