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Level and True

Posted by on February 7, 2016

April 18, 20, 21 and 24, 1944: Some V-mails from Stanley Murawski, who is with the 401st Bomb Group in Deenethorpe, to his brother, Anthony who is stationed at Topeka Army Air Base.  Stanley writes about a few of the USO shows that where held on base and shares a humorous poem about Army clerks. He also manages a trip to a neighboring town where he tries to find some stationery, but to no avail. Lastly, we recap the missions flown by the squadron to which he was attached in April of 1944.

Stanley thanks Dad once again for sending the pocket chess set and notes that he is “teaching one of the fellows in the barracks chess so we can play together. That pocket game of chess comes in handy.”

They had a USO show on base that Stanley describes as “the best we’ve had here in the ETO. They had two singers and one especially had a good voice… She used to sing a lot on the radio. Also had a man and a girl doing some adagio dancing, they were really good. They also had a fellow who played several instruments. He was a comical fellow and really made everyone laugh with his expressions on his face… We have another USO show coming up this week sometime.”

On the 20th he mentions that he has a sore leg. He explains, “The other day I tried to get on the base bus and my foot slipped and I hurt it on a small steel bar which extends from the truck.  It feels much better now. I just finished soaking it in hot water. I didn’t tell ma about it because she would probably worry…”

Stanley passes along news to Dad about one of the guys from back home. “…remember Steve Szelwian? Well his brother Felix is over here somewhere in England and he is a 2nd Lt.  I don’t know what his APO is.”

In his V-Mail, Stanley makes an offhand note that, as is common in the Army, “The fellows here sure go for Pin Up girls. Some of the walls in the barracks are sure plastered with Pin Up girls.”

Photo of a barracks at Deenthorp with a collection of Pin Up girls on the wall. Image courtesy of

Photo of a barracks at Deenthorpe with a collection of Pin Up girls on the wall. Image courtesy of

Stanley shared with his brother a “pretty good poem in the Stars and Stripes…entitled ‘Army Clerks’”

“Off we go into the file case yonder,

Keep your forms level and true,

If you wish to be a bucking wonder,

Make thirty copies – Twenty won’t do.

Typing men must stay in proper channels,

We’ll be here after the war.

We live in huts; we’re all half nuts;

Don’t you envy the Typewriting Corps?”

On the 21st Stanley writes that he spent some time off base with some of the other guys. In a rare instance, the name of the town that they went to was censored out of the V-Mail. He writes that they went to the Red Cross Club and to the movies “…and saw ‘Cry Havoc’ with Ann Southern and other actresses playing parts of nurses at Bataan in the Philippines. It was a smashing performance as the English say it.”

He also writes that he “…did some shopping for stationery stuff but most of the stores were closed because it was Thursday. Seems to me as if they are closed every day. They close each day from one till two o’clock for tea.”

On the 29th he writes that he just got back from another USO show that was “pretty good. The master of ceremonies was Al Beanie…from New York.” Stanley doesn’t mention much about the show other than how the MC dealt with a heckler by saying that “…one day when he was a kid he hit a mule on the head with a hammer and killed him because he kept chasing him all the time. His mother told him that the ghost of the mule would haunt him and the master of ceremonies said that it must be that jackass out in the audience haunting him.”  

This set of V-Mails brings us to the end of another month. While Stanley has been making sure that the records in the office of the 613th Bomb Squadron of the 401st Bomb Group are kept “level and true”, the air crews of his squadron have been busy hitting the following Axis targets, most of which are in Germany unless otherwise noted:

  • April 9: Aircraft Assembly Plant, Marienburg
  • April 10: Brussels, Belgium
  • April 11: Fw-190 Assembly Plant, Politz
  • April 13: Ball Bearing Plant, Schweinfurt
  • April 18: Viscose Fiber Plant, Wittenburg
  • April 19: Kassel, Germany
  • April 20: Rocket Installation, Bois Coquerel, France
  • April 22: Railway Marshalling Yard, Hamm
  • April 24: G.A.F. Airdrome, Erding
  • April 25: Airdrome and Flying School, Nancy, France
  • April 26: Brunswick, Germany
  • April 27: Rocket Installation, Le Grismont, France
  • April 27: Airdrome and Flying School, Nancy, France
  • April 29: Berlin
  • April 30: Airfield: Lyon/Bron, France


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