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Life in the Blacked Out City

Posted by on September 3, 2015

December 10, 16 and 18, 1943. A couple of letters to Dad from his brother Stanley who is stationed with the 401st Bomb Group in England taking the form of a couple of V-Mails and one regular letter. In terms of lag time, Stanley mentions on the 10th that he received Dad’s November 26 letter, so that makes about 15 days for a letter to get from Topeka to Deenethorpe via standard post. He reports pretty much standard Army Air Force stuff happening, U.S.O. shows, going to the movies, listening to the radio, and getting the payroll done.

On the 16th Stanley is writing at about 1:00 am as he has CQ duty until 8 in the morning. Other than catching up on his correspondence, his CQ duties are mainly “running around trying to keep another fire in the stove going and the one here in the Sergeant Major’s office. All I will have to do when about 6 in the morning comes is to build a fire in the Colonel’s office. This way I will only build one instead of two in the morning. …Every five minutes I get up and put some coal in the stove just [so] it won’t go out on me…”

He has a lot of correspondence to catch up on since he’s been getting a lot of mail lately. “I hit the jackpot the last day or so…two letters from home, two from you, and one from…Miskiewicz. He told me in his letter that he was engaged and hoped to get married. I guess he will make a good hubby… His little woman will probably make him do all the cooking of pastry or otherwise he will teach her?”

He is trying his best to get into the rhythm of life in England. “…I still can’t figure out this English money. Their language is also funny. They don’t say the phrase – Were you cheated? They say here were you diddled.” He also comments on a quintessential local custom. “Boy these English people are sure strong for their tea. There is a small place here where I am where they sell cups of tea and also tarts and other pastry. Boy they sure can make some delicious pastry.”

The 18th is another short V-Mail. He writes “The radio sure comes in handy on a night when the rain and winds howl outside the walls of the barracks.” He notes hearing a program that played the Polish National Anthem and that he “could understand part of the program…they were speaking Polish mixed with the Bohemian and Lithuanian language.”

He also tells about a trip into town to see a movie. “Two nights ago we went to town to the movies. We saw ‘Rhythm Serenade’. It was pretty good. The cinema as they call it here was a very nice theater. It had a good sound and lighting system. It felt good to sit in a soft seat and see a movie after not seeing a good one for a while. There sure was a lot of life in the blacked out city…”

They also had a U.S.O. show on base that was “really good. The master of ceremonies was the fellow who played the part of ‘Beetle’ on Phil Baker’s program. They had a woman singing and playing the accordion. They also had a pretty girl who twisted herself, sat on her own head, did the split… She sure was double-jointed.”

With Christmas coming up, Stanley also sends Dad a special holiday themed V-Mail which is below.

Special Christmas V-Mail sent to Dad from Stanley.

Special Christmas V-Mail sent to Dad from Stanley.


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