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Marlene Sang a Few Songs

Posted by on August 13, 2016

October 6 and 28, 1944. There are only two letters in the archives from Stanley for the month of October 1944. As you recall, Stanley is stationed in Deenethorpe, England where he is in an administrative support role with the 613th Squadron of the 401st Bomb Group. The letter of the 6th is a relatively short one page typed letter in which he notes to his brother that “it is over two years now since we’ve seen each other.” He asks Dad how his recent furlough was and reflects on his last trip home and how he “felt sort of lost and felt funny at home…”

The big new from Deenethorpe is that “on 29 Sept 44 we had a USO show at eleven o’clock in the morning. The USO starred MARLENE DIETRICH. They had a few others in the cast. Marlene sang a few songs from her latest movies and played the saw with a violin bow. They had a girl from Texas and she played the harmonica. All in all it was a good USO show. Marlene sure looked gorgeous in her gown. She sure had a shapely body for her age.”

According to the profile of Marlene Dietrich on Wikipedia, she performed numerous USO shows in 1944 and 1945. The profile adds that as part of her USO act, “Dietrich would inform the audience that she could read minds and ask them to concentrate on whatever came into their minds. Then she would walk over to a soldier and earnestly tell him, ‘Oh, think of something else. I can’t possibly talk about that!’ American church papers reportedly published stories complaining about this part of Dietrich’s act.”

Marlene Dietrich performs for the soldiers of the 401st Bomb Group. Photo credit:

Marlene Dietrich performs for the soldiers of the 401st Bomb Group. Photo credit:

In other ways to pass the time, he also writes that he saw the movie Show Business (starring Eddie Cantor) and that he has been improving his ping pong game. Even though he gives “a lot of the fellows good competition…There are fellows of course who play a hundred percent better than I do”  He goes on to detail that “Our club is going full speed now. We have hot coffee and sandwiches in the evenings. I’ve played some darts also.”

In his letter of the 28th, Stanley details a furlough that he just completed that included a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. After an overnight train ride, they checked into a local Red Cross club where “we had all the Coca Cola we wanted to drink” and where they stayed for six nights as they explored the city and the surrounding area. He mentions that on the train he “saw a couple of Polish girls who were with the RAF” and that he “talked to one of them in Polish and she came all the way from Wilno, Poland via Russia, Africa and what not other places. She was….in England about six months.”

As far as what he saw in Edinburgh he writes, “For the first three days we wandered around the city looking over the palaces and castles and other historical sights….we went on a tour of the city. Boy, that city has more banks than any other city I saw. …there is one or two every two or three blocks.” He relates that they rode in “those double decker trolleys”.  Aside from some must-see attractions (castles and cathedrals) their approach was kind of random. “Half the time we used to get on any trolley not knowing where we were going and then when we were on it did we think it over what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go.”

Image of Edinburgh Castle from a postcard sent to Dad from Stanley.

Image of Edinburgh Castle from a postcard sent to Dad from Stanley.

They went to the zoo where they saw “lions, tigers, deer, wolves, snakes, birds of all kinds, apes elephants, camel and other variety of animals.” They did manage to take in a play and also went to see the “much talked about Forth Bridge” which he describes as “a beautiful looking bridge. The cost of the bridge was some twelve million dollars; quite the sum, eh?”

Image of the Forth Bridge from a postcard that Uncle Stanely sent to Dad.

Image of the Forth Bridge from a postcard that Uncle Stanley sent to Dad.

He closes the letter, “Well, I guess I’ll be closing for a short while till another day. God bless you and keep you.”

As is my custom at the end of each month, the following is a list of the missions flown by the 401st Bomb Group that month. Here it is for October, 1944.

  • Oct. 3, 1944: Motor Vehicle Factory, Nurnberg
  • Oct. 6, 1944: Stargard Airfield
  • Oct. 7, 1944: Oil Plant, Politz
  • Oct. 14, 1944: Railroad Yard, Cologne
  • Oct. 15, 1944: Marshaling Yards, Cologne
  • Oct. 17, 1944: Marshaling Yards, Cologne
  • Oct. 19, 1944: Armored Vehicle Factory, Mannheim
  • Oct. 22, 1944: Artillery Factory, Hanover
  • Oct. 25, 1944: Oil Storage Facility, Hamburg
  • Oct. 26, 1944: Ordnance Depot, Bielfeld
  • Oct. 28, 1944: Marshaling Yards, Munster
  • Oct. 30, 1944: Marshaling Yards, Munster

That’s it from Deenthorpe for October, 1944. I leave you with Marlene Dietrich performing what was perhaps her signature song, “Lili Marlene”

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