November 28 and December 2 and 7, 1943. Stanley writes a few notes to Dad from “Somewhere in England”. Now that Stanley is at Deenethorpe, his media options are somewhat limited. Letters from home, the Stars and Stripes and the Armed Forces Network are his best options for keeping up on the news. Stanley has also subscribed to Yank Magazine. On another note, from comments sprinkled throughout his letters, it seems that the base is kept under blackout conditions at all times.
He read in the Stars and Stripes about the record snowfall in Albany. Apparently the 12 ½ inches that Stars and Stripes reports was the most Albany had gotten in the past 43 years. Stanley comments, “Albany had a lot of snow last year and looks as if it will have a lot this year. Looks like the Ice Age is coming back again.”
As far as the radio goes, it sounds like Bing Crosby is in heavy rotation, especially with Christmas coming up. “I’ve heard ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ quite a few times on the radio and a lot of us hum it a lot. We’ve a fellow here with an accordion who plays it quite often. He comes over to our barracks and practices new songs that he bought. It is one way to spend a dark cold night.”
As if having an accordion player in the barracks isn’t enough, Stanley says, “We also have a mouse somewhere in the barrack. This morning I found my chocolate bar chewed up. Could see small fine teeth marks in it. Still wondering how a mouse got into the field bag hanging above my bunk.”
Borrowing a line from another Irving Berlin song, Stanley comments, “Boy how you hate to get up in the morning. You stick your head out from under the covers and feel the cold and duck back under the covers.”
By the time the 7th rolls around, it looks like Stanley’s other barracks bag has caught up with him, about a month after he arrived in England. It is very much the worse for wear. “…when I saw it I wasn’t happy – I felt like putting a match to it. My clothes in it were all soaked. How it happened is a mystery. I did at least save the socks. I boiled them for three and a half hours.”
In other news:
- Stanley got a V-Mail from home addressed to his new APO. “It took about nine days to get here.”
- Stanley just bought himself a flashlight so he “won’t bump into everything in the dark.”
- He received a Christmas package from the choir. “It had games, candy, gum and several other items.”
Stanley signs off “Until the near future” and I leave you with Irving Berlin’s wartime classic “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning”. On a historic footnote, Berlin wrote this song during his Basic Training at Camp Upton after being drafted in 1918 during WWI. It regained popularity during WWII when it was featured in the 1943 movie “This is the Army”. Chances are it was always popular among the men in the Army.