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Riding the Rails Again

Posted by on March 26, 2014

February 14-17 1943. Dad writes home while en route by train to his new assignment at the Savanna Section Ordnance School in northwestern Illinois. The base is located near the Mississippi River, due west of Chicago and not too far from the Wisconsin border. He chronicles his trip.

The first detail to note is that, “When we left Camp Upton for Fla. we had a regular troop train with our own Mess Car (empty freight car with some food supplies) and walked back and forth to our seats with the food. We had on our fatigues but now we must wear our O.D.s as we are with civilians.”  On this train they eat in the dining car. He notes that before they left Miami Beach “they took our overcoats and gave us mackinaws (short coats like sheepskin) and gave us 2 pairs of coveralls for our 2 sets of fatigues.”

The morning of February 14th they were up at 6:30 and had breakfast at 8:00. After breakfast they packed their bags and reported for inspection,  At 11 they were loaded onto small trucks and proceeded to Miami where they boarded a train for a 12:30 PM departure. Lunch was in the dining car. He notes that he is able to see “quite a few orange trees from the train”. For supper that night he had Chicken a-la-king and “it sure was good”.

He picks up his letter on the 15th at 3:45 PM.  He notes that the train is warm during the day but gets cold at night. At 5:45 PM the train made a stop in Birmingham, Ala. and they had a chance to “get out, get some fresh air and limber up a bit.”

He continues at 8:35 AM on February 16 noting, “at 2:00 AM we passed into Tenn. Saw snow and it sure looked good. We passed Ky. and are now in Ill. We are headed for Chicago and then to a place about an hour’s ride West of it.” He notes that for breakfast they had “ham and eggs… as well as milk and oatmeal and bread and butter” He says, “Now when I look on the calendar and see Feb. 16th I can really believe it as the snow is on the ground and the scenery is beautiful up North, especially the sunrise.” On the 16th they got into Chicago at about 12:30 PM and spent most of the afternoon waiting for another train to take them to their base.

Front of Post Card sent from Chicago during a layover on February 16, 1943.

Front of Post Card sent from Chicago during a layover on February 16, 1943.

By the morning of February 17 he “Arrived here at our base and found out that we were Private First Class, only one step behind Stanley so I am to wear one stripe.” He says they are about 2-3 hours (140 miles) west from Chicago.  He provides his new address as:

P.F.C. Anthony I. Murawski
3rd Prov. Ord. Tng. Co.
Savanna Sec. Ord. School
Barrack T-35
Proving Ground, Illinois

There was no mention exactly where along the way Dad became PFC.  I guess there was no formal notice or ceremony to mark the advancement. For now he will be settling into his new assignment. We’ll see how long the Army keeps him in Illinois.

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