May 1, 4 and 8, 1944: A few V-mails and a letter to Dad from his brother Stanley who is stationed at Deenethorpe with the 401st Bomb Group.
The weather is warming up in England with the spring. Sanely writes, “It is nice and warm outside and everyone is outside playing ball.” As is usually the case in his V-mails, Stanley relates small snapshots of what life on base is like. In the first he notes that he was at a movie on base when he was pulled out of it to process payroll for one of the guys that “had to get paid that night.”
He also mentions that “…one of the bakers in our outfit baked a fruitcake which weighted about two pounds and it sure was good. We still are eating it, that’s how big it is. It tastes better than the kind you get in the store.”
He also passes along a joke that he read in the Stars and Stripes “…in the hash mark column GI Philosophy. The shortest distance between two points in too damn far when you have to hoof it with a full pack.” He confirms the sentiment by following with, “That’s no lie, brother.” He also relays another joke from the Stars and Stripes that “football is now the number one sport in Europe. Everybody’s waiting for Hitler to kickoff.”
On the 4th he sends two V-mails. In one his writes that he is doing a bit of spring cleaning in his area of the barracks. “I just finished washing a few windows so the light can come in and brighten up the place and it does look much lighter in here.” He also washed his raincoat, “Washed my mackinaw with GI soap and it will take about a week for it to dry out.”
He also read some news in the Stars and Stripes that got him longing for things not of the Army, “Read in the Stars and Stripes the item about not requiring points when you buy meat. Would like to have a good steak right now. I even forget what a good cold glass of milk tastes like.”
He even reminisces about being back home “Remember when we were home about this time of the month we would be taking care of the garden and trimming the fruit trees and what not. By the time I get back home I probably will not recognize the old homestead. Towards the end of this month will make it a whole long year since I was home on furlough. Sure wish I could be one of the fellows who is permanent party back in the states. But I guess I‘ll just have to be satisfied where I am. Really enjoy staying where I am over here.”
On the 8th we see a departure from the V-mail routine as Stanley sends a full-fledged letter on regular paper. Like the V-mails, however, it is mainly filled with small details of camp life including the news that he will have CQ duty in a few days and that it was his turn to clean the barracks.
He writes that “There is a fellow here who hails from Albany, in fact two of them. One gets the Times Union paper. When he gets through with it he gives it to the second one and then I get it. In one issue I saw Ed’s, that is, our brother in law’s classification by the draft board.”
As far as other diversions on base, one night Stanley had plans to see a movie on base, but “something happened to the machine so we went to the AERO club and had some coffee and sandwiches and cakes. There a five piece band played for us and we had quite a time.” On another night he made it to the movie (I guess the machine worked) and saw “…half the picture. I was so sleepy that night that I slept through the other half. I woke up when everybody got up to leave.”
Before closing, he alludes to the missions the 401st have been flying as he writes, “I imagine the papers back home are really carrying big headlines now.”