May 29 & 31, 1943. Stanley writes to Dad. After a two week furlough (six day travel time and a week at home), he is back on the base in Ephrata, Washington. He writes, I sure enjoyed my stay at the house on furlough.” He reports that he enjoyed spending time with the baby and that “Mama felt much better and papa’s arm was almost okay.” He comments that he “…dreaded the site of coming back. You know how it is when you have comfort and then you come back to something which is sort of monotonous.”
He also reports that they are sharing office space with another bomb group that will eventually take over the space when Stanley and his group move out. He expects that they will be shipped out on June 3rd or 4th to either Geiger Field, Washington or Rapid City, Iowa.
As if to remind Stanley that the comfortable days at home are over, his unit is sent on a long hike. He devotes one very long, detailed paragraph spanning over a page to the subject of the overnight hike. The highlights of the description are:
- They covered about 12-14 miles a day.
- They wore their “suntans” (light tan colored cotton uniforms) and carried a “small field bag“.
- The bag included a canteen a small first aid kit, their tents and personal gear as well as “K” rations. Cots (without mattresses) were brought in by truck.
- Among other things, the K rations included canned meat and cheese, crackers (which they referred to as “dog biscuits”), lemonade mix, powdered coffee, and of course chewing gum, chocolate bars and cigarettes.
- The hike out took about five hours, while the hike back was accomplished in a little over four hours.
- A hot shower and a heaping helping of corned beef were much appreciated when they got back to base.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I occasionally include small excerpts directly from the letter scans. However, in this instance the description is so rich in detail that I’m going to make an exception and post the entire excerpt about the hike. You can check it out by clicking on the images below then clicking the back button of your browser to return to this post.
In his letter of the 31st he tells that being the last day of the month it was pay day. He writes that even without a calendar he could tell its payday when he “walked between the huts [and] all you could hear was the shaking of dice, then the rolling and then the fatal blow and knocking down of the pins.” He says, “It sounded so musical.”
He also had to report to the infirmary to get his cholera and typhus shots updated. It was going to be done the day he got back from the hike, but for some reason the medical officer decided to administer them at a later date. He is still feeling the after effects of the hike, dealing with a sore back and knees as well as blisters on the soles of his feet. He says that he enjoyed the hike overall and writes that everyone is tired from it, observing “it kept everyone out of mischief.”
He wraps up saying that he will be spending some more time catching up on correspondence before shipping out and prays, “God bless you and keep you safe and protect you.”