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The Dampness Gets Me

Posted by on October 18, 2015

January 12, 13 and 17: Three V-Mails to Dad in Topeka from his brother Stanley in Deenethorpe.  Given the space limitations of the V-Mail format, the self-censorship, and the active military censorship (each V-Mail passes through and is signed off by a censor) substantive information is often hard to come across.  However, the V-mails are valuable in terms of providing a general flavor of life at Deenethorpe.

A typical censor's mark from one of Uncle Stanley's V-mails

A typical censor’s mark from one of Uncle Stanley’s V-mails

In his V-mail of the 12th, Stanley mentions getting Dad’s letter dated December 30, 1943. As is typically the case on overseas bases, the regular USO shows are much anticipated and appreciated. As Stanley tells it, “…last night I went to the USO show they had on the base. It sure was crowded. It was a very good show and we had a lot of good laughs. They had three fellows doing aerobatics, a girl contortionist and several others. It was the best USO show I’ve seen in a long time.”

Stanley mentions that the work keeps on coming his way. “I sure have sufficient work without asking for any. …I guess I’m just a sad sack till the war is over. Boy, what I wouldn’t give for a few days of rest and to forget the work.”

On the 13th Stanley has Charge of Quarters duty, which affords him some time to catch up on correspondence. “In the evenings it is pretty easy to catch up on some of the work. Nobody bothers you and there is no interference of any kind. …It feels so funny to be CQ over here. Sometimes it gets so quiet you can hear a pin drop somewhere on the outside. Once in a while here and there you can hear a door being slammed or you can hear the keys of a typewriter being hit somewhere in another room. But during the day it sure gets quite noisy.”

Stanley also makes an observation about attendance at religious services on base. “…when we were back in the States well the Catholic fellows usually came to church and packed the church up. But when there were services for other denominations well there were about only five or six. I’ve noticed that here in the chapel on Sunday there are so many Catholic fellows that if any more come in pretty soon the building will be too small to hold them all.”

Since Stanley can’t discuss any detailed military matters, he reverts to a discussion of the weather. “Although winter has come and cold set in, there sure seems to be green grass growing here in England. Back in the states everything would by now be covered with snow, I think we had snow only once over here. The dampness at times over here is what gets me…” He continues his reflections on British damp chill in his V-mail of the 17th. “You’d walk for a while and your fingers would be stinging from cold even in wool clothes and gloves. One day back it was cold and it was so foggy that the moisture settled on the trees and froze right there. One side of the trees were ice and white while the other side green.”

Before closing he notes, “Sunday at noon we had chicken for dinner and it sure tasted good after not having had any for a long time.”

Well, that’s about all from Deenethorpe for now.


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