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They Asked for It

Posted by on October 1, 2015

January 4 and 7, 1944. Dad writes a couple of letters home. The letter of the 4th is from Topeka Army Air Base while in the letter of the 7th he notes that he is “temporarily away from Topeka” where he’s “been quite busy”.   He is serving in the Headquarters Squadron of the 21st Bomb Wing. Having been in the service for a whole year, it is time to update his inoculations. He sends home a recent photo, updates what he’s been up to during his spare time and comments on some of the recent war news.

Dad reports getting his typhus and cholera shots. He notes that “Your arms hurt and I had a slight fever… I guess we get these shots even if we don’t go over since we probably mingle with fellows who come from those theaters of war where typhus and cholera is pretty bad. …Typhus is a lousy sickness and is widely spread by louses which get into your clothing. Germany is just loaded up with typhus as you might have read in the papers.”

He sent home a picture of himself with two of his friends, John J. Gay of Joliet, Illinois and Norman Stueve of Minster, Ohio. He mentions that the picture was taken “in some joint in Topeka” where they had a pinball machine. Dad notes that he “beat the machine twice: once I got 4 free games, the other time I got 1 free game.” He further comments, “I get a bigger kick out of this and bowling with the guys than I would going out with women who I have no inkling of loving here.”

Dad writes that while on assignment to AAB Herington, Kansas they went to the local service club “where a free Bingo game was in progress with free prizes. …Gay won twice while I won 4 times. I got two packs of Camel cigarettes, 1 shoe shine kit and tied with another guy for a photo album and he won after we both drew numbers for it. I gave the cigarettes to the Lt. who is with us and kept the shoe shining kit. I was going to buy one soon so it came in handy. Some guys were there all night playing and didn’t win a thing. It was the kind of game where on guy yelled ‘Bingo’ and all the rest yelled, ‘Aw Sh_t’.”

As for the latest war news, he comments, “The news is pretty good regarding Russian entry into Poland and it makes the Germans look sick. The bombing of Germany and her cities don’t help Germany any either. They asked for it and thank goodness they got it.” Dad gives no indication in any of his letters to date whether he has any idea that the Bomb Group that his brother is attached to is conducting bombing raids in Germany and German occupied territories.

Before signing off he notes, “I haven’t anything else to write about, unless it is to say that last night and this morning the barracks were very cold. You know how it is; everybody waits for somebody else to make the fire and if you know me, your brother, well enough, he too stood around waiting for someone else to make a fire in the stove.” So yeah, after a year in Dad’s getting into the swing of Army life.

One last thing… As you may know by now Dad kept a lot of stuff from his time in the Army.  Even his TDY orders for the trip to Herington which you can see here.

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