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Three Day Pass

Posted by on February 12, 2017

April 21, 1945. Stanley writes to Dad and details some traveling that he did while on a three day pass.  It was the first chance he had to get away since the furlough that he took in October 1944. He explains, “I kept postponing the pass as anytime I was ready to go on pass something always seemed to come up… But this time I succeeded in leaving just in time.” He is writing form the orderly room after his return to base at “twenty one hundred hours and the news is on. The radio announcer just announced that the Russians and the American patrols have joined together. That is the best news I’ve heard in a long time.”

He writes that his companion for the trip was “our classification clerk, S /Sgt. John E. Stickley of Detroit, Michigan.” The pass ran from the eighteenth to the twenty-first, and “the weather was perfect.” As an additional detail he offers that as soldiers they had “free travel warrants … All you do is get a rail travel warrant at the orderly room and that piece of paper gets you travel back and forth.on pass.”

They went to see “the home town of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon.” Upon arrival they “registered at the Red Cross Club. The Red Cross took over the Swan Hotel in Stratford. The hotel was one of those old fashioned buildings… It was very beautiful and it had plenty of gables. Each room had two double deckers and had a sink with hot and cold running water. Also had a nice big window…” They toured the town on bicycles that they borrowed at the Red Cross club. He offers that “after all the cycling we did we sure slept the whole night through in deep slumber.”

They woke up late on the 19th and spent the morning relaxing and reading a few newspapers. He details that after lunch they “went to the Avon River and got a ride in a long motorboat with a canvas roof…and we rode it up and down the river for about twenty-five minutes for one shilling which is equivalent to twenty cents in American money….As far as you could see the river banks were lined with weeping willows and green grass and pretty flowers of all kinds. People of all ages…rode boats, canoes, rowboats and anything that floated.”

After the tour on the river they took a bus to Warwick Castle. He writes, “We could not go in as the British government took over most of the building for its own use with the exception of one section where the Warwick family is still living, Boy what a lovely place it was. The grass was neatly trimmed and the hedges trimmed in all different designs we even saw four peacock birds on the estate. The coloring on them is really very nice and bright. That was the first time I ever saw a live peacock.”

Image of Warwick Castle from a post card that Stanley sent to Dad.

After a snack of tea, pastry and sandwiches they went to the Shakespeare Memorial Theater and made reservations for the play later that evening. After supper they went back to the theater and saw Merry Wives of Windsor “which was written by Shakespeare. It was very good indeed. The theater was a very beautiful edifice. It could hold eleven hundred people.”

A view of the Shakespeare Memorial Theater from the River Avon in the late ’30s. Note the “long motorboat with a canvas roof” in the foreground. Photo credit

After the play they went back to the Red Cross Club, retired for the evening and took advantage of being on pass to once again sleep late. On the twentieth they spent some time in town buying souvenirs of which there were very little” and got a haircut. He goes on to write, “After that we borrowed bikes form the Red Cross and made a dash over to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage at Slattery, maiden home of Shakespeare’s wife. From there we rode…about forty-five minutes on the Birmingham Road till we reached the Red Bull Inn. …we had some dinner there and had some cider and also beer.  After we finished there we trudged back to the club” ”

They started their return trip to base at 6:20 on the evening of the twentieth and stayed overnight at the Red Cross Club close to base, taking the opportunity to once again sleep in, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and read a few papers before heading back to base where he “hated to go back to the old grind again.”

He wraps up, “Well, I guess I’ll close for now as it is just about my time to hit the old hay for the night. Boy am I tired even after all the rest I had while on pass. Well, God bless you, brother.”  

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