May 18, 1945. Now that VE Day has come to Deenethorpe, certain restrictions on the 401st Bomb Group have been relaxed. Among them, is the censorship of letters. As such, in the first letter that Stanley writes to Dad after censorship requirements have been diminished, Stanley is able to share some of the details about his service. He takes the opportunity to write about his trans-Atlantic voyage on the Queen Mary, one of the premiere luxury ocean liners of the day that was pressed into service as a troop transport ship. As with the VE Day letter, given the extraordinary nature of this letter, I am posting it here verbatim.
How are you? Fine, I’m sure. Are you getting plenty of sun? I’m feeling pretty good at the present time, and hope you feel the same. Well, tonight in spite of all the work I have decided to write you a letter. I did manage to write mom and the folks at home a letter a few days ago. Well at last here I am.
I haven’t received a letter from you in a long while. I hope you arrived at your destination okay. I suppose you have been wondering just about what place in England I am stationed at. Well, censorship has been lifted a little bit so I can tell you where I am. I am stationed at Deenethorpe, England. You probably never even heard of the place. Well, it is pretty close to Kettering, England about eighteen miles from Peterborough, England. If you do get a good sized map of England you will see where I am. I am about ninety miles north of London itself. Peterborough is a pretty big city and you won’t have a hard time trying to find it. I did go there a few times. I mostly went to Kettering as it is closer than the other city. Kettering is on a direct rail line south to London.
Well brother, when I was coming overseas we left the New York Port of Embarkation. I did not see the Statue of Liberty in the harbor but some of the fellows saw it through the port holes from the ship. We left 27 Oct 43, and arrived here 2 Nov 43. The weather was very nice coming over. We did not see any enemy action coming over at all, thank God. I came over on the Queen Mary. It sure is a very beautiful ship inside and very modern.
I really had some experience coming over. It happened the first day we were out of port. It so happened that I was just about the only on left without a lifebelt. The further we got away from the port the worse I started to feel. We had a few fire drills and what not and there I was running around without a lifebelt. I started to worry a little. So I started to inquire about the lifebelts and before I finally got a lifebelt I just about made a complete tour of the whole ship from one end to the other. My quarters were in the aft part of the ship and we had an easy exit in case anything happened. Thank heavens it was a very pleasant trip coming over.
One morning when we went to eat breakfast we were detoured to a place where we washed our mess equipment. When I got through washing my mess equipment I started to go up the stairs as I always did to get back to the end of the ship. There was an MP standing there and he told me to go one flight of stairs down. By the time I got through walking up and down about a dozen [flights] of stairs I did not know where in the heck in the world I was so I just followed everybody else who was in front of me and by the time I got through moving around I finally wound up on the first deck in the prow of the ship.
In the evenings we would gather in the lobby. We had two fellows in our squadron who play the accordion. When we would get together they would play their accordions and we would either sing or listen. We had a pretty good time all the way through.
When we started to get close to the shores of the continent why it started to get foggy. That’s how it is over here in the winter.
Well brother, I was just interrupted and have to do some very urgent work. I don’t know how late I’ll work tonight but I imagine it will be about midnight or so. Well brother, God bless you and take care of yourself.
So long for a while.
I leave you with a short video with photos of the Queen Mary (and the Queen Elizabeth) during the war years.