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He Died Before Victory Came

Posted by on February 5, 2017

April 15, 1945. Stanley writes to Dad from England. He has two of Dad’s letters from late March in front of him. He acknowledges that “Army time flies really fast” and that “in another five and a half months I’ll be collecting longevity pay” by which time he hopes to be “back in the states”.

As he is writing he is “the lucky one to be in charge of quarters for the whole long night”, he details the benefits as being able to “catch up on your correspondence and other work and also manage to get more sleep than you would back in the barracks.” Because he had CQ duty he had an early dinner and “had to have a signed slip from the base adjutant stating it was okay for me to eat early as I am the base CQ for the night. Well when I got there, at the mess hall, I served myself…I took two nice big wings of chicken and it tasted pretty good.”

He writes that he also expects to have room orderly duty shortly commenting that “It seems as if it is just about time for me to clean our barracks. It beats me how the barracks get so dirty and so fast at that. They get cleaned every morning and still by the time I come back from work the barracks look mighty dirty. I certainly don’t get the barracks dirty as I am up at headquarters all day long.”

One of the big world news stories made its way to Deenethorpe, as Stanley details, “On Friday the 13th in the morning about seven in the AM, the squadron CQ came into our barracks and told me that he had heard on the radio midnight before about the death of President Roosevelt. I wouldn’t even believe him. I thought he was joking, He turned the radio on in the barracks and I heard it myself. It was really a great shock to her about it. America really lost a great man just at the time she needed him most. Well, he did his share and I know God will have mercy on his soul. After all the work and planning he did, he died before Victory came. Last night on the field we had observed five minutes of silence from seventeen fifty five till eighteen hundred hours. The flag on the field is flying half mast and will do so for thirty days.”

The headline from Stars and Stripes announcing the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Before closing his letter, Stanley relays a random memory. “I can remember the day when we left Geiger Fld and arrived at Great Falls Montana. It must have been about one or two in the morning. Everybody was dead tired after riding on the train for long hours. When we arrived, the fellows were almost waking in their sleep and what happens, the band a Great Falls comes to the platform and starts welcoming us. We were more interested in finding a sack to sleep in rather than listen to the band.”

As he closes his letter, it is clear that Stanley is aware of Dad’s impending deployment overseas as he writes, “Well I guess it is about all from this end of the world. God bless you and keep you safe till you reach your new destination.”

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