Francis Aloysius Bloom
|Home||Birth, childhood, and adolescence||Army basic training||Now a paratrooper||To Italy||Southern France||Belgium||After death|
Joining the Army
Frank Bloom was inducted into the Army on April 23, 1941. His first assignment was Camp Grant, Illinois.
Postcard sent April 25, 1941
Dear Mom & Dad:
Arrived at Camp Grant last night (Wed). Have been completely out fitted and ready for the training. We wonít be here long so donít write me here. Eats are good and sleep is welcome. Everything is O.K. and will write details later. Nice bunch of fellows. Will write Tom a card soon. Hope he improves rapidly. Itís 8pm and I am going to crawl in. Will send you a snapshot of myself. You are assured of a laugh. Please take care of yourselves.
Arrived Camp Forrest, Tennessee April 25, 1941
Company ďKĒ, 130th Infantry, 33rd Tor. Div.
Dear Mom & Dad:
Received your letter Dad and also the box. Thank you very very much. I thought I had underwear at home. Dale mustnít have sent them home from the ďYĒ. I sent my civilian clothes home because we were ordered to do so. Just do what you wish with them at your convenience. I do hope you are not put out too much. Alberta and Anna are sending me the Tribune. Everyone is being so grand Ė I feel a little guilty.
Training is going along good. I have a nice burn (for the 2nd time). Many have been sick and out of drill because of sore feet, typhoid ďshotsĒ, sun, etc. but I have come through it grand style. No trouble of any kind. It tickles me too when I see these big fellows ďgive upĒ and a runt like me keeps going. Excuse my bragging please. I must have some of momís Irish in me and Dadís spunk. I keep going on something and it must be that.
The people down here in these surrounding towns are very friendly to soldiers compared to the north. Had nice time in Huntsville, Ala. It was good to get away from this camp. Wonít go any more now until June 1st payday. Slight delay Ė I just had to scrub half of the barrack Ė thatís one thing they give us here, a lot of orders and work. Lots of fresh air, lots of work and sunshine. All well do me good. You know we have to be in bed by 10:30 and up at 5:30. Breakfast at 6:15 and on the drill grounds at 7. Bunch of new fellows coming in Sat. Hope to get a promotion to 1st class private or maybe a corporal. Wonít be disappointed if I donít get it.
Very happy to hear Tom is coming along in good shape. Say hello to him for me and tell him ďchins upĒ. Ki is a good girl Dad. Iím proud to be her brother. I will write Alberta and her this weekend. Donít have much time writing except on weekends. Nice and cool here at nights. Weíre up about 2000 feet.
Thank God I was raised right and not coddled like some of these poor kids were. Sorry for such a short letter. Will do better next time.
Infd to - Hg 6 SS.J.Tis- May 29, 1941
Marge here - May 30 Ė31st, 1941
Hospital - June 3 to Jun 11, 1941
Clerks: - Hg Sf Tis - June 1, 1941 to July 12 1941
6-15-41 Received June 16 Camp Forrest. Tullahoma, Tenn.
Received your letter, which was postmarked the 10th, the 13th (Friday A.M.) It was a nice letter mom and I hope you continue to write even though I donít answer you letter for letter. I answer my folks, Anna, Alberta, Ki, Dale and my girl first and the rest when I have a lot of time. Time! What an important word that is. The fellows back in Chicago all have written as well as fellows in other camps. Heard from my ex-boss Mr. Larson, Joe Kearney, you, Anna, Ki and Marge Bapst yesterday. When I got out of the hospital Friday, there was 5 letters for me and 4 more came in that morning. So you see, mom, they keep me kind of busy. Itís swell, though to hear from my family and friends. Us fellows live from one letter to the next. It sure helps a fellow a lot. Guess Iíve said enough about my correspondence.
Have your letter here before me so Iíll go through it an answer your questions. No! I donít do a bit of drilling anymore. I donít have a rifle, bayonet, helmet, cartridge belt or anything pertaining to arms. All I do is wear the uniform, shine my shoes and obey orders. Itís mostly shorthand and typing. Promotions are possible but I canít get one for four months. I donít know whether itís possible for me to get what is called a rating before my four months is up. If I can get a rating there would be more money in it for me. Probably 15 to 20 dollars more a month. Typing and shorthand bore me or rather I find it very uninteresting. Iíve talked about a transfer and tomorrow Iím making a formal application for a transfer to Fort Benning, Georgia. Donít know what my chances are but believe theyíre slim.
If I do talk over the radio Iíll know in advance and let you know. Five girls that were down here Memorial Day said they were going to write in and ask the General for me to talk. If you want to hear Pvt. Bloom, just drop a letter to Gen. Lawton, 33d Division, Camp Forrest, Tenn., and say youíd like to hear your lad on the air. Many are doing that so may be they wonít be able to accommodate all.
Going on in your letter: my hours are from 7 to 11:30 and from 1to 5. Itís much easier than the Infantry but Iím just about as tired at nights! My appetite isnít as good now that Iím inside working. Lost 8lbs. In the 12 days I spent in the hospital. The food and care was good there and the nurses pretty, but the days seemed endless lying there.
Iím so very happy you got to visit Anna, Linus and your daughter while in Chicago. Isnít Ki quite the little miss. She writes me such flattering letters, but I do enjoy hearing from her. Anna is much better than she was. She received an awful blow in Chuck but everybody is rallying around her, which helps a lot. I probably write her more often than anyone else and she writes me whenever she feels like she has something to say to me.
Was Bob McManus in another accident? Your letter was the first I heard of it.
Just returned from mess Ė we changed mess sergeants and now the food is better and more of it. Here was our Sunday meal: Mashed sweet potatoes, Apple salad, Ham Ė raisin sauce, carrots, bread and butter, orangeade, Ice cream. The portions were large and I had more than I could eat but my appetite is lacking.
We get three days off for the 4th of July weekend. About 6000 of them are heading back to Chicago but I was in the hospital and didnít get my bid in for a pass in time. Will leave here the Thursday after the 4th and get in Chicago early Friday morning. The time is so short that I wonít get home. Iíll call home Friday noon or night from Annaís office. Will probably spend 18 hours on the train, which may take away my energy. But getting home will be so nice Iíll enjoy every minute. Marge asked me to stay at her house but I donít know where Iíll stay. Probably the Wilson Y because itís so handy to most places where Iíll be visiting. May have to call for a little financial assistance from Anna, but hope not.
Go on K.P. tonight at 5 and will be on until 5 Monday afternoon. Could have gotten out of it but wish to treat the 1st Sergeant extra good from now until I get my pass for my leave. He had me on for K.P. Memorial Day but I got a pass from the captain and left for Fayetteville where Marge and the girls were staying. Also I left that Sat. noon for Huntsville Ala. So I havenít been on K.P since I went to the Hospital the Monday after Memorial Day. Heíll probably give me a lot of it now and Iíll have to handle him with kid gloves.
Do hope Tom gets well fast. I can imagine how he feels laid up the way he is. Believe Iíll drop Father Taylor a sick card. Today is Fatherís Day. I must send Dad a wire. Still I only have a half a buck so you tell Dad I thought of him. And Best Wishes to a swell Dad.
I received the cigars and theyíre nice and fresh. Really enjoy smoking them.
3 Day Pass Ė Chicago - July 11-13th
Left Clerks Jobí - July 14, 1941
General Lawtonís Orderly - August 1, 1941
Pvt. F. A. Bloom
HgCo. Special Troops
Camp Forrest, Tennessee
8-3-41 Sent Aug 5th, 1941
To My Best Girl:
Received your nice long letter and I guess I shouldnít complain because I know, from all reports, you have been very busy.
Sure wish I could have been there for Tomís wedding Ė Iíd liked very much to have seen him before he left. Your family is getting smaller, but you can be assured our thoughts are with you and dad wherever we are. Iím sure this marriage is just what Tom needed and from now on we are going to see that Tom really has the ďmakingsĒ. When I get married mom, you, Dad and the whole family must attend. Of course, that will be sometime yet, but maybe sooner that we expect. But before I even think of it, I must first be finanicily (spelled wrong) independent Ė so you see itíll be a matter of years. Dad waited, and found the perfect girl Ė so shall I.
My new job is orderly to General Lawton the top kick down here. I told Dad just about what are my duties. Itís an easy job except my hours are long Ė But, I donít mind that because if Iím working Iím not spending my $21. All in all itís the best job Iíve had, so Iím quite contented. If we should go to war, donít you be concerned, because this sure is a soft and very safe spot. Am with the General all the time. Maneuvers start next Monday and for two months we will be down in Arkansas and Louisiana. Wonít get much chance to write but will try and keep you posted often via postcards.
Back to Tom: Received a postcard from him today mailed from Salt Lake City. Heard from Anna and also Alberta that they house looked so Ďspic and spaní and that it is really fixed up nice.
Do hope the pictures turn out good. If mine get any better Iíll be sure and send them to you. Iím learning a little about picture taking and gradually they will be better.
Sure hope they donít extend the draft for 2 Ĺ years. 18months wonít be so bad. But 18 months wonít be so bad. But if they do make it longer you can be sure that it wonít bother me because this is just like the business world, if you know the right people, you can get the soft jobs and the like. Am really getting used to it now and no matter what they do, it wonít bother me Ė and surely after a year I shouldnít mind anything Ė Time flyís fast for me down here.
Itís always 95 to 100 down here but itís much drier and I donít notice the heat like I did in Chicago; and too, it is always cool at nights 65 to 70 and lower so we are always sure of a good nights sleep which mean a lot.
Spent last weekend in Nashville visiting a newly found friend. He & his wife have a cottage overlooking the Cumberland River, north of Nashville. He, incidentally, is a lawyer for the city of Nashville. We had a party at his cottage Saturday evening and had a big roast pig barbeque Sunday. They are genuine hospitapal (howís it spelled) Southern folks. It was a grand weekend Ė it cost money but well worth it. Must close now Ė will try and write again before maneuvers. Please take good care of yourself. Let Dad read this too. Oceans of love.
August 4, 1941
Dear Mom & Dad:
Well here it is maneuver time but as far as Iím concerned not for another week. My company (Hq.Co.) left for Arkansas this morning as well as half of the camp. Certain Brigades will leave from day till day until the last Brigade leaves (artillery) next Friday morning. I will be one of the last ones to go Ė with the 58th Brigade, which I have marked on the enclosed, clipping. You can see by the clipping where Iíll be Friday, Saturday and Sunday of next week.
The general and his staff leave Thursday and Iím to hold down the cottage for the night. As I mentioned before Iíll be gone for two months and will be back in early October. Hope very much to run across Chris Redden or Geo. Patrakis (Dubuque, Ia) from Camp Claiborne, La., but donít suppose there is much chance with 500,000 soldiers in the area. Wrote to Chris the other day after receiving a letter from Joe Kearney telling me his whereabouts. Joe, incidentally has a low number in the draft (48). He may get deferred because of a bum foot.
Had a card from Tom in Los Angeles and wrote him a card at his new address. Have received cards from Anna on her trip Ė Iím so happy she was able to get away. Sure wish my folks would have a chance at a vacation Ė theyíve certainly earned one.
Should have said at the start ďreceived your box in good condition thank you. Youíre sure swell to meĒ.
Have the plate of fudge (whatís left of it) here in the icebox at the Generalís cottage. The cookies are also here and Iím enjoying them during my free time. Will take a box of cigars with me on maneuvers. May help keep the mosquitoes away, eh Dad?
Ki sent me a couple of observers Ė Tomís write up of his wedding was cut out. How did the pictures turn out? Am anxious to see them but if they are not sent so as to reach me by Thursday (it takes two days at least for mail to reach me from DeWitt) please donít send them because in maneuvers they are liable to get crushed, wet, etc.
It has been very hot down here the past week. Howís Iowaís weather?
My address during the first part of maneuvers will be A.P.O. 33 c/o Gen. Samuel T. Lawton, Camp Robinson, Ark. If there is a change in this Iíll drop you a card. Donít imagine Iíll be able to do much writing during maneuvers.
Itís 10:pm and I have to get the Generalís bed ready and spray the house Ė would really make a nice for some lucky man, eh!
New Address: Pvt. F. A. Bloom
C/O Gen. Samuel T. Lawton
Camp Robinson, Arkansas
August 30, 1941
Private Bloom has a few minutes to run off a line or two to his BEST girl. Sitting out under a tree typing this with the sweat running off my brow, I feel like a field general or something along that line. Itís very hot down here today Ė must be around 100 degrees. I put on a clean uniform yesterday and today it looks like itís been worn for months at a time. Itís impossible to keep clean down here Ė Iím satisfied if I get a bath once a week and have enough water to wash my hands for meals. Water is still very scarce and the reason is that when two or three Infantry Divisions like ours the 27th from New York and the 35th from Missouri and Nebraska, converge around a town and all send in trucks to the nearest town for water they have to ration it out. Thatís supplying water for nearly 50,000 men to use for bathing, cooking, shaving, etc. All these towns down here are small and they just canít supply that much water. We pay the towns for the water we take out too. Bathed and saved in a bucket of water the other day and then I was hopped on for using that much water when they didnít have enough to cook supper. Some of the fellows snapped pictures of me taking a bath Ė I soaped my body and had a fellow pour a cup of water over me from time to time. It was comical and Iíll bet the pictures are a scream.
Yesterday morning the Capt. On e of the Generalís chauffer, Ed Cotter (Irish), and myself took a Ďjeepí up to Hot Springs. We were there until 9 last night Ė we stayed at that same hotel from where I mailed you a card when I was up there a week ago. This time the room for the Capt. Cost #10 and for Ed and myself $13. I donít believe they are quite that high though in the summertime. Went to a tea dance last night (and afternoon) and meant a number of ďyou allĒ girls. This Southern lingo sounds strange and I talk to them just to hear them say ďYou AllĒ, and sure-nuff. The bath was appreciated the most. I filled the tube three times and used a bar and a half of soap Ė That was ďlittle bit of heavenĒ for me.
Heard there were lots of snakes down here but have only seen one (a baby one) in the two weeks I have been here. But Iíll swear the jiggers, mosquitoes, insects of all sorts and little lizards are plentiful. The jiggers are the worst Ė everybody is scratching, scratching and scratching but to no avail Ė the itch is still there. Iíve been more lucky than most be have managed to get my share of them.
Tomorrow we move down into Louisiana Ė leave at 6:AM, which means we get up at 3 to start packing and to get a breakfast in before leaving. We will be near Shreveport, La. For most of our stay there. It canít be any worst than Arkansas and as for my self, Iíve had my fill of that state. Such wild and waste country I never dreamed existed.
Received a letter from Ki yesterday and on from Alberta today. Alberta reports a very busy life and Ki reports and exciting evening Ė enjoy hearing from both of them but Albertaís letters are always the most newsiest. Heard Ann spent a few days in DeWitt and that now she is back in Chicago. Heard that Tom and L. write quite often and are quite happy in there little apartment. Sent Tom a card from Hot Springs yesterday.
The Capt. told me I could take my furlough in October or whenever I wanted it. Believe Iíll take it as soon as possible because who knows what part of the country Iíll be in next Christmas. Marge is coming down to Camp Forrest right after maneuvers and after that event Iíll ask for my 10 days.
Heard that you and dad were looking fine (as well as feeling that way too) Ė Iím so glad to hear that. Please keep yourselves that way.
Well itís time for mess Ė Iím hungry and Iím sure all the insects and bugs that eat with me every night are hungry too Ė mustnít disappoint these Arkansas insects.
Loads of Love Frankie
Couple of match covers for Bunk.
Eats have been good most of the time and I sleep from 7 or 7:30 til 6 or 6:30 in the morning. So you see a lot of sleep, good eats, and LOTS of work keep me in good condition. (Let me know if Tom starts putting on weight Ė he can stand 30 to 40 more pounds) Right now my weight is 140.
Believe we will change address but you can still send mail to this address: Hg Special Troops, A.P.O. 33, Camp Robinson, Ark. We are camped about 130 miles south of Camp Robinson. Will drop a card if there is a change in address.
50 miles from Shreveport
Address the same.
We are the 200 miles south of that camp.
Received your package today (9-5-41) Ė thatís mighty swell of you - enjoy these cigars very much Ė and have had several pictures taken with one stuck in my face Ė The cigarettes too I enjoy very much. Thanks ever so much Ė it sure helps a fellow.
Maneuvers seem to be getting tougher Ė the bugs are worse than ever and Iím just a mass of bites Ė use a lot of energy scratching. Snakes are scarce Ė much more so than the papers would have one believe. This certainly is a wild country. Hope my next visit to these states will be more pleasant but am sure Iíve had my fill of the South. From where I am sitting I can see 10 oil wells. Most of these farmers have money and the people as a whole treat the soldiers good.
Blew up yesterday and quit my job as orderly to the General. He was too demanding and so unappreciative Ė And too, I was getting tired of the job. Now Iím digging latrines, garbage pits, and peeling spuds. Donít mind it now but will be glad to get back to Camp Forrest. Itís pretty hard to write during maneuvers mainly because of the time and then too these gnats keep flying around my eyes ad this prickly heat itches under my legs when I sit down. Itís very hot down here and I perspire a lot. We take salt pills 3 or 4 times a day, which helps a lot. Bought myself a hammock for $1.10 because they took the canvas cot away from me.
Sure wished I could have sent a card to Alberta on her birthday but I havenít been in town for a week and a half. Would like to send a card to Mrs. Harrington but so far itís been impossible. Hope Anna, Ki, Alberta and the rest donít think Iím neglecting them.
Now my time is up. Iím glad I was able to run this off to you and mom. Believe weíll go to Texas on maneuvers November so will be home in October for sure. On leave or A.W.O.L.
Three more weeks and then back to civilization. Will try and write Alberta soon. Also Ki, Anna and Dale.
Best of everything Frankie
The cigars really keep the gnats and bugs away. Thanks again.
Left Orderly Job - September 10, 1941
Officers Mess - September 13, 1941
Mailed this out but it was returned today 24th.
Raining 24 hours down here, what a mess!
Received your letter yesterday (21st) and a box of cigars from Dad today. First I want to say that I havenít been able to write anybody because I have no paper, envelopes or stamps. Hereís how this happens. About a week ago they made us send everything back to camp except one uniform, one suit of underwear and as many socks and handkerchiefs as we needed. I had a foot locker and a barracks bag which I had a little muzzette bag in which I carried my extra uniform, underwear, socks, handkerchiefs and toilet articles. I sent back my writing paper, stamped envelopes camera, your salve (sulfur & lard), my extra pair of shoes, and extra clothes I had along as well as my extra blanket. So you see I hardly had anything. But by luck, my laundry came back from Memphis, Tenn. and now I have 3 uniforms, 3 towels (Oh yes we were allowed to take one towel along too) 3 suits of underwear, plenty of hankies and socks and a barracks bag in which I had sent my laundry. Now I can have my clothes around in a barracks bag and I am much better off than the rest of the fellows. I sneaked my hammock along to so I sleep off the ground. Itís just a piece of canvas Ė I cut two poles for the end and I brought some rope. Itís nice to have but one has to be an acrobat to sleep in it. It is hot here in the daytime but very, very cold at night. I have been sleeping with the following clothes Ė shoes, socks, shorts, undershirt, a long sleeve wool undershirt, chino shirt and trousers, and a woolen chino jacket Ė under me I have my rain coat, my shelter half (half of a pup tent) and over me one heavy woolen blanket. Any less than that and I freeze. But with that amount of clothing, I keep warm so I canít complain.
Mom, I donít want you to think Iím leading a miserable life. On the contrary, I have it pretty soft. You know, Iím waiting tables and I work about two hours at each mealtime. Between meals, I go lay down in my hammock, pull out a cigar and let the breezed rock me to & fro while I puff on a cigar and day dream. Gosh! You wouldnít call that hard would you? Our top kick kind likes me and he gave me this soft job. He was just made a Lieutenant and now heís in a better position to help me along. This job pays me $12.00 a month extra and I have a good chance of keeping it after we go back to Camp Forrest. We may get furloughs in October (almost for sure) and then we go to North and South Carolina for winter maneuvers. I hope we do because then weíll probably go home for Christmas.
The chigger season is over and my bites are drying up. Have a bad case of prickly heat on my legs but the medics are treating me for that. Mosquitoes are just about gone Ė I havenít bothered to put up my mosquito net for the last two weeks. So these tough maneuvers are not tough anymore. Being out in the open, I have been eating good and I go to bed as soon as it gets dark, which is around 7pm.
Havenít been to a town since Labor Day so I canít spend any money. Still have $10. left from last payday (Iíll swear Iím the only man in the company with that much money). Of course, no one knows about it or I have a line waiting to borrow anything from $.25 to $5.00.
I went to a CCC camp about 3 miles from here to take a shower. While there somebody stole my shoes. I was in a fix for a while because I had sent my extra pair of shoes back to Camp. For one whole day I ran around barefoot Ė then I ran across a fellow with a size 6 Ĺ. I gave him $1.00 to use them until the end of maneuvers. He, of course, had an extra pair. We are issued 3 pairs of shoes. (I wear 7 Ĺ. Ouch!)
I received a nice long letter from Anna along with yours yesterday. Received a letter from Alberta the day before. Albertaís letters are very newsy Ė I had heard about your vase and painting, Iím so glad you like them. I saw the painting when I was in Chicago.
Anna really had a nice vacation Ė she really needed one. Iíve had several reports on here and they all say she looks fine. They tell me mom & dad look fine but kind of miss the yelling and fighting of the kids Ė I would think you would enjoy the peace and quiet of the house now. Iím very happy to hear that Tom is working Ė I think we can be proud of him now. He has something to work for now and heíll make good.
No mom, Iím not back in the infantry, and will not go back.
Glad to hear Mrs. Harrington is coming along fine. Wish you would tell Alberta, Ki and Anna (and Dale through Anna) that itís impossible for me to write for the duration of maneuvers. I borrowed this paper and envelopes Ė will send the letter C.O.D. ďSoldiers MailĒ. This is not an implication of my financial status but just canít get stamps and wonít see a town for some time.
Will have my teeth looked over when I get home because I donít want these Army dentists touching my teeth.
Thanks for saving the pictures on the wall.
Must close now Ė have to squeeze orange juice for the officers.
The best of everything to Mom & Dad
Loads of Love Frankie
Thanks Dad for the cigars Ė I had to send the remainder of the last box back because I didnít have room to carry them. Have room now so will relax and enjoy one on my hammock this afternoon.
We are a few miles form the Texas border but where in Louisiana I donít know.
Left Officerís Mess - September 30, 1941
Returned from Maneuvers - October 8, 1941
October 12, 1941 Sent Oct. 14, 1941
Received your letter and also a box of cigars from Dad. Also this week I received a cake from Alberta as well as a letter so I feel that I fared pretty well.
This past week has been a hectic one for me. We arrived in Camp Forrest late Monday afternoon. There was a lot of cleaning up and just plain hard work to be done before we climbed into bed. Yesterday (Sat) the fellows started leaving for their 15-day furloughs. 4000 yesterday, 4000 Tuesday and 4000 the 25th of this month and the remainder the 28th. (Iím part of the remainder). I was slated to leave here yesterday but so many jobs came up that I had to sit back an nab the best. Will leave here the evening of the 27th and get in Chicago sometime on the 28th. Will be out to DeWitt the next day Ė so itíll probably the 29th that Iíll get home (if everything goes according to plans Ė furlough, of course, is a sure thing).
As I said before this has been hectic and also a banner week for me. On Tuesday last I was offered a job in the 33rd Division Headquarters Mess as a waiter, which would pay me 15 dollars a month extra. There I would wait on all the BRASS from the General on down the line to the 2nd Lieutenants. Wednesday, I was offered a job in Special Troops Officerís Mess, which would pay me $12 a month extra (over my base pay of $30). Thursday I was sent over to Col. ďJakeĒ Averyís office Ė he needed a stenographer and there I would get a job with a rating which would pay me $56 a month including my base pay of $30. Friday, I was offered a job in the Finance office, which would pay me $41 a month to start, inclusive of my $30 a month. Yesterday the banner one came through Ė I was offered the job of Company clerk which pays me $54 a month and gives me two stripes making me a Corporal. This job takes place next month when our 1st Sergeant gets his discharge and the present Company clerk gets promoted from Company clerk to 1st Sergeant. Stripes are hard to get but once gotten one has a very good chance to keep rising. So Iíve tried to let the others go and am now acting Co. Clerk. The present clerk and his assistant are now on furlough and the job has been thrown in my lap. It consists of all the bookwork of the Company, including payroll, discharges, promotions Ė in other words itís strictly administrative work. Havenít gotten the stripes yet and donít expect them for another month Ė havenít said a word to any of the fellows because there would be a howl (and there will be when I get them) from the National Guardsmen about a Selectee coming in and taking a job away from the older fellows. Oh well! Every one for himself. To top all of this Capt. Barron put out a Ďfeelerí to the Capt. About getting me back as an orderly. So, mom, after all this my head is swimming Ė Letís pray there are no slipups.
Glad maneuvers are over Ė it was really nice to sleep between sheets again and have nice hot and cold showers before going to bed. The eats in Headquarters Co. have been very good this past week. This being Sunday, we had an extra special feast but will take time here to give you the menu for breakfast and for todayís dinner. Breakfast. Two eggs (fried to order), bacon, 3 slices toast, butter, jam, cereal, bananas, cream and coffee. Dinner: Bread, butter, lemonade, mashed potatoes, half of fried chicken, corn on the cob, vegetable soup, and cake and peaches. All in all which put me in a very good frame of mind. But mind you this is Sunday.
Glad to hear about Tom Ė and that Alberta gets home as often as she does. I miss home mom and Iíll be mighty glad to see you and dad.
I will try and write Alberta and Anna tonight and Ki as soon as possible. This is Sunday afternoon but Iím afraid theyíll keep me running from now until the 28th.
Love and kisses till the 28th Frankie
Well, here we are laying around Ruston, La. For a couple of days before starting back to Camp Forrest. Boy am I glad these maneuvers are over Ė Living in the field for two months is quite an ordeal. This is a nice little town of 7000. We are camped on the school grounds Ė itís a beautiful school and we can use their showers. Iíve taken 3 in the last two days more than I had for the past two months. We leave here tomorrow morning and arrive back in Forrest sometime Monday. They are giving 15-day furloughs according to the latest rumor. Will try to get mine right away and will home for the first part of the furlough.
Last night there was a street dance in town and they hauled the girls by trucks Ė itís a sight Iíve never seen Ė the soldiers (and there must have been 5,000 of them at the dance) made a rush for the trucks and just dragged the girls off Ė sometimes there would be 2 and 3 soldiers pulling on one girl Ė Boy! Them poor gals took a beating. The folks in this town treat the soldierís grand Ė they gave the soldiers free sandwiches and pops Ė they haul us downtown and really go out of their way. Lots of times Iíve walked along the street and had people stop their cars and ask if they couldnít give me a ride to wherever I was going.
I am still waiting tables and expect to keep the job back at Forrest Ė although they may change their mind. It really doesnít make much difference to me ($12 difference).
Marge, the gal from Chicago, hasnít written me for 4 weeks Ė guess sheís found someone to spend her spare time with. In fact, Alberta is the only one Iíve received a letter from in the past two weeks. Oh well, it doesnít matter Ė because I really havenít been able to write much on maneuvers.
Was sick 4 days while in the field Ė the last time I suffered, because I had a high fever and cramps and diarrhea altogether. It rained for 48 hours and I didnít have a place (dry place) to sleep. Every bit of clothing I had was dripping wet. Was miserable but on the whole we were lucky because they were the only two days of rain we had all during maneuvers.
Not much else to say so will close. Hope you told Ki, Alberta, and Anna, that I would write them back in Camp Forrest. Guess I asked Mom to tell them.
Pray this finds you and mom enjoying the best of health.
Best Wishes Frankie
Address now is
Hq Co. Special Troops
15 day furlough Ė Chicago - October 31, 1941 Ė November 12, 1941
Really have been meaning to write sooner but I have been kept pretty much on the run since arriving back in Camp. Came back to camp two days before my time was up and started right in working.
Didnít have such an exciting time in Chicago ad being bankrupt didnít have much choice. Am a little better of now because some of the fellows had a belated payday and they were soft touches.
Dad, after I left DeWitt, I got to thinking about that job you wanted me to do for you Ė Iím really sorry I left before doing that for you; but I guess you think as I do now (that was a hell of a time to think of it) so Iíll try and pass off my bum stunt with an apology.
Hope by now you are enjoying better health and that the next time Iím home will find you in the ďpinkĒ of condition.
Didnít get the extra dough nor stripes I was anticipating. So it goes, but maybe if I keep my nose to the grindstone something will turn up. Have received a letter from Alberta and Anna since returning. Very glad to hear from them and hope you and mom will find time to write soon. Maybe youíve noticed in the papers what the Army is feeding us this Thanksgiving Ė have been eating like a horse since returning Ė weighed myself last night and the scales showed me 21 lbs heavier then they did last April. Didnít eat much while on furlough must be that food is too rich for my blood Ė down here this common ďgrubĒ taste O.K. Give mom my love,
Best Wishes Frankie
Dad: Here it is the 19th and Iím just getting around to mailing this.
Enrolled in two classes the Army started down here (Solid Geometry and Advanced Algebra). They have started Spanish classes but they are held the same night as the Math classes. Anna sent me a couple of Spanish books last August at my request Ė itís a language Iíd like to learn. You can tell mom that an Army dentist looked at my teeth today and found them all o.k. About having my picture taken, tell mom that will be done but just how soon????
Have thought of sending you and mom a telegram for tomorrow (Or just whenever Iowa celebrates Thanksgiving) but those already written telegrams are kind of meaningless donít you think Ė so will say that Iíll be thinking of home on Thanksgiving.
McGavern aptd. - 1st Sgt Nov 1, 1941
Apt. Corporal - November 25, 1941
10-Day Furlough - December 17th to December 27th, 1941
HG Co merged with 33rd MP Co. - February 21, 1941
Capt Wright relieved of command - Neill (Capt.) took command of Hg & MP Co.
January 18, 1942 Sent Jan. 19, 1942
Dear Mom and Dad:
Still a resident at Camp Forrest and expect to remain here for some time (I hope, I hope). Yes, I received a card from Ft. Dix, New Jersey, and also a letter from Geo. Patrakis who said they were making ready to sail. His letter had been censored because I guess he named the point of embarkation. I wrote both of those fellows the day after I returned from my furlough and I glad I did now or I would never have known where they were going. Their return address was just c/o postmaster, New York City, N.Y.
It got pretty cold down here too but for the past week we have been running around in our shirt sleeves and work here in the office with all the doors open and windows too. Some of the fellows were lying out in the sun in swimming suits having their pictures taken.
Say mom, while Iím thinking about it, Iím sending that trunk home this week. Donít bother to open it, although you may Ė will send the key to it later. It will contain old letters (some that have very poor attempts at putting a little sentiment (on the romantic side) in them. Very dull for the most of those kind of letters. Some from my folks that I want to keep.
Sorry to hear that Jo is sick and hope she gets well soon. Received your letter with the medal in it Ė put it on along with my identification tags on a chain strung around my neck Ė has it been blessed?
Received a couple of letters from Alberta since returning, one from Anna, none from Ki Ė heard from a friend down in Ft. Jackson, S.C., and he says he is leaving for Panama soon but didnít mention time, date or with what outfit he was going with. Havenít heard from Les Walrod although I wrote him a couple of weeks ago. Imagine he is pretty busy. Havenít heard from Dale, but as I said I heard from Chris, and Geo. Patrakis.
Have been working late at night and sometimes into the wee small hours of the morning every night since returning and Sat. and Sun. is no exception. They have given me a couple of assistants now and they are a big help. Now maybe the circles will disappear from around my eyes. Expect to leave this job next week, however, and expect to be made a sergeant soon. Pray that Iíll be able to hold the job down Ė it will be in G-2 sections, Intelligence and will require a lot on my part Ė so lets cross our fingers. I donít believe Iíll have as much work to do but it will require a lot of true thinking on my part.
Am sorry I didnít stop in and see Mrs. Kelly after I promised Paul in Chicago that I would.
It was really swell to see you and dad in such good health Ė thatís really a comfort to know oneís folks are O.K. Please keep yourselves that way.
Tell Bunk hello from his soldier brother, did you write Tom Ė and if so, what have you heard from him.
Itís getting late so must close, will write again soon.
Loads of love to mom and dad, Frankie
Feb. 1, 1942
Dear Mom and Dad:
Received your gift including two pipes Ė thanks a lot.
Things are happening so fast now that itís darn near impossible to keep up with it all. We have gotten most of the fellows over 28 back now, and I worked so darn hard getting them all discharged Ė it seems like work for nothing. Right now I should be making up Supplemental Payroll but have such a miserable headache that work is the last thing I have in mind. Have been kind of on the ďbumĒ this past week but my tomorrow should be back ďhitting the ballĒ.
Received a letter from Alberta telling me that you have a new refrigerator Ė do hope you like it and will like it more everyday. Iím glad I was able to have a small part in it.
Fact is, after this is over Iím afraid one is going to be so busy trying to make a living that getting a gal (and marrying one) will be out of the picture. Only have one in mind but by the time I get out of this sheíll be known as a spinster Ė thatís somebodyís grandmother. She had me enrolled in some Society or plan or something Ė at any rate I am having masses said for me every day and prayers from novenas are supposedly coming my way. Itís from Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Chicago where we both attended. They sent me a medal, a prayer book, a long religious letter and a flock of holy cards. Iím a sure bet for heaven if I get what the letter says Iím to get. The pressure is heavy down here for going to Church and Iím kind of weakening. Good sign mom, eh?
Last Sunday it was so warm that some of us had our swimming trunks on and layed around in the sun Ė today, however, itís quite chilly and an overcoat is comfortable.
Have you heard form Tom? Wonder how he is getting along and if his health has improved?
The fellow that took a picture of me all dolled up was transferred to Memphis, and took the pictures with him. Will have another one taken as soon as possible. Had a letter from Ki but as yet havenít answered it Ė this being her first one since I returned from furlough. Guess I owe Anna a letter too Ė will get one off to Alberta tomorrow.
How is Mr. Harrington Ė dale wrote and told me something about him, as did Anna. Hope he will be able to continue working.
Some of our troops are on the move and they are making this into a triangular division from a square division. War talk down here is truthfully unheard of Ė the fellows returning to duty that were released can hardly believe the difference between here and the outside. I can say that I havenít heard war discussed by any one or any one group since the 2nd day of the War. Guess everybody is too busy to talk and when they do get free time, they donít care to talk ďshopĒ.
Alberta seems to think that the boys from Iowa are in Ireland Ė mom, you should volunteer as a nurse and maybe theyíd send you back to your native land. Special Troops will be no more after this Division is made triangular Ė so we should have a new address or maybe just a new title. We are on call at all hours now and have to work Wednesday afternoons as well as Saturday afternoons now. Sunday is the only day off now but thatís o.k. because itís appreciated that much more Ė went to bed last night (SAT) at 9:30 and slept until 9:30 this morning Ė boy! Thatís heaven to me Ė Sleep, sleep. Itís all I want in the line of entertainment.
Have rolled on long enough Ė so will close.
Loads of Love
February 11, 1942
Sorry I havenít had time to answer your letter til now but his past two weeks have been another siege of ďrushingĒ. After returning from church (and communion) Sunday 10:a.m I started right in and finished work after 12 that night. Saturday night I went to bed at 8 a.m. and had a full 12 hours sleep, which to me is just the same as a two-day furlough.
Havenít had time to do any studying because of so much work. Am going to classes three times a week for three hours each time. Am learning all about ďClassificationĒ of soldiers. Each man as a Military Specification Serial No., a Civilian Specification Serial No., a Duty Code No. for the host of types work both in civilian life and in military life. Itís all marked in code and I will say very confusing to understand and impossible to explain especially when I know so little about the subject. It all adds up that I may be rated as a ďclassifierĒ and classifierís are sent to Corp Area induction centers Ė Iím hoping something will come of it Ė such as being transferred to Camp Grant, or Ft. Sheridan Ė itís a still in the embryo stag when Iíve mastered the work, Iíll push for a transfer.
Must start my payroll tomorrow and that means at least 4 days, 12 hours long, continuous work. Know that if I get sick Hq.Co. will fall to pieces as far as the administrative end is concerned. We are furnishing cadres for new Divisions being formed and in a month or so there will hardly be any old timerís left in the Company. Cadres are men trained here and sent to other Camps where new Divisions being formed and are really nucleusís for Regiments or Battalions which make up the newly formed Division.
So glad you and dad like the icebox Ė Iíll bet it was a swell looker. If we only had a carpenter around the house the cupboards could be fixed up and we really would have a modernistic kitchen. Hope this doesnít give you an idea and then you start getting on dadís tail.
Very sorry to hear about Mr. Harrington Ė received a letter from Dale the other day telling me most of the story. Dales says he is trying for the Air Corps and that he passed the physical exam (entrance) and now has to pass the mental entrance exam. Wish him the BEST of Luck because itís the best branch of the service.
The raise you know, didnít come through but then I didnít push it and I have the meager consolation that it could have been mine if I had set my heart on it. Now wished Iíd taken it because thereís not much thanks to this job and a lot of pressure from many sides. Our ďskipperĒ is a swell Joe though and a true man if Iíve ever known one. He name is Wallace L. Wright Ė he is one of the decentest (Ďscuse that word) fellows Iíve ever made acquaintance. I like to work for him and would work 24 hours a day for him without giving it a second thought. Officers like him are scarce in this Army. Have a swell top kick (1st Sergeant) too Ė his name is Phil J. McGovern, a true and typical Irishman Ė Heís fair and square and dishes out the dirty details and punishment to his ďpalsĒ as well as the rank and file of the Company. He was just a Private when I came into the Company last May but has come up fast. Sorta of giving you the history or rather the ďdopeĒ on the Hq.Co., Administration but believe it will be of some interest.
Received a nice valentine from Marge to day Ė first Iíve heard from her in several weeks. Received a letter from Anna the other day suggesting to me how to cop this little Irish lassie by the name of ďShamusĒ or rather Ruth. She gave me several suggestions, which amused me very much. Heard from Les Walrod down in Puerto Rico the other day but his letter had been censored and didnít contain anything really ďnewsyĒ.
Received Dadís box and expressed my thanks in last letter.
Mom, you should see the sell medal that Our Lady of Lourdes Church sent me. Itís a knockout Ė It has an engraving of Jesus, Mary, and St. Christopher on it and around the top is has Air Land Sea in red, white and blue colors and around the bottom it reads Ė protect us Ė All the Catholic kids down here would like to get one just like it Ė 50% of our Company is Catholic, 49% Jewish, 1% Protestant. There are just about 200 men to the Company.
Havenít sent my old footlocker home yet but will do that in the near future. It contains old letters, and miscellaneous junk. You can just shove it in some dark corner and forget about it. Bunkís little traveling bag will be in there and will send you a key to the trunk (locker) so you may get that or anything else you want.
Had a nice letter from Alberta recently and she gave a good healthy report on you and dad Ė please keep yourself that way. Hello to Bunk.
Loads of Love Frankie
***Will send this monthís issue of P.S. ďnewsĒ home because this fellow that wrote about men down here from P.S. Co. is a good friend of mine as well as the rest of the fellows down here from General Officer.
|Birth, childhood, and adolescence||Army basic training||Now a paratrooper||To Italy||Southern France||Belgium||After death|