Francis Aloysius Bloom

Home Birth, childhood, and adolescence Army basic training Now a paratrooper To Italy Southern France Belgium After death

Paratrooper Training

May 23, 1942 - Hg Co re-designated Neill relieved of command.  Liet. Wolff takes command Leagues (Maj) aptd. Commandant.

Aptd Sgt Ė June 1, 1942

7 Day furlough Ė Chicago Ė May 2 to May 9/42

Acting 1st Sgt Ė June 30, 1942

5 days furlough Ė Chicago Ė July 11, 1942

Transferred in grade of private to the Parachute School.  Ė July 11, 1942 Ė Fort Benning, GA.

Arrived: - Fort Benning, GA  - July 12, 1942

 

Started Jump Training Ė July 20, 1942

 

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Sent July 30, 1942

Dear Dad,

            Just reporting on my new outfit.  Right now we are in training regiments which will be disbanded in two weeks (completion of our jump training) ad be absorbed by a regular organized Company or Battalion.

            So far itís the most brutal, toughest, meanest training one can experience.  Many of the fellows are dropping out (they end up on permanent K.P.) from the toughness or punishment we take.  Here you donít give up unless you pass out completely.  A broken ankle or arm or something doesnít seem to count with these instructors.  Today they took us up in a 35í tower and we got in a harness and leaped out in the PRESCRIBED ARMY MANNER.   We dropped 15í and then the slack took up and we came to a sudden stop.  Itís quite a thrill.  (4 men balked at going out the door of the tower and were thrown out of the course).  Next week we are lifted up on steel tower 150í in the air with a harness on and we are faced down like laying on your stomach.  When we are 150í in the air we pull a cord that drops us 15í to 18í.  It takes plain guts, nerve and determination to stay in this parachute school 4 weeks.  Mind, Iím not complaining because the tougher they get the tougher I get and Iím that much more determined to stick it out and show those +?!-00! (cus words). Iíll be proud of myself because itís an honor to (serve) belong to the toughest outfit in the whole U.S. Army.  I have been eating like a horse and in this particular Company the food is next to home. We had delicious fried chicken Sunday, Ham Monday, fixed just right Steak (cooked to a ĎTí) and meatballs today.  Iíve never been fed this well since arriving in the Army.  Itís better than any restaurant food. That means a lot too.  Good food and a nights sleep.

            Havenít had a letter from home in a long time. Hope you can find the time for one.  Better not tell mom too much about this training or sheíll expect me back in a box.  Itís tough but so am I.

            Of the reasons I sat down to write this letter is to ask you to send me a couple pair of those jockey shorts.  I donít have any and theyíre quite the shorts.  Those that I had I made the mistake of sending to the QM laundry which ruined them.  Now I have the time to wash my own laundry.  Would appreciate if you could do this.  No hurry just when you have a couple extra half dollars.

            Wrote a letter to Jo Saturday.  Have written just about everybody.  Have the time in the evenings. 

            Loads of love to Mom. Best of Wishes. Will write again.

                                                            Frankie

 

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8-3-42

Dear Dad:

            Just a few lines reporting on the boy.  Have completed 2 weeks of physical torture.  Feel better though and am still eating like a horse.  We are jumping off 250í tower this week and itís kind of a thrill but almost too safe.  Next week is the big week and is a week of ďnervesĒ.  Itís been hot as Hades here. My nose keeps burning and peeling. Many have dropped out and I believe only the truly hardy men will be left by the end of next week.  Have completed 3 weeks now and Monday I make my first jump.  It will be a thrill but after the 1st one it will be nerve wracking.  Make 5 jumps one each day.  Hope I can get North before we go into intensive maneuvers.  We will be transferred next Saturday to a regular company.  Will write you at the end of next week.

            Received my watch Ė thanks very much Ė what was the charge?

            Had a letter from Ki with $2.00 in it yesterday.  Iíll write and give her the devil for sending me money.

            Hope you had a good week while mom was gone.  Iím happy she was able to get away. Wish you could get a vacation.  Have you been paying my insurance? If not how much do I owe Ė Iíll send the money.

            Best Wishes

            Regards                                   Frankie

 

8-10-42

Dear Dad:

            Made my first jump today at 9:30 am.  It was a thrill and quite a sensation.  We jump 8 at a time that is one right after another.  8 men clear the plane in about 6 seconds, thereís really nothing to it but we were all nervous going up.  Jumped at 1500 feet.  Tomorrow we jump at 1200. 

            Scuse the writing but this is an awkward position, writing on one knee.  My watch stopped again. Donít know whatís wrong with it.  Received the underwear.

Thank you very much.  I needed them.  Love to mom Ė hope she had a nice vacation.

            Regards                                   Frankie

 

Graduated: Jump Training Ė The Parachute School.  August 15, 1942

 

Transferred Service Company Ė 505 Parachutes Infantry.  August 16, 1942

Received Wings: August 19, 1942

10 Days Furlough Ė Iowa, Chicago.  August 19, 1942

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Frank and his sister Alberta.

Frank and his Aunt Ann

Frank and his Aunt Ann

Arrived Home Ė DeWitt, Ia.  August 21, 1942.  Birthday

Appointed: Tech IV Grade Ė October 14, 1942.  SO#65 Par 4

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October 27 Ė Jumped Today.  5:30pm  No. 6

11-25-42

Dear Mom:

            Just a few lines tonight Ė I am dead tired and canít keep my eyes open much longer. 

            Have just completed ďAĒ stage of the training.  There are four (4) stages A.B.C.D.  ďAĒ stage is all calisthenics, and physical education. They teach us how to fall, tumble, land from a parachute and just general toughening up.  Today was the hardest of the 6 days.  They gave us leg, arm exercises until my legs were rubber like and my arms felt as if they were made of lead.  Then they took us out and ran us for 20 minutes straight Ė about 4 miles. We then walked a (1/2) mile and ran for 15 minutes more.  We then came in and climbed a 35í rope.  So you see, Iím worn out.  Itís good for me though and Iím harder all around then when I came here two weeks ago.  We are taught ju jitan too.  Throw each other around, over head and all.  Thatís hard on oneís body but not many bones are broken.  I learned fast, I believe because I didnít get as much as a bruise out of it.  If one follows the instructors letter to the ďTĒ he wonít get hurt.

            Heard Dale washed out of the Air Corps because of color blindness.  Iím very sorry to hear that.  Hope he can get another try.

            Heard from Anna that Jo gave birth to a baby boy about 8 lbs 3 oz. Hello ďgrandmaĒ.  That must make you feel like a little ole lady. And a cute one too.  Mom, Iím afraid youíre not going to live long enough to see any of my children Ė unless you live to 103.  Had a card from Alberta telling me all about Buffalo and their new home.

            Please take Anna suggestion and go to Buffalo with the kids.  I wish so much that Dad could get away too.  Lord knows he has earned a vacation if anyone has.

            Mom ask Dad to find out about my watch that I gave to Brummerís to send to the factory for repair.  I gave it to Lillian Smith last April when I was there.

            Take good care of that bedroll I shipped home. That cost $11.00 and is worth every cent of it.  The book cost $3.75.  Did you see my old company in there?  My picture is in there also (Hq.Co.)

            Hello to Dad!  How is he coming with the barn?  What about my insurance with Larry Drew?  Wonít get paid till late Sept. or early Oct.  Dad will still get the $30.00 a month from the Finance Officer, US Army though.  They will probably give me 3 mos pay here all at one time and theyíll deduct $90.00 from that.  Will also deduct about $15.00 for insurance and $5.00 for laundry.

            For now, bye

            Loads of Love                          Frankie

            Tell Mr. & Mom Harrington hello for me Ė give them my regards.  Hope they are getting along alright.

Cadre: November 28, 1942 - Left Alabama area for Frying Pan area

Hg of Hg Co. - Parachute School Ė replacement pool.

December 28, 1942 Ė Moved - Left Frying Pan area for Camp Toccoa Ga.

Promoted to St. Sgt Ė Acting 1st Sft. Service Co 511th Pcht Inf.  January 14th, 1943 - Camp Toccoa, Ga.

Promoted to 1st Sergeant Service Co 511th Prch Inf.  So #23 Par 25.  H of 511th Prcht Inf.  Dated January 28, 1943

Moved: Camp Mackall, Hoffman, N.C.!  February 20, 1943

 

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Moved: Ft Benning, Ga.  May 21, 1943  Temp dy

Jumped: 7pm-May 27th, 1943  - easy Ė

Furlough: June 3rd (10 days) Ė  Chicago, Iowa. Bought car June 11th í43, Drove back Ft Benning

Moved: Back to Camp Mackall.  Drove Back.  June 14, 1943

Bivouac:  August 2/43 to Aug. 14.  10 days   Camp Moot, NC

Bivouac: 10 Days  Pine Lake, NC  Aug 23/43 to Sept 3/43

Reduced to 1st/Sgt to private.  6/Sept/43

Transferred: Sept6/43  H Of Co. 3rd Bn (511)

Frank does not write why he was demoted and transferred in 1943. Duff Matson (The Devil's Bodyguard, page 17) says:

Finally, we did get out of those damned swamps and went on pass. I went to Monroe, Louisiana, with a First Sergeant named Frank Bloom. We had become close friends. All the misery of the swamps weighed heavily upon us, so we commenced to get especially drunk. Frank was toting a Coke bottle for some reason and as we staggered past a typewriter store, he threw it through the plate glass window. We didn't escape from that one. Colonel Lahti "promoted" Frank to Private Bloom and he became one of the "chosen" ones to ship out to Africa as a replacement. He and I became even closer after that. He helped steer me around, which was pretty hard to do.

Wrecked car  November 20/43 Ė turned it over 3 times Ė unhurt

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Jumped (night)  November 19, 1943

Sent December 3, 1943

Dear Mom:

            Regret I havenít written Ė just canít get to it, it seems.  Really nothing to write about anyway.

            Guess you know by now I turned over a few times in my car which was wrecked beyond repair.  However Iím o.k. now Ė no visible scar left.

            My status remains the same. Weíll be leaving Camp Mackall soon.  Letís not plan on Christmas. However we wonít go overseas for a few months yet.

            We had a night jump a week ago Friday.  It was quite a sight.  72 planes and about 1600 paratroopers.  The planes with their red and green lights, hundreds & hundreds of billowing white parachutes against a star lit sky, it was really an impressive sight.  Tuesday I got in a glider and was towed around for 2 hours.  The weather was rough and the glider tossed around like a leaf.  I was sick for the greater part of the trip.  I believe Iíll stick to jumping out of planes Ė itís safer and much easier on the stomach.

            Had a letter from Jo today Ė quite surprised to hear from our Mrs.

            Donít expect Iíll be home for Christmas Ė I believe weíll be living in the field.  We go out Monday to live in the field for how long I donít know.  Itís awfully cold down here now and Iíll be missing a warm bed.  Civilians still donít have to sleep on the ground yet so they shouldnít complain.

            I quit smoking again and have shot up to 150 lbs.  The other day I got a carton of cigarettes from the Company which I probably gave away so I wouldnít start again.

            An epidemic of flue has started down here.  I shook mine off with the aid of sulfur pills but I still have a heavy cold.

            I hope you & dad are in the best of health.

            Love to all                                Frankie

Jumped at night)  Dec. 6, 1943.  76 Lbs of equipment. 5 Day problem.

Sent Dec. 14, 1943

Sunday

Dearest Mom:

            Received your cards yesterday.  Thanks!  I wasnít going to send any this year Ė sort of sour on everything Ė the way things are going.  I guess I shouldnít be because this is my 3rd War Christmas and Iím still in the USA which is a lot to be thankful for.

            We just came off of 5 days in the field.  We were very lucky with the weather being fairly decent all the time we were in the field.  We jumped about midnight Monday.  There were 2000 of us and hundreds of equipment Ďchutes.  About 100 transport planes took part.  It was an impressive sight to see. I was one of the first to hit the ground and to stand there and look up at wave after wave of planes come over with men spilling out of them is awe inspiring.  I was loaded down with 76 lbs of equipment when I left the plane. I hit the ground like a ton of bricks.  We hike all that night, slept a couple of hours Tuesday and hiked all the rest of the day.  We lived off of K&C rations the five days we were out. I sure tore into a $1.50 steak Saturday.

            Thanks but there is nothing I want for Christmas.  I wish I could give but Iím broke again so Iíll just have to give them my best wishes.  Thank Jo for her nice card and letters.  I wonít answer but tell her I was happy to hear from her.

            Hope this finds you and Dad in the best of health.

            Love to you both.                     Frankie

Sent Dec. 19, 1943

Thursday Evening

Dear Mom & Dad:

            Received your package today which pleased me very much.  I truthfully didnít expect anything this year because I have removed myself so much from all ties.  It didnít take long for 50% of the Company to find out I had something to eat with the result I was swamped and everybody was happy as long as it lasted (I salvaged a little).  I, and 50% of the Company send our thanks.  The other 50% was in the field, reason for only 50% in on the kill.

            Sorry I sent home for money.  Be sure to take it out of any I have saved.  I hope soon to be sending money home again instead of taking it out.  Iím leaving for Louisiana Tuesday. Iíll send you my new address as soon as I get there.  I planned so much on being home for Christmas.  I didnít say anything in my letters about coming home because I wanted to be sure I asked for a furlough Monday telling them Iíve only had 10 days in a year and one half.  The C.O hemmed and hawed and firmly said I could have one Dec. 26th and then told me I was leaving for Louisiana Tuesday.  I got mad and told him I wasnít interested in a furlough except at Christmas time.

            I donít know if I can get a transfer yet but Iím hoping. Iím in a rut here and just donít seem to have the initiative and push to get things started.  We wonít go overseas for a couple of months at the least.  Weíll have maneuvers in February for at least a month.

            Thanks for the cards Ė I havenít sent any out but may do so.  Who made the fudge?  It was good Ė also the cookies.  Thank Jo for her card.  I should write her, Ki, Tom and all but just havenít the feeling for writing at all.  I have to sit with this perched on my knee.  Havenít had an adjustment on the car yet.  Theyíre awfully slow.  Iíll bet they take us to the cleaners in the settlement.  After this war Iím going to get a nice new Buick car. Even if Iím out of a job; but with money saved.

            Christmas 1941 Tennessee, 1942 Georgia, 1943 Louisiana, where Christmas in 1944?  Keep your fingers crossed.  Best Whishes as always.

            Love                                         Frankie

            Mom:

            Received your letter today. Youíll get your Christmas wish. I leave for Louisiana Sunday.  Loads of Love,              Frankie

Iíll write as soon as I get to Louisiana

Moved: Camp Polk, La.  December 20, 1943  Advanced detachment

Sent December 24, 1943

Outside my window there are about 30 German prisoners f war.  They look anything but super men.  They are working along the road.  Theyíre treated like guests it seems to me.

Thursday

Dear Mom & Dad:

            Received your letter with money enclosed.  Thanks. I do hope very soon to be able to replace the money I have drawn out and, of course, much more.  On the money I may get from the car settlement if Anna doesnít put it in the bank at Chicago, Iíll ask her to send it to you for savings.

            I would have written sooner but we got on a train 8AM Monday morning and didnít get off until last night (Wed.) 3 days & 2 nights.  We had Pullman so it wasnít a hard trip although we were confined to the train every minute.  We left N.C. and went through S.C., Ga., Ala., Miss., Tenn., Ark., Texas and Louisiana to get here.  What a round-about way.  We are 30 miles from the Texas border.  200 miles to New Orleans.  If I feel better Iíll go to New Orleans for Christmas.  I caught a bad cold Ė itís cold and raining down here now.

            This camp is built like Camp Forrest, Tenn and was built about the same time 1940.  The barracks are 2 story with shower room, washroom enclosed.  The heating system is hot air heated by natural gas.  This is very much an improvement over living conditions at Camp Markall where the barracks were one story and had 2 coal stoves in them.  It was so cold when we left N.C. one could see his breath 2 feet away from the stove.  The barracks were poorly constructed and very cold to live in. The shower room was in a building a half a block away from the Company and used by the whole Company.

            We are down here to learn training against tanks. There are a number of tank divisions located here and at Camp Claiborne (where Bill Redden & Les Erickson used to be stationed) which isnít so far from here.  We wonít be long in going over but still have 3 to 4 months on this side.

            Iíll miss you all not being home Christmas.  I did so hope that a member of the family could be together Christmas.

            I havenít heard a thing about the car Ė hope they get on the ball Ė Iíd hate to lose everything.  Had a letter from Alberta Ė she said she was sending a box of candy.  Iíll probably get it down here long after Christmas.

            Love                                         Frankie

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Letter sent January 21, 1944               Camp Polk, La.

Thursday

Dear Mom:

            So glad to hear form you. Iíll get an answer back right away so I can get another.

            Iím quite proud of having a brother in the service and mom should be double proud with two sons in.  Iíll write Tom as soon as I can get an address.  I wish mom wouldnít worry so much over me. Do you know dear, I have jumped only 3 times since Iíve been in the 511 and thatís over a year.  Iím not jumping as you think every nite. We probably wonít jump at all down here.  Iím just as scared of jumping now as I was when I first started and I donít jump only when I have to.  Itís that way with most of us.

            They knocked my cold & flu out of me with sulfur pills.  Havenít been able to get to New Orleans. If I get a furlough next month, Iíd like to spend a couple of days down there.

            I was hitch-hiking up from Lake Charles late Sunday after-noon. A Lt from the Armored Corps picked me up.  He turned out to be Alice Wieckís roommate.  Bill Kirby stopped me in town the other day and told me who he was.  He introduced me to his wife who was a Johanson before her marriage. I didnít know her. Heís pretty grown up since I knew the Kirby boys.

            Iíll tell you all about our training if I get a furlough.  We have about a 20 day maneuver coming up around the 1st of Feb.  We may get furloughs after that   We leave our parachutes lay where we land.  Sometimes you bump one another.  Usually about 10 yds apart.  Anymore questions from my sweetest girl??  Riggers take care of our chutes Ė pack them for us.  We get new chutes whenever one fails to open.  No money back guarantee though.

            Saw that prophesy in the paper.  Hope heís right.  Gotta close in a hurry.

            Love to you & dad.                  Frankie

Friday                          Sent Feb. 4, 1944

Dearest Mom:

            Expected to be home on furlough by now but it was cancelled at the last minute.  We move out on maneuvers for a couple of weeks which I dread because it rains down here so much. I sent a locker home full of clothes, &odds & ends. Here is the key to it.  Open it up and get the ďCĒ& ďKĒ rations & ďDĒ rations which Iíll have to eat for 2 weeks.  I wanted you & dad to see them.  I wonít write for a couple of weeks but you can write to me at the same address. 

            Itís almost for sure I wonít go overseas with the 511.  The captain tried to get me transferred out as a physical reject because of my sinus and a bad knew but no soap.  However he told me I would be on an average list at the Point of Embarkation.  I might get sent back to Camp Marshall to start all over again.  Keep your fingers crossed.

            What do you hear from Tom?  I will write him the first chance I get. I hope he likes it. How does my momma feel about a boy in the Navy?

            I think of you & dad often.  I pray you are both well.

            All for now. Iíll write when we get off maneuvers.

            Love to you both                      Frankie

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Birth, childhood, and adolescence Army basic training Now a paratrooper To Italy Southern France Belgium After death