Francis Aloysius Bloom
|Home||Birth, childhood, and adolescence||Army basic training||Now a paratrooper||To Italy||Southern France||Belgium||After death|
14, Sept, 1944
Dearest Mom & Dad,
Iíve just finished v-mail letters to Bunk & Ki. Iíll mail them same time as this one. Iíd like to know how they arrive.
As I said in Bunk and Kiís letters, Iím sitting here in my deluxe fox hole, rocklined, lots of leaves and a few blankets, hoping Jerry doesnít shorten his range of his artillery. As of late, heís been going over our heads or falling short, possibly aiming at others up the line aways. The days go pretty fast but he nights seem long. It rained all day yesterday and all last night, but we were fortunate in getting a hold of a couple pup tents to put over us. Where I am itís pretty cold, both day and night. It looks like more rain now.
Yesterday I saw a paper where it said the Americans were in Germany. Boy! I wish I were there with them. What a pleasure it would be to look into the German peopleís eyes and sneer at them. Iíve sure grown to despise the sight of a German uniform. They have everything from Poles, Russian, Yugoslavs, Checks, Hungarians, Rumanians & Mongols fighting for them. They all claim theyíre forced to fight. I guess a lot of them are but I canít see them forcing me or any other American to fight for them very long. Enough of this kind of talk.
Again and again, I can say so far, Iím a lucky G.I. Hope it holds out a few more months.
I believe I said about all Iíd like is Chocolate bars or candy if you can get it, 127 film, a few candles, and some stationery.
I got a short look at Nice but thatís about all of interest Iíve seen in France so far. The Germans donít leave things dressed up like they found them.
Still havenít been paid since May 31st but I donít need any money. Where I am a million bucks wouldnít do me much good. Iíve only spent $3.00 since landing in France Aug 15th. That was for champagne on my birthday. We had captured a town and three others and myself celebrated the capture of the town, and the birthday with some good French champagne. We took pictures, if I ever get them developed, Iíll have some good shots to send you.
Have been eating pretty good. We trade cigarettes with the natives for fresh spuds, onions, tomatoes and combine them with our rations and we all have become first class cooks. I made breakfast this morning. We had cereal, fried ham & eggs (out of a can) coffee, made in an ammunition can, the cereal was made in my helmet, jam & crackers and some left over spuds. The cereal comes ready cooked, as do the canned ham & eggs. Sometimes, too often I think we go days and only eat once a day; thatís because weíre too occupied with Jerry, the rations are too heavy to carry, or we donít like them and only eat them when we plenty hungry. I got to wash today, the first chance in five days, either no water, or no time. All in all itís a lousy life but Iím still kicking and in the best of health. The owner is yelling for this pen so have to close. I pray you are all well Ė donít worry about me, Iíve a horseshoe around my neck, all momís medals, that bullet stopping mirror and a knack for ducking.
Best of love, Frankie
Anna sent me Air Mail
& it is hard to realize there is a war. I am alone as Alberta & Michael left this morning, we took them to Dav. Jo driving her two & Michael & Mildred Marron who went with her & gripes & gripes & gripes. Urban went last Sunday toÖ(here the letter goes to the next page Ė which is not here).
Aug 23, Climb out of valley to town high on hill. Pass thru on out post now. Cooking dinner, we have eggs, spam (stolen from artillery) onions, tomatoes, crackers, potatoes, peaches taken from country side. Natives giving us wine as we pass. Germans retreating to fast to catch. Native brought us 22 eggs Ė we had bulk bacon Ė bueno! Attacking town tonight. B.Co + HgCo. 400 Germans in town says native. Sweating this one. (St. Vallier). Town taken, no resistance.
Aug 24 Ė Moved up side of Mt. Can see Nice and seashore from here (9am) Scale 2nd mountain today (4 mile to the top), overlooking Gyasse. No chow so far today. Out of smokes. (5pm). 8pm into town Ė 30 km from Nice. People give us wine, grapes, apples and qua, nearly got drunk before we left town. Took us three hours to ge off of Mt. we scaled this afternoon. Machine gun fire up ahead.
Aug 25, 1944 Ė moving on. Now climbing another Mt. Passed thru village, people giving us fruit and wine. 7pm scaled Mt. took us all day. Reached small village. Stole chickens, potatoes, carrots, onions, begged for 2 eggs, a frying pan. Some grease. My supper consisted of fried potatoes, onions, one fired egg and can ďcĒ ration stew, a cup of stew, a leg and back of chicken boiled in a helmet. Coffee boiled in ammunition can. First foot weíve had in 5 days.
Aug 26 Ė Good breakfast, coffee, cereal, milk, sugar, bacon, crackers, jam, butter, fried potatoes. For dinner, fried chicken, cheese, crackers, coffee, boiled vegetables. A band of partisans march out of village to help free the town of Vence. Carrying huge flag of France. Young girls carrying packs, young boys carrying all types of arms. Hiked 5 miles Ė set up road block in regt reserve today. People came around and gave us bread and wine.
Aug 27, 1944. Resting on side of hill today. Big day, had 8 bars chocolate candy. 1 can fruit juice issued Odís, mail came in Ė first in 14 days. 15 miles to Italian border.
Aug 28 Ė Woke up several times during night by shelling up ahead. Issued blankets last night. Fried ourselves potatoes for breakfast. Also had jam, crackers, butter, bacon onions and coffee. Moved up to river Var by truck, Italy just across the river (7pm). Climbed 2000 hill and entered town of Gillette. People clapped and shouted s we entered the town on up another hill.. We can look down into valley 3000 feet below us. My platoon goes into town of Bosun. Germans shelled this town yesterday, none so far today (10am). Mortar fire dropped on end of column yesterday climbing hill. I am now sitting in the 3rd story of a house in this small town. I can look across the valley to the hills where the Germans are. At night we can hear them moving around. Only my platoon in town so . Baby died in town last night soothe whole village is mourning. Received letters from mom, Alberta, Bunk and Geo B. Made me feel good after so long without mail.
Aug 29 Ė On guard in Bosoun today. Slept on old be last nite. Too soft, couldnít sleep. Stole more vegetables and had ourselves a meal. On guard overlooking Var river tonight.
Aug 30 Ė slept in village again last nite. Fried spuds and onions. For breakfast. Dinner, fried spuds, onions, tomatoes and crackers. Moved out of town, down side of 1000 feet hill, crossed river + advanced up valley HMI. No resistance. Now bivouacked in Olive grove with mountains on four sides of us.
Aug 31 Ė cooked cereal, coffee and canned ham and eggs in ammo can. Had crackers and jam also for breakfast (all from 5 in 1 ration). Sam Cash burned dinner so our meal consisted of crackers, canned butter and coffee. Freese stole some coffee so our group had coffee, cheese and crackers for supper.
Sept 1, 1944 Ė we received a report that there is 2700 Germans 14 miles ahead. Weíre alerted, ready to move out. Had breakfast of cereal, coffee, bacon, milk, crackers and jam. Issued our daily pack of cigs an 1 small chocolate bar and 1 stick of gum today.
Sept 2, 1944 Ė Raided garden. Had coffee, bacon, cereal, jam, crackers, sugar + milk for breakfast. Dinner consisted of fried potatoes, onions, corn on cob with slat and butter peas, coffee, crackers and tomatoes. Our planes bombed enemy up ahead. 10 miles to Italian frontier.
Sept. 3 Sunday Ė went to mass, communion in little French church. Priest spoke poco English. After services sang national anthem. Rations today. 1 carton Luckies, chocolate bars, 2 water rolls, 1 stick of gum. Mail today from Ann, mom, Nita, Ki. Had soup for dinner, coffee, buono, soup, pork sausage, coffee for supper.
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Received your letter dated Aug 11th this afternoon. It was swell to hear from you. Iím so pleased Iím hastening an answer. By now you have the last two letters I wrote recently telling you Iím in southern France. In this letter Iíll try and tell you as much as I can about my experiences and how I felt about jumping into enemy territory, so far behind their coastal defenses. Itís safe to say that Iím still going about the grim task but I might add, too, that Iím a very lucky fellow for a fellow in combat. Itís almost dark now, Iíll continue this tomorrow Ė Albertaís birthday.
Received another letter from you this morning. Before I go on Iíll give you dates of your letters and when received and you figure the mail out, I canít. Your letter dated July 31 was received Sept. 2nd. The one dated August 11th received Sept 3rd and the one dated July 15th today the 4th. What do you make of it?
On with my story. We left Italy at blank hours. Of course we were told what to expect etc. I felt sell and not a bit nervous. The plane flight was long. I fell asleep and didnít wake up till someone yelled above the roar of the plane ď20 minutes to goĒ. I wake up and started shaking all over. Then the red light went on signaling 5 minutes to go. We stood up and hooked up and I was as cool as if it were just another jump. Then the green light to go and we moved for the door. I was so loaded down with equipment and what not that it was difficult to walk. A fellow two ahead of me got stuck in the door because he was bulging with ammunition. The fellow in front of me shoved him and fell out on top of him.
Me, I just seem to fall out and I could tell I was falling head- first. I had a hold of my field bag because I had my camera in it and I was afraid the snaps would burst with the opening shock. After falling what seem like an eternity I reached fro my reserve rip cord and then I received that hard, wonderful jerk that straightened me up. There was no firing from below so I knew my plane had come in unspotted. (There was a little flakí over the coast as we came over). I lit hard but OK, which means I didnít break any bones. Before I could get out of my harness, and before I could get my rifle out of the Ďbootí we carry it in when jumping, a shot rang out. It was very dark and my imagination ran wild. I visioned my self with a slit throat before I had a chance to defend myself, like some paratroopers have know to had done to them while they were still in their harness.
I tugged frantically at my reserve and finally got it off. Then I put my rifle together and ducked behind a rack. Someone came running towards me and I challenged him. One of the fellows in my plane. We started looking for the main group and the rest of the company. Daylight came around and still we couldnít find anyone. Day went on and we had to hide because it seemed we had nothing but Germans around us. The crux of it was I spent (3) three days hiding out before a French patriot led me to a town occupied by the paratroopers. Didnít run into many Germans because I really got good at hiding; one whole day was spent in a thorn brush while there was firing all around. Another time some huge shells burst uncomfortably close. Another time a Frenchman was feeding us outside his house and we had to scram when the firing came in our direction. Out side of that my first three days were alright in a Ďsenseí. I donít feel like I did much in the initial phase of the 2nd invasion but Iíve sure had my share of it since and it looks like there is no let up for awhile.
I went to Mass and Communion in this little French village we are holding. At the end of the mass we sand the Star Spangled Banner. The priest spoke a little English and welcomed us in the manner the French do.
These people really hate the Bosthe (sp?) and they do all they can to help us. Theyíre all so well mannered and friendly itís a pleasure to be in their country doing something for them. Iíve told you in other letters how they kiss us, clap and shout when we capture a town. Also how they give out wine by the buckets full.
You ask me what I want. About all I need is a few candles, chocolate candy if you can get it and any 127 film too. We are moving on now. Iíll write again if possible. Love to you all, Frankie.
Sept 4, 1944 Ė coffee, cereal, rice pudding, bacon, crackers + jam. Report ďCĒ company patrol penetrated 2km into Italy. Still in St. Jean Larivere on road block. Moving on. People gave us some of the best wine Iíve ever tasted as a parting gesture. Moved 2 mi out of St Jean La Rievere. Set up (TPL) on road. Sleeping in abandoned munitions cache carved out of solid rock. Freeze made stew tonight + mixed beans with it. Buono. Heading for s-4 to steal more rations. Swiped enough for 10 men, also a pressure cooker.
Sept 5, 1944 Ė received report our forward elements of the platoon in contact with the enemy. On the alert. Fixed up ammunition room. We now have table seats. Use room below for kitchen. There are 5 of us pooling rations. Price, Freeze, VanRigermorten, Neely and myself. Weíre getting rid of Neeley.
Sept 6. Still entrenched in impregnable fortress. Itís a customs house carved our of solid rock. Eating good, on guard from 5am to 6am.
Sept 7, 1944 Moving out 509 Para. The replacing vs. told we attack a position tomorrow at dawn. Upm entrucked. Rode about 2 hours Ė passed thru Nice. Lodged in town 23 km east of Nice. We cooked our rations in a cafť. Sat down at a table and we had real dishes, knives, forks, spoons and a table cloth. We traded cigarettes for potatoes, onions, tomatoes. We also had fried pork sausage, coffee, honey crackers, rice pudding, sugar and cream. We went to the bar after eating and drank good wine and sang songs till 11pm. Slept on floor of town hall.
Sept 8, 1944 Ė Attack postponed until pm. We entrucked at 8am and drove over Mt 5000 ft or more. Reached top after hours climb Ė detrucked. Started hiking down Mts. now on side of Mt. Germans 1000 yds across deep valley. We attack this afternoon. This one isnít bothering me. On O.P. can look into village in the valley and see Germans walking the streets Ė this with the aid of field glasses. Waiting for 1st and 3rd platoon to move up with us. Freeze made a meal for our five on the pressure cooker. Very tasty. Coffee, English stew with crackers and butter mixed coffee, jams, crackers, butter cold tomatoes. 6pm. Move out down mountain trail. Some places we slide 20 ft. straight down. Germans open up on us with machine guns, pinned down, tow men hit. Our mortars know ou their MG. We move on down trail. Pass thru mine field. Dark now. Orders come to withdraw. Climb back up Mt. falling down after some places there are 2 to 300 ft. drop. Finally come to halt, sleep on trail. Very cold. Weíre around 5000í up. Went right to sleep.
Sept 9, 1944 woke up at 7:15 when a German shell hit near us. Drafted as litter bearer, carried wound up Mt. trail 2 mi. what a job. Got rations + had French woman cook them for us. Left Co. just in time. Germans shelled us. Wounded 6 men. On way back down trail now. This is D+ 25 for us. When are we going to get relieved. Went after water + gas. Stumbled and fell 2 mi. back down Mt. trail. Slept on trail. Very cold.
Sept 10, 1944. Moving out. My platoon has a hill to take. If we take it company will move up. We are giving the hill heavy shelling now. This is 2nd try for our objective. My platoon is now moving up hill. German artillery + mortar fire dropping behind us. We pulled out of draw before they got to zero in on us. 11pm, still climbing hill. Shelling has stopped but now our artillery is wizzing continuously over our heads. We are carrying multa ammunitions. Many places on this hill (mt.) are straight up. We have to climb on our hands + knees. First squadís machine gun opened up. We hit the dirt. I climb 10 yds up hill as security for our flank. First squad in fire fight. All small arms fire. Fire ceases. 8 prisoners, we get orders to withdraw. Fall + slide down this damn Mt. climb back up to Co. Completely pooped. Had half can of ďCĒ ration + cup of coffee all day. Roll up in blanket and sleep right off.
Sept. 11. 1944 Ė D+27. Some shelling from our mortars. 12:30 sitting here writing to Nita and Jerry. Started throwing some heavy shells at us. Theyíre falling short. Hope theyíre aim remains bad. Received letter today from mom, Nita dated June 2, 13th, and July 12th. Still being shelled but theyíre falling down the hill from us. 3pm.
7:30pm Heís still throwing a few. Seem to be getting closer. Quiet 10pm. Security guard 11 to 1 am.
Sept. 11 ,l944 (Received Sept 15, 1944)
Dearest Mom & Dad: Today I received two letters. One was dated June 2nd, and one June 12th. You figure that out. Guess they went to Sicily. As of this date, Iím still hard at it. If the Germanís aim doesnít get any better with their shells, Iíll be able to finish this. Yesterday was a particular hard day with some excitement; but Iím still kicking and still a blessed boy. I know your prayers are helping a lot and I havenít forgotten how to pray. In fact, Iíve learned a few new ones. Heard from Tom a few days ago. How is Ki? Iím worried about her. I pray itís nothing serious. Please see that she gets a long rest. I havenít been paid for June, July, August, and of course, Sept. so I havenít been able to send any money home. You ask what Iíd like for Christmas. Guess, chocolate candy, some 127 film, and a few candles is about all I would like. AM sure I wonít be home for Christmas. I just hope they quit by then. I think of you often and pray for you.
Sept. 12, 1944 Ė Woke up 7:am our 81 mm mortars were throwing shells at Jerry down in the Moulinet 2 mi down at the ft of this mt. Town of Sospel to strongly defended to take. No shelling as of 10:am. No shelling as of 7:pm. Moved back up Mt trail to guard our supply lines. Our artillery + mortars hammering Jerry all day. Havenít read a newspaper or heard any news since Sept 4th. Enemy patrol sighted attempting to pierce our positions. Am on guard from 5 to 7 a.m. Jerry threw some shells this way at 8 p.m. Had a good supper of fried spuds, onion, beans, coffee.
Sept 13, 1944 Ė 6 mos. Ago sailed overseas. Jerry throwing some artillery but itís not aimed at this sector. We are throwing plenty at him. 3rd platoon out on patrol. Raining now. Just some shelling Ė none coming near our platoon still raining. On guard 2:30am to 4:30am
Sept 14, 1944 Ė D+30.31 days on the line. Jerry threw some shells just over our heads as I was preparing breakfast for our fire group. Town a mile back of us shelled. Quiet now. 1pm raining has stopped.
September 14, 1944 (received September 17, 1944).
Dearest Mom & Dad,
Iíve just finished v-mail letters to Bunk and Ki. Iíll mail them, same time as this one. Iíd like to know how they arrive.
As I said in Bunk and Kiís letters, Iím sitting here in my deluxe foxhole, rock-lined, lots of leaves and a few blankets, hoping Jerry doesnít shorten his range of his artillery. As of late, heís been going over our heads or falling short, possibly aiming at others up the line aways. The days go pretty fast but the nights seem long. It rained all day yesterday and all last night, but we were fortunate in getting a hold of a couple of pup tents to put over us. Where I am its pretty cold, both day and night. It looks like more rain now.
Yesterday, I saw a paper where it said the Americans were in Germany. Boy! I wish I was there with them. What a pleasure it would be to look into the German peopleís eyes and sneer at them. Iíve sure gown to despise the sight of a German uniform. They have everything from Poles, Russians, Yogoslavs, Chechs, Hungarians, Rumanians & Mongols fighting for them. They all claim theyíre forced to fight. I guess a lot of them are but I canít see them forcing me or any other American to fight for them very long. Enough of this kind of talk.
Again and again, I can say so far, Iím a lucky G.I. Hope it hold out for a few more months.
I believe I said about all Iíd like is chocolate bars or candy if you can get it, 127 film, a few candles, and some stationery.
I got a short look at Nice but thatís about all of interest Iíve seen in France so far. The Germans donít leave things dressed up like they found them.
Still havenít been paid since May 31st but I donít need any money. Where I am a million bucks wouldnít do me much good. Iíve only spent $3.00 since landing in France Aug. 15th. That was for champagne on my birthday. We had captured a town and three others and myself celebrated the capture of the town, and the birthday with some good French Champagne. We took pictures, if I ever get them developed, Iíll have some good shots to send you.
Have been eating pretty good. We trade cigarettes with the natives for fresh spuds, onions, tomatoes and combine them with our rations and we all have become first class cooks. I made breakfast this morning. We had cereal, fried ham & eggs (out of a can), coffee, made in an ammunition can, the cereal was made in my helmet, jam & crackers and some left over spuds. The cereal comes ready cooked as do the canned ham & eggs. Sometimes, too often I think, we go days and only eat once a day; thatís because weíre too occupied with Jerry. The rations are too heavy to carry, or we donít like them and only eat them when we get plenty hungry. I got to wash today, the first chance in five days, either no water, or no time. All in all itís a lousy life but Iím still kicking and in the best of health. The owner is yelling for this pen, so have to close. I pray you are all well Ė donít worry about me, Iíve a horseshoe around my neck, all momís medals, that bullet stopping mirror and a knack for ducking. Best of love, Frankie
Anna sent me Airmail stamps. All mine are with my barracks bag in the rear.
Sept. 15, 1944 Ė only one shell lobbed around here today. Very quiet. Sitting around cooking + eating. Stole extra rations. Rained last nite. On guard from 2:30am to 4:30. Really have a deluxe foxhole.
Sept. 16, 1944 Ė Getting ready to move back to Piera Caua (1 mi). Moved into town. Quartered in trench barracks. Had good chow, spuds, friend corn beef, cheese, melted on crackers + Coffee.
Sept. 17, 1944 Ė Had pancakes for breakfast, cereal, coffee. 6 Germans captured. 4 killed by our O.P. (outpost). We move to OP tomorrow. Caught ride to Nice. Spent 5 hours there. No food in town. Many street walkers. Drank too much vermouth.
Sept. 18, 1944 Ė Packing to leave for outpost. Sweating this one out for some reason. On OP raining still. We can look down into village of Molinet + see Germans moving. WE call for artillery fire on them. Had 2 slices of white bread this morning. First time 35 days. Sold can of sausage for $6.00.
Sept. 19, 1944 Ė Rained day + night very cold. Weíre up 1500 meters. Dug in. Shelling Germans down in valley in village of Molinet.
Sept. 20, 1944 Ė Snow on peaks around us. Can see Med. Sea very plain now. About 10km south of us. Hiked back mt. trail this morning after food and water. 3 mi to where mules stop with supplies. Moving back to Pleya Cava 2:pm Slept in French quarters. Ltrs. From mom, Nita.
Sept. 21, 1944 Ė moved by truck to sector near Sospel. Under German mortar fire. Sleeping in dugout on side of mt. Shelled all night but his dugout is almost bombproof.
September 21, 1944 (received by Florence on Oct. 7, 1944).
Received a letter from you today dated Aug 24th. Before I had the chance to mail the first part of this letter, your letter came so Iíll answer here in. I note at the 26th you didnít know I was in France. By now you must know. Yes, weíre here and weíre still quarrelling with the Germans. Yes, Iím at the ďfrontĒ and have been since we jumped on Southern France. I guess itís been 26 or 37 days now; Iíve lost track of days and dates. Sunday went by and I never knew it. Theyíre all the same here. A foxhole is a foxhole and weíve not place to hang calendars. Tonite Iím sleeping on a steel cot. Iíve placed cardboard over the springs and one blanket. Iíll hvae a roof over my head but itís stopped raining so no need for a roof. It snowed in certain spots around here but none near me. Where Iíll be tomorrow only the High Command & the Almighty know.
Gee your garden sounds good Ė The French raise about the same as we do. I know because Iíve raided plenty of them to supplement our rations. Mom, call up Pauline OíHein first tell her I said Ďhelloí and also ask her for Mikeís address. I know Iím not anywhere near him but if they ever take me off this front Iím going to travel over France and whatever part of Germany I can.
I dream of the day when this over and I can come home. Itís going on seven months overseas now. Iíve fought, not served in two campaigns now, Italian and French. Now Iím sweating out the Japs. Itís 3 years and 6 months in the Army. Thatís a lot under my belt. Iím tired of it all. Anymore after this is over here, would be almost too much. Iím not afraid of combat in a sense,(Iíd never volunteer for it), as I dread any more time in the Army. Iím going on 26 now and Ií still want to finish college.
Well, enough moaning for one letter, Iím in the best of health and eating ok. I just finished a letter to Anna. All for now. Best of everything to the bestíst Mom & Dad. Love Frankie.
(Included in this letter was the following letter)
Sept 19, 1944 Dearest Mom & Dad,
Just a few lines today to let you Iím still ok.
Where I am now, itsí as cold as it is around November, December at home. We all have four to sex blankets at night. Itís been raining off and on for several days now, adding to the miserablness of this life.
Havenít had any excitement now for awhile. Our artillery is going over our heads day and night. The Germans really take a beating from our artillery. Of course, they have theirs to throw at us but the Americans throw 10 to 20 shells for every one they throw at us.
Havenít been paid as yet Ė should have a nice paycheck whenever it arrives.
Today was a memorable day. We had bread for the first time in 35 days. Yes sir! Two slices for breakfast. Weíve been getting crackers in place of bread. For breakfast we had coffee which we made in my helmet, cereal, cooked in an ammunition can, bacon, friend in a mess gear, jam cream & sugar. We ate out of tin cans (something weíve done since landing) but it all tasted deliciousÖ
Heard paratroopers dropped in Holland, wish I were there with them.
This is about all for now. Iíll write again first chance. Please take good care of yourselves. Hello to Shorty! Love Frankie.
21, Sept 44 Received Oct. 7, Ď44
Received a letter from you dated Aug 24th. Before I had the chance to mail the first part of this letter, you letter came so Iíll answer here in. I note at the 26th you didnít know I was in France. By now you must know. Yes weíre here, and weíre still quarrelling with the Germans. Yes, Iím at the Ďfrontí and have been since we jumped on Southern France. I guess itís been 36 or 37 days now; Iíve lost track of the days and dates. Sunday went by and I never knew it. Theyíre all the same here. A foxhole is a foxhole and weíve no place to hang calendars. Tonite Iím sleeping on a steel cot. Iíve place cardboard over the springs and one blanket. Iíll have a roof over my head but itís stopped raining so no need for a roof. It snowed in certain spots around here but none near me. Where Iíll be tomorrow only the High Command & the Almighty know.
Gee your garden sounds good. The French raise about the same as we do. I know because I have raided plenty of them to supplement our rations.
Mom, call up Pauline OíHein first tell her I said Ďhelloí and also ask her for Mikesí address. I know Iím not anywhereís near him but if they ever take me off this front, Iím going to travel over France and whatever part of Germany I can. I dream of the day when this is over and I can come home. Itís going on seven months overseas now. Iíve fought, not served in two campaigns now, Italian & French. Now Iím sweating out the Japs. Itís 3 years and 6 months in the Army. Thatís a lot under my belt. Iím tired of it all Ė anymore after this is over here, would be too much. Iím not afraid of combat in a sense (Iíd never volunteer for it) as I dread anymore time in this Army. Iím going on 26 now, and I still want to finish college.
Well, enough moaning for one letter, Iím in the best of health and eating ok. I just finished a letter to Anna. All for now. Best of Everyting to the best Mom & Dad
(The following letter was included in the Sept. 21st letter)
Sept 19, 1944.
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Just a few lines to let you Iím still ok. Where I am now, itís as cold as it is around November, December at home. We all have four to six blankets at night. Itís been raining off and on for several days now, adding to the miserableness of this life.
Havenít had any excitement now for awhile. Our artillery is going over our heads day & night. The Germans really take a beating from our artillery. Of course, they have theirs to throw at us but the Americans throw 10 to 20 shells for every one they throw at us.
Havenít been paid as yet Ė should have a nice pay check whenever it arrives.
Today was a memorable day. We had bread for the first time in 35 days. Yes sir! Two slices for breakfast. Weíve been getting crackers in place of bread. For breakfast we had coffee which we made in my helmet, cereal, cooked in an ammunition can, bacon, fried in a mess gear. Jam, cream & sugar. WE ate out of tin cans (something weíve done since landing) but it all tasted deliciousÖ)
Heard paratroopers dropped in Holland, wish I were there with them.
This is about all for now, Iíll write again first chance. Please take good care of yourselves. Hello to Shorty!
Sept. 22, 1944 Ė Shelling this morning. Small arms fire at crest of hill. First platoon out on nite patrol. Run into German patrol. Kill 3 Germans, we suffered no losses.
Sept. 23, 1944 Ė Sporadic mortar fire. Rumors we have to go tonight on patrol. Still in bomb shelter. On guard from 4 to 5 am. Our 4-2 mortars are laying it on Jerry 3:pm Yep! On patrol tonight Ė we are heavily armed. How many of us will come back? 6pm blackened our faces, hands, move out through ďHĒ Co outposts. 10:pm flares up. Mortar fire dropping around us, more flares + mortar fire. After 3 hours of this we climb back up hill. ďAĒ Co. guard throws hand grenade in our midst. We hit the ground. No one hurt. Back in dugout 3.am
Sept. 24, 1944 Ė Jerry throws 12 rounds mortar fire at us 10:am. No ltrs for 5 days now. We hear rumors weíre going to states + then to So. Pacific. No more activity. 3rd platoon on patrol tonight.
Sept. 25, 1944 Ė 3rd platoon back from patrol. Killed a few Germans + withdrew. Still in shellproof shelter. Jerry threw some shells this am.
Sept. 26, 1944 Ė shell hit 100 yds to the right of us. Mortar shells hit 25 yds above us. Moved up 300 yds can look down in Sospel 7km away. Jerryís big guns are just across valley. I hear them boom + then I duck. A second later they crash + shake the earth. I have hit my fox hole twice since I wrote the above four lines. The two dead germans lying 50 yds over are still unburied. To hell with Ďem. On guard 10 to 12 pm.
Sept. 27, 1944 Ė Moved into ďAĒ Co. position. On outpost 12 to 7pm. In a foxhole which we have logs + dirt over half of it. We have sandbags + large rocks around other half. I am now 300 to 500 yds in front of our lines. This is almost ďno mans landí nearly every tree is cut by shrapnel. Many 12Ē in diameter cut in half by shell fire. Branches nearly all off. Now our artillery going overhead. Jerry going over too into our lines. Machine guns opened up down in draw signing off 2:30pm. Shells dropping around us now. Iím really staying in my foxhole. Two ďAĒ Co. boys killed by direct hit in foxhole yesterday. One man ďBĒ Co. today (4:30 pm entries). 15 shells dropped around us in (1) one minute. They shake the whole earth. That stuff makes me nervous. 6pm havenít eaten today. 7pm back to lines. Had chow. Crawled in log-lined dugout to sleep. Called out at 9pm Germans reported to be counter-attacking. Shells fell over but luckily no one hit as yet. Machine guns + everything going off by our outposts. Our mortars are going full blast. Quiet now back to dugout. Midnight Ė called out again. Germans attacking again. Much shelling but very little in this 100 yd section. Germans hitting 3rd platoon area repelled. 1:am back to dugout and precious sleep.
Sept. 28, 1944 Ė Occasional shells in our sector. Remaining in dugout. On guard from 7pm to 7am on outpost. Outpost 11:pm. Hand grenade thrown shrapnel. Peirced Freeseís helmet which was on sandbag of foxhole. Germans can be heard moving around in the darkness but no attack developed. We called for mortar fire once to keep them at a distance.
September 28, 44 (received Oct 9, 44)
Dearest Mom & Dad,
Received a letter from you today dated Sept. 5th. Thatís the first word Iíve had since your letter dated Aug. 18th. That goes with everybody. Guess I havenít heard from anybody for ten days or more. All of which is very discouraging in view of the kind of life I have been leading especially of late. The Aug. 3rd issue of the Observer arrived today. In it was my letter I wrote you about visiting Rome, seeing the Pope etc. Sort of surprised me to see it in print. The one I wrote you of the So. France invasion, that is, the part I played and my experiences is fit for print. We all have experienced so much since those first few days that I feel right now as if that wasnít much. But at the time it was life and death affair.
It is permissible to tell you Iím at the front, as I have been since dropping last month. Life here is pretty much routine with shells and small arms fire to add excitement to the days (and nights). Itís all very grim though and thereís always some of us that get melencholy (spelling?) and believe weíre next to get it. Iíve reached the point whenever I hear a buzzing noise I instinctively duck. Even clothes brushing against brush makes me stop and cock my head. I have on the same clothes I jumped with. I have been able to wash them twice. I last had a haircut something like 30 days ago. Last nite first time in over 24 hours; Iíve lain in positions and shook from cold for long, long stretches at a time. Iíve seated til my clothes were dripping wet and Iíve gone days without having enough water to wahs even my hands. These and many more small things add to the miserablness of this life. Donít get me wrong, Iím not complaining. I just put down a few of the many small things we undergo. First, those of us that havenít Ďgot ití are just plain happy to be alive. Second if we can keep warm and dry thatís enough. Lastly, fill our bellies and with all three we can undergo almost anything. We always have plenty of ammunition and if itís humanly possible we get the other luxuries of life. Itís just at times we find ourselves in positions where there is nothing to be done but pray and keep the gun ready. I wish I knew when those _______ are going to quit.
Well enough about the war. Iím in the pink of health. Iíve got a deluxe foxhole, Iím about to heat up some canned stew and a letter from home so that makes it just about a perfect day.
Thatís really funny stationery for you mom.
Donít believe Iíll get to see many of these places you mention mom, Jerry insists on warring so I canít get away. However, I did spend about 4 hours in Nice recently. It was a Sunday ad everything was closed. There were three of us and we attracted considerable attention with our battle worn clothing and shaggy look. The stores seemed to have quite a stock, especially in cosmetics.
I was paid $50.00 partial payment the other day. If I get a relief Iíll try and spend some of it. Maybe I can find something for mom, Ki and Anna. Had a letter from Alberta about a week ago. I think Iíll have a chance to answer her tomorrow.
Well as I said Iíve got some canned stew to fix for supper so must get busy before itís dark.
Iím sure your prayers are helping. For now, bye. Iíll write again first chance.
Hello Bunk! All my love, Frankie
Sept 29, 1944 Ė in dugout. Occasional shelling today. 8:pm Germans throwing quite a few shells ___ machine guns from our outposts are chattering now. Guard 3. to 4.am 9pm Germans lay down. Terrible barrage. They threw everything from 170 mm shells to 50mm mortars. 1st squads dugout hit. 2 men slightly hurt. Barrage end 15 minutes later quiet in this sector for the remainder of the night. ďCĒ Co. sector being shelled + machine guns are chattering from their O.P.
Sept. 30, 1944 Ė Quiet in our sector on outpost from 7:pm to 7:am. German plane flew over Ė flares dropped Ė no bombs.
Oct. 1, 1944 Ė Jerry threw shells at us this am. 7pm Jerry throwing barrage. Hit mine + Freezeís foxhole with 88 shell. Neeley wounded. We left foxhole 7am and were back to our lines. Go back to foxhole 7:am tomorrow.
Sunday, Oct. 1st, 1944 So France
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Just a v-mail to night. Havenít heard from you since your letter of Sept. 5th. Life for me hasnít changed since I last wrote you. This was a nice day, the weather I mean. However, it being Sunday didnít make any difference to Jerry. He threw just as many shells as any other day. I spend the day in my dugout or foxhole hoping none would fall in with me. None did! Iíve had some close calls but as I told Anna, in a letter to her, who here hasnít. To say we love underground life is an understatement. Sweet, lovable terra-firma. Mom, almost every day I find myself in a situation where there is nothing that I can do but pray so donít worry that Iíve forgotten how to pray; and Iím not alone. Hope you can find some 127 for me. A fellow who is off the front for a few days is having some shots developed for me. Iíll be sure and send you some. Iíll write again first chance. All my love, Frankie. Hey there Bunk!
Oct. 2, 1944 Ė On outpost 7:am to 12. Quiet so far 11:am On outpost from 7pm to 7am. Quiet day in our sector.
Oct. 3, 1944 Ė Jerry threw two shells at us while we were eating breakfast. Scared hell out of me is all. On outpost from 11:am to 3pm quiet Ė few shells + theyíre landing near 1st squad OP. Quiet rest of day.
Oct. 4, 1944 Ė Jerry threw a few flat trajectories this morning. We hit our dugouts. Quiet now. Report in that Germans received reinforcements at Sospel. On OP tonite at 7pm til 7pm tomorrow. Rained all night. Slept in watery foxhole. On guard from 11:pm to 1:am + from 5:am to 7:am.
Oct. 5, 1944 Ė Cold + rainy. Snow on all the mts around us. Very cold. Back to main lines Hot food cooked on mr. Cooker Ė sleep back to OP at 3pm. Sunís out. Can see Sospel plainly. Jerry throwing heavy artillery into SS troops on our right flank. Rumor still around that weíre going to So. Pacific. Heard from ďKitchĒ that Grewell was killed.
Oct. 6, 1944 Ė Raining like hell. We are soaked thru + thru. Moved back to village of Toulet Ė in Regt Reserve. Housed in French home. Iím sleeping on real bed. Have dishes, silverware + stove to cook on. Also electric light.
Oct. 7, 1944 Ė Still in Toulet Ė in Regt Reserve Ė platoon going to Nice. Iím staying + going Monday. Flash Ė had steak tonight. First fresh beef since July. We friend onions, mashed spuds, cream corn, coffee, still raining.
Oct. 8, 1944 Ė Platoon to Nice for the day Ė I stayed back to guard equipment. Anglois came in this morning + cooked breakfast for Finney and me. She washed the dishes, mopped the floor + made the bed. A woman is ok to have around. She is cooking dinner now. We have fried spuds, onions, roast beef, lima beans, corn + French bread, jam + butter. She does the dishes. Finney + I decided she could eat with us. She is going to dance. We told her to return at 6 to cook supper. She did. I have a headache. Sheís putting scrapings from potatoes ona wet hankie on my forehead, a wet towel with salt, a stocking full of hot coals around my neck, also hot grease. It worked. Went to native dance.
October 8, 1944 (received October 20, 1944)
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Just a v-mail to let you know that Iím still O.K. and able to be up and around. Right now Iím in 2nd heaven. Sleeping in a soft bed, a pretty French gal to cook our rations eating off of real plates from a real table and using civilization silverware. It has been raining for days now. I was just getting on to sleeping in a foxhole half submerged in water when this sudden change took place. Now Iíll have to get used (wrong word to use there Ė Iíll never get used to it) on to it all over again. However, Iím still kicking and a fellow can get a lot out of the fact heís one of the boys still around. Had a letter from Ki and a July issue of the Observer this past week. No mail from either of you for nigh on two weeks. Still canít forecast the end of this mess. We sort of shun optimism here Ė too many disappointments. Iíll probably get to see Tommy around Christmas. All for now. All my love, Frankie. [Your last letter dated Sept 5th, I believe]
Oct. 9, 1944- Into Nice. Drank nothing bu dry Gin, Scotch, Brandy $1.50 a drink. Bought Nita a ring! Took bath at hotel. First since we left Rome, Aug 11th. Water ice cold. They have hot water on Sundays + Thursdays only cost 50 cents. Went to nite club but stayed at bar because of 2 weeks growth of beard.
Oct. 10, 1944 Ė back to front. Took over ďCĒ Co position quartered in barn. On OP tomorrow. Raining again.
Oct. 11, 1944 Ė Still on line. Dug in on OP 7pm to 7am. From my foxhole I can look across valley to huge German fort. Our 155mm artillery is scoring direct hits but theyíre having no effect at all. Quiet during night.
Oct 23, 1944
Dearest Mom &Dad:
Just a few lines to night before I hit the hay. Received your letter dated Oct 11th on the 20th which is pretty good. Also received Bunks the same day. Today I received a v mail from Anna dated Oct. 13th
Iím enclosing some snap shots of myself and also of a friend of mine taken in Rome last August. Theyíre not good so you can throw them away if you wish or save the one of Duff Matson & myself for a souvenir. I had my picture taken in Nice recently with my 30 day red beard. They came out pretty good. I hope youíll like them. Iíll mail them in a few days. I sent a large piece of parachute to you today. It was one of the thousands dotting So France after the invasion. It will be a nice souvenir. Do with it what you will. If you donít care to, save it for me.
Iím awfully sorry I didnít remember yours and Dads birthday by you know us dids never were let in on your birthday dates.
Iíve just returned after a couple of days in Nice. I had an excellent rest. It was a thrill of a lifetime to sleep in a real bed with white sheets, get in a bath tub and soak and soak in hot water and eat from a table. Iíd forgotten such luxuries existed.
While there I ran into my good friend Duff Matson. I ran into him in Rome once and this is the first time since landing in France. He took me up to his girl friends home where I met her and her mother. Her father was in Paris so I didnít get to meet him. He is the banker of Monte Carlo. Duff knew this girl and her folds at his home in Miami, Fla. She went to the same private school Duff went to. Now heís thinking of marrying her after the war. They have a beautiful spacious apartment. The furniture and home is all done in Louis XIV style except the studio which was of modern design. She is a very beautiful woman and doesnít look a day over 25. Her daughter is very pretty and is sweet 17. I know I made a hit (and I tried to) with them as she insisted I call her Yavanne (and that isnít done in France) and Iíd been addressing her as Madam. I was loose with praise for her and her home but I was sincere and I believe thatís why I went over OK. She served us English scotch, Brandy, Gin, Rosa Wine, Cognac and Vermouth. I enjoyed myself immensely, so much I missed my bus back to my hotel.
Our regiment has a hotel there for us. We get a room, bath and two meals a day at no cost to us. Itís a haven for battle weary troopers. We get to spend two days there when our turn comes up. Itís really a wonderful thing and something to look forward to.
I didnít mean to worry you about my life at the front. I believe I can take anything, mom, and so far I have. We have nice warm overshoes now, also lots of blankets and warm clothes. Itís just when it rains that there isnít much one can do about it at times and October is the rainy month here. As for being close, mom Iíve been pretty near Jerry for 70 days now and right now Iím a healthy pig. Maybe your prayers will be answered soon. I expect to see Tommy before his birthday. Mom, you didnít enclose Mike OíHearns address.
Thanks so much for the boxes. Iíll write you the day they arrive.
No, mom Iím not near where Dadís mother was raised. Guess again! No mom, you didnít enclose any clippings about Aucken.
For supper tonight I had six big pork chops heaps and heaps of French fired spuds, peas, string beans, fresh bread, butter and coffee. We had a French woman cook it for us in a little village. I love to eat like that. Wish we could do that more often. Iíve taken some more and I know better snapshots which Iíll send as soon as I get them. All for now, if you can send me a few Air Mail stamps, swell.
All my love Frankie
Oct 12, 1944 Ė Off OP 7am. On patrol at 10:30 tonite. Didnít pull patrol. On OP guard 3 to 4am. Raining.
Oct. 13, 1944 Ė Raining hard still. On OP 12 to 7 quiet Ė still raining.
Oct. 14 Ė raining still Ė on OP from 7 to 12. Lots of activity on Jerryís side. Trucks can be heard continually Ė hope heís pulling out. Sun shining (10:am) peaks across from us glisten in the sun Ė snow half way down pwaks now. Our artillery is laying it on heavy now. Jerry is replying. From my foxhole I can see plainly Jerry huge Jerry fort. S.S. patrol back from Sospel.
October 14, 1944
Havenít heard from you for well on three weeks now. Iím blaming the Army Postal service Ė letís hope Iím right. The same condition exists with a gal I correspond with from Louisiana. She used to write every other day and now itís three weeks since Iíve heard from her. The same holds true with the rest of the fellows.
Iím enclosing a few snapshots. Theyíre not so good as I didnít know the camera range. The next group will be better. I sent some to Anna and a couple to the gal in Louisiana.
This is D+60 for us which means a total of 61days on the line for us. I believe thatís some kind of record for parachute troops. However, the particular spot I find myself in now isnít as hot as I have been in so Iím not complaining. And too, I spent a day in Nice recently and it was a welcome break from this life. To be able to move about without stopping, cocking my head and then hitting the ground or skinning my shins and hands up diving into a hole was a great relief. I hope to visit there again soon. The day I was there was a Monday and everything was closed except the bars. In fact I took a cold shower in a hotel because they only have gas on Sundays an Thursdays. Monday is the day everything closes there instead of Sunday. That was my first complete bath since August 10th. I bathed out of my helmet twice since I landed and in August I took one in the River Var.
Itís been raining off and on now since the first of the month. Today the sun came out but now the clouds are settling in which means more rain. Too often Iíve been sleeping in water and mud.
This morning I saw a beautiful sight Ė snow-capped mountains sparkling in the sun. Snow has been common here but sun and snow hasnít. This is beautiful country but to fight in its anything but that.
Had a letter from Anna dated the 30th of September which I received on the 12th of this month. She told me Ki was visiting A in Ann Arbor. Iím glad to hear sheís improved. I suppose by now, mom, youíre doing some fall house cleaning. Wish I was there to help. Howís our star coming along with his studies and in foot ball? Gosh how I wish I were there to watch him play.
I will look for Tommy when I get his neck of the woods. What you heard from him lately?
From all reports, Jo is really a working gal.
I have about a 20 day beard on my face Ė you wouldnít recognize me. Iím going to have a picture taken with it and then get it shaved off. Oh yes, mom, the darn things red. I donít understand that.
Hope you have been able to secure some 127 film. I lost my duffel bag and one barracks bag Ė or rather someone got their hands on them while was up front. Everything I owned was in them and now all I have is what I carry on my back. In these bags were photographs I had taken in Rome, Army papers I treasured, foreign coins Iíd been collecting, a little note book I valued highly, saving set, boots, all my clothes and, well just about everything including souvenirs Iíd been picking upÖBoy that hurt!
Dad tell Dick and Herman I said Ďhelloí also Johnny Drew. I sure dream of the days I used to loaf in their places. And mom, when you see Mrs. Kelly tell her thanks for those prayers theyíre doing me good.
Thatís about all for now. I pray every nite that God keep care of you for me.
All my love, Frankie
How about some Air Mail stamps? Almost impossible for me to get them now.
Oct. 15 Ė Sun shining - quiet day. On OP 6pm to 6 am tomorrow. 10pm can hear Jerry moving around in valley. Call for mortar fire. Raining 3am. No more activity.
Oct. 16. Raining Ė rash reported missing from OP went back to OP after blankets and never returned. On patrol 10:30pm, still raining. Midnight.
Oct. 17, 1944 Ė D + 63. Sun shining. Peaks with snow are beautiful. On OP 7pm to 7am. Hectic night. We could hear Jerry patrols trying to infiltrate. We called for mortar fire till 3am. Quiet from 3am on. Slept 4 to6 am. Rash still missing, believed captured from his OP. Machine gunned our OP.
Oct. 18, 1944 Ė SS troops to our right flank report they were hit by Jerry patrols 5 times last night. Our mortars firing often today. 5pm Jerry threw in a terrific barrage. 3rd Plt CP hit Ė no one in it. Machine gun fire hitting our OP. Flying bathtubs thrown at us. One lit 50 yds from No.2 OP made a hole 4 feet wide nad 2 ft deep in solid rock. Strong wind blowing + rain started 9pm.
October 18, 1944 (postmarked October 21, 1944).
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Received letter from mom yesterday dated Sept 15th. Also one from Alberta. First I have heard from you since September 20th. Doní know whatís wrong with the mail. You donít seem to be getting mine.
Glad to hear the booklets finally got there. Not much chance of seeing Paris Ė canít fight a war and visit France too.
Going through your letter, be sure and tell me how Bunk came out on his first foot ball game. I do hope he got to play.
About being home for Christmas, letís bank on it.
About all I would like is eats. Choclate candy is NO 1 on the list. Film 127 also. Iíve sent you a few snapshots and I may get to spend a couple of days in Nice an Iíll have a couple more rolls developed. We are issued cigarettes daily as well as being able to buy a carton every so often. We are issued shaving equipment, soap, tooth paste, razor blades, gum and hard candy like Charms and life savers. Weíre all fed up with hard candy. So you see we get just about everything except choclate candy. The last time I tasted choclate candy was early after we landed in France. In Italy, except when we were in combat, I had a CocoCola about once a week but of course, itís unknown here at the front. Stationery is something I need ad any air mail stamps you can spare. I lost everything when my bags were stolen. I had stationery and about $3.00 in air mail stamps in it. Now itís next to impossible to get them. Thanks for sending the package. Iíll write as soon as they arrive.
Last night was a hectic night. I could hear Jerry moving around but of course, couldnít see him. I finally got to sleep at 4:30 and up at 6.AM. What a pleasant way to spend a night. However, Iím going to try and catch up on sleep today. Hope you can read this Ė my knee is a poor desk.
Life remains the same here. Right now Iím in a pretty good spot. No shells too near for comfort today. Jerry has a shell we call the flying bathtub. It sounds like a bathtub flying through the air end over end and when it lands, Iím surprised one of these hills are not leveled off. You can imagine how a mere mortal feels crouched in a hole in the ground. That hole seems to be awful big at the top. Rain adds to the beauty of things around here. Snow is visible on the peaks when the clouds are high in the sky.
I have a beard on my face Ė itís been growing since September 20th. Itís pretty heavy now and as I told you itís dark red. Iím going to have my picture taken with it and send it to you if itís OK.
We have been cooking our own rations since around the last of August. (There is a line scratched out here Ė probably by the inspector). They are supplemented now by bread everyday. (A loaf a day for 5 men) and just lately beef every three or four days. We cook the stuff in helmets, ammunition or anything we have at hand. The rations are called 10 in 1. Ten rations for ten men for one day. We cook in groups of five men. There are five different rations numbered 1 2 3 4 and 5 and we get a different ration about every day. All in all it isnít and for awhile we used to raid gardens for spuds and fresh vegetables. However, where I am now, one couldnít grow a decent weed.
The trees around here are cut to pieces by shapnel. Reminds me of war torn scenes Iíve seen in the movies.
I hope to run across Tommy before too long.
It doesnít look like Adolph is going to let his boys quit for awhile. This is sixty-five straight days for us. And they talk of the war ending soon. Too often Iím just happy to see the daylight of the next day.
Tell Bunk Iím depending on him to be the star of the family. Has he received my last letter?
I sincerely hope this finds you enjoying the best.
All my love, Frankie
Oct 19, 1944 Ė Woke up by machine gun fire from our OPís. 11:am quiet. No OP tonight. Nothing doing all night. I reported movement to my left flank. 4:am. All quiet.
Oct. 20, 1944 Ė Into Nice 2 day pass. Got haircut first in 35 days. Had my beard trimmed. Had picture taken. Saw Duff.
Oct. 21, Slept Sit Pir Hotel. Up to ABTF to see Duff. Visited his girlfriend + folks here in Nice. Had a nice rest.
Oct. 22 Ė Back to VET. Co. is in Regt. Reserve. Shells landing around village. Saw many of bunch I knew in Sicily (ABTC) who are joining 517th as replacements. Letters from mom, Bunk, Nita + Anna.
Oct. 23 Ė Resting in Touet. Here for four days visiting old firend from Sicily that are with us now. Had 6 pork chops, French fried potatoes, beans, peas, fresh butter, bread + coffee for supper tonight. French woman cooked for us + we ate at her house. My platoon into Nice tomorrow.
Oct. 24, 1944 Ė In Nice with platoon. Got arrested, half-tight + missed a good fight. Missted truck back to Touet, slept in town.
Oct. 25, 1944 Ė Net lovely babe just walking around Nice. Back to Touet. Jerry shells hitting nearby.
Oct. 26 Ė Back to line. Near Col. Le Brau. Mortar shelling. In shell proof shelter.
Oct. 27 on OP 24 hrs. Quiet. 1st platoon blous up Jerry Amno dump 800 yds down from us.
Oct. 28, 1944 Ė White flag flying from Sospel. Moving into Sospel 1:30pm Loaded down with amno, took us 8 hours to get down off our position on Mt. Passed a number of dead Jerries along road. Enter Sospel. 12 midnight sleep in hotel on cold floor. No blankets.
Oct. 29, 1944 Ė Move out in heavy rain. On road block one mile out of Sospel. On guard 11 to 1am. Still raining. Jerry shelling Sospel. Slept on floor of shelled house. Chow hasnít reached us.
Oct. 30, 1944 Ė Snow all around us. On our positions we left Colde Bravs. Chow came in this morning. First platoon came by tonight. Had one Jerry prisoner better dressed than most. On ambush patrol tomorrow at 6 am (Bar man). My platoon contacted Jerries this morning but no prisoners. Had 1 inch steak, fried onions, mashed spuds, cream peas, fresh butter, bread, coffee, jam.
Oct. 31, 1944 Ė Moved out at 6:am. My squad only Ö10:am on side of Mt. concealed waiting for Jerries. No sign of them yet. This is a perfect spot for ambush. Pulled out 2pm. No luck. Letters from mom, Ki, Alberta, Geo B + cablegram from Nita.
31, October Received Nov. 11 Ė 44
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Received your letter today dated Oct 14, which is pretty good. Also received Kiís today same date. There was one from Alberta too. Also one from my boss in Chicago and a cable gram froma my girl in Texas saying she was worried about me. How about that, eh. It was a banner day for me and really made me feel good. Letters from home are the only touch I have with civilization in my every day life. Itís really swell to get mail.
Am enclosing a few snapshots. Iíll have more later and I hope better ones. IĎve made a few comments on the back of them so Iíll not elaborate any more on them in this letter.
Iím surprised at you publishing my letters Ė guess itís alright but I didnít suspect they were printable. Iím anxiously looking forward to your boxes. So many are getting them now and Iím in on almost everyones box so I hope I can repay them. It is a lot of trouble and I appreciate it no end.
I havenít heard from Tommy for some time now but I expect weíll be crossing paths soon. Give me Albertaís address over here again, as I expect to see her next month. Iím dying to see her in a WAC uniform.
You mention you hoped Iíd be able to spend Christmas in a nice place Ė I have a hunch I will spend it in a nice place. Thanks for Franks address Ė I saw a clipping that he was in Paris. Iíd sure like to see him. Also saw a clipping say8ing Bill Rands was killed action. He used to be No 1 bad boy of the town but heís No 1 hero in Uncle Samís eyes.
We are getting good chow here at this front. Last night we had steaks an inch thick, mashed spuds, fried onions, buttered peas, fresh bread, jam and coffee. We cooked it ourselves and it was delicious. Right now Iím in an abandoned French home that has taken a beating from shells. The roof leaks but the water doesnít seep through to the first floor so itsí quite dry here. Weíre a stove, long ago discarded by the people. Itís working overtime for us. The beds are rickety and have a few strands of wire probably they considered them springs. Weíve placed card boards over the wires, piled straw & rags on the card board and a GI blanket over them and we have a deluxe bed. Tomorrow Iím going to move into a hotel where the best people of continental Europe and the world used whittle away their leisure hours. Of course, now, itsí a bit upset from a few well aimed GI shells. I guess Jerry couldnít pay the rent either that or it was too hot for him and heís moved to a cooler location. At any rate Jerryís out and the GIís are in.
Spent a quiet day, missed my breakfast and dinner because of important work but made up for it tonight. I was hoping I could cut down the German population by a few but all my work to no avail. Oh well, thereís still time.
Alberta sent me a few Air Mail stamps in her letter. They help a lot because Itís almost impossible for me to get any where I am. A few with each letter or every three letters would be a big help.
Iíve seen a lot of snow of late but havenít ploughed through any yet. Itís nearly midnight so Iíd best close. Hope and pray with all my heart you are both well and that God is blessing you in every way.
Be sure and tell Ki Iíll answer first chance, and to that all American boy hello and Ďhití em low.
Nov. 1, 1944 Ė On OP 3km out of Sospel. Italy is 1000 yds from this OP. There is a tunnel in front of us that runs into Italy. Jerryís machine gun is chattering from some place on this 1000 ft hill on my right. 3pm mortar shells are hitting around us bu not doing any harm. Jerryís big shells are whistling overhead now. Theyíre hitting the mts to our rear. Now theyíre landing in the vicinity of golf hotel where I have been sleeping nights. Itís a deluxe hotel with soft beds, fire places and really the nuts for front line comfort. There are many mines strewn around yere. Yesterday up the trail from where my squad was laying in ambush, a French native steppon one which blew his leg off, killed his wife and one child. First squad pulled patrol day before yesterday. Shorty Clevenger stepped on one which blew his foot off + he lost sight in both eyes. Jim Florenine got shrapnel throughout his body but is ok now we hear. In the road up to our hotel we found 10 mines in the space of 73 yds. The front yard of the hotel is decorated by the graves of Jerries. Off of OP 6pm back to Golf hotel. Jerry fired at Stompro + I on the way out here with a MG (machine gun?) + we hit the dirt. Got up thumbed our nose at where we thought Jerry was and ran like hell.
Nov. 2, 1944 Ė Stompro + I going out to OP this morning ran into a fire fight between a Jerry patrol + the fellows manning the OP. Jerry finally decides to withdraw. Lt. Forrest + Van go out in front of OP. Stompro + I go out + join them. We cross creek working our way a quarter of a mile to house Jerry was firing from. Pass house ok. A minute later Lt. Forrest + Van step on mines. Vanís right foot blown off + Lt. Forrestís left foot blown off. Both just above the ankle. Stompro applied tourniquet + I ran back to OP for help. Carry them mile + half back to ambulance. Quiet rest of day.
Nov. 3, 1944 Ė back to Sospel for rest. Ė in Regimental reserve.
Nov. 4, 1944 Ė Quiet Ė no shelling. Eating and sleeping.
Nov 4 1944 Received Nov 13, 1944
Dearest Mom & Dad:
It seems I sent you a letter saying I enclosed a couple photos of myself. If I did I failed to enclose them so here they are. They were taken mainly to record my 43 day old red beard.
I donít like them so I donít expect you to put them in a frame. But with my long beard and long hair I looked, (I thought) pretty rugged so the reason for the photo.
Still OK. Had a close callbut not anything to get worked up over. Iíll write more tomorrow.
Nov 5. 1944 Ė package from home. Went to mass + communion. Cooked ourselves chicken + pork chops. Living in shell battered hotel. Not bad.
Nov. 5, 1944 Received Nov. 15 1944
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Your Christmas package arrived yesterday. It contained four candles Air Mail envelopes, stamps & stationary as well as candy bars and soap. Gee! It was swell; and I donít know how to thank you. Of course the candy was gobbled right up and I wonder if you expected that; but Iím invited in on almost everybodyís boxes and itís only right I share mine. And too, the fellows appreciate it and Iím quite proud of my folks for remembering me.
I went to mass and communion this morning in a very beautiful church in this little village. I offered my prayers up in thanksgiving for numerous reasons. So many tragic things happen in combat that when I look back over the past 90 or 100 combat days to my credit I find I have much to be thankful for. Even this past week Iíve been fortunate. Of course others have been too but never the less Iím quite aware of my good fortune.
I sent a few snapshots in a letter a few days ago and yesterday I sent a couple of rough looking photos home. Now, mom, I promise to send some nice photos home too, someday Iím all slicked up in my Sunday best.
Right now Iím sitting in a hotel somewhat battered by artillery but still livable. We have a chicken stewing for five of us so tonight we feast. Iím just lolling around resting, I guess it could be called Ė donít know what the future holds Ė in fact I donít even know whatís in store for me from one day to the next. Iíve made guesses on some hot tips and passed them on to you but only God and the war Department really know. I heard from Anna yesterday that Ki is working in Davenport. That must mean sheís well.
Regards to our hero and love. Frankie
Nov. 6. 1944 Ė still lying around hotel.
Nov 7. 1944 Ė Platoon on pass to Nice . Stayed overnight.
Nov. 8, 1944 Ė Back to Sospel. Given two day pass. Back to Nice.
Nov. 9, 1944 Ė still in Nice. Letters from Nita, Mike, package from home. Saw Jack first time since June.
Nov. 10 1944 Ė Hitchhiked to Cannes + then on to San Raphel to see Freese. Back to Nice. 6pm
Nov 11, 1944 Ė In Nice. Had dinner at Madam Balbi apt. Attended tea 2pm to 6pm at friends of Yovonne + Jean Balbi.
Nov. 12, 1944 Ė Back to Sospel. Moving out tomorrow night on 3 day march to cannes. Relieved at last on D+89.
Nov. 13, 1944 Ė Hiked 27km from Sospel to 6km form Diap. Left 7pm arrived bivouac area 3am. Rolled up in blankets + off to sleep.
Nov. 14, 1944 Ė resting today.
Nov. 15, 1944 Ė hiked to 3km other side of Nice. Left 9:30am arrived 5pm
Nov. 16, 1944 Ė Hiked to LaColle. Bivouacked 3 km outside of town.
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Havenít been able to write for the past couple of weeks but should find time more easily now. I want to tell you Iíve received a total of three boxes from you so far. I canít than you enough Ė youíll never know how it feels to be Ďrememberedí. The last box was all cookies except for two candy bars. They were delicious (the boys echo my sentiments).
Iím going to hold up this letter for a day because I have some money orders made out to Dad which I wish to enclose. Please let me know when they arrive. They total $320.00 and Dad can do with it what he wishes. Also today I sent home a box containing several newspapers (stars & Stripes) and Yank magazine. Most of it is telling about our jump in France which I wish to save. Also one snapshots of a fellow being dragged out of the ocean Ė the Jerries threw him in as an underground agent. Snapshots of Germans I picked off of dead Jerries after a hot fight last August. Also a Jerry newspaper Ė see if you can have it translated. It was a German army issue and can you an idea of what kind of stuff the German soldier reads. Also my combat Infantry Badege. That gets me $10.00 extra pay a month. When I have a bunch of kids Iíll take them up to the attic where my uniform is hanging and show them it with all the ribbons I can wear, chevrons, battle stars, service stripes and what not. Iíll say, ďSee what your old man did in the great war.Ē
Maybe you wonder what I draw in the way of pay. Well here it is broken down.
Base Pay $50.00
Parachute Pay $50.00
Overseas Pay $10.00
Combat Pay $10.00
Longevity Pay $250 (3 years)
It totals $122.50 and isnít much but I know youíve often wondered.
I received two films mailed separately recently as well as those enclosed in your boxes. Itís almost dark now so will continue this tomorrow. Candles are something I can always use and canít get so if you can send more like those last ones Iíd sure like it.
Also in that box are post cards of where Iíve been etc. You can look at anything there but please save the stuff if you can as sort of souvenirs.
I received a card from Mik OíHern and Iím going to answer him tomorrow. Heís stationed in Paris. I believe itís the quartermaster heís in at any rate heís in a pretty safe place.
Iíve been waiting to hear from Ki again for her new address. Iím glad to hear sheís working again Ė I hope she likes her work there.
So Tom has left U.S. Mom, Iím afraid youíre going to be all gray hairs worrying over your sons. According to a statement in Life magazine by Gen. Lear, a lot of the boys in Europe will be going home via the Suez Canal and Tokyo. I canít see that Iím any exception Ė Iíll probably run into Tommy in Shankai. Have a couple letters from Alberta recently Ė she is telling me the story about a name for the new baby. How they are going to name it when they donít know if itís going to be a boy or a girl.
I received a letter from mom today dated Nov. 2nd Ė a v-mail. Glad to hear my mail is getting through so good now. Alberta is getting some from me in 7 to 10 days which is very good.
Yes mom I got both of my bags back intact. All that was missing was a few dollars worth of air mail envelopes. I was very happy to get them back.
The Observer is coming along regularly. I received one today dated Sept 7th. That letter on the jump should be OK printed if any of the other letters I wrote were printable. Also received a letter from the Franciscan brothers telling me how many masses, communions, etc. Iím having said for me. Gosh mom! Even if I should die I should go straight to heaven with all that to my credit.
Oh, incidentally, your prayers have been answered. You mentioned about praying for something in this letter I received today.
Iím enclosing some snapshots Ė possibly Iíve sent you some of these before. I have some rolls being developed now and Iíll send you more next chance I get to Nice where they are.
I had a few days off recently so I toured the Rivera. Took in Nice, Cannes, San Raphel (where the Americans made the original landing Aug 15th) and on down. Itís a very beautiful drive now with pill boxes, barb wire entanglements, blown bridges and shell crates itís a sorry looking Ďgay Rivieraí.
I was invited to a French dinner and tea one of the days I was in Nice. Iíve told you about Madam Balbi and daughter Jean who goes with my friend Duff Matson. Duff and I were invited but it turned out Duff had to work so I went. I was served Champagne and Jean played classical selections while we were waiting for dinner. At dinner I was served some very rare white wine, fried carrot chips, salad, white smoked fish, steak, white bread, and custard cakes. We had coffee served in the lunge an after that cognac was brought out. Then we took pictures on the shore promenade and went to a tea at another apartment overlooking the blue Med. There we had tea, cookies, apple cakes, cherry cakes, and custard cakes. There were nine at the tea and seven of them spoke English but they carried on a lot of the conversation in French which I thought rude of them as did Madame Balbi. She is an attractive woman and very sociable and friendly in spite of her standing in Riviera society. Iíll have some pictures soon which Iíll forward to you that we had taken that day.
Well, this concludes todayís writings. As I said, Iíll hold this up for a day so that I may enclose the money orders. I hope you can read this Ė my knee is a poor desk.
I donít know hat the future holds for me but as long as there is a Germany I canít look very far in the future with an easy heart.
Tell Bunk I received his typewritten letter and that Iíll answer him ďtoo sutieí.
This stationary and air-mail envelopes are really swell Ė I hope you can send me more like them. Frankie
Nov 23, 1944 Received Dec 17, Ď44
Dearest Mom & Dad:
This letter will probably be a short one. Itís one of those times when I find it hard to write for lack of news. I canít recall last time I wrote, nor just what I said. If thereís repetition in this letter please forgive me. As I said, mom, about your prayers, I think the Lord listens to you and abides by your wishes.
I believe that I told you Iíve received three of your packages. One came from Alberta the other day. Also I believe I told you the film you mailed separately arrived O.K. Iím enclosing a few snapshots and if you have these send them to Alberta or Tommy if you wish.
Was in Nice recently where I had dinner with Mrs. Balbi. There were four of us: Duff Matson, myself, Jeanne and Mrs. Balbi. It was a simple dinner but very delicious. We had sardines, onion pics, pepper & tomato salad, steak, red wine, bread, butter, grapes, French fried potatoes, coffee and cognac. The onion pie was some thing new for me. Itís a regular pie crust and all it has in it is well friend onions with a sprinkling of friend olives. Oh yes, we had a different sortment of cheeses Ė French cheese an American cheese is very different. Iíll take American.
Received a box from Pub. Serv. Co which included two packs cigarettes, comb, mirror, shaving and toothpaste, cream, lather soap, face soap, pencil, soap container, tooth brush & case, sewing kit, home for razors, razor blades, an a carrying case. All very practical but mostly issue stuff for us.
We have pretty warm clothing now but the weather is miserable most of the time and the cold seem sto go through most everything I wear. Iím rushing this to close. Iíll run a letter off to Bunk before I hit the hay.
Attended mass this morning in a pretty little church. I know I have much to be thankful for and today is Thanksgiving day. I wondered how you spent it.
Love and Prayers Frankie
Request: A few candles like you sent before and of course any chocolate candy you can spare.
Nov. 28, 1944 Received Jan 2, Ď45
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Just a few lines today. Iíve been sitting around most of the day on guard and find time on my hands. Havenít heard from you in well over a week Ė hope itís due to mail handling. Let me know if you can when the money orders I mailed to you arrive. Iíll tear up the stubs. The total was $320 Ė wish it was more.
What Iím doing, where I am etc. are pretty much secret now.
I had dinner twice at the Balbiís since I last wrote you. They continue to entertain lavishly considering the times. I sent you pictures, snapshots rather, which I hope you have by now. I have more which Iíll enclose in this letter or the next. I havenít heard from Anna in well over three weeks. Iím getting a bit worried not hearing from her.
The Pelb Serv.Co, Chicago sent me a gift which contained an almost complete toilette set. Also, a friend of mine from the company sent me a box containing candy bars, fruit cake, fruit juices, etc. All very welcome. That was the 2nd box from him.
A box from Alberta arrived too in the last week or two.
Iím in good health, except for a heavy cold which Iím trying to ignore to no avail.
This is about all for today Ė Iíll write again first chance I get.
I pray daily you are well. All my love, Frankie
Dec 4, 1944 Received January 2, 45
Dearest Mom & Dad,
No mail for sometime now. Canít understand it unless itís the Christmas rush. I have a couple of snapshots Iím enclosing Ė theyíre not so good, but maybe you can them in the book.
Havenít heard from Alberta for sometime too, and, of course, Iím worried about her. Please send me some word as soon as you can.
Still donít know where Iíll spend my Christmas Ė one thing for sure it wonít be in America. I just hope it isnít in a foxhole but there are worse places I fear.
Itís very cold at nights here now. I have a sleeping bag and 3 blankets, all of which are needed.
Have you received the m/o yet? I was paid today for the month of Nov. May send it home or risk it in an investment.
How is Bunk coming along in school? Howís Trixie? I still havenít heard from Ki Ė does she like her work? Is she still nervous? I have heard from Anna about a week ago. I received a very nice box from her and one from Averil and Linus. I wrote them a thank you note. Also received a box from Pub Serv. Co. of No. Ill. Which included numerous essentials of shaving equipment. We are issued most that stuff, but of course the thought behind it is what matters. Also, I received a can of hard candy from the employees of Pub Serv Co No Ill. Iíve done very well on gift packages for which Iím deeply thankful.
Did you ever print that jump letter? I hope I donít have to relate anymore jumping experiences.
Iíve had several dinner dates at the Balbiís since I last wrote you. They continue to entertain lavishly and shower me with kindness. Iíve met Mr. Balbi and find him most perfect.
I suppose you are having frigid weather by now. Was it hard to buy coal this year? What did you, Dad, think of the election and how did Iowa go on senators & Reps?
Do you hear anymore on Dale? He seems to have scratched me off his correspondence list.
What town is Roy near Ė maybe Iíll be near him sometime?
Tell Jo hello Ė and our Bunk too. My prayers are with you.
If you send another box, would you enclose a bottle of ink in it! This French ink is no bon. Eats of any kind welcome. Thanks, Frankie
|Birth, childhood, and adolescence||Army basic training||Now a paratrooper||To Italy||Southern France||Belgium||After death|