Francis Aloysius Bloom
|Home||Birth, childhood, and adolescence||Army basic training||Now a paratrooper||To Italy||Southern France||Belgium||After death|
Thursday Sent Feb. 17, 1944
Here we are back from maneuvers all in one piece. The report goes something like this: We left a week ago Saturday morning. Hiked about 20 miles & camped for the night. Kept under cover all day Sunday. I went on KP Monday, got a badly lacerated finger on Tuesday & spent up to yesterday (Wed.) in a field hospital. The reason Iím printing this Ė I canít do my with my right had yet. However itís healing up good now & in a week it should be as good as new. I missed all be 3 days of the 2 week maneuver for which Iím not sorry.
Weíll probably be around here until the middle of March and then weíll go to a staging area which is a place where outfits are equipped for overseas. I suspect weíll go back to N.C. but no one knows Ė just rumors. I may get a furlough & I may not. However I have a very good chance of being transferred before this outfit goes overseas.
Itís been rain & very cold down here the last two weeks. Iíd rather have snow like you all have had up there.
Iíll write more as soon as the hand is in shape.
I havenít received any mail in the last two weeks because of moving around so much.
Love to you & Dad. Frankie
Thursday Sent Feb. 25, 1944
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Just a few lines tonight. I can hardly write yet with my injured hand but I hope you can read it.
I believe Saturday about noon Iím leaving for an overseas replacement center. It will probably be Fort Meade, Md. I have been packed & ready to leave since Tuesday and we may leave at any moment. Iíll probably be sent overseas in a few weeks. Iíll call or wire you before I go so if you donít hear from me youíll know Iím still in U.S.A. Ė at least until you hear from me. This is a transfer out of the 511 for me. Everything is subject to change and Iíll let you know as soon as I know myself. In the best of health. I pray you are too.
All my love Frankie
Am sending a barrack bag full of stuff. Wash dirty clothes that are in there please. Sent letter with key to trunk. Did you get it?
Transferred: Feb29, 1944. Overseas replacement depot. Ft. Meade, Md.
Court-martialed: March 4, 1944. Offense: Missed reveille. Fined $10.00
Transferred: 7/Mar/44 Ė Camp Patrick Henry, VA
Sometime, Somewhere. (Letter not postmarked. Itís a guess that this was written as he was about to be shipped overseas, so I put that date around March 10, 1944.)
Dearest Mom & Dad:
(the first line is cut out of the letter by army censors). Itís a dark and rainy night in a gloomy camp Ė everything seems so wrong, drab & dreary that Iím just naturally blue. My thoughts are with you tonight and I wish will all my heart I cold be with you at home where everything is so perfect. I can picture home tonight, so easily in my mind. Dad in his familiar position, mom sitting reading, listening to the popular programs. Wonder what Bunkís doing?
This has been somewhat of an ordeal. I now know what (This is cut out by army censors). Iíd like to be back in any of the training camps Iíve trained in but this is not my choice. Never having been to a foreign shore, I donít know what I face or what this venture brings but this I know, I love this country too much to ever leave it cheerfully. When the boat pulls away from the shore, I plan to be on deck taking a last hungry look at the U.S.A. Letís pray harder than ever that I wonít be away too long.
Just sitting here writing to you makes me feel much better. Iíve been away from home five years now but every day of that five years has made me love home that much more. Iím not at all broken up about going overseas nor would I do anything cowardly to avoid overseas service but I do face the future with a realistic attitude, hence my cherishing fond memories.
Where we are going, when weíll get there and all is of course military knowledge which is not entrusted to ordinary soldiers. From now on everything I write will be censored so I wonít be able to tell you much except about my health.
Bye now maybe Anna has told you I called her. I ran out of money and today I received $30.00 from her that will help a lot. I wanted to call you up but there wasnít anyway to. She told me Ki was home Ė and that sheís prettier than ever now. I sent Tom my military APO which will be my address until I notify you of a change. Iíd like to have the Observer sent to me if thatís possible. Iíll have to notify the Readerís Digest of my new address as soon as I learn where to write them. I hope you received the wings I mailed you from Fort Meade, Md. I sent Anna, Ki & Alberta a pair too. Did you receive the handkerchiefs, mom? Were they green enough. I looked for something for Dad but the stores didnít have anything suitable. We were at Ft. Meade, Md for five days. We were restricted all the five days there but I spent 4 of the 5 nights in Baltimore, which is just 20 miles away, (Wash. D.C. about 40). I had a lot of fun but was court-martialed for breaking restrictions and fined $10.00. Next month Iíll have been in 3 years Ė thatís a long time in a fellowís life. Itíll probably be two to three more before I get back.
Mom did you ever get the key to that trunk. I mailed it to you from La. If not have Dad force it open. Also did you get the barracks bag of clothing I sent home. There were some dirty clothes in it that need washing. Bunk can wear those coveralls for work & play if they arenít too small for the big boy.
I heard Johnny Siefert is coming back from overseas. He deserves it. Heís been away a long time. Charlie Siefert was at Camp Polk but I never saw him. I only saw Bill Kriby. If I was up in Albertaís state, Iíd have sure gone up a few more miles and visited her. Be sure and let me know Tomsí whereabouts Iíd like to run cross him in our travels around the earth.
I must write Anna and tell her I received the money today. I did me a lot of good just to hear her voice again. As for my mom & dad, I just about cry to think I couldnít see you before I left. For now itís goodbye Ė Ill pray that God keeps care of the sweetest mom and the sweetest dad a fellow could ask for.
All my love Frankie
Aboard Ship: 13/March/1944 Ė Sailed overseas 13/Mar/1944
Monday. Aboard Ship. Hampton Roads, VA.
Tuesday, 3-14-44 Out of sight of land. Convoy 110 ships Protection Blimp; Deschayers
Wed. 3-15-44 Ė Beautiful day. Quiet seas. Not seasick yet.
Thursday 3-16-44 Ė Quiet and Hot. Off the coast of Florida. Troops over seasickness.
March 30/44 Ė passed through Gibraltar Straits. Passed Rock of Gibraltar.
Attacked 4am 1, April 44 Ė German plane- Submarine - 2 shot down.
Two waves of German plans bomb convoy. 1 ship sunk, 1 afire, two planes shot down.
Arrived: 5;April, 1944 Ė Augusta, Sicily. Many vendors- begging for cigarettes
Hot- Beautiful city. Partially destroyed.
Dearest Mom & Dad,
This is the first time Iíve been able to write you legally since arrival. The letters I wrote you on the boat, I was forced to destroy as they were too informative. This, Bunks birthday reminds me of him Ė I sent him $10.00 and also a birthday greetings which I thought heíd like especially since it came all the way from Italy. Heíll not get the greetings for a couple of days but at least I sent them on his birthday. Heíll not get the money for a week or so? Iím going to send him $10.00 a month, remembering how Alberta used to send me money when I was in high school. I can hardly believe he is 16 yrs old Ė because it doesnít seem so long ago since I dropped him off the porch. What grade is he in (9th). Whatís he doing for work?
The trip across was alright I canít say much about it. Thatís more water than I want to see again unless itís on my way back. I was Sgt. Major of our outfit for a few weeks before I left the states and was just relieved of the job over here. It was acting Master Sergeant in rank and by that I got myself a room with four others. I was furnished sheets, pillow cases, towels, individual washroom, shower, soft water which was not available to the troops, dishes and waiters at the dinner table. That was traveling deluxe. G.I. style in comparison to the way of most of the others.
Newsreels and the newspapers werenít kidding about the mud in Italy. Iím glad Iím here in the spring time instead of winter. This is beautiful country, all mountains and then small perfectly flat areas which every foot is utilized for raising vegetables. They have plenty of wine, cognac and champagne here but thatís about all.
The people are poor and are begging us for cigarettes and anything they can get. Cigarettes run $4.00 + something in town. We get them for $.45 a carton on the ship and are given a pack a day here. We are also given candy + gum, matches. The chow so far has been excellent.
Iíve seen what war had done to this country. Thank to the Almighty that my country isnít in ruins like so much of this country is. The people hate the Germans here with a hate that has no bottom. According to the natives that we have talked to, through one of the Wops in our crowd the Germans took all the livestock and anything of value when they retreated. They even took women with them. I have seen some German equipment (this line is cut out).
We have air superiority over here consequently the Germans havenít been bothering us like they would like to.
I expect a change of address but until I do continue to use the present APO No. I received a letter yesterday from Alberta dated March 16th + one from Anna dated the 9th. Itís sweet to get mail here telling about yourselves and home, so please write often. Send this to Anna if you will and Alberta if you can. Iíll write them as soon as they give me a breathing spell.
I lost my pen on the way over so Iíll have to resort to pencil from now on.
If you can get the Observer over, swell, if not OK.
This is all for now Ė Iíll write again as soon as Iím able. Please take good care of yourself. Closing with
All my love Frankie
April 6, 1944 Ė Left Augusta.
April 7, 1944 Ė passed thru Messina Straits. Swarms of small boats with Italians begging for cigarettes.
April 8, 1944 Ė Arrived Naples, Italy. Beautiful city. Many scars. Mt. Vesuvius just outside of city.
Arrived: 8,April, 1944 Ė Debarked: Naples, Italy
Arrived: April 8, 1944 Ė 2nd replacement depot
April 9, 1944 Ė arrived replacement center. 18 miles behind front lines.
April 13, 1944 Left 2nd replacement depot
April 14, 1944 Ė riding through Italy. Boxcar. Hot 8
Arrived Salerno Ė April 14, 1944
April 15, 1944 Ė still in boxcar Ė passed through Salerno. All in ruins.
Arrived Reggio Calabrai, Italy, April 16, 1944. Messina, Sicily. Crossed Messina Straits, quartered in school house. Slept on marble floor. English fed us first hot meal in 4 days.
April 17, 1944 Ė Left Messina in English Lorry. Passed through Gatania, beautiful city. Boarded boxcars gain. Passed through many tunnels Ė dirty and tired.
Arrived Tranpi, (spelling?) Sicily Ė April 18, 1944 Ė Quartered in brand new massive school building.
27, April, 44
My dearest mom & dad,
Here it is the 27th of April and I havenít heard from either of you since I left beautiful USA. To get mail over here is really something, so please write when you are able.
I pray often that my mom and dad are taking good care of themselves Ďtil I come back. I have as good of chance coming back as any combat man over hear so please donít be depressed at what Iím in. In fact, Iím not in England and for that Iím glad.
Mom, did you get your Ďwingsí? How about the key to the trunk I sent in a letter from La? If not, open the trunk anyway and get what you wish from it. I also sent a bag of stuff home. Did that arrive? Did Bunk get the cablegram and the money? I hope he got a kick out of it. You tell him I want him to be the tops of us boys. Heís got much more on the ball than Tom or I ever had. Incidentally, I sent Tom a letter to his San Diego address. Your family is sort of spread around the world. Life here so far has been pleasant. Nothing worse than a few mosquitoes, some long runs and long hikes. It seems so much longer over here because one half of any distance covered here is uphill and I mean hills Ė I guess the Sicilians refer to them as mountains.
I went to mass in a huge church not far from our garrison. It was a beautiful church. They donít have pews over here, I guess. At any rate this one didnít. Just small wicker straight back chairs which they piled up after every mass. The people wear their best to church here. Their clothes seemed like what youíd see in any American church except of signs of much wear. And too it would cause quite a sensation in American if a two wheeled cart pulled by an ass pulled up in front of the church door and folds got out and walked smartly into church. The sermon was in Italian and, of course, I couldnít understand a word of it. Reminded me of the time Dad took Tom and I to an Italian church in Chicago in 1933. Dad, you remember that.
The people here are very poor. They beg for almost everything. In Italy, I saw civilians that got into our camp eating out of our garbage cans. It made me sick Ė and there again, I thank God Iím an American. The uniforms of the United Nations soldiers stand out here in these drab Sicilian cities and villages. The country shows signs of recent war. Bombed and burned railroad yards, wreckage of German, Italian, English and American planes and tanks. Bomb craters, completely wrecked buildings are a common sight. Cigarettes here are worth 50 to 75 cents a pack. Soap is very valuable. When I send my laundry out, I enclose enough soap for washing and it costs me less. If you can send me a few bars of soap that will help a lot. Both for face and laundry. We are allowed to buy 7 packs of cigarettes for the week. A carton or so would help a lot. I have asked Alberta to send me five or so candles which are scarce here. Is use them to heat my ďCĒ rations and also for light. I also asked her to send me a cheap camera Ė I can send some good shots if I get one. I canít seem to buy a steel mirror over here Ė maybe you could get one. I can use it both in the field and in the garrison.
We are living quite well now. We are housed in a new building Ė we sleep on straw mattresses, quite comfortable, at that. The chow is excellent, much better than in the states. The officers are on the whole, quite regular fellows and treat the men more like men than boys. We still have a number of boys in this outfit.
Entertainment is pretty good, considering everything. We are marched to a movie each night, if we wish it. A few are given passes.
The natives are not unfriendly nor are they friendly. Itís a rule that not less than three of us go to town together. To see these cities be blacked out with there narrowed cobbled streets and high walls. Every building has itís share of balconies that tow or three natives are staring at you down into the street. The city I visit a lot has itís share of good looking girls but as soon as a soldier of the United Nations comes in sight they turn and run into their rooms and hide. I believe the Germans made them leery of soldiers.
I went to a dance in Messina a couple of weeks ago and danced a lot with a cute brown-eyed Italian girl. We danced to ďOh Johnny, Oh JohnnyĒ, the Beer Barrel Polka, and Italian folks songs. She was a pretty good dancer and took a shine to me Ė especially when I fed her American cigarettes, and brought her vermouth and sweetcakes, which I am told is expected of the male over here. We got along beautiful all evening Ďtill an Englishman jumped me for paying too much attention to his fiancť, and her old mother comes out of nowhere and keeps shaking a finger at her and jabbering something in Italian. I squared off with the damn Englishman, she came over and squeezed my hand. I takes my leave of the place, thinking, a beautiful romance nipped in the bud. I sold a can of Ďcí rations to a horse and bugging cabbie who took me home in the best Italian War style.
Sunday, I got a six hour pass and took in a city. Just a dirty, smelly city full of begging brats. Dad tell Dick & Herman I got a shave and haircut in town last Sunday for seven (7) cigarettes and the barber jumped at the bargain I gave him. In Italy, I got a shave by a 16 yr old boy in a barber shop Ė pretty good but he never strapped his razor once. Not a painless shave.
Tell Jo, I send her my love and best wishes. I admire her a lot. Iím quite proud of my family all the way through and I know our mom & dad are proud of us. Mom, how did you like your present on your wedding anniversary?
We donít pull K.P. here, only guard. The natives do all the dirty work for us. I am in the pink of condition eating plenty and weighing 150. All in all so far so good. I think of home often and pray my return wonít be too far off. Again, please watch your health Ė Iíll write again soon. Thanks ever so much for everything.
All my love Frankie
Began A/B/ Training April 19, 1944 Ė Prov Tng Bn = A/B Trng Cen
12/May/1944 Received June 14, Ď44
Iíve been visiting (cut out by army sensor) for the last day or so. Itís a wonderful city. Itís better than any city Iíve visited over here and that includes Naples, Salerno, Messina, Catqnia, Trapani et.al. Itís a city of about 500,000 pop and they have beautiful parks, beaches with palm, rubber and mammoth oak trees. Very modern stores, trolley busses, etc.
Food is very high here. I stayed in a very lovely hotel last night where the bed was comfortable, white sheets et all Ė something Iíve forgot existed. I had my picture taken with a buddy in one of the many cabs here. Iím enclosing one. Iím having my pictures taken soon and Iíll mail one to you right as soon as I get them. Boots & al moma. For breakfast two of the fellows had 2 eggs apiece, one loaf of bread, American fried potatoes, coffe (eratz) and the bill was $2.64. Eggs 20 cents apiece, coffee (eratz) 30 cents a cup. 50 cents for a loaf of bread.
In this city, the people seem to be better dressed than any people Iíve seen so far. Shoes cost anywhere from $21.00 to $34.00 a pair, Iíve notice in the stores.
Iím at the American Red Cross center writing this. Itís a wonderful center and provides nearly everything in the way of entertainment. Dancing, excursions, boats and sight-seeing trips. Rent bicycles, free American movies and just about everything. When the Red Cross asks for money, please be generous because theyíre doing a world of good for us fellows. There is American R/C girls on duty here and I enjoy just sitting listening to them talk English. There is so much Italian jabbering here that English coming from an American girl is one of the nicest treats a fellow can have.
Iím picking up Italian pretty fasts and can speak to the natives and get across what I want. If Iím here a year Iíll have it down better than the natives.
Transportation here is swell. Get on a plane or streamlined train and ride anywhere at no cost. We have priority over civilians. I rode a plane here to (cut out by army censors). Swell ride.
I jumped about a week ago. Still scares me to jump after two years of it. Guess Iíll never get over being scared of jumping.
Iím in swell physical condition and eating excellent chow. I pray everything is alright with my mom & dad. I received three letters form mom last week at the same time. They were dated, I believe, March 6th/9th/ and either the 21st or the 13th. Also received on the same day 3 letters from Anna, and one from Alberta.
Bye for now. Please take good care of yourselves.
All my love Frankie
Sunday Morning (Probably May 14th) Received June 14
My dearest Mom:
Today is mothers day and although youíll receive no greeting from me, I want you to know you are in my thoughts and prayers this day of all days. I just came from mass in our chapel where we had a native priest say mass.
This is a beautiful day here in Sicily Ė everything is so quiet, the fields are rich green Ė Sicily is a pretty island. Since I returned from (cut out by army censors) I found eight letters awaiting me so I sat right down to write you and let you know I heard from you. I received your v mail letter dated April 9th and 18th also a straight letter from you dated April 3rd. I received a letter from Ki dated April 25th and I got it May 10th. It was Air mail and had gone to where I was formerly stationed and then to here so you see thatís pretty good service. By now you have my APO 512 and mail should be better. I also received a v mail from Alberta and one from Anna dated April 17th. Also two straight letters from Anna dated March 16th & April 11th. Ki told me in her letter of April 25th that she heard I was in Italy. I wired Bunk his greetings on his birthday from Italy also his money. Did he get that? I spent 3 days and 3 nights traveling through Italy and I saw all the Allies hold and every city of importance. Iíve visited every large city in Sicily. Theyíre all alike. Palermo is the biggest and about the cleanest.
I gave $2.00 for this pen and its not worth 2 cents. I can write better than this.
Iím awfully sorry to hear about Uncle Fred. Dad has to have a stout heart to take the blows heís taken in the last 15 years. Iím quite proud of him and it isnít too long ago that Iíve really been able to see clearly all he has done for his kids. I only hope Iíll be able to see him again to thank him humbly. Every time Iíd start praising him he would shove all the credit to you, mom. This army has me down so often that if it werenít for my folks, I know Iíd have gone to pieces.
Mom tells me of her April foolís joke pulled on her. When I come back. I can tell you one that was pulled on me. Right now itís military information.
I was happy to hear about Chris doing so well in prison camp. I hope it wonít be long before he is free.
What you said about the years going too fast is so true it hurts. Itís 7 years this month since I graduated from H.S. bunk you say is 5í8Ē. Gee whiz. I hate to go home and have that squirt looking down my neck. If he calls me Ďshortyí, Iíll punch him right on the nose.
Iím enclosing a dollar of Italian money for dad to look over and have as a souvenir. I bought mom a prayerbook, all in Italian Ė just as a souvenir. Iíll send you different amounts of our invasion money and Italian money from time to time. I believe we can send only $1.00 at a time.
In answer to your questions, mom, 28 days is the answer. Let me know if you get this letter. Iíll probably change APO numbers again and will let you know as soon as that takes place. So far I havenít received the Observer but maybe Iíll get 20 copies at once.
Iíll close for today. I must write Anna and Alberta. Thanks for the news on Dale.
All my love Frankie
How bad was the photo busted up?
May 20/44 Flew to Palermo
May 24 flew back Trapani
26/May/44 Received June 1st, 44
My dearest Mom & Dad,
Iíve had the nicest two days a fellow overseas can have. Received 16 letters in two days.
Hereís the box score. Two v mails and one straight letter from my very best girl, my mom. The dates were April 30th, may 14th on the v-mail Ė May 8th on the straight mail. All received on May 24th. 3 v mails from Ki dated May 1, 8, & 13th. 3 v-mails and 2 straight letters from Alberta. The straight mail was dated march 30th & April 13. The v-mail April 5, 30th & May 11th. Anna sent me 3 vís & 2 sís dated Mar 27th, & April 24th for the straight and April 24th, 28th & May 11th for the v mail. I also received a letter from Mr. Larson in Chicago and from Dale in Calif. Also from my gal in Louisiana and a friend stationed in La. I gave you these dates and the day I received them (24, 25th, May) to show you about how the mail service is. Also to let you know I consider myself a very lucky boy to have such faithful correspondents. Itís swell to get mail over here. It brings me home temporarily Ė and that will be more so when the going gets harder in the future. So far I havenít received any issues of the observer but they may catch up with me all at one time. In your letter of May 14th you didnít mention that dad received the $100.00 I sent him May 1st. If he doesnít let me know, I still have my receipt. He can use it as he sees fit Ė I wish it were $10,000 I was sending him Ė maybe someday I will. I wrote you and dad before I did Anna from Italy Ė didnít you receive any of them from Italy. I have received all your letters now I believe the last dated May 14th.
Again in answer to your question 26 days.
I enjoy hearing from my mom, so much, I hope she can find time to continue writing. You write t about as many as I do mom. Do you have as much time as I do?
We moved into the field last week. The loss of the palace we were living in together with the showers has been a blow to our morale. Tomorrow we start doing our own K.P. I have the honor of being on the starting eleven. Guess the natives ate too well, that used to do our K.P.
Iím on hard labor again Ė I goofed off and flew to Palermo without notifying our brains. Iím as well acquainted with a pick and shovel as I used to be with a typewriter. 9 days h/l was my sentence. My brain works the wrong ways too often. Iíve a special knack for getting myself in trouble. Canít seem to develop that ďknackĒ for getting out of trouble.
Last week I fired the BAR, the Tommy-gun, M1, US machine gun, light caliber 30 m/g and several foreign weapons. Shooting is fun Ė Iíll let you know sometime if the Germans think so too.
Have been swimming in the Mediterrean a number of times. Itís as cold as Lake Michigan and a lot dirtier. There is nothing over here to compare with anything in America. I donít think there is a soldier over here that has an ounce of respect for the Italians. All they want is peace Ė they havenít much to say when you cram it down their throats that the Ethopians wanted peace in 1936. They are the most mercenary people in the world. I believe they surpass the Jews. They attempt to charge exhorbitant prices for everything and then have the audacity to turn around and beg for cigarettes. As an intellectual friend of mine put it, ďthey are the most physical and spiritual people in the worldĒ.
Iíve met a couple of nice looking girls here and when we camped near town, Iíd go over to their house for wine, dining and dancing. Food scarce here, itís correct to leave money for the food consumed. Quite often the old man would insist that no money be left. They were fairly well to do for these people over here:
I hope ďAĒ gets to visit you this summer. Her whole life seems wrapped up in Michael the Wonder Boy. Iím glad she has him to make her life complete. Dale wrote a glowing account of his visit to DeWitt and Chicago. He had a very good report for Anna. Anna says she sent $150.00 to dad for my account on the car. I hope she didnít short herself. According to this GI Bill of Rights, U.S. is going to take care of itís soldiers in the way of education. Iím glad to hear that Ė itís encouraging because I intend to go to college if Iím 30 years old when I get out of this army.
Iím happy to hear of Dad doing okay. I know heíll do alright. How are his eyes? Mom, I could see some gray in the picture you sent me. I hope Iím not causing any of them. Iím as ready in every way as Iíll ever be both spiritually and physically. So please donít worry over me. Iím afraid Iím never going to see action. Whatíll I tell my kids if that happens ,mom?
The outfit I left has an APO no from San Francisco. Ainít you glad I didnít stay with them?
Iím sending Tom Birthday greetings tomorrow. Hope they reach him on time. I havenís sent a few odds and ends I picked up for you yet. Will do so soon. About all Iíd like is the camera so if you can get that, swell, Iíll send you pictures. Air mail gets here about as quick as that darn v-mail. For now Iíll close. Will write again soon.
All my love to Mom & Dad, Frankie
1-June 44 Received June 12, 44
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Just a short letter today. Received my first issue of the observer. It was dated Feb. 24th. Hope I donít have to wait that long for the next issue.
Itís getting hot here in Sicily now. Weíve been swimming everyday sometimes twice a day to keep cool. Most of us are pretty well tanned. The training is the same, dull, routine and repetition of everything weíve had the states. After three years of training, I fell I should be ready in most ways but apparently the Ďbrainsí know best.
What I really intended this letter for is to ask you if you received the $100.00 I sent you May 1st. Please let me know this right away if you havenít already written me re it. Yesterday May 31st, I sent $50.00. Let me know if you received it too, please.
If you, dad, have no immediate use for it bank it for me but please take any or all of it any time you wish and donít bother or put yourself to worrying about replacing it. All the money in the world couldnít repay your or mom what I owe you. Also I might mention again that back in 41 I only took out $6000 worth of National Service Insurance. I never increased it, I guess because of that little other insurance I have. At any rate, I believe this should pay mom 55 to 65 dollars a month for the rest of her life if I should be one of the chosen.
That isnít very much and I would have had more but every time they come to be about increasing it they said, ďI had to take more out.Ē Well, you know Iím like Dad in lots of ways, and I refused to budge an inch on it, thus the 6 instead of the (10) ten thousand.
Had a letter from Anna yesterday and one from Alberta the day before Ė Albertaís was dated march 27th and had been to Camp Polk and every stop to here. She enclosed a snapshot of her, Michael and Urban, which I liked very much. I carry it with me along with the one of mom and Joís baby. Iíd like a snapshot of Dad, mom and Bunk. The one I have of the family is almost worn out. I carry it in my billfold.
Anna says she sent you the steel mirror I asked for. I still need it. Glass ones break too easy on the rough treatment all our equipment gets.
Havenít been in town in ages to have that picture taken. Guess I told you we moved into the field a couple of weeks ago. Itís several miles to town and transportation over here is a haphazard affair.
About all for now. I am in the best of health and spirits. Hello to that young punk, Bunk.
All my love Frankie
June 3, 1944 Ė Left Trapani by B of car for Naples
Arrive Naples Ė June 5, 1944 Attached 517 Para Inf Co. B.
June 8, 1944 Ė Assigned Co ďBĒ 517 Para Inf.
June 14 Ė Left Naples for Cithacevvi aboard LCI.
June 17, 1944 Ė Left for Front.
June 18, 1944 Ė Sunday. In action. Strong resistance. 2 killed, 15 wounded. Co ďBĒ 517 Prcht Inc
June 19, 1944 Ė Captured Bigtiano Ė way up on top of hill Ė some resistance.
June 20, 1944 Ė Chasing Jerries. No action so far today 11 A.M.
Up hill and down always.
11pm Ė hand grenade goes off in pocket of soldier, killing man beside him, wounding one other as well as himself. Slept on ground, no blankets, cold + wet. Midnight Ė German 88ís shell us.
June 21, 1944 Ė Under shell fire all morning Ė 88ís. Still no chow. Last ate 4:30am on June 20th. Digging in here Ė solid rock. Shell stopped 10pm. Drafted as litter bearer.
June 22, 1944 Ė Bella day. Quiet. No action so far 6pm. Transferred to Flank by sea. Our artillery going over head constantly. Digging in. Shelled tonight Ė went to confession.
June 23, 1944 Ė Began big push. 7pm. Shelled this am. 2 men our platoon wounded. Fired upon 3am. Plenty scared. Continued march. Ended march Ė 30 hours hiking. Captured 15 prisoners, mostly Russians.
June 24th, 1944 7 hours rest Ė push continues. Quiet. Few prisoners.
June 25th, 1944 Ė Sunday. Attacking hill. Mortar and shell fire dropping on us. Scared stiff. Hill taken. 7pm. Some sniper fire. I plopped down beside 2 dead Germans to sleep. Only a raincoat for warmth. On machine gun guard at 4am. Van hit, Maj. Boyle wounded. Ritchie wounded.
June 26th, 1944. Moved out of line to rest area. My feet are badly swollen. Had hot meal today. First eats since yesterday am.
June 27th, 1944 Ė rested today. Went to Mass Ė communion. Went swimming in sea.
June 27, 1944 Received July 7th, 1944
My dearest mom & dad,
Just a few lines to let you now Iím well. I also want to mention (this line is blacked out by the sensor) and so far Iíve come out with nary a scratch. Mom, your prayers must be helping, Iíve joined in more strongly than ever. Please keep it up, which I know you will. To say I havenít been scared would be Öfolly, but since receiving the sacraments I seem to have found new courage.
I donít think Iíll ever talk about my experiences during combat, so when I come back, I wonít have much to say.
I must drop Anna, Alberta, & Ki a few lines. I received a letter from Ki yesterday dated may 29th. It was sent to Sicily. Still have received only one issue of the Observer since I came over seas. That was dated Feb. 24th. When I get them all, Iíll have to take a week to read them.
Time is short Ė for now Ďbye and
All my love Frankie
I may not be able to write regularly but will every time opportunity presents itself. Please keep writing.
Pvt Frank A Bllom 36028763
Co ďBĒ 517 Prcht Inf Reft
New York, N.Y.
June 28th , 1944. Still resting. Feet healing.
June 29th, 1944 Ė still resting. Went swimming in Tyrennian Sea at Follinica.
June 30th, 1944 Ė still resting. This is the life.
July 1, 1944 Ė Just Loafing now. Back to Rome. (Advance detail)
Somewhere in Italy
July 1, 1944
Dearest Mom & Dad:
Here I am resting early on a hillside in Italy. Itís a beautiful sun shiny day and if it were not for the war I could enjoy the scenery. I guess I can tell you some of the places I have visited not too long ago. Naples is a beautiful city and if it werenít for the destruction wrought by the Germans and Allies it would be a honeymooners paradise. To see the city at night from the cliffs surrounding the city is a breathtaking sight. The lights are lacking, of course, or it would be more beautiful. I visited Pompeii and to the base of Mt. Vesuvius. Itís been smoking a little. I stayed a few hours in Salerno and itís nothing but ruins. Youíll remember thatís where the Americans landed in Italy. I havenít had the chance to visit Rome but may get back there one of these days. Iíll be sure and visit the Vatican, St. Peters and see if I canít be there to get the Popeís blessing. I will visit some of the more famous churches. Some things Iíll always remember.
In regards to the films, I could them in Sicily but I doubt if I can here. Possibly in the PXís in Rome. I cold get them in Naples.
Cigarettes and candy are two items Iíve been able to get plenty of so far.
No, I never got seasick, but I was close to it. A lot of food on the stomach will help cure sea sickness. Where is Ray now? How about Tommy? Did he get home? John Homer. Any more news regarding Chris R.?
Strawberry shortcake Ė man you shouldnít tell me things like that. I have lost some of the appreciativeness of the beauty of Italy after climbing up and down so many, many hills and baby mountains. That, and the pitiful, the treacherous , and the mercenary people Iíve come in contact with over here.
I hope you can read this, I sitting on the ground with the pad on my knee.
I received your letter dated June 5th on June 27th. It had gone to Sicily. I sent you a letter last week with an APO no 464. Itís now APO 5236, so you can change it again. Thatís about the 4th change Iíve had.
Iím putting on weight despite hardships. Also a coat of tan acquired in Sicily. How big is the ĎPunkí now? What does he weigh?
Had a letter from Alberta yesterday and one from a gal in Louisiana. Naples had some good looking gals and I hear Rome is even better. But the American gal stands out above all the rest.
Itís time for chow formation, the one formation I never miss. May God keep good care of you.
All my love, Frankie
The mirror came today. Thanks ever so much- itís swell/ also 2 letters from Ki & one from Anna.
July 2, 1944 Ė Sunday. Resting Still.
July 3, 1944 Ė Leaving for Rome (12 noon). Arrive Rome 10pm via truck. Bivouac in olive grove 7 m.south of city.
July 4, 1944 Ė (Loafed). Quiet day in olive grove. 7 miles south of Rome.
July 5, 1944 Ė Into Rome but too late evening to see sights.
July 6, 1944 Ė loafed today. Guard at 5pm
July 7, 1944. Guard. Beginning French language classes. Letters from Tom, Martin, Alberta and Geo. B.
July 8, 1944. Ė Visited Rome. Visited the Vatican. Saw the pope. He blessed us and spoke a few minutes. First in English and then in French. There were about 200 of us in his private audience. He asked Godís blessing for our families. St. Peters is too great for me to describe it here. One could spend a month in the Vatican just looking.
July 9, 1944 Ė Went to Mass in a beautiful Roman church. Words fail me in describing Romeís churches Ė visited coliseum, bascila of Constantine Ė Roman baths Ė not enough time to see 1/10 of what there is to see in Rome Ė oh yes, Roman girls are the most beautiful of all Italy. People are well dressed and a much higher class than any of Italy or Sicily. Saw the show ďthe song of BernadetteĒ. Inspiring. Heart Rendering.
July 11, 1944 K.P.
July 12, 1944 Ė Night problem
Dearest Mom & Dad:
First chance I have had to write for sometime. I hope by now you have received my last letter which might sort of allay your fears from the letter before that.
Iím am quite well and contented. I finally got the chance to visit Rome but I only spent a couple of days there but I saw about all I could in such a short time. One can spend at least a month sightseeing in Rome. I hope to get another chance before too long and Iíll be sure and write and tell you about the Eternal city.
I got into see the Pope in his daily audience hr holds from around 11:30 to 12:30. There were around 200 of us and we went up into his library. Itís about 300 ft long and about 80í wide. He was carried in on his Ďsedia gestatousí by the colorful Swiss guards. Up the long carpet to his throne where he dismounted and ascended to his golden chair. He blessed us and then spoke about 10 minutes Ė then he spoke in French to a number of French and Colonial troops. He asked Godís blessing for our families and called upon God to give us strength and courage in battles to come. He doesnít speak too good of English. I was so close to him I felt like reaching out and touching one of his robes.
My vocabulary is inadequate to describe St. Peters. Itís just awe inspiring, and leaves one speechless. Itís beauty and its massiveness. I felt like it was a rare honor and something Iíll remember all of my life. However, I hope to make another visit when and if I get to Rome Ė I want to really tour the Vatican and see such great paintings as Michelangeloís ĎMadonnaí and other great men of culture works. One could spend a month in the Vatican taking it all in. I hope to attend Mass there. St. Peters like all Italian churches has no pews. I was given a medal and a holy card by one of the Popeís attendants which Iím enclosing for you. Iím also sending a pamphlet on the Vatican which you may like to read. From the Vatican I went to the Roman coliseum built some bears B.C. Itís such an impressive structure that one has to see it to really grasp its significance. I then visited one of the old Roman Baths and the went up to the Tiber River and washed my weary feet.
Sunday I attended mass at one of Romeís many beautiful churches. Of course, now pews Ė just knelt on the hard marble floor. They stand up during Mass when we kneel down but I went through the service the American way which attracted considerable attention. Sunday afternoon I attended the shoe (movie) ĎThe song of Bernadette.í You both must see it. To me, it was the most superb movie Iíve had the pleasure to attend. Donít forget, see it if you have to drive miles. I then went down to the Coliseum again and just looked at it. I hope to make two or three tours put on by the Red Cross.
In Rome we get a GI dinner for 10 cents. Several restaurants cook nothing but GI food for GIís only and itís quite a good deal. First time Iíve eaten from a table and used plates and silverware since I was on the boat.
Iím enclosing a ribbon with one star. Itís for the Mediterranean theatre and the star is for participating in the Italian Campaign. Save it for me, please. Iíll pin it on my uniform when itís hung in the attic and drag it out each time I have a new kid to show it to.
My old outfit, that I was in at Marshall and Polk is (in) New Guinea. Arenít you glad that I left them. I had a letter from one of the fellows dated June 2nd.
I havenít received an issue of the Observer except the one dated Feb. 24th nor have I received anything else except the mirror. It will all probably catch up with me one of these days. Dad, did you receive the $50.00 I sent you about June 1st. we havenít been paid for June yet but Iíll send more as soon as I receive some money.
Itís two years ago last week that I joined the parachute troops Ė seems much longer than that. Now have 39 months service in Ė sue am hoping it terminates soon. This talk about the war ending this November isnít a morale builder for the man up front who figures his life by days not months. Thatís jus t for the home front and the rear echelon commados. If I get the camera soon Iíll send some snapshots. Chances here for some good ones.
Iíll write Anna, Alberta and Ki and tell them about Rome et al but if I shouldnít get the chance let them see this. I had a letter from Tom, the first since he left in 1940. I was very tickled to hear from him. Did he get to Iowa? Has Jo heard from Ray? Is he in Italy? Is Alberta home yet? I pray Iíll be able to join you soon. Maybe Christmas, hope Iím not too optimistic. Over here itís seems longer and harder than the papers picture it.
Please keep good care of yourselves.
All my love Frankie
Hello to the Big Brother!
(Included in this letter, there was a holy card of Pope Pius the XII given to Frankie by His Holiness.)
July 14 Ė detail Naples.
July 15, 1944 Ė Loafing in Naples.
July 16 Ė Naples back to Rome. Letters from mom, A. K. Nita. Visited Kittle in 12th Gen Hosp.
July 17th Ė Rome 4 hours.
July 19 Ė Rome Ĺ day
July 20 Ė night problem.
July 21, 1944 received August 8, 1944
Dearest Mom & Dad,
Received a letter from Alberta dated July 13 telling me you havenít heard from this soldier in 3 weeks. I hasten to tell you Iíve written at least once a week ad every so often I do better than that. Yesterday also, I received two rolls of film but a of this date the camera hasnít arrived. I blame it all on the mails. The same day I received a letter dated the 13, July from A. I also received one from her dated May 27th. I, too donít understand it. I found out something about the mail just recently.
V-mail, mailed from the US and Air Mail arrive about the same time. Straight mail takes a long time. Use Air Mail if you can. From here V-mail has priority as the Army Postal Service handles it from this end and they donít necessarily recognize Air Mail priority. I send all Air Mail in hopes it gets there before the end of the war.
Alberta gave me the news from home and it was all gratifying except that the sweetest girl in the world was under the weather while she was home. I pray my mom is all better by now.
Thanks for the Sacred Heart Ė mom Ė you know thatís three of them I have. Iím not afraid to walk into the worst right now with all that protection. Tomorrow is Sunday and if they have confession, Iíll go to Communion. Itís been five weeks since Iíve been able to go. Anna is in Michigan now I guess. I hope she enjoys a swell rest.
I received an Observer issue the other day dated June 1st Ė not bad.
From that clipping you sent me, Iím 90-100 miles from there. I remember that particular area very well and someday Iíll be able to tell you about that city. If you really want to know anything just ask questions and number them and Iíll answer yes or no by the numbers. Just remember what questions are what numbers.
Two letters just came in, one from Anna postmarked July 2st, itís Airmail pretty good you see. Also a V-mail from a gal I correspond with from Louisiana. Nothing serious, when I knew her in Louisiana and certainly not now. Her letter was sweet with a few love phrases which I shed off my back. I remember mentioning marriage to Dad once Ė it was when I was 21. He said, ďhell when I was your age I was just planning on 10 years good fun.Ē I sort of kept that in mind, Iím getting in the 10 years alright but the fun part has been left out.
Annaís letters are always so full of rich reading that itís a pleasure to here from her often. Of course, letters from my mom are more in demand and I read them first. Only thing is, mom never says anything about herself and I depend on the rest of the family for reports on her.
Mom, the camera just came in as Iím writing this letter. I walked up to the Orderly Room tent and got it. Itís ideal; now maybe I can send you some nice snapshots. I also received two more rolls of film.
Nearly had my pictures taken when I visited Rome recently. Heís a well known photographer in Rome and has pictures autographed by L. Barrymore, W. Beery and a couple of American actresses. I backed out but next time I will Ė postcard size, six for six dollars.
I didnít get into see the Pope this time but will if I get the chance again.
Incidentally itís been over two weeks since Iíve heard from you or dad. I hope Dad is alright. I hear heís quite a gardener.
Dad, you see where the government is going to pay our tuition and fifty dollars a month besides to go to school. Boy does that make me happy Ė I believe I want a Law Degree but first I must get a B.S. degree and that will take me two years. Iíll go to summer school and all if my money holds out- Iíll probably be 30 years old before Iím through school. Even after school is all through, Iím determined to study foreign languages and who knows, that may do me some good in the direction Iím aiming. Dad, after what Iíve gone through and have yet to go through, nothing in the world is going to stop me in attaining my goal. I think I know where Iím thick headed and also possibly my good spots, Iíll overcome my weakness and develop my strong points. Even now over here, Iím training myself in certain respects for futures steps. I find my will is weak; that must be strengthened first of all and in many things is has shown improvement already.
I really feel that I have given some of the best years to my country Ė thatís a long time in a young fellows life Ė so many have that maybe my last years wonít be too much of a handicap.
Alberta has told me the great news Ė Iím afraid for her. Anna says Bunk is not on the ball on his job. Ė
If you donít get letters from me dated at least 7 days apart, itís the mail service or else Iím just too busy fighting Ė here in training I can always find time even if its only a v-mail Ė incidentally I rate v-mail just above no mail at all. Iíll only use it when I havenít any stationary. All for now, I must write Martin Larsen of Chicago Ė he writes quite often and is, and always has been very good to me. At one time he even wanted to advance me money so I could go to college Ė Iím sure you remember him. Heís a good Swedish Baptist and he told me he has some Baptist prayers coming my way. He used to kid me a lot about Catholics. He is incidentally, a personal friend of Mr. Kraft, of the nationally known Kraftís Cheese.
All for now, I go on 24 hour guard tomorrow, cuss it Ė Please take care of yourselves. I pray weíll be together soon.
All my love, Frankie
Your last letter was dated June 24th.
July 24-25-26 Ė problem.
July 24, 44 Received Aug. 7, 44
Received a box yesterday (July 23rd) containing soap, mirrors, candles etc. Thanks ever so much. I now have a mirror. Am sending home a medal I received at the Popeís audience and also my combat ribbon. There I had in another letter but they wouldnít go through the mail in an envelope. Iím also sending a pamphlet on the Vatican and also a cartoon pamphlet. Save this carton pamphlet for me, the medal is, of course for you. Received two issues of the Observer too dated May 11th & 25th. I hope you had a nice visit with Alberta. Did Tom get home? I am as well as can be. I pray you and Dad are alright. Guess I told you I received your letters of June 18 & 24th. Please take good care of yourself and Dad.
July 26-27 Guard
July 30 Ė 31 Guard. Received camera, letters from A. & Nita.
August 1, 1944 V-mail. Received August 14th
Havenít received any mail form home since your letter dated June 24th. I guess itís because of the mail service. I just wanted to call your attention to this because I heard you hadnít heard from me in a few weeks.
I just finished a letter to Dr. Scalon, thanking her for a scapular medal and for the many prayers she is having said for me. If you see Mrs. Kelly be sure and tell her I said hello and wishing her good health. Time right now seems to be dragging Ė what is the news from Tom? How are you now? Whatís the report on Bunk? Havenít been paid for a couple of months Ė reason I havenít sent a little home. You and dad take good care of yourselves now.
Love as ever, Frankie
August 3 Ė clothing camouflaged. Getting ready.
August 6, 1944 Received August 14th
Dearest Mom & Dad,
Received momís letter (v-mail) dated July 15th on the 4th of this month. Glad you have head all about my visit to Rome and the Vatican. Guess I have told you I received the camera, the rolls (4 of them), the mirror, soap, and two carton of cigarettes. Than you ever so much. The candles are especially helpful. Sorry to hear Tom didnít get home.
I have a new APO number which is 758 c/o Pm. NY, NY (same except for the number). Please give it to the observer. I received three issues last week one for March, one for April and one for May. Donít know what happened to the issues in between.
Today is Sunday. I went to Mass & Confession but not Communion. Hope to get to Communion before too long.
I am in the best of health and have no cause for complaint. I just hope this is over all of us in a few months. Looking both ways, mom & dad, Iím prepared spiritually for the future.
I have the best mom and dad I could ask for and Iím quite proud of our family. I fell as though you should be proud of the kids too. Alberta, Ki, Tommy, Jo and our big boy Bunk.
All for now, Iíll try and write again soon.
All my love, Frankie
August 7 Ė Guard
August 9 Ė Met Duff in Rome
Aug 10 Ė restricted to area. All set for invasion. Sweating this one out.
August 11 Ė Advance guard to assemble
August 13, 1944 Ė In assembly area airfield. Issued French money, don camouflage uniforms. Issued ammunition. Planes here. Believe we jump Tuesday am. 18 miles behind enemy lines. Went to Mass Ė communion last night. Received letter from mom last night.
Aug 14, 1944 Ė Issued American flags to be wrapped around arm Ė given morphine kit. Chutes fitted, planes loaded Ė ready to go. Went to Mass, communion, given beer, chicken tonight. Jump 0450 (am) tomorrow.
29/Aug/44 Received Sept 9, 1944
Dearest Mom & Dad
Have a few minutes to write a few lines. Mail came into day the first Iíve had since the new invasion. I told you in a v-mail I sent you several days ago that I jumped in Southern France. It was more than a thrill, Iíd be lying to say I wasnít scared when I landed and hadnít gotten out of my chute and put my rifle together. I wasnítí scared when I got in the plane for the long flight into France. Weíve had plenty of excitement since and weíre still in it. So far I believe Iíve been under the protection of our Lord. Sometimes things are quiet an then things get hot. But we are in danger of sudden death so much that I put it farthest from my mind. Once can never get used to that kind of danger no matter how much heís exposed to it. However, Iíve just fried myself some onions & potatoes and had some Ďcí ration coffee in this little town we stopped in for a Ďbreatherí, so I feel pretty good. A jeep just brought in the mail and I had your letter of July 31st. Also one from Alberta with two pictures. One of dad, Jo, Alberta & all the babies and one of you and Bunk. I was very happy to get them and Iíll carry them with me always.
That city, mom, was Palermo, that I mentioned in Sicily. This letter was just interrupted. A woman brought us in and gave us some good wine. She was celebrating the liberation of a city near us. Also had a letter from my boss in Chicago and one from Bunk. He sounded so grown up that it was hard to realize it was Bunk doing the writing.
I stole this stationary from the French. They can get more and I donít know when Iíll get the chance to write again. Right now Iím sitting at a table in a French cafť taking it easy and keeping myself from thinking what Iíll have to go through the next hour, day, month and more. The war being over in the next 3 weeks, 7 or 12 doesnít mean much to one here.
I was surprised to hear that Dad has no more acres to his credit. I sure pray Iíll be seeing that swell home o four again.
Donít mention food in your letters mom, after the way Iíve eaten in this campaign. Every so often we get a chance to raid a garden and fry ourselves something. But most of the time its c or k rations and quite often weíre glad to get them.
Air mailís faster, mom.
I pray everyday that God will keep care of you.
For now, Iíll close, I write again fist chance. New APO 758.
Love Always Frankie
Send me more film if you can. Candy too please, thanks.
6 Ė Sept. Received October 11 Ė 44
Dearest Mom & Dad,
Received a letter dated Aug 15th the 5th & one the 18th today. V-mail is all I have available so will use it. Sorry to hear about Ki. I do hope itís nothing serious. She should take a long rest. Let me know how sheís coming. Iím still in A-1 shape. Thanks for the birthday gift. I try to make myself worthy of it. Right now Iím entrenched in an almost impregnable position. Itís raining, Iím warm, dry and well fed. I slept on a cement floor like it was a feather tick, last nite. From all I hear Iím the luckiest of thousands of soldiers. Last saw a newspaper Aug 31st. We were still winning according to it. Iím afraid I wonít be home this Christmas. I just hope Iím not ducking bullets that day. Dreaming of the day I will see you again.
All my love, Frankie
11, Sept. 44 Received September 25th
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 doesnítí 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 choclate 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 & pray for you.
|Birth, childhood, and adolescence||Army basic training||Now a paratrooper||To Italy||Southern France||Belgium||After death|