Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain

Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain
Writing a letter with candle on clipboard, see Oct. 16 letter

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October 12, 1944 Thursday

Somewhere in England

Dear folks,

Once more the situation is well in hand. I have been in a state of flux for sometime, but now I seem settled, at least for a while.

I am in England, no doubt of that, and am getting in a lot of experience in English ways. I have had “tea” in some of the best cafes around and came out hungry but educated. I have an English made pipe that has a cherry bowl. My moustache is thicker and better than ever. Color; indeterminate. Black some days, and white others.

I spend most of my time with the company, but pass policy is liberal and I am seeing quite a bit of this part of England. I am due for a pass to London in a week or so. I can mention towns, etc. that are 25 miles away or more, by name. The area right around here has a lot to offer, tho, and I wish I could tell about it. One town is especially good, historically. It has a wonderful cathedral that dates from 1215, and is absolutely breathtaking in its beauty. As an old history major, it is of great interest to me. There is another place I can’t name that I plan to visit. It is known for its extremely old ruins and monoliths. I know it well from my “ancient civilizations” courses t U.N.H., and am looking forward a lot to seeing it. I’ll tell you about it if I do get there.

It does make me feel good to get my degree. I’m going to plan on getting a master’s, if possible, before I start teaching. That’s if the war lasts long enough for my finances to reach the right state. This “G.I. Bill of Rights” may finance some of it for me, too.

My mail is coming thru now. Got a letter dated Sept. 26 today, that’s 16 days. Expect they’ll come faster now.

Everything is rationed in England. I mean everything. There is very little you can buy in the towns, because the ration cards we soldiers get are for P.X.’s only. We get a ration for 1 cake of soap per week, I package of gum, 4 candy bars, and so on. It is plenty for me, but seems funny.

Give my love to Bob and all.

Your loving son,

October 11, 1944 Wednesday

Dearest Marjorie,

Today has been a typical day for me, so as to give you an idea how I spend my time, I might as well tell you how it went.

I woke up warm and snug in my blankets and had the usual struggle between will and desire before I could get up and straggle to breakfast and to the company tents by 8 a.m. The E.M. tents are about a quarter mile away. I was only a little late today. First I went to the supply tent to see how our latest requisitions were going. Found that good little Sgt. Fee was in a dither over some stuff that had been turned in, but was still serviceable. So we went together down to battalion supply to see if it could be exchanged. We found that it couldn’t and came back to re-issue it to the men.

Then I went to the orderly room and censored mail for a couple of hours. That made it nearly 11:30, so I came down to dinner. At one, Lt. Fairbairn and I got a big bag of English money and set about paying off the men. He counted out the pounds and I, the shillings and pence. That took nearly all the afternoon, because we had to get some info on soldier-voting from each man. At 4:30 we had an officers’ call down at Battalion Hq. We took notes on current business and coming events. That was over at 5:30. Then supper, then to the men’s mess hall to check their mess kits for cleanliness. Then here to build a fire (all by myself) and write to you. Depending on my energy, I may shave, shower, and pick up dirty clothes before going to bed. I am the only one in the tent now, but Buk will be in soon, and Oley later on. Tent life is very comfortable. You are in fresh air all the time. Consequently, I have an enormous appetite, and sleep very, extra comfortably in my nice tight drawn blankets.

Christmas has been on my mind some today. In view of my own laziness, I am going to ask you to look after most of our gifts. To my family, your mother, and I guess that’s all. I could say that things were hard to buy here and harder to send. They are, but if I didn’t have you I could probably manage it. I will pick up some little stuff I can, but I wish you’d look after the real gifts. Oh, and let’s not forget Laura and Justin and their little children.

As for me, if you can send anything, make it stationary, soap, and shaving cream. Those things are hard to get here. Also a scarf (warm, O.D.) and a hood—one of those knit things that go over your head and tuck into the top of a sweater or something. Covers head and neck with just a little face opening. I expect a ha-a-a-rd winter, so anything warm would go. And little practical things.

Our P.X. opened today, also our barber shop. The battalion is making quite a home for itself. We have ration cards for everything we buy at the P.X. Soon we expect to have our battalion movie operating. We get the daily “Stars and Stripes” newspaper. It is a small 4-page job, but it has the news and comes regularly. I hadn’t seen a newspaper for a long time, until that began to come. Has “Little Abner” in it, too! Division special service is arranging for special trains to London, too; so if I get a pass for any length, I’ll be off to the big town. There are also some extremely famous historical places near here that I want to see very much. If they are over 25 miles away, I can tell you all about them; if not, I can only describe them generally. This is quite an education, all round.

Well, I must write to the folks sometime soon. I do appreciate Ma’s inimitable style – just as natural as if she were talking! She seems real worried about Bob and Lorna. “We’re not old fogies, she’s just not the one,” she says. I refuse to form any opinion. I respect old Bob’s judgment implicitly, and figure he knows what he’s after.

This sure is an interesting old world! I have been getting some tremendous thrills out of it lately, and can’t think of a single aspect of it that isn’t just as fascinating as it can be. People, places, things I do, folks back home, history, psychology, art, you. It’s all very wonderful. I wouldn’t miss it for anything!

The fire is going out and there’s no more fuel, so I better go to bed now. Nite, honey. I wish you were with me so we could share all the things that are going on. But knowing you love me and thinking how I love you make me feel very satisfied. I sleep very soundly and have no doubts that we will always be together and share everything. It’s so good to know, isn’t it? Bye for now,

All yours,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October 10, 1944 Tuesday

Somewhere in England

Dearest Honey,

Surprisingly enough, things seem to be settling down to a normal pace and routine here. I may even get a chance to write frequently. I sure hope so. I feel as tho I was getting way behind on things. Same way I used to feel when I didn’t write in my diary. It makes me feel guilty because so many things have happened now that I can only tell a few of them.

Fine as the British people are, don’t ever think they are the same as we are. This is really a foreign country. I hadn’t realized this until yesterday. Until then I had been in a U.S. camp and the country had seemed no more different than the sections of the U.S. are from one another. In fact, the weather and countryside seemed less foreign than Georgia or Texas did to me.

Before yesterday I saw enough of English ways to be interested, but not enough to appreciate how different they are. I played around a lot with British money when I was made exchange officer for the company and had to change over $850 from American to English currency and re-issue English money to the men. Got pretty fluent at talking pence, shillings and pounds.

I had a unique conversation with a little English girl. She was out by the ‘”ablution” place, and I had heard that she was there soliciting laundry, which we have been doing ourselves. Naturally, I ran out right away to see if she would take mine. “Are you the girl that wants to take in laundry?” She shook her head no. So I started back to my tent, baffled. I had gone about half way back when she called after me “But my mother does!” I went back to arrange it then. She said the house where she lived was one of two on the other side of the woods. I asked her which one, and she paused and said, “That all depends on which way you’re going. One way it’s the first, the other way it’s the second.” Well, we finally got by all theses obstacles and I found the place. Olewine fascinated them with our “funny” American money, and they said we could have laundry done for three-pence a piece. That’ll keep me from getting dish-pan hands, or whatever it is you get on wash day.

I went around with Olewine most of the time after we landed and were shuttling around. Once we almost got to ride in a glider towed by a C-47. We became acquainted with a lot of pilots at the officers’ club of one place. Arrangements were all made for us to go on a practice flight with a glider squadron, but our outfit moved out the morning we were supposed to go up. We were both disappointed, but anyway, we learned a lot from the pilots, all of whom had been on many missions—carrying invasion troops—and had “short-snorter” bills yards long. They are bills of foreign countries stuck together, you know. The man with the shortest string, buys the drinks.

That was the club where Olewine gave the English waiter a 50 dollar bill. He casually tossed it back, and explained that that was worth 50 cents,--or ‘alf a crown, and not enough to cover the bill.

After we moved into this tent camp things were just like any army camp getting settled—issuing blankets, lanterns, stoves, etc., as supply officer, took most of my time. We C Company officers live together in one tent; we have made it very livable by a series of nocturnal patrols that have yielded a stove, fuel, various items of furniture and, wonder of wonders, an electric light! We “acquired” everything from wire to plug to light and shade for same, and tapped in on a line going by our tent. My capitalistic respect for property is taking an awful beating, but we’re comfortable. We sleep on folding cots that are legitimate issue. That is, we didn’t steal everything.

We eat in a type of building known as a “Nissen Hut;” semi-circular, long, made of sheets of galvanized iron. Very warm and economical.

Just as I forgot that I was in a strange country, I drew a 12 hour pass. I cannot name the city Oley and I went to [Salisbury], because censorship does not permit us to mention any place within 25 miles of this camp. It is a fairly large place, tho, reached by a crowded bus like the one we took to Barkeley from Abilene, except for the English driver and ticket-taker.

As soon as we stepped down off the big two-story bus, Olewine and I walked in a foreign country from then on. We didn’t grasp a thing for the next three and a half hours, when we landed at an American officers club and caught our breath on coffee and donuts. We took off down a narrow crowded old street that didn’t look like New Orleans, but was closer to that than anything we have seen. We were hungry as wolves and looking for a place to eat. On the way we window shopped for Xmas presents for our wives. Saw some fine silverware, but not much in “our” style. Went into an antique shop and bought a bronze medal with a university coat of arms on it for 2 and 6. It is a silly thing—prize for a bicycle race at Cambridge in 1880. Don’t know why I bought it. We passed by typical “tobacconists” shops, and dropped into one. They had many kinds of tobacco, but none of the aromatic kinds. The result of war shortages. I have some English tobacco and it is no better than American. They have an excellent mild cigarette—“Player’s” Navy cut medium, they call it.

We didn’t find a restaurant that was open for a long time, and found out in the meanwhile that we just couldn’t get our uniforms pressed, and needed ration coupons that we didn’t have to buy a cheap pair of gloves. English waiters do not seem very aggressive. We entered a store and would have waited all day before anyone volunteered to wait on us. The waiters just ignored us until we went up and asked them for something. Then they were very polite, however.

Finally we found an open café. It was plainly the best in town—refined and crowded. We dashed in to order something extra big in the way of meals. We forgot that it was four o’clock, tea time, and that England was short on food in a way we don’t know about in the U.S. Consequently we were a little startled when we were put at a teeny-weeny table with a silver tea set and four cups already on the table. I was in the pourer’s seat, so I solemnly poured Olewine’s thimble full and we began munching on the little pastries they had there. We figured that when they brought us the menu we could order something big. The pastries would keep up from dying meantime. The menu did come, too. It was about the size of the menu at that Mexican food place in Abilene, was it Comidas Mexincanas? This menu was in pencil, tho. We ordered Welsh Rarebit very happily and returned to our tea, now reinforced with plain hot water from a pot. Finally our meal came—a thin slice of bread with a cheese cream on it. Olewine said, “huh, in the states we call it a cheeseburger.” All in all, we felt about as silly as you and I did at Antoine’s, and we left a great deal hungrier than you and I did.

We prowled around some more, and had “tea” at a couple of more nice cafes, but still couldn’t get what would equal one meal. Came to one conclusion—either you cannot eat at “tea-time,” or there is just no food to buy in England. Guess it’s a little of each.

We gave up finally, and went sight seeing. Without direction we found the old part of town. A section about two blocks square completely walled in by a tall parapet or the stone sides of buildings. We entered through an enormous archway of stone that looked like something out of the middle ages—and was. We went down a short street to a flat, green square. In the center was the enormous, graceful cathedral, and on the edge of the square were old taverns and stores—The Bell and Crown, The Red Lion, etc. An Anglican priest walked by, and a long legged boy went by on a bicycle. Everything was very, very European except for one thing—the boy was singing “Pistol Packin’ Mama”!

Then came the high point of the day, and I believe one of the most moving experiences of my life. We went into the cathedral. It was interesting from the outside—Gothic, old, large and majestic. It had “flying buttresses” and stone carvings and everything a cathedral should have. But it wasn’t until we went inside and looked up that we caught on to why people have been so enthusiastic about cathedrals. It was the most striking thing I have seen for a long, long time. The tall windows with the sun coming through, the high, high ceilings, the stone floors, the inscriptions that date back to long before the crusades. We got there in time for “evensong” and heard the organ playing. The acoustics were perfect, and the organ seemed to come from nowhere. We saw the robed choirboys march in, and heard the priests chant and the choir sing the responses. You can see how big a grip the church must have had on people in the old days, when it was all the had of art and culture. I was awe-struck in a way that is hard to describe.

We left soon, but I hope to go back again. We went back to the main part of town, and spent the evening at three officers’ clubs. One, to have a good American supper, a Red Cross O.C.; one that had a bar and a radio. We drank some good cherry brandy and some sherry as we listened to the sixth game of the world series. It was 2 o’clock in St. Louis, and 8 o’clock here when it started. We went to the third club to read and meet a Lt. who had agreed to take us home in his peep. We got home to our tent before midnite.

The pass was my first real look at England. It is a strange place, with very deep rooted customs. We Americans won’t change it too much. I have noticed that almost every young girl has a baby carriage. Not that there is any necessary connection, you know.

Since I started this letter my first mail has come in. I took time out to read every word two or three times. I got six letters. Four from you, one from Ma, and one from the University. The last tells me where to sit at graduation! All were written before I got on the boat, but you seemed to catch on that I was on my way. Gee, it was good to hear from you, Bunny. How did you know to put U.S.A. on your return address after Sept. 20? Every word you wrote was true, Hon. I do feel about like a boy that makes me very sick when I censor his mail. Every single day he tells his wife in 8 or 10 pages that he loves her (I quote) “madly, madly, and so very madly.” Well, I’m not mad at you, or anything, and I won’t risk driving anyone else into madness by being like that. But I can see how that boy feels, Hon.

Now, you see, this Abilene N.H. deal really shows very deep foresight, as I see it. I felt that by the time the card went out you might be either in Abilene or N.H. By compromising in this fashion I gave the postman some clue, regardless of where you were. Not many people would think of that, now, would they? And you got the damned thing, didn’t you?

Olewine and his wife have adopted “I’ll Walk Alone” until the war is over, too. It does fit us, a great deal better than I realized when I first went for it. I’ll walk alone, Honey, and I am lonely, too. And no mistake. I love you such an awful lot.

Probably you are in school now. Whatever you do is O.K. with me, Hon. I am waiting to hear about your doings after Sept. 20 or so. Ma says you are looking swell, which is natural, and I don’t see why she seemed surprised that your stay in Texas was good for you. (Did you ever tell her about the neat way you threw your dressed around the sidewalks of Abilene when we came back from New Orleans?) I will be glad when those pictures you took come through—I hope they’re the small kind.

Now, goodnite, Honey. I love you more than anyone in the world. I am so glad we had our summer together and came to see just how close we could be in reality. Before we had thought we could be close, now we are close and understand each other well. With that we can pass the time we are apart without worry and with great faith. I love you, Honey.

So long, every bit of love,

October 7, 1944 Saturday

Somewhere in England [V-Mail #2]

Dearest Honey,

Hello, Hello! My lecture on England is now being prepared and will take about three years to deliver. I am having more fun than anything looking and learning. We live in a tent city and it’s cold, no foolin’, but we are close to civilization. My nerves are being shattered trying to dodge to the correct side of the road when a car comes at me on the left side. Also am waiting to get the “hang” of English money. We have seen quite a share of England already; it’s very pretty—neat, well-cultivated countryside. Like New England, but more populated.

Am still waiting for some mail, but am patient. Have had a hard time keeping up with myself. I love you, Bunny, very much.

All yours,

Friday, October 10, 2008

Undated [on board the Empress of Australia, sailed from NYC to Liverpool, September 20, Wednesday-October 2, Monday, 1944]

[V-Mail #1]

Dearest Marjorie,

I have written several letters to you since we have been at sea. They will be mailed when we land, as this will be. This should get to you quicker, tho, so here it is to let you know I am safe and healthy and young and handsome and rugged and very much in love with my wife. If I weren’t all those things when I left, lay it to the ocean air.

Put it down on our list of “things to be done by us,” to cross the ocean and spend some evenings on a moonlit deck. The sea is very big and beautiful at night.

Maybe, too, this trip will make our trips in the U.S. seem pale. It has been most interesting so far, but I do miss you and love you very much and all the time. So long, my honey.

All my love,

Undated [on board the Empress of Australia, sailed from NYC to Liverpool, September 20, Wednesday-October 2, Monday, 1944]

Dear Mrs. Russell,

Land ho! Yes, we sighted terra firma off the port bow today, so our trip is on its last legs. At least this portion of it. I couldn’t have asked for a more pleasant voyage. Naturally, many of us are getting restless from lack of activity. I am a good loafer, tho, if you want to call it that. I enjoy reading, talking and just looking. Everything about the trip has been exciting, and much of it actually beautiful. There’s nothing like looking out across the sea as clean and blue as you see in pictures, or watching the white, white foam made when the swath cut by the ship’s prow breaks into the swell of the ocean. At night, the moon makes it just as nice—it’s a gibbous moon, they call it. Between half and full.

Now that we are close in, and sitting in the harbor, the water is yellowish green, and strangely enough, rougher than anything we saw on the open sea. Sea gulls have been flying around us all day, and I have spent a lot of time watching them with my binoculars. Scanning the shore line was fun, too. Picked out a lot of details on the first foreign land I’ve seen. Some delay is keeping us from disembarking right away. From here, tho, we can see the ships of several different countries coming and going.

Have just finished reading “The Great Impersonation,” an entertaining story about secret service in the first world war. It didn’t take me long to go thru that. Now I am putting a lot of time on the a book on early Am. Hist.—“The Struggle for American Freedom,” by Morais. The book just came out this spring, and is interesting to me for quite a few reasons. It follows up “Western Star” with something more interpretive of the same period. Morais is a liberal writer, a little in line with Marx, something of an economic determinist. Don’t necessarily agree with him, but he interprets qs well as presents facts. Finally, the man who loaned me the book is a member of my platoon named Sokol, an ex-labor leader. His is a strong union man and plans to into organization again after the war. An Ohio State man, husband of a woman who is a book agent. That’s how he gets these new books—anything he wants. He really thinks about history. May try to bend everything to fit his theory about the power of the organized worker, but he goes deeper than anybody I’ve met in this outfit.

So many things are going on, I wish I was keeping a diary. But that would involve dates and places that are taboo now. I’m afraid the sequence of things from Barkely to P.O.E. to here is already hazy.

‘Bye now, Bun. More later.

All my love,

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Undated [on board the Empress of Australia, sailed from NYC to Liverpool, September 20, Wednesday-October 2, Monday, 1944]

Dearest Honey,

Time goes by easily at sea. Nothing much to write about as far as what we do is concerned. I like the sea a lot, what I’ve seen of it; and I’ve had time to do a lot of reading and thinking since we got on board.

Finished “Western Star.” It was very good, but I didn’t feel it was in a class with “John Brown’s Body” at all. It was originally intended to be 5 or 6 books long, they say, and this is all that was completed. Consequently the story doesn’t live up to the prologue, or go with it very well. The prologue deals with the westward movement on the continent; the story, with Jamestown and Plymouth only. With just these two to worry about, there is still so much history to cover that it has to be done hurriedly and incompletely. And the story isn’t as well tied together as “John Brown.” Too many subjects to tie together in one complete theme without leaving loose ends. Like biting off too much for one mouthful. Also a lot of the outline, method and even similes were the same ones used in “John Brown,” so they didn’t have the effect they did the first time. Benet’s poems are really good, tho, and both books let you “live” history.

Now I am reading a book about the Philippine insurrection after the Spanish-American War in 1898. You wouldn’t like it a bit, but it does have some military history that means a little to me. The army was the army, even in those days.

How are you today, Bunny? Happy? I hope so. I wonder if you are going to K.T.C. now, and if it is like it used to be. I love you very much, honey, and enclose a hundred or so kisses. I would swim back for one hug right now, if they’d let me. Gee, I miss you.

Always all yours,

Undated [on board the Empress of Australia, sailed from NYC to Liverpool, September 20, Wednesday-October 2, Monday, 1944]

Dear Folks,

I am writing you to tell you next to nothing. I spend my time censoring other people’s mail and am a hard-bitten, wizened-up, old meany when it comes to letting thru information. So I can’t help but practice what I preach.

We are on the high seas now, en route to an unknown place. But we’re having a good time at it. The officers have it very easy and live in excellent quarters. There are thousands of books floating around. Good ones, and free. I have been reading a great deal. Fiction, history, poetry. Feel almost as tho I was back in school.

Don’t remember that I told you that I liked the picture you sent of silly Aunt Nettie and grinning Bob. He was wearing his jacket in which he keeps the “one rose that lived in his hear,” I see. Ask him if he still has it there. You know that I got to see Laura and her beautiful, bouncing babies before we left. Greg is the best little boy I know.

I hope everything is fine with Marjorie and that she is happy with Grammie and you folks.

I am very interested in the doings of old Bob. Maybe he has a new and better job by now. I figure he’ll do all right, anyway. He always knows what’s best.

I understand I graduated from U.N.H. a few days ago! That’s good. I intend to aim at a master’s degree next. In educational psychology.

This sea-sickness theory is just a lot of talk as far as I’m concerned. Old “sea-legs” Russ they call me. Sea life really appeals to me—it’s beautiful. (Hope I don’t have to regret those words some stormy day.)

You loving son,

Undated [on board the Empress of Australia, sailed from NYC to Liverpool, September 20, Wednesday-October 2, Monday, 1944]

Dearest Honey,

Since I have been aboard ship I have been writing one of those continued letters we use when we are out of contact. However, I have just received some new information on censorship that throws out a lot I had written—about dates, descriptions, etc. So this is an expurgated rewrite of what I have already written once.

Soon after I went to see Laura our unit was alerted. Consequently, we were out of contact with the world from then on. I got around quite a bit the last minute as supply officer, tho. I was kept so busy that I did not get a good chance to react emotionally to the thought of leaving the U.S. That is a good thing about being an officer. You have so many things to do that you don’t fret about yourself.

When we finally left, loaded down with equipment, I was in charge of one fairly large group of men, and had to check continually to see if they were all there. I left the men at the pier eating Red Cross donuts and coffee. I drifted around aimlessly for a time; they were anxious to care for enlisted men, but nobody seemed to care where an officer went. A man finally told me I could do nothing but go to my stateroom and go to bed. So I hunted up an officer’s gangway, checked in, and went aboard. A steward showed me my room, which I share with a mess of other 2nd Lts. It is a swell room, tho, and compared to what the men have, it is heaven.

As soon as I was settled I went down to where our men are. I was on a regular shift with them from midnite to 6 a.m.

Now I have to skip a lot of stuff I had describing our ship. Suffice it to say, it is a good one. We all get a chance to be on deck. It rolls gently with the waves. I can appreciate how a person could get sea sick. I have felt well, tho, all the way.

They always let us talk about the food, and as far as the officers’ mess goes it deserves to be talked about. We have two meals a day and they are really meals. I don’t mean just plentiful, but served in style. We have eaten in some swank places, honey, but never have we seem the amount of silverware and plates they give us. Three knives, three forks, and three spoons is par for a meal, with more added at the slightest excuse. None of them are “standard gauge,” but differ in size from our American ware. An old English custom, our waiter says. English preparation is not much different from our own. The officers have had big thick steaks with all the fixin’s and other meals, not better than we have had in restaurants, but comparable. No wines or anything. They always have a fish course just before the entrée.

I am not too busy now that we are on board, and am having quite a nice time. Today is Sunday and I went to a Protestant service, with communion. Seemed good. Got real wine. First time I have in such a service, I think.

The Red Cross, Salvation Army, U.S.O. and Army Special Service are busting buttons to make us happy. Today the Red Cross gave everybody a little kit with just about everything in it—soap, shoestrings, cards, cigarettes, a book, razor blades, stationery, a pencil, sewing kit, etc., etc. The bag itself can be used for toilet articles.

There is plenty of reading material in little readable books even smaller than Pocket-books.” Right now I am reading Benet’s “Western Star” in a little vest pocket version—but complete. They are all good literature—classics and best sellers. Very, very good idea.

I am writing this on deck. It is quite pleasant here, but the landscape looks just the same—sky, sea, and ship. One of my room-mates keeps running to the porthole to look out—we ask just what he expects to see new each time.

We carry life preservers all the time, and have daily boat drill. The last is just like fire drills in school!

We had a mail call yesterday and I got some letters taken with us the last minute from you, Laura, and Ma. You seem to be getting back into the Keene “groove” again O.K. You don’t know how relieved I am to know that. I feel so much better knowing you are there, and not really alone, since you have your mother and my folks and al the familiar things in Keene. Now as soon as we see that our things arrived in Keene O.K. from Abilene and that your allotment is reaching the banks on schedule, we’ll be set to “wait out” whatever we have to.

I know this won’t be mailed until the ship gets to its destination, and I can’t tell when I’ll get more mail from you. But I’ll be waiting anxiously, honey. I do love you more strongly than ever and nothing in the world can make me forget you for a minute. I think of you all the time, especially at night just before I go to sleep. I love my wife more than anything.

I suppose I have graduated from U.N.H. now; at least I was invited to their senior “tea.” I had other engagements at the time, however. I thought about it at the time of the commencement, tho. I don’t mind missing that as long as I get the “sheepskin.” In fact, it was a custom in my “Don Richards” set a school not to attend commencement. It signified something or other.

That’s all for now, hon. Hope you are fine. I love you a thousand times. ‘Bye, bunny.

All my love,

Undated [before September 20, 1944]

Dearest Marjorie,

Well, I have my new pen now. It cost me all of 70 cents at the PX, but writes pretty well. Probably would be a dollar or so in civilian life. Anywho, it’s the best I could buy.

Things are going much easier now. I am getting enough sleep and not being too rushed during the day. Don’t expect leisure time now, but appreciate working at a more normal pace. Got thru censoring at 10 o’clock last night.

Got a letter from you yesterday saying when you got home. I am very, very relieved to know you made it without the loss of an arm or leg or anything. Also your disposal of Muzzie was the best way to do it. He will have a home, and that is good to know.

I am not starting this letter on the wrong side to be cute, but because I started it during an officer’s meeting and wanted to appear to be taking notes!

The reason for continuing in this strange place is to demonstrate the army way of writing on reverse sides. You see, no time is lost turning the paper over—just invert this end and continue reading.

I am hoping to get another letter from you today giving more details on your trip. Wel, got to run now already. I love you.

All yours,

P.S. I wrote this before we left, but didn’t get to mail it. Here it is, a little out of date. Had to cut out the date after we left.

September 18, 1944 Monday

Somewhere on the East Coast

Dearest Marjorie,

I received your big day-by-day letter from Abilene and read every word. Was glad to hear what happened after I left, but am anxiously waiting news of your trip home.

Being apart and not knowing just where you are is pretty “rough.” I have been taking myself very seriously as supply officer. It’s quite important and I feel responsible for each man. That job usually takes from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.—then Fairbairn, Bukovenac, Olewine, Young, and myself get together and censor mail until it’s over, usually around 1 a.m. Seeing that the men’s mail gets thru keeps me from getting to write you usually. We Lts. can do a lot to help out the men and you feel like a heel if you don’t do all you can.

To get away from business, I got in to see Laura Friday night. I found the place all right, and Justin stayed home from work. Had a swell evening of talk, and some Chinese food. Laura’s babies are the best in the world. Greg is fat and snuggly and cheerful. Most lovable baby you ever saw. I had loads of fun with him. Merellyn is a picture of Laura, and Greg, of Justin! As usual, they were very hospitable and Justin funny. Nice couple.

Gee, Hon, you better be in Keene by now! If so, I hope you get started right away on courses at K.T.C. You’ll want to keep constructively busy, I know. Bet your Mother was glad to see you! Has the place changed much? I don’t imagine it has. No matter what happens in Keene, it always seems like home when you get there.

I lost my pen somewhere this last week, so I’ll have to get another if I can. Or maybe it will turn up again; my things do peculiar tricks, you know.

When I last left you at Abilene, I strongly suspected that I wouldn’t see you again, but was not certain. No use saying goodbyes, anyway, they are so futile. I hope that is the way you wanted it. I thought it would be easier. I tried to get things pretty well lined up with you, but I have feared that maybe I left too many things for you to do. I will feel so much better when I know you are O.K. Our unit left Berkeley that Wednesday night. I was Div. Officer of the Guard on Tuesday. That tied me up so that I couldn’t get in. Of course, I could not telephone and tell you what was going on.

I have told of our train trip, and that I have been very occupied since I got here. I have been appointed ass’t. defense council for a courts-martial. Have had several cases already. I have lost them all (!) but don’t let that change your estimate of me as a lawyer. I’m good! But the court is determined to get convictions in spite of what goes on at the trial.

Please do not let the fact that I cannot write often make you too sad, Hon. I hope to write better later on, but anyway, I love you and think of you just as often as ever. Everything we have ever planned is just as real as it was when we were together. We have plans and memories to lean on and believe in. You are my wonderful wife always. I’m awfully glad of that and never forget it. Bye now.

Every bit of my love,

Undated [September 1944]

Somewhere on the East Coast

Dear folks,

Believe me, I am sorry if you have been worried over me. As you see, I have taken a train trip to an undisclosable destination. For some time we have not been allowed to write, and now that I can, I am so extremely busy second lieutenanting that I have almost no time to write. I am the company supply officer, and here that is a 24 hour-a-day job. I live in a warehouse and am dealing in big figures, but really good training, if I ever want to run a wholesale firm!

Also today I served as asst. defense counsel in a courts-martial. I am an excellent lawyer, but have to prepare my briefs between midnite and 6 a.m.!

When the current rush is over I expect to get a pass and may get to see Laura. Sure hope so.

Marjorie will no doubt be in Keene when you get this. At least our plans call for that. We made arrangements before I left, but I haven’t heard that they worked out yet. I am anxiously awaiting news on that. She is scheduled to arrive Friday night of this week.

Well, it looks like this “awful old war” will fold up sometime, so don’t fret. I am strong as a bull and feeling very powerful bossing so many people around. I love you all and enjoyed the photo a great deal.

Your loving son,

P.S. 1. My signature on envelope means I have censored this.
2. How’re ya doin’, Russ?
3. It’s rainy as can be here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

September 12, 1944 Tuesday

Somewhere along the East Coast

Dearest Honey,

I thought I would never get a chance to write you. We bump into censorship now, you see. As an officer, I censor my own mail and it is subject to spot checks only by a base censor. That means that much of it will be censored only by me, but I have to be strict with myself! We were not allowed to write during the trip here. On arrival I found myself suddenly appointed supply officer, and I guess you know what that means at this time. Remember, Olewine had it back at camp and worked 24 hours a day. I have it now and work twice as long each day! However, my big troubles will be over in a few days and after that there won’t be much to keep me busy nights. I’ll write regularly then.

Well, let’s see, what can I say? Haven’t done much yet that is discussable. Had a luxurious pullman on the way up – about ½ full of officers – rest empty. Breakfast in bed, actually, all the time we were on the train. Passed thru Louisville and Buffalo, but did not get off anywhere.

I am worrying myself a lot over you and will not be happy until I hear that you are home and safe. I know you will write as soon as you can. I feel pretty helpless, but am hoping that the baggage and your transportation came thru as we planned.

I love you even more than I thought, Hon. Please do not feel alone because I am talking to you all the time, and thinking of you. I will get to write a real letter very soon now. (Being so busy here has really made me a part of C Company, tho, so it’s good that way.)

Of course, I am feeling excellent and am as safe as ever in the arms of Uncle Sam. So don’t worry at all about me – just look well after yourself, please.

Every bit of my love,

September 4, 1944 Monday

Labor Day

Dear Folks:

While some of my laundry is soaking,, I’ll drop you a line about our weekend, not very exciting but that’s not important.

Wallace came in early Saturday afternoon so we turned around and went right back out. A Lt. Myers (we’re friendly with) has access to the Hammond organ in the battalion chapel, so we went there to play. Seemed wonderful! We had to stop around 5:15 so the chaplain (Catholic) could have a mass. Meanwhile we and 4 other “lieuts” had “chow” in the GI’s mess hall. Sure was an experience! I got a big kick out of it! Had hue servings and all we wanted – mile-long spaghetti with a delicious tomato-cheese sauce and meat. Also cantaloupe, cinnamon buns, and cake. Everything was typically GI. Then until 7 we sat aournd in the officers’ huts and gabbed. Great sport! Then we could go back to the chapel and play some more so, while Catholic boys sauntered in and ou for prayers, I got a big thrill playing “prayerful” music for them! Had a date at the Supper Club at 8:30 or 9 so we left, or rather, started to leave camp around 7:30. I said “started” because it took us 2 hours to get in from camp which is only 14 or 15 miles from Abilene! Because of this we called the whole thing off, quite disappointingly. Needed the sleep anyway ‘cause W and I are having a cold or hay fever in good shape. We were both much better this a.m. tho. Saw some wonderful and beautiful sites out at camp while we were trying to leave. For instance, the sunset and full moon rise. Really undescribeable. It’s so flat that they both just suddenly disappear and appear, pop right up over the horizon. Certainly would like to be an artist at such moments—great big balls of fire!

Yesterday we both got up around 10:30 with very sore throats and whirling headaches, but after a good breakfast and being up awhile we really began to feel like ourselves. Spent all afternoon reading the paper and listening to the symphony. Last nite we went to see a very good movie about Dr. TWG Morton of Boston and ether—“The Great Moment” with Joel McCrea and Betty Fields. Then my husband felt “crazy” and wanted to go down the street to see Bob Hope in “Never Say Die.” Also Fri. nite we went to see the much-advertised “Hail the Conquering Hero” which was very funny and noisy and full of confusion and commotion.

Had a good sleep last nite and we really felt more like ourselves this morning.

Now, for the “big” news of the weekend!! Saturday was our “D-Day.” Wallace received word that he’d get his B.S. degree at the next UNH commencement, probably Sept. 22, and he acquired us a dog!! Yes, at last we’ve an old white mutt. Just plain dog. The cutest white 6 weeks old puppy. He just couldn’t resist and when I saw it at camp Saturday, I couldn’t resist either. Don’t know what we’re going to do with him, but we’ve got him now! That’s our problem!! He’s (the dog, I mean) about 8” long with one floppy brown ear and sleek-haired. More of this acquisition is a “military secret” but will tell you about it later. The boys are going to make him a nice home and Wallace will be tugging him home tonite! His name is “Muzzle-blast” which needs an explanation I’ll also give later.

Guess that completes the news in review from the Russells at 745 Hickory—now on to my washing.

How go the Russells at 23 Pleasant—Papa, Mama, Carlton, and Bob?

Love from us’ns,
Marjorie and Wallace
(only 2 sheets of paper come with each envelope in this box!)