Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain

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

Thursday, August 19, 2010

October 25, 1944 Wednesday

Somewhere in England

Dear folks,

Please let me use the same excuse you do for not writing. I write Marjorie all the news, and in addition, it is hard to write letters here. Most of them are done in candlelight under conditions not exactly ideal for clerical work. Also I am roaming around considerably within the limits of this island.

I am receiving your letters well now, and naturally am very glad to get every one. I will tell you whatever I need – tho there is really nothing urgent yet. It’s going to be a cold winter, and my own body heat is about all I’ll get. Gloves, a scarf, V-mail forms are good. Soap and stationery are also scarce, but I have plenty now.

V-mail really goes very fast if you have any news to send. Good idea to sprinkle them in with “real” letters.

Ma, I hear you spanked Carlton for a glass of milk that you spilled. If you want to practice flicking a towel, you don’t have to take it out on your son!

The only member of the family I don’t hear from or about is Pa. Now, I am just as interested in him as anybody else and would appreciate an account of his activities. There must be some recent news, or as the army has it, “hot poop” concerning him.

Altho I am exposed to the elements 24 hours a day, I haven’t had as much as a sniffle this fall. I guess only civilized people get sick. I’ll write when I can.

With love,

October 25, 1944 Wednesday

Dearest Honey,

I just received five more of the very nicest letters I have ever received. I got the V-mail letters you wrote on the 17th as well as some earlier mail. That is very good time, I think. And shows that V-mail is very fast. I shall use it when I can get the forms.

I was relieved to see you had finally begun to receive my letters. They should come in pretty regularly now. I hope so, because if you value the letters as much as I do yours, they mean a great deal. They are the best presents you can send.

Today I think I will tell you some of the bad things about this place just to show you that I do not intend to paint things different from what they are, and to let you realize that there are not really many bad things over here.

About the worst thing is the weather. How it can be so cold and still rain all the time constantly amazes me. The only heat we have is the little stove in our tent and that is seldom going – fuel shortage. Things are always foggy and damp, and with long underwear, a wool sweater, a shirt and my field jacket, I am still cold most of the time.

The next thing is the goddam mud. Uncle Sam gave us some good overshoes, but it is very depressing to try to keep clean with 8 inches of mud over everything.

Next is the lack of lights, hot water, and flush toilets. If I ever get to take a nice warm shower in a nice warm room, I shall be a new man.

Now add trying to live on a dirt floor – no flooring at all – and eating without cups or silverware – and you have about all the gripes I can think of. Oh, yes, one more – you can’t get anything cleaned or pressed or washed in this country. About the only thing they can do is put a cake of laundry soap on our ration card once a month. This makes it very hard to be presentable in a Class A uniform.

Olewine is in the hospital for a week or 10 days to have the cartilage in his knee cut up a little. Still a result of his football collision with a 120 lb. Pfc.! That leaves me without companionship in my trip to London. Be able to see what I want to anyway, and I’ll pretend you’re around. I saw New York alone once, too.

Now if that’s all I have to complain about, I still have plenty to be thankful for. I am getting more of an education every day just by keeping my eyes open, and the army is giving me the kind of work that develops my leadership abilities and gives me responsibilities I am glad to take.

Most of all I am thankful for my very wonderful and understanding wife. I don’t know what I’d do without you, Hon. You make everything seem good and easy. And in just knowing you are there, I don’t get lonely or downcast. I don’t have to. There is plenty here to learn and much to profit from, and having you gives me reason for taking advantage of it all.

I love you always,