Concentration Camp Austria 260th Infantry WWII Letter

This letter was written by a PFC, who was in Company F, 260th Infantry, in July of 1945. He was in a “Camp” at the time he wrote the letter. I am not sure if the camp was a liberated concentration camp, or a camp for the wounded, but from the letter, it appears that there were many people in bad shape. From the letter…..

I am writing you a few lines to let y know that I received your letter and glad to hear that you are alright and doing fine and still working everyday and that Blacky has been transferred to the seventh army and is still in Germany, and is getting along alright as I have written to him and maybe he hasn’t gotten my mail yet. I am alright and still in Austria, how long nobody knows as far as that moving I was telling you about in my last letter, it looks like we are going to be stationed at this camp for a while yet, but as far as that question you asked in your letter about whether our division was among that list, yes it is the eighth one from the end it was the 65th Division which will be held until after the first of the year but as far as the old personnel, such as I and the rest of the fellow that came over with it is doubtful as they are slowly shipping us out to other outfits and some are going direct to the States for 30 days furlough then for reassignment to new outfits or replacement to the South Pacific. I don’t know how far away from Blacky I am as I think we are about a hundred and a few miles inside of the Austrian border. They sure was some sights at this camp when we first got here but most of the people that were well and able to walk have been sent home and the ones left are on the way to getting well or they are so far gone that the medics are waiting for them to die, the only thing that’s keeping some of them alive is the medic. As soon as they stop treating them they are gone. Of about 17,000 that were in this camp there are only 1250 left in it. They said they are going to  put P.W.s in it after it gets empty of the other people.
   Glad to hear Mr. ? is up and around and has gone back to work so when you seem them, tell them I was asking for them and hoping that they are all well.
   You said Blacky was drinking a lot. I am glad to hear that they have that much to drink where he is at as where we are at all we don’t even have good beer, the people in camp drink benzene which they use for fuel to run their cars with and quit a few GI drink it to so I don’t drink so much. Well take care of yourself and don’t work to hard especially the house work so until alter and hoping I hear from you,

Your Pal,


For those interested in more information about concentration camps in WWII, here are some other sources:


The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister     The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister
 
A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy     A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy

Thank A Veteran On Veteran's Day. A Tribute To My Uncle.

A Simple Thanks Can Mean A Lot

Photo: wikimedia commons
I want what I write today, to serve two purposes. To pay tribute to my uncle, and to encourage whoever might read this, to thank a veteran on veteran's day. Of course you don't have to wait till Veteran's Day, but it is a pretty good day to do it. It provides a perfect lead in, to a short thank you. One line I've used myself that I would suggest, is: "I heard you are a veteran, and since today is Veteran's Day, I would just like to say thank you for your service." Offer to shake their hand also.
When Veteran's Day rolls around each year, my thoughts always go to my uncle, and his service. There is a good possibility that you have person you know, who you think of on that day. For many people it is their father. For me it is my uncle.
Many times we take people in our family for granted. We know of their military service, from the time we are small, and for that reason, we might neglect to find out just what they went through.
Another very important thing that we neglect often, is to simply say thank you. It seems simple enough, but thanking a family member for their military service, seems strangely awkward.
I did thank my uncle, but I almost waited too long. It was one of those things that always seemed like it could wait. If you have never thanked family, friends, or coworkers, try it. You will be glad you did.
Uncle Dickie During the Korean War

My Uncle Was Our Family Hero

I want to give you a little background on my uncle now. He was a boy during WWII. His oldest brother joined the Army, but was discharged due to a serious mental illness, which later took his life. His next oldest brother, my father, dropped out of high school, as soon as he was old enough to join the Army. He told everyone he knew, that he was going to join up. He went for his physical. His parents had to sign for him. They found out that he had a serious heart problem. They wouldn't allow him to serve. My father cried when he found out he couldn't serve his country. My father died when I was 50, and I never saw him cry, even at the funerals of his parents.
My uncle was too young to serve during WWII. He watched as his older brothers wanted to serve, but couldn't. World War Two finally ended. In time, he grew into a strong, athletic young man, like his older brothers were.
The Korean War broke out. This was uncle Dickie's chance. He was still too young to join, without his parents' permission. He had to convince his parents. They agreed to sign for him, and he joined the Navy. He became a Navy corpsman. For those who might not be familiar with what a Navy Corpsman is, they are basically field medics for Marine Corps units. The marines many times, are the first to be sent into combat zones.
Even though many insisted that it be called the Korean Conflict, over 33,000 Americans died during it. I remember calling it the Korean War once, and my uncle was quick to correct me. I think the term "Korean Conflict" had been stuck in his craw for many years. People fought, and people died.....it was a war.
He saw the worst of war. The broken bodies, the blood, the death. He was wounded there, and received a purple heart for being wounded in action. The day he was wounded, he could have been evacuated with the rest of the Marines, who were wounded. He stayed with his unit though, until he could be replaced, because he didn't want them to be without a Corpsman.
The war finally ended, and he went home. He and my aunt went about the task of raising their two girls, who soon had two more sisters. He left the Navy, but after a short while out of the military, he decided to join the Army.

Then the Vietnam War came along. His nephew talked about joining the army, because he looked up to his uncle. He gently tried to discourage his nephew from joining. He didn't want to see his nephew go, because he knew about war. He had seen it up close and personal. My Uncle volunteered to go to Vietnam.

During the time he spent in Vietnam, he served in a Military field hospital. A surgical hospital. While there, he was awarded two Bronze Stars.

He made it back home where he watched his daughters grow up and have lives of their own. Then he got sick. A stroke, and cancer.

I Finally Thanked Him

He had always been my hero, but I had never thanked him. I sent my cousin the following email.
Dear Debbie,
I woke up about 2:00 A.M. this morning, and thoughts of the war in Iraq crept in while I lay awake in bed. Whenever I think about war, I usually think about what your Dad must have went through during his service. Then I got to thinking that I have a real American hero in my own family, and I don't think that I have ever taken the time to say thank you for what he has done for me and for all of us in the country, and in our family. So if you don’t think that it would upset him too much and would be ok, I would like to say a few things to him.
Dear Uncle Dickie,
I just want to thank you for putting your life on the line for me, and the rest of the family during your service to your country. You are a true American hero. We have always been proud of you, even though we never told you. So many times, the true heroes of this country go about their lives with little or no recognition. You shed your blood on foreign soil, so we could enjoy the freedom that we so often under appreciate. I love you, and so do the rest of us here. We think of you often, and pray that God will have his hand on you. We will never forget what you have done for us, and I just wanted you to know that we truly appreciate it.
Your grateful nephew, Jim
My cousin read the email to him, in his hospital room. He shed some tears, and her and her sister shed some.
One day we received a call that told us if we wanted to see him again, we should come, because he didn't have much time.

The Left Handed Salute

We drove about 700 miles to be there. He drifted in and out of consciousness. My cousin told him we were there to see him. I went to his bedside. I told him that he was my hero, that he was our family hero. Because of his stroke, he couldn't use his right hand. He put his left hand to his forehead. My cousin put it down. He put his hand back up to his forehead. She put it down again. When he did it a third time, she looked at me, and said "he is saluting you". It took everything I had to not lose it right there.

This hero was hours from dying, and he was saluting me. I didn't deserve that salute. I didn't deserve to shine his boots. To this day, that left handed salute is the highest honor that I have had as an American citizen. It brings tears to my eyes even today when I think about it. He died the next morning. I was there, and I had the honor of holding his hand as his daughter struggled in vain to aid her father as he took his last breaths.

He was a quiet hero, like so many heroes are. Except for the purple heart license plate on his car, you would never have known it.
He received a military funeral, and was buried in his Army uniform.

We miss you uncle Dickie.

Take The Time To Thank A Vet

If you have never tried it, please give it a try once.
If you are a veteran, and are reading this, Thank you very much for your service. I really do appreciate it.

British Royal Air Force, India WWII Letter 1944

This letter was written by an LAC, with the British Royal Air Force, in India, November 19, 1944. From the letter…..

   Dear Mum,

   Here I am back at camp again, so I’m able to write a few more letters. This is to thank you for the one you wrote on the 7th Nov. I had it two days ago, but as we were moving back into camp I didn’t have much chance of writing before.
   It was good to sleep on a bed again, after sleeping on the deck for a fortnight, my sleep was spoilt by the fact that I was put on guard last night. I think it was a bit thick of them to put me on after being away from the camp for so long, but I suppose someone had to do it. I shall be able to get to town tonight, it didn’t make much difference last night as they stopped the lories going down town anyway.
   We had a pretty good time while we whereon the scheme I had plenty of work to do, so I didn’t get much time off. I managed to have a try at swimming in a small stream, which was near the camp, I still haven’t learnt but am getting better I hope! I expect we shall be going over again soon, but I hope that we shall be back by Xmas.
   Many thanks for your letter, so glad to hear from you and to know that you are all keeping will, I hope this letter will find you still in the best of health so at the time of writing it leaves me the same, yes you did give me a surprise in your other letter, still I guess they have made up their minds, so you must let them carry on and not worry too much about it. It seems a pity that she should chose someone who lives such a long way from home, but if she does get married and go over there, I think she will be a good girl and come home to see you sometimes. For myself I wish them lots of luck and hope they will be very happy together.
   I’m very glad that Peggy has been round to see you, and that you showed her the saps what does she think of them? She like them I hope! I had a letter from her the other day, wonders will never cease, maybe she thinks of me sometimes.
   I never get the letter in which you told me about the stuff on the garden still I’m very glad to hear that the stuff did well, including my pears? You lucky people. I’ve had a letter from L.W. also and Xmas card, he’s keeping in the bets of health he sends his bets wishes to you all.
   It looks as if I’m at the end of the letter so I must say Cheerio for now keep smiling.

Lots of Love and Kisses,


Japan 8th Army Military Government Section WWII Letter

This letter was written by a Lieutenant who was with the 8th Army Military Government Section, in Tokyo, Japan. He was part of the Army of occupation. From the letter…….

Dear Mother and Daddy,  

Nothing much very exciting has been happening this week. If I was in the states I sure could use this spare time to some advantage, but over here the incentive just isn’t present. Maybe with the coming of spring I’ll have a change of attitude.
   Please don’t misinterpret my letters. I don’t ever recall writing that I had written the Kinard boy. All I wrote was that I guessed I would, or should drop him a note. As a matter of fact, I haven’t written him or gone to any trouble to look him up. I have never seen him before, and I hate to go look him up without being able to entertain him a little in Tokyo. If I did try to entreating him in Tokyo, I’m afraid it would be a little embarrassing for both of us. I eat with the G.H.Q. officers, and can get a pass for a guest officer, but not an enlisted man. The same applies to our movies. If I bring him in to Tokyo, we would have to eat at least one meal here. I don’t know any of the enlisted messes, and I would hate to drive up to one, drop him off, and tell him I would be by to pick him up latter. If we had our own mess, it would be different, or if I knew him better, it would also make a difference. Oh, I guess I could put some of my bars on him, and take him in, but having never met him, I don’t know what he would think about that. If I went out to see him, the same would be true of his difficulties with me. Don’t misunderstand me, the army is not so hard hearted, that some arrangements for just such situation can’t be made, but it would b rather awkward in a case of tow strangers, especially when one is James Kinard. Now don’t blame the army, for it is basically right. It is a peculiar organization, where the only incentive for carrying out orders is discipline, and one fo the main premises of discipline is lack of familiarity. The army is a team, and can’t look out for individual hardships of it’s members caused as the result of a basically sound policy. Well, I’m getting around to defending the army’s policies, so I know I had better stop.  I will add one more statement, however, that being that if more civilians, and even soldiers would look at the policies of the army and navey including all policies from an objective view point the U.S. and even the world would be a lot better off in the future. Oh no, I wouldn’t stay in the army a day longer than I have to, but  lot more fellow would if John Q. Public would take off his glasses (colored).
   Well, since I’m all worked up over the army, and for lack of anything else to write about, I guess I had might as well continue. However, before I do, I really should apologize for making you endure all my whaling and moaning, for it sis not really you who are concerned. I noticed in the paper this morning where some congressman was advocating drastically cutting army appropriations, so they wouldn’t have enough funds to feed and house the men, and as a result would have to discharge them en mass. Anyone capable of making such a statement ought to, out of deference to posterity, volunteer to have his brain extracted, on the spot, and pickled, so that down through the ages all can behold the best example in the 20th century, of the largest piece of matter, which in fact, was composed of absolutely nothing.  If that is the consensus of public opinion, and if they do not have any more regard for America’s responsibility to herself and the rest of the world, they out to do one of 2 things immediately before it is too late: 1. Dissolve the national government and mandate themselves to wither Russia or Great Britain for guidance and protection, or 2. Start digging holes and storing up food, so as to have a real deep dark place in which to hide about 25 years from now.
   It is imperative that we always have a large army, and even more important during the next 5 years. If any form of occupation or disarmament is to be carried out, our army cannot be much greatly reduced in size any time within 1946. I doubt if many people in the states realize that the Japs, and I guess the Germans, are disarming themselves, and more than that running our army for us. The Mil. Govt. Unit we are attached to in Tokyo is so depleted of enlisted men that the Japanese English speaking typists and clerks out number the American typists and clerks, 2 to 1. Of course, they have to type all our material classified as confidential, restricted, and eve in some instances secret. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m all in favor of discharging fellow that have been in the army for a while, but replacements must be provided. My heart really bleeds when I think of all the hardships and evils the youth, and future youth of the country would be subjected to by a nominal active tour of duty in the army. By George, if the army isn’t good enough for them, then the rest of the country isn’t good enough either.  
   Well, I’m not really cynical at heart, maybe I’ve just been seeing too many movies, or the Stars and Stripes has been printing the wrong kind of articles, but then, Time, and Newsweek haven’t been doing so bad themselves. I guess I should warn you, and beat myself to the jump, unquestionably within a month I’ll be moaning and groaning about getting out, and the unfairness of the army. In fact, as I recall, I have already begun to do that. I guess it is just one of the little idiosyncrasies of human beings, and at no time will everyone be satisfied with the way everything is being run. Now I have said my piece, and I hope the subject is closed, at least, I know you do. However I imagine that as soon as I read something else, and can’t find a soap box (as they are very short on soap over here), you will again be subjected to a deluge of worthless remarks. 

Lots of love,


Army of Occupation, Japan, 8th Army Military Government Section, February 11, 1946 WWII Letter

This letter was written by a Lt., who was with the Army of Occupation, in Japan, with the 8th Army Military Government Section, February 11, 1946. From the letter.....

    Dear Mother & Daddy,

I didn’t write yesterday because I took a little weekend trip. I went up to Nikko, a resort and shrine city north west of Tokyo. It is up in the “alps” of Japan, about 90 miles from here. Oh , it was quite a trip; we left Sat. noon, and got back to Tokyo Sun night.
    One of the officers here has struck up the acquaintance of a young Jap who is a civil engineer on the railroad. This Jap is a very accommodating sort of fellow, and who are we not to take advantage of it. Anyway, with a little persuasion, he got us a private car for the weekend, and guided us on the trip. Some deal, I never would have believed it possible. There are two of these special cars on the railroad: on for Mac, and one for other distinguished persons. Pauley used the second one for the same trip when he was here. Well, the Jap got us this one for the whole weekend, so 23 of us had a whole car, rather I should say, a train, to ourselves. It was an electric engine and passenger car combined, nicely redecorated, and clean. We really rode in fashion, other trains would side track for us, and there was a staff of girls on the car to serve us tea off and on during the trip.
    Saturday night we went a little farther north than Nikko, and spent the night in a little resort town of Kinugawa. It is a little town on the side of 2 steep mountains, with a river between. There are several pretty good resort hotels in the town, and more of them are occupied by the army- strictly Jap stuff as a matter of fact, we were the only Americans in the town. We stayed at the Kinugawa Hot Springs Hotel, which was the best in Jap standards. It really had a pretty location right on the side of mountain, with the river about 60 feet directly below it. Everything was strictly Japanese except the food, and we took a lot of rations along and had them fix them for us. Of course, like everything else in Japan, there was no heat except the customary pot with 2 pieces of charcoal. I think I have just about gotten use to Jap living, so this didn’t bother me much bother me much, especially since the Japs do manage to sleep warm. Oh yes, it was on the floor, but with a mat, and several down comforters. It was really a lot of fun, because of the novelty, I guess.
    Sunday morning we got up late and took off in our train to Nikko, arriving there about noon. Nikko is a shrine city up in the hills were the Japs make pilgrimage to for worship. I don’t know enough about their religion to go into it any deeper, but there are a lot of real old Jap shrines, all very ornate, and in the typical old Jap and Chinese architecture. The Emperor is supposed to make trips there to report the state of the nation. Besides the religious significance, Nikko is a great place for winter sports. We took a cable car from Nikko to the top of one of the big mountains they use for skiing, rather I should say, nearly to the top. In normal times, the haul was made in 2 cars, but since the last leg of the haul was damaged, we had to finish the climb on foot. This was quite a pull, since the mountain was practically straight up, the snow was about 2 feet deep, and the altitude was 8000 feet. On top there was a little lodge (not in operation) and skiing areas. I really enjoyed the view, and wish you all could have seen it. It was a clear, blue day; on 3 sides all that could be seen were great ranges of white mountains meeting blue sky. On the far side of this particular mountain, and nestled between 2 other mountains, was a big blue lake. This lake must have been at an altitude of about 7000 feet. There was a hotel on it. But we couldn’t get over to it.
    It didn’t snow any during the trip, and evidently there hadn’t been much snow during the season, for as I have said, it was only about 2 feet deep on the top. Don’t get a wrong picture, however, there was snow and ice everywhere, just not deep snow. What the snow lacked in quantity, it made up for in quality. I’m sure you have never seen such a fine quality of snow. I know they never had anything like it in Ky. This snow was just like so much sugar, though not anywhere as heavy. It was so fine and dry you couldn’t even make it hold together in a snow fall. You could sit, lie, and roll in it without getting the least bit wet, rather would have to brush it off like so much sand. It all looked so nice and white I wanted to eat just acres and acres of it. As a matter of fact, I took the easiest way down the mountain, and slid down on the stern end most of the way.
    We had a lunch the Japs at the hotel had fixed for us at the top end of the cable car line, took the car down right after lunch, and spent the afternoon in the town looking at the shrines, stores, and skating rinks.
    We cranked our train up and took off about 5:30. Which put us back in Tokyo somewhere around 8:30. I was really pretty tired, but sure had enjoyed myself. A lot of tourists have paid $1000 for a trip like that, from the states of course, but it only cost me 89 yen (hotel room and food fixing service). On the other hand, of course, the tourists didn’t have to put up with the Uncle as I do, all of which can’t be discounted without some consideration.
    Everything was just right. The Jap had made prior arrangements; the hotel was expecting us with a lot of servants bowing and serafing, a bus to meet us at the depot in Nikko, etc.
    This Jap that arranged everything for us is quite a fellow, although you wouldn’t realize it. He is very unobtrusive, and knows his place, just like a good old southern nigger. He was Japan’s 1500 meter swimmer in the Olympics in Berlin (1936) and Los Angeles (1932) was a pilot in China until he was shot up, is a civil engineer for the railroad, and in addition writes scrip for a motion picture concern. His father was a Maj. Gen. at one time, and is now a professor of mathematics at Tokyo Imperial University. Of course, to me a Jap is still a Jap, but since I didn’t even have to say “hello” to him, I could see no objection to riding in his free train. You may think it funny for a jap to go to all the trouble he did for no financial gain. The japs gain quite a bit of privilege among their contemporaries by being able to associate with American officers, also they learn quite a bit by being with Americans, which I’m sure must be interesting to them.
    Well, I guess I had better stop. I imagine my mail is getting to you very slow and irregular. I found out today that there is only one plane, from this area, going statewide daily, and it carries mostly official mail. You know the army figures that if anything is worth reporting, it is worth reporting in 20 copies. As a result, I think most of the mail travels by boat until it reaches the states. Oh well, I guess it would be a pretty dull place if there wasn’t something to complain about. Lots of Love,

Fort Ord, California WWII letterhead

This US Army Fort Ord, California letterhead is from a letter that was written during WWII in 1943, by a soldier at Fort Ord, California.

Fort Knox, Kentucky Tank letterhead

This Fort Knox Tank letterhead is from a letter that was written during WWII, in 1945, by a soldier at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Camp Stewart, Georgia Artillery Letterhead

This artillery letterhead is from a letter that was written during WWII, in 1944, by a soldier at Camp Stewart, Georgia.

33rd Armored Regiment WWII Letter Germany May 1945

This letter was written on May 15, 1945, by a soldier in Morfelden Germany. He was with Headquarter Company, 2nd Battalion, 33rd Armored Regiment. From the letter…..

Dear Sweet heart Darling Hi: Just a few lines to let you know I am all right. Well Honey how are you getting along and feeling. How is your mother and dad getting along I sure hope all right. Honey are they saying anything in the states about the men from over here getting out or any thing of that sort. I sure hope I don’t have to go to the Pacific. I would just as well stay over here instead of going over there. But I would lobe to go to the states. Well dear this isn’t much I can say. I am not sure if we can write of some of the place we have been. We were able to visit Nordhausen where they found that camp. I know the people in the states know about it as you wrote and told me about it. That is were Gen. Rose got killed at. Honey that is one place I never will forget. You can’t tell people about it as they wouldn’t believe it. I guess you have saw some of the picture that they took didn’t you. Well nearly all camps over here just like that was the same. The way we treat the prisoners in the states is really to good. I wondered a lot of times since I have been over there if they leave them around just like they did at Knox. Well dear that is enough for that at the present. How are the rest of the gang getting along Tell them all I said Hi, and hope they all are in good health. Also tell them I hope to see them sometime this summer or sooner. Well Honey I just got the box you sent for Dot also a letter from Dot dated Jan 26. Boy somebody really keep that letter a long time didn’t they. Honey I got a letter also from you for May 3 I guess you didn’t put the date on it. It was stamp the 4th What all did Evelyn have to say beside what you wrote me. Well  if Bob is in the 1st maybe sometime soon we may meet. Well they couldn’t (?) around him any more than they did me. I know we had a plenty. I don’t know about the nervous wreck but if I have to go any where else I sure will be. I am glad to hear that you went to the hangout. I bet you had every thing good didn’t you. You can just say that again about every Sunday I bet that chair cover really looks good doesn’t it. You know if you would go to bed at nights instead of sitting up you wouldn’t fall asleep I am going to try to join the Legion if I can. Mother wrote and told me about Mr. Kershner dieing Yes I got paid and have a couple of money orders on the way home. Honey right after we came back to (?) I got my first bath for almost 4 weeks. I took several in my (?) tho. You can’t be any older than I am or look. Well honey I have told you all I know for this time so closing with all the love, kisses and hugs I can send to the best wife, girlfriend and sweetheart I ever want to know. Your Loving Old Man Laurence. P.S. tell Gaige I said hi and to be good.


Japan 8th Army Military Government Section WWII Letter

This letter was written by a Lieutenant who was with the 8th Army Military Government Section, as part of the Army of Occupation. The letter was written, April 14, 1946. From the letter.....

Dear Mother & Daddy,
    I was rather looking forward to getting out into some sun today since it is Sunday, but it has been very cloudy all day. It is just like it was at Knox during winter before last., snow or rain every Sat. and Sun., with the only difference being that it seems to have lasted longer here. Oh well, I guess there is no place in the world like Florida, and I have been spoiled by living there all my life— hmm?
    The Dog called up this afternoon from the sticks with some most gratifying news. He said that he had talked with the Division Adjutant General yesterday who had said that we were scheduled to be on the way in June. I’m not in favor of this general exodus, but I’m certainly not foolish enough to volunteer to stay. I strongly suspect that many of the congressmen have threatened to take a big cut out of the army’s appropriations, and the WD is worries about being stuck with a lot of troops and officers. Psychologically, it isn’t very good for the troops to rush them home so fastly, for those that have to stay are discouraged and begin to complain, those that are in the regular army question if they did the right thing after all.
    Last Monday I ran into a Lt. I had in the OCS class I left to come overseas. He is in the service group for G.H.Q. He lives just down the street, and has been over here only a few weeks. This afternoon he phoned and wanted to know if I was busy, if not, he would come over to see me. We had quite a long talk. I think he was very glad to see someone he knew since most of the rest of the class went to Germany, and even if it was me.
    I forgot to tell you that Cone phoned me again last Sunday. He wanted to know who he should write to concerning getting a student job in dairying. I told him Daddy would be the one to write, so I guess he has already written you.
    The Occupation Forces can get any equipment from the Jap government they want, of course, and any other item from any of the Zaibatsu’s numerous businesses. All you have to do is fill out a procurement demand, and pick up the stuff. Well, as is to be expected, the Japs are rather carried away with the Occupation, so about anything goes. A lot of these tactical troops go into any of the little places they like and take what they want. Just to keep the Jap from screaming too loud, they always give the Jap owner a receipt for the property. When the Jap presents it to the Jap government  for reimbursement, naturally they won’t honor it, and he eventually comes to Military Government with his sad story. Everyday we get pencil receipts, on any kind of paper to the effect that “the following goods have been commandeered for use during the Occupation, after which they will be returned” signed Capt Geo Washington, Commander Mickey Mouse, etc. About all we can do is laugh and tell them it is just tough.
    Take care of yourselves,
    Lots of Love,


Okinawa 49th Field Artillery WWII letter June 1945

This letter was written June 13, 1945, by a Corporal who was on Okinawa at the time. He was with Battery B, 49th Field Artillery. From the Letter.....

    I just received your June 2 letter. It made good time, only 10 days getting here isn’t bad at all.
    I will answer some of your questions. The grass here look like swamp grass only it isn’t so tall or course. Looks as it would be good pasture. There are horses, goats and hogs here but I have seen no cattle.
    There is lots of pine trees (They do not grow tall) and others I don’t know. Some of the places here on the mountains are as bare as the road, you have seen places like it in France where all the vegetation even the grass has been blown away by artillery. You read in the papers where this was the greatest artillery battle in the Pacific, and it has been just that. Pretty rough at times.
I am well and getting along as good as can be. Since the war department announced the point system, makes everyone feel better. I have more than the required 85 pints so I should get out sometime. Hope I can be home for quail hunting this year.
    How far the surrender of Germany effected the rationing and production of civilian good. Can you see any change? I read in the news where the R.E.A. got the “go ahead” signal if I remember correctly there was a large (?) for that work. What do you think of the Missouri Valley project? I read a lot about it in the sporting magazines. They don’t seem to think enough consideration is given to the wild life. If they protect the fish and game I would think it a great thing. It will be considerably larger than the F.V.A.
    From your letters I take it this will be a good crop year if you get a rain before long. I hope you have had the rain. It is time for a good crop year.
    I hope you are all well. I expect to hear from you again soon.
Your Friend, John



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Photo of USS George F. Elliott (AP-13), January 1, 1942

USS George F. Elliott (AP-13), Photo taken January 1, 1942.
During WWII the USS George F. Elliott participated in the assault on Guadalcanal. On August 8, 1942, a Japanese bomber crashed into the Elliot, starting a massive fire. Though the crew tried with all their might, they couldn't bring the fire under control, so the ship had to be sunk.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.
Photo #: NH 97803

33rd Armored Regiment, Germany WWII Letter April 27, 1945

This letter was written by a soldier who was in Germany, with the 33rd Armored Regiment during WWII. The letter was written April 27, 1945. From the letter…..

   Just a few lines to let you know I am all right. Well Dear how are you getting along I sure hope all right. Honey so far I haven’t had time to write to anybody except you and Mother and the two small kids. I got a letter from both of them and I know I had to answer theirs if not th rest. I had to go to the dentist tomorrow to get some new teeth. When I was a P.W. the Germans through the other ones away so now I have to get new ones. I had to go to the Co. Med. To get a slip in order to go to the dentist. I went there this morning and had to go 10 miles on the other side of where we are staying. I am going to try to get them cleaned also while I am there.
   Honey, I don’t know if I told you or not, I am going to send my watch back home. It just won’t run. I will let you know when I do send it home. Another thing as soon as I get it back I will send it to you also, that is a money order. It will be for $90.00 instead of $100.00. I forgot that I had to get envelopes with the stamp already on them. I got $2.00 worth or 32 of them. I got a couple more letters today. Boy you don’t know how I feel when I do get them. I read them over 3 times and then when I answer them I read them over 2 more times. Your know over here I can’t keep them very long. I can’t do like I did at Knox, put them in my locker as I haven’t any.
How are all the folks at home? Tell them all I said hello wand hope they are all in good health. I will try to answer a couple of them tonight only I won’t have time because it soon will be getting dark. Well if I am not cleaning the tank I am on guard during the day. We have to try to keep our clothes clean and if possible try to ?? Them. So you see we are quite a ways back from the front lines now. Fro my part I would like to say way back here till after this is through over here, then come home.
   Well, Honey I will try to answer your two letters now, one is fro the 4-13 and the other for 4-15. So her goes, there were a lot of days past while on this push that I didn’t get any mail let alone write any. I wrote when ever I could. Honey please don’t worry about me please. I am trying to keep fit so you won’t have to worry none. Some of the letters I wrote will not get to you right away as there were a lot of time they couldn’t get the mail back. Why don’t you rest up a little when you have a day off instead of working around the house so much? That work won’t run away from you. I am glad President Truman didn’t’ do now changing around. I don’t care what he does after this is over, but right now all I hope he ends this war. I don’t know what the big boy over here has us on but I know it isn’t’ for mourning. I am glad to hear you got the ring. You always wanted one. I am all right. I sure wish I could show a honorable discharge around like Bill. My day will come though.
  No it isn’t summer over here yet. You get paid every mo. When they can pay you no matter if yo are overseas.
   Now 4-15, I am glad you go the paper. Did you also get the one from Dot? I haven’t heard about the people doing what you wrote about yet. But we always make sure that it is always good before we take it. Was the funeral march very sad? The way you wrote it, it sure must have. How do you like riding in the car? I still don’t see why you don’t take it out more. Well I see where Dad is watching over you now Ha Ha. You sure must be showing that stuff all over.
   I am glad you like the bum at church. Well Honey, I will look for all of the boxes that are on the way. That coffee sure will come in nice. You had better go to the reunion or that will look bad. I wish you would send Red some kind of a box I know how he feels. All the boxes I got so far were packed the same as your sent them. I read all the papers you sent thanks. I still can’t tell you the name of the ship. I hope I have answered all that you asked so I will close,
 

About This WWII Letters Site

About this site.

   My interest in military correspondence began in 2004, while my son was serving in Afghanistan. I got a letter from “over there”, and after I read it, I was holding it in my hand, and it just suddenly struck me that it was a small piece of history.
   I started to collect some letters, and I decided that I would let others read them. I know at least one High School History class that has used them in a project. I heard from people that are appreciative of the fact that they have been posted. For anyone interested in history, once you start reading them, it is hard to stop.
   I really do love to hear from people who had family who served in WWII, so if you have a letter, photos, or stories about family who served, and would like to have them posted on this site, I would consider it an honor to do it (I may start a special section for that if I get enough of them). I have been lucky enough to be able to thank a couple of WWII veterans personally for their service. 
   I will attempt to add new content to this site weekly.

   If you have any comments or suggestions about this site, feel free to contact me at Heroletters@aol.com

USS Bristol February 24, 1946 WWII Era Letter

This letter was written by a sailor serving aboard the USS Bristol, as his ship was leaving for home. The letter is dated February 24, 1946, 0326. At the top of the letter, is written 31 degrees 4’ N. Latitude, 141degrees 8’ E. Longitude.

Homeward Bound:

   Estimated time of arrival (ETA) March 16, San Pedro, Via Eniwetok Atoll and Pearl Harbor.
   Task unit 55.6 _ USS Compton (DD-705), USS Garinard (DD-706), USS Soley (DD-707), USS Hyman (DD-732), USS Purdy (DD-734), and USS Bristol (DD-857). DesRon 11
   At last we are taking our eastbound cruise homeward. Boy, oh, boy, we are surely glad to be doing this too. We weighted anchor shortly after then yesterday morning. Our ship was the last one of th six to move and it was very nice. The battle ship Iowa sent up flags spelling out “aloha” and signifying Bon Voyage to us. I’ll bet we were the envy of a lot of those other ships. However a lot of them have been home since we came out.
   Well, it’s now time to wake up the 4-8 watch and “hit the sack” so I shall continue this on the next watch.
    1545 Sunday Feb. 24th Now our position is 28degrees 22.5’ N. Latitude and 143 degrees 24’ E. Longitude so if you are plotting this on the map you can see we are going to get there to Eniwetok Atoll about Thursday.
   That will be just about one third of our journey. Today has been a wonderful day. The sea has been pretty calm and the sun has been out almost all day. My cold is a whole lot better. I have been out in the sun a little bit today. I started to get a bit of a suntan. We have had very little roll to contend with on the ship. All the hatches are open and the nice air is simply permeating the ship. What a cruise! A very much more enjoyable life than we have lead in these last few months in Japan.
   My liberty section will be the first to make a liberty in Hawaii and that will probably be the only liberty I will get there. So I shall try my best to see all I can. I think I shall send a cablegram as instructed when we get there. This letter will reach you probably the day we arrive in Pearl Harbor since it will leave by airmail at Eniwetok. It will take five or six days to reach you.
   I’m getting a box of thins ready for mailing when we hit the states. We have a lot of spare parts boxes on board which formerly contain radio and radar spares. We had to combine a lot of these boxes in order to have some for all the spares in our small storage compartment. Mr. Coe has shipped some things home in some he has taken from us. Several boxes we have used for steel radio chassis and coffee pot stands; others are used as tool boxes. Well, I have a couple I want and one I shall send to you soon after we hit the states. I shall put it inside a regular wooden box and send it via parcel post or railway express. There will be other thing sin it, of course. I intend to repaint it when I get it home and to use the box as a good book case for school and traveling case. Capable of being locked and with handles on each end they make swell utility boxes.
   This watch is really a humdinger. We have all the lights on, and none of the radars are on. We are only using our surface search radar at night. One ship out of the six has the regular duty each day with all radars going. All the rest of us remain in communication and maintain our regular station in the column. “Note: at this point in the letter, the sailor made a drawing of the position of each ship, which I will include below”
   So it is  nice easy going daily routine. And I really like that! I’ve worked enough recently:
   Friday morning , Joe Dawson changed the magnetron tube on the SG radar. Shortly after that, the whole dam set broke down. Joe worked until noon on it and was completely baffled. We worked all afternoon and by evening we had Schwartz helping us. Mr. Mallett was on liberty all day but he turned to with us when we informed him of the trouble after he returned. Well, we worked all night on that gadget and finally got it fixed at about 0600 Saturday morning. Boy, oh, boy what a night! We practically remodeled and replace the entire set. Found several bum tubes, a transformer that was burned out, and several other very disturbing thing. By now, I’m becoming quite an Electronic Technician’s Mate. And you will find out that I am valued a little more highly pretty soon. I naturally wanted to be up to make sure we pulled out of Tokyo Bay as planned so I didn’t go to bed on Saturday morning until we were underway. Well, I finally retired around 1030 and slept all day. I’m fairly well rested now although I’ll go to bed pretty soon.
   Last letter received was Feb. 14. It cam thru in 8 days. Thanks for the dope on transportation home from the coast. I surely hope that yu9ou had a nice trip over to Steamboat Springs, Dad. And Mr. Mallett is one swell fellow. He thanked us for our work on the SG; more than Coe? ever did, Just heard Tokyo airport on the radio  525 miles distant and very nice to know my equipment is working so well.

So until next time, adios

Letter Censorship During WWII....Censor Stamp Examples

Letter Censorship During WWII
   During war, keeping troop movements,  and movement of naval forces a secret, is very important. There was a slogan used during WWII that helped remind people not to pass information too freely, the slogan was "Loose Lips Sink Ships". The photo blelow shows an envelope with “Idle Gossip Sinks Ships” printed on it.
    Because it was so important not to let out information that might reach enemy forces, letters were censored. Since letters were routinely censored, most letters contain no real specifics as far as location (except for the country), where the writer is going next, battle content, or movement of other units. All letters were censored after training, whether the writer was a Marine, Army soldier, Navy sailor, or a member of the Coast Guard. As a result, some of the more interesting letters were written after the war ended, or after hostilities ceased in an area.
   When a letter had been censored, the person that censored the letter, would usually, put a censor's stamp (usually on the lower left corner), and sign (usually, but not always), or initial near or on the stamp. In the case of some officers, the name of the person who signed the censors stamp, was the same as the person who wrote the letter, meaning I assume, that they were allowed to censor their own letters. 
   Some letters were opened after they had been sealed, and those letters were usually taped back shut, with a tape that said 'opened by censor', or just 'opened by'. 
      Most in the military knew what they could, and could not say, so they stayed within those restrictions, but occasionally they would write something that the censor didn’t like, and in those cases, the censor would take scissors and cut out that part of the letter, leaving a big hole.
Sometimes they would allow specific information to be written about, if it had been more that a month or two since the battle or action had happened, probably because by that time it had been in all the newspapers anyway.
   I have noticed that there was a tendency for officers to push the limit on content more than the lower ranked members of the military. Also, the censors seemed to be a little less strict when the letter was written from a member of the military to an officer.
I ran across a couple of letters that were written by a sailor while he was on shore leave, where he told the recipient not to tell anyone what was in the letter, or he could end up in a Navy prison.
   Of the hundreds of letters I have read, I would say that if I had to put a percentage on it, about 95% are a little on the boring side, as far as containing historical content. They all still have value though, because they contain the thoughts and feelings of people, who in many cases were going through life and death struggles on a daily basis. I still feel a certain amount of reverence when I pick one up, because of what they did when the world needed them. 

Here are a few examples of censor stamps. 
Below are a few examples of British Censor Stamps
This example was used by the Royal Navy. This sailor was serving on the H.M.S. Dido.

This is an example of a censor stamp used by the R.A.F.  (Royal Air Force)
The letter that had this stamp was written by a guy in the British National Fire Service, serving in Belgium.
Below are a few examples of U.S. Censor Stamps.

This Library of Congress Poster from WWII discourages careless conversation.
Was created by WPA War Services, La.
Poster Details
This photo from the Australian War Memorial Website, shows an Australian Censor sorting letters to be censored, 1943. 
Photographer: Herald Newspaper
 This photo from the Australian War Memorial Website, shows what happens to any portion of a letter that is deemed unacceptable, 1943. 
Photographer: Herald Newspaper
 This photo from the Australian War Memorial Website, shows an extreme example of a letter containing too much information that was found to be unacceptable, by the censor, 1943.
Photographer: Herald Newspaper

This photo from the Australian War Memorial Website, shows members of Spitfire No. 453 Squadron RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force), censoring letters before the letters can leave the air field. The photo was taken in Sussex, England, May 5, 1944.
This photo from the Australian War Memorial Website, shows women working in the general post office censoring mail, Melbourne, 1944.
Photographer: Herald Newspaper

Video with information on censorship.