Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Letters no longer censored. A long one written May 25, 1945

Here's another WWII letter home from Dad. 

May 25, 1945

Dear Mother, Dad and Gwen,

I should be able to write quite a letter now that our letters are no longer censored.  But it is pretty warm, and I feel rather lazy, as usual.

I don't know where to start, so I will start at New York.  We left New York on the 10th of Jan. ? on the S. S. John Ericsson.  Or perhaps I should go back a little further to Camp Shanks, the N.Y. P.O.E. where we stayed for about a week and processed.  We had abandon ship drill on a dummy ship, shots in the arm, a little new equipment, and all the hot dope they could give us on Germany, a lot on how to escape from a P. W. camp.  Half of us got a pass to N.Y. City.  I didn't get to go, but didn't feel too bad about it as it was at night, and everything was covered with snow and ice.  The next night we were all restricted and at 10 o'clock got on the train for N.Y.  We took a ferry to the pier, and the Red Cross was there passing out coffee and doughnuts.

We sailed about 4 AM.  I was asleep. We didn't have any trouble until about the 9th day when the general alarm was sounded just after breakfast.  I happened to be on deck near the bridge when things started to happen.  The convoy changed shape and the destroyers closed in and started dropping depth charges, and about that time, a ripple went across our bow.  A few minutes later the all clear sounded and we went back to our position at the head of the convoy. Later we were told that a torpedo was fired across our bow.

The Ericsson was a German ship built in 1927.  A luxury liner 625 feet long, 80 ft. beam. It was taken over at the start of the war and converted to a troop carrier and at the present is the largest Motor [?] ship sailing under the American flag.  It is powered by two 18,000 H.P. diesel motors.

We pulled into the bay at Le Havre on the afternoon of the 21st.  Though there was snow on the land along the channel, the sun was shining and it wasn't too cold.  They started unloading at 8 PM with landing craft.  They took us ashore at 1 AM and we loaded into seven ton open trucks, and started for Camp Lucky Strike, about 40 miles south.  It got cold and started to snow.  We arrived at Camp Lucky Strike about 10 AM.  At that time Lucky Strike was only four days old.  We were cold and hungry.  Some of the fellows had frozen feet.  Mine were frost bitten and bothered me quite a lot for about a month.

So we set to work putting up tents and then got into the chow line.  I think the whole division was in that line, and they fed us eggs (dehydrated) and pork sausage and it tasted good.  We would stand in line all day and only get two meals.

There was a severe shortage of fuel, so we could only keep a fire about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.  It was like that for a couple of weeks, and then the weather started to warm up.

We got our guns and tractors at Dieppe, and part of the battery went there to get them ready for action.  We sent drivers to Paris for 2 1/2 ton trucks.  Later we sent drivers to S___burg [Cherbourg?] to get Jeeps.  Just after they left, we were notified as to our time of departure, so we sent one of our Cubs to Shurburg [Cherbourg?] to notify the drivers, so they could change their plans and get back in time to leave with us.

So we left Lucky Strike on the 2nd or 3rd of March to Dieppe [?] across France to a little village near Metz called Ney, where we spent a few days.  From there to Saarlautern on the 29 of March, I believe, or a day or so before I wrote I was in Germany. 

Enough of that for now.

May 26

Well, we are now camping near the place we last fired from.  We have six guard outposts to keep the refugees moving and to keep them from stealing all the Austrians' chickens, check the soldiers' passes, etc.  And of course the old GI stuff: inspection, dismounted drill, calesthenics, hicks [?] and we lace one pair of shoes criss-cross, and the other pair for [?], and they tell us which day to wear which. We get to go into Linz once a week to take a shower.

I am on guard outpost now.  We get it four days in a row. They either bring our chow out to us, or come and take us in for chow.  There is a corporal and four privates on each post.  We have telephone communication with the guard C.P., and if we catch a prisoner, we just give them a ring, and they come and get him.

Well I must close for now.  Thanks for this paper and your many letters.

P.S. I am enclosing $80 finally!

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