DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 10, War Weariness, Entertainment

Jan. 9, 1944

It was hard for me to get used to putting down 44 instead of 43.  Some of my letters I know that I have used the old year.

This is Sunday again.  The weeks seem to roll by.  I’ve spent all of 29 months in the service now and am going on the 30th one.  I sure wish that I could be home after three years of it.

I would like to be home in time to put in a crop in ’45.  I don’t know though, as the war sure seems to be dragging out.  It don’t look like any of the boys overseas are going to get back either before the war ends except those discharged or sent back for limited service.  As soon as the war is over, the boys with the jobs waiting will have the first chance at the discharges.  If and as soon as I hit the states again I’m going to try to get to come home.  I’ve had about enough of this or will by that time and want to do something else for a change.

battle of the bulgeEditor’s note:  In Europe the war took a nasty turn, as the Germans took advantage of bad weather, and American overconfidence.  It was their last-ditch effort to break through Allied supply lines–in what would be known as the “Battle of the Bulge.”

You are having some real winter weather back there now, I hear.  In Dorothy’s last letter she said that it was ten below that morning.  I believe I would freeze to death in that kind of weather.  I don’t think I would get any chillier than I do now of a morning though.

You spoke of having to move the garden in the spring as you had chickens in the old orchard where we used to have potatoes?  That would be all right for a garden wouldn’t it?  It would be a little unhandy as you have to go through two gates.

I don’t know whether I told you or not, that Aunt Mary enclosed some pictures in with her Christmas card of the Horn family.  They all look about the same except Helen and she looks awfully thin.  She did have quite a time when the baby was born, didn’t she?  I suppose that she never picked up since.  The youngster, I think favors the Horns quite a bit.

Well, someday if this war doesn’t last too long, maybe Dorothy and I can have something like that to comment on and take up our time.  That’s when the fun will begin, if you want to call it that.  I hope that we can have more than one as I don’t to raise one youngster by himself.  I’d like a boy and a girl, but I’ll have to settle for whatever happens.   Ha!

Editor’s note:  As it turned out, I was the second son in a family of four–three boys and one girl (another daughter, Julia Jean, died at birth in 1962).

I’m still getting Christmas cards.  I received three today.  I still haven’t received Dorothy’s package, but haven’t given up hope yet as they are still coming in.

You spoke of Wiese’s having a sale.  Is the old man selling out to make room for the younger generation, or is he quitting.

I’m sending you a paper that we get over here to read.  It is put out by the Army and we get it once a week.  It contains a lot of interesting news we have from the outside world except the radio.  It may take a bit longer to reach you than the letter.

I’ll have to close.  Everything is about the same with me.  I hope you are all well.

Jan. 15, 1944

Here it is Saturday night and no place to go or nothing to do which is usually the case.  If I were home now on Saturday night, I probably would just sit around not knowing what to do.

I finished chow a couple of hours ago and have split up wood and carried it in the basha for the stove since then.  I built a fire to knock off the chill.

Last night we had a double feature movie that I attended.  One was a western and the other was a comedy.  It rained on us a little, but we stuck it out and soon it stopped.

I received your letter of Dec 19th yesterday.  You say Leo Rigsbey is in Hawaii now.  That is a pretty nice place from the reports that some of the fellows send back home from there.

I hope they do something about this eighteen months overseas bill.  I’ll be good and ready to go back in another six months.  It seems that everybody is getting tired of it over here.  The climate is such that isn’t too good for a person either.

I suppose that Uncle George looks about the same only a little older.  Looks like he’s undertaking quite a bit to feed the cattle this winter.  I’ll bet he has all he can do all day long with their chickens to take care of.

Well, there doesn’t seem to be much to say tonight so I’ll close hoping you are well.  I hear there has been quite a bit of flu around.

Jan 17, 1944

Received your letter today that you wrote on Christmas day.  Your letter was air mail and Dorothy wrote one on Christmas Day also and sent it with three cents and they both got here at the same time.  So you see it doesn’t pay to send air mail anymore.  V-mail really comes a little the quickest, but I don’t care much for it as they are so short.  You say you got my letters in about two weeks.  On the average with the exception of before Christmas a short time, my letters come in three weeks time.

Our Christmas dinner was nice, but sure didn’t come up to my vision of Christmas dinner back home, especially from your description of what you had.  Dorothy had quite a dinner at her house on Christmas day.  From what she said they must have had quite a program out at the school.  She said that she invited you, but you weren’t there so she supposed that you didn’t have a way.  There were eight in her car so she didn’t have room or she would have picked you up.  She said she put some presents on the tree for you.

War-related, circa 1943
War-related, circa 1943 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, I got a lot of Christmas cards and am still getting them.  I got three today and one yesterday.

It seems that almost everybody back in Missouri is working in a defense plant.  That should sort of give them a lift financially.

I had been wondering if you had any source of wood this winter.  We have been burning wood in our stoves in the basha.  They cut it up with a power saw and split it in large chunks and pile it for us to use from.  There is a detail for this job.  We split it up as we use it and that reminds me of home when we used to have wood in the winter time.

You are getting quite a few eggs now, but the price seems awfully unstable.  I understand that they are high in the cities.  When all the pullets get to laying you’ll have to have a wheelbarrow to haul the eggs to the house.

Is Harold Adam still located in Alaska?  How long has Charles Clements been in the service now?  I remember that he was the conservation agent when we were down there in ’41.

How is Frank Simily getting along?  The last I heard about them was when he was recuperating for an appendicitis operation.  Aunt Mary had told me that Dorothy S. was sporting a diamond.  They’ll probably be getting hitched the next time he gets home.

Well, I’ll close for this time.  Write often.

Editor’s note:  The following is a letter to Dad’s parents penned by William R. Barr, a young serviceman from the community, upon his discharge from the military.  It was intended as an assurance of Dad’s safety in India.  The Saturday Evening Post issue dated 12-25-43 included a well-written, informative article by Edgar Snow.  I may include it in a separate post.

Chalmers, Ind.
January 18, 1944

Dear Mr. Adam

Recently I returned from India, having been discharged from active duty with Army because of my age.  I was in the  same company with your son, Clyde; and he asked me to write you upon my return to the states.

When I left late in October he was looking well and his quarters, food, etc., were adequate.  The company has one of the best locations in that area.

Clyde is located in upper Assam.  If you have the Christmas issue of the Saturday Evening Post you will find a good article about the country where he is, and the project going on there.  The title of the article is:  “The new road to Tokyo,” (I think that is correct, I do not have a copy at hand.)  I’m sorry this news is not fresher, but it requires a long time to travel half-way around the world under present conditions.

Clyde is in as fine an organization as I have seen in my travels.  The men are doing fine work.  Of course everyone is anxious to get the job done and to return to the best country on earth

Yours truly,
Wm. R. Barr

Jan 23, 1944

Another Sunday almost gone.  I have every other one off and today was the one.  Now, I’ll have to work next Sunday.

I’ve already answered your last letter so I don’t know how this one will turn out without one to comment on.

Tonight seems to be a night of reminiscences as we all have our pictures out showing them to each other and telling who they are and where they were taken.  Every so often we have to do this.

By now you should have gotten a print of the negative of the picture I sent Dot.  I’m going to give you a little description of the background in the picture.  This was taken one Sunday by one of the fellows.  Due to the shortage of printing paper over here, I could only get the negative to send.  I understand that now we can no longer send pictures of any kind home.  To get back to the picture itself, I was standing on the steps of the basha that I later moved into.  To your left you can see a tent in which I was living at the time.  At the time this picture was taken I had my hair cut real short.  Outside of that and being a little thinner than I was before I left the States, I don’t think that I’ve changed much.  They tell me I have a few gray hairs, but not many.

Dad in India

The basha as you’ve noticed, has a woven bamboo floor that is set up off the ground about 18 inches.  As you’ll notice the roof is leaves from the bamboo.

Jan. 24, 1944

Due to an interruption, I failed to finish this letter last night, so I’ll do so tonight.

I got some mail today again.  There were five letters and a belated Christmas card, but none of them were from you.  I’ll be getting one though one of these days now.

Tomorrow, I see by the duty roster, I’m on KP.  That is one job I hate the worst and it comes around quite often anymore.  It looks like after two years and a half a person could graduate from that job, but I guess no such luck.

I finally received Dorothy’s package on Saturday night and it had the most delicious fruitcake in it besides soe candy, chewing gum and cigarettes & tobacco and stationary.

Write often.  Hope you are well.

Jan. 30, 1944

I received your letter yesterday of the 2nd and one today of the 12th.  So you see how the mail runs.  I also received a telegram from the wife, yesterday in the mail containing birthday greetings.  As near as I could tell it had been sent on the 15th.

The pillow will sure be nice to have, as pillows with feathers seem to be scarce over here.  I have a small one now that have to double to get much out of it as it is so flat.  It is filled with cotton and packs down and doesn’t fluff ut no matter how hard I try.

I got several Christmas cards this year.  In fact most of them came after Christmas.  The one that Dorothy sent ( a nice big one) was mailed the 30th of Nov. and had been missent to another PO and came about a week ago.  The boys are still getting packages.  There were so many I guess it was hard to get them over here in time.  I think the post office did a remarkable job considering.

Dorothy told me that her mother had the flu.  I don’t think she is very well this winter.

I’m glad to hear that you don’t have much to do this winter.  It’ll give you a chance to sort of recuperate for another season.  I have hopes of being home in time to help put in the crops in ’45.  I don’t think the war will be over, but have hopes of getting back to the States by then and if I do that maybe I’ll have a chance to come home to do a little farming for a change.  Anyway, I can try after having been overseas.  There should be plenty of replacements by that time and I sure don’t want to get caught in the army of occupation as that means several more years.

I suppose that it does make a lot of difference in who feeds cattle and an old-timer at the job (although *Finis should be an old hand at it, he just doesn’t take an interest or have the knack) seems to make quite a difference.  I think that the cattle did fairly well when I was feeding them.  Anyway, I took an interest in them and liked to take care of them.  It makes a difference when a person lives right there with them too, and doesn’t have to run back and forth.

Editor’s note:  From records, Finis Wade, [Grandpa’s hired-man], would have been in his early sixties.

I’m glad that you have been able to get the place limed.  It should make a lot of difference in the crops.  Now, if we can just get it tiled, it should be in good shape.

It seems funny to hear you say that the corn is all shucked as the way I remember it, we used to have plenty of shock corn to shuck during the winter (much to my dismay).

You spoke of the price of eggs having gone down 30 and 31 cents a dozen.  One of the fellows whose home state is in New York state says that the consumers back there were paying around 75 cents the last he heard.  There seems to be an awful lot of difference there.  Somebody must be making a lot of money on the handling of eggs.

We fed our hogs the garbage from the mess and kitchen along with rice as grain (rice seems to be a common food among the natives as well as the animals).  In parts of India they raise wheat and barley as well as rice.  They raise many other products which I won’t mention as I would have to refer to a book the same as you.  Rice and tea are about all that I could verify at the present from having seen it growing and consumed.

Thanks for straightening me out on the birthdays.  Dorothy was the only one that I was in doubt about as you had told me the others before.  I’ll have to close.  Write.

Feb. 3, 1944

I received your birthday card yesterday with your picture.  I certainly surprised when I opened it and found you looking out at me.  It is such a plain picture of you both that it made me feel that you were actually present.  You both have a pleasant expression on your faces.  Dad, you are as poor as ever and mom you are as plump as ever.  Ha!  Mom, you seem to have the most gray hair of the two of you.

Your are in the middle of your winter the same as we are but there is quite a difference.  That is about all I can tell you about the weather.  I might add, if the censor will allow, I am reminded of some of the springs back there.  We have been burning wood for a couple of months.

You say that you have ordered chickens already.  You must be going to get an early start this year.  I suppose that you have to get your order in early.  Are you going to raise more chickens this year since you are getting another brooder house or is ti because the others are filled with pullets.

I don’t think I told you yet that I received the second Christmas package from Dorothy with more gum, candy tobacco, cigarettes and a fountain pen, (which I am using now).

You haven’t mentioned the car lately, so I take it that it’s working OK since the trouble last winter.  I think you’ll find if you use it more often it’ll give you less trouble than if you let it sit idle for long periods at a time.  A car motor and the other moving parts are like anything else, which corrodes and rusts from disuse unless they are specially stored.

The news on the Allied fronts seems encouraging enough of late even though it is a slow process wich is no more than to be expected.  We are hoping that the war will be over by the end of ’45.

Oh yes, I must tell you that I saw a very nice show here the other night put on by the “Swing Patrol” of the Air Corps boys.  The captain in charge was none other than Melvin Douglas formerly of the movies.  The “Swing Patrol” was a very nice orchestra to be so far out in the sticks.  It sure was a treat and they gave us a full hour and a half of entertainment in the form of a make believe radio broadcast.  We had an amplifying system but the stage was sort of a crude affair with a tarp roof.

Editor’s note:  The following gives more show information.

cbi roundup

Dateline: January 27, 1944, Entertainment news, “C-B-I Roundup,” pp. 17-18

To Be Rounded Up to Entertain Troops

Over a period of months, the Theater has been the recipient of various and sundry promises that USO shows would tour this haven known as “the end of the line.”  Al Jolson started out, but went back with some dread disease that probably necessitated the use of a wheelchair upon his arrival in Miami.  Joel McCrae got as far as the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and turned back because he suspected CBI audience reaction would not be suitable to his 14 carat talents.

That caricaturist, Don Barclay, who was touring with McCrae, decided he didn’t expect quite so much from his audience, so he continued.  Joe E. Brown managed to drag his “fiftyish” carcass this far and put on a series of swell shows that wowed the lads in the weeds.  A USO group of kerosene circuit performers, traveling under the direction of one Wesley Pierce, got off in India by mistake and finally made the grand gesture by putting on a show in Karachi.  Afterwards, Pierce, as reported in a previous issue of this journal of enlightenment, raised hell because he was furnished American coffee and doughnuts and not Scotch and soda.   

It seems that most of these touring prima donnas either become critically ill or lose their ardor “to do something for the boys” while en route.  This situation has caused various “brains” in the Special Service Division to do a little thinking.  (We don’t mean to infer that they have never thought before).  This first product of this thinking was mined by the late Maj. Clark Robinson, who dreamed up the ATC show, “Assam Dragon” which was a pip.

This show covered India and is now making some one-night stands in the Middle East.  Upon return, Maj. John Nixon, Theater Special Service Officer, feels it should be offered to China.  This show was such a success and the “Hurry Up and Wait” show, now touring the Ledo Road, was so good that Special Services said to hell with outside shows, and decided to dig up its own talent.

Joe E. Brown and his crony, Harry Barris, were so impressed with a GI orchestra in Karachi that it was decided to take the band on tour.  Called “Swing Patrol,” This organization is now in New Delhi rehearsing for a forthcoming tour.  Capt. Melvyn Douglas will conduct this trip as an excuse to get out into the Theater and dig up more talent for more of the same.  Should any of you feel you have any talents, be sure and give for the captain if and when he hits your area.

The Theater commander is sincerely interested in these shows and they are being organized as fast as his little body of hand-picked men in Special Service can do it.  Lt. Leonard Bailey, assistant SSO for the 14th Air Force, is working on things from that end.  The business will never be a complete success, however, if you G. I.’s hide your light behind a mango tree.  If you don’t bump into Douglas, write him a letter addressed to Special Services Division, Rear Echelon Hq., APO 885 (Delhi).

There is plenty of latent talent in this Theater.  Don’t be shy.  If you are a pretty hot sketch on a harp, write in.  If you can blow “Pistol Packin’ Momma” out of a cider jug or play a musical saw or recite Shakespeare or do any other damn thing, write Douglas a letter.  His mail has been pretty light since he left home.  


I don’t think I told you that I also received a cablegram giving birthday greetings from my wife.  I wasn’t alarmed as she had told me that she planned on sending me one some of these days.  It came in the mail and took two weeks to arrive form the States.  The one that I sent her for our anniversary arrived in a weeks time.

Well, I don’t know much more to say.  I’m still doing KP and guard duty.  I had guard last night and am tired and sleepy tonight.  I think I’ll turn in as soon as I write a few lines to Dorothy.

I’ll have some more money to send some of these days.  I have to save over fifty dollars before I can [send] it by radio as that is the minimum.  I don’t like to send money orders as it is too easy for them to get lost and there is too much red tape to recover the money in case they are.

I’m expecting to get back to civilization by the end of the year or the first of they next.  The sooner the better.  If we don’t, there’s going to be a lot of disappointed boys.  I just hope the second one seems as short as the first.  I’ll have to close for this time.  Write often.


Author: warturoadam77p

70 year old married retired communications worker with three grown children, transplanted from the Midwest to the sunny Gulf Coast.

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