DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 8, Comforts of Home

August 21, 1943

I thought I would get some more mail this week, but I didn’t.  I hope that you have been able to keep cooler than I.

I don’t remember whether I told you or not that we got in some more PX supplies this week.  We got another carton of cigarettes and 2 more cans of beers besides a couple of packages of chewing gum with the exception of a stick per man given out by the Red Cross a couple of times.  That makes 24 cans of beer that we got this month.

The boys here played a challenge game of volleyball last night with another team and got beat pretty bad.

We are getting a shower built.  Some of the fellows have used a bucket or can with holes punched in the bottom.  You can pour water in the can and stand under it and enjoy it while the water lasts.  We can’t be too free with the water because all our water has to be hauled except what we catch off the tents when it rains.

Some one just brought me your V-mail letter of August 3rd.  That wasn’t bad time, as it came in 18 days.  It takes several days for a letter to reach me after it gets to India.

You speak of Dad plowing for wheat.  Didn’t he get all the ground put into crops this time or is it the stubble ground that had wheat on it this year?  Your corn is rather late this time, but if it is a quick maturing hybrid it’ll probably beat the frost.  I suppose silo filling will be much later this year.  Maybe it will be better as the weather won’t be quite so hot as it usually is during that time.

It was too bad about Dr. Sarginson.  I suppose the Skinner’s will sell the house as well as most of the other things they don’t want to keep.  that will put Harold without a home of any kind.  I wonder who will buy the house?  It would be nice if Dorothy had that house instead of the one in Carlinville.  It would be closer to her school and handy to visit. you.  I just happened to think that would be a good opportunity for you to get you a house to live in during later years when you retire.  It is close to the home place and everything.  Of course I don’t know what your plans are.  If you want to buy that and needed a little financial backing, I could let you use the extra money that I’m sending home, which will amount to 30 or 40 dollars a month as long as I’m overseas with a corporal technician rating.

Well, you should have a lot of beans to eat this winter along with tomatoes.  I would like to have some of that good home cooking again.  I’m just about to get burnt out on this army chow.  Now, I know how Uncle Pres feels about some of the things he no longer liked after getting so much of it in the army.

I hope you got the letter explaining the Christmas mailing overseas packages between Sept. 15th and Oct. 15th.  The post offices back there may post bulletins of similar nature.

Well, I hope this letter finds you all well.  We’ll close for this time as I have to write to my wife yet.  I wrote a V-mail to Carl Getz.  He is good about writing.

8-23-43:  2nd day of diarrhea–Was up half the time last night.  Went on sick call today.  The doctor gave me a bunch of pills to take (7-3x with water.)

8-24-43:  Feel better today.  Only made two trips so far to crapper.  Still taking pills.  Guts are sore.  Got back letter from my wife–July 26.  Wrote her a V-mail.  She sent a couple of air mail stamps and these were stuck to envelope on inside.

August 27, 1943

I received your air mail of August 9th yesterday.  I am glad to hear that you have got caught up on your work.

You should have plenty of beans to eat this winter.  That is one nice thing raising your own eats, you don’t have to worry about rationing.

You can pretty well figure what I am doing most of the time.  We always run on about the same schedules.  On week days we get up at 6:15 and go to work at 7:30.  On Sunday we sleep an hour later.  We get most of the Sundays off to straighten out our tents, wash clothes, write letters or whatever we want to do.  Of curse if we are especially rushed with work, we work then just like any other day.

No, I haven’t been to church in the last three months.  It is a little too far to go and conditions aren’t always so favorable.  If a person does go from here it takes up the biggest part of his day.

You spoke of the tomatoes ripening.  I sure would like to have some nice sliced tomatoes.  We get quite a few of them they come out of the can.  They still taste good to me though.  I have been eating better here the last few days.  My appetite has seemed to have improved.

garden tomatoesLuscious garden tomatoes

I can’t understand why Harold S. isn’t able to keep a job.  I thought that now a person could get a job most anywhere.  It’s too bad that the army wouldn’t take him as he doesn’t have anything to do anyway.

We got three more cartons of cigarettes this evening.  We are supposed to continue getting about 4 cartons a month from now on.  They cost us 8 cents per pack or 80 cents a carton.

I don’t remember just how much I’ve told you about India.  I’ve been here long enough that things no longer seem strange to me.  I take it all as a matter of course.

The women of the lower classes dress very simple.  They take a couple of yards of cloth or so and wrap it around them a few times until they are pretty well covered and then throw one end over their shoulders.  This is the process of dressing.  When they wash they have just a long piece of goods–no fancy frills or tucks.

The men use practically the same method except they bring the strip of cloth up between their legs once which gives the effect more or less of pantaloons.  Every caste (religious sect) dresses in a different manner.  Some of the men wear a sari which is a turban sort of affair that they wrap around their heads.

Some of the men wear just shorts and undershirts.  There is a sect that will not take a bath in the nude because it against their religion.

Some of the men wear long hair like a woman.  I’ve seen this more in the Indian Army than anywhere else.  Others have haircuts just like us Americans.  Others have short hair cuts but leave a little pig tail in the back so that they will be pulled into heaven by it when they die.

There are 2300 castes, sects, and creeds in this country and they all have different customs.  Often times one sect won’t have anything to do with the other.  There are 222 different languages spoken.  Now you can see what a variety there is over the whole of India.  I have only seen a small part, so I could only touch very lightly on the subject.

bambooMature bamboo stalks

Bamboo grows very abundantly around here.  Whenever we need a pole or a post we go cut a bamboo.  For fire we burn dry bamboo and it really burns once it gets started.

I’ll close for this time.  Hope you are all still well.  Write.


I don’t have much to say tonight so I’ll just send you a few lines.  I know you don’t like these brief letters any more than I.

Things are still going about the same as usual.  We got a few more PX supplies.  Chewing gum, cigars, soap, matches, and razor blades.

Some of the fellows here have been getting their packages from home.  One in my tent today got a package from his wife in Detroit.  It contained two pipes, a pound of tobacco and a carton of chewing gum.  It was mailed some time the last of June.

I heard from Dorothy today in a letter written in Arkansas about the 16th of August.  She said she didn’t think much of Arkansas as it was too dry and hot.

The news has been encouraging here of late.  I hope it continues to be so.  Write.

9-5-43:  Drove truck to Hell Gate.  Saw Fred.  Seemed in good humor after making T-5.  Said he might come down next Sunday.  Gave me book to read “Postman Rings Twice”-Good.

9-6-43:  Finally heard from Dorothy again (Aug. 11th).  Said she had cut her leg with a reap hook and had infection in it.  She also sent watch strap in her letter.

9-7-43:  Felt bad today with cold.  Sinuses on right side of face hurt me last night so I couldn’t sleep.  Took aspirin this morning and it relieved pain.  Sneeze and have sniffles tonight.  Got a letter from folks dated Aug. 16th.  Answered it.

9-13-43:  Lt. told us tonight as chow that we are to move to 34 M.P. at end of week.  The morale dropped immediately.  Everyone likes it here and knows what it’ll be like back in the company.

9-14-43:  Loaded up and hauled to Hell Gate some of our spare parts this morning.  Immediately after chow, a truck of Chinese turned over at the curve at our camp here.  We all rushed to help them.  Took the wrecker to lift the truck off two or three of them.  Nome were dead when they left the scene of the accident, but some were unconscious..  Several had broken arms and legs.  There were about twenty injured.  We had the injured picked up and sent to the hospital and the truck turned upright in hour and half.

9-17-43:  Preparing to move to Hell Gate with rest of outfit.  Went to Lido & Margherita today with some of the fellows.  I bought a couple of souvenirs.  A little brass bowl and a silver box.  *Saw amphibian 6×6 and Jeep.  Had wreck on the way back.  No one in our bunch was hurt.  One of the natives riding in Chinese 6×6 that hit us was hurt some.  Waited for wrecker and it pulled us in.

Editor’s note:  The Ledo Road was built in rough jungle country with steep grades, dropoffs, and switchback curves.  During monsoon season it was especially treacherous.

gmc dukw*GMC Amphibious 6×6 DUKW or “Duck”

9-18-43:  Very hot today.  Wash dirty clothes.  Not much activity as are waiting for orders to move.  Four fellows went up to prepare area.

9-19-43:  Got 2 letters from Dorothy.  Answered them and wrote to parents.  Still very hot.  Have very annoying cough.  No orders to move as yet.

9-20-43:  Eighteen new men came into company today.  Have been here at Hell Gate about 2 weeks.

10-13-43:  Caught guard last night for first time in about 5 months.  New fellows started work in shop this afternoon.

Oct. 14, 1943

I got the package today that I’ve been expecting.  It came just three months and one week to the day since it was mailed.  That is about the average time for a package to come from home.

You sure sent me plenty of lead and pencils.  I gave a couple to some of the other boys that didn’t have any.  I gave one to Fred, who is my best buddy, his being from Illinois.  I should have enough writing tools to do me for the duration now.  I really hope the duration doesn’t last that long.

The flash light batteries are the wrong size for my flash light that I have here.  They are real good batteries and I’m going to have to wait and see if you send me a flashlight in my Christmas package and then use them in it or else try to get one somewhere.  I’m keeping them in a box so they won’t corrode as everything molds that isn’t kept put away out of the dampness.

The erasers I can use everyday.  I can use the whisk broom to brush the varmints and bugs out of my bed at night before I get in it.  I’m pretty well stocked up on razor blades too, now.  I can use the thread to sew my stripes on when ever I do it.  I’m not too eager to put them on until I leave for home.

Thanks a lot.  I appreciate the trouble you went to, to send me this stuff.  I can make good use of it and what I can’t use myself I can help out some of the other fellows that are short.

More of Clyde's coworkers in India.Editor’s note:  The names of Dad’s work associates in this picture have been lost over the years.  The names “Pismo Pete” Peterson and Gorski stuck with me.  I’m sure they’re represented here somewhere.

You remember Fred Hauser?  He and I are working together now.  We can use a couple of the pencils between us as he is always losing track of his little old stubby one and it isn’t much force as it is.

I don’t remember whether I answered your last V-mail letter or not.  It made better time than most of the others.  Yesterday I heard from Dorothy as of Sept. 26th.  I have been getting more mail here of late so my morale is higher.  A letter from home seems almost like a visit home or seeing someone from there.

I’m glad to hear that Harold finally landed a job.  It will sort of relieve you folks.

I had guard the other night and it was nice and moon light.  I sort of enjoyed it which is unusual for a job like that.  It sort of reminded me of the moon light nights I used to spend at home.  It is more like early fall here now.  I have been crawling  way down under my blankets at night.  The days are more comfortable to work.

I missed out on some excitement the other day as our native KP’s got in an argument with the natives working for a neighboring organization.  It ended up in one of our natives getting his head cut by one of the other natives that hit him over the head with a bamboo pole.  It was all over some ducks that the other natives were supposed to have stolen from our natives.  I heard that our natives evened up the score the next morning before one of the fellows put a stop to the feud.

Speaking of ducks, we have a couple running around here now.  Some of the boys hae been catching rats in traps (not Japs) and the other morning one of the traps had a duck in it.  It caught him by the foot.  After he was turned loose he joined his buddy and did a lot of talking about it.  He never let out a whimper though before they let him loose.  He seems to be all right now, so I guess it didn’t hurt him very bad.  It was both amusing and pathetic at the time.  A poor old duck seems so helpless any time.

I hope that you are well back there.  I suppose that you are enjoying the cool weather now after the warm summer.

I heard that one of the younger Hewitt girls married the younger Huyear boy.  That should be quite a nice juicy bit of scandal for Chesterfield.

I’ve sort of petered out of anything to say so I’ll sign off and get ready for bed as lights will be out in another hour.  I got to get my beauty sleep you know.

Write as often as you can.

Oct. 22, 1943

Dad, I received your letter yesterday.  I was glad to hear from you again.  I hope that your corn gets a chance to mature before frost.  You should have quite a few beans if they mature.  What are they worth now?  That is a good cash crop now isn’t it?

There isn’t much difference in the price of wheat and corn now according to what you said you paid for both.  What is the price of hogs now?

Well, sure would like to shuck some of those old ears of corn again.  I saw some pictures of cribs of corn stored in Illinois in a “Life” magazine.  I also saw a field of corn just cultivated over for the first time in a field near Champaign, IL.

Fred showed me the pictures and it made both of us sort of homesick.  He lives at Arthur which is about forty miles east of Decatur.

ears if cornCorn ready for harvest

I started this letter last night and Fred came along and we got started talking over old times and future times until it was time to go to bed.  So, I didn’t get to finish the letter.  I’m n guard tonight and I just came off the first shift.  Our PX supplies came in last night and we got them tonight.  We got three cartons of cigarettes, two bottles of Indian beer and our choice of chewing gum and hard candy.  I sold one of my bottles of beer as I don’t care too much for this Indian beer.

I’ve been unusually busy this week.  I worked a couple of hours a couple of nights to sort of keep caught up.

Fred got a package from home today and it was mailed July 2nd.  He got some pipe tobacco which he gave a package to me (Sir Walter Raleigh).  He also got a flash light from home and he loaned it to me to use until I get one.  I am now using my batteries that you sent me.  He has an issue flashlight that he is using now.

He also got some stationary and envelopes and some razor blades.  He also got a pocket knife.

Well, the news seems good enough.  I hope the war doesn’t last too much longer.  I hear that congress passed a law limiting the men in service to 18 months overseas.  I haven’t put too much stock in it yet, as I haven’t heard too much about it.  I hope that it does take effect though.

I hope you all are well.

Oct. 27, 1943

I received your V-mail letter today of Oct. 7th.  The mornings here now remind me of the winter mornings we used to have in southern California when we were living under similar conditions.  I could sure use my sleeping bag now if I had it.  I don’t see why they wouldn’t let us bring them along.  We got another blanket here some time ago and it sure comes in handy.  A couple of months ago I would have laughed at the idea.

The Skinner place brought a good price all right.  I imagine the other stuff such as furniture brought a good price also.  There are four of the children, aren’t there?  They should get about five hundred dollars apiece.

You said that W. H. Dams had a sale selling out his farm implements and livestock.  Does he have someone renting his place now?

You spoke of getting an announcement card from Wayne Hudgins of a daughter born.  Who is that, anyway?  I just can’t place the name.  It must be some relative, but I’m at a loss, who.

well,I’m as busy as usual now-a-days and I’m glad that I am, because it keeps my mind occupied and I don’t have time to think of home too much.

I heard from Evelyn Getz today.  She was pinch-hitting for Carl again as I suppose he was too busy.  I’ll have to answer tonight, I guess.  Take care of yourself.