DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas ’42

camp slo 2

Camp San Luis Obispo

Camp San Luis Obispo
Nov. 29, 1942

This is a lazy Sunday, there isn’t much activity around camp.  Some sleeping, some are writing letters and others have gone to town.  It is getting cloudy this afternoon.  Maybe we’ll have a rain.  The raining season is about due to start.  So far this fall it has rained only occasionally.  The other night we had a heavy mist which was almost like rain.  

We had a very nice turkey dinner Thanksgiving day with all the trimmings.  We had several guests, mothers, wives, and sweethearts of soldiers.  We had to dress formally with blouses.  The captain made a little speech on Thanksgiving and led the Lord’s Prayer.

I am rather busy nowadays since I’ve gone back to work in the section.  At the present I have charge of the tool truck.  That is, checking out and in the tools taken out and used by the mechanics.  It is somewhat of a job to keep track of all of them unless someone oversees it.  When I started there weren’t any tools on the truck as they were making an inventory of them.  I got in on the job as they started putting them all back in the drawers and I had to figure out places to put them.  There were a lot of tools that I had no idea of what their purpose was. 

Wednesday night I had guard and was lucky enough to get the first shift (6 to 10) and didn’t lose any sleep.  Friday, I had KP.  I am generally lucky enough not to get details on weekends.  We had our weekly inspection yesterday morning and they warned us beforehand that it was going to be tough.  Some of the fellows never passed and had to do extra detail yesterday afternoon which they otherwise would have had off.    

Dorothy said that she was almost afraid to come down to see you until she announces the marriage.  She seems to have a complex about announcing it and I know it is just her imagination.  I’m trying to convince her of that.  She says she is considering going to school next summer and trying to get a grad in a high school to teach.  She said Harvey [brother in Navy] was coming home on leave during Thanksgiving. 

I’ve gained weight since I came back off furlough so the army agrees with me, I guess.  That ride back on the train sure was hard as the train was so crowded and good seats weren’t always available. 

I hope you are enjoying good health.  Will close for now.

Dec. 6, 1942

This was about the coldest morning that we’ve had so far I believe.  There was actually frost early this morning before the sun came up. 

I had guard last night from 10 till 2.  It was beginning to get rather cool about that time without fog.  We got to sleep till 7:30 this morning as it was Sunday and breakfast wasn’t until 8.  Some of the boys came in during the night from furlough.  There is another bunch to leave some time this week.

We’ve been rather busy the past week getting our surplus automotive parts packed and shipped.  I suppose they figure that we won’t be using them anymore and are sending them elsewhere.  We are to go through an intense training in the next few weeks.  The other sections have already started., bu we had other work to do.  

Christmas is just around the corner and outside of sending some card, I don’t suppose that I’ll be able to send any presents.  They told us a day or so ago that if we don’t get them off by this last week, that they wouldn’t reach their destination in time.  I hadn’t had much of a chance to do any Christmas shopping before and since it”s too late now I suppose I’ll have to be content to send cards.   

I bought a bunch of cards the other night at the PX and have them addressed ready to send out.   Some of the people I intended to send card, I do not know their full addresses.  I tried to send cards to most of the people who sent me cards last Xmas. 

I’ll write Wendell D. [Dowland] a letter and see what he thinks of the army by now.  He is stationed only about thirty miles from where we were last winter.  I made several trips from Lakeside to Camp Callan.  That is where we got our expense money.

Did you get a gasoline rationing book OK?  Dorothy’s brother Harvey was home during Thanksgiving and they spent most of their time together.  Dorothy said that she intended to announce our marriage right away and then she went to Kerstein and he advised her to keep it quiet until she got another school.  She also told Mr. Jones and he also advised her not to say anything about it until the school term was over as there was one of the directors that she might have some trouble with he already gives enough trouble.  I don’t know for sure what she is going to do.

Editor’s note:  Mom was advised by the president of the school board to keep her marriage quiet.  Some school board members were opposed to having married teachers in one-room schools.  She could lose her job if word got out.   

I suppose it is up to her, as it doesn’t make any difference to me if she waits until school is out.  It really doesn’t matter so much I suppose as I’m not home anyway.    

I had the allotment applied for this last week.  I also applied for more insurance.  I’m dividing my insurance between you and my wife.  I had my bond cancelled as I couldn’t afford to buy one now.  My wife can handle that now.  She’ll have to do something with money she gets and that’ll be a good place to put it. 

I am stuck on a few addresses and I wonder if you could help me out.  So far I have addressed about 28 cards and am going to have to get more.  I’m sending cards to the uncles and aunts on the Adam and Clements side.

Could you give me the address of the following:  John Horn’s, Helen Horn’s address and name, Viola’s name and address?

If you can think of anyone that I should send a card to I’m open for suggestions..  I’ve covered all the close relation except Weber’s in Iowa and I can’t think of their address.  I have a list of about 43 names so far.  I can’t wait too long before sending them or they’ll arrive too late.

I’ll close for now.

P.S.  Finish those pictures in the role in the camera as soon as possible and send them to me.  I want to see how they turned out.

Dec. 20, 1942

Here it is Sunday again.  We slept late and had a late breakfast as usual on Sunday. 

We had another shot yesterday morning and my arm was rather sore last night.  It is still sore but feels better this morning.  It didn’t affect me this time like it did before.  We were out on the range this week and qualified with the rifle.  I didn’t shoot so good with the 30 caliber as I should have.  It made too much shooting at one time and my shoulder got sore where the gun kicked back and my nerves weren’t steady enough to get a good aim.  I shot off about 100 rounds of ammunition in a day and a quarter.  I haven’t received the package you sent as yet, but it’ll be getting here before long I imagine.  It takes quite a while for packages to travel now as the mails are so crowded.  I’ll let you know of its condition as soon as it gets here.  I think it’ll be all right if you packed it in a good strong box.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we moved out of here soon after Christmas.  They’ve sent for all the men away at school.  Since we’ve been getting rigid training, show down inspections, and shots.  They are transferring some of the men out of the company.  The general opinion is that they are the undesirables.  The ones that they don’t want in the company.

I’ve heard that most of us will get ratings.  Maybe they won’t be so much, but every little bit helps.  We’ll get 20 per cent more pay for overseas duty.  I have taken care of my allotments.  I don’t remember whether I told you or not, but I took out $9,000 more insurance, which costs me $6.90 a month.  I’ve divided it half to you and half to Dorothy.  In other words, you are beneficiary to $5,000 and Dorothy is beneficiary to $5,000.     

I cancelled my war bond as I couldn’t pay for all the allotments.  Dorothy can buy bonds  out of what she gets.  If I get enough moeny over what I need later on I can send more home or take out some more bonds.

I mailed a card with a few lines written on it to Clyde Lee.  I wrote to Wendell Dowland and he answered right back.  He says they sure keep him on the jump.  He said he had to clean his rifle 3 or 4 times one day before they called it satisfactorily cleaned.  I can’t find his letter now.  He didn’t write so much and I remember the one incident he told of

I received about ten Christmas cards yesterday.  I received some from people who I never thought would send me one and I never sent them any.  It is too late now to send them cards.  I heard from a couple of people in Lakeside.  I suppose I’ll be getting more cards this year than I did last, as more people know where I’m located.

I am sending home my old driver’s license and a picture take on maneuvers.  If you look closely, you can see the ruggedness of the rock formation.

When I get overseas you can still write regularly by V-mail.  You can buy the forms and follow the instructions.  I see that they have some forms on sale here at the Post Exchange.

v-mail

V-Mail Posters

We are having steak for dinner today.  I’ll bet we eat better than civilians now, as they aren’t able to get all the meat, coffee, sugar and dairy products they want.  There is a noticeable shortage of dairy products here in camp now.  I’ll close for this time.    

Dec. 21, 1942

This is December the 21st, which is supposed to be the shortest day of the year.  Back there, I suppose you are having weather typical of Christmas, while here it is just uncomfortably cool in the mornings.

I received your box in the morning in good condition.  The candy and cookies are very good.   Thanks a lot.  Homemade cookies and candy tastes mighty good when a person is 2,000 miles from home.

Fred Bratton, who is the boy I went to see, said that it was stuff that came as near from home as he could expect without actually really coming from Arthur [Illinois] which is about a hundred miles from Chesterfield. 

Editor’s note:  Fred Bratton, another soldier from Illinois, became Dad’s lifelong Army buddy.

We haven’t eaten all the cookies and candy yet as it is rather rich and we aren’t used to eating so much of that type of food at one time.  A lot of the boys have been getting boxes lately.  Mine was the first that has come in this hut so far.  I suppose we’ll have it all finished off in a day as we can’t resist picking at sweets.

Most of the boys are back from furloughs and school.  There are a few to come back yet.  Our old company commander, Captain Guiver who has been with the company, left today for duties elsewhere.  Our new commander is a first lieutenant that came into the company as a second lieutenant a short time before we went on maneuvers and was promoted to first while we were on maneuvers.    

We spent most of the day cleaning up around the shop.  For about an hour this afternoon we had to listen to the articles of war, which are read every six months.

I went over to the PX this evening and bought me some razor blades and chewing gum.  Since then I have been cutting down some pictures so that I can carry them in my billfold. 

I suppose that we’ll have another big feed for Christmas.  We had  quite a dinner on Thanksgiving.  The mess sergeant today asked how many were expecting guests for Christmas dinner.  There were quite a few for Thanksgiving.  Every Sunday there are a few of the soldier’s wives for dinner.  Last Sunday there were six.  The married men that have their wives out here are allowed to spend the nights with them.  There are so many out here that about all the available room is taken.  

I received six more Christmas cards today which brings the total up to over two dozen in the last three or four days.  I sent out over forty cards and find that I missed an awful lot of people who have already sent me cards.  It makes a person feel good to know that people think of him even though one is many miles from home. 

Well, I guess I’ll close for this time.  Thanks again for the candy and cookies.  Also for the diary.  If they allow me to keep a diary, I can keep track of the goings on while I’m travelling the world. 

WWII christmas card

Merry Christmas, 1942

Dec 24, 1942

This is Christmas eve and it is a rainy night.  It rained all day yesterday and it is sure sloppy around here now.  Once it starts raining it is so damp that things don’t dry out right away. 

I’ve been getting a lot of Christmas mail.  I got thirteen cards yesterday and one today.  So far, I’ve gotten somewhere in the vicinity of 3 dozen cards.  I got a nice card from Myrtle and Bill Rigsbey.  She wrote a few lines and it sounds just like when I talk to her.  She still kids me about scrubbing the porch.   

The mess sergeant has decorated the mess hall so that it really looks like Christmas.  It looks nice.  I’m sending you a menu of our meals on Christmas day.  I expect that we’ll eat better than most civilians.

I have my insurance and allotment all fixed out now.  My application for insurance has been sent in and I’m sending you the copy.  You’ll get the policy later.  As you’ll see on the application I have divided $10,000 between you and Dorothy.  On the application you’ll see only $4,000 additional to the thousand you already have.  According to the way the application reads, there will only be one policy, which will be sent to Dorothy.   

It probably won’t be so very long until I’m unable to write for quite a period of time.  Don’t worry about it because it is the way it has to be and will be only for a temporary period of time.  I’m not allowed to say too much about it.

I got a Christmas package from my wife today.  It contained a nice set of Avon toilet articles.  There was a tube of shaving cream, can of talcum, can of tooth powder, and a bottle of after shave lotion.  The bos it came in was a little worse for wear, but the contents were OK.  

There have been a lot of Christmas boxes come through the mail in the last week.

We are listening to Christmas songs over the radio tonight.

Well, I guess I’ll close for this time.

I’m sending the application for insurance in a separate letter as it makes too big a letter to put in one envelope.

In case I’m unable to write any more for a while use the following address to write to me.

Pvt. Clyde F. Adam A. S. N. 36045831
115th Ord. Co.
APO 3492
c/o Postmaster
New York City, NY

Editor’s note:  Dad previously mentioned receipt of a diary for Christmas ’42.  His diary entries will be italicized, interspersed with letters home.  My older brother, George F. Adam Sr., family historian, is credited with arranging entries in chronological order.  The following words were written inside the front cover.  Immediately following were Dad’s first diary entries.

A SOLDIER’S DIARY
TO:  Clyde F. Adam
ASN 36045831
One of the truest and best
Our country may offer–
FROM:  Mother and Dad
12-25-42

——————–

Watch-ACME # on back Pat. No. 2229979
Rifle-Springfield (03) # 819353
 Waist–32″                  Leggings–Medium (2R)
 Inseam–31″               Helmet–Medium
 Blouse–38R              Raincoat–Medium
 Coveralls–36R          Cap–7
 Socks–11                  Shoes–9D

Started Allotment to wife on December Pay $22.00
$5,000 Insurance to Wife
$5,000 Insurance to Mother (6.90 premium for both)
Pay Allotment to Folks starting April–$20.00

Mother’s birthday
March 23-44–62 yrs.
Dad Sept 23–44–62 yrs.
Dorothy Apr. 24–44–25 yrs.

12-25-42:  2nd Christmas in army–had late breakfast.  2 o’clock dinner with turkey and all trimmings. pkg. of luckies and cigar given to each person–lot of guest for dinner–laid around in barracks most of the day–went to service club for a while in the evening.  Rather quiet day-lonesome for my wife.

12-26-42:  On the range again today.  Came in at 4 PM.  Went to the show this evening.  Quiet in hut.  Fred B. and Elven S. gone to town.  Handy is asleep.

12-27-42:  Felt sort of sick all day.  Lay around most of the day–went to show this evening (Palm Beach Story) Fairly good show. Wrote 2 letters.

Dec. 27, 1942

I have been rather quiet today.  I didn’t feel so good and have been lying around.  I guess I had a touch of flu or something.  I feel pretty good tonight.

Yes, I picked up the weight I lost on maneuvers.  The mail has been a lot slower while the Christmas rush was on.  I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get my Christmas card.  I mailed you one quite a while before Christmas.  It could have gotten lost.  There was about 5 cars eastbound Christmas mail burned up in LA about two weeks before Christmas and that was about the time I sent you your card.

You are having plenty of snow this winter.  I would hardly know how to act in a snow storm anymore.

Is the car running OK now?  It should run right for a while if you take proper care of it.

I am getting Christmas cards even though Christmas is over.  So far I have received better than fifty cards.  I am sending you the names of the people who sent them.

I don’t exactly recall who Mr. and Mrs. John Gallahan are, unless it is one of the Gahr girls.  Uncle John and Aunt Katherine sent their card from Alton [IL].

If I should send any amount of money home in the future, invest it in livestock or something for me.  I don’t know whether I’ll have enough left over from my allotments besides what I’ll need or not, but if I do I’m going to try to save all I can.  Of course, if you should ever need any money, I can have an additional allotment made out for parents which will cost me only and additional 8 dollars.  Starting Dec. 1st, Dorothy is supposed to get her 50 dollar allotment.  It may be quite a while before they get around to paying her first payment, but she’ll get back pay starting at that time.

I don’t know whether I’ll have time to have my picture taken anymore now after payday.  I’m almost broke at the moment.

I’ll close for this time.

12-30-42:  Worked this morning.  Took shot this afternoon.  Had some close order drill.  Stood guard mount tonight–Guard duty from 2-6.

12-31-42:  Pay day–received about $25.00.

1-1-43:  Got the afternoon off being New Years.

Well, this is the beginning of another new year and this is going to be a year full of happenings as far as the war is concerned.  I believe this is the year that the AXIS is going to see defeat.  Some authorities seem to think that we won’t be able to beat the Japs this year.  If not, they’ll be pretty well under control.

We didn’t do much today since it a holiday.  We went through about an hour of drill this morning.  We’ve been getting quite a bit of it lately since there hasn’t been much else to do lately.  We’ve gotten rid of all our working equipment and tool trucks.  We’ve been getting new clothing where the old wasn’t good enough to stand the racket.  Our clothes and equipment are supposed to be good enough to stand six months of wear in the field.  I suppose after that we get equipped all over again.

So you see we are on the verge of leaving for overseas duty.  We expect to receive our orders to move most any day now.  After we once start I don’t suppose that we’ll be allowed to write anyone until we reach our destination.  They do not want anyone to know our location or our movement.  We don’t even have the slightest idea of where we are going as our clothing issue is of the nature to take care of bother moderately hot and cold climates.

Our mail they tell us is censored more or less so I am having this letter mailed outside the camp.  I don’t know enough to give any information anyway except that we are getting ready to move which might be valuable to an enemy agent.  We don’t even know which coast that we’ll leave from.

I haven’t gotten any mail now for the last four days.  I don’t know what the trouble it.  I have been getting at least every other day from Dorothy.

Yesterday was pay-day.  Dorothy’s allotment came out of this pay.  My insurance starts this month and will come out of this month’s pay.  We are to get an increase of 20 per cent in pay for overseas duty.

I received six more Christmas cards after Christmas.  One was from Uncle Carl Meyer and Aunt Bertha.  Aunt Bertha wrote a letter along with card.  She said they had been having some real winter weather.  I looked like I had gained a few pounds.  She said Alvin was still in Rolla [MO] and that they were expecting him home for Christmas.

She said they had about 7,000 chicks on had now and still getting more.

It might be quite a while before I’ll be able to write again, but if I get the chance I will.  After you get word of our arriving at our destination overseas you can send my letters by V-mail.  You can get the forms and write according to the instructions.  Continue to write every week as you nave been doing and I’ll get the mail eventually even if I don’t get it on time.  Don’t send my mail to the new APO until you get the word.  When we are ready to leave, we have cards to send out.

I gave you the new address in one of my letters so that you would have it in case I didn’t get a chance to write again.

I am carrying all the pictures that I can take along in my billfold.  I am going to send those back that I don’t want to take along.  There are a couple of negatives that you can have developed if you like of the camp here.

Clyde & Dorothy in Arthur, IL

Editor’s note:  This picture of Mom and Dad was taken when Dad was on furlough in Nov. ’42, shortly after they were married.  The location was near Arthur, IL, Fred Bratton’s hometown.  This may have been one of the pictures Dad carried in his wallet.

We packed our bags this afternoon to see if we could get all of our stuff in them.  We have two bags–an A bag and B bag.  The B bag goes in the hold of the ship while we keep the A bag with us.  I am taking my sleeping bag along unless they make me throw it out at the port of embarkation.  It will sure come in handy when we get to sleeping out in the open.

I don’t know whether they’ll let me take my diary with me or not, but I’m going to try.  When a person goes to pack he finds that he has a lot more stuff than he thought he had.  If you should need help at any time while I’m gone apply to the Red Cross as they are supposed to give you help either financially or otherwise.

I’ll close for this time.  Hoping you are OK.  I’ll write as often as I possibly can and you continue writing.

1-4-43:  Turned all bedding and bunks in.  Laid around all day till 8:30PM.  Boarded train for unknown destination. 

1-5-43:  Arrived at new camp around noon.  Drew another blanket.  Double deck beds. Mine is on top deck.  Approx. sixty men to a barracks.

1-6-43:  Barracks inspection before dinner.  Laid around barracks all afternoon.  Called show down inspection at 5 PM.  Supper at 5:30.  Finished inspection at 9:30.  Went to PX before light out at 10. 

1-7-43:  Another barracks inspection this morning–barracks in poor condition said the C.O.  Saw a short show on aircraft identification and secrecy of valuable information.  Got two shots (one in each arm).  Arms getting sore.    

Thurs. Jan. 7, 1943

We moved out of our old camp Monday night and travelled to our present location by train.   We arrived here at this camp the next day (Tuesday) at noon.

About all we’ve done so far is stand inspections and clean our barracks.  We have two-man bunks here (one above the other).  These are about sixty men to a barracks (one-story).

We are still in California.  This is a staging area where different troops are gathered together in preparation to going to the port of embarkation.

We aren’t allowed to give the name or the location of the camp.

We got some more shots in the morning (one in each arm).  The  food here doesn’t taste as good as it did when our cooks fixed, but there is plenty of it.  I am gaining weight right along with eating and not doing anything.

The camp is filling fast.

When we got here there were very few here.  I have seen some of the men here now that used to be in the company and were transferred out.  The way our freedom is restricted reminds me of the first few weeks I was in the army and was under quarantine and couldn’t leave the immediate area.

The first night here we could leave to go to the PX and the show.  Last night we had about a half hour to go to the PX.

It has been awfully windy the last couple of days.

I don’t know how often I’ll be able to write, but I’ll write whenever I can.  Note the change in address.  I’m enjoying good health.  My arms are getting sore from the shots, but that’ll wear off in a day or two.  I’m getting used to having sore arms as I’ve had so many shots lately.  Write.

Jan.14, 1943

It is rather warm here this afternoon.  The nights and mornings are rather cool, but as soon as the sun gets up to a good height it is warm.  As you’ve probably guessed I’m still in the staging area.

We are getting plenty of exercise.  We do a certain amount of drill every day.  We’re gradually getting toughened up.  I’m getting so that I can clean my plate of almost everything they put out regardless of how it tastes.  The food wasn’t so good  after we were here awhile as it was at first.  Some of these scrambled eggs they give us of a morning taste so rank I have to put catsup on them so that I can eat them.  They undoubtedly must be cold storage eggs.

Editor’s note:  I wondered if the aforementioned unpalatable eggs might have been powdered eggs?

The mail situation isn’t so good.  I haven’t received a letter since we left San Luis Obispo.  I am expecting to get one most any day now as our APO 3492 mail is all we’ll get for a while anyway.

Newspapers are rather scarce here and I know practically nothing about the news.  Radios are banned.

We got partial pay yesterday.  I got ten dollars which is all that I would get this month anyway as I have some extra deductions.  My insurance deduction this month is double because I have to be one payment ahead.

I had to pay for one suit of coveralls that never came back from the laundry.  I never noticed the shortage in time to turn it in as they have to be reported in so many hours.  That set me back three dollars and 20 cents.  That looks like an awful price for a pair of coveralls, but they are heavy and of good material.  The worst part was that the ones I lost were worn out anyway and needed replacing.

I suppose the weather back there is cold.  It generally is this time of the year.

I hope to hear from you soon.

1-17-43:  On KP Sunday–rest of company off–physical inspection.  Worked 5 AM till 8:30 P.M.

Jan. 17, 1943

I haven’t heard from you now for two weeks.  I suppose that you haven’t started using my new APO number yet.  I have received a couple of letters from Dorothy.

I’ve been on KP today.  We went on at 5 this morning and got off at 8:30 tonight.  It was a really long day and I am really tired.  The rest of the company had the day off.

The Red Cross gave each of us a small green gabardine bag containing a sewing kit, package of cigarettes, pencil, tablet, envelopes, story book, package of chewing gum, pair of shoe laces, bar of soap, and a deck of cards.

I haven’t much time before bed time so I’ll have to bring my letter to a close.  There isn’t much to write about.  I’m enjoying good health and hope that you are enjoying the same.

If you do not hear from me for any length of time in the future, you’ll know that I’m not allowed to write, but I’ll write whenever and as soon as I can.

  

  

    

DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 2, Mojave Desert Wanderings

Mojave Desert
August 16, 1942

Here it is another Sunday morning and it doesn’t seem much different from any other day except that we got up three-quarters of an hour earlier than usual.  There isn’t so much activity around camp as there sometimes it, but there hasn’t been so very much since we came out here with the exception of getting our camping area straightened out.  We haven’t started taking any work to do yet because we aren’t settled for sure.  We’ll probably move to another area in a few days.  Where we are supposed to move is a lot dustier because of more traffic.  This isn’t so bad because we are sort of out to ourselves with the exception of the hospital which is just across the street or road.  The road has a hard surface and hasn’t any dust where the other road is awful dusty and rough.  I think the command figures that we’ll closer to our work over there and they don’t consider our working conditions.  The heat is bad enough alone without having a lot of dust and dirt.  Several of the fellows are sick.  I’ve been sort of off feed.  It is too hot for anyone that isn’t used to it and then this army food doesn’t set good on one’s stomach when it is sort of weak anyway.  I have lost quite a bit of weight already. 

I took my Saturday night bath in a water bucket. The water that came out of our water trailer after having set in the sun, was just the right temperature to take a bath in.  They have showers up the road aways, but it is so hard to get a chance to get in there and after you do you only get to stay about a minute and a half.  I decided that I would bathe farmer style.

The Santa Fe railroad runs within about a quarter of mile from here and the trains run often both day and night. The other day I kept track for half an hour and there were 3 in that time.  A lot of them are double headers.  They are using several of those diesel locomotives now.  Last night one of them had the longest string of cars behind it I’ve ever seen.  This morning since daylight I haven’t seen any trains.  It might be because it’s Sunday.

It is partly cloudy this morning and it hasn’t gotten so hot yet, although it is warm enough.  Yesterday afternoon a cloud went over and it rained a few drops.  They say there was a 4 inch rain here last week, but water goes right down and evaporates immediately.  I did some washing yesterday morning and it soon dried.  Most of the time there is a breeze and even though it is hot, it helps keep one cool. 

In the evening they sometimes give us lemonade or ice tea to drink.  That is generally about all that tastes good to me at that time of day.  Last night after dark they put some ice in the water to cool it off.  I think our water comes from a well that the railroad has.  You can hear the pumps going most of the time.  By the time the water is hauled to us it is rather warm.  I can drink warm water all day and it won’t quench my thirst.  That’s about all there is to talk about right now so I’ll close.

August 22, 1942

I’m writing this in the camp hospital out here in the desert.  I came here yesterday morning.  I was weak and tired.  I had a fast pulse, but no fever to speak of.   They called it early heat exhaustion.  I haven’t felt very good since I came out here.  I feel fairly good tonight.  I think I’ll go back to active duty tomorrow.  I don’t think I’ll ever be too good as long as we are out here in this heat.

They bring fellows in here every day with heat exhaustion.  Some of them are pretty far gone.  They have a cooler here to put them in when they have too high temperature.  There they maintain a temperature of 68 degrees and the patient is cooled off sufficiently to bring the fever down.  There are several diarrhea patients in the hospital.  Our company has about six here with the same ailment.  

They turned the lights out on me last night, so I couldn’t finish this letter.  I am supposed to go back to my company this morning, but it is almost 11 o’clock and no transportation has shown up yet.

We moved to a new area last Tuesday, I think it was.  Monday night we had an awful dust storm and wind storm.  It blew down most of the tents and filled everything full of dust and dirt.  I was on guard at the time.  We packed our stuff in trucks and some of us pitched pup tents to sleep in that night.  We knew that we were to move the next day anyway.  Some of the fellows slept around in trucks or near them out in the open.

Clyde supervising digging a latrine

Dad supervising digging a latrine

The next day we moved the new area which in only about three-quarters of a mile from where we were.  We have a building there recently constructed that we can use to work in. 

That night we had a beer bust.  The mess sergeant took money from the company fund and bought beer and Coca Cola.  Most of the fellows drank the beer.  The cold beer sure tastes good after a hot day. 

The chaplain brought this paper into the hospital yesterday afternoon.  I had none, so I used some of it.

Two or three days ago they set up a tent for us to eat in.  Before we had to squat in the sand and eat our chow right out in the hot sun. That spoils a person’s appetite as quick as anything when a person is hot already and doesn’t care much whether he eats or not.

I sort of dread going back to company to duty.  It is so hot there and no good shade to get in unless you can find room in one of the large tents and they are generally full of something or other.

They came at 11 o’clock to take me back.  Seems like it is hotter here than it was over at the hospital and a lot dustier.  I don’t know how long I can take this heat and dirt.  Seems like my pulse is fast most of the time.  If I get to feeling to bad again I’ll go back to the hospital and maybe if they find out that this climate doesn’t agree with me at all they’ll send me back to San Luis.  I still feel weak after lying in the hospital for two days.  Night is the only time it is half way comfortable and I can’t recuperate in a night’s time.  One consolation maybe will be that if they find out that I can’t stand this sort of climate they won’t send me overseas to a similar climate.

I received your letter this afternoon after going back to the hospital to get it.  It had been sent from here up there but had never been delivered to me.  It took it five days after you mailed it to reach here. 

Yes, I remember Dewitt, It takes me back to a year ago when I came into the army.  In a way, I’m glad the first year is over.  It is always the hardest although the rest are none too easy.  Write.

Sept. 9, 1942

I think I told you that I went to the hospital again for a few days.  About all they did was give me a good rest and starved me.  For three days I had nothing but bread and mild.  The last day they gave me a general diet. 

The first day I was there I didn’t want anything to eat but after that I got hungry.  There was a PX near the hospital, so I lived on beer, potato chips, and ice cream.  After the first day, they moved me out into some tents with some more fellows.  There are an awful lot of the fellows that get sick out here.  I think I’m OK now for a while.

Yesterday afternoon we had an awful strong wind that blew down three tents and blew dust into everything.

We’ll probably move from here to new location within the next week.  We’ll follow down along the Colorado River along with the maneuvers.

We have a good location here for water and we are only a mile from town.  We have our camp about two hundred yards from the river and we pump water right out of the river for showers.  The water is cold, but it cools one off.

The town doesn’t amount too much as a means of entertainment with all the soldiers around.  Most of the restaurants sell out early in the evening and close their doors.  The bars are generally loaded with soldiers buying drinks. 

We have our own PX here and we can buy all the beer we want and candy, ice cream and such.  There really isn’t much incentive to go to town.  I go through town several times during the day to go to the A. P. O. and headquarters which is on the other side.  There are about as many army vehicles there as there are civilian cars.

It is a nice appearing little town to be located in the desert.  Of course the river affords them plenty of water to keep their lawns green and to water the trees.  There are several trees right around and in the town, but they are all the same variety.  They look something like a willow, but the foliage is more fuzzy.  There are a few palms also.

It is such a contrast out here to what it is back home that I just can’t come to like it.

If I do have to do foreign service I would almost do anything to keep from having to be in a place like this.  *Although, since we are getting all this training here, they would probably figure that we were fitted for that kind of climate.  

*Editor’s note:  This statement would prove to be both prophetic and ironic.  After the first year of military service, Dad resigned to the quirks of Army life.  He’d learned the meaning of “hurry up and wait” and about doing things the “Army way.”  The harsh conditions took a physical, emotional, and psychological toll on these young soldiers.

No one knows whether this company will go overseas after maneuvers or not.  Since we are getting all this training it looks more than likely, but we have only half enough strength and would have to have more men.  They could soon attach more men.  Again we may be out here to take of the equipment of those on maneuvers and afterwards continue to furnish men for cadre forming new companies elsewhere.

I see in the papers that the allies are beginning to open up over in Europe as well as on the Japs in the Pacific.  The Allies have a mighty war machine to keep going this time and they are scattered all over the world.  In my opinion the sooner they get going the sooner the Axis can be defeated.  It will be a tough war because it covers so much more territory and the war machines are so much more expensive than the last war.

The US has such a vast supply of resources, that with a lot of hard work, sacrifice and proper management, there is no excuse why we can’t win this war and do it without taking too long.  Of course there are still those that are in the game for the money only.  By now I think that most people realize what we are up against.

How are you folks progressing back there?  Do you think that you’ll be able to get by another season?  It looks like those that are left behind are expected to do an awful lot.

Many are the times that, while I am here with idle time on my hands, I wish that I could be doing something back there that was really useful.

The first year wasn’t so bad although I had several weak moments when I got rather homesick.  Now it looks sort of hopeless.  If I was doing something really useful toward the war effort or something constructive it would be different.

This army is a mess, but I guess it can’t be any other way with so many different kinds of people in it running it.  It has to be run more lass standard and what fits to some doesn’t to others.  I know enough about the army and there are others like me that when it is over I want to wash my hands of the whole thing and forget it completely.  When I hear some fellows talk of how they like the army and would like to make it their career I soon form an impression of them that they’ve either been handed a commission on a platter or else they haven’t the ambition to work for a living on the outside.

Anyway from this you should get a rough idea of what I think of it.  I feel the urge to fight those dirty Japs and Germans but I feel like a man with his hand tied behind his back. 

I wish I had enough money to go around so that I could buy me a camera and take pictures of all these places that I have been.  It take a lot of money–more than one would think and I’m trying to save enough to start a home after I get out of here.  If a person doesn’t have something to plan and look forward to it all looks so hopeless. 

All of this desert is more or less alike.  Almost any spot in it you can see mountains in the distance although they aren’t so high. 

If you ever need any help, let me know.  It can always be fixed somehow. 

needles , ca

Needles, CA on Route 66

Needles, Calif.
Sept. 20, 1942 

We are getting ready to go out on actual maneuvers.  So far we have made our camp and the stuff to be repaired has been brought in to us.  We were on the red army side before and we are on the blue side this time.

We are going right out among the maneuvers and follow the combating units.  We put grease on the windshields leaving just a small space to see through.  That is to keep the glass from reflecting the sun.  We’ll probably do most of our moving after dark during the blackout so that the enemy won’t spot us.  We are supposed to leave this area tonight about dark.  We fastened a sign painted blue on the trucks so that they know whose side we’re on.  On the other side it is painted red.  It we should get in enemy territory we could turn the sign over.  I imagine that we’ll be on the move about all this week.

This area here is getting so dusty that I’m not sorry to leave it, but I suppose it will be rather rugged moving around all the time and then a person is liable to get captured. 

There are a few clouds to obscure the sun occasionally which is unusual for the weather here.

I don’t suppose that we’ll get our mail very regular either.  I don’t know what kind of setup they’ll have for the post office.  Write. 

Editor’s thoughts:  Dad had previously mentioned considering marriage.  There will be more to come on that subject.  I’m closing this post with a picture of my mother from the early forties.  This was her first school assignment after graduating from Blackburn College in 1940.  It was one of the last rural, one-room schools in the county, before consolidation in 1948.

img004Albany School, District #121
Teacher, Dorothy Jane Clark and students

         

                  

DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 2, California Maneuvers

Army convoy in California

Camp San Luis Obispo, Calif.
May 16, 1942

Dear Mother and Dad,

I am now back where I started from when I first came to California.  Monday and Tuesday we packed and loaded everything into the trucks.  We got up Wednesday morning at 3 o’clock and pulled out at 5 AM.  We didn’t get along very fast.  We had a break down and that detained us a while.  We all thought that we were headed for Fort Ord, Calif.  We stopped at Van Nuys to gas up at 4 PM.  This is where us three fellows stayed over night before we joined the company.  We drove eight more miles and stayed at Disney’s studios in the same area that I first joined the 115th Ord. Co.  We left there at 6:30 Thursday morning.

We drove quite a bit faster that day and covered a little over 200 miles.  Shortly after noon while we were stopped along the road for a rest and check upon the trucks, the captain told us that the orders had been changed, and we were stopping at a different place.  We pulled in here at San Luis about 4 o’clock.  We stayed overnight in the same area that the company left.  So you see we have practically retraced our steps.  Yesterday morning we moved into this area.  We have cots and mattresses once again.  Everything is located very nicely here in our company area.  It has been taken good care of.  There are flowers and a small lawn.  There is a pool table in the recreation room.

I don’t know just how long we’ll be here.  It seems that we’ll have plenty to do.  Furloughs were being given in the camp up until Dec. 10 and then they were stopped.  It seems that we are always at the wrong place to get in on leaves.  Thirty new men came into the company today from Fort Ord.  They are rookies that have been in less than a month.  They haven’t had any training yet.  I suppose it will be up to us to train them. 

Last Sunday while I was in San Diego I went to see the Chaplain, but I think I told you about that.  Anyway, I talked to the captain and they dug up my papers of applications for discharge.  I have been after them constantly.  I inquired again this afternoon and they said they sent them into division headquarters to investigate the case.  Chances they might give my case consideration.  During war-time, discharges are hard to get.

Since we’ve been on the move, we haven’t gotten any mail since Tuesday.  It should be catching up with us before long.

Write and let me know how you are getting along.

Editor’s note:  After the war, I recalled Dad’s comments about camping in the California desert.  It got cold at night.  Soldiers habitually checked sleeping bags for scorpions and snakes.  Later, in the sixties, I used Dad’s Army sleeping bag on a camping trip to the Rocky Mountains.  Temps got down below freezing, I was cozy and warm.

Dad attempted to obtain a hardship discharge from the Army.  He felt he was needed more on the home front to run the family farm.  It was war-time and the military thought otherwise.

Walt Disney took this photo.12.20.1941. Clyde back row 4th from left.

Picture of Dad’s company taken at Walt Disney Studios by Disney himself.  Dad’s in the top row, fourth from the left.

June 9, 1942

It has been cool ever since I got back to California.  I heard that you had a rain back there Sunday, after I left.  We ran into a rain on the bus down in Missouri that Saturday evening.  The rest of the way was hot and dry until I got to L. A. 

We were scheduled to go on an overnight hike tonight, but it was called off.  We go tomorrow instead.  The captain said it was to toughen us up for the desert.  We have been busy working on half tracks (scout cars) and servicing some new equipment that came in last week.  I don’t know why new equipment would have to be greased and checked before it was driven, but that is the Army way of doing things. 

I went to the show last night and saw a picture called “Submarine Raider.”  It was based on the attack on Pearl Harbor.  In the end the American Sub sank the Jap aircraft carrier, which couldn’t have been a better ending.

It looks like the war is going our way at the present.*  The general opinion at the present seems to be that if things continue to go as they are, this will be a short war.  We all hope so.  Clydes first furlough.

The boys that were supposed to go on furlough after the first bunch came back may have a chance now.  The alert has been lifted.  Of course there may be another most any time.  I would like to see the rest of the boys get furloughs.  (Picture to the right is from Dad’s first furlough.)     

I wish I had ways of taking pictures of the scenery around here.  We are down in a sort of valley and there are mountains all around us.  There aren’t many trees on them, but grass and other vegetation.  The vegetation around here is getting brown now like it does back home in August.  Small grains such as oats and barley are ripe. 

The fog has been coming in early of an evening here lately.  We are about a mile and a half like a crow flies from the ocean.  That accounts for all the fog.  If a person was out here on his own and had plenty of time to look around and explore the country, I believe it would be very interesting.

I don’t know of much more to say at the present, so I’ll just close till next time.

*Historical Note:  Dad referred to the US Navy’s decisive victory over the Japanese at The Battle of Midway on June 6th.

Mtn. View from California Maneuvers 1942

June 21, 1942

I just got back a couple of hours ago from spending a day and a half in Antelope Valley which is a vast expanse of dry land with nothing but dry grass and a few bushes scattered here and there.  I went up there Friday evening.  It is about a hundred miles northeast of here.  The boys are getting training there.

Saturday morning we could see the top of the Sierra Nevada Mountains toward the north.  They were at least a hundred miles or more from where we were.  The tops were covered with snow.  Later in the day they disappeared from our sight. 

Last night the boys from the infantry went out on a few manuevers.  Of course they rode in scout cars which is contrary to public opinion because the Army is now mechanized where it wasn’t in the last war.  The Army figures that men feel more like fighting if they ride to the scene of battle rather than march.  Of course they do quite a bit of marching to keep fit.  Our job is to care of their automotive equipment, while the other sections of the company service their guns and other equipment.

It was rather warm out there and dusty.  At noon we were required to take sun baths the length of exposure depending upon the amount of previous exposures.  The other fellows had been there 10 days and they were relieved by some more.  I came back with the old bunch.  I may have to go back this week if they want something from here.

I received your letter with the pictures enclosed.  The pictures turned out better than I expected.  I can look at them and imagine that I am home.

I heard from George Parker last week.  He says they are building new barracks down there.  He called them huts and sent me a clipping showing a picture of them.  He said that he has gained eight pounds since he’d been down there.Desert Maneuvers near Indio CA, 1942

You speak of having much rain.  The only rain I’ve seen since I left Lakeside, was in Missouri on the way back here.  I’m not kicking because I never cared much for rainy weather anyway. 

I’m sort of tired tonight, so I think I’ll turn in. 

PS, Dad, I didn’t find out that today was Father’s Day in time to send a card, but, I give you my best wishes. Clyde. 

July 6, 1942

Eleven months ago today I was inducted.  I’ll soon be in a year.  I hope by another year a person can sort of expect or have some idea when it will be over.  

We had the 4th off as a holiday.  Most everybody that wasn’t on some detail left camp and went somewhere or other.  I went down along the coast a ways.  Saturday night I went to a dance.  It was the first one I’ve found since I’ve been in the army that a person could find a partner to dance as often as he liked. 

Yesterday, I stayed in camp and slept most of the day.  Last night I took in a show.  Today I’m on fatigue detail which means cleaning up the bath house, etc.   Watering the flowers.  I don’t remember whether I told you or not, but we do have a few flowers scattered around the area.  We water them everyday and they stay green.  Otherwise they would soon die.  The ground is rather rocky and loose.  Anyway, it isn’t adaptable to plant life this time of the year unless it is kept watered.  The fields are dry around here now and they present a fire hazard.  Out on the artillery range they burn the fields off sections at a time to prevent fires from getting out of hand. 

We still have a dozen men up in Antelope Valley.  A couple of days last week they said it got around 130 degrees up there.  Several of the boys from other outfits that were on maneuvers became too hot and they had to bring them to the hospital.  I haven’t been up there now for a couple of weeks. 

I am beginning to get tired of this place.  I wish they would move us again to a location more like we had at Lakeside.  It is rumored that we might move to Needles, Calif. which is located in the California desert.  It is sort of a desolated spot from what I know of it.  I wish I could move further east where it looks more like Illinois.  So far I’ve only seen the most barren part of California.  The northern part is more scenic.

I am sending home the 50 dollars I spoke of in a money order.  You can put it away for me where I can get it when I need it.  I don’t like to keep it here because I could lose it too easily.

I have applied for a 25 dollar defense bond to come out of my pay every month.  I am having it held by the government for safe keeping where I can get it any time I want it.  I am having the receipt sent home.  In case anything happens to me the bonds will be sent to you.

I am sending home a picture one of the fellows took back at Lakeside one morning.  The main object was the dog.  I was trying to keep the dog quiet and I consequently got into the picture also though it missed part of my head.  The dog was just a pup at that time and rather cute.  When it was given to us he was much smaller than he is in Clyde & dog in Indiathe picture.  Now, he is a big dog, although he doesn’t seem to have his full growth.  He used to be full of energy, but now he is lazy and won’t play unless you torment him. 

Referring to the picture, the space between the tents where the dog and I were, was the company street.  Looking into the background, the tent that you can see to itself was the end of the street.  Beyond that across a deep canal ditch was the highway leading to Lakeside which was toward the right. 

It is getting around toward the shank of the evening so I had better close.  This afternoon about all I’ve accomplished was reading a story and writing this letter.  So you see this 50 dollars a month comes rather easy at the present.  There are times when it isn’t so easy.  I still don’t like this type of life and they won’t have to tell me twice to go when they turn us loose.

Write as often as you can.  

July 18, 1942

Another week has almost passed and this is the Saturday afternoon off.  I have guard tonight so I won’t be able to go to town.

I had another tooth pulled yesterday morning.  They called me over to the clinic for a dental examination.  They never found any cavities, but I told them I had a tooth that I thought was abscessed and they X-rayed and it proved to be. 

I think that we’ll move out to the desert along the Arizona line about the middle of next month.  It will be really hot there for a month.  We’ll probably be there for about 60 days.  It is cool here at camp.  We are located in sort of a valley.  If you go over the ridge, it is hot.  With few exceptions, the fog rolls in every night from the ocean.  It usually lifts by 9 o’clock in the morning.  It is never cloudy in the summer.  Of course the fog is so thick it obscures the sun.

The last bunch of guys are gone on furloughs.  After they got back, I think that we’ll get three-day passes.

Many of the fellows are getting married while they are here.  One of the fellows in my tent is getting married this afternoon.  He is one of the last thirty men that came into the company.  Another has his girl friend out here and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did the same before long.  One of the last bunch that came in, there were several married men.  Two of them went home on discharges.

I am getting tired of this camp.  I’ll be glad when we move.  I am still driving and there isn’t enough of it to do here.  I see by the paper’s headlines that the Axis powers are taking an awful beating and loss of men and material to gain a little ground.  It is of the opinion of some that if the allies established a second front this summer and can keep the Germans out of the Russian Caucuses, the war will be a short one.  I hope so.    

Barracks at San Luis Obispo, California

Barracks at San Luis Obispo