DAD’S WWII LETTERS, Chapter 7, Misery & Mileposts

Clyde in India (2)Dad at camp in India

4-27-43:  Worked at 85th.  Rained some this morning.  Went to show and saw “It Happened In Flatbush.”

4-28-43:  Latrine detail today–easy job.  Worked around basha remainder of the time. 

4-29-43:  Worked at 85th.

4-30-43:  Worked at 85th again.  Helped G. K. on Intern. truck.  Payday received $11.10 (36 R.) 1a.  On guard.

5-1-43:  Stood guard all day because of alert.  Had first beer at supper since I left States.  Indian beer at 1 R per quart.  Drank 2 of them.

5-2-43:  Sunday, but we have to work on our own equipment.  We checked over all our trucks.  Went to church this morning.  Bought a woven bamboo seat. 

5-3-43:  Worked at 85th all day.  Very hot.  Had very dusty ride back.  Took good bath and felt better.  Always feel worn out during afternoon and evening.  Wrote to folks and Carl Getz.

5-5-43:  Went with Hartke & Kinzel to unload crated motorcycle, but rained us out.  Had cherry pie for supper [Dad’s favorite].  What a rare treat. 

5-6-43:  Went to 85th again and helped Les on International truck.  Had to scuffle a drive line ran into some grief.  Very hot.  Game tonight 2nd shift  Showers.  Wrote letter to Dot.

5-7-43:  No day guard, but got moving off to wash clothes.  Native came around and washed my coveralls, paid him a couple of annas and gave him a cigarette.  He wanted my GI soap, but I gave him a piece of Sunlight soap instead to get rid of him.  Worked on own trucks this afternoon.  Goldbricked mostly though.  Played horseshoe with Peck as my partner.  Lost 2 games to small arms, but won 2 from Instr. section.  cigarettes & PX supplies given 3 R’s worth at a time today and yesterday. 

5-8-43:  Went to **Dibruggarth on pass.  Hitchhiked up.  Got Chev. at 12.  *Ordered a ring for myself & Fred.  Rode in car with four nurses.  Got back about 9:30.

Dad's ring*Dad’s ring with C-I-B [China, India, Burma] shield

5-9-43:  Sunday–Late breakfast.  Cleaned up around basha this morning and went to church.  Pitched a few horseshoes this afternoon and then laid around the rest of the afternoon. 

5-10-43:  Worked at 85th.

5-11-43:  Worked at 85th.

5-12-43:  Guard.  D. S. boys return.    

5-13-43:  Washed this morning and made me a shelf to put some of my stuff.  Rained all afternoon so I cleaned my gun (disassembled) and took it easy.  Wrote a letter.

5-14-43:  Received 4 letters 1 from Dot, 1 from folks, V-Mail from Carl Getz and an Easter card from Laura Cooper, Lakeside.  Wrote V-mail to Carl and started air mail to folks.  Went to show at 48th Evac.  Double feature, “The Hard Way” and “Life Begins at 8:30.”  Got to bed shortly after 12.

5-15-43:  Saturday, worked at 80th.  Helped put in a transmission in International Truck on dead line.  Put up drive line.  Took good bath and talked to Fred about Fords, etc. in the basha until bed time. 

5-16-43:  Sunday–8 o’clock breakfast.  Washed in morning.  Went to church.  Shined shoes after chow and cleaned up in basha.  Laid around about an hour till inspection at 4.

main street in dibrugarh**Main street in Dibigarh with sacred cows

5-17-43:  Worked at 85th with Les on International truck again.  Almost finished it.  Shop trucks came in today.

5-18-43:  Stayed here today and checked over tools in Automotive tool truck.  Guard tonight 3rd shift (10 till 12 & 4 till 6).  Have been reading some of old mail.  Sure wish I could write back and tell them just what I’m doing.  (eight lines marked out)

5-19-43:  Worked here again today, placing tools and parts in the spare parts truck.  Checked tools in the 2nd Echelon set #2. 

5-20-43:  Checked over tools again today.  Received 3 letters today noon, 2 air mail from my wife, and one from my folks.  Received 2 V-mail letters tonight.  One was from Mr. Bucholtz and the other from folks written about April 11th.  Last letter from folks mailed April 27th.  Last letter from Dot mailed Apr. 26th.  Wrote nice long letter to Dorothy tonight. 

5-21-43:  Checked over tool boxes and spare parts truck.  C. O. came back from inspecting new area.  Expects us to move out next week some time.  Finished writing V-mail to my folks.

5-22-43:  Rained all morning and the ground is very sloppy.  My feet have been wet all day.  Have been checking and re checking tool boxes.  Finally got 5 completed as near as I could with what we have.  Have to make out a list of tools in them tomorrow.  This kind of work is about as hard on a fellow as anything a person can do, I believe.  We probably (some of us) will be moving out of here Mon. morn.

5-23-43:  Work all day trying to get truck in order.     

5-24-43:  Move up road about 24 miles [30 MP].  Lt. Br. commanding.  Shop area in very bad shape.  Sloppy mud axle deep in places.  Spend afternoon digging ditches and trying to drain area.  Tents with electric lights hooked up to generator on truck.  Awful hot. (exhausted).

Editor’s note:  Road construction moved eastward in sections.  Sections were marked with mile posts [MP] starting from Ledo.  Some mile post markers had colorful names that only GI’s could give.  As the road moved, so did those providing support.

brahmaputra river in assamBrahmaputra River in Assam Province

5-25-43:  Got up at 20 till 7 this morning.  Breakfast at 7.  Good.  Work at 8.  Worked on truck today.  Morris & I.  Parts came in this evening.  Took bath in river tonight.  Water cold and refreshing.  Wrote 2 letters.  1 to Mrs. Cooper, Lakeside and one to Mr Buchholz, Had coffee.  I believe I’m going to like this place.   

5-30-43:  A lot of parts have been coming in the last few days.  Been very busy.  Area is improving with a lot of work.  Today has been the hottest yet.  If it gets any hotter I’m done for.  I’m all in tonight.  Took a bath in the river again tonight and stopped at the Chinese camp to see if there was to be a show, but the projector was broke.  Pay day today.  I received 26 Rupees and 2 annas ($7.90) $3.20 out for statement of charges. 

6-7-43:  Has been rather warm today.  Moved the two parts trucks today behind the shop.  Put the rear ends together and stretched the canvas cover.  Some of the boys were issued boots today.  Went up river tonight to wash clothes and take a bath.  Took monkey with us and she hung around my neck all the way up there.  Got a letter from my Dad tonight mailed on the 2nd of May.  The first letter that I ever received from him when he wrote by himself. 

6-10-43:  It has been a busy daylike most days are now.  Went on sick call this morning with feet and had them treated.  Painted them with a solution for ring worm.  Lt. B. went with me.  We drove a weapons carrier and had to go back down the road about 4 miles to Horse medics.  Picked up some Chinese soldiers on the way back.  We are to hear the Articles of War tonight at 7 o’clock.  The area is getting a lot better now since the boys have hauled in so much gravel.  I think of home  a great deal during my spare moments.  I don’t have too much time to think of such.  Fred B. [Bratton].  Went back up the road to the company this morning after spending a week here with us.  I hope Fred and I don’t get too far apart.  I hope we can go home together like we did when we went home on our last furlough 7 mo. ago.   

Clyde Adam & Fred Bratton in IndiaDad and Fred Bratton

6-11-43:  Went on sick call again with my feet.  They feel worst.  My left foot pains me some and I have a headache.  I think I’ll go to bed early.

6-12-43:  Admitted to 73rd Evac. Hosp. in the evening.  Find the “Doc” medics from the company in my ward (D-3).  Lots of malaria patients.

6-13-43:  Three boys leave this morning.  “Doc” one of them.  Harry Grant comes in this afternoon with malaria.  Soaked my feet this morning in a solution of potassium permanganate and water.  And and then powdered them afterwards.  Found a book to read about nature–Australia. 

6-15-43:  About the same today.  Nothing unusual except heard them practice firing guns up in the hills this morning.  Still no mail.  Read a book today.  Captain North in “Exile Murders in Singapore.” 

6-16-43:  Barton brought Harry G. and I some cookies and candy from our PX have been reading about how the hardier varieties of wheat were introduced in our midwestern states and Canada.  The title of the book is “Hunger Fighters”  by Paul DeKruf.  There are several good articles that I yet have to read.  It is interesting as well as educational.  I think I’ll write a few lines to my folks as I haven’t written for over a week.

6-17-43:  Received 6 letters this morning written all the way from May 9th to May 22nd.  Saw Gorski last night and (Pismo Pete) Merlin Peterson a little while ago.  I think I’ll answer some of these letters now while I have the inspiration to write.   

6-18-43:  I am still reading “Hunger Fighters.”  Very interesting and educational.  I found out how hybrid corn was discovered.  Some colored boys came in this afternoon to visit some of their buddies and I was quite amused at their speech.  Played three games of checkers with Keelong, the fellow next to me, this morning.  My toes are almost dried up.  I think a few more days will be all that it’ll take.

6-19-43:  Had slight fever this afternoon.

6-20-43:  Felt OK today.

6-21-43:  Had temperature about 101 this afternoon and a slight chill.  Beginning to look like malaria.  Blood smears showed no malaria. 

6-22-43:  Feel all right today.  Doctor says I can leave soon.

6-23-43:  Felt fine this morn.  Doc said I could leave tomorrow.  This aft. had a bad chill and run a fever close to 105.  Blood smear still shows negative. 

malaria preventionAnti-malarial poster

6-24-43:  I was supposed to have left today, but they started giving me quinine.  I felt fairly good this morn. outside of being weak. 

Editor’s note:  It wasn’t like Dad to miss diary entries.  Soldiers suffered from fungal infections and various mosquito-borne illnesses.

7-2-43:  I’m taking atribine [atropine?] now and have been for 4 or 5 days.  I’m ready to leave, but may have to stay another week.  Have been in hosp. for 20 days now.  Finished reading “A Blind Man’s Eyes.”  A very interesting book.  Returned to Chaplain Hurt’s office and got another.  Wrote a V-mail to Wendell D. yesterday.  Wrote an air mail to my wife yesterday and a V-mail to my folks.  Received a V-mail from folks yesterday morning dated June 14th and an airmail dated June 7.  Heard today that I’ve been made T/5.  I’ve waited quite a while for that.  Hope I can keep it.

7-4-43:  Here it is 4th of July and I’m in the hospital.  I wonder what they are doing back home today?  We had a nice fried chicken dinner today. 

7-8-43:  This is my third on Plasma pills.  I finish on the 10th.  I should leave here on the 11th for my company.  Wrote a V-mail to my wife.  Hard to write letters as there is so little to say.  Haven’t heard from her for week or more.

7-11-43:  Came back to station at 24 MP today.  Got here in time for a chicken dinner.  Very hot here this afternoon.  I took my things out of my barracks bags and bring them out to dry as they were damp.  Wore me out completely as I was weak anyway. 

7-12-43:  Went back to work and found that I was way behind on my knowledge of stock on hand.

7-17-43:  Ate only supper.  Off at stomach and bowels.  Received 4 letters.  One from Carl G.;  and 2 air mail from Dorothy.  Sent one wedding picture. 

7-18-43:  Sunday–8 o’clock breakfast.  Pete S. went to Hell Gate.  Going to write some letters today.  Sort of expect Fred down.

7-31-43:  Going to write to Dorothy tonight.  Got a letter from her yesterday and answered it last night.  Went to Chinese show last night.  Couldn’t understand it.  Didn’t make sense.  It was my first and last.

8-8-43:  Made my first trip to Hell Gate this morning with water trailer.  It rained on my way up and part way back.  Road was sort of slick.  Saw Fred and he said he was coming down next Saturday. 

I haven’t gotten any mail now since last Sunday.  We just finished our noon chow.  We are going to have duck for supper.  Some of the boys cleaned them this morning.  We’ve had them running around here for the last few days.  It reminded me of home to have ducks around.  They are the colored kind though.

We got our first ration of American beer last week.  It sure tasted good in comparison to this Indian beer.  We got 12 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Rupperts beer.  We also got 24 pack of cigarettes this time.

I washed some of my clothes last night before dark.  Coveralls are the hardest to wash as I wear them every day and they get dirty, greasy and sweaty.  If I use a brush I can do a fairly good job, if not, grease spots will show.  A person has to keep his clothes dry over here or they’ll mold if they lay around long.

On your last letter of July 11th you spoke of having the wheat cut.  I don’t suppose that threshing will take as long this time.  Probably by the time you read this it’ll be over.  Did you have any oats this year or was it too wet to get them in?  I hope that your corn crop turns out better this year than it did last.  I imagine that it is rather hard to buy corn anymore and is rather high.  A person can’t make much on hogs if he had to buy all their feed.  The price of hogs has come down too hasn’t it?

I often get to thinking about things back there and it makes me eager to get back on the job again.  I keep planning on what I’m going to do.

I am surprised to hear of Harvey Crowder getting married.  When I was around home he was just a kid yet.  He probably married some young thing that doesn’t realize what it is all about yet, but got married because everyone else seemed to be.  Maybe I would have been better off if I had gotten married when I was a few years younger.  If I could have found one with some money it might have worked.  Ha!

One of the boys bought some souvenirs that look nice.  He bought a little ivory goddess and a pair of red pajamas for his wife.  He also has some silver pins that were made over here.  Some of the fellows were buying stones such as rubies, etc.  Until they found that they weren’t genuine.  That sort of dampened their interest.

I would like to have a few things to take back, but I’m in no hurry and I sort of hate to let go of the money.  I guess it would be all right to have a few things, but not too many.  I’ll have to close for this time.  Hope you are all well.  Write often.

PS:  I forgot to tell you that you might as well save the money that it costs to buy air mail stamps.  The postal authorities sat that letters sent air mail seldom travel any faster than ordinary mail.  When there is a bag of mail to go out they sent it whichever way there is room for regardless of whether it is by plane, train, or boat.  I’m going to take advantage of the free postage from now on and save that 6 cents.  I would write more V-mail but a person can’t write enough on them.  If he could type a letter on them it would be all right.  Even at that, after it is reproduced it makes small print.  I think I’ll mix V-mail with regular mail.  I told Dorothy the same thing as she has been sending all her letters air mail and has even been sending me air mail stamps.  There doesn’t seem to be much difference in the length of time it takes the different types of letters to get here.  It all depends on the mail service anyway.

8-10-43:  Made 2nd trip to Hell Gate today.  Stayed for dinner.  Talked to Fred for quite a while.

8-11-43:  Went to river tonight.  Water was very swift and cool.  Laid the windshield down on the weapons carrier.  Shaved my chin whiskers off tonight after having over two weeks of growth.  It was a good start.  Maybe I’ll try again sometime.  Got our PX supplies last night.  Bought some peanuts, pencil leads and Kleenex.  Handy to clean my glasses.  Haven’t gotten any letter from Dorothy or folks since week ago Sunday.  Should be getting some any day now.  Received letter from Aunt Mary Trill yesterday.  

8-12-43:  Signed payroll this morning first thing.  Made trip to Hell Gate today with water trailer.  3rd trip.  No mail at all today–11 days now since I heard from folks or Dot.  Corgialotti came back today from hospital.  Road good.  Sun shone all day–hot.  In case I forget, we call the 24 MP [mile post]–Pissin’ Post Junction–sign along road where the drive is.  Wrote V-mail to Dot. tellng her of Christmas parcels.  Fred bought me 2 large bars of Palmolive soap today.  Cost 3 R’s (96 cents) way too much to have to pay for soap–these robbing Hindus!

8-19-43:  Wrote to Dorothy tonight.  A couple of nights ago got our second ration of Am. beer and other supplies.  Got 2 packs of gum and 1 carton of cigs.  besides candy (Walnettos) and mints, etc.  I have very urgent desire toWedding Photo 11.14.1942 be home tonight as I gaze at Dorothy and my wedding picture.  I hope she realizes how much I miss her and would like to be back home.  I suppose she misses me and wishes just as much that I were there.

8-21-43:  Has been terribly warm today.  Was on fatigue, but didn’t work very hard as was too hot.  Went after sand from river and took a swim while we were there.  3 natives fishing.  One swam across river with his fishing pole and fished on other side.  Wrote 3 letters tonight.  Got V-mail from folks dated Aug 3rd.  Boys here played volleyball with team from above and got badly beaten last evening.  Have felt tired and blue all day.  I think I’m getting homesick. 




DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 5, Seeking Safe Passage

uss monticello AP 61

Editor’s note:  Dad’s troop ship, the USS Monticello AP 61, was the former Italian luxury liner, Conte Grande.  It was seized by the Brazilians, sold to the US, and refitted at Navy shipyard in Philadelphia.

1-18-43:  Took 8 mile hike.  Drank beer in PX in evening.  Practice roster order in barracks at 6 PM.  Go to 2nd show.

1-19-43:  Board train around noon.  Eat lunch on train just before we reach destination.  Sandwiches all thrown together in orange crate.  Boarded boat about 5 o’clock.  Go down to bottom deck (F.1) Cavalry outfit down here with us.

1-20-43:  Set sail at approximately 8AM.  It is rather stuffy and warm down here.  The beds are in tiers of four.  Not much room for equipment.

1-21-43:  Rather warm and uncomfortable.  Had our first alarm drill.  Start going up on deck for fresh air for two hours.

1-22-43:  Getting a little warmer.  Slight feeling of seasickness.  Set time back 1 hour.

1-23-43:  Getting warmer, file out for everything.  Reveille at 6.  Going on deck twice a day (8-10) (12:30-2:00).  Target practice with AA guns at balloon.  Shoot 3 inch guns a few times.  Quite a spectacle.  Go on deck again evening just about dark because of heat below.  See moon rise (beautiful sight to behold) among floating clouds.

1-24-43:  Very hot below, even noticeably so on upper deck.  Very uncomfortable because of inefficient ventilation.  Getting rather weak.  Start taking salt tablets.  Reading story while on deck.  Pleasant pastime.  Finished reading “Good Earth” (Very good book) started Sherlock Holmes.  Interesting.

1-25-43:  Unbearably hot, nearing equator.  A person is covered with sweat all the time.  Feel better after taking plenty of salt.  Have lost quite a bit of weight.  Haven’t bothered to shave for about 4 days.  Shortage of water except for fresh sea water.  Appetite tremendous.  Only 2 meals per day.  Drinking water hard to get.  Had alert alarm.  From below heard guns fired.  Some uneasiness below, but believed to be only practice.  Feel quite refreshed after being up on deck after dark.  Initiate polliwogs.

Issued as he crossed the equator on board ship for the first time.

1-26-43:  Not quite so hot in quarters today.  Sky overcast.  Finish initiating polliwogs.  Father Neptune in procession.  Everyone very hungry before supper.  Still letting my beard grow.  Going to see how long before they tell me to shave.  Really look ragged.  Feeling a lot better today.  Wrote 2 V-mail letters.  Cross equator at 4:38.  Reason for initiation of polliwogs.  Looking forward to good night’s sleep as haven’t napped much today.  Am now ready for chow–anyway my appetite is.

crossing the equator

Crossing the equator


My correspondence lately has been nil, due to circumstances beyond our control.  I’ll sure be glad to hear from home again.  My last letter from you was mailed on the 12th.  If I remember right, I answered it.

I suppose that the weather there is nice and cold about now.  I sure would like to be in some snow right now.  I just remembered that I didn’t answer your last letter since I opened and saw the clippings.  It reminded me of old days to read the items about the girls and people I used to run around with.  Who is L. D. Stone of Chesterfield?

Yes, I received the pictures that you sent.  They didn’t turn out as good as I expected.  It was rather cloudy and late that evening for them to turn out right.  They brought back pleasant memories.  I’m glad you had a telephone put in.  In case there is any need I can reach you easy.  What’s your number?  Same as the old one?  Please send me all the addresses of the boys that you know of .  Write me V-mail.

Editor’s note:  I’m including entries from Fred Bratton’s diary–(prefaced with a triple asterisk ***).  My brother interviewed Dad’s Army buddy shortly after Dad passed away in October, 1995.  Fred graciously allowed his diary entries to be copied.  His thoughts are presented uncensored–as written.   Fred Bratton & Clyde Adam before shipping overseas.

Fred Bratton (left) and Dad before shipping out 

***January 4, 1943

***Turned in all extra equipment at San Luis Obispo, California.  Laid around all day with full equipment, ready at a moment’s notice all night to leave for the train.  Left San Luis Obispo by train at 8:30 for unknown destination, rode all night, arrived at Camp Anza, a new Army camp a few miles from Riverside, California.  While here we had a number of shots, we marched, drilled for a short toughening period, got a few new clothes and two new pairs of shoes.  Had my two teeth filled, which put me in first class shape.  We stayed in Anza until Jan. 19th when we again boarded train for Los Angeles.  I was guard on the train in my coach.  Arrived in Los Angeles dock about five, and was one of the first groups to board ship , and we went to the bottom to F-1 deck, a very hot hole.  it took the rest of the afternoon to load the ship with soldiers and supplies.  We are in very crowded department with canvas beds in decks four men high.  About all the beds were filled, the remainder were loaded with barracks bags and other excess equipment.  We sailed out in the blue Pacific about 8 AM Jan 20th.  We have a large Cavalry outfit bunking with us.  It’s getting rather warm now, and we have our breakfast before we sailed in one of two large mess halls.  It’s cafeteria style, and very poor food, and after we have sailed for about an hour we were brought on deck for an hour’s airing.  We are led in groups everywhere by an officer (except latrine and washroom), and everywhere we go on the ship except while in dock we have to wear life jackets, which only adds to our discomfort.  I’m feeling fine for a short time, but finally catch one of the worst colds I ever contracted, which took two weeks to get rid of.

***The sickness was severe colds, sore throats, and ailments from the tremendous heat that we had to endure.  There are so many aboard that we are only fed twice a day which makes us very unhappy and hungry.  We have breakfast about seven, and then chow about 6:30, the breakfast is so light that we get weak before our next meal.  As there are so many of us, we are fed by compartments, so for a while most of us got in the habit of getting in another line and eating twice, until finally it was halted by giving out meal tickets.  Our company has been free from most details aboard, a few of the fellows had KP once, but since we had the worst living quarters we got out of KP.  We do have a sweeping and latrine detail.  What few magazines aboard have been read and exchanged so much that nothing now remains.  We have absolutely nothing to do but lie in our bunks and sleep or read, but it’s been so hot to do either.  Since our first day aboard, gambling has taken up most of the pastime, we have had one shot so far.

***This week a large number of us became violently sick at once from eating spoiled food, and it took some real doctoring, and lots of castor oil, and cascara to fix us up after about three days of it.  Since then the medical doctors really got busy and our food has been lots better since.

***The first week out, all hands were called to battle stations so every sailor ran to his post.  Large red balloons were released and about thirty minutes of target practice took place, there were tracer shells in the machine guns so you could see your marksmanship, which turned out to be very good.  Since then, at least once a day, a fire or battle drill takes place.  By Jan. 24 it really turned for the worse for us.  More heat and more sickness.  Our quarters were checked, and the officers said that there was sufficient air and moisture to sustain life, that really made us mad, enough to get desperate.

***V-mail envelopes were given out, but it was mostly practicing to write until we could get to a port for mailing.  By Jan. 25 we were nearing equator and getting warmer, so we were issued salt tablets which helped us from getting very weak, but still our hungry stomachs kept on.  We have fresh water in the wash rooms certain hours of the day, and it crowds the rooms so much, we go almost a week without shaving, drinking water is good, sometimes cold, and rationed very closely.  Measles broke out on board, so careless drinking at the water fountain was stopped, no one can get a drink without their canteen, but the measles were soon under control, then we had a few cases of crabs or bugs, break out among the boys.

***Several times alarms have been given to man your battle stations while we were below, the officers close all doors and a feeling of uneasiness comes over us, especially the Negroes become quite frantic.  Sailors about ship are very young, but do their jobs well.  We find out we are headed for New Zealand.  We cross the equator Jan 26th and a great celebration is given aboard for all fellows among the sailors that have never crossed the equator before.  They are called pollywogs and are initiated.

2-3-43:  Set time back one hour and moved up one day, so it is now the 4th.

2-5-43:  Weather has been getting cooler the past few days.  Have been able to eat yesterday and today.  Had good breakfast this morning (boiled eggs, pineapple, and cereal). Supper tonight consisted of chili beans & rice & potatoes.  Set time back another hour which makes 7 hours difference in here and home.  It is very windy on deck. 

Wellington, NZ

Wellington, New Zealand

2-6-43:  Landed in port.  Troops got off ship for three hours and hiked through town. Interesting sites after spending 16 days on boat.  People very friendly.  Ship taking on supplies. 

2-7-43:  Sunday:  Got up at 5 and took fresh water shower and shaved.  Took hike again.  Saw lots of sailors and soldiers.  Got a three pence.  Wore sun tans while off ship.   Ate some N. Z. ice cream and cheese.  Cheese very good.

2-8-43:  Went on sick call with sinus cold.  Pulled out of harbor about 10:30 this morn.  Weather getting colder.  Bought half box of candy bars (12 bars).

2-9-43:  Cooler weather.  British plane following us.  Still see land.

2-10-43:  Weather const. cool.  More comfortable below deck.  Tobacco and candy impossible to get.  On 15th sight another British plane.  On 16th Light cruiser or destroyer leads us.      


I suppose that you have received my last letter by this time.  I’ll sure be glad when I can get my mail again.  It has been a month now since I’ve gotten mail.  I suppose when I do get it, there’ll be quite a bunch of it.  I’m sorry that conditions are such that I cannot write more often.

We crossed the equator January 26th.  I cannot tell you what I’m doing or where I am, but I’m alive and healthy.  I often dream of some good old home cooked meals.

One of the favorite pastimes of us farm boys is to talk about the farm.  I don’t think there is a one of us that wouldn’t like to be back in the harness again.

I have been playing checkers quite a bit with the boys.  I’ve improved my game quite a bit so I’ll be ready to challenge you to a game when I get home again.  One of the fellows here had a small checker board that has pegs instead of checkers.

Well, I spent another birthday in the army and it was spent rather quietly.

The news is encouraging here of late.  I have hopes of this war being over by the end of this year and we come home again.  I thing that a large part of the army will remain overseas after the war.  I believe that the farmers will be among the first to be released.

I feel pretty sure that there is going to be a loud cry for good supplies before this war is over.  They already predict a shortage for 1943.

I hope everything is going OK back there.

Write whenever you can.

***It was 4:38 PM when we crossed the equator and ever since then we have been retarding (Moving back) our time one hour.  There is ten hours difference between here and California time.  We have cooler weather after crossing and get in a few good night’s sleep.  Again on Feb 3rd our watch is retarded one hour.  Also we are moved up one day, so it’s now Feb 4th.  Our meals get a little better.  Then on Feb 6th we land in the port of Wellington, New Zealand, up to this part of the trip we gave had no escort, except for a couple of days away from the States.  It’s great excitement for us to get a glimpse at land, it’s a beautiful sight.  Then all of us dress in sun tans to go ashore for four hours.  The 7,000 men except those on detail line up in columns of four, and marched through the streets, we are cheered by everyone, we are not allowed to break out of ranks, but we exchange coins, food and treats are brought out to us.  The fruit is delicious, quite a difference in their ice cream and candy as sugar is a problem over here, too.  All nurses and officers get six-hour leaves, and do we envy them.  Beer and soft drinks are brought out to us.  Wellington, of course is British, the people are very nice and friendly.

***The town is quite large, built up on steep hillsides, that is just the residential section.  Most of the city buildings are braced up with scaffolding.  It looked like it might have been bombed, but we found out they had a severe earthquake in 1941.  Most of the automobiles are on the midget style, but are American made.  All are right hand drives, and as gasoline is another problem many cars and trucks have charcoal burners built on them, all very interesting, lots of the cars are old models, that we ourselves have discarded years ago.  We stayed in port two days, long enough to take on oil, also fruit and other food supplies.

***It had taken us 16 days to come from Los Angeles to Wellington, New Zealand.

***Each Sunday we spent on board, they had church services on top deck.  Protestant, then Catholic.  There were three Protestant and two Catholic priests with us.  Mass lasted all day Sunday and every morning through the week.  While we were in New Zealand several ships came in and then left again.  One ship came in and stayed as long as we were in port.  It was a large one stack liner made into a hospital ship painted white with a red cross on the stack, it was loaded with wounded, that did their bit for their country, they filed off in all kinds of disfiguring shapes.  We left New Zealand on Feb. 7 at 10:30 AM.  The weather got somewhat cooler for a day or so, we were followed for a while by a British plane, then on Feb 10 a light cruiser leads us into dangerous water.  The cruiser is Dutch.

perth, Aus

Perth, Australia

2-17-43:  Pull into Fremantle, A. about 11.  Get off boat for a couple of hours.  Grass in park reminds me of home during dry season in August.  See several teams of good horses.  People friendly toward soldiers.

2-18-43:  Get off boat again early today.  Unable to obtain anything to eat.  Some of the fellows swim during break.  Stayed up on deck all afternoon and saw British and Dutch ships come into harbor.  Came back on deck after supper.  

2-19-43:  Got off boat about 4 PM.

2-20-43:  Left port about 11 AM accompanied by two ships.  Going almost due west.

2-21-43:  Playing a lot of pinochle.  Set time back again.  Just 12 hours difference in time between here and home.  When it is midnight here it is noon at home.  I seldom go to sleep at night before midnight.  Wake up around 7:30.

2-22-43:  Dysentery has broken out.  Feel OK so far.  Started giving out meal tickets for supper tonight because of so many persons eating more than once.  We got more to eat and fed quicker since.

2-23-43:  Caught dysentery myself not so bad as some of the fellows.

2-24-43:  Weather warm.  Food isn’t so good.  Ocean is rather smooth.


I suppose that you are wondering where I am by now.  I wish that I could tell you.  Maybe I’ll be able to tell you before long.

At this time I’m allowed to write only one letter.  I’ll have to write Dorothy later.  (censored paragraph)

Our reserve supply of tobacco is about gone.  I suppose we’ll have to quit smoking until we get hold of some.

Money has no value as we have nothing to spend it on.  I’m hanging on to mine.  Some of the fellows are gambling with theirs.

I hope everything is going OK back home.

aus-british propaganda poster

Australian/British War Propaganda Poster

***Then on Feb. 17, we pull into Fremantle, Australia, the harbor for Perth ten miles inland.  A very large city.  We leave the boat for a couple of hours, hiking through the town, cars are the same as in Wellington, saw several beautiful teams of horses drawing wagons also a beautiful seashore and beach.  People very curious and friendly, give us candy and drinks.  Large part of people are women and many children, there are a few Aussies on leave about town.  Town has streetcar line, with old cars that are extinct in our cities.  During rest period near sea a large group of the boys take a swim, nest day we also leave the boat for a hike, one fellow brings us bushels of grapes and we exchange more coins.  After getting back to ship we see an unusual sight.  Several liners enter harbor with soldiers, we recognize as Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Aquitania, a four stack vessel, and the New Amsterdam.  There are several other cruisers, destroyers, a few submarines, and a crippled liner with a torpedo hole in her side large enough to drive a truck in.  The harbor is also full of small boats, and tugs.  Left Fremantle about 11 AM Feb 20 exactly one month from the time we left Los Angeles.  We leave with two more ships, A cruiser with plane and a destroyer, leaving the other transports behind, we enter the Indian Ocean.  All along the way we have seen flying fish, porpoises, one whale, millions of sea gulls,and a strange form of sea life called Portuguese men-of-war.  We are getting almost due west and after a few days out, the sea gets rough.

***On Feb. 28 we cross equator for the second time.  We are headed for Colombo, Ceylon, and from there some part of India, where we will go farther inland to set up camp, at this point there is 13 1/2 hours difference in time between here and home.

2-28-43:  Crossed equator second time.  Getting close to Ceylon.  Very hot tonight.

3-1-43:  Breakfast no good, 2 pieces of wiener and eggs, bread and butter.  Already hungry before 11 o’clock.  Do not eat again until 6:30–changed escorts this morning as we passed Ceylon.  Not many more days to go we hope.   there is 13 1/2 hours difference in time between here and home.  Finished reading the mystery novel, “The Door” by Marcy Roberts Rhinehart last night. 

3-2-43:  Breakfast poor and supper poor last night (wieners and sauerkraut). Sighted land and natives in sail boats.  Peculiar looking with 2 sails.  Could see land far in the distance for a moment in the morning.  Quite a few sail boats around on the horizon.  Spent a very hot, uncomfortable night last night.  Expect to dock tomorrow.  Had plenty to eat for supper.  Cake all gone before we got there. 

3-3-43:  Pulled into Bombay [Mumbai] about 1 o’clock.  Dropped anchor in harbor.  Rather hot here during day.  Sun beats right down.  Light breakfast but good supper.  Officers and nurses go on passes.  We’re expecting them tomorrow.  End of 43 day voyage.  Longest trip undertaken by transport alone.  Approximately 15,000 mile voyage. 

***Today is March 1st our 40th day of this terrible voyage and I”ve never been the least seasick.

***It only took a few days on deck and a little conversation with the sailors to find out about our ship.  It is a huge 28,000 ton liner that had been refitted for a troop ship.  There are about 8,000 troops along and a crew of officers and men of 1,200.  The ship itself is painted gray, it has two huge stacks, a number of 50 caliber machine guns all over the ship, and several three-inch guns, and other guns of heavier caliber.  The ship is one of the largest troop transports the army and navy have, it was built in Trieste, Italy and christened Conte Grande in 1928.  It was one of Italy’s prize liners.  Mussolini used her to transport troops to Ethiopia in that war a few years back.  It was in Brazil at the starting of the war, she and her crew were interned, later Brazil turned her over to the United States in a trade agreement.  Since then she has been refitted, overhauled, and has been named the USS Monticello.  Our personnel on board consists of Negro engineers, cavalry, medical attachment including nurses, and Ordnance.  The E and F compartments are the worst on the ship, the ventilation is very poor, as well as the electric lights,in a very short time the greatest number of soldiers on sick call were on the lower decks E & F.

Conte grandeItalian Luxury Liner Conte Grande

***Our food is practically all dehydrated, and the taste is strange and not good.  We are almost always hungry an hour after each two meals.  One fellow has gone AWOL while in New Zealand.  Has been picked up and placed in a squad leaving for Guadalcanal.  Each night there is black out all over the ship where light might get through, one officer is arrested for lighting a match on deck, eight nurses are placed under arrest the same night for appearing on deck with white blouses after lights out.  The passage ways and decks are guarded all through the ship with marines and military police.  All local talent has been put together, and several shows were given to us up on top deck.  On this date, March 2nd, we have been on our way 41 very tiresome hot days, we have failed to stop at Ceylon[Sri Lanka] and we are not cruising along the coast of India, expecting to land for good in a few days, the entire ship will be unloaded at one port.  We are all under a terrible strain wanting to hear from home, we feel as though it’s one big dream, and have been cut completely off from the rest of the world.  There has been a great shortage of candy and cigarettes, and something will have to be done in a few days.  Here is an idea how much food is needed and the cost.  In one evening meal a few nights ago over 2,300 one pound cans of salmon were opened, and one week’s food expense was between $2,300 to $2,600, that’s just an example.

***Today, March 2, within sight of land we are met by a great number of dugouts and a light craft of black natives, very friendly, and a few saluting us.

Editor’s note:  I am indebted to Fred for his detailed insights.  They were sober reminders of war-time realities–both good and bad.  Their circuitious voyage was taken for good reason–to avoid enemy hot spots.  Military and society were segregated–wording was left as written.






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 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.

TO:  Clyde F. Adam
ASN 36045831
One of the truest and best
Our country may offer–
FROM:  Mother and Dad


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, Desert Maneuvers (Cont.)

submarine raider

Movie mentioned in previous letter.

July 26, 1942

It is another one of those lazy Sunday afternoons when everything is quiet.  One of the soldiers had his wife to dinner in the mess hall.  The weather is quite a bit cooler today than it has been for a few days.  The fog stayed late this morning.  Whenever we have a morning clear of fog it means we have a hot day.

The thirty men that were to leave in the cadre for Texas finally left.  One of the Illinois boys that was in my barracks back in Aberdeen left in the bunch. They are to start a new company there.  All of them got good ratings.  

I spent a rather busy morning yesterday on driving for camp detail.  I missed the inspection which didn’t bother me any.  We were free in the afternoon to do as we pleased.  The captain left Friday night for a three-day pass.  Most of the fellows have now had their furloughs.  There are a few gone now that were in the hospital and couldn’t go until now.  

The way it looks now, we’ll be heading for desert manuevers before too long.

I don’t see Leo Rigsbey very much, but I do see him occasionally when the 17th infantry marches by.  I haven’t been over to see him since at first when I came back from my furlough.  

I went to a dance last night at Arroyo Grande which is about 15 or 16 down the coast from here.  It is a small town and the dances are mixed with old-time.  The dance attracts quite a large crowd for the size of the hall.  They remind me a good deal of the dances they used to have at Chesterfield.  There are several soldiers that go, but there are plenty of girls to go around.  The main trouble is that there are too many dancers for the size of the floor with all the spectators around the edges.  At times it is almost impossible to dance for bumping into one another.  It is better even at that than the dances here at the Service or at the USO Club in town because of all the soldiers.

We’re been having a time this evening.  One of the soldiers came in a little too drunk.  He laid down on his bunk and got sick.  He threw up all over the place before we could get him outside.  One of the soldiers then gave him a shower.  …Got him back in bed.  He got sick again.  Right now he is pretty quiet.  The trouble is that he hadn’t been used to drinking and he over did it.  I imagine he’ll regret having indulged tomorrow.  

Editor’s note:  After reading this passage, my thoughts were–some things about the military never changed.

This is the first excitement we’ve had around here for a while.  Fellows are always coming in drunk, but it is usually during the night.  

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

August 3, 1942

I had a weekend pass.  Since this was our last one in camp here for a while they let a small percent go.  I happened to be lucky enough to get one.  I left here 2 o’clock saturday afternoon, with another of the fellows.  We had a hard time getting out of camp because of so many soldiers trying to get rides.  We finally had to walk down the road a ways and head off a cab before it got to camp and then we had to rush in or other soldiers would beat us to it after we flagged it down.  

Santa Barbara, California

After we got into town, we started down the highway towards Santa Barbara.  After catching several rides and becoming very discouraged we landed at our destination at 9 o’clock.  We found us a hotel room first and then went out to see the town afterwards.  There were plenty of soldiers and marines.  A person just can’t get away from them along the coast.   

We found a dance but it was too crowded to have much fun.  The town was partially blacked out.  The automobiles had to run with black out lights.  The street lights were all blackened out.  When you looked down the street one way there are all kinds of lights, but when you looked the other way, it looked dark.  They paint one half the streets next to the ocean so that they won’t throw any light on the water while the other half is left to throw off light. 

Yesterday morning we walked along the beach.  Santa Barbara is a pretty place.  There are a few palm trees along the shore and sail boats, yachts, and large boats in the water.  Looking inland you can see beautiful homes built off in the distance with mountains in the background.  There are a lot of well-to-do people who live around here.

Around 1:30PM we caught a ride with three soldiers back towards camp.  We stayed in town here until 11:30 when we caught the bus back to camp.  In order to get a seat on the bus you had to fight your way through the soldiers.

Clyde near his truck.

Dad standing next to his truck

This is our last week in camp according to what the captain told us.  We are to leave here for manuevers Saturday morning at 6 o’clock.  We are loading the trucks now in preparation.  We start on the manuevers near Needles, Calif. and follow the Colorado River down.  If we stay the whole maneuver, we’ll be there till the middle of October.  Where will we go from there no one knows.  We might come back here and we might set up camp elsewhere or even go for a boat ride.

The fellows that have had yellow jaundice don’t have to go out, but stay here and guard the camp.  I’ve about said all I know at the present, so I’ll close.  Write.    

Needles, Calif.
August 4, 1942

We moved to Needles yesterday afternoon.  It is hotter over here than it was at Goffs.  We are about thirty miles father east than we were.  We are right along the Colorado River and there is some green stuff in the river bottom which breaks the monotony of nothing but sand and dry sage brush. 

Our camp is located about a mile outside of the town limits.  I like this location better.  I don’t know just how long that we’ll be here. Our old area back at Goffs was getting so dusty that it was almost unbearable.  We left the old area a lot cleaner than we found it.  We policed it about five times before they were satisfied that it was clean enough to leave. 

If I remember right it was about two weeks ago today that I entered the hospital at Goffs.  I got out again on Sunday after I got rested up pretty good.  Today I got back in again.  Last night I felt bad and this morning I had cramps in my stomach and felt weak so I came on sick call.  They told me that I might as well spend a few days in the hospital.  I slept about all afternoon and sweat.  So far they haven’t given me any medicine.  I haven’t eaten much all day.  I drank a bottle of beer a while ago and ate some potato chips which tasted good.  I suppose after I get rested again I’ll be all right.  It seems like I can take only so much of this heat before I have to rest. 

I got my mail here a while ago which is a lot better than I did the other time.  These medics here seem to have a better arrangement.  This outfit is from Camp Young, I think.  There are two or three nurses on duty all the time (Women nurses).

I am in Needles high school gymnasium which they are using as a hospital.  We have air conditioning, but it still feels pretty warm.  It is a nice set up for a field hospital. 

You asked me a while back if the Masonic lodge sent me anything.  About two weeks they sent me a card with my name on it and showing that I am a son of a member of the organization.  This might come in handy some time if I should happen to get up against it in a strange town.   

I want to write a letter to Dorothy so I’d better close.  She sent me some pictures of herself yesterday.  They were very nice. 

Don’t worry about me.  I’ll get along.  If I get sick the hospital will take care of me that’s what they are for.  Write.     

August 7, 1942

I received your letter this noon.  We have an advantage in the weather here in San Luis valley.  The days never get very hot and the nights are rather cool.  Regardless of the season with the exception of winter when there is lots of rain, the weather seems to remain the same.

Clyde's camp taken from mountain at a distance.

San Luis valley from a distance

According to your letter the draft board back there seems to be taking men at a rapid rate.  That is almost five times the number of men called when I went.  By the way, I have spent my first year in the service.  Conditions are a lot different now than when I went in.  In a way I’m glad that I have gotten my basic training and have become accustomed to the army.  The recruits are pushed through a lot faster now and given less consideration.

Our trip to the desert has been postponed for a few days.  We were to have left Saturday morning, but now we are to leave Tuesday morning.  We are to turn in our wool clothes tomorrow.  From then on we have to wear our sun tans.  We are to travel by convoy to Needles.  It will be about a 600 mile trip and will take three days. 

We seem to be gradually losing men out of the company all the time.  Two left this morning for duty at Headquarters.  Another leaves tomorrow for officer’s training school at Aberdeen.  Two others left a week or two ago for the same.  All these have gone since the thirty men left for Texas.  We haven’t gotten in any new men yet to replace them and the company is getting rather small. 

I have KP again tomorrow.  It comes around about every 9 or 10 days now.  It seems like I have done my share of KP.  This week, besides my KP tomorrow, I have done fatigue and guard which are all extra duties that come around regular when your name comes up.

By the way did those fellows that were examined such as H. Skinner, Joe Pressler, W. Dowland get deferred or are they holding them for the next quota?  

How are all the old men in the neighborhood getting along with their farm work?  I suppose they have to work among themselves.  They claim there is a shortage of meat now on the market.  With the shortage of labor by another year there may be a greater shortage. 

I see the civilian traffic is going to be restricted on buses and trains after the middle of the month.  That will put a stop to those soldier’s wives and girlfriends coming to see them.  The rubber situation looks like the result of a lot of dirty politics.  They could be producing synthetic rubber on a large-scale now, if the government would only let them.  To the politicians of this country, the welfare of the big business is still more important than the winning of the war.  If it was half as important to them as it is to us in the service, things would be moving a lot faster.  We want to get going before it is too late and we have to spend the rest of our lives in the army.  *Another good policy for some of those strikers would be work or fight for Uncle Sam. 

We’ll be busy the next few days getting everything ready to move out.  There trucks to be loaded and stuff that is to be left behind will have to be left in order.

I am sending a ten-dollar money order for you to deposit for me.  I instructed them to send a receipt home for my defense bonds.  I have one receipt on my person.  If you do not receive one, I’ll send it home because I stand a chance of losing it anyway.  So far I have a savings of $78.75 including the bond.  If I can keep up at that rate in a year’s time I should have a few dollars. 

From now on while we are on maneuvers, my address for first class mail only will be.

Pvt. Clyde F. Adam
115th Ord. Co. (M. M.)
A. P. O. # 7 Desert Maneuvers
c/o Postmaster, Los Angeles, California    

*Historical perspective:  The largest labor unions (AFL and CIO) gave “No-Strike” pledges.  In 1942 the United Mine Workers, under John L. Lewis, left the CIO and threatened numerous strikes.  This activity led up to a twelve day strike in 1943.  John L. Lewis became a much hated man.  From Dad’s perspective, from this point forward, labor unions deserved nothing but contempt.              

Desert Maneuvers
August 14, 1942

Sleeping quarters on maneuvers in Indio desert, California

Here we are out on the hot and dry California desert.  We pulled in here last night about 4:30 and it sure was hot.  Two men here have been overcome by heat already.  We set up four man tents to sleep under by fastening four shelter halves together.  It gets cool enought at night that one can sleep comfortably without cover. 

There is railroad station here by us, but the nearest town is about 30 or 35 miles east of us, which is Needles. 

They give us six salt tablets in the morning to take during the day.  I took four the day before yesterday, but they made me sick.  I took one this morning and it stayed down OK. 

It is so hot that I don’t care about eating.  All I want is something cool to drink and cool water is a problem during the heat of the day.  We keep our water in a tank trailer and it gets hot when the sun shines on it. 

During the three days of the convoy we covered about 150 miles a day.  The first night we stayed in a ball park in Bakersfield with another convoy.  The second night we stayed near Barstow. 

Yesterday we crossed some very hot desert country.  The wind blew off the lava and it was so hot that it would cook one’s face.

We had two drivers to a truck and traded turns driving.

Last Saturday I had KP and Sunday we were busy all day.  Sunday morning we got the trucks ready to go.  Sunday afternoon I did some washing.  Monday I was busy driving.  Monday night I had to fix a tire on the command car.  I haven’t been doing much this morning except trying to stay in the shade.  I had to take the mail down to the post office which is a truck in another area.  This is actually desert out here.  About all the vegetation there is, is sagebrush and greasewood with occasional cactus.  The cactus has plenty of thorns.  There are plenty of ants, snakes & lizards.

The sandy is so sandy that you have to drive a truck in 4 wheel drive to get enough traction.

I think if I get used to this type of climate, I can stand almost anything. 

The maneuver hasn’t started yet.  All the men haven’t got out here.  There are supposed to be around 90,000 men after they all get here. 

I’ll write you more later after I have been here awhile and find out more more what it is like here.  Write.      




In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.
Jose Narosky–

115 Ordnance Company
United States Army

China India Burma Campaign Insignia


My father’s story is similar to those of thousands of young men and women called upon to serve their country in World War II.  They were modest and didn’t consider themselves heroes.  My father and father-in-law seldom talked about their WWII experiences.  They did their jobs to the best of their abilities under adverse conditions.

This blog entry is dedicated to two WWII GI’s–my father, Clyde F. Adam and father-in-law, Carl E. Dillow.  Both, as young men, served overseas.  My father served in China, India, and Burma.  My father-in-law served in the Philippines.  During my father-in-law’s last two years of life, I had the privilege of talking with him, “veteran-to-veteran,” about the horrors of war.  My mother, Dorothy J. (Clark) Adam, and mother-in-law, Ruby V. (Barker) Dillow, were war brides.

After my father’s passing, October 26, 1995, the family received a small box containing letters home, a diary, and mementos–small windows into the past.  These items were edited and arranged by my older brother–custodian of family historical items.  My father’s comments about family, community are uncensored–except by the military.  Pictures are exclusive to “Adam family archives” unless otherwise noted.  The letters speak for themselves and any informational gaps are unintentional.  Opinions expressed reflect attitudes during this turbulent time in our history.

This is the story of a small town farm boy, one of the first drafted from Macoupin County, Illinois on August 6, 1941.  Clyde F. Adam was twenty-six years old and farmed with his father–my grandfather, George Adam.  He remarked in one of his letters, that what he did, “didn’t amount to a hill of beans.”  That was far from the truth.  He never saw combat, but along with tens of thousands of other men, contributed to the war effort in his own special way.  Dad was a mechanic and truck driver.  These men and women helped make Allied victory over the Japanese and Axis powers possible.

Some gave their lives for the cause of freedom.  My Dad’s cousin, Harold Clements, is mentioned in one of the letters.  He graduated from high school in 1945, enlisted shortly afterward in the U. S. Navy.  His life snuffed out when the USS Indianapolis went down, sunk by Japanese torpedoes.

CHAPTER 1:  Aberdeen, Maryland

Dad trained at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and later in California.  At home, Grandpa ran the family farm, without the help of his only son.  The pictures immediately following are from Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD.

Clyde in Aberdeen Proving Grounds 1941

Dad’s barracks, 1941.

Clyde with buddies at Aberdeen Proving Grounds

Dad’s Army buddies.

Clyde in company photo in Aberdeen, Md. 1941

Company picture, Dad’s in second row from front, far left.

Center of Company Photo

Picture enlarged to show command detail.

In Chapter 2, Dad’s company set up camp in the California desert.  It was his second duty assignment there.  There are no letters detailing the first expedition.  I remember hearing about my mother making a trip to California to see Dad.  Dad’s letters to my mother have been lost over the years–private thoughts to be kept private.  I will do my best to fill in essential missing information.

In the background, Hitler’s juggernaut rolled over the rest of Europe.  Great Britain was the last holdout.  President Roosevelt wrestled with his conscience.  War was inevitable–how could he convince the nation?  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought us into the war.  There was fear of Japanese attack on the West Coast of  mainland United States.  Mandatory blackouts were imposed.  Motor vehicles travelled about at night with little slivers of light from blacked out headlights.

Dad continued to court a pretty young schoolteacher, Dorothy Jane Clark.  Her close friends called her “Dot” or “Dotty.”  As a young child, I was bemused by Mom’s nicknames.  On a return trip to college in the late sixties, my father, in a “heart-to-heart” talk gave a glimpse into their courtship.  Perhaps it was an admission, that his enthusiasm for spirited debate, faded over the years as their relationship matured.

Dorothy was the youngest in a family of five children.  As a young girl, she was a towhead and a tomboy.  “She wasn’t like other girls he’d dated.”  “She had two older brothers and liked to argue.”  I interpreted that to mean, she could hold her own in an argument.  Probably, in their large family, you had to speak up to be heard.  I should mention, that her older brother, Harvey, served as a Navy Seabee in the Pacific theatre.

Going Home Again

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.


After returning from military service and securing my first job, I moved away from Chesterfield, Illinois, my hometown.  Chesterfield was a community in decline since World War II.  The “Farmers Coop Elevator” was the tallest building in town.  A railroad had come and gone.  It was bypassed by major highways.  Now, it was just a bedroom community.

Downtown Chesterfield 1966 (2)

Chesterfield square, depicted looking west and north, circa mid-sixties

I approached from the south on State Route 111, crossed the bridge over Bear Creek.  The old narrow bridge had been replaced with a soulless concrete monolith.  My Grandpa and I survived a motor vehicle accident on the old bridge in the early fifties.  I was only four, but the memory is still fresh.  My Grandfather reached over to pull me in from leaning too far out the window of the blue Chevy pickup and lost control.  The freshly harvested wheat spilled over the highway.

farmers coop

Prairie “skyscraper”

My nostalgic daydreaming continued as I passed My Uncle Pete and Aunt Leta’s farmhouse on the right, just south of town.  The farmhouse stood forlorn in disrepair with broken windows.  Now, it only sheltered raccoons, squirrels, and owls.  The big white barn burned down several decades ago.  I recalled games of croquet in the backyard on summer evenings.  Uncle Pete was Grandpa’s brother–he was always quiet and reserved.  Aunt Leta took in ironing for my mother.

1950 chevy pu

Chevy pickup similar to my Grandfather’s

Large piles of gravel stood on the former grade school property.  Children’s voices no longer echoed as they played “Red Rover.”  No long lines of yellow school buses waited mornings and afternoons.  The principal, Mr. Reynolds, no longer walked the halls.  He taught me how to do perspective drawings.  Mrs. Keele and Miss Wade, second and fourth grade teachers, weren’t there either.  Nobody cared that I had the role of a “Barnyard Turkey” in a second grade production of “The Ugly Duckling.”

old school busesThere was nothing left but ghosts and memories.  For the first few years, I returned to Ken’s Barbershop for haircuts.  It allowed me to stay in touch.  After my parents passed away, visits became infrequent.  Years quickly changed to decades.  Each visit witnessed more vacant storefronts.  No amount of wishful thinking would ever return things to their former glory.  Things changed due to competition and obsolescence.

Still, my mind’s eye pictured my hometown the way it used  to be.  …The two service stations–one north and one south.  …Chester Towses’ Drugstore with penny candies, a quarter bought a sack full.  …Two grocery stores, one north of the square, one to the east.  …The Chesterfield State Bank with Kenneth Woods at the helm.  …The Alton Way Hotel.  I’m ever grateful for life-lessons taught by teachers and others.  Most, if not all, have gone on to their eternal rewards.