Monday, May 13, 2013

A Big Brother's Urgent Plea

I am fortunate enough to have the letters my father wrote home during World War II.  One of the most powerful is this one, written from a field hospital in France about a month after he was badly wounded.  I’m going to present it without comment; nothing I could say would add anything.

France - November 13 [1944]

Dear Folks:

Paper is kind of scarce right here at present, so I’ll write on this stuff.  While I have the leisure to write, here in the hospital, I have a matter I want to expound on.  Concerning Dick [my brother].  I assume he will get out of high school in May.  He will be 18 in June.  Between the time he graduates, and before he is 18, he must join the Navy.

I write about it at this early date, because it may be necessary to lay some groundwork.  Have it fixed so he can step right out of high school and into the navy.  It sometimes takes a month or so to get joined up etc., and delay in this case might result in being drafted into the army.  Perhaps they will not take 18 year old volunteers except thru selective service.  Avoid having to register at all by joining when you are still 17.  By all means, make every effort to get into the Navy.

Dick, you might think differently, and have decided that you would rather take the army since you have waited so long.  If so, just pick a night when it is sleeting, take a shovel, and go out and dig a hole in the cornfield 2 feet wide, 5 feet long, and 5 feet deep, pour 6 inches of water in it, and lie down and sleep in it.  You can take the shotgun with you to add atmosphere, but remember, you must clean it before you go to sleep or it will rust.  Of course you must watch out for your buddy while he sleeps, so you don’t get to lie down until 2 a.m.  Have 2 or 3 grenades in your pocket when you lie down.  Also stick your trench knife in the ground beside your head, where it will be handy.  Pull your .45 out of its holster and stick in inside your jacket, and go to sleep with your hand on it. Of course your buddy and you will have to be awake before dawn, ready for a counter-attack.  No, the Navy is much nicer...

I heard over the radio where they are starting a fund to rebuild churches in Italy and Germany.  Don’t give anything to that.  I have been shot at too much by snipers in church steeples... 

I’m still in the hospital.  Feeling much better, and suppose they’ll let me go back [to the front lines] soon... I haven’t had any mail since I left the outfit, so don’t know the news.  Just keep writing and it will catch me.  Don’t worry, I’m O.K.

Love, Bob

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