Part 3 - Camp Avon Park - Florida
October 11, 1943
Here I am in Florida and feeling fine and sure hope the same for everyone at home. I won't say much right now because the time is short but will write more tonight and give you more detail.
We hit here yesterday at 7 AM and then we had to put up tent and fix our bed and mosquito bar over our bed. Then in the afternoon I went to sleep and woke up at 5 PM. Then we had to get all the light up for our tent with our own electric system. The mosquitoes were so bad I couldn't write so I wen to bed again. I am feeling fine and don't worry about anything because this is just another old swamp place. So with loads of love from the swamp of Fla. Wes.
October 11, 1943
Well today has passed and fairly easy but tomorrow it is going to be tough again. We aren't going on the line or anything like that but our exercises and close order drill, etc. I think we will start on the line about next week way it look now. Really I am not sure, it may be sooner or later.
This is another good swamp land. If Florida is like this all over then they can keep the place. We are getting right next to a big lake. We may be half blook away from it but that is all. And that half block is all trees. I was going over on the lake tonight for awhile but I wanted to write this letter. Kensinger and the rest of the guy went but I stayed here. They have some GI boat the way I would call it. Then they have floating docks and you have your water lily in there. It is fairly pretty but when you turn around and look in the back you forget about it all. But maybe it is going to be better or else we will get used to it more as the time goes marching on. The mosquitoes are really bad and I am not kidding. (I have killed four and they are still flying around).
We got a USA tonight but again I am staying in and writing. I am too lazy to get dressed and I just got through taking a nice cool shower. So I am staying here and fighting the mosquitoes. I got a towel over my head and just my hands out.
This Avon Park bombing range is supposed to be the biggest one in the nation. I don't know how so it is but I know it is large. There is all kinds of planes flying around all day and night. The main thing is B-26 bomber. I don't know but I believe I will be able to do a little bit of flying when I get on the line. We will have to W & S.
I don't believe I will ever have a chance to go to town because it is so far and you got to be out of the town by 10 and in camp by 11. So by the time you ride 18 miles to town and back again you know most of your time is gone. But iI may change my mind it is just hard telling.
I had to give a pint of blood last night. It wasn't to the red cross either. It was to the mosquitoes. I don't know how much they want tonight. A mosquito net doesn't even stop them. I thought Georgia was bad but Florida has got that beat all together. THis is a chappy letter but I hope you can make sense out of it. I get one idea on my mind and a mosquito comes along and then I try and kill it and then it is hard to remember what I was saying. But you should hear what I am saying.
The PX here we cannot buy anything to eat in it between 11 AM to 2 PM and 5 to 7 PM. They say it is too much eating done in the PX instead of GI food so they shut it off. Then you can not buy a Coke until 7 PM, it sure is hell. And the show are really old ones so I am staying inside of camp. So I should make it OK on money.
October 12, 1943 @ 8:16 PM
I received your letter that you wrote on Saturday. It was sent to Hunter. You mention about Bill D. going fishing well I decided to do the same because that is a good pass time and I don't know but it just changes your mind in one way. In another way it brings back memories. But I never heard about a fish bowl like that.
You ask me about my clothes in this letter. Well I took one barrack bag with me and put one bag in Tech supply. I left my OD overcoat, etc. whatever I thought I didn't need. So I just brought one bag with suntan, sock, undershirt and shorts with me. It made one full bag counting the 2 blankets. There were 5 men left back thee to guard the place. That is all that they got to do. Anything is lost they will pay for. So that is nothing to worry about.
This morning I didn't get up in time to eat so I laid in bed till 7. Then we started to drill again and then they ask for a detail so I want on that. WE had to haul some more rock today. It was better than drilling. We put on a fairly good load for a change and then I look at how the truck carried the load and I believe if daddy is still in trucking business we will buy 2 of them. Put on a big bed and then take the other truck with tandem dual and make a trailer out of it. Then load on all you can pile on and come down the road. Then use the one we got now for the small delivery truck.
This afternoon we had to go through a gas chamber and test our masks and then we went in there and took our maks off and came out like a whirlwind and all hands but now eyes. That gas sure does get a person down. Then we got through with that and came back and was divided up in group. I am put on the A flight. I got in with a couple good guys so I don't mind so much but I did not get in with Kensinger.
I went down to the PX again tonight and I was able to buy one size 38 shirt. I don't know who it will fit but I think it should fit somebody. I want to get some sweat shirts so you can wear them for winter but it doesn't get cold here so we have to wait and see. When I get back to Hunter I want to send my slippers home becuase we may not be able to wear them at the next field. I can't wear them down here and I sure with I dind't have them with me. THen I got a pair of pants I want to send home so I will make a complete box out of it. I can't the pillow top I want to for you so I am going to wait and see if they get them in.
October 12, 1943
The weather today wasn't so bad and this morning at 6 it rained a little but not much.
We had to go out on drill again today. This afternoon I went and helped load a load of gravel.
I sent some laundry in today to have cleaned. I sent in a pair of those sun tan you know that I wore down on the train. I never had them cleaned yet. I wore the same ones on the train down here. So you have an idea how dirty they were. The shirt cost me 10 cents ato clean and pants 20 cents. Then my undershirt and short cost 5 cents each. Then the towel cost 2 cents a piece. This isn't dry clean but just laundry. But it isn't GI laundry. It is sent to Avon Park City. I will tell you want kind of a job they do on them when I get them back Monday.
Well the PX finally got some paper in. I think it looks fairly good don't you? I was really surprised to see this good of paper for this kind of a hole. I know for sure that looks are only skin deep if you go by this paper.
I met 2 kid that was up at Buckley Field with me and in my barracks. They just came into this field today. I haven't talk to them so much yet but I will just as soon as I get a chance and see what they got lined up. I will tell you more about that later too.
The food at this place is fair so far but I don't know how long it will last. But I think it will be OK. We don't hardly get any meat at all but we sure are getting the beans, the peas, etc or in other words the greens. They are all canned goods too.
If you get that ingrown toe nail dug out like they do in the army all then will do is pull the whole nail off and leave it start out new. I seen couple kids get both nails pulled completely off. Then it takes couple months to grow back on.
On R.S. in losing all his stuff on the black out convy well that can sure happen easy. Because the truck might hit a small bump and his barrack bag may been at the end and fall off. That has happened to everybody even back home hasn't daddy lost a shovel off the truck. But anything link that they will replace at no expense. But you very seldom to hear about a GI truck burning because they are fixed up so good. If they run in to each other the bumper are so strong that is all that get bent up.
Well I went down to the PX again tonight and bought a couple more candy bars. That is about the only thing they have down here. I tried to buy some T shirt with Avon Park on it but they don't have any down here now. But that stuff is getting shorter and shorter every day.
The mosquitoes tonight isn't so bad. I don't know maybe they done want a pint from me tonight. Maybe they will pass me up for tonight and get one tomorrow night.
I have a chance to go to Avon Park City tonight for a party but the town is small so I didn't think it would pay so here I am again in camp.
Send me a few fish hook of the mediu size so I can go fishing here. Just a couple of them is enough and be sure they are not too big.
October 14, 1943
I got up at 6:30 AM this morning and ate. Then this morning we had to move and we made up new group again. This time only 2 group. I still got with some good guy but so far not able to get into the tent with them. We run out of tents and now we are living with 6 in a tent. It makes a bit crowded but I guess we will get along.
This afternoon we did not have nothing to do so the sgt march us out into the swamp under some trees and we took it easy for awhile. Then about 6 of us decided we wanted to see what the place look like so we started through the swamp. I sure would hat to travel very far in a swamp. Anyhow after a half hour we came out on the lake so we went into the lake. I stayed in the water for about an hour and then hunted some oranges. They have a few orange trees around here so we picked them. They were green on the outside but the inside was sweet.
October 16, 1943
I wanted to write last night but the mosquitoes were bad and I want to the day room about all the table were filled by guy that playing black jack, so the smoke was fairly heavy in there and the mosquitoes weren't bad. So I got in the game again and I won about a buck and a half. I bought a pair of swimming trunks from a guy. They are worth that. I stayed there till ten to eleven and then I had to go on guard duty from 11 to 3 AM. Each group is taking it a night now. One night it is communication and then engineer and armors. So really the armor only hit it about every 3rd night. But there is more than 9 private so I won't have topull it once out of 6 or 9 days. So that isn't bad. I get to sleep all morning.
Yesterday morning we went out in the swamp and laid down and took it easy. Then in the afternoon we went out to the lake again. I tried to learn to swim again. I am gaining ground any how. By the end of the month I hope to know how. But I don't think I will be able to go out this afternoon because it just started to rain. It isn't much buy it is still cloudy. But it may stop before the time to go out.
(8:15 PM) - Now we got our order to go to work on the line and I get up at 4:30 AM in the morning and go to work at 7. We got to work 12 hours shift. So you can see how much time I will have to myself. I will be lucky to ever go out and take a swim. I never today because it was a bit cool.
I will tell you something that you might think is bad but I don't want you to worry because I can take care of myself. We got a alligator today. It was near the water edge and couple of the kid grab it and now we got it harness up and going to keep it. If I can find a guy with a camera I will get a picture of it and send hoe. It is only a small one but still it is 3 feet long and they can sure travel.
On that exam I took I made 92 on the test with an average of 90. It was within 5 of the highest grade.
In our sqd we only have 3 big trucks then 2 small ones and the rest is jeeps. One of the big truck has a radio set on and the other ones brought down the mess hall stuff and tent. One of the truck they cook in while they came down here. We got 3 more big trucks to get yet sometime. Our barrack bag were on train with us.
October 19. 1943
Here is another day gone and I am still feeling fine and sure hope it is the same way with everyone at home.
Well to start it off I will begin with this morning. I had to get up again at 5 and ate and then went out on the line. I had to work fairly hard this morning but I didn't mind it so much because it is something different and it makes the time past fast. I started out and cleaned up and fixed a new Martin turret number 4 and polished the glass. Then we tore into a new ball turret on the tail of a B-26C and we fixed that up, ailed it and cleaned the gun and polished the glass. Then after we got that put back together we went and loaded up fifteen 100 lbs bomb for a bombing mission at 1:30 PM. These bombs aren't really real yet they are dangerous. The nose is filled with sand then they have two lbs of black powder in the tail to give and explosion and smoke to show the bombardier if he hit his target or not. Then at noon I got your letter as always and was surprised to see homey boy picture with the mask on. You mention about the foot doctor in the army. Well I haven't a thing to say because the ones we have are really good. That one squadron that always went on hikes at Hunter, the following morning they had an inspection by a foot doctor and he fixed them up. But I don't doubt at all if there isn't some lazy ones some places that doesn't care. But I know the doctor that is with this sqd will do anything for a person. But I will tell you another thing that them doctors hate to go in the army as a private. But another thing just think of the experienced men that left just as good of a job and went into the army as a private. But I haven't run into any trouble like that.
You mention about them 60 planes getting downed in Germany but you can look for that once in awhile when they will go that they have good fighting against this country.
This afternoon we went out and looked around in different planes and really didn't do much at all. The main reason because 9 out of the 11 planes were up. 7 of them were out on the bombing mission and one was up as gunnery ship and then another as two target ship. Then one of our ships got wrecked last night by a truck of some kind back into it and smashed it completely up. This evening they didn't know who the person was but I will tell you one thing I sure would hate to be the person. He pushed the nose gun up in the pilot compartment.
Then tonight I came back and got the fish hooks and corks and weight I am really glad to get all of that because I forgot to tell you to get the weight, etc. So tomorrow night if I can get off a bit early Willard and I are going out.
Well I am going to try and get another stripe on my arm this month. If I don't get any this time I am going to give up till I get my records. Because I know for sure I should get one but it is them records. Don't say this to anybody because if I don't get any this month I am not going to do anything until my records does come in.
I went to the PX tonight and I say this stationery so I thought I would buy some, what do you think of it?
October 20, 1943
Here I am again Wednesday evening. Again I gout up at 5:30 AM and ate and went out on the line. We didn't do much this morning at all. We monkeyed around a couple turrets and then took it easy. Got the letter you wrote on the 17th. I am glad to hear that you got the front door fixed.
On us being here I don't know how much longer we will be because I heard now they extended us and were to here until the 20th of November.
The radio problem here is sure poor becuase we have our own plant and that only goes on when it is dark. That is from 5 AM in the morning till day light and then it goes on about 7 PM at night and on until 9:30 PM. That is all of the light. This afternoon I went back after mail call and we loaded up and fixed gun on the planes for a gunnery mission. We set around most of the evening or I mean the afternoon. When our plane came in about 5 PM and we came in and ate and had to go back out to fix the guns. We got done at 8 PM. In the morning the things goes up at 8:30 AM on a bombing misison again. One thing sure that pilot sure gets enough training before they go over. You mentioned about them 60 planes getting knocked down, well I heard that the German know about that 5 hours ahead of time and they were waiting for us. I found out tonight when I look on the bulletin board that I got KP for Saturday night. I don't know how it will be but I think it will be easy.
I was going fishing today but I couldn't on account of the planes the way they flew today so I will wait and try tomorrow. I think I will try and go to Lake Wales if I get off. The mosquitoes are really biting tonight. It is getting warmer.
October 22, 1943 @ 11 AM
Here it is another Friday. Working these long hours, etc a person forget what time of day it really is. Yesterday I didn't do much but I was kept busy. Today we loaded bombs again and fixed turrets.
Well the sqd is divided into 2 groups. Half of armor and engineers and readio and the other half is with one group of planes and were with the other group of planes. In other words we are acting as 2 different sqd on working on the line. The tent we run out of are the large ones. Five men sleep in them fairly well but now they have put 6 in each one. But we can make it.
In these swamps really I don't think there is any quick sand. Where you will find quick sand is some places there is a current and the brush and that get together. The brush is covered up with sand then the brush roots and when you step on it there is no bottom to it
I really can't swim yet but I'm getting on the road to it. It is a big lake and then the lake got a nice beach on it and it just tares out. You can walk over a half block out and still not be over your head. It is white sand. Sure does look nice.
We had a map drawn on the ground which we were mapping out. We didn't get the kodak from the MP yet. But will when we get back.
Tomorrow night I got KP from 8PM to about 4 AM in the morning. I get off the linke at about 5 PM and then get ready for KP. But it isn't bad so I think I will write a bumch of letters.
I went down to the lake this afternoon at 4:30 and stayed till nearly 6:30 PM. Willard and Santorum used my fishing line while I tried to go swimming. I don't know if they caught anything or not because when I came back from PX my line were here. But if a person got the right kind of pait, good fishing here. But the first think I want to do is swim. But I am still going fishing. Couple of the guys got some around 3 lb apiece. Not bad size.
October 23, 1943 @ 10:20 PM
Here I am again and feeling fine but not in a place where I care to be much. I am on KP now but really it isn't so bad. I went to work again this morning and we loaded up one ship for gunnery mission and then I went up to another one and gave it a preflight inspection. This afternoon I got your letter and the clipping. The 3 cent mail is one day behind. To me it seems like everybody is getting married. After I got your mail I went out on the line again and I could of taken a plane ride but I had to get a chute right quick but I didn't feel like it so I forgot it until next time. I would like to go up today but I had to rush a little and the pilot doesn't like to wait very long so I guess I will forget it. They went up at 1PM and came back at 5PM. All they were going to do was fly around just to fly. In that time a person would have had to travel 900 miles at least. So I could really see the country.
I had a 36 hour pass from 6 PM tonight till 6 AM Monday morning but I had to do KP tonight so I couldn't leave till tomorrow. I was really going to see this part of the country but now I only think I will go to Lake Wales.
October 24, 1943
Here I am Sunday evening and at camp and feeling very good. This morning I got up at 8 AM and put on my suntan and didn't do much. I went in and canceled my pass. I went and saw Kensinger and he was in bed and I talked to him a few minutes and went and laid down and slept till 11AM. So I got up again and ate and came back and laid down and went to sleep again. So really I caught up on some of my sleep. I didn't have enough ambition to go the Lake. I believe the armors have a dance in town Tuesday night so I think I will go to that. I will try and get you something at each of these towns I go.
The weather today was nice but now it is getting windy and looks like rain. I thought you would get a launch out of my mustache.
It got fairly long but I cut it off last night. It just was a funny feeling with that under your nose. It was fairly white and you could see it plain. But I will start another one and i will really get a good one and get a picture of it.
October 25, 1943 @ 8:40 PM
Here is another Monday just about gone. WE started out this morning and we had a gunnery mission for 9:30 AM. Well we had to get the planes loaded. They came back at around 11 and had to go up again at 12:30 noon. Then they came down at 4:30 PM and go out on an all night bombing mission at 7:30 PM. So when the planes were on the ground we had to move.
The weather today has been fairly nice in fact I will have to say that the weather lately has sure been good. I am getting another sun tan again. The sun here is sure warm yet and I went out without my shirt for about an hour and half and my face and hand you can tell the difference in color.
I missed the two mail calls today but one of my buddies got my mail and put it under my pillow so I didn't have to wait till 7:30 PM mail call tonight. That is one thing now with working on the line we kind of watch the mail for each other and we don't miss a day then. I got your box of candy this morning. Thanks a lot for it. That is the 3rd one now in little over a week. Tonight I went over and took a cold shower.
The wind is starting to blow and we may get a little bit of rain tonight. All I am hoping for is the tent stays up.
We had a major come here to inspect us for over sea training. We were what they call p-- poor. So now we got to go back to Hunter Field and start all over again. I heard when we go back we will be broke up and not stay in the sqd anymore. The captain says no ratings. The morning when I got up it sure was cold to my opinion. I didn't get up till 6:15 and then I went right out on the line and never ate. The way it looks now we may be out of here by Sunday. But I am not sure so just keep on writing.
October 26, 1943 @ 9:15 PM
Here it is Tuesday evening and I am at Avon Park tonight and this isn't much of a town. I am at the USO club dance. There is a fairly good bunch tonight. We left camp and I guess we will get back about 12 PM. Tonight it is fairly cool again and I believe by morning it will be good and cool.
The group of planes we are working with is pulling out and some of the guy are starting with a new sqd in the morning. In the old group I am put in charge of. I don't see how the Lt. picked me for it but I can't turn it down or else I will never get any stripe.
But I have 11 planes that I am in complete charge of on gunnery and bombing mission. I don't know how I will make out but I think it will e ok. These planes are leaving soon too. But I think I will get my stripe. But taking charge and stepping out is going to be the only way. But wait and see what this month brings out. I don't know if we will stay here much longer or not. But in one way I don't believe so.
October 27, 1943 @ 9:00 PM
Here I am on Wed evening. I went and never ate this morning again because it was too cool. I got up the last minute. I went out on the line and cleaned, set and timed 9 cal. 50 machine guns. Then this afternoon I went and bled a hydraulic system on a Bell turret. That only took a short time then I sat in the navigator compartment and went to sleep. IT turned off cool again tonight. We put all our flaps down tonight and see if we can keep a little bit warm.
The latest latrine rumor is that we are going back to Hunter Field about Sun or Mon. If we don't I want to go to Lake Wales and go to that singing towers. IT has a bunch of birds in it. It is about 40 miles from here.
My pass problem is all fixed up now. The alligator we got rid of. He wasn't nothing to put your hand around or even a food. Here is a clipping I got out of tonight paper.
October 28, 1943 @ 7:15 PM
Here I am again tonight not feeling good but I sure hope everyone at home is good.
To start it off I have a headache now and you know what that is. But really this is the first one that I had for a long time. Here it is Friday afternoon at dinner time and just about ready to go to dinner.
I didn't write much last night because I went to bed at 8 PM. So I will make this short because I want you to write to the same address as before to Hunter Field, Georgia.
I will write more tonight and send it by free mail but I want to be sure that you get this by Monday so you can send the Mon letter to Hunter. I am feeling very good now.
October 29, 1943 @ 9 PM
Well on the T shirt I got 1-38, 1-40 and 2-44. I will mail them to you just as soon as I get to Hunter. I bought 2 emblems to put on the windshield if you want to. They are of Avon Park Bombing Range.
You ask about limited service. There is no more stuff as limited service. If they are unfit for oversea duty they gave all of them discharges. They may put him in the medical division but if he gets lined up for overseas he will go. He might flunk out of POE but then he will get a discharge. But there is a lot of limited service men over the pond.
Well I will not get to go to town anymore. Tomorrow is the last night anybody can go to town. Sunday we are restricted to camp. Here it is Sat. Morning and about 7:40. We went out on the line but they had a big inspection this morning so we had to come back and then go out at 10 AM.
The news this morning is that we are attached to the 397th Bomb Group now. We are going to follow them around now the way I understand. That is what an airdrome sqd does is attach to a bomb group. Now this does not all together mean that we are going across yet but it is coming to a head. I really don't have any idea how long it takes to get ready. But all a person can do is wait and see.
I only used the fish hooks once and I never got anything but maybe I can use them after we leave Hunter Field. As I think I told you that we are only staying at Hunter a short time. I got your air mail stamps and I had only one left so you timed that out good.
October 29, 1943
Here are them transfers that I was talking about. It was the only envelope that I could find that was half way big enough. I bent these so I think when you want to put them on you will have to get that fairly level again. If they don't come out so good don't worry becuase I will buy couple more to make sure. I will send them home in the box. That will keep them flat like they should be. They only cost 15 cents a piece so nothing to worry about.
October 30, 1943 @ 8:40 PM
I am kind of p--- off for the simple reason that the rating came out and my name was cancelled. I know for sure my name was put in for one but the CO marked it off and here I set with the same PFC. I don't know what is the reason but I don't doublt at all it is account of my service records. Maybe there is a reason behind it. Well if it is for the good or poor I can't do nothing about it. But I will find out sooner or later.
I didn't do nothing today but catch up on my sleep a little. This morn I went out on the line but they had the inspection and didn't do no work so they told us to come back. So I didn a good bit of washing and sleep the rest of the time.
I notice on the bulletin board that I got guard duty again tomorrow night ISunday). I don't know why all this s---- is coming my way but it sure seems like it is.
Here it is Sunday morning and I just got up and shaved. The weather is sure nice today. In the afternoon I believe I wll go swimming or boat riding.
November 4, 1943 @ 8 PM
Here it is Thursday and I am feeling fine and sure hope the same for everyone at home.
Well today has never been a bit cool and this afternoon it turned off warm. This morning we had an inspection again for the month. You mention about the car. Well things like that will happen all the time. I don't mean always but that will happen to anybody. The only thing that I hope is that it is a nice job and that is all I care for. So don't worry about me. Becuase I am glad that is all that happened and it is all fixed up.
Well the weather here is a bit cool and if fresh air does you any good I sure should get healthy.
November 5, 1943 @ 8:55 PM
Today I really haven't done much. We fixed our motor pool up and skip detail work. We are having an inspection now to see how we are coming along in progress. It is to see what we got to do next. And how soon we go to POE.
We got to work on the line Monday again. I don't know how long we will stay up there but I hear for couple of weeks anyhow. W&S. I went and got a money order and sending money home because I don't want to pack that much around with me.
I have been thinking about Xmas cards. Find out the price on some with the name printed on. Tell me because I might get some here at the PX. So leave me know.
Novenber 6, 1943 @ 9:05 PM
Here it is Saturday evening and I am staying in camp tonight again. I went and took a shave, s---, shampoo, shower and came back and now writing. It is fairly late and the lights will soon go out.
We all had to move today in different tents. Now I hope we are settled until we move again. Which I think wil be soon.
We didn't do much today but move and have a clothing inspection. To see what you are short of and replace stuff. We are supposed to start on the line Monday.
That was a pretty good idea about the sailor getting that washing machine from Quincy. Listen you sure would love to have myself one. So if you see one around any place pick it up for me. Be sure and get a good one. Because you don't know how good one come in handy. Try and get one between a 6 and 8 inch blade on it.
November 7, 1943 @ 2:45
Well it is Sunday afternoon. The weather today has been a bit windy and cloudy. I don't think it will rain but it may before the day is over. We did put our tent flaps up and it makes it a bit windy inside.
I signed up for the laundry this month. It cost a person a $1.50 a month for anything you send up to 25 pieces. So really that wasn't bad at all. I had to get them sun tan cleaned that I wore back from Avon Park. So if I would have had them dry cleaned it would cost 60 cents so I think I will be ahead this way. I didn't feel like doing it myself. Then I sent a suit of work clothes shorts, 3 pair socks, 1 towel. So you can see I can't lost on it. A guy in the army got to watch every penny.
Well the C.O. of this squadron wanted to go overseas pretty bad so now we are on the way. Now don't get excited because it isn't that close yet. But I thought I would mention it to you early and we could fix up everything on the car, etc. We will stay here for 3 weeks yet easy. Because the men on furlough doesn't come back until the 19th. In fact we got to have 3 weeks of training on the line to even qualify us to go across. Then we will go to a rest station and lay around waiting for our orders. So don't worry yet because it may be a good couple months. I have had my share on this side compared to most of the other guys. And then there is nothing we can do about it. But here is another point that you got to look at is we may flunk out at POE. There is a 50 50 chance of going across. The C.O. talk us into it here but when it comes to POE you can't do that talking because it doesn't go. So W&S
The reason I want to tell you now is because I want to get everything straight before the last minute. On that car send any kind of paper that you think should be made out. Or give me your best idea on what to do with the car. Do you think I should keep it in my name or not. Anything to make it the easy way for you to have everything. I got the bank problem all fixed up, am I not right? That was what I signed when I was home. The money in the bank is in a joint account so the only thing is the car. Now listen I want to mention this again because the main thing is to get this straight before the last minute.
I could keep on writing you for the next couple months and not say anything but then everything be in the last minute. It take time to get a sqd all straightened out and to move to POE. The captain told us this last night so it is just how long we will be here. Now to my information we are going to England. The C.O. of the Bomb Group that we are attached to and will work with is in England now receiving his order what to do and where to go. We are attached to the 397 Bomb Group and the have 4 sqd the 596, 597, 598, 599. That is the group altogether. Now that don't make our address any different. Our address will keep the same thing as what it is 93rd Adrm Sqd. But I thought I would mention it now because after awhile I won't be able to and if you hear anything about the group you know what it is. But if you hear anything it will be the 397 Bomb Group because that is like the headquarters flight.
One thing that I like about going across is the idea we are with a bomber group. If we would be with a fighter group that is the front line fighting but this bombing sqd like all of them is fairly far back because the bomber fly at a long range. The sqd we are working with has B-26. And I think that England is about the best place to go too don't you? Well I can't say much more about this because I don't know anything. But anything I do hear I'll tell you. But as I said before every day is closer of going across and every day it is closer to the end. So which one comes first I do not know but I do know which one I hopes comes first. I would love to see the country but not in that way. In this morning paper I seen where the people of Chica think the war is going to be over sooner than what American people think So maybe by all away around it won't be long. But don't worry because I am not.
On that knife problem I wrote you about, that kid from Quincy that is in this sqd too would like to have a knife too. He lived on 814 Payson Ave. I will get his name and tell you. But I sure would like to have a good knife and if you get a couple of them I can sell them to other guys in the sqd. Because that is one thing that is handy to take across and even on this side. So do your best on this.
T may stand a good chance to get in a supply room or something on that order but I still feel like he won't be accepted. So W&S.
Don't take and get all excited over this letter because I don't want you to. WE had rain last night and most of the day. It looks like it will rain all night.
November 9, 1943 @ 7:45 PM - Tent 14, Hunter Field, 93rd Adrm Sqd
Here I am again to say hello and I am feeling fine and sure hope the same for everyone at home.
The weather today is sure cool and I don't mean maybe. This morning I sure hated to get up. But I had to be out on the line by 7 AM. We only got a good mile to walk before we hit the line.
Last night it was raining and the tent leaks so I go out my tent half and put it over my head and really slept. Anyhow I didn't get wet. That was one of the main things and the other was to keep warm. This morning I went out and my ship was going up on a bombing mission so we put 15 hundred pound bombs' in. Then when the plane went up there was nothing else to do so I went to service club and bought a good meal for 45 cents.
Then I came back to the area and found out I had to take another phy. exam. So I took that at 9:30. By time that was over it was time nearly for dinner.
This afternoon I went back to the line and loaded the ship for gunnery but it was grounded on account of no indicator light on the landing wheel. So I top up the guns and it took nearly all afternoon. I took a small plane ride over the field.
Since you mention it I think I will do my xmas shopping now and be sure and get it done while they have anything left here. Because these camps can run low the same as any store can. So tomorrow while I am not on line I am going to do my buying. I have quite a bit of time now with working on the line when the planes is in the air. The only think is that I can't some back to the area because I will get picked up and put on detail. You ask me if I listen to the radio much. No. There is no day room anymore and nobody has a radio in our tent so I don't know what it sounds like anymore. I do turn one on once in awhile when I am in a plane. But not that much. Well the time has flew compared to one year coming down to Texas. Well I would love for you to come down here but all there is is SWAMPS. But just forget making any down here. They spread the latrine rumor around here we may go to another field. They mentioned Kellogg Field at Battle Creek, Michigan. Then that would not be so bad. But for down here, no.
November 12, 1943
I guess you think I am a poor writer and in fact I know so but as you know we are living in tents and it is a bit cool to write in the evening. This morning it was 27 above. Am living in tent with no heat at all sure makes it tough. And in the morning when you gut up ??? Just as soon as the sun goes down it sure gets cool. Then you can't write because you shake all over. We have pretty good chance on getting barracks tomorrow. So I am just hoping that it comes the way I hear it. I came down to the Orderly Room to write you tonight.
Talking about money I was told today that I could sign the pay roll this month. They finally got the OK from Washington, D.C. to start a new record. So I am ok on pay now. But it is hard telling how long it will take to get the complete information on them.
But I will tell you the first think I am buying when I get out is an airplane. Because I sure got the flying fever and a person should be able to buy a plane at a good price. W&S
You have the right idea on that knife. So whenever you find one get me one. But there really isn't any fast rush about it.
Talking about xmas present I sure got a big surprise yesterday when I received 10 buck in check in the mail for a present. IT came from GD company. I was a bit surprised to see that much after the letter they had in it. They said there was 490 in the service. Then sent a honor roll of all the names. I am sending you it home and you can put it in your book. I am also sending you the letter.
November 14, 1943 @ 10:30 AM
Well here it is Sunday morning and just back from the like and feeling as good as ever.
Well I feel pretty good this morning because we are living in barrack again. IT is so much better then the tents. We moved in yesterday afternoon and I really got a good place in the barrack. I got upstairs again in the corner and I have a single deck bed. All the rest of the bed are double deck bed. I don't think I can keep it that long but as long as it last it will be good. The reason why I am saying that is because our Lt is gone and when he comes back he will find something wrong with it. W&S
I was able to get a small table and put by the window so I can write fairly easy. The only thing is that the table a bit high compared to the bed. But it is better than nothing.
I did not get to write last night because the things were sure going around and around. So to keep off of detail I skipped over to the show and set in peace. Then when I came out I met another kid I know real well at Lowry Field. His sqd broke up at POE and they put him on a plane and flew down here. He is a pursuit armor. Any how that is what he landed up as.
I heard the captain or our C.O. say that he expected to have a furlough over xmas. So if he does have a furlough over xmas you can tell we will be here for a good couple months, as I told you. But I wanted to get all these things straightened up now so it won't be the last minute.
I think I will be able to write more often to you now and keep up because the barrack is a bit warmer and better to write in. I got my laundry back this morning that I sent last week. It cost a $1.50 a month but I think this month will be the last time I am sending it. Because my work pant came back about 4 inches smaller so I think I will do the work myself. They did a fairly good job on my suntan but I haven't tried them on yet so I don't know if they fit or not. Lots of guy comes out short so I am not sending anything that is important any more.
With loads of love from a barracks again, Wes
November 15, 1943
Here it is another Monday and feeling fine and sure hope the same for everyone at home.
Well to start the letter off I will start this morning. I went on sick call this morning for a change. The only think was wrong was a sore foot. My left foot was a bit sore on account of too much walking. So I went to see what they would do. Well our doctor (93rd Adrm Sqd) sent me to the hospital and he taped up my foot and said I shouldn't walk any more than possible. So when I came back our doctor told me I should go to the hospital. But I didn't really have any reason to go, so I talked my way out of that. Now listen it isn't nothing to worry about because nothing is that bad so just forget about it.
When I came back I went and bought grandma a card and sent it. Well then my name was put up for aircraft identification school. It is from 13:30 to 15:30 five days a week. That will last for 2 weeks. I said I wouldn't go to any more GI school but here I am. WE had 20 planes today we had to recognize. They flash them on the screen of 1 second a piece. That really isn't much time and we got to put down what kind of plane it is. Then they flash some number on the screen with one-tenth of a second and we had to read all five numbers and put them on paper. Your eyes can't even barely see the numbers on the screen. It gave me a headache this afternoon because I wasn't used to it. Altogether we have 50 planes we got to know. But I guess it won't hurt anybody to learn all the different planes. Because if you know them on the first glimpse maybe sometime it may help a person.
Then today our Lt. of the armor section came back from school and he said I would probably start to turret school in about 2 weeks. So I guess that will be another school. But one thing sure my brain is not going to get rusted going to school all the time. But another thing I just hope it can stick in my brain. But I guess I will get another diploma on that turret school too. Well I don't know but if I am going to all these school I hope I can make my other stripe this month.
Today I signed the pay roll for a change. So my records are started to be made up. I sure would like to have that 12 bucks a month extra. I will send that home each month for daddy new truck because I sure would love to see him get a new truck. Because when I come home then he can help me buy an airplane. Because I am really getting the air fever. I watched 3 planes tonight doing stunts in the air.
I really don't know what to do for Xmas present because the new colonel we got as a C.O. of the field does not like PX or 3 day passes or over night passes. I wish he would have hit another field besides this one.
Tonight the barrack did not suit the captain so we had a GI party at 7 PM tonight. AS I said he would move something. He made me take my table out. So im writing on the heavy tool box.
I am sorry to hear that T and Jr. couldn't make the trip with the Ford but maybe it was a good idea that it happened at home and not on the road. But you know it would have been a miracle if they could have made the complete round trip. Because the thing he has rigged up is not true on the running end or in other words out of balance.
We just had a kid today that got transfered out of here because his ear was perforated just a little. You could barely see it and he will never go across on that reason.
In the morning we are getting issued our new winter uniform to work on the line. It is a sheep lined coat like that picture I sent home. I don't know yet if we will get the pants or not. But I will tell you later twhat I did get. But you really need something in the morning beside your field jacket.
Don't you think I wrote enough for tonight so until tomorrow night I will write again sending loads of love and best wishes for luck to V & T
November 16, 1943
This morning I got up and worked at the ordnance shop till 10 o'clock. Then I went and took a sgt tool box that he left to me while he went on furlough and had to check it with Tech. supply. Then I went and got some of my winter uniforms. I should of have this a long time ago but I just got it today. I got 2 pair of long flannelette underware adn 2 sweat shirts. Then they issued us a winter uniform to work in. It was the same as I had my picutre taken in. It is sheep lined on the whole inside. Then I got a pair of sheep linked boots. So I don't have to worry about this winter on getting cold, all I will do is put on the suit. I don't know who I will get it in my 2 small barrack bags. I got another pair of suntans.
This morning the officer had a sqd meeting and I hear that we are leaving here the 1st of the month. That is the latest latrine rumor.
I am glad that V & T had a good time at Rock island and enjoyed their trip. IT sure made it nice that Jr. Sister lives up there.
November 17, 1943
When I got up this morning it sure was cold. So I put on my wool sweater and took out. I went up and worked with a new sqd but I am going to try and get back with the other one because I like the other one better.
Then this noon I went to that aircraft school again. During the noon hour I saw a new B-29 bomber go over. It is the one that you hear so much about and the one I told you about when I was home. IT was flying at about 8000 ft. She sure is a big outfit. Carry a medium bomb load of 20,000 lbs I can't say what the overload is. I sure am hoping to get in one soon since I have seen one.
I cam back from school and then went and got a hair cut. It was about time for me to get one.
Tomorrow I am on sick call again because the doctor wanted me to come back in 3 days. So there isn't anything that hurts now so I will have to go over anyhow.
We are having a big gas drill tomorrow. They are going to spray it over the field with airplane. All the civilians will now be allowed on the field tomorrow.
You ask me why a knife wasn't a GI issue. Well I really don't know. But I guess they think your gun is enough.
November 18, 1943
This morning I went on sick call as I said and it didn't mount to anything. I got a little tape and put on my foot adn that was all to it. I was going to try and skip off all morning without going to the line but the 1st sgt caught up with me so I went up on the line. This afternoon I went to school again. I was expected to get that gas alarm while in school but the connection on the tank didn't work with the plane so they didn't do no gas work.
As I told you the Colonel on this field doesn't like the PX so he don't care about the prices at all.
I guess we are getting closer all the time on moving. We had to turn in our gas mask today and they are getting us new ones. I don't know what kind but I guess they will be a bit different and better. Tomorrow we are having another inspection of our clothes by Quartermaster. Then Sat. noon we have a stand by inspeciton. That will be the main one. It doesn't make much difference if we have it or not but we are moving. If we don't pass it we will go to another field because this field is being taken over by the 1st Air Force. So really where we go I don't know.
The reason they won't take anybod with bad ears for accross - in gas it would enter your head and kill a person instantly. But the first thing a doctor thinks when you go on sick call is that you are trying to get out of detial. So all a person got to do is couple times and then they think you are really serious.
I sure wish I was a civilian I would really live easy after this war and I don't mean maybe. But here I am being a good soldier (ha) and doing my duty. I think I stand a good chance on making Cpl this month again. I think I will be put in for it anyhow. That will be the second time just so the COok it. But if we do hit POE there are lots of rating that got to be put out. So maybe I will get one. Think so? W&S
The weather in the morning is very cool but the barracks are sure warmer than the tents.
All of our clothes now must be GI issued. And all of your own clothes you got to get rid of.
November 19, 1943
I went to work this morning on the line and I worked on some A2 bomb release and then I cleaned eight 75 mm cannon. Then this afternoon I didn't feel like working so I slipped off to the show at 2 PM and got out at 4. I came back and change my clothes and ate supper. We had oysters stew for supper. We are getting a lot of oyster now to eat. I guess they would cost a person at home some pretty good money. A person can get all that he wants to eat. But I don't care for them yet so I didn't eat them. I am surprised that I haven't started to eat them because I eat about everything else they give now. But I do like the milk with them because when they cook anything like that the army always put in a lots of butter
All the guys including Kensinger got back from furloughs. You mention about Doc mentioning about the oranges getting ripe. Do you remember last year when you hit Laredo how the fruit was on the trees. Then on them planes dusting the crops. I see that when I was down in Texas. That sure is something to look at. Wait till I get my airplane and I will show you some real flying. And to go back in Texas I wouldn't mind it at all. Because I really like it down there much more than here.
November 21, 1943
Here it is Sunday and we are having chicken for dinner. I don't know how it will be fixed yet. But I guess it will be good. Last night we had ham with pineapple saude with it. It sure was good. First time we had ham for a long time. But they gave you a fairly good piece. Anyhow I sure would hate to go in town and buy one.
I worked on the linek yesterday morning and in the afternoon we had that clothing inspection by quartermaster. I got a new pair of shoes and two new work jackets.
I sent off the box including that calendar.
November 22, 1943 @ 11 noon
I am a bit behind on writing so I slipped off the line a bit early and going to try and get finished before I go to that aircraft school. Tonight I am going to bed really early. I am keeping up my diary.
On us getting our winter uniforms. I don't know how cold it gets but I will tell you one thing that the other week when we were out in tent it wasn't warm. But we aren't staying here long at all. When we go across I don't know where we are going but really I wouldn't mind at all to go up north. I sure would like to freeze once more. But the latest are and the truth that we are going to New Orleans for our POE. So I guess we will be going there in the next couple weeks. We will probably stay there a fairly long time, because that is where Bill D. was. Then they shipped him up to California. I hear but how true I don't know but they say we will leave from there and go to S.A. But it is hard telling. The only think I can say is W&S.
They gave us a pair of leather gloves with cloth lined inside. They are fairly nice. But you can wear any kind you want to.
Listen when I go to POE I will get one number then after I get where I am going I will get another one. So when ever I go and you get the second number that will be the number I will keep. So you know what is coming. You remember B.D. when he went overseas he got 2 numbers too.
That picture is a B-26. It was the first plane that I worked on at Avon Park. I tore out that top turret and really worked on it. I wanted to mark on the picture different things but I was afraid if I did I would wreck the picture. There are the 2 nose guns. Then there is 2 guns sticking out of the tail. Then in the side where the emblem is at there is a door about 2' square. There is 2 guns there. Then 2 on top and on the side of the plane you will see a gun. The other one is a bit higher. There is two on both side. The four on the side and one of the nose guns are fixed gun and is control by the pilot.
We have a first aid meeting at 7:30 PM. So you can see that don't give me much time yet to do anything. They really take your time up. The don't do the thing on their time but wait till after 5 and then we ahve to take our time to do it. But what can we do. I hear we are gettig a day off now a week.
Our order were canceled for awhile. I don't know how long but for a couple days anyhow. We might stay here now till the 1th. We were supposed to take out the 1st of the month. But two weeks are two weeks. But again our order could come tonight and leave in the morning. The army you don't know what will happen next. Maybe if we monkey around enough I can get another furlough. W & S.
I am back again and I learned about first aid. It was one of those packs. I will tell you about it. The first think you got to do is take all eight pills and plenty of water. Then open the container. Be very careful not to get hand on the wrong side of bandage. Put your hand on the side with the red number. Pour the powder on the cut, etc and put bandage on it. Got it, I don't.
The meat problem at the camp here is a lots better than what it used to be. For awhile it sure was tough.
I woulnd't worry about T on his classification becuase all he will do is get a ride to Chicago and back and see what a soldier has to put up with the last 14 months. It is hell in one way but what can you do. T will like the induction center getting up early every morning when that whistle blows. Whenever I come back home and the first guy that blows a whistle blows I don't care if he is a flatfooted I will smash it down his nick and I don't mean maybe.
November 24, 1943
Well here it is Wednesday noon and I just got off KP. Yesterday I did the same as I always do except last night there was a USO stage show and I went. I had to stand in line an hour just so I could get a decent seat. I want to know how this sounds to you. As you know we are supposed to go to some place accross and when nobody knows. But that is what is in the path. They always talk about the money problem on the other side so I was planning on taking 25 bucks out of each of my pay and send home. So that way I would be sure of that much anyhow. Because over there you may collect a lots of money and no way to get rid of it. Leave me know right away what you think of this because it will have to go through Washington, D.C. and when I come back that would give me a little money. Let me know what you think.
November 25, 1943 @ 6:55 AM
I am sitting on my bed and trying to write this before I go on the line. I got off KP at noon and then I went to school till 3:30. Then I at the last minute went to the show and got out at 11 PM. On that turret school only a couple of us will get to go. IT is apart of training but just extra training and give a person a chance to get around more and a good chance on rating. It is a pull the only way that I can go to that school. But I ain't gone to that school yet but I thik our Lt will get in that school. Anyhow I hope that I can go to it because it really will be interesting.
Well we got another new C.O. Our other C.O. has left us. I can't tell you what he is or how tough he is because I haven't seen him at all. The only think is I heard he was tough because this sqd has been making a bad mess and a lots of trouble so they changed him to see if he couldn't straighten up this outfit.
November 26, 1943 @ 8:35 PM
I went up on the line in the morning and they sure had the work. They had 7 new planes in and they had to get out. This sqd I am working with now if only fixing planes for overseas duty. I am still in the 93rd but our Lt. says we need other experience on different planes so we are only working with them. I thought I would mention this to you so you wouldn't get the idea I was with another sqd. I n the afternoon I went to school again.
For dinner we had turkey and sweet potatoes. There were 15 men working on the line and some of them gave out or dished out 2 times. So you can get an idea we had a fairly good meal. WE had 2 kinds of pie, pumpkin and apple. I ate everything that they put on my plate. I sure had a belly ache. Then in the evening we had turkey again. But I didn't eat much because I still had a belly full from dinner. I went to bed about 11 PM.
This morning I got up at 6:30 and went and cleaned up and laid down till about 8. Then I went over and took my final exam on the schooling. WE had 50 different planes and I got 49 out of the 50 right. Then this afternoon I went up to the line and work all afternoon. This evening I had to go over rand take some machine guns apart in the dark. We had to take them all apart and put back together again and set the head space. It took me twelve minutes. Then I went down and cleaned up and went over to the service club and got a pint of ice cream.
November 28, 1943
It is Sunday morning and I finally got a day off and I got up this morning and I went and cleaned the floor and was tired and went to bed again. It has 15 months today that I left home.
Our new C.O. is different than what I told you. The Captain that came into Tech supply took that place and the Capt at Tech Supply is our C.O. now. He is a real old fellow and not much to say. In fact I haven't a thing to say against him at all.
My rating won't go through this month on account of a new C.O. and the other list was lost. So I guess I will have to wait till next month for my stripe. The new C.O. said we were moving the first of the year now. So that means our moving was shoved back one month only.
We will go to New Orleans and then I wouldn't be a bit surprised that we won't go to San Francisco for our boat.
Here it is Sunday evening . Today I really never done much except go to the show at 2 PM. I got out at 4 and then I came back to the barrack and laid around. Went and ate and then I turned in my pass. I got a 36 hour pass last night but I really didn't feel like going no where so I got the pass and kept it till tonight. After I asked for it I had to take it. But I think I am just as far ahead by staying in because I got rested up good and ready to hit this next week hard again. The A.S.N. mean Army Serial Number.
I wil be able to tell you when I leave here and when I hit POE. Just wait till the time comes for us to go across. Because we are not there yet and it may be a couple months yet. To tell you the truth I expect another furlough before I go.
On flying to my place I don't think I will. The only persons that fly is the combat crew such as teh bunner, etc. There is nothing that I need to go across becaue they have a list and that is only GI issue. Only get one knife for me.
On that picture of that plane. Tha was the first one I worked on and that is really a plane I like. That is the one I work on the most. It is just the first and taht the onel I am proud of because it done the most flying at Avon Park of any plane on the field.
I am planning on spending Christmas here and maybe New YEars. I mean on this field. Then after a person goes to POE he spends a considerable time there getting some more shots and getting everything ready.
November 29, 1943 @ 8:20 PM
This morning I started to turret school and I go for 10 days all day long. I am glad of it because the weatehr is a bit nasty outside now. Tomorrow the eagle takes a shit. He is only forting to me. But every dollar count. I don't know how I am going to act to get my first pay. But I hope I can get it.
Well I am going to sign up for that 25 bucks one of these days. Well when I do go across if I do I want you do what you want to with the $25 and if daddy buys a new truck I want him to take that and put in on the new truck. I can sign this regardless of over seas duty. I am sure sorry to ehar about V getting his paper. But I guess it got to come some time. But I am glad that he was able to stay out this long. He will make it ok. I stook it 15 months now.