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Oct 26

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 30)

Below are the last of the transcriptions of my dad’s WWII letters. That is not to say another letter or two may show up sometime, but right now, I think this is it.

This past year I have been transcribing the letters that my dad, Herbert Miller, wrote home while in the Army, stationed in Germany during WWII and the occupation time afterward. The family saved many of his letters and my goal has been to transcribe them and post them here as blog posts.

Herbert Miller, France, 1946.

The war was over by the time my dad wrote these letters and he was serving in the Occupation Force in Germany, serving until he had enough time and points to be honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. He was stationed and working as a Tec 5 postal clerk at an Army post office in Heidelberg, Germany, a job he often said he liked very much. [1]

The last two letters were written in April 1946. By May of 1946 he had been in Europe 16 months. These letters were written to my dad’s sister Em, her husband “Jack” and their little son Ron.

4 April 1946
Heidelberg, Germany

Dear Em, Jack, & Family,
It’s about time I write isn’t it. I just came back from furlough in Paris, France. It’s the worst place I’ve ever been in. I’m sure glad to get back in Germany. I like it here a lot better than I would in France.

In 172 Army Postal Unit there are two guys out of about twenty that have more service or points than I have. I’ve got more overseas time than any of them. These two guys are leaving the outfit sometime in the next 10 days. So it won’t be long until I’m high point man in the 172.

I had a fair time on my furlough. The thing I enjoyed most of all was the plan ride down to Paris. I rode on of those 4-motored C-54 mail planes (A.T.C.). I came back in a jeep. I bought two cameras and one ladies watch. I’m going to save the watch until I get engaged for good or married.

Love,
Herbie

Even though my dad did not have kind words to say about Paris, he saved quite a few nice photos from the time he was there. Paris and the whole country of France was probably in pretty bad condition right after the war. As to the watch, I never heard him mention it, but I wonder if he gave it to my mom.

Herbert Miller, Marne, France, 1946.

Herbert Miller, Paris, France, 1946.

Herbert Miller & another GI, Hotel Ambassador, Paris, France, 1946.

GI at Hotel Ambassador, Paris, France, 1946.

15 April 1946
Heidelberg, Germany

Dear Em, Jack & Family,
Boy I’ve really fell off on my writing. I’m going to have to get busy in the next couple of day and write.

How is everything coming along? Especially Ronnie. I’ll bet he is really getting big. There is one thing I get mixed up—the name of your baby and the name of Ruth’s baby. I imagine after I see them and see who they take after I’ll know which is which.

How are automobiles? Pretty high price? I’m going to be in the market for one pretty soon after I get home. Maybe a year or two after.

The Red Cross is really crowded now since the 3rd Army came into Heidelberg.

Must close for now.

Love,
Herb

I am not sure when my dad finally came come but he was honorably discharged from the Army on 7 June 1946, according to his discharge papers. His separation record states he was discharged at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. He served in the Army from 29 June 1944 to 7 June 1946 and served in the European Theater for 18 of those months. He served 4¼ months as a private in basic training, 9 months as a PFC rifleman, and 8 months as a Tec 5 postal clerk. A summary of his military occupations, according to his discharge paper: Postal Clerk–served with Headquarters, 172nd Army Postal Unit; received sorted, and distributed all classes of mail; insured and registered mail; issued and cashed postal money orders and sold stamps and other postal supplies; maintained accurate records of all transactions and was responsible for funds.

A few more photos my dad took in Paris:

Arch being rebuilt in Paris, 1946.

Arch in Paris, 1946.

Arch in Paris, 1946.

Church in Paris, 1946.

Statue in Paris, 1946.

GI by statue in Paris, 1946.

MP wagon in Paris, 1946.

The last letter [below] is out of chronological order. The top of the page is torn and only “Sep” remains. I had placed it at the end of his letters but, after reading it closely, it was very likely written in September 1945, written before my dad worked in the Army post office in Heidelberg and before his nephew Ronnie was born.

In the letter below my dad refers to Jeanne Betzel and the fellow she was dating. Jeanne was from Chatt, she attended Zion Chatt, and was about my dad’s age. I assume “the guy she was dating” was probably the same man Jeanne eventually married, Frank Schwab, who also served in WWII. My parents remained friends with the Schwabs the rest of their lives and visited them out west on at least one occasion that I remember.

Also, in the letter below, my dad actually diagrammed the gears of the two trucks he mentioned, but I could not reproduce the drawings here.

Sept [1945]
Dear Em & Jack,

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written you last. I’ve been pretty busy but I guess that is no excuse.

I received your box a few days ago. Thanks a lot.

I received a letter from the guy Jeanne Betzel goes with and he is trying to get me in where he works in the post office.

All last week I’ve been driving 2½ ton and 1½ ton trucks. The gears are sort of tricky but they are nice to handle. Here are the gears on a 2½ 6×6 G.M.C. and on a Dodge 1½ 6×6. The G.M.C. had 10 gears forward and 2 in reverse and the Dodge 8 forward and 2 in reverse.

I had the chance to drive a 2½ all the time but turned it down. Tomorrow morning I’m supposed to report at the Battalion Motor Pool to get a license to drive a 1½. But I’m going to go to Div. Headquarters for an interview.

How is everything on the farm? The John Deere is running OK?

Must close for now.

Love,
Herbie 

That is the last letter I have. I think. Sometimes things show up around here later.

 

[1] My dad, Herbert Miller, trained as a replacement troop during the fall of 1944, arrived in Europe in December of that same year, and was assigned to Company L, 333rd Regiment, 84th Infantry Division. The 84th was known as the Railsplitters. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and later in parts of Luxembourg, Germany, and France.

 

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