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Nov 15

Letters From a WWII Soldier

Yesterday I started sorting through the World War II letters my dad wrote and sent to my Aunt Em and her husband decades ago. A few weeks ago Em’s family gave me the stack of letters that had been stored away in Em’s attic all those years.

I plan to eventually transcribe them all, but for now I am sorting them out. I noticed that most of the letters were very general in content. My dad did not to give his whereabouts or any details of his squad’s activities. He undoubtedly was not allowed to give out that information.

Herb Miller in Paris

Herb Miller in Paris, WWII.

My dad repeated several things over and over in the letters he wrote: Thank you for the packages. Send more packages. I would love to have some home-baked cookies and fruit cake. How are things on the farm? How are things in Chattanooga?

The letters start when he was in basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama, during the summer of 1944. The rest were sent from Europe. Ten of the letters were the small V-Mail letters, all written in 1945. I transcribed two of the V-Mail letters below:

March 10, 1945
Germany

Dear Sis, Jack and all,

How is everything coming along back Chattanooga way. I imagine the farm work is pretty well under way by now.

I received your box of Lady Wagner chocolate today and I mean to tell you they were really delicious. The squad thought they were good, too. There are twelve men in the squad and they are all regular fellows. When we receive a box we share alike.

I’ve now gotten the Combat Infantry man’s badge. I get $10 more per month, now with $4 more for P.F.C. and $70 for overseas. That makes my pay check $74 before deductions.

Well Jack I’ve got myself a Luger now and also a German paratrooper knife. They will make nice souvenirs.

I received the Rockford newsletter today. It’s got quite a bit of news in it. Must close for now and thanks again for the candy. Tell Mom not to worry. I’ll write tomorrow. Hope to see you soon.

Love,
Herbie

V-Mail from Herbert Miller, 10 March 1945.

V-Mail from Herbert Miller, 10 March 1945.

Undated

Dear Em & Jack,

How are things coming along around Chattanooga and vicinity? I hear Bud Oakley is in 4-8 again. I’ll bet that makes him mad.

I can’t tell where I’m at neither can I give the date. I think they are military secrets.

I’ve been receiving my mail pretty regular but still no boxes. I sure would like to have some of those home baked cookies and cakes. I get pretty hungry for ice cream and malted milk, but will have to wait till I get back to the states to get anything like that.

I received the copy of the song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” yesterday. Thanks a lot for sending a lot of songs like that one. We tried to sing but couldn’t remember all of the words.

Today for dinner we had baked beans, rice and meat balls, pears, bread, jam and coffee. This morning we had French toast, syrup, cereal and coffee.

I wrote to Mom and Dad yesterday and decided to write you today. I’m hurting pretty good for stationary or I could write more often. Guess I’d better close for now.

Love,
Herbie

PS Please send me a box of home baked cookies, hard candy or peanuts, and stationary to write back to you.

Envelope made from Map of Scotland, 1946.

Envelope made from Map of Scotland, 1946.

One envelope, postmarked 17 March 1946, caught my eye. The return address was from Corporal Herbert Miller with the American Red Cross name and emblem on the flap. But it was the inside of the envelope that was unique. It was a map! A map of Salachail and the surrounding area in Scotland. I do not know if the Red Cross provided fancy designer envelopes or if my dad made this envelope from a map. As far as I know, my dad was never in Scotland.

Envelope made from a map of Scotland, 1946.

Envelope made from a map of Scotland, 1946.

My dad, Herbert Miller, served in the Army from 1944-1946, in the 84th Infantry Division, 333rd Regiment, Company L, known at the Railsplitters. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and fought in Germany, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Holland.

I will continue to transcribe these letters and will post some from time to time.

4 comments

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  1. Waldo

    Interesting how little fellows who served in WW II ever said about the experience. My Father-in-Law was in the airforce in Africa, my Uncle Paul Burkhart was in the Army, etc., and I can not recall one instance where they ever talked about what it was like, or even where they traveled other than picking up small trinkets from tourist places (a coin from Mt. Vesuvious cemented in volcanic lava). As you note, the military has strict regulations about communications at the time of deployment, but even after serving the topic always seemed forbiden somehow. Of course most young men away from home in the service were not so good at writing home frequently, so your Dad’s letters are a blessing to so many who still wonder what it was like.

    Things have not changed a lot, perhaps. I know of no letters home that do not extoll the benefits of “cookies” or packages from home.

  2. Brian Brewster

    Marcias dad was also in the Railsplitters. Small world. Brian

    1. Karen

      I did not know that! How interesting. Was he also in WWII? Did he and my dad know each other? My dad was always interested in hearing about the Railsplitters.

      1. Brian K Brewster

        Yes he went to WWll, he was Elmer Steffen. Don’t know if he knew each other or not.

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