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Dec 08

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 9)

Below are some more letters that my dad, Herbert Miller, wrote home while he was at his basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama.

It was the fall of 1944 and he was in Company A, 12th Battalion, 8th Regiment there. He was nearly finished with his basic training and in these letters my dad mentions Helen, Kenny, and Em, who were his siblings. “Johnnies” was Johnny and Clara (Miller) Reef, his uncle and aunt.

Herb Miller, Fort McClellan, Alabama, 1944.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 29 Sep 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

28 Sep 1944
Dear Mom & All,
It’s Thursday night and no night problems tonight. We fired the mortars today. They were sorta easy to fire.

Talking about sit-down strikes, read the clipping I enclosed about the G.P.W. on a sit-down strike. They really treat them nice around here. I don’t know very much news.

It really rained tonight, or this evening. I’m sure glad I’m not on a night problem. We have started to take up boxing and wrestling. Maybe I’ll be able to take care of myself when I get out of here.

Helen asked where I thought the 27th Division is. I don’t know, but I’m almost positive they didn’t or aren’t in combat right now.

Pretty soon they will send American troops in China. There are some or a lot of American airfields there that the Japs are capturing. So before long they will send in foot troops—the infantry. I read in the (Ft. McClellan) Cycle where Ft. McClellan men would be the first ones in Tokyo [?].

Guess I’d better close.

Love,
Herbie

My grandparents even saved the newspaper clipping that my dad mentioned in the above letter:

1944 newspaper clipping sent from Fort McClellan.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 2 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

30 Sep 1944
Dear Mom & All,
I decided to write youins a letter so here goes.

It is Sunday morning and just got back from church. It is 10:05. I have my rifle to clean, cartridge belt & leggings to wash out by 11:30, so will have to hurry.

I have all those pictures taken but not developed yet. I’m going to take them in this afternoon. I will send you a set of them. I received a box of chocolate candy from Homer Carrs. It sure was good candy.

We leave for maneuvers the 13th of October on Friday and come back to camp Nov. 4. Stay in camp for a week and then sometime the following week will be shipped out. I will get my furlough delay en-route. So that means I will bring my barracks bags and everything I’m going to take to the next camp home with me.

I heard Dale was at camp Atterbury.

What is the price of beans this year? I imagine the corn is pretty nubbing [?] since it was a dry year.

Guess I’d better close and clean my rifle.

Love,
Herb

P.S. I have enough stationery to last me till I get home.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 4 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

1 Oct 1944
Dear Mom & All,
Today is a rest day so I’m lying around in the hut sleeping and writing letters. The reason we have this rest day is because we had a night problem that lasted until 9:30 this morning. I spent my first night in a fox hole. It was OK only there were a few snakes crawling around. I killed a rattler about 2 ½ feet long. Other than that I slept OK. I received a large box of cookies and candy from Clara. They sure were good.

We got paid this morning. My check was $23.75. It usually varies according to whether there are 30 or 31 days in the moth.

Last night it was really chilly. Now it is so hot you can’t keep cool.

So Helen has her driver’s license now. I knew she would pass her test all right. Yes I know ho nervous on gets in a time like that.

Is dad still working on the same shift like he did before? I imagine he gets tireder than ever on some of those shifts and with the work on the hen house.

I might get sent to a division and get additional training. They take all 18 year-olds for co. cadre here or send them to a division. The cycle ends o Nov. 11 and my birthday is the 29th. I would have gone to the Army about 2 months sooner I would be sure of going to a division but since it is so close it is hard to tell. They may send me across right away.

Guess I’d better close for now.

Love,
Herbie

Herb Miller, Fort McClellan, AL, basic training, 1944.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 9 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

8 Oct 1944
Dear Mom & All,
It’s Sunday evening and am about to go to bed. I have to clean my rifle, shave, and write another letter.

I’m sending you some pictures and also the negatives, so you can get some more prints if you want some. I don’t or won’t have any more chances to go to town.

Day after tomorrow we go out to maneuvers.

We are packing all of our stuff to leave.

We usually could get all the cigarettes we wanted. Now they will sell us only two packs.

Just two more days of scrubbing the huts in the morning, then we will be sleeping on the ground.

I went to church this morning, washed out my clothes, and then went to a show this afternoon. It was really a good show, “Marriage is a Private Affair.”

It is really chilly tonight. We should have built a fire in the stove. But we should have to walk quite a ways for coal and also a quite a ways to empty the ashes.

Then we would have to polish the stove. So I decided it would be too much bother.

Could you send another roll of film? Just one more is all I would like to have.

Guess I’d better close.

Love,
Herb

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 12 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

Dear Mom & All,
It’s almost dinner time. We arrived at our maneuver’s area OK. Just got the fox holes dug, tent erected and everything camouflaged. We will be here for 9 days. I don’t know where I’ll get to mail this but I figured I’d better write a few lines now and a few later to make a letter. Everything is done tactically—just like it is done in actual combat. I’m beginning to get hungry so will close for awhile and finish this letter late.

Here it is 1:00 and we still haven’t had chow. It ought to be anytime now. I’m going to write on the back of the sheets. You see we had to carry everything with us on the march—gas mask, field pack, rifle, steel helmet, mess gear, tent, blankets, extra fatigues, extra blanket, extra shoes, cigarettes, writing paper—everything that we need out here.

It wasn’t a very hard march out here, the way they talked it would be pretty tough. These nine days will go fast. The guy that is sleeping with me in the pup tent is Pvt. Merryman. Guess I’d better close.

Love,
Herb

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 18 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

14 Oct 1944
Dear Mom & All,
It’s almost 5:00 and I started this letter yesterday evening but was called for chow. It is now Sun. morn. We are on the machine gun range, firing other machine guns. We have a night problem tonight and tomorrow night. I probably won’t have a chance to go to church until I get home on my furlough.

I have to bring all my equipment and stuff home with me.

I don’t know much news. So don’t imagine it will be a very long letter.

Where is Dale C. at? Johnnies said he mailed a letter in Texas and was still going west. I’ve written to Murlin a couple of times but never got any answer. Gene Case [?] is the only one I heard from.

I’m really sleepy today and have been getting a lot of sleep. I guess it’s because I’m used to taking it easy on Sunday afternoon.

One of the lieutenants said they would tell us in our 16th week where our next camp would be

Here at the maneuvers at Choccolocco we use blanks in problems and live rounds on the range.

In Marsville [?] we use all live ammunition, artillery shells, mortar shells, and land mines.

I imagine Dad’s car does sound different. He put quite a bit of money in it but it is worth it.

Where is Jr. Derrickson at now? I read in the paper where Roma Miller was wounded in action.

Does Helen know Robert Caywood from Celina? He is here and we are coming home together.

Guess I’d better close, am feeling fine and hope you are the same.

Love,
Herb

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 21 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

20 Oct 1944
Dear Mom & All,
Here it is Friday night and I haven’t had time to write any letters for quite a while.

Tomorrow we take off again for another maneuvers area. It will be a four night hike out there. Quite a ways isn’t it?

How is the farming coming along by now? I imagine all the corn is shucked.

So Kenny got his bicycle. I’ll bet he is really tickled.

I received a carton of cigarettes from Em and Jack today. Also film from Johnnies.

You know I’ve been so busy I didn’t get to the main PX or to town. In fact I couldn’t have got to town if I wanted to. The only time we are in the Co area is through the week and no passes through the week. I wanted to get grandma [?], and Johnnies and Dad something, especially for their birthdays and Mom’s on Nov. 3, so if it is OK I’ll buy it before I ship out and bring them home on my furlough.

I’m taking a sergeant’s place tonight for CQ—command of quarters. So have an easy job.

Guess I’d better close.

Love,
Herbie

Herb Miller, U.S. Army veteran, WWII.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 27 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

24 Oct 1944
Dear Mom & All,
Here it is Tuesday night and I finally found time to scribble a few lines. It’s been dark for quite a while. I made me a lamp out of a c-ration coffee can and leggin lace using rifle oil for fuel. It smokes quite a bit but that can be expected.

I received your box and also the letters. Say those cookies and home baked bread really taste good. We have been living on c-rations and hard-tack for quite a while on maneuvers.

You don’t need to send any more films. I have the one Johnnies sent and since I will be where I can take pictures for a week before my furlough I won’t need them. 17 more days to go yet. I’m pretty sure of where I’m going to be sent next, although they will tell us for sure next week. I think I will be sent down South again, only a little further west—Mississippi in a division. I won’t miss so very far. If I would be much older I would be sure of going across.

Well I’m glad to hear youins are having good weather there for harvesting the crops.

The maneuvers out here at Marsville [?] are very interesting. Tomorrow we go through the German Village. We use a lot of live ammunition and there is a lot of chances to get hurt if the guys are careless. Most of the guys are very careful but there are a few “jerks” who always spoil a good game. So instead of getting shot in the “hind end”-back, we make them go in front or take their ammunition away from them.

You aught to see my bed here. I’m sleeping like a king. I’m still sleeping with Merryman and we gathered straw and grass and put it on the ground inside of our tent, till it was a foot thick. Then one blanket over that and a comfort. We have three blankets and another comfort to cover up with.

I was on guard duty Saturday night. It’s like Red said, there are a lot of things in the Army I’d rather do. Well our barracks bags hadn’t come out yet and all the clothes I had were what I brought in my pack and that was 1 blanket and 1 rain coat besides my tent. It happened that that was a very chilly night and I darn near froze. There were 6 men at the post where we were to stand guard and that post was in the center of a field—of all places for a guard post.

Well guess I’d better close for now. I hope I get some more time to write before I get back to camp.

Love,
Herbert

It would not be long until my dad would finish his basic training and he looked forward to going home on furlough. He thought he would be sent to another camp after that, possibly in Mississippi, but that was not to be. He mentioned the chilly nights in Alabama but he had no idea what would be in store for him in less than three months in Europe, in the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge. It is probably just as well that he did not know. I am just glad that they trained him so well and that he had the wherewithal to survive the war.

More of his letters next week.

2 comments

  1. Phyllis Brockmyer

    I am enjoying all these wartime letters from your dad to his parents and family members. It makes that era much more personal and vivid. It’s wonderful they were saved.

    1. Karen

      Thank you, Phyllis! I am glad that you enjoy reading them. I have been wanting to go through them for some time now and this gives me the opportunity to share them, too. It seems like he wrote a lot of letters and I wonder how he found the time. And, yes, I am very grateful that someone in the family saved them. Thanks for writing!

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