I continue with the letters my dad wrote home during his basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. It was late in the summer of 1944 and at that time he was in Company A, 12th Battalion, 8th Regiment.
Postmarked Fort McClellan, AL, 20 Aug 1944, 11:30 p.m., to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1 Willshire, Ohio:
20 Aug 1944
Dear Mom & All,
Just a few lines to let you know I’m OK. I have about 1/2 hr. before church to write this letter. I’ve found out not to plan anything in the Army. So I decided to write now, then I’m sure I have time.
I’m planning on going into town this afternoon and eve with some of the cadre men (non-commissioned officers) and they will get me out of any detail for today.
I received a letter from Bernice some time ago and finally answered today. This morning for chow we had cooked raisins, eggs, toast, and breakfast cereal. This noon is when we have the good meal. I slept until 8:00 o’clock this morning and I really slept good. Guess I’d better close.
Postmarked Fort McClellan, AL, 24 Aug 1944, 11:30 a.m., to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1 Willshire, Ohio:
23 Aug 1944
Dear Mom & All,
I finally found time to write youins a few lines. I imagine Ruth and Bob are home now. I wanted to write to them but decided to wait until they went back, maybe by that time I will have more time to write.
We had a pretty easy day today. Two hrs. of swim, 1 hr. of rifle study, 1 hr. show on the bazooka, 1 hr. of military discipline, 1 hr. of P.T., and 2 hrs. of map reading. We really had a good meal tonight. They had one kind of salad I really liked. It was made out of grated cheese and pears.
I received a letter from Howards today.
I imagine youins got the foundation built for the hen house. I won’t even know the place when I come home. New well and new hen house.
Boy these Brooklyn guys are really jokers. They are always getting on detail for something or other and it really tickles me, especially Harry Goldman. He is about 35 yrs. old and doesn’t give a darn what does happen.
There were two guys who deserted the Army last Sunday night. Today I saw some of the guys carrying their equipment and clothes out. So I imagine they found them and are taking them to the stockade. They have a lot of American prisoners here at camp and also a lot of German prisoners. The American prisoners are A.W.O.L.s and deserters and get fed bread and water and are always under guard. The German prisoners get good meals and they don’t always have guards and have very little work.
A sergeant was telling us that they had a truck load of German prisoners out gathering up scrap paper from the cans [?]. They drove off and left one and he got madder than the devil because he had to walk instead of ride back to his barracks. German prisoners don’t cause very much trouble.
Paris fell the other day. The French underground went in and took over the city from the Germans. I imagine you hear more of the news than I do.
We have a new platoon sergeant who just came back from action on the Solomons and other islands. He really is a nice sergeant. Guess I’d better close.
Postmarked Fort McClellan, AL, 26 Aug 1944, 8:30 a.m., to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1 Willshire, Ohio:
25 Aug 1944
Dear Mom & All,
Received your letter today and decided to answer it while I had & have a few minutes time. Tomorrow is Saturday and have K.P. tomorrow and table waiting Sunday. Table waiting isn’t very hard work, only a couple of hours. We had to scrub out our huts tonight. It took about half an hour. Today we practiced on antiaircraft targets and moving targets with the rifle, also the bazooka and the automatic rifle. The automatic rifle just squeeze the trigger and 20 shots go off just that quick. It weighs 20 lbs. and looks like a rifle. Before long will be shooting the machine guns and mortars. Only six more weeks of training and then will have bivouacs or maneuvers the rest of the seventeen weeks.
Say do you suppose you could get my little camera I sold to Murlin. Maybe Maggie would sell it back. If you can get it and it won’t cause too much bother I would like to have it. But I can’t get film here. Helen can see if she can get some first at Berne. It takes a different size than the box camera. If the film can’t be gotten you don’t need to bother with the camera.
By the sound of your letter they must really be putting the hen house up.
That was really too bad about Don Dellinger. I got a letter today from Lanora McClain/McClair [?] and she was telling me a little about it.
Yes I read Red’s letter in the Celina Standard. I don’t remember much about it, it was awhile back.
Guess I’d better close and get some sleep. Have to get up about 3:30 to report to the kitchen on time.
The next letter is postmarked Fort McClellan, AL, 27 Aug 1944, 11:30 p.m., to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1 Willshire, Ohio:
27 Aug 1944
Dear Mom & All,
Well here is another letter. Have a little time today because it is Sunday. I am table waiter today. It isn’t hard and don’t take much time. Also will get all I want to eat.
Yesterday was on K.P. and in the afternoon went out on the range and shot the rifle grenade so I wouldn’t have to make the time up. Those rifle grenades kick like a mule.
Tomorrow we go on a fourteen mile hike and to top it all it will be hill most of the way. If it is up to Baines Gap it will be one of those forced marches.
You remember me telling you about those two guys Wagner and Moore who went over the Hill. Well they have them in the stockade now. It will really be tough on them. I washed out my clothes or fatigues today. There were a lot of guys down there and all the washers were taken. So I got a five gallon bucket that I found down in the shower room, filled it half full of soapy water and washed out my clothes by putting them in the bucket and kept stomping them with my foot. It worked pretty good and didn’t take near as long as scrubbing them out.
I think there was a guy who went over the hill last night. His wife was here all week and the sarge only let him out a couple nights. He was on K.P. today and he didn’t show up and nobody has seen him.
Well I guess I’d better close. Can’t think of any more to write. Am fine and hope you all are the same.
Postmarked Fort McClellan, AL, 31 Aug 1944, 11:30 a.m., to Miss Helen Miller, RR#1 Willshire, Ohio [Helen was Herb’s sister]:
30 Aug 1944
I received your letter today and sure was glad to hear from you. My pen just ran out of ink and had to fill it with a different color.
Well the end of this week will be the end of the seventh week. Only ten more wks to go. They are rushing us pretty fast. A lot of the things we are taking up now the rest of the co.s [companies] took up in their tenth week. Some of the guys think we will only have twelve weeks here and then take jungle training, either here in the U.S. or on an island like Hawaii. If we go to another place beside the U.S. [we] won’t get a furlough. But that’s only a latrine rumor and you can’t go on that. Tomorrow night we have a night problem and will be out most of the night, so I won’t get any letters written then.
I read in the Standard about “Red” and “Vincet.” It seems like most of the guys that were wounded or killed were hit by artillery or mortar shells.
I sent home a Doughboy book [?] or rather we had to. We couldn’t send them to anyone except immediate members of the family.
I imagine the hen house is pretty will completed. I would have liked to go to the S.S. [Sunday School] Picnic. Guess I’d better close for now.
Today’s last letter is postmarked Fort McClellan, AL, 2 Sep 1944, 11:30 a.m., to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1 Willshire, Ohio:
1 Sep 1944
Dear Mom & All,
I had another letter started tonight but the sergeant came in with this stationery so decided to write on this. What do you think of it?
Tonight was pay day. I received $24.75 this time. Those bonds are going to count up pretty fast. Just think I have about $11 in war bonds now.
The darndest thing happened today. You see tomorrow night we have a parade in front of three generals. It will last for one hour. Our equipment will be suntans, helmet liners, cartridge belts, and rifles. They all have to be in tip-top condition. Well out of the whole Battalion they picked forty men out of company A to be “Guards of Honor.” There are about two hundred men to a company and four companies to a Battalion. And I happen to be one of the forty men. We have been having rehearsals for the “Guard of Honor.”
The company has been restricted to the area for two weeks because of the condition of the huts. We cleaned them up good and the Major examined them and said they were in the best condition of the Regiment. So they raised the restriction and it will be possible to get a weekend pass.
They are really rushing us now. We fire the bazookas tomorrow. We have been dry firing the carbine and the automatic rifle. So will fire them on the range in the near future. Those carbines are the real guns. The barrel is only about sixteen inches long. The whole length is about twenty-six inches long. It weighs 5¼ lbs and holds a magazine of fifteen rounds. It is gas operated and will fire all fifteen shots as fast as you can pull the trigger. The automatic rifle weighs 22 lbs and fires twenty rounds by just pulling the trigger once.
You asked if I was hearing from Dorothy. Well I haven’t heard from her in the last week and a half. Don’t know what the trouble is. I stopped writing when I didn’t hear from her.
Guess I’d better close for now.
P.S. Received the box today. Everything was in A-1 shape and really tastes good.
I found it very interesting to read that he was selected to be part of the Guard of Honor. He was a hard worker and I am sure he deserved it and was proud of it. It is also interesting to see how much he looked forward to receiving letters and boxes from home. Those letters from family and neighbors sure meant a lot to him.