My dad, Herbert Miller, was trained as a replacement troop during the fall of 1944 and by the end of that same year he was in Belgium fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. He had been assigned to Company L, 333rd Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, known as the Railsplitters.
My dad wrote quite a few letters home during the time he served our country in Europe during WWII and I am grateful that his family saved them. I have many of the letters he wrote to his parents, Carl and Gertrude (Brewster) Miller, and to his sister Em and her husband Norval “Jack”.
I am transcribing my dad’s letters and posting them here on Karen’s Chatt, along with some of the photos he took during the war. The letters are from Pfc. Herbert Miller (35845400), Co. L, 333rd Infantry, A.P.O. 84, c/o Postmaster, New York, NY, to Mr. & Mrs. Norval Weitz, RR1, Rockford, Ohio.
Postmarked 29 April 1945, to Mr. & Mrs. Norval Weitz, RR #1, Rockford, Ohio. The stationary that was inside the envelope is postmarked 25 May 1945, Rockford, Ohio.
26 April 1945
Dear Em & Jack,
Just a few lines to let you know that I’m OK and feeling fine. I’ve been wanting to write for a couple of days but never got to it. But I guess it is “better late than never.”
I received the comic books you sent and also the hard candy. Thanks a lot. I’ll put in a request for a box in this letter.
So Norval has most of the plowing done and ground worked up.
How is the farm work coming along anyway? I sure would like to be there and help, mostly for the nights, not the work. Remember how we used to go skating or go to the show on Sunday night? Those were the good old days. I sure hope it isn’t too long before I see those days again.
Must close for now. Write soon.
P.S. Please send a package of peanuts and cookies.
No envelope; a type-written letter to my dad’s sister Em and her husband Norval “Jack.”
7 May 1945
Dear Em & Jack,
I guess it is about time I wrote a few letters. The mail hasn’t been coming in very good lately and I can’t find very much to write about.
How is everything coming along back home? OK I hope.
What do you think of the war by now? I saw some Russian soldiers the other day. Our company made contact with them and I went across the Elbe River with the rest of the guys to shake hands with them. They were those Russian horsemen that you hear quite a bit about. Then that night we had a party—one that I never will forget.
The Jerries are really afraid of the Russian soldiers. Swarms of Jerries were on the other side of the Elbe wanting to cross to surrender to the Americans. A lot of them came over and when the Russians came in sight some of them stripped and swam in the Elbe. The water was really cold. Even some German WACS and Civilian women did the same. What a sight.
One of the guys found a poem in a typewriter. I’m going to enclose it in this letter.
The mail just came in and I got a box from you. So I’m eating and pecking away with one finger. I don’t know how to type very well yet but I think I can pick it up if I keep pecking away.
Guess I’d better sign off for now. Am feeling fine and hope that you are the same.
My dad said that he shook hands with some Russian soldiers, which makes these photos even more interesting.
I believe this is the poem my dad mentioned. It is on the same type of paper and appears to have been typed with the same typewriter, but this one was sent to his parents on 4 May.
LOVING A SOLDIER
Loving a soldier is not all play;
In fact there’s little of it gay.
It’s mostly having but not to hold;
It’s being young and feeling old.
Loving a soldier is not all cream;
It’s being in love with a misty dream.
It’s getting a card from a southern camp,
And sending a letter with an Air Mail stamp.
It’s hoping for furloughs that can’t be;
It’s wondering if he’s gone overseas.
And when he comes it’s laughter together,
Unconscious of people, of time, and of weather.
It’s hearing him whisper of his love for you,
And answering his whisper that you love him, too.
Then comes the ring and a promise of love,
Knowing you’re watched by the Father above.
And loving a soldier’s goodbye at the train,
And wondering if you’ll see him again.
Reluctantly, painfully, letting him go,
Indies you’re crying for wanting him so.
Then you watch for the word he is well
And wait for a long no-letter spell.
And your feet are planted in sand not sod
And you’re living strength comes solely from God.
Loving a soldier is undefined fears
And crying until there are no more tears.
Hating the world, yourself, and the war,
And so discouraged you can fight no more.
And then giving up and kneel while praying,
And really mean the prayers you are saying.
And when the mail comes you shout out with joy;
You act like a kid with a new shining toy.
You know very well he’s an ocean away;
You keep loving him more every day.
You know very well living’s no fun
With a man in the Army to shoulder a gun.
Then you grit your teeth and put on a grin;
He’s gone to war and you’d better help win.
Then your birthday comes; you’re older today;
You feel just the same as you did yesterday.
But you’re not, you have changed. You’re wiser and stronger.
You can weather the war if it’s twenty years long.
You’ll sweat as you work all through the day;
Your job will be hard, you’ll earn your pay.
So loving a soldier is headaches and tears;
It’s living a life full of sadness and undefined fears.
Loving a soldier is really not fun,
But it’s worth the price when the battle is won.
More war letters from my dad Herbert Miller to come in future blog posts.