Dear Mr. Mangham: Enclosed herewith is a letter from a soldier “over yonder.”
I’ve never asked you to print one of his letters before, but please print this one. Who could refrain from prayer at nine o’clock after knowing that they have such experiences as these. SIGNED – A MOTHER
Somewhere in Belgium, February 16, 1945
Well what do you know, lately I’ve received 2 letters from you and haven’t had time to answer either one, so I will take this opportunity to answer them both. One was dated Jan. 3 and one Jan. 10. Sure hope you will write that often all the time as I sure enjoy getting your letters. The A. R. C. doughnut girls were just here and we all enjoyed hot coffee and doughnuts.
“They have a register we sign our names and I saw 2 Rayville boys in it. They were Huggins and Cherry. Also a Landis Magee from Winnsboro who I imagine is kin to shoe store Magee.”
Enclosed you will find a page out of the Stars and Stripes. It gives an account of one of our many experiences. It may sound thrilling to a lot of people, but to us that were there it was just plain hell.
I had a couple of days I’ll never forget. The shells were falling everywhere and we would shoot we could see our shells explode. When a 4.2 mortar can see their own shells explode, well that’s just too damn close. However, we have been in spots that were hotter than that. One time we were pinned down in our holes for two days by machine gun bullets. During that time I had a chocolate bar to eat. I can talk about that now because that was quite some time ago. After we got out of that spot I was too shaky to even think about it. It’s no good feeling to lay in a hole and see bullets hitting in the side of the hole 6 inches above you.
“It all boils down to this, war is just plain hell. Guess you wonder why I haven’t told you all of some of my experiences before. Well to tell you the truth I don’t like to think of them much less write about them.”
Knowing you would be interested I will tell you of some of the things. When I was corporal I was a linesman. I laid telephone wire and kept up communications. I also used a radio when it was impossible to lay a line. Laying wire in combat is one of the toughest jobs In an outfit. When they shell you have no hole to get in. You have to put up with snipers, mines and the weather. Just as sure as you get a line in and get back to your hole a shell will hit it somewhere and off you go again. What really gets you scared is when you find the break you can smell the powder of the shell and you expect another one in the same spot any time. All you can do is try to fix the wire as quick as you can and get back.
“I’ve laid wire to O. P.s (observation posts) in front of the infantry and it was no fun. I’ve laid wire at night and go(ne) back the next day and find that I stepped over dead Jerries and Americans, went through mine fields and over duds (unexploded shells).”
Enough of that. I got out of communications and in squad operating a gun. I’m now squad leader of that squad. I’ve had some narrow escapes there too. Just thought I’d let you know all my time hasn’t been spent in rear areas. We worked for a while 4 days out in the field and 4 days In the rear. Our whole Battalion is supposed to be on a rest now. The first time the whole Battalion has been off since we’ve been over here, which was July 3, 1944. Some of us may get passes to Paris and Brussels and some may even get a 7-day furlough to go to England. Sure hope I get to go to England. The people over there were sure swell to me and I would like to see them.
I see in the Beacon where Erwin Hogan is quite the hero. (Erwin Hogan, of Start). Well, let me tell you, he deserves all the credit he can get. Because his outfit is one of the best. We were with his outfit once when he was still with it. Wish I’d known it at the time.
You talk about that mustache. You should see me when I haven’t shaved for 2 or 3 weeks. I’m mustache all over my face. It’s a custom over here, if you have a mustache, you are married. Not all married men have one, however. I just raised it for the hell of it. Boys will be boys, you know. I’ll shave it off before I come home. You say Xmas was so warm you didn’t even have a fire. Why didn’t you tell me before hand and I would have sent you plenty of snow. The snow is gone now and the sun came out the last couple of day just like spring. The fields are all green. I hope it doesn’t snow over here again until I leave. I sure hate snow.
I can’t place Herman Murphy. If I would see him I would probably know him. Anyway you tell him he doesn’t want to come over here. I can’t understand why the boys want to come over here. I bet the first shell he heard coming in, or the first bullet he heard whiz by or the first bomb he heard fall or the first time a plane strafed him he would want to go back home faster than he came over. Tell him I’ll swap places with him, and as for seeing the country, most of it is shelled to pieces and the towns are being hauled off in dump trucks to fix roads. Oh well maybe the war will soon be over, I hope, and all our service boys can come home. Tell everyone hello for me. Be good and write often. Give my love to all. God bless you all.
P. S. Send me some pictures of you all. I just love to get pictures. Don’t forget.Sobering Letter Home, Unsigned, but from Richland Parish Sat, Mar 24, 1945 – 6 · The Richland Beacon-News (Rayville, Louisiana, United States of America) · Newspapers.com