EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of three selected letters
written by Woolner to his younger brother Dick, who was also
in the Army in Europe in WWII. The third letter, written in May,
1945, was addressed to a military hospital in England, where
Dick, an infantryman, had ended up with a serious leg wound from
a enemy mortar round inside Germany in the spring of 1945.
Company "A", 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion
A.P.O. # 230, United States Army
20 August, 1944
I don't have your address yet, excepting for the one at Devens,
and I know very well that you won't be there long. So I'm sending
this letter home to be sent along to you wherever you are. The
other day I received your letter mailed from Devens. I knew that
you were supposed to report on the 1st, but I hadn't heard that
you had actually been inducted until that letter arrived. You
say that you find yourself laughing yourself sick most of the
time FINE. To tell you the truth, as long as you're in the Army
you will find something to laugh about. There's always someone
to crack a joke and do something silly. Even over here in France
in combat, the GI's find plenty to laugh about. One day when
we were having a hell of a fight the German machine guns wee
going bbbrrrrrp! bbbrrrrrp! bbbrrrrrrp!, one of the guys waited
until the Jerry gun made a long, wicked sounding BBBBbbbrrrrrrrrrp!
and then he yelled, "Sold American!" It sounded funny
as hell to the rest of us. We have a lot of fun even when the
going is tough.
There's nothing much I can tell you about how to take care
of yourself in the Army. You'll get along all right as long as
you do what you're told to do and do it well. Try to soak in
all the dope you can, because it's the right stuff. If you can
do something well, let people know about it. Don't be shy, because
it pays to advertise. Of course after your advertising, you've
got to produce the goods, too. But you can do that. I hope you
get into the photography line, but I'm afraid you won't there
are so many photogs in the Army now. At any rate, if you don't
buck the Army, the Army can be a lot of fun. It's an education
in itself. Personally, I hope you never get into combat, but
if you do, you'll find that combat isn't all hell. It's a great
experience but I like to keep experiences like that for myself,
not for my kid brothers! It's so noisy, you know.
Well, Sir, enough of the lecturing. I have been working my
way through France, or maybe I should say digging my way through.
So far I am a healthy Joe and if I'm lucky I should remain healthy.
Frank Miller and I one day captured thirty Jerry prisoners. We
took ten pistols away from them, so now I'm strutting around
with a luger on my hip, and the air of a rough character. We
also captured two new typewriters, several Headquarters wagons
and five horses. I'm no Piker, Dick, I gave away the five horses!
You ought to see the Frenchman I gave those nags to. He thought
he had a fortune!
This afternoon we've been swimming. We have no bathing suits,
and it's a rare sight. The local mademoiselles walk around the
pond and look us all over. FINE. We look them all over too! And
most of them are pretty no lister bags with legs on like Jack
goes out with. We have plenty of cognac and vin rouge over chere
too. It really aint bad at all. Tomorrow I'm going to negotiate
for a couple of roasting turkeys. Best war I ever fought. But
I don't like it.
Be lucky now, and let me know how you're getting along.