Company "A", 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion
A.P.O. # 230, United States Army
Panther tanks a specialty. You find 'em. We kill 'em.
8 October, 1944.
It has been so long since I wrote you a letter that I thought
I'd make it a big one. If I waited for you to write to me I would
probably wait until the war is over. What's the matter with you?
There you are, in the infantry, with plenty of time on your hands
nothing to do all the time but sit around drinking coca cola
and eating ice cream. I hear you don't have to get out of bed
until nine in the morning and that you only train three hours
a day. Now, in the old Army, when I joined up, sir, it wasn't
like that. We used to work for our 21 dollars a month. You ought
to be ashamed of yourself for taking life so easy.
Since you are in the infantry and will probably never see
the front line anyhow, now that the armored forces have arrived,
I will tell you what its like. All day long we sit around drinking
beer and eating beefsteak. The beefsteak is always fresh, because
our boys have a man on detail. Its called the meat detail, strangely
enough. This guy goes out every once in a while and sprays a
cow once over lightly with a Tommy gun. Then he drags in the
pieces and throws them on the fire. In the afternoon, when things
get dull, we all grab our catchers mitts and go out in the back
yard to catch flies. You'd be surprised how easy it is to snag
an 88 out of the air. The trick is to let it hit the glove sideways
so as it won't go off. One of our men, a rookie, tried to catch
an 88 by the nose. It stung his hand something awful. He never
was much good at cutting paper dolls anyhow.
I had a letter from Jack the other day. He's still laying
around back there in France someplace, probably wishing he was
in England with those two girls he used to call Barracks Bag
"A" and Barracks Bag "B". Well, maybe he
didnt call them that, but that's what they looked like. Of course
I am different. I have the sweetest little girl she lives in
the Siegfried line underneath a pillbox. We call her pillbox
Annie. She's built like a Browning machine gun, .30 caliber,
recoil operated, belt fed. I think she must be air cooled because
I havent seen any water jacket on her. I just love beautiful
girls, don't you? Tell me, do you think Ted's girl is modeled
after a BAR or no, she aint, she's modeled after a gas alarm.
Of course Gota is sure enough first cousin to a tank retriever,
as long as were on the subject.
Well, Sir, I figure the war is all over but the shooting now,
and I am making plans to go home after the war, maybe. In fact,
if President Roosevelt doesnt get this business over soon I swear
I wont vote for him in 1948 and 1952. I figure Ill get my discharge
any time now any time in the next five years. When I do Ill go
home, build me a good foxhole in the back yard. Then Ill throw
my clothes in the corner, open up a can of C-rations, carefully
flavor the stuff with sand and a couple of unidentified bugs
before gobbling it up. It'll be different after the war. We wont
be able to sleep in those soft old beds, so well just sleep on
the floor under them and be comfortable. A good pisspot sitting
beside us will make everything seem right. Except of course,
if a car should backfire suddenly, a old soldier might grab the
pot, thinking it was his helmet, and pull it down over his ears.
We must, therefore, remember to use the pot only as an ash tray.
A cigar butt behind ones ear, and a few cigarette butts in ones
hair will not be considered a breach of etiquette in the brave
new world of tomorrow.
We will also have to warn our wives not to come and wake us
up suddenly in the night, because if she does, we might leap
out of bed and shoot her forty-four times while yelling "Call
out the guard! Were being counter attacked!"
Of course, the best idea would be to sleep without a gun.
This would make me restless, but I think I could manage. Then,
all I would do to the wife when she wakes me suddenly is gouge
out an eye or two and kick her in the stomach. Of course, if
she was a WAC, I'd probably get murdered on the spot and no purple
It'll be grim going home and having to live with all them
civilians. No reveille, no first call no place to report to all
day long. I think I'd just go down town and find somebody and
report anyhow. And I could salute doormen and policemen. Don't
worry, Bub, Ill get along.
But I'll kill the first shopkeeper who tries to stick me fifteen
cents for a package of butts!
Everything is fine over here, Dick. I make the finest paper
dolls you ever seen now, and I can drink a barrel of beer without
a pause for station announcements. The only thing that bothers
me is the way these here Jerry shells whistle. I distinctly hear
them say: "i --- waaaaaant youyouyouyouYOUYOU BARRRRUMP!
Gaddammit, missed again." But they keep trying. And I hear
that these Germans have a new secret weapon too! I think I know
what it is. Shhhhhh. The German secret weapon is American officers.
Seriously, though, we have some wonderful officers. Lots of
them are young. We have one so young that he carries his hand
grenades on the handlebars of his tricycle and he insists on
taking his scooter and yo-yo along on the road marches. He didnt
mind when a Jerry shell took all his front teeth out, because
he was beginning to teeth anyhow. It felt good, he says, "and
now I can let the first Sgt. keep my teething ring."
The front is kind of quiet here now. Last night a company
of Jerries came in and yelled: "Do you guys want to fight
or shall we go up to Munich and have a beer with Hitler?"
We said, "No," we didnt want to fight that night,
but if the Germans would come back right after the election we
might give 'em a bit of a rassling match.
"Well," they said, "You guys want to snap CENSORED,
because Hitler is running out of rugs to chew and besides he
had to send his personal detail off to the front." (That,
I suppose, is the rug detail.) Hitler used to have twenty men
handy just to bring in rugs for him to chew on. But after we
got through in France, and Joe Stalin got through in Rumania,
Hitler only had four guys left in his Army, and they was fooling
around with the fraulines instead of attending to business so
he had to send his rag detail to hold the Siegfried line. Boy,
would we clean up Hitler fast if he had to call that rug detail
back to Berchtesgaden.
Well, my boy, I am enclosing a couple of photographs taken
in the blitzkrieg across France. We caught the Jerries with their
panzers down and they never did get em up. We travelled across
Europe at about forty miles an hour. Boy, didnt the infantry
have to walk to keep up with us. I saw a guy with no legs the
other day and he'd never seen action at all. He just wore 'em
off trying to keep up with the armored force. The big six foot
infantrymen who started off with us in Normandy is all little
shavers now about four feet tall. They all wore themselves down
trying to keep in sight of us. We saw lots of action and plenty
of the Germans best secret weapon that's a long pole with a white
flag tied on top of it.
You ought to get more exercise, Dick. Why don't you walk a
few miles every day.
Love, /s/ Frank
[note penciled later:] Be sure to open anything you want that
comes through the mail to me - Dick.