A Soldier's Letters to his Family

Montelle J. Imsdahl (my father) was with the 262nd Regiment, 66th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army during World War II. On December 24, 1944 (Christmas Eve), the 66th Infantry Division left the Southampton port and crossed the English Channel heading for France to serve as reinforcements during the Battle of the Bulge. Many of the troops were on the SS Leopoldville, a Belgian passenger ship converted into a troop transport. 2,500 troops from the 262nd and 264th regiments were on board. That ship was torpedoed by a German U-Boat at around 6PM. The sinking of the Leopoldville was the second largest loss of life from a troopship disaster in the entire European war. 14 officers, including two battalion commanders and 784 enlisted men were dead or missing.

With their division severally depleted, the 66th Infantry Division went to the St. Nazaire and Lorient sectors on the west coast of France to relieve the 94th Infantry Division. The 94th was at full strength, so they went to the Battle of the Bulge while the 66th Infantry Division took their place containing two pockets of German resistance who were left far behind in the wake of the retreating German army after the D-Day invasion.

My father was in Company E of the 262nd regiment and most likely would have died in the sinking of the SS Leopoldville, had it not been for the fact that he was a jeep driver and on a different ship with his jeep when the SS Leopoldville was torpedoed.

February 18, 1944

Monty entered active service in the military on February 18, 1944 where he was sent to Camp Blanding, Florida for basic training. After basic training, he went home on furlough for 30 days before traveling to Camp Rucker, Alabama to join the 66th Infantry Division in July of 1944. It is during this time at Camp Rucker and before being sent overseas that my father wrote many letters to his parents and siblings. The following is a transcript of these letters.

Sunday, July 23, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

It is now 9:30AM and I'm sitting in bed trying to write this the best I can. I have my radio playing and it works even better than before because I fixed the aerial on it. I got in this camp last night about 6:30PM and as much as I've seen, it's really a big one. For breakfast this morning, we had eggs, toast, coffee, cereal, oranges, prunes, and milk too. If the meals are going to be like that I'm going to like this camp. Last night we had steak and all the milk we could drink. I went to the P.X. and they have bowling, pool tables, baseball games, and everything you could ask for. From the little information I received about this camp they say it's pretty tough. They also said that about Blanding too and I lived through that. By the way, I've noticed a lot of mosquitoes and rats down here and it's also pretty hot.

The toughest so far has been my trip down here. I got in Chicago Thursday night about 9:20 and took a taxi to the Grand Central and I asked information when the next train would leave. They told me I had 2 minutes and I had to run down stairs thru the crossed to catch it. I made it within seconds to spare. I had a stopover in Cincinnati for about 3 and a half hours and I was lucky enough to get 3 films for my camera. I got two pictures of the station in Cincinnati. I also had another stop over from 4AM until 1:30 yesterday in Valdosta, Georgia. The train was late. Anyway, I hit Ozark last night and camp about 6:30 but I sure wish that I was home. Last night I was listening to hit parade on the radio and it sure is swell. I guess I'd go crazy if the radio quit playing.

Say, I'm going to be transferred out of here tomorrow I guess so don't write any letters to this address. I guess this is about all there is to say for now so I'll sign off.

Your Son,

Tuesday, July 25, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

Well, I've finally been assigned to a company and I got here last night. My correct address is on the envelope so write as soon as you can and let me know how everything is. Gee, I've finally got myself into a camp which makes Blanding seem like heaven and how I hate it! Our chow is a little better than what we had at Blanding but we work twice as hard. Right now I'm supposed to be on a night problem which lasts until 3AM but I haven't any fatigues so I stayed in. I'll probably get heck for it and extra detail the rest of the week but I'm so disgusted that I don't care. Every two weeks we have to hike 9 miles in one and a half hours. Next week we have a 25 mile hike and I know how tough that's going to be! We have to get up at all hours of the morning and get to bed at all hours of the night (just like I'm supposed to be doing tonight).

This morning we had to go thru 3 gas chambers with our gas masks off and put them on after we had entered. One of them was tear gas and boy, did that ever smart on your eyes! The other was chlorine gas and I don't know the other.

This afternoon I caught heck because there was one wrinkle on my bed! I also caught heck for leaving my rifle by my bed during chow this noon! Figure that out!!

Right now my radio is playing swell! Gee, it sure is nice to have one, I guess that I'd be lost without it.

We sleep in 2 story barracks here with 80 men to each barracks. It seems a lot different sleeping with so many guys around you. We also have about a million different bugs crawling on us each night which gives us extra company. There's a lot of rats and mosquitoes down here and as yet, I haven't seen any snakes around camp. We are not allowed to drink any water when we go to small towns around here because of typhoid. We either take canteens with us or drink pop. I doubt if I'll be able to go to town for quite a while because we don't get paid for another month and I've only got a little over a dollar left. I don't want to ask for money from you as long as you're going on a trip. I forgot to tell you that I put 3 gallons of gas in the car one night which cost 62 cents. I thought that I'd better tell you in case Dion asks.

Well, so far there is nothing much to write about so I'll have to sign off. I sure do miss being home and I'm already thinking of coming home next winter if I can. I'll send you some pictures in 3 or 4 weeks as soon as I take some. I guess this is all for now so good night.

As ever,
Your Son, Monty

Thursday, July 27, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I'm just writing a few lines to say hello and let you know that I finally heard from Cliff. He asked me why no one ever writes to him, but no one has heard from him for over one and a half months. I can't understand why his letters didn't get to us but just the same, I told him that we didn't hear from him.

I haven't got much to say about this darn camp so far except that I hate it something terrible. It rained for about 15 minutes this afternoon and it felt like heaven as it's so darn hot down here that I don't see how I can stand it.

I have enclosed 2 packs of meddles for you and 3 [?] chips that I forgot to leave at home when I left. They won't do me any good down here I guess. Well, there is no news and not much to write about so I'll quit for now, but write soon! How much does the Brooten River cost for a year? And how about the Muskegon Chronicle? I'd like to subscribe to one or both of them. Let me know! Well, bye for now.

Your Son,

P.S. Delorse says that she and Eddie has broken up? What do you think of that?

Saturday, July 29, 1944

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

Here it is, Saturday night and not much to do. It's been raining for about four hours straight and boy, what a relief. I guess that I like this rainy weather a heck of a lot better than the heat. For the past one and a half hours, I've been washing clothes. A whole week's washing is pretty tough to do by hand and I do realize how it must keep you busy with all the house work and stuff. I guess that a guy never does realize how busy his mother is until he has to get out and do his own work. I wish that when you go to Minnesota that dad would get a job at the Centinental when he comes back. I think that it would be easier work for you dad, no kidding, and then mom could probably take off a few days a week. In fact, you both could.

I've got some good news to tell again and I hope that it comes true. This morning, the 1st Sergeant called me into the orderly room and asked me if I could drive a car. I told him heck yes. He asked me how I'd like a job driving a jeep or a truck and if I thought I could to it. I told him that I'd love it and I knew I could to it, so Monday morning, I have to report to him at 6:45AM and find out if I get the job. I sure would like it because that would mean that I wouldn't have to go out in the field every day and in the army, a driver's job is a darn good job.

I got a letter from Loraine T. today and she says that Chester has been shipped across. He was at New Guinea for a while and was to be shipped into the war zones. Now, they haven't heard from him for a while and they think that he must be in the combat zones. She also told me that she's been going with some guy she knows for quite a while. I guess that she's stayed with them at their cottage at different times and knows them pretty well. She says the guy wants to get married and she doesn't know what to do. I doubt if she will, but if she does, she's dumb!

Today, I had a rather easy day. We got up at 5AM and had a very poor chow. We had inspection of our rifles, and all our equipment this morning which kept us busy getting ready. Our dinner wasn't any too good but it tasted pretty good. This afternoon we fell out at 12:30 and our platoon Sergeant asked for three volunteers. They don't tell you what for either, but anyway, I volunteered, what for, I didn't know. The company had to hike a few miles out of camp so I thought that volunteering for something else couldn't be any worse. All we had to do was move some stoves to the supply room and wash the windows in the mess hall. We were done about 2:30 and had the rest of the day to ourselves! Pretty nice, huh? That's just like the army is! A few days ago, the Sergeant asked if there was any one who could type. He asked for 5 guys and I thought heck with it so I stayed in formation. Anyway, 5 guys who thought they would get a job typing stepped out. About 2 minutes later they were outside mowing the grass!!!

Say mom, when the pictures get ready, will you send me one of myself so I can sign it and send to Cliff? He's sent me 2 of him already so I think he should have one of me.

Oh yes, I forgot to tell you that we had a darn good chow this evening. I had grape nectar, potatoes, meat, bread, butter, apple sauce, lettuce and tomato salad, and beans. That's the best that we've had since I left the casual detachment!

Well, I hope to take some pictures tomorrow and if I do, I'll sure to get some for you. There's more to do around camp here than there is in town so I doubt if I'll be going to town very much. The only thing is, is that it costs no matter where you go or what you do, that's why I'm sitting in now.

Well, I guess that I've written quite a little but said nothing and there isn't much to say so I'll have to quit. The lights go off in a half an hour anyway so good night. Write soon!

As ever,
Your son Monty

Monday, July 31, 1944

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

Tonight I haven't very much to write about but I have some very good news to tell you. As you know, last Saturday I was picked for a job driving a jeep. Well, today I attended the first class! The course lasts for 2 weeks and during this time, we have to learn everything about one and how to handle it! I took my driver's test today and that's the first time that I ever drove a jeep. It was a lot of fun and the Sergeant said I handled it perfectly. Many of the guys never have driven before so you can see why I did so good! I always thought that a driver's job was easy but from what I hear, they keep you pretty busy. Anyway, that will keep me out of the field and it'll be a much better job than that darn hiking!

Say, I was going to try and get some candy to send home for you but heck, we can't even buy candy in our P.X. Once in a while they have a few cheap bars that aren't as good as what you get. If I get paid in the middle of the month (we're supposed to) I'll try and buy some gum and the flash light batteries for dad!

Do you think it would be possible to send me the Muskegon Chronicle for about 6 months? I don't think that it would cost very much so when you get time, ask them, will you? Thanks.

There's really nothing to say, so I guess I'll have to quit sooner than I expected! Try and ask a few questions so I can answer! Write soon!!!

Your son,

Sunday, August 6, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I received your letter with $5 in it yesterday and I was very happy to receive it. Thanks a million!

You're right about A.P.O. is supposed to be overseas mail but in this case it is the army post office in our division, as far as I know. I may as well tell you that this division is supposed to be overseas right now, but isn't and it is supposed to go within the next 2 months. There is no need to worry about it because there are so many new men in it and they can't possibly go overseas in the condition they are right now. In the second place, I'm attached but unassigned so in other words, I might be shipped to some other camp at any time so there is no need to worry!

Well, here's more trouble and it came so fast that I couldn't tell you any sooner! Tonight I go on bivouac again at 3 o'clock in the morning. We have to carry all our equipment again, (as usual) and none of us have been told how far it is so that's what worries us! Another thing that worries me, is if and how I'm going to finish this coming week of driver's school! It is our last week and if I don't finish it, I may lose the job! This afternoon I'm going up to see the motor officer and see if he can keep me from going on bivouac! I only hope that he can.

Today is another cloudy day so I won't be able to finish the pictures I wanted to take. I guess it looks like I'll never get them taken.

I'll bet that you're busier than ever right now getting ready for the trip. I sure wish that I could go with you. Anyway, I hope the house and everything is OK and that you have a good time. I'll bet Bobby and Joan are really looking forward to going!

You mentioned something about the funeral of Harold Young! I never knew that he was sick! When I was home, he had not been to work for over 2 weeks and was drunk all the time. I only saw him once while I was at home. That sure must be tough for Mrs. Young because she's almost too old to work and she has 2 girls at home yet to take care of!

You know this darn radio I took with me? The darn thing plays for all day sometimes and then it might stop every once in a while so all I do is bounce it around and then it starts up. It sure is nice to have though!

Last week I had to take my khakis to the laundry and I won't get them back before this Wednesday. That's one reason why I was so glad to get the money you sent. It costs us 55 cents to wash and press each suit!

As you can see, I'm just trying to find something to write and I'll be darned if I can so I guess that I'll call this about all for today! Hope that you're all OK and write soon if not sooner!

As ever,
Love Monty

P.S. How's your teeth, Dad? Hope that you can wear them by now!

Saturday, August 19, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I hope that you received the money order that I mailed this afternoon. I'm going to try and send just as much as I can each month for you to save for a time when it may come in handy. Probably in another 6 months I may be able to come home again and then I wouldn't have to ask you for any money.

As you know, I went to Ozark this afternoon and I paid $6.10 for a pair of fatigues. That's really high priced, don't you think? Anyway, I had to have them! My wool socks are worn out completely and it's impossible to use cotton socks with G.I. shoes so last week I bought a pair. It cost me 50 cents and I didn't think that was any too cheap either! I went to the show and ate supper and came back to camp. After I got back here, I had to do my washing and now I'm trying to write this before lights out. Oh yes, last night our company went to a party at the U.S.O. in Ozark. It was a pretty nice place. They had swimming, games, free eats, and best of all, a dance! Gee, I had a swell time and I sure hated to leave when it was over!

Remember when I came home and you found out how little I ate? Well, you probably won't believe this but since I came to this camp, I gained 12 pounds. I just weighed myself yesterday and I hit 167 and a half pounds. It's due to the fact that we've got much better chow and by the time I leave here I hope to weigh at least 190 pounds. I'll just keep my fingers crossed!

Those cupcakes that you mailed to me made me pretty home sick. They were swell and I can say one thing, that I've never tasted anything as good as the way you make them, mom. Speaking of food, I have to get up in the morning for K.P. Ain't that terrible!?! The only day in the week that we have off and I have to work! We were very lucky to get a pass this afternoon. By the way, I forgot to turn in my pass this evening and its good until December 31, 1944 so I'm just going to keep it and use it when I want to go to town. If they catch me, I'll tell them I forgot about it!! Its 5 minutes before lights out so I'll have to finish this sometime tomorrow. Goodnight!

10:15AM Sunday

I got up this morning at 5:30 and now it is 10:15 and we've finished our work so they gave us an hour break. I have to be back at 11 so I'm just adding a few lines. This morning for breakfast, I had 2 eggs, bread, butter, 2 and a half glasses of milk, and a bowl of cereal, and bacon. Don't you think that's a pretty good breakfast?

Say, I was wondering if the pictures were ready yet. If they are, will you send me about 3 of them, (mine). And I'd also like to have the one of all of us together.

For the past week or more I've been in doubt whether I'll be able to hold my job as a jeep driver or not. As yet, I have no G.I. license and that makes it worse. Our company has two regular drivers and they are scared of losing their jobs to us so they went to the captain and told him that we weren't working at the motor pool like we were supposed to. Naturally he's got it in for us now and is trying to make us lose our jobs. Every time he tells us to fall out in the field, I go and see our motor officer and he tells us not to. Tomorrow, our company goes out on bivouac again so I don't know what's going to happen. I guess I forgot to tell you but the last time I was on bivouac, some guys in our squad caught and killed a 6 and a half foot rattle snake. Its body was about 5 or 6 inches in diameter and its head was much bigger than your fist. They took it back to camp here and are going to make a belt out of the skin! Well, so much for this letter but I'll write more tomorrow! Thanks again for the cookies!

As ever and always,
Your son, Monty

Tuesday, August 22, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I just received Dad's letter this evening and I guess that you want me to write every day. Well, I'll do my best but we are usually out in the field for 2 days and back in camp for one night and then in the field again. On the days that I'm in the field, I won't be able to write but I'll try and drop a few lines every chance I get.

Yesterday morning, we went out and stayed all day and night and came back to camp about 4 this afternoon. As we started out yesterday, a few jeeps ahead of me lagged behind in the convoy. Later on, they tried to close up and I had to drive 60 M.P.H. in order to catch them. The jeeps will only go 65 but you're not supposed to drive over 35. Last night we drove all night in a black out convoy. In other words, we don't use lights (except for a trail light). It's an awful strain on your eyes and you have a heck of a time to keep awake. I had to bite my tongue in order to keep awake!! This morning, I got lost with my jeep out in the woods. I tried my hardest to find our command post but I didn't, until about 2PM (we caught heck for it, too)!

I just got back from getting a haircut and by golly, they must be scared of sweeping the floor or something, because it feels like all the hair is down my neck!

Tomorrow, when we go out in the field, I'm going to take my camera with me and get some pictures taken. So far, I haven't even finished one film and I want to get a few pictures for everyone. I'm closing now and I have to roll my pack and wash out some socks for tomorrow! I'll write soon as I get a chance and you write soon too.

As ever and always,
Your Son, Monty

P.S. I didn't even have time to draw you a picture this time!!

Saturday, August 26, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I just thought that I'd drop a few more lines and let you know that I'm still OK and I hope the same for you. I just received a letter from Grandpa and Grandma Imsdahl and they told me that they felt pretty bad because you are unable to go to Minnesota. They have got the dresser, radio, and 3 chairs from your house now and Grandma says that for the past few weeks, she hasn't been feeling well. I guess Wallert is in Norfolk, Va. And Milbourne is in Italy now.

Well, for the past week I've done more driving in my jeep than ever before. One morning, my speedometer was jumping between 55 and 65 M.P.H. on some of the worst roads imaginable. It's really a swell job and much better than hiking and carrying a rifle and pack.

Sunday morning

I just got back from chow and thought that I'd better try and finish this letter.

Last Friday night a convoy of trucks took us to Enterprise (a small town about 8 miles away), to a dance. The 263rd Infantry Band played but they're still not as good as the 262nd. I went uptown at first and I bowled one game. I've never seen such a dump of a place in my life. Anyway, I went back to the dance and had a swell time.

We've got only about 50 men left in our company as they're all being shipped over. We're supposed to be getting a bunch of new guys in pretty soon and from what I hear, will be moving out of this camp sometime in September. I hope that we get in Illinois or California.

I'm sending you another camp paper and hope that they are of some interest to you. Have you noticed the page where it says 66th Panther Division? Well, that picture of the panther is what we wear on our shirts.

I guess that everyone is saying the same thing now, that the war will be over soon. To tell the truth, I have even guessed that it will be over on September 9th. The reason that I say that is because I've seen puzzles worked out to that date, it is only a guess but I'm sure that it's a close one.

I just got thru finishing taking pictures with my camera and if they turn out, I'll send you some.

You asked me if they didn't issue us work clothes. Yes they do, but they only give you 2 pair and it's awful hard to keep them clean. Now, I've got 3 pair so I always send one to the laundry each week and wash the other 2 pair myself. Say, would it be possible for you to send me a green pair of coveralls? Or if you can't get that, a blue (or green) pants and a blue (or green) work jacket would make a pair of work clothes too. Please let me know and I'll send you money!

I'm going to the show tonight and come back and wash clothes. That's all we do in our spare time, write letters and wash clothes!!

Well, I'll write more again tomorrow and I hope you do the same. Tell Bobby and Joan that I really enjoy their cute letters.

As ever and always,
Love, Monty

Tuesday morning, August 29, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I went over to the motor pool this morning as my jeep needed washing and when I got there, the water was shut off so I came back to the barracks. Right now its 7:30AM and I'm just going to write a few lines and let you know that everything is OK.

Last night our company went on a night problem. They made an attack by crossing a large lake and jumping out as they came ashore to surprise the enemy. Many of them got a pretty good dunking out of it.

Next week I'm going to try for a 3 day pass and if I'm lucky enough to get it, I'm going to camp McClillan to see Leroy Young. That kid that went home last Friday for his motorcycle, was on his way back here and had a wreck 22 miles on this side of Birmingham. He wasn't hurt very bad but the motorcycle was bent pretty bad!

Well, today looks like another hot day. It seems like it's never going to let up! I'll bet that it's really nice up there, isn't it?

I'm sorry, but I can't think of anymore to write so I'll sign off for now!

As ever and always,
Love Monty

Thursday, August 31, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I received your box of cookies in this evening's mail and I just finished eating some. Honestly, they taste swell, and they're still much fresher than any of the food we eat here. I gave two of them to a kid who sleeps next to me and he said they are wonderful! Thanks a million!

I don't know if this letter is going to sound right or not because I'm almost worried to death. I think that I got myself into trouble tonight. You see, at 7:45 this evening our company went on a 25 mile hike. I was supposed to be assistant driver of one jeep but that jeep didn't go with the company so I told our Sergeant about it. He told me to make the hike with the company and naturally, I hated to do that! I said, listen Sarg, I'm an assistant jeep driver, ain't I? Then why should I have to walk, if my jeep doesn't go, why should I? That's just what I told him and after I said that, I fell out anyway. Just before we pulled out he came over and hollered, Imsdahl!! I said yeah! He said, you fell out, you've got some work to do in the morning!!! Gee whiz, I'm just wondering what he's got cooked up. There's one thing certain, if he gets me in any kind of trouble, I feel sorry for him if I ever catch him in town alone! I don't like him. Yesterday, I asked him for a 3 day pass, and he said that they only gave them to the good men! Boy, he's got 4 stripes on his arm but I made him take those words back!

About the family picture, I sure hope that you will send me one of them because I haven't got a picture of all of us together. Most all the boys here have a picture on their shelf. Please send one when you send mine!

So it's nice and cool up there, huh? Gee, I sure wish that it was cool down here. Right now it's 8:25 and it's so hot that I'm still sweating sitting here writing. I sure hope it cools off pretty soon.

Yesterday, we had a very dangerous problem. The whole Regiment was in on the attack. Last night shortly after chow it began to rain pretty hard so we hurried like mad to get our tents up. After we got them up, the rain quit and I slept on top of the canvas on our trailer. I slept pretty good too. Around 8AM this morning is when the real fireworks started! Machine guns, cannons, rifles, bazookas, grenade launchers, flame throwers, and everything in the Regiment was used at once and it was really something to see.

By the way, I just got paid today and I won't be able to go to town for a few weeks but when I do, I'll send some more money home. I don't know just how much it will be but I can't send quite as much as I did last time. You see, I got $7 for ration money last time besides my pay.

Well, there's not much more to say but one thing, I sure enjoyed hearing from Bobby and Joan and I hope that they'll write again soon. I'll write them a few lines when I get time too. Well, this is all for tonight so until I hear from all of you again, Goodnight!

As ever and always,
Love Monty

Saturday, September 2, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I just received your letter this afternoon and it's really swell to hear from you so often and again, thanks for the cookies.

Gee whiz, today has been the hottest day I've ever seen. Instead of getting cooler down here, it's getting hotter and hotter. To make it all the worse, we were in a parade this afternoon. I started off the day by going over to the motor park at 7AM to get my jeep cleaned up. By 8AM it was so hot outside that my clothes were all wet with sweat! We came back to the company at 11:10AM and had to eat, change clothes, and mount our jeeps with 50 caliber machine guns and report back at 10 to 12. Boy, did we ever rush. We got our vehicles lined up and after the parade we came back and the rest of today is ours, but it's already 3:30. During this time, we're standing out in the sun with only khakis and my face and neck is so sunburnt, that I can hardly touch it!

Yesterday, (as you know) I was worried what was going to happen because I didn't go on the 25 mile hike. Well, everything turned out OK and I even went to Enterprise on pass in the afternoon! For supper, I had a great big steak and it was really good! After that, I went to a show and then back to camp. (I also took some pictures which turned out awful but I'm sending you one anyway.)


I just took time off and went to the show and now I'm going to try to finish this.

Say, do you remember when I was home I left my stationary in my radio box on the shelf in my room? Well, in or on the cover of the box, I had some addresses! If you can find them, please send me the following: Frank H Milo, Raymond Jankowskie, Carl Jensen, Kazak (spelling) and the rest that are there. Those are some swell fellows that I knew while in Camp Blanding and I'd like to write to them!

Gee whiz, we have to go on bivouac (or should I say maneuvers) again this coming Monday for a whole week! I really hate to think of it. I won't be able to answer any letters but I hope you write all the more as when we're in the field, it's tough to just see nothing.

Well, I'll close for tonight and I'll probably drop a few lines tomorrow if there's any time to write!

As ever and always,
Your son, Monty

Wednesday, September 6, 1944

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

We just got back in camp late this afternoon after being in the field since early Monday morning. What a time!! I sure wish that I was a civilian again. You know, we're out in the woods sleeping any place we can find more than we're in camp. It's not woods, it's a jungle. And those darn chiggers. I think I'll have to go on sick call in the morning to see what I can do about my legs! My legs are all full of chigger bites and I've scratched them so much that they're all bleeding from my knees down. The rest of my body is like a slight case of measles but that's lucky!

As I've already told you, it's getting hotter and hotter down here. For the last few days we've had it over 100 degrees. I guess that I'm very lucky to be a jeep driver! In the 3 days we were out, almost half of our company was taken down by the heat. Several guys were taken to the hospital and one of them went crazy. He was a very nice kid, only 18 years old. I knew him well as he slept only 2 beds away from me in the barracks.

While on our way back to camp this afternoon, I ran over a rattle snake which was every inch of 6 feet. It's the biggest one that I've ever seen and I'm sure glad that I didn't meet him while on foot!

I don't know if I should tell you this or not but don't let the kids hear this! Our division is pulling out of this camp on or before October 15th. We were told that we're going on maneuvers but that's just to throw off any suspicion! In this division, all athletics has halted, no more furloughs are being given out, our equipment is being inspected daily, and most of all, we are turning in all our dress clothes, and being told to send all our junk home. We are being equipped with combat shoes and clothing and new equipment. By the end of this month we won't have any dress clothes except probably 1 suit of O.D.s. From what we gather, we're being sent up north, probably the Aleutians. Please don't worry a bit and don't say anything to anyone as I don't know exactly what's cooking. But it is the first time that this has happened to this division. We've finished our Regimental maneuvers and passed all our overseas tests. We've even been told that the furloughs that have just been given out would be our last ones. Well, I had one in July so that left me out. Don't worry though, as nothing will be happening for quite a while and we know how to take care of ourselves too. I guess we'll all be thankful to get out of this southern country!

You asked me if I had received the 2 dollars and the cookies. Gee whiz, if you'd read my letters more careful, I've told you twice that I received the 2 dollars and thank you twice. So now I say thanks again! It's nice of you to send it to me but don't send any more unless I ask it because you know that I'm a great spender and the more I have, the more I spend! I try not to spend the money, but when I do get to town, I want to have the best time I can because that's something we don't have here in camp.

I guess there's not much more to say so I'm signing off for now and hoping to receive the pictures soon and also a family picture. I'm anxious to get them so please hurry! By the way, I sure do like the cookies you bake. (That's a hint for more)!

Well, good night and God Bless all of you and write soon if not sooner!

Love always,
Your Son, Monty

P.S. Tell Bobby that the papers I send home are one paper in two letters. I send it like that so I don't have to pay postage!

Thursday, September 7, 1944

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

Just a few more lines to say hello and let you know that I'm still kicking.

This afternoon, in fact all day and more tomorrow, we've been turning in our equipment. Something is up and that's for sure! From what I hear, we're going to get all new jeeps, trucks, etc. at the motor park. I took a trip around the division today and everyone is busy as we are so here's hoping!

I got a letter from Chester today and he doesn't say much except that it's different out there. He says that the people must be 30 years behind time!

I went to the show this evening and saw Brides Mistake and it was very good.

Well, I sure hope that you're getting to go to a few shows now and get to enjoy yourselves a little more. After all, money isn't a thing in life unless you can enjoy yourselves a little!

Say Dad, how about getting mom to bake a few more cookies and send me some. I love them!!! Sure wish I was home again and I'd work 15 hours days plus house work, meals, washing, and all. I'm not kicking about the army but I don't exactly like it, especially down here!!

Well, the lights are almost ready to go out so I'll stop for now. Please write soon and God bless all of you.

Love always,

Sunday, September 10, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear, Mom, Dad, and kids,

There's not very much to write about as usual but I'm going to say hello anyway. I received the cookies that you sent me and honestly, they were swell. I opened the box right away and ate at least half of them right there.

Well, it's been raining all day today, and what a relief! It's been so darn hot in the past week that you can't even think of feeling comfortable. Say, if this letter is all jumbled up, it's not my fault. One of the boys just bought a trumpet and nobody could play it so I started it and now everyone is singing and making so much racket that I can hardly think.

Yesterday, I went to Ozark and made my usual routine, show, dance, and a movie. I didn't have much fun at the dance as there weren't hardly any girls there.

You know those pictures that I took with my camera? They should be ready one of these days and when they are I'll send some. I'm waiting for the pictures from you to see. I hope they'll be here soon.

Last Friday night I had a detail to drive the courtesy officer around until 12 midnight. I went after the jeep at 4:30 in the afternoon and had it all to myself until 10 when I went on duty. During that time, I took in a dance at the service club, went to the main P.X. and looked the camp over. Starting tomorrow, we're getting our jeeps ready to turn in for new ones for when we move. Gee, that's going to be something.

This afternoon I took in a movie and saw Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane in some kind of a picture, pretty good! That's about all there was today on a rainy day.

One of the boys down here just bought himself a motorcycle for $450 and today he couldn't even start it, dead battery!

Say, my radio quit playing today and I don't know what to do with it. If you want me to, I'll send it back but I don't think it's worth it.

Gee whiz, I'm sorry but I can't think of a thing to write about so I'll write again tomorrow. OK?

As ever, and always,
Love, Monty

Monday, September 11, 1944

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I received the pictures you sent me and I was sure glad to see them. I don't think that I turned out very good, do you? Thanks for sending them but now I haven't any money to mail them out with. I suppose I shouldn't have done it but one of the boys I knew from Camp Blanding (and he also sleeps next to me here) had to go home on an emergency furlough so I loaned him $25. If you could send me enough money to last me 3 or 4 weeks please send it right away as I'm flat broke. I'm enclosing an air mail stamp!

Guess what. Today I took my jeep to town. No kidding! One of our Lieutenants had to catch a train and he had only one half hour so I sneaked past the gate and had to sneak back in when I came back.

Did I tell you that I'm still gaining weight? I weighed myself this afternoon and I hit 173 pounds so that goes to show that this is a better camp than Blanding.

Gee whiz, I'm sorry, but I can't think of anything else to write about right now but I'll try and add a few more lines tomorrow.

As ever and always,
Love, Monty

Wednesday September 13, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

It is now 8:15PM and we've just finished cleaning up our barracks. You know, the old G.I. method and by tomorrow I'll bet it will be just as dirty as it ever was.

This week has been like heaven to us down here because it has been cloudy ever since the rain storm Sunday and a lot cooler. Last night was the first time I slept with a blanket over me and it sure was nice. It seems as though it's going to be cool tonight too!

Well, I guess I already told you that I received the pictures you sent and they were really swell. Thanks a million. I don't think that I turned out very good though, do you?

I've been kept pretty busy for the last few days. I'm the only driver left in our company as the others are on furlough. That makes it three times as much driving for me so you can imagine how busy I am. I get up at 5:30AM and start driving at 6:30 and don't finish until between 6PM and 12PM each day. I don't mind it though as it's a lot better than hiking.

Well, our division is beginning to get filled up with more men now. Most all of our clothes are turned in and we're getting all brand new equipment. We've already received some of it but we are not allowed to use it. Everyone is busy as bees cleaning up the camp and getting ready to move. By the end of next month I do not know where I'll be. Some say we're going to stay in the states a while yet, and others say we're not. You know how rumors go around. But it is nothing to worry about yet so let's forget it. I'm signing off for now hoping to hear from you soon. Tell Bob and Joan to keep writing often!

As ever and always,
Love Monty

Sunday, September 17, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, and kids,

I wrote a letter to you yesterday but I forgot to mail it so I'll just write another instead.

Gee whiz, I was surprised to hear that Dad left for Minnesota. I'll bet that you wanted to go just as bad and I wish that I could have gone. I sure hope that he has a good time and also gets some work done too. When you write, don't forget to say hello to him for me. By the way, how long is he staying there?

You know, I've been doing so much work lately (driving) that I'm sick. I'm working all hours of the day and night. Yesterday, they woke me at 4AM and I didn't finish until 8:30PM and I'm also driving today. In other words, I haven't any time to myself.

Tomorrow morning we leave for the field at 7AM. I don't know why we're going but I guess they are fumigating all the buildings before we leave this camp. Boy what a headache that is. My jeep has a few burned out lights on it and I know I'll get in trouble over it. It's not my fault though because I've never had time to get it fixed yet!


Hello again, I've been so darn busy all day that my head is swimming. This morning, our captain started giving us speeches on the care of our equipment, military discipline, etc. and has been constantly telling us to be the best of soldiers in every way possible. He has told us that we are going on maneuvers the 15th but he says if we put 2 and 2 together, we'll know that we're going somewhere else. He says that it's no use to kid ourselves anymore because the time has come and we're going to make the best of it. For the last 3 or 4 weeks we have been working more and less time off. That's why it's been so hard for me to write to you. From now on it's going to be harder and harder to write so when you don't hear from me, well, you'll know that I'm either too busy or too tired.

The weather down here seems to be getting a little cooler now and it sure is nice. I've been dreaming of you every night before I fall asleep hoping that I'll be able to get home again before we leave. I guess you're right when you say one never knows how much he misses another until he is gone. I'm really not very far from home now but in another month and a half, I guess I'll be quite a ways. All I can say is don't worry because I'll get along OK and everything will turn out OK. Well, I've got to roll my pack, clean my rifle, bayonet, gas mask, and get ready to leave in the morning so I'll stop for now. Please write soon and often. God bless all of you.

Forever and always,
Love Monty

Sunday, September 24, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom and kids,

I guess that I'd better write now while I've got the chance to write. As you know, I was out on a problem all last week and it sure was hell. We left Monday morning and the first wink of sleep I had was on Wednesday morning from 9 o'clock till 11:05, only 2 hours and 5 minutes. That night I grabbed about 5 hours sleep and it was like heaven. It wasn't only the lack of sleep that got me down but it has turned cooler the last few weeks and we darn near froze to death at night. Thursday, it rained all day and that night we had to sleep with wet clothes, we always sleep on the bare ground too. Starting Tuesday, we leave camp and go on maneuvers about 200 miles from here. That's going to be about the roughest ordeal we've had yet. It will mean that I won't be able to write very many letters too but just the same, I hope that you keep writing and try to send me different kinds of food and candy every other day if you can.

You know this last week I darn near got myself in a lot of trouble! One morning, a whole platoon of our company didn't get no chow for breakfast or dinner. That made me mad so I hopped in my jeep and went back to camp after 90 sandwiches for them. The captain was looking all over for me and when I got back, he really gave me hell!! On top of that, only 10 minutes later while I was taking him thru the woods to Regimental headquarters, I ran my left front wheel in a fox hole. Boy, was he mad. I thought for a moment that I'd lose my job but there are no other drivers at that time so he couldn't get rid of me. I was really scared!

Monday evening,

Hello again! I'm going to try to say a few more lines anyway. Right now everyone is running around like mad trying to get their equipment ready for in the morning. We leave around 4AM and will be gone from camp for a month. It's going to be a lot of hard work and I suppose some fun in a way. Now that the weather is cooler we're liable to freeze at night. I've got my jeep sitting outside all ready to go.

Say mom, about going across, let's forget it for a while because I doubt if it will happen for a while yet. You know what, two nights in a row now, I've dreamed that I was home on furlough! Wouldn't it be swell? By the way, I may get another one!

I'm going to take some paper with me so I may be able to write while I'm on maneuvers too. I'll try anyway.

Mom, I hope that you received my birthday card I sent you. I was broke at the time so I couldn't buy you anything. Hope you like the pictures!

Say do you know that Loren Olsen? He lives near Brooten. Well, him and Betty Fauskee (Abner's sister) are married. They're both just kids too!

Say, before I stop I want to remind you to try and send me some food, a little canned goods, cake, candy, etc. Try to send one or 2 each week anyway! All for now!

As ever,
Love, Monty

P.S. Write often as you can! Say hello to Dad.

Wednesday, September 27, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Dad,

Hello and how are you? Mom told me that you went to Minnesota and it sure surprised me. Gee, I wish I was there with you. Have you done any fishing yet? Or pheasant hunting? I hope you have and I know that you can hit them, right? Besides that, I was wondering how the house, garage, and everything else was. I suppose it must be pretty tough looking by this time.

Well Dad, you'll never be able to guess where I am right now. All last week I went thru one of the toughest weeks I had in the army. We left camp a week ago last Monday. From the time I left camp until the following Wednesday evening, I didn't get one wink of sleep. Boy, was I tired. I caught a cold and it made me dipsey and sick. That's what we're going thru. We're on maneuvers right now and won't get back until around the last of October. After that we're supposed to have a month off and then leave camp again. There's a lot of funny work going on around here and it looks fishy to me.

This morning the men are making an attack riding on tanks and then they get off and fight when they find the enemy. Last week while the 262nd regiment was in the route march to the front lines, we were bothered quite a lot by airplanes. They use flour sack bombs instead of real ones and if you're hit, it's just too bad. I got chased several times by an airplane. We usually will park our jeeps and trucks under a tree or something so they can't see us but when we're on the road and they see us it's pretty hard to lose them. They usually strafe the roads and if you're not awake, it's tough to lose them.

Well, Dad, I sent a few snapshots of myself back home to Mom. Some of them turned out OK.

I have to close for now as we're pulling out but I'll write again later. Try and drop a few lines when you're not busy.

As ever,
Your son Monty

Friday, September 29, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I just received a letter from Dad yesterday saying that he was back home again and darn it, the day before, I wrote to you in Minnesota. Yep, I've only seen camp once in the last two weeks and I won't be able to see it again before the last part of October. Right now it is just getting light enough for me to see so I can write this. I've got one pair of fatigues soaking in my steel helmet so later on I can wash them. It's a cloudy day today and not very good for washing. It looks like rain. I only hope it doesn't. Yesterday, I got stuck several times because of all the rain and mud around here. These jeeps really go thru a lot of hell. We don't get to do much maintenance on them but they still pull us thru. I went through a mud hole yesterday so deep that I got mud inside the cab, it was more like quick sand. One of the jeeps turned over and laid on its side. All we did was push it back on its wheels and it took right off again. I've found a pretty good place to sleep at night now. Instead of sleeping on the ground like everyone else does, I sleep on the top of my trailer. It's not as damp as on the ground and there aren't so many bugs and insects there either.

So you're still planning on going back to Minnesota after the war. I don't blame you one bit for it and in many ways, I'd just as soon go. It's different for you though, dad can get a job up there pretty easy because everyone knows him and I know that it would be home again for mom and the kids. For me, I don't know. I could never find a worthwhile job up there, probably in Minneapolis or St. Paul. But I figure on being in the army for at least 2 or 3 more years. You see, this division is going across but when, none of us know. Now that the war is nearly over means that when we do go across, we'll have to stay there for a while as an army of occupation. When I do get back, I intend to start some business of my own in Muskegon (after I make enough by working at the garage or someplace.) Mainly, a used car lot! If it is too tough and I can't make a go of it, I'll probably stay in the army a while longer. I don't know what I'll do! I sure wish that I was out of here though.

Say hello to everyone, this is all for now as there is nothing to write about!

Friday evening, September 29, 1944

Dearest Mom, Dad, and kids,

Just received a letter from you this evening and I was awful darn glad to hear from you. I also enjoyed Joan's letter, she writes awful cute letters, so does Bobby. I sure do get home sick out here. All week long I've done nothing but lay in the woods here by myself and think of home! It makes me feel pretty bad. I can't even write letters anymore cause there's nothing to write about.

Right now its 8:30PM and so dark out. I'm using a candle to see to write this. Probably you won't be able to even read it. Tonight around 10PM I have to take my jeep up after food rations. This army is nuts, everything is done as if it was in actual combat. When we get thru the chow line we wear gas masks, belt, rifle and all and have to keep 5 yards away from the next man always. Sometimes I'm ready to quit and refuse to move. I'd probably get thrown in the brig like others have been if I do.

You'll have to excuse this pencil and paper as its all I have to write with. Darn this war!!! It seems like every night I dream of home. I can't help it either. I think of it so much that it's natural. For gosh sakes, please don't worry about me going across. There's plenty of time to worry when the time comes. After we get back in camp I'm going to start bucking for a discharge. You know, if I tell them I get pains around my heart, they might believe me and let me out.

Heck, I don't blame you for wanting to go back to Minnesota. I guess that's the best place anyway!

Sunday, October 1, 1944

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I guess this isn't very nice paper to write a letter on but it will have to do as it's all I have. I managed to find an ink pen anyway.

Well, I hope that all of you are feeling better than I am. I'm getting to be pretty disgusted over this darn army life, especially out in the woods all the time. It's been getting to be cooler nights now and a heavy dew always settles and we're pretty wet and cold by morning. I miss chow almost every morning because we have to sleep in our jeeps a few miles from the company.

Today is Sunday and you'd think that we'd have an easy day but that's nothing to the army. I've worked harder today than any other day.

Say mom, I wish that you'd send me a few things to eat once in a while, while I'm away from camp. I get awful darn hungry out here and they don't feed us much now. How about it?

Well, there's nothing to write about except that I might take a notion to come home sometime again. I can't say when but I'll just hope! All for now but write soon!

As ever and always
Love, Monty

Wednesday, October 4, 1944

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

Just a few more lines to say hello and let you know that everything is OK. I hope that everything is alright with you.

I received your package of cupcakes last night and honestly, I've never tasted anything so good in all my life. I was pretty hungry when I got them so they only lasted 2 minutes. I wish that you could send a few more when you send them. Anyway, thanks a million for them!

There's not very much to write about except that we're still out here in the woods running problems the same as ever. But something is up because we're using tanks, airplanes, artillery, etc. in their problems and they wouldn't give training like that for nothing!! Right now our company and Regiment is making an attack. (I am sitting in my jeep taking it easy but I can see everything that is going on.) The artillery fire is beginning to lift now and the M4 A3 tanks (medium) are advancing with infantry men right behind. It's really fun to watch these problems. It's just the same as you see in news reals.

Well, by this time I guess it must be pretty nice weather up north. Right now, I'm not kicking as the last month has been much easier on us than this summer. It still gets hot down here but nothing like it was last summer. The nights are really beautiful. I usually sleep on the trailer or ground as I hate to put up a tent every night. The moon and stars are shining and it gets nice and cool. We do sleep pretty nice!

Yesterday I had a very close shave, darn near turned my jeep over. I came down a real narrow road (bumpy as heck) and was doing close to 50MPH when I came to a spot where the road was washed out. I hit the hole and it threw the jeep about 5 feet in the air and I landed sideways. The jar knocked off my helmet and almost threw me out of the jeep. I guess I must be really lucky to come out of it OK and it didn't even hurt the jeep. I kept right on going!

Say, no one has said anything if you've received the snaps I sent of me. I know they weren't much good but I'll try and get some good ones when we get to camp again. Gee whiz, I can't think of anything else to write so I'll have to leave this until I think of something.

Well, here I am, back to our company area waiting for chow. I guess that's the most welcome thing around here, besides mail call. Speaking of mail, I haven't answered any letters for quite a while now and so, I don't get much mail. I'll admit that it's pretty lonesome out here and I sure wish that I could leave this army. Probably, I'll be lucky enough to get another furlough. From what I hear, they've raised the furlough list to July 15 so that means I'm qualified too. I'm sorry, but I really can't write when there's nothing to write about. I guess I'll have to close for now but write soon and as often as you can. Bye for now.

Your son,

Sunday, October 8, 1944

Dear Mom, Dad, and kids,

I just received your letter yesterday from dad and it's sure darn nice to hear from you. Since I came out here in the woods (jungles if you care to call it) I haven't received hardly any mail. I haven't been able to answer any so I guess it's my fault. So far I've received 2 of your packages which I surely appreciated and I should get the third one today, I hope! If you can, keep on sending packages as we get awful hungry out here. I haven't seen camp now for about 3 weeks so you can see how lonesome it's getting to be. From what I hear, we're going to stay out here until we get ready to ship. None of us know how long that will be, of course that's only a rumor but a lot of them are true too!

Last night when I was going to sleep I was day dreaming about Dad's letter. I was thinking of the hunting and fishing and the house and everything. I do wish that I could go there right now! Dad, when you were there, did you get to see Harold and Cora, Gust, W. Odell, and everyone like that? I was wondering. I'll bet that they wouldn't even know me right now, especially in a uniform! Gee, I sure wish that I could get back home again! Where is Jim and Florence, Clarence and Verna? I don't even know who lives in Brooten anymore.

Would you care to know what kind of a day we put in out here. This is a week which was untactical! We get up in the morning at 5:30AM. (That's for the Company, I usually get up before that.) We have chow at 6, scrambled eggs (soft), coffee, oatmeal usually. Their eggs are terrible and very few guys will eat them! From then on, the company runs the problems. Attacking hills and different objectives. We have tanks, anti-air craft weapons, artillery, and everything which is used in combat. Even airplanes! My jeep is usually run ragged thru these problems. We eat chow at any hour between 12 and 6 PM. When in the area we usually have potatoes, bread, meat, sometimes beans, and lettuce or celery, we drink water! For supper we usually have nearly the same. Many times we run night problems. My job as a jeep driver has no set hours, many times I don't get any sleep for 2 days at a time and I'm so tired that I fall asleep driving. That's when they have to let you sleep.

Under a tactical week, things are run much different. The only time we eat is around 10:30PM and 3AM. We carry 3 sandwiches with us to last us all day! At night everything is quite, no talking, no lights, etc. In the daytime, everything is camouflaged. How do I drive at night? I drive without lights! And I'm not kidding when I say it's really tough and tiresome! The men usually have to sleep in fox hoes when they get a chance to sleep. I usually sleep right in my jeep! By the way, running these problems are not as simple as you think. Every kind of a gun we have, we use real ammunition in it. You see, that is why we are being trained so well. You should see those tanks. Nothing can stop them (at least very easy). They use a 75 and 76 mill gun plus 50 and 30 caliber machine guns. We use 60 and 81 mill mortars, bazookas, grenades, gas, etc. It really makes a lot of noise!

Well, it's two weeks today since I've had a bath. I feel dirty too!

Say wouldn't it be nice if I could get home on my birthday on furlough? I think maybe that I will get home around that time.

Say, I forgot to tell you that the kid I loaned that money to came back. Heck, he paid me the same day he came back which was about 3 weeks ago! I knew he would, that's why I didn't worry. Now when I go home I'll borrow some from him if I need it!

The mail is just going out now so I'll have to close. Write soon!

As ever and always,
Your son, Monty

Sunday, October 15, 1944

Dearest Mom, Dad, and kids,

Tonight, I'm writing a letter to you and I guess it will be loaded with bad news unless I'm awful darn lucky. I guess that it's best that I tell you ahead of time so here goes. Yesterday at 6AM we were called back to camp as fast as we could get there. All furloughs and leaves have been cancelled. As soon as we hit camp we started to clean old equipment and turn it in. Since then, we have drawn practically all new equipment and packed it in duffel bags including our clothes. All day today I have been working on my jeep trying to get it back in good shape as we are turning all jeeps, trucks, etc. in in the morning. From what I've just said I guess you can make out that something pretty big is up, but we're on a 48 hour alert and are supposed to leave this camp within 15 days. That's no rumor this time so I guess I'll probably be sailing. The new rumors are that we'll leave from New York. However, none of us know if that's true or not.

I have no good news to write. I've received all the packages you've mailed and I really did appreciate every single one. It's no use to mail me anymore. One of these days I'll be sending all my extra clothes and stuff home, what little I have left.

So far I've been terribly busy and have very little time to myself. I guess I'll have to close for now and write more tomorrow night. Please don't feel bad about this as I still haven't left yet. None of us know when we're going and I guess will have another overseas physical before we leave, I don't know! Bye for this time. Please write soon and real often.

With all my love,
Your Son, Monty

Thursday, October 19, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dearest Mom, Dad, and kids,

I've got about one half hour to kill before I go to work so I thought I'd try and write a few lines. There's really not much to talk about. Last night the captain gave 50% of our company a 4 hour pass to go to town. That hardly gives you time to even get there. I didn't care. I went to town and didn't come back until 3AM (I was supposed to be back at 11:30). Us guys around here are beginning to run the place now. Any Sergeant, Lieutenant, or any officer who says anything to us, well if we feel like doing it we will, otherwise we don't. It's getting to be a pretty rough place here. The officers don't dare say much to us.

Well, I've got another sore arm today. They started giving us shots again yesterday and sure enough I had to take them.

Yes, I've received your packages regular and I really have appreciated every one. Thanks a million only now I guess you'd better stop mailing them to me because we're supposed to leave camp next week. I believe that we're going to head for N.Y. Guess I don't care just where I go!!! Heck, it won't last long anyway and I'll be back before you know it! Guess I'll have to close for now. Nothing to write about anyway! Please write soon and often!!

With all my love,
Your son, Monty

Sunday, October 22, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dearest Mom, Dad, and kids,

Here it is, my last Sunday in Camp Rucker. It is a very beautiful morning. The sun is coming up nice and bright and it will be a day that I will remember for a very long time. The reason I'm using Air Corps stationary is because I'm writing this in the U.S.O. in Dothan. I got a pass last night around 6 and being this is our last few days here, I wanted to see town for the last time.

You know, I still can't believe that I'm leaving this country. It doesn't seem possible, does it?! When I stop and think of not being able to see you for a long time it makes me almost cry. I have to think of something else. In a week or two you'll receive a card from the war department with my new address. I already know that it will be N.Y. so that probably means we're going straight to France. I hate to think of it but I guess I have no choice.

You asked me whether I would drive a jeep when I get across! I'm sorry to say but I don't think I will. I turned my jeep in last week and the very next day I was assigned to a rifle platoon. That day we made a 30 mile hike and it was the first hike I made since last June so you can just imagine how it affected me. I didn't enjoy it!

I just glanced out the window for a moment and it is really beautiful. I can't help but think of the days in civilian life. Water, food, bed, whenever you want it. That's really something to be thankful for and no one will ever realize it as much as us in the infantry!

I believe I will be paid in this camp before I leave but my next pay will be overseas. That's one thing I want to tell you. I will be drawing $60 per month while over there. $7.50 bonds, $6.40 insurance. I think that's all they take out but I made out an allotment to you, and each month you will receive a check for $40. If you ever need the money go right ahead and take it. Otherwise if you want to put it in the bank it's OK too.

I'll probably be gone for a few years so by that time I should have saved over a thousand bucks. At the present, I am qualified for overseas duty and within a month I guess I'll be quite a ways from here. There is always a chance of me not going too so I guess we'll just have to wait and see! I guess this is all for this time. Bye now. God bless you and good luck. Please write soon and often!

As ever and always,
With all my love,

P.S. Received the cupcakes yesterday. They weren't as fresh as the others but they still tasted swell.

Wednesday, October 25, 1944
Camp Rucker, Alabama

Dearest Mom, Dad, and kids,

Enclosed is a picture of me and two of my buddies. Take a look at the pictures and you'll think that we're the 3 musketeers. When we got it, we darn near died laughing, just a good joke!

Last night I sent a package which you should receive C.O.D. It contains most of my clothes that I have, however, I did not have room to send all of them. Probably some of them will fit Dad. If so, you might as well make use of them 'cause they're pretty small for me already! I also sent the family picture as I was afraid I might lose it, also a picture of my girl. I don't believe that you've ever met her but I assure you that she's wonderful!

Most of us have our duffel bags all complete now. All our old clothes turned in, and we're all ready to leave. None of us are supposed to know just when or where we're going.

Thursday, 26

By the looks of everything, we should be leaving this Saturday or Sunday, and everything in favor of N.Y. By the time you receive this letter, I'll probably be up near there and beginning to worry where to after that. I hate to say it but unless orders are changed, I've only got around 3 weeks left in the states.

Here's something that I'd better tell you about the package I sent home. Don't mention a thing about these khakis pants and shirt that were in the package to anyone. Don't even say that they fit dad swell or anything like that in your letters to me. Because they will start to censor all our mail in and out from now on when we hit N.Y. and if they found out that I sent any G.I. clothes home it would be tough on me! From now on I guess I won't be able to tell you anything, which I have done during the day. Now that the mail will be censored we better watch what we write! So much for that!!

As you will notice, I started to write this letter yesterday and didn't get very far so that goes to show how busy we are. Tonight I was very lucky, I drew guard duty only I drive the officers of the day around instead of walk on guard. Pretty good, huh? Right now I'm not driving so I can just sit here and write.

By this time I guess that you've received the package I mailed and saw my girl's picture. It's probably a surprise to all of you but don't you think that she's nice?! She works at the telephone company as an operator there in Muskegon. When I get the chance, I'll have you meet her. When I get the chance, what am I saying? Gee whiz, you know that it's not going to be so easy going across and then to think of staying a few years. I'm beginning to wonder just what I'm getting into. I did have a feeling that I'd eat Christmas dinner in a foxhole but now it looks as though I'll eat it before my birthday! Say, doesn't that sound nice, celebrating my birthday sitting in a foxhole!

I am sending all my papers, drivers license, etc. which was in my pocket book as we are not allowed to have anything in them except our money and a G.I. identification card. Only 5 minutes ago an order came down which put us on the alert. All men are to be ready to leave at any time but I still feel that it will be Saturday before we do go.

There's an awful lot of guys down here that have their parents or girlfriends here to see them before they leave. It sure does make me homesick and I'd give anything to get home again, only if it were a day! I guess you know how I feel! Anyway, we'll just have to wait but the next time I come home it will be for good. That's what I'm looking forward to. Dad and I can go fishing and hunting again. It's a real dream huh?

Well, by the looks of everything, I'd better call this quits for tonight. It's 9:30 already and I have to make my rounds again at 12. Bye for this time, please keep writing. God bless all of you and good luck always!!

With all my love,

November 2, 1944
Postmarked from N.Y.

Dearest Mom, Dad, and kids,

It's hard for me to try and write at a time like this and I suppose that you're worrying quite a bit about me. I know right now I'm thinking of home more than I ever have before. Remember when I was home on furlough last July and said not to worry. I'll be home again?! I never thought that the time would come so soon but just the same I still say I'll be home again! None of us know just how long that will be but I'll say this much that I'll give them all the hell I can when the time comes and after that, I'll be home for good! That's the day all of us want to see again. All we can do right now is pray and hope that it comes soon.

I just got a letter from Cliff tonight which makes me feel terrible. He's just been transferred to another outfit and he expects to go across soon. It's funny, we both were called in the same day, and after being together for so long, we were sent to two different camps a long way apart, and now we [this part of the letter was cut out by Army censors] the same time. He's a heck of a swell guy and I know that we're going to meet again someplace. By the way, he said to say hello to all of you!

Well, how's everything going on back home? Hope everything is OK. Is Joan and Bob still playing the sick games to get out of school? Ha. That's something I haven't done since I left Camp Blanding! By the way, the army has a sick call every morning and it collects most of the gold bricks that way. I liked the idea until I left Blanding.

Well, I've got quite a bit of work to do this evening so I'll close for now. Write real soon and often. Bye for this time and God bless all of you!

With all my love,
Your son,

November 15, 1944

The 66th Infantry Division left N.Y. and sailed to England. Monty's company was stationed at Weymouth England preparing for battle before going to France.

December 24, 1944

The 66th Infantry Division crossed the English Channel to serve as reinforcements during the Battle of the Bulge. One of their troop ships was torpedoed by a German U-boat and many of the men in Monty's company were killed. Monty survived because he was on a different ship with his jeep.


Monty saw heavy combat in France until the war ended in May of 1945. After the war, he was transferred to the 42nd Infantry Division where he drove truck delivering groceries to German prisoners of war in Austria.

June 8, 1946

Monty was discharged from the Army on June 8, 1946 after serving 29 months in the military.

This is the family picture that Monty kept asking his mother to send to him in his letters.

In 2015, we made a video featuring an interview with Monty about his experiences during WWII.

The men from Company E, Camp Rucker, Alabama. Many of them died when their troop ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat on December 24, 1944.

Monty and his jeep in France, 1945.

In February of 1946, Monty met up with one of his buddies in Marseille, France. I believe he is with Cliff, who he writes about in his letters to his family.

Monty sailing home from Europe in May of 1946 to be discharged from the Army.

Click hear to read the history of the 66th Infantry Division.


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