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Dear Alice - A brother’s WWII Letters to his Sister at Home...


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Alice M. Hawkes was born 1916 in Poughkeepsie, New York the daughter of Leonard R. Hawks and Margaret “Maggie” Connolley. In 1936 Alice married Eugene R. Buechele in Poughkeepsie. Their son and my brother Alvin was born in 1939.You will see Alice referred to as Alice, Al, Sis and Sweetheart in these letters. My father will be referred to as Gene and Pal and my brother Alvin, as Alvie, Pal and Butch. Herbert M. Hawkes was born 1923 and his brother Foster L. Hawkes was born 1906. When both her brothers went off to war in 1942, Alice’s Baby Brother and her Big Brother were never far from her heart and always in her prayers. Herb was only 19 and Foss was 36. When I found these letters I knew they had a story to tell me. Since the majority of the letters I found were from Herb, I knew that my mother and Herb had a special family bond. Shortly after finding these letters, I became an avid genealogist with the guidance of a “second cousin twice removed” in California whose father and my mother were first cousins. I doubt my mother ever knew this cousin but when my “second cousin twice removed” and I met, a wonderful family history began to unfold before my eyes and I knew these letters would play an important part in that history.


As I began to transcribe these letters, the family trials and emotional upheavals of WWII as well as the war itself and the changes it brought in peoples lives began to reveal itself to me. Mom had already lived through the “Great Depression” and now was to experience the heartbreak of war and its repercussions. As I cleaned out my mother’s attic, the memories cried out, “Please Someone Remember Me”. Step by Step as I sorted through over 50 years of memories in my Mom’s house I found almost every item mentioned in the letters from Herb that had been sent to my Mother, Father and Brother and came across pictures depicting my Uncles in their uniforms, pictures with my brother, my grandmother, my mother. I knew that somehow I had to put all this together so I would know what it was like for them all in the days, months and years just before my birth in 1946 and further to preserve this history for family records and future generations. I firmly believe that we can’t know where we are going unless we know from where we came. I wish to thank Footnote.com for the opportunity to preserve these letters in digital form and to share these letters not only with family but with others who may find their historical nature of interest.


Family Ties are Lasting Bonds, Woven in Each Heart - To Keep a Family Close in Thought, Together or Apart.


With Love From Ginny - Yes Uncle Herb - I Remember Both You and Mom Fondly

Daughter of “Gene” and Alice Buechele

Granddaughter of Leonard and “Maggie” Hawkes

Niece of Herbert "Hawkeye" and Foster "Foss" Hawkes

  • Poughkeepsie
  • 29 Dec 2007

About the 81st Airdrome Squadron

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About the the Army Air Corp - 81st Airdrome Squadron - 8th & 9th Air Force

An “outfit” about 250 men strong who were together for the better part of three years according to Harold "Chappy" Chapman.

Herbert M. Hawkes “Hawkeye” - Communications Clerk


I wish to thank the following of Herb’s comrads for information they have shared with me on the 81st:


Junior "Sack" Braden

Harold “Chappy” Chapman

William "Bill" Clark

Bernard “Bernie” Davis

James Ellerbee

James "Jim" Fogarty

Joseph Gravish

Guido “Pete” Petracco



I hope I haven’t inadvertently left anyone out - If there are others interested in the 81st Airdrome Sqaudron - Please leave your comments here.


The 81st was a part of the, Army Air Force, Third Army, Eighth and later Ninth Air Force, WWII. Other information I have been able to locate notes the 81st was assigned to the 19th Tactical Air Command - which was air support for General Patton's 3rd Army.

The way I understand it the Airdrome Squadron would set up temporary make shift airfields where damaged planes could land for temporary repairs, enough to get them to a larger base for the major repairs.

Herbert Hawkes was in communications. Along with James Ellerbee, Herb learned what was called DF. I have no idea what that stood for. They directed fighter plane and bomber pilots to their air strip by coded radio transmissions. Planes and bombers that were in trouble after being shot up were guided to their base for temporary repairs.

As “Chappy” put it . . . .Regarding the 81st . . . .

"the purpose of the 81st was to operate front-line crash strips and repair planes that had been shot up or incurred some malfunction that necessitated emergency care. Care good enough to at least get them back to a more permanent base. Our strips were usually nothing more than a hastily cleared strip of land covered with metal mesh to give the war birds some support. Frequently, we were near enough the action that enemy artillery was over our heads and the planes on both sides were subject to considerable ack-ack." [ack-ack - slang for the shrapnel created when anti-aircraft shells explode at altitude]

regarding the Communications Section of the 81st. . . . “Their job was to keep the plane's radio systems in working order as well as ground communications between our base and headquarters . This is simplifying a complex job, but I think you can get the picture. Planes have to communicate with each other and with the ground. And as for ground to ground, Ma Bell was nowhere to be found.”


[The picture attached here as Image 2 is - somewhere in France 1944 - shared courtesy of "Bill" Clark - Thank You Bill - L to R - Dick Shaughnessy - Bill Clark - "Hawkeye" Hawkes - According to Bill "This enlarged picture shows that we have our eyes closed, I guess the sun was strong." If you view this image in the "filmstrip" by double clicking on it, Zoom Out (-) numerous times to clarify the image.]

  • Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY
  • 29 Dec 2007

81st Airdrome Squadron - Chronology

Places where the 81st was stationed which when correlated to the letters may add insight into them.


The way this outfit moved around, it is no wonder Alice's letters were often delayed in reaching Herb.  Herb often mentiond these delays in his letters and how at times the mail was more prompt that at others. 

81st Airdrome Squadron
United States Army Air Force
Ninth Air Force

June 2 - August 14, 1943
Chatham Army Air Field,
Georgia, USA

August 15 - August 20, 1943
Camp Shanks, NY, USA

August 20 - August 25, 1943
"On the High Seas"

August 26, 1943
Arrived in Scotland

August 27 - Sept. 19, 1943
A A F Station No. 150
Colchester, Essex, England

September 19 - Oct. 19, 1943
R A F Fullbeck
Fullbeck, Lincolnshire, England

October 19 - Oct. 27, 1943
A A F Station 486
Newbury, Berkshire, England

October 27 - November 19, 1943
R A F Station Zeals
Zeals, Wiltshire, England

November 19 - December 3, 1943
A A F Station 159
Colchester, Essex, England

December 3 - December 18, 1943
A A F Station 471
Keevil, Wiltshire, England

December 18, 1943 - January 5, 1944
A A F Station 486
Greenham Common
Newbury, Berkshire, England

January 5 - April 9, 1944
A A F Station 195
Warmingford Essex, England

***March 1 - March 8, 1944
4 days Enroute and 4 days Maneuver
Torquay, England***

April 9 - June 12, 1944
A A F Station 452
Stony Cross, Hampshire, England

June 13 - June 14, 1944
Marshalling Area No. 5
"Somewhere in England"

June 15 - June 16, 1944
Going from England to France
Embarked from Weymouth, England
Transport (LST)

June 16 - July 6, 1944
Airstrip No. 4
Longueville, France

July 6 - July 26, 1944
Airstrip No. 12
Near Balleroy, France

July 26 - August 12, 1944
Airstrip No. 6
Near St. Mere-Eglise, France

August 12 - August 24, 1944
Airstrip A-29
Near St. James, France

August 24 - September 2, 1944
Airstrip A-39
Near Chataudun, France

September - October 2, 1944
Airstrip A-62
Near Reims, France

October 2 - Oct. 21, 1944
Airstrip A-94
West of Metz, France

October 21 - December 18, 1944
Quartered in old French Barracks in
City of Metz, France

December 19 - December 23, 1944
Stationed in City of Metz, France

December 23, 1944 - Jan. 25, 1945
Airstrip A-64
Near St. Dizier, France

January 25 - March 21, 1945
Airstrip A-92
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

March 21 - April 19, 1945
Airstrip Y-44
Maastrich, Holland

April 19 - June 6, 1945
Airstrip Y-80
Wiesbaden, Germany

June 6 - July 6, 1945
Airstrip Y-75
Frankfurt, Germany

July 6 - August 25, 1945
Airstrip Y-74
Frankfort, Germany

August 25 - October 12, 1945
Airstrip Y-80
Wiesbaden, Germany

October 12 - Novermber 10, 1945
Old German Quarters
Eschwege, Germany

November 10 - November 12, 1945
Train from Koln, Germany to LaHarve, France

November 12 - November 18, 1945
Camp Phillip Morris
LaHarve, France

November 19, 1945
Sailed from LaHarve, France

November 27, 1945
Arrived Camp Shanks, NY, USA


  • Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY
  • 29 Dec 2007

Thursday January 14, 1943 - The First Letter

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Postmarked "Chillicothe, MO - Jan 15, 1943 - "Free"

The "Headquarters - Training Detachment - Army Air Forces Technical Training Command - The Chillicothe Business College - 1200 Monroe Street" picture of "Class 10 - Army Air Forces - Supply School - Mar 20 '43" is provided courtesy of Bernie Davis, Bouckville, NY 13310 - provided to Ginny August 2001- Thank You Bernie!

I have annotated Herb's picture in the photo attached as Image 4 - I would invite others to do the same if they can identify others.

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 14 Jan 1943

Friday January 15, 1943 - A Dollar for Alvie

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Postmarked Jan 15, 1943 Chillicothe, MO

Dear Al,
Had a few extra dollars & so I thought you could get Alvie a toy. . . . . . .

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 15 Jan 1943

Monday January 18, 1943 - No Passes or Furloughs Issued Here

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Postmarked Chillicothe, MO - Jan 1[?], 1943

4 pages - 2 to Alice - 2 to Gene

. . . . . . .No Passes or furloughs issued here.  Don't tell Mom.  After I get out of here I may get home, I sure hope so. . . . .

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 18 Jan 1943

Sunday January 24, 1943 - The Bike Needs a Little Fixing

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Postmarked Chillicothe, MO - Jan 25, 1943

. . . . .How does the bike go. It needs a little fixing but has real good tires.  It might be a good idea to get a couple extra tires while you can (Montgomery Ward ($1.50) or so.. . . . .

. . . . . .Get Alvie anything you want.  I was thinking of Alvie & so I thought it would be nice to get him something.  I really think the world of him.



  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 24 Jan 1943

Sunday January 31, 1943 - Might they stop selling tires?

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Postmarked Chillicothe, MO - Feb 1-1943

. . . .The bicycle always did pump hard but the balloon tires have a lot to do with it.  I packed the discs in the back wheel in grease. I thought it might be a good idea to take it apart & work them & use light oil.  I mentioned the tires because I thought they might stop selling them.   You could at least get around a little on the bike. . . . . .

In the Army a rifle is known as a piece, I only had one day with a "piece" so far.  The basic training at Atlantic City is 18 days.

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 31 Jan 1943

Thursday February 11, 1943 - Rationing & Chillicothe Population 8,012

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Postmarked Chillicothe, MO - Feb 12 - 1943

. . . . . .Hope everyone is okay and that you are still getting plenty to eat with all the rationing taking place.

. . . . .Can't do much in sick quarters but listen to the radio and sleep.  I am all caught up on my sleep now.  We used to get up 4:30 in Atlantic City.  How I hated that place.  It was awfully damp and cold and windy there.  While attending school here I get up at 6 AM but haven't got too much time to myself then.

. . . . .This is a small town of about 8,000.  The other day I saw a sign that said "Chillicothe", Population 8,012.  This was while I was on the bike.  There are approximately 700 fellows here like myself.  I guess that answers your question.

. . . . .We have civilian instructors and half of them don't know what its all about.  They manage to do fairly well however, as the school here is only a few months old.  The school was always (for years) here but I mean a few months since Uncle Sam took it over.  All the main hotels in Atlantic City were also taken over by the government.

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 11 Feb 1943

February 18, 1943 - Post Card - Released from Sick Bay

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Postmarked Chillicothe, MO - Feb 19 - 1943

I got out of sick bay Mon.

[Footnote from Ginny - Note that beginning with this post card the return address changes from Section 8A to Section 10B - evidently with having been in Sick Bay for an extended period - Herb's section changed to a later section/class - hence the reason for the picture attached to the "First Letter" entry here is for "Class 10"]

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 18 Feb 1943

February 19, 1943 - He'll Beat Them with His Typewriter

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Postmarked Chillicothe, MO - Feb 20 - 1943

. . . .I will probably be here until around March w[sic] 20.

. . . . . How is little Alvie making out, tell him Herb is going to beat the Japs with his typewriter.

. . . . Boy! that makes me mad when I make a mistake on this typewriter.  Tell Gene it does'nt spell right, got to get it fixed.

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 19 Feb 1943

February 21, 1943 - The Corporal in Charge is a son-of-a-gun

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Postmarked Chillicothe, Mo - Feb 22-1943

. . . .I was in class 8 but got worked back a couple of weeks so I am now in class 10B.  It isn't bad here in the hotel but the Corporal here in charge of Quarters is a son-of-a-gun.  He is always jumping down someones throat.  I keep my distance from him and try to keep out of trouble. . . .

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 23 Feb 1943

February 26, 1943 - "Gentleman Jim" Now Playing

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Postmarked Chillicothe, MO - Feb 27 - 1943

 . . . 2 theatres in town. . .

 . . . "Gentlemen Jim", a boxing picture is now playing

 . . . Errol Flynn plays the part of Jim Corbett

 . . . As long as you keep on writing me I'll be satisfied as I really look forward to your letters.

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 26 Feb 1943

Sunday February 28, 1943 - Pay Day

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Postmarked Chillicothe, MO - Feb 28 - 1943

. . . . .We got paid last night and most of the boys were very happy. . . . . . .

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 28 Feb 1943

Thursday March 4, 1943-Troop Trains

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Envelope Missing - No Postmark Available

. . . .but troop trains move awfully slow.

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 4 Mar 1943

Thursday March 11, 1943 - First Stripes

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Envelope Missing - No Postmark Available

. . .My old class 8A shipped out last Sat. to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.  When you go there you get a furlough for sure but it also means overseas in 6 to 8 weeks in most cases.

. . . got my first stripes.

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 11 Mar 1943

Monday March 15, 1943 - One Swell Sister - Graduation Saturday

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Envelope Missing - No Postmark Available

. . . . .you're one swell sister and you have always been good to Mom and I.

. . . . .I don't think I'll try for Officers training as it is strictly alot of "red tape" . . . .

. . . . I graduate Sat.. . . . .

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 15 Mar 1943

NOTES FROM BERNIE DAVIS-Early Days-Basic & Clerical School

Dec. 14, 1942.

That day we went to Ft. Dix to be outfitted and inducted into Army life. We were there about a week. I would imagine that your Uncle Herb might have been in this group. We went by train to Atlantic City, NJ. I was assigned to Flight 8, which was quartered in the old Hotel Traymore. (I am not sure if this is the correct spelling of the Hotel.) Flight 8 was on the 8th Floor.

The Hotel was torn down a number of years ago to make way for the casinos, etc. We all were given a test to see what we were best suited for. Each person was then assigned three things in order for what they felt they were best qualified for.

For example mine were 1. Clerk, 2. Radio, 3. Cook. We were to do 18 days of basic training. This had to be on the drill field. Days on K.P. (Kitchen Police) did not count. The drill field was some distance out of the city. Se we were marched by 7:00 am each morning, back for noon dinner and back after this from the drill field again. Back by dark in the evening. Of course, late December and early January was cold and the wind blew along with the sand.
My feet were sore and I am sure many others were the same.

I received my first notice that I was shipping out in two weeks before I actually left. When I
reached the train station I had a cold and a high fever - they gave us all a quick exam. I was
removed and sent to the hospital for three days. I went back to Flight 8 to continue basic.

There was a friend from my home town that I ran into on Christmas day. He was a permanent party in Atlantic City. He came to see me and told me where that group was to go - to Chillicothe, MO. He asked me if I thought that I would like that assignment. I told him that it sounded good. He told me that he would see what he could do. Two weeks and I was with the group that was sent to Chillicothe Business School. Herb must have been with the group. I do not remember how many were in this group but I would say 15 to 20. We arrived about Jan. 17 or 18, 1943. The Classes were made of 100 men. We were in Class 10. The classes were for eight weeks. We were quartered in the Hotel in Chillicothe. Classes were from 8:00 am to 12:00 and 1:00 to 5:00 pm, six days a week - Sundays off. It was the
life. Civilian Cooks - the food was wonderful. Bed Check was at 10 pm, up at 6:00 am.

Our class had just one problem. About our third week there was a case or two of Scarlet Fever and the whole school was quarantined for three weeks. No evenings out on the town. On Sunday's they would take us out for a hike into the country.

Anyway on a Saturday morning, March 20, 1943 Class 10 graduated. I do not know if your Uncle Herb had a picture of this class or not, so I am enclosing a copy from the one I have. [See Image 4 attached to First Letter Entry here] I have also enclosed a copy of the signatures that I had most of the members sign on the back of the picture. You will find Herb Hawkes signature among them.

[This is from a 4 page typewritten letter from Bernie to "Ginny"  in August 2001outlining a great deal of his experiences which in large part ran along similar lines as Uncle Herb's when related to the "Dear Alice" Letters - Bernie closed off his letter by saying "I hope this has given you some idea for what you are undertaking.  Good Luck and I think that it is great that you are doing this.]

A NOTE from GINNY:  Uncle Herb died in 1982 - Long before I found the "Dear Alice" letters and before I had the opportunity to inquire of him of his service during the war. Since embarking on this project I am VERY grateful to so many for what they have shared on the 81st.  With input from Bernie and others of Uncle Herb's comrades - the insight gained is PRICELESS.

From what I learned from Bernie's letter - I now have to wonder IF the reason Uncle Herb was in Sick Bay was related to the cases of Scarlet Fever Bernie discusses - If so and this is the reason Herb was moved back to Class 10 - would I have ever met up with Bernie and his comrads of the 81st were it not for Scarlet Fever?

THANK YOU ONE AND ALL - For your service to our country - This project is my way of  expressing my gratitude and preserving one small part of the WW II experiences of a "Band of Brothers" known as the 81st Airdrome Squadron.

  • Atlantic City, NJ & Chillicothe, MO
  • Aug 2001

Friday March 19, 1943-Pack, Haircut, Shower, Graduate Sat.

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Envelope Missing - No Postmark Available - The last Chillicothe letter.

. . .have to pack tonight & get a haircut

. . .shower and get ready

. . .graduate tomorrow.

. . .won't even know our shipping time until noon tomorrow.

. . . With a great deal of luck I may head east. . . .

  • Chillicothe, Missouri
  • 19 Mar 1943

Sunday March 28, 1943 - Hunter Field

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Postmarked Savannah GA - March 29 - 1943

. . . .my address isn't permanent here as I am waiting to be assigned to a Squadron

. . . living in a tent

  • Savannah, Georgia
  • 28 Mar 1943

81st AIRDROME SQUADRON - Monday April 5, 1943

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Postmarked Savannah, GA - Apr 6 - 1943

. . . .This is a new Squadron and we are just getting set up.

. . . .move to barracks yesterday

. . . .get up at 10 to six.

  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 5 Apr 1943

Thursday April 8, 1943 - Savannah is quite a Town.

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Envelope Missing - No Postmark Available

It is pretty hot down here and I am getting awfully lazy.  I can easily understand why most of the Southerners have that dreamy look in their eyes.  It gets quite windy and the sand blows plenty.  I'll take good old Pok any day.


  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 8 Apr 1943

Monday April 12, 1943-Outfit Seems Like a Good One

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Postmarked Savannah GA - Apr 12 - 1943

. . .everyone gets along good

. . .makes this outfit seem like a good one.

  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 12 Apr 1943

Saturday April 17, 1943-Indigestion Natural After Eating G. I. Food

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Postmarked Savannah, GA - Apr 17 - 1943

. . .you all (its catching). . .

. . . Once in a while I get a little indigestion, but I guess that is natural after eating G. I. (gov't issue) food.

. . . inspection of barracks this morning.

. . . scrubbing floors with hand brushes & soap and water, washing windows. . .

. . . If this fooling around helps win the war, it has me beat.


  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 17 Apr 1943

Monday April 19, 1943-They Change Their Minds Every Day Around Here

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Postmarked Savannah, GA - Apr 19 - 1943

. . . I'll let you know more about a furlough when I get something definite.  Every day they change their minds around here. . . .


  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 19 Apr 1943

Friday April 23, 1943-Room Orderly

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Postmarked Savannah, GA - Apr 23 - 1943

. . .If I have to scrub floors when I get home, I think I will wait awhile.

. . .room orderly today and it only takes about an hour to clean up.

  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 23 Apr 1943

Thursday April 29, 1943-Hoping for Furlough June 12

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Postmarked Savannah, GA - Apr 29 - 1943

. . . .I expect to be home on June 12 if I am still here and in this outfit.  My furlough application got mislaid and so I put one in for June 12.  I stand a better chance of getting it because I will have been in 6 mo. on June 8.

  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 29 Apr 1943

Saturday May 1, 1943 - Send Me Up North For The Summer

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Postmarket Savannah, Georgia - May 1 - 1943

I wish they would send me up north for the summer; better yet for good.

  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 1 May 1943

Thursday May 6, 1943 - Air Corp Pin for Alice

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Postmarked Savannah GA - May 7 - 1943

. . .Let me know if you get the pin okay. It's an Air Corp Pin and I sent Mom one which is a little different.

. . .24 hr. Guard Duty

. . .have to sleep with our clothes on. . . .

  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 6 May 1943

Wednesday May 12, 1943 - Rifles and Pistols

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Postmarked Savannah GA - May 12 - 1943 . . . .live ammunition. . . . . . . .The rifles are 30 caliber and the pistol is 45 caliber. . . .

  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 12 May 1943

Thursday May 20, 1943-Tents, Rifles, Machine Guns

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Postmarked Savannah, GA - May 20 - 1943

. . . .We go to Camp Stewart about 60 miles away for 4 or 5 days.  We pitch tents and fire the Thompson sub-machine Gun and also the rifles. I haven't seen any Garanda [?] but we have Remington, Winchester and the 1903.

  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 20 May 1943

Thursday May 27, 1943-Last Hunter Field Letter

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Envelope Missing - No Postmark Available

. . .The enlisted men don't get to shoot the pistol, only the officers.  I was helping on the targets and they gave me a couple of shots.  I sure like the machine gun and pistol.  I didn't care for the heavy rifles but we get the small carbines when we go over.

  • Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 27 May 1943

NOTES FROM BERNIE - June 2, 1943 - Move from Hunter Field to Chatham Field on the other side of Savannah

More NOTES from Bernie. . .August 2001

On March 20, 1943 a group of us boarded the train in Chillicothe. There were 7 or 8 of us. At the time we did not know where we were headed. We were on the train two nights and arrived in Savannah. We were taken to HUNTER FIELD an Army Air Base as all bases were under the Army at that time.

We all were placed in an assignment pool in tents on base. I would say that we were there about three days. I do remember that James Ellerbee, Herbert Hawkes and myself were assigned to the 81st Airdrome Squadron on or about the 26th or 27th of March.

The 81st had been activated on March 1, 1943. There were not many men in the outfit when we arrived. I was assigned to Air Corps Supply Section. Our section was made up of five men. There was a Sgt. Elliott in charge and one other, a C. B. Ponder. A Sgt. Nardo and a Cpl. Vukich were assigned shortly after. I think your Uncle was assigned to the Communications Section.

We palled around some along with Jim Ellerbee. Jim is still alive and lives about 20 miles west of Atlanta GA. He will be glad to know that I have heard some about Herb as he has asked several times.

On June 2, 1943 the 81st Airdrome Squadron was moved to CHATHAM ARMY AIR BASE on the other side of Savannah. This base is NOW the SAVANNAH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.

We were to prepare for overseas assignment at Chatham. All furloughs had to be completed by June 30. We spent the hot, hot summer doing many hikes with packs on our backs. The only excuses for not going on these was that a person had K. P. duty that day.

  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Aug 2001

Thursday June 3, 1943-Hunter Field Was Much Better

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Postmarked Savannah, GA - June 4 - 1943

. . .Hope my furlough comes through okay. . .

. . . way out in the sticks now

. . . whole outfit moved out here with the flies and the mosquitoes.  Hunter Field was much better.

  • Chatham Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 3 Jun 1943

June 13, 1943 - Rifle Range Again

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Postmarked Savannah GA. - Jun 15 - 1943

. . . .Tomorrow morning we leave for the rifle range again for 4 or 5 days

. . . should get the furlough next week, anything can happen.

  • Chatham Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 13 Jun 1943

Sunday July 4, 1943 - Good to Get Home

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Postmarked Savannah, GA - Jul 5 - 1943

. . . .It sure seemed good to get home but in a way I wish I hadn't because you feel so lousy when you have to go back.

. . .Before long Al I should be moving elsewhere.

. . .When you write to Ruth in N. Y. C. [sister Ruth b. 1897]

  • Chatham Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 4 Jul 1943

Friday July 9, 1943 - Tough Hike Under Georgia Sun

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Postmarked Savannah GA. - Jul 10 - 1943

. . .we had a tough hike under this wonderful Georgia sun.  Several fellows couldn't make it and dropped out.  We have Sunday off for a change but Wally has to work.  Next week we have a hike scheduled for every day and we may be here a short time longer.

  • Chatham Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 9 Jul 1943

Monday July 19, 1943-They Want All of US to be Able to Swim

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Postmarked Savannah GA. - Jul 20 - 1943

. . . .better schedule . . .swimming included

. . .They want all of us to be able to swim.

[Ginny Note - seems they were training them well for what lay ahead - little did Alice or Herb know what was to occur 11 months down the road in June 1944 at the "white fox section" of Omaha Beach.]

  • Chatham Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 19 Jul 1943

Friday July 23, 1943 - Ants in the Pants

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Postmarked Savannah GA. - Jul 24 - 1943

. . . .Besides all the flies, mosquitoes, and sand nats we have here and the heat, we are now getting ants in the barracks.  I guess I'll soon have ants in my pants.

[Ginny Note: regarding image 3 attached - Pg 2 of this letter has been censored by Ginny for Privacy Reasons - Pg2 was not censored by the Government]

  • Chatham Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 23 Jul 1943

Monday August 2, 1943

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Envelope Missing - No Postmark Available

. . .It looks like we'll be here awhile yet.

. . .still going to teleptype school at Hunter Field everyday.

. . .going to see the Lt. in charge of communication and find out if any promotions are open.

. . .very poor outfit for rankings

. . .maybe I'll make Cpl. someday.

  • Chatham Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 2 Aug 1943

Thursday August 12, 1943-Last Letter from Chatham Field

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Envelope Missing - No Postmark Available

. . .Well Al, this is it.  By the time you get this I probably will be elsewhere.  If I go where I think we are going I should only be a little ways from home.  Maybe only a hundred miles or so.  I may be there for a long time or only a few days.

[Ginny Note: In retrospect from Bernie's Notes and the 81st Chronology, the place "a little ways from home" referred to is probably Camp Shanks.]

. . .We can't write letters while traveling and may not be able to write from the place we are going.  I'll write as soon as they let me and try to keep Mom from worrying if she doesn't hear from me for awhile as I'll be okay.

[Ginny Note: This is the last letter from Chatham Field - the next entry for this Storry Page will be More Notes from Bernie.  The entry after that will be description of V-Mail.]

[OVER THERE! OVER THERE! - We won't come back till it's over - OVER THERE!]

  • Chatham Field, Savannah, Georgia
  • 12 Aug 1943

NOTES FROM BERNIE - Camp Shanks & the Queen Elizabeth

Notes from Bernie to Ginny - August 2001

Camp Shanks - the Quen Elizabeth and OVER THERE!

On August 14, 1943 we boarded a train for the Port of embarkation.

We arrived a Camp Shanks, NY. I am sure being from Poughkeepsie you know where this is.

[Ginny Note: I did not know where Camp Shanks was located. However in a telephone conversation with Bernie subsequent to receiving his written letter, he told me it was in Tappan, NY.]

Sometime after midnight on August 20, we were awakened to leave. We boarded a train and arrived while it was still dark on the dock in New York City. We were line up in alphabetical order with backpack - duffle bag on our shoulder. As we entered the Queen Elizabeth the checkers called out our last names and we had to answer with our first name and middle initial. Our outfit was one of the last to board.

I guess that I have failed to mention that the outfit consisted of 264 enlisted men and 11 officers. We were assigned to a stateroom that would ordinarily be for two people. There were canvas bunks for twelve people to sleep. There were 24 men assigned to that room. You had the bunk for 24 hours and the other man had it for 24 hours. The off times when you wanted to sleep you laid on the floor in the hallways. We had meal tickets and you ate two meals a day when your meal ticket was called on the speaker.

The Queen Elizabeth pulled away from the dock about 6:00 am on the morning of August 20th. It was strange as that is how I let my folks know what day we left. My youngest brother's birthday is August 20th - as we were not to tell about many things.

I was told years later that the Queen carried about 22,000 people on these crossings. We were unescorted and the ship changed course every eight minutes. They said it took a submarine more than that time to line up. We passed several convoys.

Anyway on the afternoon of August 25th we arrived in Glasgow, Scotland. We sat in the harbor until the morning of the 26th and were taken off by ferry boat. There were only two ports in England that the Queen Elizabeth could dock and they were Liverpool and Southampton. They did not and could not use those ports because they were in reach of the German Bombers.

We boarded a train and traveled across Scotland and down the middle and East coast of England. We did stop a few times to eat and were served tea and biscuits by English ladies. We arrived at our destination of A. A. F. Station 150, outside of Colchester, England at about daybreak. There were Army trucks waiting for us.

In the distance we could hear the warming up of the B-26 Bomber engines. I am sure that we were all a little tired and were somewhat straggly as the Army Sgt. Called out - get lined up, you are not in the States now. This sure got the attention of everyone and we soon climbed aboard and were taken to our base. We were assigned to tents on the edge of the base for about a week when they had some Quonset hut barracks ready for us.

  • Aug 2001

V-MAIL - What was it?

Just a little something else Alice Saved - Ginny Preserved - Is Preserving!

Description of V-Mail from a box in which 100 Sheet Envelopes were sold.


V-Mail Service is available to and from the personnel of our Armed Forces outside the continent of the United States.  A photographic negative is made of each message and is sent by the most expeditious form of transportation for reproduction and delivery.  The original is kept on file until delivery to the addressee has been confirmed.  This will not only insure against loss of letters in transit, but also releases valuable shipping space for vital Armed equipment.


V-Mail Service

(from the back of a Blank V-Mail Letter Mailer)


V-Mail service provides the most expeditious dispatch and reduces the weight of mail to and from personnel of our Armed Forces outside the continental United States.  When addressed to points where micro-film equipment is operated, a miniature photographic negative of the message will be made and sent by the most expeditious transportation available for reproduction and delivery.  The original message will be destroyed after the reproduction has been delivered.  Messages addressed to or from points where microfilm equipment is not operated will be transmitted in their original form by the most expeditious means available.



 1.  Write the entire message plainly on the other side withing marginal lines.

2.   Print the name and address in the two panels provided.  Addresses to members of the Armed forces should include rank or rating of the addressee, unit to which attached, and APO or Naval Address.

3.  Fold, seal, and deposit in any post office letter drop or street letter box.

4.  Enclosures must not be placed in this envelope and a separate V-Mail letter must be sent if you desire to write more than one sheet.

5.  V-Mail letters may be sent free of postage by members of the Armed Forces.  When sent by others, postage must be prepaid at domestic rates.

(3 cents ordinary mail, 6 cents if air mail is desired)


  • Poughkeepsie, New York
  • 7 Jan 2008

September 1, 1943 - 1st OVER THERE Letter

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Postmarked New York, NY Sep 9 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . .Everything is fine with me and I guess you know I'm in ENGLAND.Everything is much better than I expected but I'll be glad to get some mail.  Write at least once each week and I'll do the same.  Don't worry about V-Mail as it is just as good.

[Ginny Note - these V-Mails when received by Alice appear to be in reduced size measuring about  4 1/4" wide by 5 1/2" in height. When I first transcribed these letters I took each one and enlarged it on a copier to aid in transcription - viewers here can be thankful for footnote.com for ease of viewing the originals - I'm fairly certain Alice used a magnifying glass]

  • England
  • 1 Sep 1943

September 16, 1943 - 2 Day Pass

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Postmarked New York, NY Sep 25 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

I got a 2 day pass and am going to town tomorrow and stay for a couple of days and sleep at the Red Cross.

- - - - - -In Retrospect- - - - - -

[Source - 81st Airdrome Squadron "Daily Reports" - Army Air Corp Archives - Courtesy of Joseph Gravish - compiled and edited by Bernie Davis.]

"September 13, 1943

Much practical experience is being gained by actual work and experience as enemy planes are over almost every night altho no bombs have been dropped." 


  • England
  • 16 Sep 1943

September 26, 1943 - Getting Darn Cold Here

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Postmarked New York, NY Oct 3 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . . I feel fine but it is getting darn cold here.

- - - - - -In Retrospect- - - - - -

[Source - 81st Airdrome Squadron "Daily Reports" - Army Air Corp Archives - Courtesy of Joseph Gravish - compiled and edited by Bernie Davis.]

"September 20, 1943

We are the first American troops to come into this vicinity and a royal welcome has been given by the nearby town of Newark and Fullbeck.

  • England
  • 26 Sep 1943

September 30, 1943 - I didn't get Seasick

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Postmarked New York, NY Oct 9 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . .Your letter of 9/18 just arrived

. . .Tell Gene the girls are OK but nothing like good old American gals.  I didn't care much for the ocean ride for several reasons I can't disclose.  I didn't get seasick however and will gladly take the ride back when this is over.

  • England
  • 30 Sep 1943

October 6, 1943 - A P. F. C. for the Duration

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Postmarked New York, NY Oct 13 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . .It looks like I will be a P. F. C. for the duration but it is not my fault.


  • England
  • 6 Oct 1943

October 14, 1943 - English Girls Are Very Sociable-War is Monotonous

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Postmarked New York, NY Oct 22 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . . .Just received your letter of 10/3. 

. . . .This damn war is beginning to get monotonous. 

. . . .Tell Gene the English Girls are very sociable.

. . . .Your letter and Mom's were both written on Oct. 3 or 4 but I got Mom's just a couple of days ago. Mail service is lousy.  I didn't receive the package yet.

. . . Nothing new here but lousy weather.

. . .Happy Birthday Al.

  • England
  • 14 Oct 1943


[Excerpt From the 81st Chronology -
September 19 - Oct. 19, 1943
R A F Fullbeck
Fullbeck, Lincolnshire, England]

Notes from Bernie Aug. 2001: 

As you will see by the list of places and stations that we were at, we were never anywhere for a very long time. I will not mention about all the bases but feel that I should tell about our next move.

We move much North to an R. A. F. Station, Fullbeck, Lincolnshire, England. We were the first outfit to be at this place. The Quartermaster and Cook Sgt. did not have enough food to feed our outfit and the supply depot was some distance away. So they made a deal with the English on base that they would feed us with their food and then when our food arrived we would feed the English the
same number of meals.

Well we ate an awful lot of mutton and such for a day or two. The English were awful happy when they came to eat with us.

Fullbeck is about 10 miles east of Newark on Trent. We went into Newark on evening passes. By the way this base was used to assemble gliders for the invasion. More American units arrived while we were there. C-47 cargo planes for paratroopers practiced here also.

  • England
  • Aug 2001

October 20, 1943 - Pouring Rain and Awful Windy

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Postmarked New York, NY Oct 28 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . . It's pouring rain and awful windy.  Please write soon and be good.  Wally sends his regards.


  • England
  • 20 Oct 1943

October 24, 1943-Dear Gene-Is the Buick Still Running Okay?

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Postmarked New York, NY Nov 1 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . . .Is the Buick still running okay? I guess my car will rot if this damn war doesn't end soon.  Tell Alice she can take it anytime she wants it.

  • England
  • 24 Oct 1943

October 31, 1943-Box Greatly Appreciated

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Postmarked New York, NY Nov 28 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . .Your letter of 10/18 just arrived

. . . .Thanks for sending the box and everything will be greatly appreciated. 

. . .socks and hankies will come in good

. . .I guess you know how much I like candy.

. . .rains very often

. . .mud is quite prominent.

  • England
  • 31 Oct 1943

November 4, 1943-Tour of London

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Postmarked New York, NY Nov 15 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . .just got back from a 2 day pass to London with a couple of buddies

. . .we had a lot of fun

. . .took in a good stage show

. . .hit the high spots. Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and several other places

- - - - -In Retrospect- - - - - -

[Source - 81st Airdrome Squadron "Daily Reports" - Army Air Corp Archives - Courtesy of Joseph Gravish - compiled and edited by Bernie Davis.]

Nov. 2, 1943

At approximately 1800 hours a German Junker 188 was chased inland and shot down by a Mosquito Bomber approximately four miles from this field. The plane exploded as it hit the ground and was scattered over a wide area. Judging from the pieces of bodies of the fliers it was assumed that it was manned by four men.

Nov. 4, 1943

Today a group of EM from this Organization acted as honorary guards and pall bearers to accompany the bodies of the German airman shot down to Wincannon where the bodies were entrained to Bath for burial.

  • England
  • 4 Nov 1943

November 11, 1943-Still Likes Candy-Would Love to Have Ice Cream

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Postmarked New York, NY - date illegible - Possibly Nov 18 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . .received your letter today of 11/2 and also the Xmas package from you and Mom.  Thanks a million and I can make good use of everything.  I still like cand a lot but how I would love to have some ice cream.

. . . some night I am going to write you a long e-mail and hope you will do the same.

. . .get your letters also in 8 or 9 days.  Write Soon.

- - - - -In Retrospect- - - - - -

[Source - 81st Airdrome Squadron "Daily Reports" - Army Air Corp Archives - Courtesy of Joseph Gravish - compiled and edited by Bernie Davis.]

November 11, 1943

Another Armistice day yet all the world is up in Arms.


  • England
  • 11 Nov 1943

November 14, 1943 - English Coal is Lousy & Full of Gas

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Envelope Missing - No Postmark Available

From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . . .in charge of quarters tonight

. . .Nothing new but quite a change in the weather here. It is really cold and I spend a lot of time fooling with the fire. This English coal is lousy and full of gas.

- - - - -In Retrospect - Notes From Bernie - August 2001- - - - -

I will mention one other base that we were at which is much father south of the above mentioned [R. A. F. Station, Fullbeck, Lincolnshire, England] place. R. A. F. Station Zeals, Wiltshire, England. The memories of this base are of the many air raids. One time the English shot down a German Bomber one night. This was done by search lights and anti-aircraft guns. Anyway the plane crashed some distance from our barracks. We were called out to guard the sight until the grave crews recovered the bodies and the plane was picked up. It was a mess. I remember that one of the grave crew was a woman in uniform. The pieces of bodies were not very big, but many pieces. They were identified and buried in a plot for Germans.

  • England
  • 14 Nov 1943

November 20, 1943-I sometimes get downhearted

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Envelope Missing - No Postmark available

From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

I got a letter from Foss awhile back and I think he was at Wake not too long ago.  I'm glad he made chief.  I sometimes get downhearted because I don't get anyplace Al, but believe me its not my fault.  I just happened to get in the wrong outfit or section.

- - - - -In Retrospect- - - - - -

[Source - 81st Airdrome Squadron "Daily Reports" - Army Air Corp Archives - Courtesy of Joseph Gravish - compiled and edited by Bernie Davis.]

November 20, 1943 - USAAF Station 159, Wormingford, Essex

Headquarters was set up and usual camp duties assumed.  Again we are the First American troops to arrive and there are no planes on the field except an Oxford trainer and whatever may drop by.

November 21, 1943

. . .Awaiting the arrival of the P-47 fighters from the States.  The 362nd Fighter Group is due in.

  • England
  • 20 Nov 1943

November 26, 1943- Take my word for it, we have the best and most beautiful country in the world.

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Postmarked Postal Service No. 1, NY Dec 10 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . .Just received your 11/6 letter

. . . Everthing is ok. . .but I get plenty disgusted at times.

. . . We have moved 5 times since I arrived overseas

. . .houses are all made of brick and wooden ones are few

. . .terrain is rather hilly and the roads very narrow

. . .counted 14 rabbits running up a hill in a vacant lot

. . .Well Al, take my word for it, we have the best and most beautiful country in the world.

- - - - -In Retrospect- - - - - -

[Source - 81st Airdrome Squadron "Daily Reports" - Army Air Corp Archives - Courtesy of Joseph Gravish - compiled and edited by Bernie Davis.]

November 25, 1943

The much publicized one pound turkey for Thanksgiving dinner turned out to be bologna and pork.  Anyway, we are thankful that we are Americans with a land that is as yet unscarred by shell and bombs and home where loved ones can still enjoy freedom.

November 28, 1943

Field was bombed last night but no damage was done.  Heavy AA was set up in defense and unexploded shells were found on the runways.

November 30, 1943

A B-17, Flying Fort, crashed about 1000 yards from headquarters at approximately 0900 hours.  Fell from formation and went into almost vertical dive and exploded just before hitting the ground.  New Fighter Group personnel was just getting off the train when this happened and gave them quite an unexpected welcome to the ETO.

Strength as of this date:

11 Officers - 263 Enlisted Men

  • England
  • 26 Nov 1943

December 1943 - Christmas & New Years Greeting

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Postmarked New York, NY Dec 10 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

Greetings from Somewhere in Britain

  • England
  • Dec 1943

December 1943 - Season's Greetings for Alvie

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Postmarked U. S. Postal Service - Dec 12 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

Dear Alvie, A very Merry "Christmas" and loads of Love.

Uncle Herb

  • England
  • Dec 1943

December 8, 1943-One Year in the Army

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Postmarked Postal Service No. 1 -  Dec 18 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . .I've been feeling kind of lost the past few days . . . .because of the mail situation.

. . .been raining all day . . .weather is terrible

. . .today makes 1 year in the Army for me!

The picture attached as image 3 here is courtesy of Joseph Gravish, St. Clair, PA - sent to Ginny Aug. 2001 - TAKE A LOOK AT THE MUD - Thank You Joe.

  • England
  • 8 Dec 1943

December 11, 1943 - Christmas Box Appreciated

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Postmarked Postal Service No. 1 -  Dec 26 - 1943

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . . .received your letter of 11/29 today

. . . .doing a lot of washing today

. . . .appreciate the Xmas box

. . . .the only thing I want next year is to be with you & Mom.

. . . .I wish you all a "very Merry Xmas" & will be thinking of you.

  • England
  • 11 Dec 1943

December 19, 1943-Moved Again

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Postmarked Postal Service No. 1- Jan 2 - 1944

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . . .We have moved again. . .This camp I'm in now is really a dump.

. . . .Boy Al, you should see some of these bombed places, they are a real mess.

  • England
  • 19 Dec 1943

December 26, 1943-Hoping the Mail Gets Straightened out Soon

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Postmarked Postal Service No. 1- Jan 3 - 1944

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY

. . .I hope the mail gets straigtened out soon. . . .

- - - - -In Retrospect- - - - - -

[Source - 81st Airdrome Squadron "Daily Reports" - Army Air Corp Archives - Courtesy of Joseph Gravish - compiled and edited by Bernie Davis.]

December 20, 1943

Last night enemy planes were overhead but no bombs were dropped.

December 24, 1943

Another Christmas Eve and the first in the ETO.  It hardly seems like the Christmas season but a good spirit is prevalent among the boys.

December 25, 1943

A very good turkey dinner with all the trimmings was served and each man was presented with a pack of cigarettes.  The Red Cross Clubmobile came to camp and distributed candy and other articles among the men.

  • England
  • 26 Dec 1043

December 30, 1943-Feels sorry for some of the people over there

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Postmarked Postal Service No. 1 -  Jan 16 - 1944

Passed by Army Examiner - From: 81st Adrm Sqdr APO 638 - c/o P. M. New York, NY  [2 letters - one envelope - 1 Ltr to Gene - 1 Ltr to Alice]

. . . . .Glad to hear the old Buick is going strong. . . .

. . . .Hope it won't be long before I can run mine again. . .

 . . . .I guess the people in the USA still have a better Xmas than the people over here.  I really feel sorry for some of them.

. . . .hope Mom is feeling better. . .she's the best in the world.

 - - - -In Retrospect - - - -

[Source - 81st Airdrome Squadron "Daily Reports" - Army Air Corp Archives - Courtesy of Joseph Gravish - compiled and edited by Bernie Davis.]

December 31, 1943

So ends an old and may the new one bring a true realization of "Peace on Earth".

Strength as of this date: 9 Officers; 255 Enlisted Men

  • England
  • 30 Dec 1943

December 31, 1943. . . to be continued

The Story will continue here with the 1944 Letters at the link below


  • England
  • 31 Dec 1943

Contributor: MotherB
Created: December 29, 2007 · Modified: October 18, 2010

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