Smitty ~ Letter VIII

Troopers of the 11th Airborne heading out for a jump

Troopers of the 11th Airborne heading out for a jump

At this point in time, the jungle war training for the 11th Airborne Division had live firing and everything was becoming a bit clearer, a bit more realistic.  Yet, Smitty still does not mention any of this in his letters home.

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the Pyramidal tent

the Pyramidal tent

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Letter VIII                                G.I. Labor                                         6/17/44

Dear Mom,

Work!  Work!  And more work.  After a week here, we still can’t figure when it is all going to end.  We put tents up, then take them down.  That is our biggest problem — tents.

The War Department in Washington has its offices in a large air-conditioned building costing hundreds of thousands of the taxpayer’s money.  In this building, they have all the inventing geniuses of the land.  All they do is design equipment and little what-nots for us.  After that, it is submitted to the boards of Strategy, Health, Welfare, etc.

Now, some poor weak underfed inventor designed in a moment of frenzy and excitement, the Pyramidal Tent number M.6606.  It passed everything and every board with flying colors — until finally — we got hold of it.  We put them up with the loss of tons of perspiration and energy, only to find out later that someone, someplace around here didn’t like the way they looked.  That job of putting the tents up was simple and much too easy.  They sent down a set of blue prints that reminded me of the Empire State Building with the Holland Tunnel thrown in.

Well, next day, bright and early we arose wearily to find that we were to be split up into different sections such as log cutters, tent putter-uppers, log setters and log finders.  We, the pole setter-uppers, sat down and pondered over the blue prints.  We had to raise the center pole 16 inches, while on the four corners erect eight-foot poles.  Then, connecting these  poles at the top of 16-foot logs.

Sounds very easy, but for some reason or other, the trees grew in the jungle across a stream which all in all made log cutting and finding an exasperating business.  Undaunted though, the men went in laden down with axes, saws and prismatic and soon logs were being cut — also fingers, arms and legs.  It wasn’t long before we had the amount of lumber necessary to start work on the first domicile, house or tent.  We were all set and ready, four men were holding up the corner poles and one man steadied the center pole.  The whistle blows for us to fall in and be counted.  We fall in, the corners fall out and the blame tent fell down.  Oh Well!!  What the heck, tomorrow’s another day and after all, the boys that belonged in that tent can sleep out.

This routine kept up for days until finally all our tents were erected and set.  “Looks good,” we all said and good it was, but not to some of the higher-ups who again decided the tents were now too high and would we please, under threat of court-martial, lower the 4 corner posts to 5 feet.  (Oh death, where is thy sting?)  Upon completing this last detail, they then decided the tents should all be moved and then lined up on a new line.  This has been going on for so long that each morning we have to stop, think and hold ourselves in check, for a few times we caught men automatically tearing down tents or putting up poles where there wasn’t anything to put up.

“The heat!” they said, and then gave us half a day off, only to try to squeeze it out of us the next afternoon.  Well, maybe they can get blood out of a stone.

“Well, that’s all for that in this letter as I don’t want to tire you out completely listening to some of our other minor details that are stuck in here and there, such as digging latrine holes, building officer’s tents and officer knickknacks, polishing up, which we are experts at, K.P. duty, inspections, washing clothes and at night making little things for ourselves such as tables, desks, clothes racks, rings out of coins, wristwatch bands and loads of other do-dads.  I guess though the hardest thing is trying all day not to do all this work and go on the gold-bricking standard.  That last line would be understood by any buck private or G.I. as absolute fact and truth.

Wearily I end this letter and sleepily say regards to all. 

With love and kisses,  Everett

 

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Military Humor –

JOIN THE ARMY THEY SAID... SEE THE WORLD, THEY SAID...

JOIN THE ARMY THEY SAID… SEE THE WORLD, THEY SAID…

us-army-sensitivity-training-cartoon-by-cagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Missing Man formation

Missing Man formation

Clinton Anderson – Portland, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO

Mariano Berona – Santa Ilocos Sur, PI; Philippine Scouts US Army, WWII, Sgt. (Ret. 22 years), POW, Bronze Star

Gideon “Indian” Checote – Okmulgee, OK; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Navy Chief (Ret.)

Bobby Davis – Dallas, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO, pharmacist’s mate

Milton ‘Snow’ Fairclough – Perth, AUS, RA Army, WWII, ETO & CBI, 2/3 Machine Gun Batt., POW, Death Railroad survivor

Albin Hammond – Polson, MT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

George Kahan – Fort William, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, HMCS Oakville

Earl ‘Bud’ Moore – Springfield, MA; US Army, Vietnam, LT

Milford Ort – N.Tonawanda, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Wayne Williams – Nashville, TN; US Army, WWII & Korea, Purple Heart

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on October 24, 2016, in Letters home, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 86 Comments.

  1. Brilliant letter… leading to such classic songs as ‘The were only playing leapfrog’ (one staff officer jumped right over another staff officer’s head… etc)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow…what a fiasco! I’m actually surprised they allowed this letter as it doesn’t speak too kindly of the military.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are making me base-sick and summoning the songs we brats used to sing on our buses to school…like “I Don’t Want No More of Army Life” and its zillion wonderful verses!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love these letters home from Smitty, what they saw, how they lived.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely switty letter.I enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very entertaining and humourous letter home from Smitty.
    I can certainly relate to viewpoints on putting up tents, for some reason they infuriate every officer in one way or another, height, width, location etc, reminds me of the Army saying, hurry up and wait.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These letters are priceless! As I’ve said before – what a character. The art of letter writing does seem to be getting lost these days though.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good way to turn frustration into humor for your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great stuff.
    GP … I can still clean up some of your photos if you want. Not all can be saved, but most can be improved.
    I just need some way to get them over too you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. silviadeangelis40d

    E’ sempre un piacere soffermarsi sulle tue immagini retrospettive
    Un saluto, silvia

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s a funny story (though probably not so funny at the time). I get the sense that he was restraining himself in this letter and the uncensored version would have been both funnier and ruder. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  12. A very witty letter. I expect it gave your grandmother a good chuckle.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Possibly a compass? Or would that have been a ‘lensatic’? Some sort of ocular device with a purpose.

    And from that letter, Smitty and I would have been great buddies, it reads just as cynical as many of my own—I like that; especially that he tones it down for his Mom.
    But the initiated can read ‘twixt the lines, no?

    Like

    • There were not too many people Smitty didn’t get along with, you two probably would have – yes. Twixt the lines can be done in most of these letters home!! Thanks for dropping by, Argus.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for a great blog

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Love the Smitty letters 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. War is hell. 🙂 Those letters would’ve meant so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Unbelievable! How they didn’t swing for someone is beyond me! It’s good to see he retained his sense of humour throughout the entire episode.

    Like

  18. At least the army didn’t censor your dad’s gripes (probably because there was nothing secret about them)!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. How many young men never told their parents what they were working their way towards, just emphasising the total lack of danger in their everyday lives!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I can’t imagine waiting weeks–months for a letter from my deployed child. When my son was in the Middle East, I could find him with GPS (so I knew if he was on the base) and we texted often. Just to tell me he was fine. It’s the only way this distraught mom survived.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Surely there were better ways to keep the soldiers busy rather than putting tents up and down. What a waste of time! As always, his sense of humor was alive and well, as well as his ability to cover-up what was really happening for mom’s sake. I certainly admire him!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Smitty had quite the sense of humor. I’m trying to imagine reading this at the time, mixing worry and laughter. Thanks for sharing these.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Really enjoy Smitty letters😊Thank you GP for putting these up for us☺

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Great letter and such a good sense of humor. Was smiling about the blueprints and getting the Empire State building through the Holland Tunnel…LOL. Leave it to the government to make something hard 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Letter VII. The only explanation I have for the chicanery endured by your father is that the army kept the soldiers busy with zillions of more or less meaningless jobs to keep them out of mischief. An idle army is a danger not to be underestimated in war time. I also noticed that your father belonged to a generation still familiar with Bible verses, such as ‘Oh death, where is thy sting’. I am looking forward to reading your father’s next letter.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Ich wünsche dir auch eine gute sonnige Woche lieber Gruß und Umarmung Gislinde

    Liked by 1 person

  27. With all that tent building experience, after the war he could have gone to work for a circus.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. This is so true! Love the Smitty letters.

    Like

  29. And, if there were rocks around, they doubtlessly had to paint them white and line them up around the tents! This certainly had a familiar ring to it. I’m sure every veteran can name events similar to the tent raising of this letter!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. This letter is hilarious. It reminds me of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 in its depiction of the inanity of military rules and regulations. Your father was such a gifted writer. I love the image of the Empire State Building with the Holland Tunnel thrown in. Was he from NYC?

    I hope your dad wrote a lot more letters—I really enjoy these. Also, I do hope he continued to write when he came home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dad grew up on Broad Channel, a small close-knit fishing island in Jamaica Bay, NY. No, he didn’t write much – but he did continue to have his dry sense of humor and quick wit.
      Thanks for dropping by, Amy.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. It was great to read the truth about all the toil and mundane routine that made up so much of the life of a soldier. I was left thinking what a good blog post this would have made, if only the Internet had been around during WW2!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Brilliant – a gifted writer who could find humour in anything

    Like

  33. Does anyone know, is a “prismatic” a tripod of some sort, or a survey device?
    Classic army-life letter! Nice sense of humor.

    Like

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