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1st Lt Ernest P. Davis, 850th Engineer Aviation Battalion (EAB)

1st Lt Ernest P. Davis

850th Engineer Aviation Battalion (EAB)

Photos

Grandpa’s World War II Letters



Postmark November 19, 1941
Regular mail, 3 cents
Pvt. Ernest Davis, Jr.
Bat. A 12 Bn. 4th Reg.
Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Dear Folks,

About two hundred of us were moved up here Monday. Left Blanding about 6 p.m. and arrived here at six Tuesday morning. Frank Youngblood came up but haven’t seen him since we’ve been here. Seaman and Biddle were terribly disappointed at not being on the list as it would be only sixty miles from home. They were still in camp when we left. When you find out where they are stationed let me know.

Guess Dad has the turkeys located for tomorrow morning. Wish I were there to go with him. We have tomorrow off but it doesn’t mean much as we can’t leave the fort. We’ll be stationed here for fifteen weeks preliminary training before being assigned to a regular regiment. Most of us in this battery are college or university graduates being trained for instrument and service work. Seems to be a fine bunch of men; but the sergeants are tough. This has been the crack battery of the regiment for quite a while and they don’t want to lose the rating.

We have barracks here instead of tents as at Blanding but the hot water never seems to go around. Haven’t had a hot shower since I’ve been here. Hasn’t been very cold though; a little frost early in the morning.

Please have Stuart give my address to Ben Ryan so that he can send my papers up here. Send me the girl’s addresses, too.

Hope you can read this as I’m having to use a copy of Life as a table.
With love,

Jr.


Postmark December 24, 1941
Regular mail
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Monday night

Dear Mamma,

The package came today and I certainly appreciate all of it. Have gotten one from Helen, Aunt Susie and Frances Hudson (Seaman’s sister).

We are all hoping that we will get a furlough after we’ve finished our training since we didn’t get one for Christmas. It will be just my luck not to get one though, since we have to be ready to leave any time after we’ve finished six week’s training. We are beginning our fourth week now.

Here is an average schedule for the day: We get up at six o’clock; fall out for reveille at six fifteen, from six fifteen to seven o’clock we eat and make up our bunks. Usually have about two hours rifle drill in the morning. The rest of the day is spent in class or working with the instruments used in sighting the cannon. Retreat and inspection is at five o’clock and your rifle better be clean. Air raid drill comes at any time day or night. We have to move out into the woods as fast as we can. Got caught in the shower several nights ago and had to fall out dripping wet. Just enough time to grab my rifle and overcoat. On top of that it was raining. I’ve never bee so cold in all my life.

Howard sends the paper to Frank and I. Thought he would be in the army by now. Have any of the men who were released because of being over twenty eight been called back yet?

Tuesday night

I started this last night, but didn’t finish before the lights went out.

The package from the Sunday school class came along with one from Barbara. Don’t know where I’ll put all of it Saturday if we have an inspection. Our Chief of Section won’t let us have anything like cake or candy in our lockers at inspection.

I’m enclosing a check to Daddy for the taxes and gas bill. The deed he asked about must be in the safe or in the desk in my room. But I thought I put all my papers I the safe. I think the note I have from Fred Miner comes due sometime in January. Wish dad would look after it. It’s in the small safe in his office.

Would have given anything to have been on the deer hunt last week. Maybe I’ll get home before the turkey season is out. If Kenneth keeps the dogs, see that he is paid for it and send me the bill. Don’t let anything happen to Rock before I get home.

Raleigh is about sixty miles from here. Don’t think I’ll get up there for Christmas as we have only one day. Will get up there some weekend. Most of us couldn’t go anywhere even if we had the time. We’ve been here almost two months and haven’t had a pay day yet. Probably won’t get paid until sometime in January.
With love,

Jr.


Postmark April 8, 1942
Free mail
Batry. A, 26th F.A. 9th Div.
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Tuesday night

Dear Folks,

The Army put on quite a show here yesterday. There didn’t seem to be as many civilians around as I expected there would be though.

It’s as quiet here tonight as I’ve ever seen it. The battery is out on an overnight problem. Since I was on K.P. today I didn’t go.

We leave in a few days for landing operations somewhere along the coast. We’ll be gone for about two weeks. I don’t know how it will be about mailing letters, so if you don’t hear from me for a while don’t think we have left the country. The only reason I’m writing this is that I don’t want you to worry unnecessarily, and I’m depending on you not to say anything to say anything to anyone. Don’t even write the girls about it until we get back.

Hope all of you had a pleasant Easter. Some of us went in to town for Church.

With love,

Jr.


Postmark April 21, 1942
Free mail
Battery "A"; 26th Field Artillery Battalion; 9th Division
- Fort Bragg, North Carolina Monday a.m.

Dear Folks,

I feel guilty having time to write a letter during the morning while the rest of the battalion is out on a road march. We play on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the squad gets the morning off when a road march is scheduled.

We took a trip down Fair Bluff, N.C. this weekend. Wasn’t much of a town, but I enjoyed getting out of camp. The town is on Lumber River which flows into the Pee Dee. It looks much like the river does up at Orange Bluff.

The dogwood is in full bloom up here now. We were out on the west edge of the reservation last week; about twenty five miles from here. There is more dogwood there than any place I’ve seen.

I knew Dr. Gordon quite well at Gainesville. Would like to see him again.

Had a letter from Seaman last week. He’s been going to a mechanic’s school and says he’s going to try and get in officer’s school again. Doesn’t know if he can pass the eye test or not. I think I’ll wait a while longer to get a little more experience and then try for it;’ if I can get in some other branch of the service.

Love,

Jr.


Postmark May 22, 1942
Free
Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Dear Dad,

It looks now like I won’t get home in June for the deer season. There are about 15 or 20 men who haven’t had furloughs yet ahead of me. Most of these were to have left this week but their furloughs have been canceled. We are due to leave for Virginia sometime before long; don’t know just when yet. It’s been put off so many times, I don’t think anyone knows just when we will leave. We’ll be up there for about 15 days. So it will be some time in July before I’ll even have a chance to put in for another furlough. I saw two deer this morning almost in camp. Both of them were does.

I don’t know if I’ve written any of you or not, but I have some German prisoners here now. They were taken off a sub. somewhere off the coast. I don’t know if it’s a military secret or not. Haven’t seen anything in the papers about it.

We’ve been put on a gas ration too. Are only allowed one gallon a day per truck, so we haven’t been riding very much. We’ve traveled just as much but do it on foot now. We can leave camp at eight in the morning and do fifteen miles before twelve o’clock. The call this a mechanized army but if you don’t have good feet you won’t last long.

If it looks as if Stuart is going to be called, try to talk him into getting something before he is drafted. I wrote him a few days ago not to wait until the last few days before he starts looking around. I certainly hope he doesn’t have to go; but if he does he can do better than be drafted into a regular army outfit.

Love,

Jr.


Idle Gossip Sinks Ships
Postmark May 29, 1942
Free
Norfolk, Virginia.
USO

Dear Mamma,

We found this place a few minutes after I mailed the card. I won’t have time for much more than just a note as we have to be back on board ship at 12 o’clock. I don’t know how it will be about writing while we are here; which will be several weeks. Send my mail to Fort Bragg address.

Came up on advance detail. Made the trip by motor convoy. Much better than it would have been by train. Thanks for the package; it came in just before we left.

Love,

Jr.


Postmark U. S. Navy
June 6, 1942
Passed by Navy Censor
Thursday Night

Dear Folks,

I hope you will be able to read this. [Line censored] I’m trying to write this by a dim blue light.

Most of the men have gone [word censored] on an overnight problem. I’m glad I didn’t have to go as the weather looks like rain and the mosquitoes are as bad as they are at home [words censored].

We’ve gotten mail once since we’ve been out here. Was sent out by plane. I don’t know when this will be sent [word censored] but will write it just in case we get a chance to mail letters.

The food is much better than we’ve been having in camp. We are packed on like sardines - around 1500 of us [line censored]. I guess that’s about all I can write without having the censor cut it out.

With love,

Cpl. E. P. Davis, Jr.


Postmark July 15, 1942
Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Dear Dad,

Hope you’ve gotten the big buck by now. I’ve seen quite a few this week. One truck killed two Wednesday night, a small buck and a doe. I saw one last night and two tonight. We were having an outdoor class after supper in the use of instruments and two small does came up to within a hundred feet of where we were standing.

We had a group of West Point cadets out last night. They took over all the regular officers jobs and those of most of the noncommissioned officers of the Battery. Of course they were a little green on just what to do, but the problem went off very well. Those of us who are going to this preliminary school for officers candidates have a full schedule from 6 in the morning until 9 at night. When we are on the Post we have classes form seven until nine after supper and do regular duty with the Battery during the day. Most of out class work is basic instruction which I’ve already had so it isn’t so hard for me. It’s all Artillery instruction though and if I transfer to the Engineers it won’t do me any good. I haven’t had my interview yet so there’s still a chance I may go to Fort Sill to the Artillery School.

I’ve at least learned to go without sleep and sleep when and where I can. We were up all night last night. Tonight I’m on Charge of Quarters. I have to see that everyone is in bed at one o’clock and get some of them up at four in the morning. It is no use trying to sleep from now until one because everyone who is out on pass has to come in and sign the book when they get back from town.

Seaman told me he thought he could get in Officers School all right now. He applied once before and was turned down because of his eyes. Still he would make a much better officer than some we have. I didn’t think mine were as good as they used to be; but they checked 20:20 when we took out physical exam last week.

We’ll leave again next Wednesday for more maneuvers in Maryland. I don’t know who long we’ll be away this time, probably three weeks. Some of the men in other outfits were allowed a weekend pass to go into Washington while they were up there. I’d like to see what it looks like during war times.

Conditions look worse every day. It looks to me if there’s going to be a second front established, we had better get at it before its too late. I don’t think it the lack of trained men and equipment, now; but a lack of ships to take us over and keep us supplied after we get there. Several outfits from here have moved out; we don’t know where. I shouldn’t be writing this so don’t talk about it. It’s only a question of time before our outfit leaves. I’m surprised that it hasn’t been ordered out before now. It’s one of the older division in the Army. Most of the selectees have been here since 1940 or early ’41 and we have some older me who have been in from 3 to 9 years.

Tell Suzanne to write. I haven’t heard from her once since she’s been home. Tell her to take off some weekend and come up. She’s the only one there who has lots of time to spare now.

E.P.D. Jr.


Postmark August 3, 1942
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Sunday A.M.

Dear Mamma,

We left Petersburgh yesterday morning and got back here during the middle of the afternoon. It was the best maneuver I’ve ever been on. I’ve learned more in the past two weeks than I have during all the rest of the time I’ve been over here.

My orders were waiting on me when we got back. Have to be in Fort Belvoir, Va. on August 6. I had hoped I wouldn’t have to report until September so that I could have taken my furlough. My acceptance came through the day after we left for Maryland. If I had been here I could have gotten a ten day furlough. Now it’s going to be three months I’ll even have a chance for another one.

Several of the men from this outfit are leaving today for Fort Sill, Officers School. I had a note from Seaman saying he is to report there on August 11. If I could change it now I’d go there instead of the Engineers. I may have made a bad decision as I know nothing about the Engineers but I’m going to try it anyway. I’ve never seen the camp; but it is only twenty miles from Washington. I’ll be able to see another part of the country anyway.

Barbara sent me a 1/2 bu. of peaches. They had been here several days when I got back so most of them were spoiled. I know you will be glad to have her at home for a few days, only wish I could have been there, too.

I wish Suzanne could get a deer. Dad would never get over it, would he?

I’ll write again before I leave. Don’t know just yet what my new address will be; so if any of you write send it to Fort Bragg and they will forward it from here.

With love,

Jr.


Postmark August 10, 1942
Candidate Ernest P. Davis, Jr.
Co. I-15, 2nd Eng. Sch. Reg’t.
Fort Belvoir, VA

Sunday P.M.

Dear Dad,

Things just didn’t break right for me to get home for the deer season. Guess we’ll have to wait until after the war and make up for the time we’ve lost.

We came up on the train Wednesday night to Alexandria; from there out here by truck. We’re only twenty miles from Washington but it might as well be a thousand. Haven’t been off the post yet and don’t think we will be allowed off until we are through with the course.

I thought I was transferring from an outfit in which the officers were strict and the work hard but this makes the 26th F.A. seem like a Boy Scout Camp. Here we go from 5:45 A.M. ’til 9 at night with a half hour off for each meal. We have to work all day Saturday and most Sundays. We drilled up to noon today. All instructors are officers and they mean business. Everything has to be just right. A large percent of the class gets through. I have more books than I had all the time I was in school.

There are a better class of men here than you would find in a regular outfit. The food is much better than we had at Fort Bragg. The only thing I find wrong is that there just isn’t enough time to do everything which is supposed to be done.

I hope Cousin Everett is getting along all right. Give him my regards next time you see him.

Tell Mamma not to send anything at all on my birthday as we are allowed nothing but government issue; no eats either.

It’s almost time for supper so will stop.

EPD Jr.


Postmark September 20, 1942
Fort Belvoir, Virginia

Dear Dad,

This has probably been the hardest week we’ve had since I’ve been here. We had final exams in floating bridges, camouflage, photomaps, extended order and musketry; with two full field inspections thrown in for good measure. We’ll finish fixed bridges next week. Those of us who are going to graduate will know about it in about two weeks.

I don’t know why Frank wanted to transfer to the Mechanized Cavalry. There’s a small detachment who works with the School on road blocks and obstacles. I wouldn’t want any part of it. It takes a crazy man to run a tank or armoured car like it should be. Hugh Dixon would have made a good one.

The beach patrol sounds like a good example of the things that are being done now. It has to be done but there must be more efficient ways of doing it.

The Army has been replacing trucks with mules and wagons where it can be done. Especially around the camps and short hauls. I’m waiting to see how Rayonier comes out on their experiment with mules. If the operators can’t get tires I don’t see how they’ll get the wood out. Most of the farmers up this way seem to be using horses and mules instead of tractors. In North Carolina they use mules altogether but in Maryland and Virginia you very seldom see it done. They do have fine horses though and raise quite a few in Maryland. I saw some of the finest pasture you’d want to look at this summer in eastern Maryland.

With love to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


Postmark October 23, 1942
Fort Belvoir, Virginia

Thursday Night

Dear Mamma,

We signed our discharge from the Army as enlisted men tonight. I wish it were the final discharge as an officer.

Classes continue through Monday but no one seems to be in any mood to study. All the final grades have gone in, even though we haven’t finished classes. Most of us have our uniforms. All we lack is the commission to make them official. I’ve bought just enough to get away from here with. It’s better to wait until we get to our next station to buy all we need. I’ll have to get a suitcase of some kind if I can get to town this weekend.

We’ll have our assignments and we’ll probably know about leaves by Saturday night. It all depends on what we are assigned to, whether we’ll get any time off or not.

Tell Kathleen I didn’t see Nelson Blacker. He finished here last week but I didn’t know his address.

Thanks for sending the watch. It’s time for the lights to go out.

Love,

Ernest Jr.


WESTERN UNION
OCTOBER 24 937A
MRS ERNEST P DAVIS
120 NORTH 6 ST

WILL LEAVE HERE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON FOR HOME ERNEST DAVIS


U.S. Army Air Forces
Hammer Field, Fresno, Calif.

November 11, 1942

Dear Folks,

None of the country I passed through liked as good to me as Nassau County. I got into Fresno Monday night and came out here Tuesday morning. We’re about six miles from town. The bus service is much better than the other camps where I’ve been stationed.

I had hoped that this would be an organization which had been active some time. When I reported I found that I was one of 16 2nd Lieuts. And one captain. As yet we don’t have any men. I have been made Personnel Adjutant. It’s all administration and office work and the last thing in the Army I’d want. I’ll probably wish a hundred times I were with the 9th Division.

I hope Dad had better luck Monday than we did the last day I went. If he will send me Mr. Prescott’s address I’ll write him a note thanking him for the turkey. The time I had at home was very short but I did have such a nice time. How is Elizabeth? Hope she is feeling much better now.

I don’t know where the Post Office is yet, but I’ll try to find it tomorrow and get this off by Air Mail.

Love,

Ernest P. Davis, Jr.
850th Eng. Bn. Avn.
Hammer Field, Calif.


Hammer Field, Calif.
November 26, 1942

Dear Mamma,

Hope all of you have had a very pleasant Thanksgiving. Dad probably went hunting and you have had to wait dinner on him as he didn’t come back for the noon meal at all.

Our schedule called for a half days work today; but Base Headquarters put me on as Officer of the Day so I don’t get the half day off after all. It doesn’t mean much except that I can’t leave Base and we have to inspect the guard two or three times tonight. Last Thanksgiving I was on K.P. at Fort Bragg. Today I had to eat with the enlisted men at their mess. It couldn’t have been better at the officers mess. The mess Sgt. gave me a menu and told me to send it to you.
It’s very warm today, not like Thanksgiving weather at all. From where I sit there seems to be quite a bit of snow on the mountains to the west of us; but down here we don’t need a coat.
I wish one of you would send me a pad of deposit slips and a small check book at the Fernandina bank. I think it would be better to keep my money there instead of opening an account here. We might be moved sometime before I’d have a chance to transfer the account.

Love to all,

Ernest, Jr.


Postmark December 18, 1942
Lt. Ernest P. Davis Jr.
850th Engr. Avn. Bn.
Hammer Field, Calif.

Dear Mamma,

The Post Exchange didn’t have any Christmas cards, so I sent to town for a dozen today. I’ll get them off tomorrow and hope they arrive by Christmas. As for Christmas presents I hope none of you sent me any. I had no idea of what to get for any of you. If I’d been at home, Kathleen could have given me some suggestions. There are not many things anyone in the Army needs if he’s going to be moved anytime. Officers are allowed only 100 lbs. of baggage when we go overseas so I don’t see any use in accumulating things we can’t take with.

I’m glad Stuart won’t have to leave; not that he wouldn’t make a good soldier, but one of us should be at home.

We’ve gotten quite a few men who aren’t able to go through with the training program. I don’t understand how they ever pass the doctors. It’s such a job to get rid of them. Some of them don’t want to be discharged but there’s nothing that some of them can do in a combat organization.

I know there’s no use to tell parents not to worry, but I think the way the Mizells take on over Jack being on board ship. He had something which would have kept him on land for the duration and I think they should be proud of him wanting something else. Of course we realize that some of us are going to get hurt but it won’t hurt any of us to get knocked around a little. I’d hate to think any son of mine tried to hunt a soft spot during a time like this. I told the Battalion Commander when he assigned me this job that I wouldn’t be satisfied in here; not that I’m any safer as a staff officer but I’d much rather have command of some men even if it were no more than a platoon.

It has been cold at night, not enough for ice but heavy frosts. I don’t think it gets as cold here as it does a t home.

I thought I’d written what an Aviation Battalion does, but in case I didn’t we build, maintain, camouflage, and defend airports. We are on a 6 1/2 day schedule now, so it doesn’t leave much time to get around. I can get off any night after six, so long as I’m back by 6 o’clock the next morning. Fresno is one of the nicest towns I’ve found since I’ve been in the Army. It reminds me of a Florida town, except for Indians, Mexicans, and Cowboys with high-heeled boots. There are very few negroes. All the Japs have been moved out. There’s quite a Chinese colony.

I had a letter form Biddle last week. He has been moved to field near Los Angeles but unless he can get off and meet me here, I probably won’t see him. Wrote Hal but I haven’t heard from him.

Suzanne has probably gotten home by now so Merry Xmas to all of you.

Love to all,

Ernest Jr.

I don’t believe Suzanne intended to hurt that buck last summer if she couldn’t cut up a frog in a lab. Tell Dad to take her out while she’s at home. If she gets one, don’t spare the blood.


Army Air Base Hammer Field
Fresno, Calif.
January 19, 1943

Dear Mamma,

Anything you might find for a clothing stamp would be all right. If you can find something with the last four numbers of my social security number (5373); I’d like to have that. It could be just my last name, with or without my rank. You’ll just have to take what you can find. This is a list of clothing and equipment which we have to get. I’ve gotten most of mine. I don’t see how we’re going to keep up with all of it. If we ever get into combat we’re going to get along on quite a bit less.

I don’t remember if I ever mentioned to Dad about the bond he gave me for Christmas or not. In case I didn’t, I appreciate it very much.

It’s been quite cold for the last two days. The ice hasn’t melted since Sunday night. It’s been much better than having a damp fog all the time.

The last time I heard from Clark, he was in New Jersey. Had a card from Biddle in Texas today and a box of cookies from Hal’s wife last week. I’d like to see them sometime but it looks as if I’m not going to get off.

Tell Elizabeth I haven’t forgotten about the cigarettes she sent me. I just haven’t been able to answer every letter I’ve received. I don’t have a chance to write during the day and some of us have been going to school at night or teaching one ourselves.

Love to all,

Ernest


Postmarked February 8, 1943
Hammer Field, Fresno, California
Sunday P.M.

Dear Mamma,

Wish I could have been there for the turkey dinner today. We have it quite often here but it isn’t the same after it’s been kept in storage after so long.

Tell Dad there should be a twenty five dollar bond coming in for me each month beginning with January. It might be some time before they start but $18.75 is being taken out of my pay each month.

Recommendations have gone in for some of us to promotion as First Lieutenants. It will probably take several weeks for any of them to be approved.

We received our chaplain yesterday. One more medical officer will bring us up to full officer strength. The chaplain is a Congregationalist. We have every type of religious faith and nationality, but if he’s the man he should be he’ll be able to look out for all of us. Our Battalion surgeon is a Chinese, and a very good one too.

I’ve run into things since I’ve been here that I never thought I’d have anything to do with. We have several Chinese boys who have wives in China. Most of them want to send money home under the Family Allowance Act; since they have to have a copy of a marriage certificate before they can get the money and they don’t have marriage licenses in China it’s been quite a problem to get their applications approved. We had twelve aliens who received citizenship papers last week. The Major had all of them out with him when he reviewed the Battalion Wednesday at the parade. I thought it was quite thoughtful of him; and it must have meant a lot to the men concerned.

Lt. and Mrs. Hopkins have asked me to have dinner with them tonight so I’ll have to stop and get to town.

Love to all,

Ernest Jr.

Thanks for the stamp. It was just what I wanted.


March 20, 1943
Hammer Field, Fresno California

Dear Mamma,

I had my trunk packed to send home but changed my mind and sold it. Don’t think it would have been worth paying freight on. Still have some clothes I won’t take with me but someone here might be able to use them. I thought we would have been gone by now but we still hang on. It won’t be long though.

Most of the snow has melted off the mountains. The fruit trees have just started to bloom. Just about every fruit you can think of is raised here. I’ve had all the ripe olives I’ve wanted since I’ve been here.

I’m not tied down as adjutant as much as I was when I was personal officer. Still don’t get off the base very much but I can leave the office once in a while and see what the men are doing in the companies. I don’t expect to get a promotion for some time yet. You have to serve six months as a first lieutenant before becoming eligible for captain, except in the combat zone where the commanding officer can make the promotions.

My roommate from Raleigh was transferred to Hamilton Field yesterday. Don’t know who they will move in with me now.

It’s about my bed time so goodnight.

Love to all,

Ernest

P.S. Tell Kathleen I won’t need the bars. I’ve been able to buy some through the Post Exchange.


Hammer Field
April 20, 1943

Dear Mamma,

Barbara and Kathleen both reminded me of yours and Dad’s birthdays and I intended to wire you Sunday night. I didn’t know until I went down the telegraph office that they had stopped accepting greeting messages of any kind. I felt bad about it all day after I found out I couldn’t get in touch with you.

This is a picture of the battalion at retreat parade one day when the non commissioned officers took over the officers jobs. The acting battalion commander and his staff have their backs to the camera. The company commanders are in front and the four companies in the background. The parade probably looked better than if the officers were in charge.

I have several letters here from Kathleen which I haven’t answered. I’ll try to answer some of her questions. I’m rooming with my assistant adjutant, a Lt. Hopkins from Texas and a Lt. Burgess from Chicago who is in the Quartermaster Corps. There is an Ordinance Officer in with us but I can’t remember his name.

Rayonier paid my insurance premium for another year. I sent the check in for deposit; wish you’d give dad the invoice for filing with my papers.

Love to all,

Ernest


Hammer Field
April 28, 1943

Dear Folks,

This is a clipping from the base paper. Thought you might be interested in what our non commissioned officers can do. We are going to be depending on them quite a lot before long.

I’m just finished filling out and addressing my change of address cards. You’ll probably receive them by the time you receive this.

This is what most of us have been looking forward to for quite a while. We’ve worked hard and I think we’ll be able to do our part when we get there. None of us know what the future has in store for us, but none of us want to miss it.

Mail probably won’t be very regular for some time but write as often as you can and I’ll do the same. Us the Hammer Field address until you are notified otherwise.

There is so much to be done before we leave. I hope we don’t have so much in the way of administrative paper work when we reach the combat zone. I think we can work and fight just as well without it.

You will probably have to make other arrangements about keeping Rock. Give him to Clyde Sauls or someone in the woods. A dog’s bark seems very little to disturb anyone. It would sound mighty good to me right now; and there are lots of us that would like to trade it for the sounds we have to hear and will hear in other parts of the world.

Thanks for the Easter card. Maybe by next year this time we will be on our way home.

Goodbye and love to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


C/O Postmaster New York, N.Y.
May 9, 1943

Dear Mamma,

It’s been a nice warm day; almost summer weather. We had a very good Mother’s Day service this morning; probably the last we’ll attend in the States before we move.

Yours and Dad’s letters came this morning. V mail letter didn’t do you any good. I think it would be nice to use it when we leave.

This is all I have time for now. Write as often as you can.

Love to all,

Ernest


V-MAIL
New York, N.Y.
May 20, 1943

Dear Folks,

I’ve seen quite a bit of the same country which Mamma and the girls saw a few years ago. Will be able to give our location some time later. All of us are well pleased with the set up here; it’s much better than any one of us had hoped for. The country reminds me very much of Virginia.

From what we’ve been told the mail will be very slow for the first few months. Quite a lot of it will probably be sent to our last station before it gets to me. Our APO number may have been changed since we left the States. If it has, you will probably have been notified.

We had an uneventful voyage; but it’s not one I want to make again under the same conditions. Don’t worry and write as often as you can.

Love to all,

Ernest


R. E. Mess, Deverell Barracks, Ripon, Yorks.
22 July 1943

Dear Mamma,

My pen is out of ink and picked this stationery up at the mess tonight; you can put this in your scrapbook and I’ll tell you more about it after the war.

I’ve been here several days. It’s quite a change from our home station; but I’ll be glad when we get back.

My mail will not be forwarded to me, while I’m here, and I don’t know just when this will reach you, but thought I shouldn’t wait until I left here to write.

We have a night problem in the field tonight so I’ll have to stop.

Love to all,

Ernest


23 July 1943

Dear Dad,

The note I wrote to Mamma last night was mailed today; will probably leave here tomorrow. I don’t know when you will get it as I sent it "free." Had no air mail stamps or V mail stationery with me.

We’ve had a very pleasant day; although it was hard for me to stay awake in class after being out most of the night. The sun has been out all day for the first time since we’ve been here. It’s been quite cold until today.

Maybe I can tell you a little something about the place without telling any secrets. We’re enjoying the hospitality of the Royal Engineers, eating in their mess, and living in their barracks. There are a few officers here from all over the world and most of the allied nations. Our orderlies are A.T.S. girls which correspond to our W.A.C.S.

Haven’t had any time to see much of the country up this way except what I saw on the way. It doesn’t appear much different from the section around our home station. There’s a town near here which I want to see Sunday. We have only one class that day so I should have the afternoon off.

Most of these smaller English towns look very much alike to me; red brick houses with their chimney pots, the narrow streets, the ever present "bobby" and the air raid shelters. If it were not for the uniforms and the blackout with an occasional air raid warning, you wouldn’t know there was a war going on.

Things look quite a lot better all the time; maybe we have a foot-hold on the continent now which will help us put an end to this before many months. I’d like to carry a shotgun once in a while and hear a dog bark instead of a pistol and listen to planes go over.

Ernest Jr.


V-MAIL
APO Number 644 New York, N.Y.
30 July 1943

Dear Folks,

We have three more days of school. Some of it has been quite interesting but it’s getting tiresome now. I’ll be glad when we get back to our own mess. We haven’t had any mail in two weeks; there should be quite a bit waiting back for me at our home station.

I don’t know if you saw this place when you were over here or not. It was quite a resort town during peace time. Another officer and I had dinner at an old hotel in town tonight; of course it’s somewhat run down now but the grounds are still beautiful. I wish you could see the flowers.

There’s an old Abbey near here which I want to see tomorrow if I can get our there. We get to see a good many parts of the country but have very little time to visit the points of interest.

Ernest.


V-MAIL
APO #560 New York NY
5 January 1944

Dear Mamma,

Your letter of 10 December and one from Dad written on 17 December came yesterday, just before I left for London to spend the day. I saw "Gone with the Wind" again and enjoyed it even if it was the second time I’d seen it. Its been playing here ever since it was released. Most of the audience are American soldiers.

We’re moving into a new area on the airdrome. We’ll live in tents this time; which aren’t so bad when you get a good fire going in the stove. We’ve been lucky so far having huts. That’s an Engineers lot, though; build for someone else and then move on.

We’ve had some flu; but the worst is over. Most of our men are so hard now nothing could hurt them. I was down with it for several days before Christmas but it didn’t take long for me to get back on my feet.

Love to all of you.

Ernest Jr.


V-MAIL
APO #560 New York NY
14 January 1944
Rec’d Fernandina, Fla. Feb. 10, 1944

Dear Mamma,

We’ve gotten moved into our new area and partly settled. In a few days, after we’ve been able to pour some sidewalks and get ourselves partly out of the mud, we’ll be at home again. I’ll always remember the mud in England. Tell Dad it’s worse than Braddock Tract when it’s wet.

If you can get 120 film I’d like to have a roll. We can’t get them over here. I can borrow a camera. I’d like to take some pictures sometime. They would be nice to have after the war. I’m sorry now that I didn’t bring a camera over with me.

I hope you’ll be able to read this. I’m using a pen which is much too fine for me to try to write with.

Love to all of you.

Ernest Jr.


V-MAIL
APO #156 New York NY
22 January 1944

Dear Mamma,

Your last V mail letter came at the same time that an air mail from Dad, written six days later, was delivered. So you see V mail isn’t always the fastest.

Our APO number has been changed from 560 to 156 so please use the new number on your next letter. The mail which is on the way will reach me all right.

I haven’t been answering all the mail I’ve been receiving lately. There are usually three or four from you folks each week and I do well when I write one. One week is just the same as the last one; five days work, one day of training and one day off. Our days off are staggered so that the work doesn’t stop. I’ve been spending most of my time off in London.

Love to all,

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail
31 January 1944
Fernandina Fla. General Delivery Feb 14 1944

Dear Mamma,

You asked if I’d had any oranges since I’ve been here. We were issued a few Christmas, about two for each man. They were Florida oranges but for some reason I didn’t get my two. There are none on the markets over here that I’ve seen; although I saw something in the paper about a few shipments from Spain in which bombs were found.

I met a Red Cross girl from Madison, Fla. a few weeks ago. She works on one of the Red Cross Clubmobiles which go from one camp to another serving doughnuts and coffee. I think Helen would like the job. There’s usually one or two girls on each airdrome who manage the aeroclub.

You’ve mentioned several times that if I ask for anything you could send it. I take it that the postmaster won’t take a package for overseas unless you can show him a request for it. That was the case up until sometime last fall; but has since been changed so that packages can be mailed without a request. I didn’t write this for a package, but if you can find a cigarette lighter of some kind I’d like to have one. Matches are hard to get over here, and also a pair of lined gloves.

Tell Kathleen I mailed the picture I had made. I don’t know how long it will take to get there; about a month I guess.

I’m enclosing two pictures taken in the Officers Mess, one on Thanksgiving and the other at Christmas. Tell Kathleen the girl is a vogue model; her aunt is a neighbor of ours. She was visiting her aunt on Christmas and the Major asked them to our Mess for dinner and I was "detailed" as escort. We get all kind of details, even social ones which I don’t care for.

Goodnight and love to all of you.

Ernest Jr.


V-MAIL
APO #156, NEW YORK NY
25 March 1944

Dear Mamma,

The gloves and cigarette lighter came this week. Thanks so much for both of them. I was able to buy a cigarette lighter through our Post Exchange before the one which you sent me came in, so I’m well supplied now. I have one which one of the mechanics made for me out of an English lighter and a 50 caliber shell which I’m going to send to Dad.

I think I wrote you that I’d been to see Biddle at his station. He had a mission out so he was unable to fly me back to my base; had a very enjoyable day just the same.

I had a letter from Howard this week. You probably know that he was been made sergeant.

Ernest Jr.


Airmail
11 April 1944

Dear Mamma,

There were four letters from, Dad and Kathleen when I came back today. When I arrived at what I thought was my home station last night I found that the company had been moved to another airdrome; I finally caught up with them today. It isn’t a bad location but I haven’t had time to look at all of it yet.

Of course I can’t tell you much about the school I attended. It was quite interesting and the training will be put to good use later on. I did get a chance to see Oxford for about two hours while I was away. There was a Bank Holiday on so everything was closed. You were probably wondering how I spent Easter. Classes were continued right through Sunday from eight until six. Even though I didn’t get to church I know all of you did. Maybe next year we can all go together.

We’ve been having lovely spring weather; not as warm as we know it at home; but much better than cold damp winter. I’ll be glad when I get where I can roll up my shirt sleeves again and get some sun. My face and hands are quite dark from being outside all the time even with what little sunshine we do have. I was asked not long ago if I haven’t moved up here from North Africa.

Taps have just been blown; lights will be out in a few minutes. I’ll write again before the weekend.

Love to all of you,

Ernest


V-MAIL
APO 638 NEW YORK NY

Dear Mamma,

We’ve been moved around so much during the past two weeks that about all I’ve had time to do is pack and unpack. I don’t know how long this address will be good for but until you receive another use this one.

I’m well and getting along fine; except for a slight cold so you have nothing to worry about.

Love to all,

Ernest


Free Mail
28 April 1944

Dear Mamma,

I’ve been away from the company for several days with no chance to write. Now that I’m back and up with my sleep I’ll answer both yours and Dad’s letters which came just before I left here last Sunday.

I wish I could tell you all about where I’ve been and done but I’ll have to with until after the war to fill in the blank spaces. We are very well settled in our new camp now. Although we don’t have many of the conveniences we had at out other station we are finally well fixed. We couldn’t ask for better weather than we’ve had for the past few weeks. Everything is so green here now.

Tell Dad if he thinks best to transfer the cash in my checking account to my savings account. I’ve made an allotment of my pay which is to be sent to the bank each month. The first check should be in before long.

I’ve had my hair cut short and put my comb and brush away. Maybe when it grows out I’ll have a little more than I have now. It’s getting rather thin on top.

Goodnight and love to all of you.

Ernest


Airmail
23 May 1944

Dear Mamma,

I don’t think it would be giving away any military secrets to say that we are on the firing range today. Came out this morning but don’t commence firing until tomorrow. There’s very little to do for the balance of the afternoon except sleep; which Lt. Smith, my tent mate is doing, while I’m using his paper and envelopes.

It’s bright and sunny this afternoon. Some of the men have taken their shirts off. I’m sitting with my back against a stone wall looking out across an open field. The rifles on the firing line are making quite a noise and Smith is snoring so it’s not as quiet as it might be. Most of the men would rather be out here, even when they have to seep on the ground, than in the camp and I know I would.

You should see our mess truck. It’s arranged so the cook can cook right in the truck even in convoy. The cabinets and cupboards are built into the side. The three gasoline ranges have fit right across the front end. We’ve raised the top so that a man is able to stand up without bumping his head. Everything is very compact but we have no trouble feeding two hundred men. One of the cooks told me at noon that he would rather cook in the truck than in the kitchens back in camp.

Received a letter from you yesterday which had taken about fifteen days to come across. There was one last week which had been written since the one which I received yesterday.

I can think of nothing else for now so goodbye and love to all of you.

Ernest Jr.


Airmail
6 June 1944

Dear Mamma,

Although there isn’t very much that I can write about tonight, I know you’d like to know that I am safe and sound on this eventful day. There’s no use for me to tell you not to worry because there’s no way for you to keep from it. You are as well posted on what is taking place as we are. Although we are where the news is being made you folks must be receiving a blow by blow description. While you were listening to a broadcast from over here: we are listening to the comments as to how the States are reacting to the invasion.

Suzanne is probably with you now. Give her this picture of some of the Land Army girls over here. I think they are doing a great part of the farm work now.

Love to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


V-MAIL
APO 126 NEW YORK NY
11 June 1944

Dear Mamma,

Received two letters from Dad yesterday; one written after he had seen Biddle. I hope he was able to get around to see you. I didn’t know he had gotten back to the States until you folks wrote me that he was in Fernandina. Once in a while someone is transferred back to the States but I don’t think there’s any chance for me until after the war. Most of us feel that we will be on the way home before many months although much work and hard fighting lies ahead.

There seems to be so little I can write about tonight, but even so, the important thing to you is that I’m safe and sound.

Goodnight and love to all of you.

Ernest, Jr.


Air Mail
25 June 1944

My Dear Mamma,

Today we received our first mail since we landed in France; there was one from every member of the family, so please pass this around until I get a chance to answer each of them. I should mention too that this is my first letter since we landed.

Our trip over was uneventful. Although when we landed I ran my halftrack unto a shell hole in seven feet of water and ruined everything I had. I pulled it out with a tractor but everything was a total loss. My bed roll and clothing is about dry now. I have another halftrack and radio coming in tonight so we’ll be in good shape again.

The weather has been fine so far. The roads are terribly dusty though. I took my first bath today in two weeks. There’s been a pump set up near here; but the water is just like ice.

You passed through this section when you were over here but you wouldn’t recognize part of it.

We’re sleeping in fox holes but so far there’s been no need for them. I found one already dug so I haven’t had to use my shovel yet. I can hear the guns a few miles ahead. All of the Germans I’ve seen have either been dead or prisoners; they don’t look like supermen when our infantry and artillery get through with them. We have the finest arms and equipment that you folks can give us. If we use it right we may be home by Christmas.

I’m enclosing some notes which I have no need for now. Give them to Kathleen for her scrap book.

Love to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


V-MAIL
APO #126
NEW YORK NY

2 July 1944

My dear Mamma,

There’s an American church service coming in over a German radio which was left behind when the Germans pulled out. I was here when this place was taken and the infantry didn’t give them enough time to set booby traps so everything which was not destroyed by shell fire is usable. We even had German beef today. They left a nice bunch of steers behind, most of which will go to the French.

I was [line censored ... possibly “in Cherbourg”]. I can see now how hard it was to take. The people are moving back to what is left of their homes. They seem to be happy and cheerful even though some of them have nothing left.

Goodnight and love to all,

Ernest Jr.


Airmail
6 July 1944

Dear Mamma,

My platoon is off this afternoon, until tonight at 600 O’Clock. I’ve just finished taking a hot shower. We installed one soon after we moved in here out of some German equipment which was left behind.

This is one of the loveliest days we’ve had since we arrived in France. The sun is as warm as it is at home this time of year. If it weren’t for the rumble of the guns in the distance one wouldn’t know there was a war going on a few miles from here. Most of the signs of the battle around here have been repaired or covered up. From where I sit writing this I can see a German helmet hanging on a wooden cross where one of them was buried. There are several items of German equipment around the room; guns, one old cavalry saber on the wall; the Company commander has a German Field telephone on his desk and the room is furnished with very good furniture; just as they left it.

By now you should have received at least one of my letters written since we landed over here. The last letter I had from you and Dad you had received no word from me since D day. Most of us feel that everything is in our favor now and it won’t be many months before it will be over. I’ve been away from home a long time now. Our main objective is to get it over with and get back.

Love to all,

Ernest Jr.


Airmail - France
21 July 1944

Dear Mamma,

It’s cold and raining in Normandy this morning. The rain beats through the canvas of the pup tents. The dust which has been very bad up until now will be settled though. The type of work we’re doing just now can’t be done in the rain so we’re just marking time this morning.

Your letter of 2 July came yesterday, along with one from Dad written on 29 July (June?). Up until that time all the letters you had received from me were from England. By now you should know that I’ve arrived in France.

The towns over here are coming back to life. When we first came through on near here none of the population was to be seen. Now the shops are beginning to open; and the rubble is being cleaned up.

It’s about lunch time so I’ll stop.

Ernest Jr.


Airmail
Company A 850th Engr. Avn. Bn.
Sunday 30 July 1944

Dear Mamma,

The sun breaks through occasionally this morning. I have my bed roll and blankets out on the grass. They get so damp on the ground.

I’ve just heard the news broadcast from London. Now the program has switched to New York. I wish we could travel that fast. I’d have lunch with you folks today. For the past few days the new from all fronts has been good. The infantry continues to advance and if we can give them air support, we’ll join the Russians before the year is over. If the reports we get are true Hitler must be having lots of trouble inside Germany. I don’t think he will get away to a neutral country this time.

It’s time for me to go to work.

Love to all of you.

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - France
Company C 850th Engr. Avn. Bn.
14 August 1944

Dear Folks,

There were two letters from Dad and one from Kathleen yesterday. I’ve been moving around so much lately that the mail hasn’t been very regular. It hasn’t been giving us much time to write either.

This part of France is by far the best we’ve seen. I wish I could tell you more about it. The flowers are beautiful and the vehicles are almost covered with them as we cove through the towns. On our last move one of the companies made the mistake of stopping inside on town for about an hour. We were the first American troops in that sector and the wine flowed too freely for the average American soldier.

The weather has been unusually hot and the roads dusty. I’m not complaining about the heat though; it’s the first time I’ve been worm since leaving California.

I’m sleeping under pine trees for the first time since leaving the States. As yet I’ve seen no naval stores operations. The pine look much like our black pine at home. The yellow jackets are worse than anyplace I’ve ever seen. There’s an offer here from east Texas who says it seems almost like home to be stung by one.

Had a not from Biddle yesterday; he’s back in England now. He told me how much he enjoyed the short visit with you folks.

By the time Dad gets the puppy trained I should be home for a while. I’m tired of carrying a gun without a dog with it.

Love to all of you.

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - France
Company C 850th Engr. Avn. Bn.
26 August 1944

Dear Mamma,

Since I haven’t written to anyone in almost a week I’ll at least write a note so you’ll know I’m still safe and sound.

Every time we move to a new job there are several days during which there is so much to be done that there is very little time to write. As you can well imagine from the news reports everything is moving at a very rapid rate. One would have to see to believe what takes place when there is a "big drive" on. The war correspondents give a very good description of it all and far better than I could so you know pretty well all that takes place.

Just now we’re bivouacked in a hardwood forest near a chateau; a lovely place, too, with beautiful grounds and an old house which must have fifty rooms. From all appearances we aren’t the first American troops to camp here as there are names and dates on some of the trees from the last war. Who knows maybe in twenty-five years from now another outfit will stay here for a few days. The timber is the largest I’ve seen in France. Most of it is beech, with some maple, oak, walnut and pine.

We’ve had no mail this week. Mine is still going to "A" Company and since the battalion is split up most of the time mine usually takes several days to reach me after the message center gets it in.

There have been several days of rain lately. It’s so thick here in these woods several days of sunshine will be needed to dry things out.

My love to all of you.

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - France
3 September 1944

Dear Mamma,

If our generator doesn’t stop running maybe I’ll be able to write a note tonight. I’ll have to get it overhauled tomorrow. You may wonder about lights so I’ll explain. Each company has a small generator of its own so we do have lights in the command post tent and the kitchen. We picked up a German trailer which we have fixed up with a canvas top and a table inside it makes a nice traveling office.

I’m enclosing a picture of part of my first squad when I was in "A" Company. It was taken on one of our jobs over here. More details will have to wait until after the war. There is also a clipping from the Stars and Stripes which I’d like to keep.

Suzanne’s V-Mail of two pages came today. Her wedding plans must have her spinning. She dated her letter April 17; hope she’s not that far behind. I know you are glad to have everyone home now. If you’ll only take things easy. Every letter I have from home someone mentions how much you are trying to do.

Suzanne says everyone is very optimistic about an early peace. The news sounds good even over here but it’s a long way to Berlin; and I don’t think we’ll stop until we get there. I’d like to see allied troops in every town and city in Germany before anyone starts talking peace. And then too this is only half the war over here; if I had anything to say about it the whole Japanese race would be exterminated before any of us were sent home. I’m as tired and homesick as anyone in the Army but if we don’t do a good job this time someone will have to do it again 25 years from now.

Goodnight and love to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - France
15 September 1944

Dear Mamma,

I’ve been thinking of you during the past few weeks as we move from one field to another but I just didn’t seem to be able to find time to write. The weather has been very good most of the time and we’ve been able to pass a good part of France. There’s very little time for sightseeing except as we move from one place to another.

I had a flying trip through Paris some time ago. Stopped only long enough to close up the trucks. Maybe sometime I’ll have more time there.

We’re bivouacked in the edge of a woods on a former German airfield. Our airforce did a very good job of bombing it some time ago. Not all of these returned to England though as there are several wrecks lying around. There is a wing from a B-17 just back of our Command Post.

Haven’t had mail delivered in quite some time now. The last letter from any of you was Suzanne’s V-Mail. The outgoing mail is probably just as slow.

Love and best wishes to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - France
24 September 1944

Dear Mamma,

Your letter of 21 August was handed to me a few minutes ago. The mail service isn’t as fast as it was a few months ago. We move around so much and the outfit is split up so sometimes it’s a wonder the mail ever reaches us.

We’ve had three days rain and everything is either knee deep in mud or under water. Its good most of us are healthy and hardened to this sort of life. There has been very little for the medics to do since we arrived in France. Most of us seem to be able to get wet and sleep in wet blankets with no bad effects.

I started this yesterday but was unable to finish it. The rain has stopped this morning but it’s still cold and damp. The French had several cords of wood cut and stacked up in the woods where we’re now camped. I hate to see the men burn it but we need it now as badly as the French do. When I build my home I’m going to have an automatic oil heating system.

Since the weather is too cool to get much done today we’re taking some of the men to a nearby town this afternoon so I think I’ll go along. It’s not a very nice day to go sight seeing but I’ll be out of the mud for a few hours.

I know you are busy with plans for the wedding now. Dad says you’re working too hard. Why don’t you send them around to the County Judge?

The box Kathleen sent hasn’t arrived yet. One of the other officers received one yesterday which was mailed over two months ago.

It’s almost dinner time so I’ll stop for now.

Love to all of you.

Ernest

P.S. I don’t have any German money except a few coins I picked up in a headquarters building on one airfield I reconnoitered some time ago. Did I send you any of the "invasion" money we were issued before leaving England?


Air Mail - France
6 October 1944

Dear Mamma,

It continues to rain but there’s not so much where we’re located. The sun breaks through once in a while and that along with good food and enough work to keep us busy keep us going. All of us "grumble" but there aren’t very many who would go home right now with the job unfinished.

Dad said in his last letter that Gusssie was coming back. I know you’re glad to have her. You’ve had too much to do for the past few years. We have good cooks but I’d like to eat one of her meals now.

This is a piece of a parachute which some paratrooper used on D-Day. There were thousands of them lying around when we came over; some of them hanging from trees and telephone lines. You might put this in your scrap book.

Good night and love to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


V-MAIL
3 October 1944

Dear Mamma,

The sun is out this morning; after a heavy frost and several days of rain. Everyone has his blankets out to air and dry. They get quite damp during weather such as we’ve had for the past few weeks.

I had a V-Mail from Aunt Beulah yesterday which was mailed 4 March. She addressed it to the 950th, but it finally reached me.

This month’s full moon should bring Dad a few marsh hen tides. Was he able to get the shells he needed this year?

Everything goes well here. We haven’t been working any too hard because of the weather; but a few days of sunshine will change that.

Love to all,

Ernest Jr.


Free Mail - France
28 October 1944

Dear Mamma,

Up until the time you receive this there will have been quite a break in my letters. It seems as if we never get settled in one place but that we have to move. There have been several days during the past few months without rain but it’s been our luck to get a rainy day every time we have to strike camp.

All of you have been so very good about writing. I’ve at least a half dozen unanswered letters now, including one from Aunt Susie. Yours of Oct. 10 came last night telling me about the change in the wedding plans. You don’t know how much I would have liked to have been there. I’m so sorry I couldn’t have sent her something from over here. There’s nothing in the stores which is worth buying.

Two years ago today I started home from Belvoir. In some ways it seems like yesterday and at times it feels like I’ve spent half my life away from home.

How did the storm affect you at home? We heard over the radio that there was quite a lot of damage in south Florida.

Don’t worry about my winter clothes as I have all I need now. We’ve had no snow yet but I can feel it in the air now. The boys up in Belgium have had some during the last few days. Dad and I have spent lots of cold mornings in the swamps after turkeys and had lots of fun doing it so I guess I can stand it here this winter but it won’t be fun.

This is the only piece of paper I could find here this morning. We have lots of V-Mail but I don’t like to use it.

I’ll try to get another letter off in a few days so until then I hope you all have a very pleasant Thanksgiving.

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - France
30 October 1944

Dear Mamma,

There was a nice long letter from Suzanne last night and one from Dad. She has probably left for Texas so please send me her address in case I don’t hear from her before you write again. You don’t know how I hated to miss the wedding; but it would take more than a war to stop weddings. I know she wouldn’t like it; but I think every soldier should have a little overseas service.

Please give "Capt." Youngblood my regards. I’m sorry to hear about Frank; but he has a very good chance to turn up somewhere as a prisoner. I’ve seen a good many fine young men go since we’ve been here but when it hits close to home you feel like you’d like to wipe the German nation off the map. Two years ago I was at home for a few days. Little did I realize that I’d be away this long. Maybe I told you but I came pretty close to getting back for a few days just before we came overseas. In fact two of us had made plane reservations when we were alerted and had to cancel them. On the 10th of November I will have completed my three years and get a 5 percent increase in pay. I hope I don’t stay long enough to draw another 5 percent after at the end of the second three year period.

Dad asked if I could tell him what Army and division I’m assigned to. I’m afraid I can’t answer that, although I’m not assigned to any Army or division. I still wear my Air Force shoulder patch.

Since my last letter: I sent it "free" and you may receive this first; we’ve moved. The company is in large tents with stoves and electric lights. The kitchen is in a farmer’s equipment shed and the officers have taken over a small house. It has only three rooms and a cow shed all built together. It’s about like a Negro shanty at home but will do for the winter if we stay here that long.

Goodnight, and love to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - France
10 November 1944

Dear Mamma,

Tuesday’s election went just about as I thought it would. I don’t know that it would have made much difference in the war one way or another. Most of us voted several weeks ago so it didn’t cause much excitement over here.

The weather here is much colder than it was when I wrote last. During the last few days we’ve had snow and sleet which is not as bad as the rain.

I’ve just remembered that I was sworn into the army three years ago today. That’s about two years longer than I thought I’d be here when we took the oath. I hope we’ve served most of our time and that we see another Armistice Day before long.

I’m enclosing some tinsel for your Christmas tree. It wasn’t made for that purpose so save a piece of it for your scrap book and I’ll tell you about it after the war. These chevrons came off a German uniform near Cherbourg.

Our mail bag has been very light for the past few days. I usually receive at least one letter from you and dad every week. None of the packages have arrived yet but we saw in the paper that there was one ship loaded entirely with packages on the way over. One of the men told me today that he had received a package several weeks ago which was mailed last Christmas. Most of them get here on time though.

I don’t know how different Thanksgiving will be from any other day over here. Last year we had a half day off and turkey for everyone. We hope to get the turkey this year; I have my doubts about the half day.

I’m Officer of the Guard tonight so I’ll have to stop and make the rounds to see if they’re all awake.

Love to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - France
15 November 1944

Dear Mamma,

For the last 48 hours we’ve had heavy snow. It’s much better than rain but in the long run will cause as much mud as the rain. Everything looked white and clean this morning, most of the mud had been covered up but by noon after the trucks and heavy equipment had churned things up it was as bad as ever.

The news on all fronts sounds very good. Even though the weather has been terrible progress has been slow but steady. I don’t think we’ll move from here to Berlin as we did across France but never the less we’ll get there.

I wrote to Mr. Youngblood after I heard Frank was missing. Since then I found out that his outfit was on the southern front in France. I don’t know if I’ll be able to contact them or not as we’re in a different sector; but I will try to get any information I can.

I’m sending a Yank and two copies of the Stars and Stripes which you might find interesting. In the first article in the yank it mentioned Frank’s outfit the 117th Reconn. Battalion. I thought about sending it to Mr. Youngblood but you can do that if you think best.

Dad will be cleaning his gun for the hunting season in Nassau County in a few days. Or has he kept it clean all summer? Send me a picture of the puppy sometime. I still have the one of Rock and Stuart’s boy.

Love and best wishes,

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - France
1 December 1944

Dear Dad,

There was a letter from you today mailed 30 October and one from Mamma mailed 23 October so you see our mail has been very slow for the past few weeks. The delay is probably due to the Christmas rush of packages.

Biddle wrote me that he had seen Seaman in England a few days ago. He has probably arrived in France by now. I’ve written to him but as yet there has been no reply.

IO had a three day leave in Paris last week. Went with three other officers and twenty men and stayed at a rest camp just outside the city. It was good to get away for a short time but I’m glad to get back to work. There’s so much to see one could hardly do it in three days.

One of the men killed a wild boar last week. It was about three years old and weighed abut 250 lbs. I told them to give it to the French but the cooks baked the hams and they were very good. Tasted very much as would an old buck. I hope by this time you have gotten one with a big head of horns.

The weather has improved; we’ve had no rain for several days. The front is moving up now. With good weather and open country General Patton will start rolling again.

Goodnight and a Merry Christmas to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - France
2 December 1944

Dear Mamma,

The wind is blowing hard tonight with a fine mist falling which will probably turn to snow by morning. It’s very pleasant in the Command Post tent where I’m writing this. We have a good fire going in the stove and electric lights. The Army-Navy football game will be coming in before long. We have a very good German radio which the Chaplain picked up somewhere. I guess Dad has the radio turned to the same program.

We had our first parade in France today. The men from "A" Company received the Soldier’s Medal for pulling two men out of a river. There have been a few awards of Purple Hearts and Bronze Stars but this was the first time we’ve had a formation.

When I wrote for cigarettes not long ago I didn’t realize they were so hard to get there. I could have gotten along very well on what we get here. When we’re in the combat zone, cigarettes, soap, razor blades, etc. are free, when we’re further to the rear we have to buy them. For the past few weeks there has been all we need.

The lights will be going out before long so I’ll say goodnight and love to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


Free Mail - 11 March 1945
Co. "B" 1864 Engr. Avn. Bn.
Drew Field, Florida

Dear Mamma,

Dad’s letter came today. I’m certainly glad Frank is on his way home and I hope Ted will turn up some day soon. Let me know when Frank gets home as I’d like very much to see him.

I had dinner with Lt. Taylor and his wife last night. It does me good to get away from this job for a while.

I’ll be glad when the Company Commander gets back. I’ve had this company about as long as I want it.

These are two pictures which come in a letter from France which was forwarded to me.

Love to all of you.

Ernest Jr.


Free Mail - 18 March 1945
Drew Field, Florida

Dear Mamma,

Haven’t written to any of you this week, and I don’t know of any news now. We’ve been very busy but I can’t see where anything is being accomplished. Most of it is paper work which I don’t like at all and seems so useless. Most of the administrative paper work which should be done by the first sergeant and the Company Clerk has to be done by an officer.

We go to the rifle range tomorrow for a week’s firing. Up to now I’ve enjoyed this type of training but it seems impossible for these soldiers to even learn how to load a rifle.

Last time I wrote to you I mentioned enclosing two pictures which were sent to me from France and sealed the letter without the pictures. I’ll put them in this one along with a booklet of commendations which Capt. Cable sent me last week. I was especially interested in the one to the 850th from the 100th Fighter Wing. I’d like to be with them now.

The weather has been warm for the past two weeks. It should be warm enough up there to swim. One of the officers who lives over on the beach asked me to spend the day with him but there was some work to be done so I didn’t go.

There are quite a few names in the paper Dad sent me from Gainesville.

Love to all,

Ernest


Free Mail - March 31, 1945
Drew Field
Tampa, Florida

Dear Dad,

I wish that I could spend Easter with you folks; but it looks as if I’ll have to put it off another year.

We finished our firing this week with scores which were only fair; but were about as good as could be expected. I went out this afternoon and fired the M-1 rifle and carbine. My score was 178 on the M-1 and 179 on the carbine which will give me expert on both of them. Wish you had been here as we have more ammunition than we could fire.

I am enclosing three checks for deposit to my account.

Goodnight and love to all of you,

Ernest Jr.


At Sea
July 3, 1945

Dear Mamma,

It’s almost too hot to sleep tonight. If it were allowed I’d take a blanket out on deck and sleep there but since the ship has to be kept blacked out we have to stay below deck after dark.

I’m writing this in the ward room where it’s not much cooler but with the fans going it’s better than the top bunk in our compartment.

We have picked up and dropped off mail once since we left the States. This will have to wait until we reach our final destination; which is still over a week away. I’ve never realized how much water there is on this side of the world.

There has been little to do on board ship but eat and sleep for the past two weeks. Even though that gets tiresome it’s going to be hard to get back to work again.

The first day or two out we had a bunch of sick Negroes. They are over it now and will be as glad as I will to get their feet on land again.

Barbara had a lovely wedding I know. Wish I could have been there. Send me her address when you write again.

Has anyone heard from Howard and James Clark lately? They should be getting home before long. Had a letter form an officer in the 850th not long ago and they were stationed near Nuremberg and had been assigned to the Occupational Air Force. So he didn’t think they would get home before next year anyway.

Love to all,

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - 12 August 1945
Guam

Dear Mamma,

This is the first Sunday we’ve had off since we arrived here. This morning I censored company mail; slept from one to four this afternoon. Some of the officers went over to the beach but I’m a little afraid of this tropical water since I had trouble with my ears.

We are waiting to see if the Japs will accept our demand to surrender; not that it would make any immediate change as far as this outfit is concerned. Our work would go on as usual for quite some time. For my part I think we should go on dropping this new bomb until there are no more Japs to surrender. The Germans have gotten out too easy as it is.

I heard from Ted and Ernest Ferreira this week. Ernie is on Okinawa as you probably know. From what he says the mud must be as deep as we had in France. That’s one thing we’re not bothered with here. There is only about six inches of soil over this coral rock. The only way we can get a hole down is to dig it with a "jack hammer" or blow it with explosives.

It’s almost suppertime so I’ll stop.

Love to all,

Ernest Jr.


Air Mail - 13 October 1945
Saipan

Dear Dad,

Our camp is located on a cliff overlooking the water. There is no beach, so it leaves nothing to do while waiting for transportation, except eat, sleep and read.

The Japs seem to have made better use of the land here than we did on Guam. There is very little jungle here and most of the island appears to have been under cultivation at one time; mostly sugarcane and vegetables.

I probably won’t be home by 20 Nov. so locate the turkeys and we’ll get one for Christmas.

Love to all,

Ernest Jr.


Western Union
MRS ERNEST P DAVIS
120 NORTH 6 ST
UNAL 20 FT=SANFRANCISCO CALIF NOV 11

ARRIVED SAFELY EXPECT TO SEE YOU SOON DONT ATTEMPT TO CONTACT OR WRITE ME HERE
LOVE
LT E P DAVIS.


Letters 1-3, 5-7, 19-26, 30-46, 57-69 typed by Jane-Margaret Davis (granddaughter)
Letter 4 typed by Ian Davis (grandson)
Letters 8-16, 47-56 typed by Ernie Davis
Letters 17, 18 typed by Ernest Davis IV
Letters 27-29 typed by Valerie Davis

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