Monday, February 16, 2015

"Brother it sure is hell"- Letters From WWII

The 5th Division, from it's landing in Normandy on July 9, 1944 to the last Division Headquarters in Vishofen, Germany, had traveled 2,049 miles and had been engaged major campaigns including Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, Adrennes-Alsac, and Central Europe.(from https://sites.google.com/site/fifthidhrs/home/history)

My father-in-law Herman Bekofske kept letters and postcards from friends who served in WWII.

Two letters were from PFC Robert Stanley Morris. In his letter dated June 12, 1945 Bob stated that he had worked at the Fisher Body Plant in Flint, MI as a foreman and a steel dispatcher. (After the death of her husband, Herman's mother worked at the plant. She supported the sit down strike and she was a proud member of the union.)

I have transcribed the letters as they were written.

April 7, 1945
Germany 
Hello Herman--
Today I received a letter from you with the heading of Hello Robert Stanley I like that very much especially the Stanley part, cute says I. 
I need not say how much I enjoyed this letter of yours being the first in almost two years that we have written one another. I usually say in my letters please excuse the writing as I am sitting in a fox hole but I guess it is me that is to blame and not the fox hole as right now we have just taken this town, that is yesterday, and I am sitting at a very large desk in one of the best hotels in Germany writing this letter to you- see it must be me and my sensibility, huh. 
Oh yes by the way it may be doesn't sound so exciting to you but last night I slept in a very good bed with clean sheets for the first time since I have been over seas almost a year and believe me I really did sleep. (Quote) (alone of course). 
Your Joe Hubie joke stunk- since I have been over here I have heard some very good ones but I don't think it would be very nice to put on paper so we will have to save them till I get home again. (Home what the hell is that) 
No, Herman I haven't lost my sense of humor, if we didn't laugh over here I do believe we would all go nuts and I do mean nuts- this is one hell of a war--people over here in Europe are starving not only in France and Luxembourg but here in Germany. But in England they do fairly good- it is a shame to see these people fight for a crust of bread
I see you have received your 1-A and Herman if you can, stay out of this damn Army at least try to get into the Navy- people that have not been on the front lines do not know what Hell it is and brother it sure is hell. 
You will never know the feeling when we walk up a hill to take a position or a town and you can see the damn Germans looking down your throat- you get weak all over and the skin creeps up your spine then things start popping and the first thing you know it is all over and you try to remember what you have done and simply can't. At night you are so tired that you try to sleep but so help me you simply can't for thinking o hell what a war.
We get all the wisky [sic] we want to drink over here in Germany that is one think that these people have. Well my friend I must close for now. Will write again soon
your friend Bob 
PS Say hello to Snider for me also Jack. Thank you. 
June 12, 1945
Germany Annsdorf 
Hello my friend:
Well will wonders never cease. I received a very good two page letter from you that you wrote on May the 29th very good to says I -as you know the War is over here in Germany. This Germany stinks believe me altho parts of it is very pretty. 
This letter of yours is very newsy Herman old Boy. I did and am really enjoying it I am glad to hear you didn't make the Army don't feel bad about that is one exam in your life that you are glad you didn't pass I'll bet- and I am glad for you and your wife 
So you cannot picture me in a fox hole huh Well old Boy who in the Hell wants to picture anything in a fox hole with those damn 88s and flying box cars and screaming meanies going over and I might say not all of them going over- all a man can think of is digging deeper -I have scratched up more dirt here in Germany, Luxembourg-France and Czech. than there is in the United States and I want you to believe most of it I was digging like a dog with my paws and you know what a dog digs a hole for- Well I dug them for protection but when the things became hot the boys and I dug the holes for the same purpose-sounds funny huh- it is funny by gosh -But by God it is the truth and now I laugh at the things I have done 
We reached a small town in Germany just after we crossed the Rhine River and we took the town Plus about 200 Germans just when everything was nice and quiet the Jerries came over with about twenty planes and straffed [sic] us but get this I was so damned scared that I stuck my head in a corner of a building took my steel helmet of and put it over my backside -can you picture that -but then a man does a lot of funny things at times like that 
I have been very fortunate while I have been here with the third Army fifth Div, the Germans called us the red Devils you see we wear or an insignia a red Diamond -well as I was saying I have been very fortunate of the hundred fellows that came in with me there are only two left besides me -I have thanked my lucky stars a thousand times that I liked hunting so well for years, these Jerries and pheasants are about the same target they both jump and hollar about the same only the pheasants jump higher-Oh well now the war is over in Germany I am wondering if the Japs jump now, all I want to do now is to get home for a few days before finding out if they jump or not. 
You mentioned about German Wiskey [sic] well Herman I have sampled plenty of it and about those Wolf Holes you talked about I sure as hell didn't want any Dutch Gal in a hole that was only three or four inches deep I had a hard enough time taking care of myself let alone any lady else anyway I was always to [sic] scared. 
You mentioned about Jokes yes the ones I have heard over here are Gems I will pour a few into your ears when I get home and your joke I thought was really cute and so did a lot of the fellows all in all this letter of yours is a dilly. Keep it up old Boy and I hope this but of scratching doesn't take as long as the other one to get to you. I am also writing a letter to Jack this evening I a glad to hear about Gary He is one of my favorite boys you mentioned about me being an ex steel dispatcher by all means Herman don't forget I am also an ex foreman of the Great Fisher Body my my how I chatter on Well I will close for now 
With lots of luck
your friend as always
Bob
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A family tree on Ancestry.com shows a Robert Stanley Morris born 2/16/1907 and died 4/20/1985.

On July 8, 1929 Robert entered the US at Detroit from Canada. He was 19 years old and living in Windsor, Canada; he was born in Walthamstow, England, and worked as a Bookkeeper. He was going to his Aunt Mrs. Carl Carlson of Flint, MI. It was his first entry into the US, passage paid by himself. The document also says that on January 28,1919 he entered Halifax, Nova Scotia, under the "British Quota."

The 1930 Census in Flint, MI shows he was working as a taxi cab driver, living with his parents Henry and Mae Whiting; Henry worked for the electric company.

The 1940 Census shows he was a steel dispatcher in Flint, MI, with three years of college, living with his wife Ethel M. and their daughter Sandra J. who was 2 years old. In a 1941 city directory he was listed as steel dispatcher in Flint.

His mother was Mae Fitzgerald born 10/9/1888 in India and died 6/19/1964 in Port Huron. She was the second wife of Henry William Whiting born 2/14/1885 in London, Ontario, Canada and died in 1950. Henry worked for Consumers Power and they lived in Flint, Lansing Grand Ledge, and Port Huron MI.
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The Red Devils
Notes: On September 25 there were 1400 Red Devils killed taking Moselle. With the surrender of Japan the Red Devils were deactivated on September 20, 1946.

To read about the Third Army Fifth Division, The Red Devils:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5th_Infantry_Division_%28United_States%29
http://www.combatreels.com/5th_infantry_division_europe_dvd.cfm