Monday, May 25, 2015

1945 V-Mail From France and Germany

My mother-in-law kept letters from her nephew Aurthur Kenneth (Ken) Perkins (b. 9-27-1926) who was a private in the 118th infantry. The unconditional surrender of Germany occurred May 7, 1945--a few days after this first letter. Ken was about 18 years old. I have transcribed the V-Mail and letters as Ken wrote them.

'Ken" with Grandma O'Dell and his Cousin Phyllis 
Ken's mother Edith Lila May O'Dell Perkins (1906-1968) was sister to my mother-in-law Laura Grace O'Dell Bekofske.

Edith married John Franklin 'Frank' Perkins (1889-1962) born in Ontario Canada. Frank was 21 when he came to the US in 1921 to "better his condition." Frank was married at that time, last had lived in Flint, MI when in 1919 he took the ferry from Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, MI. His occupation was 'laborer'. Frank had $8. He was going to his brother's home.

Ken's parents 'Frank' Perkins and Edith O'Dell Perkins
Their son Ken married Audrey Lee on May 13, 1944 when Ken was seventeen years old. The first letter from Europe was written near the time of his first anniversary.
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May 5/1945

Private A. K. Perkins
4th Plat. Inf Co I
Somewhere in France

Dear Aunt Laura,
Well I've finally gotten around to catching up on some of my correspondence. About time too I guess. We weren't able to mail any letters en-route so thats why you haven't heard from me lately. I got a letter from Audrie saying that Uncle Herman was turned down by the draft board. I'm very glad for both of your sakes. It's pretty tough sometimes to be so far away from home. Sometimes it seems like I can't even remember what some of you look like. I still like the army as much as ever but there's a lot more to it than that. Well I'm somewhere in so called Sunny France. Don't let anyone kid you, the only sun there is shines in Canada. Its pretty cold here at present and it looks like rain too. Well I guess this is about all for this one so bye for now and write soon The very best to all of you and Grandma.
As ever.
Ken.
Laura O'Dell and Herman Bekofske on Honeymoon, 1940
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France
May 21/1945

Dear Aunt Laura,
I guess its about time I got off a few lines to you so here I am. Its been raining all last night as so far all day. Its about three in the afternoon so I hope it stops pretty soon. We're living in tents now and when its dry around here its terribly dusty and now with all this rain the place is like a big mud hole. The R.A.F. bombed the devil out of Jerry when he was here so there isn't much left. Just parts of about six buildings still stand. The Limeys must have had quite a party. I had a swell time in Paris a week ago. I saw Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, Napoleon's Tomb, Marshall Jack's Tomb, the Garden of the Tuileries, the Palace de Concorde, the Prison of the Conciergere, the Avenue Champs de Elysees and the Eiffel Tower and many other places including the famous Opera. Well must close for now. Say Hi to Uncle Herman and love to Grandma.
As ever,
Ken
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May 11/1945
France

Dear Aunt Laura & all,
How are you all keeping? I'm fine but I guess I haven't done enough work lately. I'm getting terribly lazy. Its awfully hot here now and that makes me even lazier but I am getting a swell sun tan. I'm stationed in a place called Fontainebleau just south of Paris. The most notable thing about the place is Napoleon's Castle which is about five minutes walk from here. Its realy a monstrous and beautiful place and I'm told there are over four hundred rooms in it. I was on pass last night and went to a street carnival in town with one of my buddies. Had a pretty fair time there too. Boy you can realy tell the French people are happy the was is over here. There are all kinds of flags everywhere. Well, I must close now. Please write soon.
As always, Ken.
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June 15/1945
Mannheim, Germany

Dear Aunt Laura & all,
Well people, I guess its about time I wrote to you again. I received your V mail letter today and according to that I have got all of your letters so far. So Grandma is going to go live in a trailer house this year. Well maybe a good outing will do her good. but she is going u to one of the lakes to fish a summer, I remember gong up to Reverend [E. A.] Smith's cottage to fish one evening last year. That was real fun even if we didn't catch any whale. A fisherman can always talk about the one that got away anyhow. There are a couple of good fishing spots here but I don't have the time. Well, just as you said, these thing are too short and I'm running out of space. I'll write a letter soon so tell them, love to all. Hows your Holstein?
Ken
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September 27/1945
Auxonne France

P.F.C. A. K. Perkins
Co. H 118th Inf. A.P.O. 513

Dear Aunt Laura, Grandma & all,
Well I supposed you all guess I've forgotten you. I realy haven't I've been away three weeks on a furlough to England. I realy had a grand time. I saw all the sights of London and spent one day in Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland. I was in Southampton, Bromley, and Cheshunt too in England. It would take me ages to tell you all about it. Maybe some day when I have more time. Its nearly midnight now and I gotta get to bed. I just though I'd let you know I'm still kickin'. I spent eight and a half days in England and six in Paris. The rest of the time I was traveling. I saw St. Paul's, Buckingham Palace, the tower of London, the Tower Bridge, the British Museum, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and many other very famous places.

I had my picture done in London and if it turns out half decent I'll try to send you one. My cousin Frank's intended wife in London (England) is going to forward them to me. I have a small taken in Paris that I'll enclose now. I realy must close now. I know this is terribly short but I'll write more soon.
Love to all,
As ever,
Ken
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October 29/1945
Camp New Orleans (near)Troyes, France

Dear Aunt Laura, Grandma & Co.
Ken's Grandma O'Dell and Aunt Laura
I received you're joint letter today and was realy glad to hear from both of you. I've been too busy to do much letter writing lately. Boy this is some place. One day I do guard duty on a prison of ware compound and the next day I do M.P. road patrol in a jeep and half the time I work nights. But I guess the toughest part of it is over because I expect to be transferred out of the 188th any day no. Boy thats going to be a blessing. I detest the way this unit is being run. We have a devil of a time getting our post exchange rations, blades, ciggarettes, writing paper etc. and I haven't been paid since July. Now they say we aren't going to get paid again this month. The reason being that the staff of the paying section have mostly been sent home from this section of France. So now there are no clerks o do paper work and so we didn't get paid. I'll bet if Uncle Herman didn't get paid for three months he'd quit and go job hunting. But at present I haven't much chance of doing anything as drastic as that.

I think Grandma will like living in Flint again. It will be so much more convenient for her. Somehow I can't hardly visualize selling the farm because you have been there so long but of course I can see the advantages. I hope everything works out alright.
The O'Dell Farm
Honestly Aunt Laura, I can't give any sort of an excuse why Audrey hasn't written to you. She isn't much of a hand at letter writing. Sometimes I get a little but angry when she doesn't write very often. But she usually writes to me pretty regularly. She very seldom every writes to her mother or any of her relatives, I think I have almost soul claim to the products of her pen. So please don't think its because she is ungrateful or unthoughtful. She is realy very considerate, i guess writing is just her weakness.

Gee, I sure would love to be there to go pheasant hunting. I bet I could show you how to get one. Maybe. I haven't done any shooting for pleasure since I stayed with Aunt Phina and then I was trying to shoot pheasants out of season with a 22. Aren't I a smart one. But I'm going to try to fix up that rifle I sent home and do some realy honest to goodness sportsman like hunting some day. Perhaps I could persuade Uncle Herman to go deer hunting. He could show me how because the army didn't teach me to hunt that kind of animal. is it a date?
'Aunt Phenie' and husband Hiram O'Dell
I received the stamps you sent me some time ago Aunt Laura. I was sure I wrote and let you know that I got them. Perhaps I just thought I did. Anyway they were very welcome and they're a thing I always find good use for as long as I'm over here. I'm the guy who jeeps the post office in business you know. I write to no less than 37 people by I guarantee you there are a H of a lot less than that that write back to me. Sort of a one sided affair is what.

I had my picture done in a studio in England and hey were to be sent on to me when they were ready. So far I've not received them, but when I do you have a first rate priority on one of them. I may have to send it to Audrey and have some copes made but get one to you somehow.

Well I'm all out of gab and this is my last sheet of paper of this kind so that adds up to quitting time. So until next time, I remain,
as always,
Ken.

Love & kisses
(or do I dare)