Archive for July, 2011

29 Oct 1944 V-Mail

Hello, sweetie – Got your Oct 14 ltr today. Karen helping you clean sounds awfully cute. I can just see her, following you around – all serious. I think I’ll like that one!

This has been a fine Sunday. Was runner last night so slept until 11 this morning. Got up, had dinner, and went for mail. Also had to make another call, so did not get back until 4 PM. It’s brisk out, but clear as a bell, and it was a fine  Sunday drive. My medic pal, Erickson, went along and we have lots of laughs. After supper tonight, we all went to see Fred Mac Murray, Dot Lamour (L’amour too phoo!) & Betty Hutton in a thing called “And the Angels Sing” Best part of it was the walk back here in beautiful, full moonlight. What a night for romance – with my baby –  you, stoopie!

We’re sitting around the “barracks” (gym” now waiting for 10PM “lights out”. A few guys are swinging on the rings – some listening to the radio, writing ltrs, reading and five others slapping cards down on a table playing rummy (practically no poker in this outfit – & no craps since the night I sent you the $50. Maybe pay day again) anyway – I love you, cutie – & ol’ Mizz K – all my love to you
Pappy B.

31 Oct 1944 V-Mail

Hi, Cutie – No mail again. Darn. But, wonder of wonders – guess what I had this afternoon? A pass! Real, written, honest-to-gosh pass from noon till six PM. So Erickson & I went into town. Stores in Holland are closed tight from noon till 2 PM (that’s what I call a lunch hour!) So we just window shopped to get an idea. Some places looked fairly interesting – but we later discovered that like all continental stores, practically everything is in the windows – if you don’t see what you want there, you won’t find it inside either. One place had some really nice jewelry – which you can buy if you turn in equivalent weight of silver or gold. Not feeling like pulling out my gold fillings – I didn’t buy you any jewelry. The rest of the stuff in the whole town is positively junk! We did get our pictures taken (one sitting – boy, mine will really stink, but I’ll send it on – six postcard size photos for 8 1/2 guilders, or about 50 cents each) had a dish of ice cream, a plate of soup, and several beers during the afternoon – but otherwise the day was a complete bust. But I love you and hope for a ltr tomorrow. Hugs & kisses for you and Karen


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I’m getting the feeling that these guys are antsy and getting a little bored being forced to stay on the base – so how cool that they come up with their own gymnastics competition!

27 Oct 1944 V=Mail


Hello, Cutie – ain’t you the clever one, with your bedstead dressing table & painting & stuff? I’m very proud of you. Speaking of stuff reminds me of the GI who was broke and wrote home requesting 25 cents for “shaving cream & stuff.” His wife wrote back “Here’s 25 cents for shaving cream – you can get the stuff when you get home!” The silver dish presents sound very cute. Over here, to buy anything silver you must pay for it in silver money, or give an equal weight of silver in return. Having nothing but paper money (except the change in small coins) it naturally stops any silver purchases we might want to make – IF we could get out. I believe it’s a peace time law, too, about silver purchases. Notice, by the way that our APO is now number 339. Send Joe Swaldi camels for Xmas. Freddie D’s address is 1448 Queens Way, Hollywood. I’m still trying to find a stein for Dad for Xmas. If I can’t, maybe that’s an idea for you. Saw a lovely old castle today that I think you would have liked. Period of Edward the (blacked out) with low arches and sweeping roofs. My gosh but the designer of V Mail must have had a low opinion of our mentality (arrow pointing to a printed comment at the bottom of the letter saying “Have you filled in complete address at top?) YAAS! But I love you  – don’t I? OK  – it’s me – your husband
Mr. B.

(side note: Joe Swaldi was his Mom Zoe’s husband, and Freddie D. is Fred DeCordova who became a famous producer of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show)

28 Oct 1944 V-Mail

Hello, honey – doggone it’s been a long time since we’ve had any mail! Got snafued someplace, I guess. We’ve just been having a bit of a songfest. Couple of guys can harmonize a bit so we’ve dragged up some of the old ones and had a good time. We also have a short athletic meet almost every night. We have a high jump gadget that we keep raising. I can get up to about third best – main trouble is getting the last cheek of my big fanny over. On the leap frog “horse” (which we can raise to about 5’6″) another fellow and I are best. Strangely, his name is Neinberg – a sgt in the medics – long, lanky Swede. Then, of course we must each do a few turns on the rings. I’m the only one who can hang on the rings and do a forward somersault – know what I mean? Fairly easy to bring your feet up frontwards & roll over backwards, but pretty tough to roll over head first. Tear your shoulders out if you don’t do it right. We’re still paying for our fun with aching backs the next morning – but not as bad as at first. Maybe if we stay here a while I’ll get in condition. Course, I’ve been in condition to love you – for too damn long! Kiss ol’ Karen – all my love

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22 Oct 1944 V-Mail

My darling Mary – Here it is another lovely Sunday afternoon – a perfect date – should be a fine day except that I’m way over here & you’re way over there, which is enough to ruin the best day. Your Oct 10 through 13 ltr arr. today (took you a long time to write it, but I liked it very much). Karen, asleep, with hand behind head, must have been a wonderful thing to see. We will definitely start additions practically immediately I arrive home, because, darn it – I want to see all these stages in development. I may want to write a book some day. I never told  you how a buzz bomb dropped near us a long time ago, did I? We were moving that morning, so were having early breakfast. Pitch dark, in fact, and raining. I had got my grub and groped my way over under a tree and had just started on my mush when we began to hear the darnedest racket (like a plane motor) I ever heard. Kept getting louder, & suddenly we saw the trailing fire from the jets. Then the motor stopped! I scrambled toward a hole & there was a terrific explosion. That was all. We went back to our breakfast (a few guys hunted for theirs) and a couple of hours later, moved out on schedule. All my love to you, sweetheart

25 Oct 1944 V-Mail

How are you, baby? Your June 27 ltr arr. yesterday – but it s almost as newsy as if it had been written this month because you spoke mostly of Karen. You’d just finished final arrangements with Teenie for the trip. Karen’s “firm” aggressive attitude with Mary C. sounds very funny – also “good girl” after producing on the potty – cripes I’d like to see her! We had “Cover Girl” last night – right in our gym (sleeping quarters), because it’s the best show spot around here – so we sat (some even lay on their beds – luxury) and saw it through twice! Very good dancing, and quite a good movie all around. I visit a Liege, Belgium, a few weeks ago. A beautiful city hardly damaged by the war except for the bridges over the Albert Canal – which we now cross on pontoon bridges. It was a great treat to buy several ice cream sandwiches from a street vendor. Many nice dept stores & such – but as all other towns, it’s off limits to us. That’s why it’s very tough to buy much of anything, because even the town we live in is off limits to us. We stay strictly in our area except when we’re driving. But they can’t stop my loving you – and missing you like all get out! All my love, darling
My gosh Yees!
Mr B.

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20 Oct 1944 – V-Mail

Hello, sweetheart – Golly, am I stiff today! We’re sleeping in a gym now. There are a coupled of “horses” and rings from the ceiling, so naturally we all had to swing and turn over on ’em. Somebody will break his neck sure as hell. One guy hung from his toes, but couldn’t pull himself up again to let go. Lotta laughs helping him down.

Our mail clerk left us so now I’m it (in between my regular job. If anyone wants stamps, pkgs mailed, etc – I do it. Take outgoing, and pick up incoming twice a day. Very little work involved, and gives me a chance to get out and around. Breaks monotony – all around a good deal. More and more rain. And a little colder. The old mackinaw feels good on trips to the APO. Holding off on gloves & wool knit cap as long as possible. They say in another month it will be really cold here. Life is getting more like an army camp in the States all the time. We now must line up our beds – and today the order that extra pairs of shoes under the bed will be shined! Get us the polish (and they say “No C.S.” on the other side! Humph) and we’ll shine ’em. But we won’t like it. And don’t you DARE send me polish for Xmas! Say hello to Mercedes & Dolores. Kiss big, sweet ol’ Karen for me – here’s all my love for you, baby
(side note: I didn’t know what a “mackinaw” was so I looked it up):

Noun 1. mackinaw– a short plaid coat made of made of thick woolen material

coat – an outer garment that has sleeves and covers the body from shoulder down; worn outdoors

21 Oct 1944 V-Mail

Hello, Darling – I’m just sitting here listening to some pipe organ music – and it’s made me very homesick for you. I guess it’s because we used to sit in movies & hold hands and talk between shows while the organ played. It’s funny how & when it hits you. Sitting on a stool getting a hair cut; driving in a convoy; in the middle of a meal. Nix goot – as the Dutch say. I’m a hell of a mail man. I haven’t even got myself a ltr yet! Probably be a mess in one of these days. Have a request. Salami. Hard salami. Fellow gave me a piece this afternoon & it tasted fine. One of those little ones about six or eight inches long would be swell. It’s a wonder that more bicycle riding civilians aren’t run over! Pedestrians, too. They simply pay no attention to where they’re going. Guess after four years of nothing but bicycles, all these vehicles are too much for them. Worst scares for me as a driver come in convoy – when guys in trucks ahead throw out cigs & candy. Kids will run out right under your wheels if you don’t swerve out of the way. And when you get truck and trailer loaded down and rolling through some of these little narrow streets, you have a job enough seeing that you don’t lose the truck ahead without watching civilians. End of paper – but I could write books on my love you & Miss K

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17 Oct 1944 V-Mail

Mary, darling – ahha – Sept 30th ltr from my baby = with the telephone clipping in it. And ain’t you getting to be the domestic one? I’m very pleased – and would be delighted to get some of those fig (date I mean) bars, and some brownies. Be sure to send me some. Had a very interesting experience yesterday. Went through a porcelain & ceramics factory. What a lot of work there is to making a plate or cup. Most of designs (cheap ones anyway) are put on with a paper – the same way you put designs on an Easter egg. Many are hand painted, and some are painted on with a stencil (that fits cup or whatever) and a paint spray gun! Most interesting. Many guys are buying sets & sending them home, but I didn’t think you’d be interested – a bit too ornate, I figure. Besides, you may buy exactly the same thing in US or anywhere else. Doggone it – I still can’t find a stein so far that you think he might like? Also – his birthday is November 24 – I’m sure he’d be delighted with something from us. Can you swing it, please darling? Because I love you so much – and I’m trying to get home as fast as I can, ain’t I?
Pappy B – YES!!!

18 Oct 1944 V-Mail

Hello, Sweetheart – Got your two ltrs Oct 3 & 6 today – plus ltrs from Mom & Dad & a Xmas card from Mom! I’m sorry about the darn document I sent being signed Neibauer. I didn’t give it a thought. And foolishly threw the second one away! Won’t they accept that other paper that I signed both ways? (or was that my ballot? I’ve forgotten). If there is no other way (how about an affidavit from Equity, or someone – showing my two signatures – or Social Security – they’ve got me both ways) guess you’ll just have to send me another thing. Sorry to put you to the trouble, darling. I’ve just been playing gin rummy with Erickson – my medic friend – and won 4.50 at 1/2 cent, 1 cent & 5 cents. Lots of laughs. Used some Belgian cards we got – just like playing with blotters. I’m sending you a couple of packs in the next box home.

I’m sitting here waiting for midnight when I’m through as a runner. It’s cold and raining outside. Those poor guys up in the lines! It must be miserable. I’m so happy that you’re having fun at home. But you must be doing a lot of work too? Give ol’ Karen a big hug & kiss for me – there’s gigantic ones for you, darling
Mr. B.

(side note: when Dad moved to New York and became an actor, he changed his name from Neibauer to Bauer. However, it appears that when he was in the Army, his name went back to Neibauer. This has obviously created some confusion with legal documents related to their new home.)

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Friday 13 Oct V-Mail

Hello, Mary darling – no mail at all the past couple of days but will probably get lots tomorrow. had a grand shower this afternoon. Went to a big place here in town where there was plenty of hot water! What a treat not to have to stint on water – but just stand and revel in it. Most invigorating, and only cost five francs – or ten cents American (you bring your own soap & towel of course!) Soap is a very rare thing here. A very nice old lady who lives on the corner here, and whom I’ve become friendly with by giving candy to her grandchildren, asked me if I could possibly spare her some – said she would make a trade with me, but wouldn’t tell me what. So I dug around in my old bag & found a beautiful bar of Palmolive. In return, I expected a little trinket – but what does she put in my hand but a shiny new (1939, really – but not warn because she’s had it hidden from the Germans) silver piece about the size of our dollar! I refused to take it, but she said she wanted me to make it into a pendant, or brooch, for you (I’d showed her all my pictures and she thought you & Miss K were “tres belle” too). She said for the candy for the kids etc she wanted me to have it, anyway. So I’ll be sending it on in the next box, with the admiration of a fine old Belgian lady – and all my love to you
You know me – Pop

15 Oct 1944 V-Mail

Hello, darling – got a pkge of candy (homemade divinity & fudge) from Mom yesterday. It was delicious, but it must have been in the bottom of the pile next to the boiler room, because it was smashed & run together. But, never daunted, we got our spoons out and dug in and smacked our chops! Hope more of my pkgs will be along soon.

It’s a beautiful Fall Sunday. Brown leaves falling and whirling in the breeze – fairly cold. What a day for a romp with you & Karen – or maybe a football game with hot dogs & peanuts. Dream on, son, dream on.

Saw “See Here Put Hargrove” last night – and enjoyed it as much if not more than I did almost a year ago at Camp Crowder. Hope that we keep on getting shows as good, but doubt same. Why they can’t ship us good movies, I can’t understand. We have quite good facilities for viewing same, now, however a big room with benches even to sit on. We sit at tables with benches now for chow too. We’re at most civilized in many ways like that. But give me our old unit furniture (has the cat torn it to pieces yet? I’m greatly amused by her inflation & curious to know the results) and big double bed (and you – too – hmm) and I’ll be happy. Best to Merc & Dol.
All my love to you – Mr. B.

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This clipping was in my Dad’s letter along with the dried flowers he mentioned. I wasn’t sure at first which side of this was most important. Obviously to my Dad, the cartoon reflects his feelings. The map on the other side is very interesting as well.

25 Aug 1944
Letter #34 (I think)

Hey!! (26 Aug, 9am) 2 pkgs Arr!! yours with money belt, etc Anne’s of cookies. Thanks to both of you – more later Wheeee!

Hello, my darling – doggone, I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting you in the letter dept – but by golly, we get busier by the minute. (I started this at ten AM – it is now 5 PM – in the meantime I’ve been working – and up the road a piece to see Dinah Shore! She has a very good M/C, and a magician and a 2 piece band (one piano & a piano player – MC’s joke) with her. All very informal – and most enjoyable.

And I’ve just received ltrs #37 and Aug 13, Sunday (no #) and ain’t you the gal!! Really sounds fine – especially the part about time off to raise more family. Looks like I’ll have to go some to maintain my dignity in the financial Dept. Six To’ a year is a fair salary for a young gal to be making – and I presume as an editor you’ll get “billing”, too – hmm? Mighty fine. I hope you can talk Mercedes into coming up and living with us in the country. By the way, are you still with the same nice people as always? Or is that in some ltr I missed.

We have a fine place here now. A huge estate. The Madame is living in half the house, and our offices are in the other – but we live outdoors, as usual. We’re quite expert at this business of tearing down & setting up a bivouac area now – I’ll be a fine man to go on a camping trip with – I know some mighty neat tricks to add to one’s comfort & convenience. But you gotta broil the steaks. Lotsa steaks – for me & the kids – and you, too if you’re

Pg 2
a good girl.

I’m enclosing a coupla flowers (maybe they’re just weeds, I’m not sure)  = but I thought they were kinda purity! Also a cartoon that will give you an idea of the kind of weather we’ve been having again for the past few days. (the short one is ME, of course). It’s been beautiful again today – but, golly, you should see those roads (the little side roads, that is – the main roads are very good) when it rains for a couple of days!

We’re moving so fast these days that a great many things are even more snafued than usual. Mail of course, is the most important to me – but fortunately your letters have been coming through fairly well. Main trouble is pkgs always wait. Mine must be tied up somewhere, as I’ve still not seen even one.

Gee, but I’m getting anxious to see you guys again. I think driving to the Coast would be a lot of fun. Of course, getting a car is the big problem – and could Karen take it in a car? Don’t you think we should go out there fairly soon after I get home, though? Personally, all i want to do is talk and play with you and Karen – but 8 years since I’ve seen Mom, and 7 years for Dad is too darn long for them.

Your new prospects (with reservations, perhaps, about travels to Sweden, etc) sound swell, baby. I’m very proud of you. But don’t work too hard, now. Be a good girl, sweetheart, cause I love you more than should be read by a censor – Pappy

A couple of side notes regarding the content of this letter: what is a “bivouac”? According to Wikipedia:
A bivouac (pronounced /ˈbɪvuːæk/ biv-oo-ak) traditionally refers to a military encampment made with tents or improvised shelters, usually without shelter or protection from enemy fire or such a site where a camp may be built.

As a way of trying to understand where my father’s unit may have been going at this point in the war, I searched online and found this clip from The U.S. Army at http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/sfrance/sfrance.htm

Southern France15 August-14 September 1944
“The Allied invasion of southern France in the late summer of 1944, an operation first code-named ANVIL and later DRAGOON, marked the beginning of one of the most successful but controversial campaigns of World War II. However, because it fell both geographically and chronologically between two much larger Allied efforts in northern France and Italy, both its conduct and its contributions have been largely ignored. Planned originally as a simultaneous complement to OVERLORD, the cross-Channel attack on Normandy, ANVIL actually took place over two months later, on 15 August 1944, making it appear almost an afterthought to the main Allied offensive in northern Europe. Yet the success of ANVIL and the ensuing capture of the great southern French ports of Toulon and Marseilles, together with the subsequent drive north up the Rhone River valley to Lyon and Dijon, were ultimately to provide critical support to the Normandy-based armies finally moving east toward the German border.

The controversy that swirled around ANVIL one that has continued to the present, concerned not its timing or success, but its very existence. Opponents of ANVIL, including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, have long argued that the invasion of southern France did little more than sap the strength of the main Allied campaign in the Mediterranean, the drive north up the Italian peninsula toward Austria and Hungary. This direct thrust through the so-called soft underbelly of German-dominated Europe might also, in retrospect, have altered the East-West balance of postwar Europe. In contrast, defenders of ANVIL, mainly Americans, have steadfastly maintained that even if the rugged Italian campaign could have been accelerated, the operational and logistical difficulties of rapidly crossing the Julian Alps would have been impossible to overcome. Far more significant to the Allied cause in Europe was the capture of Marseille, France’s largest port, and the rapid rehabilitation of the Rhone valley rail and road network. Until the opening of Antwerp in December 1944, this supply route was to satisfy over one-third of the Allied logistical needs in northern France. In addition, the Southern France Campaign resulted in the arrival of the third Allied army group opposite the German border, without which General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s army groups would have been stretched thinner and pressed harder during the German Ardennes offensive in the winter of that year. And a more grievous Allied setback in December might also have had dire consequences on postwar Europe for the Western Alliance.”

What’s interesting about this evolving puzzle is that I found in my Dad’s effects from the War, a brochure welcoming G.I.s to the Cote d’ Azur, which indicates that he eventually WAS in the South of France! Where he might be at this point in his journey, I’m still not sure.

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