Letters Home from the Greatest Generation - Part II

For those of you who are curious what this whole series is about, please click HERE. I am not going to repeat the same thing over and over. But, just as a refresher, I am posting excerpts from letters my late Uncle John sent to his sweetheart, Alice, prior to and after D-Day. Both are now deceased. Even so, I have no intention of revealing some of the more intimate details from two lovers during that era. As always, if you see xxxx, that means it was blacked out from a censor. Loose lips absolutely could sink ships during this time period in history.

During his time in England, most of Uncle John's letters seemed almost carefree and show a bit of a boisterous side of him I never saw as a child. Part I was the only letter I will post while he was in Boddington, England. The rest, starting with this one, was after he left for his destiny in Normandy, France. He seemed almost child-like in some of his letters prior to D-Day. So many soldiers lost whatever innocence they had. Most were just kids from small town, USA. None knew how they would react when faced with death staring them directly in the face.

The letter below was dated June 4, 1944. This was two days prior to the "big push" as my uncle referred to it in all his letters. Most did not know exactly where they were going to land. My uncle was aboard a troop ship headed for Normandy. The exact ship was blotted out by censor. Even though the invasion would long be over by the time it reached Alice, the military intelligence apparatus was taking no chances. I don't know if all letters went through a censor during WWII. My father said his letters home were censored also.

This will be the last letter in which Uncle John displayed the "Johnny" everyone in his family knew. His future letters will be dark, foreboding and extremely graphic. Some have questioned why Uncle John sent such graphic tales of what he saw and did in WWII. One, Alice asked him repeatedly to share his experiences. She was a deeply religious girl from a deeply religious family. Alice felt as if Uncle John was cleansing his soul this way. However, after he sent his letter of June 15, 1944, Uncle John said she never asked him to give details again. Uncle John did anyway. Two, it was a way for Uncle John to talk about the horrors of war. He couldn't sleep at night after he hit Omaha Beach with his squad. I will not include all the extremely graphic, horrific sights Uncle John saw during this war. But, I will give a few details of what he saw. Most are just too horrible to even contemplate. I don't know how Uncle John lived through that war. This will be the last letter Uncle John sends to Alice prior to D-Day. It will be another nine days, after D-Day, before he writes another letter (June 15, 1944).

Cpl John S. Wxxxx
IV Division, Third Infantry, U.S. Army
USS xxxxxxxxxxx
June 4, 1944
My Dear Alice
I dreamed about you last night, Alice. I think you know what I dreamed about! I miss you so much, my sweet Alice. I hope you think of me burning up in this old smellay troop ship somewhere over the atlantic sea. It is finally here, Alice. The big push we have been training for the past 14 months. I can not go into all the details. But, something is about to pop and soon. My believe and hope is that we are going into the final year of this war. Some guys even say they think we could all be home by Christmas of this year! I pray that is so very true, Alice. If what I hear is true, we will 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. If this is true, then we are truly entering the final days of this terrible war. I have heard today that our boys took Rome, Italy from the germans. It was announced all over the ship. We all cheered and slapped each other silly on the back. If that is true and I do not know why they would lie to us, it means the germans are going backwards now. Sgt. Caffey told me today that we are going all the way to Berlin. Sometimes he says things he doesn't know anything about.
I must share with you that I am scared Alice. I must lead a unit of men under my command and care onto a beach tomorrow or the next day [It will be Omaha Beach as Uncle John will learn later that day]. I am worrie that I will fail my men into battle, Alice. I also worrie that I will be kilt. I know I promised you and mama I will come back. But, some of the stories going around make me think I may not make it. I know our division will be in the first wave of the attack. I will never tell any one else this but I cry at night thinking about this. I put on a brave face with every one here. But, I am scared. There is a big irish guy named Otoole who has said from the time we left xxxxxxxxxxxxxx that he can not wait to kill him some germans. I found him in the shower stall today with his head against the bulk head (wall to you) and he was sobbing very hard. I did not bother him. We all cry. All we want is to come home to our family. None of this makes sense to us. If hitler would just surrender, we could all go home. I would marry you as soon as I got home! 

I love you Alice. Never forget that. Please do not tell mama what I say in this letter. She would worrie even more. I am so scared, I have a really tough time using the bathroom if you know what I mean. But, I will do my duty. My men, my country, my family and you depend on me. I will not fail. If I die, just know my last thought will be of you Alice. Always remember this.
I love you, Alice
"With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, Almighty God.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944


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