Friday, June 23, 2017

Letters to Their Coach, WWII 1943

Bridgeport Leader September 30, 1943

News of World War II

These letters were received by Sam Gray of St. Francisville, coach of St. Francisville High School.

Ensign John McKelfresh, New York, New York

John McKelfresh
Dear Sam, Life here is going along about as usual. I had a touch of seasickness a few weeks ago; however, it did not last long despite the rough seas. Bill Tustin says airsickness is worse than seasickness; if it is it must be pretty bad.
We were moored alongside a pier at Norfolk at the time of the explosion there at the airbase. I was standing on the boat deck of our ship and saw the smoke and fell some vibration from it although we were several miles away. The newspaper said that the accident, ‘result of 24 depth charges’ was worse than the Roma blimp crash of a few years past. It’s a good thing Tut was in here for the explosion occurred in the section where he worked while here.
I have some all state high school players aboard, one from Hinsdale Illinois 1940. I’m anxious to play some games. I’m athletic and welfare officer in addition to my duties as a division officer, watch officer, conference officer and movie officer and assistant signal officer, and member of coding board. Yours, Mac

S/Sgt. Oliver Tussey, New York, NY
Hello Sam, I’m just one of those unlucky fellows. I’m afraid it’s going to be a long while before I see the good old US A again. Guess Dick Litherland is seeing a little foreign soil now. Was glad to hear that Harold Shoup is doing so well. From the enrollment this year, I take it, that the senior class is quite small. Johnny and Archie are both in the same place now, have been together once or twice. John’s a paratrooper now. He likes it tough so he’ll get it now. He’ll shake a little in his boots when it comes time for the real McCoy. Always Arby T

Forest Spidell, Great Lakes,  Illinois
Dear Sam  Well I got your letter yesterday but was too busy to write last night. We had to roll clothes and get ready for a bag layout. I mean you have to roll and really roll until they are hard enough to knock a man out. Well we have been drilling all week getting ready for tomorrow. We have our seventh week competitive drill. We are going to try and win it but I don’t think we will. Tomorrow evening we go through the gas chamber. I will be home until October 5 or 6. I don’t really know because we may get more than a nine day leave but I don’t suppose we will. I imagine I will be ready to come back because when I come back we will be able to get liberty. I have a pretty good time just sitting around listening to wisecracks.
Well, Sam, I’ve got to shave. The C. P. O. said if I didn’t shave he was going to dry shave me so I think I better shave. There isn’t anything going on around here since we are confined to our barracks. We have been confined for three days. I hope we will get out by Saturday. I think we will but you can’t tell what they are going to do. It is really cold up here now. That wind off the lake likes to freeze me. Well I got my last shot today it was for lockjaw. Write soon. Your pal, Shorty

Pfc. J. C. Johnson, Y. S. M. C. San Diego, California
Dear Sam, Well again I’m here on the West Coast. We transferred out of Memphis so fast it wasn’t even funny. We hope to get in a P. B. Y. Squadron or a fighter squadron. We were here two days and they issued our 782 equipment that includes helmets, rifles, bayonets, etc. Sure hope we head West again soon. We are considered in the Pacific Theater of War now.
Yesterday Sunday we went to the Marine base and tried to look up Harry Bradley but he is now in Camp Penellton at least that is what they told me there. I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you when I was home, it was such a short time. I did have hopes of getting a furlough but that has passed, and now they just don’t get furloughs here on the coast. Our sergeant is yelling something about falling out so I have to close. Yours, John Johnson

September 10, 1943 
Dear Sam, Just a line to let you know I’m still navigating. I’ve done a little traveling since I left St. Francisville. They have got me stuck away up here in Rhode Island. The base is located on the Narragansett Bay about a mile or two from the ocean. This is not much of a camp compared to the Lakes. The customs here date back to the other war. We even have to sleep in hammocks here and believe me that is some job if you’re inexperienced at it. I fell out several times before I learned how to hang on.
The Gunners Mate course is to be 12 weeks long. We have something different every week. The first week we had ammunition. The second week was light machine guns. A machine gun sounds hard but the mechanism is really simple. The first week I made a 3.8, the highest score possible being 4.0. If I keep my grades up I’ll get a third class rating. They rate about one – three of the class and I’m hoping to be in that class.
I haven’t received the Times for quite some time so I’d like for you to have my address changed over to V. W. LeGout s 2-c Co 1129 G.M .S. Newport R.I   As ever, Wendell