March 1, 1944 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

March 1, 1944
No. 7

Dear Folksies,

            Don’t be surprised at what might come out of this typer today, for it is the Chaplain’s typer, Wy being busy on some sort of requisitions on his typer – so I am not only using Daib’s typer but am closeted in his study while he is back in our room sound asleep.

             While I am on the subject of the Chaplain, it reminds me of a story he told me last night after having been out to the Jugoslav camp on a visit. We have had many of their patients, and Daib, since he speaks German well, has made some interesting contacts, and as a consequence has visited their camp several times.

             On this particular occasion when he was there they happened to have arranged for an English class, and so he was invited to listen in.   The authorities had gotten an Italian professor of English to volunteer to teach English to them. Apparently, from Daib’s standpoint it was really a scream! The professor would jabber for about two minutes in rapid-fire-machine-gun Italian and then he would say an English word and write it on the blackboard. Anyway, the professor ended up by writing an English sentence, to wit: “Have not Charlie the book?” To the best of this typewriter’s ability, the pronunciation was something like this: “Haaf nought Shaaaarlie de booocht?” At that point, the wife of one of the Jugoslav lawyers turned to the Chaplain, and, in German, said to him, “Now you know why all of us understand a foreigner when he talks English, but never can seem to understand the English and Americans when they do.”

           Our Bar-man, of whom I have spoken before, Rudolpho, the cousin of Valentino, was ousted the other day after they caught him selling some things that did not belong to him – things that somehow got into his possession from some of the officers’ rooms.

         A few of the enlisted men were mighty happy yesterday—they are headed home on the rotation plan—all three of them are up in the practically over-age group. As they left the area they came out with a big whoop and holler that could be heard almost to the other end of the city.

         In other news, the two new majors-to-be are Louis Huff and Ralph Cressman, and Bob Jones is getting his Captaincy – these three ought to be through in a few days. Louis and Ralph are the oldest and most experienced of our original captains and are certainly the ones who deserve the majorities.

         Mom, you ask about Miss Diffley – I don’t know whether I told you or not, but she recently got her Captaincy. We had lots of fun kidding her for several days about, “Good Morning, Captain,” etc.

                                                                                            Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for the rest of this letter
March 3, 1944


René tells his parents that Rudolpho (the Bar-man) was “ousted’.




Dr. Louis Huff is one of “two new majors-to-be.”




Dr. Ralph Cressman is the other “major-to-be.”



March 3, 1944 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

March 3, 1944

Continuation of No. 7

Dear Folksies,

            Remember a few months ago I was going to send my watch home to be fixed, well, I waited and waited and finally the other day when the stem on the watch Lois had her mother send me for my birthday last year came out, I decided to take both watches down and see what could be done at a place where some of the boys have had considerable success.

            One the way, however, I bumped into our ex-sgt. Morrill who insisted that he could get them fixed safely for me. So, I gave him both watches and now both are fixed, running in perfect order and I feel like a plutocrat again with two watches.

          Morrill is quite a guy. He used to work in Surgery in Africa, but was always getting into trouble downtown, in fights, staying out a long time, etc. and finally after they busted him to private, they let him transfer out. Nevertheless, he’s O.K. and would do anything for anyone he likes. He’s happy as a lark in his new position for, despite being a pvt., he has quite a little responsibility and is able to run around in a jeep a good deal of the time. He’s the one who used to help George Davis and I in Africa by running errands on a motorcycle that we had borrowed for a while. Of course, Morrill almost broke his own neck a few times on that bike, but he got a big kick out of it. He was quite a favorite with Lois and vice-versa.

          Lois apparently likes her new spot very much. Have had but one letter from her, but Fran had a note via the nurse who transferred here from the outfit Lois went to – it was an exchange transfer. They have mighty easy hours, like a station hospital in the U.S., are right near a beach, only 2 nurses are on for the whole hospital at night, they have a lot of convalescent patients awaiting transfer to the U.S., all the personnel are very congenial and though they are in tents, things are very nice. They have a Club right off the beach where things are mighty swanky and comfortable what with plenty of beer and ice-cream, fireplaces, etc.

          Bob Treadwell and Gil Bishop just returned a few days ago from their leave and had a fine time, despite their difficulties in travel. They were able to spend 4 days in Cairo tho’ they admitted that they could have seen all they wanted to and done all they wanted to there in two days, and, if they hadn’t been rather tired on their arrival there they might have gone on to Palestine besides. However, with transportation so uncertain, one never knows if one is going to get back from wherever one gets to.

                                                                                           Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
March 7, 1944


René tells his parents that the unit’s ex-sergeant Ed Morrill arranged to have his two broken watches fixed.




René has received just one letter from Lois, but has heard a bit more about her from Fran Trembley. 




Dr. Bob Treadwell just got back from leave in Cairo



March 7, 1944 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

March 7, 1944
No. 8

Dear Folksies,          

            Last Thursday night, being rather tired, I went to bed early — somewhere around 9 P.M. Then it seemed only a matter of minutes when I suddenly was wide awake again, with a familiar voice in my ear telling me to get up and have something to eat with him. I started awake, opened my eyes, and it was none other than George Davis shaking me. Gee, was I glad to see him!! I looked at my watch and thought it said just 9 P.M., but when I looked at it a few minutes later I realized that it was not 9, but 11:45 P.M. So, we hopped over to the mess dept. and grabbed a midnight meal. And since then, George has been staying with us while he is carrying on his business in town. It sure has been nice to have him around again even though it is only for a matter of a few days.

            He is, you see, now the Motor Transport Inspector for the Allied Control Commission (formerly AMGOT) for Italy, Sicily and Sardinia, and as a consequence he is travelling around carrying out his duties at the moment.

            The day after George got here he picked up, temporarily, a swell Italian-made car, a “Lancia,” which compares to our Packards or even Cadillacs. It was a swell long job, a convertible, low-slung sedan. What a bus! So, naturally we had a nice time just riding around in that car on Sunday afternoon. It certainly felt strange, but awfully good, riding around in a nice civilian car for a change. What a difference in the way it rides!

            Right now I am down in Wy‘s room, but — just so you won’t be surprised at what I may put down here — we have quite a crowd in here. George is here and so are Wy, Bob Jones, Herman Kuhl, Herbie Ehrbacher, and Snuffy. Yes, it’s quite a combination and almost anything is liable to come out of the air around here.

            Ye Gods, right now we are having a mock duel in here. Jones has a small rifle that the Italians had for the kids — it won’t shoot — and it has a blunt bayonet on the end; he also has a nice looking saber. Well, George and “De ‘erb” are “fighting it out,” Herbie with the kid’s gun and George with the saber. And while this is all going on I am pounding away on this, Wy is reclining on his bed trying to read, and Jonesie is at the other table in the middle of writing a letter also. Well, it was Jonesie’s fault for getting out the toy gun to show George!!

                                                                                           Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for the conclusion of this letter
March 10, 1944


George Davis surprised René and the “gang” by staying with them for a few days – on this travels as the Motor Transport Inspector for the Allied Control Commission.



March 10, 1944 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

March 10, 1944
Conclusion of No. 8

Dear Folksies,          

          Some of the gals have gotten their first Lts. In the last week. Those that have arrived to date are: Danielson, French, Myren, Dottie Merrill and Ann Schleisman. There are several more to come yet, however. Incidentally, had Lois remained, she would have been one of them.

          The dog that the boys brought all the way from Africa and which has been with us for almost a year now, just recently had pups. She had six pups and all are seemingly doing fine, though “Suzie” the mom, almost died a few days ago, apparently from some sort of food-poisoning. When asked what type of dog the pups are, the boys all say they are “Half African and Half Sicilian.” They appear to be little wire-haired devils and are white with black spots.

          Had an extremely nice letter from George Wood a few days ago. He is no longer the C.O. of his outfit, but is happier tho’ he apparently enjoyed the power he had for the 10 days, as he was able to bring about numerous good changes in that time. He says his outfit serves the air-corps.

          Liz Liss and Martha Morris just got back from Cairo today and they had a really marvelous time. They apparently bumped into a few high-ranking officers and even rode in their plane part of the way and then were shown all over Cairo by them. They really were royally entertained and saw all the sights. Apparently they were about the only females there in town, and they practically had to fight off the officers that tried to beat a path to their door. Liz brought me back a very nice black wallet. The one I got in Casa had started to come apart.

          It seems that Cairo has practically everything that one can want, everything is expensive but they have it. It seems sort of an outrage, however, that things such as candy bars are so plentiful there, and yet up closer to the front they are almost unheard of. For instance, the ration of candy bars here is one per week and at Cairo it was 5 per day. Then, too, they had just oodles of Coca-colas, and we’ve seen only one since leaving N.Y. But, that’s the way things go!

                                                                                           Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
March 14, 1944


René tells his parents that Liz Liss (pictured above) and Martha Morris (pictured below) had a wonderful time visiting Cairo, Egypt together.




March 14, 1944 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

March 14, 1944
No. 9

Dear Folksies,          

             George is still here, but we haven’t done anything very exciting at all during the week. In fact, we have spent most of our time just relaxing, reading and talking.

            The last two days, however, have been busy, for I have had to make rounds on my wards before 8 A.M. and after 5 P.M. The time in between has been taken up by attendance at a so-called “Malaria Control School.” Bill Collie and I have been in the course given this week and Kuzell and Schwartz are to attend next week. However, we have been greatly disappointed. This “school” is supposed to be from 8:30-11:30 A.M. and then 1:30-5:00 P.M. Well, out of all that time there has been just an hour that has been worthwhile – that hour was excellent, but the rest of the time could have just as profitably been spent reading the funny papers.

            Hal and Pete are arriving tomorrow, just a week late. Wonder what their story is going to be. Transportation is undoubtedly difficult, but no one thought it would be that hard, tho’ I know that they wouldn’t pull anything like that purposely.

            Had quite a birthday party down here the other nite. It was Ehrbacher’s birthday, Dinsmore’s birthday the day before, Bergstrom’s the week before, and Weistenberger’s a few days before that. The boys had fried eggs, potatoes, raw green onion, spaghetti, chocolate cake and lemon meringue pie. What a feast!!

            Of course, George and I, innocently sitting here writing letters, had to be let in on the feast, and when we finally left the basement we were really full to the gills. The whole thing was really a comical show.

                                                                                           Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
March 19, 1944


René tells his parents that there was a big birthday party for Herbie Ehrbacher (upper left), Harold Dinsmore (bottom right), Bergstrom (bottom left) and Charlie Weistenberger (not pictured here) – who all had birthdays in the previous 10 days. Also in this photo are Spudkowski (upper middle) and Newell (upper right). 



March 19, 1944 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

March 19, 1944
No. 10

Dear Folksies,          

            Hal Williams & Pete Joseph finally arrived home after being almost 1 week AWOL. They had an even tougher time getting home than had Gil Bishop and Bob Treadwell. They got to Cairo alright, but it was just about then that things clamped down and one had to have tickets and priorities, etc. to make the grade. Well, just being on leave they didn’t have much of a chance and then, too, the weather wasn’t too wonderful and they had a tough time getting out and on their way back here. They landed at a spot considerably farther west than Sicily, in Africa, and had to wend their way back this way again. Finally, they did land in Italy and at last on the Island, but on the other side of the Island. From there they took the train back. Hal said that he’s sticking to the ground from now on. The train ride was apparently very good, very comfortable and relatively fast.

            George Davis left a few days ago, but probably will return again in another month or so, as his job will keep him traveling. I might go up and visit him on my leave – I know not.

            We now have a new roommate — Capt David Waugh. Chaplain Daib traded places with him, as Waugh was living upstairs and he has a bum knee that supposedly hurts him too much to keep walking upstairs. Bret Smart, however, says that’s hooey — for Bret wanted him to do even more exercising than he had been doing — but no, instead, Waugh wanted to move down. Daib agreed to move up, but without consulting us. For now we are all mad at him (not because Waugh moved in, for he is O.K.) but because now we have no one to wake us up in the morning.

               It is bad — our two rooms — one with Blaisdel, Johnson and Stola, and Jack and I, had a hard enough time getting up in the A.M., even with the Padre there to prod us until we had to get out of bed, but now with him gone, we are in a sorry state. As a consequence, we are going to picket his Sunday services and Stola is going to be our preacher. This morning’s picketing the Padre wants us to keep up — he had 15 new members in his congregation today — he likes this picketing idea!! But truly, we are sorry he moved upstairs, for he was loads of fun to have in the room at all times.

               Yesterday we heard a most interesting talk on Typhus, given by one of the men who has done most of the work over in this region, Africa and Italy. We met and knew him when first in Africa and he did a lot of his work at the so-called “Pest House,” which we visited there.

            The high points of his talk were: (1) The typhus vaccine is definitely effective – there have only been something like 5 or 6 cases in American soldiers and these have been very mild without rash in 50% of them. (2) There is no specific therapy at all – only good supportive care with adequate fluids, good nursing care, etc. Sulfa and Penicillin are not effective. (3)We now have an effective de-louser and de-mosquitoer.

            There are now plans a-foot for a celebration on April 6th – tho’ I think it is actually going to be on the 8th – our second Anniversary of the Unit.

                                                                                          Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
March 20, 1944


René tells his parents that Hal Williams (pictured in the middle) and Pete Joseph (pictured far left) finally arrived home after being AWOL for almost a week — trying to get “home” from leave in Cairo.  Also in the photo are Paul Stratte (second from the left), Bill Newsom (second from the right) and Bill Kuzell (far right).



March 20, 1944 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

March 20, 1944
No. 11

Dear Folksies,          

            On St. Patrick’s Day night I was roped into a bridge game by Collie. Usually those games are rather dull – Collie is good, but the Col. not so hot at bridge, particularly the bidding. Well, the other night turned out to be a very interesting one. The bridge was pretty good, but the person who was the fourth at the table made the whole evening really entertaining and interesting. She was one of the Red Cross workers in town and is in charge of distributing clothing to refugees and civilians, among other things.

            Her name is Mrs. Margaret Kumler. She’s a woman in her early fifties and gray haired. Every few minutes she was mentioning some other town or different part of the U.S. in which she had been, so that it didn’t seem as if she hit the same town twice in conversation the whole evening. I don’t know just where she is from, but she studied at Bryn Mawr and her husband had a big department store in Dayton Ohio. She has six kids, all married. She lived in Seattle quite a while, also in San Francisco and has a house down at Del Monte. Her husband is apparently dead. She has travelled extensively, particularly around this part of the world – having spent the last 18 years around here on and off – spending most of the time on board ships.

                                                                                          Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
March 27, 1944


René tells his parents that he was roped into a bridge game by William Collie (shown second from the left in the photo above of a previous card game). The game also included the Colonel (shown above second from the right) and a Red Cross worker named Mrs. Margaret Kumler.