December 14, 1943

Dublin Core


December 14, 1943


Letter from John Waller to Geraldine Rowbottom, sent from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Sarnia, Ontario. Post stamped December 17, 1943.




Letter Item Type Metadata


Dec. 14, 1943

Destination Unknown

Dear Jerry,

They hauled us out at 4 A.M. this morning—a very wet morning indeed. We marched to the station with full field pack and entrained at eight o'clock. I was so glad to be leaving that I never noticed the weight of the equipment I had to carry. Rumor has it we're going to Indiana or Illinois—I wonder.

At any rate, our general direction is north. We're in Mississippi at present, having just left Jackson about thirty minutes ago. We just pulled out of a little hick town. There was another troop train of rookies headed south, so we yelled: "You'll be sorry."

This seems to be a stock farming section. We've passed several fairly large farms which were quite well kept. They form a direct contrast to the shacks where the negroes live. I noticed some with couldn't have had a larger interior than your combined living room and dining room. In fact, they were scarcely larger than tourist cabins, yet each one seemed to house a dozen children—well maybe only one-half dozen.

It's getting much cooler up here. I'd say at least fifty percent of the trees are bare of foliage. The rest are a species which is unknown to me. Whatever they are, they must be hardy to stand this climate. Will sign off for now. 4:50 P.M.

Wednesday - 8 A.M. We're now in northern Kentucky, having just crossed the Ohio river. Last nite the porter made up our beds at seven o'clock so we crawled right in, as we haven't been getting much more than five hrs. sleep per nite for the last week. It was nice and warm at first, but towards mid-nite a change became apparent. The windows were frosted over and I was cold from the hips down, despite two heavy blankets, my wool undershirt and wool oo shirt. The boys are now trying to scrape the frost off the windows.

From my peekhole, the country appears to be a rolling farmland. Everything is pretty well frosted up around here. We just saw the first white children since leaving Lousy-anna yesterday. Just leaving Princeton. The houses here look 'livable.' They are the white clapboard type. It sure makes me feel good to get back north again to 'God's country' as we northerners call it. The sun is just coming up, gleaming on frosted panes of farmhouses nestled among the hills.

We arrived in Central City about fifteen minutes ago (9:45) The whole company had to fall out for ten minutes exercising. Boy it sure is cold here! I haven't got any gloves with me and my hands were almost stiff when we got aboard again. I think we feel the cold more because of our stay in the sunny south.

12 o'clock. Still pulling through Kentucky. Here we have rolling farmland, but it's still far enough south for the (just hit a tunnel + had to stop) railway stations to have separate waiting rooms for colored and white. Last nite, before going to sleep, we passed through a little town where the homes were only a couple of hundred feet from the tracks. In several homes were lighted Christmas trees. Boy, that was a pretty sight! It makes you want to get the war over in a hurry so you can live peaceably again. We'll have Xmas day off anyway, providing we don't have K.P. or some other detail.

1:30 P.M. I've just seen my first snow. It looks good—a sight for sore eyes! We have just finished our meal which wasn't too bad, all things considered. After a short stay in the army you can eat anything anyway. We eat right at our seats. The K.P.s bring it to us, one serving at a time so that it takes about fifteen minutes to get the entire meal on your plate.

2:30 P.M. A little while ago we were pulling along near the top of a mountain. On the left, a valley stretched out into the distance. We could see a little village far off down the valley looking like a toy. It was quite a sight. We are now pulling through that same village. About one-thirty we passed Fort Knox, a huge camp of the Service Forces. I saw tanks in motion for the first time. They were 'buzzin' right along.

3:30 P.M. We are now in Louisville. About all I can say is that it appears to be a tobacco center. I saw a Lucky Strike, Wings + Sir Walter Raleigh factory, probably there are other. We were delayed a short time when one of the trucks on this car jumped the track on a switch. It bounced us around a bit, but that's all. We're on our way again. That was short progress because we have stopped again in Louisville to repair a coupling. We won't arrive at our destination until to-morrow morning.

A little feller about eight years old got on our car a few minutes ago. He wanted to see what soldiers look like, so we put one of our field packs on his back, hung a gas mask over his shoulders, and put a helmet on his head. You should have seen his eyes sparkle. He'll probably be telling all his pals about it.

5:55 P.M. Just crossing the Ohio R. It seems to be about as wide as the Niagara at Buffalo. That puts us in Indiana.

Thursday, 11 A.M. - Well we arrived here sometime early this A.M. but we stayed on the train until about eight o'clock. Then we marched here to camp and ate breakfast. Everything is still highly disorganized of course, however from what I've seen I think I'm going to like it here. The air is sure invigorating after that stale southern air. The temperature is near zero.

We sleep in small barracks, six to each. It's something like Slidell except that these are wooden houses instead of tents. There are two double decker beds, two singles and a coal stove in the center. We also have electric lights.

The camp itself is small being only about 1/4 mile wide and a half mile long. Each company has its own mess hall where you eat off plates instead of trays. I can't say much about the place in general as I haven't had time. In a couple pf weeks, I'll be able to describe the routine, etc, better.

One good thing is that we're near town, in fact, part of the suburbs are right across from camp. Later on we'll probably get a Class A pass. (one that enables you to go to town every nite you're free and stay all nite if you want to. It's particularly nice for married men whose wives are here)

I'll close for now and try to get this mailed. Hoping you and yours are well. I remain, as ever,

Johnny over


Pvt. John C. Waller - 42028154

Co. B. - 717th Ry. Opr. Bn.

Camp Thomas A. Scott

Fort Wayne, Indiana


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