Letters from the War

Posted: March 20, 2014 in Men of the 111th Ordnance Company
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Tom Sedlacek, son of 111th soldier Joe Sedlacek, has provided us with a treasure trove of artifacts and information about the unit—including the panorama photo of the company taken in 1943 and the European itinerary we posted recently, not to mention many photos. Now Tom has sent us copies of a few letters his dad wrote home to the family in Illinois, and he has agreed to let us share some sections of them here. If Joe’s wording sounds a little guarded, it is because the men’s mail was read and censored; see the stamp and signature (Lt. Errington, one of the 111th’s officers] on the envelope.

Tom dad Joe Sedlacek          sedlacek envelope

The first two letters were mailed from Normandy, France:

“Wednesday [June] 14 [1944], Somewhere in France

“Dearest Mother and Bros., Am very sorry I didn’t write sooner but I just didn’t have time. As now we are over here in France. I guess you all know what has taken place and I hope it doesn’t last long. Am just fine and tell Mother not to worry as I’ll take good care of myself. Hope you’re fine and in good health as I wouldn’t care or want to hear of anyone being ill.

“The weather is okay but nothing like back home….By the way, how are all of the boys and their families? Give them my regards and not to get mad if they don’t hear from me often….I haven’t received the package you sent me which contained the toilet articles. Sure hope I receive them as I’d  like to get some American articles. Boy, I could really go for some good meats and some good old beer. Tell everyone I said hello and please don’t worry too much, Mother. Good-bye, answer soon. Always love, Joe”

The next one is about three weeks later:

“Somewhere in France, Wednesday, July 5 [1944]

“Dear Mother and Bros., Sure good to hear from you as I received your letter yesterday (of June 19th).The first time I heard from you for over a month….We’re rather damp as it rains almost every day; otherwise I am just fine as much as possible. We get strafed nearly every day and have been also shelled. Have been over here for quite some time and the boys are doing just fine. We didn’t get over here for the fireworks, but we didn’t miss it by very far. The people seem to be okay but you just can’t trust any of them ‘cause some of them may be German as they have been over here for four years.

“We left [New York] about the first of November on a freighter and arrived in Liverpool about the 17th of November. Then we were stationed near Cardiff (largest city) till about the middle of February. We moved from there to Cardigan, Wales (western part) until we came over here.

“Guess what? Today at dinner we had white bread. The first time since we got off the boat on Nov. 17th; and what I mean is it really surprised us. In England all we had was rye bread. The rations aren’t good but we’ll make it. This country isn’t so bad for scenery but it’s no place for me as I can’t understand their language.

“Our artillery is still firing and the timber just rocks. The people have quite a few orchards and the crops aren’t so bad. Some [people] dress fairly nice while others are in rags and even wear wooden shoes. We give the kids our spare gum or candy if we have any. They held up our mail in England almost the whole month of May. That’s why you hadn’t heard sooner from me.” Joe ends the letter with the usual questions about weather and friends back home.

This one was written just three days after the war in Europe was over, from Germany:

“Tuesday, 11 May [1945]

“Dear Mother and Bros., Was sure glad to hear from you as I received three letters in the past five days. You all know about the good news so there’s no use in discussing it. Almost all of the company was on a jag for a day or so. Hello to Mother and all the rest and am in fine shape. Will be on the lookout for the package you sent….

“Guess you heard about the point system over the radio, well, I’ve only got 76 and you need 85 to get out. Got 22 months overseas, 39 months in the service, and three battle stars. Imagine by now you’ve got the place in fairly nice shape and only wish I could be there to help you….

“About ten days ago a few of us were up on the Elbe River and ran into a few Russians. Those Krauts are sure scared of the Russians. And almost all of them made for our lines. Those Russians don’t fool with them.

“Sent you two boxes today so be on the lookout. Good-bye, Love to all, Joe”

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