September - October 1943
September 11, 1943 -
Thoughts on Invasion of Italy
The USS LCI (L) 35's role in the
Invasion of Salerno on September 9th
marked Dad's first encounter with enemy action. In a V-Mail to his
sister Mae dated September 11, 1943, he initially stated that...
"...The censor, I believe permits
us to state now, that we'd taken part in the invasion of Italy. As
for details, I'm afraid that's all I can say. I'm alright so why worry
about anything else I say"...
October 17, 1943 - More Thoughts on Invasion and Sites
Seen in Italy
Dad gave some additional thoughts on the Invasion of Salerno
in his longer letter of October 17, 1943. Finally, he confided in
his sister how he really felt at the time. He wrote:
...Incidentally I found to my surprise
that I'm really not a coward under fire, bet I thought about everything
during the invasion. Strangely enough on that night about fifteen
minutes before going in I was eating peanuts and oddest of all thinking
how lucky I was to have them. Truth too is that I shook from head
to toe, it was chilly but I don't know if that could cause knees to
Dad also commented on the sites he saw while the LCI 35 was operating
in the Naples, Italy area in October:
...The people are friendly and the churches are very beautiful.
Statues of all sorts are everywhere and the castles and ruins of old
Roman times are really something to see. Some of the places I've been
have been bombed to heck by us and boy am I ever thankful our Air
Force is over here...
October 26, 1943
- Commitment to Family
In his letter of October 26th Dad followed
up on his commitment to send money to his sister. In fact he included
a $500 check that he asked be used in the following way The first
$50 was for his mother for her teeth or whatever else she needed;
another $50 to buy his brother Eddie and sister Dorothy something,
another $50 for you and his favorite niece Lynda . The remaining $350
can be viewed as a loan if you like. Dad said that he "got a kick
out of being able to do this".
October 31, 1943 - Having a Good
Time in Italy
In his letter of October 31st Dad reaffirmed
that he had "a bang up time"
in Naples and got to see the Isle of Capri.
A Panoramic View
November - December 1943
December 1, 1943 - Thoughts on 21st Birthday and
Dad did not write any letters to his sister in November but
in a rather lengthy letter to his sister Mae on December 1, 1943 Dad
reflected on his life in the service up to this time and some of the
frustrations that came with being caught up in a war.
...Reporting from the crazy side
of the world for a change. Can't guarantee an interesting letter cause
what I know of interest, the censor says is a secret, and if I tell
you, it won't be. So be content with what I offer and someday I can
really tell all I know (after the war). Anyways of late I haven't
been able to concentrate much on anything. To begin with of late I'm
fine as can be expected perhaps much more nuttier (God forbid!). But
getting screwy comes with a war anyway and for free at that...My birthday
(November 23rd) I spent as another day of work. (LCI 35 was in a convoy
taking troops to Naples - Arriving during heavy action) That day,
I was a man...but feel like a jerk. What a war won't do to a guy...Then
along came Thanksgiving. What a nice day it was too. Where was I?
Out at sea of course and two days later came into port (Naples). Skipper
claimed that if Roosevelt (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) could
do it so could he--so we had our Thanksgiving two days late. Me-I
cook of course so it didn't seem like a holiday at all.
Then today we came into our home port
and there I found your package along with two from Blondie. Oh! Christmas
comes early now. See what did I tell you about a war. Appreciate your
gifts? That my dear is really putting it mildly. It's a Christmas
now instead of make-believe as I'd have done. It just isn't the real
one, but they'll come again...the cookies [sent] really went in a
hurry. Gone already-what chow-hounds these are (shipmates)...Blondie
writes so often that I can hardly keep abreast of her letters...Well
sis, I'll write again maybe tonight. Having chicken tonight and writing
won't fry them...
2, 1943 - Actions in Case Something Goes Wrong
Dad kept his word and wrote to his sister
again in a V-Mail dated December 2nd. Dad informed his sister that
he made out an allotment for a $50 bond listing her as co-owner in
the event that something would happen to him in the war. He indicated
that if "something would go wrong"
the money should be for Lynda's education. and jokingly added
"Boy, I can hardly wait to get married...Kids
sure get under a guy's skin". Dad also mentioned
to his sister that he was promoted to Ships Cook 2/c on October 1st.
December 3, 1943 -
Wanting More Chocolates - Being a Cook
Dad sent a V-mail asking his
sister to send some more packages and mentioning that he went to the
movies that evening. This time Dad asked his sister for another favor.
He said that:
...After receiving your package and
eating everything to a crumb, I still want more. This time please
send some honest to goodness soft candy. Chocolates in preference
to anything else...Went to see a movie tonight. Full house and had
to stand. Stood waiting for it to start a half hour and finally on
came "Five Came Back" which I'd seen a few years ago...
Being A Cook
Dad got a little sarcastic about being a cook when he mentioned
to his sister what he would be doing for Christmas when he added to
his letter "...And since I have nothing
better to do for Christmas I believe I'll stay over here and maybe
while I'm at it - stay here for New Years. Guess I'll even cook on
these days since I'll have nothing else to do...(Dad
was correct in what he would be doing on those days but the LCI 35
was not in Bizerte on Christmas or New Years but in Palermo, Sicily.)
December 12, 1943 - Getting Burned And Being Bored
Dad wrote a V-mail to his sister on December 12th and said
that "about a month ago I burned
my foot pretty badly" when some bacon grease
went down his shoe. Dad said that it blistered for awhile but now
its practically healed. He also said that he's
"...been traveling a lot lately and
visiting more and more different ports. Otherwise I'm bored with the
routine...Could be worse so I can't kick..."
December 21, 1943 - On the Loss of LCI 1 in Bizerte Harbor
On December 21st while Dad was at sea passing through the Straits
of Messina heading for Licata, Sicily, he wrote his sister a letter
regarding an article in the Stars and Stripes Newspaper that reported
on the sinking of LCI 1 in Bizerte Harbor on August 17th the day that
Dad reported aboard the LCI 35. Dad mentioned to his sister that:
...Ran across an article which I
believe should be of interest since I'm on the same type of ship as
the one mentioned. I knew the crew very well and was in the same port
when it was sunk. Was sure a wicked air raid too...This happened a
long time ago though. Since then the air-strength of Germany has greatly
diminished. These things (LCIs) are hard to hit and the One (LCI 1)
got an [un]lucky hit. Odd thing was that none were killed. Just another
happening in the war I reckon...
Dad closed his letter with this P.S. to his sister.
LCIs - Little but mighty! Keep the
article for me please!