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August 1, 1943

This is the first letter I have had the opportunity of writing since about the first of July.

Please do not remind me that "HE" manages to get a letter off to his wife daily, the privileges of the rear area troops have always been a sore point with front line troops. He not only writes more often, but receives mail more often and is located so he can keep regular office hours as if in the States. It is his privilege to knock off 15 minutes early at noon and go around and only hit headquarters battery.

I was among the first wave to hit Sicily and all the troops involved in the landing were isolated for several weeks before the landing, and of course no opportunity to receive or send mail until a few days ago. We had been told the rear area boys down near the beach have been able to send mail but not receive it yet. I am not complaining, but I just want you to understand that when no mail comes I am doing a different type of work than He.

Sicily is a more pleasant place than Africa. When we landed on the beach we found a place where we thought we would be safe for a while and lay down to rest with the sound of battle around us. Here comes an Italian farmer passing pears to the soldiers in the fox holes. The Italians seem even more friendly than the people in North Africa. The country is a much nicer country to fight in because there are many good things to eat, to be had for the picking. We found in the field and eaten the following items, grapes, apples, pears, almonds, plums, 2 kinds of figs, both yellow and black, musk-melons, water melons, tomatoes, and sugar corn. Those fresh fruits are about the only advantage of the front line troops, the rear area troops don't get them because we have finished with the area and by the time they move up the M. P.'s, are guarding it. Oh yes we find mulberries and black berries too.

The other day I was up in a mulberry tree eating mulberries when the Colonel came along in a jeep, he saw me up in the tree and headed over towards me not realizing that there was a 105 gun under the tree getting ready to fire. I waved at him frantically and he just had time to put his fingers to his ears. I thought sure the gun would give him a powder burn, but he was not hurt.

Italian seems a more difficult language than French, but many of the natives speak French so I get to speak to them that way. One day I had occasion to occupy a church steeple in the front lines. I had to hike quite a long way through winding alleys that were too narrow and steep for the Jeep. I carried my tommy gun and tried to look tough because I was all alone, but the preacher tempted me with a bowl of water, a cake of soap, and a towel, so I washed and combed my hair and left after doing my work, with about six kids hanging on to me and my gun strapped on my back. I came out of town looking and feeling like I was among friends instead of the way I went in. I wonder if the people treated the German soldiers the same way. It was wonderful to be able to wash once again.

In the scramble on the beach when we landed I lost my cigarettes (an irreplaceable loss) and my knife and fork, so the first dead German I came across I rifled his mess kit for a fork and spoon. Water being a nonexistent luxury I proceeded to use same without washing them. Some of my squeamish and timid comrades thought it disgusting, but I needed them and the dead German certainly had no use for such.

August 10, 1943

The donkeys in Africa are much smaller than the donkeys in Sicily. The donkeys here are as big as mules only they have bigger ears, more like rabbits. You would not like it here in Sicily at all, its too hot and dry, maybe some day you will see England.

Here I am in the hospital again this time they think it is Malaria, but at present just calling it fever. Anyhow they hope to have me out in a few days so will try to write every day while here, as I usually don't get to do much when at work.

I like being in the hospital, the food is better than I am use to and the nurses tuck you in at night and every time you turn over in bed they come and make sure that you are still warm and tucked properly. Seems wonderful to be waited on for a change. Hope we can come home soon.

August 11, 1943

I guess this is my last day in the hospital. The laboratory says I don't have malaria, the Doctor says I am gold bricking; and the nurse thinks I am a nuisance which I actually am.

All the patients in this ward are not very sick and we raze the nurse all the time. The day nurse is a demon for work, always fussing around trying to keep the ground floor clean, such as paper and cigarette butts off the floor. She always does everything in a large way, she gave us a back rub once since I came here and we almost panted.

Doctor just said definitely I was out tomorrow so you won't be hearing from me for a while again.

August 30, 1943

This is the first time that I have had my fingers on a typewriter in a long time. We have been sitting around tonight talking about our stay in England. Stories exaggerated considerably, kidding others, and all now and then talking of how we miss all the gang, especially Lieutenant Morse. There was talk of starting a bridge game, then the usual argument again of whether Morse and I could lick Ellerson and Matchette, but I'm sorry to say that argument can never be tested to see if the argument could be settled. Of course I came in for the usual kidding of losing my gas mask in Bournemouth, I don't think the boys believe yet that I actually lost my gas mask.

September 8, 1943

Time has come to start thinking about Christmas, but I may not send gifts; it is very difficult to do your shopping from the front lines.

I am enclosing a little decorative ornament which Mother can keep or use. It belongs to one of the Italian soldiers that I met, and he gave it to me for a cigarette. We have the saying in our unit, if the opposition is all Italians you just set up a field kitchen where they can smell the food cooking and they will all come over and trade their guns for chow. We are afraid to use their weapons for fear the Germans will claim we are using gas.

There is a little girl who comes around the kitchen, about Patricia's age, every meal time and shows off for the mess Sergeant for a meal. She is dark haired and saucy. She talks no English but that don't stop her a minute, she tells us off at a great rate. I have been wondering if she will learn English, or the mess sergeant will learn Italian. Most of the foreigners we meet seem to pick up English rather rapidly, while in general we never do learn their native language.

October 4, 1943

I do not see many burros here, like there were in Africa and Sicily. They use horses here, and oxen. The oxen are usually white and look like a cow or bull, only they are bigger than cows we have back home.

October 10, 1943

On the night that they announced the capitulation of Italian troops I was in a fairly large town and the people on the streets went wild. It was impossible to get through the crowds with a vehicle, and the people wanted to drag you out of the car and carry you around on their shoulders in a sort of victory parade. The reaction of the Italian people to their so called conquerors is a constant source of amazement to me. You would expect this in France or one of the occupied places, but hardly here. As you are riding through the town you are constantly showered with gifts from above, second story jobs.

Going through one small town I received one rose, 5 apples, an onion, a bunch of very ripe grapes, which caught me square in the face at twenty miles an hour. I know just how a Ham actor feels about the middle of the performance on the tank town circuit.

I only hope when the chestnut crop gets a little riper, they include them in their donations, but omit the burrs.

I was promoted to Captain October 8th. How I wish we could celebrate.

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