not going to try to write you a long letter, but I hope that it
will tell you that I am happy, and have real comfortable billets.
That is one advantage in being over here as long as we have been;
we are not afraid to grab all the comfort we can find for ourselves.
I look at the new outfits who have not yet learned the lesson, and
they are all camping in fields, and believe me I don't envy them.
We have the biggest house in town. Steam heat, electric lights,
overstuffed furniture, china dishes, real beds, and do we love it.
The former German tenants are in prisoner of war camps, or living
with relatives in other places, that does not concern us. Of course
tomorrow we may be 100 miles away, camping in a field with a pup
tent, who knows? Or we may stay here for months. But this I know
that as long as I have my say we are going to make ourselves as
comfortable as we can, the Germans had the comfort, and now its
seen two of the funniest way of getting across the river lately
that I ever expect to see. The first was the trolley ferry as we
call it. The French have a word for it that I can't translate, and
there is certainly no other like it in the world. It is a bigger
structure than a bridge. There are two huge steel towers on each
side of the river, and across the river they have a heavy beam,
high up so that ships can pass under it. Hanging down suspended
on trolley wires is a platform that will carry about six trucks.
They drive on to the platform, and the platform swings across the
river, and then you drive off. The other unique crossing that I
have seen was small ferry. The thing is really a double ended barge
with drop ends, you drive on, and a tug boat pulls it up stream
until you are above the landing, and turns you loose, from there
on you are on your own, you make a landing, drop the end and drive
been to Bordeaux. It is a beautiful city, but I did not get to stay
long. I stayed with some R. A. F. officers there. Every time I have
anything to with the Air Corps I still think they have a snap of
it. They had a perfect castle for five officers, and three girls
to take care of it. One cooks, one waits on the tables, and the
other makes the beds. They apologized for the place not being quite
up to standards. Grrrr.
place is full of mirrors and glass walls. You never know when you
look at a piece of glass whether you are looking at a mirror or
a window. They have a fireplace and right above the fireplace is
big piece of plate glass. Naturally you think it is a mirror because
a chimney would have to go out of the fireplace, but now, its a
window between the main living room, and the auxiliary living room.
The two rooms are identical, so you get the impression of looking
in a mirror by getting at the spot to everywhere in the house with
of the fellows was bitching because he had not been home in three
months. Grrr, how would 3 years look or seem to him?
my stay in the castle, even though I had to work all night twice
while I was there. I managed to get a hot bath, and the beds were
comfortable. I must tell you about the bath room. It opened on to
the sun porch, and had a double door of solid clear glass, flanked
by two glass panels. In other words the south wall was entirely
of glass. It had a muslin curtain that could be pulled if you desired.
The other three walls were mirrors. The floor was raised two steps
above the sun porch so that you were on a stage so to speak. Where
painted was a light green, also the sunken tub.
in Germany, actually in or near the town of Donneauworth, which
is on the Danube river, you know the river you sing about. Just
to give you a rough idea of how busy I have been, I have traveled
over 3000 miles in the last month and half. Also I have been in
three separate and distinct survey areas, and you might say three
campaigns. Although I only get one campaign star for all that, however
it is all over and I don't want anything more except home.
we received some pretty old mail, even some of it contained Christmas
are still sweating out who gets to go home, and when. I have 146
points which should get me home if the points system is going to
mean anything. There are about two others in the battalion with
more points than I have. Frankly I would estimate it will be about
3 months before I get there but it could be much worse.
in the campaign to clear the Gironde estuary, as you may have read
in the papers. That is the entrance to Bordeaux harbor. The city
of Bordeaux was not occupied by the Germans, and while there I had
to take a small group down near Bordeaux for a few days. We went
in for shopping and to see the city couple times.
a man there who had been left in France after the other war. It
seems he was hurt in an automobile accident just before he was to
leave and got into a civilian hospital and they left him behind.
Anyhow he was still there when the Germans came back again. It seems
odd he would stay there and not have gone home later, but now he
is married and seems to have a real good business.
way to meet people is to pull into town in a jeep and just sit in
it. Soon you are surrounded and always there will be some one who
war ended a lot quicker than I expected; and I understand that
it took the authorities a little by surprise too, they were
not quite ready so I heard.
May 20, 1945
hope that you can read this. The ribbon is not dark, but perhaps
by striking the keys firmly I can get something out of it. Of
course the first and most important thing in your mind is when
am I coming back home. That is the big question mark everywhere.
Some of our unit has left, but it looks like I will be way down
on the list. The first to go will be the enlisted men. After
them will come the reserve officers and then will come the regular
officers. Unless they need me for some reason, which would probably
mean the Pacific rather than home. I believe my best hope is
that the outfit will come back as a unit which is possible,
but will not be for several months. I am hoping and trying,
but there is no use being too optimistic.
Generally speaking Germany has not felt the
war nor been hurt like the other countries. Many of their cities
have felt the might of the Allied air forces but I have seen
none that would compare with Cassino or Randazzo. Mostly they
are like the cities where we fought in France. Nor have the
people felt the pinch of war in their food, like the Frenchmen
people and the country here are more like the people and the
country back home. The country is much like the Kentucky blue
grass country, and the people are of the stolid farming type,
more like in the farmlands of Pennsylvania. It is nearer in
appearance to home than anywhere I have been. How people like
that could be guilty of the war crimes that we know they are
guilty of is almost beyond comprehension. And yet the evidence
is here. I have seen an underground factory where they made
precision parts for airplanes and the famous 88 cannon. It is
just a small place. You remember the Figueroa tunnel on the
way from Glendale to Los Angeles? Well just imagine if the tunnel
were not quite so large, say big enough for three lines of cars
without any sidewalks, and about the same length. Then along
both sides you had machines so close; an idea of maybe how the
factory would be, remember how the tunnel echoed to the sound
of an auto horn. Imagine 100 assorted machines running in the
tunnel, and you get an idea of the noise. Then suppose you built
an upstairs floor in one end of the tunnel for about one third
of the length, alloting half the space to a kitchen and dining
room, and the other half to a wash and locker room. Each locker
would be slightly smaller than the locker in the Gymnasium back
home. I do not know where they slept, but I looked at the names
on the payroll; they were nearly all women, a few men; all had
Polish, Russian, and Italian names as near as I could tell,
but in one of the lockers I found a book written in French which
was a textbook of the Machinist trade. Obviously the factory
was worked by slave labor from the surrounding countries. I
did not see a single German name. I can imagine that they must
have slept in the dining hall after meals, although if they
did they would have been packed like sardines. The pitiful little
treasures that they had on their locker shelves. At first glance
I thought nothing of it. It was much like the locker room in
any factory back home, with the greasy overa1ls that a man might
leave in his locker. But then I discovered the time clock. The
cards showed that they worked a 12 hour day, and the names were
all the Polish and Russian women. They spelled slave labor,
and as such I could not get the story so I went back for another
look at the lockers. The shoes were rough brogans but too small
for men. The most often discovered treasure was a broken mirror.
The clothes were practically sexless, slacks of some soft cloth
and coats that I had
thought were men’s coats, on the first trip through. The
machinery was all of good construction and well cared for. It
was all German manufacture. The plates in the mess hall had
not been washed from the last meal. Most of the machines had
been stopped in the middle of an operation. A few of the machines
had been damaged as though someone had started to wreck the
place before capture, and had been interrupted before he finished.
I do not believe that air power could ever have touched it.
roads and towns are full of Displaced Persons, or Refugees,
call them any name you please it amounts to the same thing.
There are the slave labor group from the surrounding countries.
Soldiers of every conceivable nationality that were in the German
Army, but not Germans and have been turned loose. And of course
members of the German Army who are Germans, but were not regarded
as dangerous, and are presumably on their way home. Imagine
Romney (ed note: a town in West Virginia) if say half the houses
had been destroyed, all the public buildings were occupied by
strangers in uniform. Say the state school had the army of occupation
in it. The High school was full of Displaced persons or refugees
that were regarded as friendly to the Allies. The Grade school
was full of prisoners of war and under guard. The court house
was full of offices dishing out red tape in a foreign language.
The town hall was being used as a jail for political prisoners,
not soldiers. The city jail was full of ordinary criminals,
approximate1y the original population of the town in refugees
of your own nationality which the army of occupation was too
busy to bother with who were stranded there for lack of transportation,
or travel permits, and of course the townspeople would be expected
to do what they could for them. Then casual military outfits
that are not the army of occupation, but just fighting troops
with no fighting to do are in town trying to find an unoccupied
house so they can be comfortable for a change; picture all that
in our little town of Romney, and you can get some idea of the
problem that we have to cope with here. Multiply that by all
the little towns in Germany, and you commence to understand
why transportation is complicated. Everybody must eat a little
something, or else there will be trouble. If the Russian refugees
think they are not being fed as well as the civilians they howl
their song of woe, and I don't blame them. These Germans lorded
it over them when they were slaves; we won the war, why should
they not eat better than the German civilians. If the French
don't eat as well as the Russians that is bad too. The General
wants electric lights in his C. P.; the Colonel, wants running
water at the hospital. There is a riot on the edge of town,
where some Czech's are taking chickens from a German hen house
because they are hungry, and the poor man in charge of the town
is so busy I don't know when [words missing] God all we have
to do is maintain order and gur[words missing].
Monday, June 25, 1945
Since I last wrote to you I have been right
busy. It has been a long time, but I have received no mail in
the meantime. Anyhow I will tell you some of the things that
have happened, or that I have done.
the General had me increased the tempo of the street cleaning
project. It is not a big project but it seems to take a lot
of time. Confusion all over the place. The labor officer, is
a German civilian of course, and he can not refuse any requests
for labor; consequently he frequently has more labor promised
than he has available. Well Saturday he did not send me any
so I raised a big fuss, got the M. P.’s after him and
he turned out all the housewife and female population to man
the shovels. It was the most comical sight. There was one girl
with white shorts and blouse, a black sash, bare arms, black
linen gloves, black hair, and lips, that were very large and
very red. She would not work, but she stood there all afternoon
leaning on a shovel, and making quite a splash of color among
the rest of the working women. I had not noticed her, until
another officer complained that my labor detail was detracting
the soldiers from their work, and then I went to see why, and
she was flirting with everybody, but not working a bit. I decided
it would be better to leave her alone than create another scene.
The rest of the women worked pretty well, and we moved a lot
of rubble. It was five o'clock before I had gotten the right
balance between number of workers and trucks everywhere, and
then it was quitting time.
decided to make sure that things were going to go right Monday,
so had a long interview with the labor office, and got all the
labor straight and it was more labor than he had ever given
me before, so I had to get more trucks lined up. It was getting
late when all that was finished. I then went to see the picture
show. It being the last night for the current picture. I don't
remember what they showed, but I do remember that I thought
it was a pretty good show. Then I came home and went to bed.
I had a lot of personal things to straighten out. I had been
unable to send out my laundry the week before because it was
improperly marked, so I sewed all day, embroidering a nice,
"W” on all my dirty clothes so I could send my laundry
out this morning. In between times I worked on the education
program. You see we are supposed to be conducting school for
the soldiers. Taking the better educated ones and using them
for teachers, to teach the others various subjects that would
be helpful to them in civilian life. We are suppose to teach
subjects like, "Oil Conservation!,” "Crop Management",
“Organization of the Small Business," "Poultry,"
"Salesmanship," and many others. Anyhow I am in charge
of the school for my unit and I have to pick the instructors
so they can select the textbooks, and then get the textbooks
ordered. It is a thankless task because nobody expects to be
here long enough to get the school started, much less get enough
class work done to be any value, never-the-less the General
wants it started just in case we stay here a while, and I am
going through all the papers trying to pick instructors, and
then I will have them all to interview. Between that, and the
sewing it was soon supper time. The first U. S. O. show since
I came to France, and the second since I was overseas was going
to have a session Sunday night, I did not want to miss it. The
Colonel wanted me to go to church with him. I wanted to go.
But I had 1/2 hour between supper and church, and 1/2 hour between
church and the show. Not enough time to do anything, but between
the show, church and the waits, it was soon bedtime. When I
came home to go to bed, I found the Captains playing poker,
and using my bed for a poker table. You have heard about the
General who ordered his aid to break up the crap game, and it
took the aid 3 hours because he only had 25¢ to start with.
Well that was the way I tried to end the poker game. But I only
won $5.00 before breakfast. Anyhow I broke the game up by telling
them breakfast was ready.
Right after breakfast I went out again to see
how the job was running. All my new truck details were snarled
up, and none of the new labor had showed up. I was really mad.
I went out to get the M. P. Captain, and I was going to put
the labor administrator in jail. When I got there I discovered
two things. The M. P. Captain was out. His secretary is named
Elsie, and she is an American girl, civilian who was in Germany
when the war broke out and got interned. She sounded so bloodthirsty
about what she was going to do to the labor administrator, I
decided it would be better if I let him live a little longer,
so I settled for a promise of more labor tomorrow. Gosh these
people that have been interned are bitter at the Germans.
Gen Hodges, and the First Army are recruits
as far as the European War is concerned. They came home to get
a short furlough before going to the Pacific.
I have been very reticent about telling too much. I know that
many people tell more. I also know that many people violate
the censorship regulations. It is a case of whether you play
it safe or take a chance on borderline information, and I have
always played it safe. One reason why I can give less information
than the average is that I am in a separate battalion, and you
were not allowed to mention the smaller units. The only unit
that I have ever been in that was big enough to be mentioned
was an army. And the Army assignment has usually been confused,
because we have usually been assigned to one army and fighting
with another. I thought that it would only confuse you to give
the army we were assigned to when we were actually in an entirely
different place. For instance for the past 18 months we have
been assigned to the 7th army, under command of General Devers,
and fighting with the 1st French Army, the French Army of the
Atlantic. The corps expeditionaire Francais, and the IV corps.
Not to mention French Army B, and a few others that we were
with for shorter periods, like the British 8th army at the crossing
of the Messina straits, and the British 30th corps, and others
that I have forgotten about. We have been the odd job unit,
and usually our specific assignment was secret because of the
fact that it was an odd job. While those in the more normal
set ups could of course
tell the unit they were working with, and then you could read
about it in the paper. I served under both General Bradley and
General Patton in Africa, and Sicily. At that time we were assigned
to the II corps. Then we were assigned to 7th army, then to
5th army under Gen Mark Clark, but not actually in the 5th army.
Then we were assigned to Allied Force Headquarters, and were
actually in the 5th army. Then we were assigned to the IV corps,
and before we got the order effecting the transfer we were put
with a French unit, and did not know who we were assigned to.
Right now we are assigned to the 7th army, but we are not with
them, although that is just put in there to confuse you, for
all practical purposes we are in the 7th army, under General
Devers. However I do not expect that we will come home with
the 7th army. I hope we beat the 7th army home.
[Date missing end of June]
June 20, 1945
want to tell you about a nice little trip I took a few days
ago. It was another case of being in the right place at the
right time. I just happened to call on the General, which I
don't do if I can help it, when he was saying goodbye to an
Officer who was on an inspection tour from higher headquarters.
The Officer wanted a guide into an adjoining area, and I was
there so I got the job. I only had about 10 minutes to get ready,
but away we went. I went with him for about 24 hours of constant
traveling, and sat around while he interviewed people, and got
invited to all the places he got invited to, then we were way
beyond anywhere I had ever been before, so I told him I would
be of no further use to him and came back. I got into Austria
and the edge of Czechoslovakia. On the way back I stopped to
visit Hitler's home, and the "Eagle's Nest" we call
it, which was the mountain top castle that Hitler used when
he went into seclusion. It was the most worth while thing of
the entire trip. It is 7000 feet above sea level, and about
5000 feet above the valley. The climb is very steep, and it
made my jeep boil. The last 500 feet are either made on foot,
or with an electric elevator. I took the elevator. The view
is fine. They call the place Berchtesgaden. I don't know what
that means but it doesn't matter. Everything in the castle is
run by electricity. The furniture and woodwork is in a light,
colored wood similar to Philippine mahogany like my desk. Many
of the doors, especially the entrance doors are completely covered
with bronze. It has hard plain furniture. Two big rooms, one
sort of circular that is probably used as a parlor, which has
a fireplace, and the other a long dining room, or banquet hall.
The rest of the house has small ordinary rooms like any other
house. It is not so big. The kitchen is large though, and has
two ordinary electric ranges, and some other cooking equipment.
It was not as elaborate a set up as I expected.
after talking to Elsie, she went down and told the Labor Administrator
what would happen to him if he did not produce, and I got 15
more German girls in my gang, sent half my trucks home, and
finally got that straight for today. The non-producing German
girl is now working, trust Elsie to get her told. She won't
lean on her shovel for a while anyhow.
I have got to get all my stuff packed to go
to Paris. I am being considered. to go to school in Paris for
a week to take a course on how to run the unit school, and I
have been told that I won't get much warning when I leave. I
am going to enjoy the stay in Paris, but I think that I will
have to pack all my stuff for shipment before I leave, just
in case something happens while I am gone.
got interrupted darling. The bomb disposal crew arrived to remove
some duds from my street cleaning detail. I had to go out and
show them the duds. They decided to haul them away in their
truck, so I decided to walk back. I stopped in route to see
how supper was coming along. They are baking hot rolls. I stole
one, and had a hot roll with butter. Normally they are cold
before they get to the table, and I usually steal some when
they are baking them.
One of the duds was a very interesting case.
(I am trying out the typewriter) It had not exploded, but one
side was smashed flat. It had evidently sideswiped something
got a nice interesting letter from you while I was gone. It
was written on the 15th from Washington. I am glad that you
are enjoying your stay there. We are sure going to get along
fine together, and you need not worry anything about that. Yes
I would like to go into business; without doubt we would be
able to make a go of such a shop as you speak of. Possibly after
the war I might consider just that. A town the size of Cumberland
is a little big, but perhaps we could. Of course you know what
I probably will do is stay right in the Coast & Geodetic
Survey. There are so many reasons why I should. There are also
a lot of reasons why I should not. I do not intend to make any
definite decisions until after the war.
love you so much that I can hardly bear the thought of being
separated from you for long periods, like I probably would if
I stay in the Coast Survey. On the other hand the retirement,
and insurance benefits that I am entitled to there are not to
be sneezed at. If they give credit for overseas service by double
or any thing like that for retirement, I would probably be able
to retire fairly early. But we are already getting old. At least
The flies are getting so terrible it is impossible
to take a nap or anything; they crawl all over you. The U. S.
O. show that I saw Sunday was from Santa Barbara Calif. The
only two girls in the show were blonds. They were fairly ancient.
I did not think they had particularly good voices, but every
one of them was a fairly good musician. They played modern music
in a sort of classical way, and classical music in a sort of
a modern way.
Sweetheart I am going to have to stop this to
go to supper. Tonight I have a lot of people to interview, so
guess I will close this now.
Hope to see you soon.
October 30, 1945
thought I would write you a short letter to let you know the
progress that is being made in getting your husband back. Monday
morning I received word that I was being ransferred to the 250th
QM Depot Co. for shipment to the dear old U.S.A., and that I
would have to be with them Monday night, or Tuesday morning
at the latest. Well it was around 3:00 P.M. when I finally got
the last paper signed and was ready to leave, so I took off
and arrived at the new unit a little after supper time. I found
that it was what is known as a hot unit. Every E.M. in the unit
has over 80 points and all the officers have over 100. My poor
little six stripes seem sort of out of place among the 8 stripes
around here. All the officers were away on leave, and the unit
was being run by a master sergeant in work clothes and bedroom
slippers. They showed me to a suite of rooms, and gave me six
bottles of wine, three good books, and told me to take life
easy until Saturday. Saturday we are supposed to load on a train
for shipment somewhere. I don't know where, but I hope it is
not a staging area. Some of them are pretty terrible I am told,
and sometimes troops get lost in them for months. However there
is a rumor around that we are going direct to the ship. I feel
fairly confident that we will be home for Christmas. In fact
I am commencing to think there is an even chance we will be
in the states on Thanksgiving.
I just finished reading the three letters that
accumulated while I was rushing around turning my work over
to other people, and I guess that is the last mail that I will
receive before I get home. Although Col. Freund said he would
try to get my mail to me until we leave Germany, but after that
I don't expect to receive any.
The last of the British ships worked out in
my favor I think, because it started them combing the troops
for high point men to ship, and they uncovered me. If things
had gone according to schedule with no upsets I might have been
[as late as] spring getting home. Anyhow I am glad to be on
the way. But for some reason I am so restless with no work to
do, and nobody to talk to. Tonight I think I will sneak out
and go down to the [line missing]
If you can think of any plan that makes sense
we will do it. I really expect to be home sometime early in
December, and I expect to get about a 90 day furlough early
in the game, but you will have to make the arrangements for
me. However don't make any commitments that you cannot cancel.
I don't play bridge as well as I used to. But
I hope that I will be able to play well enough to keep up with
you. You can give me some pointers.
I am going over to supper now, and I will write
to you again tomorrow if
nothing comes up to disturb me.
Nov. 16, 1945
are sailing tomorrow on the USS George Washington which should
dock on the 25th or 26th in Boston Harbor. About 1 day later
I should be at Camp Meade, or rather Fort Meade, MD. Within
two days after that I should get my furlough or something.
I will send you a telegram from Boston, and
will try to telephone you from Fort Meade. This will be my last
letter before I am home.
I am sending you under separate cover an article
about the unit I am traveling with.
is a lot I want to talk about, but I don’t like writing
letters. I would be so happy if we never had to write another
David Whipp arrived home to his family in Romney, W. Va. November
28, 1945, having spent more than three years overseas. He served
honorably with the Coast and Geodetic Survey until retirement
in January 1968. Captain David Whipp passed away on May 10,1992.
These letters were passed to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration for inclusion on the NOAA History website through
the generosity of his daughter, Ms. Patricia Whipp.
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