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March 29, 1945

I am 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 our turn.

April 29, 1945

I have 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 off.

I have 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.

The 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 out moving.

One of the fellows was bitching because he had not been home in three months. Grrr, how would 3 years look or seem to him?

I enjoyed 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.

May 17, 1945

I am 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.

Yesterday we received some pretty old mail, even some of it contained Christmas packages.

We 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.

I was 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.

I met 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.

The 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 speaks English.

The 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

I 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 have.

The 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.

The 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.

First, 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.

I 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.

Sunday 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.

Yes 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

I 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.

Anyhow 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.

I 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 without detonating.

I 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.

I 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 I am.

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

I 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

We 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.

There 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 letter.

Major 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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