Letters from My Father

What you'll read below are words written by my father, in letters sent home to his sister and to me during World War II. The first words from his letters are copied from a yellowed newspaper clipping "scotch-taped" to a scrap book page that my paternal grandmother sent me some time during WWII. The dates and name of the newspaper were cut off and unfortunately no one thought to write them down, but it should be fairly easy to determine the general time frame by noting the war's progress as described in the letter. One paragraph reports my father's wife and two children living in Tacoma, Wash. He actually had three children by then. I was the eldest, born during his first marriage, and by then was living in Palo Alto, California with my mother and retired Army General grandfather, my grandmother, and young uncle. On the day of Pearl Harbor's attack by the Japanese, I had reached the ripe old age of 5 years, two months, and 22 days. During those war years, I received a few letters from my father, some of which you'll see below the newspaper article. I share them with you because they are a, surely limited, personal account of one young man's thoughts and experience during those years. 

As I read again the quotes included in the newspaper clipping typed below, the anger and hatred toward our WWII enemies in Europe, expressed by a 31 year old American tank battalion commander whose men had been in combat for more than seven months without respite, cold, weary, sick, injured, no doubt terrified, and having seen horrors no human should ever have to see, is to me understandable if not pretty. 

I pray, now, that we have grown enough to see that the populations of whole countries were not then, nor are now responsible for the horrors of war and terrorism, and have the will and determination to bring to justice those who are responsible for acts of terrorism, with as little blood shed and loss of innocent lives as possible. I am sure that my father knew this as well, long before his death in 1982, and would agree, as would my half brother killed in Viet Nam, grandfather, uncles, and great grandfather killed in Cuba, and other great grandfathers who served this country in war times past, fighting for the principles of Peace and Freedom our country stands for. 

If We Must Hate, Make it Terrorism that We Hate

Make it Freedom and Peace that
We Love and Fight to Protect for all People

© 1994 - 2001 Jinny Brown


 
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Doughboys Are Great Men 
Colonel Writes Jax Sister
 
  Commanding an armored infantry battalion spearing toward Berlin today is Lt. Col. Charles E. Brown, brother of Mrs. Marion Perry, of Jacksonville, who wrote home the other day:

  "The irony of all this to me is that at heart I'm no combat soldier and I personally feel that I'm not cut out for this kind of work. I'm no fighter, and if all the people were built like me, there would be no wars * * * "

  Colonel Brown, 31-year-old West Pointer, is with Lt. Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army and in his tank has rolled through France, Luxembourg, Belgium and now Germany.

  His letters home have been filled with details the average soldier never writes about but always will remember. Mrs. Perry, assistant OPA information director, thinks parts of them "will be very interesting to wives and mothers and fathers who have husbands and sons over there."

. . Brown,  a native of Cordele, Ga., whose wife and two children are in Tacoma, Wash., writes often of the men under him.

  In a letter from Luxembourg on Jan. 29 he wrote:

  " No one back home can possibly appreciate the feats of courage and determination and dogged guts I have seen our boys perform, nor the hardships in the form of cold, bitter, foggy, snowy, blizzardy weather, the hunger and the aching feet and sickness that our men have been going through, day after day * * * "

  "These are great men, these doughboys - the ones who do the fighting.

  "Few of them will ever talk about it when they get home, but I know they must feel like men who have lived in another world. It's a pity someone couldn't be a spokesman for them. They deserve rewards greater then they will probably ever

(Turn to Page Three, Please)

..
Tank Leader
Heaps Praise
On Doughboys

(Continued from Page One)

get - and I don't mean in material things."

  In another letter from Luxembourg:

Have Seen Hell

  "These men have seen hell, and found it not of fire and brimstone. It is set in the wintry mountains of Luxembourg and Belgium and where they join that God-forsaken land of savages we call Germany. It's cold and bitter. It simply is vast reaches of silent, lonely, snow- covered hills. It's a place these men had to enter, and not of their own choice.

  "It's where they went, knowing that out across that quiet, lonely vastness their movement would be detected., would draw all the concentrated fury of hundreds of mortars, artillery pieces, well-hidden machine guns.

  "It's here they saw men wounded beside them, saw blood flow, saw dead Germans in all their ugliness, lying frozen in grotesque postures. It's where they themselves suffered day after day from a hundred causes."

  Colonel Brown writes lightly at times and in detail about the country. Mainly he writes to give the feel of war. In a letter dated March 14 he cites some experiences:

  "I've had that uncomfortable, sickening feeling of hearing an armor-piercing shell - one that would have gone through my tank as if it were cheese - whistle by overhead like a fast baseball.

Dead Germans "Good"

  "I've seen literally hundreds of dead Germans, in all the weird postures that the vagaries of battle leave them. I've seen them in all degrees of disintegration, from frozen stiff to ripening in the sun. I've learned to think of these as the only good Germans. We say in passing to a good, dead kraut, "Hello, Fritz - glad to see you there!"

  American forces' dash to the Rhine was speared by Patton's army and Brown's outfit. On March 25 he wrote:

[continued on clipping to the right]

 
 [continued from clipping to the left]

 "The mutual admiration society has been at it again. I was about to write to you that the general was by again today and handed me another little gadget known as the Oak Leaf Cluster - which simply means another Bronze Star for another job they happened to like. Well, I was about to write you about it when tonight in came some orders on which a whole bunch of people were cited by French 'for exceptional war services during the liberation of France.' Lo and behold, yours truly was on the list!"

  In one letter, Mrs. Perry's brother writes of listening to a short-wave broadcast of President Roosevelt's speech after his return from Yalta.

  "Sounds mighty god, the way he tells it." writes the warrior.

TASK NO EASIER

  "But it still doesn't make the infinitesimally small, and relatively inconsequential task of a small infantry night patrol any easier . . It doesn't stay the hands of those kraut gunners. And I guess on the biggest map FDR ever used, when he and his military advisers were carving out bold, strategical strokes, the distance our little patrol might cover would be more than hidden by the point of a sharp pencil . . . "

  In his last received letter, written when 6th armored division was well inside Hitler's homeland, Brown writes about the "deep-rooted spirit" of his outfit and the praise it is receiving from the higher-ups.

  "All this makes me feel my own war effort has been a success. But the irony of all this to me is that at heart I am no combat soldier . . . "

  Colonel Brown took part in the Normandy invasion and on March 6 his division had gone 221 days - more than seven months - without once having been pulled out of combat. He didn't know when he wrote about it, but he believed the feat was a record.
 

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Preparing to Go to War

(Envelope and Postmark Missing)

Camp Campbell, Ky
Jan. 13, 1943

Dear Jinny - 
  
  We mailed you two books the other day which I hope you will enjoy. It has been so long since I have seen you that it is hard to tell what type of books you like to read. Please write and tell me whether you like the ones we sent.

  You are now more than twice as old as you were when I last saw you. I have often wanted very much to see you, and wondered if you remember your Daddy, and how big you are now, and how you are getting along in school, and whether or not you are happy in your home, and who your friends are, and a lot of other things about my own little girl.

  You will always be my own little girl, Jinny dear, even if I don't get to see you like I want to.

  Do you go to Sunday School and to church? I hope  you do go and learn your lessons well. They will help you later.

  Do you make good grades in school? You are a smart girl, you know, and if you don't make good grades there is something wrong, and I will be disappointed.

  I guess you would like to know what your Daddy is doing these days. Well, I am a battalion commander of a tank battalion, which means I am the boss of a bunch of officers and soldiers. We have 75 officers and 700 soldiers in my battalion. We also have 55 tanks and a lot of trucks and peeps and jeeps and some big guns and other things.

  We are practicing all the things we will have to know how to do when we go to Germany to get Hitler. Sometimes we shoot the big guns, drive our tanks across ditches and up big hills and hide them in the woods and do a lot of things outdoors because a soldier doesn't have a house to live in while he is fighting or practicing to learn how to fight. We sleep in the woods and cook our own food, and dig holes to hide in when German airplanes fly over and drop bombs on us, and things like that.

  Sometimes when we come in from the woods, we can go home and dress up and sit by a fire and read books and listen to the radio and have a good rest.

  I have a little boy at home. He is just a little over a year old. He has just learned to walk and to say a few words. He is my buddy and he and I have a lot of fun together just like you and I used to. His name is Charles......

  I want you and Charles to know each other some day and be good friends.

  After the war is over I hope your Mother will let you come and see us so you will have a chance to know Charles and so you and I can have fun together like we used to.

  Please write to me again, Jinny, and tell me all about yourself and all the things you do.

  Remember that your Daddy always loves you.

  Ask someone to give you a hug and a kiss for me.

Daddy

(My half brother, Charles, was killed in Viet Nam in his mid 20's.)


At War, Location Unknown

Postmarked 13 December 1944 U.S. Army Post (the rest is torn off) A.P.O. The left end of the envelope had been opened, stamped with "OPENED BY U.S. ARMY EXAMINER", then taped closed again.

Lt. Col. C.E. Brown
Hq. 44th Arm'd Inf. Bn.
APO 256, c/o P.M., N.Y.

Dec. 12

Dear Jinny,

  Your letter which you wrote in October finally reached me the other day and was most welcome.

  Over here, we have worked hard for some time now since I wrote to you. We have covered a lot of ground and chased the Germans a long way. None of this is fun, and we don't like it, but we have to keep going till we catch that Hitler guy. Then maybe all of us can have a little peace, and a lot of fathers can come home and see their boys and girls and their mothers again. This will be a grand day, won't it? I hope I can see you again some day, Jinny dear.

In my home back in the states, there is another little stranger now, a little brother like the first one. They say he's a cute little fellow, but of course I haven't seen him, and won't see him for some time. He was born on November 9th.

Well, Jinny gal, I'll be thinking of you, and especially at Christmas time. I hope it is a happy time for you, and that all your days will be happy ones. Remember your Daddy who loves you, and write to me again soon.

Daddy
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