04 August, 2011

04 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
4 August, 1944            1345

My darling –

I’m writing you a little later than usual for me and thereby hangs a tale. You see, dear – it rained like all fury yesterday p.m. – something like a cloudburst. My driver and I had been out to see one of the batteries and had stopped in to take a shower at a shower point which we stumbled on by pure chance. Shower points are run by Q.M. (quartermaster) outfits, usually colored. They set up near some creek, set up large tents, canvas floors and usually have about 24spouts each tent set up. The water is pumped up from the creek, heated, purified – all by one machine. It’s a good set-up.

Well we waited for the shower (rain) to end and then headed back to our apple-orchard bivouac. It was a mess! Fellows were literally flooded out of their foxholes. I took a quick look inside my tent and all looked dry and I sighed with relief. You see, dear, we usually dig our foxhole the size of our sleeping bag and air mattress and then pitch our tents over it so that is looks something like this in cross section.


After supper I decided to take another look. Everything seemed dry – but for some strange reason – the hole didn’t seem so deep so I pressed down and sure enough my sleeping bag, mattress and all were floating! My tent set-up now looked like this:



I should have felt aggravated but instead I roared. You see – darling – had I not taken another look – I would have jumped into it at 2230 or so – and then my oh my – would I have been surprised! As it was – I wasn’t as bad off as some other fellows – whose holes caved in – burying their blankets and all in mud. Well – it was some night! I ended up sleeping in our truck. Other fellows sat up all night. All of us prayed for a clear sunny day and we got it. Right now, darling, there are lines strung all over the place and things drying out rapidly – albeit – caked heavily with dried mud. Since everything was wet anyway, I washed some dirty clothes and now I’m all caught up. The ground is still wet today so I think I’ll use the truck again tonite. That’s a rather lengthy explanation for my writing later than usual – but I thought you’d like to know, dear.

Other than the above, sweetheart, things are moving along rather well and everyone is imbued with a spirit of victory. I hope we’re not let-down, i.e. I know we’ll win, but I hope it won’t take too long. I have a piece of unfinished business to take care of at home – would you know anything about that?

I guess your mother will lose her bet – on August 15th – but I hope by not too long. As for my fear about the Russians getting to Berlin first – I’m not worried about that any longer, darling, so long as someone gets there soon. I do want to get home so badly, dear – to get to know you in person the way I do by letter. It’ll be so nice in person, too, I know –

It was strange – your mentioning the “White Cliffs of Dover”. I had been reading about it recently in a magazine and remembered very vividly the afternoon at Irv and Verna’s when we heard the recording. It must make a good picture. We saw “Old Acquaintance” – with B. Davis – a couple of nights ago. I believe you wrote me a long time ago that you had seen it. It wasn’t bad at all and quite diverting.

I laughed at your mention of dieting – in preparation for an “early 1945 wedding”. Why should you have to diet, dear? The early wedding suits me fine! I was thinking about a wedding last nite as I lay in the truck – I don’t know why just there – but it’s so pleasant to think about before falling asleep. I was thinking about all the things I would have to do – like getting some clothes, buying a car, and most important of all – getting set up in Salem with you. Darling I still haven’t got that part of it settled in my mind. We have to have a place to live and we have to move into an office. Apparently I can still get my old office back – but I can’t figure out our end of it. Anyway – I usually fall asleep at that impasse. I’ll have to have you with me to figure it out, I guess.

I’ve got to go look after my clothes, dear. The wind is fairly brisk and I don’t want my stuff to fall to the ground. I don’t ever want to see any clothes being washed – ever – darling – so you’d better be lining up the best laundry in Salem.

All for now, Sweetheart. My love to the folks and

All my everlasting love to you
Greg.

* TIDBIT *

about Showering

American soldiers take a shower
by a stream in Normandy

Until the very end of the war responsibility for field bathing equipment was divided between the Quartermaster Corps (QMC) and the Corps of Engineers. The pioneer work in the development of shower facilities for soldiers in the field was carried out by the Corps of Engineers. For a new bathing unit the Military Planning Division turned to a mobile eight-head shower unit developed by the Corps of Engineers and favorably tested in 1941. It had been rejected for standardization by the Assistant Chief of Engineers because he felt that rubber tires and manufacturing facilities should not be wasted in "providing luxuries and excessive convenience as implied by trailer mounting." Procurement had been limited to 60 sets which were turned over to the QMC and subsequently standardized. The QMC later revised the design to provide for units with 12 instead of 8 shower heads. Subsequently a 24-head shower unit replaced the 12-head unit.

After operations were started on the Continent, local bathing facilities in towns were surveyed and inspected by Medical Department officers. In some areas the QMC operated shower points; in others, existing public baths and showers were used. Shower facilities were tremendously effective morale builders. They were extremely popular, particularly when set up in connection with a clothing exchange unit which enabled the soldier to don an entirely clean outfit after bathing.

Shower facilities were variable depending on the unit's location, but that a shortage existed in combat units is indicated by numerous requests made by various headquarters and units for additional shower equipment. It was recommended that bath facilities be provided organically with all types of divisions. The 9th Infantry Division reported, for example, that corps shower units with clothes turn-in privileges provided excellent service, but that the disposition of infantry troops prevented removal of more than 2 to 3 percent of any unit from the front at one time. This allowed only 1 bath per man in a 3- to 4-week period.The 2d Armored Division reported that during combat a bathing unit was always available to troops. Troops were rotated to get showers frequently. The 35th Infantry Division, on the other hand, reported that during the summer months bathing facilities consisted chiefly of local streams.

A combat engineer battalion usually carried enough equipment to set up four water points; two forward of the advancing infantry; artillery or armored units and one or two behind. As troops advanced, the behind water points would leapfrog ahead establishing the next forward points. When troops advanced quickly, there was no going back to water points in the rear. Quartermasters worked with the engineers by bringing in the cement, pipes, tanks and pumps they needed to construct the water systems.

The first step in activating a water point was to locate a stream, well, pond or spring. In some cases, the source was enhanced by explosives creating a crater resulting in a water source called a sump from which the water would be pumped. The next step was to test for potability, turbidity and poisons. An engineer water specialist carried test tubes for this evaluation.

For most of the European campaign of WWII, a mobile water treatment unit that combined coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, diatomaceous earth filtrations and hypochlorite disinfection was used. It provided safe drinking water for both the troops and the civilians of liberated cities as the Allies moved across Europe into Germany. Potable water usage by troops in combat was estimated by the military (on a per day basis in gallons) as follows:
drinking: 5
hygiene: 2.7
centralized showers: 1.3
food preparation: 3
vehicles: 3
heat treatment (ice): 1
hospitals: 65 gallons per bed per day
laundry (6 pounds per man per week): 2
construction: 1.5
Total use = 20 gallons of water per day per man.

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