03 April, 2012

03 April 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
3 April, 1945         0920

Wilma, darling –

It’s quiet here for now, anyway, and maybe I can get a letter off to you without being interrupted. That would be novel. In yesterday’s V-mail I told you a little about our present set-up. It is extremely comfortable, and I had a very pleasant night’s sleep. We have one room downstairs which is sort of a lounge. Perhaps today sometime we’ll be able to sit around and relax. The people here were “kind” enough to leave behind a few bottles of some rather select stuff – including 1929 Vintage Burgundy, 3 or 4 bottles of Vermouth and a variety to other stuff. I’m always writing you about the liquor and wines we find, dear, and you must think that that is all I think about; but that isn’t so, dear. Some of the fellows do make pigs of themselves because it’s all free. Personally I’ll take some wine with my evening meal and perhaps later in the evening if we’re playing Bridge. As a matter of fact it has been difficult not to drink in the past week or so. One of our Captains had a Birthday on the 28th of March; the Colonel and one Major had Birthdays on the 31st; yesterday was another Captain’s Birthday, – and well – they all drank at my Birthday, dear – and I have to reciprocate.

So you do have a couple of closets full of war “relics” – and “relics” is the word? That reminds me, somewhere around January and February I sent our several packages – and to date – you’ve only mentioned one or two. Did you ever get that dagger I sent out? The other day we came across a Nazi health clinic – pretty well stocked. I found a couple of blood pressure machines and a couple of other things. I’ve sent them out. Will you keep an eye out for that package, dear?

Below are two photos of the dagger

And about Mollie – of course you didn’t do wrong. I’m glad you told me – and I’m glad you felt that you ought to tell me, dear. The fact is – I wasn’t surprised. I had been told she was sick – cancerous – and that was enough.

In one of your last letters you mention Mother B and the fact that she has been ill again. You said you would mention more about it in your next day’s letter – but that one is still missing. Now, darling, from what I gather – she’s been doing a heluva lot of flowing and one way or another I think it’s high time she did something about it. I wish you’d get after her. Has she been to a consultant yet?


Sorry, darling – I was called away. We’ve been thinking that we don’t see enough American flags around. As a matter of fact – the only place you see one is over the building of Military Government – and they are set-up only in the larger cities. We have a flag – but it is silk and will be ruined if we keep it out. So we had the mayor of town in just now and ordered him to have a flag made just like the silk one we have – and it must be completed by this afternoon. It’s a good sized one, too – but what could he say, but ‘yes’? I had to act as interpreter.

Today – or yesterday rather – completed my 33rd month of Army service and now more than half of my service is overseas. All that ought to count for something when they start figuring things out. Gosh how I want to get home to you, sweetheart! Sure – this is all adventure over here – but damn it – I’ve had enough of this kind. What I’m interested in right now is a little different type of adventure – with you, dear. Oh Boy! Hold me down! We’ll have it, too, darling; no fear about that. It’s just kind of tough waiting it out. But the worst is by and we have a whole life ahead of us. So sit tight, dear – and I’ll be home to love you hard – some one of these days. All for now, love to the folks – and

All my sincerest love –


about The Third Escape of Willie Sutton

From the "Famous Cases & Criminals" portion of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) web site comes this biography of Willie Sutton, who made news on 3 April 1945.
Born on June 30, 1901 in Brooklyn, New York, Willie Sutton was the fourth of five children. He attended school through eighth grade, then left home to secure a job. Sutton’s employment included jobs as a clerk, a driller, and a gardener. His longest continuous employment lasted 18 months. Sutton was married in 1929, but his wife divorced him after he was incarcerated. He remarried in 1933. Before his death, Sutton co-authored “I, Willie Sutton” and “Where the Money Was.”

Willie Sutton acquired two nicknames, “The Actor” and “Slick Willie,” for his ingenuity in executing robberies in various disguises. Fond of expensive clothes, Sutton was described as being an immaculate dresser. Although he was a bank robber, Sutton had the reputation of a gentleman; in fact, people present at his robberies stated he was quite polite. One victim said witnessing one of Sutton’s robberies was like being at the movies, except the usher had a gun. When asked why he robbed banks, Sutton simply replied, “Because that’s where the money is.”

On February 15, 1933, Sutton and a confederate attempted to rob the Corn Exchange Bank and Trust Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sutton, disguised as a mailman, entered the bank early in the morning. The curiosity of a passerby caused the robbery attempt to be abandoned. However, on January 15, 1934 Sutton entered the same bank with two companions through a skylight. When the watchman arrived, they forced him to admit the employees as usual. Each employee was handcuffed and crowded into a small room.

Sutton also executed a Broadway jewelry store robbery in broad daylight, impersonating a postal telegraph messenger. Sutton’s other disguises included a policeman, messenger and maintenance man. He usually arrived at the banks or stores slightly before they opened for the day.

Besides being known as an innovative robber, Sutton recommitted in June 1931 on charges assault and robbery. Sentenced to 30 years, he escaped on December 11, 1932, by scaling the prison wall on two 9-foot sections of ladder that were joined together.

Sutton was apprehended on February 5, 1934 and was sentenced to serve 25 to 50 years in Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the machine gun robbery of the Corn Exchange Bank. On April 3, 1945, Sutton was one of 12 convicts who escaped the institution through a tunnel. Sutton was recaptured the same day by Philadelphia police officers; this had been his fifth escape attempt at this prison.

Here is a drawing of the escape route
followed by photos of the tunnel entrance and exit.

Sentenced to life imprisonment as a fourth time offender, Sutton was transferred to the Philadelphia County Prison, Homesburg, Pennsylvania. On February 10, 1947, Sutton and other prisoners dressed as prison guards. The men carried two ladders across the prison yard to the wall after dark. When the prison’s searchlights hit him, Sutton yelled, “It’s okay,” and no one stopped him.

On March 20, 1950, Willie “The Actor” Sutton was added to the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. Because of his love for expensive clothes, Sutton’s photograph was given to tailors as well as police departments. A 24-year-old tailor’s son recognized Sutton on the New York subway on February 18, 1952 and followed him to a local gas station where Sutton purchased a battery for his car. The man reported the incident to the police who later arrested Sutton.

Sutton did not resist his arrest by New York City police, but denied any robberies or other crimes since his 1947 escape from Philadelphia County Prison. At the time of his arrest, Sutton owed one life sentence plus 105 years. He was further sentenced to an additional 30 years to life in New York State Prison following a jury trial in Queens County Court.

Seventeen years later, the New York State penal authorities decided that Sutton did not have to serve two life sentences and 105 years. Sutton was ill; he had emphysema and was preparing for a major operation on arteries in his legs. On Christmas Eve 1969, 68-year-old Sutton was released from Attica State Prison. Ironically, in 1970, Sutton did a television commercial to promote the New Britain, Connecticut, Bank and Trust Company’s new photo credit card program.

On November 2, 1980, Willie Sutton died in Spring Hill, Florida, at the age of 79.

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