Post VE Day letter from MP buddy in Austria
#1

This is the last letter I have from Dad's war years. It was written by

his best friend Cpl Robert Cunningham in their outfit - the 206th MP Co.

 

Bob & my Dad had been through it all together from N. Africa to Germany.

They were a team & looked out for each other & shared whatever food they

could scrounge up & anything they recd from home.

 

My father had enough points to go home finally in mid March 1945 and

Bob remained for the last push into Germany.

 

Bob's letter is dated May 27, 1945 from Innsbruck Austria and his penmanship

is impeccable (another lost art). He addressed the envelope to: MR. Frank

Howard with "MR." underlined :pdt12:, as my father was no longer "Sgt Howard",

but a very happy civilian instead. Dad didn't get his "ruptured duck" pin and discharge

till after VE day. As I understand the "point system" - you got 1 point for every month of

service, 1 point for each month overseas, 5 points for each award recd, 5 points for each campaign star, and 12 points for each child you had. You had to have 85 points to

go home. I don't think my grandparents understood the "point system" and expected

the Army would surely send Francis home right away since he'd been gone since '43.

It didn't quite work that way. Pity the poor fellows that didn't have enough points

and had to contemplate being sent to fight the japanese! Thank God Harry dropped

those bombs & saved so many lives!

 

Maybe somebody can tell me: Did everyone going home to the states leave via

troopship from Le Havre? How long did the trip take? Where did the ships arrive?

 

Bob wrote:

 

Dear Frank,

 

Received your letter of April 22nd, and was very happy to hear from you!

Chet received a letter from Shrader yesterday and he told us the good news

about you fellows getting discharged. We were all very happy to hear it because

we knew how much it meant to you.

 

Say! Your description of the good Old United States sounded very good and only

wish we could be ther with you. During the past week and a half we have sent

about 15 men home to be discharged. Some of them were Raubison, Phaff, Atkinson,

Patty Valenti, Buckhart, and Fitzwater etc. Pat Geary and Russell Owen are supposed

to leave sometime next week. It won't be very long and Chet will be on his way also.

 

Everything around here is getting back to garrison. We stand reveille in the morning and

have our regular saturday morning inspections. The Deputy Chief Of Staff inspected last

week and he liked the men and quarters very much. We really have a lovely place here

and it is the best we ever had. It has runing water, hot showers, electric, a big gym

to play basketball in and a large sun roof to take sun baths. It really is wonderful.

 

Frank, remember the pictures we took in Bruyeres? Well, I still have them so here is the

set I promised to send you. Sorry it took so long!

 

Say, by the way Old Boy, how is Trudy? Are you going to get married or are you going

to satisfy ALL of them?

 

Thanks a million Frank for going to see my wife. She really enjoyed your visit very much.

She was very happy to know that everything was alright.

 

See the messenger coming with his papers, so will sign off for the present.

Write again soon! Hope to be back in Boston by September, I have 84 points.

 

Till later Frank, Lots of good luck & happiness!!

 

Your old buddy,

 

Bob

Reply
#2

The letter clearly displays the commaraderie they shared in Europe. How wonderful that you still have it in your possession. :wub:

 

I like your comment about penmanship. That sure has gone to hell in the last few decades. That and spelling. Sigh! Many lost arts and studies, but that's another subject for another day, yes?

 

[say, by the way Old Boy, how is Trudy? Are you going to get married or are you going

to satisfy ALL of them?

:frown: Great sense of humor too!
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#3

Quote: "My father had enough points to go home finally in mid March 1945".

 

I find this quite unusual as I believed the ASR score for discharge (points ) did not effect til May '45. I dont recall hearing of any of our guys

in our Infantry Division going home on points till after wars end in ETO at least reguardless of points. And a few

were still left from the 1942 landing in Africa and had over 85 points by far. Whats your take Roque and Sgt ?

Reply
#4

Good point (so to speak :pdt12: ) Joe, because the point system (ASRS) did not come into effect until May of 1945. And this was how it worked:

 

How the Advanced Service Rating Score worked. Points were awarded for the following:

 

+1 Point for each month of service

(between 16 Sept 1940 - 12 May 1945)

 

+1 Point for each month overseas

(between 16 Sept 1940 - 12 May 1945)

 

+5 Points for first & each award received:

DSC, LM, SS, DFC, SM, BS, AM, PH

 

+5 Campaign stars worn on theater ribbons

 

+12 Points for each child (< 18 yrs)

up to a limit of 3 children.

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#5

Gee this is VERY interesting!

 

I didn't realize that the point system wasn't instituted till May '45 &

just assumed that 's how he got home.

 

Clearly by the date of Bob's letter, everyone was now obsessed with

calculating their points.

 

How did Dad get home???? All I know is that he was drafted 3/41

and came home 3/45, but wasn't discharged from the Army till May (after VE day).

 

This is pure speculation, but I remember reading about MPs in North Africa

who got to take prisoners back to the states.(other MPs were envious).

Could it be possible that he had to do that? I hardly think it likely

at that late date that they'd be bringing German prisoners to the U.S.

Reply
#6

Found this site while surfing around looking for info re going home.

 

Has anyone seen it? Bob Gallagher's WWII memoirs. He was an MP

and became an engineer in civilian life. Great site & photos!

 

Copying the epilogue page link because I like his list of things

he didn't like about the army and things he learned.

Go to his table of contents for his whole story.

 

http://www.gallagher.com/ww2/epilogue.html

Reply
#7

Mary ann, it very possible your dad escorted POWs back to the states in March `45. POWs were being shipped back right up till the end of the war until the large enclosures were built in europe.

From a Texas article from Camp Hearne, texas:

"More than 150,000 men arrived after the surrender of Gen. Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps in April 1943, followed by an average of 20,000 new POWs a month. From the Normandy invasion in June 1944 through December 30,000 prisoners a month arrived; for the last few months of the war 60,000 were arriving each month. When the war was over, there were 425,000 enemy prisoners in 511 main and branch camps throughout the United States. "

 

Seems your dad was lucky enough to be in the states at the end of the war and didnt have to go back over.

My dad escorted POWs back to the states from Marseilles 28, Sept `44 arriving in the US 18, Oct. He got to go home for awhile then shipped back over on 30, Nov 44 arriving back in Marseilles 23, Dec rejoining IV Corps during the BOB. At the end of the war he was stationed at the POW encloser in Bretzenhiem (real nasty place according to accounts i`ve read) He departed ETO for home, 23, July,1945 arrived US 2, Aug. 1945. He was discharged 29, Oct. 1945. at Fort Dix Separation Point

His DD-214 lists his ASR score as 72 so i dont know how he was selected to go home.

Larry

Reply
#8

Here's a list of camps in the US

 

http://www.answers.com/topic/list-of-pow-c...e-united-states

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#9

Larry & Marion, thanks so much for this info!

 

Larry, it must've been alot harder on your Dad to come home & then

have to go BACK! I can't even imagine how he must've felt!

 

I never really thought much before about how my Dad got home.

He wrote alot of letters during the Italian campaign, but there aren't

as many from France. In the ones that I have, he talks about "our boys being kept

very busy" and I think they were moving around alot.

 

It never occured to me before that he might've come back to the States

escorting POWs, but now that i think about it - he had a bunch of photos

of German prisoners. They puzzled me, especially the ones with German sailors.

Clearly, they weren't taken near any water and the sailors are smiling for the

camera (they didn't look at all unhappy about being POWs, in fact they all

look like they're on vacation & sightseeing). Camp Edwards Ma is on the list that Marion sent,

so maybe Dad was taking POWs there.

 

I don't have any letters saying: "I'm coming home!" (I wish I did!).

How I wish I'd asked my Dad what it was like to see his mother & father & be home again!

 

Here's a photo of Dad and Bob Cunningham Oct 13, 1943 in Maddaloni Italy

(that's right near Caserta). VI corps had secured the Naples area and Southern

Italy I believe by Oct 6. He looks pretty good in the closeup photo, but in later ones,

taken after Anzio, he looks AWFUL. I'll have to find those, so you can see the contrast.

 

Mary Ann

Reply
#10

Glad we could be of assistance M2. It's funny how many things get solved by accident; when you are even looking or trying! Man, it's been that way for me so many times.

 

Hey M2, if you are interested, I have several programs that touch-up, repair/improve old photos. If you have any, such as the ones above, I can see if I can sharpen them up a bit. Let me know if you are interested. :wub:

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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