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World War II Letters
Harrison County Iowa Veterans

Letters from the Front - This page is dedicated to the veterans of World War II.
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Harold Damery Writes Of War Experiences In France

Letter and information contributed by Debbie Damery Carr - debbcarr@lvcm.com Following are letters of Pvt. Harold Damery written to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jess Damery, formerly of Dow City who now reside in Woodbine:

Dear Mom and Dad:
    Got a V-Mail and the bundle of papers you sent this morning. Fact is 
we've been having mail call about everyday, now. I enjoyed the papers even 
though they were old.
    It is as rainy as ever if not more so. The last couple of days it has 
snowed some. Two nights ago the area in which we were bivouaced was flooded. 
Luckily my bed partner and I saw it coming in the evening, and moved on 
a little ridge in the dary. It was pouring rain at the time and we were 
pretty wet but slept in luxury compared to the rest.
    We have given up the idea of sleeping in hills for protection from 
shrapnel instead we have built a wall of sod around our tent. We found 
some dry straw in a barn so had a good sleep last night.
    We had those beautiful moonlight nights about two weeks ago. Many times 
I've stood motionless on guard because of it.
    There was an interesting thing that happened while we were up at the 
front. The Germans gave a talk in English over loud speakers in our lines. 
They asked among other things, "How would you like to be home in your living 
room listening to the radio?" Then they played some American music. Telling 
us to come over and surrender was the LAST STRAW! Right now my hands are 
too cold to go on writing. That long period when you never got a letter is 
when we we're doing so much moving.
                                                             Love, Harold.

    In the hospital because of my feet (frozen). The doctor says I go back 
to duty tomorrow though I don't see how I can make it. I can't walk a step 
today. Life has been pretty rough lately, but I sure hated to leave the 
company now that I've gone this far.
    Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I wondered what you were doing. It was 
nothing special for us, though we did get one warm meal. Today we had 
turkey here in the hospital.
    Perhaps you wondered about my birthday. It was the most miserable day 
I ever spent. The day before waded a stream to the waist and then without 
blankets laid down fort har snowed about 4 inches and the night. The next 
morning we cleaned a timber out and were held up at the edge that day and 
another miserable night. It rained that night and was a little warmer, but 
my feelings were gone anyway. At noon we broke out of there, but I won't 
tell anymore as it is a long story from there till the present position.

    The last two days three packages have come for me and sure am happy 
about it. Two were from you. One with the Bible, billfold and candles, the 
other with the candy. Don't know which I like best. The candy, for the 
moment, was delicious and ate it all right away. The billfold is very nice 
and takes care of the pictures I've received. I've been carrying an old 
Bible I'd found. The one you sent is much better and I gave the other away. 
    The change in ink that you probably notice is the difference between 
German and American ink. The "Heinie" ink is so light you can hardly see it.
    The last three weeks I have been just sick enough with a cold so I 
couldn't get medical attention. Gradually became worse until I had chills 
and fever and headache all the time. Still (like a fool) I didn't see the 
medics till one day and night we walked in the rain. During the night then 
a time which I can't explain, I felt so sick, got lost, and after a time 
found a building which was a farm house and barn. This brings me to what I 
wanted to tell about. The people who lived there--Alsaciaus--realized I 
was sick and treated me as if I were their son. They seemed to be pretty 
well off and had plenty of food. They spoke German and some French which 
isn't hard to catch onto. After a couple of days, I felt well enough to be 
up so started finding the company again, which didn't take long. Found 
I was reported "missing." Since then we have been lucky enough to stay in 
one building and have gotten a good rest and feel as good as ever.
    This building is a deluxe pig house and must have been run by the 
government as there is room in it for at least 100 brood sows. Four of us 
sleep in one pen.

An hour later--
    Got a bundle of mail I never dreamed of--9 letters and a Dow City paper. 
Two were from you and Lewis' girlfriend's mother sent him a fruit cake that 
we both ate.

December 20--
    This is my second day in the hospital which is quite away to the rear and 
it seems almost too quiet and comfortable. I'm afraid they're going to 
spoil me for the front, here. Have a small wound, nothing serious, but 
very sore right now. Last night they took an x-ray and then took out two 
small pieces of shrapnel.
    After getting hit I got a letter from you telling of Vernon Cross 
being wounded.
    I considered myself very lucky to be alive. A mortar shell landed 
beside me, tearing up my pack and putting, a hole through a steel shovel 
that was on the pack. Some of your letters get through pretty fast and 
others don't.
    They say there is too much air mail for the planes to carry so they just 
take what they can and put the rest on ships, air mail or otherwise.
    By the way, I get a purple heart, now.
                                                              Love, Harold


Footnote: My dad passed away in Dec of 1995, he never did talk much of the war. Found out later that his hip had been blown off with the mortar shell he spoke of. And during his time with the French family, apparently he had wondered for days, and these people took him in for a couple of weeks, he was almost comatose. I don't know when or if he ever realized he had been gone that long. Or possibly, he was making it sound better as to not worry his parents.

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