Sioux County

Pfc. Francis "Dutch" Homan




Pfc. Dutch Homan Writes From France

From somewhere in France, Pfc. Francis (Dutch) Homan writes his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John P. Homan, in part: “Well, we hit it pretty lucky today and we are going to stay in a French house tonight.  It really seems like heaven to us, because it is dry and half-way warm.

I have cleaned up my weapons and dried my feet, so now I’ll drop you a few lines, then I want to wash and shave and try to clean up a little bit.

The French people really are tickled to death whenever we liberate another village and will do anything for us—such as let us come into their house and barn and heat water, give us wine, coffee and bread—anything we ask for, if they have it.  Boy! If I ever get back, I’ll be so glad to be in our house again that I’ll think I’m a king.

Over here in about every valley all the people live, they grow their food on the terraced hills.  Their house, barns and buildings are all in one—and it’s really quite a mess. Everything is just like you read about—wooden shoes and all.  The terraced hills are beautiful but I can’t see anything beautiful about the way they live.  It’s not for me. I still want the good old U. S. A.

This past week was pretty rough again and I saw a lot and had plenty of new experiences.  I guess you know by this time that I am in the Seventh Army.  The Germans are really moving back.  I don’t think the Krauts themselves really want to fight but the officers force them to keep on fighting.  In time they will all be finished, and I hope it won’t be too long.”

He then writes of receiving a letter from the Kiernans which he enjoyed and a package from his sister Lorraine, asks about the home news, and sends greetings to “the gang” and closes, “Remember me in your prayers—God bless you.”

Source:  Alton Democrat, December 21, 1944

Pfc. Dutch Homan Has Fox Hole De Luxe—Describes Proper Attire for Foxhole Wear

~Somewhere in France
Dear Mother and Dad:
Happy New Year, dear Mother and Dad, and I sincerely hope it will be just that for both of you.  I must say this New Year’s Eve was a pretty noisy one compared to the ones I used to spend a home.  It really looked more like the Fourth of July around here than New Year’s Eve.

Well, you’re getting this letter direct from my foxhole.  You see it is my day to stay out here and I did want to write to you today, so I’m doing it in my foxhole.  I really think I have a pretty nice foxhole compared to the ones we usually have to make.  I have a hole dug here in the side of a hill and covered it over first with logs and then with dirt.  I have a blanket hung over the opening I use to crawl in and out of, so it is fairly warm in here compared to outside.  I also have some straw spread on the bottom of my hole and it helps a lot.  I am writing by a lamp which I made out of an oil can fitted with gas and a wick dropped in it.  It gives quite a light, about the same as a candle and isn’t bad at all.

Well, now maybe you have a little picture of how I have been living the past weeks.

It has been snowing the past couple of nights and I guess we must have about half an inch of snow on the ground right now.  It hasn’t been too cold out in it, or maybe it is all the clothes I have on.

Remember I was the guy who never wanted to wear winter underwear.  Well, I am now wearing two pairs.  I also have on 3 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of pants, 1 shirt, 1 sweater, 2 caps plus my helmet, two pairs of gloves, 1 fur-lined jacket and 1 field jacket, so you can see I have plenty of warm clothes.  Our snow-packs (shoes) have rubber bottoms and leather tops with 2 felt inner soles in them and are really alright, except in damp weather.  We have to watch our feet pretty close or we will get trench foot.

January 2.
I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to finish this yesterday, but will finish it this morning while I am in town.  A couple of days ago, I received the Democrat which you sent air-mail, the Nov. 30 newspaper. I have also received four other Democrats within two days, the last dated Nov. 2nd, so I guess they will be coming through all right.

Well, today I want to get a haircut and I also think I will be able to get another shower. I have just shaved so I feel half-way clean again, but that shower should really do the trick.  Boy, I have forgotten what a radio, electric lights and running water look like. I suppose if I should ever get a chance to take off my clothes and crawl between the sheets—I doubt very much if I would be able to sleep.  It would be wonderful though, to try it once.

As I sit here I can see the street through this town, busy with tanks and soldiers.  About a couple times a day some fellow comes out and rings a bell to call the people and then he shouts out the news.  You see they don’t have any Newspaper or any kind of postoffice here.  Right across the street is a Catholic church which is all full of holes and wrecked from artillery.

Out in front of every house is a manure pile and in the back of the house or beside it is their barn. Everyone seems to have a few animals but just enough to live on, since the Krauts have taken almost everything.  As I look out THROUGH this window, I can see only two panes that weren’t broken, so they have them patched up with other windows out of their barn, or with cardboards.  It really is quite a thing to see, but I’m certainly glad you don’t have any idea what it looks like.  I’ve heard a lot of interesting stories about how these people were treated by the Nazis and hope some day I can tell you some.

I wrote to John Reeff the other day and I am going to try to look him up. Well, take care of yourself and God bless you.
Love, Dutch
P.S.  I almost forgot to tell you, our platoon is receiving a citation. Maybe I will be able to tell you about it later.

Source: Alton Democrat, February 8, 1945 (photograph included)