Sioux County

Pfc. Henry Neal DeGroot




Pfc. Henry Neal De Groot, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry DeGroot now living in Rock Valley, arrived home Saturday from Camp Atterbury, Indiana, on furlough.  Henry says this is his “alert” furlough, as he expects to be sent overseas in the near future. He has been in the service (Infantry) for 15 months and was transferred to Camp Atterbury from Camp Bowie, Texas.  Henry expressed his sincere thanks to everyone who sent cards, letters, and remembrances for Christmas and says he very much enjoyed them all, but can’t possibly answer each one individually.

Source: Sioux Center News, Thursday, January 20, 1944


Excerpts of recent letters from Henry Neal DeGroot, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry DeGroot of Rock Valley, tell of his progress since he was wounded in France in the first invasion:

Pfc. Henry Neal DeGroot
Hosp. Plant 4175 APO 121
Det. Of Patients, c/o Postmaster
New York City, N.Y.

Dear Mother and Dad:   August 4.
I am getting along fine and everything is okay. I am still bedfast and will be for quite some time, also will e a long time before I will be able to walk again. I have a large hole in the right side of the calf of my leg—clean through, making it the same on the left side of the calf of my leg. Had one operation in France, cleaned the wound and bandaged it, so I could be transferred to England. In England I had another operation to clean and draw wound together. Next will be more sewing and more drawing together—and a skin graft.
See, everything like muscles and ligaments were shattered and blown out. You can now understand why I’m having all the operations. Why I’ve been in bed a long time and will be for quite some time, yet. Everything was hit in my right leg, except the bones, so I have no fractures—Thanks Goodness! It will take time for muscles, tissues and ligaments to heal and grow again. Don’t worry at all. I am receiving good care and very efficient medical care. In time I will be able to walk again.  I had a lot of pain at first, but that stage is all over. The operations have been okay, have new stuff they put you to sleep with. Doesn’t take  long to go to sleep and no after effects at all of the wonderful stuff.
The medical service of the U.S. Army is wonderful. They are doing a swell job and working wonders and performing miracles.
Very nice, good and efficient nurses. The doctors are swell and really are very good.
I haven’t received any mail from France yet, but one of these days I will—both letters and packages. I have had a fresh mail from the States—for four days now—and it is good to hear from everybody again.
I wouldn’t know how to contact the fellows you mentioned that are here in England—maybe later when I can walk again, I can contact them, if they are still in England.
Glad you wrote relatives. You may wonder why I do not write more often. It is hard for me to write in bed. See, I don’t sit up much yet—I write awhile, using my left knee as a writing desk—write awhile then rest awhile, and so on.
Today I received my much needed haircut. It is starting to grow out again.
It does get tiresome lying in bed all the time, but I don’t mind. I am in a ward full of fellows full of the dickens and we do have fun in spite of our aches and pains. Everybody is cooperative and the ones who can walk help the ones who can’t—so we get along swell.
Glad to hear you sent me boxes—Gee! That really is swell—I received the ones of May 27 and June 3, and the rest will catch up with me.
Think I will close for this time. Hope this finds you both in the best of health. Someday soon I hope this thing will end—then I can come home and mow the lawn for you. I can well imagine how everything looks. I have it pictured in my mind. Bye now. Don’t worry. Love, Henry Neal.
Just received large airmail letter of July 21 and the card July 27th, I was glad to hear from you again. I have received mail directly from States for 5 days now. Received 20 letters. You can see I am kept busy answering everyone and I am doing a fair job of keeping up. Pete Juffer received a discharge—I bet his wife is happy to see him again.
Yes, I like my new pen and the billfold you sent me. Come to be very handy and useful.
Received “Bernice’s box” and wrote her a thank-you for it already. She sent cigarettes, gum and plenty of candy.
I am going to receive a lot of boxes. They are promised and sent and on the way to me. I wrote you last night which I had received. I am receiving a lot—and the ones that are already sent really add up. I need a secretary real bad to help me keep everything straight.
Enjoyed reading verses and poems you sent me are very nice. Also enjoyed the card.
We lost our radio to another ward. See we take turns having it.  We then had a phonograph and have lost that, too. Have to wait our turn again. Hope our turn comes soon. Miss News from U.S.A. and also the programs and music.
I haven’t received the News for a long time, now. Still bedfast—will be for quite some time and will be some time before  I will walk again. I am getting along fine and everything is okay. This new anesthetic is wonderful stuff. So far I’ve had five operations on my right side—Counting the three on my leg. (Two were before war, appendix and rupture.)
So, Johnnie is wounded, too? I don’t know if he is here with me or at a different place. Please send me his address and I will drop him a line. You said “a different address” huh? Well, he must be in a different place. Will close for now. Bye. Greetings to everyone. Hope this finds you both in the best of health. Love, Henry Neal.
August 10, letter states “all fine.”
August 14, adds—“Every time the doctor dresses the wound, he says, “It looks much better.” Haven’t heard from you folks for about a week now in fact no mail from anyone in last three days. Mail from France not here either—yet. Guess one of these days it will catch up with me.  The weather here lately has been pretty. Altho, it is summer here in England, the weather reminds me of a spring day and spring weather in the U.S. Haven’t had radio or phonograph for a long time now—hope our turn comes soon to have one of them. I miss hearing news, orchestras, and programs. I heard from relatives and friends lately—receiving sixty letters and cards. Have caught up in answering except Kay and Emmett’s letter.  Received a very clever card and a bunch of jokes, etc. I enjoyed the car and jokes very much.
The War on all fronts look very good—I hope the Allies can keep the good work up and have this thing come to an end soon. Wouldn’t it be nice if the fellows could spend Christmas in the U.S., or even if they had to spend it on foreign soil—to spend it in a quiet way—no war, on then? Well, I will close for this time. Hope this finds you both in the best of health and that everything is okay. I miss you both—Bye now. Love Henry Neal.
The box with my civilian shoes came and where I was then, I couldn’t use them—so I gave them to a Frenchman. He had wooden shoes on—hadn’t had a pair of real shoes for 4 ½ years. He was pleased and appreciated mine very much.

Source: Sioux Center News, August 31, 1944