Hamilton County


Pfc. James Russell Foley




W. C. Soldier Views London

(How the world’s largest city looks to a soldier from the Midwest is told graphically in the following excerpts from a letter written by Pfc. Russell Foley to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Foley of this city, following a trip to London. Private Foley is stationed with a U. S. service squadron somewhere in England.)

Arrived back last night from the world’s largest city, and it is really a big place. However, London doesn’t look as large as New York probably because there are no really tall buildings as compared to the skyscrapers that we have back in the states.

The American Red Cross—God bless ‘em—certainly goes all out over here. They are the only American organization that I could find—or anyone else could find. They have made every effort to transplant bits of the U. S. A. in the most strategic points in London. They have taken over numerous hotels wherein they have beds—complete with sheets—cost 30 cents a night in our money. They also serve excellent meals at the rate of 20 cents per meal. So for the actual living, it costs less than a dollar a day while on pass. Can’t beat that even back in the states. Besides that, the “snack bar” is open up to 4 o’clock in the morning, coffee at 2 cents a cup, doughnuts 2 for 2 cents. So much for eats.

Hot Spot

Besides the eating and sleeping, in the heart of Piccadilly Circus, which is the hot spot for most Americans, as well as the heart of London, the American Red Cross runs a tremendous place, complete from an orchestra in the basement to nickelodeons on the fourth floor. An interesting thing is all the different places such as dining rooms, snack bars, recreation rooms are designated by highway signs such as highway 20 goes to this 34 to another. There is also a big map of the U. S. A. on the wall where you pin a flag with your name on it on your home town.

None From Here

There was none from Webster City but lots of them from Woolstock, Ames, Eagle Grove and all the surrounding towns. Then, of course, there are billiard rooms, pin ball machines, everything that we have “over there” that they don’t have here. From quiet, sedate and apparently dignified London you walk in to a jazz band, with soldiers, sailors, and WACS jitterbugging and raising the roof. It’s jumping an ocean in about 15 steps. On the main floor is a sign post with one arrow saying “Berlin, 600 miles.” The other way points to “New York, 3500 miles.” This is quite a contrast—don’t you think?

Inside Westminster Abbey they have everyone famous for almost everything. They really go for that sort of thing here. At the very inside of this abbey, they have the British “Unknown Warrior,” which is, of course, their equivalent to our “Unknown Soldier” in our Arlington cemetery. Then it goes on through famous men clear back before the Pilgrims. In there we visited the tombs of two William Pitts, the monument of William Penn, Gladstone, Shakespeare, and many others. It seemed rather strange to me, but about the only foreigners represented in this building of immortals were Americans and you can’t charge them up to the war because most of the gestures were made even before the last war.

Glorified Cemetery

Also in Westminster Abbey, is the coronation square where they crown a new boss over here from time to time. The whole place is a glorified cemetery and a church. It is really a tremendous affair.

A vein of humor is found in all the conspicuous places in a plaque which includes on one side American expressions and on the opposite side their English terms as the British use them. The caption at the top is “Our only defense against your American invasion.” The chart does come in handy at that, although I have had absolutely no trouble in making myself understood. Their accent is no different than a southerner’s from a northerner’s and usually they are easier to understand.

Fast Transportation

Transportation is, on the whole, quite rapid. Their busses really move and their subways, or undergrounds or tubes as they call them, are, I believe even faster than New York’s. The streets are hundreds of years old and very confusing in places, the names changed for no apparent reason, sometimes four or five times with in a few hundred yards. The only way I could find my way around was to spot a monument or statue of somebody that was once famous and know that so many statues away was where I was supposed to go. Anyhow, after numerous inquiries, managed to always arrive at the desired destination

I might say here and now that there are very few Englishmen that wouldn’t trade places with you at home in a second. If it were possible for every American to see how the other side lives, he would be so glad he had the Stars and Stripes to fall back upon. With the utmost appreciation of what these swell people are doing to make our visit here a pleasant one, I wouldn’t trade the American heritage for the best spot anywhere in the world and I’m sure that the natives here would give a lot to have the breaks that we get and don’t even realize we have them until we see how some one else gets along. And with all your taxation over there, you still are paying nothing compared to what they pay here—and they draw nowhere near the salary that we draw. When you consider that a buck private in the American army can probably make more money than the head of a large family over here, nobody has any kick coming.

Source:  Daily Freeman Journal, August 25, 1943

James Russell Foley was born Oct. 2, 1912 to Leo Edward and Erma Pearl Bates Foley. He died Dec. 22, 1998 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Webster City, IA.

James served with the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II.


Russell Foley, 86, Webster City, died Tuesday, Dec. 22, 1998 at Hamilton County Public Hospital. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, with Rev. John Walsh, celebrant. Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery. Graveside military services will be conducted by American Legion Post 191. Recitation of the Rosary will be at 6:45 p.m. Friday, followed by a Scripture Service at 7 p.m.

Russell James Foley, the son of Leo and Erma (Bates) Foley, was born Oct. 2, 1912, at Bradford, Iowa. The family moved to Webster City in 1917. He graduated from Lincoln High School in Webster City in 1930.

On June 14, 1952, he married Dorothy Hogan at Dougherty, Iowa. The couple resided in Webster City throughout their married life. Mr. Foley had worked with the Woolworth Corporation and Whaley Plumbing, both in Webster City.

During World War II, he served with the U.S. Army Air Corps, 8th Air Force, in England. Following his discharge, he returned to Webster City and began employment with the U.S. Postal Service, retiring in 1976.

Mr. Foley is survived by his wife, Dorothy; two sons and daughters-in-law, Patrick and Linda Foley of Webster City, and Timothy and Nancy Foley of Clive, grandchildren Ryan, Julie and Katie Foley, two sisters, Mary Scott of Webster City and Margaret Anderson of Tucson, Arizona; and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Mr. Foley was a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus and American Legion Post 191.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - Dec. 23, 1998