WWII Letters from the Men & Women In Service


McKay, Robert M., letter dated November 25, 1944

Robt. M. McKay Writes
From Pacific Area

Mrs. Octavia McKay received a very interesting letter from her grandson, Robert M. McKay, who is somewhere in the Pacific. The letter was written November 25th and was received December 9th. He wrote, in part:

“Although I cannot tell you where I am, I can tell you a little about the people here. They are mostly dark skinned, and cannot speak very good English. Some of them wear bones in the noses and ears, and wear just enough clothes to cover them, and that’s about all. There are a few white natives, too, of mixed races. So you see, it’s quite a place.

“About the only place to go is to a restaurant once in a while to eat. We get a steak which isn’t too large, and potatoes, another side dish or two that I don’t know what they call. It’s some kind of greens, I guess. With the meat we get a small bottle of wine. The meal costs about $3.00 and I don’t care much about it.

“Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that a lot of the natives have red hair, and dye their teeth with something black. It sort of spoils one’s appetite to look at them.

“I have had no mail for over two weeks now. Not much to write, so will close.”

Source: Adams County Free Press, Corning, Iowa, Thursday, January 04, 1945, Page 1 [Adams County]


Mecham, Wyant Vanden (link to letters written home to his family in Iowa--Pocahontas County)


Miller, Pvt. Harlan, letter dated February 2, 1944

Pvt. Harlan Miller Writes From England

The Milford Mail is happy this week to be able to pass on to you a letter just received by Mrs. Carl Miller from her son, Pvt. Harlan Miller. It has been some weeks since the last letter arrived as Private Miller is detailed to duty which does not permit him to write often. This letter is headed “England” to give her information as to where he is now located. It was her first recent knowledge of his whereabouts. The letter follows:

Feb. 2, 1944
Dear Mom, Dad, and Boys:

Sorry, for the moment this is all I have to write upon. Hope this finds you all well and happy, am in good health myself and somewhat over that cold of mine. Have just returned from my furlough and will give you the general idea of how I spent it. Well, to begin with I was on leave for seven days and enjoyed every minute of my leave. No I don’t know if I can tell you where I spent my leave _ _ _ (cut by censor, 2 lines) _ _ _ Stayed at the American Red Cross which was quite nice and comfortable. And you can be sure that was the first time I slept between sheets for a long time.

While on my leave I met some very nice and interesting people. Had invitations for every day of the week and did so enjoy it. Spent two days with Mr. and Mrs. Harold Smith, and had more fun taking their baby for a buggy ride. Although it sure tuckered me out going uphill but I didn’t mind it. He is such a cute kid, to be more specific he is about 18 months old. Then too it gave Lennie (his mother) time to clean the house up. In the evening they had a birthday party for Harold’s sister. For lunch we had spam, bread, butter, pickled green tomatoes, cheese, beets, and tea, later beer. Was fun and I felt so at home.

Then I was invited to have dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Mullinger which I of course accepted. And we did have a very nice dinner, just like home and now I have a standing invitation to spent the nite with them whenever I can, and to think I could have spent my leave with them as they said if they had known before they would like me to stay with them, which of course would have been nice. Met quite a few nice people, all through the kindness of Mrs. Whiteley and you can be assured that I give her my sincerest thanks. They are so very nice to talk to and were very eager to know what America is like, what they did for entertainment, games, work, occupations, etc. Were so surprised when I told them how large our farms were and what we raised. The homes here seem so pinched for space. Mrs. Mullinger has six chickens and the particular day was lucky enough to get six eggs. Eggs here are a treat and scarce as anything. Also talked about what I did before the war, etc.

Mom, I want some pictures sent to me as soon as possible. A couple of the work I was doing, that is of churches in the inside. Take them from my photo album. Also one of my car. There is one with a picture of Joey sitting on it, but if it isn’t distinct enough, send any other. Also send me one of those post card pictures that I had taken in Fort Knox. If there isn’t any left have one made of the negative that I sent home. Don’t keep me waiting too long for them. Thanks, Mom. And by the way I still haven’t a picture of Stanley so I had to describe him the best I could. Showed them what pictures I had and they certainly thought they were very nice, too. Such a nice family and to have such good looking boys and no sisters. Said you must really be a proud mother. Am going back and visit them whenever I can. And don’t forget these pictures, send them via air mail.

Saw some very old places that were quite interesting and colorful. Sunday I went to Mass at 11 and it was high mass. Was very nice church but not decorated. Was surprised at the number of soldiers that attended. Was for walks along the river and was very amusing to watch the swans and other waterfowl maneuver about in the water. Saw the remains of an old castle, the walks and drives. Got quite a kick out of the automobiles here as they are so small and narrow. Ours are so much superior to theirs. Don’t forget to sent the ones of my car and if possible the side view with me in it.

Well Mom, had best close for now. Will write more later. Bye to all for now and God bless you all. With love to all.

Your son,

Source: The Milford Mail, Milford, Iowa, Thursday, February 24, 1944, Page 2 [Dickinson County]


Miller, John M., letter dated June 10, 1944


John M. Miller, of east of Burt, writes from New Guinea to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Miller. He is also a grandson of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Cox, of Algona. John has been in the service three years last May and has been overseas since last January. The letter:

Somewhere in New Guinea, June 10, 1944. Dear Folks: A head sergeant told me I could now tell a few things you are anxious to know, so will chance it. It was 63 days, a heck of a long time. I thought it was the longest ride on water I ever wanted to take but I am ready to make it again if it was back to the good old U. S. A. any time now. I knew this was a big world, but I didn’t think so much of it was water.

I suppose you are busy cutting oats by now. Wish I was there to go in on the threshing run. Some of those good oats would be grand to us now. I’ve seen a lot of Japs. The dead ones look best to us. The live ones we can expect, as we are in the combat area, just so we see them first is the main thing. We were just issued 6 sheets of paper. I am afraid the paper situation is going to be serious, so tell all my friends to write, for probably we can’t. Hope everybody is OK. Don’t worry about me, I am fine and going to stay that way.—John.

Source: Algona Upper Des Moines, September 5, 1944 [Kossuth County]


Moritz, Cpl. DeWayne E., letter dated March 7, 1945

Local Cousins Reunited
In Army Camp In Italy

The reunion of cousins in Italy was one of the recent high points for two Milford area families, when a letter came with the details. The letter was from Cpl. D. E. Moritz, son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Mortiz, and told of a visit from his cousin, James McDonald, who is with an armored tank division in northern Italy.

The McDonald youth has been with the invasion forces since they hit the beaches in Africa. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. James McDonald of near Milford.

The letter follows:

Italy, Mar. 7, 1945.

Dear Mom and Dad: Well, here I am again on this end of the line. I meant to write much sooner but I have had company the last three days so I just didn’t write.

Yes, Sunday noon I came down here to the camp to eat dinner and as I was walking up to my tent one of the boys (the boy that wrote you folks when he was home) hollered at me and asked me if I had a cousin in the tanks corps up in northern Italy. Of course I said yes, and told him about Jimmy (James McDonald), and he said that he was in the tent.

Sure enough, there was Jimmy. He was on a seven-day leave. You’ll never know how happy I was to see him. He was just the same old Jimmy, only he has really gotten fat. He looks very good. We sure had a good time while he was here. We talked over old times, of course, and did celebrate a little. He said he had been in front line combat 315 days now. He didn’t mind it so much but naturally hoped for this to end soon. He had one of his buddies with him, who was really a nice fellow.

We took a roll of pictures and as soon as I get them developed am going to send the negatives home for you and Uncle Jims to print up. I sure hope they turn out O. K., as they will be something to remember.

Well, folks, how is everything back there. Boy, we have sure had some swell weather here. I suppose you are getting the March rains now, aren’t’ you? Do you think you will ever get a very early start in the fields?

The mail has been kind of slow lately around here. You know, I suppose a lot of people wonder why I don’t write. Well, you know hot it is to write when there is nothing to write about.

Well, Mom and Dad, I will close for this time as I’m kind of tired as I didn’t get to bed very early when Jimmy was here. You don’t know how happy I was to see him. As ever, tons of love, DeWayne.

Source: The Milford Mail, Milford, Iowa, Thursday, March 15, 1945, Page 1 [Dickinson County]



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