Pvt. John "Jack" Petrow, of Company E, 133rd infantry, 34th Division, U. S. national guard, stationed at Camp Claiborne, La., doubtless is undergoing similar experiences of "Private Plink,” the hero of the cartoon which is published daily in the Freeman-Journal. “Plink” Petrow’s articles will be carried at various times in which he will tell of experiences with Company E while in camp.

Journal of Letters Written - Monthly Links



Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, April 7, 1941

Private ‘Plink’ Petrow
Says Members of Company Want More Letters From Home—Don’t Mean Maybe.

Thursday, March 27—Cloudy today. If it doesn’t clear up soon I’m going to transfer to the underground balloon corps. We have a new addition to the company, a new 60 m. m. trench mortor. It’s really a honey. The only trouble is that it weighs 42 pounds and I have to carry it. If I have to haul it on a four hour march, me and the army are going to part ways. Well I can dream can’t I? I’m still tired from yesterday’s hike. Since Corporal Ankrum’s doing so well barbering, we have another business. Corporal Rawson has set up a pressing and cleaning establishment. He does a swell job too. (This plug ought to rate me a pressing job).

Friday, March 28—Swell day. A lot of the boys are nursing sunburns after eight hours out in that sun. The word just went around that we get paid soon. I hope. The boys are pretty well broke. We were issued the new M-1 rifles today. Really a swell gun. Those are the new guns invented by Garand. They’re a big improvement over the old old Springfield. We’re really getting equipped now. A lot of the fellows asked me to write and say that they’re not getting enough mail from home. So I hope this will make an improvement on it. Inspection tomorrow. Bed early as usual.

Saturday, March 29—Another warm day. Spent the early part of the morning preparing for inspection. Everything has got to be just so or else, and I do mean or else. Passed the inspection all right and played Co. H, of Mason City, kittenball the rest of the morning. We beat them 7 to 6 with the help of Private Shelton’s pitching. Spent the rest of the day getting some bunk fatigue. That’s sleep to you civilians. Went to the show at night, “The Red Headed Gal.” It wasn’t so hot in my opinion.

Sunday, March 30—Boy is it hot. The army is afraid to issue thermometers for fear the boys will desert. Some more of that southern fried chicken for dinner and peach pie ala-mode. I think the boys are all picking up weight on this army cooking. I know I am. Played ball with Company D, of Waterloo. We got beat. Oh well, we’ve got to lose sometime. Spent the rest of the day writing letters and reading the papers. The Freeman-Journal is really a godsend down here. Bed early as usual.

Monday, March 31—Raining again. This is the kind of climate that drives the weatherman crazy. We started marching this morning to get in practice for Army day the 7th. The whole division is going to go to march in town in front of the governor. Big deal, I guess. More drilling. Got the word today that the draftees are expected any day now. Lucky stiffs, they’re just starting and here we’ve had about two months of our time gone. Drilled all day. Much more of this drilling and I’ll be a licensed dentist when I get out. Went to town to night. Had a good time (censored).

Tuesday, April 1—Nice day and I do mean nice. I’d give a month’s pay, in other words $21, if every day was like this. Today was Corporal Baker’s birthday. We sent him through the belt line. He sure looks funny eating standing up. More marching this morning. I had to haul that trench mortar. When I got through I was three inches shorter. Well, two inches. Got a letter for a change today. Also got a box of candy. Lost an arm in the shuffle when the word got around. Pay day today. Oh what a grand and glorious feeling to have some money in your pockets even if it is only $2.

Wednesday, April 2—Hotter than blazes. We were issued our trench helmets today. Six men went crazy trying to adjust them to fit. Going on a four hour hike tomorrow. I hope it isn’t rainy. If it rains like it did last week I’ll have to learn the breaststroke all over again. You should see the tan the boys are sporting down here. Look like a bunch of Indians. Went to school today. The fellows that are writing home are invited to work on the staff of the paper the 34th division is going to put out. It’s under the supervision of Lieutenant Martin formerly of Des Moines. Bed early. Have to be in shape for the hike in the morning.

Pvt. “Plink” Petrow

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, April 14, 1941

Private ‘Plink’ Petrow
Eugene Bashford Is Hero of Co. E; Saves Man From Drowning.

Thursday, April 3—A hot day today and I do mean hot. Went on a four hour hike. I lost four pounds. Boy another hike like that and the army and me are going to the mat. We had a real tropical rainstorm last night; got about an inch of rain. Thunder and lightning were really terrible. We had a dog sleeping under my bed. After the storm I was under the bed and the dog was in it. Our tent leaked a little and five pairs of shoes floated out. It took us two hours to find them.

Friday, April 4—Cloudy today. Nothing new in camp. Drilled all day. Got a nice package in the mail from C. F. Grempel. The whole division marched today in preparation for Army day. It will be about a two and a half hour parade. Should be a big deal. We are beginning to notice signs of bugs and mosquitos down here. The mosquitos are pretty big, too. Corporal Waggoner stepped on one this morning and it lifted his foot right up and flew away. Well that’s what he told me. Inspection tomorrow.

Saturday, April 5—Field inspection today. That’s where you get out to the drill field and the big shots come around and question you and review you on all you’ve had since we’ve been here. I guess we passed O. K. because he didn’t say anything. At least he didn’t say anything to us. Went to see the baseball game in Alexandria this afternoon. The Brooklyn Dodgers played the Alexandria Aces in an exhibition game. Alexandria got beat 12 to 1. Went to town at night. I believe every soldier in Louisiana was there. They outnumbered the civilians 10 to 1. The merchants are really cleaning up. A few of the boys went to the dance. We haven’t danced for so long the only step we knew was the Turkey Trot. I asked a girl for a dance and she said yes. I nearly fainted cold away. Stayed up until midnight. Gad what rowdies we are.

Sunday, April 6—Slept till 9 o’clock. Wrote some letters and read the papers. There’s a big guard detail coming up and I spent the rest of the morning running back and forth to the orderly tent to see if I caught it. Not yet. Well I just now got the word from Sergeant Mahoney that tomorrow I’m kitchen police. Howard Ash caught an armadillo. Funny looking thing. We painted Co. E on his back and were going to keep him for a mascot. We pinned a new name on him though. We call him the “Army-Dilly.” Had the whole camp over looking at him.

Monday, April 7—K. P. today, otherwise knows as kitchen police. I peeled at least four acres of spuds. And the pots and pans—80 dozen of them and each was bigger than the first. That’s what I got for oversleeping. We have a hero in Co. E. Yesterday Eugene Bashford was over to a big sandpit in the camp and a soldier fell in it. Bashford jumped in and pulled him out. The rest of the camp went to Alexandria today for the big Army day parade. They tell me it was quite a thing.

Tuesday, April 8—Another hot day. Spent most of the time reviewing what we’ve had so far. Pvt. Don Scott got a great big angel food cake from his girl today. It was a really swell cake. This noon the army issued us brand new razors, shaving brush, comb and toothbrush. Tonight some of the division big shots came over to shake hands with Private Bashford for saving that soldier’s life. With them was Rep. Fred C. Gilchrist, from Iowa.

Wednesday, April 9—What heat. It went up to 93 today. I was talking to a local boy and he says it gets as hot as 115 degrees. You can look for me home any day now. The army issued us towels. What will they think of next? Private Thorpe was testing his trench helmet today. He broke three ball bats and the mess hall door trying to dent it. This noon we went over and listened to an informal address by Representative Gilchrist. He’s a pretty swell fellow. He came down here all the way from Washington to look the camp over. What a beautiful night, a full moon and millions of stars. Sorta makes a fellow homesick. Oh well only 10 more months.

Pvt. “Plink” Petrow

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, April 21, 1941

Hammer’s Cafe Sends 15 Pound Cake to Company E; Men Go Wild.

Thursday, April 10—Boy what heat. And us with a big march tomorrow. I’ve been trying all day to get a detail, but no luck so far. We got a wonderful surprise in tonight’s mail—Hammer’s cafe, may the Lord bless them, sent down a cake and I do mean a cake. It weighed about 15 pounds and what a cake. I had to keep the boys at bay with a bayonet. It was devil’s food and good, but good. It was better than our cooks can make, though I hate to say it, and the cooks bake a mean cake. We also had kangaroo court tonight. That is the old men’s way of getting a few (censored) from the new men. They call you in and charge you with some minor offense and then fine you. Guess what the money goes for. You’re right.

Friday, April 11—Four hour hike today and it is hot. When I got back I got in my bunk and hired a guy by the hour to turn me over. Pvt. Henry L. Brown said when he got home he turned the radio on and the first thing he heard was the song hit “You Walked By”. Was he mad. He’s in the market for a new radio as the other one is beyond repair. We got the rest of the afternoon off as it is Good Friday. We worked around getting ready for inspection tomorrow. General Marshall, the only active four star general in the United States, is supposed to be here. Well we’ll be ready for him.

Saturday, April 12—Inspection today. We really got a thorough going over as you never can tell what company the general will pick. We ran ourselves to death changing clothes and unchanging them getting ready for him. If he should ever spend the weekend he would have 12,000 mad men on his hands. Kind of dusty here today. We’ve swept our tents at least ten times. I got an anonymous letter today signed Toots. I took it around and asked all the boys if they recognized the handwriting but no luck. It has me puzzled. A lot of the boys including myself got some swell packages for Easter. There were enough to go around so all the tents are still intact.

Sunday, April 13—Windy as the dickens today. It really blows the dust around. It’s getting so bad you have to shovel your way into bed. This is the only place where you run around up to your knees in mud and at the same time the dust blinds you. Nothing to do but to lay around, eat and sleep. This makes 2-1/2 days of bunk fatigue. We had some guests for dinner today. Warrant Officer Ray Berggren and Warrant Officer Mooney and their wives and children. Warrant Officer Berggren is formerly of Webster City and is now with the staff of the 4th army command and is stationed at Camp Beauregard, La. It’s really a beautiful night. This moon is really worth the chips if you get what I mean.

Monday, April 14—Still windy. We have some changes around the camp today. They have appointed the men who are to train the selectees. They are Sgt. Charles Meyers, Corps. John Baker, Eugene Gordon, and James Rawson, Pvts. Donald Shade, Donald Shelton, Edward Peterson, Melvin Greenley, Nelson Branch. Sergeant Meyers is also planning to leave Saturday for Jefferson Barracks, Mo. He is going to bring back some of the 84 selectees we are going to get. Pvt. Donald Meyer is attending a classification school. He is going to help interview men in the regiment. We really have some smart boys down here. We all got weighed today and the average weight gain per man since induction is 9 pounds. Not bad.

Tuesday, April 15—A nice day for a change. A new bunch of selectees came in today. We don’t get ours for about ten days. They’re really going to have it soft for about seven weeks. They don’t get any details except on Saturday or Sunday. The boys that are selected to train them have to make their beds for the first few days, in fact they have to do everything but tuck them in at night. They may have to do that. I’d like to add that the mail has improved considerably in the last two weeks. Fried chicken for supper, also ice cream.

Wednesday, April 16—Another nice day. Spent most of the day at regimental headquarters. I was an orderly. That’s a pretty soft job. All you do is sit around and wait for messages to come through then you deliver them on a motorcycle. This afternoon we marched in review before the 1st and 3rd battalion; also a formal retreat tonight. Listened to the radio and bed early. No more hikes. The best news I’ve heard in months.

Pvt. “Plink” Petrow

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, April 28, 1941

Private ‘Plink’ Petrow
Says Company E Appreciates Gift of Beam Washing Machine

Thursday, April 17—Cloudy today. I got another detail today. Almost broke my back. Some of the other regiments got their new selectees. They’ve been coming in all day. I know just how they feel, but they’ll get over it. They’re building a new ball diamond. We had a musical comedy tonight over at the recreation hall. It was really swell. Girls and everything.

Friday, April 18—Dusty today. And it was really dusty. Today two swallows flew in asking the way to Capistrano. A few of the boys got some packages today. The mail is really starting to come in now, with a few exceptions, namely Art Downard who we’ve written at least 15 times. Shel Pringle is another one. Rifle inspection tonight, also formal retreat. We were issued foot lockers today. Really nice. A couple of our men transferred today. Pvts. Robert Boucher and Clifford Rollins transferred to the service company. Inspection tomorrow so we scrubbed the tent tonight.

Saturday, April 19—Inspection today. Same old thing although it was rather dusty. Incidentally it was our last inspection of the original company that left Webster City. Our selectees will be here by next Saturday (April 26). Well today was our last day of washing by hand. We got a swell new washing machine from Beam’s. It really is a honey. All the boys would like me to forward their thanks to the Beam company for such a swell gift. Nothing could be more appreciated. The men really keep it busy. The only time it stopped was when someone got their arm caught in the wringer. Well, anyhow, it was pretty busy. Nice rain tonight; cooled things off.

Sunday, April 20—Swell day. Slept late, right up till 8 o’clock. Church again. Laid around the rest of the morning. A lot of noses are beginning to peel. Mine looks like a Bermuda onion. The 2nd battalion played the185th infantry a game of hardball this afternoon. Don Shelton pitched three innings and never allowed a hit. He struck out six men. He was really hot. Pvt. Donald Shade caught a nine pound trout yesterday. It looked quite a big like a catfish. Nice eating. Pvt. Lawrence Crouch has been confined to the hospital with mumps. Nothing serious.

Monday, April 21—Rained all day. Went to the field this morning when we got back we found out that Sgt. Henry Mahoney’s sister had died. He left at 12:30 and we really hated to see him go. He’s a pretty swell fellow. We were issued gas masks this noon. Had school on them this afternoon. Sgt. Charles Meyers left yesterday for Jefferson Barracks, Mo., to get our selectees. Weather cleared up tonight so I guess I’ll sweep the snakes and lizards out of our tent and go to bed.

Tuesday, April 22—Rainy again today. K. P. again for Private Shelton and I, but we came by it honestly. Pretty soft today though. Tonight we all moved. They’re leaving two old men in a tent now. Then they put three of the new selectees in with the old timers. The selectees will be here tomorrow. We are all anxious to see them. Company E is going to have a radio program. We make the records and send them up to Fort Dodge and they will play them. Pretty good deal so look for it.

Wednesday, April 23—Boy what a rain. The selectees won’t have a very good opinion of the country on a day like this. Well, they’re here and they look like a pretty swell bunch of fellows. None of them from Webster City though. There are 85 of them and some pretty big ones. You should see our mess line. If a man wants to be first in the mess line he just about has to sleep on the mess hall porch. Cleaned up tonight. Had a jam session over at the recreation hall tonight. They sure cut loose. Bed at 9:30.

Pvt. “Plink” Petrow


Pvt. Jack Petrow in this article refers to being put on a gravel detail. Here’s the dope—There was a long march coming up and Petrow asked Sgt. Henry Mahoney for a detail. He got it, but it wasn’t a snap as he hoped. In camp that night, Petrow said to Sergeant Mahoney: “Look at these hands! Look at the blisters. I don’t want any more detail.”

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, May 5, 1941

It’s Corporal Petrow
Promotions are in Order; Company E Gets Its Selectees.

Thursday, April 24—Raining again. Well, we have all of our selectees at last. No local boys as yet. Kept us pretty busy today fixing up our tents and stuff. Spent the rest of the night helping to prepare for Co. E’s radio program sponsored by the Elks. It’s going to be a good one so look for it. Private Greenly caught a chameleon. It changes colors. He’s going to use it to keep the mosquitoes out of his tent. The mosquitoes get pretty big down here. They get so big that they can stand flatfooted and peek in the mess hall window and see what we’re having for supper—Well something like that.

Friday, April 25—Cleared up nice, but there were only about ten men on the field today as most of the fellows were on detail cleaning up for tomorrow’s inspection. It’s going to be divisional inspection. We are really prepared for it though. At formal retreat they brought the selectees over to watch the 3rd battalion march. Very classy. Did my washing tonight in that new machine that we got from Beam’s. I used government issue soap so they have got a little tattle-tale grey in them. Scrubbed my tent and then to bed.

Saturday, April 26—Inspection today. The division big shots were supposed to come around, but as usual they didn’t. That’s what the army calls a dry run. Laid around the rest of the morning. Played ball this afternoon with the new selectees. Some pretty nice ball players in the bunch. Most of the boys went to town. We were issued canteen books today. Just in time, too. Some of the boys were getting kinda thirsty.

Sunday, April 27—Beautiful day. Church this morning. Slept a little later right up till 7:30. Did some more washing. We get a kick out of washing our clothes in that machine. Played ball this afternoon with 135th regiment. Private Shelton pitched a no hit game. Caught guard again tonight. I got the “death watch”—1:30 til 3:30 a.m. On two hours and off four. Not bad, not good, but not bad.

Monday, April 28—I didn’t get off guard til 5:30. The selectees went out on the drill field today They’re in for seven weeks of drilling. The old boys went out to the range today. They all fired eight shots for practice. Tomorrow they will start to fire in earnest. We had non-com tests yesterday. Sergeant Myers got the best grade, which was 95. Private Schweppe’s birthday so he took me over to the canteen for a few (censored). To bed early.

Tuesday, April 29—Cloudy today. All of the old men went out on the firing range today. It’s about a four mile walk, but it’s worth it. We fired the new M-1 gun and it is a honey! Not a bit of kick. We fired at targets 200 yards away. It’s really a pretty sight to see 100 men shooting simultaneously. Then off to the side you hear an occasional burst of a machine gun fire. Very classy. We ate out there on the field. Very tired tonight.

Wednesday, April 30—What a day! What a day! First thing this morning the new non-commissioned officers were announced as follows: The following corporals were made sergeants—Ankrum, Baker, Calkins, Cornett, Gordon, Groves, Knapp, McCollough, and Rawson. The new corporals are: Branch, Christenson, Greenley, McCollough, Carl, Meyer, Peterson, Petrow, Shade, Charles Wilson, Shelton, Voga and Vold. Not bad. Then to make things better, today is pay day. From here on you draw your own conclusions.

Corporal Petrow



~Transcriptions done & submitted by Hamilton County Iowa researcher, Pat Juon, July 2016

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