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, July 7, 1941

Had Fine Time, Says Corporal

By Corp. Jack Petrow

Well if every ten days went as fast as these last ten, this would probably be the year 2099.

In other words we hate to go back. Of course army life is fine and it has done wonders for a lot of us, but how we hate to leave.

This has been ten days of heaven. Everyone in town treated us like we were kings and do we appreciate it. You will probably be seeing some more soldiers in a few days and if they get treated as we were, half of them probably will not show up at camp.

In all sincerity, in behalf of all the soldiers home on furlough, I’d like to say thanks a million for ten swell days.

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

Get Back, Then Bing! Maneuvers

By Corp. Jack Petrow

Well we all arrived safely back to camp and most of us found that ten days of easy living made us pretty soft. We got there about 11 o’clock Tuesday morning. We got there just at the wrong time.

We just pulled in and changed clothes and Bing! we went out on an overnight maneuver.

Hot? Egad! That old sun just beat down and I sweat out ten days of easy living. Pvt. Loder and the boys that came back with him had a little trouble but arrived safely.

The boys here had it easy from what I hear. They were on regimental reserve July 4 and paraded before the “big shots.” That’s about all of the news so far as I know. Will pick up where we left off next week.

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

It’s Corporal Petrow
USO Furnished Company E With Some Athletic Equipment

Thursday, July 10—Here we go again, back after ten fast days and it is hard to get in the saddle. We left on maneuvers this morning and was it hot. Rode for about five miles then walked. We didn’t spot the enemy all day so we caught up on a much needed catnap. A southern rainstorm came over and before I woke up I had floated three blocks away. Well it rained pretty hard. Slept all night on Mother Earth’s hard ground. Many more nights and my back is going to have its own set of hills and valleys.

Friday, July 11—At breakfast at 3:30 this morning then we withdrew. We were in reserve so all we had to do was to move back and forth with the battle. Pretty soft. Nothing much to do except scratch mosquito bites. Ate dinner about noon then waited for the truck to take us back to camp. One thing is that we ride to and from our battlefields. Spent the rest of the afternoon getting ready for Saturday’s inspection. Our equipment really gets dirty, too. Hit our bunks early tonight and did it feel good.

Saturday, July 12—Inspection and after inspection we went into the mess hall to take some tests for the new noncommissioned officers. We have to have two new sergeants and two new corporals and four privates first class. This afternoon about five of us went to Baton Rouge to renew old acquaintances. Oh yes, how true. Really had a swell time. Went to a big dance. That’s one town where they really treat a soldier swell. The ratio down there is four women to every man. So how could we miss!

Sunday, July 13—Still in Baton Rouge and having ourselves a time. Went out to a girl’s house for dinner and some real fried chicken. Very nice. Went to the show, Bob Hope in “Caught in the Draft.” A laugh a minute. Sure hated to leave that town, but I reckon we’ll be back. I hope. Got home rather late and hit the hay.

Monday, July 14—Well our new non-com’s are: From corporal to sergeant, Don Shade and Raymond Christensen; from privates to corporals, Lou Lovelace and Ralph Shaffer. And four new privates first class are Harville Conkling, and three new selectees, John Vellum, Herman Young and Ernest Hoppe. Well, we left at 7:30 this morning for another maneuver. We were in reserve again. That’s getting to be a  habit. It really rained again today. I saw another watermelon patch, but I wasn’t hungry and besides the colonel was standing close by. Got in tonight and found out that Dick Fleischer was down to camp. Lucky stiff. Another maneuver tomorrow so will hit the bunk early.

Tuesday, July 15—Today was an easy day. All we did was to work around the company. Hauling gravel and fixing sidewalks. We got a big volley ball net today so we set up a couple poles to tie them to. We also got a couple pair of horseshoes and stakes. The equipment is really coming in now. I believe it’s through the efforts of the USO. God bless them. This equipment is good stuff, too. Tonight we played volley ball. A lot of fun. Plenty tired when we hit the bunk.

Wednesday, July 16—Another easy day. Spent the morning scrubbing the tent and airing out the beds. We also cleaned up our mess gear. We’re going on another maneuver in the morning. This one is to be a two day job. This afternoon we played volley ball. That game has taken the company like a storm. We really like it. It’s not such a sissy’s game as it looks. Tonight I went over to Regimental to attend a meeting. We’re going to have a dance Aug. 2 and I’m on a committee. It’s really going to be a classy deal. Well bunk open your arms, here I come. “Hiya Bill.”

Corporal Petrow

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

It’s Corporal Petrow
Company E ‘Enjoys’ Louisiana Rains As Well As Sunshine

Thursday, July 17—Out on another maneuver again today. The Colonel tells us it’s going to be a tough one. And he should know. We walked for about four miles and the sun was really socking it to us. The unofficial temperature reading was 102 degrees—not bad. We got to the front line and contacted the enemy and then it happened. The clouds opened up and did it rain. These Louisiana Showers drive a man crazy. One minute it rains, the next the sun beats down. I took my raincoat off and on so much that I sprained my wrist. Well could be. We ate supper and stood around until midnight.

Friday, July 18—Midnight we started withdrawing. And was it tough going. Mud up to your ankles. The boys in 1918 had grapes compared to this, I think. Of course I could be prejudiced. We walked about five miles in the black of the night. I was so covered with mud that if our enemies had been Negroes I’d have been a gone goose. We got in about 10 o’clock in the morning. We had visitors when we got there. Marjorie Osborne came over to pay her respects. She has a brother in the 109th Quartermasters. We got all the local news.

Saturday, July 19—Inspection today. Not so tough though, they just examined the guns that were out on the maneuver. We played volley ball the rest of the morning Last night late Albert Shelton and his brother, Stan, and Lloyd Hanson, the staff sergeant’s brother, dropped in on their way back from California. We played ball this afternoon, the 133rd played the 109th Quartermasters. Corporal Shelton caught for us. He’s the only man from E company that plays for the regiment. Corporal Shelton and I took his cousin out to see the sights. Army style, of course. If you get what I mean and I think you do.

Sunday, July 20—Slept late again this morning, which didn’t do us any harm. Went to church and laid around the rest of the morning. Our guests left around noon and I kinda wanted to go for some reason or other. Played ball again today. We beat the 136th Medics 10 to 8. Shel got a triple. We went to the girl show at the recreation hall tonight. Very classy. Only 20 cents, too. Listened to the radio and hit the bunk.

Monday, July 21—Another maneuver tonight. We didn’t pull out until 11:30. We spent the morning over on the drill field. Pretty hot. The rest of the afternoon was spent in cleaning up for tonight’s maneuver. Corporal Meyer (Donnie) caught guard tonight and he’s running around pulling his hair and stomping his feet. Oh well, he didn’t have to go on the maneuver. Spent the rest of the evening ’til 11:30 laying around on the old bunk. We fell asleep and you ought to hear the boys scream getting them out of bed at 11 o’clock. Oh, well, that’s the army.

Tuesday, July 22—We rode about 30 miles then we stopped and laid around til morning. We were in reserve again. Nothing to do but wait. Came back in about noon and was it hot. It rained in the afternoon as usual. Just like somebody was pouring it out in buckets. There’s some word came down from headquarters that the men can transfer and some of the boys are going to try. We played the anti-tank company volley ball tonight. We beat them two out of three games. Went to another show at the recreation hall. Oh, yes.

Wednesday, July 23—A day of ease. Worked on the company street this morning. Filled up our drainage system. Also fixed up the horseshoe pits. We’ve got some real horseshoe pitchers around Company E. Also some of the boys joined the bald-headed row again. Among them are Sergeant Grover, Corporal Greenley and Private Cooper. Shel and I passed this trip up. Another meeting for the dance tonight!—125 gals imported for this affair and I’m on the committee, so I can’t go far wrong. Hit the old bunk early.—“Hiya Bill."

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, August 4, 1941

It’s Corporal Petrow
Kitchen Force Get Heads Shaved; ‘Pinky’ Looks the Best.

Thursday, July 24—No maneuvers the rest of the week. Boy what good news. We went out to the drill field and reviewed what we’ve been having. I read by The Daily Freeman-Journal that it’s been pretty hot up there. Too bad. If you think it’s hot, then you should be down here. The whole kitchen force has shaved their heads. You should see them, especially “Pinky” Kirkpatrick, and Orvile Jondal. Boy what a sight. Well it’s pretty cool, I’ve been thinking about cutting mine again but I can’t get in my tent if I do. Played volley ball and hit the bunk.

Friday, July 25—Had some visitors come in last night, Corporal Wilson’s girl, Katherine McGuire, and Corporal Peterson’s girl friend, Pauline Merman. They were driven down by E. E. (Bud) Keast He’s an old national guardsman. Nothing new today. Rain as usual. About 3 o’clock every day it starts to rain and I mean rain. Shel and I were getting worried and were starting to build us ark. Had another meeting for the dance tonight. We’re going to invite the general. They asked me if I wanted to deliver the invitation to him but I told them I was happy as a corporal. Went to the show and as usual hit old faithful. Boy does that baby take a beating.

Saturday, July 26—Inspection today. Guns and tents. My gun was all right, but that’s all I can say. Got reprimanded for it too. Did my washing and ironing today. I’m getting so I wield a pretty wicked iron, too. Played ball this afternoon, but got rained out. Sat around the rest of the day wishing I were in Baton Rouge. I can dream can’t I. Got a box of candy and spent two hours repairing my tent. If you get what I mean. Had hamburger steaks for supper tonight and they were good. I ate about a dozen. Went right to bed.

Sunday, July 27—Here’s that day again. Boy it’s nice to lay in bed and hear them blow reville and never make a move. Went to church and played volley ball this morning. Played ball this afternoon, the 133rd played the 109th. Corporal Shelton pitched and was he hot. He only allowed four hits and in the last inning he pitched nine balls for nine strikes. We beat them 4 to 1. Shel’s the only man from Company E on the regimental team except Pvt. John Miller. He’s bat boy and a good boy too. Ate supper and went over to the cateern. Use your own judgment what we went for.

Monday, July 28—Out to the drill field again today. Plenty heat. These trees just don’t give out enough shade. Next Thursday we’re going to have a division alert. We pack up everything and get ready to go. This one is going to be a fake or what the army calls a dry run. We got a few details of it today. Going to be a lot of work. Oh, well, that’s getting to be a habit in the army.

Tuesday, July 29—More drilling today. Or rather a review of what we’ve been having for the past six months. We’re going out on the big maneuver Aug. 11. There’s going to be about a half a million men engaged in battle. Should be a big deal. Another meeting of the dance committee. 22 men from this company get to go. There’ll probably be a girl for every man, I hope. A few more boys got their heads shaved tonight. They figure no one will see them for 6 weeks so what’s the dif. Played volley ball and went to bed.

Wednesday, July 30—Got the bad news today. No payday the 4th of August. They’ve got to stagger the pay roll. Got the afternoon off. They started the regimental soft ball tournament today. We beat the band 5-0 in the first round. Sergeant Ankrum pitched. The regiment played baseball this afternoon too. We beat the 3rd battalion 8 to 5. Spent the rest of the night packing for our alert. Gad what a lot of work just to move. Hiya Bill.

Corporal Petrow



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


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