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.

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Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, June 9, 1941

It’s Corporal Petrow
Has Fine Time ‘Fondling’ Money After His Bills Are Paid

Thursday, May  29—Rained all day again. If it isn’t one thing it’s one thing. Marched again for tomorrow’s parade. Boy, we should have a honey of a time in Baton Rouge. Just think only 2,000 soldiers in a big city like that. Just like taking candy from a baby. Tonight all the noncommissioned officers and officers of the 133rd infantry went over to the recreation hall and heard a swell speech by Gov. George A. Wilson. He also presented us with a beautiful flag of the state of Iowa—God Bless Her—Very nice.

Friday, May 30—Raining again, but we’re going to leave anyhow. We had some guests last night. Staff Sergeant Harold Hanson’s folks, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hanson and his sister, Karen Sue, and brother, Bill, came down last night. But that wasn’t all, they brought a lovely gal with them, Miss Jean Branch. She’s Corporal Branch’s sister. I have reason to believe that she and Sergeant Hanson will be middle aisling soon. Well here’s the dope on the trip to Baton Rouge. We arrive in town about 10:30 and marched in review right away. Very nice parade, but hot. After the parade we were turned loose and boy from then on we were hard to find. And hospitality, man, man! These people couldn’t do enough for you, and that isn’t all You should see these southern gals. Burn my books my school days are over. Friday night was this soldier’s idea of a little bit of heaven. Won’t go into details.

Saturday, May 31—Got up early. We were quartered in a school house. Went right out on a sightseeing tour. We went to see Huey’s $5,000,000 capital and it’s worth every penny of it. Beautiful, but beautiful. It was a beautiful garden full of magnolias and stuff around it, with a big statue of him right in the middle. Then we went over to the other side of the Mississippi in a ferry. More fun! By the time we got there it was dark and when it gets dark a soldier is a changed man So—————.

Sunday, June 1—Went back to town this morning. Had a few farewells to bid. Not bad. We left about 3:30 in the afternoon. We passed the bridge Huey built. Is it a honey! Three and a half miles long. Arrived home about 7:30, ate supper and sat around and discussed the trip. I’m speaking for every man in the company when I say we had the time of our lives and brother, I’m going back.

Monday, June 2—Nice day in more ways than one. Today the eagle screams, in the words of the army pay day. Got paid and sat around the rest of the day just looking at the money I had left after paying all my bills. I don’t know what I’ll do with these four nickels, well five. Wrote a few letters and hit the bunk early. We also found out that Sergeant Hanson got married Saturday in New Orleans. Some guys get all the breaks.

Tuesday, June 3—Well we started back at the old grind today. And is it hard to get in the groove again. And the weather in plenty hot also. We have all of our selectees and we really have a big company now. We’re still recovering from our trip to Baton Rouge. What a town. I must go back. Tired tonight so going to hit the bunk early.

Wednesday, June 4—Another day in the field today. Boy are we rough after a month on the range. Oh well it won’t take us long to get smoothed off. Had a little maneuver this afternoon. Plenty hot. Did my washing tonight and went to town for a couple of hours. This evening at supper we gave Sergeant and Mrs. Hanson a present from the men of Company E. Very nice. I must try this thing called marriage some time.

Corporal Petrow

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, June 16, 1941

It’s Corporal Petrow
He’s Worried About 17,000 Additional Soldiers in Alexandria

Thursday, June 5—Well we’re back in the field again and is it hard to get back into the harness. Especially as it is so hot. We’ve been having small maneuvers within the company. Some of the boys went on a larger maneuver with the men of the 37th Division who are camped right outside of our camp. They’re from Camp Shelby, Miss.  There are about 17,000 of them. You should see Alexandria on a Saturday night with 22,000 men from Camp Shelby. A man has to hire a guide to get around.

Friday, June 6—Field again today. Cooler. Found a nice surprise this noon when we got in. A large box of candy from Mrs. Vern Vegors address to Corporal Shelton, Meyer and myself. I wish we could thank her personally for it. Also Sergeant Stamy and Corporal Meyer got some messages by radio from some amateur in Webster City. Would like to thank him also. They were picked up by the engineers down here. Tonight we had I. Q. tests and they were no snaps. I wish I’d have studied in high school. Well could be. Listened to the radio and hit my bunk.

Saturday, June 7—Field inspection again. Mostly review. We just got through when it started to rain and brother I mean rain. I’ve never seen anything like it. I wish Iowa could have it though. I’m in charge of quarters today and seeing how it’s raining so hard I’ll probably get run to death. First Lieutenant M. J. House has returned from 90 days in Fort Benning, Ga. He really has some swell stories to tell us about his trip. Pvt. Jack Thorpe’s folks, Mr. and Mrs. U. B. Thorpe were down for a few days. We got all the local gossip from them.

Sunday, June 8—That day is here again. How come on days when you’re allowed to sleep late you’re not sleepy? Fate I guess. Went to church and played ball the rest of the morning. Slept this afternoon and took a couple rolls of film. Went for a ride with Sergeant Waggoner. Boy it’s nice to ride in a car. When I get home I’ll think nothing of walking to Fort Dodge. Listened to the radio and did some sewing, then hit the bunk. It’s raining now and they say if it rains on June 8 down here that it will rain for 40 days. I hope not!

Monday, June 9—Rainy again today. This makes the second day it has rained. It’s supposed to rain for 40 days, I’m afraid. Nothing new around camp today. Same stuff on the drill field. We’re starting on another new phase though. We’ve having little maneuvers. I suppose we’ll start on the little ones and work up to the big ones. Went to the show tonight. “Arizona” pretty good show for a western. Listened to the radio and looked out at that big southern moon. Man, I’d love to be home on a night like this.

Tuesday, June 10— More rain! Three days now. More drilling on the field. Corporal Shelton and I are planning on joining the air corps. We’re getting in practice by flying out of our tents when the mess call blows. Well, just four months ago today we were inducted into service. One-third of our year up, I hope. Not that I don’t like the army now, but you know, there’s no place like home. Saw “Tobacco Road” tonight. It was raining pretty hard and the tent started to leak. Two hours is a long time to stand in one place, if you get what I mean.

Wednesday, June 11—Well a clear day and no rain. It just about tears that 40 day story all up. More work on the drill field. Oh, Oh, another guard detail tonight. I missed it, whew! Today is Corporal Shelton’s birthday, but he caught guard, and we were going out on one too. Oh, well, you might expect it. We’re going to have a night maneuver tomorrow night—So—Here I come you lucky bunk.

Corporal Petrow

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, June 23, 1941

No Petrow!

With Corp. Jack Petrow busily engaged in maneuvers with the 133rd infantry at Camp Claiborne, La., his usual weekly communication is missing today. However, the corp. doubtless will make up for it when he gets back to his bunk.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, June 30, 1941

Petrow Is Back Home Few Days

Corp. Jack Petrow arrived here over the weekend on a furlough from Camp Claiborne, La. Apparently he is more than enjoying the “time off from drills.” This morning Corporal Petrow said there were 25 men from Company E home for a visit and that all must be back in camp by July 8.

By Corp. Jack Petrow

Here I am back in good old Webster City and it’s worth a million bucks to be here. After all, four months aren’t a long time, but to this soldier it’s eternity. We drove 24 hours steady to get here. When I say we I mean Sergeants Knapp, Waggoner and Willson, Corporals Petrow and Shelton, and Privates McConnell and Streb.

We tried to get here in time for services of one of our buddies, Pvt. Emmett J. Harris, and I know every man in Company E would have given his right arm to be there. So for men in Company E I’d like to say goodbye to a good soldier and a grand fellow.

Well, now I’ll try to rehash this maneuver for you, I couldn’t keep a day by day account so I’ll let it go all at once. To start out with the 133rd regiment so-called the reds in this maneuver did battle against the 32nd and 37th division called the blues. It was divided into two phases, the offensive and defensive. This first part was the defensive. We were given a five mile front to defend. The blues would attack and if they had fire superiority the umpire would hold up a blue flag and they would advance. If we had fire superiority the umpire would hold up a red flag and that would halt their advance expect on the flank.

Use Blanks

When I say fire superiority I mean the side that has the most men shooting effectively. We were shooting blank ammunition but it has the noise of the real McCoy.

We spent several days and night on the defensive side. At night, we sent out patrols to see what the enemy was doing. One night we sent out one of the new boys on a patrol. He was gone for about an hour and then he started back. He made the mistake of coming back right in the path of the outpost guard. It was dark out and I mean dark. This boy walked right up within 20 feet of the guard and didn’t see him. All of a sudden the guard saw him and bang, bang, he fired at him. It scared this guy half to death and so he hollered “don’t shoot, don’t shoot, it’s me.” The guard said, “I don’t know anyone by that name” and bang, bang, he fired a couple more. These shells were only blanks but what a noise! After all the shooting was over we had to talk half an hour to get our man down out of that tree. So much for the defense.

Is Tempted

The offense was next. We were given a certain hill to take and then they let us go to it. I was out on scouting duty. I hadn’t seen anybody for two hours when I walked into the sweetest watermelon patch I ever saw. I was going from melon to melon humping them when I heard footsteps. I hid myself, and out of the woods came two of the enemy. It took me five minutes to decide whether to eat the melons or capture the enemy. My conscience won out. I captured the boys and then all three of us went back and ate watermelon.

All in all it was a pretty nice maneuver if you like maneuvers. We slept in pup tents on good old Mother Earth. After that ground a man could sleep in a telephone booth and think he was on an innerspring mattress.

Got to camp Friday night and left right away for home. You’ll probably be seeing a lot of soldiers for a while now as I think the furloughs will be coming pretty regular now. Anyhow I hope so.



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



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