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, May 12, 1941

It’s Corporal Petrow
Sergeants McIntyre and Woodie Excel on the Rifle Range.

Thursday, May 1—Hot day, but hot. We went out on the range for the second day. The company record for this particular position was set today. Private Darold McIntyre shot 36 our of possible 40, and that’s shooting. When we came in for mess who should we see but three luscious gals—Lieut.. Donald Andrew’s wife, Lieut. Eugene Wilson’s girl friend, Hazel Starr and Sgt. Gerald Bever’s girl friend, Ruth Heinz. What a treat! Just like back home to have so many pretty gals around. Trouble is they’re all taken up. When we got home tonight we found Capt. E. E. Meller’s wife and daughter, Coleen and Sgt. Henry Mahoney’s wife. We got all the news straight from Mahoney and did we gobble it up. Bed early tonight.

Friday, May 2—More work on the range today and was it (hard?). Some more pretty good shooting though. You’ve got to hand it to these range officers the way they handle this thing. 100 men at a time shooting: 16 shots a minute all day long and not an accident. That’s what you call cooperation. No inspection tomorrow so we stayed up late. Well, late for down here. We pulled a good one on Sergeant Mahoney last night. We short sheeted him. That’s an old army trick. You take the top sheet and fold it in the middle with the crease toward the bottom about half way down. I’d given a month’s pay to have seen him trying to get in bed. That’s the army for you—anything for a laugh.

Saturday, May 3—Went out on the range again this morning and finished up on practice shots. Sgt. L. B. Woodie really did some tall shooting. He shot 79 out of a possible 80 from a sitting position to set the range record. The division commander, Brig. General Walsh and Col. Howard J. Rouse came up and shook his hand and remarked on that score. Oh, well, you can expect only the best from Company E. Rest of the afternoon off. Laid around and slept. Rained tonight. That dog came back again, but I beat him to the draw. I slept under the bed to save him the trouble of moving. Ten of the boys left on a convoy to New Orleans to spend the weekend. I’ll bet they have themselves a time. They take ten men out of each company to go.

Sunday, May 4—Still raining today. Didn’t have to get up until 7:30 this morning. My goodness, but it’s nice to see the sun up when you’re still in bed. A bunch of the boys stayed in town last night and for once I got a square breakfast. (We had pancakes). Loafed around all morning. After dinner the boys from Fort Dodge had a blowout over at the recreation hall. They had girls from Alexandria and surrounding towns come out for the afternoon. The orchestra, out of the regimental band, had a jam session and I do mean jam. The local boys came staggering in about supper time after a pretty stiff week-end. Had a quiet little poker game and went to bed.

Monday, May 5—Still raining and I do mean pouring. We had to swim to the showers this morning. Couldn’t go to the drill field. Had to have school in the mess hall. About 10:30 an order came down that there was to be a 60 mile an hour wind come through camp. Class was dismissed and sent to their tents to tie them down and also put away everything that might blow away. Then came the wait for the wind. You guessed it—dry run—just a nice cool breeze along with the usual downpour. The order was to take all our loose clothes and put them in the steel foot lockers, but most of the boys took their clothes out of the lockers and got in them. Classes all afternoon. Everybody up late tonight, they caught up on their sleep in afternoon’s school.

Tuesday, May 6—Talking to a fellow the other day, I found out from him that it was going to rain for 40 days and I’m beginning to believe it. It’s already rained six inches in 30 hours. Still looking for those letters from some of the boys up there. What’s the matter? Do they have their writing hand in a buck of cement? Went to the show this evening and saw “Ziegfeld Girl.” Really a swell show. Home about 12, Something has really come over us all. We don’t know when to come home.

Corporal Petrow

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, May 19, 1941

It’s Corporal Petrow
Says Selectees Have Forced Him to End of Line at Mess Hall.

Wednesday, May 7—Still raining. No range today so we had school in the mess hall. We were all interviewed this week. I don’t know what it was for. Some classification or something. Kind of a dead day around here. What we need is about 20 gals to wander by, anyhow wander. That word censor keeps a lot of “good” news out of print. The selectees are coming along good; in fact too good. I was usually in the first ten in the mess line, now I’m lucky if I rate in the last ten. Things are really bad I’ve only gained three pounds this month.

Thursday, May 8—Cleared up a little so we went out to the range. It got pretty hot out there. They bring our dinner right out to us in wagons. Eating dinner from a prone position is just like trying to play a trombone in a telephone booth. The mail has been slackening up lately. Would appreciate more. Corp. McCollough got a football in the mail the other day. So we’ve switched from baseball to football. Private Miler got a big box of cookies today. He said the one he got was sure good. He’s lucky he got one, the way we go for them down here.

Friday, May 9—Hot today. It was so hot that this noon on the range the cooks just brought out raw eggs and put them in our mess gear and we fried them to suit ourselves. Well it was hot. Did some washing, ironing and sewing tonight. Some of these boys are going to make nice wives. Well, could be! Formal retreat and guard tonight. I just got to thinking of the advantages of the promotion. No more kitchen police or guard. Not bad, huh? No inspection for the old men tomorrow as we are going to the range. Softa and softa every day, only 21 more days to payday.

Saturday, May 10—Range again today. Rained again. Had a big laugh this morning. Sent one of our new rookies up to another company to get some taps for tapioca and a lid for the rifle range. The sergeant in the next company told him he just loaned them out to another company, so he goes to the next company, same story there and so on. Anything for a laugh, that’s us. Corporal Meyer and I bought a radio today. We’re going to stay home and listen to it and save our money. Well, we’re going to listen to it.

Sunday, May 11—Beautiful day. A perfect Mother’s day. At church this morning we heard a beautiful sermon about Mother’s day from Chaplain Jones. A lot of boys feel kinda blue, as we tried to call home, but there was so many trying to call that some of the calls couldn’t get through. So you mothers that didn’t get calls don’t feel blue because we tried. There are five camps in the area and only one line and they can only take care of so many calls. Went to the show tonight, “The Thief of Baghdad.” Very nice! Bed early. There’s a full moon that shines right in our tent and is it a honey and do I wish I were home on a night like this. Oh, well, I can dream can’t I.

Monday, May 12—Range again. We started our record fire. I was down in the pits keeping score. Boy what a racket. Some pretty fair shooting, too. I had to change my tent again tonight. They want a noncommissioned officer in each tent. I’ve moved so many times now that I sleep with my trunk packed just in case. We went to a show over at the recreation hall last night. Was it a honey. A magician with plenty of gals. Very classy.

Tuesday, May 13—A soft detail today. Change of quarters. I have to stay in the company area and greet all the big shots, if any, that come to Company E. There wasn’t any. The old boys went to the range and the new selectees marched in review before the general. Thomas E. Dewey was also present. They tell me the selectees looked very good. In fact, the regiment gets to represent the division at Baton Rouge Memorial day. Sergeant Rawson, Sergeant Meyer, Sergeant Baker, Sergeant Gordon, Corporals Shelton, Greenley, Branch and Peterson and Shade are in charge of our company's men. We have to give credit where credit is due. Fried chicken for supper as only “Pinky” Kirkpatrick can cook. The captain’s wife and daughter, Colleen, and Sergeant Mahoney’s wife were guests for supper.

Wednesday, May 14—We went to the range again today. We finished up our practice firing and tomorrow we start our record shots. This is the one that counts. In last week’s article I left out the promotion of Corporal Wagoner to sergeant. Sorry! We got two new selectees today. Going to the show so will cut this one short.

Corporal Petrow

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, May 26, 1941

It’s Corporal Petrow
So Much Marching He Wants Month of March Taken Off Calendars.

Thursday, May 15—Went out to the range again today. This is our third week at it and walking eight miles a day is not my idea of pleasure. But we are getting some good shots out of the bunch. We’re starting our record firing. We have a couple of local boys in Co. H, right next to us. They are Rodger White and Don Seamonds. We got all the local secondhand gossip from them. Wish I were home to get it firsthand. Did my washing again tonight. Since we got our selectees that machine has really been busy, but it can really take the punishment. Going to darn some socks and hit my bunk and I do mean hit it.

Friday, May 16—Gad what a hot day! Range again. That eight mile march just about kills us. I wouldn’t mind if they changed the calendar and left “march” out. Private McIntyre was high man for the day’s record firing. The new boys were issued some new clothes the other day. One little guy complained about the fit. Sergeant Ray then said, “it fits you like a glove.” The little guy said, “I see what you mean. These sleeves just cover my hands,” Well, I thought it was funny. Back on the range again tomorrow. We got up so early this morning, that we met some chickens just going to bed. Well could be.

Saturday, May 17—Hot, it’s 100 degrees in the shade. Back to the range this morning. We started shooting the pistol today. I was shaking so bad on my first shot that I got a bulls eye three targets away. The new boys had inspection today. Played ball with the 168th Inf. this afternoon. Corporal Shelton pitched. He didn’t do as good as usual, he allowed one hit. Had another show over at the recreation hall tonight. Pretty gals. Oh-gosh-gee-whiz. Bed early.

Sunday, May 18—Another hot day. But we don’t have anything to do but lay around. It was really packed. Ate a big dinner and slept this afternoon. Corporals Shelton, Meyer and I went over to a small town for the show. We rode over with Sergeant Wilson and his girl. We saw “Knute Rockne, All-American.” Swell show. Sure felt nice to be some place where there aren’t a million soldiers. Listened to our radio and hit the bunk.

Monday, May 19—Range again. Whew what heat and dust. I’m going to start carrying my extra gas mask to get through that dust. Today was “Pinky” Kirkpatrick’s birthday, so Mrs. E. E Meller, Mrs. Don Andrews and Mrs. H. R. (Sarge) Mahoney whipped up a cake for him. Very delish, very delish. Mrs. Andrews is leaving tomorrow or the next day so look her up and get all the news first hand.

Tuesday, May 20—This is the last day of the range for most of us. It doesn’t hurt my feelings a bit. Corporal Christenson shot expert with the pistol. I got lucky and scratched myself off a qualification. The division commander was around this morning. He had a bunch of other big shots with him. I guess he was satisfied because he didn’t say anything. We had a nice shower about supper time. Cooled things off a bit. Tonight went to another show over at the recreation hall. Not bad.

Wednesday, May 21—Swell day. Went for a small hike this morning. Spent the rest of the morning cleaning guns and having school on the big inspection coming up Saturday. This afternoon we went to the infirmary for a check up. Every one is in pretty good shape. Listened to the radio and did some bunk fatigue.

Corporal Petrow

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa, June 2, 1941

It’s Corporal Petrow
He Is Greatly Impressed by Discipline at Camp Claiborne, La.

Thursday, May 22--Another hot day. I wonder what it’s going to be like in July or August. We marched this morning in preparation for Memorial day at Baton Rouge. We’ll be there four days. It should be a pretty good deal. Here’s an example of army discipline. Up in the 109th Engineers when a man throws down a cigaret butt in the company area they give him a pick and shovel and make him dig a hole 5 foot deep and bury it. I hear they have a very clean looking regiment. All the non-commissioned officers have to go to school now. They want every company in the division to teach the army regulations the same. What a swell night. How I’d love to be in chewing the fat with Bill Fastenow and drinking some of his cokes. Man! Man!

Friday, May 23—Hotter than blazes today but at least I think that the boys are getting used to it by now. Anyhow I don’t hear them griping about it anymore. Maybe the heats affected them so now that they don’t know how to gripe. We marched in preparation for the parade at Baton Rouge again this morning. There’s only one thing about that trip. None of the boys have connections in Baton Rouge so I guess we’ll have to start from scratch. I’ll let you know how it comes out. Spent the rest of the day preparing for tomorrow’s big inspection Boy these nights down here are enough to make a man wish he was home and do I.

Saturday, May 24—A little cooler today. Big inspection this morning and it was the works. We had a review of everything that happened since we got her. Everything went off nice. The major who inspected us said he was well pleased. The rest of the day was spent doing bunk fatigue. Boy these bunks down here really take a beating over the weekend. I even asked to have my meals brought up to my bunk, but Mess Sergeant Meller for some reason or other said no. I don’t know why. Went to the show tonight and hit the bunk early.

Sunday, May 25—Ah sweet sleep, beautiful sleep. This bit of heaven only happens once a week though. Went to church this morning. Quite a few boys there. Played ball this morning and lost a few pounds in sweat. Ate a big meal and bunk fatigue the rest of the afternoon. After supper we were having batting practice and it started to rain. Everyone but Corporal Shelton, Private Miller and I went in but we stayed and played out in the mud. More fun! That’s what you call asking for pneumonia. Well now we don’t have to wash our overalls. There’s only one drawback. Where we played in the mud we’ve got to get a rake and smooth it down and those rake handles don’t fit our hands very well.

Monday, May 26—Marched again today and was it hot. You know the old saying “Join the Army and See the World.” Step by step—by the time we hit Baton Rouge we should look like West Point cadets. Well, we should look good. The rest of the day was spent in cleaning up our guns and washing clothes in preparation for the trip. Oh, oh, I’m on guard tonight.

Tuesday, May 27—What a night. You wouldn’t think 22,000 men could be so quiet you could hear a pin drop. We’re right next to a bowling alley. That wasn’t so good but it was quiet. Got off tonight at 5:30 and walked right into a big dinner of chicken and ice cream. Very lush. Spent the rest of the night listening to the radio. Including F.D.R.’s radio speech. Then hit my bunk.

Wednesday, May 28—Well we got some rain for a change. We still had to march though. It still beats that sun. The rest of the day we had school and cleaned up. Rained the rest of the night so we stayed home as if we had any money to go anyplace. Yesterday we had some company. Pvt. Herman Streb was visited by his mother, Mrs. S. Streb and his sister, Mrs. H Hoken. The lucky stiff. Well, you lucky bunk here I come. Oh yes, Corp. Donnie Meyer is in charge of quarters tomorrow and are we going to run him ragged. Yeah man.

Corporal Petrow


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




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