Friday, December 25, 2009

Last Letters From Stalingrad: Special Audio Edition

The Battle of Stalingrad has been called "the worst battle of the worst war in human history." In early 1943, around 270,000 German 6th Army soldiers--surrounded by the Red Army--were either annihilated or imprisoned. Of those men, only around 5,000 ever returned home to Germany. 

Last Letters From Stalingrad, first published as Letzte Briefe aus Stalingrad in 1950 in West Germany, was purportedly written by German soldiers who knew they were doomed and could write to their families just once more. The thin anthology became an international bestseller, and an English translation appeared in 1962.

Each year around Christmastime in the 1960's, a local Madison radio personality nicknamed "Papa Hambone" would read selected letters live on the air. Years later, I happened to catch one of George "Papa Hambone" Vukelich's last times ever reading of the letters in 1988 (he passed away a few short years later).  I don't recall which station I recorded this from but it was most likely WORT-FM.  The late Erwin Knoll, host of the show "Second Opinion," was a Madison legend too, having been the long-time editor of the magazine "The Progressive" and having been named on Richard Nixon's enemies list.

Here I successfully converted an audio cassette tape recording made back 1988 into my first ever YouTube video.  I had to split the tape into three parts to conform to Google's 10 minute limit. I made the original analog-to-digital conversion using "Sound Studio," first making an "aiff" file and then converting that to an mp4 file using iTunes. I apologize in advance for the poor sound quality- I tried to filter it a bit, but had I known I would be converting this 20 years after the fact I would have taken better care all along.

The total listening time is about 30 minutes.  George Vukelich gives a great introduction and historical background for the letters and then goes on to read four of his favorites.  I hope that his voice and spirit can live "on the air" by my posting them into the ether.

IMO, there are three further levels of interesting discussion belonging to these letters:

(1) The extreme poignancy of some of the letters.

(2) The charge that the letters were forgeries and what possible motives would exist for or against such charges.

(3) The extent to which the left used these letters, year after year, to bolster the anti-Vietnam war movement, especially in Madison.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #39

...Dearest Father, the division has been trimmed down for the big battle, but the big battle won't take place. You will be surprised that I write to you and in care of your Office. But what I have to say in this letter can only be said among men. You will transmit it to Mother in your own way. The word is out that we can write today. For one familiar with the situation that means that we can do it just once more.
You are a colonel, my dear Father and a member of the General Staff. So you know what this means, and I needn't go into explanations which might sound sentimental. This is the end. It will last perhaps another week, I think, then the game's up. I do not want to look for reasons which one could marshal for or against our situation. The reasons are altogether unimportant and pointless. But if I am to say anything about them, it is this: Do not look to us for an explanation of the situation, but to yourselves and to the man* who is responsible for it. Don't knuckle under --you, Father, and all those who think like you. Be on guard, so that a greater disaster does not overtake our country. The hell on the Volga should be a warning to you. I beg you, don't brush off this experience.
And now a remark about the present. Of the whole division only 69 men are still in fighting condition. Bleyer is still alive, and so is Hartlieb. Little Degen lost both his arms; he will probably be in Germany soon. It is also the end for him. Ask him for any details you would like to know. D___ has lost all hope. I would like to know what he is thinking at times of the situation and its consequences. We still have two machine guns and 400 rounds of ammunition. One mortar and ten shells. Besides that, only hunger and fatigue. Without waiting for orders, Berg broke out with twenty men. Better to know in three days how things will end, than in three weeks. Can't blame him.
And now to personal matters. You can be sure that everything will end decently. It is a little early at thirty, I know. No sentiments. Handshake for Lydia and Helene. Kiss for Mother (be careful, old man, think of her heart trouble). Kiss for Gerda, regards to all the rest. Hand to helmet, Father. First Lieutenant ____ respectfully gives notice of departure.
*He's referring to Hitler.

A key to understanding this ongoing series is here, and here. Each letter (39 in all) was written by a different and anonymous German soldier who knew he was going to die. I associate these letters with Christmastime for reasons explained at the links.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #38

...I wanted to write you a long letter, but my thoughts constantly disintegrate like houses which collapse under shellfire.  I shall have ten hours, then this letter has to be turned in.  Ten hours is a long time for people who are waiting, but short for those in love.  I am not nervous at all.  Actually, it is here in the East that I have for the first time become really healthy; I don't have colds and sniffles any more; that is the only good the war has done me.  It gave me something else, the realization that I love you.  It is strange that people value things only when they are about to lose them.  The vast distance is spanned by the bridge from heart to heart. By that bridge I wrote about our daily round and the world in which we live here.  I meant to tell you the truth when I returned, and then we would never have talked about the war again. Now you will learn the truth beforehand, the last truth.  Now I can write no more.
As long as there are shores, there will always be bridges.  We should have the courage to walk on them.  One bridge leads to you, the other to eternity; at the very end they are the same for me.
Tomorrow I shall set foot on the last bridge.  That is the literary way of saying 'death,' but as you know, I always liked to express things figuratively, because I took pleasure in words and sounds. Give me your hand, so that crossing it won't be so hard.

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #35

...During the last few nights I have wept so much that it seems unbearable even to myself.  I saw one of my fellow soldiers weep also, but for a different reason.  He was weeping for the tanks he lost; they were his whole pride.  And though I don't understand my own weakness, I do understand how a man can mourn dead war materiel.  I am a soldier and I am prepared to believe that tanks are not inanimate materiel to him.  But everything considered, the remarkable fact is that two men weep at all.  I was always susceptible to tears.  A moving experience or a noble action made me weep.  It could happen in a movie theater, when I read a book, or saw an animal suffer.  I cut myself off from external circumstances and immersed myself in what I saw and felt. But the loss of material goods never bothered me.  Therefore, I would have been incapable of weeping about tanks which, when they run out of gas, were used in the open steppes as artillery and thus easily shot to bits.  But seeing a fine man, a brave, tough and unyielding soldier cry like a child over them--that did make my tears flow in the night.
On Tuesday I knocked out two T34s with my mobile anti-tank gun.  Curiousity had lured them behind our lines.  It was grand and impressive.  Afterwards I drove past the smoking remains. From a hatch there hung a body, head down, his feet caught and his legs burning up to his knees.  The body was alive, the mouth moaning.  He must have suffered terrible pain.  And there was no possibility of freeing him.  Even if there had been, he would have died after a few hours of torture.  I shot him, and as I did it, the tears ran down my cheeks.  Now I have been crying for three nights about a dead Russian tank driver, whose murderer I am.  The crosses of Gumrak* shake me and so do many other things which my comrades close their eyes to and set their jaws against.  I am afraid I'll never be able to sleep quietly, assuming that I shall ever come back to you, dear ones.  My life is a terrible contradiction, a psychological monstrosity.
I have now taken over a a heavy anti-tank gun and organized eight men, four Russians among them.  The nine of us drag the cannon from one place to another.  Every time we change position, a burning tank remains on the field.  The number has grown to eight already, and we intend to make it a dozen.  However, I have only three rounds left, and shooting tanks is not like playing billiards. But during the night I cry without control, like a child.  What will all this lead to?

*Gumrak was the name of the German airfield at Stalingrad

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #20

...I have written to you twenty-six times from this damned city, and you answered me with seventeen letters.  Now I shall write just once more and then never again.  There, I said it.  For a long time I thought about how I should formulate so fateful a sentence so that it would say everything and still not hurt too much.
I am saying good-bye to you, because since this morning the issue is settled.  I will not comment on the military situation in my letter; it is clear-cut and completely up to the Russians.  The only question is how long we will be around.  It may last a few more days or just a few hours.  Our whole life together is there for us to see.  We have honored and loved each other, and waited for each other now for two years.  It is good that so much time has passed. It has increased the anticipation of reunion, to be sure, but also in large measure helped to make us strangers. And time will have to heal the wounds of my not coming back.
In January you will be twenty-eight.  That is still very young for such a good-looking woman, and I am glad that I could pay you this compliment again and again.  You will miss me very much, but even so, don't withdraw from other people.  Let a few months pass, but no more.  Gertrude and Claus need a father.  Don't forget that you must live for the children, and don't make too much fuss about their father. Children forget quickly, especially at that age.  Take a good look at the man of your choice, take note of his handshake, as was the case with us, and you can't go wrong.  But above all, raise the children to be upright human beings who can carry their heads high and look everybody straight in the eye.  I am writing these lines with a heavy heart.  You won't believe me if I said that it was easy, but don't be worried, I am not afraid of what is coming.  Keep telling yourself, and the children also when they have grown older, that their father never was a coward, and that they must never be cowards either.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #30

...I have received your answer. You will hardly expect thanks for it. This letter will be short. I should have known better when I asked you to help me. You always were and you remain forever 'righteous.'  This wasn't unknown to either Mama or me. But we could hardly expect that you would sacrifice your son to 'righteousness.' I asked you to get me out of here because this strategic nonsense isn't worth biting the dust for. It would have been easy for you to put in a word for me. But you don't understand the situation. Very well, Father.
This letter will not only be short, but also the last one I write you. I won't have any more opportunities to write you, even if I wanted to. It is also unimaginable that I should ever stand face to face with you again and have to tell you what I think. And because neither I in person nor another letter will ever speak to you again, I will once more recall to you your words of December 26:  'You became a soldier voluntarily; it was easy to stand under the flag in peacetime, but difficult to hold it high during war. You will be faithful to this flag and be victorious with it.'   
These words were much clearer than the position you have taken during the last few years.  You will have to remember them, because the time is coming when every German with any sense will curse the madness of this war. And you will see how empty are the words about the flag with which I was supposed to be victorious.
There is no victory, Herr General;* there are only flags and men that fall, and in the end there will be neither flags nor men. Stalingrad is not a military necessity but a political gamble. And your son is not participating in this experiment, Herr General! You blocked his way to life; he will choose the second way, which also leads to life, but in an opposite direction and on the other side of the front. Think of your words, and hope that, when the whole show collapses, you will remember the flag and stand by it.

*In the original German edition, the author switches here to the formal/polite form of address for the remainder of the letter, dropping the familiar "Du" form of address used previously. The son linguistically distanced himself from his own father, addressing him as if he were a stranger.

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #10

...You are my witness that I never wanted to go along with it, because I was afraid of the East, in fact of war in general. I have never been a soldier, only a man in uniform. What do I get out of it?  What do the others get out of it, those who went along and were never afraid?  Yes, what are we getting out of it?  We who are the walk-on parts in this madness incarnate?  What good does a hero's death do us? I have played death on the stage dozens of times, but I was only playing, and you sat out front in plush seats, and thought my acting authentic and true.  It is terrible to realize how little the acting had to with real death. 
You were supposed to die heroically, inspiringly, movingly, from inner conviction and for a great cause.  But what is death in reality here?  Here they croak, starve to death, freeze to death--it's nothing but a biological fact like eating and drinking. They drop like flies; nobody cares and nobody buries them. Without arms or legs and without eyes, with bellies torn open, they lie around everywhere.  One should make a movie of it; it would make 'the most beautiful death in the world' impossible once and for all.  It is a death fit for beasts; later they will ennoble it on granite friezes showing 'dying warriors' with their heads or arms in bandages.
Poems, novels, and hymns will be written and sung.  And in the churches they will say masses.  I'll have no part of it, because I have no desire to rot in a mass grave.  I have written the same thing to Professor H____.  You and he will hear from me again.  Don't be surprised if it takes a while, because I have decided to take my fate into my own hands. 
A key to understanding this ongoing series is here, and here. Each letter (39 in all) was written by a different and anonymous German soldier who knew he was going to die. I associate these letters with Christmastime for reasons explained at the links.

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #14

...The time has come for me to send you greetings once more, and ask you to greet once more all the loved ones at home. 
The Russians have broken through everywhere.  Our troops, weakened by long periods of hunger without possibility of (illegible), engaged in the heaviest fighting since the beginning of this battle, without a day's relief, and in a state of complete physical exhaustion, have performed heroically.  None of them surrenders!  When bread, ammunition, gasoline and manpower give out, it is God knows, no victory for the enemy to crush us! 
We are aware that we are the victims of serious mistakes in leadership; also, the wearing down of the fortress Stalingrad will cause most severe damage to Germany and her people.  But in spite of it, we still believe in a happy resurrection of our nation.  True-hearted men will see to that!  You will have to do a thorough job in putting all madmen, fools and criminals out of business.  And those who will return home will sweep them away like chaff before the wind.  We are Prussian officers and know what we have to do when the time comes. 
In thinking over my life once more, I can look back on it with thankfulness.  It has been beautiful, very beautiful.  It was like climbing a ladder, and even this last rung is beautiful, a crowning of it, I might almost say a harmonious completion. 
You must tell my parents that they should not be sad; they must remember me with happy hearts. No halo, please; I have never been an angel!  Nor do I want to confront my God as one; I'll manage it as a soldier, with the free, proud soul of a cavalryman, as a Herr!  I am not afraid of death; my faith gives me this beautiful independence of spirit.  For this I am especially thankful.  
Hand my legacy on to those who come after us: raise them to be Herren!  Severe simplicity of thought and action!  No squandering of energies!
Be especially loving with my parents and so help them get over the first grief. Put up a wooden cross for me in the park cemetery, as simple and beautiful as Uncle X's. 
Maintain Sch____ as the family seat of the ____'s.  That is my great wish.  In my writing desk is a letter in which I recorded my wishes during my last leave.   
So once more, I turn to all you, dear ones.  My thanks once more, for everything, and hold your heads high!  Keep on! 
I embrace all of you!

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #16

...On the evening before the Holy Day, in a hut which was still fairly intact, eleven soldiers celebrated in quiet worship...It was not easy to find them in the herd of the doubting, hopeless, and disappointed.  But those I found came happily and with a glad and open heart.  It was a strange congregation which assembled to celebrate the birthday of the Christchild. There are many altars in the wide world, but surely none poorer than ours here. Yesterday the box still held anti-aircraft shells; today my hand spread over it the field-grey tunic of a comrade whose eyes I closed last Friday in this very room.  I wrote his wife a letter of consolation.  May God protect her. 
I read my boys the Christmas story according to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 1-17; gave them hard black bread as the holy sacrifice and sacrament of the altar, the true body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and entreated the Lord to have pity on them and to give them grace.  I did not say anything about the fifth commandment.  The men sat on footstools and looked up at me from large eyes in their starved faces.  They were all young, except one, who was 51.  I am very happy that I was permitted to console their hearts and give them courage.  When it was over, we shook each other's hands, took down addresses, and promised to look up relatives and tell them about our Christmas Eve celebration in 1942, in case one of us should return home alive.
May God hold his hands over you, dear parents, for now the evening is at hand, and we will do well to set our house in order.  We will go into the evening and night calmly, if it is the will of the Lord of the world.  But we do not look into a night without end.  We give our life back into the hands of God; may He be merciful when the hour has come. 

This letter is read aloud here 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #15

...'If there is a God,' you wrote me in your last letter, 'then He will bring you back to me soon and healthy;' you went on: 'a human being like you, who likes animals and flowers and does no harm to anyone, who loves and adores his wife and child, will always have God's protection.'
I thank you for these words, and I always carry this letter with me in my brustbeutel. But, dearest, if your words are weighed now and you make the existence of God dependent upon them, you will have to make a difficult and great decision. I am a religious man, you always were a believer, but this will have to change now if we accept the consequences of the conviction which we held to now, because something has happened which has overthrown everything in which we believed.  I am searching for words to tell you. Or have you guessed already?  I find a rather strange tone in your last letter of December 8. Now it is the middle of January.
This will be my last letter for a long time, perhaps forever.  It will be taken along by a friend who has to go to the airfield, because it is said that tomorrow the last plane will fly out of the pocket.  The situation has become untenable.  The Russians are within three kilometers of our last airfield, and once this is lost, not a mouse will get out, not to mention me.  Of course, hundreds of thousands won't get out either.  But it is small comfort to have shared your own destruction with others. 
'If there is a God.'  Over there on the other side many ask the same question, perhaps millions in England and France.  I don't believe any longer that God can be good, for then he would not permit such great injustice.  I don't believe in it anymore, for he would have enlightened the minds of those people who began this war and always talked of peace and the Almighty in three languages.  I don't believe in God anymore, because he betrayed us.  I don't believe any more, and you must see how you can come to terms with your faith. 
This letter is read aloud here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #2

...I took out your picture once again and looked at it for a long time. I remember the experience we shared that lovely summer evening in the last year of peace, when we walked home through the blooming valley towards our house. When we found each other for the first time, only the voice of the heart spoke in us; later it was the voice of love and happiness. We talked about ourselves and about the future which lay before like a many-colored carpet.
That carpet is no longer there. The summer evening is no longer there, and neither is the blooming valley.  And we are no longer together. Instead of the carpet there is now an endless white field, there is no more summer, but only winter, and there is no future, at least not for me, and consequently not for you either. All this time I had a feeling which I could not explain, but today I know that it was anxiety about you. I felt, despite the distance of many thousands of kilometers, that it was the same with you.
When you receive this letter, listen intently to it, perhaps you will hear my voice then. They tell us that our struggle is for Germany. But there are only a few here who believe that this meaningless sacrifice could be of use to our country.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Last Letters From Stalingrad: #1

...MY LIFE HAS CHANGED IN NOTHING; it is now as it was ten years ago, blessed by the stars, avoided by men. I had no friends, and you know why they wanted to have nothing to do with me. I was happy when I could sit at the telescope and look at the sky and the world of stars, happy as a child that is allowed to play with the stars. 
You were my best friend Monica. Yes, you read correctly, you were. The time is too serious for jokes. This letter will take two weeks to reach you. By then you will already have read in the papers what has taken place here. Don't think too much about it, for in reality everything will have ended differently: let other people worry about setting the record straight. What are they to you or me? I always thought in light-years, but I felt in seconds. Here, too, I have much to do with the weather. There are four of us and, if things were to continue the way they are now, we would be content. What we do is very simple. Our job is to measure temperatures and humidity, to report on cloud ceilings and visibility. If some bureaucrat read what I write here, he would have a fit...violation of military security. Monica, what is our life compared to the many million years of the starry sky!  On this beautiful night, Andromeda and Pegasus are right above my head. I have looked at them for a long time; I shall be very close to them soon. My peace and contentment I owe to the stars, of which you are the most beautiful to me. The stars are eternal, but the life of man is like a speck of dust in the Universe. 
Around me everything is collapsing, a whole army is dying, day and night are on fire, and four men busy themselves with daily reports on temperature and cloud ceilings. I don't know much about war. No human being has died by my hand. I haven't even fired live ammunition from my pistol. But I know this much: the other side would never show such a lack of understanding for its men. I should have liked to count the stars for another few decades, but nothing will ever come of it now, I suppose.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Army Life: In The Tank(s)!

As a young man of 19, and already used to owning and maintaining his own car, my father quickly become familiar with the mechanized aspect of warfare. Here he describes Christmas leave plans as well as his first impressions of tank training at Fort Knox [footnotes are of course mine]:

December 16, 1951 [post marked 12/17/51]
Fort Knox, KY
Dear Mom, Dad, and all,
There is a train out of Louisville at 8:00 o’clock Fri. night. If I can get off I will be home Sat. morning. We was told we were off at 12:00 Fri. night, but I am going to talk to the Captain tomorrow night. If I have to wait till 12:00 don’t look for me till Sat. night or Sun. morning. As soon as I find out when I can leave I can write and tell you about what time I will be in Madison. Once I get there I won’t have any trouble getting home.[1] It costs $17.70 round trip by train. I got my ticket last Sat 9th. Tell dad he won’t have to bother to take my car to L's because I can fix it when I get there. There isn’t enough wrong with it to bother him. Just so you get the Batt. charged up. Tell R. I got my Nov. pay.  It was $69.00. $6.00 in income tax. I spent most of it already. I bought a few things, a present for P.[2] and something for all of you to look at.[3] We will be driving tanks 4 days this week. Fri. we will be in classrooms. It was 7 above here this morning. No snow yet. Its cold enough to though.
The tanks we drive have 500 HP V8 motors, 5 speeds ahead and one in reverse. They weight 34 tons. [4]  Its not as big as the ones they are using in Korea.[5] Its what they had in the last war, and are good only for training. The big ones have 810 HP motors and have 90mm and 105mm guns. These have 75mm guns. I can tell you more about tanks when I get home. Its too much to explain. The motor in one of these tanks weighs 2,300 lbs. As much as a car. They have two 12 Volt batt. or 4 car batt. 24 Volts altogether. One track weighs 3,500 lbs. 5 men make up the crew. Driver, gunner, loader, bag gunner, commander. The loader has the worst job in combat because he has to load the guns.
I got K.P. again Tue.  Hope to see you Sat.
[1] Home was Richland Center and the closest rail station was Madison, about 50 miles east.
[2] His younger sister and my aunt (the same one who gave me these letters :).
[3] Possibly he's referring to a Kit-Kat Clock which hung in my grandmother's kitchen for many years thereafter. The same clock now hangs in my kitchen.
[4] Probably Sherman M4 tanks, which were used extensively during the Second World War. Around 50,000 of them were produced and only a fraction of them destroyed. Sherman M4's were armed with a 75 mm canon and each tank weighed around 32 tons, slightly less than my father's quote of 34 tons, however many Shermans were reinforced with more armor after WW II and or got motor upgrades. Sherman M4's also carried a crew of 5, and its motor used a five-speed forward transmission with one reverse gear.
[5] From the specs he is clearly referring here to the new and more powerful Patton class of tank which was first introduced into combat in Korea.  

Friday, December 11, 2009

Army Life: Basic Training at Fort Knox

I've decided to keep publishing my father's letters (not all of them) but cherry-picking the ones that report something interesting.
To continue, I'm not sure how long his induction at Fort Sheridan, IL lasted, but by mid-November, 1951, he was already writing from Fort Knox KY. Here he describes his routine:

November 18, 1951 [post marked 11/19/51]
Fort Knox, KY
Dear Mom and Dad and all,
I just got back from church. We don‘t have to get up till 7:30 Sun morning and church is at 9:00, till 10:30. I would have to have L’s address in order to find him because this camp is so big. Tomorrow we start our first 8 week’s cycle of basic training, mostly marching. The last 8 weeks is tank training. Driver, gunner, mechanic, etc. I don’t remember having any navy blue pants. As for bringing my car down I don’t think the back tires would hold up. I should have had them recapped like I did the front ones in Madison. Maybe I can do when I get home. We have no snow but its kind of chilly in the early mornings. It don’t take long to warm up...
...when you are marching. I am sending a couple of pictures of myself, one was taken in Sheridan, the other in Knox. I went to the show last night with Jim and Leslie M. Send that Ike jacket as soon as you can. You know the one J. gave me. Big top pockets. They only issue one because they cost $24.00 apiece. They gave us 6 patches to sew on our shirts. You can buy them extra at the PX for 15¢ so I’m sending one. One of the kids* can have it but I don’t think you can wear them. Something to look at. I think I will go down to the P.X. now and listen to the Juke box.
*by "kids" he was referring to his younger siblings.

The Army routinely sent letters to the parents of draftees urging them to be mindful of their son's mood and moral.  Here's the letter my grandparents received:

By all accounts, my father's CO was a decent man; strict to be sure, but a man aware of the young men in his charge.
Here's my father's next letter which shows his desire to return back home; he was still wavering between home life and army life: ( I love how he boasts about being a good shot on the rifle range-so reminds me of my son-his grandson-whom he would have adored, had he lived to know him):

December 5, 1951 [post marked 12/06/51]
Fort Knox, KY
Dear Mom and Dad and all,
I should be home Sat. night Dec 22. 70% of the 200 boys in this platoon are coming home for Christmas and 30% for New Years. I had my name picked out of a hat and had only 32 chances out of 50 to come. I could have traded my pass for one for New Years and got $10.00 to boot, some wanted to come at Christmas that bad. Several sold there’s so I guess everyone is happy. I am on leave at 12:00 Midnight Dec. 21 till midnight Dec 28. I won’t get too much time at home. I am sending a extra note for dad and R. to do. I haven’t got the Dem.* yet you sent.  You can give this picture to P., she wanted one. We was inside part of the time today because it was raining. I made out pretty good on the Rifle Range Tues. Tomorrow (Thurs) we go out again. I don’t think I will have any trouble hitting the bulls eye most every shot at 200 yds. I have a couple of 30 carbine shells I am bringing home to show you. Next week we go on tank driving and maintenance of tanks. Today it was tank radios. $80,000 tanks. They sure got a lot of them. A movie picture was filmed here at Knox that had 150 tanks from here. “The Tanks are Coming.” Some of the movies are supposed to be here 6 mo. before the public sees them. Will sign off for now.
[extra note]
Dad and R.,
1. I forgot to put the new fuel pump gasket in when I put the new one on (its in the trunk) so you can put it on if it isn’t to cold up there. Martin B. helped me put it on and he knows we forgot it.
2. Get the battery charged. I hope it will start even if it is a small one. I don’t think any gas leaks around it but you can smell it inside. I won’t get any antifreeze until I get there. If I had better tires on behind I would have one of you bring it down.
*The Richland Democrat, a local newspaper in Richland Center, WI.