Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Letters Home: "We got here at last...this country is Beautiful"

Nellingen Barracks as they looked in 1955. Photo used with permission. The original can be found here.)

Tuesday Aug 11, 1952
Nellingen Caserne, West Germany
Dear Mom and Dad and all,
We got here at last. I thought maybe I would have a letter from you when I got here, but I haven’t yet. I had one letter from a girl in Milwaukee.
We landed in France the 6th and stayed overnight. It took us 3 days from there to Germany. After a day’s train ride we finally got here. Nellingen Caserne is the name of the camp. [1] The nearest town is Nürtingen. The nearest Big town is Stuttgart. We are below Frankfurt. A little over 200 miles from the Russian Border. [2] I took a picture of the White Cliffs of Dover. It looked nice, but this country is Beautiful.
This camp used to be a German Airbase. [3] You can see for miles. Everything is new. All the Buildings. It’s a small camp. I like it so far. The theater just opens up today. The P.X. hasn’t been open to long. We can buy most anything. Just like back in the States. We won’t get passes for two weeks yet.
We haven’t been paid for a mo. so I suppose my checks stopped coming.When we do get paid it will be in scripts, which can only be spent in camp. If we go to town we have to trade it for marks. 1 mark is 23.8 cents, or close to a quarter. Scripts are just paper from 5¢ to $20.00.  Marks are coins. I’ll send some next time. [4]
Let me know how long it takes for this to get there. I think about 6 days. We are supposed to be near Frankfurt, but the camp isn’t finished yet. We also will get Border patrol but not for a while yet. We got new tanks. [5]  I haven’t saw them yet but I will.
We got a new, big mess hall and is the food ever good. I’ll send pictures as soon as I can of this place and the towns around here. All the buildings are brick, with Brown tops. We saw quite a few places that are not rebuilt yet from World War II. We sure did a lot of building over here since the war. All Brick houses with Red roofs. I can look out the window and see a church. The Mueller boy is still with me. He got three letters from his wife. In some of the small towns around here, they have barnyards on mainstreet. I guess the water is unsafe to drink.
The 141 has already got its name up for being rough-a lot of the guys celebrated last night with fights and everything. They got a big Beer garden on post and the German beer is 16% alcohol. They can keep the stuff as far as I'm concerned. I can't see where it would do me any good. They told us you have to watch out for the girls in Stuttgart. They fight over GIs. Guess I'd better stay away from there. Ha! Ha!
My A.P.O. number changed, it's 46 now.
Bye for now. V.
P.S. write soon. I will
[1] The correct spelling is Nelligen Kaserne.
[2]  The "Russian Border" meant of course the Czech border.
[3] There's a fantastic website about the camp here.
[4] A 1-Mark note that he saved from his time overseas:

[5] He's referring to the new Patton class of tanks coming out of Detroit.  I discussed this briefly back here.


  1. This letter reminds me I need to start that tribute website for my father. Headed to up to see my mother this weekend, so I hope to get her permission to collect and sort through all the old WWII photos and memorabilia. He was also a chemist, I don't I've ever mentioned that to you. I know nothing about creating websites, if you have any input I'll take it !

  2. Hey Garage, thanks for stopping by. I don't don't know much about making websites other than what you see here. I did master the art of scanning photos and I wish I had some to go along with these letters. On the other hand I try to augment the his descriptions sometimes when he gets into family-specific matters or if the mood strikes me.
    I wish you luck with your project.

    Cool that he was a chemist. In industry or a teacher?

  3. He started off as a research chemist, didn't like cutthroat aspect [and stealing of ideas], then taught for close 30 years until his retirement.

  4. 16 percent alcohol - nice.

    I find that number suspect. 6 percent sounds more like it. But he wasn't a drinker so I'm sure he was relying on hearsay.

  5. I think the highest percentage alcohol you can find in the US is like 50 percent, some ridiculous 1000 dollar a bottle abomination served inside a squirrel carcas (pelt wraps the bottle). Other than that, traditional barley wines are known to have bout 12 percent alcohol. It gets hard to get the percentage much higher than that, as the yeast begin to go dormant when the alcohol level goes up. That 50 percent 'thing' is most likely 'cracked'. That is, they freeze it and then chip away the ice (water) leaving more alcohol. This is an illegal process for you and I to do, by the way - kidna like distilling alcohol. Big government has reached its way into my comment, my apologies :)