Edward J. Thomas - World War II

Leonard Tomaszewski is Eddie's cousin, and he will be 98 this summer of 2010. He recently talked with the author of this blog in January of 2010 about his D-Day landing on Omaha Beach, as part of the second wave. Please listen to his story as he tells it in the 21st Century and remembers it vividly. D-Day (MP3 audio) .

Below letter is copied from Eddie's letter word for word. Edward wrote this letter on D-Day Tuesday June 6, 1944. I just recently (summer 2009) found this letter on my uncle's desk. I was surprised to see this letter sitting there for well over 12 years since his passing. And that day was so ingrained into everyone that it was there still on his desk over 50 years later.

Camp Shelby, Miss.
6 June 1944  Tuesday

Dear Mom, Harry & Izzy:

That was a pretty hot night when I left you at the Michigan Central Depot.
I didn't realize how hot it was until I entered the train coach. It was like
entering a crowded Casino theater on a sweltering midsummer day. At first I thought I wouldn't be able to get a seat, but the car wasn't as crowded as it seemed in the beginning. I don't believe anyone was left standing.

I reached chicago at 7:20 AM (Chicago time) and was able to see some
of the city for the first time. The train for Jackson, Miss., was not leaving
until 9:05 AM; so I had time to walk several blocks to a coffee shop for
breakfast. The heart of the city was several miles away. I could tell that
by the tall bu11dings in the distance. By the immediate surroundings I could
easily imagine I was walking in some strange section of Detroit, but at the
same time I could feel that I was tramping inside of a much bigger animal.
After it began to rain a little, I walked back to the depot. When the train
pulled out of Chicago, I saw how much bigger this city was than Detroit. It
took almost an hour for the train to get out of the thickly populated
districts. In moving out of Detroit, there is a big difference--it's possible
to start counting cows in a few minutes. I boarded this train very early
to make sure that I would get a seat next to the window, thinking that I
would enjoy the scenery. but I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer than
five minutes at a time. There wasn't much to see out of the window anyway.
The lowest temperature I experienced on the trip was when I neared Jackson and when I got off there at 5:00 AM. It was almost uncomfortably chilly. I checked my bagage at the depot and had breakfast at a restaurant across the street. Then I walked around the downtown section. The city looked as if it were just built. All the public buildings, such as the museum, recruiting offices, city hall, court house, ete, were new lavish pieces of architecture which made me wonder how a city in such a poor southern state could afford them.

At 8:00 AM I left for Hattiesburg. This was the first time I began to
feel the terrific heat of the South. All the windows of the train were shut
to make the air conditioning system more efficient, I supposed. It wes almost hot enough inside to make me fry. Outside it looked even hotter. When I stepped off the train at Hattiesburg I found that there was no air conditioning system in the car because it was much cooler outside, although still hotter than I wished.

It wes about 12:00 noon when I started a walking tour of Hattiesburg.
By looking around I seemed to think that it was of some size but every few
minutes I would come to the place I started from, and as there was nothing
else to see I bought a bottle of beer and a couple of hamburgers and then
went to a show. After the show, I sat around for an hour in one or the USO
buildings and then went into camp where I had to lug my locker, barracks bag, bed and mattress out of storage.

I expected to send this letter out three or four days ago but was so
sluggish from the heat that I just couldn't make myself write more than a
few words at a time during the short snatches of leisure time that I had.
So far I haven't had a day off. Sunday (June 4, 1944) I worked to midnight for the Major on a training schedule which I thought would involve about everybody but myself. I was told to take Monday off; so I slept late until the band drummer in a hut near mine began practicing his daily lessons. At lunch I was informed that I would have to dress in fatigues end go to the rifle renge to train for marksmanship, the same old hooey I had so much of in basic training and in the Aleutians. This training was to be given to me every half-day and the other half-day was to be spent in the office. The whole farce, however, was upset today because an order came through from Washington for about fourteen hundred men to be transferred out of our regiment to other camps in the south. This will leave about 300 here. I know I am not included in this order becsuse I was on my furlough when the list of all men present in camp was sent to Washington. Therefore, you can depend on my being here for quite a while yet.

June 6 will be remembered as quite an exciting day. When I walked toward the mess hall for my breekfast this morning about 6:45, someone told me that the invasion was on. I couldn't believe it until I heard a radio broadcast coming from a hut nearby. Even after hearing the announcer, I could hardly believe that what we have been waiting for the last couple of years was actually taking place. It won't belong now before we can make new estimates as to how long the war will last. I can barely wait to hear what the news will be tomorrow.

Dripping with sweat & sighing with relief I now can say

So Long Eddie
P.S. I hope my parcel of clothing is on its way.


Is Eddie going to Texas?

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