Edward J. Thomas - World War II

Dear Mom & Harry, (April 11, 1943) Sunday

I was cut off by darkness when I wrote my last letter, so I will start where I left of. There are different positions in holding a rifle. There is the sitting position, and you can see an example in the Sunday April 4 Detroit News. Tyrone Powers is the model. Now our officers would find something wrong, such as his toes. It gives me a pain and the pain that these positions cause. There are five different ones, prone, sitting, squatting, kneeling and standing. (Eddie goes into detail about these positions.)

A couple of days ago we marched about two and a half miles into the hills to the target range. There are 80 targets all in a long row with the large hill behind as a backstop, otherwise the bullets would travel about two and a quarter miles. When my turn came I stood 200 yards away and with the rifle slung in my arm and an experienced coach at my side. I waited for the signal to start. An officer with a megaphone shouted, “Load one shot and cock. Ready on the right. Ready on the left. Ready on the firing line. The flag is waving, the flag is down.” A whistle blew the targets came up from the pits and down. I landed on my stomach. I fired one shot and then had to reload the rifle with a full clip of eight according to rules. All shots including the reloading must be done in about five seconds. The rapid firing target looks like:

Bulleyes target Fort mcclellan, Alabama World War II April 1943

Eddie got 4 bull’s-eyes, 4 fours, and 1 three for a qualifying score of 39. Quite a few boys got 40, 41, or 42.

For part of the afternoon I had to work in the pits lowering and raising targets. The pit is about 10 feet deep and looks like a trench of WWI. I have to not loaf or get the desire to line bawled out of you. I have to put small 3” discs in where bullet holes are. For a miss a flag is waved across the target. This flag may have a swastika or a rising sun on it and is called Maggre’s Drawers. After being in the pits I fired 9 shots, but poor eyesight interfered. The target was a bit blurry. So mom could you rush my eyeglasses by airmail?

Please continue my Reader’s Digest, Etude and Writers Digest and pile them up at home for me. I haven’t got a letter from you since March 27. I hope it isn’t because you don’t feel well?

Mrs. Kress visiting Mr. Kress, sure shortening life by drinking (look at). Let me know how Leonard and Eddie come out with the draft board.

Mom, you asked what we eat? Well breakfast usually consists of flapjacks with syrup and butter. There are grapefruit or an orange, cereal and milk. Today we had eggs instead. Quite a few mornings we get French toast in place of flapjacks. I’ll mention other meals in my next letter as I have to rush to Sunday dinner.

Harry I received your last letter about mutations which I never heard of. The mink business is becoming very interesting compared to the army. I thought that some of the mink work was tiresome but not 1/10000 as tiresome as army routine. Tell Gertie and Gene I gladly received their interesting letters and will answer soon. Stanley answered me with a long letter and some snapshots. I’ll send his letter and snapshots the next time I write. Snapshots I took were all blurry. I think I know what went wrong.
With Love, Ed

Army Meals

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