Edward J. Thomas - World War II

Below letter written by Edward J. Thomas

Dec 6 1944 Wednesday
Memphis 15, Tenn

Dear Mom, Harry & Izzy:

Here I am back in Memphis with the weather just about the same as Detroit's except probably for a few degrees difference in temperature. On the average for the first two days it may have been about 10 warmer here.

The train ride was a very uneventful and dreary trip--just as I expected
it to be. It was cloudy, drizzly, and chilly all the way. I saw water frozen
and patches of snow on the ground as far down as southernmost Kentucky.
I arrived in Cincinnati at 7 o'clock in the morning and waited until 8:50
for the train to Memphis It was scheduled to start from Cincinnati at 9:10,
but for some reason it waited until 9:45 before moving out. On the way it lost about 30 more minutes and instead of arriving in Memphis at 9:30 PM, it came in at 10:30.

The coaches were less crowded than on any other trip I had made. Almost
everybody was able to have a double seat for himself. In spite of that, the
ride was the most uncomfortable one I have had because I had a slight stomachache which probably was caused by the intense heat that sometimes would come from the radiator at my foot.

when I arrived in Memphis I didn't realize what, little time I had left to
report to headquarters. I carelessly spent about half an hour at the depot
washing up and looking for a good place to eat. Failing in my half-hearted
search, I decided to wait for a streetcar. Suddenly I thought that I still
might have some time to eat vhen I saw a restaurant on a corner which looked
rather favorable. I stepped in with the intention of just getting a quick
sandwich and coffee. I studied the menu and ordered veal cutlets and spaghetti, coffee and icecream, forgetting entirely the little time remaining. While waiting for the order, I realized a mistake was made and worried over it by looking at the Clock every few seconds. It was 11:25 before I left the restaurant.

While waiting for a streetcar I spied a taxi cab approaching. I hailed
it to a stop. It already had three overseas soldiers returning to their
hospital from furloughs. One of them was very drunk. The driver said it was
all right for me to get in. The drunken soldier couldn't make up his mind
about the place he wanted to go. He named several different places and confused the driver. His sober friend, however, spoke for him and said they
were going to the Peabody Hotel. At the hotel entrance, the drunken soldier
didn't want to get out. His sober friend coaxed him, but the young soak
repeatedly refused and said he wanted to see Mabel. He didn't know her address but thought he would find her by riding around. His sober friend pulled him out into the street. A fight started. The drunken fellow had to be handled very roughly. He succeeded in getting back into the car once but was yanked out immediately. He became very angry and began to shower haymakers. His sober friend had to knock him down on the pavement several times. By this time an interested and amused crowd gathered in front of the hotel. Two officers came up and helped to hold the unruly fellow tight around his arms. They steadied him and kept saying, "Take it easy, will you".

I kept watching them and my watch. The watch was just as exciting to look
at as the fight. It was 11:40 by the time the taxi cab resumed its trip.
Fortunately it made good time and let me off at my destination at a cost of $1.45. I handed in my furlough paper about 11:59--one minute before the deadline. The Charge of Quarters was sleeping in the office. He woke up and told me to put the paper on the desk. I don't believe he knew what time it was. why the anxious rush anyway, I asked myself. I saw that I could have used a streetcar and delivered my paper around 1 o'clock in the morning without any fuss being made over the delay.

After making up my bed, I took a shower. It was about 1:00 AM when I
fell asleep. I awoke at 6:45 in the morning and felt as if I only had had
a dream about home and not a 14-day furlough.

At the office the colonel came in and said he was glad to see me back.
I greeted him by saying "Good morning, sir" and thought that would be sufficient to take the place of formally reporting to his desk with a salute. A couple of sergeants, however, told me that ny first greeting was unofficial
and that now I would have to make an official report. I thought this was very ridiculous. There was another fellow who returned from a furlough the same day I did and we both decided to go to the colonel together. We walked up to him, straining for a military bearing and at the same time straining for
a manner that wouldn't appear too military. We both saluted and the fellow
with me said, "Cpl Cloud reporting for duty, sir", and I said the same thing,
substituting my name, of course, and trying hard to hide how foolish I felt
about this loony ceremony. The colonel asked me about my fur farm. This
surprised me because I didn't know he knew anything about it. Someeone must have informed him during my furlough.

Since I don't see much more time for me here at the office, I'll just end
the letter abruptly like this:


P.S. Today the steady drizzle of yesterday is coming down like a shower and
I suppose it will go on all afternoon and throughout the night. I just
read a notice informing me that the hike was called off. Instead of using
the weather as an excuse for the cancellation, the notice jokingly said that it
was due to the celebration of the Eve of Pearl Harbor Day.

Sat. Dec 9 Germany no longer is a presence in Serbia and Macedonia. On Tue. Dec 12 a V-2 rocket kills almost 500 people at a movie theater in Antwerp.

Thur. Dec 14 finds Polish and British armies with a new offensive attack in Italy and the next day, Dec. 15 US forces land in the Phillippines and are attacked by kamikazes. Russian trops enter Czechoslovakia.

Sat. Dec. 16 begins the Battle of the Bulge. The Germans mount a large attack against the United States 1st and 9th Armies in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium. The front is 40 miles wide. The next day Germ Waffen SS troops kill 80 unarmed ar,erocam soldiers in the "Malmedy Massacre."s

Battle of the Bulge
(from en wikipedia. American soldiers taking up defensive positions in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge.. {{PD-USGov-Military-Army}} Source: http://www.schweinfurt.army.mil/9eng/history/0013.jpg from http://www.schweinfurt.army.mil/9eng/history)

Harry writes to Eddie - Dec. 18, 1944

Go back Go forward