Edward J. Thomas - World War II

Below letter written by Edward J. Thomas

April 5 1945 Thursday
Memphis 15, Tenn

Dear Mom, Harry & Izzy:

Things are going along as monotonously as ever. All the boys, including
myself, are sweating it out here--just killing time, waiting to see what will
happen. All of them, of course, are wishing the war will end quickly so that
they can look forward to discharges. Most of them feel that this is wishing
for too much even though the war seems to be almost finished in Europe. The
majority haven't as yet had any overseas service and are afraid they may have to go overseas regardless of whether or not the war with German comes to an end. My only hope of getting a discharge this year rests on the fact that I have already had overseas duty. My age possibly won't help me out at all. From what I understand, England, in discharging her men, will consider age as one of the deciding factors, but the United States won't unless it changes its plans. I hope it will.

I just bought a paper now and read some cheerful news. Russia has cancelled
her neutrality pact with Japan. That news is just as good as the American
break-thru into central Germany. It betters my charces of coming home this

Just now the CQ in the barracks announced over the microphone that anyone
going on a furlough tomorrow morning could obtain a ride on a B24 to Niagara Falls. I wish something like that would be announced on the day before my furlough. I would jump at an opportunity like that. From Niagara Falls I could continue my trip by boat, train, or bus to Detroit. Besides saving probably several hours, it would make the trip less monotonous. What's the use of wishing, though. The odds of receiving a free plane ride are too much against me. The announcement about this B24 was the first plane ride ever advertised in this barracks.

I opened up this letter by saying that things are going along as monotonously
as ever. Maybe I'll have to amend that, a little. Something out of the
ordinary did happen to me si.me my previous letter.

My last letter home said that I was gigged for having too much in my
barracks bag. I also had the bottom of my barracks bag touching the floor
when it should have been tied higher on my bed so as to clear the floor.
The punishment I was supposed to receive covered both of these charges. As
I mentioned before, I was ordered to report in my fatigues at 5:30 in the
evening to the sergeant in charge of the barracks. I presented myself at
his desk in the proper uniform and at the proper time, but the sergeant had
gone homea few seconds previously. The CQ told me I could probably catch
him if I rushed outside. I went out but couldn't see anybody, and even if
I had I would have pretended not to see him because I wasn't very anxious
to have him give me a job. I asked the CQ if he knew anything about my
punishment. He didn't have any information on it and had to call Hq Co. to
see if they knew. While waiting for an answer, I was invited by the boys to
play volley ball. The CQ said I could go ahead and that he would let me know
later what Hq Co would do about my punishment. After playing volley ball for about half an hour, the CQ shouted to me from the doorway of the barracks that my punishment was cancelled. This was good news and the whole matter would have ended happily right there if I immediately stopped playing ball. I continued, however, even though I didn't like the game very much. In a short while a boy playing on my side rushed madly up to the net for the ball and jabbed me with a quicck sharp blow in the ribs on the left side. I felt the sting of it for a while and then the pain partia11y subsided. A few days later on Sunday I went bowling. The strain of throwing the ball made my side more painful than ever. I wasn't able to take a full breath or move freely. It seeaed as if at least one of my ribs was broken. I had my name put on sick call and Monday morning at 8:30 reported to the dispensary. The doctor examined me with a stethoscope and told me to breathe deeply. He must have heard some grinding of bones because he could tell me while I was inhaling just when the pain would start. He said it might be a broken rib and it would be necessary to have an X-ray taken. He asked me how I injured myself and I told him I had hit something on the obstacle course. I lied because I was against this course. It was something new made up by an old limping colonel who took great pleasure in watching how the men bruised themselves on it. The medical officers received so many cases of injuries caused by the obstacle course that they took steps to condemn it. By adding my case to those already received, I figured it would encourage the medical officers to make more vigorous protests.

For the X-ray I had to go in an ambulance to the Kennedy General Hospital
not because I was an ambulance case but because the hospital was about six or seven miles away. There was a master sergeant with me who also had the same trouble as I. He was hurt exactly in the same place. He reeeived his injury on the obstacle course and probably wasn't lying about it. In the X-ray room I stripped to the waist. The X-ray man and his girl attendant rolled me over on the X-ray table into so many positions that I thought several more of my ribs snapped in two. Two views were taken and the report of the wet readings was typewritten and sealed in an envelope which I took back to the dispensary. The doctor read that there was no evidence of fracture. The master sergeant's report also showed no evidence. This disappointed me very much because I could have had a fractured rib without having any extra pain and at the same time I probably could have been excused from the next couple hikes and obstacle tuns. The medical officer said there was nothing else he could do for me except put some tape on my chest. I allowed the medics to tape me. It was my great mistake as I found out later. Two wide strips were put on so tight that they eventually pulled great patches of skin off the front of my chest and made my condition worse than it ever was before. The pain in my side went away a couple of days ago but my chest is still bandaged and not quite healed yet. That teaches me what can happen when I agree to submit to too much medical treatment.

Mom, I received your letter and your box of cookies. They are really
delicious tidbits, especially the coconut ones. They were conveniently wrapped in groups for me to put my pocket quickly as I rush to the office in the morning. I passed some around to the boys and was told they were so good that I stopped being generous so that I could have as many left as possible for myself.

Izzy, I have some bad news about the cigaret situation here. Our
cigarets are now rationed. Each soldier has to have a ration card and is
allowed two packs a day for his own consumption only. If anyone is caught
sending them out he will be punished by a court-martial or by being shipped
out to a regular army camp.

Thomas Mink Ranch - MicroscopeHarry, your mating season has come to an end. I hope you pulled through
it satisfactorily. I understand the weather was in your favor and I hope everything else was. Gertie wrote me about your microscope. This was really new news to me. Tell me what kind of an instroment it is.

With love to all, Eddie

p.s. I received a box of Sanders' chocolates from Gertie and will thank
her for them in a letter which I will try to write in a week or two.
Author still has the microscope.

Link to PDF file of Eddie's Good Conduct Medal- April 5, 1945

Memphis Concert - April 7, 1945

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