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Sgt Maurice J. Paulk
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Excerpts From V-Mail Letters To Home
October 8, 1942 - June 11, 1945
Sgt Maurice J. Paulk

1942 - 7 letters

Oct. 8---Crossing uneventful. Last three days boat rolled a little [6 scratch outs]. Think I was reprimanded.

Dec. 5 - 2 pages 2 packages - most of the candy gone. Received letters of Oct 26 & Nov 5 yesterday. Supposed to have a 48 hr. pass the 3rd. Our outfit restricted to base. Dec. 13, Sun. 6:30 PM Washington Club [Red Cross] was full - stayed at Mostyn Club [hotel] - 1/2 crown [50 cents] for one night & breakfast - meals good. Bus to Liecester, Oxford, Piccadilly Circus, - cinema - 15 shillings [$3] for 6 sepia prints. Show Yankee Doodle Dandy. Toured the town to see the results of 1940 air raids. Dec 20, Sun - typed Going to London again next week. Sewing kit [among other things] from Aunt Helen [I still have it- Mar 2003].V-mail at a premium. Usually get 8 sheets on payday. 1 PM, better get back to work. 7 PM back to office after chow. Breakfast - bacon, [powdered whole egg omelet of sorts - oatmeal or cream of wheat occasionally - strong coffee & grapefruit & occasionally jelly - Dinner today - roast beef, tomato & rice, succotash, bread pudding. No soup today - unusual - soup is good.

1943 - 37 letters

Jan. 20 - New postal order. No packages unless written request signed by CO is presented at PO - affective Jan 15. Room orderly on Feb 15. Sat & Sun KP. Papers mailed only by subscription holder. Feb 6.-- Plenty of V-mail this month - good shows on base - pass in North Hampton - tired - walked the town, & swam. Nice indoor pool. Only thing that can be sent from states is something not available over here.

Feb 18 -- 4:45 - 1 hr. & 15 mins to type 2 letters. - Typing up new parts location cards. - 2nd night - Just finished shower - wash room near barracks. Mar. 24 - Wed-- 2 pages - First trip to Dudley Feb 27. - restricted to base for a week - lost next pass

Mar 11 -- Toured town & Dudley Castle - telephoned base will be late returning from 4 day pass. [Answer to questions about London air raids as reported by news media.] As I said on the first page one of the fellows was in an air raid. He said the guns [ack-ack] shook the bed just like an earth quake. Another fellow said the rumors were true. Everybody ran for the shelters but the Yanks. They came from all over to stand in the street to see what could be seen. You never hear of any casualtlies. A few were hurt in a stampede going into the underground [ subway]. Time to back to the barracks an go to bed. Eggs, [powdered variety] cereal & cocoa for breakfast in the morning. Had hot-cakes & vienna sausages & oatmeal this morning. Won't have hot-cakes until thursday. Been using powdered milk & warm water for the coffee this last month. It is quite palatable.......usually drink a canteen cup full twice a day. We get our vitasmin C from lemon crystals dissolved in cold water...good drink.

Apr 1 - Class A allotment canceled lby gov't. [$25 bond] Will send $20 each month.

Apr. 10 - Met Roland Beard & Harold Parkes in milk bar [with Joe Clay] - toured Engine block foundry where Harold works.

Apr. 30 - 48 hr. pass on 24th - called base - would miss bus if I went to church - got 6 extra hours to get back. Toured Dudley Castle & the keep - After church went to Harold's for dinner.

May 29 T/Sgt Ted Essock on pass---pretty busy.

June 12 - Been having good Sunday dinners - roast beef, mashed potatoes, green string beans & ice cream with 1/2 a peach. A lb note is $4.04 - Shilling = $0.20. They "popped" some tear gas around the office today.

June 27 - Moved from office to warehouse. Work a little different. Didn't work with property classes in the office. Helped with Lend-Lease & filed Tech Orders. Now try to keep stock record cards straight. On pass 6/21 to 6/23 - Dudley on 20th about 11:30 PM - Police station put me up in a cell in the women's section. A Bobbie [George McBride] split his can of beans and bacon with me. Mon. Girls Training Corps meeting with Elsie & then to her friends house for supper. Overslept, Late [ 3:30 pm.] getting to Harold's. His mother kept dinner warm for 2 hrs. Please send garrison cap, film, & gum if available.

July 21 - Slow in writing - just got off night duty. Slept till noon go to work at 3 pm.

July 26--3 P Just got back from furlough [7/21] Mom & Dad Parkes on holiday. Stayed with Harold. Slept in Elsie's bed and she slept in her parents bed. Friday - Betty beard & Peggy Little washed my hair. Clean for once. Sunday morning - was awakened by a cup of tea that was brought to me. Letter #60 - tear gas spread by base chemical Co. Rec'd package 7/12 [2 khaki shirts - 3 shorts - & garrison cap. Missed Bob Hopes show, was on pass. Eddie Rickenbacher here today.

Aug. 8 - Leave on pass tomorrow. Haven't heard from Opal. Can't find a typewriter that is not busy. No I don't wear my gas mask on duty or off the field. If the pictures look funny it isn't my gas mask - it's my face. But I wouldn't go off the field with out a raincoat.

Aug. 13 - Work cuaght up - on nights for another week. Looked at some good wheat. They say it is one of the best years for sometime. Stayed at Harold's 10th & 11th. Adoph Menjou giving a performance in the gym - Won't make it. They are serving coffee and doughnuts from the mess hall last 5-6 days at the day room every night about 10. Probably miss this week. Got to Supply office at 5.. The mess hall will serve night workers so I pick up what is available.

Aug. 18 Tomorrow last work night. 11PM - better sweep & mop. Belly is empty so will hit the mess hall.

Aug 26 - Sat Back from pass this afternoon. Working tonight. No longer week at a time - just one night at a time now. Garrison cap and the rest arrived OK. Saw "Student Prince" last night with Harold - Slept in police station last Wed. night. Rode in the "Black Moriah" [Paddy Wagon"] Then had tea with the driver.

Sept 4 - Christmas Gifts??? Always use hankies & sox. Do you have any extra points to pool? Side-strap brown oxfords - 10 1/2 A or 11 B. Use my money in the bank.

Sept 12 --2P Italy surrendered while I was in the show - Bobby told me just as I was going in. "Maid of the Mountain" - musical - not too good. Supply not required to pull KP - we pay about 8 pounds a month.

Sept 24, friday Late again. On room orderly monday - busy - Pass Mon. night - back yesterday noon. In police court Wed. AM. 3 magistrates, one of them happened to be the CENSORED. 2 cases. Met Harold at hotel for dinner.

Oct 21 - 6 letters not rec'd - 86, 75, 76, 31, 29, 25. Latest one was 92 on Oct 18. Waiting for furlough papers. Did the photos make me look like a sick calf.

Oct. 29 - 2 P Letter 94 rec'd on 27. Back from furlough on 26th & worked that night. Mom Parkes brought breakfast in bed Sunday. Saw play in Birhingham with Harold Parkes. Play stunk - acting good. Harold liked it though. Photos on the way. Shots of Dudley Castle good. Pass night of the 5th. Hope shoes arrive before then. Mine have beens 1/2 soled once and getting thin.

Oct. 31 - Shoes arrived - calls for a letter - Mailed last letter on 5 Pm & found package on bunk after chow. Thanks for the wash rags, was getting low. Nice shoes, no laces.

Nov 3 - 2P Housekeeping & found Opal's unopened letter of Aug 15. Bobby friend George McBride getting married 6th - invited to the wedding & reception.

Nov. 18 - Forgot when I wrote last - will keep a record from now on. Fellow's enjoyed Uncle John's candy bars. A milk bar makes hot & cold drinks, cocoa, coffee [coffee flavored hot milk], hot or cold milk, mineral water [pop] sandwichs. Pass tomorrow night.

Nov. 29 - 2P - typed Address changed to 444th Sub-Depot [Cl-1] No the magistrates don't wear wigs in lower courts. Missed Mac's wedding - overslept.. Slept in police station - forgot to tell them to wake me. Rec'd all packages in good shape. Pipes will go to Mac. the bobby. 4 packages not here yet. We hear quite a few popular bands by transcription.. Hear Bing every thurs.. Commercials cut out - all British stations owned by government. Most progams come over AFN. Ford Kennedy gives the sports. Started this during lunch hour [slack time] Now 6:30PM. Missed chow. Will get a bite at the NAAFI before the second show. We quit at 4:30 but the boss stayed to catch up on paper work. Boss left at 5:30. About 2-3 months ago an outfit turned in 10 left flying boots -ordered 10 pair. Plane had trouble on way back. Crew bailed out wearing only right boot - for luck.

Dec. 15 - Wed Return addressnow cpl.. Very busy. Have not been to a show for the last week started on KP for 3 hrs. a night for a week along with my other duties.. Late geting back from pass - at least I can eat to my hearts content. Had poly-photos taken - 48. Rec'd box of books from Opal. Harold has seen popcorn after its was popped. It was coated like our cracker-Jacks only red or green. 8PM - no supper. Talking to night man Leo Michalski. Think I'll eat at NAFFI or YMCA.

1944 - 33 letters

January 1 - Think Outfits name change slowed down the mail. Mrs. Parkes gave me nice allbum for my pictures. Supposed to have turkey for dinner again today. Real dinner for Xmas - turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed spuds, string beans, hard candy, ice cream with fruit cocktail & cake. 3 times the turkey at Xmas than for Thanksgiving. Had 2 small pices of turkey & a pork chop for Thanksgiving.

Jan. 7 - hand Shaving at office - electric razor here. Pass tomorrow. 7 day furlough 22 - 29. May see Harold's sister stationed in liverpool.

Jan 9 - Sun rec'd 1-11-44 V-mail Xmas cards not dated. - orders. Mac liked the pipes. Bought a ring for 20 pounds. -Intaglio head of King Charles. Made during Stuart Period about 1615. No supper tonight. Night man said it was lousy.

Jan 23 - rec'd 1-25 Was going to write last night but had stock report to type up.

Jan 29 - Sweating the ships in after a mission is a favorite pass time if we are not busy. Not too busy at the time they return. About 5-6 times since opertions began. Ring? - been rooked! Sat Sun travel forbidden. - Leave on pass Mon AM Thanks for gloves, chain [??] & film.

Feb. 12 - At the office tonight. Had work to catch up on. Stew at mess - didn't go "home" from Office. In talking with the English people I think class distinction will be done away with after this is over. Rations I take on my 2 day passes - 2 cans vegetables - 1 can fruit Or 2 fruit & 1 vegetable - 2 cans evaporated milk - 1 1/2 lb can vienna sausages or 1 can mackeral & 1 can sardines. Just depends on what is on hand. Will go feed the inner man. - nice Red Cross [Aero Club - a YMCA & a NAAFI]- no trouble to get a little extra to eat.

Feb. 23 - 2 AM friday Gave away all of Uncle John's box of candy in Dudley to repay for hospitality. Had my share of bars and such. Wrote no letters between Nov 29 & Dec 13. I'm writing at the office. Will have to hurry if I turn in my laudry by 8:30 PM. Aunt Helen sent another pair of gloves - On pass tomorrow eveniong. 4 day furlough in April. 7 days not going through HQ. Letters? - most always 2 a week - sometimes 3. Still have a little work to catch up on so the fellows won't be pressed in the morning.

March 24 - Spec V-mail - change APO from 634 to 636. Opal sent Eldon's address.

April 5 - Just going on 7 day furlough.

May 24 - Liberty run tonight. No shows next Wed night. See Harold next Friday. - Last time [19th] met Mrs Parkes on the street. She had expected me and left food on the table.. Made 3 min egg & 6 slices toast. & a pot of tea. Took a time exposure picture in the office of one of the boys [Harry Guenther]. Am behind in correspondence. Weather like March - blustery.. One day heavy jacket - next shirt sleeves.

May 28 - 3 P hand written - rec'd June 17 Sprawled out on my bunk in my trunks. Hotter than the hubs of Hades last 2 days. English eat with left hand. When I eat in a hotel the people insist on watching me shift my fork from from hand to hand. Rec'd Opal's picture - beautiful. Friday was a good day Harold and I walked the canal north to Netherton & beyond.

May 29 - typed rec'd 6-18 Lat Friday coming off pass left raincoat & shaving kit on bus. Luckily another fellow & I bought an electric razor together. Split the 5 pound price. Remington Rand 230 V --had it 2-3 months. Need 3 pair jockey shorts & under shirts - 4 pr cotton work socks - 3 pair khaki dress socks. See if you can find magazines -Esquire - Spider - Shadow. Mailed necklace to Opal this month.

June 8 - rec'd 6-29 Working tonight - 2:30 AM - Last pass [2nd] went horseback riding with a buddy. What a sight - can't pull leather on an English saddle. Went to a fair & then had fish & chips. - Went in on liberty truck for a swim - too cool even inside. Saw "Gone With The Wind" instead.

June 21 - Tuesday - 3P first letter with Sgt return. Pardon spelling- mashed finger in recon door.had small cavity filled in tooth - another one next Mon. Last tooth cleaning in Dudley year ago April. Every Sunday have to excercise - volley ball - church in evening - saves 45 minutes of the 3 hours. Evening church the last 1 1/2 months. Will take fencing lessons if I can catch the instructor in the gym. Liberty truck on monday night to swim.

June 28 - wed. 9 PM - 3P - hand written Wrote two letters last night while working & finished at 5AM. Into the sack at 9 - up at 6 PM. finally got a new valve [tube] in our radio - been silent for 2 weeks - for the first time in 2 years.

June 29 - Thursday - hand written. When I get back I'll be the only single man in the barracks. July 17 -rec'd 7/30 Making a crystal radio - parts from town plans from guy in radio building next door to supply. Went to a show in town last friday. Next friday in town "Broadway Rythm". Fox Movietone gave our field theater 300 seats with Plush folding seats.

August 3 - Thursday Eight of your letters to answer tonight. Pass in the morning. Now have a bar - they serve real honest to goodness coke.

August 26 - Saturday Started this 24th - left it in typewriter. Back from pass this noon. Letter beat up - starting over. Send popcorn & baby clothes for Mac the Bobby. Sept. 6 -hand written-hand written Must shower before they close. 48 hour pass tomorrow. Sept. 11 mondayWhat for Xmas?? - handkerchiefs - cigarettes [if you can get them] Hair dressing [Vitalis] - web belt.

Sept 27 - Wed. 28, 29 - rec'd oct 8 Had intaglio ring evaluated - got rooked but good. Rations - 3 packs cigarettes and 12 cigars. Tomorrow pay day.

Oct 10 Tues & 11 Box at office ready to pack. about the bonds - bought 2 raffle tickets at the office for 10 shillings & won the $50 one. - $10 one taken out of pay each month.

Oct 23 - Mon 9 PM Charge of quzrters tonight - off at 8 PM - On duty last night at supply. Off all day today & tomorrow; I'm in the orderly room to receive passes when the liberty truck returns about midnight.

Nov 1 - This is a quickie - shower & early to bed - pass tomorrow. 2 packages this week - shoes first & then Mac's stuff today. Voted against Nebraska Prohibition Bill. Trying to run a bill through on us when they know that 50% of Servise men are in combat can't vote or move to often.

Dec 17 - Back from pass Wed. Took bus 1/2 mile - got out & walked - fog so thick could see about 12 ft.. Used flashlight to follow fence or gutter. Saw Merchant of Venice" in Birmingham. APO changed to 557.

1945 - 12 letters

Feb 11 - On C. Q last night - had high hopes of writing many letters. Orderly room didn't clear out till 3 AM. Furlough [Jan 22-29] particulars by air mail. Mon & Tues in London, Plymouth & Devort - Dudley 24th. [Birthday - Mom Parkes remembered & reminded me of it]26th Liverpool - Camp 29th. Snow storm held up trains - arrived camp 30th - should have been at work. Just back from break. Cup of tea & slice toast at fuel station which is a little ways from the office. 10PM now - worked this morning. Rec'd popcorn. Side of can dented. - good thing Dad soldered it on.

Mar 13 - Need 2 sun-tan shirts - mine beat up Elsie wanted me to see if I could get her 6 tennis balls.

April 25 - Wed - rec'd May11 Address changed - 675th Air Material Sqd. 425th Air Service Group. Rec'd tennis balls etc on 21st [sat]. Mrs Parkes pleased with material. Back from pass noon today. Pass morning of 23rd. Spent most of Sun night talking to fuel station night man - 1/2 hours sleep.

April 30 - Mon - (hand written) This months pay 20 pounds 0' 7d. [20 pounds, no shillingfs , 7 pence] About $80. Spent 1 pound for paper, KP & a party before leaving pay line. Undated 1945 - rec'd 5-11-hand written Writing this at Red Cross Club, waiting for second show, New bar near the barracks, frosted glass back bar with moving colored light. Don't care for it--NO Cokes. Weigh 165 with blouse on.

May 19 - 3P - hand written - rec'd may 31. Started this when I went on pass [8th]. Warehouse & office madhouse - no time. Didn't expect a pass. Probably VE Day restriction.. Dudley 3 PM. Harold had the 8th & 9th off. Had quite a time - sober but far from sane celebration. After tea left house at 5:30 PM. Wandered around town looking at show bills, penny arcades till 7PM. Bored - Went to milk bar & drank hot & cold milk shakes & coffee. We went out in street & got into a "snake dance" - marched around town for 3 hrs singing, shouting, fire crackers , anything for show or noise. Visted with Chief Constabul Campbell. Home at 2AM - made coffee and in bed at 2:30. Up at 9 am Wed the 9th. Sat on Harold's bed & talked till 10 AM. Mom Parkes brought breakfast to us upstairs..We went up town for the parade - missed it. Met the milk bar gang & in the PM went for a jaunt in the countryside. Evening show 8-10 - looked in on the dance. Back "home" at 1 AM. Thursdqy 10th - up at 6 back to camp. Tell you about 10 hr flight over Belgium, Germany & France later. Flight was a week ago.

May 25 - Friday - (hand written) -rec'd 6/1. Have before me letters #267-8-9. Will try to answer. Started to type this yesterday. Today they are all busy. You have my points wrong. - 82- censorship lifted a bit.. Leaving for Casablanca, how and when I don't know. will write more - back from pass on 28th.

June 1 - Friday finally mailed all my packages [3] & 1 to Opal. June 10 - hand written Mail lousy - hope it is at my destination. Bad weather or we would have been there. Field "closed in" today. It is boring doing nothing.

[Left Molesworth June 11, 1945]


4 LETTERS ARE THE ONLY SURVIVING LETTERS FROM MY MOTHER

#263
April 27, 1945 - REC'D MAY 5.
. I can't figure out what has happened to you in the past year..... didn't know if had been moved or sick and now again we haven't heard from you since March 15th. If I was your girl friend you wouldn't have any.

#265
May 4 1945 -
, Fri -- Well I think we are all feeling better. Your letter came yesterday morning. I went to Mrs Laird's at 8 AM to get a permanent. Dad brought the letter down & put it in my car. He called Mrs Laird and she went out and got it. Mr. Mays told dad Opal got one too..... according to the news this morning all the armies in Germany had surrendered, leaving only those in Norway & Dennmark.. ,April was so hard to take after a warm March.....heavy frost again last night.

#266
May 8th 1945 - rec'd May 17
- This is the day.We are all happy to hear the fighting is over - listened to Churchill & Eisenhauer. All business in Grand Island and here closed. Because of wild celebrations???? Church services at both churches tonight. Last night's paper - 8th & 9th AF to be held for police & transport duty & moved to Germany. Fingers crossed. Occupational AF will be large. What will they do to you? I know you will let us know as soon as you can. Went to the pond---Elsa & I caught 4 bluegills --days catch. Dad cleaning garage - too cold for me. Saw some snow falling!!!!! Hear different reports on radio - don't always do as they say they will.

#270
May 18, 1945 - Fri - rec'd May 25
- Received the birtday card Wed 16... .....Elsa said that she saw in the Herald that the Eighth Air Force took the ground personnel over Germany to show them the work they had helped to do.....today is cold and cloudy with rain predicted. iIwish we had a cattle ranch or a pigg farm. We get meat about once a week and not always that often. Very little bacon & no ham. One gets awful tired of weiners & pressed ham. I cook the weiners in scalloped potatoes like I used to ham and they go pretty good. Gladys just called and said she could get me a fry for tomorrow......They are high though, a dollar last week.......

[courtesy of Maurice J. Paulk]