Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Letter #11

Letter # 11

Pvt. E. Cowley 42025054
7th Co. 5th Regt. 2nd Bat
Fort Benning, Georgia

The Cowleys
35 Woodside Ave.
Buffalo N.Y.
Zone 20

Postmarked November 2, 1943

Sunday, 1943

Dear family,

Am writing from the Rec hall. It’s a mad house. Guys playing ping pong, writing letters, talking out loud, playing bingo, thowing darts across the room etc. I was first talking to a bunch of guys who are in their 10th week of basic. They say its pretty tough. They just returned from the woods last night after 2 weeks of bivouac. Coming back they walked 16 miles in five hours with full field pack and rifle (of course you must consider they walked all the way on sand roads up to their ankles.

Did you ever read about an infiltration course. Well, Fort Benning has the finest? in the world. The course is given to simulate actual (very much so) battle conditions. One platoon at a time goes over the course. Naturally I’m in the 1st squad in the 1st platoon and naturally I’ll be the 1st man over the top. The course is composed of two trenches about 200 yds apart. Between the trenches are barb wire entanglements and T.N.T. land mines. Rattlesnakes and Copperheads, not G.I. also sneak onto the range. The land mines are marked by mounds of dirt & gravel. The best thing to do is to avoid the mounds of T.N.T. as much as possible as they are continually going off. That is the easy part of the infiltration course. I almost forgot to mention that a dozen or so machine guns are continually firing live ammunition 18 inches over the entire area in a withering cross fire. The way you begin is by crouching in the first trench which is about 2 ft deep. Then the machine guns fire a warning burst directly over the trench. Then there is a short lull and the lieutenant orders the platoon over the top. You are on your own from then on. The only safe way is to keep your nose in the dirt. You must carry your rifle through the course very carefully and have it ready for firing when you reach the 2nd test trench. The barb wire cannot be cut and you have to worm your way thru it. Does all that sound like fun to you? When I get out of here I’ll be a real infantry soldier. If we miss out in our exams at school afterwards we’re qualified for immediate overseas shipment. There is lots more about tactical warfare, gas attacks etc. that I’ll tell you about as I go thru.

I got my hair cut again today. It’s about ½ inch long in the longer places. Everyone around here resembles a nazi as hair can’t be longer than one inch. Boy! Oh Boy! Do I need money!!!! Here’s a list of a few of the things I have to get soon (some very soon); 1 garrison cap with light blue infantry cord, $2.75; 2 boxes of ASTP stationary, $2.00; 1 Sam Brown Belt, $1.25; extra handkerchiefs, ?; extra socks and underwear, ?; fingernail poish for my brass buttons, ?; 1 U.S. insignia & 1 infantry insignia, 70 cents; soap and toilet articles, ?; 1 hair brush for whats left, ?; and of course numerous personal delicacies like ice cream, candy & smokes.
If you wish you could send me those hair brushes which are around the house & some underwear, as much as possible. We need a heck of a lot of things around here.

We start our training next Monday and we’re gonna have the best platoon in the whole company and I’m in the best squad in the platoon and I’m the best man in the squad. That’s the way the lieutenant told us to look at the whole business. I guess we take more exams and get shot again this week.

I haven’t heard anything from anyone since I’ve been at Benning but I hope the mail will catch up with me soon. Well, I have to close as the boys are insisting on putting out the lights. They’ve all got bayonets so what can I do. Best of health to everyone.

Eddie Jr.

P.S. Give Roy Woodman my new address if you see him as I wrote him a letter from Upton & told him to get my address from home.

1943 - Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition

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