Letters Home From 29th Division Veteran Matthew Mlynarski
War-Time Letters From a 29th Division Veteran
Mark Mlynarski graciously shared with Normandy Allies several letters which his father, Matthew Mlynarski, sent to his family during World War II. We are privileged to share a few of these with you and thank Mark for making these letters available.
These letters are for the most part from my father, Matthew Mlynarski, to his mother Mary. My father was born May 12, 1916 in Wheeling, West Virginia. When he was 2 years old my grandmother returned with my father to her native land of Poland. Five years later they returned to the United States and settled in south western Pennsylvania. My father was inducted into the army on February 20, 1942 at the center in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania (just outside of Harrisburg). He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, Company M, 175th Regiment, of the 29th Division. The letters provide a progression of the camps through which my father moved. In England he was stationed at Tidworth Barracks for a time near the town of Amesbury.
My sisters Cynthia and Marcia my father and I visited Amesbury in October, 1994 on our way to Portsmouth. In Amesbury we booked a ferry that departed from Portsmouth, England to Cherbourg, France. From there, we followed the road to the cemetery bluff overlooking Omaha Beach near the village of Colleville. His regiment landed on Omaha Beach on the morning of June 7, 1944. They moved inland through the Vierville draw. The division captured the town of St. Lo. on July 18, 1944.
Here are a few of the letters:
Well Mom I’m pretty lucky; they didn’t send me out very far. I’m here in Fort Meade about twenty miles from Washington and 18 miles from Baltimore. We got here about 4:00, and the first thing we got our beds. We had to go after them ourselves, because these barracks were empty and then we had to wash the floors. After we got our barracks and beds fixed up the sergeant talked to us. After the sergeant got done, we went to eat our supper and after supper we washed up and shaved. Then it was just about bed time. We’re not so busy today. We got a leave from three to eleven O’clock and we could go any place we wanted to. But we can’t travel on buses because we’re under quarantine. We also were examined by a Doctor and a Dentist and we’ll have our teeth fixed but I don’t know when. Well Mom this is a nice place too. There are pine trees all over. The barracks are between trees. I don’t know how big it is because I didn’t go out very far yet, but anywhere I turn around I could see barracks. Well Mom I think that I could be home next Saturday March 7th. They give two leaves here every month, but them leaves are from 12 O’clock Saturday noon to 6 O’clock Monday morning. That’s not much of a leave, but that’s better than nothing. Some of the Crucible fellows will get a leave this Saturday. Mom I had to stop writing this letter about 3 or 4 times. First it was revillie (reville is when we go out to salute the flag), and then it was supper and after supper we got more equipment. It’s 8 O’clock now Mom and I’ll have to take a bath and shave. Then it will be about bed time. Lights go out at eleven O’clock. We get up at 6:00. Now you could write to me now Mom. I think I’ll be here for a good while; and I’ll sure be glad to hear from you Mom; So please write to me Mom. Have Mary to write for you. I think that will be all now Mom.
Dowidzenia Mom —Your Son Matty
My Address : Private Matthew Mlynarski, 29th Division Recruit Detachment, APO # 29, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
October 15, 1942-England
Mom I guess you know why I haven’t been writing for so long. I’m in England now Mom and we got here without any difficulty. Mom I liked this trip; it brought back memories of the time we crossed the ocean Mom. I didn’t get sick this time either. I felt just fine. I had to laugh when I seen the other fellows vomiting and saying how sick they were and some of them saying that they won’t ride a ship back home. They said that they would get an airplane, but some of them said that they would ride a canoe as long as it gets them home. Mom this is a beautiful country. It’s very hilly. Everything is green yet and the flowers are still blooming so I guess there was no frost yet but the weather is pretty cool. The houses are very pretty too. There are no wooden houses. They are all made of brick, stone, or cement. Well that will be all now Mom
Dowidzenia —Your Son Matty
I guess your wondering why I haven’t been writing to you for so long Mom. Well Mom I didn’t have much to write about and the things that I would like to write about I’m afraid would be censored. Another thing Mom, we didn’t have a day off since we came here and at the end of the day I feel pretty tired and I don’t feel like doing anything. Mom I did get a pass last Saturday. I went to town that night and Oh was it dark there. The sure have those towns blacked out. I sure had a hard time getting around. I [was] with some other fellows. [I] tried to find a place to sleep but we couldn’t so we came back to camp. Mom I got the package that Mary sent me. I got it Sat. Nov. 7th and it was in good shape. The cookies weren’t crushed at all and I sure was glad to get it. We can’t buy candy or cookies here. In fact its hard to get anything here. Everything is rationed here. I still can get enough cigarettes though. The most we can get is seven packs a week. And Mom we get all we want to eat in our kitchens. We get a lot of things the British people can’t get. Mom I got your V letter Sat. Nov. 7th and I also got Julia’s and Albert’s letter. Mom you didn’t say anything about Andy. I got a letter from Jane about a week before yours saying how sick Andy was and she said that you were there to see him. That was about the 4th of October. And Mom when you said in the letter I got on the 7th that you were in Harmarville on the 24th and didn’t say anything about Andy; Now I’m thinking that he’s pretty sick since you didn’t even want to write me telling me how he is. Well I sure hope he is all right. Mom please let me know how he is. Well that will be all now Mom and I’ll try to write at least once a week Mom. Mom don’t worry about me; I’m feeling just fine. I think that I’m as safe here as in America. I haven’t seen a German plane yet.
Dowidzenia Mom –Matty
Mary and the kids –Thanks for the cigarettes, cookies, and candy Mary. Mom if you can would you please send me some V letter blanks. We can only get one a week.
Its been a good while since I have written to you Mom and I still don’t have much to write. But I hope you don’t think that I’m forgetting you because I’m thinking of you and miss you more than ever. Mom if your wondering if I’m still in England well I still am and I’m feeling as good as ever. Mom I received your letter this week and I also got the birthday cards and letter last week. Thanks for the cards Mom. I’m glad you liked the roses I sent you Mom. I’m sorry you didn’t get them on your birthday. I thought I had them sent in plenty of time. Mom did you get the flowers on Mothers Day? Mom, how is Albert getting along? I haven’t heard from him since he went to New Mexico. I guess he’s getting tired of writing to me because I’m not answering any of his letters. Well that is about all I have to write Mom. I’ll try to write soon.
So long Mom —Love Matty
This was the first letter dad wrote after the Allied landing in Normandy:
There isn’t much that I can write. All that I can say is that I’m in France. I hope you don’t worry Mom because I’m getting along just fine. I think that it won’t be long now before its all over. The country is very beautiful here and the weather is pretty warm. The French people are very nice to us too. The were so glad to see us that the would even run up to us and kiss us and first about everybody would come out with wine. There is plenty of wine. Well that is about all I can write now Mom. I’ll write soon and more whenever I can. So Long Mom
Dear Sister Regina,
Well Regina I’m still in the front line. For how long I don’t know, but maybe it won’t be long now before were relieved. I don’t think that this war will last much longer. I don’t know how the Germans can stand the beating there taking now. Our planes are flying all day long and every day and I haven’t seen a German plane yet. They have a couple of planes flying around at night but they won’t come out in the daytime so I don’t think the Germans have much of an air force. For every shell the Germans throw at us we give them back a thousand. Once we get it straightened out and get more men and equipment I think that we’ll be moving pretty fast, and the Russians are starting to move now too so it looks as if this war might be over this year. It can’t be any t soon because I think I had enough of it already. The days seem like weeks and I’m longing to see home more than ever, but I am getting along OK Regina and I get plenty to eat. I’m eating every few minutes and I get plenty of cigarettes. Well that will be all now Regina and I will try to write soon again either to you or Jane. I had a letter from you yesterday Regina and you can’t write any to often.
Your brother —Matty
I don’t have much to write but I have some time today so I thought I’d better write a few lines to let you know how I’m getting along. Well I’m getting along pretty good Mom but I can still use that soft bed and some good food and a good bath. Mom we have taken St. Lo yesterday so we expect to get relieved soon now. For how long I don’t know. I hope it will be soon. It seems that I’ve been here for months already. Well that will be all now Mom and Mom I’ve been promoted to Staff Sergeant. I try to write soon again.
So Long Mom —Your son Matty
This letter was written just after the fall of St. Lô on July 18, 1944. The town was take at a cost of 3000 casualties in the 29th Division and more than 2000 in the 35th. The date July 13 stood out in his mind as a bad day for his regiment. Dad told me a story about his number one gunner George Johnston (he thinks was from Cleveland). Dad shared a foxhole with him the whole day of July 12. On the 13th during some heavy shelling, George looked at the men of the squad and said “You boys look scared today.” Shortly after, an artillery shell hit George and he was gone. Dad believes the shell, based on the direction, was “friendly fire”. The 175th Regiment, 3rd Battalion moved down the Bayeux Highway (modern day D972) just East of St. Lô. On the 16th the Battalion faced a German counterattack along the highway. Two of the men in his squad were killed that day in a drainage ditch.
We were relieved three days ago and we’re a good ways from the front. It’s pretty quiet here but we’re still dug in and we have our tents over our holes. I’m all cleaned up now and I feel pretty good now. We have showers here and we also sent our clothes to the laundry the first day and we got them today. We have movies once a day too and the Red Cross Club mobil is here too. Our kitchen is with us so we’re getting fed pretty good. Today is Sunday Mom and most of the fellows are writing letters. Some are playing ball and some [are] getting haircuts. We had breakfast at 8:30 this morning. We had pancakes, bacon, cereal and coffee. At 10 O’clock just about everybody went to church. Oh yes, I went to church too Mom and I went to communion too. The mass was outside in an apple orchard. When we came from church it was about dinner time. For dinner we had pork chops, potatoes, beans, bread, jam,, peaches, and coffee. It’s about 3 O’clock now so I think I’ll shave yet before supper and go to a movie after supper. We’re not in town Mom, our theater is a big barn but it’s all right. Mom I don’t know when we’re going back to the front, but I think we’ll be here awhile. When we do go back we won’t have it so bad because our biggest job is done and from now on I think planes and tanks will do most of the fighting. I think that it won’t be long now that this war will be over. They’re starting to revolt in Germany and Goebbels is asking the Allies to ease the peace terms. So I think the Germans had enough already and I can’t see how they took it this long, with thousands of planes bombing them day and night. Mom you should see what damage a few planes can do. Well that will be all now Mom. I will write soon again and Mom don’t worry about me.
So long Mom —Your son Matty
Mark also sent us the following picture of his dad with some fellow “29’ers” taken in Penzance, England prior to D-Day. Several of the men are identified, but we need your help in identifying the others. If you know who any of the other soldiers are, please send an email to Mark Mlynarski
Thanks again Mark, for sharing these special letters and picture with us. They are a testimony to the huge debt which we owe our veterans and remind us of the sacrifice and contributions made by so many during the war.