Sailing for England
To All 29th Division Personnel
DO YOU REMEMBER September 27, 1942 – The day you sailed for England? Do you remember having your head turned by an M.P. as you stood in the rain at Camp Kilmer, N.J. waiting to board the Queen Mary?
That so called M.P. was Alice Beard Diehl, wife of Carlos V. Diehl, Co. “C” 116th Infantry, who paid the M.P. on duty at the time 20 dollars to borrow his helmet, raincoat, M.P. band and rifle to find me and give me one last goodbye.
This all started when the 29th Division were all sent to Camp Blanding, Florida, for training to learn how to swim.
Joe Hawkins of Co. C 116th, his wife Eleanor, me and my wife Alice, drove a 1939 Ford from maneuvers in Chesaw S.C. to Camp Blanding, Florida, where we rented a little cottage on the lake close to Camp Blanding. Each night we would get a pass and spend the night with our wives. (One night somebody jacked out car up and stole all 4 wheels and tires.) This continued the full period we were at Camp Blanding.
Finally, the day came for us to leave. We kissed our wives goodbye not expecting to see them again until the war was over. Of course we didn’t know where we would be sent. We had changed our clothes from Kaki to wool and wool to Kaki several times. We boarded the train having no idea where we would wind up.
We rode the rails all-night and part of the next day and finally arrived at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, where we were housed in wooden barracks back of the permanent post with a high hurricane chain-link fence around it.
We were told that we were alerted to go overseas and couldn’t have a pass. But that didn’t bother several of us fellows, we found some old passes and signed Col. Opie’s name on them the first night, but after that the guards wouldn’t honor any pass regardless of whose signature you had on it.
That following morning Joe and I lay on our bunks, and from where we happened to be it wasn’t far to the temporary guardhouse between permanent and temporary barracks where we were. As we lay on our bunks talking and wondering just where we might be going, I saw this disturbance at the guardhouse. Looked like several women surrounded by three or four M.P.s. We could barely hear them, but I did hear one woman say, “don’t touch me or I’ll holler rape.” The voice sounded rather familiar, so I said to Joe, “there are several women at the Guard House and I hate to tell you this but they look and sound like Eleanor and Alice.” I said to Joe, come on lets walk over that way and see what is going on. As we walked and got closer, we could see that sure enough it was Alice and Eleanor. Of course we were glad to see them and had a few hugs and kisses. The Guards were glad to see us also, as they didn’t know what to do with them. The Guards let us talk to them for a while. We couldn’t wait to hear how they knew where we were. Eleanor said Alice talked to my brother Herman, who was supply Sgt. of “C” Co. 116th Infantry, into telling her where we were going, as he had to mark all the equipment.
I asked Alice how they got through the permanent post to find us. She said they found an old taxi driver, who hauled vegetables for the Post, and he agreed to bring them in for $5.00 each trip and to hide them under a canvas over the rear seat where, with the rear seat out, he put Alice and Eleanor. He went through Guard at the guardhouse and just holler “Cabbage for the kitchen”, and on he went without being checked.
While we were talking to them at the guardhouse, I noticed this patch of corn stalks on the side of a hill at the permanent post and told Alice to have the taxi guy bring them there after dark.
They soon left and Joe and I made a reconnaissance of the area, to see how we could get by the Guards and through the fence to meet them in the cornfield. We found a gully not far away that we could crawl under the fence and by watching the guards along the fence, we would make a dash for the gully and meet Alice and Eleanor in the corn field when the taxi drive brought them in about 8:30 each evening. We put on our heavy overcoats and wrapped a blanket around us, under the coat; so we really did pretty good at sleeping out. The taxi driver would pick them up at about 5:00 a.m. and Joe and I would crawl back through the fence and get in our bunks until reveille. We continued to do this for about two weeks and never did get caught! But one night we came pretty close – the fire truck came to our area in the road and searched the area with a very strong light. To keep them from detecting us, we lay down and covered ourselves with the Army blankets. Finally they were satisfied and moved on.
The 27th of September 1942, we had our bags all packed to board the Queen Mary. We were standing out in the open area of our barracks with the rain just pouring down, our barrack bags wet, rifles on our shoulders, just hurrying up and waiting as usual when all of a sudden a hand jerked my head around and this M.P. said, “Honey, I thought I would never find you.” Of course I recognized her, and said, “Honey what are you doing in this rain?” She replied, “Honey, I just had to have one more kiss and hug, my arm is about ready to fall off, from turning heads and saying Goodbye! to the guys. I’ve been doing this for several hours.” I hugged her and kissed her, knowing, then, that I would never find another like her. She was dressed with M.P. helmet, raincoat with M.P. band on the arm and a rifle on her shoulder. She may have not been recognized as a woman, but I sure knew it.
Carlos V. Diehl
The following are letters written by Carlos and members of his family during the war.
93rd Military Police Det.
A.P.O. 508 c/o Postmaster
New York NYThursday a.m.
April 1, 1943My Darling “Sugar”,Ah! Ha! This is April fools day, wish you were here so I could “duck” you. How are you precious? I got a lovely letter from you today, dated March 22, saying you had gotten the pictures of Ann and the kids. I thought maybe you’d enjoy seeing the home folks. Yes, darling I got the name you sent for “our baby” and since you have fixed it out so I can pronounce it, I like it a lot. Sugar – where did you ever get that name?? It is real pretty and I’m sure, should the “baby” be a girl, she will like it. But darn it, it better be a boy! And I ain’t foolin! Nearly every thing I’ve gotten has gone in it, so if it comes a girl, she will just have to wear blue – as I was figuring on a boy. Sweetheart, I got a short note from “Beans”, and I’m afraid from his note, it won’t be long now! You get what I mean don’t you “Sug”? He said to tell you hello and he could assure you – I’d be a good mother for your baby. I guess he was referring to my experience I had raising or (trying to) the kids at home. This is really a beautiful day – makes me more lonesome than ever for you. I don’t know how I’ve lived through this summer but I guess I will.
Remember I love you only,
Be careful darling!
April 1, 1943
Boy! I certainly have a sad dose of “spring fever” today. I really don’t have one bit of energy. But I think I’ll live ha! How are you sweetie? Sure would love to see you, think I’d feel better. I went to bank with Ann and saw Aunt B. on street. She is fine and thought I looked so well. I do feel fine darling and still eating like a horse – You should see me. Ha! Then you’d really think I was a mess! I am going to see “Tennessee Johnson” a movie tonight with Ann. I haven’t seen a show worth seeing for ages. Really the shows here have been awful – so much fighting and war and those pictures get on my nerves and it’s awful to get them off my mind. So I don’t go to see them.I haven’t heard from Dad but guess he is all right. I wrote a letter to your mother, and it was 6 pages long. I guess she will pass out when she gets it. Precious, you be careful, hear, and let’s hope darling, that next April 1st you will be home with “Superman” and I.
I love you “sug”.
Your wife, Alice
April 3, 1943
My Darling Sweetheart:
Now is the time darling, when I really yearn for you. Ann is having a bridge luncheon and the downstairs is full of card tables and women. Naturally, I’m upstairs cause that bridge is off my list. It’s too cold for me to go out (in fact it snowed last night and is freezing now). So I’m all wishing for you. I didn’t hear from you again today – better luck Monday maybe. Boy! Do I wish I was in England, really darling, in spite of the danger and many other things – I’d still be happier (with you) over there. I’d be much happier if I were with you, no matter where you were located. But you already know that! Sweetie, how are you? Is your hip all right sugar – Do please darling take care of yourself hear! So you will soon be coming home. Honey! Honestly this is one day that I feel like I can’t make it through if I don’t see you. Do you feel like that sometimes, Hon? Soon precious, let’s pray that you will be home. I’m fine Sug – still getting bigger and bigger. “Superman” still “kicks” and I believe darling he walks around. Ha! The way it feels. Remember sugar I love you and wish you all the best in the world.
Always remember I’m yours,
“Regards” to Elmer!
April 2, 1943
Didn’t hear from you today sweetheart but I can’t complain as I have been hearing regularly for the past two weeks. Well, darling, how are you, don’t have any cold do you? Are your feet still OK sweetie? Sug, so glad you like your “outfit” and I know no matter what you undertake, you’ll make it a success. That’s another reason darling, I think you’re so swell. Oh! Shucks! If you were only here, we could go on with our plans and get all settled and happy. We can wait though can’t we darling? And just think of the swell times we will have in the future. I can hardly wait. Precious I was in Liggetts today to get some blue satin material for my “baby basket”, as Ann is giving me a shower next week and the clerk said, “You have plenty time to fix it don’t you? You can’t be more than 5 months gone.” And when I told her I was going on my 8th, she said, “Good gosh! You’re gonna have a flea!” Of course, that made me mad and I felt like knocking her out the window. I was real hateful then to her and walked out. After all, it’s our baby and my business. But you know how “snappy” I can be sometimes, don’t you Sug? I’m fine sweetheart and am writing an air mail tonight as I have some pictures to send.
The kittens are fine.Always your wife,
April 4, 1943
My Darling Husband:
Well, precious, I know you feel today just the same way I do. These Sundays always make me lonesome for you more than the other days. I’ve thought as much about you darling and wondered what you were doing. Are you all right sweetheart? I dreamed Sug that you and I were making gardens – so you can see I’m a little mixed up. The dream was swell though darling. But Sug, the awful thing about dreams – they’re just “make-believe” and oh! Such a terrible feeling to wake up and realize it isn’t true. Honey, I’m still all right and still getting bigger. I don’t show up near as big as I am in my pictures, really you should see what a cow your wife has gotten to be! It’s fun though and I don’t mind it at all in fact, I’m mighty proud and can hardly wait for the climax and you come home to us. Won’t we have fun darling? It won’t be as long as it has been and by the time you get this letter – it’ll be even closer. Gosh! But do I wish you were going to be with me, it’s gonna be tough but I can take it! I hope. You know me darling for you I’ll do anything! And you can depend on that. Just be careful and hurry on home darling. I miss you and will miss you more in the future.Be sweet.
I love you,
I’m all for you
April 5, 1943
Feel a little “springy”? Boy, it is a typical spring day but still a little airy. Ha! How’s your health darling and does the hip ever bother you any more? I do hope sweetheart it is all right and won’t cause you any trouble in the future days. I remember how you used to complain about it in Florida but I had no idea it was quite so serious. Darling, I’m beginning to believe I’m not the only “stubborn one in our family.” Ha! Ha! I got the checks today darling – am depositing the large one and guess I’ll hold the smaller one, just in case I might need it, in a hurry. I also got a letter from you today darling – dated March 22. It was an exact duplicate of one I had gotten last week, but I enjoyed it darling even if I had already memorized it before I got it. Ha! Ha! I’m fine darling – getting really pushed out in the front – ha! Could be twins, ha! Nope, darling, no danger of that. You be careful Sug and please take care of yourself and hurry on home, hear! I love you darling and pray for you to have all the luck possible.
I’m always with you – forever
The kittens are o.k. but hungry.
April 8, 1943
My Dearest Darling:
How are you Sug! A great spring day indeed and boy do I have a sad case of “spring fever.” You know, just wanna lay around and make up stuff, get what I mean. Ha! Didn’t hear from you again precious but I always say – maybe I’ll hear tomorrow. I went to the movies last night to see “Once Upon a Honey-Moon”, Ginger Rodgers and Cary Grant. I enjoyed it but have seen better. Then after I went to bed I of course would dream of our “honey-moon” and the days in New York. Sometimes I wonder if I’m all there. Sug, I have to go to the doctor, Monday the 12th also the 19th for X-ray and exam. So by the time you get this letter that will be all over but you can bet I’ll write you every detail. You know that I’m fine sugar, still mean as ever. Is Elmer behaving these days? Well, he better had!! I sure would like to see you sweetheart, but guess I’ll have to wait. I love you darling.
Always your wife,
April 7, 1943
My Darling Sug:
How’s my Sug today? Not working too hard are you? Gosh but would I like to see you. Really darling, you’ll never know how much I do miss you. I have a feeling sweetheart it won’t be so long now – course no one ever knows, but it is a nice feeling to think it will soon be over. I didn’t hear from you again today but I can stand it for a few days but when the days start making weeeks – well, then I get worried. If things were going on in England like they are in Africa – I believe I’d go nuts. But I guess darling that time is coming. We should be prepared for those things but indeed Sug, it’s mighty hard. I’m all fine darling – really sticking out but this last month will be dreadful – so I’ve been told. But I can take anything anyone else can – or at least I can try. So please sweetie don’t you worry about me, hear! I’m so afraid you will, I don’t know what to do. After all, Hon, we can’t help it that you must be gone. It’s quite true that at the last minute – things are dangerous but I’m sure I’m coming out on top – and you can count on that. Let’s just hope darling it is a boy. Ha! That looks just like his Dad.
I love you Sug
You should see the kittens.
April 9, 1943
My Darling Husband:
Didn’t hear from you today. Almost a week now. I didn’t get you a letter off this morning as I had some ironing to do. When I finished that it was lunchtime so came 2 o’clock before I got started writing. How are you precious?? And how are you making out with this Military Police job? Are you still in the office darling? Oh! Heck if I could only be with you – then I could know your duties – as it is, we must act like “strangers”, by that I mean darling I know you’re in England but after all that’s a big county and I never know what you have done or have to do. Then Sug, why must I kick so, after all we’re in war and it wouldn’t be wise for the families back home to know too much. I’m O.K., darling, just get awfully tired. It takes me about 30 minutes to go to the post office – when I used to do it in 10 minutes. So “Sugar” you can see how fast I move. Ha! Ha! I must take my time in every thing I do – I get along very well on level ground but up-hill grades are off my list. Honey – after having always been able to do anything, I feel like an “invalid” not being able to do things I used to. “Superman” walks about 50 miles a day I think, from the way it feels. It won’t be long now. Only 30 more days.
I love you,
Honey, if I could only see you for a minute!
April 8, 1943
I should be out walking this evening in the lovely sunshine, but Sug I’d much rather write to you. Since I know how much pleasure your letters bring to me, I know you like to hear from me often. How are you honey? And is the hip all right now? These spring days remind me so much of our good old times, honestly they really make me lonesome and Hon! I haven’t heard any news at all darling – just the daily “old grind.” Everyone talks about food rationing until sometimes I think I’ll go nuts! I don’t think our town people ever think of how the other countries are living. But you know Staunton, I sometimes wonder if they realize a war is being fought.Sug, one time this stenographer went out to look for a new job and didn’t tell her boss. When she came back, she went to his office and told him she had a new position. He of course had his mind in the gutter and said “Come on in and lock the door and we’ll try it out!!” Get it! See Sugar I’m not improving a bit. But one thing for sure – I love you deeply and will forever.
Your fat wife,
Kiss yourself goodnite for me.
April 10, 1943
My Precious Darling:Sugar, now please don’t worry about your “fatty” wife, hear! I’m going to be all O.K. Eleanor doesn’t know if she can get off to be with me or not. But I’ll find a nurse somewhere. I only need a special, the painful hours before my baby comes. The nurses in the hospital are so scarce and so many women are having babies – it’s all just a chance when they can see you. There were 44 born during March and 35 scheduled to be in the hospital during April – so you can see what our town is doing for the next war. Ha! Darling are you all right? Gosh! If I could only see you, I’d feel 100% better. Sug, Paul (my brother) is in service at last. He was sent to Camp Lee, but I haven’t heard from him yet. Herman came to Staunton this morning and of course called me up at this awful hour. I was mad because he woke me up and he didn’t talk long. Mrs. Dudley said hello, and for you not to worry about me. I was “mountain near” enough to take the pains on the chin. Ha! Ha! Darling I sent some pictures to you so you will be getting them before long I hope. You be good Sug and please be careful and hurry on home, hear! I’m dying to squeeze you.
I love you only and forever.
Kiss yourself for me.
April 10, 1943
My Dearest Darling:
Got your letter today of March 24th – the answer to the letter Mrs. Dudley wrote you of me being sick. Now sweetheart don’t let those little things worry you. Of course it was a shock to you as well as me, cause I’m very seldom ever sick. But we all must get sick once in awhile. I’m still fine darling and getting along as well as one could expect, during my last month. It’s true this one is naturally going to be my worst, but don’t let anyone fool you sweetheart – your wife is gonna be all right and come out on top with a great big boy!! That will suit you – won’t it darling? You never will say earnestly but down deep I believe you want a boy, don’t you?? Hollis and Helen called me today and want me to come to their house for dinner Tuesday. Helen is coming for me. Hollie said he had written you twice but had no answer. But Sug he sent them to your old A.P.O. number. “Superman” must be quite healthy, he sure can jump and move around. Such a funny sensation, but darling it’s great to know I have something really alive that belongs to you. I love you so very much precious and would give my right arm to see you.
Always your wife,
I received Elmer’s note. Ha!
102 South Washington Street
April 15, 1943
Sweet memories, Darling, of our last Easter together, I’ll never forget.I’m always thinking of you and love you truly. Next year, I’ll send a card for “Superman” from his Daddy.
293rd M.P. Co.
A.P.O. 645 c/o Postmaster
New York, New York
From: Mr. Superman Diehl
102 S. Washington Street
June 30, 1943
See what a big boy you have. I am going to be a boxer. Momma tried to draw my hand but you can see what a mess she made. We miss you more every day – Hurry up and finish that job over there and come on home and see us! I keep Mommy on the jump but I always manage to stay two steps ahead of her. I try to be a good boy for Mommy but I am sometimes bad!
I love you!