DMH Spotlight - Warrant Officer Carl's letters, January-June, 1944 Back

Edith Entratter Henry's birthday was "really" December 5th, but she declared it to be January 5th, to make her "a year younger..." The year of her birth is still a mystery. It was officilaly 1905.

"...your happiness is my guiding star..."


Seventy years ago! Carl and Edith establish their correspondence as he trains for deployment. Mostly she is with him, traveling to Tullahoma, TN, Salina, KS, and other as she would say "G-d forsaken" places to be with him. On one move cross-country, he snagged an assignment to drive his commanding officer's car our west to their new training grounds, thus gaining a few precious days solo with his sweetheart...and suffering a flat tire (not so uncommon in those days) and then a miraculous rescue: a Goodyear tire truck coming along at a time when tires were rationed!

 

At another location, Edith, staying at the only decent hotel in town with the wives of the top brass, outfitted her husband with a tailor-made (by her) "uniform" she thought suited him better that the one he had been issued. All met and greeted graciously in the dining room that Saturday night, and first thing Monday morning, Carl was called into the Colonel's office and told "Enlisted men are seen only ONCE out of uniform." Of course, at that point, Carl had not been assigned the rank of Warrant Officer, Jr. Grade (WOJG), which he had by the time he left for Europe.

 

This photograph of Carl and Edith captioned as "Yuma Prison, 2/1/1944"

 

All these tales are told in his rich, thoughtful, and occasionally jovial tones on tapes that have been preserved at the Carl and Edith Henry Special collection at the Du Bois Library, U Mass Amherst, along with the originals of his and her letters from which these have been photocopied and scanned.

 

In the following letter, January 28, 1944, Carl Henry writes about his WO [Warrant Officer] exam and segues to: "Have been changing my socks every day religiously as per your orders...The first day we moved out 23 miles (left camp at 6:15 Monday morning), and I walked every inch of the way- entirely grueling, I can assure you. I developed some blisters but they have healed by now. Lt. Blackman told me afterwards I was supposed to ride out, but he had gone ahead before the march started, so that I did not know different. However, am glad that I did it, now that it is over - good to know what one is capable of doing in an emergency. Subsequently walked 17 more miles ( during the next two days...)

 

The important thing is that we will be back in camp - according to the latest rumor - about noon on Sunday; so hang around the hotel Sunday or let them know where you are....We have shaved once since we came out here...."

 


Carl is not yet a WO so he does not have a typewriter, and has not
made the vow of letter-writing everday: "There was nothing
to write Sunday and yesterday we were on the move all day..."

We see Carl making
friends and eating well, two constant themes of his letters: " ...my
good friend the mess sergeant brought some eggs back to camp with him
and he fried ne two eggs and opened a can of grapefruit sections for
me...."
[Carl remained a lifelong devotee of grapefruit, with narry a
day passing if he could help it, that he did not have a half
grapefruit for breakfast.

[Page 2] Up at 5 a.m. and breakfast at 5:30. We moved out of camp at 8:45 all
on trucks. It was a cold ride. I rode with Lt. Blackman and the
Chaplain (you know him) in the jeep. Strictly speaking the maneuver
does not start til Friday- we will have a px and hot meals till then.
But don't be alarmed- the 21 days has started.....Capt. Owen happened
to be at regiment last night + I just happened to telephone them while
he was there, He seemed happy to talk to me and said he would keep me
in mind on the TPA, said he thought I was very brave to want to do it
again. I rejoined that I could

[page 3] not promise to bring the car through
this time. He did not indicate there was anything to the rumor
[something about Carl's next assignment or position] nor anything
regarding the WO [promotion to Warrant Officer commission] . Have
heard nothing further there. ...How do you like our stationary? The
motto translates 'Willilng and Able' - the device is that of the 319th
regiment....don't want you to worry about me. Will write again
tomorrow. ..
My correct address:
T/Sgt Carl Henry
HqCO, 3d Bn, 319th Inf.
APO 80, Los Angeles, CA.

 


Letter #2 - noon 16 February 1944 [the numbering of letters was a
short phase- maybe a dozen at most.] And not all were kept, either, as
the plan to memoirize Carl and Edith's war experience in this way had
not yet been hatched it seems.Carl has office responsibilities
already. We do not have any letters from the time when, he says, he
was cleaning latrines after being denied his commission as an officer
due to his Communist party membership being unmasked as he was about
to graduate from Adjutant General school]..."Haven't done too much
today - a little filing, a little ordering of our army
regulations....Right now am seated up on a hill in this pass we are
defending [on army maneuver] Wish I had a color camera to take a
picture of these mountains but no cameras are permitted in this
maneuver area. We are maneuvering east of Indio....We were permitted
to bring no dress clothes so pin no hopes on that [they would get a
break.]
The officers could bring Val-PAks = that is why Mrs. M[Mrs. McCollum -

Lt. Colonel Albert E. McCollam, who pinned the Bronze Star on Carl Henry, was himself awarded the Bronze Star in May 1945]

probablyhad hopes of seeing her husband...2. Did you tell
them at the hotel about August Henry?"
[this might be a pseudonym,
as August was Carl's father August Levy's first name.]


[Editor's note: I find it odd that Carl would have made an error in
the year- writing first 1945..It seems Edith was also at this time
numbering her letters.] "Letter #3 - 17 Feb 1944 - 8:00 P.M. Darling: Letters #1 + 2 received from you,
thrilling as everything from your sweet self. Wish you could see me
now, sitting by the fire, writing by firelight, my first opportunity
today. Over in the other gully the chaplain is playing popular tunes
on his field organ. There is no moon....You know how happy it makes me
to know you are happy....try to enjoy yourself to the limit - your
pleasure is mine. Don't have the shadow of a guilty feeling about it
all. Just keep giving me the details that is what I enjoy. ...Sleeping
3 of us in one tent. We are getting 2 hot m
eals a day, which means a
lot. ...

 


Letter #5 - Sunday, Feb. 20, 1944 Sweetheart: Received your letters #3 and #5 today and did they
make me happy!! Your letter #3m was delayed 2 days because you
addressed it to 'Hq Co' and the '3d Bn on the next line. to put 3d Bn
Hq Co all together on the same line with '3d Bn' first. There is a Hq
Co in each regiment in addtion to the Battalion HG and your letter
went there first....

Your letters are so warm and happy darling, they exude real heat and
comfort to me out here. As I have always said, you really write a
swell letter, just as close to a talking letter as any I have read.
Besides yours mine seem cold and stilted, but I am going to try to
improve, Please don't feel guilty to be happy and comfortable, and
constantly offer excuses for same. That luxury is just as much a
source of happiness to me as to you...So forget the excuses in future
letters.

[Page 3] You say in your letter to keep well for you need me awful bad. - what
do you think I need?? ....With many powerful kisses-

 

 


24 February 1944 noon

Letter #8

Dearest One: Received your letter # 8 day before yesterday with Lee's
[Edith's sister's] letter enclosed...Yesterday ws a miserable day and
today promises to be no better. It has rained continuously for 2 days
and 2 nights- you can well imagine how demoralizing and uncomfortable
that is....we had to spend most of the day trying to keep ourselves and
our equipmernt somewhat dry. ...Your cheering words are always
refreshing, but don't fancy I am so in the dumps. Certainly no one
around here has that impression. Possibly my letters from Tennessee
were more animated. The climate was more agreeable, the associates
more on my level, my responsibilities less in evidence, and the
contrast with my immediately preceding status more marked. [Probably
Tennessee was when he was promoted from "cleaning latrines" which he
said he had to do for five montsh after being discharged from Officer
Candidates' school.]

I am now 'sweating out' something I really hope for, which seems so
near and yet so far- I have been tantalized so much in the last year -
perhaps the repeated experience is getting me down.

Before I forget it, Lt. Marshall was just promoted to first LT. There
have also been several other promotions of officers in this regiment,
which I am at a loss to reconcile with the so-called 'freezing' of
promotions. The officers are not able to explain it etiher. Perhaps,
therefore, that freezing will not hurt my progress. However, no
enlisted men have been promoted since the freezing went into effect.
Wish I knew what was going on.

Your suggestion to take my problem up with higher authorities is not
very practical during maneuver activities. However, I am confident, as
you suggest, there will be word soon. Please don't reproach yourself
for having urged this course on me. ...

I returned Mrs. D's [Mrs. Colonel Orion L. Davidson] letter to you. I suppose by now you
have received my letter advising of his promotion to full Colonel. I
wrote a letter of congratulations, but thought is best to send it to
Yuma. ...

I am well but veree, veree, dirty - which always has a depressing
effect on my morale.
Please remember me to the Metzlers...."

 

 


From Edith,[letterhead of Arrowhead Springs Hotel, San Bernardino, CA]

#17 Thursday 2/44 1 encl. Gmas letter

My Darling- Received your #8 this morning and was it ever good to
hear from you - Such a luxury a letter every day for two days....

All I ask is don't take cold. I am sorry now you didn't take vitamins
with you. I'll have the tub filled with hot water darling + I'll
scrub your back and shampoo your hair. Your poor hair. Is there any
left? Jean has asked the cook to bake some cake for you and she is
packing a lunch for me to take on the 'train,' some cake to take to
'the Girls'! I also picked up a silver soldier charm for one of the
girls ...Jean is the most wonderful person I've ever met.

Went to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for lunch and loved it. Saw loads
of celebrities - good food pleasant ....I'll trade it all for you and
Yuma. My darling, just think ...just Wed-Thurs-Fri-Sat-+ then you+I in
one long embrace for hours + hours- do I love it - So keep well + have
faith + know that all will be well - it just cant be otherwise. All
my love always ----Your Wife"

 


[Letterhead of Hollywood Surf Hotel, On the Boardwalk, Hollywood Beach, Florida]
[note over the letterhead] "Clare B Harburg ...April 44...

Meine Leibes Kätchen: - Ich liebe dich..."


San Carlos Hotel, Yuma, Arizona, Sunday March 5

 

Dear Ones All:

Just arrived back yesterday from the three-week desert  maneuvers to find stacks of mail...Therefore am writing this letter in five copies with distribution as follows: One to Florida [for his parents Clara and August Levy and grandparents Flora and Emil Huttenbauer] one to Poughkeepsie [ for his sister Emilie Jane, 11 years his junior, a student at Vassar college] one to Lee in New York (for remailing to Ludwig )[ Edith’s sister’s husband], one to 690 [ 690 North Crescent Ave.,Cincinnati, the family home where three generations lived together] and one to Sam and Fanny [Huttenbauer, Carl’s mother’s brother and his wife].

 

Edith looks very, very well, and seems to have had a glorious time in California, especially while at the Metzlers....Not only did they lavish their hospitality upon her but also gave her such sundry items as orchids, a fine watch, a leather traveling case, and enough vitamin pills to tide her over....Edith tried to reciprocate in some small way by giving them a box of fruit and candy, but they insisted they bring it back to Yuma and give it to her friend Mrs. MacBride ( the Major-General’s wife.)

File source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Horace_L._McBride.jpg

Horace Logan MacBride

(June 29, 1894 – November 14, 1962)

From April 1942 to March 1943, he served as Commander of  the 80th DivisionArtillery. McBride was promoted to Brigadier General in May 1942.

He assumed command of the entire 80th Infantry Division in 1943 and was promoted to Major General March 1943.

He served as Commanding General of  the XX Corps from 1945 until 1946

 

 

 

...Our division will be here three more weeks. We will travel from here to Fort Dix, near Trenton, N.J., where we will be installed from two to three months. We believe that Dix is, for us, a port of embarkation....Naturally would appreciate your keeping this information confidential , as the movement of any division is something that should not be discussed at all [!] As usual, I am maneuvering to get permission to drive from here to Dix but don’t know whether I will be successful or not.....it would mean a two week leave to make the trip!

 

I want to acknowledge....two letters from Em ( and I got one more from her in the field)  , two letters from Grandma and one from Grandpa, three letters from Edith’s mother, one from Lee, a letter from Len Brooks, one from Ruth Kahn, three letters from Mother, a note from Dad, and a most welcome package of licorice and cookies received from Mother....

 

[page 2] Will try to tell you a little bit about this three-week maneuver. It rained – in the desert- for one solid week. We ate, worked and slept in water. Everything we had was entirely soaked. Fires were forbidden in order not to betray our positions to the enemy, and so, as I wrote Edith, the maneuver was one continuous shiver from beginning to end. Even when it was not raining it was very cold; during the day we were lucky to get one or two hours or real warmth.

 

The first two weeks we defended a mountain pass against the attacks of the 104th Inf  Div; the last week we marched and attacked a pass defended by that division. We marched about 100 miles, but I managed to get out of about 50, due to several incidents. However, I rode about 500 miles in a jeep, due to the same incidents. The first day that we launched our attack, my company commander, our staff intelligence officer, and myself, set out to find a bivouac area for our battalion. About four in the afternoon of that day, having found the area, we started back toward our foot troops, on the march, but were captured by the enemy. We were searched for documents, questioned, then executed – by the firing of blank shots into the air, one for each of us. Contrary to maneuver rules, we went back into action and tried to find our outfit. Getting lost in the desert and having to drive at night without any lights, we wandered about in our jeep until midnight, then threw someblankets on the ground and went to sleep. The next morning we found we were only 200 yards away from our battalion. On the third day, the report reached our division headquarters that we had been captured and executed; and so division ordered the battalion chaplain to find our bodies and bury us. He found the three of us marching along with the troops, pulled us out of the line of march, drove us in his jeep to the Quartermaster Corpse truck on which we were loaded. Tagged as dead, we were transported 75 miles to the Division “cemetery’, which was laid out in very realistic manner....here we were fingerprinted, searched for personal effects, and “buried” , with several of the division chaplains participating. ...We went days without washing or shaving; I did not think it possible to be dirty so long and keep well but apparently that is just as easy as anything else. One day, after two weeks without a bath, they....ran us through showers...with 600 men an hour going through the showers. We were given three minutes to soap, one minute to rinse, and a minute on each end to dress and undress....[Carl used to say that he was told it was “lucky” to “die” on maneuver....anyone who “died’ on maneuver would not be killed in action.]

 

 

Carl Henry writings are Copyright © Diana Mara Henry / dmh@dianamarahenry.com

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The originals are in the Carl Henry special collection at the Du Bois Library, U Mass Amherst.

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