Friday, 12 Jan. 1945

Belgium

Dearest Folks,

Greetings again from this foreign country. Since I last wrote I have moved to another y town near the original, where I am Officer of the Day for the permanent guard. Originally there were three of us who have come all the way from the states together, but recently the other two shipped to another depot closer to the front, so Iím all alone in charge of the guard company. The work is easy, in fact practically nothing to do; my duties consist of being responsible for the guard of the town - and that isnít the least bit difficult. I am around at roll call each afternoon and make a tour of the six posts once each night; also I am unit censor for the out-going mail from the company, but that just gives me something to do so I rather enjoy it.

At present I live in a huge mansion just across the street from the guard house. Itís a three story affair that would make some of these New York mansions look sick. There are sixteen rooms, each, it seems, decorated better than the other, still there are quite a few things still stored in the cellar since the war began. The furniture is of both the old french and ultra-modern type; really, Iíve never been in such a place before. Due to lack of coal, the whole house isnít heated so the lady and her maid spend most of the day in the kitchen and one other small room as a living room. We who stay in the house (only a Corporal and I at present) are welcome to spend our time in the kitchen as I did back at the private home in the other village. In the evenings after supper we gather in the kitchen to write letters, play cards and talk - as best we can, later adjoining to the little living room for coffee and news broadcasts. Yes, she has a radio - one of the best, in fact, better than ANY Iíve seen in the states. The news is given in French but with the little bit I understand and the explanations by our hostess, I get the general drift of the news. Then there is always music from England, Germany, France, Belgium, and the states; as far as popular tunes go, they are usually of two or three years ago but I enjoy hearing them. I guess we spend about five hours together each evening, most of the time staying up till midnight.

The lady has a goodly store of Brazilian coffee and there is a sugar factory near here so I really enjoy the coffee. She always brings out her best chinaware for coffee-time, too, on a silver tray with silver sugar bowl and tweezer-type sugar tongs (for lumps of sugar.) I thought the set-up at the other village was tops but it seems my luck is holding out for the best - at least right now. Oh yes, I sleep in a real bed - with mattress and springs and plenty of pillows. The blankets have all been removed but the G.I. issue keeps me plenty warm. Tonight Iíll go back to my bedding roll so I can have it nearly ready once I get ready to leave, which may come any time now - Iíll just unroll it on the bed, thus making one of those few comforts of springs and mattress and keeping warmer too.

I guess I didnít tell you that our hostess is the wife of a doctor who is head of the Health Department in the Belgium Congo. She owns about half the town so poverty is a long way off as far as sheís concerned.

Iíll close now and clean my carbine Weíve had about six inches of snow with the thermometer around zero degrees so you can imagine what itís like around here.

Write soon and Iíll keep writing too. I havenít received any mail since I left the states and havenít much hopes to until about the middle of March.

Love,

J.Clyde