In this letter, Billy references Heilwood. He's referring to Heilwood Pennsylvania which is the town where he grew up and where his parents and sisters still lived. He goes on to mention the weather, commenting on how cold was. He was probably trying to drop a hint to his family. The USS Frederick C. Davis was at sea in the north Atlantic at that time which probably was a cold place to be in April!
USS Davis (DE 136)
April 14, 1945
Dear Mom and Pop,
It has been almost a week since I last wrote but our mail won't go out as yet so figured I might as well wait a few days. We have a change in duty and therefore I won't be able to write as many letters as I have been doing.
Wasn't that a great shock when President Roosevelt died? I couldn't believe it at first but after I heard it for myself I was satisfied it was true.
How's everything going back home? You probably have started to spade the garden already since Jack Davidson wrote and told me he got a sunburn from spading his.
Last night I had the 8 to 12 watch and so tonight I have the 4 to 8. Tomorrow morning at 10:30 we are holding services in honor of the late president. Another tribute the Navy is doing in his honor is to fly their flags at half mast for 30 days.
We get paid on either Sunday or Monday. I ought to be drawing close to $30.00. I hope you received the $25.00 bond from the government for the last three months. It was due on April seventh. So I imagine you have it by now.
I'm taking progress tests now for third class petty officer's rating. I take my final tests on the 25th of this month and if I make good on them, as soon as a rate is open I'll get it.
We have a regular silex in the radio shack now so we make coffee on our watches. Sometimes it tastes like mud but we are getting a little better at it.
Has Heilwood won any track meets this year? They ought to have some good little runners this year.
I haven't had the chance to receive any mail or send any out for a week. The weather is certainly cold out.
We have movies aboard about every other night. They are kind of old but they're still good.
Received a letter from Carrie and Dorothy last time we received mail. I guess the school isn't sending the school paper to the servicemen because I haven't received any since I left Sampson.
Well I guess I'll sign off for now. I'm still in the best of health even though duty aboard a DE is kind of rugged.
Write as soon as possible!
Carrie and Dorothy were two of his sisters. Carrie was two years older than him and Dorothy was the baby of the family, five years younger than him.
I find his last sentence, "I'm still in the best of health even though duty aboard a DE is kind of rugged." very interesting. One wonders if this is a veiled way of saying, "we have engaged in battle but I have not been injured".
In any event, this would be Billy's last letter home from the battlefront.
The complete series of WWII, One Man's Story:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8