Letters to our boys

(Editor’s Note: This is another installment of The Express’ “Letter to Our Boys,” written during World War II to let “our boys” know what was happening back in their home towns. The Express will bring the letters to you occasionally, thanks to the efforts of Fred and Anna Snyder, who compiled the letters over several years of research and donated a full copy of them to the Clinton County Historical Society.)

July 7, 1945


Sgt. Bob Boob, who had 106 points, a new silver battle star (which few outfits have received) and a lot of yen for home writes to give Col. O’Corn a good sketch of the fighting his battalion went through in Europe.

After landing in England, they were quartered in four different camps before the invasion. While in the British Isles they were bombed by the Germans. Using a skeleton crew of 116 men, the boys, an anti-aircraft battalion, hit the beach and the rest of the gang met them a long time later near Cherbourg, France.

“We then knew what war was!” says Bob. “We had a slogan, ‘Any place any time.’ We had ex-infantry boys and a lot of fellows who learned fast. We went through 15 to 25 towns before we hit Cherbourg, France. We fired field artillery, anti-tank guns and anti-craft. We used our radar on the front lines to pick up enemy convoys — especially at St. Lo.

“What a hell hole! They put so many 88’s and mortars at us, I really do not know how we ever came out of it. A lot of boys got decorated there. We had to pull dead ones off the fields to get in. We had our machine guns in near the lines; our bigger guns on the lines.

“All we had in front was the German infantry dug in; dug in deep. They miss us by a miracle. The same thing happened in the big counter-attack in which they dropped everything on us except their planes.

“We Americans are pretty stubborn when we get started. The American boy never gets hard until he sees a few things, then watch out. Don’t get me wrong; we are not heroes.

“We are in a team, a team that cannot and will not be broken.

“After Patton’s Third Army got wheeling, they ran out of gasoline and rations. Then they struck high water. A week or more passed and by that time the Jerries had dug in.

“After supplies arrived and the advance got going again, there was the breakthrough at the Rhine by the First Army.

“At one time the Third Army’s 101st Division was trapped at Bastogne. There were heavy casualties.

“During this time it was colder than hell. We circled around near the Fourth. They went through and we right after them. The German’s could drop 88s faster than I ever knew anyone could and this was for keeps/ But we pushed as well as the rest and out went the Jerries.

On another occasion ammunition was very scarce, only enough for a few rounds.

“No grub but a few meals of K rations. We came out pretty well than as we went to the Czech border.

After crossing the Rhine and the Danube we cut south.

“At the Austrian border, the doughboys went across but Bob’s outfit remained on the German side and “we are here yet,” he says.

“We have not slept any place but on the ground since a year ago. So you can see how we are looking forward to getting into houses where we can get a good rest. Now we are sleeping in pup tents and your head is in and your feet are out. It is a hell of a place to try to get rest especially if it is raining.”

Thanks for the very interesting letter, Bob, and hurry back.

You fellows know how much you have earned a rest and it is up to us to try never to forget it.

Pfc. Erma Rathberger writes from Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, to send a newly-designed patch for Col. O’Corn’s collection — that of the Far East Service Command.

It is blue silk with the sun at the top, the Army Air Forces wings in the middle and the famed Southern Cross at the bottom. Erma is in the WACS attached to the Army Air Forces.

Says Erma: “I hope you will like it and add it to your collection with the compliments of a native daughter living in the jungles of New Guinea. My Express comes a couple months late but do I love it! It is home to me and all five girls in my tent. I have never met a Lock Havenite here. I met two from Williamsport — the lovely little Hanna girl who died so tragically and a Lt. (Ted) Tomlinson who played football at TC a few years ago.”

S1/c Ross Hoy, Island Route, is in Bremen, Germany with our Navy and is likely to be there quite a while. Col. O’Corn sends out an SOS to all to find out if there are any local boys in the 29th Infantry Division which is quartered there. Ross wants to look up some Clinton Coutny GI’s.


Pfc. Benny Gensib, after overseas duty. Cpl. Harold Keen, after being prisoner of the Germans.

Cpl. Jack Heydrick, after 34 months in Europe. T/Sgt. Donald Nolan, after serving with 15th Air Force in Italy.

Pvt. Hamilton Proctor, after duty in Czechoslovakia. Robert Laird, S1/c G. M. Mill Hall, after 19 months in Pacific.

S/Sgt. Simon Andrews, Jr., Farwell, after overseas duty. Marlin Matter, EM2/c, after duty aboard LST. Donald Naval, PhM3/c, after 15 months overseas. Major Art Arter, after overseas duty.


James Farwell to F/O. Donald Anderson, Renovo to Electricians Mate 3/c.


Pvt. John Deeghan, Renovo, Silver Star. Capt. Clifford Weaver, Bronze Star, with Army Air Forces in CBI Theater.


Charles Strunk, Howard. Pfc. John Bennett, 103 points. Thomas Wilson, Renovo. Col. Lynn Johnson. Pvt Earl Knauff. S/Sgt. Robert Norlund. Sgt. John Yarnell. Cpl. Paul Muthler, Salona. Cpl. Felix Torok, Renovo. M/Sgt. Eugene Englert, Mill Hall. S/Sgt. Anthony Barille.


Thomas Grenninger, Jr., MoMM3/c to Gretta Shultz, June 30. Pfc. Ferguson Stabley to Bernice Young, both of McElhattan, June 30. S/Sgt. Lewis Zimmerman to Barbara Devling, former Army nurse, July 3. Sgt. Harold Tyson to Jale Messina, of Naples, Italy, in Naples.


5,000 visitors at Renovo as whole town turns out for mammoth July 4 celebration including two-mile long parade; Lock Haven, Flemington, Mill Hall, Avis, Jersey Shore and Bellefonte all bend an oar to help make the day the great success it was.

The Lock Haven holiday very quiet.

Lack of ration points and need to give employees vacation force some local eating spots to close.

Ethel Mae Wolfe, 14 months, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Wolfe, Lamar, dies from burns from scalding water. Mrs. Howard J. Beckman,

Fred Tyson’s daughter, suffers broken pelvis at Goshen, Ind., enroute to Long Beach, Cal.; husband and two sons hurt.

Real estate market very busy here, as seven properties change hands.

Thieves busy here: take two bicylces, small cedar chest, alarm clock, 30 packs of cigarettes, and of all things — a whole baked ham.

Ben Hoberman’s junk yard sheds burned down and Ben had to transfer operations to another building he owns; there he found the shed locked and a team of horses inside; police are trying to find the twin Seabiscuits owner.

Price Park swimming beach opens with hundreds on hand to get a sun tan or a sunburn (take yer cerce).


Kelly Shadle’s pacer, Hopeworthy Lee, wins $2,000 race at Roosevelt Raceway, Westbury, L.I., in fastest time for pacers there this year. Roy Goodlander pairs with Williamsport tennis player to win men’s doubles in Williamsport club’s tournament.