email no longer valid
Books by Durham Caldwell
World War II
House At The
How Many Dead Doctors?
(Read this one
ran upon this site by Mr. Caldwell a couple
of months back and after emailing him today
he gave me permission to publish the
following excerpts from Pfc.
letters to home. Also permission was given
to publish excerpts of an interview of Harry
Email sent: Sat 4/12/2008 2:54 PM
I'd completely forgotten supplying the
Sumner County website with Mitchell
Dabrowski's letters. You are free, of
course, to use them.
You might also want to consider the Harry
Carnevale interview excerpt which follows
the Dabrowski letters.
email no longer valid
Ave., Springfield, MA 01119-2701
Tennessee Maneuvers of 1943
Excerpts from letters home written by Pfc. Mitchell J.
Contributed by Durham
Co. I, 329th Inf.
Camp Atterbury, Ind.
June 13, 1943
I guess I will never get a chance to ever come close to doing any actual
fighting this year anyway. We are getting set to move out of here for
maneuvers the 19th for Tenn. to some Camp Forrest. After maneuvers we go
to some other camp . . . I hope it's Camp Edwards. I bet the girls here
hate to see the 83rd move out.
June 17, 1943
I know it will be a tough grind on maneuvers but I'll make it okay.
Please write pretty often because it will be pretty dead up there in
that hillbilly country. I bet they have a lot of moonshiners there.
Somewhere in Tennessee
July 4th, 1943
I expect to be in Tennessee till some time in September. These maneuvers
are pretty tough. In fact it's about the toughest thing I ever had in
the Army. Yesterday we were camping in some woods and got an idea to go
to one of the farm houses and ask them if they could fry us some
chickens. The lady said she would. We told her to fry six. We came back
at night and had the swellest feed I've had in a long time. Fried
chicken, hot biscuits, milk, and raspberry pie. The whole works cost us
$8.00 but it was sure worth it. If we ever come back, we are going to
have her roast us some ducks. The way they live in the shacks around
here is a crime. They are nothing but rough boards with clay pasted
between the boards. I wouldn't live here for anything. But the people
here seem to be very accommodating.
July 17, 1943
I am buying a war bond a month from my pay for my future dreams which I
hope will come true after this damn war is over.
July 30, 1943
Please do not think that I'm going cheap by writing on U.S.O.
stationery. My other stuff got soaked in a recent rainstorm. Right now
we are camping in a little town called Leesville. Only God knows where
that is. It's somewhere between Nashville and Gallatin. You know I'm
beginning to like Tennessee and I'm sort of wondering why.
I bet you wonder how I spend my spare time . . . I wash my clothes, sew
all my holes and buttons on and clean my mess equipment. Just like an
old woman. The good part about these maneuvers is that they last 4 days
and you rest up a little after that
Breakfast: 1 14-oz. can of beans + meat; 1 can containing 5 biscuits,
sugar, coffee powder, and candy. Dinner: 1 14-oz. can of meat and
vegetable stew; 1 can same as breakfast only different drink. Supper: 1
14-oz. can of vegetable hash and can of biscuit and confectionaries,
drink. I'm sick of eating these rations . . . Last week we had a lady
fix us up a short snack of milk, fried eggs, cake, and tomatoes. We sort
of got separated from the rest of the company and decided to take in a
feed at the next farm house . . . We sort of stole up to it and attacked
it from the rear. If anyone gets caught getting food from any other
source rather than what the Army gives you during these problems we
have, can be punished and fined by court martial. They say that, but it
seems like even the looies do it here.
Somewhere in Tennessee
Aug. 19, 1943
It's the same old stuff around here rumors and more rumors. Now we are
going to Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky. Looks like they want to make a
hillbilly out of me the way they keep shoving me from one hill to
another hill. That's about all these states around here are, hills +
I'm still counting the days and they seem to be rolling much faster now
that this is coming to an end. Boy, it sure will be good to sleep in a
bed again. Then, too, I don't know. Maybe I'll have to put rocks in the
mattress to make me feel at home, I'm so used to sleeping on the ground.
We got a day off here today to celebrate the 1st year of 83rd Division's
organization. I would like you to see what a sight it is to see tents
lined up by the thousands out here. Just like a gypsy camp.
Last Letter on Tennessee Maneuvers -
3 miles from Shelbyville
Aug. 26 - 43
There are so many rumors around here that I just don't know what to
write about. After this letter reaches you, I will no longer be in
Tennessee . . . I may go to Camp Breckinridge and then I may go back to
dear old Atterbury. Then too I may go somewhere else. We are going to
run our last problem this coming week, and it looks like after it's over
we will go to Camp Forrest and catch trains for one of the two camps I
mentioned before. Right now we are in Shelbyville about 16 miles from
Camp Forrest. Last night we were at Statesville, about 60 miles from
here. At Statesville, we had the swellest time after we captured it from
the reds. The company commander told us we could go to a Negro church.
We all laughed all through the service. They were singing a song that
had a verse, "We are packing up and getting ready to go." Right now it's
getting dark and the southern Tennessee moon is coming up over these
darn hills . . .
I'm seeing Kentucky on foot. So far all I know is my dogs bark and I
want to go home. 20 miles yesterday, 23 today. Will get to camp
(Pfc. Mitchell J. Dabrowski was killed in action in Belgium Oct. 6,
1944, while serving with the 4th Infantry Division.)
Interview with the late Harry Carnevale
Following is an excerpt from a 1997 interview with the late
Harry Carnevale of Ludlow, Mass.,
who was a captain in the 26th (Yankee)
We went on maneuvers in Tennessee. January, February, and March. Down
there it gets pretty cold. It was pretty rough. All buildings were off
limits. We had to stay in the field. This was worse than combat. At
least in combat you could get into a building. The water would freeze in
your canteen -- it was that cold. The last day, we had to make a march
from five in the morning till midnight. Marched all day. Temperature was
about 35, and it had been raining all day. We still had these big coats,
and the raincoats over the overcoats. By midnight, everybody was totally
exhausted. We were at the river's edge, the Cumberland River. We had to
make a river crossing. When I got there, there was the colonel, and
there was an engineer major. The river was at flood stage. Now it's
midnight. When the moon would break through, you could see the logs and
trees and debris coming down. They had tried all day to get a bridge
across, but they'd get part way over, and it would be wiped out. So when
we got there, there was no bridge. We had a meeting on the riverbank.
The major said, "Colonel, I recommend you don't make the river
crossing." The three-month maneuver was going to end at four o'clock
that morning. I get in the act. I say, "Colonel, it isn't worth it. It's
dangerous. The maneuver's over in four hours." So he's walking up and
down the bank. He raises his stick and says, "We cross."
So they had these little pontoon boats that they use for bridges.
Somewhere they'd gotten these little three horsepower outboard motors.
Okay, I got in the first boat . . . with 20, 21 men. We started across
the river, and the motor conked out. We're in the middle going round and
round with the trees coming at us. We finally made it across the river.
The second boatload came over . . . 22 men. I'm standing on the
riverbank. When the moon would break through, I could see they were very
close to the edge. Suddenly they went down. Never heard a cry. These men
went down like a rock. They had big coats on, with the raincoats, with
their field packs. Down they went. I had to stay there for two months
while they recovered the bodies.
Those were experiences we had here, in the States. It was rough as
hell. Then we finally got it all together and went overseas.