Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Postmark: 12/31/1943

Return Address:
Pvt. V. Misitano
Co. A. 350th Inf APO 88c
c/o Postmaster N.Y.

Dec 30. 1943
Thur. noon.

Dearest Mother,

    I'm terribly sorry that I couldn't write a letter any sooner.

   Mother, my trip over on the boat was pretty long but not a bad one. I was a little sea sick the first two days but after that the trip was O.K.

   We didn't do anything on the boat except eat and sleep. We had a P.X. on the boat, so we had plenty of candy cookies and cigarettes.

   Towards the end of the trip we were given a carton of cigarettes, a bag with razor blades, two bars of candy, a deck of cards and stationery.

   I've had one detail since I've been here and that was guard duty on Christmas eve and half a day on Christmas.

   Mother, if you could find out from Joe where he's at maybe Russell Gallagher and I could both see him. The last time I seen Gallagher was back in Fort Sam, but I guess he's here by now even if I did leave before him.

   Mother, these arabs around here are really something to see. They're just the way you see them in the movies with their sheets and turban around their heads, and the ladies all keep a veil over their faces.

   Mother, the last time I heard from you was the last day I was in Fort Sam. I know that you've written mother so I'll probably get all the letters at one time. There's supposed to be a lot of mail in tomorrow so I'll probably get some then. As yet no one has received any since we left the Port of Embarkation. I'm hoping and praying that there is nothing wrong and that you are all O.K.

   Well mother, I'm terribly sorry that I can't write any more now but I'll write as soon and as often as I can. Mother, you're the first one I've written to since I've left the states and every little chance I get to write it will be to you and then if I have time after I write to you, to write to anyone else then I'll do it, but I doubt whether I'll be getting much time to write to anyone else except you for at least a few weeks.

   Well mother, I'll close now with lots of love to you mother dear, daddy and the kids. God bless you all and keep you safe.

   Your loving Son,


   Mother dear, please don't worry about me because I'll be O.K. and safe. Also tell daddy I'm O.K. and tell everyone I said hello.



Supplemental Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes:

Transit to North Africa:

Excerpts from "Draftee Division", The 88th Infantry Division in World War II by John Sloan Brown

(page 75): Beginning 25 October 1943, the units of the 88th Infantry Division traveled in relays by train from Fort Sam Houston, Texas to Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia. Camp Patrick Henry was a secured area, which restricted movements because of space limitations and security precautions. Increments of the 88th departed for North Africa on 2 November ... and 17 December. All these units closed to Casablanca by 27 December 1943.

Once on the high seas...Troops bunked five high on canvas hammocks filling all the space available in the lumbering liberty ships. Safety requirements kept men belowdeck except during daylight, so troops passed the long winter nights belowdeck in atmosphere of sweat, damp equipment, etc.

The trip across the Atlantic took three weeks. ... Attempts to conduct training or calisthenics did little to relieve the monotony. ... Shipboard provisions specified only two meals a day to the soldiers, this because of reduced physical activity, limited tonnage, and the administrative complications of serving three meals a day. Reduced rations were hardly a problem for the seasick, but when appetities returned even master sergeants pulled rank on lesser grades to make the KP list.

Rather than shipping directly to Italy, the 88th would debark at Casablanca, travel by rail to a staffing and training area about seventy-five miles south of Oran, then move by sea to Italy from Oran.

Although the diversion through Casablanca required a 650-mile trip in boxcars through the Atlas Mountains, it had some redeeming features. Several days of rest and recreation at Casablanca were certainly welcome. Casablanca's camel caravans, wrecked Franch battleships, mysterious veiled women, colorful bazaars, and ostensibly off-limits sections received ample attention from the not-altogether-cosmopolitan assortment of draftees.

Close quarters below deck during transatlantic transit aboard ships:

Soldiers above deck on ship trying to get some fresh air, and/or feed the fishes...


Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page