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In 1943 I was drafted into World War 11 right out of Madison High School, Rochester, NY. This is my story as told in the letters I wrote home. They’re all here, all 192 of them. Spend some time with me as I describe my experiences in basic training and then off to war. They were written in an attempt to help me feel close to my family and to let them know what was going on in my life. It’s the first time I was away from home and I have to confess that I was homesick. My folks were Esther and Jacob Kaplow. We were four children in this order: Arnette, Ruth, Bob, and myself.

Happy New Year

This is Ben's first letter home in 1944.  Basic training will continue until he ships out in August.  He is now at Camp Campbell, Kentucky.  He arrived there to continue his basic training after a December furlough with his family.  Making a telephone call home in 1944 was difficult so letter writing became very important.

January 1, 1944
Saturday Night

Dear Folks,
Happy New Year!!!  I hope you spent a nice New Year’s Eve.  As for me, I didn’t wait up to see the New Year in.  I went to a lousy U.S.O. show and then up to the service club where nothing was doing & then on to the barracks.  Half the camp was stinking drunk.  I guess they can buy liquor at one of the outside gates.

Well, I’ve finally been assigned, and I think I got a pretty lucky break compared to some of the fellows that were put in rifle companies, heavy weapons and mortar platoons.  They say that the job I’ve been assigned to, although it’s no cinch, is one of the easiest in the headquarters company.  I’m in the message center, up in Battalion Headquarters.  It’s where all the messages come down from higher headquarters & we have to pass them down.  I haven’t been over there yet but it’s where all the officers are.  You know, the Colonels & Majors & Captains.

It may sound like an easy job to you, but get that idea out of your head.  There will be plenty of opportunities to goof off, and if I do, it’s just too bad for me.  I might possibly go to school for a couple of weeks, but nothing is definite yet.  Nothing around here is very definite.  It’s not at all like Camp Croft.  The job gets tougher when we go out on maneuvers, cause it’s the nerve center of the whole thing.  I hope I can make good at it.  There is one other fellow from U. Conn that has been assigned here with me.  He’s a Jewish fellow from the Bronx.  He’s a nice fellow, life of the party and all that, but he was the number one goof off of Company B at Croft.  I hope he makes out all right here.

Haven’t done anything since I got here except wash the floor once.  Just been taking it easy.  We went over to look up another Jewish fellow that came down with us.  He’s in another regiment, assigned to a mortar squad.  I really feel sorry for him, because he’s a fat kid that could never make the hikes back at Croft.  He’s really disgusted with life.  I guess it was just fate that I wasn’t put there.   We’ve been trying to figure out how they assigned us here, because there were three of us whose names were one right after the other on the roster, & we all got put in different regiments & as there are three regiments, I was lucky enough to get into the best job. 

Please send my laundry as soon as possible cause I’ll need the fatigues & winter underwear.  I guess I’ll have to put on that long underwear after all when we go out on the field. I’m up at the service club now, but nothing’s doing.  Nothing to do around here, except see a movie, & there aren’t any good pictures to see.  Could have had a pass to go into town tonight, but as we have K.P. tomorrow, decided not to.  There are two towns, both about 20 miles away, one in Tennessee & one in Kentucky, each with about 11,000 population.  Absolutely nothing doing there either.

Well, that’s about all I can think up.  I’ll keep you informed, if I have time to write.


Write soon.  Tried to phone twice, but it takes too long.

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