About Me

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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.

Training Problem

Here is a description of a “problem” which is an Army method of putting into practice the theories soldiers have learned.  When Ben refers to the “hottest” day in this letter, he is referring to extreme training conditions. However, he will mention the “hottest” situations in future correspondence from the European Front.  “Hottest” there refers to the most extreme conditions of battle. 

Camp Campbell, Kentucky
January 2, 1944

Dear Folks,
Here it is, another “rest period” almost gone, ready to start on another problem.  I guess it’s official that there are only two more problems to go.  That’s good news.  I can’t tell you too much about the last problem, because I didn’t go all the way through it.  My luck is still holding out on these problems.  Although I didn’t get to ride a jeep this problem, I got a much better break.

We started the problem Tuesday noon.  It was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining & it was warm.  After marching about six miles, I was tagged a casualty.  (I found out later that it was arranged by a friend of mine.  A Jewish Sergeant).  When tagged a casualty, you are first bandaged up by an aid man that travels with the Company.  I had a head wound & a fractured arm.  I was then taken by litter to the Battalion Aid Station & loaded on an ambulance and taken to the Collecting Station.  From there you go to the Clearing Station.

My luck came when I was tagged because it was starting to get windy & cold.  Just when I got in the warm ambulance to go to the Clearing Station, it started to snow.  It was too late to be returned to our Companies when we reached the Station, so we stayed overnight & slept on the litters in a hugh tent and with fires no less.  It snowed all night and the next day it was cold.  They took us up to Regimental Headquarters, told us the general directions to our Battalion & told us to take off.

We took off, right for the nearest barn.  What would you say if you knew your son was acting just like a beggar?  What else would you call it when you go up to farmers’ doors and ask them for something to eat & if you can sleep in their barn that night.  We didn’t want to find the Battalion until the problem was over, because it was so cold.  So we slept in the hay that night & ate in the farmer’s house next morning.  They were well to do people, owned a lot of land.  The old man was the only Southerner who I ever heard admit that the South was wrong in the Civil War.

We then took off for the Battalion.  We found the water truck & they took us to where the kitchens were, back of the lines.  We stayed with them all day until the problem ended Thursday.  Friday was one of the hottest days we’ve had since I’ve been on maneuvers.  I didn’t get to go on pass this weekend, but last night we went to the Rear Echelon, supposedly, but really went to Lebanon & got a shower.  It rained a little last night but the sun is out now.

Once again, my thanks for sending a box,  Exactly what I wanted too.  I’ve exactly nine more letters to write.  I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I might as well start now.


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