Transcribed by James Fox, August 2004|
from the Deposit-Coach Fox WW2 Letters Collection
Pvt. Justin W. Buchanan (letter 1/3)
Deposit Class of 1941
Camp Polk, La.
Nov. 2, 1943
Hope you don't mind the monicker as I guess you will always be remembered by me as coach.
It has been almost a year now since that day last January when I came up to say good-bye. At the time I never thought it would be so long until I would be home again. However it has proven to be quite a reality now.
Since coming into the army I realize just how much you tried to set me straight on the ways of live. Of course nobody could tell me anything then but I believe I have learned even though it had to be the hard way. It only took me about fouir months of army life to find out how remarkably insignificient I was. Then I changed my attitude & noticed how soon it was that someone else started getting the details. They can really think up unpleasant ones too.
I can see now that you not only wanted winning teams, but also a team of gentleman. All the rest of the fellows were fine pupils but as usual I was a thorn. Still I think life would be pretty dull if there weren't a few people out of step. - I believe that is my conception of democracy. You see it every day in the army. For example no matter where these Nazi prisoners go they are always in step. Our soldiers someone is practically always out of step. The same thing holds true of ideas. They all think the same way and are set *../ /.. they won't believe us. In fact they say that Germany has the war cinched and all the U.S. is doing is prolonging it. Another thing they like to fight against the British & Americans best. It's like a sport. The way they punish German soldiers over there is to send them against the Russians whom there deathly afraid.
This is the third camp that I've been in since leaving Fort Niagara and I like it the best. It is a known staging ares but all we're getting is range work Maybe we will get to see a little action sometime anyway we all hope so. None of us are looking forward to that day but still it makes you feel ashamed to stay on this side so long. A lot of the men have been in this outfit for 2-3 years & all of our non-coms have about 4 yrs. In.
Time to fall out!
An old pupil
Pfc. Justin W. Buchanan (letter 2/3)
Somewhere in Fr.
Aug. 7, 1944
Here is another one of the flock reporting in to headquarters. Sometimes when I think the matter over, I arrive at the conclusion, that I was more or less the black sheep of our little ? circle. Still life would be rather dull without an occasional problem child. If all kids were naturally good and obedient, then a person wouldn't appreciate the good ones. Just like the weather, I figure. What good is the sunny days, without a few rainy ones?
Received your letter the other day, and really got a buzz out of it. Pretty good idea that mimeograph machine; I used to contemplate on it myself, when I was writing to about fifteen favorite "chicks". Decided maybe the ladies wouldn't approve of such a formal touch, however, so I went on with my scribble. As for us boys though, it serves the purpose adequatly and saves you a pile of work. This I can appreciate, because people who say they write letters for fun are leaning a trifle toward the moron side. (Of course this is just my opinion, and not to be quoted).
Well coach, as you have probablly already noticed; I have arrived in France. In fact tomorrow will be two months, as I landed on D + 2. When we were on the way over, one of the fellows remarked, "we are now on the way to the land of pretty horses and fast women." As yet, all I've seen is the pretty horses, and they were property of the Germans. Oh! France is a great country; it's great for the French. Once I get out of it, I assure you my return will be a "Corrigon job." My desire for a cruise to the continent is about washed out. And if I ever do decide to take one; it will certainly not be in this hemisphere. Yep, the states will be plenty big enough for "Chesty."
From the way you talk, the school does sound a trifle like an amusement hall. Oh! well, you know the modern generation.
You also spoke about the fellows remembering incidents from ball games. Myself, I recall very few incidents, but I always will remember that last football game with Hancock. I think that was the biggest disappointment of my life. I was all set to finish my career with a bang, but a bad field and the 2 blind mice didn't help. Sometimes I tell the fellows about it, and I always get burned up when I think of my longest touchdown run being called back. By the way, did you ever hear from Woody McNett?
Well coach, guess I've probally taken up enough of a successfull high school principals time, so will say so long. You should see me trying to speak this language. If ai don't make Abie or Sammy look tame , compared to my gestulating; I'll eat my helmet.
To quote you, "if you have struggled through this far, you will know it is just-
Pfc. Justin W. Buchanan (letter3/3)
Somewhere in Belgium
November 13, 1944
this is the second letter that I've started to you in the past two weeks. The other was practically finished. But I was interrupted and later could not locate it. Prabally shows you I'm as careless as ever. (In some ways!)
After a long dry spell, my team finally came through with one, and it must be a honey. What do you think of Army this year? Any team that can plaster Notre Dame 59 to 0 is pretty stiff opposition in my mind. If they lose to Navy though, I'll never forgive them. All I hope now is fot the allied team to crush Germany likewise and that I don't have to stay too lnog to guard the goal posts - Franny Shellman wrote me a nice letter and told me he'd been doing a little looking on the west coast. He said he liked what he saw too. Guess Deposit is too small for our generation, anyway they are all gone. Truthfully, I doubt if I ever make my home there, but it was a swell place to grow up in. - What's the matter with Deposit Centrals football team this year? The latest I heard was that out of the first four games they had victorious in none. There goes the old Deposit tradition shattered all to heck. Can't blame it on size, because there certainly six kids in school as big as Percy*, Art Bonker, Bud Beagle* or I ever were. I'm glad this six man stuff came in after us fellows last year. If Keith*, Orvie*, Jack* and I could have played together four more years, we really have had the old single wing formation spinning. - This country would be a poor place for a football team unless they were equipped with water wing. Ever since Sept. 23rd we've been having rain, rain, and more rain. The winter season is practically on us now, & about the only difference so far is a little snow mixed with the rain. Makes it very cozy.
Gosh! I sure felt terrible about Pete Judd. I hoped until the last minute; he'd be a prisoner. Somebody has to make the sacrifice though. War is hell!
Hey coach whatever happened to your little news sheet? All I ever got was the one, and I enjoyed that one a lot.
Forgive this short one; but someday I'll tell you about some things. - You know what I think is wrong with the high school team? They don't have the advantage of your coaching.
[Editor's note : an arrow pointed to a smudge on the bottom of the letter, and this post-script]:
kittens paw; he's our pet, hails from Normandy and answers to the name of "Goofus"
*[Percy ___?, Herman "Bud" Beagle, Keith Hartz, Roland "Orvie" Martin, Jack Bennett.]