Transcribed by James Fox, December 2004|
from the Deposit-Coach Fox WW2 Letters Collection
Sgt Kenneth J.Smith (letter 1/1)
Deposit H.S. Class of 1936
July 7, 1944
It sure was a pleasant surprise when I received your first edition of "What's What in Deposit". Since that time we have been chasing Jerry up the boot of Italy and before I could find time to answer the second edition arrived. So at last here goes.
As Herb,* no doubt, has probably told you I am in an anti-aircraft battalion (S.P.)((self propelled)). It is a crack outfit too (even if I do say so myself). We have a record number of planes knocked down. In our campaign ribbon we have four bronze stars. Each one represents a major campaign.
We hit Africa in the initial invasion two years ago this next November. We were in combat until Africa was cleared of Jerries. We had just begun to learn a little french and arabic when bingo, Sicily was invaded. D Day was plenty hot at Sicily. We hit hard and didn't quit hitting until Jerry was forced to either give up or swim to Italy. This was quite a swim (even for the supermen) so those who were left gave up.
Then some thing new happened. Italy was invaded and our outfit wasn't in on it. Don't think that this made us mad. We were only too glad to stay in Sicily. We needed a good rest and besides that the Italian or Sicilian signorinas were very friendly. They didn't last long though, we soon found ourselves in Italy.
Then came the long drawn out battle for Cassino. We were situated where we had a bird's eye view of the big scale bombing of the Abbey. What a sight that was.
The battle for Rome was a hurried affair after it once got under way. Luckily we had the opportunity to visit Rome and it's ancient ruins. Of these the colleseum is the most spectacular. St Peter's Cathedral is a beautiful place. I saw Pope Pius XII and shook hands with him.
The collesium looks the same as it is pictured in History C books. Little did I think when I was taking ancient history that I would actually see the spot where some of those important events took place. (This is a small world isn't it?)
T took several pictures of the colleseum, St Peter's Cathedral and victor Emanuel's monument. They came out real well and I have sent them home.
Well coach I am going to mention a certain event that took place when I was playing high school baseball You made me a bet this certain day, you lost and till this day I never collected that bet. Here is the story as I remember it.
It was the last game of the season ("1936") The big game. The all star game, I think it was played at Oxford. Just before my first trip to the plate my coach (and he was a good one) say's quote (I bet you don't get a hit) unquote. So I say's (what do you bet.), and he say's quote (I'll bet you the biggest chocolate soda in Deposit) unquote, I say's again I quote (it's a bet) again unquote.
Well as it happened the pitcher hauled off and let one fly at me. I stuck up my bat to protect myself, there was an impact, I ran like the very devil for first base and was informed that I had just got a base hit. I am willing to bet I was more surprised than you were and that must have been immense. (You can see my spelling hasn't improved).
Every time there after when I would be strolling down Front street and see this certain coach approaching, what would happen? I guess he must have seen me first for he would disappear into a building before we met.
When I get back to Deposit I am going to corner that guy and collect that bet if it is the last thing I do. You probably don't remember this incident coach but so help me it did happen.
Well, I have told you a few of my travels since I left the states. I would have to write a book if I told you all of them and I am sure I never could do that. This here letter is longer than any composition or book report I ever wrote in High School.
Keep up the letters as I am sure all the boys enjoy them. I know I do. We will have a real celebration when this is over. Until then, best of luck to you with your home front difficulties.
*[brother Herb Smith, school custodian who was drafted into the Navy]