Joe Crilley

A Letter From England

[Written to his sister Kay and her husband.]

Sat Morn - 11/4/44 - England

Dear Kay & Bill,
This is the first letter in quite a while but I've been rather busy as you will soon see. On [September 18, 1944] I took a glider ride to Holland and spent the next 18 days dodging 88's and other sundry missiles.Click for larger image On the morning of the [5th of October] we were awakened very early and told to move out as the Germans were counter attacking and we were needed as infantry as the Germans had picked the wrong place to break through. After walking down the road for about a half mile we were told to take to the fields and keep spread out. After we had advanced about half a mile in that fashion a lot of lead started to fly around. The Germans were firing at us but we didn't know where they were so we kept advancing. After a few hundred yards of that we came into a small town that was under artillery fire. We got through that OK and started going through some more fields. By that time we had an idea where the enemy was and we were keeping low in ditches to escape the fire we were drawing. I wasn't low enough and one of the bullets went through the muscle of my back. It didn't make a big hole going in but it ripped a bigger hole coming out. It hit just below the shoulder blade and it knocked me down. I sat still for a minute waiting to see if I had been punctured. Nothing happened so I started to take off my clothes to put some sulfa powder on the wound and also a compress but they started to drop mortar fire near me so I started to go back to look for a medic when I was hit again this time through the right leg. The bullet didn't hit any bone so it didn't hurt much. I crawled back to the little town we had just came though and a couple of Hollanders took me in their house and as I was soaking wet from crawling through the ditches they took my clothes off and wrapped me in blankets. The medics couldn't treat me right away because there were some other men more seriously wounded so they put some sulfa powder on the wounds and left me there. The next three hours were nerve wracking as the Germans shelled continuously and they were landing too damn close. Finally the medics came and took me to the aid station and after treatment I was taken by jeep, ambulance and truck to a hospital in Belgium and then by plane to England. The past four weeks have been spent here in the hospital I am coming along fine and am due to go to a convalescent hospital soon. After a few weeks there to get in condition I'll probably rejoin my outfit. I think that is what I'll do. I'd like to go back to the outfit as the $30 a month extra I get for glider pay will come in handy after the war. I am sending about $60 a month home to be put in the bank as Dot and I want to start off with a little money anyway. I have a letter of yours of the 28th of Sept. to answer so I might just as well answer it now.

I've been in the airborne since last December but I didn't want anyone to know until after D Day as I knew they would worry. Jackie is somewhere in France but I haven't heard from him lately and as I haven't his address I can't write to him.

The latest news I have from home is that the big event is due the early part of December. Dot & Marge seem to get along fine. Boy, you can't imagine how homesick I am. Just between you and me, don't say anything to Mom about it, I am worried with the possibility that I may go to the Pacific after all I went through over here. I can't say I look forward to that.

I remember Miss Kissarde but is she still single? I guess nursing isn't conducive to romance is it? That temperamental bulldog sounds like something we'd have for a pet at home. I guess Mom has a new cat around the house now. Boy, I hope Dot doesn't want a bunch of pets around as I think they are a nuisance.

Bill mentioned in his letter about the possibilities of getting a greeting from the townspeople. When we landed in Holland people rushed out to greet us and some of them gave us fresh fruit, fresh milk and wooden shoes for souvenirs The first town we went into we were greeted by the townspeople who seemed very happy. They waved flags and cheered and had a wonderful time. It made us feel as if we were heroes or something like that.

Beer and other drinks were sadly lacking and I got only a few glasses of beer. The beer was served cold and was very light in color and it didn't have much taste. It was alot better than none though. A couple of days ago I was presented with a Purple Heart. I am going to send it home as soon as I get a box to put it in. Well there is nothing else in the line of news so I'll close until later. I hope everything is OK with both of you. Please write again as soon as you can and I'll answer all letters. Give my regards to Bill and I hope I see you both soon.

Letter From Bernard Florissen

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