Letters of Major Richard Jamison to J. Vincent Jamison, June 1944
Copies from letter of Major Richard Alvey Jamison, 0-321759
102 Cav. Rcn. Sqd.
A.P.O. 230 N. Y.
June 5, 1944
This is being written just prior to the great occasion. A few more hours and the show will be on. I would like to describe in detail the events of the last few days but will have to draw the line somewhere. As it is I don't know if the censors will object to what I am writing, but by the time this gets to them the invasion should be an old story. Anyway right now we are in a ship in the front line of a tremendous convoy on our way to France. It still seems impossible to believe. As far as you can see, hundreds of barrage balloons flying from the ships - destroyers, battle ships and every kind of craft imaginable. It is a wonderful sight. Every one is all keyed up and ready to go as usual little Richard had to go and do things the hard way and get the grippe. Have been in bed for 3 days on board but am ok today. The Navy Dr. fixed me up with hot brandy, aspirin and a good "cleaner-outer". I was miserable for the first two days. Had my first meal at lunch today, roast beef, potatoes, peas, etc. It certainly was good. Don't worry, as I am glad I got it out of my system now.
The news of the fall of Rome this morning gives an added impetus to our feelings.
I know you will be surprised to learn of my new roll aboard ship. I have been conducting the Protestant services every day. I don't know whether it is hypocritical or not, but actually I am glad to do it as the men really seem to appreciate it and almost every one attends. We have a hell of a fine Catholic chaplain aboard. He does the Catholic part and I do the Protestant. The boat is so jammed that the men sit on top of the vehicles and we stand on the bridge.
There is a dam nice bunch of boys (Navy) running the boat, including a boy from Balto. He lives right by the polo field, next door to the house with the French roof, if you know where I mean.
All the recent letters I wrote you from the field, were written during the time we were segregated and excommunicated from the rest of the world, prior to boarding ship. All we did was eat and sleep. I have slept more in two weeks than I have in years. This will probably be my last letter for quite some time so please, please don't worry. I'll be alright and will write at the very first chance to let you know I am ok.
June 15 V-Mail
Am ok after 10 days of the "Second Front". The glamors of warfare that you get from the radio and press are a far cry from the actual facts.
It is hard to describe it really - excitement, disappointment, hell, fear and all the rest of it. It will be something I shall never forget. Right now (it is Sund.) I am sitting in a woods in my CP listening to a village church bell ringing. An hour ago I was with our troops shelling and machine gunning a church which the Germans were using as an OP to direct fire on us and to snipe at us. The damn snipers are always on us. But we are gradually getting used to it. So don't worry, I'll make out alright.
We hope for a rest as soon as things get a little more substantial. Don’t believe all the stuff about the hardship etc., of the air force. The infantry deserves the credit. Hope to write a real letter soon. Don’t worry, please.
June 22, 1944
This is a peculiar time to be writing you a letter - O64O A.M. With the aid of Jerry I was awake at 0600 and eventually dared come out of my foxhole. "Isigny”, the pup, was asleep right across my neck and objected very strongly to my disturbing him, but he just crawled down deeper in my bedroll and was off again. He really is a sight. He can really see now and bounces around like a rubber ball. He has a back side like mine which he can’t quite control, consequently he falls all over himself. He is a wonderful diversion when things get pretty tough.
As I told you the other day I was going to get a bath. I did too. In a huge old tub in the queer but very pretentious villa. A collaborationist with the Germans supposedly lived there. There were some beautiful things in the house, tapesteries, linen, furniture, and superbly made baby clothes. Unfortunately I got there too late as everyone seems to have babies and want baby clothes. The only thing, outside of a bath, I got was a brandy decanter full of honey. They found an attic full of bees and a brave soul who went up and stole the honey. It was very good on K ration biscuit.
So far I have not changed my mind about the damn "Frogs”. I still don’t trust them, and am not at all sure they are interested in the great fight for liberation. They have been very apathetic to our efforts and "the great cause”, to say the least. However this may not be true in the rest of France. I hope not. All the reports of the terrible starving of the people and pillaging of crops and stock of the farmers is a lot of rot. I have never seen nicer looking cattle, more chickens and ducks, etc. anywhere. England is far more destitute. The thing that has impressed me the most is the magnificent horse flesh - mostly of the draft type but still some riding hordes. However, I think some of them have been imported from Germany or other parts.
I wish censorship permitted my telling you some of my experiences, some rather comical (by far in the minority) and some pretty damn horrible.
Any conception of glamorous adventure had been quickly dispelled. I am ready to fold up my tent and come home as soon as the bell rings. It can’t be too soon. Only fools won’t admit their fear at some time or other. It takes all I’ve got to do some of the jobs - and not to be heroic or pass the buck, the time when I am most afraid is when I have to send someone else on a dirty job, that I feel I should do if I ask them to do it. I am gradually getting a little more callous, and a little less afraid when I’m in it myself. When you are "in" you don’t have time to be afraid. It is before and after. Those are the times when I would give 5000 francs for 3 fingers of whiskey.
Speaking of things to drink, the night before last, Kennett, a war correspondent friend of mine came in our area with a bottle of champagne.
We sat in the dark on the edge of my foxhole and drank it! Good wine is practically impossible to get, however some of the Fr. people have large wooden casks of Cavaldos which is liquid dynamite, much like the torpedo juice we used to get from the Navy when we were in Eng.
My biggest personal mishap of the moment is another broken pipe. I am now on my last one. I continue to break off the stems climbing in and of of HTs and A/Cs etc. I don’t know the solution.
Major Richard Jamison
Washington County Free Library
This is a compilation of letters sent to J. Vincent Jamison, Jr. by his second son Richard. He copied portions of letters and sent them on to Hartle -
October 10, 1944
Dear Pete - Attached is a letter from Richard and I thought you might like to read it - Vincent.
James Vincent Jamison Jr. (J. Vincent) was a long time Washington County friend of Russell Hartle. The letters tell of Richard's experiences watching the landing at D-Day and the slaughter that occurred there. Richard was later a Baltimore banker and headed the State Aviation Administration.
Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library
United States. Army, Biography; World War, 1939-1945, United States; Hartle, Russell P.