Sepia Saturday 690. Tenth in a series about letters from my dad’s brother Frederic Mason Charboneau while he was in the US Army during WWII.
After enlisting then completing WWII basic training at Ft. Niagara in Youngstown, N.Y. — a process that began in January 1942 — my paternal uncle Frederic Mason Charboneau shipped out for Europe.
He was not alone. The scale of departures once the US entered WWII was monumental, as illustrated in the photo below.
New York Harbor was Uncle Fred’s likely departure point and he, too, may have marched up Fifth Ave. on his way to the ship.
Uncle Fred wrote his first letter home (below) while still on a transport ship steaming across the Atlantic. Barred from discussing military matters or troop movements, he focused on family.
First letter home
Riding the waves, August 16, 1942: Dear Mom, I wrote one letter and then found out that I had so much in it that would be censored that I decided to tear it up and write another one.
Well first of all, if I could tell you where I am and where I am going, I could write a pretty good letter, but as I can’t I will have to do the best I can.
Well, I didn’t hang around very long from where I called you that day and right now I am quite a ways from there.
A hint about Welsh relatives
I am fine and feeling good and hope that everything at home is going along alright. I suppose by the time this letter reaches you everything will be pretty quiet and the summer business all over with. Norman will probably be started in school again and Dad running the bus again as usual.
How is “Unc” and his family coming along? Everything’s still peaceful. I hear Bud is going to Syracuse University to learn to be an officer. Well, all I can say is that I hope he gets along all right.
I wish you would write about once a week. I will do the same as much as possible also number your letters so that I can tell if I get them all and I will do the same with mine.
If I get a chance, I will call on some of Pop’s relations although they will probably be hard to find after all these years.
Well, I guess that is about all for now. I will write again soon. The main reason I’m writing now is to let you know that I’m still well and happy. — Your loving son, Fred
Cpl. F. M. Charboneau, 32211022, Hq. Btry., 431st Sep CA Bn (AA), A.P.O. 1278 c/o Postmaster, New York, New York. Letter Number One
Details to come
In his letter Uncle Fred mentions Norman (my father), his dad (my grandfather W. Ray Charboneau), “Unc” (probably my grandfather’s brother Tom), Bud (Tom’s son) — and Pop (my grandmother’s Welsh father, Francis Hugh Owen, who was apparently still in touch with family back home in Wales). And he signs it with his military designation.
The next post will discuss some of the details in this letter from Uncle Fred — including information about his Army rank and unit.
Up next: Unpacking Uncle Fred’s first WWII letter home. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the other intrepid bloggers over at Sepia Saturday.
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