Sepia Saturday 693. Twelfth in a series about letters from my dad’s brother Frederic Mason Charboneau while he was in the US Army during WWII.
By Aug. 19, 1942, my dad’s brother Frederic Mason Charboneau had arrived in England for WWII duty and sent a V-MAIL update to his mother, Mary (Owen) Charboneau. Much of the letter is not legible, but a few highlights could be transcribed (in italics below).
AUG. 19, 1942, Dear Mom: Well, we finally arrived at our destination. Although I can’t say exactly where it is I can tell you that it is someplace in England…everywhere is real pretty but nothing like the Adirondacks. When I get used to this English money everything will be okay, but right now it has got us kind of whipped.
I am sending my allotment of about $40 of my pay and maybe more. I wish you would deposit it in the bank for me so that I will be able to get it when I come back.…Also, if it is not too expensive, I wish you would send me some cigarettes…Tell everybody that I am fine except that I am too far away from home…That is about all for now. Fred
Second report from England
About a week later, Uncle Fred wrote his next regular letter from England on Aug. 25, 1942, as transcribed below:
SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND, AUG. 25, 1942. Dear Mom: How is everything at home? I am fine and feeling very good. The only trouble with this place is that there is no place much to go. The weather is fair although we have had some California Fog about every day that we have been here.
None of our equipment has arrived as yet so we are taking things pretty easy, but I am afraid when the stuff does come, we will be up to our knees in work.
Some mail has already arrived from the states but as yet I have not received any. Have you written lately. That is any time since the First of August. The mail that was received was dated from the first to the tenth, so the service isn’t too bad.
Where are Gilbert and Claude?
Have any other fellows come over that I know that you have heard of. Where is Gilbert now? Also is Claude still at Camp Upton? How does he like army life. He is probably used to it by now if he isn’t he should be. I suppose this letter don’t make much sense but after all there isn’t much that we can write about.
By the way did you receive that V letter? That is one of those letters that they photograph and mail for us. I expect sometime in the near future to get a three-day pass. I will probably go to London and look the place over.
Never mind sending the cigarettes. We can now get them at our canteen for about twelve cents a pack (American Cigarettes). So there is no use of you sending them and running the chance of them getting lost.
Well, I guess that is all for this time. Write often and hoping to hear from you soon. Your loving son, Fred
A spectrum of sentiments
I love these two early letters from Uncle Fred because they touch on the spectrum of sentiments and challenges that many WWII service people likely experienced at first.
Being far from home (perhaps for the first time), getting oriented in new places, adjusting to unfamiliar cultures, currency and climates while simultaneously missing home, family and friends — all this is captured in these two brief August 1942 letters from Uncle Fred.
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