[The following letter was written by Corporal Otis Stafford to his in-laws. Dated July 28, 1945, the war in Europe was over, and Corporal Stafford was adjusting to his role with the occupying army in Germany. A veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and an eyewitness to the horrors of Mauthausen, the soldier describes himself as “dead from the shoulders up.” He refers to the Battle of the Bulge toward the end of his letter as “last winter in Belgium.” His experience at Mauthausen, which happened only a couple of months earlier (May 1945), is not mentioned.
Otis was 24 years-old with a wife, Mable, and a baby boy, James, waiting for him back home. I am not that James.
All spelling and typographical errors have been preserved.]
Saturday July 28, 1945
Yesterday I received two letters from you, I was really glad to hear from you again. I also got two letters from Mable and one from Florence, Five in all. It seems like my mail has been getting to me in bunches. For days I will not get any mail at all, I guess that it does not matter as long as it does get to me.
It was nice that Dwight got home as much as he did before moving. I have been wondering what he was getting into. Better him than me if he is getting into the Cavalry. Of course the Des-mounted Cavalry is not what it wasover here, and I do not know where they could use any Armored Cavalry in the Pacific, As for my part I will take what I have as I have saw the Cavalry work over here and it doesnot appeal to me at all. I hope he likes it.
I dought that Dwight will ever go to the Pacific but I do expect him over this way before long.
I am glad you like the pictures I sent you, I sent you one a few days ago that was not very good. In it I look dead all over but really I am not, just dead from the shoulders up_______.
We took it in the basement of the Hotel and I developed it myself. To get a good picture, First you have to have something to work on to get it and that is what we were lacking this time. I will have some more taken later on and I hope they are better.
You ask me about the gardens over here. Yes these people all have a garden of some kind but they are not very large, Some times I think that the reason they are so small is because before the war was over they thought perhaps we would tare them up for them any way. During the war when we pulled into a city and started shelling it it was my delight to get a gun position in the middle of some-ones garden and by the time we pulled out of a position there was not much hopes left for a meal of any kind out of it.
I recall one time of digging 7 fox-holes in a strawberry patch besides having our guns mounted in it.
Unless something is done soon about the food situation over here, I can see where the Civilians are going to get mighty dam hungry this winter as there are a lot of people in this section of Germany and there is very little farming of any kind here as the Mountains do not offermuch farm land, and just now there is very little food comming from the northern half of Germany.
Yes Mable sent me three of the last pictures she had taken of James. They were all nice pictures. Each time I get pictures from her of him I wonder what he will look like the next time. None of the pictures I have so far have any resemblance of the others, Maby he will settle down and decide what he is going to look like for a while. In one of his pictures his teeth showed good. I told Mable that in one of his pictures he reminded me of Hoover from the way she combs his hair and in the other he resembled Roosevelt from the smile out of the corner of his mouth. Maby he will be a Politician when he grows up. Who knows?
It is a wonder that she does not give me a piece of hermind the way I write but I only do it to fill up space.
Just the same he is a nice looking kid and I wish I could be home with him, I do havehopes of getting home this winter.
We had a parade for one of our Generals the other day and he told us that we would have to take the IIth Armored patch off our shoulders for the time beeing and wear the 3rd Army patch.
He said that we would soon be wearing the IIth Armored patch again, I do know the IIth Armored Division is going back to the states in December and we will not be wearing the IIth Armord patch over here and it be back in the states.
General Patton lives about 4 miles from here, some of our fellows ran into him a few days ago. he was looking for a place to fish in a stream that runs by the Hotel. He told the fellows that he had talked to some “characters” from “that 575 AA Battalion.” I wonder just what he was thinking—-. He really has a beautiful house on the lake shore, Perhaps you have some pictures of the lake I am writing about.
Speaking of the kids dreaming about me beeing home with wiskers all over my face. They should have saw me at times last winter in Belgium when I went for 2 and 3 weeks with out shaving and seldom getting a chance to wash. I dought that they would have knew who I was then.
Things are a lot different now, I shave every day at least once and some times twice. Our clothes have to be pressed “and good” all the time. We have three diffrent Uniforms to wear at diffrent times during the day. If you have saw any pictures of General Patton you know what I mean.
It seems that I have just about wrote you a book so will close till the next time.
[signed] As Ever,
Thanks for sharing this. It was like going back in time.
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