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Daley Letters

George Daley Letters

uniformed man stands at the railing of a shuttered building

George Daley was born on January 18, 1922 in Hyde Park, VT, the oldest of three children. His father, who had served in the Cavalry during the Spanish American War, was a mechanic and later owned his own garage.

George graduated from Lamoille Central Academy in Hyde Park in 1939, and went on to study mechanical engineering at the University of Vermont, where he ran track, was a member of the rifle team, and was involved in various student military units. He graduated in January, 1943, one of many young men studying at US military academies and colleges who graduated in January that year to allow them to enlist earlier.

George enlisted in the Army on February 11, 1943, and started his career at Fort Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts, summarizing his movements in letters to his parents in Vermont. Fort Devens was a recruitment reception center, where they "give a few lectures and supply the uniforms." (Daley letter, 2/14/1943). On February 21, 1943, George wrote that he was now in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where he was doing training exercises: "We've fired the .30 caliber machine gun and the new Garand. The other day we put up a couple of bridges. We had a course in making tank obstacles and laying mine fields." (Daley letter, 3/21/1943) On May 10, 1943, he wrote that he was "going to Fort Crook Nebraska for 8 weeks at the ordnance auto school. From Fort Crook I'm going to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. At Fort Wood I'll be in the Engineer Replacement Training Center - it's the same thing as recruit training. I'll probably stay there only long enough to get assigned to an outfit." On July 28, 1943, he wrote that he was "shipping out for a new post this afternoon - I don't know as yet where I'm going." His next letter, on July 30, 1943, revealed that he had been assigned to the 293rd Engineer Combat Battalion in Camp Gordon, Georgia.

On September 11, 1943, George wrote that he was "at Camp Forrest, Tenn. going to an umpire's school." But that was a short-term assignment; one week later, he wrote that he was "leaving for desert maneuvers ... [I] got a chance to umpire for a week before they relieved me and sent me back to my company." On September 28, he wrote, "We came through Tennessee, across the Mississippi, across Arkansas and Oklahoma. From there we crossed the Texas 'panhandle' to New Mexico. Sunday morning we were in El Paso, Texas. ... From El Paso we crossed New Mexico and Arizona. We left our train in Yuma, Arizona and rode by truck to our present area ... in California." On December 11, 1943, George wrote, "We just came back from 3 weeks of maneuvers which took me through California, Nevada and Arizona." George stayed in the Desert Training Center until April, and his new assignment with the 406th Engineer Combat Company was revealed in his letter on April 14, 1944.

George served with the 406th in the European theatre as a lieutenant. His first letter in England was dated July 7, 1944. He was in France by the time he wrote his July 23, 1944 letter, and in Luxembourg by the time he wrote his October 2, 1944 letter. He returned to the United states in August of 1945.

soldier in uniform standing stiffly, outdoors

February 21, 1943

Everything is strictly Army style here. You get up at 5:45 in the morning and go to bed at 10:30 at nite. Every minuet (sic) of that time you’re on the go. You don’t even have time to blow your nose.

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man in dark clothing standing in front of a barn with sun shining behind him

July 28, 1943

I was assigned to a training unit this morning but I had only been there about 10 minutes before my assignment was cancelled. I don’t what the story is but I think I’m shipping out for a new post this afternoon – if you don’t hear from me for awhile don’t worry – I don’t know as yet where I’m going and it may be possible I’ll stay here – This place isn’t the ideal post and I don’t mind leaving it at all – yesterday it was about 112° when we arrived.

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man in uniform with a helmet under his right arm, in front of a house

September 18, 1943

I have some news for you this time – by the time you get this letter I’ll be on my way to the West Coast.  Tomorrow we are leaving for desert maneuvers.  Just where I’m not sure but it’ll probably be either California or Arizona.  As to how long they’ll last it’s rather vague – probably from 1 month till 2 months.

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man in coat and gloves standing in front of a house

September 28, 1943

We came through Tennessee, across the Mississippi, across Arkansas and Oklahoma.  From there we crossed the Texas “panhandle” to New Mexico.  Sunday morning we were in El Paso, Texas. It sets on the Rio Grande River, just across from Mexico.  It’s a pretty city and all the houses are small, one story affairs with lots of bright colours.

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two men in uniform in a jeep outside of a home

October 3, 1943

Everything is running smoothly here, this morning I went swimming for a couple of hours in the Colorado River. I am only 3 miles from Mexico and have dropped down there a couple of times to drink beer and talk with the Mexicans. However they are a wild bunch and all carry knives to use at the slightest instant. Have see a lot of real Indians and you may be relieved to know that they dress the same as the white man and don't wear feathers.

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uniformed man with binoculars hanging around his neck

November 14, 1943

There isn’t much question about Thanksgiving and Xmas this year.  It’ll be the first time in 20 years I’ve never been home for those occasions but don’t worry for there are many more boys who won’t make it this year either --- and even some who’ll never make it!!  As for what I want for Xmas – it’s nothing you buy in stores or other places, in fact money won’t buy it!!

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uniformed man standing in front of a tree

December 26, 1943

Well Xmas has passed and out here it seemed like just another day.  We had the day off but had to work today instead. I went into town yesterday and treated myself to a good turkey dinner -- at least for $2.25 it ought to be good.

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two uniformed men seated in front of a rifle

August 15, 1944

We’re out of Normandy now and that means a lot because of the type of land. I’ve been in both Normandy and Brittany and the latter is a beautiful country --. The French are a great people and really appreciate the liberation we’ve given them.

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two soldiers standing with two young girls

October 2, 1944

This country of Luxembourg is really beautiful and not at all like the States. Very modern buildings in some of the cities and quaint houses in the country. Most everyone speaks German, some French and a little English. They’ve been under German rule for some time and you can’t trust everyone.

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man seated on a curb with a young girl

December 3, 1944

I guess you were wondering about Thanksgiving over here – well I spent perhaps the most enjoyable day than I have in a long while. I was invited to dinner in addition to the big feast we had here at camp. At night we went to a dance where there were American nurses and had a good time. In fact the champagne flowed like water – champagne is easy to get over here – a case of 50 bottles for about $50.00 or less.

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three men, one in a jeep and the other two are leaning on the jeep

January 2, 1945

At New Years we were taking a light rest and had our Xmas turkey for New Year’s Day – New Year’s Eve we fortified ourselves with champagne and scotch and ventured into town to celebrate.

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three men, one in a jeep and the other two are leaning on the jeep

February 5, 1945

While I was in Germany a friend and I found a violin and now we drive everyone to drink by playing it all the time – that is when we get a chance. After you’ve been over here awhile you accumulate the craziest things – while I was in Luxemburg [sic] I got hold of a German “Luger” and if I have good luck, I’ll bring it home.

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soldier stands in front of several piles of flowers left on the ground

May 2, 1945

Just a few lines on this confiscated German typewriter to let you that that everything is going alright and I’m busy as hell…. I can’t tell you at present what the work is but I can say that it is very interesting… After the war the full story can [sic] told.

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uniformed man stands at the railing of a shuttered building

May 9, 1945

Well yesterday was “V-E Day” & the day for which millions of peoples have been waiting so long!!! The war in Europe is over and supposedly the blot of Nazism has been eradicated. Today all gunfire is to cease at 11:00 am and the sounds of peace supplant those of war.

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uniformed man standing on a street in Paris with the Arc de Triomphe in the background

June 5, 1945

You can see by the heading where I am located in Germany – It’s is about 40 miles west of Trier. At present I am outside of town living in a tent only which is better in most respects than living in town – a lot healthier & so on.

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aerial view of a military parade

August 20, 1945

The camp here is very nice especially since we’re about the only troops in it – The thing I enjoy the most is the weather – so far it’s been cool in the morning & evening and not too warm at mid-day – about like Vermont in the fall…

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September 17, 1945

The only news from here is that most of our men are being shipped out this week – I’m going to San Francisco tomorrow with some men, just to see that they all get there --. I’m staying over a few days and then come back here to Pine Camp!!  By the 30th of this month I’ll know where I’m going next. Of course Miss Williams is driving up to get me and I wouldn’t be surprised if this trip turned out with some new additions to the family tree –

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