Skip to main content

Training in the USA

April 1, 1944

Letters from Harold J. Dahl

Letters from Harold J Dahl April 1 1944

Camp Forrest Tennessee
Co D - 603rd Eng Cam Bn
23rd Hq. Spec. Tps.
Camp Forrest, Tenn.

Saturday night
[best guess - April 1, 1944]

Dear Mom & Lou,

First a note to you, then another one or so & then bed - tonight I got off at 8:00 and I have all day tomorrow so perhaps we’ll go for a McMinnville dinner - doubtless the last one as this probably is the last letter you will get from Tennessee or from any known location. When we move or to where is unknown but it will be soon, there is no doubt of that.

You can see the new notation of address. Complete it is
Company D, 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion (Special)
23rd Headquarters Special Troops

For the first time since coming into the army I have a “new suit” - all our clothes are carefully checked for condition and fit so most of mine are new - a size or so larger. I am going to try to send my blouse home for a keepsake if I can get away with it. I have had charge of getting the stuff for the whole company, so I think I can work it all right. The only extra stuff I am going to try to take with me is my moccasins and a G.I. mackinaw I “inherited”. I managed to fold it into a package 1’ x 1’ x 6” so it may be possible.

shirtless soldier posing in field with handgun


The box arrived today & was pounced upon by the supply room detail - but there is lots left, it being so replete with good things. We have been together in there pretty steadily, Ras & a few others and I - working every day until at least midnight and once until after 2:30 A.M. Last night we quit at 10:00 for a “break”. How we survive is beyond me but I’m in pretty good shape considering all. The other day we had some particularly brutal shots that knocked out a number of the guys including toughs like Danstadt & Crider but I kept right on going.

Had some fun today throwing live hand grenades at a steel oil drum. I landed one right in it - was surprised how far I could throw something when keeping it around would be unwise. Had a bit of excitement when one guy got his arm caught & the grenade only went about 10 feet - we all were in a sort of trench and believe me we kept way down that time!

Have had 3 letters from Wilda since Sunday but couldn’t get time to answer them or telephone her - now she has gone to North Carolina with a girl friend to visit the latter’s husband (a Captain at Ft. Bragg) so she won’t hear from me until a week from Monday. I’ll drop her a line tomorrow.

Am enclosing a five-spot to cover my books - Lou, you pay the bill and I’ll ask them to send them to Towaco from now on. When all the extra work dies down I’ll arrange to have a further sum sent home each month to put away in the bank for me.

Looks like I’d get there ahead of Walt [Van Ness?] at that, doesn’t it? He’ll be jealous.

That picture was taken in the very spot where Baisden set aside a piece of ground for us. Nice, isn’t it?

Had a nice letter from Claire [Van Duyne] - please give her my best & tell her I’ll write as soon as I can - maybe I can tomorrow but I don’t know. Monday will be terribly busy for all of us.


Please Support Our Ongoing Efforts

The soldiers of The Ghost Army used inflatable tanks, sound effects, and imagination to fool the Germans on the battlefields of Europe. The Ghost Army Legacy Project is ensuring that these men and their accomplishments are never forgotten.

Give via credit card by clicking the yellow “Donate” button.

Or, send a check to:

Ghost Army Legacy Project
1305 S. Michigan Ave. #1104
Chicago, IL 60605

All donations are tax-deductible!