Skip to main content

Training in the USA

August 18, 1943

Letters from Harold J. Dahl

Letters from Harold J Dahl August 18 1943

Wed. Morning
[best guess 8/18/43]

Dear Mom & Lou,

I’m able to start writing this letter because of our assignment this week - my platoon is working with the 39th Evacuation Hospital, a “gravy train” job if there ever was one. The food is wonderful - milk & cereal for breakfast, all the jam & oranges we can eat - last night we had movies and they have a portable shower we were invited to use and made good use of. I don’t for the life of me know why these medics should complain about maneuvers. Only one thing was uncomfortable - the weather. Monday [8/16/43] was hot as the devil & in the night we had 2 terrific thunder storms that caused a great deal of damage to the countryside. The air cleared off cold as could be and last night it really did get cold. I slept in my hammock with 2 blankets wrapped around me like a mummy in a shroud but still I froze.

As for our works, we gave them a little school yesterday and today we are going to pattern-paint one of their tents as a sample.
Wed Night

10 Soldiers posing in woods with Jeep

On maneuvers in Tennessee, August 1943

Well, now I am in Shelbyville [TN], having done nothing much all day except ride around in the trucks. The Hospital moved down here and we came along. Movies again for tonight - milk for breakfast again tomorrow - boy what a life! This is quite a nice looking town, as a matter of fact the section of Tennessee is quite nice - we came thru Manchester and Tullahoma to get here. Tomorrow we are to hunt for “D” Co. again.

Saturday [8/21/43]

Well, here we are back at the Company again - didn’t come until yesterday [8/20/43] after the problem ended. Now we are to stay thru the next problem and then go back to Meade as far as present plans go. We decided to stay at the hospital on Thursday in order to paint an army tent with disruptive patterns.

When we got back I found Lou’s letter with the money - which I was glad to get since I had a pass, $4.00 I used for myself, $2.00 I loaned Ned Suidler and I gave $1.00 toward a “pot” to buy candy & cigarettes for the Company as a whole. Hovel & I went to Nashville, saw Deanna Durbin’s new picture, bought a bottle of Duff-Gordon Sherry and had supper at the Andrew Jackson Hotel. It was good fun. Speaking of the picture - she sings “Kashmiri Love Song” which is a popular tune down here but no one knows all the words. Will you take them off and send them to me?

I’ll be getting a quite good sum when I’m paid so I think I’ll see about a waterproof watch - the Ingersoll I had rusted on the inside so it won’t go any more.

We had a surprise waiting for us when we got back to camp - the first sergeant - Erickson - had been busted down to buck sergeant. That was quite a good thing for the Company’s morale - no one liked him - and to make things still better, this morning Capt. Stack announced that the new one is none other than my good pal Wm. Lee German. He is the one who was a Director of Art Education in N.J. and a member of our Assembly. -Has a fine educational background - is just 5 weeks older than I am and is one swell egg. Erasmus Beall takes his place as Supply Sergeant. That will put the artists pretty much in control - Here is the way it lines up -

Total #ArtistsNon-artists
1st Sgt11-
Tech Sgt11-
Staff Sgt642
Buck Sgt871
Tech Fourth422

So out of 20 high non-coms, 15 are artists - and some of these tough engineers thought the art boys would be flops!

Mom & Lou’s 2 letters just arrived - the early one had gone astray - was interested to hear about Mary’s [Van Duyne] move - guess all G.I. trains are dirty as sin. Also glad to hear that Charlie made it O.K. - it will be quite an experience for him.

It is beginning to feel quite natural to live outdoors - I don’t know what it will be like to go back to barracks again. For that matter the 2nd Army wants us to stay, but I don’t think we will.

Of course I’ll be eager to get home for a visit - there will be lots to tell that won’t fit a letter.

Well, I’ll be saying so long - we still haven’t been paid - still promises but no dough. It makes life here very funny - even the officers dead broke -


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!