Veteran’s Testimony – Nicholas C. D’Angelo 34th Field Hospital
The actual date of my birth was 17 January, 1916, but I was told by my Parents that my Birthday was the 18th and naturally all school records and birthdays were celebrated on 18 January, until I needed a Birth Certificate for my marriage at the age of 25, and found out the correct date (Nicholas C. D’Angelo and Isabel A. Martin were married 15 August 1942).
I was born Nicholas Carl D’Angelo in the Chambersburg section of Trenton, New Jersey in my parents’ house located at 404 Elmer Street on 17 January 1916. At the time of my birth the family consisted of 4 boys and 1 girl: Anthony, John, May and Joseph. Later came Daniel and Catherine.
Both of my Parents were born in Italy. My Father, Nicola was born in 1879 in Cassendrino, a town situated north of Naples and my Mother, Lucia was born in San Fele in 1885, a little village south of Sorrento.
The earliest background of my Father’s life was that he served 6 years in the Italian Army during the Ethiopian War between the years 1894 – 1900. Upon his discharge he returned to his hometown to marry his betrothed only to discover that she had died. As was the custom in prearranged marriages, he was supposed to marry her elder sister, who he disliked. So, with the help of his brothers John and Louis, who sent him money from the US, he was able to join them in America.
While living at the house on Elmer Street, I went to the Centennial School up to the 4th Grade, which was located on Whittier Street, between Butler and Bayard (now Roman Hall). At the age of ten, we moved to Quinton Avenue and I went to Hamilton School (now a Bank) till the 6th Grade.
Serving Uncle Sam & First Assignments:
I was drafted in the United States Army, ASN 32069694, on 17 March 1941 for a one-year period and was sent by train from Trenton, New Jersey, to Fort Dix, Wrightstown, New Jersey (Training and Pre-Staging Center). After ten days at Fort Dix, dedicated to paperwork, processing, and the necessary shots, I transferred to Camp Lee, Petersburg, Virginia (ASFTC – Army Service Forces Replacement Training Center) for a period of 13 weeks Basic Training. When I finished Basic, I moved to Fort Devens, Ayer, Massachusetts (Military Reservation), where I got assigned to the Medical Detachment, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division (as a Company Clerk).
On December 7, 1941, the day Japan attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, my enlistment period was extended to serve until the end of the war. During the following months, the 1st Division was sent to North and South Carolina (participation in both the Carolina Maneuvers October-November 1941), after which, the whole Division, vehicles and men moved by motor convoy to Camp Blanding, Starke, Florida (IRTC – Infantry Replacement Training Center) on 21 February 1942, where the unit was redesignated 1st Infantry Division.
On 1 April 1942, I was promoted to Corporal and was sent to Fort George G. Meade, Baltimore, Maryland (AGFRC – Army Ground Forces Replacement Center) as cadre to help form the 76th Division which was activated 15 June 1942, and subsequently redesignated 76th Infantry Division (this was 1 August 1942). The Cadre Training consisted of an 80-hour Review Course covering a number of subjects outlined in MTP 8-1. While at Ft. Meade, I was promoted to Buck Sergeant (in the 301st Med Bn), this was on 13 July 1942. On 1 October 1942, I obtained the rank of Master Sergeant (MOS 502), and on 15 November 1942, I was sent to Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina (ITC – Infantry Training Center) and assigned to Headquarters Detachment, 325th Medical Battalion, 100th Infantry Division (activated the same day).
By Special Orders Number 83, dated 12 April 1943, I, M/Sgt Nicholas C. D’Angelo (ASN 32069694), Sgt Selwyn Dreyfus (ASN 32332435) and T/5 Russell E. Rhodes (ASN 13080621) were instructed to travel to Cp. Barkeley, Texas, to arrive there at 30 April 1943, reporting to The Commandant (Brigadier General Roy C. Heflebower), for the purpose of attending classes, followed by an assignment to duty and a new permanent status.
On 30 April 1943, I was effectively transferred to take a course at the Officer’s Candidate School (OCS), Medical Administrative Corps (MAC), Camp Barkeley, Abilene, Texas (Armored Division Camp + MRTC – Medical Replacement Training Center) with the purpose to attend Class # 20 for a period of 3 months. This was the second MAC Officer Candidates’ School which, initially composed of 250 candidates, was started at the MRTC – Cp. Barkeley, Texas, on 11 April 1942, and which was progressively increased. The first School, designated The Medical Field Service School, was located at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Successful graduates were appointed 2d Lieutenants in the Medical Administrative Corps.
Having successfully completed the course, I was commissioned a 2d Lieutenant (MAC), O-2046938, in the Army of the United States on 21 July 1943 (the same day I took the Oath of Office), and assigned to the 34th Field Hospital at Camp Cooke, Oceano, California (Division Camp). It should be noted that the remainder of the other Second Lieutenants, Medical Administrative Corps, were sent to different units and organizations, such as the 188th General Hospital (Cp. Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas), 276th Station Hospital (Cp. Ellis, Illinois), 99th Infantry Division (Cp. Van Dorn, Mississippi), 40th Field Hospital (Cp. Bowie, Texas), 55th General Hospital (Cp. Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas), 24th General Hospital (Ft. Benning, Georgia), 785th Medical Sanitary Company (Hampton Roads POE, Virginia), 787th Medical Sanitary Company (Hampton Roads POE, Virginia), 758th Medical Sanitary Company, Cld (Cp. Ellis, Illinois), and the 759th Medical Sanitary Company (Cp. Ellis, Illinois).
The 34th Field Hospital was activated under the command of Major Zaven M. Seron, MC, O-313026, on 25 March 1943at Cp. Cooke, California, as a result of the October 1943 Agreement signed between Brigadier General Henry S. Blesse for NATOUSA and Colonel Richard E. Elvins for the AAF. This agreement stated that Army Hospitals of various types were designated to serve the United States Army Air Forces in Corsica, Sardinia, and Italy. The units initially scheduled for Italy were the 26th General Hospital – the 55th Station Hospital – the 61st Station Hospital – the 4th Field Hospital – the 34th Field Hospital – and the 35th Field Hospital. Each Hospital was designated to serve 1 to 5 airfields, which had personnel complements of approximately 3,000 to 10,000.
The cadre of 1 Officer and 24 EM were assigned from the 22d Field Hospital at Cp. White, Medford, Oregon. During the 4-month period of intensive training prior to departure for overseas duty, the unit was brought to T/O strength by the addition of personnel assigned from Ft. MacArthur, San Pedro, California; Cp. Callan, San Diego, California; Cp. Cooke, Oceano, California; Cp. Grant, Rockford, Illinois; Cp. Barkeley, Abilene, Texas; and from General Hospitals Brooke, San Antonio, Texas; Bushnell, Brigham City, Utah; Fitzsimons, Denver, Colorado; Letterman, San Francisco, California; and the 76th, 81st, and 83d General Hospitals.
The 400-bed 34th Field Hospital sailed from New York P/E aboard a troop transport on 21 August and arrived in the Mediterranean Theater 4 September 1943 (Bizerte, Tunisia) and later served mainly in Italy. Lt. Colonel William Beyer, MC, joined and assumed command of the unit on 11 November 1943. After a short stay in the staging area for orientation, inventory, briefing, and checking equipment, the Hospital left Bizerte aboard an LST, moving to Taranto, Italy on 27 November 1943, proceeding at once to the designated hospital site which had been selected by an advance echelon at Cerignola, Italy. The Hospital’s equipment and supplies, which had followed in another ship, were lost due to enemy action off the Italian coast (Bari) on 2 December 1943. Equipment to replace losses began to arrive on 29 December, and the first patient was admitted 13 December.
The Hospital received the following Campaign credits: Naples-Foggia, and Rome-Arno, and was duly authorized to wear the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon and the bronze battle star, signifying participation in the Italian Campaign. Purple Hearts were awarded to 1 Officer and 9 Enlisted Men for injuries received during enemy action involving the unit. One Army Nurse on duty with the unit, 2d Lieutenant Christine C. Dahl, was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for heroism. 140 EM of the organization received the Army Good Conduct Medal for exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity during their service.
With the reorganization of hospitalization early 1945, the 34th Field Hospital (and other units) passed onto the Adriatic Base Command (ABC) on 1 March 1945. The unit remained in Italy until mid-1945, and was ordered to move to the SWPA on 22 July 1945 for redeployment.
By Special Orders, Number 35, dated 3 August 1943, emanating from Headquarters, 34th Field Hospital, Cp. Cooke, I was assigned to join its First Hospitalization Unit (aka First Platoon) on 31 July 1943. I was appointed as Supply Officer (primary duty), Property Officer – Transportation and Utilities Officer – Salvage Officer – Special Service Officer (additional duties), effective as from 1 August 1943.
After a train ride across the country, ten days later as a member of the 34th Field Hospital, I again entrained for another destination which was to be the New York P/E Staging Area, where we finally departed aboard a Troop Transport on 21 August 1943, heading for Bizerte, Tunisia, North Africa. After two nights of strafing by the Germans, we finally landed at Bizerte under enemy bombs. Several soldiers were injured by the bombardment and received Purple Hearts. I was hurt too, but did not report it. We reached Bizerte on 4 September 1943.
We remained at the Bizerte Staging Area for orientation and inventory, and thereafter left port aboard an LST, arriving at Taranto, Italy, on 27 November, from where we proceeded to the selected Hospital site located at Cerignola, Italy. The Hospital’s equipment and supplies, which followed in 21 other ships, were lost due to enemy action, at Bari Harbor, Italy on the Adriatic Sea on 2 December 1943. I was in Bari when this action occurred (the Liberty Ship “Samuel J. Tilden” was destroyed in an enemy air attack – it carried equipment for various AAF Hospitals). As Supply Officer, I had to write various certificates and fill out requisition forms for replacement of items lost by enemy action. Equipment to replace this loss began to gradually arrive on 9 December before our first patient was admitted at the Cerignola station on 13 December 1943. We were originally assigned to the Twelfth Air Force, and later also served the Fifteenth Air Force. All the units assigned to the Army Air Forces, were transferred to the newly created Army Air Forces Service Command (AAFSC), Mediterranean Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (MTOUSA).
|Staff 34th Field Hospital, APO 763 (at 30 Dec 43)|
|Lt. Colonel William BEYER, MC, O-248006||Commanding Officer|
|Major Dominic N. DISILVIO, MC, O-261908||Executive Officer
Chief of Surgical Service
|Captain Lauren J. HENDERSON, MC, 0-334184||Asst. Chief of Surgical Service
|Captain Percy P. COOLEY, MC, O-199763||Asst. Chief of Surgical Service
|Captain Abraham H. DULMES, MC, O-1700465||Chief of Medical Service|
|Captain Marion F. LORANCE, DC, O-306142||Chief of Dental Service|
|Captain Edward P. FITZGERALD, DC, O-290509||Asst. Chief of Dental Service
Unit Fire Marshal
|Captain George W. BAILEY, DC, O-397467||Asst. Chief of Dental Service|
|Captain Andres E. SALAZAR, MC, O-381439||Chief of X-Ray Service
Officer in Charge of Tropical Medicine
Plans and Training Officer
Summary Court Officer
|Captain John J. MASTROPOLO, MC, O-1690256||Chief of EENT Service
Civilian Personnel Officer
Purchasing and Contracting Officer
|Captain Paul T. SOULIOTIS, MC, O-469349||Asst. Chief of Surgical Service
Officer in Charge of Hospital Annex
|1st Lieutenant William R. CULBERTSON Jr, MC, O-419783||Asst. Chief of Medical Service
|1st Lieutenant Wilbur F. BOIKE, MC, O-490350||Asst. Chief of Medical Service
|1st Lieutenant Samuel ZELMAN, MC, O-1703308||Chief of Laboratory and Pharmacy
Venereal Disease Control Officer
|1st Lieutenant Emil S. vonDESSONNECK, MC, O-290793||
Officer in Charge of Admission and Disposition
Officer in Charge of Dispensary and Out Patients
Officers’ Mess Officer
|1st Lieutenant Elmer E. ADMIRE, MAC, O-15445471||
Summary Court Officer
|2d Lieutenant Victor H. WALKER, MAC, O-2047197||Mess Officer
Custodian of Hospital Fund
Unit Post Exchange Officer
|2d Lieutenant Nicholas C. D’ANGELO, MAC, O-2046938||Medical Supply Officer
Unit Supply Officer
|2d Lieutenant Jack L. MECHAM, MAC, O-2047066||Registrar
Commanding Officer, Detachment of Patients
Unit Postal Officer
Special Service Officer
Summary Court Officer
List of ANC Personnel (incomplete)
1st Lieutenant Lois M. HOWARD, ANC, N-731775
2d Lieutenant Florence L. CALDWELL, ANC, N-731283
2d Lieutenant Donna E. CURIE, ANC, N-771101
2d Lieutenant Elizabeth E. GRIFFITHS, ANC, N-731362
2d Lieutenant Hilda B. HANSON, ANC, N-771027
2d Lieutenant Julia J. MANCE, ANC, N-731670
2d Lieutenant Ann SAWCHUK, ANC, N-731735
The 34th Field Hospital operated continuously at the site in Cerignola until the end of the war in Europe, June, 1945. I was promoted 1st Lieutenant on 7 April 1944.
Major Edward P. BRUNSON, MC, O-475624, joined the organization on 7 May 1944 as C.O. of the 1st Hospitalization Unit (replacing Major Dominic N. DISILVIO). Following Officers were further assigned to the 34th Field Hospital: Major Samuel H. FLOWERS, MC, O-1685112, as new Chief of Surgical Service; Captain Jerome C. GASKEL, MC, O-490552, as new Assistant to the Chief of Medical Service; 1st Lieutenant Harold M. GELBER, MAC, O-1533065, as new Mess Officer
Because the 34th Field Hospital was considered essential to the war effort, our organization was ordered to sail aboard a Troop Transport from Naples, Italy, across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Panama Canal to Manila, capital city of the Philippines. The 34th Field Hospital was assigned for duty to the Southwest Pacific Area on 22 July 1945. All possible resources were needed to be sent to the Pacific, which now became the country’s most important Theater of war. Within weeks however, the end of the war with Japan came to an abrupt end. On 6 August 1945, B-29 Superfortress ‘Enola Gay’, flying out of Tinian, dropped an A-bomb on Hiroshima with catastrophic effects. Three days later, Nagasaki underwent a similar attack. Then the Soviet Union declared war and invaded Manchuria, and on 14 August 1945, Japan surrendered!
My tour of duty in the Philippines ended on 15 December 1945, when we left the Philippines aboard another Troopship arriving in San Francisco, United States, five days later. After another train trip across the country, I arrived at Fort Dix, Wrightstown, New Jersey on 24 December 1945. Being the eve before Christmas, we got a seven-day leave of absence. When I returned, I was promoted to Captain and was Honorably Discharged from the United States Army after taking my earned annual leave, on 16 March 1946. My service period lasted from 17 March 1941 to 16 March 1946 – five years.
A Field Hospital was organized into a Headquarters and 3 identical Hospitalization Units (or Platoons). Each unit was capable of independent action if required, at which time it could operate a Hospital for 100 patients. This type of Hospital was classified as a “fixed” Hospital but it could be easily moved and even transported by air. Such medical organization functioned under control of Corps, Army, Task Force, Theater of Operations, Service Command, Army Air Forces, or any other command. Apart from Headquarters, there was a Motor Section, and a Supply Section, with a Chaplain and a Principal Chief Nurse assigned to Headquarters. Each of the three Hospital Units also operated a number of separate departments:
Receiving & Evacuating section
Pharmacy & Laboratory Section
A MAC Officer (Medical Administrative Corps) could be an administrative assistant to the Commanding Officer, the Registrar, the C.O. of the Detachment of Patients, the supervisor of the Motor Pool, the person responsible for the Mess – in fact, apart for his primary duty, he could have many functions in the form of additional duties.
2d Lieutenant N. C. D’Angelo was the Supply Officer of the 34th Field Hospital, a MAC Officer designated by the Hospital Commander. He was responsible for the Supply Section, subdivided into a General Supply Subsection and Medical Supply Subsection. His functions included the following responsibilities:
- The procurement, storage, and distribution of all supplies, general and medical, used in the Hospital, including food and the keeping of appropriate records
- Conduct of the laundry exchange (sometimes a QMC laundry unit was attached)
- Conduct of property exchange at the receiving and evacuation departments
- Disposition of patients’ clothing and equipment
- The installation and maintenance of all utilities
Excerpts of Personal Letters sent by Nicholas C. D’Angelo to his wife Isabel during WW2
The numerous letters written by 2d Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo describe his responsibilities as a Supply Officer with the 34th Field Hospital, his general state of mind together with personal thoughts about the situation in Italy, the war in general, and the tragic late war period involving the Officer’s transfer to another overseas Theater, in lieu of immediately returning home.
The letters start 7 January 1944. At this point, Nicholas C. D’Angelo, MAC, was still in Cerignola, Italy, with the 34th Field Hospital. He was their Supply Officer (the unit was attached to the Fifteenth Air Force).
|Stations in Southern Italy:|
|34th Field Hospital (Headquarters)||Cerignola||13 Dec 43 > 15 Feb 44|
|34th Field Hospital (First Platoon)||Spinazzola||15 Feb 44 > 05 Jun 45|
|34th Field Hospital (Second Platoon)||Spinazzola||15 Feb 44 > 15 Jun 45|
|34th Field Hospital (Third Platoon)||Spinazzola||15 Feb 44 > 15 Jun 45|
Friday, 7 January 1944
The rain we had yesterday practically washed away all the snow, but one can still see snow on the mountain tops.
(on 16 Feb 44, 2d Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo is assigned Unit Transportation Officer, additional duty)
Thursday, 16 March 1944
Perhaps at the close of this month I will get a chance to visit my relatives who live nearby over here. Up to now I have been so busy that I did not have a spare moment, but now I am just all about caught up with my work and if by the end of the month I am free, I believe I will be able to make the trip.
Friday, 17 March 1944
In one of your past letters you closed the letter as follows: “good night and don’t let the bed bugs bite” … If you only knew what a job we are having with bed bugs. I sun my mattress every day, spray my sheets and blankets with insect powder and do almost everything but build a fire under my bed, which I am told helps, but still those little pests are around and do they bite! Some mornings I find my legs, arms and shoulders full of red spots caused from the bites.
I have been sick for the last week … my nose is running, my eyes are tearing and my throat feels like someone rubbed it with sandpaper.
Saturday, 18 March 1944
Your sick husband remained in bed all day and believe it or not I had breakfast in bed this morning … what do you think of that? Fighting a war and having breakfast in bed!
Isabel, like everyone else I’m getting fed up with this whole business. I hope that real soon we will be together again. Wouldn’t that be something; the war over, no more worry, no more lonely nights, no more killing, just peace for all.
Sunday, 19 March 1944
I found out that our recommendations for promotions came back today because someone in the office made an error. That means that two whole weeks were wasted. One of the Officers thinks it was “spite work”, I wonder? Well, they were corrected and sent back in again today (I saw to that!).
Because I have been away from the office due to my sickness, I now have a pile of work … so, I better get started, back to work it is!
Monday, 20 March 1944
I went to work today with my usual enthusiasm, but was I surprised when at about 10 o’clock I was so tired; my knees were shaky and my head was spinning around like a top. Maybe I am not as well as I thought I was. I should take a break, but you know me … I just can’t take it easy if there is work to be done.
After dinner tonight, I walked all around town, in and out of all the side streets, picking out the dirtiest ones. The way these people live is really a sin. Most of the homes have no toilet accommodations, so people relieve themselves out in the streets, backyards, fields or wherever is convenient. Most families, which usually are as large as six to twelve, live in a single room. In this room, one usually finds one big bed or two in the center of the room. The bed is a very beautiful piece of furniture and I might add the only decent piece of furniture. Most homes have boxes for chairs, tables, and etc., but there are some people who have some very beautiful and comfortable furniture. These people around here are fairly well fixed financially and yet their children beg for caramels, cigarettes and candy, not because they are hungry, but because they know the American soldier is very generous and like everyone else, they like to get something for nothing.
After walking around town for an hour, I headed for the theater where the Opera “Madame Butterfly” was playing. It was not a very good performance, and yet I enjoyed it very much, because of the music and the honest effort on part of the singers.
Wednesday, 22 March 1944
This has been a very uneventful day as far as I was concerned. I typed up a few reports, filled out a few requisitions and went to the movies here at the Hospital because I am O.D. (Officer of the Day -ed) AGAIN!
Thursday, 23 March 1944
With the exception of an Officers’ meeting today and a few odd jobs, it wasn’t necessary for me to do much work. At the meeting, we were told the results of a visit by an inspecting General … wasn’t very complimentary!
The war is progressing very favorably for the Allies and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this mess would be over by fall this year.
Friday, 24 March 1944
This has been a rather dull day. All I did all day was to sit in my office and do a lot of paperwork. Although it didn’t seem as though I was doing much, I actually accomplished a great deal.
Tonight after supper, Captain Marion F. Lorance (Chief of Dental Service -ed) and I took another evening stroll. Tomorrow is inspection day and I bet you a dollar to a doughnut that because of that General’s Report, the Colonel (Lt. Colonel William Beyer, CO 34th Fld Hosp –ed) will find faults with everything.
Saturday, 25 March 1944
This has been another rainy and chilly day. Tomorrow is the FIRST Anniversary of the 4th Field Hospital (overseas since 11 Nov 42, and now also servicing the Army Air Forces – with Second Platoon also stationed at Cerignola, southern Italy -ed) and the EM are to have a party, which will include ice cream and cake … I don’t think the Officers are invited.
As for my activity this day … I am O.D. and therefore had to remain in my office all day and of all the days this week, I believe this has been the dullest.
One of the men in my Section received a letter from both his mother and his mother-in-law telling him that his wife is running around with other men. I feel so sorry for him. I don’t know what to say to comfort him.
We haven’t had much snow here, but we have had lots of rainy and nasty days … we had a lot of good flu weather.
Sunday, 26 March 1944
Didn’t do much of anything today. Of course, I put in the required four hours this morning and during our time off this afternoon I took a bath and slept until supper time, ate and took an hour walk and then went to the opera.
I honestly believe that if this coming Invasion (i.e. the planned Invasion of France –ed) is at all successful this European affair as well as the Pacific job will be over this year, but even if because of a few setbacks the Invasion gets delayed, I am almost certain that it will be over in 1945. Oh, pray that this Invasion is successful and also that the price of this victory isn’t too high. Oh, the foolishness of all this! So much waste. And still I am told that the people back home have not as yet realized there is a real war going on. This Invasion will wake them up very rudely!
Tuesday, 28 March 1944
I am glad to hear that you called Mrs. DiSilvio (wife of Major Dominic N. DISILVIO, XO and Chief of Surgical Service –ed) and that she told you where we are located … well, we are not exactly in the town she told you but are in a town about fifty miles northwest of there. Her husband is a fine man and a great Surgeon.
I accomplished a lot of paperwork yesterday and on top of that we had to investigate a few Enlisted Men who acted up at their Anniversary party. It always seems that there has to be one or two wise guys who spoil it for the others. Now the Colonel will not permit any more parties for the Enlisted Men and this morning he ordered us MACs to inspect each and every EM’s equipment to look for knives and weapons and yes, we did find some!
Every once in a while I get very despondent and last night was a very, very miserable night for me … I don’t mind the days so much, but the nights are getting me down…
Thursday, 30 March 1944
Today I drove down to the city, in which Mrs. DiSilvio told you we were located, to straighten but a few supply matters and by the way in my future letters I will refer to that city as “that city” (this was Bari, Italy -ed).
Whenever I go to “that city” it usually takes all day and today was no exception. I returned to the Hospital at five, had supper, listened to the news and then went back to the Hospital.
Friday, 31 March 1944
There is no need to send me any books dear. Special Service has just shipped us 500 very good books (Special Service Division was a subdivision of the Army Service Forces, in charge of recreational and educational activities -ed).
Things are popping around here since that General inspected our Hospital … the Colonel comes around every morning now to inspect and is really taking an interest in the outfit … at last!
I had to take a bath today and was so dirty, I had to fill the tub twice … once to soap up and the other time to rinse off! I am O.D. again and things are pretty quiet so I think I will close and grab a few winks before something happens!
(on 31 Mar 44, 2d Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo had to attend a special Court-Martial as member of the Court)
Saturday, 1 April 1944
Thursday and Friday were two beautiful spring days, but today is very cold and windy. It seems as if we can’t have more than one or two good clear days around here.
I didn’t do much today, but got ready for inspection and also did a little work on my records. I better close this letter before I start crying to you again and I don’t want you to think I am a big sissy, but I am so damn lonely here.
Sunday, 2 April 1944
This evening I attended a U.S.O. show (United Service Organizations serving the men and women in the US Armed Forces by providing traveling shows and boosting the morale of the fighting men –ed). I believe it was #164 … it was a very entertaining group. One thing that impressed me was that it takes so little to entertain the men …. just a fellow playing a fifty cent mouth organ received a tremendous standing ovation. He was called out to play time and time again. He was very good at it and when he played Brahms’ Lullaby these tough bunch of soldiers were so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop.
I know that this war will end only after a successful Invasion, which I believe will begin very soon, if not this month, the next, and whatever success our boys have with this Invasion will determine the length of the war. These coming months will tell the tale … and incidentally open the eyes of a lot of people back home who are having one hell of a good time.
This coming Invasion may only take a few months and a few lives, but then again it may take many months and many lives, but nevertheless, it will come off very soon and it will succeed.
Monday, 3 April 1944
Guess what I had today? A Coca Cola! It was the first “coke” I had to drink since I left the States and let me tell you it certainly hit the spot.
Doing nothing today except typing a bunch of requisitions and stuff. O.D. again! (filling out Property Loss Certificates for items lost due to an act of war to be forwarded to Headquarters, Twelfth Army Air Forces, NATOUSA, for confirmation –ed)
Tuesday, 4 April 1944
We Officers played the EM softball last night or better still, tried to play and today, without an exception, we Officers are all stiff and sore.
Did a lot of paperwork today.
Wednesday, 5 April 1944
More paperwork at the office, steak for dinner and a bath tonight. That was my day. It’s becoming a routine day … don’t even catch hell from anyone. Everyone seems to be happy and healthy, but everyone feels very lonely.
Friday, 7 April 1944
This ‘Good Friday’ in the year of our Lord 1944 finds me in the midst of a pile of paperwork, and from the looks of things I’ll still be at it come next ‘Good Friday’. There were no services at the Hospital today and no one could get off to go to the Catholic services in town; so I didn’t get to church today.
(on 7 Apr 44, Nicholas C. D’Angelo was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, Special Orders, Number 95, Hq NATOUSA, APO 534)
Sunday, 9 April 1944
It is now 0830 ‘Easter Morning’ and it has already begun to rain. I thought it would. We had our usual Saturday inspection yesterday morning; in the afternoon I dug into the pile of paperwork I still have to complete and in the evening I went to see a picture.
I attended church service today and a special song service here at the Hospital. All in all I spent a pretty religious ‘Easter Sunday’. I believe the ‘Easter’ story will have a new meaning to everyone this year, especially we soldiers. Life after Death! Believing that is what makes men face death without fear!
Wednesday, 12 April 1944
Today and yesterday, I was a member of a Military Court. We tried and found guilty two Enlisted Men and I must frankly admit this was one of the most distasteful tasks I was ever compelled to do. But, there are times a man must do his duty regardless of his personal feelings. I really believe that I suffered more than the men that were on trial.
I am helping a very bright little boy of 12 compose a letter in English. He is corresponding with some American boy back home in the States. He is a very bright lad … anyway, it keeps me busy!
I went to a U.S.O. stage show last night and to see “Princess O’Rourke” (1943 romantic comedy movie with Olivia de Havilland, Robert Cummings, and Charles Coburn –ed) tonight. Did you ever register the Power of Attorney and also my Last Will and Testament? if not, you ought to.
Friday, 14 April 1944
I had one of my typical days today … everybody and his brother needing supplies, which kept me very busy, but I don’t mind keeping busy because it prevents me from thinking too much about other things!
Monday, 17 April 1944
Did a lot of paperwork and checking in at the Hospital today, but didn’t go to the movies tonight, so instead I went over to visit the Colonel! (upon his request).
Tuesday, 18 April 1944
Well, today I officially became a first “Looie” (Army slang for 1st Lieutenant -ed). Let me tell you about how the Colonel broke the news of my promotion to me … he called me up and said; “Get yourself the hell over here, I’ve had enough of this foolishness! I’m going to straighten out this business once and for all! Then he hung up … well you can imagine how I felt! I thought the old man was going nuts. I couldn’t think of anything that would cause him to be angry at me, so, puzzled I walked over to his office. When I walked into his office, I saluted, etc. and he just frowned at me for about 30 seconds then he got up and walked around to the front of the desk … I thought oh boy, I certainly must have screwed up … he grabbed me by the collar and took off my gold bar saying, “You won’t need that anymore!” I still didn’t catch on. Then he took a silver bar from his pocket and pinned it on, shook my hand and so forth. Well, you can imagine my surprise! He then took me around from department to department to make sure they all saw my new silver bar. I think he got a bigger kick out of my promotion than I did! To celebrate my promotion, I put in a very hard and long day … I’m O.D. again!
I have a swell bunch of fellows working in my Platoon. They all seem happy and are always willing to work, no matter how late or how long. We’re always kidding one another and yet it’s surprising how none of them take advantage of any situation.
Thursday, 20 April 1944
Yesterday I was so busy at the office that I didn’t even have time to go to dinner and in the afternoon I had to attend a presentation of a Soldier’s Medal to one of the members of the 34th Field Hospital. In the evening, we celebrated the recent promotions to Captain of the former 1st Lieutenants of our outfit. Of course, I had a few drinks, and you know how sleepy alcohol makes me, so when I got home I went straight to bed.
Today, I slaved at my desk, but my efforts were well rewarded, because I accomplished everything I set out to do. I had intended to take a bath tonight, but there is no hot water, so I have to go to bed dirty.
Monday, 24 April 1944
Yesterday, Sunday, I worked in the morning, walked in the afternoon until 1430, when I went to church and then did a little more work, went to supper, watched a movie with the Colonel at night, went over to his apartment for cards and to bed at 2300.
Worked all day today, but it was a much better day. I had a bottle of honest to goodness American-made beer! Boy, I drank that bottle of beer as if it were my life blood!
I am O.D. again tonight.
Wednesday, 26 April 1944
It rained all day today, but the coolness that accompanies rain was a welcomed relief … the days have been rather warm lately!
Yesterday, I went to “that city” and didn’t get back to the Hospital until late, but not too late to go to the movies to see a good ‘ole western.
Thursday, 27 April 1944
I am O.D. again, so I went to the movie out at the Hospital. After the show, I went into the O.D. room, but one of the ward boys told me that water was leaking through the ceiling of his ward, so off I went to see. After an investigation, I found that a pipe on the roof was leaking and having had previous experience as a plumber’s assistant (I worked with a plumber for two days), I fixed it in a jiffy. “Handyman Nick!” That’s me! Now we can use that ward as a swimming pool.
Another one of the men in my Supply Section received some bad news … his Mother passed away. When I think of all the misery there is in living an ordinary life, I can’t understand how mankind can make life more miserable through wars and the like. One would think that because of the common suffering, man would be understanding, and humble and instead of fighting, he would love his fellow men; instead of destroying life, building it.
Friday, 28 April 1944
Today, I woke up sick. I couldn’t eat all day and in the afternoon I went to bed, but I had to give a lecture and take a written exam of the fellows in my Transportation Section at 1800, so I got out of bed for that. Once out of bed, I felt a little better, but still weak.
I wasn’t the only person sick today. The Colonel and one of my Captain friends were also ill and they too had some stomach trouble … but when I stopped by at night to see how they were, they were both up and feeling much better.
Sunday, 30 April 1944
Here it is Sunday and I’m O.D. again and so all day I kept myself very busy … finished up testing the men in Transportation and finished all my monthly reports … well, all but one! At present it is 2230 hours.
Major Dominic N. DiSilvio (Executive Officer, 34th Fld Hosp –ed) is being transferrred and I hate to see him leave the outfit because besides being a good Surgeon and incidentally the only good one this outfit can boast about, he was a decent man … he was gullible at times but still he tried to do the right thing … I’m going to miss him very much.
Last night I didn’t get to do any of the things I intended to….I went to the theater to see Marlene Dietrich in person, but she was ill and didn’t make an appearance, then I wanted to take a bath, but the water was turned off. It’s 2300, so I’m going to make my rounds and then retire, not because I am sleepy, but because there isn’t anything else to do.
Wednesday, 3 May 1944
For the past six days men have been painting the walls in my office and for the past six days everything has been upset, but now the painters are through and everything is back in its place once more. My office looks “spiffy”. Everyone tells me that I have the best looking office in the whole Hospital.
We Officers played the EM softball today and of course we were beaten … I played very badly. Maybe I didn’t play so well because it was the first game of the season or maybe I’m getting old.
Sunday, 7 May 1944
Sunday again … in the afternoon, after putting on my required four hours, I and my two Captain friends went jeep riding out into the country. We took our .45 cal. pistols along and took pop shots at birds every once in a while. We didn’t hit anything, but it was fun! The countryside was very beautiful today and especially one spot … it really had the most beautiful blend of colors I ever saw! Rosy-red poppies, blackeyed susies, tall green grass, violets and a sort of a bluish flower all blended together in one field. With all this beauty in the world, one can’t understand why there have to be wars.
Right after supper, I listened to a rebroadcast of a symphony concert back home … the new Officers who are to replace ours and a new MAC Officer arrived tonight (they were Major Edward P. BRUNSON, MC, (O-475624) – Major Samuel H. FLOWERS, MC, (O-1685112) – Captain Jerome C. GASKEL, MC, (O-490552) – 1st Lieutenant Harold M. GELBER, MAC, (O-1533065) –ed) … now altogether we have four new Officers … now maybe I will be relieved of a few of my additional duties and perhaps have a little more time to apply myself to Supply.
I didn’t have much to do tonight, so I walked out to the plant, drank a bottle of beer I had stuck in the refrigerator and then walked back.
Monday, 8 May 1944
Yes, it is true that an Italian girl will not be seen on the street with an American G.I., unless they are engaged or her family is with her. Just like the Italian girls back home.
Tonight we played softball again and of course we were beaten once more, but as I told you before who cares if we win or lose, it’s a good exercise. Some of the older Officers are plenty stiff and sore tonight, but I was only stiff the first night we played … I feel super tonight.
Went over to a farewell party, we Officers threw one for the two Majors who are leaving us. Didn’t stay long though.
Tuesday, 9 May 1944
You asked me how many months I have served … it will be 37 months the 17th of this month … 3 years, one month. Long time…huh?
The radio I use to listen to nightly was a Special Service radio, but now that we have opened an American Red Cross tent for the patients the radio we had in our room was given to them … I do miss it very much, but I do get to hear the radio in the Mess Hall during meals. We listen to some beautiful recordings of popular music in the mornings, news at noon and more popular music at night. These programs are sponsored by the Army. I enjoy them very much, especially the music in the morning … it starts the day off on the right note!
I am O.D. again tonight, but now that we have another MAC Officer, we will pull O.D. every fourth night, which is not too bad! I think I will make my rounds now.
Wednesday, 10 May 1944
Didn’t do very much today, nor this evening. I took a long walk through the fields tonight, got into a political discussion before retiring and although I was tired out after al my hooting and hollering, I still wrote this letter.
Friday, 12 May 1944
We played softball again tonight, and for a change we won! It really doesn’t matter too much with me if we win or not, because I go out mainly for the exercise, and also just for something to do. Don’t misunderstand me … I enjoy myself when I play, but as far as playing with that old college spirit is concerned … well, I guess I left that at college.
I’m alright, eating swell food, and there is plenty of it, I sleep at least eight hours each night and not in too much danger, so there is no need to worry about me.
I’m in the middle of another inventory. Boy, I’ve never seen any Headquarters like the one to which we are now attached. Every week without fail they ask for a report of some kind or an inventory … it sure keeps me very busy! Maybe, it’s a good thing, huh?
I’m a little tired from playing ball, so I think I will hit the hay soon.
Saturday, 13 May 1944
Today my Supply Section was inspected by a two-star General and in the presence of my C.O., the Platoon Surgeon, and a few other Surgeons of equal importance this General stated that our Supply was one of the best setups he had ever seen. I don’t know how many Medical Supplies he has inspected, but strange as it seems the General was a Medical Officer, so in all probability he knew what he was talking about. Of course, I was pleased to hear his remark, and proud to know that we have such a good organization, but like I told the Colonel, all the credit should go to the Enlisted Men. They are the ones who did the work, I only told them what I wanted done. I have been very fortunate to have such a willing and cooperative bunch of servicemen in Supply. It makes my job so much easier.
Something else of almost equal importance happened today. Captain Dulmes (Captain Abraham H. DULMES, Chief of Medical Service –ed) received his orders to transfer to another outfit. This is the result of his part in having Major Seron (Major Zaven M. SERON, MC, O-313026, former CO and President of the Hospital Council, who was relieved on 14 Oct 43 –ed) transferred. This proves what I have always said: “Happiness can’t be had through the unhappiness of someone else”. In the Army it doesn’t pay to try to wiggle out of things, be it a distasteful job, or a C.O. you dislike … one has to submit and try to make the best of any and all situations and circumstances while one is in the Army.
Monday, 15 May 1944
You should see my office! It’s just cluttered up with all types of surgical instruments. I have made two benches which are about six feet long and every single inch is covered with some type of an instrument. Now, I have to separate them, identify them and put them in the correct sets. Oh my back aches, what a job this is! I have been at it all day yesterday and again this morning. I have just about completed the separating part of it.
(on 15 May 44, 1st Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo is assigned Unit Gas Officer, additional duty)
Tuesday, 16 May 1944
Last night I completed a couple more sets, but I still have plenty more of them to do. I worked until 2300 and when I got to the apartment, the door was locked, so I pounded and pounded and after about five or ten minutes of pounding and yelling someone finally opened the door. Here we have been for eight months without a lock on our front door, but these new Officers we just got wouldn’t rest until we put a lock on our door; now they will have to get up when I get home late after working. Serves them right!
Wednesday, 17 May 1944
We Officers played softball again last night and won! We officers have won two and lost two … pretty good considering the competition.
The orders for wearing Khakis came through finally, but although we were supposed to change into Khaki clothing on the 15th of this month, the Colonel wouldn’t let us, and do you know why? He didn’t have his cap! After me working like HELL getting all Enlisted Men ready to get into Khakis by the 15th, he wouldn’t let them because he didn’t have a cap! My back!
Captain Dulmes left today. I missed his farewell party last night because I was O.D., but I saw him this morning to see him off. I wouldn’t have missed that for neither love nor money!
Friday, 19 May 1944
It is 0900 Friday morning and we are to meet in front of the Hospital in order that we might have our picture taken as a group. Won’t we look nice with our new, clean Khaki uniforms?
Yes, I know that all points were taken off meats (rationing in the Zone of Interior –ed), with the exception of Steaks and Beef and I, like you, would also give an arm for one of those juicy steaks we used to have so often down in Columbia.
Saturday, 20 May 1944
All night I have been making up instrument sets and with the exception of tonight, when I took off a couple of hours to go to the movies, I have been continuously working on these sets (these were some of the replacement parts that came in following the Property Loss Certificates sent in on 21 Apr 44 –ed).
But tomorrow, Sunday, I have the afternoon free so I’m going to take a ride into the hills to get my mind off the instruments and sets … you should listen some of the dreams I have about surgical instruments.
Sunday, 21 May 1944
I just worked on the instruments and sets this morning and did nothing else. Everything is going along about the same as usual, except that I am working extra hard on the inventory, but this inventory business will be over soon and although I should take it easy for a while something else will certainly turn up!
Tuesday, 23 May 1944
Like the Germans, it seems to me that you too are guilty of Invasion jitters … yes, there is the possibility that we may be part of the Invasion. After all, every unit over here will in one way or another be part of the Invasion, and to be truthful, not because I am a brave man nor too patriotic, but just because I don’t want to miss the biggest military event of all times, I sincerely wish that we are a part of the coming Invasion!
I wish you would not worry too much about the Invasion and the part that I am to play, but rather just pray that when the time comes, I will have the courage to do my share.
Yes, Dear we are kept well informed on legislature at home, especially those that affects us and the fortune making 4-Fs (Draft registrants rejected for physical ailments or deficiencies –ed), but there isn’t anything we can do … just now … but wait till we get home …
Thursday, 1 June 1944
Didn’t do much today, because I was and am still very tired from my recent trip. Boy, it was a long, but beautiful ride through the mountains. Finished the monthly reports and then went to bed. I got up at 0800, took a bath, am now writing this brief note and upon completion I am going right back to sleep!
Tuesday, 6 June 1944
“Invasion Day”! The Invasion of Europe for which we all have waited so long has finally begun and although it is too early to know whether this effort will succeed or not, this Invasion has made some headway. Pray for the success of this operation, but pray also that the price in men will not be too high!
With the Invasion come the real test and the real fighting! Everything up to now has only been a prelude to the real event. To crush Germany will take time! Some people seem to think we will be in Berlin by Christmas. I hope they are right, but I don’t think so, because it took us about eighteen months to humble Germany in the last war, and when the Armistice was signed we were not even in Berlin!
Rome two days ago (Rome was liberated 4 Jun 44 –ed), and the Invasion today. Yes, we Allies are making progress. If the Soviet Union should now declare war on Japan, I think this would help our case tremendously, not to mention the lives it would save.
I didn’t do very much of anything today and tonight I went to the movies and listened to the news. By the way, the Colonel is in bed with a sprained shoulder … he had too much baseball!!!
Friday, 9 June 1944
I went to “that city” (this is Bari, where the centralized Adriatic Depot was located –ed) today for supplies and tonight I played softball, took a bath and walked with one of the Officers. The Invasion is in full swing, and although it is too early to tell whether or not this first attempt will succeed, (of course it will succeed) we are making headway! Yes, we are making headway, but I can tell you from our number of casualties that the cost is so heavy with many human lives. It makes me shudder to think of the thousands of lives that will be lost, but we have no alternative. If we are to liberate Europe, and if we want an early peace, lives must be lost. Pray, if you never did before, for Victory, but also for the lives of the men fighting.
If we continue to advance in France and the Soviets begin another push in the east soon, I believe the Germans will pull the majority of their troops from the Western front in order to prevent the Soviets from reaching Berlin before the Americans and the British. The Germans are more afraid of the Russians and their conditions for peace (and rightly so) whereas the Germans believe that the Americans and the British will be merciful. If the above comes about, who knows this European affair may be over this year, but I hope to high heaven that this time we don’t lose the peace.
I better hit the hay … inspection tomorrow!
(on 9 Jun 44, 1st Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo receives a check for the amount of US$ 206.46 in full settlement for the loss of personal property which occurred when his ship was sunk as a result of enemy action at Bari, Italy, 2 December 1943)
Bari Air Raid – 2 December 1943
Bari harbor (Adriatic coast Southern Italy) had neither adequate air nor ground defenses, but the Allies believed that the Luftwaffe based in Italy was stretched too thin to launch a major attack against the area. At the time, numerous Allied ships were in the harbor offloading supplies, and a large civilian population lived in the adjoining port city.
On the afternoon of 2 December 1943, the Luftwaffe made a reconnaissance flight and reported that conditions were favorable for a possible raid on the port area. Consequently, Field Marshal A. Kesselring ordered the Luftwaffe to bomb the installations the same day.
The attack opened at 1925 hours, with bombers (105 Ju-88s) dropping chaff to confuse radar and flares, although the latter were not needed as the harbor was illuminated at night to expedite unloading of supplies for the Allies engaged in the battle for Rome. Direct hits on 2 ammunition ships caused enormous detonations which shattered windows seven miles away. A bulk gasoline pipeline and supply were severed and the gushing fuel ignited engulfing other ships. Seventeen merchant ships laden with nearly 35,000 tons of cargo were destroyed (5 American, 5 British, 3 Norwegian, 2 Italian, 2 Polish, with another 7 vessels heavily damaged). The port area was closed for three weeks and was only back in operation by February 1944.
The unexpected attack against Bari harbor did enormous damage but did not delay the victorious advance of Allied Forces in Italy.
Among the ships sunk was the S/S “John Harvey” (Liberty ship), which was carrying mustard gas intended for use in retaliation by the Allies should the enemy initiate gas warfare. Most of the released gas vapors were carried out to sea by an offshore breeze, but many military and civilian personnel were temporarily incapacitated or killed by the amounts of mustard gas which were held in solutions of oil that were floating on the water. Out of 800 casualties hospitalized after the raid, 628 suffered from mustard gas exposure, of which 69 died. Medical personnel treating the wounded were unaware of the presence of the toxic gas and therefore gave priority to those with severe blast or burn injuries. Casualties pulled out of the water (covered with oil and mustard gas solutions) suffered varying degrees of severe chemical burns causing the first deaths to occur without warning eighteen hours after exposure. About 90% of the gas casualties were American (the bulk of them US merchant seamen). Since no decent US Army Hospital (the 26th Gen Hosp / AAFSC would only set up 4 Dec 43) facilities were available in Bari – the medical equipment scheduled to be offloaded in the area was destroyed in the bombing – casualties were brought to British installations.
The S/S “Samuel J. Tilden” was bombed and later sunk by two British torpedoes to prevent danger to nearby ships. A bomb crashed through its engine room while another hit forward of the bridge. The German aircraft strafed the deck and friendly antiaircraft fire from shore also hit the cargo vessel. It was this particular ship that carried medical supplies for US Army Air Forces Hospitals. As a result extra equipment to equip the Hospitals had to be found. First loads were flown in from Palermo, Sicily, ten days later, with the remainder coming in by sea.
This explains the loss of Hospital equipment and some of the personal belongings of 2d Lieutenant Nicholas C. D’Angelo, O-2046938, MAC, 34th Field Hospital.
Equipment lost by enemy action during the Bari air raid included (consequently, many requisitions were forwarded between January and April 1944):
3 – 2 ½-Ton Cargo Trucks
5 – ¾-Ton Ambulances
1 – ¾-Ton Weapon Carrier w/Winch
3 – ¼-Ton Trucks
2 – 250-Gallon Water Trailers
3 – ¼-Ton Trailers
27 – Hospital Ward Tents
10 – Pyramidal Tents
3 – Large Wall Tents
2 – Small Wall Tents
Tools Sets, Spares, Unit Equipment, Ordnance, Signal, Engineer, Medical, Chemical, Quartermaster, etc.
Saturday, 10 June 1944
Today we were visited, or should I write, inspected by the Surgeon in charge of all the Hospitals in this Theater (this was most probably Major General Morrison C. STAYER –ed) … this was more or less an informal inspection … rather a prelude to a visit by a high-ranking General Officer. Well, as you know, I have been down here only a week and when I got down here this place was in a mess and so I listed about three pages of improvements to be made and low and behold the very same things I had written down this Surgeon suggested that we do. I was a little sore because I caught hell for the other Platoons’ neglect! Well, however I took it on the chin and will in due time straighten out this place … saw a pretty good how-to movie tonight and now am ready for bed.
Sunday, 11 June 1944
As usual, I put in my four hours this morning, but this afternoon my dentist friend and I went to visit our friend who was recently married.
Thursday, 15 June 1944
I went to “that city” to see the Operas “Cavelleria Rusticana” and “Pagliacci”. The Colonel and the Chaplain came with me. Things are pretty much the same with me; nothing too exciting going on and from the looks of things nothing is going to happen.
Tuesday, 20 June 1944
I went to visit the Nuns yesterday and then I went to the movies and after the show I came home. I am so dawg-gone tired because I went to bed so late last night I guess …
This has been a very dull day for me. In the morning I finished up a few reports, but in the afternoon, I didn’t have a thing to do and in the evening I went to see a movie. I am O.D. tonight and things usually happen when I’m O.D., I still don’t have anything to do … so I guess I’ll make my rounds and then go to bed.
I am safe and sound and in the best of health.
Wednesday, 21 June 1944
You have asked me time and again when I thought the European war will end … of course, I am no authority on the subject but I believe the European war will end this year, but don’t expect that all the members of the Armed Forces will be discharged immediately with the pacification of Germany … jobs will have to be done first and then I believe that we will be discharged as follows: fathers in the States first, soldiers in the States, fathers overseas, soldiers overseas according to length of service overseas and age.
Enclosed you will find a clipping about the Bari air raid (which took place on 2 Dec 43 –ed) in which I was personally involved and which happened about seven months ago. So therefore I believe it is alright to send it to you. This raid was the reason for the great deal of work I had to do these past months. If you don’t find the clipping, Mr. Censorer withdrew it!! I wasn’t injured in the raid!
(on 22 Jun 44, 1st Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo is placed on DS with Special Service Branch, Headquarters, Army Air Forces Service Command, MTO, APO 528, for 2 days, for the purpose of procuring Special Service Equipment)
Saturday, 1 July 1944
We didn’t have a very good meal tonight so I went over to a friend’s house and ate some Italian cheese. I just finished packing and now I am all ready to move down to the Platoon tomorrow (new assignment to First Platoon –ed). I believe I’ll go down at about 1300 or 1400. Although I am going to be busy every night in the week, I think I am going to enjoy living in tents during the summer months.
(on 1 Jul 44, Nicholas C. D’Angelo is relieved from assignment to Second and Third Platoons, 34th Field Hospital, and assigned to duty with First Platoon, located at Spinazzola, southern Italy, effective on this date)
(on 2 Jul 44, 1st Lt. D’Angelo assumes Censorship responsibility by accepting the Unit Censorship Stamp Number 21288)
Monday, 3 July 1944
Ever since I have arrived out here, where the Platoon is located, I have been as busy as a bee! So busy in fact that I didn’t write to you yesterday. Our camping site is plumb on the top of a hill which overlooks a valley on either side, and the scenery is so beautiful that I wish that I had some film. Although I am everything from Adjutant to Special Service Officer and have 54 EM and about 45 civilian employees to manage, I like living out here in the country and under tentage once more.
The days are very warm, but al the nights … so nice and cool … very conducive to sleeping and from the looks of things, I’m going to get plenty of sleep! There is no place to go to in the evenings, but we do have plenty of books and a piano … so I will either be working, reading, playing the piano or sleeping!
(on 3 Jul 44, Nicholas C. D’Angelo is appointed Class “A” Finance Agent and Purchasing and Contracting Officer)
(on 5 Jul 44, 1st Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo, ordered to duty with First Platoon, is assigned Adjutant (primary duty) Supply Officer – Registrar – Mess Officer – Commanding Officer Detachment of Patients – Special Service Officer – Detachment Commander, all additional duties)
Sunday, 9 July 1944
This is Sunday, but I didn’t get to church. Instead I obtained a movie projector and made arrangements to have pictures sent out here three times a week. I also made contacts, which insure me that our unit will get some tickets to the “This is the Army” show (1943 great morale-boosting movie by Irving Berlin –ed). As far as entertainment is concerned, it seems that this outfit is forgotten. They send tickets to the 34th Field Hospital Headquarters only, forgetting about First Platoon out in the woods. It’s bad enough being miles away from anywhere, but not to have some entertainment for the men, makes it all the harder. On the 21st of August, we will celebrate our First Anniversary overseas and for that day, I have arranged to have free beer, cigarettes, cigars, candy and ice cream.
Monday, 10 July 1944
They are going to send some type of a U.S.O. show out here. I think the men will have a good time, don’t you think?
Earlier this evening, I played softball with the EM and believe it or not I was the hero of the game! Tonight I am the King in the eyes of the Enlisted Men, but the Lord help me if I should play badly in the next game.
We are to have roast turkey tomorrow with cranberry sauce and all the trimmings. I believe this was to be for the Fourth of July, but it arrived a little late. But better late than never. Boy will I have a good time! I have my two cans of beer on ice…
(on 12 Jul 44, Nicholas C. D’Angelo, Supply Officer, inspects Narcotics, Alcohol, and Dental Gold as per AR 40-550, and finds one (1) unit of Item No. 53460 Gold Wire 18-Gage Round missing)
Monday, 17 July 1944
Now that I am out to First Platoon, the Colonel has begun a policy of giving each Officer a day off … I am now the ONLY MAC Officer at the Platoon site and therefore I will probably be appointed the Adjutant, C.O. of the Detachment of Patients, Transportation, Mess, Registrar as well as the Supply Officer … including the entire Administration, so you can see I will become quite a busy man! By the way, I will be O.D. every night.
Tonight I had the extreme good fortune to secure tickets to see a real honest-to-goodness play, direct from Broadway. Next Sunday, I will see “This is the Army” by Irving Berlin. Everyone is raving about this show so I believe we will all have a good time.
(between 28 and 31 Aug 44, Nicholas C. D’Angelo is on leave at the “Rome Area Army Air Forces Rest Camp”)
(on 6 Sep 44, 1st Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo is appointed Transportation Officer, First Platoon, 34th Field Hospital)
Monday, 9 October 1944
I went to Headquarters yesterday on business (back to Cerignola –ed). Last night when I returned to our mudhole, I found your letter. I hope you are right about the war being over real soon. It is raining and I have a cold and a painful headache, but I must get out several reports and therefore I am up and around, but I am going to take a couple of APC capsules (All Purpose Capsules containing caffeine-phenacetin-propoxyphene hydrochloride, a pain killer for headaches, and migraines –ed) and go to bed soon. We got stoves in our tents now and the heat feels very good for a change.
Monday, 16 October 1944
Yesterday I drove over to the other part of our Hospital to attend a farewell party given for the Colonel (replaced by Lt. Colonel DRAKE –ed). I got back to camp about 0100 in the morning. This morning, I cleaned up all these semi-monthly reports and now I am going into the reports for tomorrow. Regards to all!
(on 30 Oct 44, new duty assignments for First Platoon, 34th Field Hospital, are announced. They involve the following Officers: Major Lauren J. HENDERSON, MC (CO and Chief of Surgical Service), Captain William R. CULBERTSON Jr., MC (Chief of Medical Service, Medical Inspector, Summary Courts-Martial Officer; Hospital Inspector), Captain Samuel ZELMAN, MC (Asst. Chief of Medical Service, Chief of X-Ray Service, Officer in Charge of Laboratory & Pharmacy), Captain George W. BAILEY, DC (Chief of Dental Service, Fire Marshal), and 1st Lieutenant Nicholas C. D’ANGELO, MAC, (Adjutant, Detachment CO, Personnel Officer, Supply Officer, Registrar, Mess Officer, Special Service Officer, Transportation Officer, CO Detachment of Patients)
Friday, 3 November 1944
The other night the Major, another Officer and myself went out to supper in the home of an Italian friend and the meal they set before us was fit for a King … I usually don’t go out to dinner because of the great danger of picking up some infection, but these people are people of means and the food was excellent and the home spotless. We began to eat at 1900 and finished at 2200.
Our basketball team played last night and we won … maybe the reason we won was because I didn’t play, huh?
We have two stone buildings under construction and I intend to build five rows of stone along the side of all the tents in order to keep the cold wind out this winter. I don’t know how long we intend staying out here, but however long our stay is, we are going to be comfortable.
I found a couple of bookkeeping books and I have begun to brush up on my Accounting. Mail has been coming in very poorly. Last night I went to see a movie and enjoyed it very much.
Sunday, 5 November 1944
I returned from church services about an hour ago and since that time I have been censoring mail and so far I have only censored about half of it. You have no idea how tired one can get from just signing his name on about two hundred letters and twice on V-Mails. The guys are beginning to send Christmas Cards home and they also require a signature … my unhappy back!! … or should I say fingers.
I went to the other part of the Hospital yesterday on some business matters and yes the mail is still bad. I don’t believe we are getting as high priority as we did at one time. Everything is fine as far as I am concerned personally, with the exception of a very annoying rash I picked up at some place. The doctors believe the wool shirts I wear irritate my skin and thereby cause infection. At the present time, the rash is localized around my left elbow. I certainly hope it doesn’t spread.
Our winterization program is progressing splendidly and I don’t think we will have to live in tents much longer … the cold weather is here, so moving into the stone huts can’t be too soon for me.
Tuesday, 7 November 1944
Back home in the States, today is “Election Day”. I’ll bet everyone who is qualified to vote will be at the polls today. I wouldn’t be surprised if F. D. Roosevelt is elected again by as great a majority as before. Whether or not a fourth term for Roosevelt is a wise thing … only time will tell …
You guessed right I did not put that clipping about me being in Italy in the paper, but rather was put in by a Public Relations Officer from the Fifteenth Air Force (remember the 34th Fld Hosp was servicing the AAF –ed) who was out here visiting our Hospital and was so pleased with our setup and work out here that when he was leaving he told me that he was going to tell the people back home about the wonderful work we were doing. I had no idea that he was going to write me up. He must have gotten all his information about me up at Headquarters.
I had a very busy day today, although it is only eight o’clock. I am going straight to bed, that is after I censor the mail … ho-hum! I am in fine health and in no immediate danger so there is no need to worry about me.
Thursday, 9 November 1944
Earlier this evening the Major (Major Lauren J. HENDERSON, MC, CO First Platoon –ed) and I went into town to the home of our Italian hunting guide, where we ate some mushrooms. But, before we left camp, the Major made sure that he had prepared two needles with Atropine (a precaution against possible inflammation of stomach, intestines, pancreas, diarrhea, etc. –ed), so in case the mushrooms turned out to be poisonous we could inject ourselves in a hurry.
I just finished censoring the mail. The wind has been acting up today and it is beginning to get very cold around here … as a matter of fact right now my teeth are chattering and I am wondering how long it will be before the wind blows our tent over.
This rash on my arm is very annoying … it itches so! I scrub it with a G.I. brush about four times a day and put on all sorts of salves. But the damn thing won’t heal. The doctors say it’s a skin infection caused by the irritation of the wool shirts I am compelled to wear.
So, F. D. Roosevelt is President for another 4 years (the Lord desiring it so). Did you vote for him? I hope he gets this war over in a hurry and more important I hope he wins a lasting peace for us.
Honest, it is so cold over here, I don’t believe I am making sense.
Monday, 13 November 1944
No, Major Flowers (Major Samuel H. FLOWERS, MC, Chief of Surgical Service –ed) is not the one going home, it’s Colonel Beyer (Lt. Colonel William Beyer, MC, O-248006, CO 34th Fld Hosp –ed). Major Flowers is back at the main Hospital, but however he has put in a request to go home on T.D. (temporary duty –ed). Major S. H. Flowers has been over here for 22 months, whereas Lt. Colonel W. Beyer has been overseas for about 16 months.
We began a refresher course today and being the Plans and Training Officer too … I got more headaches. Not only do I plan the courses, I must teach them and also make up the schedule. This is all the new C.O.’s (Lt. Colonel DRAKE –ed) idea. I’d like to know what else he has up his sleeve?
I played a game of chess before I wrote this letter, so it’s almost lights out. Oh … believe it or not I have arranged to get pie-à-la-mode for the fellows for tomorrow’s dinner.
Tuesday, 14 November 1944
Enclosed you will find a duplicate copy of the allotments I have made in your favor. Now don’t jump at conclusions! I’m not going anywhere and there isn’t the slightest possibility of this outfit moving, but I am sending you these duplicate copies of my “Authorization for Allotment of Pay” (W.D., A.G.O. Form No. 29 – its purpose is to allow for the support of wife, child, or dependent relatives, or for payment of life insurance premiums, by the allotter –ed) so that you can put them safely away in your safe deposit box; then if you should need them sometime you will have them handy. By the way, have you registered as yet the “Power of Attorney” I left with you or my “Last Will and Testament” (considering hazards of war, highly recommended and prepared by Officers in writing, and in the presence of witnesses, for covering disposition of their property after death –ed).
Thursday, 16 November 1944
For the past month, I have been reviewing some bookkeeping and boy do I need this review! The days here are becoming more and more routine. Nothing unusual ever happens. The only out of the ordinary event is our basketball team, which has won two games and lost one so far! Yes, I am playing on the team, but after every game or practice my leg muscles get sore as the devil. I wrote to the Special Service Division people and asked for and received some basketball trunks and shoes, but neither basketball socks nor shirts.
Saturday, 18 November 1944
It is rather late (about 2230 hours) and undoubtedly everyone around the area is asleep, but I’m in no mood for sleeping. For the past week, all my time has been taken up with building a new Dayroom for the Enlisted Men and also preparing for our Christmas Party. I had the Sergeant appoint committees for each of the projects, so that they would get involved and feel as if they were doing all the work … but I’ll let you in on a secret … I have been approached by the chairman of each committee about three times already asking for suggestions and advice.
We are to have turkey for Thanksgiving again this year and I believe we will be able to have all the trimmings, pumpkin pie and all. I don’t know about ice cream though …
The lights have gone out quite some time ago and I have been using a flashlight which is just about ready to go out also …
Monday, 20 November 1944
Today I took my first lesson in the Catholic faith (Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo was a Presbyterian –ed). I met an Irish Catholic Chaplain by the name of Flaggerthy who has promised to teach me all about the Mass and my obligation towards you and our children. He and I have had a very nice talk today and I am looking forward to many more. I am going to devote about 2 hours three times a week to these talks. This added to my lessons in Italian and my refresher course in accounting will just about take up all the free time I have. I want to keep busy because then I won’t have time to get homesick and besides I will learn or relearn things which will help me when I return to civilian life. I might as well take advantage of the free time I have at present because the Lord only knows what is in store for me in the future.
We have moved into our new office building today and take it from me, it is a hundred times more comfortable than a tent. This building is made of stones about the size of cement blocks and the roof is of galvanized iron. It is heated with three stoves and I assure you it is very comfortable. The ward tents have also been winterized with about four rows of these blocks and now they are working on our living quarters … so you see … that if I remain here all winter, I will be very comfortable and of course very busy.
I made it possible for the Enlisted Men to build themselves a Dayroom with the same type of blocks we used to build our office and I believe that their Dayroom will be ready for use by the end of the month. So, all in all, everyone should be very comfortable this winter. I forgot to mention that the Enlisted Men’s tents are also being winterized.
We received our turkeys today and I am looking forward to a big Thanksgiving Dinner!
Well, I have just about come to the end of my rope today, so I will wash up and hit the hay! Oh, Major Flowers did get orders to go home.
Thursday, 23 November 1944
It is now about 1530 and I have just about recovered from the Thanksgiving Dinner we ate at noon. As you can see from the enclosed menu we had everything from soup to nuts! (please see Menu –ed). The cooks did a marvelous job of preparing the food and I did an equal job of eating as much as I could. The turkey was so tender that it actually melted in one’s mouth, the dressing was excellent, the rolls delicious, the pie superb.
A year ago today, I was aboard an L.S.T. heading for Italy … I only wish I were on another ship today, but this time heading for home. I attended Thanksgiving services in a neighboring town this morning with several of our guys. Last night, I played basketball with the fellows and in spite of this handicap our team went on to win by a score of 41-31. But, boy do I feel stiff and sore today. I feel fine in general, except perhaps a little uncomfortable from stuffing myself at noon. I am still troubled with this damn rash. First it would itch at my elbow, and then a few days my leg would break out in this rash, the next few days, it would migrate to my chest, then to my stomach and finally back to my elbow. What really drives me crazy is when I itch from head to foot.
I really hope that this European war has a chance of ending by the end of winter or the end of spring of ’45 at the latest.
Saturday, 25 November 1944
Right now I am listening to the Michigan and Ohio State Football game and as I had anticipated, it is a very thrilling game. The score at present … seven to six in Michigan’s favor, but I believe Ohio State will eventually win.
After supper, I censored the mail and cleared up all my work and then from 1830 to about 2030, I have been working on a bookkeeping problem, but the game was too interesting so I thought I’d better put the problem away before I made an error. You know how tough it is to find an error in bookkeeping … sometimes it takes hours! So far, everything is in balance …
We played basketball last night and although this makes it the second game we played this week, I don’t feel too stiff or sore, as a matter of fact, outside of a little blister on my foot, I feel fine.
The Major (Major Lauren J. HENDERSON, CO, First Platoon -ed) and I are now in the middle of our periodic inventory … if it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Well, the game is just about ready to begin … so I will cut this letter short …
Sunday, 26 November 1944
This has been a very quiet and restful Sunday afternoon. This morning I worked a little on the inventory we are working on, but this afternoon I have been sitting here in the office listening to some lovely programs of music … a rebroadcast of programs from the States. I honestly think that the European campaign might end by the spring of 1945 or early summer and I will not be transferred to the Pacific Theater, but will be sent home soon after.
Thursday, 30 November 1944
I just can’t seem to realize that I have been in Italy for a whole year, but what is more startling is how I ever endured living amongst these Italians! You have no idea how grateful I am that my Father left this country and that I was born in the good old United States. When I realize how close I came to being one of them I say to myself … ”There, but for the ambition of my Father I might have been one of them”! Maybe I could endure that … but not to have known you …”
I have been very busy these past few days and I am going to be busier for the next few days … monthly reports you know. I’ll try to squeeze in my daily letter, but if I slip up I hope you will understand!
Most of my time lately has been used up trying to sell the EM War Bonds. We also have the “Sixth War Bond Drive” on. Doing pretty well too!! About three quarters of the men have taken an allotment for a Bond … but you know that I won’t be satisfied with anything less than 100%. Gotta hit the hay! Good night!!
Saturday, 2 December 1944
A year ago tonight I was a witness to what has since been called the “costliest” raid on Allied shipping since Pearl Harbor! It certainly was all of that as far as I was concerned … with the exception of the things I carried along with me and the clothes I was wearing, I lost everything (no, I didn’t lose the Val Pac). Boy, were there some fireworks in Bari harbor that night!
Tonight, I listened to the Army-Navy football game and as we old Army men expected, the Army won. But, it wouldn’t be sportsmanlike if I didn’t mention that the Navy also played a pretty good game, especially to you who have two brothers in the Navy! Send my regards to both of them when you write and remind them that the Army won!
Apart from this very annoying rash, I am O.K.
Sunday, 3 December 1944
Another Sunday is just about past, and again, like every Sunday when I can locate a radio, I listen to broadcasts from the States. I have just about completed all the monthly reports and am in the last stages of my inventory. After I finish the reports and inventory, I will have to begin making plans for the EM’s Christmas party and also a party which we are going to hold for some of the poor unfortunate children who live in a neighboring town. The men themselves asked to throw the party for these kids! Pretty swell bunch, eh?
With the coming of Christmas, I can feel myself getting a little more homesick every day … I am going to close in order to listen to the news and then I am going to bed.
Thursday, 7 December 1944
As I was writing the date, I couldn’t help but think back to that peaceful Sunday I had planned for myself back in 1941 … it started off very peaceful; as a matter of fact I remember sleeping right through breakfast and getting up at eleven, showering and going over to the Mess Hall for dinner, and then it seemed as if all hell broke loose in that mess hall! Soldier after soldier came running into the mess hall armed with knives, hatchets and clubs, yelling at the top of their voices: “Japan attacked Pearl Harbor!” “Let’s go, what are we waiting for” then when I went over to the barracks I saw some of the men packing and so not knowing if an order to pack had been issued, I also packed …. yes I packed, but I had to wait two years before I went overseas! Sometimes I wonder what would have happened to us had I remained with the 1st (i.e. the 1st Infantry Division –ed). Let me see … the 1st Infantry Division went overseas sometime in 1942, fought in the African, Sicilian and European campaigns and I believe they also helped with the Invasion of France! That outfit certainly caught a lot of hell, but they also dished out plenty (the ‘Big Red One’ departed for o’seas 1 Aug 42, arrived in England 7 Aug 42, assaulted N. Africa 8 Nov 42, Sicily 10 Jul 43, and landed in Normandy 6 Jun 44, it later fought in Belgium and Germany -ed).
Do you realize that we have been at war with Japan for three years and all we have done so far is liberate a few nations from German rule but in the Far East we have only regained some of the islands we originally held, and but for some unknown reason lightly defended! I still don’t believe that two men were responsible for such a catastrophe, especially when the statesmen as well as the President knew that war with Japan was imminent at that time. Germany may capitulate within a few months but I wonder how long it will take for us to defeat Japan?
I have been a very busy little boy this past week … what with monthly reports and this inventory coming all at the same time. And I still have plenty left to do but I have worked so diligently this past week that I just took this afternoon off so that I wouldn’t work myself into a nervous condition.
Saturday, 9 December 1944
Tomorrow, one of the Captains and myself are going down to “that city” to see an Opera, and I want you to know that I am going to wear the tie, a pair of the socks and the scarf you made.
Did you hear about the earthquake in Japan? I wonder if it was destructive enough to help our cause?
Tuesday, 12 December 1944
I was pleasantly surprised today by a visit from an old High School classmate and as is the custom at times such as these, we discussed … High School days! Gee, I can’t realize that it has been ten years since I attended High School. It did me a lot of good to see an old friend again and talk about the old times. He is in the Army Air Forces and only eight miles away … hope I get a chance to drop over to see him …
I am in excellent health, but my friend told me I was getting that “Executive Spread”!
Thursday, 14 December 1944
I drove over to the other part of our Hospital yesterday in order to compare overages and shortages in supplies. The Supply Officer at Headquarters and myself worked all day and found many items we could swap. So, I’ll have to go back again Saturday to pick up his overages and give him some of mine.
I wonder how many people realize that we are losing the fight in China? The recent push by the Japs has cost us at least two of our very important, not to mention expensive airfields. I read in today’s Stars and Stripes that the Chinese have retaken our former airfield located in Nantan … I only hope they keep pushing the Japanese back … we need those airfields in China very badly!
Right now I am suffering from a stomach ache that has been bothering me since lunchtime. I didn’t eat any supper, but I still feel sick. Two medical Officers and myself are going to “that city” to attend the “Barber of Seville”. That is, I will go if I feel better in the morning. The Opera company is the same that performed last Sunday, and so I am sure I will enjoy tomorrow’s performance very much.
Saturday, 16 December 1944
This is Saturday evening, but the only way one would find this out around here is by looking at the calendar.
Healthwise, I am still in the pink! I am just about through with straightening out my supplies and now find myself up to my neck with the Christmas Party the Enlisted Men were supposed to arrange for themselves … oh dear, a Company Commander’s work never ends!
Wednesday, 20 December 1944
Undoubtedly, you have read about the present Germans counterattack (the German counteroffensive in the Bulge, Belgium which started 16 Dec 44 –ed) … I like everyone else am wondering whether or not Germany is making one last desperate effort and if like in 1918, this push will hasten their end. I sincerely hope so! Time will tell …
With the counteroffensive coming while the Allied services are doing so well both in China and in the Philippines further sustains my belief that by the time the Campaign in Europe is over, the Japanese Campaign will be so far advanced that there will be no need to transfer many troops from this Theater and even if some of us do go to the Pacific Theater, our stay will be a short one.
Sunday, 24 December 1944
Even though I am away from home and those I love, I was still able to find some happiness this year by playing Santa at the party we held for the Italian children of a neighboring town. I wish you could have seen their happy faces. This I think was the best Christmas these kids ever had and I sincerely believe that they will remember this Christmas for the rest of their lives! Later in the evening, I again put on my Santa suit and distributed gifts to the Enlisted Men and to our patients, after which I passed out gifts to the Officers … it was really fun! The photographer came out and took a picture of me while wearing my Santa suit. I’ll send you a copy as soon as I get one!
A few days ago, while on the way to “that city”, the vehicle in which I was driving got involved in an accident and although none of the occupants of either vehicle were injured, including me, getting the vehicle to Ordnance for repairs, arranging for a place to stay, getting the repairs actually done took me two days. We finally got one vehicle repaired sufficiently enough to get us home … none the worse for the experience … except more paperwork in connection with the accident.
We Officers attended a G.I. Midnight Mass tonight after which we proceeded to get stink-oo. It’s getting very late and although this may read as if I am sober, I assure you I am not … so before my head explodes I believe I will get to bed … guess what, the Chaplain just asked me to play a game of chess … well, here goes another two hours of lost sleep!!
Monday, 25 December 1944
Here, where the good ‘ole 34th Fld Hosp is set up, we have no snow and are forced to endure just the bitter cold. And when I write bitter cold, I mean that even with four blankets, a comforter, and the stove on at full blast, I can’t sleep because of the cold.
Our Christmas Dinner included everything from soup to nuts. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food very much. We trimmed our Mess Hall with the usual green and red paper and placed two candles on each table which were burning while we ate our dinner. After dinner, a choir came out to our Hospital and sang Christmas Carols for the sick and wounded … the singers were very good really and I think the patients enjoyed it thoroughly.
After supper, I, as well as the other Officers, sat by the fireplace, a real one, in our recreation tent and listened to Christmas music all night. So, all things considered, we had a nice day.
Thursday, 28 December 1944
This is a very clear, bright, but rather cold night. The full moon is shining in all its glory and there also is a white ring totally encircling the moon which undoubtedly means, that we will have rain tomorrow. This inclement weather we are having on all fronts has definitely retarded the Allies’ progress (weather and the British political interference with liberated countries). Although the British soldier is a tough, rough and ready fighter and there is no doubt that they have contributed much toward the defeat of Germany. Nevertheless, I honestly believe that the English politicians at home are more concerned with their sphere of influence rather than a quick end to this drawn out war … Greece and Italy’s present predicament are two very good examples of what I mean.
Sunday, 31 December 1944
Although this is one year I certainly would not want to live over again, I am still grateful that during this year the Allies have been steadily closing in on the Germans and the Japs … slowly, I’ll grant you that, but we have been progressing and who can tell perhaps this year, 1945, will bring Victory and an everlasting peace.
It has been extremely cold out here lately, but today, the last day of the year, it has been snowing all day and it’s sticking to the ground too! I like the snow!
I don’t remember if I wrote you that the EM Dayroom is all built and is open for business. The Dayroom is built of stone, it has a concrete floor, plastered walls, a bar with a plywood top and furniture purchased from an Italian furniture store. It is a very smooth looking Dayroom and the EM would rather stay in the Dayroom than go downtown. That is just what I hoped they would do. Oh these towns are filthy and the people just about as dirty as the town.
Well, tonight we Officers donated some stuff for the Enlisted Men’s party. I went out to fetch some colored boys from a neighboring outfit who have a band and some entertainers … so I believe that the EM will have a very good time this New Year’s eve. The last time I looked in on them everyone seemed to be enjoying himself. The entertainers will go on in a few minutes and I want to hear them because they have a reputation for being very good entertainers and anyway, I promised the men that I would be with them when the New Year came in … so, I have to go …
Monday, 1 January 1945
Didn’t do a darn thing today, played some ball and watched a movie later, now bed!
Tuesday, 2 January 1945
The snow is still falling and without one bit of exaggeration, I believe the snow is about a foot deep … why, do you realize it has done nothing but snow this year??
Some of the other Officers and myself built a snowman and while we were building it, we had to stave off a snowball attack from the EM. One of the men sneaked up from behind me and washed my face with snow … yes, he got a faceful too! I love to play in the snow!
It has again been the end of the month and once more I find myself in the middle of monthly reports and so for the next few days and nights, I will be preparing reports, reports and more reports.
It’s very cold and already I have begun to sniffle, so before I catch another cold … I am going to hit the hay!
Thursday, 4 January 1945
Today I finished the last of the monthly reports … what a relief! I am always happy to see the fifth of the month because all reports must be submitted before that specific date!
I have been working on my bookkeeping very diligently this past week and although it has been nearly five years since I have done any bookkeeping or accounting work, I find that I have very little difficulty. As a matter of fact, I have gone through two books already and I have not made a single, solitary error. It makes me feel pretty good.
Although the snowing has now stopped, we still have about a foot of snow on the ground. I think it will take a week of good, hot weather before the snow starts melting.
I’m in good health, I eat well, and sleep plenty.
Tuesday, 9 January 1945
Yesterday, I received my stimulating shots against Typhoid, Typhus and Smallpox and since supper my arm has been sore. Last night I got the chills and ran a fever, as is the custom with me after I get these shots, but today, although my arm is still a little stiff, I don’t believe I’ll have any chills tonight.
Saturday, 13 January 1945
Here is another Saturday night and guess what I did for excitement … well, I drank a can of beer and went to the movies. Boy, that’s dissipation!
As Special Service Officer I enjoyed a very successful day … I arranged to get from the U.S.O. people an artist who goes around sketching the patients’ likeness with crayons. This afternoon I was fortunate enough to get another U.S.O. show to perform at the Hospital and tonight we had a movie, so all in all, I think the Special Service Officer did himself credit. What do you think?
I really don’t think the European campaign can last much longer. Even with the Germans counterattacking all over the continent, I honestly think that this affair will be over by spring, summer at the latest. As for the Far East, well that’s a different matter. Although we are making rapid gains, that battlefield is such a large one, and there are so many important battles going on right now that it is pretty hard to determine the significance of it all. We can only hope and pray that it will all end soon, very soon.
Lately, I have been applying all my spare time to a review in accounting; so that when I return to civilian life, I will be prepared to go back to an Accounting job. Why, who knows, I may get to be a C.P.A. (Certified Public Accountant –ed) yet!
Thursday, 18 January 1945
This morning at breakfast, everyone wished me a happy Birthday. The rest of the day was just like any other day … that’s the way I wanted it. At supper, our Chaplain led everyone in singing “Happy Birthday”, after which I was asked to say a few words. I got no further than my first line: “Now that I have turned 21, I believe I’ll go out and vote for Roosevelt again”. I wonder why they all laughed? The rest of the evening was spent as follows … I prepared reports for the next day, censored the mail, listened to some music, read some and then to bed at 2300.
I have purchased a pipe at the PX and have again begun to smoke a pipe. There is no need for you to send me any tobacco because I can get all I want here.
Saturday, 27 January 1945
This is Saturday evening … a full moon is shinning brightly, the sky is just spotted with stars, but a very cold north wind is blowing; spoiling what could have been a lovely evening. And do you know what, I was required to do this lovely, but very windy and cold night? I drove around from about 1900 until 2130 trying to locate a projector in order to show a movie. We finally found one, returned to our unit, set it up and the picture started about 2200.
“My BACK!” Something is always going wrong! Last week, the generators, and now this week, the movie projector … I wonder what will happen next week?
Tuesday, 30 January 1945
I’ve got to pay the EM and the Officers and prepare about ten reports within eight hours tomorrow. “My Back!” Lights out time!
Friday, 2 February 1945
I am writing this letter in the lounge room of the Red Cross building located in the large city near the birthplace of my Father. Driving over the mountains during a bright sunny day is dangerous, but to drive over them on a day such as yesterday is plain crazy … we drove through snow, skidded around sharp curves and slipped down steep hills … some fun!
I came over here to obtain some Special Service supplies and to have our movie projector repaired. I got all the supplies, but will have to wait until tomorrow for the movie projector.
I went to the movies tonight and was fortunate enough to obtain a ticket for tomorrow night’s performance of “La Bohême” at the San Carlo.
(on 1 Feb 45, 1st Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo, MAC, Supply Officer, First Platoon, 34th Field Hospital, is placed on DS with the Special Service Branch, Headquarters, AAFSC/MTO, APO 528, for a period of three (3) days, for the purpose of procuring Special Service Equipment. He is accompanied by Pvt. Warren H. Miesel, ASN 36561043, driver)
Monday, 5 February 1945
You asked me what I lost in the Bari raid … well, I was lucky to have sent my Val Pac, which contained my Jacket, Pinks & Greens, a few shirts, socks, underwear and a few other odds and ends, ahead in a plane. These items arrived safely, but I lost all my G.I. clothing, shoes, and my toilet articles, along with a lot of souvenirs. I have since replaced all my G.I. clothing and I was given an EM overcoat which I have cut down and altered and if I say so myself it looks plenty sharp on me. I was a smart cookie to get off of that boat before the raid and dig myself a foxhole … otherwise I would have lost myself!
Tuesday, 6 February 1945
The war news was very encouraging this evening. One of our Officers flew over to Cannes, French Riviera (United States Army Riviera Recreation Area, intended for R & R, for both Officers & EM –ed) for a few days and I asked him to pick up some perfume.
Wednesday, 7 February 1945
I think it is only wishful thinking to think I will be home in six months. Sometimes I think this war will never end. Also, unless I am transferred from this organization being promoted to Captain is almost impossible because our T/O (Table of Organization –ed) does not allow but for one (1) Captain MAC, and that has already been filled by an older man.
We have obtained 24 Italian records and an electric phonograph and now I am teaching the Platoon Italian for one hour every evening … although my primary purpose is to keep the guys busy, I am doing this also so that I can keep practicing so that when I return home, I can surprise my Father with my ability to speak Italian fluently.
(on 9 Feb 45, Captain Elmer E. Admire, MAC, Adjutant, Headquarters, 34th Field Hospital, and 1st Lieutenant Nicholas C. D’Angelo, MAC, Supply Officer, are placed on TD with the 33d Field Hospital, APO 424, for a period of four (4) days, effective 11 Feb 45)
Monday, 12 February 1945
For the past couple of days my activities have been restricted to listening to a series of lectures on Registrar records and preparation thereof. Each and every Hospital in Italy had to send a representative, so I was selected to represent the 34th Field Hospital. I cannot tell you the exact location of the meeting place, but I believe I will not violate censoring regulations if I write you that this meeting is being held in the northern section of Italy.
Tomorrow will bring more lectures and bull sessions, but on Wednesday, I will be free to do as I please … so, I believe I will do a lot of sightseeing.
I had a little difficulty in getting transportation over here, because of the weather, but after hanging around the airport for a whole day, I finally was told that a plane would take off the next day rain or shine. I reported to the airport the next morning and because of a rain storm we didn’t take off until two in the afternoon. Things were pretty rough for us a little while, but we finally flew out of the storm and thereafter I sat back and enjoyed the scenery (they traveled by Army Air Forces, Air Transport Command, from Bari to Pisa –ed).
Do you remember Major Seron, our first C.O. (Major Zaven M. Seron, MC, O-313026 -ed)? Well, he got assigned to a Hospital about three miles away from our meeting place and so I went over to visit him last night. I have never seen a man change so much in one short year! Where he used to be enthusiastic about his job, he now is only interested in going home. He is not doing any medicine, but is in charge of an unimportant department in a large General Hospital … I don’t believe the C.O. even knows (or cares) he is around.
Wednesday or Thursday, I intend making a trip over to the unit with which Major DiSilvio is affiliated … remember him? He is the Surgeon from Pittsburgh. Most of the fellows are over on the other side of the room discussing todays’ lectures, but most of this conference is for Registrars of the Fifth Army. We are servicing the Army Air Forces and this stuff doesn’t concern me and that is the reason I’m not over there.
Wednesday, 14 February 1945
Today, I have been making a tour of all the churches, old castles, paintings, sculptures and famous points of interest in one of the northern towns here in Italy. I enjoyed myself immensely today. I have seen world famous paintings, and sculpture which up to today were just so many pages in a book, but today the Italian Renaissance period and the artist and people of that day lived again in my imagination.
I have developed a sore throat and I believe I have a slight temperature so I am going to bed … oh yes, we are quartered in a transient Officers’ Hotel and boy is it a swanky place …
Sunday, 18 February 1945
I am now back in my own private little tent. I am nursing a pretty mean cold and sore throat which I believed came upon me because of my trying to see everything I could possibly see and reading about what I saw during the day, instead of sleeping.
I flew both ways and let me tell you this is pretty rough weather for flying. Apart from a little excitement on our return trip, nothing unusual happened.
Sunday, 25 February 1945
For the past week, I have been ill with my usual pharyngitis and about the most severe head cold I have ever had. My head ached so much that I couldn’t raise it from the pillow. With the exception of when I was ill with the intestinal gripe, I don’t believe I ever spent a more miserable week.
You wrote in one of your letters that you met a fellow from the Army Air Forces who returned from overseas duty and I bet you a dime to a doughnut that this fellow while over here was stationed near to me.
Wednesday, 28 February 1945
Tonight the full moon is shining down into the valley which I can see from my office window. The night is so bright that I can see the houses on the other side of the valley. Gee, what a beautiful sight! I can’t help but think that this is a beautiful world we live in and the Lord meant this world to be beautiful and peaceful as this now appears before me. But the roar of the engines of several planes awakened me from my reverie. It’s hard to believe that men are being killed right now, but such is the case. If the people of this poor miserable world would only learn that loving and being loved is the only thing of importance; and believe me when I write no one is really happy nor successful unless he has love in his heart, and yet we have people whose ambitions interfere and destroy the happiness and lives of each and every living soul.
Thursday, 1 March 1945
This has been a very beautiful day … the sun shone brightly all day and boy did I take advantage of it … although I have about “umpteen” reports as yet to prepare I just couldn’t resist taking a few hours off to sit in the sun. Because the month of March came in like a lamb, I am afraid that it will go out like a lion! (as the saying goes).
I am O.K. Still have a sore throat, but if the weather keeps up, it will be better in no time. We had some spaghetti and meat balls tonight and I made the sauce … everyone seemed to enjoy it very much, even the Colonel who was out here today.
The war news is very encouraging … the first thing we know the war will be over! Gee, what will I do when there is no more war?
Wednesday, 7 March 1945
I feel “super” tonight. No more cold, nor sinus trouble, just a little cough and I am sure that the codeine I am taking will take care of that in very short order.
Saturday, 10 March 1945
A few minutes ago we got hail about the size of a pea, and now enormous snow flakes are coming down! We are certainly witnessing typical March weather. Yesterday, I had the privilege of seeing the world premiere of the picture entitled “My Reputation” (1944 romantic drama movie with Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, and Warner Anderson –ed) and tonight we saw “Keys of the Kingdom” (1944 religious and human drama movie with Gregory Peck and Thomas Mitchell –ed). What a lesson in humility this picture gives one.
With the American troops crossing the Rhine River and troops advancing ten miles east of the Rhine one can afford to be a little optimistic about the duration of the war. It wouldn’t surprise me if in a matter of months Germany capitulates, but then who am I to speak and further more what do I know what Germany has up her sleeve, but one can not help wishing for a quick end to this already drawn-out affair. Gee, wouldn’t it be just super if I were to come home for good, say about July or August? I wonder if our unit will be sent to the Pacific or return to the States when the European campaign ends?
Our generators went bad again today so I am writing this by light of a gasoline lamp and although it throws out some light it can not be compared to electricity.
Sunday, 11 March 1945
I did not purchase the coat you saw me wearing in one of the snap shots, but rather it was my coat when I was an EM and I had it altered. Our Chaplain is going to Rome tomorrow … this has been a beautiful day, but a few days ago we had some more snow…
Tuesday, 13 March 1945
I received a letter from my brother Dan written on the 25th of February from somewhere in the Pacific.
Wednesday, 21 March 1945
Notice the date! The first day of spring! Yes, it is truly a typical spring day. The sun has been shining all day, the almond blossoms all in bloom, making the plateau upon which we are bivouacked about the most beautiful spot in the country. I took a few snap shots of the area and also one or two of myself showing off my new “Jacket, Field, Wool, OD” (the new M-1944 Field Jacket for all ranks -ed). Major Flowers has been also snapping pictures with colored film.
We have begun our baseball season again and for our first practice we had a surprising turnout … well it’s something to do evenings! We soldiers have been urged to write V-Mail because of the lack of space on the airplanes. The war news is very encouraging! Germany is sending out peace feelers, the American, French and British Armies advancing to the east … I don’t believe Germany will be able to hold out through the summer. Tell your brother Junior to hurry up HIS war over the Pacific and then perhaps we can all come home together.
Saturday, 24 March 1945
The inspector I mentioned remained with us overnight and from 0800 yesterday morning until about noon he inspected all of my records and I mean “inspected”, I don’t think he overlooked a thing, but with all his looking he only found a few items to criticize. In his report to Headquarters, he rated this organization very excellent administratively.
After the above inspector left, two others drove up … one to inspect the Surgical Section and the other the Medical Section. So, off we went again for the rest of the afternoon. They were also very pleased with what they found. I wonder if you can realize how much of a strain on one’s nerves it is to have inspectors around? I was so exhausted after they left that I returned right after supper and boy did I sleep! And I still have to be confronted with the all important inspector from the Inspector General’s Department. The inspection yesterday will be child’s play compared to the one this inspector will give me.
The Americans have landed an Airborne Division (i.e. the 17th A/B Division –ed) on the eastern side of the Rhine (Operation “Varsity” 24 Mar 45 –ed) and I am sure that this undertaking will be very successful and undoubtedly make it possible for all the Allied Armies to cross the Rhine. Our progress has been splendid on the Western front and the Russians are beginning a drive of their own and I don’t believe the day is so very far off when the Allied Armies in the East will meet with the Allied Armies fighting in the West.
Tuesday, 27 March 1945
Did you ever think way back about that St. Patrick’s Day in 1941, when I first became a soldier in the U.S. Army, that I would still be a member of this great institution, come St. Patrick’s Day 1945? Well, lo and behold, I am! To think that I have given the best years of my “life” to the Army … remember when I first enlisted it was only for one year … what a long year …
We will be drawing today to send 2 EM to go home on TD (temporary duty -ed) for a month and guess what? Although we have several Irishmen in the outfit, none were lucky enough to be drawn. This being St. Patrick’s Day too … I can’t understand it … after I read off each of their names they let out the most unearthly screams I have ever heard. I don’t believe I will ever see two happier guys if I live to be a thousand years old. I took a snap shot of them which I will send to you later.
I received a letter from my Mother today in which was enclosed a newspaper print of me shoveling snow. The person who took the picture thought that I was a pretty good “Joe” because I was out shoveling snow with the Enlisted Men, but however he didn’t know that I just love to shovel snow.
The Germans can’t hold out much longer. I read somewhere that the German people are uprising in Berlin.
Thursday, 29 March 1945
I am scheduled to go on another conference soon … I have been working late all week getting out our monthly reports.
Friday, 30 March 1945
I am sure you would not want me to stop thinking of myself … you would suddenly find me a very dull person. We are now engaged in a war because individuals wish to express themselves and I am certain that you, who has three warriors abroad, do not want to make a mockery of the very same thing for which so many have given up their lives.
Sunday, 8 April 1945
I have been away to my conference, but am back to Headquarters safe and sound and now I will have to drive down to the Platoon.
Tuesday, 10 April 1945
Although we service Army Air Force troops, we are no longer attached to the Army Air Forces and therefore I don’t believe there is anyone in the AAF, especially someone back home in the States, who knows what will become of our unit. It is a known fact that personnel who return to the States like to impress the people back home with what they know, but what they relate is usually untrue, or just wishful thinking. Not that I blame the soldier or sailor so much, because I believe the civilian is just as much to blame, because the civilian considers every soldier who has served overseas an authority on the war situation and naturally the returning veteran is going to take advantage of the position in which he finds himself. I honestly hope that what the Air Force Officer you met in the “5 and 10” (Woolworth’s Store, called “Five and a Dime” –ed) told you materializes, but I am willing to bet you a dollar to a doughnut that it will not come about. But, keep your spirits up! With the Allied Armies progressing as rapidly as they are on all fronts this war may end any day now.
I have recently completed another phase of my review of accounting and have written for the next step. This review is very helpful. We have selected two more EM to go home on TD. More power to them!
I have to give an Orientation lecture soon, so I will close so that I can review my lecture and put all my notes in order.
Thursday, 12 April 1945
I hope the weather back home has been as fair as it has been over here. For the past week, we have enjoyed typical spring weather. I always did like spring … I don’t know, but there seems to be a refreshing something about this time of the year that makes one glad that one is alive … yes, even if it’s a crazy cosmic in which we live.
I am in fine shape. Isn’t the news very encouraging … just sixty miles from Berlin!
(on 13 Apr 45, 1st Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo receives a Certificate from the United States Armed Forces Institute, MTOUSA Branch, for successfully completing Course No. H-51 “Bookkeeping and Accounting II” with Distinction)
Monday, 16 April 1945
I just heard our new President Harry Truman’s initial address to the world and for a man who inherited the problems of the universe, I believe he has accepted the challenge courageously and has stated his ideas about the war, foreign policy and plans for peace which is to follow very clearly. I am sure that America will continue to prosper under his leadership.
How did the American people back home react after hearing that President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away? (Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32d US President, passed away on 12 Apr 45 –ed).
I have been extremely busy these past two weeks, but I should be pretty well have caught up by the end of this week. I am very well and the weather is swell!
Wednesday, 18 April 1945
Today I received your Easter package. As soon as the other Officers saw me take the package over to my tent, they all stopped whatever they were doing and came over to help me unwrap it (that’s what they said they came over for). But when I opened it they made a beeline for the cookies and the Easter Egg and didn’t leave until both were completely devoured.
I have finished up all my back work … boy, what a relief! Now, I’ll have about a week to rest up before I get into the monthly reports.
Tuesday, 24 April 1945
This morning I woke up with a severe pain in my neck. It has caused me no end of discomfort. We rolled up the sides of our tent last night and undoubtedly the cold air caused the pain.
I have been extremely busy of late organizing an Information and Education program for the Platoon personnel. I give a lecture on current events weekly, lead discussions and teach several subjects. Anyway, I know I’m helping the guys in my Platoon to be prepared to go back to civilian life and to find their place in society. That is reward enough for me.
I am going to see “Rhapsody in Blue” (1945 musical drama movie with Robert Alda and Joan Leslie –ed) tonight.
Thursday, 26 April 1945
Yes, we soldiers serving overseas were shocked and very sad indeed to lose our Commander-in-Chief before the battle was completely won, but he has taught us well and has shown us the right road toward universal peace. F.D.R. was indeed a great President and a humanitarian. Historians will compare him to Washington, Lincoln and Wilson.
For the past few days I have been checking over my records in preparation for another inspection. I’ve got them in pretty good shape now.
Saturday, 28 April 1945
Events over here are fast coming to an end, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this affair got finalized before the end of next month. It was announced over the radio tonight that Himmler (Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler –ed) offered an “Unconditional Surrender” to the U.S. and Britain, but not to the Soviet Union! Of course we refused, but however I don’t believe that many weeks will lapse before they include the Soviets too. Himmler also stated that Hitler’s health is failing and in all probability he will pass away in a day or two. I never thought that I would be glad to see anyone die, but in this case I say “good riddance”. The world will be a better place to live in without him or his kind.
Wednesday, 2 May 1945
This morning we were told of Adolf Hitler’s death! (30 Apr 45 -ed). This evening we heard that the German Army in Italy surrendered unconditionally (official surrender effective 2 May 45 –ed) and just a few minutes ago the Soviet Union announced the fall of Berlin (the battle ended on 2 May 45 –ed). Now rumor has is that all military operations in Europe are at an end … meaning that Germany has included the Soviets in their unconditional surrender offer … rumors are flying “thick and fast” around here; one doesn’t know what to believe.
There is too much mystery surrounding the death of Hitler. I believe he was killed by the hand of one of his henchmen in order to lead the German people in believing that he died a hero’s death in his bunker. Now he will become a legendary figure in the eyes of the German people.
My goodness … it’s way passed lights out time … I wonder why they didn’t go out? Maybe someone is baking in the kitchen. Think I’ll walk over.
I can’t wait until morning to find out if the rumor I heard is really true.
Saturday, 5 May 1945
This morning at 1000 the C.O. (Lt. Colonel Drake -ed) and I presented the EM with their Good Conduct Medals after which we inspected the Hospital and the EM Quarters. Upon the conclusion of the inspection, I returned to my office and finished my monthly report on the status of our Supplies. After dinner, I checked over all the monthly and weekly reports, made some entries and checked the Service Records of the EM. Finished with the SR at 1500; then drove over to the Finance Office, picked up the payroll for the civilians and paid them off … then the supper whistle blew and off to chow I went. Oh, you wonder what I did between Reveille and 2200 … well, I was up at 0615, led the EM in calisthenics for fifteen minutes, told them that one of them was a thief, because fifty dollars was stolen from the EM club! Can you think of anyone who could be so low as to steal from his buddies? Boy I was certainly angry when I heard about it and if I ever find out who it was that took the money I’ll see that he is court-martialed and that he gets the limit. After formation, I ate breakfast, then listened to the news broadcast; went to my office and censored the mail, checked, signed and mailed the daily reports … by then it was 1000 o’clock and so off I went to distribute the medals. There you have a word picture of my activities for the day …
I wouldn’t be surprised if all Germany surrendered soon. If Germany really gives up this month and I think there is a good chance that she will … we could be home by Thanksgiving! But, however don’t build up your hopes too high, because there is always the possibility that I might be transferred to the Pacific; but I don’t think I will be, because of my length of service in the Army and overseas. If I do go to the Pacific, I believe I will be sent home for a while, reassigned and sent over with another unit.
Now that Italy is an inactive Theater I see no reason why I can’t tell you where I’m located … First Platoon, 34th Field Hospital (where I am stationed) is about two miles south-west of Spinazzola, one of the dirtiest and filthiest towns I have ever seen, but we are situated on a plateau in the middle of an almond orchard and our area is about the cleanest in all Italy. Spinazzola is about sixty miles from, “that town”, i.e. Bari, and approximately thirty miles southwest of Cerignola, where the Headquarters, 34th Field Hospital is located. But, in order to get out of here we must travel over some of the roughest roads you could ever imagine. That is the reason I hardly ever leave the area.
I will certainly be glad to get out of this wool clothing and go into cottons, because I have developed an allergy to wool clothing and at times, like tonight, I itch something fierce!
Monday, 7 May 1945
Here it is, May Day, once again and although I should be out dancing around a May pole, I can’t work up the enthusiasm for it. Yes, I know that the war over here is in its final stage and in all probability V-E Day will soon be here … but I just have this case of Spring Fever. Some days I just get so low.
I read in the “Stars and Stripes” that you people back home were told that German surrendered Saturday, but found out later that it was all a mistake … must have been quite a disappointment for you! However, I do think that this affair will be officially over in a matter of weeks or perhaps even days and then there still remains an account to be settled with the Japs! I hope the people back home remember this.
I have no information on what will happen to this unit after Germany surrenders. Anyone of a number of things can happen: we could be sent directly over to the Pacific from here; or go to the Pacific Theater by way of the States after a Leave of Absence in the States; or our unit or I may be declared surplus in which case I may be sent back home to the States to join another unit or perhaps even get discharged; and finally we might remain right where we are for a few more months. Take your pick.
My tentmate went back to Headquarters and now I have a tent all to myself and boy do I have a neat looking tent … all the comforts of home … well, almost …
Lights out in a few …
Tuesday, 8 May 1945
I have just heard the proclamation of the “Unconditional Surrender” of Germany to the Allied Nations from the lips of President Truman and British Prime Minister Churchill, and to tell you the truth, I just can’t work up any enthusiasm. Yes, I know that a very important phase of the World War is over, but at this time my thoughts and prayers turn to those warriors who paid the ultimate price for the liberation of the Western world! I have seen so much suffering and death over here … let’s hope that from the Peace Conference being held in San Francisco, a plan will issue that will insure a lasting peace …
Now we must crush the Japanese in the Pacific. I do not know what part I will play in the liberation of the Eastern world, but whatever it may be, I assure you that I will, as well as every other soldier, do everything in my power to hasten the end of hostilities with Japan. With the transfer of all the arms and men from this Theater to the Pacific, it is reasonable to conclude that Japan will be defeated quickly and decisively.
Like every soldier in the European Theater, I too am wondering where I will go?
Friday, 11 May 1945
The War Department has announced the multiples to be applied to the Readjustment Regulations. My ASR (Adjusted Service Rating, ‘Point System’ introduced 12 May 45, the higher the score, the higher the probability to be sent home for demobilization and discharge –ed) score is 81 points (by end May 45, the critical score for MAC Officers was 88 –ed). I have been in the Army since 17 March 1941 which allows me 50 credits for service years; I have been overseas for twenty-one months which allows me another 21 points; and I have two combat credits at five points each … which allows me another 10 points. It has been announced that Officers will not be discharged unless they are surplus, but if an Officer is once declared surplus then he will be discharged according to his ASR score.
I do not believe that many Officers will be discharged immediately, but I do believe that we will remain in this Theater for at least three more months, after which we will return to the States for either a Discharge or Reassignment. However, please remember that I am no authority on this and I don’t know any more relative to the future than the next man.
The weather of late has been wonderfully warm. Every day finds the sun beaming in all its glory and a cool breeze is ever present. Our area really is picturesque … we have whitewashed our almond trees and placed white washed stones all around our area, poppies, daisies, dandelions and beautiful green grass are growing all around. Now that there is a possibility of moving, I realize how lucky we have been to have lived out here in the country away from all the filth and noise of the city.
Our Chaplain has been out here visiting for the past two days and roomed with me.
Sunday, 13 May 1945
I don’t know what is going to happen, but all I can do is hope for the best and if fate deals us a dirty deal, then what? There is very little I can do about my destiny. My activities of late have been concerned with getting my records and organization in order so that we can move out at short notice. I am compelled to remain around camp every minute of the day and therefore I haven’t been able to make it over to Headquarters. For all indications, the Platoon will soon move back to join Headquarters and Second and Third Platoon at Cerignola before the end of the month. What will happen after we go back, only the War Department knows …
It is getting late … the lights have just blinked … the signal that they will be turned off in a minute … there they go!
Tuesday, 15 May 1945
Sent in the report on the WD “Point System” today. It will be four to six weeks before we know what the War Department intends to do or rather who the WD will discharge. Hope they choose me!
Thursday, 17 May 1945
I have been given permission to drive over to Naples. I am writing this while I am waiting for the vehicle … it will take five hours to drive over to Naples and get the supplies we need.
Saturday, 19 May 1945
I left Spinazzola on the 17th, remained in Cerignola overnight, straightened out a lot of things around Cerignola, for instance: where we will be paid this month, what happened to some laundry we never got back from the QM laundry, what happened to one of our generators, typed-up a payroll and several other odds and ends. I had expected to leave for Naples yesterday afternoon but the Colonel called me in his office and we discussed transferring some of our men from the Platoon back to Headquarters. This discussion continued even after supper. I believe he released me at 2000 after which I went over to visit my dentist friend, drank a few beers and stayed overnight. I left for Naples at about 0800 this morning.
I am so tired after the five-hour drive, I think I will lie down now…
Monday, 21 May 1945
Here I am safe and sound back at First Platoon (my outfit). Not only is it a dangerous drive from Naples through the mountains, but it is also a very long, dirty, hot and tiresome ride. I thought we would never get home. We started from Naples at about 0900 in the morning, got caught in a convoy and finally arrived at Spinazzola around 1700 in the afternoon.
There is no news about this unit moving, going home or anything of the kind … so we will just have to sit and wait. The longer we sit, the better the opportunity for us being shipped back to the States.
Believe I will go take a shower and hop into bed.
(on 21 May 45, the 34th Field Hospital Commanding Officer receives a “Commendation” from Headquarters 55th Bomb Wing (H), APO 520, USAAF, signed by Brig. General George R. ACHESON, for its skill, devotion to duty and caring for sick and wounded personnel of the 55th Bomb Wing (H), 460th Bomb Group, Fifteenth Air Force)
Saturday, 26 May 1945
This past week, because of the trip to Naples, I was a very busy little boy. I don’t mind work, but I’ll be darned if I care to work night and day!
I am in very good health and guess what? I have begun to do some exercising in the morning and play softball with the Enlisted Men. I can do thirty push ups now, AINT that something????
I still can’t give you any information about where this unit is headed or what will become of us.
This is Saturday night … the time is 2100 in the evening and do you know where I am going to … to bed!
Tuesday, 29 May 1945
I gather that everyone expects me home immediately now that the war with Germany has ended. I hope you are right, but from what little information I have received and from all appearances it seems that we will be required to remain right where we are for at least a few months longer, after which one of several things can happen to this unit … we might be shipped directly to the Pacific; or to the Pacific after a 30-day leave in the States; or this unit may be inactivated and some of us transferred to other units and others sent home to be discharged or assigned to some unit in the States; still we could become a part of the Army of Occupation, which I believe is unlikely because of the length of time we have already served overseas and finally we may be assigned to service with one of the A.T.C. (Air Transport Command, major subdivision of the AAF responsible for air transport and supply of tactical equipment and personnel to Theaters of Operations and all parts of the continental U.S. –ed) shuttle stations located between here and the States. As of this date, I believe we will come home to be inactivated and some of us will be assigned to other units or discharged or disbanded over here and some assigned to other units and some of us to be shipped to the States for further service or discharge. This is only speculation on my part and really not based on anything substantial …so, take it for what it is worth!
It amused me when I read your letter that the girls at the Fort (Ft Dix in New Jersey –ed) told you that they were expecting the medical units home first. You undoubtedly know by now how wrong they were, because already many Fifth United States Army troops have been flown home for special jungle warfare training before they continue their journey to the Pacific Theater and most likely the War Department will continue to ship first those troops that are urgently needed in the Pacific. Perhaps when the time comes for us to be moved the W.D. will have sufficient medical personnel in the Pacific … well, I can dream, can’t I?
Last week was extremely busy, but this week, I find myself with practically nothing to do … this won’t last long!
Thursday, 31 May 1945
“Memorial Day” was a half-day holiday for us and so the Major and I drove over to my Mother’s birthplace in San Fele. The distance between San Fele and Spinazzola is only forty miles, but because of the poor condition of the roads and the many curves, it took us about three hours to get there.
I am dying to know if I will get discharged or sent to the Pacific. I wish I would get some news one way or the other. This waiting for something to happen is very trying. There is a good possibility that I may come home to the States for either a leave or a reassignment, but if I were sent directly to the Pacific, I know that you will take it on the chin like a good soldier and still be waiting for me regardless of however long I will be called upon to serve.
I have been ill for the past few days, but no one can seem to figure out what is wrong with me. The war boy just brought my lunch over so please excuse me while I partake of this desperately needed food … well, that’s over and done … what did I have? Roastbeef, mashed potatoes, asparagus, raisin pie and iced cocoa. Speaking of what I had to eat brings to mind that you people back home in the States are not getting too much in the way of food. How bad is it really? Sometimes I wonder if all this sacrifice and suffering will reap any benefits in the final analysis? I hope so …
The sun is shining directly on my tent and it is getting extremely hot, so I believe I will quit writing for now and just lie still. I hope you are well and that I will get to see you soon. So long for now. Nick.
(on 5 June 1945, First Platoon, 34th Field Hospital, officially closes down at Spinazzola, in accordance with Redeployment of PBS Hospital units, and reassignment of 10 Station Hospitals and 1 Field Hospital to the Southwest Pacific)
Wednesday, 6 June 1945
I am still in bed, but no longer in Spinazzola. I, as well as the entire Platoon joined Headquarters today. And the noise around here is driving me insane!
Since my letter last week, I have had a relapse and boy I had all types of chills, aches, pains and my fever remained constantly between 102-104, but I feel so much better today. The doctors have finally diagnosed my disease as meningitis, lymphatic. I am not the only one ill with this malady, as a matter of fact seven Enlisted Men, one doctor and also one nurse are also ill. Although this disease brings about a high fever and knocks the socks out of you, it is not fatal; so there is no reason or cause for alarm.
Now I come to what I consider one of the most difficult tasks I have ever had to do, especially when I always bungle every attempt to soften bad news. I know from your letters you are counting the days and expecting me home soon, but I learned today that this unit is earmarked for the Pacific! Whether we shall go direct or through the States is unknown as yet, but I believe we shall go direct. One thing further, remember I wrote that the unit will go, but there is a possibility that the Army will transfer some Officer personnel from some other unit into this and our Officer Personnel out … if not after we get into the Pacific Theater, there may be a few transfers there.
If I go directly to the Pacific and I do not come home, I hope you take it like the good soldier I know you to be. I don’t know exactly what my assignment will be in the Pacific, but I imagine we will do the same type of work we did here in Italy … be attached to some Army Air Force unit on some base, maybe Saipan, Iwo Jima or even Okinawa.
This war against Japan will consist mostly of air and naval maneuvers and the ground troops coming in the final stages to mop up. In my humble opinion our Air Force will soften up Japan, we will have invaded China and the ground troops will begin their mopping up by the spring of ’46. Of course, I am no authority, but I saw our Air Forces soften up Germany, who had both planes and antiaircraft, in one year; so I am certain that they can soften up Japan, which has hardly any planes for defense and ineffective antiaircraft artillery, in half the time. Again I write: “Time will tell”.
A pal of mine says he thinks the world is going to the dogs. The world is not going to the dogs and right will always be right and wrong, wrong. Yes, I’ll admit the world is in a state of confusion, but that is a good sign. This shows that the Nations of the world are dissatisfied. You can’t lose faith. We are not fighting without purpose or cause.
Sunday, 10 June 1945
I have been discharged from the Hospital today with the diagnosis of Sand Fly fever.
An order has come through stating that all MAC Officers with scores above 85 will be transferred to units slated to go home (in fact by end May the ASRS for MAC Officers was 88 –ed). With the exception of myself, all of the other MACs have over 85 points and therefore will be transferred out. I only have 81 points!
So, that leaves only one MAC Officer with this unit … yours truly! What may happen where I am concerned is that in a few months the War Department may lower the critical ASR score to say about 80 and then perhaps I too will be shipped home, but if this doesn’t happen then when we arrive in the Pacific Theater the rotation quotas will again go into effect and being Adjutant I will make certain that my name is submitted first and with luck maybe I’ll be discharged from the Army or sent home to stay within the next eight months and those MACs who are going home now may be leaving for the Pacific. Although I would very much like to come home, I think it’s better if I go to the Pacific for a few months and then come home to stay. We should be ready to move sometime around the later part of July.
Thursday, 14 June 1945
There isn’t any new development on our proposed movement. We are still in Cerignola, but as I thought, some Officers with high scores are being transferred out. As for me, 81 points is such a low score for a MAC Officer. Maybe I’ll get lucky and get a discharge, but this is not probable, but I am at least hoping that I may be fortunate enough to get a leave.
(on 15 June 1945, the Second and Third Platoons, 34th Field Hospital, officially close their Cerignola installations as well. Some Hospitals are scheduled for transfer to the Pacific Theater by way of the United States, such as the 52d – 73d – 106th – 114th – 118th Station Hospitals, while the 34th Field Hospital and the 262d Station Hospital were to sail directly to Manila, Philippines. It should be noted that due to the ending of the war in the Pacific, a number of Hospitals which sailed in August, were intercepted at sea and diverted to the United States for disposition)
Tuesday, 19 June 1945
This past week has been extremely busy. I am now stationed in Naples and will remain here for a month or so. Officers have been and are being transferred in and out of this unit, but as yet no orders have come in for me. However I have spoken to MAC Officers who are going home and who have lower scores than I, so I wonder? I am very much disappointed at the turn of events here, but a soldier must go where he is ordered.
Thursday, 21 June 1945
I have to go up north on official business the nature of which I am not at liberty to relate. I will probably be quite busy for several days. I am certainly doing a lot of flying lately. Before long, I’ll have flown enough to have earned wings.
I have heard from a reliable source that the critical score for an Officer’s discharge in this Theater, MTOUSA, will be 79 (unfortunately this wasn’t true, and just another rumor –ed). If that is true then with my 81 points I will be eligible. Now, I must hope and pray that I will remain in this Theater until this is officially confirmed and made public. If I should leave this Theater before this is announced I will have to see what the critical ASR score for an Officer’s eligibility for discharge will be in the other Theater. It may be the same, or even lower, and then again it may be higher!
My chances to get the position of Adjutant is just about shot, because as I thought would be the case a MAC Officer who has been a 1st Lieutenant for 2 ½ years was transferred into our outfit, and he outranks all the others including me, and because promotions are usually given to men who rank, he will probably get both the promotion and the job of Adjutant.
(on 21 Jun 45, 1st Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo (together with some personnel of the 262d Station Hospital) is authorized to proceed from Naples, on or about 22 June, to Leghorn, Italy, on TD for the purpose in assisting in the movement of Hospital Assembly units. Travel by military aircraft is authorized. Orders were received from Headquarters, Peninsular Base Section, APO 782, Italy)
Friday, 29 June 1945
Leghorn, Italy. Enclosed you will find a clipping from the “Stars and Stripes” stating that the points will be lowered to 80 or 78, and although this refers only to Enlisted Men, I am sure that it will also include unessential Officers … now, all that has to happen is for me to be declared unessential. This gives me some hope … maybe I’ll be home before Christmas yet …
Monday, 2 July 1945
I am back in Naples, a little tired, but none the worse for my experiences.
I agree with your brother that the war with Japan will not last as long as some people believe, and if it should, there is the possibility that after I serve in the Pacific area for about six months to a year, I may be returned to the States and discharged.
Sunday, 8 July 1945
I have just been asked to go to the beach after dinner by a group of the Officers so I better dig out my trunks ….
Back from my swim … this morning I arose at 0800 and almost missed breakfast, but the cook was good enough to fry me a couple of eggs and boil up a pot of coffee for me … I must rate!
Last night, I went to see the Opera “Faust” which I enjoyed. The Chaplain and I have been taking a few Enlisted Men along with us every time we attend the opera and the guys seem to enjoy themselves.
All the Military authorities seem to think that the war with Japan will end sooner than was first expected. I certainly hope they are right! For some unknown reason, I feel way deep inside of me that I will be home before this Christmas comes around.
Redeployment & Reassignment:
Saturday, 21 July 1945
A few days ago, I finished up all my work and thought then that I could sit back and rest until sailing time, but records left by an Officer, who is no longer with us and probably already back in the States, were found to be not in order; therefore, for the past three days and nights I have been working on the mess he left. As always is the case, some innocent person must suffer for someone else’s errors … I am getting pretty tired of covering up! As a matter of fact, I am just pretty tired.
The other day, the last of the Officers with whom I buddied around with has left and I certainly feel lonely … like a stranger in my own outfit!
Today completes my second year as an Officer, 23 months overseas and 4 ½ years in the Army and still I am going to the Pacific … is this Justice? But however in authority seems to think that the affair with Japan will end within the next six months or at least by the spring … I hope they are right? Do they know something we don’t?
We leave tomorrow out of Naples (the 34th Fld Hosp was ordered to the Southwest Pacific Area 22 Jul 45 –ed) and I expect that our unit will be stationed on some Godforsaken island somewhere in the Pacific with little or no chance of getting off until the end of the war. If such is the case, it’s going to be very dull and if you want me to come home to you in my right mind … I am pleading with you … write me many letters!! You probably won’t hear from me for a while, but that’s because I can’t mail letters from the middle of the ocean!
Anyway, it’s just a little while longer … we are going over to take care of our soldiers, so they can finish up this war and we can all go home again.
So long from this side of the world!
Monday, 10 September 1945
After 50 days aboard the good ship USS “General Oswald H. Ernst” (Troopship AP-133 –ed) I have finally debarked and have joined my unit. Now I wish I was back aboard the ship, because we are living in tents and since it is the rainy season out here the area is just one large plot of mud. When it doesn’t rain (for an hour or two), the mud is only ankle deep, but after a rainfall, it is about knee deep.
Our area is about ten miles out of town (Manila, capital of the Philippines –ed)) and we have no transportation; rationing with another unit; and no one seems to know (or care) what is to be our assignment. It seems that the Headquarters to which we were to be assigned has been dissolved and now no one knows what is to be done with our unit now that the war is over. However, we are not sitting around idle. The Medical Officers are on duty with various Hospitals in the area, the Enlisted Men with several units, and we MAC Officers are assisting around the Replacement Depot.
As for coming home … well, I qualify for a discharge under this new system, but as yet nothing is being done where we are concerned because there is no Headquarters taking care of us. It’s just too early to tell what will happen to us. Perhaps we will be declared surplus and returned to the States to be discharged or perhaps we will be screened and the high point men sent home while the low point men will be assigned to some other unit. What a rotten break our unit got … here we have served 2 years in Italy and were sent over to the Pacific whereas some units spent only six months in Europe and are now already back in the States! This Theater is certainly SNAFU! Perhaps the abruptness with which the war ended has caught them unprepared and with the number of troops being sent over here and the problem of occupying Japan undoubtedly has added to the confusion, but what I don’t understand is why someone in authority didn’t call our ship in when the war came to a close. I am so discouraged.
Saturday, 15 September 1945
Our unit has been broken up, not officially, but in order to loan the different outfits, which are short handed, much needed help. I am still with Headquarters of the 34th Field Hospital, but quartered with the Officers of the 4th General Hospital (affiliated with Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, activated 13 Jan 42, embarked for Australia 23 Jan 42, served in Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines –ed). I am pleased with this change, because no longer are we compelled to live in tents and walk through the mud, we are now living in pre-fabricated huts and wooden walks have been constructed throughout the area … it’s all right!
The food over here is also one thousand percent better than what we were served over in the mudhole … the 3d Concentration Center … yes, that’s the name (this could have been part of, or included, the 26th Hospital Center located at Mandaluyong near Manila, with a 12,000 bed-capacity –ed)! And we are sleeping in honest to goodness beds; mattress and all.
It has rained every day since we arrived, but I don’t mind the rain as much as I do the humidity … especially after the rain I am told that one becomes accustomed to the heat after you have been here for a month … Well, I hope I am not here long enough to become acclimated.
I am disgusted with this Point System. No info relative to Officers for our unit has passed through this Headquarters as yet, but I have seen a circular from the files of the 4th General Hospital, which states that all Officers and EM who are eligible for discharge will be entered on the morning report of the 21st of September, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I will make that entry! I wonder what will happen?
Monday, 17 September 1945
It was announced yesterday that MAC Officers with an Adjusted Service Rating Score of 70 or more, or who served in the Army prior to Pearl Harbor, or having reached their 42nd Birthday would be discharged from the service and home by Christmas.
Well, I have 88 points, enlisted on St. Patrick’s Day in 1941 and by God, I look 42.
Since I have arrived in Manila, I have been working on coming home and getting the Enlisted Men paid. They haven’t been paid for three months.
I haven’t seen much of Manila City, but I did drive through some of the streets and at one time this must have been a very beautiful city, but now it is just a mass of ruins … there isn’t a building which hasn’t been shot up. One of the most interesting things about the city is the people. They are a happy lot even after they were forced to suffer so much at the hands of the Japanese occupation forces.
Tuesday, 25 September 1945
I am so anxious to go home now, I am like a caged lion. Perhaps we will receive our orders by the end of the week to report to the Replacement Depot, but there are about 20,000 troops awaiting transportation at the Depot now … there are no ships and regardless of what General G. C. Marshall or anyone else says, shipping is definitely a bottleneck over here. So, when I get home all depends on transportation being available here.
Wednesday, 26 September 1945
The days are terribly hot and nights comfortably cool. The season over here is winter and the heat is unbearable … I would hate to be around here during the summer season.
I am anxious to start on my trip home. Days seem as long as weeks and weeks as long as months. I am not doing much of anything … except sleeping. I go to bed in the evening usually at 2100 or 2200, and am up at 0700 the next morning, quit work at noon, eat dinner, hit my sack at 1300, up at 1500, shower, dress for supper, report to the office to finish up anything that turned up during the day and there usually isn’t anything, and then go to supper. After supper, I listen to the radio until 1900, walk over to the movie and finally go to bed. Oh dear …
Sunday, 30 September 1945
Today was a day of misfortunes. We tried to go visit Corregidor (fortified island, called “The Rock”, located in Manila Bay –ed), but after sailing for three hours and only being three miles away from Corregidor, the Captain decided the bay was to rough to risk landing and as we were all seasick, so we returned home.
(on 3 Oct 45, 1st Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo, MAC, O-2046938, MOS 2120, ASR 88, is transferred from the 34th Field Hospital, APO 198, to the 112th Medical Battalion, 37th Infantry Division. The special orders came from Headquarters Luzon Area Command (Provisional), APO 198, Philippines. They were countersigned by 1st Lt. Charles C. Brittain, MAC, Adjutant, 34th Field Hospital)
Official wear of Awards authorized for 1st Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo, MAC, O-2046938: (at date of 15 Oct 45)
(on 24 Dec 45, 1st Lt. Nicholas C. D’Angelo, MAC (AUS), O-2046938, receives orders from Army Service Forces, Second Service Command, Separation Center, 1262d SCU Personnel Center, Fort Dix, New Jersey, informing him that he has a 79-day leave, and that he will revert to inactive status on 13 March 1946)
(on 27 Dec 45, Nicholas C. D’Angelo, MAC, O-2046938, is informed of his temporary promotion to the grade of Captain in the Army of the United States, effective on that date)
The MRC staff is truly indebted to Joan Slavin, daughter of Captain Nicholas D’Angelo (O-2046938), for sharing her Father’s WW2 reminiscences and allowing us to use excerpts of his numerous personal letters to his darling wife. Joan was also instrumental in providing us with many original photographs and documents related to her Father’s service years spent overseas with the US Army’s Medical Administrative Corps.