Monday, November 23, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: Mandell Newmark - Xmas 1943

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

This week I continue transcribing the war journal of my great uncle, Mandell Newmark. I cringe at a few of the things he wrote, but I remind myself he was 20 years old, and I would have probably written similar things at that age.

December 24, 1943

We got back from our two days on the sea with the navy, and while we were on the ship it was real living. The navy really lives and the food was the best GI stuff I have had since I have been in the army. The PX has everything that a fellow would want and ice cream all the time. After living in the infantry that was really the life until this morning at 2 am we left the ship with a full field pack and all hand carried equipment and boarded a LCI. At 4am we made a landing and moved inland. I was with KC and was in the second wave. We moved inland and every time we would advance it meant digging in again.

We marched across the island and it was around 8 miles in all and it was hell. I don’t think I will ever forget that problem and I hope the real one, which I guess won’t be long, is more successful.

In the evening back at our camp we had a little beer and of course I had to get into that Christmas mood. During the course of the evening we sang Christmas carols with the girls they brought in from a small town near here. They were really hags, but the singing was fun. All I can say is it was not the Christmas eve that I want to spend again. My first Xmas in the army and I hope my last.

December 25, 1943

This is Christmas but one would never know it because it is so hot and the old spirit is just not here. We were supposed to get the day off but not while your in the army. They called us out a few times during the day to do different things around the aid station. We were all really P.O.

The dinner was pretty good. Turkey, black olives, dressing, potatoes, greens, tomatoes, and other things to go with these.

In the evening we had Green Death again, and I was feeling pretty good. Had a pretty good picture show.

All I can say is I never want to spend another Xmas in the army. I hate the army more each day.

Green Death may have been a reference to beer. Particularly, it is a nickname that has been given to Rainier ale, and at least one of his buddies was from Washington. I've read that 'Green Death" was also slang for dehydrated vegetable soup, but in this context it had to be something Mandell enjoyed, and he mentions drinking beer on the evening of the 24th.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

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