Monday, January 2, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: The Year of Liberation - Letter Home from WWII - Jan 1, 1944

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, newspaper articles, 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.

I began this project back in February of 2009, and since then, many others have joined in on the meme.  Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others. If you participate, feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments.
This week I transcribe a letter my grandfather wrote home from World War II, January 1, 1944.

Censored by
Army Examiner
MJ Deutsch

To Mrs. M.V. Deutsch
417 Oakley Drive
Clayton Branch
St. Louis, Missouri

From MJ Deutsch, Major
Station 1, NAFW, ATC
APO 396, c/o Pla. N.Y.
Jan 1, 1944

Dearest, General Surand(?), according to the local people, calls this the first day of the year of liberation. Persons can be freed in different ways. While Americans are not prisoners of a military occupation by the enemy as is France, their freedom is still almost as greatly restricted for they can’t do what they want to; going home to their families for instance. So it’ll be the first day of the year of liberation for us too.

You’re probably familiar with a form of exercise we’re subject to occasionally here. We call it “baggage drill.” We take our suitcases and equipment to the airport to get on a scheduled plane and then find that weather, motor trouble, or something or other has caused a cancellation. You then have to pick up all your paraphernalia and make new arrangements for a room, transportation, and all that goes with it. The next day you start all over again. This may go on for several days. You usually get up early in the morning, miss one or two meals, pack and unpack, get in everybody’s way, get irritated and sore and swear a lot. It’s getting to be a common thing, but I don’t think anyone wants to get used to it.

After looking around and discussing things generally it looks as if my job isn’t going to be very satisfactory as it stands. Hahn thinks I should either be attached or reassigned to his office. That really is my opinion, too, and I’ve indicated that to him. I’m not sure what action he can take on it. He said he’d think it over. If I’m reassigned again, it won’t make my return home as easy.

One of Hahn’s assistants, Sally Maloy, took me to a New Year’s Eve affair given by the local Officer’s Mess. They had a band, and plenty of beer and wine. However, there were about ten men for every woman. I enjoyed the affair and we didn’t get home till three in the morning.

Planning to try my baggage drill again today and hope to be back at my HQ shortly. Most love to you, ___, and ___. Martin.


1) APO 396 was Casablanca, Morocco (source: Numerical Listing of APOs: January 1942-November 1947. PDF)

2) As I've mentioned on other letters, my grandfather was his APO censor, so he censored his own letters.  His civilian profession was Post Office Inspector. I have censored the names of his children in his closing, since it is my habit not to mention the names of living people, though neither my mother nor aunt would likely mind.

3) While my grandfather wasn't released from active duty until November of 1945, during the summer of 1944 he was re-stationed in Palm Beach, Florida, where his wife and children joined him, so 1944 was his year of liberation.

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