World War II Navigator student worries about grades

World War II Navigator student worries about grades
Hondo students learn navigation 1944 (Maybe my uncle knew these guys!)

Frank answers both my parents' letters from a few days earlier (Click on the title to scroll down and read these letters: Memorial Day, and Home Front update).

His concerns about his coursework are increasing: he's now flunked two exams. Instead of "I'll be all right," as he wrote his parents, he now writes: "I'm going to make it--I think." The specter of "washing out" and being sent to the infantry haunted these young navigation students.

He also reflects back on his "youthful days" (he's only twenty here!) and wishes he'd been a "better son" to his hardworking dad. Being away from the comforts of home and family, added to the serious business of his future in the military, has matured him beyond his years. It's also a fitting recognition of Dads in the month of Father's Day.

At the very end are quotes Frank added to his letter. They are excerpts from actual letters written by families of servicemen (usually wives) seeking financial assistance from the government. They are rib-tickling funny in their misbegotten prose. Read on....

1 June 1944

Dear Fred and Lill,
I wrote you a letter just before I hit the jackpot. Thanks for the two letters. They portrayed the same thoughts but were good.

Since ladies come first I’ll answer Lillian’s questions first. I would have liked to talk to you kids again but that’s just my luck. I tried to phone all day on Mother’s Day but I just couldn’t get the line through. I did get the present and I’m very glad you sent it. By the end of May I was broke and it would have been sooner had I not received your gifts. Thanks again!

So you have seen part of my family well as Dad would say you should see the 5 in the old country. I might have become huskier but I lost 15 lbs since I’ve been here and I’m going to hold it at that. I’m down to 180 now and feel fit as a fiddle. All except my ankle. I sprained the damn thing again and this time worse than ever. The doc wanted me to stay in the hospital but not for me. I’ve got 2 weeks light duty and I’m going to make the best of it.

You ask how I’m getting along. Well to tell the truth not as well as I expected but I’m going to make it, I think. I flunked 2 exams so far but I found out the reason and am working to correct it.

Thank Fred for me for helping Dad. [We learned in earlier letters that my grandfather was suffering from an infected knee, hampering his janitorial duties]. I wish I could be back there to do it myself. You know when you are in the service you get a lot of time to think of the good and bad you did in civilian life and I think the worst I’ve ever done was the way I treated Dad. Oh I didn’t beat him up or call him names but I can think back all the times he needed help and I had a date. Fred and Will always did help Dad and I was the wise guy who always would get out of the work. Maybe I was too young to realize what I was doing. I wish I had the foresight I have now. I wish I could re-live those days. Boy how different I would be. Well it’s no use crying over spilt milk they say so I’ll quit my yapping.

Well as you speak of sports I hope you get around to doing some of the out of door variety but as for me I’ve had too much of that type and how! Well I guess I’ll get some more. Take it easy Lillian and now I’ll get to Fred’s letter.
Hi Boy, -- say thanks for all the dope on the oxygen regulator – it was sure interesting and I’ll sure make use of it.

The birthday didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to but I had a pretty good time.

3 June 1944

I couldn’t finish yesterday but I’ll continue today and try to knock it out.
That light duty I got cost me my pass for the duration of the convalescence but today it paid off. All the squadrons have to march in a big parade and inspection today and I get out of all that misery. Well now to get back to your letter. I don’t get that German you stuck in the letter (Hülle und Felle) it’s just a bit of slang isn’t it? I mean like the stuff going around here “Hubba Hubba” for a pep cry. If it has a translation please send it to me.

Don’t ever say you can’t write a letter. It’s just the frame of mind you place letter writing. I don’t know if mine are any good because I never re-read a letter after it has been written. I like your mode of writing as it’s as if you were talking to me and that’s just the way letters are supposed to be written.

I see you have been associating with some southerners you all have Possey! I’ve got a fellow in my barracks whose every sentence begins with you all. It’s slowly driving me nuts.
I just got the results of the latest exam. I got a 70 in it. I would have gotten a better grade had I kept my head out of my ass. I hope I don’t spoil Lill with my slang and profanity.
Enclosed you will find a little something I picked up from the boys.

Well till I write again it’s,
Loads of love from your little broder, Frank


The quotes are hilarious--and goes to show why good writing counts!

The following sentences about allotments were taken from actual letters from wives, mothers, fathers, etc. of men who are actually in the service.


Please send my allotment as I have a four months old baby and he is my slow support and I need all I can get every day to buy food and keep him in close.

Both sides of my parents is poor and I can’t expect nothing from them as my mother has been in bed for one year with the same doctor and won’t change.

Please send my wife’s form to fill out.

I have already wrote to the President and I don’t hear from you. I will write to Uncle Sam and tell him about you both.

Please send me a letter and tell me if my husband made application for a wife and baby.

I can’t get my pay I got six children can you tell me why this is?

I am forwarding my marriage certificate and my two children; one is a mistake as you can see.

Please find out for certain if my husband is dead as the man I am living with won’t eat or sleep or do anything until he nose for sure.

I am writing to tell you that my baby was born two years ago and is two years old. When do I get relief?

I am annoyed to find that you branded my twins as illiterate. Oh, the shame of it, it is a dirty lie as I married their father a week before they were born.

In answer to your letter I have birth to a boy ten pounds. I hope this is satisfactory.

I have not children as my husband was a truck driver and worked day and night when he wasn’t sleeping.

You have changed my little boy to a girl does that make any difference.

In accordance with your instruction, I have given birth to twins in the enclosed envelope.

I am glad to say my husband who has been reported missing is now dead.

Unless I get my husbands money soon I will be forced to lead an immortal life.

I want my money as-quickly as possible I’ve been in bed with my doctor for two weeks and he doesn’t seem to be doing me much good. If things don’t improve I will have to send for another doctor.

I am a poor widow and all that I have is in the front.

My husband had his project cut off two weeks ago and I haven’t any relief since.


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    Linda Gartz

    I was born and raised on Chicago's West Side, where the Gartz family lived and worked for most of the 20th century. After my mom died in 1994, my brothers and I poked around the the attic of my parents' home and discovered a trove of letters, diaries, documents, and photos that had been saved for almost a century. Taken as a whole, they focus a lens on the history of our city and life in another era, as seen through the eyes of regular folks. Go to where you'll find my blog, Family Archaeologist (a clickable link is on the "About Letters of a World War II Airman" page). There you can explore this historical treasure trove that illuminates history and our shared humanity. I started my blog, "Letters of a World War II Airman," on the 70th anniversary of the date my uncle, Frank Ebner Gartz, was drafted into World War II military service. You can see that first post and the first three months of 1943 letters at my website, All future letters will be posted on this blog. I'm an author, archivist and television producer. Please visit my website,, to see my published articles and an overview of my television productions.

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