My dad, Roscoe W. Boward, was born December 6, 1918. He’d be 100 today. We lost him too early - he died a little over a week after his 57th birthday. I love him and miss him every day. So grateful to have many, many happy memories. To honor him on his 100th birthday, I thought I’d share some parts of his letters home during World War II. He was 23 when he enlisted and eventually was part of the Thunderbolt Division of the 83rd Infantry, working as a clerk for the Personnel Division. I can’t ever remember him talking about the war. In his letters you can see how he returns again and again to the topics allowed by the censors, and he often tries to allay his mother’s fears for his safety. Love you, Dad.
June 24, 1944, Somewhere in France
We’re living right in the open spaces in pup tents and sleeping in fox holes at night. There’s been plenty to eat…we seem to be getting a regular supply of rations…what is known as 5-in-1 rations, containing enough rations for five men for one day…Wish I could describe the scene on the beach as we landed (after crossing the English Channel), but suppose ‘no can do.’ We passed through several villages, better described by your newspapers and newsreels back home…Have you heard anything good or bad from any of the boys in Co B? I’m deeply concerned about every one of them and try to find out as much as possible, but so far its nothing…Love to all and please don’t worry. Bon soir, Roscoe.
31 July, 1944 Somewhere in France
After a few rather strong hints from my censor and the working of what little conscience I have left, I’m finally dropping a few lines homeward, after more than a month’s lapse of time…”
August 21, 1944, Somewhere in France
Some of our boys went on their first pass today, which was to be only for a few hours, to a nearby town here in Brittany. We’ve really been living like gypsies since our jump off from England - moving from place to place, setting up our portable office in tents or French homes, and moving again…As usual we’re situated in an orchard, but in this one the trees are farther apart and the space this year was used for wheat. They must have cut it just before we moved in and they were thrashing at the farm house as we pulled into the area…Darkness approaches as I close with lots of love to all.
24 October, 1944, Luxembourg
Yes, we’re in another country, suppose the smallest in Europe…The approach of winter is changing the color of the leaves..The rolling fields between the mountains are added to by a clever system of strip farming. The country people are now harvesting the beets to feed their cattle during the ensuing winter…We are currently situated in a cement factory…I’m sleeping in a section of the factory which makes excelsior - what a bunk you can make with a few armfuls of the stuff; its certainly a God-send not to sleep in pup tents on the damp ground. It rained nearly every day for the past ten days or two weeks…Love to All, Ross.