Letters from Clarence F. Miller: Btry C 535th AAA Bn 1943 - 1945




 
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November 16th, 2014  
pgwenthold
 

Topic: Letters from Clarence F. Miller: Btry C 535th AAA Bn 1943 - 1945


In looking through the box of letters my Dad sent to his folks while in Korea, I found a bunch of letters to my Grandma from a Clarence F. Miller, who was in Btry C 535th AAA Bn in WW2.

I have been working hard to figure out who he was, how he knew my Grandparents and who are any descendents. They may be interested in the letters.

However, I also thought I would share them with you all here, because there are some significant historical features. The 535th AAA landed at Utah on D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was part of the liberation. In letters I have read, he refers marginally to the invasion of France, but has some very detailed descriptions of interactions with the Germans after the liberation.

In this thread, I am going to type up the letters I have, starting from the beginning. I hope you will enjoy the journey. I have not read them all, so together we can learn about him and his life, and hopefully we can discover where he is from and learn what he was like.

I can't promise how often I will be able to post, but I will keep trying. I will try to transcribe as close as possible to what he has written, typos and all, so if something seems not right, it might be my typo or it might just be what he wrote.

Don't hesitate to respond if you find something that catches your interest in whatever respect.
November 16th, 2014  
pgwenthold
 
PVT Clarence F Miller
Btry D 55th AATng Bn
Camp Callan
California
US Army
Postmark: Camp Callan, Nov 4

Nov 3, 1942
Camp Callan
San Diego
Dear Friends
Well I don’t know to write to a stranger. In fact never heard of you folks that I can recall. But what are my mothers friends are my friends. I am ready to leave California anyway Camp Callan. I don’t know where but I hope it isn’t in the Desert. Mother would like to have me come home for Christmas. But I don’t think I can make it.
You asked me if I liked the Army well I don’t like it much. I would rather be on my old job driving truck and farming. I was on that job for 7 yrs. before the Army got me. But I think the sooner we get it over the better. I was in Iowa about twice last fall trucking corn from there. I like Iowa all right but Wisconsin better.
The weather is swell here it is warm in the day and cool at night. Sun Nov1 it was the hottest day while I have been here.
Well it is about time to go to bed so I will close for this time. Maybe I would now more by the next time.
As a friend
Pvt Clarence F Miller

[Paul's Comments: OK, we learn here that in fact, he didn't know my grandparents. However, his mother did. It sounds from this letter that he is from Wisconsin; we will hear references to Wisconsin again]
November 16th, 2014  
pgwenthold
 
PFC Clarence F Miller
Btry C 535th Ca Bn (aW)
US Army
Camp Haan California
Postmark: Barstow California Mar 8
Mar 7, 1943
Camp Haan

Dear Friends
Received you letter & was glad to hear from you. Well, there isnít much news out here only it is windy & we have some bad sand storm & they are worse than any snow storm that I ever seen. I taught our tent was going to blow down & when we went to bed we had to cover up our head to keep the sand out of our face. It sure is tuff living in the Desert sand in your eats & water & the water has so much chlorine in it that it doesnít tast good. But I guess we leave the desert this week starting tomorrow. I wonít be sorry but will take us all week to get back to Camp Haan. I will be a long ride & then sleeping on the ground. I sure hope your sons will never have to put up with army life anyway in war times it may be all right when there isnít a war on. Well I suppose there is some braking weather there now it is about time. I sure would like to be back on the farm for spring work. I sure like the farm. But I guess it will be a whole before I get to see it. The Captain said that we would go across sometime in April so there isnít much to look forward to for a while. Well I must close for now & Lots of lock to all of you. As a Friend, Clarence Miller

[Paul's Comments: He's switched from the 55th Btry D to the 535th and it looks like he got promoted to PFC since Nov; the writing in this letter is a lot poorer than in his other letters, I wonder if the desert just didn't get to him? He was hoping to not get sent to the desert, but alas...]
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November 16th, 2014  
pgwenthold
 
PFC Clarence F. Miller
Btry C 535th Ca Bn (aW)
Camp Haan California
Postmark: Riverside, Calif Apr 3 1943
April 2, 1943
Camp Haan
Dear Friends
I received your letter about a week ago & the box of cookies this week thanks a lot for every thing the cookies was sure good & I want to thank you again. Yes we are back in Camp Haan & I guess we will go out there again for a few days. I suppose it will be hot. It sure is here in camp now. The grain and grass is about a foot high but it hasnít rained for a long time so I suppose that will die with out rain. It never raings out here in the summer so most things that is raised is irrigated. This California would be a wonderful place if it would only rain in the summer.
Yes I am ready for a furlough but I donít think any of us will get one. They were sure hard to get unless in case of death or sickness & I sure hope I wonít be called home for that. Mother has been sick once in a while but I think she is all right now. It is because I & Jeanette is away from home she worries I guess. I always write & tell her that she hasnít any thing to worry about that I am all right and feeling good. You asked if Bill was still taching school yes he is till June. I hope he donít go because mother will have more to worry about one of us is enough to be in the service I think. I am glad to hear that you havenít any son in the army yet. Because I feel sorry for them to go throught the training. It is tuff. Well Friends I will have to go to night Gunner school so I will have to close. With lots of Good Luck to you all. A friend Clarence
Iíll send you a picture when I have some made


[Paul's Comments: Sounds like Bill and Jeanette are brother and sister]
November 16th, 2014  
MontyB
 
 
They are interesting time capsules, clearly he really didn't want to be there.

I am rather intrigued by who he is writing to though.
November 16th, 2014  
dadsgirl
 
 
I'm interested also... Keep on!

Dadsgirl
November 16th, 2014  
pgwenthold
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MontyB
They are interesting time capsules, clearly he really didn't want to be there.
Well, he was drafted, so that would not be a surprise.

Quote:
I am rather intrigued by who he is writing to though.
Update on that matter: I figured out a ton last night. The key was that in one of the envelopes, I found a letter that his mother had sent to my grandma. In it, she refers to Bill and Jeanette and another brother Jim, but more importantly she mentioned their hometown, which was Neillsville, WI. Ironically, she didn't sign it so I didn't know her name.

From this lead, I found Jeanette's obituary, and that gave me their parents' names, including their mother's maiden name, which was Kessler.

That rings a bell for me, because I remember my dad mentioning over the years talking about the ancestors that "so and so was a Kessler." Unfortunately, I can't remember who that was. I looked up some family trees, and what I have found is that my grandma's aunt married a Kessler, However, I don't have any information on their children etc. My hypothesis is that Clarence's mother was my grandma's first cousin, and grandma, being the kind-hearted soul she was, heard her cousin's son was in the service and started writing to him. And sending him cookies.

With this information, I have been able to contact someone who might help me get in contact with the family. I've made substantial progress there.

I'll keep typing them up when I get a chance. I know the next couple are still from Camp Haan.
November 18th, 2014  
pgwenthold
 
PFC Clarence F Miller
Btry C 535th CaR (aW)
Camp Haan
Postmark: Riverside, Calif May 17, 1943
May 15, 1943
Camp Haan
Dear Friends
I receive your welcome letter & sure was glad to hear from you again. I hope your boys will forgive me for not answering there letters. Tell them I have been in the Desert again last week so I didn’t have time to write. I’ll try to answer them as soon as I can. We don’t know what we are going to do now if we get shipped of not so it isn’t for sure what will happen. I sure would like to get a furlough before being shipped. I would be the happiest fellow that ever would be. I would like to see my folks and Girl Friend. We were planning on getting married last fall but the Army spoiled everything for us. So now I guess we will waite till the war is over. So I hope that will be soon not only for me but for all of us. I try to tell mother not to worry about us kids but she does anyway. That is why I want to see her. It would take me about 4 days and 3 nights. It makes it hard when so far from home. I sure hope your will never get into this. This world could be a peaceful world as well as this way if all people were like us. Well I suppose you are planting corn by this time. My Girl Friend is spending a few days with my folks & she said that Dad is getting ready to plant. So I suppose by now they are planting. Well friends there isn’t any more news here so I will close for now hoping this finds you in the best of health & Good Luck to you all.
As a friend
Clarence

[Paul's Comments: His first mention of his girlfriend. Her name was Marie Gall, from Milwaukee]
November 18th, 2014  
pgwenthold
 
PFC Clarence Miller
Btry C 535th AAA
Auto. Wpns. Bn MBL
Postmark: Riverside, May 31 1943
[note: this letter is addressed to Mr. Raymond Wenthold, who is my uncle and was about 13 at the time]
May 29, 1943
Camp Haan
Dear Friends
Well I received your welcome letter & was glad to hear from you. Well I suppose school is out now & you are home on the farm. The farm is a swell place to be. I was working out since I was 14 years old. My folks didn’t need me so I worked out. I was in the big cities & on a lots of farms but I’ll take the farm any time. City life is all right for a week or so but one gets sick of it in a hurry. My last job I had was farming & trucking stock to Milwaukee & also hauling milk from farmers to a milk plant in Neillsville, Wisconsin. I sure wish I was back there on that job again. I get letters from my old boss & he said my job is still waiting when I come back. I worked for the same boss for 7 years. I am now 26 years old.
You said you got 3 Ĺ miles to walk to school. Well that is a good walk every day. I suppose you are tired when you get home. Say, do you ever see Eleanor Clave [Kleve] or don’t you know her? I met her when I was in Iowa in 1936 & also her folks. They are swell people. You aren’t far from Ossian are you? Do you see many planes around there? We sure have lots of them here just acrossed the road from our camp. They are flying day & night big Bombers and small ones. It is interesting to watch them. There is some good Pilots the way they handle them planes. We have to learn what each plane is by sight so we can tell them when we get across & also tanks. Well I don’t know any more news so I will close for now. I just had time enough to answer you letter. I’ll always try & answer as soon as I can. The best of luck to you Boys & write again soon.
As a friend
Clarence F. Miller


[Paul's Comment: Great letter, sent to Uncle Ray. Notice he mentions in his May 15 letter that he is getting letters from "the boys", so that's Ray. I don't know about any others. My Dad would be 11 at this time; he doesn't remember writing anything. Great discussion of training, including recognizing planes. Notice that he also has changed his return address, now indicating he is in the AAA; I don't know what the MBL is after the Bn; he mentions his hometown here, Neillsville. The Eleanor Kleve he mentions was my Grandma's younger sister, so would have been his mother's cousin and Ray's aunt; she was a couple years younger than Clarence, so when he came to visit in 1936, he would have been 19 - 20 and she would have been 16 or so. Her folks that he said were "swell people" were my Great-Grandparents, Barney and Therese Kleve. Uncle Ray grew up about 3 - 4 miles from Ossian, but that's not where he went to school (he walked to Festina)]
November 18th, 2014  
pgwenthold
 
PFC Clarence F. Miller
Btry C 535th AAA
Auto. WpNs. Bn. MBL
Postmark: Riverside, CA may 31 1943
May 29, 1943
Camp Haan
Dear Friends
Received your welcome letter & also the letter from your boys, so this time I will answer theres to. I got so many to answer from my Friends back home that it keeps me busy writing when I have time. We weren’t so very busy this week but next week will be a busy week. We will have to learn to swim & a lots of jobs to do. I painted my truck this week that was a job any way under it was hard to get at. I was reading in the paper that there is a lot of rain back east and out here it hasn’t rained for about 3 months & it sure is dry and the ground is hard. The Farmers got there grain mostly cut & ready to thrash. It seems funny to me to see grain ready to be thrashed this time of the year. It was planted in Jan. Is your corn up yet? I hope your farmers have a good year. We need a lots of vegetables & crops for next winter. Can you folks buy tires there in Iowa? They are selling tires out here now most everyone has new ones now. I sure hope I will get a furlough so many Friends write and ask me when I am coming on one. They will give me a party when I do. Well no more news. So I will close & Good Luck to you all.
A Friend
Clarence

[Paul's Comments: everyone in CA has new tires, eh?]
 


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