Uncle Edwin’s Story, Part 5…on to Germany

The start of 1945 had Edwin Boone still in Europe with the 415 Medical Collecting Company. The Allied forces were pushing hard against the Germans. Edwin was probably still part of the medical support for Patton’s 3rd Army. His letters are up-beat, reassuring his family that he is fine, eating well & not doing much. January 20, 1945, he wrote “The War News now is sounding awfully good. Maybe I’ll get to see you by “Corn-plantin’” time!” On January 29, he said the snow was a foot deep with talk of the “worst winter in Europe for a good many years, but where I am it compares with a mild winter back in Indiana.” February 1, it had quit snowing & with warmer weather “the snow is practically all gone. And just as I had finished building a new toboggan, too! We built one and used it the last day there was snow. Had a nice long slide, and was really fun, even for an old man!” By February 4 the snow had melted and the rain started again.

reboonevalentineHe made a Valentine card for his parents.

Later in February, his APO address changed to 339, which connected him to the 9th Army. He wrote from Holland. He told of seeing “some of the war’s desolation” on the trip to Holland. The soldiers were staying in a schoolhouse & subject to regular inspections “just like we had back in the States.” February 11, he tells that he has been permitted to get a room in a private home. He is staying with the Baan family. Professor Baan teaches English in one of the local schools. “I don’t think the folks in America have ever showed the hospitality that these Dutch do.” He says the Dutch people are “very friendly” and are learning English. “They have taken us into their home & can’t seem to do enough for us.”

March 4, 1945, Edwin writes from Germany. He says, “finally we’re getting to see some of the sights that lots of people say they’d like to see. A Germany that has seen some of the ravages of war. I’m sure that these people are beginning to wonder why they ever followed their “leaderreboonefatigues.”” Allied forces were continuously bombing targets in Germany, causing significant devastation. On March 7, US forces of the 1st Army crossed the Rhine River at Remagen over a railroad bridge that the Germans had failed to destroy.

Later in March he mentions the Red Cross and “making arrangements.” He is working on trying to get home to help take care of his parents.

March 29, they have moved again.On March 24, the 9th US Army forces crossed the Rhine River at Dinslaken. “This part of Germany isn’t so well serviced with electricity as the last area was, but they may have it functioning before long. We had lights, radio & electric irons on the other side of the river.”

May 1, Edwin writes that he took a 3 day pass to Holland & “by the time I got back 8 days had passed.” The Company had moved while he was gone and they had difficulty getting transportation to catch up. He said he spent a night “in a real castle, which is being used as Battalion Headquarters.”

Back home, on May 2, his parents, Alva and Allie Boone, had a sale of their personal property. This is the announcement:boonefarmsale1945

May 6, Edwin writes of expecting the war to be over by the time his letter gets to the folks at home. On May 8, 1945 (VE Day) the Germans surrendered and the war in Europe was officially over.

He changed APO address mid May & connected again with the 3rd Army. He said they had traveled several hundred miles in about a week. “We are located within a quarter of a mile of one of these camps filled with displaced persons Polish, Russian & Italian. It’s certainly an odd assortment of humanity. It’s really pitiful to see so many of these people who have been, either voluntarily or otherwise—mostly otherwise!, taken from their homes and used as laboreboonearmycasualrers here in Germany.” He talks of the point system for discharge from the Army and is frustrated that he has less than half the points needed. Also, he indicates he is not getting much help in trying to get home to help care for his father, Alva.

June 4 he is in Deggendorf, Germany, sleeping in an office building. He’s on 24hr guard duty—2hrs on then 4hrs off for 24hrs at a time. He also writes that he is painting signs. He mentions the sale at home and the eventual sale of the farm. He indicates that even though his father expected one of his sons to carry on with the farm, he’s not sure what he will do when he gets out of the Army. There are rumors of possibly the older soldiers being d/c soon. June 25, he sent a photo home.

July 5 he mentions he is riding with a truck driver all over the area, transporting German hospital patients from one hospital to another. Still talking about discharge points and that he has 3 battle stars, which added to his points. “The fact that I have 3 doesn’t mean that I, personally, was in 3 battles! They are for the arenas of the Ardennes, in Belgium, the Rhineland and Central Europe. We had our Company spread out so we got credit for all of them!”

At the end of July he sent drawings of Deggendorf:

August: He was busy painting and decorating the various clubs for the battalion—the Non-Com’s club Officer’s club and Enlisted men’s club. He considers getting back into painting when he returns home or trying dental work, which may pay pretty well.

Edwin probably contributed to the decor on this wall.clubdecor

The US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Then on August 10, Nagasaki was bombed. The war in the Pacific was coming to an end. August 14, Emperor Hirohito agrees to surrender terms but the formal ceremony didn’t take place until September 2, 1945.The war was finally over.

Aug 19 Edwin tells of a report that soldiers who were at least 38 yrs old were being discharged from the Army. August 31, he writes from Etampes, Franreboonearmyce, in process of returning home. Sept 7, from Compeigne, France, he mentions being bounced from camp to camp, while still awaiting the trip home. Sept 12 he is part of the 16th Reinforcement Depot in Pierrefonds, France, continuing to wait. Sept 19, his name has been read off and he plans his return trip on the 21st.

This was the last of Edwin’s letters. He did get home to Indiana and was given his discharge papers at the Separation Center at Camp Atterbury, IN on October 13, 1945. His papers indicate that he departed for the European Theater on October 4, 1944, arriving October 12. He departed for home Sept 28, 1945 and arrived October 9, 1945.

Sadly, his father, Alva Boone, died of pneumonia on October 6.

Edwin returned to Indianapolis with is wife, Pauline. They lived there for the rest of their lives. Edwin did work as a dental technician and continued with art as a hobby. He died in 1980, and Pauline died in 1997. They did not have children.

So, that’s most of Uncle Edwin’s story. I’m sure he was involved in more than just KP, guard duty and sign painting with his time in the Army in Europe during the final stages of WWII. But that’s all that he shared with his family. There is one more tangent to his story to be shared at a later date.

© MJM 2016

Uncle Edwin’s Story, Part 4…Going to War

(The business of the Christmas season has interrupted my ability to post stories regularly, hopefully I can get back on track now.)

On September 23, 1944, Private Edwin Boone left Camp Bowie, TX with the 415 Medical Collecting Company under concealed orders, destination unknown. His address was APO 17100 New York, NY. (APO stands for Army Post Office)

At the same time on the home front, his parents, Alva and Allie Boone, were getting on up in years & starting to have trouble managing the farm. His nephew, Arza Clark Millikan, a US Marine, was in a hospital in California with pneumonia.

Edwin’s first letter after he left was from “somewhere in the Eastern USA” dated September 28. He wasn’t allowed to write about where he was or where he was going. He could only write about “the food, the weather & recreation.” So “the food is excellent, the weather is a little cloudy… & I took a walk to the movies last night.” The next letters gave no more news until mid October.

October 19, 1944, Edwin sent a letter from “somewhere in France.” He commented on the constant rain and the “people are mud splattered & hungry.” He also mentioned how much he appreciated the “picturesque buildings” of France. He stated that most of the towns they hiked through were “practically ghost towns.”

By this time, the Allied forces had progressed from the D-day landing to liberating Paris in August. The forces were moving on toward the German border.

Edwin’s letters tell very little of what he is involved in. He said they spent time cutting & gathering wood for their fires. They constructed a stove out of empty meat cans. They had church services in the field. He asked his Mother to teach his wife, Pauline, how to knit sox so they could send him some. He interacted with a young French boy who taught him the ABC’s in French. He showed much concern for the plight of his parents. By November they had moved in with his sister, Mary.

In Mid November, he wrote that he was “making Christmas cards for some of the fellows.” I wonder what kind of drawings he did. November 22, the day before Thanksgiving he sent a V-mail letter. (Victory mail was a way to decrease the amount of space needed to transport mail from soldiers by transferring the letters to microfilm and then reprinting them for delivery.) The reprinted letter is about 4x5inches. In the letter he let his family know what he was thankful for.


By early December, he had moved again. Mail censors limited what he could tell the folks back home, but he was allowed to mention that he had visited Valognes, Paris & Cherbourg. The next week his APO address had changed to APO 403 which connected him to the US 3rd Army lead by General Patton. At this point he said he was “sleeping in permanent buildings (on the floor), enjoying warm fires, & eating our chow with a hospital unit.”

There was an interesting card in Edwin’s papers:

pattonprayer“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”

From what I could find this card was issued to all members of the US 3rd Army, reportedly 250,000 cards were printed. Rain had been a significant problem for Patton’s forces throughout the Fall months. On December 8, 1944 he requested the Chaplain to find a prayer for improved weather conditions. By December 20, the weather had improved. On the back side of the Prayer card were Patton’s Christmas wishes for the troops.



“To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God’s blessing rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day.”

December 16, 1944 was the start of the Ardennes campaign, otherwise known as the “Battle of the Bulge.” US forces worked to push the German army back through Belgium and Luxembourg toward the German lines. The “bulge” was the shape the battle line took initially as the Germans had pushed through the Allied lines creating what newspapers reported as a bulge in the lines. By January 16, 1945, the Allied forces had pushed the “bulge” back and the Germans were forced back to Germany. Heavy casualties were sustained on all sides of the fighting. It was considered one of the most desperate US battles in Europe.

I can’t find much information specifically about the 415th Collecting Company and their role in the European campaign. However, it is pretty obvious that they were assigned to support Patton’s 3rd Army forces during the Battle of the Bulge. Edwin may have been at the hospital base or closer to the front lines, transporting wounded. Regardless, I’m sure he was overwhelmed by what he saw.

His letters during this time tell of moving frequently, sometimes sleeping in buildings & sometimes in “squad tents” holding 16 men. On January 4 he wrote of being promoted to P.F.C. (Private First Class) and receiving the Good Conduct Medal. January 11 he wrote from the “ETO or European Theater of Operations or Somewhere in France.”

With the Battle of the Bulge won, in 1945 the US forces moved on toward the Rhine River & Germany.

Edwin moved on with the Army…

© MJM 2016

Uncle Edwin’s Story, Part 3…Moving with the Army

At the end of April of 1944, Pauline Boone, Edwin’s wife, sent a letter home from Colorado, where Edwin was finishing training as a Dental Technician. She said, “I feel like we are awaiting a sentence of some kind, which can be good or bad. He won’t know where he is going to be sent for a few more days yet, and I can tell you that the suspense is almost unbearable. If I only knew he would be allowed to serve his country here in the United States…but that is the Question!” Edwin had the highest average in his class and had completed his training, so they were waiting to see where the Army would send him next. She also wrote, “I frankly hope Edwin won’t get a furlough right now, unless it is a delayed routing, because that would indicate that he might be going over-seas. So I have hoped that he would be assigned someplace & then get a furlough later on.”

Mid-May, 1944, Edwin wrote that he was on a train headed to California. “We crossed the Divide about 5 o’clock after going through 31 or 32 tunnels!” He said he was in a “troop sleeper” car attached to a regular train. The car held 30 men with 3 tiers of bunks. He lists his new address as ASF-PRD, 1st Bn. Co E-1, Camp Beale, California.

Camp Beale was located about 40 miles north of Sacramento, near Maryville, CA. It was a large camp with training for several divisions. In May of 1944, it opened a German Prisoner of War base camp. Edwin was assigned to ASF-PRD which was the code for Army Service Forces Personnel Replacement Depot. It essentially was a temporary duty station for soldiers waiting new assignments.

Edwin’s letters from Camp Beale tell of a waiting game. He was expecting to work temporarily in the Dental clinic—can’t say that he actually did that. Otherwise, he had KP duty, went on hikes—up to 8 miles at a time, and loafed. He said in June that he started going to a ranch to help “thin out the peach crop, ” for which he got $5/day and his meals. He said that about 150 men from Camp went out each day with 10 to 20 going to each ranch, working for about 9 hours a day. He wrote about this in a letter postmarked June 8, 1944. One of the last sentences was, “It looks like the war is just a little nearer being over. At least we can hope and pray that it is soon.” Of course, on June 6, the US forces had landed on the beaches of Normandy. Perhaps this is what Edwin was referring to.

On June 20, he wrote that he had gone to a nearby Baptist Church on Sunday and was treated to Sunday dinner from one of the families. He then said he went on a 10 1/2 mile hike on Monday, drilled & then had Judo training. He was called off the field in the afternoon to prepare to ship out to Ft. Sam Houston, TX. He traveled by train to Los Angeles and then across country to Texas. He drew a picture of a yucca plant that he saw along the way.


Edwin stopped in Ft. Sam Houston for a few days, sending only one letter from there. Then he was back in Camp Barkeley, Texas. He was assigned to the 415 Medical Collecting Company. He was expecting to be on KP duty, but said “KP isn’t very hard here for we eat out of mess kits, consequently there will be no dishes to wash.” So I guess they changed things a little since he was first stationed there. Eating out of mess kits was the norm now instead of a punishment for not passing inspection. He also began to wonder what the next move would be. “They keep shipping me around this way, I’ll begin to think there isn’t any place for me in the Army.” Pauline moved out to Texas again in July.

By the end of July, Edwin had moved again. This time he was stationed at Camp Bowie at Brownwood, TX. He was still assigned to the 415 Medical Collecting Company. Camp Bowie was another large training camp. Edwin said the camp could hold 80,000 soldiers. He started painting signs again but didn’t do much else. Pauline followed him to Brownwood. However, with such a small town near the large Army base, Pauline mentioned that prices were “double or triple for everything.”

Edwin didn’t have much news to report home. He spent time in the field practicing carrying litters or riding in the ambulance. He indicated toward the end of August that the unit has been “alerted” and is to prepare to go overseas. Edwin didn’t think he would be going with the group. As he was nearing 38 years old, he was showing his frustration with the system & was hoping that he would get out of the Army. He also indicated he wished he could be home to help his aging parents with the farm.

He explained the workings of a Medical Collecting Company to his folks. “Contrary to what the name makes you think of, it has nothing to do with finance! Casualties are picked up at the stations near the front lines and are carried back to the Collecting station and sent by ambulance back to a “Clearing station” (serving several Coll Co’s), from where the “Clearing” evacuates them on to a field hospital. As I am a litter bearer in this Co. you know that they aren’t going to take me when there are younger men in the Army they can use.” Again he expected to get out of the Army. “Under Army Regulations they cannot change my classification (as a dental lab technician), so eventually they will either find a place for me or let me out of this Army.”

Still at Camp Bowie in September, soon after his 38th birthday, Edwin wrote of his job of “putting the men’s serial numbers in their shoes and helmets.” Two days before this the company had their physical fitness test, so he was glad to be able to sit and work on a task! The fitness test included the following exercises as well as “creeping and crawling in the mud” & a 4 mile forced march which they did in 44 minutes.


He still talks of the company moving out soon and expects he will transfer to a hospital where he can “begin to do some good for the Army.”

On Sunday, September 24, 1944, Pauline sent a letter home. Edwin had been restricted to Camp for the week before, but he managed to slip out & meet Pauline Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday evenings. He didn’t show on Friday night or Saturday. Pauline didn’t hear from him. She went to the Camp Sunday morning and was informed that “several hundred men left at 2 o’clock Friday nite and the 415th was among them. They shipped out under concealed orders, destination unknown. Of course, I know he is going to the Port of Embarkation.”

The standard War Department change of address postcard was also sent to his parents.It had an APO New York address instead of a camp name.

So Edwin was on his way to a new duty station with the Army…

© MJM 2016

Uncle Edwin’s Story, Part 2…In the Army

Richard Edwin Boone was called up for service in the US Army July 21, 1943. He was 36 years old. Being a Quaker, he entered as a Conscientious Objector. My Grandmother, Margaret McKinley, gave me a shoe box one day and when I asked what was in it, she said, “It’s Uncle Edwin’s letters from the Army.” So most of my knowledge about his service is from these letters. They were from Edwin to his parents. There were also some letters from his wife, Pauline to his parents. Incidentally, the word “free” was written in place of a stamp on the envelope for each of the letters sent while he was in the U.S.

campbarkeleyletterheadEdwin started at the Reception Center at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, IN. Then on September 8, 1943, he sent his first letter from his training station. He settled in Camp Barkeley, near Abeline, TX. His return address is Company A 63rd Medical Training Battalion. Edwin expected he might be there for 21 weeks & since this was a medical training center, he presumed he was now in the Medical Corps. The men he transferred to TX with started calling him “Pop.” He wrote “I don’t know why unless it’s because I’m the eldest.” In later letters, he calls himself “Old Pappy.” He described his barracks as a one story “hut” that held 16 men, had no wallpaper or rugs but did have a “good soft mattress.” He did complain later that he missed a good shade tree. The trees in TX weren’t very tall so he couldn’t “lay in the shade.”

He began training September 21, 1943. He mentioned in a letter on the 26th that he had been painting signs & doing class room work. He said they hiked 5 1/2 miles one day and also did the obstacle course. He was part of the Battalion choir. In October he talked about field exercise in which they all pitched their “pup” tents on the parade ground and displayed their field equipment for inspection. His Division didn’t pass the inspection so they were made to eat from their metal mess kits for a week instead of using the china in the mess hall.edwinobstaclecourse

In November, he ended up in the hospital with an “attack of the good old-fashioned shingles.” Then on November 23, he wrote that his wife, Pauline, had moved down to Abeline. Later that month, Pauline joined him at the camp for Thanksgiving dinner.

December 7, 1943, a War Department postcard was sent out that listed Pvt Richard E. Boone’s new address: Dental Techns Sch. Fitzsimons Gen Hosp, c/o Postmaster Bunell, Colo. His next letter showed he was a part of Company D SMDET (School for Medical Department Enlisted Technicians). So he had moved on to Dental Technical School to train to be a dentist’s assistant. He expected to be in school for 3 months. Pauline moved out to Denver later in December. Edwin is learning how to make false teeth & other dental appliances. He’s in a more relaxed atmosphere, able to go off post at night and for the weekend. So he & Pauline are able to spend time together.

In January he wrote of being on “litter detail—that is the squads of stretcher bearers who are picked out for each evening, theoretically to carry wounded from the hospital trains that come in. As none come in, there’s nothing to do, & all it amounts to is being restricted to camp for the evening.” Pauline got a job in the library. They also found time to do some sight seeing.


Golden, Colorado with Castle Rock in the background

In February, Edwin ended up in the hospital again. This time for hemorrhoids. He had one procedure & was expecting to have surgery. He comments on the fact that his bed has built-in radio earphones on which he has a choice of 3 radio stations. He had surgery for his “piles” mid-February & was back in school a month later.fitzsimonshosppostcard

Pauline sent a postcard home just after Edwin’s surgery. The X toward the left wing of the building marks the area of the hospital where Edwin was. The hospital had 608 beds.

In May, 1944, Edwin was on the train headed to California…

© MJM 2016