We had to go out and cut brush today for machine gun fire. It was a miserable day. Rained all day long. Boy when I got home I was ring and wet and felt like hell. I changed clothes and went right to bed. Wrote a few letters and went to sleep.
Charles F. Bruns lived in the East Central Illinois town of Champaign. A local athlete, ‘Chick’ joined the Army in 1941. In October of 1942 he was sent to the European Theater. During his tour he was able to keep is daily thoughts in a journal that is presented here. Additionally, photos, letters written to home, news paper articles, and historic references will be shared.
Here I am again with nothing to say. I hope the last letter I wrote will be sufficient. Those long letters are pretty hard for me, ha ha. I received 9 more rolls of film from you and some comic books from Gee. Since I have been here my film is beginning to pile up. My camera only works part of the time and I have taken about all the pictures I can on the beachhead. So I got hold of another little camera and if you can find any 50mm film roles send them to me. I wrote to Harry & Es and asked them if they could find a camera also for me so you write to them and see what he says. Things here are about the same. I guess the news papers keep you informed of what is happening. Guess I had better sign off for now. I am fine and in in good health. Hope you both are the same. Write when you have time & I love you both.
Well I lost another good boy friend last night. Gus Odegard. “Big Stuff” so we called him. Also another fellow was lost. Hit by machine gun fire. It’s a shame they make us work so close to the enemy. Even the infantry won’t go out for security. And then here you are pounding stakes in the ground right in front of the Krouts. Cleaned guns all day and wrote a few letters. I watched a real dog fight today. Plenty of action. There were six “Spits” and about the same number of FW 190′s and ME 109′s. Four of the German planes were shot down. We didn’t lose any. It’s a wonderful sight. It was a swell and fairly quiet day all day. We had a long air raid down at the docks tonight.
I was on guard last night from 10 to 2 am. Company commander came in the orderly room and said that a couple of the men were hurt. Jerry threw an artillery barrage in on them. They got some small cuts out of the deal. We worked around the supply all day. At night I wrote a few letters and went to bed early. They have been shooting over our head, and the shells are landing about 400 yrds from us. All day they have been doing it. It looks like they would get tired.
Another line from the beachhead. Very seldom I write a long letter to you both or to anyone for a matter of fact so I guess you can past this one around. I have very little time to write letters and V mail letters makes it much easier for me. With the radio informing us that the 3rd Division is officially here (enhancing our glory” I think it said.) So I guess we are getting a share of newspaper space back in the states.
The third had did quite a bit in the war and the papers have said little about them so I guess now we are getting a break. It feels pretty good two read about yourself once in awhile (this may be pretty hard to read as I am laying down in a dugout, ha ha.) Everyone has them these days you know. Old Jerry plays no favorites. You have mentioned a few times of seeing our shoulder patch on soldiers passing through town ( in the movies I mean) we now are getting the big head and have one painted on each side of our helmet. So you can recognize us more easily next time. It said in the news ” the eyes of the world are up on you.” Ha ha they just weren’t kidding. The Krouts look right down your neck. I have been through a lot of battles but this one takes the cake.
Our moral got pretty low here but now it has perked up a little. A few of the Fellows finally took off for the states on “rotation” for a month furlough. The percentage is awful small so don’t dream of me getting on the list for a long time to come. Anyhow it’s at least something for us to look forward to.
I imagine all of you would like to know what it’s like here. Well frankly it’s like a night in hell. But then will come a quiet spell. One thing, here we have front row seats on bombing raids. You don’t know how it makes us feel when we see our big bombers go over and pound the Krouts heads. It’s really horrible but this is war. The Air Core boys do their job, but then they go back to a nice warm place and are threw for the day. When we have to live in the mud and work in the mud. It’s funny how few of us get sick. If I was home and lived like this, wow! I’d hate to think of it. But we are used to it, so we take it and just gripe of the poor kids that stay and the nice warm barracks back in the states and the closest thing they come to fighting is to fight to get into the U.S.O.’s My but they have it tough.
The whole credit of this war should go to the infantry. We of the engineers live back behind the lines. But when we work, we work with them and sometimes in front of them so it’s not easy by a long shot. How the infantry lives like they do is beyond me, but I’ll take my hat off to any of them. Everyone has his job to do in this war. Some are lucky and get Base Section jobs. That’s OK, because being over sea’s is bad enough. They get most of the credit for what we do. They have all the comforts of home back behind the line. They get showers and all sorts of entertainment that you read about the boys over seas are getting. But the fighting soldier, — NO — the man who deserves these things — NO — I’ve not seen over seven shows since are landing in Italy last September (not counting my five day rest furlough) if people think we are fighting for our country they’re crazy, and most every fighting soldier will tell you the same thing. We are fighting to get this damn war over with and get back to our mothers and fathers, wives and sweethearts and to a decent country to live in. I wouldn’t live in one of these countries over here for all the money in the world.
Guess I’m through now. Hope this passes the censors OK, but it’s the way I feel at the present time. Your letters are all coming in fine. I am a little slow in writing to you, please forgive me. Please understand that you are never out of my mind, and I love you both from the bottom of my heart.
\Your loving son
We had a good size air raid down at the beach last night. It seemed as if Jerry planes were droning over the area all night long. Well I just had a little cry. I just found out that my best boy friend Towslee was killed. I’m a pretty big kid to be crying but I just couldn’t help it. We had planned to do so much together after the war was over. He was really tops with me. When the Lord wants you, I guess you have to go. Also Carl Workman was killed also. They shelled around pretty close today but not much.
Well here we are back home again. And I’m still in one piece, but Jerry tried awful hard. Our infantry job wasn’t too bad. We were on the third line of defense and patrolled every other night. We built a Baily Bridge, just 400 yrds from the Krouts. They were throwing mortars about 30 yrds from us and we had the bridge about finished when a patrol came up and discovered us. Then hell broke loose. Man the mortars and artillery shells hit all around us. How we got out of it was beyond me. We all took off down the road and got under cover when it let up. We waited for a while and part of us went back to finish it. Man oh Man this time it was worse than the last time. One shell hit the bridge and knocked me down. Boy when you feel the heat off of those shells, they’re close. Again no one was hurt and when the shelling let up we went back to cover again. We waited quite a while this time, and then they ask for volunteers to go up and finish the bridge. Only five of us went St Sgt Williamson, Sgt Werner, Kubik, Iacuzzi, and my self. We worked pretty hard for a while and it was pretty quiet. Then one mortar about 20 feet from us and we hit the dirt. The next one hit right among us knocking all of us flat. Lucky only Williamson was the only one hurt and he was only hit in the shoulder, by this time the strain was too much on us and the bridge was all but finished. Two other men finished it. On our way home they just missed us with a lucky shot and with the loss of sleep and the sweating out of those shells, when I hit my fox hole I was completely exhausted and went right to sleep. They shelled us every day that we were out there. Killed two men and wounded two others. Some nights we were laying barb wire in front of the infantry. I have been hoping that I would get hit so I can get out of this mess. Every one else has the same idea. I have never seen moral so low since I have been overseas. But never have we ever had such a time or been in a tight as spot. I don’t know how much longer I can stand it and no relief in sight. I ran into a kid from home today, Brent Nhoecker. I carried papers with him during high school days. Germany is slacking off in his air raid, and our planes are pounding him every day. If the people knew how we lived here. Sleeping in mud and working night and day. I just can’t go on much longer. I am as thin as a rail. I must not weigh over 120 lbs. I understand that we go back as Hq platoon now and don’t have to go out and work. Boy I am really glad. Much more with out a rest and I would have cracked.
Same old thing nothing to say and little to write about. We’re pretty busy any how and I have little time to write so tell everyone not to expect letters from me for a while. When I get time I will write to them. I believe it has rained every day we have been here. We made us a dugout in the side of a hill and we sleep pretty safely. I ran into another kid from home today. I used to carry papers with him during high school days. His name was Brent Noecher. How has my mail been coming home, Okea? I know this isn’t much of a letter but it’s the best I can do for now. Goodbye and I love you both from the bottom of my heart.