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.

Chick Bruns

September 1, 1944 – Friday

Chick & people of Oyew

Chick & people of Oyew

We slept late this morning as we were out late last night. The French farmers were bringing us milk and eggs and bread. In the afternoon it started raining and it really rained. Florence came down to visit me. She is really a nice girl. I wish I was stationed close by here. It rained too hard to go see Florence tonight so we went up to the Boyer’s. We talked till way late. The Boyer’s are the richest people in town. He owns the shirt and scarf factory there. They gave us all a beautiful scarf. We had Champagne and cake. The best Champagne I have ever drank. It sure has turned cold.

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August 31, 1944 – Thursday

SONY DSCWe left today ahead of the company as we have to pull a trailer full of lumber. The scenery is surely beautiful. I can’t get over it. The truck has been missing all day so we had to be shoved the last six miles, then pulled off to the side of the road to wait until we could fix the truck. Lt. Lawson took off with the other truck and told us to stay there till he came back. Castanze and I met a boy that could speak English so we went up to his house. We talked for some time and then started for camp. Outside the house he introduced us to two two girls. So the rest of the evening was spent with the girls.

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August 30, 1944 – Wednesday

Durgen & Chick,  Kraut Truck

Durgen & Chick,
Kraut Truck

I don’t know if we will move or not today. I wrote a few letters and received a couple of packages from home. One was from I.C. Collins with a 1/2 pint of whiskey in it. We stayed here tonight we are to move over 100 miles tomorrow.

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Letter Home – August 29, 1944

19440829a-Lscan-600Dear Mother & Dad

Move, move, move, you have little time for anything else here. I’m telling you, I’m having the time of my life, that is as long as the Jerries keep running. I can’t get over the way these French people treat you. They are so happy to have us here. They grab you and kiss you on both cheeks. Men, women, and girls, and what girls. Some of them are beautiful. This country has it all over Italy. If the war wasn’t on it would be a wonderful place to spend a vacation. The people shower us with all types of fruit, tomatoes, melons, Grapes etc. We trade cigarettes for eggs and other foodstuffs. I even had a quart of fresh milk. The first fresh milk I have had since I left the states.

19440829b-Lscan-600The Free French make things more easy. They blow bridges behind the Germans and run them out of towns before we get to them. I’ve never drank so much wine in my life. They stop you as you are passing by and make you take all sorts of drinks. Some of it I don’t know the name of but wow are they powerful. I had had wine that was made over 100 years ago, hard to believe isn’t it? I have only wrote to two other people besides you and dad so you see I have little time. Send me some 616 film for my camera as I am on my last role now. The old camera still works good as new. I haven’t heard from Snook so I can’t tell you much about him. They took an island off the southern coast & he is probably still there.

It’s getting late now so I had better bring this to any end. Goodbye to you both and I love you very much. Say hello to everyone for me. By By

Your Son,
“Chick”

PS here is just a little souvenir to put up with my things all of the French people wore some kind of a ribbon

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August 29, 1944 – Tuesday

SONY DSCHere we are waiting to go again. Boy this is the life. Move, move, move. The infantry just keeps rolling along. We moved after supper to the other side of Montelimar. The infantry had just shoved the Germans out and the dead were laying all over. We passed one convoy of German trucks that was parked double on the road that was about 1 km long. They really lost the stuff. Stayed in town a little while. I talked to a beautiful girl there. She was 21. She wanted to know if we were going to bivouac there for the night. If so, she invited me to sleep at her house. She said I looked as if I needed a nice soft bed to sleep in for a change. I met her mother and father and we had a little wine to drink. We talked till time to move out. They all kissed me on both cheeks and wished that I could come back to visit them some, but that’s the last I will ever see to them. God but the girl was sure pretty. She looked better than some of the movie stars I have seen. Her complexion was perfect. We pulled into our area and went to bed. It looks like rain so we stretched a tarp out.

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August 28, 1944 – Monday

SONY DSCWe are to move some time today – how far, I don’t know. We went about 10 more miles and stayed all night. Played some cards and wrote a couple of letters.

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August 27, 1944 – Sunday

SONY DSCWe moved this morning about 10 miles. Pulled into an area and expected to move any minute but we stayed all day. Played cards and had my second mail call. Read my letters in bed.

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August 26, 1944 – Saturday

SONY DSCThey had quite a scrap here at this house we are staying at. One German was hit pretty hard and was just about split in two. Maggots were crawling all over him and he stank something awful. There was also a few dead horses laying around. We stayed all night and are to move tomorrow.

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August 25, 1944 – Friday

SONY DSCWe went to find the company early this morning. There is no front at all. The infantry just keeps moving ahead a few snipers and rear guard action is about all. We found the company only to find out that we were moving again after dinner. We moved about 30 miles this time and had to clear the road and build three by-passes as we went along. After we got to the area we had to unload and go back after the TNT. It was dark now and we didn’t get back till about 2 am.

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Letter Home – August 24, 1944

19440824a-Lscan-600Dear Mother & Dad

Sorry for not writing more often but I’m afraid you will have to settle for a letter every now and then. The news papers should tell you that we are pretty busy.

This country is very nice. The people are clean the houses are kept up. Th the climate is swell. I just can’t describe it to you. In Italy everything was dirty. Here there is a clean fresh smell, more like home, out in the country.

The people are more fan and glad to see us and the Free French are doing a swell job of helping us along. 19440824b-Lscan-600They help in pointing out where the Germans are and also go up into the mountains and bring down prisoners themselves.

Ha, ha, I have to left one day I saw some French women shave the head of another French woman. I guess she was too friendly with the German to stop oh. It took quite a few women to hold her down, but they finally got it shaved off.

I know everyone is expecting a letter from me but tell them I will catch up as soon as I can. Like I said before I am kept busy and so far I have only wrote two letters and both of them have been to you and dad. At the rate we are moving this war should be over pretty soon.

Well I know that each day we move it brings us that much closer to home. I can’t understand why the Germans don’t give up and save a lot of lives. They know they are be it they keep bright on fighting.

I have received mail once since I have been here, so one of these days I should get an armful. I saw a kid from home yesterday. Brent Knoeicher. The last time I saw him was at Anzio. He was in a signal outfit. Well guess I had better quit for today. I’ll write again soon. Goodbye don’t worry, and I love you both very much.

Say hello to everyone for me.

Your Son,
“Chick”

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