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

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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August 24, 1944 – Thursday

SONY DSCWe moved today about 20 miles. Crossed the Duvance river by fording it. We pulled into one area and stayed about an hour. Then moved to the next area. We had to unload the truck and go back after the TNT. We took it on up to the front to a forward dump. We really made it forward to. We went through two towns that the infantry hadn’t even been through. Come to find out that the infantry was 10 miles away from us. The towns were full of the F.F.I. and what a time we had. The people mobbed us started kissing us on both cheeks raising all kinds of hell. They took us to one tavern and we thought we were going to get beer, but it was pop instead. We finally got away and went back to the SONY DSCcompany only to find that they had left for a new bivouac. We stayed all night back at the place we had dumped our supplies.

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August 23, 1944 – Wednesday

SONY DSCWe moved the first thing this morning. We were to go pick up some pull type trailers and on the way we stopped to get some beer. The town was off limits so the M.P.’s picked us up and took us to the stockade. They took our names and turned us loose. The beer was good but we didn’t know the town was off limits. Went back to the company. We had to take the culverts we had on the trailers up to the front. The infantry was dug in all along the canal. We dumped the culverts off and came back. We were going to move up but the French are taking over this section and we are going to another.

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August 22, 1944 – Tuesday

SONY DSCWe layed around all day. In the afternoon we went on a recon. Got some eggs and wine and a glass of fresh milk. First milk I have had since I have been over seas. Went back at night and had a quart of milk a piece. Came home and went to bed.

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