September 21, 1941

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10:15 A.M. 9/21/41

Dear Mom & Dad:

I spose you have been wondering just what has happened to your long lost son. Well I’m still O.K. & in good shape & feeling fine & healthy & in tip top condition. I just haven’t had a chance to write to anyone during the last week. In fact I started a letter to you last Sun., expecting to finish it on Mon eve. I just now tore it up & am starting a fresh one. This is the reason for my late correspondence.

Our battalion just returned from a three day convoy to the seashore. We left last Tues A.M. in about 100 trucks carrying our full packs, two blankets, gas masks, & rifles. The trucks rolled along at about 35 per., so it took almost all day to travel the 120 miles, and also, we made several stops along the way to give the soldiers a break from those hard wooden seats. They gave us each a lunch (3 sandwiches, milk & an apple) which we ate along the roadside. We arrived, with numb seats, at Myrtle Beach, So. Carolina about 3 o’clock that afternoon.

We made camp at a spot near the beach a distance of 6 miles from the town of Myrtle Beach. First we pitched our tents & prepared our campsite. Of course all the tents were set in a perfectly straight line & just so – the army way. Then right off the bat, almost before the tents were all up, they fired a full field inspection at us which means we had to set out in a certain pattern our full field equipment. After the officer inspected our display, we had chow & were free for the evening. That is we were free to do what we pleased, but we couldn’t leave camp.

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The next day we were up at 6:00 as usual. That morn we were kept pretty busy learning how to camouflage the howitzers. Two guns were dragged along on the convoy just for this purpose. I took some pictures of the gun position, showing the camouflage net over it. The afternoon was more fun, we were allowed to play baseball, volleyball, horseshoes, & swim.

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The swimming really was fun. I got my first real taste of ocean water. It just happened to be pretty windy Wed. so the waves were really breaking with a roar on that beach. We all had quite a time riding the waves. We waded out about a hundred yards & then when a wave came along that was large enough we’d jump right with it & ride all the way to shore. Shore was fun. Took quite a few pictures. It was a beautiful beach. That day we also had a tug-of-war & of course the 3rd platoon won – naturally.

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That night they gave us a chance to see the town of Myrtle Beach. We went in on the trucks at about 7 bells & had to report back to the trucks at 9:30. The short allotment of time is to keep the boys as sober as possible – I guess. I did some drinking myself. Three other fellows & myself headed for the nearest drug store & ordered up a great big ol’ chocolate malted milk. Boy what a treat that was! After that we checked over the town. It seems that it is quite a resort spot in mid summer, but it had closed down after Labor day & was pretty quiet by now.

Next morning we were roused out of our troubled sleep (hard ground you know) at 5:30. First we had to display all of our equipment again in front of our tents. Then after the inspection we pulled our tents down & packed up our stuff. After chow we loaded on the trucks & were rolling back to dear old Bragg by about 8:30. We rolled along the beach for the first 5 miles, & then we turned off & got back on the highway. Sir Malcomb Cambell had nothing on us except a few hundred miles per hour. We arrived back in camp at 4:00 & after cleaning up the trucks & cannons & unpacking, you can imagine I was all ready to hit the bunk. It was really a pleasure to get back to our own cozy little bunks again.

Wow! I guess you really did wonder what happened to me. I just now was handed your letter & I guess I can consider myself bawled out. You say I haven’t written since before Labor day. Well the mail must be mixed up, cuz I’m sure I’ve written a letter home since then. But anyway I’m sorry & I’ll try to do better in the future.

Anyway I hope you realize that I couldn’t have written this last week. You see Mon. I was busy packing for the trip. From Tues. to Thurs. I was out in the wide open space 120 miles from the nearest station-ary. And Fri. – well Fri. I want you to know I was busy. I shined on my canteen, cup, silverware, mess kit, belt buckle, rifle, & shoes from 6:00 ‘till 9:00. We had a very tough inspection (I guess a better word for it is thorough) last Sat., yesterday, & so we had to polish every piece of our equip. up to a high gloss. Our platoon commander Leut. Williams told as to take special pains this time so that we would show up the other 3 platoons in the battery. We must have looked pretty good Sat. because we were tops in the battery. Well anyhow that takes care of Fri. and then Sat. I went over to see Bob Coll for I hadn’t seen him for about three weeks. He’s swell, by the way, and seems to be getting along well in the army. I think there’s a good chance of our getting our furloughs at the same time – hope so.

We are in our ninth week of our training cycle here which means only four more weeks to go. We are supposed to get our furlough around the last of Oct. probably Oct. 26th.

I was glad to get your letter even though you did reprimand me severely, but I’m afraid I haven’t exactly answered it. But instead of dragging this letter out any further I’ll write again in a couple of days & answer your letters properly.

So, ‘till then, good bye & please forgive the tardy letter.

Your devoted soldier son,

Dorance

P.S. I’ll be sending some money home by money order soon.

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