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Record 401/959

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Letter from Robert D. Nash, 345th Bomber Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, Army Air Force, to his mother, Antoinette Nash and sister Pat Nash, in Oshkosh, WI. Middle East May 26, 1943-Wednesday, anyway Dear Little Soldiers in the Home-Front Trenches, Well sir, you'd think my typewriter had gone out of business for the duration, judging by all those letters I'm not writing. But actually there is a dearth of news here in Wogland. For the past week I've been off flying status as a result of colonic disturbances. The doc, anxious to prevent any dysentery, promptly filled me so full of sulfa pills that I rattled when I walked. I got better within a few days but the bills have some reaction with the corpuscles which bars the user from flying. But I'll be flying again in a day or two. A couple of days ago the armament officer decided I needed more practice in firing my .45 and took a party of us target shooting. Target shooting here is slightly more informal than in the States since we have no targets to shoot at, and improvise them by utilizing rocks, tin cans, or hulks of old German airplanes. Five of us piled into a bomb hoist truck which looks like a small auto-wrecker except that it has no covered cab for the driver. Two sat in front and three hung on in back. We had left the camp area about five bumpy minutes behind when suddenly we flushed two red foxes. They parted company and started scooting across the desert. The armament officer, "Pop" Meiling, (he's 39), let out a whoop and started after one of the foxes. Now a desert in this region as I have told you, isn't sandy but is clayey, a loose red dirt mixed with rocks atop a landstone base. A camel ambling along at three miles an hour can miss the bumpy places. A fox running at twenty miles an hour is quick enough to dodge in and out of the rocks. But a springless bomb-hoist truck, careening over the desert at thirty-five miles an hour isn't going to miss one damn rock. And we didn't. And there was one time when it looked as if the fox were going to win when we hit a gully and rolled along on two wheels for a breathless minute. But the fox tired first and Pop, steering with one hand and firing over the hood with the other managed to wing him from an incredible distance and then got him with another shot. He was sort of a dumb fox anyway: he should have hit for the rockiest country instead of running around on the flatland. I have visited Bengasi and more particularly its Cinema a beautiful building of the Montgomery period in Italian African architecture: roof bombed, façade scarred, but made usable by the British engineers. The theater is about the size of the Strand (ft that's the theater in the Raulf building) and the system is British: officers can't sit in the pits (downstairs) but must sit in the balcony where the price is doubled: five piasters. The seats are wooden but have backs. The stairway leading up to the balcony is small but beautiful and the marble has few shrapnel holes in it. A couple of cheap cotton royal blue drapes cover the upstairs entrances, in the approved cinematic fashion. If it weren't for the tin rattling over the hole in the roof you'd almost think you were in your favorite neighborhood thitter [theater]. The show was a British musical comedy, "Under Your Hat" which was funny enough once you comprehended the dialect. The British are at their best, I think, when they are making fun of themselves. Certainly the best scene was when the comedians portrayed an English couple just back from a long stay in India: he grunting in the approved fashion and she in a severe mid-Victorian suit, close-fitting, with long coat, long skirt, black spectacles and of course bluging [bulging] in the two usual places. And of course carrying a "little stick". She sang a ditty to the maidens of the girls' school pointing out to them the duty of females of the Empiah. Afterwards I talked with some New Zealanders in the officers club and I learned about the American troops. He said they were fine fighters once they learned how to meet the Germans. The initial defeat we suffered, he said, made us run about with our tails between our legs, but once we got the initiative again we were plenty good. And our equipment, he mentioned, was the best in the world. The German trucks are feeling the metal shortage and not only do they have wooden bodies, but wood frames as well. And he had nothing but praise for the General Sherman tanks. He spoke of one engagement where the Germans had fortified a narrow valley by planting a line of 88-milimeter guns across it, enough to stop anything. But the Shermans didn't know this and consequently ploughed right through the center! It was a bad day for the Germans then. Our tent has become more homelike. We have dug out the floor about six inches to give a lot more headroom, and have covered the dirt with burlap. We have a long clothes line outside and can air seven blankets at once. We have propped up part of an Eytie fuselage and the framework serves as a fine holder for a washbowl. The other lads have mattresses and eventually I'll get one. The fleas are still around but since everyone scratches, a few bites aren't socially objectionable. I don't get many letters but on the other hand I don't write many so I get just what I deserve. My first batch of pictures have been printed and the results are far from satisfactory. I've a long ways to go before I become a Steichen. I'd send some home to you but the censors on the American end of the mail route are notorious for their picture thievery and would undoubtedly lift the lot. But the crookedness isn't all on the other end. I learned recently about a Thanksgiving scandal which shows how things are done in Egypt. It seems the king of Egypt was in a benevolent mood and gave E.L. 2000 to the American forces, or about $8000. Some six hundred dollars were spent in printing gold plated menus listing the delicacies the American lads were going to get for their Thanksgiving dinner. And the rest, ah, the rest hasn't been seen. The lads had the usual meals of C-rations, or slum to you. And this is about all. There isn't anything I want except some magazines and I'm going to enter my subscriptions as soon as I get paid which ought to be in about five days. You might let me know what my bank balance is, if any, and let me know if any allotments have come through. A happy birthday to Pat and I'll try to get a cable off to her. I'm wary of sending any presents or money orders since those can also be stolen (and have been) by the censors fighting on the home front. Draw out twenty-five bucks from my account and let her buy some clothes, [crossed out] nice if its possible with that sum. Pip-pip, my lovlies [lovelies], Bob
Letter -WORLD WAR II -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
Sketch of British Actress

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