Posted by: Ann Myers | May 26, 2010

Other People’s Letters, Part 7

On April 8, 2010, SCRC hosted a dramatic reading of a selection of letters from our collections. The event was planned and emceed by Abigail Wheetley, and we thank everyone who was able to attend. For those who were unable to attend, and for those who would like to revisit something they heard that evening, we will be posting transcriptions of the letters and introductions to them over the next few weeks.

We continue this series with a letter from a World War II soldier to his sister.

A Soldier’s Account

Verniece Morrow Collection MSS 223

As World War II comes to a close, one soldier tries to explain what he’s seeing to his sister, Verniece Morrow. Charles Howard Ensinger served on the European front with the 19th Armored Infantry. After crossing Italy and France, he entered Germany and sustained injuries to his right forearm and thigh. Charles rejoined his company as they were occupying a Nazi school in Sonthofen, Germany, and returned home in December 1945.

Howard Ensinger letter


June 10, 1945

My Dear Big Sis,

Hey Keed! Long time no write to you, but here I am back again. This finds me doing fine and feeling O.K. and hoping that you are the same.

Well sis I have moved again, not to my outfit, but as luck would have it, near Nuremberg Germany in another repple depot, just what I didn’t want to do.

Son-of-a-gun did I have a train ride, and a truck ride too. We came in box-cars for quite a ways, till we came to a train which would hold us up for quite some times, so we came to the balance of the distance in trucks.

Boy you should see the people traveling, some are going the direction we were and others are going the other way. I seen them almost anyplace on the trains that I could see, on top of cars, in boxcars and coal cars and in between cars. Boy did they scramble round trying to find a place on a train when one would come in. I seen men, women with and without babies, girls and boys. There were French, Italians, Russians, Polish and Germans. Nearly all of them have the largest durn packs on their backs, that I have ever seen. It is the same thing on the highways. I seen them traveling in trucks with two and sometimes three large four wheel trailers behind them, motorcycle, bicycles, horse and wagon, walking and pulling wagons like the goat wagons we have back home or maybe a little larger and lots of them walking with packs on their backs and suitcases or some sort of a box in each hand. It’s nothing to see an old man and woman pulling and pushing a wagon, stacked higher than my head with all sorts of furniture, bed clothing and such things, or see them going down the road on a bicycle with things tied on the bicycle and a large pack on their backs.

Some of the reasons there are so many traveling is because they are slave workers that have been liberated and are going home and others are going to some place else to live because they have had their homes blown up, it is nothing to see a city as large at Mt. Vernon or Duquoin that has been flattened out by the air force and the artillery, sometimes there is a few walls left standing here and there. The strangest of all is to see a building all blown away and crumbled around the bottom of the chimney, which by some miracle was left standing without even a hole or a crack in it. What do you think of that? Ha! Ha!

We seldom crossed a bridge, especially on the rail road, but what hadn’t been repaired or built by our own engineers. Boy I’m telling you most of the place over here is really a mess. I sure wish the people back in the States could have a chance to see it with their own eyes. Well, Sis, that is enough of that kind of stuff, I just thought I would give you a little idea of some of the things I have seen.

Say, Sis, this is not too bad of a repple dept. The worst part of it is that we have to sleep in pup-tents. I met one of my buddies from my outfit, he’s in the same platoon and I am and him and I are tenting together. We have a beer garden here, a red cross where we can get coffee and doughnuts every night, a swimming pool and a fellow can take a shower here every day and w also have pretty good meals so you see this is not so bad is it?

Say how is our Johnny Boy making out O.K. I hope. I guess he still has his working job doesn’t he.

I guess I will close for this time Sis, so be careful and take care of yourself.

So-long Sis

Loads of love and kisses, Your bro,




  1. I have just read/perused your blog, a first. This is good stuff and opens Morris Library once again for those of us who are no longer on campus. More info in this form would be a helpful and opens up a new storehouse of information and SIU to the general public. Thanks. My card number is 68752 perhaps my most lasting of momento of SIU!

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