September 24, 1943, Dear Harriet: “Up amid the platinum stars…”

fullsizerender-3North Africa

24, September 1943

Dear Harriet,

I intend to get away from it all tomorrow and spend a day in Tunis. As head of the Intelligence Department the whole works can go to pot as far I am concerned.  What Mike and I have in mind (Mike is one of my tent mates) is to spend the whole day at one of the swimming pools. I have stuck close to camp for about a month now and I’m getting a little sick of the monotony.  I supposed I should be more-or-less use to this life after two years but I just can’t be like some of these old horses around here who go at it day after day and actually enjoy it. To find once more that my time is my own again, that’s what I’m waiting for.

The other night a few of us dug out one of the footballs and tossed it around for an hour or so. Something different for a change and we really got into the spirit of it. It felt good to wake up those sluggish muscles, to stretch and strain them to the utmost. I wore myself out, but then who didn’t. I slept well that night because I was really tired.

From the looks of the sky a bit of weather is moving in. I just knew something would happen when I decided to take a day off. Perhaps it will blow over as it has other nights. If it ever hits I bet it will be a dinger. The air is unusually cool for this time of the evening too. Well, this dried up place could use some rain.

While reading a book some time ago I ran across a line that seems to have stuck with me. “Up amid the platinum stars a thin slice of moon rode high, and far below in that meager light lay the great gray desert, lonely and mysterious.” This always reminds me of the nights we spend at Biskra. Most of those memories were not too pleasant, however. It was there that I experienced my first air raid. Jerry came over that night about nine O’Clock, we got the air raid alarm twenty minutes before his arrival. I was in the first sergeant’s tent at the time and there we stayed till the fire works was over. I could never make up my mind which was worse; Laying there while the bombers circled the field eight maybe ten of them, looking for a light, anything that would give our position away.

Twice they passed directly over our tent. If you think we didn’t sweat then you’re crazy. Now the sound of their engines dies away in the distance and we know that they are getting ready to dive on the field. Suddenly they were upon us and the earth beneath shook with the concussion of exploding bombs. To say I was scared is putting it mildly. I learned then the meaning of fear, real fear. I don’t know how many nights we took this punishment but each one was as bad if not worse than the first. The happiest day of my life was when we pulled up stakes and headed west.

I have never told my folks of these experiences, afraid they might worry too much. Why then have I told you – well, it looks like I tell you about everything anyway. Then again maybe I want you to worry about me just a little. Life over here isn’t exactly a bowl of cherries.

And now that I have given you something to think about, we’ll say goodnight. Perhaps the roads that we travel alone today will soon reach a crossing – Are you wishing hard enough?

Love

Roy

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