105th ENGINEER COMBAT BATTALION


30th Infantry Division


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This is an actual letter written by a soldier to his finance (my boss' parents). He packed as much jargon into the letter as he could, then defined the terms. It offers a unique window into the vernacular of the time--the colorful language of guys learning to get on in life the Army way. The soldier was part of a maintenance unit that was deployed to the southwest Pacific. Spelling and puncuation are exactly as they were written in the letter.

Thursday - Aug. 13th, 1942

My own darling,
((Last night hte C.Q. put up the D.L. and I dashed up to see if I had caught K.P., however I found out he had hooked me for C.B. I took off on the double but at the C.A.L. an M.P. asked me for my S.P. Pass.

"I don't need it to go to the P.X. to pick up my O.D.s, do I?," I asked.

"You have to have it with you always. The C.O. says that's A.R.," he said.

I couldn't see any reason for him to be so G.I. but I went back and hit barracks just as the chow hounds were cocking, so I went to the trough and found they were dishing out bull, target paste, and dummy with caviar for dessert and bootleg on the side. Anyway it was a welcome change from graveyard.

Next morning I got up and felt better after a few hours of bunk fatigue and goldbricked until the top kick told me to get to work or I'd get A.E.F. instead of O.C.S. After that I dug until the bull of the woods had tossed the glims. After that I just fox holed until Hitler's Heaven.))

As you can no doubt surmise, the foregoing take is wholly ficticious and is designed to continue your education on military slang which I have been rather neglecting of late. I will now translate the terminology used and, lo, your vocabulary has increased.

C.Q. = Change of Quarters, the non-com who takes care of detal work in the O.R. (Orderly Room)
D.L. = Detail List
K.P. = Kitchen Police
C.B. = Change of Barracks 9when we were trainees they called it "room orderly."
On the Double = 240 steps to the minute - a good fast run.
C.A.L. = Company Area Limits
M.P. = Military Police
S.P. = Special Privilege
P.X. = Post Exchange
O.D. = Olive Drab uniform
C.O. = Commanding officer
A.R. = Army Regulations
G.I. = Literally, "Government Issue" - means being extra particular about unimportant details.
"Chow hounds were cocking" - the men were preparing to eat
Trough = mess hall
Bull = roast beef
Target Paste = gravy
Dummy = bread
Caviar = tapioca pudding
Bootleg = coffee
Graveyard = stew, consisting mostly of bones.
Bunk fatigue = sleep
Goldbricked = loafed
Top Kick = first sergeant
A.E.F. = American Expeditionary Forces (over-seas)
O.C.S. = Officers Candidate School
Dug = worked
Bull of the Woods = Tech Sergeant
Tossed the glims = inspected the barracks
Fox holed = hid
Hitler's Heaven = Retreat.

So there are some more terms for you. There is no more news except it's hotter than the red hot handles on the seven doors of Hades.

More tomorrow, dearest, but for now:

I love you,
Leo

P.S. They still insist we're a Corps Area Service Unit, so it has almost convinced me.

Leo