We have a total of 16 letters Earl Lees wrote home. We are grateful we have these. I don’t have any from my dad’s WWII Service. And I know a few relatives who have nothing from their parents’ service. A reminder, Earl enlisted on 4/29/1942 when he was 26. He was honorably discharged on 9/7/1945 as a Staff Sergeant at age 29. My memories of him are that he was very youthful in spirit – and wise when I first met him. I regret not appreciating all his wisdom while he was living. Thankfully, some of his finest traits live on in both of his sons. Earl left our family a wonderful legacy and we want to never forget his service to our wonderful country.
The previous two letters are posted here and here. I am numbering them as I hope to fill in some blanks later. His return address will remain the same unless I post a different one. This address confirmed he continued to serve alongside and under Lt. Col. Matt Urban until September 4, 1944, when Urban was severely wounded.
Cpl Earl Lees
Co F 60th Infantry
New York, New York
Just a few lines to let you know that I am all right. You probably have guessed that I am in Sicily by now and we have had a busy time for a few days but all is quiet right now for me and I have been lucky again. I never told much about what we had to go through in Africa but I am telling you it was really a tough grind there, it was no easy fight but I suppose there is not much use in using up space talking about it. But you might want to know we didn’t have it as hard in Sicily as we did in Africa. I received your letter and was glad to hear from you and to hear how much news about the old town. I had my picture taken by the BN command once in the field in Africa but he and I are not overly intimate you know and I have never seen it or anything and he is usually a rather busy man. It has been a long time since I’ve heard from Jack. Is he still in California?
You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t seem to write a more informative letter but there aren’t many things that I could say and I don’t know where to begin. So about all I can say is it will have to wait till I can tell you first hand and the way things look for me that day will not be too far distant. I hope so anyway. But I think I will close for now. You can tell everyone I am all right and give my love to the kids. I hope this finds you all in good health and until I write again, I will say so long. Earl
9/3/1943 Cpl Earl Lees
I just received a letter from you and thought I was about due to write you anyhow. There isn’t much to write about now except that I am well. You were asking me how I was making out with my weight and things like that. Well I have no idea just what I weighed the last time I weighed myself was in January before we left for Tunisia. I weighed 153 then but everyone loses weight in battle you know. It was darn near three months we ate C-rations almost all the time and one time during the battle we went three days without food or water and things like that takes you down. But I think our forces are better organized now and we didn’t have any trouble like that in Sicily. You were saying that you would like to be with me. I don’t think you would be here very long before you thought otherwise. Just to give you a slight idea, one of our objectives in Sicily was a hill 5000 feet high and where we attacked we realized more. If you think it’s fun being shot at and climbing a hill like that I don’t know.
I was wondering if you ever got that letter I wrote you asking for something good to eat like candy. You know, well I would like it very much if you could fix me up a package something that would keep until it reaches me. One good thing about Sicily, at least just now is that we are helped a lot. I wrote a letter to Uncle Matt, the first and I don’t know how long. I hope he answers. I guess you don’t see him very often anymore. I guess Barbara is pretty happy about that bike and by the time you get this, she will have started back to school. Well, I think I will lose now and be sure to write me often as I will try to write you too. I hope this finds you all well so until the next time, I will say so long. Earl
10/10/1943 Cpl Earl Lees
Hello folks: I thought it was about time I wrote you again although there isn’t very much to write about now. I am well and I hope you all are the same. I was just thinking it was just a year since I had my first day furlough and a lot has happened in that year. I wish I could get another furlough but I guess my next one will probably be a permanent one. I hope. I got a letter from uncle Matt and they seem to be getting along all right. He was wishing he could get some (???) red. He says it is scarce at home. It sure is plentiful over here, and that is one thing the Germans didn’t get from here. But for myself I don’t like it very much. It makes me sick and it isn’t worth it to me.
I was surprised to hear that Oscar Ostrom was overseas. I wish when you know someone like that might be near where I am you could let me know. What outfit are they in and maybe I could look them up. Maybe I could see them, it is possible you know, when I was in Africa I know Dick Battiston (?) and Stan Lintner were in an outfit that we were close to but I could never find anyone that knew them. I got a letter from Barbara the other day and she seems to do all right for her age. She says she likes her bike but doesn’t like school. I guess she is a regular tomboy isn’t she? Tell her I was glad she wrote me and I will write her some of these days when I have more to say than I can today. I am at a loss for more to say right now so I hope you will excuse. Tell Sambo I said hello to him and say hello to the folks around town there and be sure to write me and give me the local news when you can. So I will say so long for now. Earl
11/7/1943 CPL Earl Lees
I don’t have much to write about just now, but I thought I would let you know everything is all right with me. I hope you all are well and happy. I received your letter and you were asking me about my serial number and as it is no secret I guess I can tell you it is 33264202. I haven’t received your package as yet but I will get it I think. You know it doesn’t pay to be impatient in this army. I haven’t received an email from Jack either but I believe I get all of yours. I have been getting more mail lately than I have got since I have been in the army. I also got a letter from an old gal friend and it was pretty nice. Sam, if you have to be inducted I hope you do get into the Navy and not the army. It isn’t good or anything but it gets very unpleasant at times and I guess we shouldn’t complain too much for after all we want to do is get this war over with and it takes a lot of headaches to do that. Well I am very sorry for that is about all I have to say right now and I will try to make my next letter a better one. Tell Barbara and Sam but I still remember them and tell everyone I said hello. Earl
12/28/1943 CPL Earl Lees
I received your letter the other day it was glad to hear from you and that you are all well. Well, Christmas has come and gone again and we had a pretty nice Christmas at that. Much better than last, we had lots of turkey. We had some English children out to dinner and they seem to enjoy it very much. I suppose you have received my letter by now letting you know that I am in England now. I was interested to hear that you were talking to someone who has been over here but I don’t know if I’m allowed to answer all your questions. You know we have to be very careful as to what we right about now. I guess I could have told you lots of things but I just didn’t think it sounded very glamorous. I think I know the barrage that fellow was telling you about that we were caught in but that was only one and you asked me if we were ever in a hand-to-hand fight. I guess that is what you would call them when it is close and brother I have been close, just to give you an idea. The battalion I am in received a special decoration and I understand there has been only one or two given out in this war. We were all very proud of it, but I don’t know, I may be funny or something that I just don’t feel like writing you and giving details on things that we have done because to me it just isn’t a good topic if you know what I mean. Incidentally, I haven’t been reclassified. I must be disgustingly healthy or just too dumb to quit. I do get the little papers. I like them I hope you keep sending them. I was glad to hear about Jack Dyer being a gunner. I kind of like these fellows. I got a letter from Bill Spencer but he doesn’t say what he is doing. I also got mail from Bill Flaherty and he is in the armored artillery but what his job is I don’t know. But looks like I have to Bring this to an end now. So say hello to everyone for me and until the next time I will say so long. Earl
1/3/1944 CPL Earl Lees
How are you all? I am fine, you may be a little surprised and puzzled about that cable I sent you asking for money. I hope by the time you receive this I will have received it, but I thought I might owe you an explanation. That is why I’m writing this letter. Well as you know I am in England and it is the first time in a year that we have been able to go out and spend money and have a good time. I am getting a 10 day furlough and there are lots of things to do here and lots of things to see and it takes money and that is why I asked for it. Sometimes when I think of it I think I must be a terrible letter writer. I really don’t keep you very well informed. We are getting lots of time for passes and furloughs and we have here lots of dances with real women that we can talk to and we are doing just about as well as we would in the states. To make a long story short I’m having a good time. I wish it could last, but on the other hand I don’t want it to last too long. There is still a war to be won so we can get home. You probably hear as much as I do about it and you know what has to be done. Well there isn’t much more I have to say now. Did Barbara get that letter from me. I hope it was what she wanted. Well, say hello to everyone for me and until next time I will say so long. Earl
1/19/1944 Cpl Earl Lees
How are you all? I am all right, I thought I had better right and let you know that I got your money order all right and just in time, too. I got it yesterday and I am going on a furlough tomorrow. Wish I was spending it at home, but alas, I guess I will have to wait a while before I can do that. I guess you are up-to-date on this war business aren’t you? There sure is a lot of talk about it. I wonder if you hear the same news that we do. I really don’t believe you do. The papers here seem to print some revealing news at times. I don’t have much to say now. I guess you get to ride around in the car a little more than you could a while ago. Do you ever get in to see Uncle Matt? I haven’t heard from him for a while. I don’t know who owes who a letter. Did Barbara ever get that letter I wrote her. I hope it was all right she said she was going to read it in school to her class. I probably could have done a little better, but I get in some awful bad moods at times and I think the army is getting to be a little monotonous for me, but if what the President said the other day is true and I can get by in this deal it won’t be long. I hope you are all pulling for me. I hope my lock doesn’t run out on me. Well that is about all I have for now so I guess I will say so long and don’t be too long in writing me. Earl
2/23/1944 SGT Earl Lees
Just a few lines to let you know that everything is all right with me and I hope you all are the same. I received your big letter the other day and it sure was a whopper and I enjoyed getting it very much. I like to get a regular letter once in a while instead of the V mail.
You remember you told me that Jack told you not to write to him until you heard from him. Well I was talking to a fellow the other day and he said that the outfit that Jack is in England now. He said they just arrived a few days ago and I haven’t been able to find out for sure though. But when I do I intend to look him up. That would be something, I was just thinking it has been two years since I’ve seen Jack. They are several fellows here who have met their brothers and friends. You seem to be awfully concerned about my health. Well I’ll tell you there was a wow there I wasn’t sick or anything but I didn’t have much appetite but the last few weeks I’ve been hungry all the time. I eat seconds now and I don’t Believe I ever felt any better. I guess I am not so bad off though. I weighed a little over 10 stone the last time I weighed. Oh what a stone is, sounds kind of funny doesn’t it? But there are many funny things in this country and if I could only tell you my location I could tell you some very interesting things. So I guess that is about all for now. I don’t seem to have said much but I will try writing you again before long so give my love to Barb and Sambo and don’t forget to write soon, so long. Earl
3/16/1944 SGT Earl Lees
I received your letter the other day and was glad to hear from you. I was glad to hear that Barbara didn’t have any trouble with her measles. I guess she is out of bed now. I haven’t much news for you. I’ll make a few comments on your letter. I am reasonably sure that Jack is in England but I haven’t heard from him and I don’t have his address. If he forwarded it, I am here he should be able to find time to write me. But Jack is funny about things like that. I got a big surprise the other day. I got a letter from Patsy Muir. I was glad to hear from her though I guess I had better write her. I think it was nice of her to remember us. Don’t you? You said Edyth was giving some more blood to the Red Cross. You know that is pretty good for that really goes for something worthwhile. You know it does me good to hear of things like that and keeping bonds too, for a fellow gets kind of cynical towards a lot of people who won’t share the same dangers and troubles as he does not do people at home of course. Oh well I want to get started on that right now. You know I think you are wrong about me not feeling properly proud of being a sergeant for I am the only thing sometimes a man feels like he could do bigger things if he tried harder but I guess I am not especially this type to go ahead and fast especially in the army there are still many things we do that don’t seem necessary and it all gets dull at times. I am having trouble writing this letter. There is a big game going on right across from me and they get noisy sometimes and there is so many things that I think that I could say and I just can’t figure out how to say it. I haven’t had my picture taken yet but I might yet. Oh, you never did mention anything about the decoration my battalion got or did you ever get the news? Well we got the ribbon the other day I am sure you have never seen any. It is blue inside a gold frame. I don’t think it is a military secret because some of the fellows have newspaper clippings from home about it. Well I am going to close now and I hope this finds everyone well and happy. Earl
4/2/1944 Sgt. Earl Lees (regular letter)
Well I finally had my picture made so as you have already noticed I have sent them to you. I guess it is a good picture although I am not quite satisfied. They are not quite clear enough to show you everything. It doesn’t show you my campaign stars. You know I never wear three of them. They are on the ribbon on my left if you look real hard you might see them.
Well I hope everyone is well now I am still going strong. I haven’t very much to write about right now so if this ends suddenly I hope you won’t mind. I found out that Jack is in England and I know just about where he is located and I have written him and if I get the chance to go and see him I will. I’ll tell you how I found out, I ran into a couple of fellas out of his outfit and they told me where they are and I gave them a message to deliver for me. I don’t know if they did it though, but if they did he also knows where I am so we should be able to get together soon. I gave him eight for not writing you. They have been here over a month just in case you don’t have his address now it is still the same as it used to be. His a PO number is 256. You’ll never guess what I did yesterday. I went to the dog races and I made myself a couple of pounds, and I had a big time.
You know next Sunday is Easter. Time sure is flying. You know it is 18 months this month since I left the states. I know Easter is kind of an anniversary over here with me now, a year ago we were in a bad place and I guess it is one day I will never forget. Did I tell you I had a letter from Patsy Muir? Kind of I was kind of surprised. I did manage to answer her too. I believe I am improving don’t you? Well as I just said before I don’t have much I can tell you at this time so I won’t strain my feeble mind any further and just call it quits for now. Say hello to the kids for me and don’t be too long and writing me. So Long
Handwritten letter, # 12, written on April 2, 1944 from England. He used onion skin paper so there is bleed through
The following are three undated letters from Earl regarding his time in the hospital. He was wounded in action 0n 6/15/1944. In the last dated letter, 11/30/1944, he had a promotion to Staff Sergeant.
Sgt Earl Lees US Army Hospital
Detachment of Patients
4143 US Army Hosp. Plant
APO number 641 c/o Postmaster NY NY
I hope this has arrived in time to save you from worrying about me. In case you don’t understand just what I am driving yet. You will be receiving a notice from the government that I have been wounded. I’m writing you to let you know it is not serious and that I will be good as new in a very short time. Perhaps I should elaborate just a little. Well to begin with as you might be able to guess, I have been over in France and I got into a little scrape (of course it wasn’t me alone) and I got a piece of shrapnel in my back. It wasn’t a very big piece, but it was big enough to bother a man a little. Anyhow I had it removed and I’m getting along fine now. You know I am in England now and I don’t know when I will be able to get a letter from you. I don’t think there is any use in writing to me at this address. I won’t be here long. I am not sure just what I will do now, but I will try to get back to my own outfit however, if I do get a little different address where I think might be for a while, I will let you know. Tell Barbara and Sambo that I think their prayers have done some good for me. I have been very lucky. Well I think that is about all for now so I will say so long. Earl
UNDATED Sgt Earl Lees US Army Hospital
Sgt Earl Lees US Army Hospital
Detachment of Patients
4122 US Army Hosp. Plant
APO number 591 c/o Postmaster NY NY
I thought it must be about time I was writing you again and let you know that I am all right. As you can see I am still in the hospital. Although this is not exactly a hospital but that is what they call a rehabilitation center. They are supposed to put us in the proper physical and mental condition before we are returned to combat. Well I am ready to leave here now too and expect to leave in a short time. I will have gone I think by the time you receive this. One reason I haven’t been writing more often is that there isn’t much to write about. I hope you don’t worry about me. I really should write a little more often but if anything had ever happens, you would probably hear about it quickly. One thing that was kind of disappointing, I found out when I was in the other hospital was that Jack was still here and he wasn’t very far from where I was. But I left the next day and didn’t get a chance to try to see him and you know I never heard from him so I didn’t get a chance to do much about it. However it may not be too late yet. Well there isn’t much more to say right now. I hope this finds you all well. Maybe the next time I write I will have more to say. Tell everyone I said hello. Now I will say so long. Earl
UNDATED Sgt Earl Lees out of US Army Hospital
Just writing to let you know that I am all right and I hope that everyone there is enjoying the best. I don’t have much to say right now but I guess you noticed that I am back at my old address. I know you were hoping for something different but it just can’t be helped and I don’t mind it too much myself.
It has been a long time since I last heard from you and I hope I start getting some mail from you soon. I guess I owe a few letters myself. I received a letter from Reverend Matchett and he asked me to write him but I hardly know how to start. Still don’t hear anything from Jack. He must’ve forgotten how to write. Does he write you yet? One thing that may interest you before I close here is that I am in Belgium now, getting around aren’t I? You know it is getting near all the time to that day when I can see you all again and I only hope that it isn’t too long. I think it will have to close now so I will say so long and don’t forget to write me. Earl
11/30/1944 S/Sgt Earl Lees
520 Repl. Co. 80 BN
APO #226, % Postmaster NY NY
Just a few lines to let you know that everything is all right with me and I hope you all are enjoying the best. I did get your letter and I was glad to hear from you. As you can see I’m not in the hospital now and I think if you write me at this address I may be here long enough to receive it. I think you’re hoping that I might get to come home was a little too good to be true. For right now I am not headed that way, the army seems to think I can still be of service to them. It does seem rather hard since I have been doing more than a little bit these two years and a trip home would be a pretty nice reward. I guess you are curious to know just what I am doing and maybe what I am going to do. Well as to what I am doing is easier to say than what I am going to do. I’m going to go to school, carpenter school in fact right now. And after that, I have no idea what it may lead up to. I don’t think I will be doing any more fighting. At least I won’t be with the infantry. But you know nothing is certain these days. I am glad Jack is home. I do hope he is all right. I have a good idea just about what is his trouble. I’ve seen a lot of that sort of thing. It is better anyhow for now. You only have me to sweat out and I seem to be unbelievably lucky in some respects. I think I will have to close now and be sure and give the kids a big squeeze for me. I sure wish I could do it myself, but it is possible that it won’t be long. I’ll say so long for now and be sure to write soon. Earl
It was very important for moral both for the men and women serving and for their loved ones to receive mail. With these letters are three undated “Season’s Greetings.” But we do know, Earl spent three Christmas’ as an infantry man.
We don’t know when Earl last saw Matt Urban during the war. It was a miracle Urban survived. He wrote in his book how he marveled at the doctors’ skills and abilities while giving praises to the field medics and hospital nurses. He was still critically wounded, but by December 1944, he thought he was ready to go back to the front lines! He convinced the doctors and command he deserved a 5-day pass for R & R in Scotland. While recovering, he was reading the reports from his unit and thought he was needed! Believe it or not, he managed to hitchhike and use all kinds of tricks to get himself back to the front lines and with his unit, in Germany! After a few days, he knew he needed to return to the hospital. That trip back was easier but he now faced Court Martial. Instead, he learned he missed a ceremony where he was to receive a bronze star. And after a thorough review, the court marital was dismissed! (PS Earl and Matt reconnected years later and many times at the 9th Infantry reunions. He sent Earl a copy of his autobiography I’ve referenced.)
We don’t know where or why Earl was reassigned. His discharge papers reflected he was last assigned to Company “B” 358th Engineer General Service Regiment. A search of records by Andy Adkins, Veteran, Author, and Consultant, revealed he was once again hospitalized but due to illness. Now I know why he was discharged at the Hospital Center, Camp Pickett, VA on Sept 4, 1945.
I need to give a shout-out and a HUGE debt of gratitude to Andy Adkins. He was an outstanding resource and can be contacted through his website: www.azadkinsiii.com/blog. I was matched up with him through WW2 Research website.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”John 15:13
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