Letter from James Hemstreet to Gordon Fister, 27 June 1944., result 1 of 1
Thank you for your thoughts on D Day, Gordon. I was sorry I wasn't about England on June 6th to help with the invasion. So you say, both of us have friends who made the historic crossing. An invasion in this area surely won't find me missing. Sometime ago when we were assigned to a vessel to unload it, while searching for the anchorage of the ship, we saw another large vessel. It's name was the same as that of an institution familiar to both of us. What a lot of found memories that name brought back!
This place here is even worse conditions than Bizerte. There isn't one complete house in town. With the expectation of a few Italians (about 100) men, old ones,
and young boys- all the people fled. Hungry thin natives can be found wandering through wrecked houses at most any time. And if the vandals aren't Italians, then you can be sure they are profit seeking Englishmen or curious Americans. All such wandering is against orders and offenders can be punished!
In our last place, four English souvenior hunters were buried. Their searching was so far too thorough. Of course, I too collect items of interest. My German rifle and helmet and Italian helmet are always in my way. When a good mailing box turns up some place; I'll send the helmets home.
Italian laborers are brought in to work here, and you should see them. Every one of them is hungry and if you're not watching, they'll steal you out of house and home while they're working
onboard. Their clothing appears to have been worn for 20 years. The shoes they wear were past the stage of collapse(s) weeks ago.
Sitting on our deck, even now, on pile of souveniors on their way to the Willelmstrasse, is a small chubby Italian of 52 years of age. His English is excellent- for these parts (he is a native of a small town 20 miles away). Well, 22 years of the past 52 he has been a citizen of the U.S.A. I saw the naturalization papers. He moved back to Italy before the war, to make his home here, permanently. The shy old boy admits, himself, he doesn't know why he ever came back. In reply to a question about his house, he said, "Ah, she's shook up a bit, but we still live in it."
Please excuse the spelling errors, Gordon, Always did need a dictionary, and there is none around here. We'll see what can
be done about supplying materials for your book of war experiences. Maybe in the future something really exciting might turn up.
I enjoy reading your letters-each one says something. Regards to Muhlenberg.
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