Lieutenant Ted Dulchinos
Rough in the ETO *
There's dirt in my beard
I'm covered with grime
and fear's gnawing deep in my guts
and I crave for a shot
like a drunken old sot
as I stand in the mud saying "Nuts".
There's hate in my heart
and blood on my mind
and I shrink and I cramp with fear.
of each morning at dawn
and the order "move on"
for I know that my number is near.
Life's short where I'm at
and the best I can get
is a wound and "white sheets" for a spell
But the worst part of that
is I gotta come back
to this man made section of hell.
So it's day after day
and night after night
and mile after miserable mile.
Oh God! Put an end
to the time I must spend
Sweating blood, the Infantry Style
- written in the field by "one of the Boys"
* European Theater of Operations
Theodore J. Dulchinos - Ted - was ordered to report for induction into the U.S. Army on June 16, 1942. The notice gave him two weeks warning.
Ted was assigned to the 320th Infantry (activated at Camp San Luis Obispo, January 1943). In the next development for which we have information, Ted was promoted to Staff Sergeant of the 254th Infantry at Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi on February 3, 1944.
Ted wrote letters principally to his sister, Mary Rozantes, in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. He got letters from a number of family members, including nieces and nephews who were actually close to his own age (he had brothers as much as 20 years older.) Mary was pregnant with her second child during the time of these letters. Ted was drafted in 1942, but the first surviving letters were from Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1944.
He was at Fort Benning by late 1944,with the 20th Company, 2nd Student Training Regiment. The soldiers were waiting for assignments overseas, and hearing about the successes of the U.S. troops in France in the months following D-Day. Ted was commissioned as Second Lieutenant on December 2, 1944 at Fort Benning, and attended Intelligence School and other advanced training. Sometime in December, Ted's unit was moved north through Washington D.C. and, after a brief stop in New York City, set sail for Europe.
The allied war effort, after taking back most of France, had stalled while trying to figure out the best way of finishing the job. The Battle of the Bulge was Hitler's last great offensive, taking advantage of allied indecision, but the allied lines held. It was now time to push into Germany.
From here on, Ted's story will be interspersed with excerpts from his letters home.
12/44 - Sorry I can't tell you where I'm located or how long I'll be here, but in case you don't hear from me don't start worrying.
Date - Not Allowed! - I'm not permitted to tell you what ship I'm on, where we're going, when we left or what route we're taking.
Somewhere in the Atlantic - In the wake of the ship where the water was churned up, you could see a million phosporus balls that looked like reflected stars. I've really never seen anything quite so beautiful...I do the censoring for our company now and its good for a lot of laughs...Some of those boys sure write terrific letters. You wonder why the stationary doesn't start blazing but on the other hand some of them almost make me cry.
Somewhere in England - We passed a few bombed spots that were hit during the "blitz" and we can all thank God something like that didn't happen to our homeland. Perhaps though it would have shaken us out of our complacency. These people are really in this war 100%.
Somewhere in ? - This sure is a funny life. For a guy that's lived in a small town all his life, I'm sure seeing a lot all of a sudden...Now all I need is grandchildren and I'll have something to tell them.
Somewhere in N. France - 17 Jan 45 - [through France by train. Lots of snow.]
Somewhere in N. France - 28 Jan 45 - Just joined the 35th...The big subject here is that tremendous Russian drive. Man, aren't those guys really going. We expect to wake up one of these mornings and find them right in our front yard.
Somewhere in N. France - 30 Jan 45 - When we GI's hit a town, we go around and ask the people if we can use their empty rooms, and that way everybody sleeps indoors...Practically all these people can speak German as well as French cuz that's all they were allowed to speak when they were conquered. Kinda reminds you of the Greeks when the Turks were running things over there...liquor ration once a month...one of the French families shared their cognac so everyone was pretty cozy.
Somewhere in Holland- 3-5 Feb 45 - [quartered in a castle built in 1600]
Somewhere in Germany - 6 Feb 45 - [things are quiet - lots of farms - boys are holding chariot races and having fresh steak for dinner.]
Somewhere in Germany - 8 Feb 45 - Everybody does a lot of praying here and nobody is ashamed to admit it. Whoever said "there are no atheists in foxholes" wasn't kidding a bit. I do my share of praying too - that way I figure everything is up to Him and is out of my hands so there's no use worrying about it.
Somewhere in Germany - 10 Feb 45 - This town resembles the last one in that this one is also pounded into the ground. In France, I used to feel sorry about all that destruction, but now I'm glad to see it...In front of a former candy store in Metz (France) a while back was a sign "Schancoldenhaus - N. Pappas" How do you like that. These Greeks set up business just about all over the world.
Somewhere in Germany - 12 Feb 45 - I'm still hoping for that first letter from home. I'm most anxious to hear the news about the new baby.
Somewhere in Germany - 14 Feb 45 - ...sending a German propaganda leaflet. We find lots of them around. There's a few others that are honeys that I don't dare send along 'cuz the women on them aren't exactly fully clothed. These German leaflets have a different effect than was planned in their use because they always make us laugh.
Somewhere in Germany - 18 Feb 45 -...twelve hour pass back to Holland. I drank a lot of beer but their beer is even weaker than our old 3.2, so I didn't get the desired effect at all.
Somewhere in Germany - 20 Feb 45 - [finally got a letter, dated January 2] There's no need trying to tell you how happy I was to get that letter. Man, what a feeling! There's really nothing like it. I'm a new man now. I'm sorry I surprised you all by ending up over here, but I wasn't too sure I was going so I didn't want anybody to start worrying ahead of time...I would have answered [the letter] right away, but I had a little something to do. Thanks a million for your swell description of Xmas and New Years at home. I'll admit it almost made me cry, but only because you brought it so close that I felt I was there myself. Incidentally, where do those guys get off drinking my whiskey!
Somewhere in Germany - 27 Feb 45 - [at Red Cross "rest center" - good food, shows.]
Somewhere in Germany - 6 Mar 45 - [no letters from 2/27- 3/6] I'm standing a little guard duty with my boys tonight to give them a little more time to sleep. They all need it. We've been pretty busy these last few days...We've moved forward considerably and we'll all be sitting on the Rhine pretty soon...On our way here we liberated a fairly large Dutch town. I've never seen anything quit like it. They were so happy! They just couldn't do enough for us. We had quite a time getting to sleep that night. They dug up all their hidden liquor...I guess what I'll remember most though will be the faces of the older people who couldn't seem to realize it all. They looked so happy and yet the tears would just keep running from their eyes...we're running into a lot of slave labor now. These are mostly Russian, Ukrainian and French people who they have working on these farms...These German civilians don't act much like a super race right now. I guess they've been pumped so full of propaganda against the Yanks that when they see us they act as though we're going to eat them alive.
Somewhere in Germany - 7 Mar 45 - I got a gang of birthday cards from all of you day. Thanks a million!
Me 'n Sgt. Canty - Bronze Star Day
Somewhere in Germany - 17 Mar 45 - Something that might interest you girls. They are wearing the latest Paris fashions in Brussels. The hats are really something to see! They're wearing a lot of these high turbans (or something like that) and these big brims.
Somewhere in Germany - 18 Mar 45 - [returning from a day pass to Brussels, Ted heard a fellow Chicopee boy, Jim LaFountain had been looking for him, but they didn't connect. Ted had several times mentioned hearing home town boys were in the neighborhood, but never saw any of them.]
Somewhere in Germany - 24 Mar 45 - We got some more high class rations today. Candy bars, fruit juice, and _Coca Cola_!
East of the Rhine - 1 Apr 45 - I also got a letter from Billy Coscore [hometown friend, later godfather to Ted's son] telling me they'll have the Pacific mopped up before we finish the job over here...I sent a little souvenir home. The package contains a Nazi flag, arm bands and some coins.
Somewhere in Germany - 6 Apr 45 - These Germans are funny people. I haven't met one yet who admits he was a Nazi. Who do they think they're kidding. We do run into a lot of Russian, Polish and French labor that have been liberated. These people have been through plenty.
Somewhere in Germany - 7 Apr 45 - Six fellows from our Air Corps furnished us with some diversion...to acquaint the "Glamour Boys" with the problems of the Doughs [Doughboys or Doughfoots - the Infantry]. Anyway, these boys came down to see what was doing on the front lines . They found out! The first time one of our 155's came whistling over, they dove for Mother Earth...The boys really gave them the works - fired their rifles near them or dropped their helmets right behind them. They were swell sports, though...
Somewhere in Germany - 10 Apr 45 - I'm holding onto several of her letters [his mother, Kanella, who he and Mary call Kannelitsa ] and I read them often. There's been times when I've been pretty shaky over here and I've pulled out her letters, read them again, and became pretty ashamed for feeling that way...The country around here is really beautiful. All the fruit trees are in bloom and the grass a violent green. How can people, having all this, be swayed to fight wars? It's beyond me!
Somewhere in Germany - 11 Apr 45 - You come back [from HQ with orders] and all the boys watch your face to see whether you're serious or smiling. If I smile, they know its not going to be too rough. If I'm not smiling, they just shake their heads and start getting their stuff together. Then the standard expression is "Here we go again."...But everything is going swell.
Somewhere in Germany - 12 Apr 45 - running into a lot of slave labor...All these people are handled by a Displaced Persons bureau [to this day, Greeks Americans who immigrated around the turn of the century refer to recent immigrants as D.P.'s.] Several times civilians here came to us complaining that these 'slaves' are looting their homes. We have a stock answer for that one- "We didn't bring them here, you did." I used to feel sorry for helpless civilians caught in this war, but I'll be darned if I feel that way toward the Germans.
Somewhere in Germany - 21 Apr 45 - Here we are living in houses again after a spell of being in foxholes...Our latest news is the Russians are fighting in Berlin, so maybe shortly we'll see that Russian Joe come marching over the hill...Georgie [nephew George Dulchinos] also wrote me a letter and it had all the latest baseball dope...I'm ashamed to say I'm in a fog about that stuff.
East of the Rhine - 25 Apr 45 - Not too far from here is a place where these "Supermen" murdered and burned a large number of slave labor from these other countries. Yesterday I went to the scene of this crime. It's really too horrible to describe. When we arrived, American troops were supervising the burial of the bodies with grim military efficiency. They had the townspeople doing the disposal work and I think if any of them had faltered in the unpleasant job they were doing the soldiers would have been more than willing to add them to the burial list. I've never seen GI's so disgusted and mad. Somebody being killed in cold blood hits you a lot differently than if it happened when he had a fighting chance. And these are the same Germans that some people think should be treated nicely! They should force everybody to see something like this. Words could never describe it.
East of the Rhine - 27 Apr 45 - [Homemade Greek pastries - baklava and loukoumi arrive in the mail!]
Somewhere in Germany - 28 May 45 - I'm still at camp having all kinds of fun. You should hear some of the problems I have to settle. Everything from arranging weddings to providing a birthplace for new arrivals. The boys are starting to call me "Papa" now. I listen to everybody's trouble.
Somewhere in Germany - 30 June 45 - We still haven't heard anything concerning our future.
Somewhere in Germany - 3 July 45 - How anyone figures that a month in England or in the rear is worth just as many points [toward discharge] beats me. There's no way to point out to anybody what it's like up there.
Somewhere in Germany - 5 July 45 - Tell ma I'm a little hazy as to whether that was hello or gooodbye I was saying to that girl [in the photo]. Your were right about the blonde not being starved. You should see these European women. I didn't know women could work the way they do. They're as strong as a horse. We've seen them pulling plows! If the girls back home think they've got competition here, they're nuts.
Somewhere in Germany - 7 July 45 - We've got a ballgame on again this afternoon. I thought I was getting too old for that stuff, but I guess I still play a pretty good game...helps the days go by.
Camp Lucky Strike [after the cigarette] 14 August 45 - You must know that what's on our minds principally now. It's the big question of the Japanese surrender. It looks like it's in the bag now, but the date and how it will affect us is what bothers us. [Japan had already surrendered.]
Camp Breckinridge [Kentucky] - 8 November 45 - I was lucky I put in for that Purple Heart and its five extra points. [Ted had been wounded February 12, 1945 in Germany, but passed up applying for the Purple Heart at the time. It was awarded in December.] The score is 67 now, but 65 points won't make it 'til the 1st of May!...I saw a swell picture, "Bells of St. Mary'" with Crosby and Bergman. It's really terrific.
November 17 at Camp Breckenridge - [Ted attended "Auld Lang Syne" officers party] "Boy what a party!"