The Shoe Leather Express – Letters From the Home Front to WWII POWs

(Posted: January 14, 2012)

I’m getting a little ahead of myself in the entering of information from Joe O’Donnell’s “The Shoe Leather Express”-Book 1 but the following examples of excerpts from ‘Letters From the Home Front’ are something that I found incredible when I read them.  I remember these quotes also being read in 2006 at a Memorial Ceremony at the former Stalag Luft IV Camp area as part of the ceremony.  You just wonder what the reaction would be when the POW received these letters.  It’s no wonder that so many of the returning prisoners just put their experiences behind them the best they could and moved on with their lives without saying much about it.  Who, that wasn’t there, would even understand?  It seems that in some folks’ eyes, time spent in a POW Camp was more like a vacation to the prisoners.  You’ll see what I mean when you read the list.  According to these comments taken from actual letters, there were obviously many misconceptions concerning what these fellows were actually going through at the hands of their enemy.  The list is taken from page 103 in Joe’s first book and reads as follows:

  1.  An answer to a P.O.W. who was asking for a pair of slippers:  “What color would you like?”
  2. Letter from a P.O. W.’s fiancee:  “Darling I married your father, signed ‘Mother’.”
  3. The first letter a P.O.W. received from his fiancee:  “Dear Sgt. you were missing a month, so I got married.”
  4. Letter from a P.O.W.’s girlfriend giving him the air:  “I’d sooner marry a 1943 hero than a 1940 coward.”
  5. Letter received 1944:  “Darling I’m so glad you got shot down before flying became dangerous.”
  6. Letter in 1942:  “Sorry you got shot down so early in the war.”
  7. “I hope you are being true to me.”
  8. “Have you seen ‘Stage Door Canteen’ – I hope you won’t transfer your affections.  Take care of Andy when you’re out drinking.  Are the German girls good looking?  Can you buy beer or do they just sell wine?”
  9. Receiver of Red Cross sweater who wrote to donor thanking them and received this answer:  “Sorry you got it – it was meant for someone on active duty.”
  10. “Joe is at Stalag Luft 8-B.  I hope you stop in and see him.”
  11. A Mother wrote to her son that she was sending a pair of swim trunks as she understood that he could use them.
  12. “I’m saving my money, honey, please save yours.”

One response to “The Shoe Leather Express – Letters From the Home Front to WWII POWs”

  1. Loree Ariola says:

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