My father, Sargent John W Kendall, Jr., served with the 45th Division, 157th Infantry, from 1941 through 1945. ‘Tex’ as he was known in the army (because he was wearing cowboy boots when inducted) was inducted into the service from Lamar, Colorado, and took the military exam in Denver. He was then sent by train to Kansas City, Missouri, where he had a short four hour layover where he got to see some of his family. He didn’t know at the time, but I’m sure he suspected, that he wouldn’t be seeing them again for a while. From Kansas City, he proceeded by train to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for training. He didn’t know at the time, but there would be a lot of other stops across the United States before he was sent ‘over there’.
He was shipped overseas in June, 1943, initially to North Africa, then to Sicily, Italy, France and finally to Germany. He survived the war and returned to the United States in 1945.
My father wrote the V-Mail below to his parents from North Africa, his first stop after leaving the USA. From what he told me years later, the 157th Infantry practiced several amphibious landings along the northern coast of Africa. As history would show, this was in anticipation of eventually landing on other shores.
North Africa, June 28, 1943
Well here I am again. I expect you are surprised to hear from me. But, I have had quite a hard time to write anyone. I expect you have guessed by now that I am in Africa. I still wish I was in the States, but after this mess is over with, I will be back. I got 2 letters from Hazel [wife] today, also yesterday. They are about a month old. But, at least they are catching up with me.
So far everything is going pretty good with me. How is everyone there? If you write V-Mail, I get it quicker, but I like long letters. Where is Rex [brother]? Has Agnes [sister] got married? She mentioned something about it. How are the crops out there. The wheat here is all harvested. This really is quite a country. I can’t just describe it, but when I get back I will. We just walked 5 ½ miles to take a bath & wash clothes today. I guess this is all for now.
Love & Kisses, Tex
My father shipped out some time after May 30, 1943, as his last state-side letter was written on stationary from the Lynchburg War Recreation Center, City Armory, Lynchburg, Virginia, near Camp Pickett, Virginia. No other letters are known to be written until the V-Mail above.
For those interested in WWII, the 45th Division Museum is located at, 2145 N.E. 36th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73111. A few additional letters that my father wrote are located on the museum’s web site.