Raymond A. Bumgarner - Military Memories - WWII

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Pfc. Raymond A. Bumgarner  SN 38 578 538

HQ Co, 2nd BN, 397th Infantry, 100th Division

[1940-Sep 21, 1944 (in U.S.) ]   [Sep 28 1944-Dec 1944]   [1st Half 1945]    [2nd Half 1945]     [1946]


Created by Carol Bumgarner King   email:  kingcarol@msn.com

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Memories Journal, Letters, Comments

Journal of "Military Memories" opened June 16, 1945 at Uhingen, Germany

Letters were written home to his parents and sister.

Photos and Misc.

Dec 31, 1940 President Roosevelt's Speech


Jun 30, 1942 Raymond's Registration Certificate


Nov, 1942 to Jul, 1942 "The Story of the Century" booklet; pages about the birth of the 100th Infantry Division------>


See Pgs 29, 30, 31 above


Nov 15, 1943 - Oct 1944 "The Story of the Century" booklet - About basic training for 100th Infantry Division----->

Dec 3, 1943 Raymond's -> Order to Report for Induction

Ray in uniform at home; date unknown

Jan 10, 1944

Co. "A", 4820th Unit

Ft. Bliss, Texas

US Army

Letter to parents and sis: 

Monday afternoon

Dearest you-all,


Well, here I am in the guard hut this evening - guard duty at last.  We have to sleep in the guard hut when we're not walking our posts.  I'm in the 2nd relief - so I will walk from 8 to 10 tonite, and from 2 to 4 in the morning.  Then that will be all, but we have to stay on call in the guard hut till noon tomorrow.


So I'm not shipping today, and probably not tomorrow either, since I won't get off till noon.  However, I might possibly leave tomorrow afternoon.  Gilbert shipped this afternoon.  His old pal, Larry Watkins, didn't get to go with him and Larry is sure broken hearted.


Got in okay last night, as far as I know - about 11:15 - but we put down 11:00 on the sheet!  Didn't meet any MP's downtown or any guards out here - was lucky, I guess.  We missed bed check (sergeant goes around and sees if we're in bed, about 11:10 - and if we're not he takes our names (off our barracks bags) but I don't think they'll do anything.  This guard duty may be my punishment, for all I know - Larry was with us, and he's on KP today and was on guard yesterday.


Will write again tomorrow night, if I'm still here.  If I don't ship tomorrow, I'll probably be here rest of week.  Might ship Saturday, but hope not.


Well, here's my love to all of you - Pop, Mom, and Fae.  Drop me a line or two.

As always, Raymond

Jan 10, 1944

Co. "A", 4820th Unit

Ft. Bliss, Texas

US Army


Letter to parents and sis: 

Tues aft.

Dear Bumgarners,


Just a line to let you know that I'm shipping out this evening for points east.  Probably go to Ft. Benning, Ga., as have been marked for the ASTP.  It may be 3 months before I start to school, or it may be less.  Basic training must come first, in an Infantry training camp.   Not much other news.  Wish I could see you all again, but that will have to wait.  Will write more on train later.  Write to this address if you write, but you might as well wait till you hear from me & get my next address.


Oceans of love,


Feb 27, 1944

2nd Co., 5th Reg't


Fort Benning, GA

Letter to parents and sis: 

Sunday nite

Dearest Bumgarners,


Just got off of KP.  Had quite a session washing dishes.  I'll just scratch a short note tonite just to keep up my chain of letters.   I received your nice, long letters Friday.  Glad to hear from each of you, and glad to know a package is on its way - guess I'll get it tomorrow.


Well, the month of February has gone by.  You know it seems like Jan. & Feb. have been about a week long, in a way.  My fifth week of basic is gone, which leaves me only 2 weeks until the first 2 week bivouac.  That will be the one where we fire our rifles on the range.  I'll really get a chance to find out how good a shot I am.  I don't know, but I think we will also fire the machine guns.  We start our sighting exercises on the rifle tomorry.


So I missed chapel today.  They had communion services, too.  But I guess I can consider my absence excused in this case.  Boy, did we eat today!  Had pancakes & syrup, etc. at breakfast - roast lambe, salad, spuds, lemonade, ice cream, etc. at dinner - supper was cheese and baloney - ha!


Haven't had any more shots since those three.  I don't know just how I stand on that score - but I'm sure that they'll see to it I get all of them!  I hear they have a good photographer over at the main post.  I'd like to get over there next week-end, or maybe go to town & get "shot".  I'd also like to buy myself a cap - remember the one we tried to sew up?  I'm the only soldier in Ft. Ben with one like it!


Well, payday comes again this week - Tuesday or Wednesday.  I suppose I may as well buy another bond.  Some day that money might mean a lot to me.  Incidentally, I am enclosing a bond herein that I got last pay-day - hence the registered letter.


Yes, Mom, I get milk to drink, for breakfast.  Sometimes only half a glass, sometimes 3 glasses.  They sell it at the PX for 10 cents a pt - get some there once in a while.


....some chit chat about relatives....


Well, will wind up my string of baloney and seal it in an envelope.  Bye now.

Lot's o love and good wishes.


Sometime  in March 1944, (guessing  (no envelope and no date on letter, just "Sat. nite")


Letter to parents and sis: 

Sat. nite

Dearest Ones.


Well, this writing finds me in the great little city of Fayetteville, North Carolina, in the USO club with not much of anything to do.  Found free writing material here, so I figured I may as well scratch yens off a line and give you the latest.  We have a colonel who got a soft spot in his heart and sent us into town for the evening - 20 of us from each company.  I probably won't get to come next Saturday, as they take the men in turns, in Army trucks.  It seems the idea is to relieve congestion in the buses to & from the post.


I came in to get my picture made, and sure enough, I did.  Just had it made.  They are to send me the proofs about next Friday and I guess I'll get the picture off to ou about 2 wks from now - so sit tight.  You are in for a real thrill, I can tell you for sure.


Here's some more news.  The colonel gave us new boys in the regiment a talk today.  He told us we would probably get furloughs at the end of our basic training - seven days at home, plus travel time!  That means that I will likely be spending a week with you some time during the next 2 or 3 months.  Our training should be over about the end of April, but it will probably take a month or two for them to get around to giving the furloughs out.  The div. goes on mountain maneuvers in W. Va. in June - I don't know whether they can get in our furloughs in between there, or not.  Could if they tried - for part of us anyway.


The colonel also told us that we made up about 30% of the div.  He said that 30% of the old bunch had been shipped overseas to replace casualties in units at the fronts, and that ASTP has been used to replace that 30 per cent here.   He says that as soon as we have been with the div. a certain time the division will go overseas.  He didn't say how long a time.  I won't be surprised at all if I spend next Christmas somewhere in Europe or the Pacific.  Doughboys, the colonel calls us - we are the ones who must win the war - no wars are won without infantry.  Bunk!  It may be true, but I still don't like it.  I have always thought of myself as being good enough to keep out of the "buck private in the rear ranks" classification, but I guess if I am it's not doing me any good.


I received two letters from you yesterday - of the 20th & the 24th - forwarded from Benning.  I am anxious to hear your opinions of my being sent here, to the infantry, and being in a machine gun squad - the last spot I would have chosen of all military service.  I am looking for sympathy, I guess.


That reminds me - I am on KP tomorrow - they sure do like to mess up my Sundays - darned if they don't.  Being in the small percent who like to go to church on Sunday, I seem to be always in the small percent who get detail on Sundays.  The order once was that us trainees would be free of KP, but they apparently changed it, or are ignoring it.


No, I haven't mailed my bond home.  I tho't I would, but I am saving it for a rainy day, in case I get caught with a furlough and no cash some day, all of a sudden.  I am no pretty low on cash, and payday is 10 days away, but I guess I can make it, by going easy on the PX stuff.


Well, I can't seem to think of much to say.  Thanks for sending Murrell's letter.  I am looking for that Easter package - hope it comes early!  I don't have your letters along, or maybe I could think of some more baloney that might interest you.  Bye now.


Love to all three of you.


Apr 22, 1944 Publication:  "Century 100 Sentinel"

May 20, 1944

"Fote Bragg"

"Nawth K'lahna"

Letter to parents and sis: 

Dearest Ones,


I now make an effort to transfer unto you-uns some more of my thoughts.  It seems that loved ones are never so dear as when they're far away, and little things that we used to never give a second thought seem so important now.  Like my playing my fiddle - Pop hoeing the garden - all those things make up my picture of how you-all are getting along, and what you are doing, and the little things I do that I tell you about probably tell you how I actually feel and what I actually think about the Army, being away from home, etc. - a lot more is told than is written.  For instance, if a guy's morale is low, he gripes - if his morale at the moment is high, he tells about pleasant things.  If his morale is average, or neutral, he just gives the facts from both sides and lets it go.  That's usually what I do.


Today is Saturday.  I probably would have gone swimming with Wood and Smitty, but I'm barrack orderly today.  It comes about once a month and both my turns have been on Saturday.  Better than Sunday, I guess.  All I have to do is keep the water heater going - so I'm doing my Sunday correspondence today, on my bunk.  All is quiet here now, except for a horseshoe game out in the street and the planes overhead.  The gliders are flying today.  They had about 30 of them, pulled by transport planes, in the air at one time yesterday.


Am still waiting for my transfer to headquarters company.  I was supposed to get the order to move by last Wednesday, but didn't.  Don't know why - guess it's just Army red tape.  Our training starts next week - (I hope).  This company is going out in the field on bivouac next week so the sooner I get out of it, the better.


I had a couple of shots this afternoon - one typhoid, one tetanus.  I'll be glad when they get straightened out and quit giving me extra shots.  It seems that they fail to put some of them down on the record.


Let's see - I got your letter Monday  I was in the guard house Monday - what do you think of that?  Guess you wonder what I did.  Well, it wasn't anything.  Had a 24 hr. tour - 8 hrs on the beat and 16 in the gd. hse.  They won't let you leave the place at all until you are off duty at end of tour.  I was guarding the ammunition dump - with a carbine and 3 rounds of ammunition.  I took two prisoners down to the stockade, too.  They had gone over the hill, and were being held for trial.  I took them down, saw them questioned & searched, and turned them in at the gate.  Being awol in war-time is a pretty serious offense.


Tuesday nite we went out and went through the machine gun infiltration course - twice - once in the day time, again at night.  It was about the same as the one at Benning.  We crawled through the sand for about 75 yds under fire of four machine guns.  We had to go through 3 barbed wire entanglements and a thick smoke screen.  They used tracers at night, and it looked like a 4th of July bang-up.  The bullets struck a hill about 500 yds from the gun and bounced straight up in a bright red streak.  It didn't look so pretty when we were doing the crawling, though.  About a hundred men at a time went through.  I should say must have used about $2,000 worth of ammunition.  A machine gun shoots about 200 shots a minute.


Then Thursday we went out & fired the rifle on the transition range.  We had targets about the shape of a man, at ranges of 200, 300, & 500 yrds.  I fired a perfect score - one shot at each target, and target's hit.


Mom, I'm glad to hear you are getting those specs at last.  Hope they are the kind you need.  Maybe you can write to me without any eyestrain, now, - huh?  That's not a very big price, is it?  Glad to hear yez got the picture.  It's all right for you all to look at - but don't show it to Toby - he'd tear it to pieces for sure, thinking it was a Jap! - har!


...... I hope the watermelons come along okay.  I might be home this fall to help you eat 'em.  You see, my 1st six months service is up on June 27th - furlough due in July - but we're spending most of July in the mountains of Virginia - so it looks like it's liable to be August or September before I get home.  I don't know but what I'd rather have it that way.  It's pretty sure that I'll only get home one more time before I go overseas and I'd rather make my visit and then go on over, than go home now and then just sit around here 3 or 4 months waiting to go over.


As for that ASTP rumor - it looks like it has exploded - or, I should say, faded out.  Have heard nothing more about it........


Letter from Murrel today.  He's still based in Italy, gunnnin' for Nazis.  Been on 38 missions already.  Was in on the pasting of Bucharest and Plaesti, and probably a lot of other big raids.  Said he'd had some pretty close calls.  One of the crew members had been killed.  Says he's lost a lot of weight, and is due for a rest at the Isle of Capri rest camp.  Bet that would be some vacation.  Says he has only 3 more months of combat before he comes back to the States for a while.....


So the Lewises came by, huh?  Well, I guess they still know you exist.  They think Hershel is in Ha., do they?  Well, I don't doubt but what he went to the Pacific, because that's where they need the Seabees the worst.


Looks like the boys in Italy have busted loose again, don't it?  Murrel was kidding in his letter about the Infantry not doing so hot - but I 'spect he'll change his tune.  Cause it's the Infantry that will conquer the German and Jap armies.  The Air Corps only makes it possible to do it easier.


Wish the invasion would being.  I'm getting tired of waiting.  I expect to be in it, but not in the first assault.  I would like to visit Berlin and be able to tell about it later.


Stuff about relatives..


Heh - there ain't no danger of me gettin' promoted to lieutenant, Mom.  In the Infantry that takes several years, and I intend to be a civilian in a couple of years.


Well, it's about time to close.  Guess I should go out and take the ashes out of the furnace before it gets dark.  Keep everything on the right track, Pop, - and raise plenty of them yellow-meated watermelons.


Love and kisses, everybody.

Your Soldier-boy,


Don't know where these were taken, but put them here because Ray is talking about guard duty in his letter.







Aug, 1944 Publication:  "The Regiment 397"

Regiment 397 Officers

Aug 10, 1944

Letter to parents and sis: 

Thurs. Aug 10

Dearest Mom & Dad, and Sis,


Will start me a letter here, in installments.  Am a mighty busy kiddo of late, and nearly all my letters are written in jumps and jerks.  (That rather describes my penmanship, too, doesn't it - ha!)  Received you letter of the 30th last Saturday - the night before we went out on our division problem.  Yez wanted a return-mail answer, but I was too busy.  I had KP that day, as I told you, and that nite I had to roll up my pack, clean & oil my rifle, and get ready for the problem, as we were leaving at 4 AM Sunday.  More about the problem later.


-----family stuff here-----


It's only ten days now 'till my furlough - it has now been changed to Aug 21 - and by the time you get this letter, it will be only 3 or 4 days....   Yep, guess pretty soon after you read this, say about 4 days, you'll be getting that long-awaited wire from me.  On second thot, tho, I might wait 'till I reach New Orleans to send the wire, because I want to let you know pretty definitely just when I'll arrive.    Don't eat up all those yellow-meats, for heaven's sake!  If I miss 'em I'm gonna turn right around and LEAVE!  Heh - one would think from the way I talk that I like watermelons.  I've had just enough melon so far to play heck with my appetite for 'em - and you know which way!


Cool weather has, I believe, promised in a careless way, to arrive soon.  I had to have 2 wool blankets last night to keep from shivering.  And out in the fields the last 3 nites, I DID shiver.  It rained.  Nuff said.


Speaking of the problem, I was out there but I didn't see much of the action - although I had about all I wanted.  I was on "regimental command post security guard".  In short, I was on a guard detail the whole problem.  The 1st nite out the 1st sgt. asked for a volunteer for the job (each company had to send one man), and there were only 3 of us present.  He stood there scowling at us, and I finally stepped forward.  But it turned out to be a break - the guard detail got more sleep than anyone else out there.  We had 4 men per post, so we stood watch one hour & slept 3 - if we COULD sleep.  The last night out - Tues. nite - the blasted artillery was firing from about 75 yds to our rear, and who can sleep in an artillery barrage, with the ground jumping and the air knocking your ears in?  And the other 2 nites it rained - a continuous drizzle.  But we slept pretty good in the day time.


------more misc stuff here----


The war news looks good indeed.  I was very pleased when I saw the map of the Norman front today.  After 3 days of no war news, it REALLY looked good.  The Yanks have at last busted loose.  By the time you get this they may have taken Paris - or they'll be darn close to it.  The only news I don't like is that from Chaina.  The Japs are STILL conquering territory there - and the more they get the longer the war will last.  I expect the Japs still think they are going to rule the world.  We haven't done much to convince them otherwise.  Just ye wait till we get our bombers to work on them, from Russia, Guam, and the Philippines.


Guess the division is going to be spending a lot of time in the woods henceforth.  We go out Sat. & Sun. for some kind of firing tests, back out from Mon. to Thurs. on something or other.  I guess I'll be doing good if I get more than one more letter off to you before I come home.  I haven't heard any big rumors lately, so I can't scare yez any more - ha!  But I still am pretty sure we sail this fall.


Our airplane ride has AGAIN been postponed.  Reckon if I get any aerial experience I'll have to fly out the window or something.  I HOPE to be able to get over to Pope Field when I get my furlough papers and try to hop a plane.  Chances are they might be sending a plan out Texas way that day.  They don't follow any schedule - they just come and go "every which way".


Yep, it's about quittin' time.  So Lon, Everybody.  I'll be seeing you, and I hope soon.  Give my love to all the kinny, etc. as I ain't got time to write to 'em.


Love and kisses from,


Aug 13, 1944

Hq. Co., 2nd Bn., 397th Inf.

APO 447

Ft. Bragg, N.C.

Letter to parents: 

Sun. night

Dearest Mom and Dad,


Tonight as I sit on my G.I. bed here with the Carolina breeze coming thru the window, I'm thinking of you.  Tomorrow night, I won't be sitting on my bed - I'll be out here somewhere in the piney woods, with the frogs and chiggers - but I'll still be thinking of you.


Just a week from tonight will be your wedding anniversary - the 22nd  one,  I think it is.  I wish I could get you some nice present or do something real nice for you, but recon a few sentiments are all I have tonite - so I'll send them along.  I tho't about having a nice big picture of me made to send you - but I'll be standing before you in person before long, and that's going to be expensive.  And you know that I'm not very rich.


Well, you've been married 22 years. - your son is soon to go overseas to close in with the German or the Jap heathens who have killed our happiness & plans - your daughter will soon enter college to shape her future one way or another.  Gee, this is an important month, isn't it?  A lot hangs in the balance, too.  We can only pray that things will continue to go in our favor.  We can be very thankful that our family is still intact and happy - the war and so forth has broken so many families, you know.  But even tho I am 2000 miles from you and realize that I shall some day soon be much farther away, I feel that I'm still right there at home with you - with you in all the things you do and say.  I know you think of me a lot - you have to, with all my junk strewn around and about, and the signs of little things I've done about the house.  But I hope you don't worry about me - please don't do that, for my sake and for yours.  Just let me do all of that, and we'll all come out okay.


Well, this is my last letter to you before I shall be again with you on the old home grounds.  This furlough must be made the most of.  I want to do just the things I used to do before I got in the Army, that is - the little things, like playing with the pooch, eatin' watermelon, dancing to the radio, talking with Fae under the shade trees, helping Mom with her flowers and garden, driving to Cruces to the show, drinking Cokes at Pritchards or the drug store, or walking to the PO after the mail, and all those things I used to do every day.  This will very likely be the last time I shall see you for a long time.  Perhaps not 'till the end of the war, which may be 2 or 3 years - who knows?  Those years shall be long, hard, and trying.  The memory of those last 10 days at home will do much to carry me through - plus the hopes and longings to make those days return.  I hope I can enjoy every single second of my visit - and I know that the more I do enjoy it, the harder it's going to be to leave them and the more dreary the days ahead will look.


All in all, I am in a way looking forward to sailing.  Not that I'm anxious at all to see combat - but the longer I'm in the fight and away from my homeland, the sweeter will be the day when it's over and I can return.  And I want to hasten that day as much as possible.  But I may never even leave the U.S. - who knows but what I'll be a civilian again in six months!


I hope we can go fishing while I'm home - it would sure be swell to be up on the creek once more.  Well, Sarge says I've got to roll up my pack and stuff and get ready for tomorrow - we'll be out till Thursday this time - I don't know what doing.  By now.


Love and kisses,


Aug,  21 1944 Furlough? mentioned in above letters?

    2nd photo is with sis Fae

Sep 21, 1944

Hg. Co., 2nd Bn., 397th Inf., APO 447, Ft. Bragg, NC

Letter to parents: 

Thurs. nite - 21st

Dearest Bumgarners,


Tho't I'd better scratch off a couple lines tonite, since tomorrow is probably the last day we can mail letters out of here.  So if you don't hear from me for a few days now, don't be alarmed.  I don't know just what the mail situation will be for the next few days.  Have you been writing most every day, Mom?  I haven't gotten any letters the last two days - guess it's the mail's fault.


I didn't get my portraits today like I thought I would - they said come back tomorrow & see about it.  They have your address, to mail 'em to if I don't call for them.  I hope I can get over there - we're restricted, beginning tomorrow, and I may have do some tall-talking to get out of here.


Joe was over last night, and I gave him the pictures I had for him.  Guess I'll go over to see him again sometime before we putt out of here - I hope.


Still no word from the Expert Inf. test.  They'd better shake a leg, I'm thinking.  I'm gettin' impatient for my badge - if I'm gettin' one!


Don't yet know anything about where we're going or when.  Won't know 'till we get there, I guess.  I hear a faint rumor that our first stop after we leave here will be in New York or New Jersey.  Never can tell.


Hope you've gotten the camera off safe and sound.  And hope it reaches me okay.  I'd like for it to reach me on the next boat after I get overseas.   Then I wouldn't have to lug it across myself.  We are allowed only seven pounds of extra stuff like that, and that includes stationery, extra socks (civilian), etc. - anything that's not issued to us.  With my correspondence course, stationery, harp, Bible, picture, film, etc., I'm crowding that seven pounds pretty closely.


Gosh - just think.  When we board the train we'll be carrying our rifles, full field packs, blanket rolls, belts & canteens & bayonets, shovels, and overcoats.  We'll wear steel helmets, too.  Just like we'll do when we get on and off the boats.


Well, there's much to be done, and I ain't done it yet.  So I must close about here, and wait 'till the next time.  Good-bye, my loved ones.  Don't worry about me - and keep those letters coming fast!  They'll be meaning a lot more to me in the future.


Oceans of love from me to you;

I remain, your globe-trotting son,


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