Camp Reynolds - World War II Army Cam


My father, Pvt. William Wellington Taylor, Jr. was at Camp Reynolds from mid-June to mid-July, 1944. During that time
he wrote home 8 letters describing his experiences while at
 the camp awaiting deployment to the ETO. These letters
along with over 300 more can be read on my blog.

Greg Taylor- Los Angeles, CA

CLICK HERE for Greg's Blog
Pvt. William Wellington Taylor, Jr.
June 19, 1944   (Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania)   Postcard

Dear Mother and Dad,

I’ve arrived in Camp Reynolds as of 8:00 P.M. last night—about 2 hours before dark—I had spent all day in Greenville, Pa.


This camp’s not much of a place but God knows it’s better than Crowder. They treat us well but at best it’s still just another army camp, a hot one at that. I still don’t know much about what goes here, but I don’t think I’ll be here much over 3 weeks.
Best Love,

June 22, 1944   (Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania)   Letter
Dear Mudder and Dad,

Sorry I haven’t written but I’ve had 3 days K.P. in a row and up until tonight I’ve gotten off after lights out. They’re working me to death. Wot a life. I know now I’m slated for overseas shipment and am getting all the newest equipment. However, I don’t know what direction I’m going (maybe west) (I hope not), but anyhoo—We’re not doing anything terrific but there’s so much of it.
My address is— (Co. “K” 4th. Regt.)
This is no letter but I just haven’t any more time.

Best Love,

I’ll write a real letter tomorrow if it kills me.
June 23, 1944   (Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania)   Letter

Dearest Mother and Dad,

The wind’s a blowin’ and the rain’s a rainin’ and all told it’s a “hellova” evening. Things are bad all over though, I guess. Don’t let the tone of that fool you though, I’m doing pretty good ‘n well these days. I don’t mean I’m living “the Life of Reilly” because I’m not, but still I’m doin’ all right—as I’ve said before—I’m getting to be an awful letter writer. I can’t write a single paragraph without saying the same thing twice.

Tonight I finally got some clean sun tans. I’d been wearing the other set since I left home. Ain’t that awful? On the strength of the occasion of getting the new duds I went to the movies and saw “This is the Army”. I really enjoyed it. The humor was typically G.I. not synthetic as is the rule with most army pictures.

I’m going to be working even harder the next couple of days, I suppose. We’re losing most of our company on shipment and they’ll only be enough left to fill out the detail roster. "Oi" is the word for it.

Lately I’ve been finding out some of what’s what around here, so here it is. I’ll be able to send mail to you but my letters will be censored. In short my stuff will be even less informative than it is now. Example--: Dear Folks,--everything is fine. Yesterday I went for a walk around the barracks—how thrilling. Well that’s all I can say now, etc. Won’t that be nice? After we’re alerted I may get letters to you but probably not.

Love, Bill
Sounds like an excuse for closing doesn’t it.
It ain’t

June 29, 1944   (Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania)   Letter

Dear Mother and Dad,

Here’s another letter way late, and if it sounds pretty bad don’t blame me too much. Everything’s been pretty blah lately. We’re having some of the damnedest weather I’ve ever heard of. I suppose you already heard about our tornado. It never came this far north but we had some damned screwy winds. Since then it’s been insufferably hot. You know how it is bad here--sweat just runs off a person in rivulets. Nobody can sleep at night and then they work up a hike with full field pack for everyday. I went on one the day before yesterday right after taking the Typhus shot. That night I had a terrible fever for several hours. They had to take one guy to the hospital. God! The things we do.

We just got a new load of Nazi prisoners in this camp and we talked to a few through one of the boys who can speak German. What they said was very heartening. One was a paratrooper who went into the German Army in November (after I went). He just turned 18 about two days ago. He fought at Cassino and told us a great deal. He said the reports were that the Germans were using crack paratroopers weren’t true and that most of them hadn’t been in combat before. He said that his sergeant told him at Cassino the Americans shot in a minimum of 60,000 shells a day. He added that they were all so frightened that they were more than glad to surrender. Another German artillery man said that they feared worst of all American artillery and infantry. The accuracy of our riflemen seem to awe them especially. One German infantryman said he had received only the bare essentials of rifle marksmanship and no training at all with the bayonet. He said he could handle artillery, tanks, radios, etc. but oddly he knew nothing of the most important work of the infantryman.

I’ve been going to quite a few movies lately—mainly to benefit from the air conditioning. Last night I saw “Hail the Conquering Hero” with William Demerest and Eddie Bracken (remember them in “Miracle of Morgan’s Creek?). I don’t think this is as good but it is quite entertaining, nevertheless.

Yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates came up here and played an exhibition game with some Youngstown club. The game of course wasn’t much and the heat was unbearable. However the Pirates pulled a lot of funny routines which were pretty good. The Pirate pitcher was the inventor of this “Blooper ball” that was mentioned in Life or Look a while back. It drops almost straight down on the plate.

Best Love,

Hell, I don’t want to stop here. I haven’t mentioned the convention. I’m sure glad to see Dewey doing so well. I think he is the only man who has a chance. By the time you get this you’ll probably know whether or not Warren will run for vice- president on the ticket. It will be hard on him to accept but I think it’ll help the cause along. In the army the political argument is going hot and heavy and I believe the majority is for Dewey. I find this especially among the Southerners. Maybe things are finally going our way.

Best Love,

July 4, 1944   (Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania)   Letter

Dearest Mudder and Dad,

If I’d written this when I intended to you’d have it by now. On Saturday evening I came here into the “Dayroom” and sat down to write a note but I got listening to the radio and so forth and before I knew it –no letter. On Sunday I intended to write but Jess came (I’ll tell you more about that later). Last night we went out on one of those screwy bivouacs and then went another evening. So here it is July 4 and the writing.

Today’s been the most dismal thing next to Christmas that I ever saw. All morning we marched in from bivouac thru little towns etc. where people looked at us and said, “Oh those poor boys—having to work on the 4th. Tch! Tch!” So we tramped on.

Right now I can hear the very good news of the day pouring out the radio; Russians 150 miles from German soil; Jap resistance crumbling on Saipan. We’re going forward in France. Maybe this European conflict is nearly over. Maybe it’s nearer over than any of us know. I hope so anyway. Maybe I hope too much. What gripes me is that certain commentators try and make it appear that every victory is due solely to the efforts of the “Great Man”. What is sickening, however, is the way the boobs drink it in. At times I despair of the future.

Well, I was sure glad to see Jess. I found out thru a girl she knows here in camp that she wanted to come but I was surprised when she came the very next day. We spent the evening at the home of these people she knows about 10 miles from here and I must say I enjoyed myself.

They have a very old house—run down and about 100 yrs. Old—along the old Erie Canal. The canal was closed over 90 years ago but the “ditch” is still almost intact—surprising when one realizes that it was dug 118 years ago.

I thought I’d try and get a 3 day pass to go to State College but it looks now as if it’s no go. That’s the way it always is in the army. Phooey on everything!

“Bless ‘em all”- Bill

Sketch here- “Me and my usual mood these days-first thing I know I’ll get stripes”

July 6, 1944   (Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania)   Letter

Dear Mother and Dad,

I’m again going to be a student at U.C.L.A. Yesterday I attended a lecture at the Orientation Center here on the post where they explained the new ‘Armed Forces Educational Program” which I found very promising, so today I went to the Education Office and got the whole dope. This is it. It’s more or less a correspondence course worked thru the Armed Forces Institute at Madison, Wis. I was advised to and also decided that my best course would be to take my second semester of Elementary German. If I can successfully complete that subject I will have a year’s standing at U.C.L.A. in both French and German. Then if next term I devoted myself to English I would damn near go back to U.C.L.A as a Sophomore. The army handles all details and supplies textbooks and lessons. The only cost to me is the enrollment fee (half of the original $27.00) However, that goes to U.C.L.A. not the army. I think it’s worth a try.

Well, that’s all about that and it’s about all I have to write now. I’ll try to write again soon.


July 10, 1944   (Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania)   Letter

Dear Mother and Dad,

For the last half hour I’ve been trying to write you a letter with this pen. I hope this time I have a little success. It’s beginning to look as if I may be getting out of here before very long. There are supposed to be 2 overseas shipments within the near future. I don’t know exactly where but soon and I imagine I’ll be one of them. We got some of the lowdown from a troop-transport commander the other day and it must be quite a picnic. We get on the train here fully equipped except for primary weapons—rifles, carbines, tommy guns, and go to P.O.E. There we get weapons, any new equipment that may have been introduced and a little training. As soon as the boat (banana boat) arrives, we are dragged with everything on our backs to the ship, given bunk numbers, chow numbers, and introduced to ship routine. It’s just like a post. We get 2 meals a day and have various drills frequently. In wherever we are going they dump us on a train, give us some “K” rations and send us to a reception center where we start training all over again just like we did when we came in the army. How I love it! --------. If I go to Europe I get 12 hours in New York before going to the P.O.E.!

I haven’t sent in my Education form yet but that’s only because I haven’t got to the post office to get a money order. While I’m waiting for my lessons to arrive I’m going to attend conversational classes and try to brush up on what little German I know.

The routine around here is driving me screwy (nuts). They don’t have any imagination at all—every day is the some damn thing. Tomorrow I’m afraid they’re sending us out on another overnight bivouac. Unfortunate, isn’t it? I’ll close now before this gets gruesome.

Best Love,

June 19, 1944   (Camp Reynolds, Pennsylvania)   Postcard

Dear Mother and Dad,

We’ve been alerted and within the next several days we will ship. I’ve received all new clothing including the new type field jackets, gas masks, inside-out shoes and so forth. Evidentially we’re to be a part of a Class “A” shipment which means—swish ! This I shouldn’t just say but it’s a pretty safe bet that we’re going to Europe since our issue is medium heavy—just about suited to English climate—but one can never tell.

You probably want to know why the urgent wire for 25 smackers. You may have guessed it. I and about half the fellows in the company were robbed of a total of about $500.00. There’s nothing lower in a military society than a thief due to small wages and inadequate means of protecting one’s property. Our first sergeant is going to have a shakedown arraigned, I think; and he says we may do with him what we please before they Court Martial him. In the 44th Inf. Div. they nailed a thief to a wall literally by his hands and feet (I’m not kidding). I think we’d be satisfied to merely break all his fingers. (this is fairly common.) He got over $27.00 from me as well as the wallet and my stamps. The only hope I have of catching up with the bast’d—is if he’s fool enough to use those Special Delivery stamps. I’m the only one in the Co. who uses them regularly. However I’m flat and with shipping and all I don’t know when I’ll be payed.

By tonight’s paper I see that the Japs are murdering our fliers again. God, I can’t understand why we feel so obliged to follow the International Law with the Japs. We might as well give them the guns with which to kill our boys. If it were up to me I’d give ‘em some really good doses of poison gas like their giving the Chinese, and second, I’d blow Tokyo—hospitals, Emperor’s Palace and all right off the map. To hell with this cricket stuff. I’d show them they’re only amateur rats compared to us. The same with the Germans who fight as long as they can kill us without endangering themselves, but give up when the going gets tough. I hardly call it a victory when a lot of Americans have to die while Germans live to raise another generation of “scum”.

Hope your cold is better, Mudder. I have a slight one but it’s pretty well sweated out of me.

I see the “Great Man” has with great reluctance decided to run again. That’s like me accepting $1,000,000 with great reluctance. I’ll close on that sour note.

Best Love,

George was a Pvt. from Mt. Vernon NY. He enlisted on 12/1/1942 and he spent 6 weeks at Camp Reynolds from late February 1944 to April 3, 1944 before going to Europe. These are letters he sent home during his stay at Camp Reynolds.
February 26, 1944
Some notes on this place- We are about 20 miles east of Youngstown, Ohio and will be here about two
to six weeks. They give us 36-hour passes each weekend and 12 hour passes every night. (The nearest town is Sharon, a few miles away. It was little more than two streets of small stores. They were all oriented to soldiers- bowling alleys, pool halls, souvenirs, and of course lots of bars. The bars gave away free salted nuts, chips, pretzels and a type of dry, salted herring that induced thirst. Then the beer began to flow, the famous "lron City", on tap. Vigilant and belligerent MPs, carrying nightsticks and side arms, were on every corner, outside every bar, and their paddy wagon was parked nearby).
Next weekend 1 hope to visit the Pittsburgh Essers if you will send directions how to get there. I hope you sent the $5 I requested, meanwhile I am forced to refuse passes, which may be my last in the States (Our pay had been held up by moving from Fort Belvoir) I think this is an old C. C. C. camp, it is very muddy and the soft coal smoke is terrific. We passed through Harrisburg and Pittsburgh and many other industrial places en route. At Pittsburgh the smoke was so thick that I tried to pull up my window shade and then discovered it had been up the whole time. The ride took 15 hours- you know the troop trains. We switched off in Baltimore and the next thing I knew we were in York, Pennsylvania. From then on it was foreign territory The terrain is slightly hilly and the vegetation sparse.
We don't have much to do; occasional fire tending and KP are the main worries. We can sleep to 8 and have Saturday noon and Sundays off. The food is very good and plentiful. It's nothing like the hospital but is better than the Engineer School mess. Got typhoid shot in the shoulder. Maybe they think our arms are too punctured. They ask us to censor ourselves and if l repeated all the rumors you'd be gray, for sure. Inside of 12 hours I've discovered we were going to South .America, Australia, England and Italy.
February 28, 1944
I sure feel better after talking to you on the phone yesterday. But there were several things I can't discuss on the phone and one is troop movements. However, in this case I can tell you that we left Belvoir on Thursday night and got here Friday morning. Alas, we are losing our individuality - as if I hadn't already - and we will now be minus our engineers' cap braid and service insignia, the engineer castle. Can't kick about the food - caramel and maple walnut ice cream after ten months of either vanilla or chocolate. And puffed rice instead of bran and cornflakes - who's complaining? And besides, evaporated instead of powdered milk for our coffee.
March 1, 1944
Got up at 6 a.m. and fooled around to 9. From 9 to 2 we loaded barracks bags on trucks, then we ate. And then we were dismissed. They have a nasty attitude here and keep us occupied most of the time. So, as I returned to my company, I found that they were packing for a ten-mile hike. I immediately took a hike myself, to the PX. After they left, I returned, and here I am.
The novelty of good and plentiful food is still a novelty. But had codfish yesterday, and lunch today would cost a buck and a half in the world of a civilian. We had roast beef, mashed potatoes, butter beans, apple and celery salad, bread, butter and Cross and Blackwell marmalade. Desert was sliced peaches and, of course, coffee. Seconds for everything.
Most of my dreams have been of home, but the other night I dreamed about my grandmother Schering, her face very full and pink; it is the first time I have ever dreamed about her.
May go to Youngstown, Ohio, tomorrow night, it is only 20 miles. They say the girls are very uh, uh, uh, very passionate, there, there's the word.
March 3, 1944
I had a letter from Schumanns' dog, "Tufzy", and am sending it on to Bill in Fort Ord. A letter carne from the Essers today, inviting me for the weekend. What a furor the envelope caused, in huge letters 11Esser Brothers, Costumes" and two Roman gladiators, spears in hands.
Another typhoid shot today, one guy concentrated on saying his name and serial number backward to prepare him for the shot. It was very funny, we had just come in from outside and our fingers were cold. We touched each other's shoulders with the fingers.
March 6, 1944
What a weekend at the Essers in Pittsburgh, got back here at 2:30 tills morning. They picked me up in Pittsburgh at the servicemen's center. They were going to hear Ezio Pinza in a concert in the "Syrian Mosque", a theater, and had a ticket for me. Pinza sang "PJaisir d'amour", "Two Grenadiers", "The FJe.a" among others and was terrific. After the recital we stopped at a tavern and had cheese sandwiches and beer. Meanwhile, it started snowing like a fury. By the time we got home it was midnight and so they brought out hot beef and pork sandwiches.
Got to bed at 2 a.m., slept to 11, then went to church in Pittsburgh cathedral, where Carl is the organist. After dinner we went to Bradford Woods and spent the afternoon there. Had supper and they drove me back to the bus station. Slept a]J the way and got into camp at 2:30. They want me to come back next weekend but I told them I'm living from day to day here. By the way, they all walked around barefoot, claim it is an Esser trait.!
March 8 1944
I haven't been able to shake off this cold and now it is bronchitis and 100 degree temperature. So I went on sick call- but mainly to avoid a ten-mile hike-. Within the hour I was in the hospital. Today I was slated for KP too. The Essers will be concerned when I teJJ them 1 can't come this weekend. They were worried about my cough and suggested German sounding remedies. Horrible things like goose grease and mustard plasters, I settled for cod liver oil pills, though.
March 10, 1944
Today is Bill's 19th birthday and I wrote him. It is also ten months of the army for me. Sat down for an hour to try to recall plant names, it's unbelievable what I have forgotten in a year. Another ten months and I'll have to learn my abc s again. But you don't need a brain in the army; they have alJ the questions and all the answers. Each day, sad to say, I am recovering, thanks to the pills and liquids they give me and soon this wonderful and legal goldbricking will be over. Tomorrow something else is going to compete with the pills and liquids for space in my body, another typhus shot.
What are they saving me for? I'll probably end up as either a permanent KP or a latrine attendant. Every time I think of the Enlisted Reserve test- only 20% pass it- I laugh a bitter laugh. And when I read General Ulio’s "special consideration will be given to you", I weep great tears. See what my 130 IQ does for me?
March 12, 1944
Got a haircut yesterday, it has been 8 112 months since the top was cut. Had a little fun this morning. Those of us who are ambulatory made breakfast for the others - that is, we get it from the kitchen and serve it. But this a.m. we made our own and I had toast and fried eggs. You should have seen my two eggs- I couldn't break them "right".
March 15, 1944
The Ides.
We are all compelled to take a rehabilitation course; an NYU doctor supervises it. We do a little drill, a little judo, dart throwing and- get this! - clay modeling and raffia weaving. This will interest you - we have a sick Negro soldier in the ward. Believe it or not, all the rebels went en masse to the supervisor and protested. I happened to be in the hall at the time and heard the whole thing. But after a heated argument they conceded that, as they put it, "even a nigger shouldn't be deprived of hospitalization". Imagine!
The psychologist asked for volunteers to test, so even I who learned never to volunteer in the army- after all, look what came from joining- volunteered. We will get the results in a white~ the test was on ten different sides of paper blotted with ink and then folded in half so it was identical on both sides. It is called a "Rorsarch", or something.
March 31, 1944
Got the pass to Youngstown, Ohio, and had such a good time that I thought you'd like to hear about it. After spending a couple of hours in the YMCA, which included a dip in their pool, I went to a sea food restaurant and had a Maine lobster dinner. Started off with crabmeat cocktail and turtle soup. Then came the lobster with French fries and com, plus peach salad. Of course, it wasn't as good as Maine but despite the mid-western cooking, was pretty good. For desert I had custard pie and coffee. The bill was $3.25! Shades of Henry Morgenthau, if that isn't inflation! I figured it would be quite a while before I have another opportunity to throw money around, so didn't have any qualms about it.
Frankly, the bobby sock - or should I say booby sock - brigade of Youngstown leaves plenty to be desired. Most of these children should be home studying or doing something useful instead of preying on servicemen.
April 3, 1944
We are leaving today by train for Camp Patrick Henry, Newport News, Virginia, the port of embarkation. It’s Nana's anniversary, and I hope it will bring me good luck. I never dreamed on April 3 1939 when she died that I would be going off to war in Europe five years later. I will phone you when we reach the port but the conversation will be censored.


From Pvt. E. J. Thomas
Greenville, PA

Dear Mom & Harry  Wednesday, Jun 16, 1943

I am now in Pennsylvania, for a short time before being sent to various divisions or overseas. I’m letting you know right away in case I can’t make a phone call or send a wire. I should be here about 3 days to 4 weeks. Average stay is a bout 3 weeks.

My train left Fort McClellan at 10:00 am Monday. It was a slow ride and switching we made it to Birmingham, AL. Looking at the map I thought I was heading west or northwest. But the train kept going north. We were still going directly north until we reached Kentucky. It was to dark to see now, but at five am, I saw that we were going through the town of Sanders, but couldn’t tell what state, but by the sun could tell we were going east. A half hour later I found out we were still in Kentucky. There wee Hills everywhere just as high as Alabama. But they didn’t look the same. They were fluffier, softer and greener. It was easy to see Kentuck’s soil was more rich than Alabama.

At 6:30 am we went through Cincinnati, and this was the first big city I saw since leaving Detroit. We crossed the Ohio River with a good view of Cincinnati’s skyline and very impressive to a soldier from Alabama. We rode through Ohio all day. I never imagined Ohio to be so big. At 5 pm we crossed into Pennsylvania, and went though New Castle and Sharon.

At 6:30pm (June 15), we reached Camp Shenango. Fort McClellan was like a well kept city park compared to this mud hole. Mud, loose stone sidewalk, and tar paper covered shacks; one of which I am writing this letter. Presently we can’t leave our area, or phone or send a telegram. I don’t know when I can send this letter.

Mom, I received your last letter just a day before I left Fort McClellan. I got a sample of your wet weather. It thundered and rained just before getting off the train and again in the barracks.

So Julia’s Eddie is in Wyoming in the Quartermaster branch. I didn’t know the army put men in this branch because of such small defects as eyesight or hearing. They must have more men than they know what to do with.

I’m glad Gertie’s baby is staying in good health. He’ll be walking by the time I’m back. Don’t send batteries now until I know my correct address for the next couple of weeks.

Harry thanks for buying Sanders candy. If you have sent it, I’ll probably get it and enjoy it. Sanders Candy and Desert Shop opened Jun. 17, 1875. Fred Sanders started with one store in the Detroit downtown area. Eventually more stores would open and there would be some 57 in Detroit and its suburbs. The author remembers his boyhood years and the delicious and famous Sanders milk shakes. Even noted former computer hacker, while 'on the lam', Kevin Mitnick mentioned the tasty milkshakes that Sanders was famous for.

When I get my next address let the Detroit News know, but I may not renew it. I believe I will be assigned a new barrack here, until I get a new location out of this camp. I may be here two months. I’m in the same position
I was in Custer, just waiting for “Bingo”.

With Love Ed
P.S. Just found correct address:
Co. A. 12Bn 3rd Rgt.
Shenango Personnel Replacement Depot
Greenville, Pennsylvania


CLICK HERE To read more about Vernon's time in the service.

Pvt. Vernon M. Thomas, U.S. Army
35217225 - Company F, 14th Battalion
4th Training Regiment - ASF Replacement Depot
Camp Reynolds
Greenville, Pa.

Dear In-Laws:

You will sure get a kick out of this.  It took the lack of a 3¢ stamp to get me at this job of letter writing.  As you know, I can write letters free and Ann cannot, and as we are law-abiding citizens she couldn't write the letter and let me address it and write "Free" on the outside.

I got in this evening at about 6:30, and Mr. and Mrs. Sigler had us eat with them again.  We had a roast with appropriate trimmings and enjoyed it very much.

They are sure shipping a lot of men out of this camp, and I expect to be on shipment any day as my original limit of 30 days, set when we arrived here, has long since passed.  However, I have talked to fellows who have been here more than six months.

The name of the camp was changed today; also, the purpose has been changed a little.  It was formerly a replacement depot for all Army personnel but now is to be a replacement depot for the Army Service Forces only, which doesn't mean much as far as I can see it.

Ann wrote to my brother who is in the Marines and also to my oldest brother who is in the state of Washington, and I added some to each of the two letters.  Ann says that I am like an old Ford:  "Hard to get started, but once I do start, am hard to stop."

Am enclosing a check for $50.00 which wish you would cash and send Ann a money order.  Remember to have it made out "Ann Margaret Thomas," as that is the way her driver's license reads and may have to be used in order to get the M.O. cashed.

Well, I hope this finds you both well and not working too hard.

Don't seem to be able to think of anything more to write, so guess I am stopping here.


Additional Information
As a soldier, Vernon could send letters for free. He offered to mail one of his wife's letters to her parents that way as she was out of stamps but she didn't want him to abuse the franking privilege. So on Tuesday night, September 21, Ann made Vernon do the writing himself.
Vernon's address at the camp - Pvt. Vernon M. Thomas, U.S. Army 35217225 - Company F, 14th Battalion 4th Training Regiment - ASF Replacement Depot Camp Reynolds Greenville, Pa.
Vernon and his wife lived in Sharon, PA. He would take a bus at State Street to get to and from the camp.
Finally, at the end of 1943, Vernon left the camp to head overseas. Ann didn't know it, but Vernon was in Norfolk, Virginia, where on January 11 he would board a ship that would take him to India.