Monday, January 4, 2016


My Grandpa Claude, who was my mom's dad, got drafted during World War II.  This is something that happened to a lot of young men back in those days because the military did not have enough volunteers.

There had been a draft during WWI, but it was discontinued when that war was over.  In 1940, a new national conscription was started, even though it was still peacetime -- at least in the U.S.  This new draft required all men between 21 and 45 to register, and if their names were drawn by lottery, they would serve for one year.

In August 1941, the term of service was changed to two years.  Then after Pearl Harbor, the service was extended to the duration of the war plus 6 months, and all men between 18 and 64 were required to register.  During the course of the war, 49 million men were registered, 36 million were classified, and 10 million were inducted.

Anyway, Grandpa Claude got called up in February of 1943.  At that time, he was 31 years old, and he had been married for two and a half years.  He apparently registered for the draft in Clay County, MO, but then transferred his registration to Wyandotte County, KS, where he and Grandma Helen were living.  Grandpa Claude was working in the Fairfax bomber plant, spray-painting planes.

For his induction, Grandpa Claude went to Ft. Leavenworth, KS, which is a military base that has been around since 1827.  It is used to train a lot of officers, including some from other countries.  There have been a number of famous officers there, such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, and George S. Patton.  There is also a maximum security military prison at the base.  But it should not be confused with the Federal Penitentiary in the town of Ft. Leavenworth.

Ft. Leavenworth
Anyway, while Grandpa Claude was sitting around, waiting to find out if he would have to go to war or not, he got some Red Cross stationery and wrote down all the stuff that was happening.  Mom thinks he must have been really bored because he wasn't the type of person who usually kept a diary or anything like that.  So here's what he wrote, including all the original spellings.

Friday 12 A.M.  K.C.K
   Left home at 5:15 via taxi and arrived at buss station at 5:30.  Had to stand outside untill 6 when they opened the doors.
   We dine inside and wait untill 6:40 when we get on the buss for Fort Leavenworth.  Was 33 of us from Ward 4 on one buss and two other buss loads from K.C.  Arrived at induction station at Fort Leavenworth.  We file out of buss and line up in road 4 abreast.  They ask if we have had breakfast.  Most of the boys had'nt had their brk.  So we start marching to mess hall no 3.  Was quite a walk and was cold.  After breakfast we march down to no 4 where we get lined up to go for medical examination.
   After putting bag in no 4 basement we go inside.  The room is packed, was lucky to get to set down.  After waiting for about an hour our names was called and we lined up, got our papers and struck out for no. 1 medical examination.
   We have another wait.  Soon we have an order to strip.  We strip[,] check our clothes and line up for another wait.  We finally get started.  X Ray is first and so on down the line.  We go all over the building which takes about 45 minutes.  We get around and get clothes and get bussed.
   Time is quarter to twelve, and are marched back to mess hall for chow with orders to be back at 12:30.  We [eat] and go back[,] wait untill about 1:10.  Finally our names are called.  I get a small slip of paper and go to checking station.  My paper calls for an x ray Sat AM with no breakfast.
   Wait for an hour in station then go back to no four for my bag.  Then we march over to 15 recreation hall about one mile.  Were assigned to barracks 14.  We stand around untill 4 oclock and are called out and lined up and marched back for chow.
   We eat and march back   is 5:15  we stand around and watch the pool games for a while then go over to our barracks and make our beds lay around untill 9 when lights are out.  The wind is blowing a gale and the old stove papers rattle.  The fire builders are in every hour to build up the fires and make a lot of noise.

Sat 13
   Up at 5:30 make our beds and go to the latrine and wash.  at 6 we march to chow and back to station no one.  It isn't open and we stand around and shiver.  At 6:50 we get in and wait till 7:10 when we are sent to checking station.
   All the fellows in my barrack are either sworn in or rejected and have gone home.  at 8 they [pick] a bunch of us up at checking station and take us in ambulance to hospital.  Another hours wait and strip for stomach view and X Rays.  Another wait and we are picked up and taken back to checking station.  We march back to barracks and then back for chow.  March back and go to barracks.
   Two calls are made but my name isn't called.  at 4 we go to chow and back, and read till 9
 lights out.

Sun 14
   5:30 up.  6 chow  lay around and wait.  12:  chow.
   4 chow and march.  No calls   suppose will be here another day.
   I hate this waiting around.

That is all he wrote, but Mom knows the end of the story, which is that the Army rejected him and sent him back home to paint bomber planes.  What those x-rays showed was that he had a deformed duodenal cap which was being irritated by a duodenal ulcer.  It's just as well, really, because Grandpa Claude still helped the war effort by painting lots of planes that olive drab color that the Army always liked to use.  If Grandpa Clause had gone off and got killed, Mom would never have been born, and I would not have anyone to feed me and snuggle with me at night.  Which would have been a tragedy worse than war, if you want my opinion!



  1. I think your grandpa was cool. Strange spelling for bus, buss, and noticed how the entries got shorter and shorter by the day. Very interesting post. I was conscripted into the South African army for two years so can relate to what he went through.
    Have a fantastic new year and be blessed, Geoff.

  2. Dear Geoff,
    Thanks for writing a comment in my blog! My Grandpa Claude grew up in a small town in Arkansas, and he did not get a very good education. That's probably why he spelled some words in a funny way. You are right about the entries getting shorter every day, which was likely because every day was much the same, so he got bored. The military seems to be an exercise in "hurry up and wait" -- or at least that's what they say over here. Maybe it is the same in South Africa.
    Have a very happy new year!
    Sincerely, Dorrie the Chihuahua