This series is comprised of excerpts from the journal that my grandfather, Michael Sturey, kept during his time in Europe during World War II. In it, he chronicles his thoughts about what he saw and felt, as well as his experience with one of the greatest military confrontations of all time: The Battle of the Bulge. Enjoy these words as much as you enjoy the freedom he defended with honor. –Wilbert R. McGuire
August 5th, 1944
We left the states on this day from Boston Harbor. The trip across was uneventful.
The sea was calm except for occasion it did get rough. We landed in the city of Glasgow and immediately entrained for our basecamp.
We were stationed in England for a period of three months near the towns of Bridgewater, Minehead, and Taunton, at a small camp near or rather on the channel.
There was plenty of mud in this camp. We had trucks each evening at about 7 PM. At 11 PM, we had to leave these towns, except a few men who made friends with the English in the vicinity, these men usually came in later.
Our first great thing to get used to was the English money. Unlike our money, they had the money in the following manner. I’m not giving anything below a threepence.
- A threepence was equal to our 5 Cents
- A sixpence was equal to our 10 Cents
- A Shilling was about 20 Cents
- Two & Six was about 50 Cents
- Then we had a 10 shilling note equal to about $2.00
- A Pound note was equal or about $4.00
Three months in England wasn’t exactly a training period for me. I did a lot of traveling. As far north as the North Sea.
Never was in London, though I did go to the outskirts of London.
I visited Stratford Upon Avon, “Shakespeare’s” home, several times. The house where he was born has a No Admission sign unless you get a ticket for a few shillings than they let you in to use it.
I’ve also seen the “Coventry” which was bombed so many times and reports said that churches & schools were bombed.
The churches & schools were bombed not because (and this is my own opinion) they were churches and schools, but because the church or school would be right next to a railroad station on some supply dump.
The people of England were generous enough. Most of them want to go to America after the war. This is true with the girls. Many of these girls want to marry a Yank just to reach America.
The streets of England are narrow. They drive on the left-hand side of the street. We had to drive on the left-hand also. At first it was tough for us but as any other thing, we became used to it.
We all think England is behind the times by at least 15 years. The war had nothing to do with our thoughts of them being behind the times. Their homes, stores, streets, and practically everything is behind.
The English beer is not like ours; it has no head and they do not use ice. As a matter of fact, I’ve never seen ice in my stay so far.
The weather in England is about the same every day, rain & more rain, a sunny day in England is seldom seen.
All in all, we did have fun in England.
Read the next installments of this incredible insight into a soldier’s mind HERE.