Pause to remember Memorial Day

Letters from Warwick brothers on the WWII front line

Posted 5/22/24

During World War II, two Warwick brothers left home to do their patriotic duty, keeping in touch through letters. Joe Czerkiewicz was serving with the 90th Quartermaster Battalion in France and Eddie …

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Pause to remember Memorial Day

Letters from Warwick brothers on the WWII front line


During World War II, two Warwick brothers left home to do their patriotic duty, keeping in touch through letters. Joe Czerkiewicz was serving with the 90th Quartermaster Battalion in France and Eddie Czerkiewicz was serving with Company A of the 3217 Signal Service Battalion in England. Joe’s letters to Ed were saved by family members and excerpts follow:

“October 16, 1944 France – Hello Ed, Received five of your most welcome letters yesterday and was glad to hear from you. It’s the first mail I got in two months… You should be able to figure out just where I’m at. It’s a nice place here and I’d much rather be here than where you are at. I wish we could get together here because we sure could have some fun.”

Joe, who was of Polish descent, went on to describe a Polish family he had befriended in France and explained, “The reason why I go there so often is because they have a couple of beautiful daughters.”

He told his brother that another reason he visited the family so much was because it had been so long since he’d eaten Polish food. “They gave me some Polish sausage,” he wrote. “Good old homemade stuff too and it really was delicious. These people treat me as if I was one of the family. The next time I get some, I’ll send you a chunk.”

Of the French women, Joe was not so impressed. He wrote, “You know, Ed, we thought the women in England were bad but you should see them here. They have no pride or shame. The women squat down anywhere (to urinate) such as roads or sidewalks. When we first saw this kind of stuff, we used to turn our heads but now we do the same as the French… As always, brother Joe.”

“June 15, 1944 France – Hello Ed, There is plenty of stuff to drink here such as cider, wine and whiskey. It isn’t safe to drink because a couple of boys have been poisoned. Some of these people are okay and some are no damn good. The people are so scared that they don’t know who to stick up for - us or the Germans. Well, Ed, this is about all I have to say so I’ll say so long and good luck. As Always, Brother Joe. P.S. If you come here, watch out for snipers and a lot of them are French women.”

“June 23, 1944 France – Hello Ed, I got out of a lucky scrape Sunday. We went out to take this certain place and got pinned down for eighteen hours. There were seven of us there and they opened up with rifle and machine gun fire. Later on, they used mortars, bazookas and eighty-eights. Them eight-eights were going about a foot over my back and exploding about fifteen yards away. Boy, Ed, I was really scared that day. I must have prayed a million times that day… We find a lot of liquor here called Coniac and, boy, that is plenty powerful stuff. Just a little zip of that stuff and it raises your helmet off your head. I tried it but no more for me.”

In a letter penned from France sometime after June 23, Joe wrote, “Hello Ed, I’ve been pulled away from the lines because of the concussion of the 75 m.m. I went to the hospital for two days and now I am at Division Headquarters to be sent back. They didn’t do anything for me at the hospital but dope me up because I’m still spitting blood. My back doesn’t feel too good either but the medics won’t do anything.”

“July 4, 1944 France – Hello Ed, Well, here it is, twenty-eight straight days at the front. Today is the Fourth of July and it’s a noisy one. All night and all morning so far the artillery is shelling like heck. At times it seems as though they are trying to play some song with them big guns. I don’t mind hearing ours going over but the enemy’s scare the heck out of me.”

“July 7, 1944 France – Hello Ed, Just a few lines to let you know that I’m okay and hope you are the same. Went to confession and communion today for a change and I’m going to keep on going. The mass was held in an apple orchard. All day long no German planes come over. The only time they come out is at night because our Air Force doesn’t come out.”

“July 9, 1944 France – Hello Ed, As you can see by the change of address, that I have left the blue and gray and got into a good outfit. I was put in this outfit because of my nerves. They call it exhaustion but its shell shock. It put me out of commission and I jump like a mule whenever I hear a shell burst. According to the papers, they are bombing the heck out of London. I hope you’re not in the section that they are always bombing.”

“July 17, 1944 France – Hello Ed, Boy, I feel much better now that I know where you are. Do anything to keep away from here. With all this noise from German artillery and bombing, it’s enough to make a guy go nuts. I just heard that supplies are coming in so fast that the roads are jammed with trucks. I guess we will be getting some better meals in a few days. In a few minutes, some guys are going to play an accordion and a guitar. By the time we get up there to listen, a barrage of artillery will open up. I hate them things because they are so accurate. Word was sent down that the Germans can’t get supplies. There are seven panzer divisions close by with no fuel. The only thing that interests me is that we both go home. Boy, that will be the good old day. Well, Ed, I guess I’ll go up to listen to the music.”

“July 21, 1944 France – Hello Ed, How is everything in England? Fine and dandy I hope.”

Joe went on to tell his brother that the French were no good. “Nights they bring ammo to the Germans and give our positions away,” he wrote. “That is the reason why things are so tough.”

“July 27, 1944 France – Hello Ed, I hear that you want to come over here. Will you please get that idea out of your head? Think of Ma. She will go nuts with the both of us here.”

In a letter Joseph wrote from France on August 1, 1944, many of the words were blocked out by a military censor. It reads, “Hello Ed, Most of the men are (censored). They took a beating while they were up there, especially in (censored). The Germans had our machine guns, rifles and clothing and for a while we didn’t know who was who. The town of (censored) took a heck of a beating, for there isn’t a building standing. The people are going to have a hell of a time building that place up again.”

At war’s end, both of the Czerkiewicz boys returned home – brave American heroes.

Kelly Sullivan is a Rhode Island columnist, lecturer and author.


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