Greetings to all Society members; I hope our post finds you well this Thanksgiving and enjoying all the day has to offer. For this post, I thought I would pull a letter from the past. The short excerpt below comes from a former sailor who served in World War II and reflects on Thanksgiving and those who sacrificed their lives to defeat the Axis powers.
Cliff Sampson of Plymouth, US Navy 1942- 1945 :
“My first military Thanksgiving was in 1942 at Great Lakes. We had a big mess hall and it was a typical Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the fixings, apple pie and mince pie.
They tried to make it special and, of course, everybody was hepped [sic] on the war.
Just being a little recruit, you didn’t have much to say about it anyhow, you just did what they told you and ate what they gave you. But it was good food, I can’t complain.
Some of the food probably was better than a lot of people ever had before they were in the service. Some people came from poverty…
Thanksgiving 1945 I was home in Plymouth with my family and my wife. We were getting ready to settle down and I was back to work, running the store again. It was a great feeling to be home, after being blown up on a ship in July (the USS YMS 84 yard mind sweeper was blown up 3 July 1945, Cliff Sampson received the Purple Heart) and then in November, I’m out of the service and the war is over.
I feel sorry for all those that didn’t come back. It was a great experience, but it’s
too bad for those who had to leave us. They fought for a great cause.”
The excerpt comes to us from the “Pilgrim Hall Museum” in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Thanks to all who are serving and who have served.
Annette Finley-Croswhite, Ph.D., Executive Director, Society for the History of Navy Medicine