Comes a Soldier's Whisper: A Collection of Wartime Letters with Reflection and Hope for the Future

Comes a Soldier's Whisper: A Collection of Wartime Letters with Reflection and Hope for the Future

by Jenny La Sala

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Overview

“The Golden Warrior and the bravest man I ever knew.”

“When Dave and I fought together, no matter how severe the action, he

would put his hand on my shoulder, and it gave me a calming effect.”

“He was as fi erce in battle as he was gentle in friendship.”

—Charles E. Eckman,

101st Airborne Screaming Eagles

Holtwood, Pennsylvania

“I remember David as a kind, soft-spoken man and was intrigued that he

was also Colonel Michaelis’ radio operator. All of these men were larger

than life! Little is known about Michealis because he was in command of

the 502nd for such a short, yet important, time.”

—Peter J. K. Hendrikx, author of

Orange is the Color of the Day

Pictorial history of the 101st Airborne Liberation of Holland

www.heroesatmargraten.com

Madame Rolle, owner of Chateau Rolle—a castle located in Champs

outside of Bastogne, Belgium, and was designated as the headquarter

command post for the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment when she was

a young girl—remembered our father operating his radio in her foyer,

and said, “He was a nice young fellow who kept talking to someone

named Roger.”

—Madame Rolle

This collection of letters, written by a young 101st Airborne paratrooper

soldier to his sweetheart from 1943-1945, is so personal and matter-offact

that I almost forgot that David Clinton Tharp was only one of millions

of heroes made by World War II. David Tharp certainly deserves a book

like this in his honor, and it deserves to be read and praised. It is a mustread

for every American, and especially for veterans of war.

—Palmetto Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466976863
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 02/13/2013
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 649,079
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.58(d)

Read an Excerpt

Comes A Soldier's Whisper

A Collection of Wartime Letters with Reflection and Hope for the Future


By Jenny La Sala

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2013 Jenny La Sala
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4669-7686-3


Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Just a Country Boy


He's just a country boy With a smile as bright as the rising sun

He's just a country boy As tall and straight as he can be With the strength and majesty of the great oak tree That stands ever watchful by the farm

He's just a country boy His demands are very few A wife, a farm, and children too He must have at least one

A simple, honest country boy To sow and reap and reap and sow And be just a country boy

—Betty Lou


US ARMY AIR FORCES Technical Training School Lowry Field, Colorado

January 15, 1943

Dear Betty Lou,

Today I just received your letter from which you mailed the 8th of December, even though it's just been a month getting to me. I'm proud to get it, for it was a wonderful letter. You're still making mistakes on that typewriter though. Ha-ha. I'm just kidding you. Just keep right on the job, and someday, you'll be a swell typist.

I'm sorry I let you worry of my whereabouts, as you mentioned in your letter. But golly, we were busy out there in California. It would have been all right if you had wrote my father about me, for he knows where I was. I would have been all right anyway, for Dad knows I write to you all of the time. I'll bet he would even know you if he met you on the street, for there is an enlarged picture of you at home on the radio.

I'm sorry I didn't get this letter before Christmas, for you asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Well, I wouldn't have known, and you did a wonderful job of selecting a gift anyway. Say, it was swell of you to buy that with your own money. I hope you still have your part-time job.

Betty Lou, you asked me what "shipped off" meant. It means that we're on shipping orders and ready to be shipped out at any time of the day or night.

You said your mother sent me a Christmas card. Tell her I said many, many thanks for thinking of me. I haven't received it as yet, but I probably will, for I've been getting quite a bit of mail from Fresno lately. So I'm hoping to get it soon. I haven't received yours either. But even if I don't, I'll know that you sent me one.

I didn't know anyone read the letters I sent you. And as you say, your mother likes me just by the way I write. I thought I was very poor at writing letters. She must be a very nice person. I'm sure she is, and someday in the future, I'd like to have the opportunity to meet her. I'll bet you're just the very picture of her, aren't you?

I'm sorry you lost the picture of me in my CCC1 uniform. The only one I have left is an enlarged one. But in a few days, I'll send you a better one, for I had my pictures taken today. I can't get the kind of work done that I wanted though. But later on, I'll have some more taken and send you a nice picture. I must close for today. So until I hear from you, which is very soon I hope. I remain.

As ever, David

PS: The sweetheart on the envelope hardly fits, I guess. But I have to send it to someone. And I think a lot of you, so I suppose it'll be all right.


Petersburg, Indiana March 11, 1943

1:20 a.m.

Dearest,

Just a few words tonight as I'm very sleepy. I've been up for almost four whole nights, and I'm very tired.

You are probably wondering why I'm at home in the States. Please believe, darling, it's hard to say. But I happened to be at home on an emergency furlough of ten days. You see, my father has passed away. I'm very sorry I haven't answered your letter as yet. But Dad has been very ill for the last week. And I've been writing to him every day.

I received your letter last Saturday and Sunday night; I received a telegram about Dad. So Monday, I was on my way home. Tuesday morning, I was in Chicago. God, but I'd like to see you. But I don't suppose I will this time.

For as you know, now that both my mother and father are gone, a lot is left up to me. I think I can fix things so that my brothers and sisters can stay together. And I want to stay here until everything is straightened out.

Well, dear, I must close now and get some sleep in a few minutes as Dad is to be laid away tomorrow.

As ever, David


Location Unknown March 22, 1943

My Dearest Betty,

A few lines tonight to let you know I'm thinking of you. As usual, I always am for that matter. I hope this letter finds everyone well and happy and going to school, ha-ha. But just think, darling, you haven't got so very much more to go. Then you will be through.

Well, things are going pretty good here now. There was a new bunch of students came in while I was gone. But they seem to be a pretty good bunch and are willing to learn and do as they are told. That's what it takes. Well, so much for the students.

Darling, I don't believe I told you about my buddies. There are four of us: Johnny, Dick, and Ted, with me being the fourth one. We are really quite a bunch.

I have your picture out tonight, and Johnny asked if he might write you a short note, and I said he might if I approve of it. Ha-ha. Honest kid, he is a darn swell pal. We are all privates but Ted, and he is a corporal. But he is the same as us when we are together.

Betty, I will close for tonight as I want to send you a poem that I think is very good. I don't think I ever sent you a copy of it.

Forever yours with love, David


United States Air Forces Lowry Field, Colorado April 19, 1943

My Dearest Darling,

Received your letter today and was very happy to hear from you.

I'm being honest with you when I say I have a different outlook on life since I've met you. Somehow, you've changed things for me. Everything seems brighter now, and may God permit our hearts to beat as one someday.

Dearest, as for a tough road to travel in the paratroopers, I'm not worried. I'm just waiting and waiting and getting in better shape every day. Believe me, I am. I weigh 178 lbs. now and not exactly a softie. As for jujitsu, it isn't exactly new to me. And my boxing would come in handy perhaps. So don't worry your beautiful head over me. I'll be all right. You just keep the home fire burning.

Betty Lou, it makes me feel grand to know that things I send and say please you. I'm grateful with all my heart that I have you. Thank you, my dear, when you say that I get handsomer every day. I have an album with a few pictures in it and will send it to you, for things like that are too much trouble to keep around your personal belongings. Anyway, I'd rather you keep it.

I received a letter from a schoolmate today. Our track team won their two meets so far. I'd give anything to be back there this spring to run the mile. I could do it too, as good a shape as I'm in. They haven't got a man this year that's very good, not that I am. But I could help out.

Dearest, I wouldn't say you are the luckiest girl in the world, just to know a fellow like me. I'm no angel. I'm just a plain raised farm boy from Southern Indiana who loves a girl named Betty Lou.

Although I could write on and on, I must close now. I have to study my lesson for school. We are learning about dehydrated foods. It's very interesting even though I don't care so much about it.

With all my love, David


Lowry Field Denver, Colorado

May 18, 1943

My Dearest Darling,

Received the book yesterday, a million thanks. I've wanted to read it for quite awhile but just neglected getting it. I've read part of it already, and it's swell.

Well, dear, there isn't much to say today except that I still love you 100 percent, that is important to me. Our little mascot is a 160-pound St. Bernard dog and bit "5" of the fellows yesterday. He's no damn pet of mine. I stay away from him.

Did I ever tell you about our new dayroom? If not, I will. It's pretty nice with a pool table, tennis table, reading racks, writing desks, radio, and mail room—almost anything a person could ask for.

Well, sweetheart, I'll close for today. As it is 4:15 and I have to get ready and march some students to work.

Love as ever, David


Lowry Field Denver, Colorado

June 3, 1943

My Dearest,

Golly, I'm a few days behind in answering your letter, which I received Monday.

Darling, I'm sorry, but you see, I'm going to school again in instructor's class this time. My sergeant and I are both going this week. And we have two majors for class instructors. And how one of them is from Washington, DC, and the other is from Ft. Riley, Kansas, B & C School. They're tough, and to my opinion, a few of the boys will cease to be instructors. However, I'm doing okay. It ends tomorrow, and am I ever glad.

Darling, I'm proud of you for selling those bonds. If only everyone would do that, for it's equipment we need now and not men. Of course, we are getting more and more every day. It won't be long now. At least, I hope not. That's a swell drive your school is putting on.

Well, I better close for now as it is time to go to work. Boy, we've really had some changes around here. Please write soon as I'll be waiting for a letter from you.

Love always, David


US Army Air Forces Technical Training School Lowry Field, Colorado

June 5, 1943

My Dearest Only,

Golly, it was good to hear from you as I haven't heard for a few days. It's always good to hear from you though.

I'm happy to know that the bond drive was a success. At least some people are doing their share at home. You said in your letter, darling, that I probably wouldn't be here to receive your letter. Well, I was. But I'll be subject to leave any day now. Everything is completed at last, and we are waiting for orders.

Darling, you're not the only one who hopes I get through my training all right. So do I. Yes, I know just what you mean about being washed out. I've lost several students from my shift already. But if you can't carry the load, you're just not any good in that branch of service.

However, it's only natural for one to wonder and worry. I do. I guess it's the waiting that is getting me down. However, I'm not afraid. I can make it. I know only too well that it will be tougher and much worse than you realize. Of course, I'm in good condition. I do a little jumping, running, and exercise every day.

I hope you did all right in your play. But, darling, I can't see you playing the part of a widow. But perhaps you will fit all right. But I could find a part much better for you.

Well, sweetheart, I'd better close as I have a million things to do, none as important as this letter, I can assure you. So good-bye for now and may we see each other soon.

Love always, David


US Army Air Forces Technical Training School Lowry Field, Colorado

August 26, 1943

My Dearest Darling,

Hope you'll not be angry at me for not writing any this week.

But now that I'm really on the beam, I'll write a few lines. By the way, they're playing No Letter Today over the loudspeaker from the office, and it's the Hoosier Hot Shots playing. Boy, I'm right at home.

I'm very happy just knowing that you're back home waiting on me and dreaming of the future and working. That means more to me, probably more than you'll ever know, for I often think of the future with you and a little one with it.

Say, guess what happened today? My first sergeant said, "Are you still ready to leave us next month, boy?" I jumped and said, "Yes, sir," ha-ha. Anyway, it sure made me happier. He said they had another letter on me. So now, you can see why I'm on the beam again and feeling fine.

Betty, I suppose I'd better close now as I have to attend an aircraft picture tonight, so I'll have to hurry. So, darling, please write me, once a week at least, if possible, for I love to hear from you.

Love always, David


United States Paratrooper Stationery

September 20, 1943

My Darling Betty,

Well, today was the happiest day I've had for a week as I finally received a letter from you.

Yes, darling, I knew all the time just when I was leaving to come down here. But for some reason, I didn't want to tell you and, about halfway, told you that I wasn't coming at all. But now that I am here, please forgive me. I am very glad that you realize that being a paratrooper is what I want and many thanks for wishing me luck. I'll need every bit you wish me.

Well, I have gone into "B" stage training today with my class. My injury didn't keep me back. Thank God for that. Honey, you seem to think that there is lots of tough work down here. Well, there is. It is rough. But don't make it too bad. I'm getting along okay and am pretty sure I'll make it. Darling, my chin is up very high, and as far as my training goes, I'll keep it there until they knock it down.

You asked when I would start jumping. My first jump from a real plane will be October 4, 1943. Today, I started jumping from a 34-foot tower in a parachute harness. Next week, I'll go to the 250-foot towers4 with a real chute and plenty of excitement. On the 34-foot tower, you climb up a ladder and to a platform and then step to a door, which represents a plane door. Then the sergeant hollers "go," and you jump out. You fall about 15 feet and get a hell of a jerk, which represents the opening shock of a real parachute. After that, you get a nice, gentle ride on down to the ground and land. It's quite a lot of fun.

Although some of the boys didn't think so and wouldn't jump out into space. But I guess I'm crazy enough to try anything once. Then they strapped me in a parachute harness and let me ride down an incline of about 60 degrees until I reached a speed of about 10 miles per hour. Then they dropped me, and I dropped about 4 feet, landing on my feet and tumbling. That's all there is to it. It's a little work now and then but lots of fun.

Darling, you asked me to tell you what my grandmother thought of my being down here. Well, I don't think she has the right idea of what I do with the parachute. By that, I don't think she knows that I'll jump from a plane with one on. And I'll not tell her either.

Well, sweet, I'd better close as I have to shine my boots, which is a nightly task. Sending you all my love and best wishes to you.

Always yours, David


US Parachute Troops October 10, 1943

My Dearest Darling,

A few words before I move. I'm shipping this afternoon at 2:30. So you need not write until you hear from me. I'm not moving from this post. I'm going to school. Two other boys and myself are Hoosiers. How about that, honey?

We will be at school from three to nine weeks. I'll have to make two or three more jumps while I'm here. So much the better for me though. The more experience, the better for me.

Darling, I'm sending you a miniature set of wings. Wear them as I would mine, for they're the best ones in the world. At least, we think so around here.

Darling, I must close as I have to be outside in a few minutes. Write soon.

Love always, David


Paratroops Fort Benning, Georgia

October 19, 1943

My Darling Betty Lou,

I received your letter today and sure was glad as I was expecting it. But then, I'm always looking for one from you.

Haven't got much time as I have to go back to class for two hours tonight. I go to school eight hours a day and two hours on Tuesday and Thursday nights. So, darling, I don't think you would get to see me if you got to come down. I'm sure you haven't gotten my letter yet asking you to come and visit me on Christmas.

Please, darling, say you will come, wherever I'm at. I'll probably be around Fort Benning someplace, I hope. But after January and February, I wouldn't say where I would be, if you know what I mean. But so much for that now.

Darling, I'm glad you received the wings, emblem, and pillowcase. The one I picked out had Sweetheart on it. Yes, darling, there were two paratroopers killed here last week. I hoped and hoped that you would not see it in the papers. I knew you probably would though. Please try not to think about it.

It would make this soldier very happy if you said yes to one little question. I'm quite sure things would go okay, darling. I just hope the wedding dress won't be made out of a parachute though, if you ever do give your consent to the question.

Darling, I must close now as I have to go. Please write soon.

Yours always, David


United States Army Signal Corps Pigeon Section

November 10, 1943

My Darling,

Just a few lines this afternoon. I received your letter today. I don't remember just how long it has been since I've had one.

You probably think it odd of me using this stationery. I'm now at the signal corps here at the main post, learning about pigeons as they plan an important part in communications. I had a few spare minutes, so I got the paper off of one of the boys.

Well, honey, I must close. I make a jump tomorrow, I suppose. The sergeant hasn't said so as yet. But I'm sure I'll be the man to do it.

Write soon, my dear, and don't worry.

Always yours, David


Belgium V-mail January 2, 1944

My Darling,

Guess you know where I'm at by now. That is, if you've been reading the papers and listening to the news. I'll bet your father has been following the news pretty close.

Oh, how I'd love to be a sailor and sail the deep blue sea. If our son ever goes to war, sweetheart (and I pray he never does), he'll be a sailor boy.

Good night, my darling. Say a little prayer for me. Write often.

All my love, David
(Continues...)


Excerpted from Comes A Soldier's Whisper by Jenny La Sala. Copyright © 2013 by Jenny La Sala. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface....................     xi     

Introduction....................     xiii     

I Just a Country Boy....................     1     

II Sea Transport—Location Unknown....................     18     

III My Silk is My Silent Weapon....................     41     

IV Red, White, and Blue....................     51     

V Why We Jump....................     57     

VI Strong Hand Over Me....................     66     

VII Somewhere in France....................     85     

VIII A Time to Remember....................     90     

IX Wounded in Holland....................     122     

X Battles, Campaigns and Photographs....................     133     

XI Displaced Persons....................     155     

XII The Interview....................     172     

XIII Marching Home Again....................     196     

The Soldier's Grave....................     207     

Epilogue....................     209     

Footnotes....................     211     

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Comes A Soldier's Whisper: A Collection of Wartime Letters with Reflection and Hope for the Future 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Ronald_Beasley More than 1 year ago
It is a must-read for every American, and especially for veterans of war. This collection of letters, written by a young 101st Airborne paratrooper to his sweetheart from 1943-1945, is so personal and matter-of-fact that I almost forgot that David Clinton Tharp was only one of millions of heroes made by World War II. Reading his letters all at once, several things become immediately apparent. Most obvious is his lack of enthusiasm in writing about the war itself, which was due to the U.S. Army’s orders for confidentiality. As it is, you will see some of the words in his letters were censored by the government, which forbids the soldiers from communicating their whereabouts and missions. He saw plenty of combat and obliquely mentioned it, but he preferred to write about the weather, the foreign people and places he encountered, and his plans for marrying Betty Lou, his girlfriend and future wife (although he occasionally expressed doubts about whether there would be a wedding). He surely kept to these less sanguinary topics to avoid upsetting his family, but usually promised to tell the full story when he returned home. We can only imagine what those stories were like. Throughout his letters, Mr. Tharp is consistent in his views about the war. He wanted it to be over soon, but he knew he should stay in it to the end, to avoid planting seeds for another world war that his children would have to fight. After Germany’s surrender, he supported tougher measures against the defeated people and wrote that the Americans (I don’t think he mentions other Allied soldiers) were being too easy on them. As far as I know, these views were fairly common at the time, and they were certainly understandable in the aftermath of that war. He did show some unconventionally progressive views, as well, such as his belief in racial equality, and he didn’t seem to mind if his wife wanted to keep working after the war. It is this individuality that makes the book’s greatest impression on the reader, which may or may not be what you’re looking for. You won’t learn too much about the war itself here. This is solely Mr. Tharp’s story. David Tharp certainly deserves a book like this in his honor, and it deserves to be read and praised, but I can’t let go of a single reservation: that his wife’s letters weren’t also included. Reading the two lovers’ entire conversation and understanding how they interacted with each other would’ve made the story more emotionally rewarding, and of course more complete. It wasn’t possible, though, for the soldiers to keep every letter and package they received, so I can’t really hold that against this book. It is a must-read for every American, and especially for veterans of war. Compliments of Palmetto Review