Mrs. Telsch was the woman who ran the boarding house my grandfather Maurice stayed in prior to shipping out for the Philippines in 1941. She wrote this letter to his parents, Ory and Lettie, on March 5th, 1945.
My Dear Folks
At last I can say were are a very happy family and I know you folks must be too. Maurice arrived in good old U.S.A. Thursday, March 1 evening late and Friday they took him to a San Francisco Hospital. Saturday he called you folks and us up on the phone. My it did seem good to hear his voice. We were so overjoyed and excited.
Then Maurice called a friend of ours in San Francisco and he and his wife came to the hospital and got Maurice and brought him to Woodland Saturday afternoon in there car wich is about 75 miles from here. We had a very nice visit with him in the short time he was here. As he had to be back at the hospital by twelve o’clock that night.
I had a nice dinner for them and it seemed so good to have him at our table again, and that big smile on his face again. Maurice looks good, considering what he has gone through with. He is thin but has gained fifteen pounds in one month which shows he is in good health and another month or so he should be fine.
His mind is good and he is not shelled shocked at all and nerves seem to be very good which is wonderful. He does not look a bit older than when he left here.
I told him it did not make any difference how much the war had messed him up. As long as we had him back, and he could have come back much worse off. But I am sorry I half to tell you he has lost both of his Legs. He did not have the heart to tell you on the phone that day and asks me to tell you.
They took his legs of just between the knee and the hips about halfway. This why they are sending him back East to Washington D.C. to a hospital that makes the artificial limbs and fit them and then teach him to walk. When this is done he will be as good as new. I do not have any Idea how long it will take.
He left yesterday and I guess he is back there by now. He will send you his adress and you can go see him as he is only 300 miles from you. He bought himself a Wheel Chair and he gets arouond very good in it. It folds up and you can put it in a car. Very nice.
This is why he can not come home until he gets fixed. But they are feeding him good and doing every thing they can for him.
So I do hope you will understand and being good Christian people will not take it too hard. It did him a lot of good to visit us while he was here.
Yes I had to break the news to him about Marie getting married which was the hardest thing to do. She and her husband came over to see him while he was here. I thought she treated him very cold did not even shake hands with him. But her husband did when he did I could see Maurice wanted to haul off and let him have it. But he tried so hard not to let on he cared. But I could see it hurt just the same. But my girls helped to cheer him and he soon forgot about it. He has gone through so much I guess nothing matters any more. When I ask him if he wanted to see them he said “Hell I guess if they can stand it I guess I can”. But I wish she had waited until he came home. But that is the way life is, I guess.
I read your letter to Maurice and will forward it to him as soon as I get his address.
Mrs A.C. Telsch
On the 28th of January, 1941, my grandfather enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at the age of 19 at Fort Macarthur, San Pedro. A year and two weeks later, he was wounded in action during the battle of Bataan, on February 9th. His parents were informed of his wounding via a letter from the War Department on February 23rd, 1942, but no details were available.
On April 9th of that year, he was taken prisoner by the Japanese, and participated in the Bataan Death March. During the three years of his internment, he sent a few form postcards through the International Red Cross to his parents that provided no real details of his situation other than the fact that he was alive, and once participated in a Japanese radio broadcast during which he was allowed to read a short message which also included no details.
On the 19th of February, 1945, he was officially logged as repatriated to the U.S., less the legs he used to walk into the enlistment office. This letter above was the first notification his parents received with verifiable news of the actual extent of his injuries.
Just two weeks prior to this letter being written, on February 22nd, Ory and Lettie had received a previous letter from Mrs. Telsch, which mentioned that Maurice had been in Bilibid, a POW camp that had been liberated 16 days before. There were 1,200 prisoners at Old Bilifid, about 1,000 civilians and 200 military personnel, most or all of whom were amputees of one sort of another.
“Grandpa Moe” died in 1988.
Today’s for you, Grandpa, and the 22 million veterans still alive in the U.S., and the millions more who have died since 1776.