WW II War Letters

Robert Grobbel, S1/c USN (1926-2000)

Letter written on 31 Aug 1945 from aboard the USS LST-847, while moored at Guiuan, Samar Island, Phillipines

                        August 31, 1945
Dear Dad & Mom,                          

I don't know how to start this letter. I know you are wondering why I hadn't wrote home for the past 4 months. I just don't know how to explain at this time. I have been trying for the last 2 months to think of some reason for my bad behavior, but at this time I am still wordless to explain my fault for not writing. The best way I can explain is that it is something way down deep, and all the little & big things seem to make me do things that I have in the past months. The big thing was the news of Bob Wiegand. I know what I have wrote so far does not make much sense, but that's what I mean. I just can't explain.

I am in the best of health except for heat rash and a sore toe which I cut last week and got it pretty bad bang up. I haven't gained any weight, think I have lost instead. I am getting back my tan that I lost when I was below decks down in the boatswain locker.

Well the children must be getting ready for school! Are they all feeling fine? How did the garden turn out this year? OK I hope. How is every thing going around the town? Are they keeping you busy these days with water services on new homes? Is there any new building going up on Van Dyke? Sure was glad to hear that Vince was home. How many trips did he make over? Is he still stationed on his ship or has he got one of those easy jobs again on the beach? Is Ray or Dick coming home soon? Has Bob come back to the states or is he still out here? I have seen about every AKA out here except the 28. Last week I thought for sure that it was his ship over by our port bow but it turned out to be another number close as hell to his. I know I must have crossed his course lots of time because we come and I get a letter saying that he was just there.

I also know we must have seen Uncle John's ship because we were in Saipan at the time you say his ship was there because we spent a great deal of time there. I went to the naval hospital there in June but was unable to locate him.

I met a soldier from Base Line on our ship. Never knew him but it was sure funny to meet some one from home. We took him into Okinawa. We never stay Okinawa too long but did have a chance to get ashore after they took the town but they would not allow us off the beach. So I never got any souvenir except some money. But that wasn't the best thing that happened while we were up there.

A couple days before we pulled out, a typhoon came up so we had to head out to sea. Well the typhoon was still 100 miles away but the China Sea sure does get rough when a wind like that comes up. The typhoon hit us at 0200 in the morning and I had the 12-4 watch on the wheel, but the worst part of it was that we were heading north all day and that night we got off of course. We got lost in a typhoon and headed north into Japanese waters without any one else with us. I never felt very good when I got off watch that morning. We can say that the 847 is the first LST to come to Japan during the war without getting blown to hell. Well we got out of it OK without any damage to the crew and ship. When we got back to Guam a couple of LSTs were along side of us and boy you sure should have seen the look on their faces when we got along side. They said that they got official word that we got sunk at Okinawa. It sure did sound funny to us because we didn't know a damn thing about it. Some of the crew are still getting letters from their buddies who say they even heard it back in the states about us.

I can't tell you where I am at the present time. But I am very close to Alt for exception of a few Islands. I will not be able to see him because we are on a special assignment to be called at any hour. I can't tell or say where we are going but it is sure going to be plenty of excitement in store for us. The chances are we will be away for a hell of a long time. The way things look for me that I am in the Regular that I wouldn't be home for about a year from now.

I think I wrote and told you about me getting into the bosun's locker. Since then, I have made S1/c in June. I was in charge of it for 3 months till last month I was made a Section Leader. I have 11 men under my Section. There are 4 Sections in the Deck gang and all of the other Sections have rated men over them except my Section. I stand Boatswain mate of the watch when we are out to sea. I have to be sure that the right number of men are on watch and I have charge of all Deck Machinery.

When we are in port, I stand Bosun's mate of watch every 4 days. I have charge of all the small boats to make sure they are always ready to go ashore and to see that they are always shipshape. Also to make up working parties and check all the mooring lines and anchor. But of course I wouldn't make out too well if I didn't have Arentz help. Arentz is a BM2/c, the best guy I have met since I joined up. He sure help me a lot since I meet him in Bradford. He is the fellow that I told you about when I was home if you still remember, dad. [Ed. note: he is referring to James A. Arentz, click here for his photo (opens in a new window)]

I have taken all of my tests except for my final one for coxswain. I would have finished it last month but for some reason I just can't seem to study. I have put lots of my free time toward it but I know if we get out to sea again I will finish it. It will mean that I will have that crow dad with the anchors. Boy I sure try hard for it.

I am going to try to write to Vince & Bob tomorrow night. And I want to thank Mom a million for the news paper. I got it last week. Boy it sure did look swell. We haven't been getting our mail lately because we are moving around here like a moving van. And our mail is at one Island so we just got to wait till we hit that place before we can get it. Tomorrow the small boat has to go 60 miles to get it so it will take a day to get there and back. When I said small boat I mean LCVP.

Say Dad did you ever get that Panama money I sent you with them cigars in Calif? I can't send any souvenirs home because there isn't much here to buy unless you get a good wage coming every week. Because the people here are really money hungry. Hell they want 5 cents to a dime for one banana. So you can see what it is like. They even sell rice whisky for 2.50 for a 6 ounce glass. One of the fellows drank a bottle last week. The poor guy just about went out of his head. It is something like the Japs drink but a little stronger.

About 3 weeks ago I went into the village here. There is a church here that is over 400 years old. It has a silver altar and it is made of stone. This is a big church too. It was sure a wonderfiul place. We don't get much of a chance to go ashore all the time on Sunday for Mass but whenever we can we go ashore in the small boat. But if we are out to sea or in port but can't get ashore we have a fellow aboard from Detroit who knew Clem Kaltz the fellow who drowned about 4 years ago. He has services every Sunday aboard ship if we can't make it ashore. He says he has been to Center Line a lots but never heard of us but knew the Rinkes a little. His last name is spelled something like KLEMIK [Ed. note: his name was Clement G. Klimek, S2/c, USN]. I don't think you have heard it before but who knows dad.

Is Mom still working? Glad to hear she enjoyed her trip to Calif. I know it sure is nice country down there. Did you ever get that wallet I sent you dad? I am sending a leaflet which I got from a B-29 when I was in Saipan in May. It was a new bunch of them that they were going to drop on Japan. I think you will have a little trouble reading but if you have one of the kids study it they could master it by the time I get home on my leave. I am also sending a picture of our ship we had taken quite a while back.

Well dad I will have to knock off for now because tomorrow is field day aboard ship and I will have to get some sack duty to keep the boy's on the ball.

Your Son,

For Censor
R.C. Grobbel S1/c
U.S.S. L.S.T.-847 - F.P.O.
San Francisco

The leaflet that he got in Saipan

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