Question 118: Free Response


Attitudes in One Division


Final Field Form (Rev.)
If you have any remarks to add to this survey, please write them here just as fully as you like:
Put words or phrases inside quotes to search for an exact match.
In my opinion it is too late to improve conditions for the men in uniform today. However, I think the army in the future[,] after the war is all over, should be built on a better foundation. As a good example see the organization of the present German army.

1. Give the best men the leadership not the oldest. 2. Cut out the class system between officers and enlisted men. Make it so the men respect the officers because of themselves and not because they wear a couple of bars.
I think there should be periodical checks on the non-coms to see if they deserve to retain their stripes or not & a high wage should be given to all the soldiers who have served their enlisted time
If this survey is to be successful, I am sure you will find it difficult to be of much value to the soldiers. In some areas, especially the North, soldiers are well liked, and some places greatly disliked as Fort Bragg, N.C. Merchants are out to beat the soldiers out of every cent they can. I think each Post Commander should be allowed to run his post, in a manner so as to make the surrounding cities wish to have Army men visit them instead of the usual business visit.
Gov. should run houses of pleasure for the soldiers instead of letting them gather in town where chances of disease is greater, than if run by the Gov.
Unlike many of my buddies, I am very concerned with the defeat of the Axis, as I don't think democracy has a chance of working itself out if the Axis wins in the rest of the world. I am for world peace and am willing to die for it. If a decently equipped expeditionary force were to be sent to battle anywhere, I would volunteer. By the way, I think we should send volunteers as the Italians did to Spain, as fast as they can be well equipped, as it is wasteful to keep equipment here growing obsolete when it can be used elsewhere. But it is also worse than wasteful to keep men in the Army after they have learned all that they will learn, as their morale just goes down and down. They would rather be trained, sent home, and called when they have a job to do. I cannot understand why they said we must stay another 18 months when we haven't learned anything for the last six. But those who determine what is done to us do not seem to consider morale. They would do well to do so.

Feeling as I do about the war it is very disheartening to see the obvious faults ruining the efficiency of the Army and nullifying the efforts of so many. Many things that go on would be funny if they weren't serious. The dry runs, contradictory orders and obvious nonsense makes us lose confidence in our officers and respect for them. I want to point out two principal faults which hurt and limit our efficiency 1. Officers and non-coms are not chosen for promotion and are not ranked on merit alone. This length of service business is a luxury this Army can't afford. The best man for the job is the most efficient way and the privates can see it. It is bad when the privates can see what the generals won't admit, or do any-thing about. I mean bad for the morale of the men and officers. Of course, it is also bad, of course in lowering the efficiency of the units just because the officers don't know what they are supposed to know. It doesn't do men any good to be bossed by men inferior in every way except length of service. There is a way of limiting this as applied to non-coms. Tests for ratings might show up a lot of our present non-coms. In our company when some training tests were given the three year men, non-coms, got lower than any of the privates. But they are still non-coms and the privates are still privates. Men don't do their best when they know that they won't be promoted for being better than the men over them. 2. Communication of orders in the field and in camp suffer by the fact that the man who gives the orders does not put himself in the place of the man who carries them out, and does not give all the information necessary for the carrying out. If each man along the line got all the information and passed it on, the privates would know what to do and how to do it, but as things are now, many absurdities, much delay, many mistakes and, not the least important, much lack of interest, result from the fact that the man who has to do something doesn't know enough of the why and wherefor. And, this is encouraged rather than discouraged by the Army. It seems on paper a simple matter for a captain to ask a major, or a lieutenant to ask a captain, or a corporal to ask a sergeant a simple question to clarify an order. But the caste system is such that the captain may feel hesitancy about asking the major, or he is more willing to pass on an incomplete or ambiguous order than to presume to ask the major to
clarify something. Or else he is afraid he will appear ignorant if he asks. The same situation is true all the way down, and when the private may get up the nerve to ask the corporal (he has to ask, because there is nobody to pass on the ambiguous order to), the corporate naturally doesn't know the answer nor have the authority to make the decision. The difficulty is that a certain sanctity is attached to rank in the Army so that man to man relationship down the chain of communication is discouraged, and the clarity of orders suffers greatly. This is very important, and perhaps the reason why the Army feels it necessary to raise artificial barriers between ranks is that superiority of rank is not based on merit, of a commission, or somebody's pride, or the feelings of some inefficient men of long service. That kind of thing may be all right in peace time, but when everything is actually at stake as it is now, it is no longer harmless. The men are smart and they can see how they suffer by the inefficiency of the officers and the system, and it is bad for morale when they are kept in the Army to train other officers to carry it on.
Renovate the army all over again, prune the dead wood. I can stand Fayetteville, ill-fitting clothes, ad Infinitum, but I can't stand not having faith in the military prowess of this nation. That's how I feel - afraid of defeat.
What I dislike most about the Army is that in spite of all classifications & interviews, I have been put in a branch of service which I don't care for and in which my previous training does me no good.

Also I don't think it necessary to send soldiers to camps so far away from home. There are better ways of helping the railroads than letting the soldiers subsidize them. When a soldier goes home on furlough, he has to spend all his earnings for railroad fare and has nothing left with which to enjoy his vacation. I think it is high time we get our war & munitions industries working at 100% capacity. Too much time is wasted bickering over prices & wages. I am in favor of the gov't exercising full control over our vital war industries. Let the gov't fairly decide what the prices & wages shall be. Let's have some economists, rather than industrialists & Congressmen, run things for a while.
The prices here in town I know are too high. I always did believe in a man making a good profit but never thought that a man should be wealthy in 2 or three years especially from men who make $30 a month and haven't any where else to go. I also believe that especially now that we are at war all possible manufacturers should be for the army. I certainly would hate to face a modern equipped invader with the poor guns we now have. Most of the men I have talked to feel this way.
I personally think that war's still not necessary. An economic war would be advisable because the country hasn't a formidable army not an efficient army. I also feel that one son should be left at home and put on reserve.
This survey failed to ask the important question and that is the morale. Is it low or high? The morale was fairly good until the government broke faith with us selectees and slapped an 18 month extension on us after we were inducted for one year service. Myself and the fellows I associate with have practically no morale now. The prospect of going home on furlough is the only thing that puts any spirit at all into us. The question that should have been asked is this; what was your reaction to the 18 month extension and what effect did it have on the morale?
I can't see why a soldier has to pay a tax on what he buy in town. They even charge us tax when we go in a place to eat a meal. The government should cut this out.
They said we be in for a year. Lots of us came here on our own will. Like me I was married a year and half before I came in the army. I dont mind doing a year. I am needed at home. For instance taking orders from a eighteen year old non-com. They dont know a thing themselve Then they put us Yankee's down South. They can keep the South. the boy's don't want to fight Let England fight there own war. I will be a good soldier for a year, but if I have to stay longer than a year I They can say, he was a soldier. If Germany comes here She will be sorry she even came here. We want to go home after our year
(I think the system of promoting a PVT. to PFC should be by a written test instead of leaving it up to the platoon sergeant. My sergeant dosen't like me because I refused to lend him money on several occasions.) I've been second in command and acting squad leader for six months but I never got a P.F.C. rating. Others made the grade not because they are good soldiers but because they did the sergeant "favors" In a case like this it doesn't pay to be a good soldier when the sergeant makes it tough for you just because you wouldn't lend him money.
1 The attitude of certain non-coms who look upon (SSEM) [selective service enlisted men] as nothing at all.

2 They even hold grudges from little incidents that could be forgotten. 3 A few southern non-coms are still predjudiced against damn-yankees. 4 Should be some changes made of non-coms afraid of their jobs. 5 A log of privates being descriminated upon.
Concerning PX prices -- I feel that this should be a non-profit organization + except to cover the very slight overhead should sell at cost price. There is no reason why the PX should charge the same prices as stores in town where service is far superior + where overhead is much greater. The cutback to company funds is unnecessary. Expenditures from company funds should come instead from W.D. appropriations.

The movies should be non-profit making also. Service club should not show a profit the way they now do. In short it's the soldiers who has to bear these high costs of luxuries in the army which isn't right. The soldier is making a sacrifice + should not be the source of profits for any business on the post. This includes dry cleaning also. Movie prices in town too high. Intelligence of non-coms as a rule is low. They know their job but not much else.
Food at town cafes here at most places is either not good to begin with or not made properly. Back to the army now. When a person holds down an acting rating for eight months and his plattoon [platoon] leaders says he's doing fine don't you think it is being unfair to bring someone into that position take real rating first day.
Warned about 'war news but not afraid to fight, if necessary

Happy in army, but won't re-enlist after 3 years
I don't like many other soldiers like being so far from home. I've had one furlough (7 days) and 2 passes (these being for 3 days, one day at least spent in traveling) since being in the army. My only enjoyment since being in the army is when I've been home. We are told furloughs are encouraged according to the army book, but find that it isn't so. There are lots of times when we could be granted leaves without interfering with the progress of our army. Since we're 600 miles from home to start with and our period of time of being in the army is indefinite, I find that there isn't a thing left for me in line of enjoyment. My only enjoyment and biggest of all is getting home to see my family and sweetheart. My question is, Why haven't furloughs, when not interfering with progress of the army been granted let alone being placed in a camp 600 miles from home.
In general, I think that many men in the army are not assigned to jobs they are best fitted to perform. There are clerks who would make better infantrymen and vice versa but I suppose in an army of this size you cannot help it. I also believe that men who are the one and only child of their parents should not see actual combat but should serve in some other capacity. Judging from myself, I am sure they are not interested in what happens to themselves but they are thinking of their people at home. Killing an only child ruins the lives of three people since that is all their parents are living for.
I think all the fellows who came in the army under the selective service law and before it was changed to serve 18 months longer should be let out when this year is up. I myself although needed at home gladly came for one year. And another thing by keeping a man longer than a year it is going to break his moral down so that he will hate the government under which he is serving.