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The Henry Swan Papers

Letter from Henry Swan to his first wife, Mary Fletcher pdf (5,252,919 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Henry Swan to his first wife, Mary Fletcher
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
11 (5,252,919 Bytes)
1943-04-01 (April 1, 1943)
Swan, Henry
[Swan, Mary Fletcher]
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Exhibit Category:
Medical Training, Wartime Surgical Experiences, and Early Career, 1935-1949
Box Number: 16
Folder Number: 4
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Personal and Biographical, 1936-1995
Folder: [Scrapbook, 1939 July-1943 Dec]
April 1, 1943
Dearest Fletch,
Well, I've been here 24 hours and already it's a long story. We may as well start at the beginning, as there seems to be no likelihood of getting to an end.
The night I arrived here are (about 1 mo. ago) I reported in to the O.D. who found me a temporary room. I ate at the Officer's Club as mess closes at 6:00 p.m. Spent the evening nursing my feet and reading.
Then today began. We eat breakfast around 7:15. Then began
a long round of reporting here, reporting there, signing this, getting fingerprints taken, etc. and etc. I walked about 10 miles from one corner of the [ . . . ] to another. Even had my blood typed and got my first injection.
Accomplished the following things of particular and direct interest to you.
1. Am having my pay check sent to the Brookline Trust Co. All of it goes there. I will have to draw-checks here for things and money. Therefore, please send me my Brookline Trust Co. checkbook.
My pay amounts to 283.67 a month. I should get a small check for March (I served two days in March). When my April check comes in at the end of the month it should contain the following: a) 283.67 - pay b) $250.00 - uniform allowance. c) ? - travel allowance.
For purposes of accounting on your part I suggest the following:
a) I had $44.15 cash when I left Boston.
b) Start an account in the book called Henry Swan - Army expenses. Put in that account all the checks which I make out and which you will receive back from the bank at the end of each month. I will keep (I will try anyway) an itemized account. But you won't
have anything but the lump sum.
c) The only exception to this rule will be any big checks I may write for specific things (i.e.- clothes or equipment, food, etc.) For the first one of these, please note a check for $24.60 made out to post-exchange - spent for uniform equipment).
d) while I am thinking along these lines:
1) Please let me know for a while when paychecks come, in what amounts, and if everything is going okay as regards their deposit and correct credit etc.
2) When the time comes for you to move to Denver, or where ever (and more of that anon) we must arrange a new bank account there (joint) so I can arrange a change of arrangements re: pay.
2) I find that I am not yet in the 4th Auxiliary but in the Med. Replacement Pool, "pending further orders." However, my orders here read "this officer is to be trained for the 4th Auxiliary Group." In other words, my present stay is a sort of basic training period of unknown length, following which, unless some hitch or slip-up occurs, I will be assigned to the 4th Surgical. Don is in precisely the same boat. Bernie, however, is assigned directly to the 4th Auxil.
Unless some cataclysmic mix-up occurs and Don and I get sent to Peoria by mistake, there seems to be considerable advantage to our set-up as contrasted to Bernie's. The [ . . . ] General is a big general Hospital; with it is associated a Technician's training school, the 4th Auxiliary, and a Replacement Pool. In other words, 4 different groups of army officers are here:
1) Staff of the hospital - more or less permanent.
2) Staff of the training school - ditto.
3) M.R.P. - highly fluctuating personnel - come and go. But while here, assigned to ward work, assisting at operations (etc. etc.- i.e. working with patients).
4) 4th Auxiliary - quarters in "Little Siberia" at some distance from general Hospital Boards - spend time drilling, fatigue duty, first aid training and many other pursuits--Have nothing to do with patients. Their routine entirely different, and unassociated with the Hosp. routine.
Map of LGH--
The following facts about the 4th aux seem pertinent.
a) It has to date only about 35 officers==it needs 130; 100 enlisted men--needs 200; no nurses--needs 75.
b) It has only been going about one mo--no equipment yet, etc.
c) We will probably take 4 or 5 more months at best before it is called out. Maybe less, but previous experiences don't indicate such. (The 2nd took nine mo's to go).
d) The training there, while distinctly a toughening up regimen, is not much fun after a while and indeed, many bad psychological problems apparently arose near the end at the 2nd.
All this being so, (if it is so) Don and I here at the Hospital should if things work out well, have
probably got a good thing, providing no slip-ups occur in our being transferred to the 4th later on. We will have 4-6 or 8 weeks of hospital work, then roughly a similar amount of the real work with the 4th then off we go. Let's hope it works out that way. If it does, it offers the possibility of your coming down here in a while anyway this summer.
Various odd items:
A. The food here is definitely excellent, and costs me $1.05 a day. Breakfast today: orange juice, grapefruit, cakes, bacon, one egg - coffee. Lunch: roast beef, lima beans, spinach,
tomato salad, milk, hot rolls, plenty of butter etc. etc. If you think I'm going to lose wt. while I'm here, you're crazy. Undoubtedly will do so later on in the 4th.
B. My shoes will be allright. Feet as a whole no longer hurt, but have certain areas where blisters are, etc. These will toughen up.
C. Weather excellent: warm during day - sunny and lovely. Cool at night.
D. Atlanta is a hot-bed of beautiful women, the boys all say. They should know - apparently everybody from the hospital goes in almost every day.
E. I am assigned to a ward working under a Major Pratt. It is the officer's ward. My functions
are not at all clear to me yet but seem to be chiefly learning how to fill out the proper forms in triplicate. More of that anon. Working hours: AM 8:30 - 12:00; AM 1:30 - 4:30 daily.
And, now to bed. If tomorrow is anything like today, I think I shall find a pair of roller skates.
It would save my writing arm considerably if you could forward parts 2 and 3 of this letter to Mom and Pop so they can know about the set-up.
Lots of love darling.
PS. Lots of love to you too, Mom and Pop.
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