September 11, 1943

September 11, 1943

Dearest Sweetheart:

Another week of work is completed and you’ll never know the joy that topped it off by the coming of your very sweet letter. I look forward more for the coming of the mail than any other thing, and especially your precious letters. You always write such newsy letters which make me feel I’m there with you. I started writing this letter in my room all alone and was looking forward to writing you a letter in peace and quiet, but my rabbi roommate just came in like thunder, for when he talks it’s in a half-shouting fashion, and he’s liable to burst out at anytime with something making it hard to concentrate on writing.  Besides this, I have to sit in clouds of smoke he puffs my way. Distraction to say the least. I’m convinced more and more a cigarette smoker is one of the most inconsiderate persons there are. If I could find privacy somewhere else I would surely go there, but such cannot be found.

The loose living among the Chaplains just makes my heart ache. Praise the Lord for the fact that I know better than that. I only realize how far short I fall of being what God expects, but by his matchless Grace I’m going to try and live more closely than I ever have before.

This evening my friend from Pennsylvania and I were invited out again for dinner to the same home we were before. We had a wonderful dinner. It is surely a wonderful Christian family. The father is dead, there are five children – 3 girls and two boys. One boy is in the Army  and the other is a chemist in a government Chemical Company. We met them at Tremont Temple Baptist Church.

I forgot to tell you about the service at Tremont Temple Baptist Church last Sunday night. The main Auditorium was filled with 3,000 people by 6:30 P.M. (Note the bulletin, service not scheduled to start until 7:00 P.M.) And Larimer Hall, another big room sitting around 600, was filled and they heard the service by loudspeaker. The service was underway by 6:35 P.M. I sat on the platform along with seven other Chaplains. It was surely a great inspiration to hear such a great gathering sing “He Lives.” As long I live I’ll never forget it, “Charlie” Taylor led the singing. By the way, the theme song of the young people at Tremont Temple is, guess what? “Wonderful Jesus.” It just thrilled my heart to hear them sing this great Chorus. It made me think of our young folks at East Moline and how we use to sing it.

“Charlie” Taylor’s brother Bob is going to Northern, or at least I think he’s still there. If you see him tell him I had a quite a visit with Charlie and told him about Bob at Northern.

Send my love to Julius Robert and Mrs. Mantry for me. Tell them I often think of them.

By the way, I got a very lovely letter from Nettie and she told all about Charlie applying for the Chaplaincy and being turned down.  I would be so glad to see them. They’re the kind of friends who are very few and far between.

The “no good,” photo of Willis. Chaplain School 1943.

Thanks for sending the pictures of Paul and Genevieve, they are very good. They sent me the same ones so I’m going to return them to you. I cut them down in size and carry them in my Bill-fold. By the way, the people who had us out to dinner tonight took a picture of me which is no good, but I’m sending it to you anyhow.

Louise Davis and her mother wrote me a very fine letter and they seem to feel that Rev. Calas wasn’t the man for the place either. Mrs. Davis said she thought they were in too big a hurry to call him, although they didn’t say how they voted. To be frank with you Dear, I’m a little skeptical about it myself but we’ll pray about it and perhaps everything will work out all right.

So the new insurance policy came through, does it look O.K.? As soon as you can conveniently get it paid and the loan all paid on the $3,000.00 policy be sure and do it. But by all means don’t run yourself short on funds. You mentioned the fact that you paid an insurance premium, was that the $1,000.00 Mutual life? My $2,000.00 Guardian Life Insurance policy comes due I believe Oct. 13. If possible, change this from semi-annual to annual payment, for this is the anniversary date of the policy. That’ll save us some money paying it that way. But please don’t run yourself short on money.  As soon as I find out where I’ll be stationed after I leave here, I’ll try and send you some more money. As it is I have to hang onto some extra to buy my ticket when I find out where my new station will be.

Well Darling, it is growing very late and I must close but let me remind you that I love you more all the time and continually praise the Lord for such a wonderful wife and co-worker in God’s great Kingdom program.

With All of my love,

because You belong to Christ,

Willis

Written on the side:

Hebrews 12:1-3

Col 3:3

Phil 1:3

September 10, 1943

September 10, 1943

Dearest Sweetheart:

I’ve just finished reading your very sweet letter which I eagerly look forward to every day. “Teacher” wrote me a very nice letter which I appreciated very much. I will not be able to write to her because of so much work but be sure and tell her I appreciated her writing me very much. By all means give my greetings to Vernon Ritter, he was one of my best friends while at Northern, and perhaps he told you his home is Valparaiso, Indiana.

Let me know who your teachers are for I would like to know.

There is nothing of interest to tell you since last night because all we did all morning was study and this afternoon drill.  We have to have a paper in tomorrow morning, so I want to get it finished and off my mind. Therefore, I’m going to go out and get a snack to eat and hurry back and get it finished. Tomorrow morning we have inspection first, then we have two classes in the morning and 2 in the afternoon.

Well Sweetheart, I love you more than ever and ever.

Ever yours in His great Love,

Willis

Psalm 26

Col 3:3

September 9, 1943

September 9, 1943

Darling:-

It was surely good to receive your two letters today and I was happy to have you tell me all about the conference. It made me think of all the other times I have been there.

Gas Mask Training. US Army.

This letter will have to be very very short because we have to go right back to drill as soon as we have something to eat. We’ve been drilling since 1:20 P.M. and I believe we are going to have gas mask drill tonight. We’ll probably go into the gas chamber besides marching in them for some distance. We drill until 10:30 P.M. tonight.

By the way, thanks for sending the M&M letter. I’m returning it to you, pay my part, I hope you haven’t sent the other in, if you have it’s O.K. That is $14.67.

Sweet, I must hurry out and get something to eat or I’ll have to bolt myself. I’m starved. So long Dear. I’ll try to write more later. I love you more all the time.

Forever in His Love,

Willis

Psalm 23

Second letter of the day

September 9, 1943

Dearest Sweetheart:

It is now 10:25 P.M. We arrived here at Perkins Hall from night maneuvers at 10:05 P.M. I took a shower and am now ready for bed but I wanted to drop you a few lines before I’m so tired that I can’t do anymore. I’ve surely had a long drilling session today and I’ve enjoyed it. I know I’ll be able to sleep with ease.

We marched between seven and eight miles tonight besides having training in camouflage and concealment and cover. It was a pretty moonlight night with a few clouds drifting lazily through the sky.

This afternoons note wasn’t much but I wanted to tell you in a few written words that I was grateful for your letters and that I loved you more than ever.

So Bob thinks I’ll be disillusioned in the Army. That may be true but I have peace that has come from knowing this is God’s will. I have found that it is possible to be disillusioned by anything. I like Paul’s words here, “I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content.”  I wish I wasn’t so tired and I would try to write you a long letter and explain to you my feelings. Of course, it’s necessary to have something for the boys to come back to. But if you could have had my experience here at Harvard for one week you would feel as I do, that if the men don’t have real spiritual help under the pressure of combat, they are surely not going to have much desire for the church no matter how much there is for them to come back to. There are many problems in the Army of course but there are many in the world also. And all the Army is is a group of men once civilians who are now under military discipline, but they still have the same “Old Self man,” and that’s where John 3:16-20 comes in and Luke 19:10. So much for that Dear.  All I can say is this, It’s such Joy and Peace to walk in the Center of God’s Will. This job of being a good Chaplain is tremendous. Of course, it is very easy to slide along, but if it pleases the Lord I’m going to work as hard as possible to represent Christ to my unit. The lack of separated living among the chaplains weighs like a mill stone on my heart as it does on other men’s hearts who really love the Lord and seek to please Him.

Lucky Strike Army Rations.

You mentioned it was funny so many Chaplains who have been in the service a number of years should be returned to Harvard for training, but remember many of them know nothing of modern warfare and as officers are expected to know it even though they are officers.

Well Darling, I’m so tired and must close for now. It won’t be long before 5 A.M. It’s been hard writing this for my priest and rabbi roommate having throwing up such a cloud of smoke that I was wondering if I were writing to you from a pool hall.

Darling, I love you so much more than ever.

With  All My Love in Him,

Willis

Col 3:1-4

Written on the back:

September 10- Friday morn 5:15 A.M.

I’ve shaved – took a bath and it is now about time for morning report. I love you more than last night Dear.

With all my Love,

Willis

September 8, 1943

September 8, 1943

Dearest Sweetheart:

We had a long hike today and had some drilling in covering and infiltration. I enjoy it and was able to do it all but many of them didn’t do so good. Cigarettes, cigars and alcohol have their own story to tell when endurance is required.

Letter from September 8, 1943.

We just got back and all I had was one letter from Paul and Gen. Which of course was most welcome, but I missed not getting a letter from you Darling. I know it’s due to mail which is very often held up because of inexperienced help.

Paul and Gen sent me some snapshots which are really good and I’ll surely cherish having them with me. Paul says he has definitely decided not to go to school, he says that he cannot explain why but feels he should not. He is a mature Christian and is seeking God’s help so I’m sure the Lord will lead him aright. Naturally, I wish we had him in full time service for the Lord but perhaps God has a great work somewhere else for him to perform.

They called Rev. Gerry Calas of Turner, Kansas last Sunday. We must remember them in prayer as they (the church) begin this new relationship. The vote was yes – 44, no-8, and two blanks. I’m happy they have not waited too long for calling a man. I’m sure now the work will carry right on without a let down.

By the way, you mentioned in yesterday’s letter that you would send my old miniature picture of you if I wanted it. By all means I want it. I’m getting very lonesome to have it in a place where I can see it. Don’t send the frame.

Have you registered at Northern yet? If so, let me know what you are going to take.

I have a lot of typing to do tonight so I want to do it and not get behind on my work. Well Sweetheart, remember I love you more all the time and will be anxiously waiting for tomorrow’s mail call at 5 P.M., for then I’m sure I’ll have one and maybe 2 letters from you my sweet.

May God Bless you Dear,

With All of My Love,

Willis

Written on the side

Philippians 3

And Psalm 22

September 7, 1943

September 7, 1943

Dearest Sweetheart:

Your precious letters arrived today and I was so very happy to read them, for they mean more to me than I can tell you.

Because of a lot of work this letter will necessarily be short but remember my love for you is the exact opposite which if written would take volumes.

Thanks for sending the M&M material. I don’t see why they sent it to East Moline. We had informed them of the change of address and the fact I was going into the Army. Pay $13.26 and return the other to them and see what they say. (Note: I made 1522 my official on M&M and all Army applications).

Thanks for sending the N.S. News. I love to look over the news.

Postcard of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. Where Willis attended Seminary.

By the way, the Lord laid it on my heart to send Stan & Letha some money as a part of my tithe so I sent them a check (insured) for $10.00 today. Remember, now it’s from both of us cause in the note I enclosed with it I told them it was from us. I still remember the cost of getting started to school and I’m sure that God meant for them to have it by way of us and because He has blessed us so very much.

Glad you heard from Paul & Gen but I’m convinced that Paul should not give up the idea of coming to Northern. But even if they are not able to get started until the second quarter, he should continue to look forward to full time service. I believe this is a time of testing and God is seeing how really willing they are to step out even though the future is unknown. We, that is our nation, needs men with hearts aflame with the love and passion of Jesus Christ. I know the Lord’s way is best and I’m convinced God will open a door in the near future.

You must have had a great time at East Bay. I thought of you many times.

I must close, eat and then do some studying before tonights drill.

                                                                                                                                        With all my love because

                          You belong also to my Savior,

Willis

Psalm 20

Col 3:1-4 I love you more & more.

September 6, 1943

September 6, 1943

Dearest Sweetheart:

I’ve just returned from having my evening meal. I noticed the paper and bought one to send to you the picture in it concerning Churchill’s surprise visit for a degree at Harvard. The one I wrote on is especially good, from this picture you can see how close I was to him, the only difference being that I was a little to his left and not to his right as the point from which this picture was taken. As you will note from the angle of the picture, he was standing on steps just above the level I was on in front of the Harvard Memorial Church.

Churchill at Harvard 1943.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy one, classes in the morning including an examination in “Army Morale,” and drill all afternoon until 10:30 P.M. tomorrow night with the exception of enough time for our evening meal. I’m not sure but our drill after the evening meal will either be a night march or a study in finding locations that will be given to us by degrees and so far from certain permanent land marks.

Well Sweetheart, I must close for now but remember I’m loving you more all the time. The Lord bless you greatly in measure to your faith and trust in Him.

Ever yours in His Love,

Willis

Philippians 4th chap.

Good Morning Darling:-

I’m sending a miniature picture for you today and 2 other pictures in a folder, the smiling one is for you, please give the other one to Normans for me.

Thank you dear, I love you more than ever.

With All my love,

Willis

September 5, 1943

Willis did not write a letter on September 5, 1943 but instead wrote 2 letters on the sixth of September.  The first one is here and the next will be posted tomorrow.

Stationary:  First Baptist Church Moline, Illinois

September 6, 1943

Dearest Sweetheart:-

Today has been a day of a lot of events. Of first importance is the fact that I got a letter from my Darling wife and it was so very sweet.  I’m so glad you had such a nice time before Prayer meeting with the Lord in the auditorium. It is really wonderful to be quiet and feel Him so near. Darling, I as you want to be a better husband when it’s all over than I was when I left you and by God’s grace I will be. It’s very very hard being away from you sweetheart but I wouldn’t have it any other way, for I’m convinced that it’s God’s will and I have peace now in my heart that I definitely did not have since last January.

No Dear, the Army does not tell us what to preach. That happened to be an assignment of one of the teachers and involved the problem of dealing with men involved in sex indulgence. The speech was to be an indoctrination message to new recruits, as far as I know I got along with it O.K. Here’s hoping. Our two new courses are an Advanced Course in “Chemical Warfare.”

Sweetheart, when anyone asks you how I like it here at Harvard you can inform them that I think it is wonderful and what experience I have had all ready money could not buy. The thing, or rather the reason, I’m enjoying it so much is this – I know it’s God’s Will and the rough spots are made sweet by the fact that it pleases Him. There are many things I would love to tell you but I will reserve that for a time when we are together. I will mention this however and you can see a little of what I mean when I say we need the weight of a man of Paul’s convictions in the ministry. “Last night one of our Chaplain brothers was picked up and held by the Military Police because he was unable to take care of himself having had indulged in the drinking of too much hard Liquor.” All I can say is poor soldiers, to whom he ministers. “What an education!” Well, I’m getting it and they don’t grant degrees for it either, except that it makes me want to know the Lord Jesus more than ever.

Winston Churchill at Harvard – September 6, 1943.

And personally that I believe is greater than a PH. D or any other equivalent degree from this school or any of like standing. I’ve seen men here who’ve gone as high as they can in the academic field who are spiritual icebergs as far as the Word of God is concerned. The main thing is to know Him and be found in Him (Phil 3:9, 10) and the power of His might. There are a few very spiritual men in our school. Pray for them to be anointed with the Holy Spirit’s fire that when they reach their new camps that they’ll lead men to the feet of Christ and the salvation He provides for those who believe.

I’ll bet you can’t guess who I saw today? Well, I had the privilege along with 10,000 other service men here at Harvard of seeing Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  Harvard granted Churchill a Doctor of Law’s degree today and I was able to have the privilege of witnessing his message, Conants’ (pres. Of Harvard) granting the degree, and seeing Governor Saltonstall of Massachusetts, Admiral King of the Navy who is head of the Atlantic fleet. Churchill’s Minister of Information was with him, his wife and daughter Mary and several other high ranking officers in the British Army. I was privileged for out of the 10,000 or more service men here at Harvard for the Navy, Army, and Marines, I was chosen along with 23 other men of the Chaplains school to make up the front guard, so you can see I was very close to Churchill.  Men were chosen from the Navy also and waves as guards. All together there are around 150 of us who were front guards. All 10,000 gathered in Harvard yard, so you can see it was really something. Some of them were so far away that they couldn’t tell for sure which was Churchill but I was as close as anyone could be, except his immediate party, British generals, and American high ranking officers. So much has happened lately that it almost seems I’m dreaming. I have to pinch myself to really see if it’s true. I never dreamed I would see Churchill and never so close. There are people who would have given $100.00 to stand as close to him as I did.

Well sweetheart, there is a lot of studying to do tonight. So long for now.

I love you more all the time.

In Him forever dear,

Willis

Psalm 18-19

Written on the side:

Give the Norman’s my love and I’ll try and get a minute or so to write them a note.

September 4, 1943

September 4, 1943

Dearest Darling:

On Saturdays we get mail at noon and I was really disappointed not to get a letter from you. But knowing that mail service is uncertain because of so great a volume and the problem of help, I knew you had a letter in the mail for me somewhere.

Our schedule was somewhat turned around today. Inspection came in the morning instead of the afternoon as last week.

Several of the men wanted me to go down to Tremont Temple to the service men’s center with them tonight, but I felt I should stay home and do some studying and typing. That’s what I’m going to do when I finish your letter and get a snack to eat.

A fellow just notified me that there was a special Delivery letter downstairs for me and you know who it was from? My Darling Wife and Sweetheart.

Sweetheart, thanks for all your patience and trouble trying to find a watch for me. I realize they are hard to get and only since I wrote to you last did I find out that it is impossible to get American made wrist watches. A Swiss watch is perfectly all right, and I will be glad and happy with whatever one you think is best because it’s from my most precious heavenly and earthly possession, I say heavenly advisedly, for you belong to the King of Glory and we are his together for all the ages of ages. Dear, I wish I could express to you in words just what peace that thought gives me in my heart and mind.  I think the watch you said Mr. Abernathy could get would be very fine. If it isn’t too much trouble for him to get it I would surely appreciate his acquiring it for me.

By the way, I’m confronted with another need which I will have to have when leaving Harvard and that is this, a small trunk, which they call “foot lockers.” It is impossible to get one around here. In that the Chief is so good at finding real buys maybe he can help locate one in Chicago. If possible, it should be made of sheet steel or a strong enough composition that it will be impossible to cut it open with a sharp knife. I’m sorry to cause you trouble like this to no end, but see what the possibilities are and let me know. Be careful, some of the fellows here have been really “roped in on the prices they paid for them.”

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

I suppose you’re having a grand time at Lake Geneva now. I can close my eyes and see all of you having such a good time by the waters which are hallowed ground in my memory. May this retreat prove to be a time of great refreshing to your heart and soul.

Yesterday I got the check for the uniform allowance from the government. And this noon I got a bank draft for the $250.00 and am sending it on to you. If you have any needs be sure to let me know and I’ll do my best to help you.

Have you heard from Paul & Gen lately? You’ll never know how much I miss them. Such wonderful friends are one of our Heavenly Father’s greatest gifts.

Well Darling, I must close now and get something to eat. God Bless you and Keep you, in all ways.

Forever & ever yours in His All Glorious Love,

Willis

Psalm 121

And forever Col 3:3

September 3, 1943

September 3, 1943

Dearest Sweetheart:

I’m so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open, I ceased thinking quite a while ago. I typed some notes and now I want to write you a few lines before I go to bed. It was surely wonderful to get your sweet letter Darling. I can’t understand why you didn’t get a letter from me because I’ve written to you every day but one and that was last week. I’m glad you got the box of candy, I had begun to think it was lost for I mailed it a week ago last Monday.

Darling, I hope something can be found, we will keep trusting the Lord and we know that what He wants is best. I’m still convinced after praying and thinking much about it that Paul should start at Northern.

So Kitty thinks I should try and convert the rabbi? Well, she doesn’t know what he’s like. He’s really a quite liberal thinker in everything including theology.

The thing Mr. Paul mentioned is surely very true of General Montgomery.

The wind was coming directly off the ocean till noon today and it was really cold, but around noon the wind changed and it became quite warm.

Army training. 1943

The drilling is really getting the best of a lot of the men, but I enjoy it very much. It’s a little hard at first, but today I was able to do all the different movements with only a couple of errors. We have a lot of colonels, majors and captains who have been in the service as Chaplains for a long time, some of them served during World War I, and they all agree this is the toughest schedule they have been through yet. You see, all Chaplains are required to go through Harvard for training no matter how high their rank or no matter how long they have been in the Army as Chaplains. We have Chaplains from every battlefront in the world in our school.

Well Darling, my eyes just won’t stay open much longer so I will close for tonight. But remember, I love you more than ever in spite of this poor letter.

With all of Love forever in Christ,

Willis

Psalm 13

Matthew 11:28-30

Written on the side:

P.S. Saturday morning 5 A.M. Just a line to tell you that I’m so grateful that God has made it possible for us to have Eternal life, only then will I have enough time to tell you how much I love you Darling.

September 2, 1943

September 2, 1943

Dearest Sweetheart:

It was so good to have your letter waiting for me after drill, and I was so glad to see your proofs. I will pick them and send them right back to you so you can get them as soon as possible, for I’m pretty lonesome without a good picture of you. After having your other picture so long that I carried with me everywhere, I find it pretty hard not having one of you to look at and have my heart say to me, “Willis there is your greatest possession this side of Jordan.” Darling, words fail me when I attempt to describe to you how much I really love you. All I can say is each parted hour only leaves a bigger place in my heart for you. These words like the waters that go cascading over Niagara Falls keep resounding in my heart, “Oh, such wonderful Love and such a wonderful Lover.” Concerning the pictures, I like #3 the best because it’s so very natural. And then I would like to have one of #2 finished in black and white.

Sarah and Willis cut their wedding cake on June 30, 1942.

On guard duty, I do not have to carry a gun. Here are some of courses of studies thus far, Chemical warfare, Army Administration, Military Courtesy and Discipline, Infantry drill and Army formations, Army Morale, Practical Duties of a Chaplain, Map Reading and Military Law or Court Martial.

Concerning the picture that was in the times: Write to Mr. David Gordon, The Daily Times, East Moline, Ill. I’m glad you are going to be able to go with Ruth and Joe. Remember us, we are going to be drilling and studying, no time off whatsoever.

Earl likes the army, of course there are a lot of problems.

Paul and Gen have a hard decision to make but I feel definitely Paul should now prepare himself for the ministry. Of course it’s hard with the children, but Darling you would realize more than ever the need of Godly Men if you could see, hear and know what I’ve found out thus far in my short time here at Harvard. Paul and Gen have just what God can use to be a servant of influence and power because they are willing to trust in the Lord.

Forget the application about the girl to Augistana, I never heard of her.

Give the rear view mirror to the Chief as a gift from us, he might as well have it and use it.

If the Chief is going to investigate about a watch, be sure to remember it must be shockproof – waterproof and a dial to be read in the dark.

Well sweetheart, I must close for now, get something to eat and get to my studies.

Yours Forever in Our Savior’s Love,

Willis

Psalm 11 and 12

Written on the side:

P.S. I got a nice long letter from Mrs. Frank Powell. I also got a card that my pictures are ready. I’ll send them to you soon.

I love you Dear.