Letters to a Lost Soldier: Camp Lucky Strike for recovered ex-prisoners of war

Dear Daddy,
(I originally wrote in May, 1945) I stopped by the Red Cross with a happy face. They were glad to hear the good news about your rescue from Germany and recovery at Camp Lucky Strike. You said you’d be there for several weeks while they treat your stomach aches and tender feet.
“So many of our boys contracted dysentery from the terrible food and sanitary conditions, and athlete’s foot from the long marches,” the Red Cross lady said. “Many of them are suffering from malnutrition. But, don’t worry. Your father will be fixed up like new before he comes home.”
They told me that the long voyage home on troop ships across the Atlantic, where the waters are choppy, caused some nausea problems for ex-Prisoners. “They want you to be over your ordeal before releasing you to come home. Ships need to be escorted to safety in U-boat infested waters, which takes logistical planning.”
They said the Red Cross gave out coffee, doughnuts, peanuts, apples, candy and ice cream in unlimited amounts to the ex-Prisoners and were told to stop everything but the ice cream. “The other items were not helping the men recover. Now they are dispensing cigarettes, razors, toothbrushes and other toiletries.” I hope you are not smoking at Camp Lucky Strike!
The ladies asked how you were captured and the only information I had from your short telephone calls with Mommy was that you were commanded with other soldiers to patrol behind enemy lines on the eve of the Battle of Metz. “The battle was delayed one day because of bad weather and you and your buddies were surrounded by more Germans than you were equipped to handle. They forced you to surrender.”
“They could have killed you, but instead interrogated you. When you and the other GI’s did not have answers, you were sent on a train to Berlin for more questioning. Since you were replacements and not informed about battle strategy, which you wouldn’t have divulged anyway, you were thrown into Prisoner of War Camps.”
Did I understand what Mommy told me? Did I give the Red Cross ladies the right information? I hope it was OK to tell them. The Red Cross was good about sending food packages when you were a Prisoner of War and also handing out supplies at Camp Lucky Strike. I think they are on our side except for the German Red Cross who double-crossed the American Jewish men by informing the Gestapo that you were Jewish.
I sleep better and don’t wet the bed any more now that I know you are safe and getting well. I am keeping my promise about being good. I clean up after myself in the bathroom, make my bed and tidy my side of the bedroom. I’m not talking back to Mommy and I’m being pleasant. It’s because I feel so good inside.
I am also doing very well in school. We are getting ready for a class picnic in the park now that the Chicago weather is nice. Our teacher ordered ice cream and dry ice and is looking for a wagon to transport our dessert as we walk to the park. I had donated my red wagon to the war effort, so I can’t help. I’m asking neighbors and my classmates are searching for a wagon. I never heard of dry ice before and am interested to see what it looks like. I thought ice was wet.
You said you get a vitamin pill at every meal and eat bland food. You can’t eat donuts, peanuts, citrus foods, cauliflower, cabbage and high-fat containing foods. We talk at home about shopping for the right foods so that you will be very healthy when you eat here with us. I look in Mommy’s cookbook, “The Joy of Cooking,” for egg recipes, macaroni and cheese, soups and bread. You said you missed bread and butter. Butter is rationed here, but hopefully not for long.
Please let us know what other foods you would like and are able to eat when you come home.