kestner-gate-r72

Ray Kestner

Jessica Kestner McMahon shared the following letters and postcards that her grandfather sent home while in the service. Ray Kestner was interned at Camp 59 in 1943 from March 1 to September 14.

On December 17, newspaper articles about Ray were posted to this site.

LETTER

[Fort Knox, Kentucky]

Dear Pappy, Mamy, and kids,

We finally arrived in Fort Knox at about 7:00 pm Fri. It took 39 hours to get here. While we were on the train we ate out of our mess kits. We had plenty to eat. The kitchen was in the baggage car.

It’s kool and cloudy here today. It sure rained hard last night. The ground is all red here except where there are trees. It’s kinda hilly around here and the buildings we are in are all new the same as at Snelling [Fort Snelling, Minnesota].

We have off from Sat. noon to Mon. morning, so I am just listening to the radio.

Yours with Love
Pvt. Raymond Kestner
Co. A, 10th Battalion
A.F.R.T.C., 4th Platoon
Fort Knox, Kentucky

LETTER

Nov. 19 [November 19, 1942]

Dear Folks:

I am now in Northern Africa in Algeria enjoying the country side as much as possible. We seen a little action at the port of Oran and fortunately came out O.K.

Today I had all my hair clipped off like everyone else. We cut each other’s hair and are sure a rough looking bunch with our sun tan skins.

Wine is very cheap. It costs about fifteen cents a quart in American money. I bought seventy five tangerines for a buck yesterday. Oranges, dates and olives are also raised around here. We have to use hand motions in dealing with the Arabs when we buy some thing because we can’t understand them and vice versa. There are also French and Spanish people around here but very few can speak English.

This letter is being written in a pup tent by candle light, so excuse please. I can hear the coyotes howls in the hills around here at night.

I hain’t got any mail from home for quite a while. Must be kinda cold by now back home. The nights are very cool here and the days hot. Any way I am catching up on all the sun shine I’ve been missing. We get plenty [of] good food so don’t think I am going hungry.

This morning I helped get a load of water at a near by oasis. There’s always a bunch of Arabs with barrels strapped on jack asses hauling water too. They must have to come a long ways as there seems to be a pretty good number of them.

Say hello to the rest of the relations and don’t worry about me. I never felt better in all my life.

Your Loving Son
Ray

LETTER

December 12 [1942]

Dear Folks:

I am in the hospital with a bullet wound in the left arm which explains the strange writing. No broken bones. I am also a prisoner of war and receiving fine treatment. I still have my prayer book and rosary and a few pictures from home which are my own possessions. The red cross is doing wonderful work over here. We even have white sheets on our beds. Each week we have parcel day which [is when] we receive packages with lots of good things in them. It helps out a lot.

Well, I hope all you folks back home are well, must be kinda cold there now. Hope you enjoy your Christmas. I hope to be home for the next one. “Merry Christmas and a happy new year to every one.”

Yours with Love
Ray

LETTER

[Undated]

Dear Folks:

Just a few lines to let you know I am getting along just fine. How do you like this messy writing? In case you didn’t get the first card, I am a prisoner of war and wounded in the left arm. We also have mass here in the hospital.

Yours with Love
Ray

POSTCARD

[Christmas 1942]

Dear Folks:

Just got back from Christmas mass. The Xray showed up a badly smashed bone, so I am now carrying my arm in a plaster cast. Everything is going just fine.

Yours with Love
Ray

POSTCARD

Jan. 17 [January 17, 1943]

DEAR FOLKS:

In good health. Still in plaster and feeling pretty good. I’ll sure be glad to get out of it in two more weeks.

Yours with Love
Ray

POSTCARD

[January 1943]

Well here I am in the hosp. [hospital] again with a bullet hole in my left arm. Nothing serious. I am a prisoner and receiving very good treatment. Don’t worry about me. Say hello to the rest of the relations.

Yours with Love
Ray

POSTCARD

JAN. 24 [January 24, 1943}

DEAR FOLKS:

Still in the hospital taking it easy. Conditions are better than you may think so don’t worry. Hope everyone at home is well.

Yours with Love,
Ray

POSTCARD

12/3/43 [March 12, 1943]

Dear Folks:

I am now at my permanent camp and in good health. I just got back from Ash Wednesday mass. We also have the rosary every afternoon. Hope you are in the best of health.

Ray

LETTER

March 12 [1943]

Dear Folks:

I am now at my permanent camp and in good health. We don’t have to work here [and have] all the leisure time we want. We received Red Cross parcels weekly which are a great help. [The] Life of a prisoner ain’t as bad as you might think.

I am anxiously waiting for mail from home, as I ain’t heard from you for over four months. My arm is completely well and doesn’t give me a bit of trouble.

I hope all of you folks at home are well. You have nothing to worry about in regard to me.

Yours truly
Ray

POSTCARD

Mar. 19 [March 19, 1943]

Dear Folks:

Just a line to let you know I am alright. During Lent I go to rosary every afternoon and communion every Sunday. Happy birthday to me.

yours truly
Ray

kestner-letter

LETTER

26 March 1943

Dear Folks:

No word from you yet. Hope you folks ain’t doing no worrying on my account. I am in the best of health and my arm is completely healed.

You must be having fine weather back home by now and it sure makes me miss my motor cycle. You will probably be out in the garden pretty [soon] so don’t work too hard.

By this time Johny must be a first class nuisance. So just remind him of me. He probably forgot all about me by now. Say hello to George and Mary, Al and Fran, and Rolly and Liz and all the kids.

Yours truly
Ray

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