Letter to My Family

Letter to My Family: World War II

Dear Miss Silberman:

Enclosed is a letter that your brother gave me before he went to the front and he asked that I mail it in case he was killed. I sincerely regret that it has now become necessary that I mail this letter to you. It takes a real man in every sense of the word to be able to write such a wonderful letter. It brought me much strength and courage and I am sure that it will do the same for you. The letter needs no explanation.

Again I wish to send my deepest sympathy and earnest prayers to you and your family during these hours of your supreme sorrow. May God guide and strengthen you always.

Sincerely yours,

James B. Ansely (Capt.) AUS,

Battalion Chaplain

From William Silberman, PFC.
Somewhere in Italy

January 12, 1944

Dear Mom, Pa, & Sisters,

I'm sure I could express my thoughts better by writing a Jewish letter but time is so short and right now so very precious that speed is very essential. Now I'm going to write a lot of silly things so take it at its face value. If I come out of this alive you'd never receive it but if instructions are carried out accordingly it will be all over with me. I'm only taking this step so that you will all know that I went into this thing willingly and not reluctantly. I was always curious and in this case you would say curiosity was a factor in contributing to my death. Don't infer from I just wrote that I was slightly crazy because that would be very far from the truth. I was inducted because there was a war to fight and certainly that wasn't any of my doing. I believed that what I received was written in the cards and nothing would change it. You can also realize that as an American I had something to fight for and because I am Jewish I had something more to fight for. I wasn't going to let somebody else do my fighting for me. Anyway I figured that whatever fate had in store for me I wasn't in any position to change her plans.

I write this so you would know in what frame of mind I was in a day before my buddies and myself were scheduled to go to the front. I'm sitting at a table in a little Italian farmhouse, which is not far from the front. I'm not the only one writing and there are quite a few waiting to get a seat. I wonder if there is anyone else who has the same plans that I have, namely writing in the same view as myself. My morale is high and I feel that luck is with me but anything can happen.

This fighting business is only a lot of common sense and a lot of luck but I suppose luck was against me. I'm in a swell outfit and since being here have made a number of friends that I know I can count on and naturally vice-versa. Quite a few things might happen, Anne, so if its God's will I might still be alive but the chances are very slim if you are notified by the government. I want you to feel proud of the fact that I made the supreme sacrifice as they say and you can hold your head high knowing that I never did anything that would make you ashamed of me. I want life to go on as usual as far as the family is concerned and that Chuck comes home and you live a happy and normal life. I haven't any regrets that I can think of and know what life is. I know that it's going to be hard on Mom and Pa but I wish, I mean, I demand that they carry on with their life and not let my death in any way deter them from enjoying a peaceful life. It's hard to explain my feelings because I'm in the best of health right now and only pray to God to be able to write happier letters than this one.

I spent the day by being present at a gathering of our Battalion today and was thrilled by having General Mark Clark present the Congressional Medal of Honor to a lieutenant for doing combat that really deserves far better than that. Four other noncommissioned officers were also given the D.S.C. General Truscott was there too and so I feel that very seldom is such a ceremony possible to be seen by a soldier who just got under the wire in being assigned to an outfit. It really gave me a thrill. You'll probably see them in the News Reels.

Tonight I attended the Jewish Services conducted by a Protestant Chaplain. I was accompanied by a staff Sergeant and it relieved me a great deal. There were only twelve of us besides the Chaplain and he also took part in the Services. He's a swell guy.

If you think it's easy to end this letter you're mistaken but end it I must so again I'm begging you. Don't take it too hard and hold your head high. I'm going to do all in my power to do my job and to keep this letter from being delivered but as you see you wouldn't know anything about it if the unforeseen didn't happen.