July 22, 1942 William Shepard to home…


July 22, 1942

Dear Mom & Pop

Sure have been busy lately. We have been on K.P. and P.P. (common labor) for four days out of the last seven, and now they are making up for the lost time by cramming in our lectures and drilling. Dont feel bad if I write infrequent because we are busy.

I received your packages, and thanks a million. Those socks and underwear will come in handy

I don’t know where you can write me after the 26th of the month, but I’ll let you know, as soon as I can.

Mom, I appreciate the paper, but maybe you had better discontinue it. The mail facilities are overused here and I don’t like to see some boys not get letters because of the time that has to be spent on papers.

We have just about completed our Basic Training, and by the time that you receive this letter, we will have. We only have four weeks, where other branches of the service take twelve weeks.


We studied and practiced:

Military Courtesy
”  Sanitation
” Drill without arms
” Drill with ”
Gas warfare
aircraft nonelomature [nomenclature – thanks dad!]
Guard duty
Orientation lectures
and many other things, that one cant mention.

So far I think that I am doing alright. If I can handle men I will make out, and I’m not discouraged about that, because after you learn to take orders you can give them.

Love to everyone

Your son

Operation Torch…

hammraymondSgt. Raymond Fred Hamm was the eldest child of Emma Paugel and Fred Hamm. He was born on June 9, 1919 in Minnesota. According to his obituary he was baptized in Phelps, Vilas County, Wisconsin and confirmed in Wittenberg, Shawano County, Wisconsin on September 30, 1934. His early years were spent growing up and attending school in the Wittenberg area. He moved to Vergas, which is in Otter Tail County, Minnesota where in 1940 he is living in the same county with his father and brother Arthur all working as farm laborers. Sometime around late 1940 all the boys had moved to the area of Green Bay / Door County. Soon afterwards both Raymond and Arthur joined the Army, although Raymond waited until September of 1942.

After Raymond’s enlistment he was immediately sent to North Carolina for seven weeks of boot camp training, of which two weeks were dedicated to intense rifle practice.

After he arrived at the barracks he would have been fed then hustled off to ‘sick bay’ where all the men were inspected and injected, then ejected out the door to pick-up their paperwork, dog tags, IDs etc. They also had the pleasure of a free haircut, clothes, rifles and other necessary gear.

Raw recruits arriving in North Carolina on the trains.1

When Raymond’s boot camp training was over he was sent to Virginia. This happened, probably, sometime in late October. The transfer to Virginia was most likely because he and his fellow soldiers were getting ready to head to North Africa in November of 1942. Operation Torch was preparing for action.

Operation Torch was the British planned invasion of French North Africa, with the help of their new American Allies. The end goal was to clear out the Axis powers from the area so that the Allied powers would have better control over the Mediterranean Sea to prepare for a 1943 invasion of Southern Europe.2

The trip by sea took a little over 2 weeks. As I can find no information on Raymond’s assignment in the Army he could have been on any one of the three task forces seen on the map below, as American forces were on all three, according to the Wikipedia summary.


Whatever battles Raymond was involved in during Operation Torch, he survived to move with the Army to Tunisia, the next big event.3 According to the map below on the 6th of April in the southern part of Tunisia there was a battle that could possibly be the one Raymond was involved in where he was injured. (Unfortunately, at this time, I can find no record of Raymond’s service. None.)


If you have ever seen the movie Patton, the Tunisia Campaign is one of the major battles that they include in the story.

Raymond was seriously wounded April 6, and the next day, Wednesday, April 7, 1943 he died at the age of 24. He never married or had any children who can tell his story, as short as it is.


Because of the vast amounts of information on stories like this one, regarding Raymond’s North African service, I find it very difficult to condense them into a readable post, so be sure to check out the sources I have noted if you are curious about both the Tunisia Campaign and Operation Torch.

UPDATE: I have added a picture to Raymond’s brother Arthur’s post. I forgot I had it, so be sure to check it out.


1. http://ww2gyrene.org/boot_camp.htm
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Torch
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunisia_Campaign