My uncle, Philip E. Bergquist, served the USA at 5th Army Headquarters from October 1943 until October 1945. These stories about his colleagues come from letters he sent home from Italy to his family.
Pvt. Leonard Enelow from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania arrived at Fifth Army Headquarters sometime in May of 1944. But it wasn’t until 5 December 1944 that much more was written home about this young man. At that time, Philip wrote:
There is a fellow here in the office—Leonard Enelow is his name and he owns the “Enelow shoe Company”—that offered to get some shoes for us sent from home if we wanted them, so, practically everyone in the office bit. I don’t know if I can describe them to you or not but they are called “Loafers” and are really very comfortable on the feet. They are OK to wear around the office but aren’t good for much if you are outside where it is wet or muddy. Incidentally they only cost $1.60 plus 19¢ postage—very economical eh? Well, anyway, Leonard is really a swell fellow and he would do anything he could for you if you asked him.
Just a few weeks later, Philip wrote to his brothers indicated that “practically everyone here in the office has ordered paratroop boots from Leonard Enelow (he is the fellow who owns the shoe store). It will probably be at least three (3) months before we receive them.” Leonard is next identified when Philip writes home on 25 January 1945 about a group photo that was referred to as “The Road to Rome.” The photo had been sent home earlier, but in this letter the men were all listed by name. Leonard was identified as 12th from the left in the back row, now a PFC, having been promoted since the photo was taken.
Leonard was paired up with Robert Moran in February of 1945 when groups were sent for five days temporary duty at a division or regimental headquarters. By the time Philip was writing home on 30 May 1945, again identifying people in a group photograph, Leonard Enelow, was now the rank T/5, having been promoted the week before.
It was Philip’s letter dated 5 June 1945 that described their first adventure together:
Leonard and I started out for Brescia. We got a ride with an APO truck and when we asked him where he was going, he said to Milan. We asked him if he was coming back again and he said, Yes, that he would be back about 6 o’clock so we asked if we could ride along with him. Well anyway, we rode all the way to Milan (about 70 miles) and stayed there about 10 minutes, then we turned right around and came back. I did see the place where Benito and his mistress were strung up.
Just five days later, there was another letter and another adventure:
I had a full day off Thursday so Wednesday night, at 4 p.m. (I skipped the office an hour early) John, Leonard & I started out for Milan. We got a hop with a truck from the 442d Inf (the Japanese Boys) from here to Brescia and after about ½ to 1 hours wait we got another ride with some Brazilians in a ¾ ton the rest of the way to Milan. We arrived at 2210 just 20 minutes too late to eat in the GI Restaurant. We went to the IV Corps billeting office and they gave us passes (Frpl) for a night’s stay in the Fifth Army Enlisted Mens’ Hotel. Boy! It was pretty nice. They had twin beds in the room with thick mattresses, sheets, pillows, etc. and had two cots with mattresses, sheets, and pillows. We let Leonard have on bed, as he is the oldest, and John and I drew for the other. John won. I slept on the cot. The next morning we went downstairs to the dining room and had cooked cereal, fresh fried eggs, bacon, hash browned potatoes, tomato juice and toast, butter, and coffee with an Italian Waiter in a long coat serving it to use. (Boy! Did we have it made !) We spent the morning walking around town and took a ride on a streetcar from the center of the city to the outskirts and back through the city to the outskirts on the other side and back to the center of the city again. The conductor said it was 23 kilometers (round trip). It’s free to soldiers. (1 Kilometer equals 5/8 of a mile)
We went to the GI Restaurant about 12 for dinner and had Pork Chops but the rest of the food wasn’t so hot. We then decided to go back to the hotel as we had seen the menu on the bulletin board the night before and it had looked darn good although we couldn’t remember what it was. We went up to our room and layed down for about a half hour and then we went down for our second dinner (don’t tell me, I know I’m a chow-hound!) here we had Ham with all the fixings, and everything was cooked swell. What a difference it makes when you only have to cook for a few instead of hundreds. You see people with day leave passes aren’t supposed to sleep there overnight but the Corporal at the Billeting Office was very nice (There were no officers around at the time) and he let us stay. Otherwise, if we had found a room or something, we wouldn’t have had any breakfast. We walked around some more after dinner and then started aback about 3 o’clock. We thought we could get a ride with a fellow from the APO (I told you about him before) but he had discontinued going to Milan the day before. We stood on a street corner and finally an enlisted man and a Captain came along in a jeep. They took us, by way of the Autostrada (a beautiful straight, modern, and well build road, with no crossroads –all overpasses and underpasses—something like the Merritt Parkway) half way to Brescia-I can’t think of the name of the town. We waited a little longer and another jeep came along driven by a 1st Lt and a M/Sgt who took us right into Gardone and deposited us right in front of the building at 6 p.m. (We got our first hop out of Mila at 4) We were back in time for supper and also in time for an enlisted men’s party held at the officer’s Mess that evening.
Leonard left on 26 July 1945 for the seven day tour of Switzerland that was arranged for many soldiers. (Philip took this tour later in the year and wrote a 10 page letter home about what he did each day.) By Philip’s letter dated 28 August 1945, it was time for an adventure. In Philip’s words:
Sunday afternoon the Colonel asked John—did I ever tell you that John Richardson is now the Colonel’s driver—to deliver some things for him up at Stresa, on Lake Maggiore—about 50 or 60 miles northwest of Milan, and he told him he could take someone with him if he wanted. As it so happened I was fortunate enough to have Sunday Afternoon off–I was supposed to have the whole day off, but there was too much work to do—so he invited me to go along with him. Leonard Enelow also went along. I’m telling you, it was just like going out for a ride on a Sunday afternoon back home. The Car is German but it is one of the better German cars and it rides very nicely. The highways are really superhighways most all the way and when you get up towards Stresa the country is beautiful. If you have a map you will notice that the lake runs into Switzerland and that the town of Locarno, where I spent my last night in Switzerland, is located on the edge of that very same lake. (I think I have the name of the lake spelled right—I don’t have a map myself). On the way back we stopped in Milan for supper at the GI Restaurant and then went to a movie. We didn’t get back here until 1 o’clock in the morning.
In Philip’s letter dated 10 September 1945 he describes Leonard as “getting ready to go home this morning. He is 35 years old and has 2 years’ service.”