A&M flagpole

Journal Entries:

Spring, 1941

The photo at left was taken during a recent visit to A&M, but shows a scene Billy would have been familiar with; the flagpole base was erected in 1939, and the building is even older. The space here is where "Silver Taps" were, and are, played to honor students who have died.

April 14, 1941 — College Station

I begin this journal a few years before I had intended to begin it. I say it is a journal, a private journal of my life, to which I shall make entries from time to time. I begin it early because I feel that these next few years will have no little influence upon my life. Even as I write now a German war machine is sweeping across Europe. Holland, Belgium, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Norway, Luxemburg, Denmark, Roumania; all have fallen, and now the Greeks and Yugoslavians are fighting for their democracies.

We and the British are helping in their fight. Yes, Britain who stands as a mighty bulwark against the German onslaught, fighting desperately for her freedom. We in America realize that her fight is our fight and at the present time, the situation is grave.

The campaign in Greece and Yugoslavia which up to now was in favor of the Allies has taken a turn for the worse and the German legions are pressing dangerously near Suez, Britain's lifeline. The developments of the next few days and weeks will affect we in America as well as the people of the rest of the world.

But enough of history. This is as I said a personal journal of my life. I have been trying to show though that because of the present situation my life as well as the lives of many of my friends and fellow-men may be greatly influenced.

My life up to the present time I shall take a little at a time in following entries until I have summarized my life up to time, the present.

I am twenty now by almost a month, my birthday being March 21. I am a Freshman at A&M College of Texas. The Easter holidays are over and I am alone in my room at school. My room-mate Dellie Ray Voelkel has not returned from home as yet. The first part of my freshman year, my reasons for entering A&M I will discuss later. Right now I am a bit homesick. My mother (Mom) and my sister (Betty Jane) and a friend of mine (Waley Garrett) [1] along with his mother have just left me. I long for home a lot. The homesickness that I feel sometimes here at school almost tears my heart out, but above everything else in this world I want an education, and this is my chance to get it. That I may go out into this world and speak with educated men; that I may understand them and by doing so inject my personality into theirs and also improve and broaden my own by coming in contact with them; these are my reasons for wanting an education. When I speak I want people to listen. People won't listen and become interested in uneducated personalities and so here at A&M, I am endeavoring to prepare myself to these tasks. I am not altogether pleased with A&M. There is very much to be learned and digested here; there is also much to be chewed up and spit out, and there is also very much to be left alone entirely. All and all, though, I think I like the school pretty well. The entries to follow will not be made from day to day. I shall enter into this book events of my life at my own convenience.

April 15 — College Station

Uneventful day, but it served its purpose of curing my homesickness. I wrote to the Society for the Control of Cancer tonight. I think at last we are finding the answer, I pray God that we have. I believe I forgot to mention in my first entry that I am a Pre-Medic major here at A&M. Whether I shall continue along these lines or not depends on the present world situation and upon my own financial situation.

April 16 — College Station

A little low again today. The Greeks and British are still retreating. The President said today that the age limit on the draft may be changed to eighteen. Talk of equipping American merchant ships with arms is going on in Washington. Some of our ships are due to sail to the Red Sea with supplies for the Allies. Adolph has promised that all ships will be sunk. The President is said to be considering convoys for these ships. This will take American warships almost if not into the war zone. It seems that war is inevitable for us in America. It's only a matter of time, a year maybe two maybe months. I pray God that I'm wrong, but there is talk of it everywhere, it is common conversation and it is conversation that everyone understands. In one year I will be twenty-one and in one year I will have fulfilled all qualifications for a Randolph Field appointment. I hope that I shall have time.

Saw "Arise My Love" today; it was wonderful.

April 17 — College Station

Beautiful day today. 50 more days till summer vacation.

The English and Greeks are fighting fiercely and seem to be holding the Nazi to a certain extent any how. The war in Greece is bound to reach a crisis soon. If the Germans are victorious in Greece, war for the U.S. will surely be inevitable.

Quiz in Chemistry for tomorrow. My attitude toward chemistry has changed. I dread each hour that I have to spend in Chem classes. Five hour labs in one subject is entirely too much.

April 18 — College Station

Bud Ramsey is dead. I received a letter from Mom and Jerry (Clava) today. He died at sea after an emergency operation. Good old Bud, a true friend of everyone. Jerry in her letter today expressed I think what everyone feels about Bud: "He was so good and sweet and thoughtful." Yes, everyone was crazy about Bud. I don't know what boat he was on. He was stationed at Pearl Harbour, Honolulu. He was nothing but a friend, but I'll never forget him.

April 19 — College Station

Just in from a movie ("Kitty Foyle"). Shirley (Serg. Estes) is on his way up here. It will be good to have someone from home here.

April 21 — College Station

Shirley spent the night Sat. and stayed until 4:30 Sun. It was good to have someone from home with me. We spent hours just talking over the times we had in the 111th Observation Squadron. [2] We spent an hour at the airport, watching the planes and dreaming. I'm going to a dance given by the 111th on May 3rd. I have asked June to go with me.

April 23 — College Station

Another rainy day. I have a few quizzes coming up this week and the next. Chemistry worries me the most. After I finish the course I'm now taking, I think I shall drop Chemistry from my list of subjects. I have been expecting a letter from my mother. I guess we shall go to Bud Ramsey's funeral this Sunday. 44 more days until June 7.

I saw James Stewart and Hedy Lamarr today in "Come Live with Me." Very entertaining.

April 27 — College Station

Another week. Again I'm alone in my room at school, feeling much the same as I always do after a visit home. As the days roll along up here, away from home, I become convinced as I have always thought in the past that I possess a very complex character or personality. I experience such mixed emotions and feelings. I have ambition; I know I have, and yet I become discouraged so easily. Maybe it's normal and experienced by many boys of my age, but I have trouble (so much trouble) making up my mind. I am a Freshman in College and still I have not made up my mind as to my place in this world. I have felt all my life that I had a definite place in this world, but as yet I don't know. Hanging over me also, which makes my future still more uncertain, is one great if: War !

I thought I had the plan many times in the past. First it was Pet. Eng. Then the army and West Point. Then Aviation and Randolph Field. Then a secret desire, medicine, and one suppressed desire that has always been with me, actor. Also a deep desire for travel. So on this day in April, 1941, I, Wm. D. Lewis, have a very indefinite, uncertain future, but I do know this; that I was placed on this earth for a purpose and until this purpose has been filled I shall be looking, looking for the one job, the one position that I am to fulfill in God's name.

I feel that I shall soon know, I must!

The Greeks and the British are losing. The Allied campaign in Greece is hopeless. The German hordes, wave upon wave, are sweeping nearer & nearer to Suez !

April 28 — College Station

Correction on entry of April 27. The Greeks and British have lost, and a Nazi flag flys from the capitol of Greece at Athens.

Germany is trying to destroy the British power in the Mediterranean.

May 4 — College Station link to letter

Just got back from home. I and my room-mate are just getting ready to study (a little). I say a little because my mind is still in Houston. Gosh! but I had fun over the week-end. Dining and dancing at San Jacinto Inn and June, she was wonderful, prettier than ever and sweet too. I like that little girl very much, very very much. I have 33 more days to go and then I shall be making entries to this journal from dear ole' Houston.

The war situation is bad and so mixed up that I can't take the time to put it into writing, but history is in the making and it's a strange feeling to have this old world become so dark, so unknown and yet so real. The president of Harvard University said today that we in America had no alternative, that we should declare war against Germany tomorrow and speed to Britain's rescue. He said that each month that we wait we are prolonging the war three months.

May 9 — College Station

Only 28 more days.

Got a letter from June today.

It's funny how I wait for letters from that sweet little girl, me a confirmed woman hater; but I do wait for them and how.

Old Houston photoWar is near, so near that it sends shivers down my back just to think of it. Something happened in the Chemistry Laboratory today. A boy was making a thermite bomb when it went off prematurely and burned his face badly; his eyes especially are endangered. There was a loud explosion and then a boy screaming "Oh! Oh!" If war is anything like that and I know it must be even worse, I want nothing to do with it.

May 11 — Mother's Day — College Station

Mom, Ben, & Al [3] were here today. Swell day, needless to say.

26 more days left. We had a Mother's Day ceremony today and a review. We gave Ben (our captain) a watch and his mother and his girl pinned flowers on each of the men.

May 15 — College Station

Just got back from yell practice. Mob spirit, forced spirit, that's what it is. It makes me sick at my stomach.

May 28 — College Station

Nine days to go until Summer Vacation. Exam week, next week. My grades are pretty good, and I won't have to take all my exams. I have filled out my application papers for the C.A.A. flying course to be given at the University of Houston this summer. Flying is still in my blood.

The President delivered what will probably go down in history as the most important proclamation of his career. He extended the meaning of the Monroe Doctrine considerably, and defined to an anxious, waiting world the word "attack". History is in the making.

These are Billy's "report card" (on top) for the Spring, 1941 semester, and his academic credits report (below):

[1] More information about Waley.

[2] Click here for more information about the 111th

[3] Ben Stone and Alvin Wright

Forward to Fall, 1941

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