The Higginbotham Brothers of East Texas -
The Home Front
Homefront, page 1
After Murphy was wounded he was evacuated to a hospital in England. Since it
wasn't too far from Merrion's base, Merrion was able to visit whenever he
could. The letters reveal how close Murphy came to losing his leg - and how
the "new wonder drug" penicillin saved it. Letters appear as they were
written - transcribed by Maurice Higginbotham.
(Letter from Murphy to us dated November 1st.)
"Well, I am going to try to get a pass to see Sim this week. I shore hope I
get one. Well I guess it is starting to get cold there now ain't it? I bet
the wild ducks are going over about now. I shore wish I was there to shoot
at them. I think I'll put me up a 90 MM anti-aircraft gun when I get home
and see if I can't hit a few, ha ha. Boy, I wish I was there to clean up on
(Another Letter in same envelope from Merrion to us, while Murphy was still
"This leaves me just fine for the present and in extra high spirits as
Murphy is here with me. He got a two day pass and came to see me. We have
sure enjoyed ourselves too, and got to spend almost two days together. He is
getting around better all the time. I got to show him around our base and
show him our planes, and introduced him to all the fellows around here, who
really sit up and took notice. They all had a lot of questions to ask him."
(Letter from Murphy dated October 8, 1944)
"I managed to get a pass for 48 hours, so I came up to Ipswitch to see Sim.
Boy! it shore is good to be able to see him. It reminds me of home a lot."
(Letter from Murphy to family, dated September 18, 1944)
"Sim has gone back now, and boy it shore is lonesome here since he left. But
I intend to see him again as soon as I can get a pass. We took some pictures
while he was here. Boy, he is shore looking good."
(Letter from Sim to family dated September 16, 1944)
"I got your letter of September 4th last Sunday with Murphy's address (at
the hospital) So, I checked up and found where he was located, and left the
same afternoon. I got within 25 miles from where he was, but couldn't get a
ride of any kind until the next morning, but I got there about 11 o'clock.
he was really surprised to see me, but believe you me, it was good to see
him again, and especially to see him improving so well"............"At
first, they thought they would have to take his leg off. You see, it was so
long before they really could treat him, as it should have been, and the
doctor said that when he first got there it was such a dirty wound, and had
gas gangrene. But, they started treating him with the new "wonder drug"
penicillin and it brought him around ok."
(Letter from Murphy, no date)
Mother, Dad and brother,
"Say, what do you know. Sim came over to see me again. He didn't get to stay
long, but, it shore was nice having him here. Me and him went to town last
night and drank a few brews, and shore had a good time talking over the good
"Just to give you a slight idea of what this damn army medical dept. is
like, well Sim came to see me, and being so glad to see him, I wanted to go
to town, to try to get my mind off of the damned war for a while. So, I ask
the major for a pass and he wouldn't give it to me at first, but Sim kinda
talked him into it. So, just for damned spite, he gave me just until 930PM,
and it was already 230PM then. So, he knew damned well we couldn't have any
fun and be back by that time. But, anyway, we started back in plenty of
time, but, we couldn't catch a ride for Hell, and I was too damned lame to
walk. So, we called him two times and told him we couldn't make it, so we
stayed in town, but we made it back at 730AM, and damn if I didn't get
restricted for a week. And it wouldn't have cost him a damn thing to give us
a day off together.
For two damn years, I didn't mind the restrictions, but it is just the
principle of it that makes me wonder if it will be that way all the time. In
other words, it makes me wonder if I got the Hell blew out of me for that
sort of freedom. All of this will probably be censored out, but I just
thought I would let you know what kind of life I have lived for the past
(Letter from Sim in same envelope with Murphy's letter)
Dearest Mother, Dad and Bill (That is one of my nicknames)
"I am at the hospital with Murphy now. He is getting along just fine. He can
get around pretty good with crutches now. I don't think he will have to go
back into combat."
Love and best wishes, Sim.
(September 13, 1944) Letter Home from Murphy)
"Dear Mother. Well what do you know, I was laying there yesterday and I
looked up and there stood Sim. He came over from his air base for a couple
of days. Boy! I shore was glad to see him. We talked about home and the old
neighborhood quite a bit, and about the delicious biscuits you make, and how
we would like to be home and share some of them.
He gave me a dang good watch, I am sure proud of it. Sim is still here, so I
will make this short because we want to take some pictures. Don't forget to
pray often and go to church every chanch."
Love and best wishes, Murphy