Letters To My Mother From WWII: August 18-31, 1944


Time Magazine article (no date) found in letter #25.

August 18-31, 1944

Aug 18.25: At least I received a letter from you today. It was mailed a couple weeks before you left Alexandria. I enjoy the old ones and they all seem to bring news that I hadn’t heard before.

I have felt tired all day long. I had a washing to do this afternoon and I hired James to do it. I guess it was the hot sun because now that it’s down I feel swell. I am a pretty healthy cuss and I always hate it if I don’t feel tops.

Most of the boys have gone to the movies. It wouldn’t hurt me if I walked down, but I would rather talk to you. We have two movies on this island. Naturally both of them are within walking distance. The Japs don’t seem to have much fun out of being a soldier. They had these islands for a couple of years, but they didn’t have it fixed like we have it. We have volley ball courts and ball diamonds all over the place.

Guess what! I have been reading western stories. I mean the real blood and thunder kind. I never read very many of them, but I am sure getting a kick out of these. Some cowboy walks into a bar and two paragraphs later everyone in the bar has a gun drawn on him. Do they kill him? Nope! He pulls some trick and gets out. I would like to get ahold of one good book.

James is a great man for coffee. He makes a couple of trips a day to the Red Cross after coffee. We can now get ice cold Coca Cola, but not at the Red Cross. I do not drink many cokes because they are habit forming with me. That was all right in the states, but I would hate to form a taste for them here and suddenly not be able to get any more.

I sometimes wonder where I am going next. I know no more than you do. I guess if I had my choice I would take the Philippines. I think the Japs have been there long enough. Officially I have made one campaign. If I make another I hope it is the Philippines.

Golly Flip, I hardly know what else to tell you. Seems as though every time I write I have to hash over the same subjects. Most of them must seem old by this time.

I do sleep good. I wake up once during the night and sometimes before daylight I hear bombers going over but that’s all. I give them a sleepy “God Speed” and sleep on until the band starts playing. Honestly, the band plays every other morning. There is one tune I want to hear them play, “California Here I Come.”

Aug 19.26:  You can tell Uncle Ed that the 1st Cavalry was the first division to ever take a island without the help of the Marines. Not only that, but the Japs had their Imperial Marines here.

Tomorrow is Sunday. I’ll go to church at nine and don’t know how I will fill the rest of the day. Sometimes it’s a real problem. We had a parade this morning that was a lulu. The General tried to drill us as a Regiment. That seemed to be too many men to handle at once. Whenever he would give a flank movement he had men turning in all directions. It was pretty hot on the parade grounds and I was darned glad to come in. The rest of the day was free.

This evening I went to the movies. For some reason they couldn’t get the machine started. I sold a few cigars. Clair T was over a while ago, but I wasn’t here. Perhaps he will come back. John A expects to go home.

Remember me telling you about a fight I had in New Guinea. The fellow I fought with came over from Germany in thirty-nine and he is still in love with the old country. When he got here they put him in the M.P.’s but they kicked him out and he went into the 12th Cavalry. They took him on a patrol and in order to get back he shot himself through the foot. I do not know what they will do to him, but I would hate to be in his shoes.

Aug 20.27: I received letters from you tonight – August 8, 9, and 11 and one from mom mailed on the 9th.

The whole troop gets vitamin pills now.At night we line up and get one vitamin pill and one atabrine. I do not have the dizzy spells I once did.

The firm of Ellison and Ellison is in pretty bad shape tonight. This morning I bought forty dollars worth of cigars and since then the market price has gone down. If I tried to sell now I would be lucky to get back my forty dollars. Perhaps in another week they will be up again. The reason the market went hay wire was because some guy brought in 120 boxes of them today. I may be a week or two late with your money order this month, but it will come as soon as I can get my cigar business back to normal.

I hope you remember to gather up your reins before you climb on that horse. That is one thing you are going to have to remember or someday some horse is going to spill you all over. Have a good ride and ride often while you have the chance.

The International Correspondence School has a course on refrigeration. I am going to find out more about the course and if it’s what I want and not too high I’ll take it. It shouldn’t be over twenty dollars and it will be worth that when we come to build.

What is Dewey’s foreign policy? As near as I can figure out neither Roosevelt nor Hull have one. If they have one they should use it now or we may not get the peace everyone wants.

This is taken from the 1944 World Almanac. “June 25, 1876 – Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana In Sioux Indian War: Massacre of Gen. George A. Custer and 276 Troopers of the 7th Cavalry, by redskins under Sitting Bull.”  The 7th lost their colors in that campaign and never won them back until this campaign. Although this is the only Cavalry Div. in the Army there are other Cavalry that work with infantry divisions. The 112th Cavalry has had some real hand fighting over here.

Aug 21.28: John A is pretty happy. He owns half interest in “Projectile,” a two-year old trotter who set a track record at Washington Courthouse. They have the colt entered in several stakes and he is doing a good job of winning most of them. Oh wouldn’t I love to jog a trotter again.

The boys are all thrilled. Bob Hope is to be here some time this week. I never cared for him on the radio or the movies and his show better be on this island if I am going to see it. I would like to hear “Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair” more than anything else. I do like Foster’s music.

This outfit has gone parade happy. We are to have a big parade Saturday. The whole Division will be in it. I guess I’ll try for a section eight.

The war news looks good. Hitler is just about whipped. They sure are giving him hell. Things seem fairly quiet over here. I guess that’s the lull before the storm. I am anxious to get north of the equator even if I have to fight to get there. Being in the same hemisphere with you would be nice.

Aug 24.30:  I didn’t write last night. I went to see “Pin Up Girl.” By the time it was over I was sleepy. The show wasn’t so hot and I don’t like Betty Grable, but what legs! I thought the coloring was beautiful.

Tomorrow we parade for General Swift for the last time. He no longer has command of this division. General Mudge is our new Commander.

The clouds are starting to roll in and before long it will be raining. Just now it’s nice and cool. It sure was hot this morning. I was lucky to be on K.P., because I was able to keep out of the sun.

I had my picture taken last night; one alone and one with my two tent mates Jim and Joe. It will take a month for the pictures to come back and they only send back one picture. I’ll send you the negatives and you can have more finished and send either the negatives or the pictures to Jim’s wife. I have an idea you will be glad to get a late picture of me.

We had fresh eggs for breakfast. It was the first time in three months I had eaten fresh eggs. We had beef steak for dinner. It was good even though it was tough.

I am starting to get a good tan. I can leave my shirt off now all the time, but I have to shade my face. It stays as red as a beet. I shaved my head this morning for the last time. The hair seems to be growing in pretty good and now I’ll let it grow out. It will certainly bleach out in this sun.

The mail just came in. All second class mail. We only get second class mail about once every two weeks. I thought I would get some of the packages that have been mailed or else a paper or two. No luck.

Cigars are starting to sell again. I hope they pick up fast as I have about fifty dollars worth. I will hold up your money order until I sell them. The next hundred will not come in a money order as they are hard to get. The Army has a system that seems to work faster and safer. I pay them the money and you get a check from Washington.

For some unknown reason the Army will no longer sell soldiers bonds through the pay-roll plan. I only wish they would send me the three twenty-five dollar bonds they owe me. I will sure be glad when I can get back to work and make a little money. We have so darned much to buy, but I guess we will make out all right.

Do you know that I am very happy to be married to you? It’ a good thing we are married because if we were not I would not come back to the states until after I had seen the rest of the world and if I did come back I might leave again. All my life I have needed someone to keep me steady. I guess you and I both needed that.

I received a letter from Mr. Patterson today in regards to his stud Big V. I am sending you the letterhead and please save it.  He wants me to contact him after the war. You have heard me rave about Calumet’s Nellie Flag. Well Big V is one of her colts. As a yearling he was too big to train This picture as taken when he was about two and a half. You can see what a large colt he is.



Aug. 27.31:  Two years ago this morning you drove me out to the draft board at Plymouth. That was a hell of a thing to do wasn’t it? Tomorrow I start on my third and what I hope is my last year.

I didn’t go to church this morning. I am sick with a cold. Last night I thought I had Malaria because I was having chills and fever. I took five Atabrine tablets and dashed for the dispensary. It was only a cold and I am happy that it is only that. I spent all of yesterday either standing in the hot sun or the pouring rain. It got me down.

We take the little things in life too much for granted. This was brought to my mind the other night while I was on board a ship. I washed and shaved in hot water for the first time since the 7th of March. What a treat it was to feel warm water on my face. Long after I was clean I stood there splashing it on my face.

While on board the ship the sailors gave me some books to read. They gave me a detective story, “Random Harvest,” and “Preview of History.” “Random Harvest” was an extra good movie and the story is the same as the show.

Last night I saw Eddie Cantor in “Show Business.” It was very funny and don’t miss it. I think it’s a new picture.

My cigar deal is turning out better than I expected. I guess I will clear forty dollars on the deal which will not be too bad. For a while I thought I wouldn’t break even. A couple more deals like that and your college debt will be off the books. The we can save for our home.

I read in the Bellaire Blot where the home town is to have a freezing plant. Mathew is a friend of mine and I plan on writing him to find out a few things about it. You and I may live in a tar paper shack but we will have a Bendix washer and freezing unit.After spending a few months over here a tar paper shack would seem like heaven.

I expect John A will soon be leaving for the old country. I’ll have him write to you when he gets there because he can tell you what it’s like over here.

Aug. 29.32, V-Mail: At last I have seen a Court Marshal. They tried a fellow who was on guard with me. I guess  can’t criticize the Army, but I wonder if they know the difference between the meaning of the words prosecution and persecution.

Aug. 30.33:  In a way I am sorry I wasn’t there when you went up the Wildcat Road to the old school-house. You are meeting all my friends through other people, but that was the one thing I wanted to show you. Perhaps if I tell you a little bit about it you will understand. Of course you must know that the whole lower half of the lake shore belongs to my father’s half-brother. That land has had no other owners but members of my family and you might have noticed the small graveyard where my great grandparents as well as some great aunts and a baby brother are buried. Editor’s Note: The baby brother is Morton Ellison who died in the first month of life.

My great-grandfather brought a bunch of oxen up there one summer  to use in lumbering and decided to stay. Perhaps you noticed the ruins of the “Old Ways Lumber Camp.” The night I was born my uncle made a hurried trip down that Wildcat Road to the lumber camp so he could call the doctor. I was in third grade when I kissed my first girl and it was on the same road. I was always afraid, as a little boy, to go down that road alone and the first time I did it I ran all the way. A few weeks later I had to go down it alone after dark. I was terrified and have never been afraid of the dark since then. The first time I ever rode a horse at a gallop was once when I rode a bay mare named Fanny from our place to the Breaker. How I managed to run a horse through there without a spill is more than I know.

I have fished and trapped that creek (Shanty Creek) and I have hunted all through there. My father never liked his grandfather and after the old man died they gave him two large pictures, one of his grandfather and one of his grandmother. As he drove home that day he stopped and threw the old man’s picture in the creek. Hurrah for Dad! Someday we will walk up that road together and I will make you understand why I love it.

The chamois bay that your grandfather had would tickle me pink. It’s exactly what I wanted and being that it was his would make it all the nicer to own.

Today was one of those days. I waded in mud up to my fanny and climbed a hill that seemed impossible. The sailors that took us over were fresh from the states and they had plenty of American candy bars. We bought them by the box. It seemed darned good to eat some candy.

I am going to have thirty-five dollars of my pay sent direct to you each month. Here is the reason. I don’t ever expect to get a Court Marshal, but if I did they would be apt to take two-thirds of my pay for six months. That is their favorite way of punishment. The two thirds they take comes out only from the pay you draw because they can’t touch anything you are sending home. I would rather give them two thirds of five dollars than two thirds of forty dollars. I don’t need the money anyway. I made four dollars tonight after supper.

If I could write everything I see the letters would be interesting. So many things happen that I can’t tell about.

I have been suffering from insomnia.

Aug. 31.34:   I’ll start this letter early in the afternoon and that will give me plenty of time to write. It rained all morning, so I have had an easy day. Right now I am at the Red Cross Club, but I can’t stay here too long because the troop is paying off this afternoon.

Did you know that my dad used to go to the same school back in the woods? The grounds were beautiful until a couple of years ago when they cut the timber off it. There were nearly a hundred trees there and most of them were large. Did you ever notice a small log cabin on the left side of the road as you go into Bellaire? I guess it must be a mile from town. My dad used to go there to learn his ABC’s. Two or three years ago I planned on building a log cabin near Bellaire. At that time I tried to buy the old school grounds, but an oil company had a lease on it. It would have made an ideal hideaway  for a few months of fishing, trapping, and hunting.

Did you ever wonder why I call him Clair T? At Fort Ord we had a mail orderly who didn’t know enough to pour water out of a boot. It took him at least a half hour to call out the mail because he called everyone’s name in full. Max M Ellison, John A Harrison, Clair T Enge and Anton R Boon. We got a big kick out of it and ever since we have used the middle initial in speaking to one another.

Tomorrow is September and fall will be starting back home. I will miss the smell of burning leaves. Guess I’ll just have to read “The Death of the Flowers.” Did you ever read it?   …..”wailing winds, naked woods and meadows brown and sear.”  Editor’s Note: Poet is Williams Cullen Bryant.

This clipping was found in  letter #34







Letters To My Mother From WWII: August 10-17, 1944

IMG_0057This picture was tucked into  letter #20. The number 39 was written on the back of the photo and is the only identifier. He is not in uniform, so I assume the picture was taken in 1939.

August 10 – August 17, 1944

Aug 10.17:  Here it’s Thursday and I have not written to you this week. My reason is a good one – I have not been here this week.

Editor’s Note: In August 1944 Major General Mudge took command of the 1st Cavalry Division (the 7th Cavalry was a part of the 1st) and planning began for the Leyte assault on October 20, 1944. During the weeks leading up to the assault on Leyte there were many small mop-up patrols. Perhaps dad was involved in one of these mop-up patrols while he was “not here.”

More clues to his location and past few days comes from an excerpt of a letter to Grandpa Norton and dated Aug 11, 1944. “I was away most of this week. It seemed good to get off this island for a while. I could walk the length of this island in about fifteen minutes time, so you can see that it isn’t a large place.

I was paid today, thirty-seven pounds ($118.40) was all they gave me. I was looking for more.

While I was out I sure found a bunch of shells. I guess I found at least a thousand and a couple hundred of them are green and white. They are hard to find and I’ll be able to sell part of them. I found a pair of cat eyes that are a perfect match. I refused three dollars for them.

I ran into a Native that sure was an interesting fellow. As a baby he had infantile paralysis and it left both legs all withered up. He can’t walk and has to crawl on all fours. You would be surprised to see how well he gets around. He is a good swimmer and he told me he goes into the bush for food. I don’t know how in the world he manages it and I had to admire his courage. I saw a couple of Native babies about the size of Edith, but they looked a good deal older. They were as naked as a Jay Bird and seemed perfectly happy. Birth control is no problem over here. They seem to have one every year and nurse one until the next one comes along.

Aug 11.18:  I was in the sun too much this morning. We had a parade and we must have messed up pretty bad. The General kept us out there for a long time and gave us merry old hell. If parades and marching will win the war the 7th Cavalry has it in the bag.

I was looking at our war map. We are sure giving the Nips a pounding. I wonder if they will fight it out to a finish. I don’t give them credit for Pearl Harbor.

Just now it is raining. The weather sure changes fast. One minute the sun will be cooking you alive and the next it’s raining. We are free from mud as most of this island is sand. I have been bothered with a leak over my bunk. Looks as if I have it fixed now. I have been painting the tent with some kind of a liquid glue.

You and mom must be having some real talks. By this time you must know more about me than I know about myself. One thing sure, since 1935 on my mother will have to leave as blank because I left home then. I really left in 1934 and before that I had been down to Lexington, Atlanta, St. Louis and points south. My first trip to Lexington Kentucky was September 27, 1931. You were 11 years old. Editor’s Note: That would make dad about 16. I spent the night sleeping in a shock of corn and trying to keep on good terms with some foreman’s hound who was standing guard that night. The following morning I crossed the Cumberland River into a little town called Burnsides. It was a funny little town and I always planned on going back. The Government put in a dam and the town is under water now.

They brought me a couple of letters. One was from Sgt. Nugent (ex-saddler at the University of Ill.) and the other was from the cooks in California. Sgt. Nugent is now at Camp Ellis, Ill. and wishes I could be there to help him with the work. He is a stable Sgt. and hasn’t any horsemen. Wouldn’t it be swell if I was still at Champaign?

Aug 12.19:  I just finished the June issue of the Readers Digest. There was an article in it about the Titanic and I was one year off in regards to the date it sunk. Sure seemed good to find a late digest.

This is a very hot afternoon. I went to see John A, but he wasn’t in his tent and Clair T is in the hospital. He has arthritis of the big toe. Can you imagine that. I enjoy the weekends here. We have inspection Saturday morning and then we are free until Monday morning. There isn’t much to do, but on Sunday we can go to some of the other islands and see the fellows. Corp. Penny from Detroit (you met him at Riley) is over in the 12th cavalry. I would like to see him.

I tried to clean my shells this afternoon. The smell was too strong so I buried them in the sand. It will take two weeks for them to rot out and then I’ll wash them and put them in the sun. I’ll sell the best ones and send Wanda enough to fill the bottom of her fish bowel. Would you like some coral or more shells? It’s about the only thing I can send you. Some of the fellows send home coconuts. There are enough of them in the states now without sending more. I could send a lot of things, but it’s next to impossible to find paper to wrap them in.

I forgot to tell you about a lucky deal I made today. I bought three pipes for nine dollars and have already sold one for the price I paid for the three. The funny part of it is they are ten-dollar pipes. Why the guy sold them to me for so little is more than I can guess. The only thing I can figure out is that he didn’t know they had that much value. You will have to admit your husband is a good dealer.

The war news looks pretty good. Perhaps I will not have to be over here too long. I have been reading some of Frost’s poems. I love them. Love you too.

Aug 13.20: I have to go on guard duty at ten, so I should have plenty of time to write to you. Tonight when the officer inspected the guard he asked me to give one of the general orders. For the life of me I couldn’t think of it and ended up not knowing any of them. You are supposed to learn them during your first few weeks of army training.  Editor’s Note: There are 11 general orders and they are the same across all branches of the service.   General Order #1: I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved. Google Army General Orders for the full list.

This has been sort of a dull Sunday. I went to church at nine and spent the rest of the day doing nothing. There wasn’t anything to read and I wasn’t in the mood for writing letters. Is there an old world history around the house? If so please send it. If you are still in Bellaire send me either “Outline of History” or  Vol II of the “Greek Historians.” I need some kind of a book to study on days such as this. Someone borrowed my Bible and they haven’t returned it.

I did read an article by Detroit’s famous (?) Gerald K Smith. I think he is a big “Blow Hard.” He has an idea that the returning soldier is going to want isolationism above all else. I wonder how many soldiers he has talked with. As for myself, it is the last thing I would want. The world has grown too small for any one country to think they can close their doors and sit tight. This brings to mind an argument we had in a downtown cafe about the United States and England. I will admit that my view-point at that time was pretty narrow. I still think that England has handled the India situation badly. I have been rather interested in her policy towards some of her colonies. I’ll tell you a funny thing that happened down in New Guinea. We had a boy who was forever asking questions. One night he struck up a conversation with an Australian and during the talk he asked the Aussie how long it would be before they got their freedom.

There is one thing I am going to try. I want to get on the Fair Board at Northville. I don’t know what strings a man will have to pull, but I’ll pull them. When Detroit builds their new race track the track in Northville will not fade out as some people think. On the other hand, it could easily become a good track to break yearlings on and a place for spring training. For the past five years they have had a feud between the harness horse people and the thoroughbred people. There is no reason why they shouldn’t get along. If they are ever going to get along it will be because some horseman gets on the board that understands the problems of both trotters and runners. A few years ago a bunch of us fellows had a long talk on that line and I feel that I have enough knowledge along that line to help everyone come to terms. Should the Detroit Association build with the idea of having horses winter there then Northville would be no question.

I am going to explain to you why all of this is a question that has to be considered. In order to have a horse ready for the June meeting you have to start galloping him not later than the first of March. This sometimes cuts your track up pretty bad and Detroit will not let you train until April. The small man with one or two horses has to have some place to winter and get in his early training. Northville is the answer to that. By the use of a long lunging rope you can train an aged horse in your own backyard, but with a two-year old it’s impossible. Well there is no need of boring you stiff with all this talk.

When I come home you and I are going to Lexington for a week and while we are there I’ll teach you why it is that a man loves racing. It will give you a chance to learn about its history, its rules and traditions.

Aug 14.21:  I am pretty sleepy today. I was up until two and that is unusual for me. I am in bed not later than nine.

It rained a lot last night, but I had a post where I could stay out of the rain, but I got cold for the first time in months. I once worked with an eccentric old cuss who hated the hot weather. Right in the middle of a hot spell it suddenly turned cold, so cold that I had to put on a jacket. He took off his shirt and sat in the grandstand all the afternoon.

We had cherry pie for dinner. That was the first time I had any pie since March. It was extra good or else it just tasted that way because I hadn’t had any in a long while. I just finished eating one of the paw paws I brought back from the native gardens.

A native garden isn’t a garden like we have. They clear a place in the jungle and set out pineapples, bananas, paw paws, sweet potatoes, and a few other fruits. The only cultivating they do is to scratch around the sweet potatoes now and then. I never see any oranges here and this place would be ideal for oranges. The fruit would sure be a help to these under nourished children. In fact it’s a shame they are not taught to plant and raise more than they do. Of course you can’t educate people if you want them to work for two dollars a month.

I wish Clair T would shake a leg and get out of the hospital. I miss not having him around here.

I had an idea you thought I was on Guam. Thank God I wasn’t there. From what I hear the going was rough. Perhaps some day I’ll have to go through the same thing and I only hope I can be a man. I know I’ll be scared.  When that day comes I will not be fighting for my country, but I’ll be fighting to save my own skin.

I am worried about my eyes. The glare from the sun on this white sand is terrible today. I noticed that the lid on the left eye started to twitch. It stopped as soon as I got out of the sun. I can’t seem to find any sun glasses.

Yankee Maid won the big Hambletonian trotting race. She trotted the second heat in 2:04. Sounds like a pretty good filly to me. Editor’s Note: Her driver was Henry Thomas.

Aug 15.22: I signed the payroll today. I noticed that I am to get ten dollars more. It’s combat infantry pay. I’ll get twenty dollars this month because it started in June.

The public relations man was here tonight and asked me a million questions. It seems as though the 1st Division is anxious to get all the publicity in the states that it can. I don’t know what he is going to write and will not know until it’s published. The Public Relations Office will send it direct to the Bellaire Record.

I spent the afternoon hauling sand. There is plenty of sand down on the beach and we sure have it spread all over this island. This morning I had a big streak of ambition and washed all my dirty clothes, my cot, and mattress cover. I’ll have to wash again before the end of the week. Some of the troops have washing machines. This troop had one, but I guess they lost it in New Guinea.

I have a little jungle rot. It’s a sort of fungus disease and makes sores on your body. We have a lot of ring worm too. Such diseases as jungle rot and ring worm come with the tropical country. A major in the Medical Corp told me there had only been one case of lock-jaw in the Pacific area. Pretty good record!

Aug 16.23:  Once, while out on patrol, I had the point and it made me think. In a tough battle the mental strain is the worst of all. When you are on the point it means that you are out ahead of everyone and let me tell you that’s when you keep your eyes and ears open. One mistake could mean one too many. A Native would make a darned good point man, but few of them will take it. They stay back about second or third. We had one that wasn’t afraid and he was worth his weight in cigars.

Aug 17.24:  We have some good times in this tent. The Sgt. of my squad (Anderson) used to train and gallop horses in Maryland. Another fellow (Boscom) used to ride races. He is from Detroit. There are two other fellows in here, Jones and Corneal. Corneal is funny and keeps everyone in hot water most of the time. We raise a lot of hell, but everyone gets along fine and we never fight among ourselves.

I think it is going to rain pretty soon. There is a breeze blowing and it seems very cool. We have had a lot of rain this week. I love to wake up at night and hear the raining on the tent. Remind me of when I used to sleep in the barn.




Letters To My Mother From WWII: August 1 – 6, 1944


Edith Norton, mother of Florence Norton Ellison

August 1-6, 1944

Aug 1.10:  Payday has come and gone again. I was left out. For some reason or other I wasn’t paid. I guess they are still trying to figure out how much they owe me.

I joined the “Last Squad Club.” It cost me sixteen dollars, but I am glad I joined. It can be a nice club if everyone gets behind it.

No Mail from you in several days. The last letter was dated about the middle of June. I received two letters from Helen last night and one from Edna and Earl. The letter from Edna and Earl was only twelve days in coming and Helen’s took thirteen days. I received a form letter from dad’s church. They always sneak in on me when I am expecting mail from you. Did you know that form letters are one of my pet peeves? I think they are a curse on humanity.

Tomorrow is going to be an easy day. We have parade in the morning and I guess that is all. I have always had to work pretty hard during my life and the let down here is new to me.

By the time this war ends I’ll have a mighty good tan. Even now I can’t stay out over an hour with my shirt off. This sun is bright. This weather was made to order for me. Last night we had rain with a little wind. It cooled off to the extent that my one blanket wasn’t enough. I got up and put on a shirt. My supply of bed clothes is meager. I have one cot and one blanket and use a field jacket for a pillow. I could have more,  but it would only mean more to keep clean. I prefer the single life.

I received  letter from an old friend of mine in California. He is a C.B. and said he was somewhere here in the islands.  Editor’s Note: I think he means Seabee. A Seabee is a member of the United States Construction Forces. The initials CB refer to Construction Battalion. I am anxious to find out if he is close by. There are several fellows over here that I used to know or at least I had known of them. All of them are horsemen and in our minds we race a lot of horses. Some of these contacts may be of some help in the post war world.

Coming home will be sort of funny. There are so many things you miss without knowing you miss them. I’ll be a wild critter when I first hit the states. Right now I would like to hear the noises a horse makes when he has his head in a feed tub or I would like the fun of leading one out into the center field for grass. It’s funny how you miss little things like that.

Aug 3.12, V-Mail:  I am sending you a box today. In it you will find some shells, four cat eyes, two razor blades, a Jap dog tag (made out of wood), a stamp with which he signs his “John Henry,” some bits of ivory I found in his pocket and the friendship belt he had around his waist. I wish you would pick out two shells that match and have a pair of ear rings made. I’ll send you the money and it can be your anniversary gift – would you like that?

Aug 3.13:  Later on this evening I may go to the movies. It still lacks an hour of being dark, so I’ll write.

We had some boxing last night that was very good. Some of these fellows are mighty good fighters and they put on a good show. We have a good boxing ring and have fights a couple of times a week.

I mailed a package to you this morning. I hope it isn’t too long in reaching you and that the shells have a good polish on them. If not just rub them with a soft cloth. Later on I will send some larger shells and some more small ones that are green and white. I have a Jap officer’s canteen that I want to send and will as soon as I find a box large enough for it. I had a hunch I would receive some mail tonight. As usual my hunch was wrong. It is nearly time for the package to reach me – I mean the package mom sent me some time ago.

Sgt. Nugent, in his letter, said he would teach Edith how to ride. Said he knew I wasn’t a good enough rider to do it. It would be fun to teach her because she will have the chance to grow up with horses and it will be second nature. Of course she may be afraid of horses. If she is we will have to help her overcome it.

I am going to have Larry look around and see if he can find an up to date book on refrigeration. If I had a chance to study a book like that it would give me more of an idea on what we would want. The more I think about it the more I wonder about the purpose of a cooling room at 34 degrees. Such a room would be a cost, that is if you were to maintain a certain temperature. Why couldn’t we just build a well insulated room and put the freezing unit in it. The room would be cool enough for practical purposes. I’ll have it all figured out by the time I get home.

I signed the pay roll this morning and I will get paid before July 15th. Editor’s Note: I think he means August.  I am anxious to get the money off to you. Still have no idea in regards to how much I’ll send. I may save out a few pounds to buy cigars with. There are a bunch of CB’s on these Islands and I think if I oil a few palms I can get cigars from their P.X. It’s worth a try. I saw one kid sell two boxes last night for thirty-two dollars. If I could wave a magic wand and produce thirty boxes of cigars. I would be able to pay off your college debt in one sweep. I am trying to wave that wand.

Aug 4.14:  No Mail. I had great hopes of hearing from you this week, but I guess they were in vain. Do you receive my mail regular? If so I will not kick, but I would hate to think that you were not hearing from me.

I am on K.P. tomorrow. That suits me fine as I will miss out on the inspection and parade. Sunday I want to go out and look for shells. I want to send you some of the green and white ones.

Next week I will be out on a problem for a few days.

I once heard a poem about a soldier who stole a jewel from some Hindu idol. Ever since then I have been trying to find a copy of the poem. I never could find it, but I have found the incident that the poem was about. The Great Orlov Diamond was stolen from a Hindu Idol by a French Soldier some two hundred years ago. I have a hunch I will find a copy of the poem now that I have a little more information.

Editor’s Note: OK folks, I have actually seen The Great Orlov Diamond. Currently this diamond is mounted on top of the Russian Imperial Scepter that resides in the Kremlin Museum in Moscow, Russia. In 2006, while in Moscow,  I had a chance to view these jewels.  For more information about the diamond’s history google Great Orlov Diamond. So far I have been unable to locate the poem dad speaks of. However, the information online makes for an interesting story. The short story is that the diamond was taken by a french soldier and was eventually sold to Russian Count Orlov. He gave the diamond to Empress Catherine, in order to try and make up a lover’s quarrel. 

We had some good doughnuts for dinner. I managed to get five or six. Wish they had waited until tomorrow to make them.  I would have been on K.P. then and would have been able to have all I wanted.

I would like to hear the war news. Everyone wonders where we will go next and of course no one knows. I would just as soon make a beach head in Frisco. In case I should leave here you mustn’t wonder why. I wouldn’t know myself until just a few hours before I left and of course wouldn’t be able to tell you about it. You watch the papers and if you read where the 1st Cavalry is after the Japs you will know I am there.

We have a full moon tonight. Always seems to me as though it comes up in the northeast and goes down in the southwest. A palm tree is a beautiful thing to see in the moonlight. The tops of the fronds seem to turn to silver. I would like to see a hard Maple for a change. We do not have dew over here. That must be caused by the ground being always warm. Of course when you are in the jungle the grass is sometimes wet from the rains and you would think it was dew.

I lack a month and six days of having two years in the army. When I left I thought to myself, “I’ll be in a couple of years, but it will go by fast.” That seems like yesterday. One thing certain; I will not be in two more years.

Aug 5.15:  Just finished K.P. and had to go to a movie. The movie was about the war in China and the whole troop had to go. It was pretty good and sure showed what a pushing around Japan gave China. It made no mention of a treaty England made with Japan in the last war regarding certain rights in Manchuria and how we sold them scrap iron in hopes they would be satisfied with what ever they could grab from China. It makes me mad some to think we didn’t get in the fight long before we did. One thing is certain and that is we are going to push the Japs around for a while. I am glad that I am having a chance to help do it.

Editor’s Note:  I think he is referring to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance treaty of 1902 and renewed in 1905 and 1911. This alliance provided trade between Japan and the British Commonwealth AND promised support if either Japan or any of the British Commonwealth countries became involved in a war with more than one power. In 1920 the alliance was shelved. At that time the American government feared that renewal would create a Japanese dominated market in the Pacific and close China off from American trade. Members of the Commonwealth, most especially Canada, feared a conflict between the USA and Japan would force the Commonwealth into a war and I assume force the Commonwealth to support Japan. The termination of the Alliance and the distrust between the British Commonwealth and Japan are credited as being leading causes in Japan’s involvement in WWII.

I am still wondering what your dad is going to think about the letter I wrote in regards to church letters and letters from church members. Since I wrote to him I have been asking the other boys what they think of it and I find that most of them hate form letters and christmas cards that do not contain a letter. The letters dad write are pretty good but the letter from the church member was bad. They can’t shove religion into these guys. My own faith has been shaken a couple of times, but I get it back again. I used to have a fear or horror of death.  Still have, but on my one patrol I got used to seeing it. My religion has always been based on one thing and that is “love.” I always liked everyone, but I have had to give that up. To be a good soldier you have to hate. That’s one thing I like about your dad’s letters. He isn’t trying to sell anything, but I think they would be better if they told us just a little bit about Detroit with the church news.

Are my letters cut? They let us write a great deal. We can’t tell anything because we don’t know anything. They have never sent any back for a re-write, so I guess I am staying within bounds.

I have wanted very much to tell you about the patrol I was on. I guess I have told you bits of it, but it would be fun to just tell you the whole story. It would be interesting because everything struck me as either beautiful or funny. Whenever we found Japs they were either sleeping or talking among themselves. We surprised four officers one morning. They were all set to cook a fish, but they didn’t dream we had them covered.

There is one unwritten law in jungle fighting – once you are dug in for the night stay dug in. Even if you are in a tent you stay inside because anything that moves outside is considered a Jap.

I am doing what is called “Fighting in your head.” That’s one of the nice things about a wife – you have someone to tell things to.

Aug 6.16: Seven letters from you today and two from mom. I am as happy as a kid. All of your letters were mailed in July. One of them was mailed July 27th. The ink wasn’t even dry.

I have learned one thing, never ask my wife for cigars. No darling, I do not smoke cigars, but a man over here can measure his wealth in cigars. I did not know that they were that hard to get. I made ten dollars last week, but to keep peace in the family I will not tell you how I did it. I see one thing, the first time I beat a guy in a horse trade I am going to have you to answer to.

Speaking of horses; tell mom that I sure thank her for sending me the news about Volo Song. John A and I heard that he broke his leg and I was going to write and ask you if you had heard about it.



I am sending you a picture of Volo Song so you will see what a handsome colt he was. His dam was a handsome mare and has made a record in the stud. She had five colts to trot right close to two minutes. One of them, Twilight Song, as a two-year old trotted in 2:03 and was sold to some count in Milan Italy. Here are the names of Evansong’s colts; Petersong, Twilight Song, Gay Song, Love Song and Volo Song.

Sorry to hear that they cut my letter. I wish they would tell us what we could write instead of just letting us guess. There are times when you just have to write about some things. Last night was such a time, but perhaps letter  No. 15 will look like a lace curtain. 

Everyone over here has something to sell. Some of them make a profit in souvenirs (that is profit too), others do washing, sell cigars, make things out of shells and sell them, and buy and re-sell beer. I saw one guy buy beer for a dollar a bottle and re-sell it for a dollar and a half. That is one of our ways we have  of keeping busy about something. As long as I am over seas I am going to make money one way or another. In spite of all the grand promises I know that a soldier is going to have a tough time after the war and here is one boy who is going to be ready.