Letters To My Mother From WWII: August 1945


Aug 5:  This picture isn’t so very good, but I’ll send it. Of course it isn’t retouched and due to the poor lighting my hair is black.

I am thinking about one thing this morning and that thing is “coming home.” A soldier’s life is full of thrills, but the greatest thrill of all is when you know your work is finished and you are going home. I hope I get there at night – I’ll send you a wire and you can meet me at the train. Perhaps we will go straight home and perhaps we will spend the night downtown. However, I believe I would rather go out to your place. It would seem just a little bit more  like a real homecoming. I have about seventy-five dollars in my pocket now and we should have enough to pay for a vacation.

Edith is going to find out she has a real flesh and blood daddy. I hope I can make a hit with her and I think I’ll be able to manage it.

When I first came overseas I introduced you to a guy who has lived with us ever since – the censor. I guess the three of us got along pretty well together, but he was better acquainted with us than we were with him. Now he is leaving us and I don’t think he will ever be back. Let him go and God bless him.

Aug 13:  Two letters from you today! They were written just before you left for Bellaire. Yes, when you go back again I will be with you.  It will not be long now. Tomorrow I have my clearance slip from the supply room and I believe that is about the last thing I will have to do. I may be at another camp for a few days after I leave here, but by the first of the month I’ll be well on my way.

I received a nice letter from W&B today. It was a form letter which they send to all the service men along with a bulletin which contains paragraphs taken from the letters of service men. They said they considered my letter “The Letter of the Year.” so they enclosed a copy of it with each bulletin. I’ll bring it home for you to read. That letter sure gave me a good stand-in with the firm and I am mighty glad of it. (Editor’s Note: See uncensored letter dated January 13, 1945.)

I sure have a stiff shoulder today. I don’t know what caused it, but I had it when I got up this morning and it is still there. You know Flip, I have Malaria now. I wouldn’t say a word to anyone until I get on the boat. It hardly seems possible I am coming home.

It sure is dusty around this place. It looks as if it might rain tonight and I sure hope it does. We have not had a good rain for several days. I have an idea my English is going to improve within the next two months.

In a way it is sort of hard to imagine you and I having a home as well as a family. Most of our married life has been spent apart and even when we were together we never talked much about a home. I am looking forward to a very enjoyable winter. We will not spend too much money for entertainment, perhaps a movie now and then or a wrestling match. We should enjoy each other’s company enough to spend the first winter just looking at each other.

I am glad you like Bob’s work. We may get a picture from him some day. A lot of his work is done around Bellaire and most of his winter scenes are good.

There are going to be some yearling fillys on the market this fall by the young sire Blue Swords. He is by Blue Larkspur and out of Flaming Swords by Man O War. I would like to own one of them and they hadn’t better sell them too cheap. Bill Downing (Northville) has a stud out of Rose Leaves and what a royal mating that would be. If we did buy one of those fillys we could call her Crossed Sabers and two years from now we could call her foal War of Roses. You must admit that even my dream horses have mighty nice names. I never did get around to writing the letter on horses.

My heart skipped a beat when you told me about the lake being so calm. How I love that lake! It’s going to be pretty rough by the time I get home and I don’t suppose I’ll do any fishing. If you happen to get near some store where they sell sporting goods see if you can buy some shot-gun shells. We own a twelve gage and a sixteen gage and get about a dozen shells for each gun. If you can get them we will shoot a few birds ……season or no season.



Aug 15:  The war is over, my bag is packed and tomorrow I start on my first leg of the journey towards home. Just how soon I get there depends on what ship I get on and how fast it goes. I suppose it will be pretty well towards the end of September before you see me.

Looking back on the past year seems more like a dream than anything else. There were times when I had an idea I would never make it. It wasn’t all bad and I am not sure I would have wanted to miss it. I can truly say I would never want to go through it again. I suppose I’ll soon forget most of what happened here. I never want to forget how beautiful the moon used to look or how restful the rain would sound as it pattered away on the jungle.

I wonder just how much change you will find in me and I in you. You may find me a little older and a little jumpy at times, but a sight more tolerant.

I haven’t much time, so I’ll see you at the station and a great big kiss, if you please.



























Letters To My Mother From WWII: July 1945


July 1:  Don’t look for my June 30th letter. I didn’t write it. I was going to write it. I was going to write last night, but some of the feather merchants (Cavalry) were in town last night and I went down to see them. I got home early, but I didn’t have any candles and it’s hard for me to write in the dark.

I am glad you liked the picture of me. It was pretty good. I have one more film left and one of these days I am going out and try to find Bob’s grave. If I find it I’ll take a picture of it and the cemetery for his folks.

I got a letter from Laura Marie. She said she was going to spend the weekend with you and was looking forward to seeing Edith. Did you have a good time? I guess it was a foolish question to ask. As a usual thing you two always manage to have a good time.

I have a new address. For some reason or other they changed the address. I am still in the same place.

This letter will find you having a good time in Bellaire. Dad should be able to catch a fish this month. I wish I could be there to show him the right spot. Sometimes I think I may leave here soon and then again I think it might be a couple of months. I have it nice here and am willing to wait my turn.

Want to take a good hike? Start down the road towards the golf course and after you have passed the entrance to Fisherman’s you take the first road to the left. It is nothing more than a driveway into the Gardner yard. Go right through their yard and follow the road back into the woods. When I was in the 5th grade, Puff Ritter and I would sneak out his dad’s shotgun and go back there to hunt rabbits.

Perhaps I should go to church this morning. It’s hard for me to sit still that long.

I am anxious to hear you sing. I have a very talented wife and everyone but me gets to hear her sing. Oh what fun it’s going to be to get home.

I suppose clothes are high. I’ll have to buy a suit, shirts, work clothes and shoes and if I possibly can some jods and boots. If you ever see any good arrow shirts you might buy a couple: 15 1/2 – 35 and either white or else blue with a white strip. I have an idea they will be scarce and hard to find.

I have four months pay coming and if I can keep from it I will not sign the payroll until I get in the states. I can manage to get along without money over here and I would rather have it when I get home.

July 3:  This is the life! Go to bed at midnight, sleep until seven and then have the whole day to yourself. I manage to get plenty of good things to eat. Whenever I get down around the ships I sniff the air like a hound dog because there are always good things to eat down there. Last night a Merchant Marine had me aboard to share lunch with him. That man would make Dagwood Bumstead look like a piker. Among the things he brought out was a gallon of sweet pickles. The food here has been pretty good. Last night we had fried chicken.

I think I am almost back up to normal as far as weight is concerned. My face still has a few lines in it, but they are there to stay. My hair is growing and it will soon be long enough to comb. I had to have it all cut off when I got hit in the head. I have an idea you will know me when I get off the train.

I spend a lot of my time dreaming about the day I reach Detroit. Sometimes I think I would like to go to the hotel for the first night and then again I want to go out to the house as soon as I get there. One thing for certain, I want you and only you to meet me at the station.

So far there has been no official tally of my points. It should come to 90, but they may figure it differently. They are waiting for my service record to come and I went over this morning to see about it. My records were not there, so they are going to write to the troop and ask for them. Guess I’ll be too late for the fishing season. Of course, the bass season on the upper lake is good until late in the fall. If I can’t fish I’ll be able to hunt and that will give us more reason to tramp around the country. I just want to wander around like I used to when I was a boy. I guess I know every tree and spring on section five and I want to revisit them. Have you ever heard a spring? There are some there you can hear and I’ll prove it when I get home.

July 4:  I am going to be a very happy boy when your letters start coming regular again. I  get a few from mom and other people, but yours are still on the way. They will all come at once when they do arrive.

In mom’s last letter she expected your folks either the third or the fifth of July. I suppose you are there by now or else you are getting ready to go. She told me how she would get to Grand Rapids this month and I think it’s pretty nice of your mother to stay there while she is away. I am glad the Nortons and the Fosters get along so well. I suppose Edith will be happy now that she can mock her Uncle Ed. We much teach her to call him Grandpa. He has been a mighty good step dad to me and I’ll want my children to have as many grandpas as they can have.

How much longer are you going to treat Edith for the mark on her face? Is the doctor doing any good and how much does he charge?

It has rained nearly all day. It started shortly after I quit work last night and has been raining off and on ever since. So far we have been pretty lucky about the rain, but I expect we will get our share before the summer is over. At least it will keep the streets washed down and that is something. After a long dry spell it gets pretty dusty around here.

I sure enjoy my work. The time goes by so fast and I feel as though I am doing something that is worthwhile. Last night I was on board an English ship and the officers had some scotch for sale, so I may do business with them tonight. I think I can resell it for a pretty fair profit. No, that isn’t black market, it’s just good business. What the army kicks on is when you sell army goods and you can hardly blame them for it.

They are having a big fast ball game today. I guess it will be good, nevertheless, fast ball reminds me of cold, windy days and it seems funny to be playing it in the summer. The Japs that were garrisoned here played a lot of baseball. The Filipinos tell me they used all the English terms while playing it. It would be fun to see them play, because they can’t run. About the only way I could ever tell a Jap from a Filipino was the way they walked or ran. The Filipinos tell me the Japs were pretty good at holding their drinks. They would go into a place, drink, and then when they left they would bow and act very sober and dignified. These (word I can’t decipher)   come busting out of a place with a wolf howl or a long yipee. I wonder if the people in Tokyo are bowing very much these days.

Your dad will miss the berry picking this year. I suppose he will find plenty to do. I’m afraid mom will not be able to bake many apple pies for him with the sugar shortage. I guess all of you will have a good time and Flip you can rest cosy this summer because you will not have to worry about me. This may be the last summer, for some time, you will be able to spend the whole month on the lake. There will not be such a long vacation next year unless you take it without me.

They are broadcasting the football game. I can hear the band playing and the people yelling. Sounds like the states.

I get a kick out of the snow jobs I hear around here. The funny part is that they all come from fellows who have not been in combat. Last night I had a fellow tell me about when he first came overseas and landed at Manilla. He was in a Repl. Camp and the Japs kept trying to take the camp. Every night they would sneak in and do a certain amount of damage and once they set fire to a hospital tent that belonged to the 1st Cavalry. He sure gave a good line and I know it was a lie because while he was in that camp fighting Japs I was in a rest camp on the other side of the road and we didn’t even post guard. We didn’t even have a hospital there. I hand out a snow job myself every now and then.

July 5:  I smell Kind of nice this morning. I have put some oil on my hair and it has a nice sort of odor to it. Still no mail from you or anyone else. Perhaps I’ll get some today. I hate to have it dribble in like this and will be glad when I start hearing direct from you.

Oh how it rained last night. I was lucky to have a good raincoat. Even then the bottom of my trousers were soaked. I could have got inside but I never mind rain if it’s warm. Remember the night you and I were caught in the rain in Palmer Woods and what a hell of a mess we were in afterwords.

I get a coke every afternoon for ten cents and I can get all the coke I can drink. That coke line is just a social gathering.

July 6: Still no mail from you! I suppose it will start coming pretty soon and I hope so. It’s hard to write every day when I am not hearing from you.

I don’t expect to get much help from the GI Bill of Rights when it comes to building our house. About the best thing we can do is just save as much as we can and get the bank or FHA for the rest. First of all I’ll go back to W&B and you and I will save as much as we can. After we have enough for a start we can move to Northville or Plymouth and I will get a job in that neighborhood and we will open our stable and build at the same time. It will be slow work and we may not have the house for another five years, but we will own it and that is going to be the main thing. Perhaps Chauncey and I can work out some kind of a deal on dogs.

If we are going to raise all those kids we will have to have some land, because they will eat us out of house and home. When I get home we will make a lot of plans.

It has been pretty hot today. I tried to sleep this morning. At first I was able to cat nap and then I got to thinking about you and couldn’t sleep a wink. Why is it after people get married they regret they didn’t meet each other sooner or get married before they did?  I should have married you that September morning back in 1940 when I first came down to your place. Little did either of us realize then that I would some day.

I have been reading King Leer. It’s pretty good. Flip, you and I are going to read Paradise Lost when I get home and some day I am going to read Green Pastures to you.

July 7: I have not been able to mail the letter I wrote to you yesterday; lack of stamps. I’ll try to get some tomorrow.

What a day this has been! They put me on a different job this morning. It’s along the same line, but there is a lot of work in it. I worked hard all day and I am dog tired tonight. Perhaps after I work a few days it will not tire me so much.

I got a letter from mom today, but still no mail from you. Did I ever thank you for the lipstick kiss you sent. It was very nice and I still have it. I guess I am saving it for a rainy day.

Pipe tobacco is fairly easy to get around here. As a usual thing I smoke my pipe only during the evening. That way I have plenty of tobacco to run me.

Mom sure sounded happy to know I was out of combat. She is anxious to have me come home. She wants to find out just where I have been and what I have done. I remember how happy I was when I was coming to Washington and I can hardly imagine how I will find it this time. I guess it will be great.

I have gained about all the weight I am going to. I always was a skinny rat. Perhaps I’ll gain a few more pounds when I get home again.  Then again, you may keep my weight down.

July 8:  I worked hard again today, but I am not as tired as I was last night. That proves I am stronger and it makes me pretty glad. I will need to be in good shape when I get home because my job at W&B isn’t an easy one.

What’s the news on Jim and Wanda? Is she going to stay with him regardless of where he is stationed? I wouldn’t blame her a bit. If I was back in the states I would want you close to me. Pretty darned close!

The news looks pretty good. They are sure pounding the hell out of Japan and I hope they keep on and the Japs give in. They better, because if those Yanks go up there after them things may be pretty rough on the Nips.

They have refrigeration plants here for our perishable food and I want to go and see them some day. It might be exactly what you and I want.

Maggie tells me the rose on dad’s  grave is growing very nice. We can get a slip from it and get a climbing rose for our own place. I love flowers and you and I are going to have plenty of them.

July 9:  Did I tell you there are two Max  Ellisons in the world? Both of them are right here in PHJBSEC. The other guy is from West Virginia and we may have our picture taken together.

I have been thinking of you all day. What have I been thinking? Well, I have been remembering the date of August 1, 1942. That was the day we went down and bought jodphurs. Afterwords we went to Joe’s Cafe (first time) and then out to your place. That was the night I decided I wanted to have you for a wife. It took a year and what I didn’t have to do. When I was fighting I never let myself think about you too much because home looked too far away.

One of the fellows in my tent just told me I look a lot better than I did when I first came here. That was about three weeks ago and if he has noticed a change in such a  short time it’s a cinch I am going to fatten up. I sure feel a lot better. Last night I had one of my bad dreams, but I expect to have them for a long time. I always dream I am in front of a Jap machine gun and can’t move. It’s a hell of a thing to dream.

I guess your folks are having a good time up there. Isn’t the lake beautiful in the morning? It’s so calm and still. Dad should be able to go out there and hook a fish before breakfast. Pike hit best just as it’s breaking day.

I think I’ll walk over to the Red Cross tonight. I haven’t been there for a long time and some of the feather merchants are in town. The boys are having an easy time of it now. They are in garrison and I guess they are pretty glad. They should be.

It rained last night. I was at the movies and it was a good picture so I stayed, but good golly Ned I sure got wet. I’ll come home and you will say “Let’s go to a movie” and I’ll start looking for an egg crate to take along for a seat.

We have a loud speaker here and they are playing “The Last Roundup.” I always did like that song. I would enjoy hearing some of Foster’s music now.

July 10:  I received mail from you today. The letters were dated June 23, 26th and 29th. The last one was sent here to (Base X). It sure seemed good to hear from you and I was so glad to get the picture. I always had the idea it was of you alone. No wonder Jim didn’t want to send it until he got home.

It sounds like we both had the same idea of buying things before I got out of combat. I can give you the go ahead signal now, but please don’t build your hopes up too high. I may not get home as soon as you think. Right now I can’t see anything to stop me, but knowing the army I start believing a thing when it happens. In the meantime you can go ahead buying things and make your dish clothes, because it will not be too long before you get to use them.

Mom enclosed one of John’s letters. He said he gave Edith some coffee when you were not looking. No wonder she likes her uncles so well. You want to watch her grandmaggie because she will feed her anything. I think this is why all of us kids had such bad teeth.

James is back with the troop. I expect he will soon get a five day leave and come into Manilla. I am going to be mighty glad to see him. I am afraid he hasn’t enough points to go home and he will have to make the next campaign, providing there is another campaign.

I had to laugh when I heard about your mother planting more tomatoes when she heard I was coming home. I hope we can have a garden next year. There isn’t much chance if we live down by Preston Church. They don’t do much farming in that part of Detroit. We don’t have to live that close to my work, because I can always catch a ride with some of the fellows. I know one fellow who used to drive back and forth from Plymouth and it only took him one hour.

It sure has been hot today. I was able to take a nap this afternoon and it sure helps me when I can relax for a few seconds during the day. I get along very well with my job and I sure enjoy doing something like this where you never have to worry or hug the ground.

July 11:  I think it is a good idea to wait a while before we have JW. It’s going to take a few months for me to get things going and a doctor bill so soon wouldn’t be any help. He shouldn’t cost quite as much as Edith because the little fellow will fall heir to some of her baby clothes.

I went down to the refrigeration plant the other night, but the fellow I wanted to see wasn’t there. He works days and I am going to see him some day and find out all I can about the type of refrigeration you and I will want and what the cost of it should be. It sure will help when you do not have to can food and I think it will save us some money.

Yes we can rent a place unfurnished and furnish it as best we can. The best way to do it would be to buy a good electric stove, and then we would have it when we do get a home of our own. I don’t suppose a person could buy one right now. We will get by some how and I have an idea it will be more comfortable than a foxhole.

That was a nice raise in pay your dad got. Chauncey does not make as much as I thought he did, but he makes enough to get by on and I only wish you and I were as sure we would make as much. Someday I hope to make more.

I didn’t work today. I am to go on at 4:30 and work until midnight. I like that shift because it’s cooler and as a usual thing it rains early in the evening and settles the dust. My job is to check trucks and I have to stand in the middle of the road to do it and it sure can get dusty and hot during the day.

This morning I washed all my clothes. What a job! I am trying to get by without signing the payroll and so I do my own washing. I want plenty of money when I get home. I am not in love with the idea of going to Miami Beach for a couple of weeks. Miami Beach is nice and if you want to go I would be willing, but I would rather spend the time working. I want to get away from the army.

I will say one thing about Truman. They are not going to fool him too much on money matters. It’s a might good thing because our nation sure is in debt.

July 12:  Only a couple hours left before I go to work, so I better write you a letter. In yesterday’s letter you told me how Edith enjoyed examining every bug and flower. I am glad she takes an interest in such things. I guess she is her dad’s girl in more ways than one. I never used to tan and even after spending a year and a half here I am just getting light brown. So Edith says fower for flower. She must be part Jap because they have trouble spitting out the L.

Yes, I too like a screened porch, and some day we will have one, but it didn’t look good on that house. It spoiled the outside view of the fireplace. We are not going to have everything just as we want it right at the start. I am anxious not to go too far into debt. We can keep on making plans and dreaming dreams and some day a part of them will come true. I am glad you are buying such nice silver. I will help you with it and when we do get it we will have something to be proud of. It’s going to be fun to have a place of our own and be able to ask other people to dinner.

I know you are working overtime dreaming about how soon I will get home. Just keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best and I’ll come when my turn comes. It’s such a relief to be out of combat that I just enjoy life without dreaming about home. I have plenty of good food , an easy job, and a good place to sleep. You have no idea what it can mean to a man who has gone without food, slept in holes, and saw your buddies killed and wounded. I know you miss me and I miss you, but we have so much to live for. It was worth fighting for and it’s worth waiting for. It may be two months and it may be six months, but some day I am coming home and then you and I can start to live.

I have a pass that lets me go aboard ships and sometimes when I am not working I use the pass for the purpose of getting coffee. Most ships have a small galley where the men spend a part of their spare time drinking coffee and I join them. I have met some pretty swell fellows who tell interesting stories of other ports where they have stopped. Most of the “Ellisons” have been a land locked bunch and I would enjoy seeing JW go to sea. Perhaps it’s a little early to start making plans for him, but there are so many interesting vocations in this world. Horse training is one of them, but I will never try to get my son to work in the old man’s footsteps.  Half the fun in life is breaking trail.

When I am positive I am on my way home you might start looking for a house. I do not want to stay at your folks place very long and I do want to start working. I will get $300. mustering out pay ($100. per month). If we work it right we can use most of it towards buying a few things for our home.

My vacation in Bellaire isn’t going to cost much. Of course Sam and I will drink a quart of Rye, but Sam Fuller never did pay over $3. for a quart of whiskey. I am going to need clothes, but not so many and the only thing that will cost a lot are my Jodhpurs. I can’t wear those “Myers” like you have. Remember how I worked and figured for two months trying to get those for you without your folks objecting? You are going to have plenty of chances to ride and this time I am going to start you at the bottom and make you learn how to ride a horse bareback.

I guess I do not look as old as I have pictured it to you. My eyes have several wrinkles, but I am wearing sun glasses and they will keep me from squinting and making them worse than they are. My face is still pretty thin, but even that will fill out in time. I am not sure about my hair. It is growing, but I can’t stand to work my scalp because it still hurts. I wonder if you realize how big an explosion I was in. The Jap bunker we were trying to knock out was built like a cave and unknowingly I was right on top of the cave. There was a big coconut log there and I crawled up behind the log and kept the hole covered while three other fellows came up with grenades. They threw a grenade in and the following explosion blew the log higher than the trees. The other three guys are still in the hospital and all three of us are lucky to have heads on our necks, not to mention hair on our head.

July 13:  We have a chair in our tent, but no one sits on it. I am so used to my bunk, the ground, or a box that I hardly think of sitting in a chair. We also have electric lights in the tent and they are going to come in handy when I start working days. It’s much easier to write at night.

You say your dad had my reels oiled by experts. That wasn’t necessary, but I am glad to know they have had good care. One of them is an extra good reel. I suppose my line is rather rotten. As a usual thing I use a line only one season and I don’t suppose I’ll have any trouble buying one when I get home. Some day I am going to take your dad on a real fishing trip. We will take you along as a cook. Do you have a motor for the boat this year? If so, go to the south end of the lake and go down the river about a quarter of a mile. On the left side you will see a stone cottage, but the people (Brakes) never seemed interested in selling. That cottage stands on the banks where they used to skid logs in the winter and my dad used to (unrecognizable word)  logs there when he was young. Once a log broke loose from the pile and my dad was caught between the pile and the river. He had to jump in to avoid being crushed – winter and cold as blue blazes. In the spring that marsh floods over and the large pike and bass go in there to spawn. In the old days folks would go in at night and spear them. As you leave the lake to go into the river please say hello to the sea-gull you will find perched on the pile. He is an old friend of mine and no doubt wonders what happened to me.

I suppose you will be going back to Detroit by the first of the month. If you are I will start sending your letters there on the 20th. I wonder why I do not hear from Wanda. I am wondering if she got to see Hialeah while she was in Florida. It’s a beautiful place.

I guess it’s about time for me to scram. I pick up my mail on the way to work and I am looking for one today.

July 14:  It’s too hot to write letters today. It’s always warm during the day, but almost always we have a shower in the evening to cool things off a bit. I am just a little lonesome for some snow. Perhaps there will be lots of it when I get home. If there is we may not stay in Bellaire too long. I will be glad when I start working days. I am afraid I miss too much sleep the way things are now.

Your folks will not get to pick any blackberries this year. Too bad. I guess there will not be many this year with such a freakish spring as they had. There used to be a lot of huckleberries east of Mancelona and my folks used to go over there nearly every summer. They always made sort of a picnic out of it and I remember them camping out for a night.

It sounds as though the Japs might be thinking about giving up. They better! To me, this is the most foolish thing in the world. They know they haven’t a chance and yet they hang on. They talk about saving face, but I hope we don’t give them a chance to save anything.

It’s hard to realize time is going by so fast. Tomorrow, and then July will be half gone. Ten months ago I was on the ship and headed for the invasion of Leyte. Did I ever tell you , I got on the ship to go to Leyte and the only thing I forgot was ammunition; of all the things for a man to forget.

July 16:  You will not get a letter for the 15th. I want to write  to you about horses and racing so you will understand what to expect in the years to come. I’ll send it one of these days.

The Lt. called me in tonight and told me he was going to move me to the other side of town.  From now on my work will be over there and it’s too much trouble to drive back and forth. He is sending five of us over there. Four to work and me to boss. I like this side best, but I am not going to kick too much.

For some reason known only to God and the mess Sgt. we had cocoa for breakfast instead of coffee. If it stops raining I will walk to the Red Cross and get a cup of coffee.

Some fellows left here with 97 points. Sounds as though they will get around to me yet. My service records should be here this week and then they will figure out exactly how I stand. I am sweating out the Admiralty Campaign. The campaign was over when I got there, but I went out on the patrol and we chalked up forty-seven of the varmints so they told us we would receive credit for it. Now I am wondering whether it was put on my service record as such. Actually a fellow does not get any extra credit for combat. If you are in a combat zone you get five points. A fellow just coming over seas and landing here the day before combat is declared closed gets exactly as many points as the guy who fought all the way through.

It has stopped raining, so I am headed for town. The army has put snack bars around town. There is one just down the street.

July 17:  A letter from you today. I was sure glad to hear from you and I hope they come steadily from now on. Flip, I know you are lonesome and so am I, but here is something for both of us to think about. There are thousands of guys over here who want to be home nearly as bad as I do. However, many of them still have hard fighting to do and a lot of them will not come home. You and I can just be very glad my chances of coming home are as good as they are. I remember one night in Leyte when I didn’t expect to last long enough to see the moon come up, to say nothing about coming home. I have had a Jap so close to me I could have clubbed him with my rifle, but I did the smart thing and kept quiet.

What a dream I had last night. The only thing it lacked was Technicolor. It seemed as though I was home and we were down to Richard’s grocery. After that we went fishing. I dream about you fairly often and I always dream we are in Bellaire. I guess I think about you and home too much.

I think we are going to have a big rain. A gust of wind just wandered through and darn near blew the tent down.

I saw the most beautiful ring this morning that I have ever seen. It was a star sapphire and a star ruby. The jeweler had made a figure eight out of the gold and mounted the saphire on one half and the ruby on the other half. Her husband had bought the ring in India for $150. You wonder who “her” is? They unloaded some troops today and the Red Cross was there with hot coffee and doughnuts and “her” was handing out the doughnuts. I asked her where she managed to get such a beautiful ring and got a life history of both the ring and her. She used to spend her vacations in Petoskey. She was calling me Honey before I left so I guess I look more like my old self. I guess she comes from the deep south.

The wind has died down and now it’s raining. I think I’ll take a walk over for coffee.

July 18:  Today I received letters from LauraMarie, Blanch, Claire T and a couple of letters from people you do not know, but there wasn’t  any mail from you. It has been a very nasty day. The wind blew and it rained a lot. Now I am nearly ready for bed. I have been to the Red Cross for a cup of coffee and on the way back I got a coke at the snack bar.

I have been dreaming a lot about our home. I have a very good idea for our grape arbor. We can have it behind the house and it will separate the back lawn from the garden. I want it fairly close to the house because a grape arbor makes an ideal place to bury any garbage or stuff like that. Next to the grapes, on the garden side, we can plant our beds of pie plant, horse radish, and asparagus. They come up early and will be out of the way before the grapes shade them.

At the far end of the garden we can put our tool shed, dog kennels, fruit trees, and a few swarms of bees. I don’t know much about bees, but I want them close to the fruit trees and I don’t want them singing around my ears when I drink a long tall one in my back yard. I plan on raising just as much of our food as I possibly can. There is an article in the April Readers Digest I wish you would read. Can’t remember the name of it, but it’s about the advantages of raising your own food. The bee project is going to be P. Ray’s. I’ll furnish the pasture and the bees and let him do the work. The dogs will be Chauncey’s project. He can furnish the dogs and I’ll furnish the work.  Flip, it is sort of nice to dream and I guess some of them will come true.

I am going to sign the payroll tomorrow. I am so broke and this is the last airmail I have until I get paid.

July 19:  This afternoon I stopped at personnel and my service records were there from the Squadron so we figured up my points. Right now I have 83, but that isn’t counting the two clusters on my Purple Heart. They typed out an order for them this afternoon and I will get them within two or three days and that will give me 93 points. I am pretty close to home and they are taking fellows with 95 to 97, so my turn is close. The Sgt. said next month by the very latest. This was the first time I had a chance to look at my service record and I am thinking my uniform will be well decorated, I am entitled to wear the combat infantry badge, good conduct medal, SWP Ribbon, Philippine Liberation Ribbon and the Purple Heart with 2 clusters.

I am pretty excited tonight and I think I’ll go for a walk and calm my nerves.

July 20:  I am not sure whether this is the 20th or the 21st. Anyway it’s Saturday night and I have been downtown. Every time I found a line I got in it, so now I am full of coke and coffee.

No mail from you today. It’s a funny thing that I hear from mom twice a week and every one else mail reaches me on time. I know a little girl who may think she will let up on letter writing now that I am so close to home and I remember what she told me the day we were married about writing letters. When your letters do come they better be fairly regular with postdates.

I hope tomorrow will be a good day. I am going to the cemetery if it isn’t raining. It’s the only day I have off in three weeks and I would hate to get a rain check for it.

I wonder what your plans are for the balance of the summer. It isn’t likely you will go back to Aunt Mary’s for such a short time. If I don’t get away next month I am bound to make it in September. Once I leave this place I will move fast and you may not hear from me for a few weeks. You can sort of watch for a wire telling you to meet the train. I’ll wire or call you before I get there, but I may wait until I am in Chicago. If you are in Muskegon I’ll give you a little more notice. I have often dreamed of coming home and I want it to be just like when I came to Washington. You will meet the train and we will go home together. You don’t need to bother about bringing the car. I’ll not have any baggage and it will be fun to take the bus or streetcar. We may not even go straight home. I suppose we will find a change in each other. I know you are bound to see a change in me. I guess I am a little battle worn in spots. About the only thing I have to overcome is my nerves and I think I’ll get over it in time. What I need most is plenty of Flip and it will not be long now. I hope you are willing to take a lot of walking, because I am doing a lot of it.

July 25:  My sins have found me out. Tomorrow morning I have to stand formation while the General pins the two oak clusters on me. This time it will be formal. I will get my picture taken and I think I’ll be able to get a copy for you.

I have gained back about all the weight I lost, but I am out of condition. I do as much walking as I can around here and I think by the time I get home I’ll be ready for work. I have been massaging my scalp and it no longer hurts. For a long time it was too sore to touch.


Letters To My Mother From WWII: June 16-29, 1945


Betty Hutton Singing To the Troops

June 16:  I have some good news for you. I am at my new place which is in Manilla and this morning they had me over for classification. They told me they would find some light job for me around here and I could work for a while. They also told me I would be leaving for the states within a couple of months. I have an idea I will be home by the last of August, but  am not building my hopes too high.

I am going to get a pass and go back to E Troop to get my things. If they are on the line I will not go up. It would be silly to take unnecessary risks after what I have been through.

Last night I walked downtown. The town has changed since I entered it on the night of February 6th. I like it better this way, but I’ll always remember it as it was then with the sky red from fire and the people hysterical with joy. Last night I walked along the streets and looked into the shop windows where I could buy anything from a python skin to a pair of shoes and thought of the other time. I was in an ambulance that night and as we went along the darkened streets we could hear the bullets. Yes Flip, it’s a better Manilla now.

Did dad leave my reels up home? I hope so. I will do some fishing before this season ends. Wouldn’t it be great if I got there about the last of August? Perhaps I am dreaming too much.

It’s raining hard. If it lets up I want to walk down town. I think walking will build me up and it keeps my mind busy.

June 19:  I still haven’t had time to re-read all of your letters, but I guess you are in Detroit. I sent a letter to Muskegon yesterday with two pictures in it.  Editor’s Note:  Unfortunately none of the pictures dad talks about have survived. I recently searched the Civil War Trunk and the only pictures are family pictures.   I’ll send two more today. The one picture is of Clair T and myself with a couple of our girlfriends. The other picture is of Sgt.Bretta, saddle horse man from Mexico, MO. and our platoon officer (white shirt). He was killed and I want to send this picture to his wife if I can get her address. The color is perfect and notice how the chicken is trying to get the other one.

You told me your aunt rode a horse with kicking straps on and it can’t be done. Of course if she was driving him, that would be different.

I was over in Manilla last night and I decided I wanted some fried shrimp. I had about 10 of them and they cost two dollars, so I decided I didn’t want any more.

I have decided to send all the pictures in a separate envelope. You will notice the one fellow with the chickens (where they are fighting), that is James. After you have looked at it would you mind sending it to his mother? James is still in the hospital and she would enjoy seeing the picture.

Editor’s Note:  Dad included Alice James address in this letter. I am going to include the address just in case someone reads this and knows the family. I doubt the address is current, but if it is, the James family may be interested in this blog. I did google the address and there is a street view of the house taken in 2013. The address is: Alice James, 1025 15th St. S., Columbus Mississippi.

Talk about carved Ivory…I have found some and, what I mean, it is beautiful. I wanted to buy some for you, but they ask $140 for what I want. I keep looking at it and thinking. I have an idea I could trade my camera for it and don’t be surprised if I do. Remember the carved tusk we saw in Washington. This is smaller but the carving is as good if not better.

My bed is a mess. I have it covered with your letters, pictures and Thoroughbred Records. Don’t send any packages unless I tell you to. They might not get here in time.

You want to know what I want to do when I get home? I want you to meet me at the train and we will go out to the house together. Then I want to go to Bellaire. There is no need for an apartment up there. We will stay at mom’s for a week or two and be sure to have some walking shoes. You and I will hike around the country, fish and whatever there is to do. After we get back to Detroit I would like to leave Edith with your mother and then you and I will go to Lexington for a weekend. Then I will be ready to go to work. I know work will be hard on me for a couple of weeks, so I want to have a good time first We will not have too much money to spend but it will not cost us much in Bellaire. Oh yes, I want to spend a day with John and Steve.

Even though I talk about coming home this summer you must not get your hopes up too high. I am out of combat and having it very nice here (four fried eggs for breakfast) so I will not kick if I don’t get home right away.

June 20:  Last night I took a long walk. Manilla is starting to have more personality now and the people are busy building and cleaning up. The little boys shine shoes on the sidewalk, the girls sell corsages made from orchids, and the Hindus, with their turbaned heads, look on in contempt. I have wanted to stop and talk to one of them, but they always seem so reserved that I never have screwed up the courage. I will one of these days. During my walk I stopped at a tiny restaurant and had seven tiny shrimp served to me at the price of $1.25. The shrimp were good, but they should be at such a price.  It made me remember the shrimp dinners we used to get for $1.00. I stopped at the Red Cross and sweated out the line for a cup of coffee and then I came back. What a beautiful sun set there was. I couldn’t see the sun because it had hidden behind a cloud, but the clouds were all pink and gold. I walked along a street where several of the buildings had been reduced to heaps of rubbish and as I looked at the clouds and felt the beauty of the scene I guess I felt about like Noah felt when the Lord pointed out the rainbow.

You have no idea how happy I am now that I know I will not have to go back into combat. When I got hit in the arm I thought I was going to be killed that morning. I will never forget the first time I was hit in the shoulder. As I ducked down into the ditch of water I realized just what combat could be like. When I got hit in the arm I thought I was going to be killed that morning. I’ll never forget how a Filipino and I hid in the fox hole during the shelling. I had my arms around that poor kid and I think we were both waiting to die and he, I am afraid, did die. When I got it in the head, well, that happened so quick that I didn’t have time to worry, but it all helps you to understand why I am glad to be away from it. You say I have done my share, but there is no way of figuring what the share is. Compared to a lot of fellows my share has been small.

I have always done what I was told to do. Once I refused. It was early in the morning, before breakfast, and they told me and two other fellows to wade across a small creek, climb the bank and look around some houses that were on the other side. I got as far as the creek and had a hunch I shouldn’t go on. We went back. Well, I was right. It took us two days to cross the blamed creek and we had to have plenty of support from the artillery.

June 21:  Talk about eating…..I had three fried eggs for breakfast. For lunch I had some macaroni fixed with meat and hard boiled eggs, potato salad and it had sour pickles in it, pumpkin pie and apple juice. I can’t find any scales, but I know this good food is shooting my weight up and I feel and look better. I did have a grim look in all those pictures. There were a couple I didn’t send to you. Since then I have made myself smile and the grim look is leaving my face. I didn’t feel grim, but there hadn’t been anything to smile about and my face drifted in that shape.

I wonder how Edith will react towards me when I get home. I will be able to win her over in a day or so, but she will always be your girl. Lets wait at least two or three months after I get home before starting to make plans for John W; sort of let me enjoy the one I have for a little while and I want to take you out a few more times before we have so many kids we will not be able to go out. I noticed a spot between Edith’s eyes in all the pictures. Is that scab from the treatments? Even though they are not very plain, I like the pictures of her standing up. It gives me an idea of how large she is and what she looks like. She may look like you when she gets older. Just now she is still an Ellison and looks like Wanda did at the same age. I tell you Flip, I put my stamp on all my colts. You can recognize them as far as you can see them. Without a doubt our first son will look like the Nortons.

June 22:  Tomorrow will find me with a job. I am not sure how much I can tell you about it. I don’t know very much myself, but it will not be hard work and it sounds interesting. My address will be the same. I don’t suppose I’ll have much time for writing letters. I’ll always manage to write to you every day.

My stomach has turned sour this afternoon. I hope this isn’t dysentery coming back. I’ll walk to town after supper and buy a pineapple.

It has been fairly cool today. We have had some hot weather around here. I have taken two or three showers a day.

It has been almost two years to the day since I was last in Detroit. I’ll always remember how blue I felt when I was last there. Flip, you sure made me worry. I guess we are both happy things turned out the way they did. I know I am.

There are two small matched vases of carved ivory in Manilla. The price is $100.00, but I think I can get them for less. I have a Filipino who is going to act as my agent. The damn Chinaman knows I want them and he is keeping the price up. I’ll get around his high price, if possible, because I know you would love them.

June 24:  This will be a very short note. I am very tired and I have to go to school tonight. I spent a part of the afternoon in Manilla’s Chinatown. It’s the real McCoy with it’s narrow winding streets and it’s many eat shops. I would have had some food, but I am a little afraid of it. They are not so very clean.

June 25: I worked this morning and have the afternoon off. However, I have to go back after supper and may not be through until one in the morning. I had lunch aboard ship. This is all we had, soup, steak, gravy, potatoes, fresh salad, raisin bread, butter, hot coffee and apple pie with cheese. I will get fat if I eat like that very often. I know I am going to enjoy this job and if it wasn’t for you and Edith I wouldn’t want to come home. After combat any kind of work would seem like heaven.

Detroit seems to be having it’s share of racing trouble. I expect they will put through the proper legislation, build a new track and they will be ready to go. I hope they do build a new track and fix it so they can train during the winter. It’s hard to get a two-year-old ready for the June meeting if you can’t gallop him during the late winter. If I am in Detroit this fall I may try to buy a young mare and breed her in the spring. There is going to be a new stud standing near Detroit next spring and if I could get a mare with Teddy blood it would make a good cross. We will see. If I did buy a mare you would be able to ride her all winter and most of next summer.

I guess Edith is a real live wire. I only hope she will like me. She better, because she is going to see a lot of me.

June 26:  I worked last night and everything went just fine. I guess I’ll catch on to things all right. Perhaps I’ll hear from you today. My mail should start coming here before very long and I’ll be glad when it does.

George Brewer hasn’t many points. He can’t possibly have over thirty-four. I wonder if he will be sent over here. I hope not. There is only one guy I would like to see over here and that is Lyol. Fat Chance!

Last night I started to get on a ship and the ship’s officer and asked me where I was from. I told him Michigan and he said “well I guess I don’t know you because I am from Kentucky, but it seems as if I have seen you before.” He used to work at the Scott Hotel while going to college and Eddie and I lived there.

There isn’t much to tell you. I am still looking forward to coming home and in the meantime I am enjoying myself. I should have close to a hundred and fifty dollars when I get home and that will take us where we want to go and give us enough money to fool around on for a while. I will need some clothes, but not too many. We will make out some way and I know we will be plenty happy.

June 27:  I expect to hear from you today. I did get a little mail yesterday, but none of it was from you. Blanch wrote, she is now in the Hawaiian Islands.

We have a barber shop here and I can get a shave for ten cents. From now on I am going to let the barber shave me.

I had supper last night on board the ship. Those boys sure feed good. I didn’t have very much to do last night. There was a fellow with me all the time and he sure was a pain. He hasn’t been over here a year and hasn’t been in any combat. However, he is positive it will take several months to readjust himself once he gets back to the states. SILLY!

It is possible I am going to spend a couple of days on the west coast before I start for Detroit. I had a buddy killed here and I want to see his folks. He was with Clair and I all the way from Ft. Ord and I guess his folks feel pretty bad. They live close to Frisco and I could send them a wire and meet them there. I received a letter from Clair T. His mother sent him a camera exactly like mine.

Come to think of it I will have a little adjusting to do. It’s going to be hard to go to the bathroom and not have at least 50 guys grunting and groaning on each side of you. For the past eight months I have used nothing but a GI spoon to eat with and it will be hard to get used to a fork.

It sure is a swell feeling to know that I have a wife and a baby to come home to.

June 28:  This letter may not turn out to be much. It has been pretty hot all day and I can’t seem to think of anything to write about. Two letters for mom last night, but none from you. I am sure to hear from you today. I hope so at least. Mom said Edith liked her cat. We will have to buy her a pup as soon as we possibly can. She would be a happy little girl if she had a dog to play with. I am glad she likes animals.

It’s about time for your dad’s new “wonder man” to take over. I am glad dad is to have lots of help, because he sure has lots of work ahead of him.

I sure have an easy job. Last night I didn’t have to do a blessed thing. While I was away someone entered my tent and made off with my cigarettes. The varmint!

Still waiting my turn to come home. It will be some time before I get away. The fellows with the most points go first and I am willing to wait my turn. If I get home this fall we will hunt instead of fishing. I can hear mom telling me to be careful with the gun and asking me if it is loaded.

We will have fun, Flip. I can  close my eyes and just see how it’s going to be when we are together again and this time we will not have to worry about my leaving.

June 29:  I received your letter written June 14th.  What a mix up in your mail. I have been sending it to Detroit; now I’ll change and send it to Bellaire. Glad you are going up there for the month of July. It will give you a nice vacation and will help pass the time until I get there. I may not get home as soon as they told me. You better plan on seeing me the first of November and then you will not be disappointed.

Edith fell for Jim and when I get home she will be afraid of me. It always turns out that way. What did Edith think of John and Steve? Was John quiet while you were there?

I had a wonderful day. My job has changed a little. Now I ride around town in a car. It’s the same job though and I visit all the ships.

Did I ever tell you about Mary? She was a Red Cross girl who used to be pretty nice to me when my nerves were so bad. I saw her in town today. She was riding with a one star general and I was surprised when she waved to me. Her husband is in India.

In a way Jim is a lucky cuss, however, he may serve another year in this army  and once I get home I am OUT! I have put in my time. Some of us were talking about combat this afternoon. It’s not fun to hash it over.

There is to be a movie tonight, God Is My Co Pilot.  It may be good, that is, if they don’t wave too many flags.

So the truck drivers in Chicago are having a strike. I am not a union man, but I don’t blame the union for standing up for their rights, but it’s a bad thing to hear about when you are over here.

A WAC is what we call a double-breasted soldier.


Letters To My Mother From WWII: June 1-14, 1945

June Not Dated:  Yesterday I hitch-hiked out to the troop and got all my things, camera, barber tools, pictures, and best of all my mail. When I got there one of the fellows remarked that something was bound to happen to me before I left. Sure enough, about an hour later I was riding on a truck load of trunks and fell off flat on my back. My head hit the pavement with a big bang and I knocked some skin off my elbow.

I hated to leave this morning. The troop was still in combat, but some of the boys were back to the CP (Command Post) sort of licking their wounds and I talked with them last night. Clair  T was still in combat and James is still in the hospital. A few nights ago some ornery Japs tossed a grenade into a fox hole where some of my friends were sleeping. No one was killed, but a couple of my friends were cut up.

I am not going to try to answer all your questions in this letter. In fact I haven’t even had time to look over your house plans. The pictures of Edith are swell and the ones of you are extra good. I look at them all the time. The ones taken of Edith at Christmas make her look as though she is half bull frog. I sure was surprised to hear that John got married. I am going to buy them something and write a letter to them.

All my colored pictures turned out good. I am sending you two today and I’ll send two more tomorrow. The other four pictures are of kids who have been killed since I took the pictures. Save them please. After the war I will send them to their mothers.

June 2: Japan and I have declared a separate peace treaty. I am not going to shoot at them and they are not going to shoot at me. In other words, I am now a non-combat soldier with a fair chance of returning to the states. I doubt whether I’ll come before fall, but I’ll keep the Christmas date with you.

Now my fighting days are over I find myself looking back at them with a mixture of feelings. They were bad. I never told you how bad because I didn’t want you to worry, but there were times when I thought I would never make it. I guess I will never forget the foxholes and how I used to dream of you with a full moon to keep me company and remind me of the swell wife back home. I will always remember the fellows who fought with me. Many of them have been killed.  Some are in the states and, without a doubt, I will never see the most of them again. As Kipling said,” I have shoved it all behind me, long ago and far away.” I will do the same thing and in the years to come I’ll remember nothing but the beautiful part of it.

You may send my mail here: 191 Repl Co. 46th Bn, APO 711, C/O P.M. San Francisco, Calif. I don’t know what they will have me doing or how long I’ll be here. Just now I am working in the mail room re-addressing letters. It’s a very easy job and it is good for my nerves. Everyone is nice to me and I feel a lot better.

Life, what is next? I am ready!

June 3:  I weighed myself this afternoon and I am up to 132 lbs. I should weigh 150, but I am not kicking. A few weeks ago I was down to 125.

My chances for coming home are pretty good. A fellow left this morning and he only had two more points than I have.  Of course I will have to join some outfit before I can be sent home. I guess you better not plan on going back to Muskegon.

My day seems to be pretty full. I get up before daylight, go to work at 7:30, have an hour for lunch, and I get through between four and five in the evening. After dinner I go to the Red Cross for coffee and then to the show. They give out news at the movie, so I never miss it. The food here is pretty good. At least it’s a lot better than we had during combat.

Sunday and I didn’t go to church. I used to enjoy going to church, but after our chaplain got killed I sort of stopped. I’ll start again when I get home and can go with you. It will not be very long before we start sending Edith to Sunday School. Will your dad get the same church this year? I hope so.

June 4:  This has been one swell day. It rained for a while this morning and then it turned off clear and cool. When I say cool I don’t mean frosty. They started out the day for me by giving me two slices of french toast for breakfast.

I started a letter to Maggie last night, but didn’t finish it. I get so sleepy. Honestly, I don’t believe it is possible for me to get enough sleep. I guess I am making up for what I missed last winter.

I suppose you are having a good time in Bellaire. Editor’s Note: Mom is not in Bellaire. Her mail is being forwarded to Marlowe St in Detroit.  Oh how I wish I were there with you. We haven’t anything to kick about have we? It hardly seems possible there is a chance of my coming home. Flip, if I do come home I may leave my camera with Clair T. He could send it to me after the war.

One of the fellows just brought in a pineapple. We Eat! The ones we get here sure are better than the ones you buy at home. I guess you don’t buy so many now.

I expect to go to classification one of these days and they are going to try to find some kind of a job for me. That is going to be hard because I don’t plan on working too hard from here out. As soon as I get in some outfit I’ll be eligible for home. I expect the summer will be pretty far gone before I even get in an outfit.

I should get some mail from you within another week.

Oh, yes, when I got wounded March 6th I told you there was a story that went with it. You see I got caught on a hill directly in front of a target our artillery was firing on. It was one of our own shells that hit me.

Editor’s Note: Attached to this letter is an undated newspaper article in very small print. It reads as follows:

People these days are often given short emergency courses in how to carry out difficult tasks. An elevator operator, off for the day, was replaced by a girl who on her first trip with live passengers brought the elevator to an abrupt stop. “Did I stop too quickly For you?” She asked the passengers. “oh no indeed,” coyly replied a little old woman in one corner of the car. “I always wear my bloomers around my ankles.”

June 5:  After spending nearly three years in the Army I am CQ (Charge of Quarters) for the first time. Yes, I am CQ of a mail room for one night. By golly, I am going up in the world. Tomorrow I can have a pass to go into (word censored). I think I will stay here and spend the day sleeping. I can wash out my clothes and save a Peso.

I have worked pretty steady today. It seems so good to just be able to work and not worry about anything. I am starting to gain weight. The flesh is starting to pad my ribs. A month ago it was stretched over my ribs like the head of a drum. I guess I don’t have to tell you after sending those pictures home.

I wrote to Clair T and told him to pick up my camera, barber tools and pictures and either send them to me or else I will try to see him when he goes into the garrison. I still have the four rolls of film dad sent me and I am anxious to get the camera. I would like to have my picture taken with you. Fat chance of that.

It’s about time for me to walk over to the Red Cross and get a cup of coffee. There is a good show on tonight, but I have to stay around here.

I must write to Maggie. I have started a couple of letters to her, but for some reason I never finish them. I’ll have to stay up late tonight, so perhaps I’ll get to it.

Lets not plan a too long vacation when I get home. I am anxious to get to work. A couple of weeks should be enough. There are several places up there where I want to take you and, of course, I’ll want to have a good visit with mom and then I’ll be ready to work. We can’t spend much money anyway.

I think I’ll start saving a little towards coming home. When I get off the boat in Frisco I want enough money to buy a gallon of wine, pay for a telegram, and buy a one way ticket to Detroit. Guess who will get the telegram? You are right.

June 5:  My day off and what a day it has been.  I wish  had worked because I can’t seem to find anything to do. I have spent a part of the afternoon talking with a fellow from Alpena. I do not even have to work while I am here. I didn’t know that until this morning. I would rather work than lie around, so I guess I’ll just stay on the job.

There is a fellow in this tent from Lexington Ky and he is as funny as a crutch. He isn’t very old and hasn’t been over here two weeks, but he has all the fellows believing that he has been overseas for years.

I have been thinking about writing to Mr. Moore (W&B). He wrote to me last winter asking about my post war plans. I have decided I would like to have a job in the inspection dept and I think I’ll write and tell him to make way for a good man. I am afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle the job I used to have. It was killing work then.

Flip, did you ever play golf? It’s a lot of fun and your husband can still play a good game. If you don’t take my word for it ask Art Ward. It would be fun for you and I to take it up. The one thing I must get you interested in is fishing. You say you don’t like to fish. That’s because you never caught any. Wait until you go with me.

I haven’t had a beer since March. I wish they would give us some as I have a thirst. Remember the brandy we used to drink?  Where will we hide our brandy when your folks come to visit us? I’ll have to keep it with my horse medicine.

The Filipinos have a unique way of cooking duck eggs. They incubate the eggs and when they are about ready to hatch they boil the eggs and eat the unhatched duck. I am going to try them some day. They should be good. Perhaps I should say, there is no reason for them not being good. We like lobsters and they live off dead sailor bays. Once, when I was going with Eloise, Mrs Cook cooked a beaver. They asked me to dinner that night and we all went to work on that damned old beaver and kidded ourselves into believing it tasted like rabbit. About five years later Clair and I were eating dinner one night and I got to thinking about that beaver his mother cooked and wondering whether or not he remembered it. All I said to him was “Wasn’t that the worst meat you ever ate?” Without thinking he answered “You mean the beaver?”

June 7:   This is going to be a nice night to sleep. It is raining now and it looks like an all night rain. I am lucky to have inside jobs if this is going to keep up.

I was thinking last night how nice it’s going to seem to sleep in a bed again. Right now a canvas cot seems like a luxury and what will it be like when I get home and have a real bed to sleep in, not to mention my blue-eyed sleeping partner. I can hardly wait.

What part of Detroit do you want to live in this winter? I would like to find some place small and furnished. It will just about have to be furnished and I suppose places are hard to find. I wouldn’t want to live as far out as your folks live because it would be too far to work. Of course, if we can’t find anything closer we will have to make the best of it. We could spend the winter reading Paradise Lost. Now and then we can slip out to some place like the Roma and have dinner and remember that son-of-a ***** who wanted to buy a drink for his Cap-a-tan.

I am tired tonight and I am going to take a nap before dinner. I guess I worked too hard today. Flip, pretty soon our long wait will be over.

June 8: I am very much in love with my wife tonight. I guess I have been dreaming more than a man should when he is ten thousand miles away. One thing, Flip, I can dream of you now and feel fairly sure of seeing you some day, and it’s more than I could do while I was fighting. Life was so uncertain then.

It is raining, but here in my tent everything is snug and dry. My lighting system isn’t  much, just a can of fat with a cloth wick. It flickers a good deal. Flickers and makes cracking sounds and smells good as hell.

I am wondering what Maggie will put in the Bellaire paper about me. I know she will not miss. I did my best. Perhaps it wasn’t enough. I wish I could talk with you tonight. I am lonesome.

They gave us six cans of beer tonight. I traded four cans for cigarettes. I have to buy my cigarettes now (five cents a pack) and I am short of money. I have enough to get along on.

The days go by so fast. I like my job and have a swell kid to work for, so you can see everything is lovely. One of these days I am going over to classification and see what they have to offer me. Just now I am contented to rest and enjoy life.

Can Edith walk as far as downtown? Keep your eye on her or she will be all over town. Are there any children around there close to her age? Tell her daddy will buy her a dog when he gets home.

They feed us pretty good here. We had all the hot dogs we wanted for dinner. I ate a couple of them. This noon we had hamburgers and onions. I’ll get fat on this. During the early part of the Luzon Campaign I lived off the Filipinos. They sure fix some strange dishes even though they are delicious. Their chicken soup is the best in the world and when I come home I’ll make some for you. They flavor a lot of their food with ginger root.

June 10:  I was over to clarifications this morning. The fellow talked with me for two hours and decided there were only two things in the army I was classified to do: break horses and parade a M-1 Rifle and there are no horses to break. He said I was a cinch to go home, however, they might keep me here for a couple of months and send me back to the Cavalry so as I could be sent home from there. I know how the 1st Cavalry sends men home and I don’t plan on going back there. Well as times rolls by we will see how things work out.

I haven’t heard who won the Derby. I’ll hear it tonight over the news. L.B. Meyer had a good colt in the race by the name of Jeep.  Editor’s Note: Hoop Jr. won the Derby in 1945.


It’s very near chow time. As a usual thing I write to you after I finish work at night, but I had a little spare time this morning and I am always so tired at night. Last night I went to bed before dark.

They have good movies here. All of them seem to be late pictures and the machine manages to limp through the show without breaking down. Last summer, on Howie, we never saw a show without having the machine break down two or three times.

Have you seen Florence Culver up there? I had a dream about her last night. I can’t remember the dream, but it had to do with a picture Bob painted; a picture called Old Man Gille’s Barn The Day He Died. I remember very distinctly that was the picture and it seems as though he did paint a picture of the barn. Ask if you see her.

June 11:  I am CQ tonight and tomorrow is my day off. I may get a pass and try to find my troop, because I want to get my camera, pictures, and broken tools. I am not sure where they are, but I may be able to find them.   Editor’s Note: So I am thinking he is still somewhere in the Philippines.

I worked pretty steady today. It seems so darned good to be doing something like this and I actually have been enjoying myself. I am starting to dream more of you and less of the Japs. Dreaming of you has it’s bad points because it always makes me lonesome. Anyway, I am feeling better, eating good, and working hard.

The Derby, to my way of thinking, wasn’t too much of a race. The winner was not too impressive as a two-year old and I am afraid he will go down in history as a pretty bad Derby winner. Of course I haven’t heard all the details. Perhaps he set a track record. I doubt it. How is Edith’s Teddy? Has she entered him in any two year old stakes?

Censorship regulations around here are pretty strict. I can’t write like I used to when I was in the troop. There isn’t anything around here you would be interested in except for me.

Did you receive the pictures? I want to take more to show you how I have improved since then. I can get a regular photo taken and I may do it when I get paid. I still draw combat pay and will until I get out of the army. I wouldn’t get it if they put me in the medic’s or chaplain’s corp. Fat chance of me getting into the chaplain’s corp and I sure wouldn’t want to be a line medic over here. They have a rough go of it and my hat is off to them. One of the kids I came over with was put in the medics. One night a mortar shell hit close to his hole and one of the kids ….censored words.…. and got out of the hole. My buddy got out and tried to drag him back and another mortar shell hit. No Flip, I don’t want to be a medic. One of the first things you learn in combat is to stay in your hole after dark. Darkness seems to lock you in and regardless of what happens you stay put.

I will tell you a little story about me. I can’t say when or where, but it makes no difference. I spent several nights in a hole with the artillery forward observer. There were several of us in the hole and it used to get pretty darned hot so I decided to sleep just outside. Several times the Nips opened up with mortars and the observer would reach out and grab me. I always had plenty of time to get in before the shells fell, but one night a phone wire caught under the sole of my shoe and I couldn’t untangle myself in time. As luck would have it they didn’t even come close. You folks haven’t any idea of what frontline combat is actually like. It’s rough and there is plenty of grief with it, but you spend a good deal of time writing letters, reading, sleeping, and shooting the bull. We call it fighting a jawbone war. Some mighty funny things happened and I have an idea you will someday get pretty tired of hearing me tell the grandchildren about it.

June 12:  I am at the Red Cross lapping up coffee and listening to a broadcast from Tokyo. It’s good. They have quite a line they hand us along with a lot of music. This morning they said that at last the war was turning in Japan’s favor. They tell us our B29’s have not done any damage.   I wonder if they can make their own people believe that sort of stuff.

We had a good dinner and I went back for seconds. If this keeps up I’ll come home heavier than when I left. That will be all right too.

Every time I start a letter to you I end up by dreaming about coming home. I will be lucky to get home by fall, but even fall isn’t too far away and at least I am nearly positive you will not have to spend another winter all alone. I may be around here most of the summer and I may leave tomorrow. Once I get away from here I will be eligible to come home. I suppose they will give me my discharge at Ft. Custer. I hope so, because when I get off the train in Detroit I am there for good. I suppose Maggie is full of plans for my homecoming.

Generally we have a rain in the afternoon. This one is going to be no exception. It gets pretty hot here and the rain cools things off. It is nice and cool at night for sleeping. The fellows in my tent raise a lot of hell and sometimes keep me awake. I never mind that and enjoy hearing them talk and argue about which state is the best. I never argue about the states. I know Michigan is the best.

June 13:  June is nearly half gone. It seems impossible time could go by so fast. Time never did seem to drag for me over here or any place else.

I have been busy making a few post war plans. Most of them have to do with eating. Here is my idea of what I want for my first official meal when I get home. I’ll start with a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and a walk around the block. For a salad I want shrimp and chopped head of lettuce with plenty of french dressing. I’ll want my spuds boiled with clothes on and I’ll want bacon grease for gravy. No Meat, but a big dish of macaroni and cheese and a glass of buttermilk with plenty of salt and pepper sprinkled on top. I’ll want three or four kinds of pickles, all sweet, small, and crisp. I’ll finish it off with a quart of ice cream and a coconut layer cake. If I can find fresh strawberries we will skip this menu and just have a big shortcake.

There were several bags of mail coming in when I came over to the Red Cross and perhaps some of it is for me. One advantage of working in the mail room is you get your mail on time.

I have a little touch of cold. My head is stuffed up, but I feel pretty good.

It’s almost two months since I left the troop and I wonder how the boys are. Several were wounded after I left, but I guess no one was killed. I am anxious to hear from Clair T. He was in a weapons troop and had it pretty easy. The last time I saw him was in a rest camp.

How is my ring? As beautiful as ever? Editor’s Note: I think he is talking about the square ruby or garnet set in gold ring he wore for as long as I can remember. Whenever us kids touched the stone he would yell out Beep Beep. Don’t know where it is now.   I never did tell you how much I paid for it. It will seem good to start wearing it again. This is the first time in years I have been without a ring.

This letter drags. It’s so darned hard to think of things to write about when I am not hearing from you. How do my “free” mails come through? If they are not too slow I may have to use them now and then. Believe it or not, but it costs more to live back here. I have to buy my cigarettes and pay for my laundry and hair cuts. I am trying to figure out some way to make money this summer.

June 14:  I have some good news for you. I am leaving here. I can’t tell you where I am going or when, but it will be one step closer to home. That’s about all I can tell you and don’t get the idea I will be home in two weeks. It’s still a matter of months, but perhaps not too many months.

They had a quiz program at the Red Cross tonight and I entered it and won. It was on sports and I took horse racing and never missed a question. I sort of trembled when they asked me who the best two-year old of 1944 was. I figured it would be Pavot and sure enough I won. They asked me: Who won the Derby in 1942?; What race horses are entered before they are born?; Who was the leading two and three-year old of 1944?; Who saddled the most winners of 1944?; Who were the three leading riders of 1944?; What horse won the most money in 1944? and Who finished second to Count Fleet in the Derby of 1943?  For a guy who spent a good part of the racing season chasing Japs I think I did pretty well. For a prize they gave me a book on, of all things, football. I am almost as happy about winning the quiz as I am about coming home.

I am going to miss this place. They tell me I will have it real easy where I am going, but still and all, I have enjoyed my work and the fellows I have worked with. I have gained weight and my nerves have settled a lot. I never told you how bad my nerves were, but while I was in the hospital I couldn’t stand to get mail. Sounds funny, but it’s true. I would get so excited I couldn’t eat and sometimes I would even shake. Well I sure have changed and I think by the time you see me I will be pretty much like when I left. I will look older, but you must expect that. Three campaigns, three wounds, and about a dozen close ones don’t make a man look younger. The thing that matters most to you is that I still have my health, and my love for God, and a wife that is sweeter than all the world.

I never did tell you much about combat….the mean part where everything in you seems to revolt. Censorship rules now are that I can tell you about the Jap atrocities providing I saw them. Well here is one that I will never forget. We had taken a town and the Japs charged and we had to get out. In the fight that followed they got one of our men alive and when we took the town again we found him nailed to the side of a building. They had pulled the fingernails off his left hand, skinned the palm of his right hand, burnt the hair off his head “and things,” stuck a bayonet through his stomach and smashed his head. From that time on I carried an extra round for myself. No one can possibly imagine what combat is until you hug the ground while some mortar shells are falling close or lie in your foxhole  and hear some kid you know in the next hole that is hit and can’t get out until morning.

I think all of it is behind me and my prayers are for the fellows who are finishing up the job.


Letters To My Mother From WWII: May 1945


May 1:  I have an air mail stamp, so this letter may beat a lot of the ones I have sent free. I have written every day and they will drift along in time.

We had a lot of rain last night. For a while it just poured. Every thing is so fresh and nice this morning. It seemed like a June morning back home. Wouldn’t “June Morning” make a nice name for a horse?

How is Edith Louise this morning? I am anxious to get those pictures because I know she has changed since last summer. I want to see how big a change it is. I hope I am home before she is two. To my way of thinking that is the cute stage.

Florence, I know you get tired of writing to me. It’s not so easy for me, but we will just have to make the best of it.

Perhaps it will not be so very much longer the way things are going now. Perhaps Tokyo will not hold out as long as Berlin did. It’s so foolish and it just means more men have to die for a lost cause.

Now that I am starting to feel better my nerves are better too. I hate to think of seeing any more combat, but I guess I am no better than the next guy. Perhaps our outfit will get a rest like we did last summer.  Hope so, it would be fun to lie around for a few months.

I hope you and I can afford enough land to have a small orchard. If we only had a few trees it would be so nice. Plums, peaches and perhaps an apple tree. It’s fun to plan what sort of place we can some day have. It will take time and work, but I guess we will have plenty of time. We are still young and that is the big thing.

I have a couple of magazines to read. They are several months old.

May 2:  It’s nearly noon and I have been reading all morning. Happy life I lead. Last summer I told you about reading a book called “Old Jules” and how much I liked it. I have just finished another by Mari Sandoz author of “Old Jules” and called “Slogum House.” It sure was a good one. Have you read it?

My jaundice is a little better, at least I feel better. I stay pretty close to my bed and I suppose I will be here for some time.

I am wondering what you will think of Lexington. Even though I have spent more time in Lexington than ever I spent in Detroit I know very few people there outside of horsemen. That will be the nice part about going down there: I will not have to share you with anyone. I hope my old friend Jim Laughlin is there. You will like him. He must be nearly 55 by now, but one hell of a swell guy. I hope out little honeymoon is not to far away.

I am wondering what you are going to have for dinner today. Corn Pone? I would like some corn pone like I used to make in Champaign…the stuff you call fried mush. I sure would like to do my own cooking for a while and be able to get anything I wanted to cook. For breakfast I would fry 6 eggs, have hot cakes, and a slice of ham about an inch thick. I haven’t enough paper to tell you what I would make for dinner and supper, but there would be little else besides pie, ice cream, and cake. I ment to ask you if you know how to make baking powder biscuits? If not you better learn how before I get home. I’ll love you anyway, so don’t worry.

May 4:  I have been looking at this sheet of paper for some time wondering what I could write to you about. When I am out in the field there are always little things to tell you. Here it is a different story. I get up in the morning and spend the day reading and that is about all there is to it. Sometimes the fellow in the next bed feels like talking and we talk for an hour or two.

I miss James. He was wounded back in March and I haven’t seen him since. I received a letter from his wife and she told me he was doing alright. James made Sgt. the day before he was hit. I wrote to Clair T the other day. He was alright the last time I saw him in March and I don’t think his troop has been in too much trouble. He is in a troop that does not see much combat. In fact, Clair T went the first few months without hearing a Jap gun fired.

This is about the time of year for mom to start getting together flowers for Memorial Day.  To her Memorial Day ranks right up with Christmas.

I am sleeping good these nights. I always dream a lot, but I do sleep and that is the main thing. Perhaps I will start to gain weight when I get over this.

There is a list of rules going around about the soldier who is returning to the states. It is all a joke, but some of them are pretty good. One tells the soldier that they use bathrooms in the states and it will not be necessary to take a shovel and go out back. If I can find a list I will send it to you. Editor’s Note: I could find no such list on the internet.

May 5: How time flies – I have been thinking over that fact and things that seem as though they happened yesterday actually happened 15 and 20 years ago. I remember the day Wanda was born as well as I remember yesterday. Sometime during the night dad got Steve, John, and I out of bed and sent us to Giffins place about a half mile away. We spent the night there and returned in the morning to find that we had a sister. When Ruth Jean was born things were different. Dad was away and I was the man of the house. There is one nice thing about looking back – I have lived a pretty full life and got a great deal of fun out of it.

I have slept most of the morning. I was up a part of last night and I notice my eyes are starting to get yellow again. The jaundice is bad stuff in my book. Oh Well! I guess it is a part of life.

I get lots of coke to drink. They do not have carbonated water and make it with ice water. It’s not bad and sure beats a lemon drink they used to give us.

It would be fun to go on a picnic or something with you. Remember the time we went with Elizabeth and Lyle? Fun wasn’t it? Such days will come again.

May 6, V-Mail:  My morale has climbed to a new high this afternoon. Another fellow and I have talked about fishing until we talked ourselves out. That always makes me feel better. You tell Meyers to catch a fish for me. It would be fun to go on a camping trip with you. I mean to make up a pack and go off to some lake where we could have it all to ourselves. Perhaps I’ll be able to do that with John W. when he is about thirteen. I have an idea he is going to like the woods and water.

May 7:  Editor’s Note: The following letter was addressed to Edith L. Ellison.  Your dad is proud of you! At last I am sure my daughter knows her horses. She proved it to me when she named her first horse Teddy. You know why you call him Teddy and I know why, but your mother hasn’t guessed. Perhaps you better tell her.

Tell your mother what a great horse Teddy was, I mean the real Teddy. How he was foaled in France about the same time your daddy was born. Tell her about his racing record and how after he was retired his sons and daughters went on to make racing history.  Tell her about Sir Galahad, a son of Teddy, and Gallant Fox his grandson. Explain to her about Omaha and how he reflected glory on his grandsire Teddy, by winning most of the three-year old stakes in 1935. Tell her how, at last, Teddy was brought to the bluegrass of Kentucky where he lived out his years. You might mention the race between Sun Teddy and Red Rain at Saratoga and how your daddy darn near cried when Red Rain knocked Sun Teddy to his knees. Then there is Teddy Weed, Ted Easy and hundreds of others who have carried the name of Teddy into the winners circle. You and I understand all these things and when we name a horse we know why we name it.

Yes Edith, you are qualified to name your own horses and I love you for it.


Teddy: Bay Stallion born 1913, Registration T0153473

May 8: Here are the pictures. Some good and some not so good. You will notice that I look pretty bad in all these pictures.  I had just came in from the mountains and had dysentery so bad. In spite of all that’s happened since then I look better now and have more weight.  Would you finish off a dozen of James and I on the pile of bombs and three of  the one where three of us are sitting on a log and send them back? The kid next to me on the log was killed and I want to make sure his mother gets one of the pictures.

Yes the shrapnel is still in my arm. It’s a small piece and I don’t think it will ever bother me. If it starts to hurt I’ll cut it out myself. They took a test of my stool and this morning the doc stopped by and told me I had round worms. It’s a great life.

Last night the whistle blew and I thought it was an air raid. Germany had fallen, so I went back to sleep. The war over here could end any day and again it may drag on for a while. At least we will get some help. I’ll stand a pretty good chance of coming home once it ends.

VE-Day Times Square

VE-Day Times Square

May 10:  This morning I start reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. There are twelve hundred pages of fine print, so I should be busy for a few days. It deals with the French Revolution.

In a way I think you would be better off to go back to Muskegon this fall. You know a few people there and by having the piano and Edith you could manage to be much happier. You do whatever you want to do, but don’t make any iron clad deals, because I may want to hire a cook before spring. I sort of have my eye on you. We have been separated so long that I will want every day with you once I do get home.

Flip, if you haven’t bought a watch please don’t. I don’t need a watch so very bad and I would rather you would but a new dress with the money; either that or buy a watch for yourself. It’s going to seem nice to have Wanda paid off. I hope to be able to send you a money order this summer. I have a money order from W&B that I have carried since Christmas without being able to cash it.

How is Edith? Does she gallop Teddy every morning? Tell her to gallop him with run down bandages and be sure to cool him out. I expect they will run the Kentucky Derby about the first of June. I’ll bet all the horsemen were glad to have the ban lifted. It was a foolish thing to do.

May 11:  The letter H.C.L Jackson dramatized (Editor’s Note: refer to Uncensored Letter dated Jan 13, 1945.)  was one I had written to W&B. I received a nice letter from W&B telling me they had made copies of the letter and sent it to all their salesmen. They want me to write again. Flip, it’s good business because I have and idea I’ll be known when I get back there and it may be of some help towards a good job. That is one thing I will need when I get home. I don’t want to wait too long before going back to work. Two weeks vacation should be enough. Just to be home will be vacation enough for me.

Maggie writes that Sam hardly ever comes down to the house. Wait until you get up there. He will make regular trips twice a day. I’ll bet Maggie will be mighty tickled to see her granddaughter. It will be a nice place for Edith to play outside. There are not so many cars on that street.

I wish I was making a little extra money. You might need it on your vacation.

I have sent word back to the troop to forward my mail again. Should have more letters from you in another week. Life is so much brighter when I hear from you.

I am glad you liked the handkerchiefs. I bought them in Manilla. I suppose you guessed they came from there. I have an old school mate in Manilla. If I ever go back there I want to look him up.

It’s raining this morning. I’ll have to get someone to walk to the post office and get envelopes for me. I went there yesterday, but they were out and I guess the walk didn’t do me any good.

May 12:  I have been enjoying Les Miserables and it is so long. I have several days to read before I finish it. There are over 1200 pages of fine print.

I have a hunch we are in for a hot day. The sun is out and I don’t see a cloud in the sky. It can get pretty warm around here. Why should I worry? All I have to do is lie here and think of you or read and sometimes both.

I plan on going to church tomorrow. They have a pretty good Chaplin here and a little Church going would do me good.

Our ward boy has been snapping his jaws all morning. Saturday (today) is inspection and he wants to make sure the ward is in good order.

I heard a little over the radio about the point system. I guess they are going to let some of us out and the man who has the most points will get out first. As I understand it, we get one point for each month in the service and an extra point for each month overseas. For Edith I will receive twelve points and I will get four points for each wound. At that rate I have a total of seventy points. I figure Kirby has exactly the same number. If we get points for combat, which I think we will, I will be away out in front.

May 13:  I guess I should start out by reminding you today is Mother’s Day. I am thinking of you and if I were there Edith and I would see to it that you had a nice day.

I checked my points last night. I have a total of 73 and need 85 to get out. I didn’t get any points off you, but Edith is worth 12 and each wound I received is worth 5 points. There are so many fellows with over 85 that I haven’t a chance until the war is over. The only real chance I have lies in the fact I am no longer fit for combat. Perhaps by the time I get out of here I will be in shape again.

Joe E Brown is to put on a show here tomorrow night. They say he is good. Last night they had a softball game and I watched them play. A softball game will always draw a crowd.

I slept sound last night. It rained real hard during the night, but I didn’t know anything about it.

I have a Victory Garden. Of course it’s pretty small because all I have is one potato. I found one down by the kitchen and planted it at the head of my bunk. There is nothing like having a little farm. I can hardly wait until we have a place of our own where we can have a real garden with a few fruit trees and whatever else we want. to grow.

I am going to read for a while and then go to church. I am sending you a thousand kisses and all my love. It’s Mother’s Day, you know, and I want to be extra good to you.

May 14:  Joe E Brown is to put on his show at five. It’s three now and raining cats and dogs. All weather over here seems sudden and perhaps the sun will be out by five.

Yesterday was a big day for me. I went to church in the morning and to a show last night. On top of all that I had ice cream for supper. I paid for it during the night by suffering the agony of the damned. I am not well yet, but I sure am a lot better than I was three weeks ago. I may ask the doctor to have me reclassified. With the point system as a means of discharge it makes little difference whether I am in the Cavalry or WACS. I am afraid if I go through too much more this same trouble will come back. I used to have the feeling I didn’t want to leave the troop.  Well the troop has just about left me. The old gang I used to fight with has just about gone. They were killed, wounded, transferred to other outfits, or evacuated to the States.

I would like to know whether you are going to Bellaire and if so when? I should start sending your letters there. I will wait until the 20th. In the meantime I may hear from you. I expect to get some mail this week.

I just finished drinking a cup of eggnog. Pretty good too! Of course it’s made from dehydrated eggs and powdered milk. I am so used to powdered milk that I can hardly notice the difference between it and cow’s milk when it is on cereal.

I am going to lie down and read Les Miserables. I hope you notice that I “lie down” much more than “lay down.” I also manage to put an “h” in “Whether.”  Tell me more dear teacher, tell me more.

Editor’s Note: The last paragraph in this letter was cut out by a censor.

May 15:  The Joe E Brown show was pretty darned good.  He sure gave us a lot of laughs. One of the best jokes was when he told about coming over with a boat load of WACS. He said there were only a few men on board and to borrow the words of Churchill, “Never in the history of the world did so few chase so many for so little.” He sure knew how to put himself over, Not once did he mention the Japs or our fighting. He didn’t even mention the fact that we were either sick or wounded. Pretty darned nice of him.

This has been a bad morning. I got up late and had to stand in the chow line for a long time. Got a dull blade when I went to shave and now I have to shine my shoes. Don’t you feel sorry for me?

I am wondering how you liked the house plan I sent to you. I am anxious to see just what kind of house we will build. I still want a basement. I doubt very much whether you will ever talk me out of that. I hope we can find a few acres near Plymouth that will not cost us too much. I know land is high.

The way things look now Wanda would be foolish to go to Panama. Jim should be able to get out now. I am sure they will not send him over here. He is too old. Al was in England wasn’t he? Perhaps they will send him over here. It would be funny if we should happen to meet over here. There are a lot of kids over here that I know, but I never seem to run into any of them. I guess someday I’ll take a few days off and try to look some of them up.

Does it make you happy when you realize this war might end one of these days? I don’t believe the Japs will take the pounding the Germans took, and even if they do it still will not last over another year. Then it’s home and we will live happy ever after. Let’s not fight with each other. I have had enough over here.

May 16:  It’s a beautiful morning and the birds are singing. To hear birds over here is something unusual. I guess they just found out the Japs were no longer here and it was safe to sing.

We had some corn meal mush for breakfast. I never eat it without remembering your dad. He claims to have lived on it during the first year of married life.

I have some news for you. Yesterday I talked to the doctor in regards to being reclassified. He said I might go before a board of Doctors. Anyway, he said he would talk with me about it again. I don’t feel as though I am in good enough condition to go on doing what I was doing. In some non-combat outfit I would be able to slowly regain my health and settle my nerves. Flip, after you have been wounded three times you get the idea you are living on borrowed time. I don’t know how it’s gong to turn out, but if I get before the board I have an idea I can convince them. Keep your fingers crossed.

This letter isn’t so very long. I am going to lie down again.

May 17: I feel good this morning. Have just had a shower and shave and now i am ready to go. The funny part of it is…..there is no place to go.

Last night I walked down to the Chaplain’s Office. There is a young fellow who works there that seems like a swell fellow and I enjoy talking with him. We get in some big arguments. They have a Bible study every Thursday night and I think I’ll go down tonight. Bible study to me was always a lot of fun.

Do you realize I lack three months of having three years in the army? It hardly seems possible. I feel sure I am on my last year. When I stop to figure it out there are not too many fellows over here with more points than I have. It’s going to be a great feeling when I see Frisco on the skyline.

I read in the news the Derby will be run June 9th. It should be that late every year. May is too early to have a horse ready for such a hard race. I am glad that racing will go on.

The rainy season seems to be here. It’s cloudy a good deal of the time and rains almost every day. Makes it a lot cooler in the tent.

I sleep a lot during the day and sleep good at night. I am glad of that, because it gives my nerves a rest. If I can just keep away from combat for a while I will come around alright. What I need is plenty of rest and eight hours of hard work every day. That’s the kind of medicine I’ll take when I get home.

Edith must be having a time for herself these spring days. Perhaps with plenty of play outside she will start sleeping at night without all the talk. She is an Ellison and has to do a certain amount of talking.

May 18:  The boys have been playing Monopoly this morning. They have had a pretty good game of it. It makes me remember how Eloise Cook and I used to play it in the winter of 1934. That was a long time ago.

Did I ever tell you about the Giant Clams down here in the Admiralty Islands? I know I didn’t, because at the time I didn’t know what they were. Some of them would be comparable to a wash tub in size and they would be sunk down in the coral where you might put your foot inside them. If you ever did and the clam clamped shut it would be too bad. If we were rich I would take you back there some day. The one thing that would take your eye would be the swimming.

Tomorrow will make four weeks in the hospital for me. I am starting to improve; at least I eat more than I did and that’s a big thing in my favor.

Yesterday they came through with slips to fill out in regards to points. For each month in service we get one point, for each month overseas we get one point, twelve points for each child, five points for each wound, and five for each campaign. I am not sure whether I get credit for the Admiralty Campaign. If I do I have 3 campaigns and 3 wounds, one child, 33 months of service, and 15 overseas for a total of 90 points. Last night I took the average of twenty fellows in the tent and it was 76. I don’t think the average over here is quite that high and best of all the first guy to get out of the army on points had 98. I am pretty happy about the whole thing. One thing about the points, if I get home on them I’ll come home as a free man. There is one thing this war has taught me; security. When I come home I am going to want that above all things.

They have a book in the Red Cross tent where you can register your name and home town. There are three fellows there from Muskegon.

I should receive more mail one of these days. I can hardly wait. I hope dad took one picture of you. I wish you could talk Jim Kirby out of the picture he has of you. Wanda sent one to him and I never did get one.

May 19:    It is a beautiful morning. The sun is up so bright and the grass and flowers are still wet from a recent ran. It reminds me of Michigan. There always was so much dew there. The potato I planted has started to grow.

I am reading a book by Golsworthy and I found a real nice name. Not for a person, but for a home or farm…Mapledurham.  How do you like it?

I was just over in another ward talking to a buddy of mine who is going to the states. He is a happy guy. Who wouldn’t be?

We had tuna fish for dinner last night. It was pretty good. I don’t eat much meat, but it looked good and I decided to try a little.

I am anxious to get back to W&B and start working again. Isn’t it going to be fun when I start working and you start cooking for me? If you are willing to handle a lot of the details I will be able to work right up until our house is finished.

May 20:   It’s Sunday again! I sure do lead an easy life these days. The only work I have to do is to shower and shave in the morning. Oh yes, sometimes I am elected to walk down to the Red Cross after the news sheet.

There is a kid in here (about two bunks from me) who seems to be a religious fanatic. He spends all his time reading his Bible and some evangelistic papers he has. I have had a couple of talks with him and I think he is a little bit off his nut.

I’ll bet Edith and Uncle Ed get along fine this year. How does she like him and does she miss David? Guess she is a little young to miss anyone. Flip, I sure would enjoy being there with you. I have an idea you are missing a part of Bellaire without me there to show you around.

The Filipinos are certainly small people. Sam Fuller would be a big man over here.

School is over for you? Must seem nice not to be going, but it did help to fill your winter.

I am anxious to hear from Clair T.  have not seen him since we left rest camp about the middle of March. He is going to kid me about spending so much time in the hospital. I guess I have spent three days with my troop since the 28th of March.

May 21:  I received two letters from you yesterday, three from mom and one from Mrs. Carlson. After I answer Mrs. Carlson’s letter I may send it on to mom and you can read it. I certainly enjoy her letters.

Glad to hear Gerald is home or at least in the states. Was this guy he asked me about in Gerald’s troop?  If so, he was killed by the same shell that wounded me. I wouldn’t tell this to Gerald until I make sure. There were three or four that got it and I think he was one of them.

Edith seems to have a mind of her own. I am glad you keep a firm line on her because she will have to be taught not to play in the street or even venture on it without someone along to hold her hand.

It is raining now, nice and cool. I am going to try to read myself to sleep as soon as I finish this. My jaundice kind of sneaked back on me and the doctor wants me to spend more time lying down. That should be easy to do.

May 23:  I took my worm treatment this morning, five little red pills that are supposed to kill them deader than a salt mackerel. Tomorrow morning I have to take a lot of “salts” and what I do tomorrow is no one’s business but my own.

I was surprised to read the United Nations Conference started without a prayer. I don’t suppose there is a GI over here who would even think of trying to knock out a machine gun without saying some kind of a prayer. I have an idea a fellow feels a little closer to God when in battle that does a statesman at a conference table.

I don’t think I’ll have them send my mail in again. I should be out of here in two or three weeks. Whether I go back to combat or not is still a question I can’t answer. The doctor hasn’t said any more about it. I’ll have to jog his memory tomorrow. Remember when Shotgun jogged the wardrobe girl’s memory about your riding with him?

Tomorrow is the 24th. It was three years ago tomorrow I switched you with a little stick after a hard fight. Next May 24th I’ll stop in on my way home from work and buy some yellow roses for you.

I am sending Mrs Carlson’s letter. Mom will be interested in reading it. Did Grace ever come to see you? She was always such a plain girl, but well liked by everyone.

Remember the day I left? As I walked to the bus I had a feeling you were crying and I thought of what all I might see and do before I could kiss away your tears. So much of it has come true.

Once when Fran Burns was away to summer school I sent her some Forget-Me-Not flowers. I received a letter from her the other day. She said they were her first flowers and asked me if I could remember them. She will be surprised to receive my answer. I sent a copy of the verse on the thank-you card she sent me. I love to remember little verses and poems like that and had it stored away in my mind for seventeen years.

The Red Cross girl wants me to come down and recite some poems for her.  Just now I am a bed patient, but as soon as I can I’ll go down. I need to go over some of my poems.

May 24, V-Mail:  I took my dose of “salts” this morning. UGH! They just brought my supper and guess what? I had a sweet pickle on my tray. The first one I have had in years. I have the Filipino ward boy out scouting for another one. If I can find a pair of clippers I am going to cut off all my hair again. I like it that way. I had some Filipino kids thinking I was a Jap. They all have short hair cuts. I would say “Gra” to them and then they would scatter. When the Japs say “Gra” they mean “Get the hell out of here.” I received a letter from Meyers last night. I wrote back and told him all the news I could think of about his troop – at least as much as I thought would get by the censor.

May 25:  Can you remember when I used to sing “Oh I have a little wife and I’ll love her all my life?” I still sing it much to the wonderment of the other fellows. I spent yesterday afternoon with a book of Riley’s poems. I was picking out poems to read to you and Edith when I come home.

It has been very hot this morning. During the morning the sun shines in on my side of the tent, so I spent the morning on a vacant bunk on the west side.

The doctor hasn’t said any more about my transfer. I’ll jog his memory one of these days and if he doesn’t do anything about it I’ll just go back to my troop and do the best I can.

I have had a visitor. Ben, a Filipino boy who works in a near by ward just stopped in for a talk. He often brings me some extra fruit juice or ice. You should see the ice we get. It’s not exactly ice and looks more like slush snow.

I think my jaundice has about cleared up. My eyes look very clear. Of course I can’t tell for sure until I start eating butter, bacon, and other fats. I hope it does not come back. Sometimes when you have it you get sent to the states. I would not want to risk it the second time just to get to the states.

It must seem nice to get back to Bellaire. I suppose Edith will get spoiled in grand style by her Grandmaggie and Aunt Ruth Jean. I wish she could have a puppy to play with while she is up there. Memorial day will soon be here. That’s always a big day in Bellaire.

I have a fly rod at home and I am very anxious to keep the section caps free of rust. Would you look at it please?  You might put a thin coating of oil on the caps. If there is any rust you could wipe if off with a dry cloth. Just a little rust will ruin them. Thanks. I’ll be home some day and I want my fishing tackle in tip-top shape.

May 26:  I have two air mails left. When they are gone I will be out of luck, but I’ll write every day and send them for free. I may get a ten dollar loan from the Red Cross.

The doctor came along yesterday and asked me if I felt able to go back to the troop. I told him no and he said he may send  me to a rest camp for two or three months. A rest camp would be pretty nice, but I would just as soon go some place where I would have a certain amount of work to do. Of course, I may end up right back in the troop.

We had a real American breakfast; corn meal mush, fresh scrambled eggs, grapefruit, toast and coffee. There was plenty of everything and I ate three half grapefruits. The first I had overseas.

I am starting to read David Copperfield. I am not only reading it, but I am marking every word I do not know the meaning of. I notice I have been spelling “lying” some other way. I sure have a time with spelling. Sometimes I think I should adopt Fred Allen’s method. He spells every word exactly as it sounds.  Editor’s Note: Fred Allen was a radio comedian.

If I go to rest camp I am going to have Clair T use my camera this summer. I can’t see the point of having it all packed away when he would enjoy having it.

Last night I went to see “Keys of the Kingdom.” I didn’t stay because I didn’t like it, but the boys said it was real good. I sometimes get nervous when I watch a show and when I do I get away.

Editor’s Note: The following note was written at the end of this letter. I think Grandmaggie wrote it, but as it was not signed I can’t be sure.

Dear Florence please excuse me as I opened this by mistake. I gave them your address. Max wrote me the Dr. told him he was to leave any day for a general hospital so I don’t think he is doing so good. My feet have bloated a lot. I can hardly wear shoes. I haven’t seen Jim or Wanda, but look for them on the train. I have my wash and ironing done and home cleaned up. Did you folks have a nice time at John and Bertha’s? Did Edith get her treatment? Hope you got home ok. I haven’t much time as I want to mail this today.

May 27:  This morning they took a test of my blood to see whether or not I still had jaundice. It was down to nine and that means it is just about gone. I imagine they will put me on a regular diet tomorrow and then if it doesn’t come back I’ll go back to the troop. I am still trying to get a transfer, but I have my doubts.

It has been terribly warm today. The Filipinos tell me this hot weather spells RAIN. I haven’t any doubt  but that we will get plenty of it.

I received your house plans whereby your  basement would open out on the ground. You sure want to talk me out of my basement. I am afraid a basement opening out on the ground would cease being a basement and call for more fuel. By golly Flip, I’ll build a basement and put a lock on the door so you will not have to go into it. I just re-read your letter and perhaps your basement plan isn’t so bad after all. I will try to figure out some plan and draw it up for you. Most of all we must keep the price down.  Now that we are out of debt we want to be careful. We will make out some way.

Last night the nurse gave my back a good rub. She was feeling ambitious so I let her do her best.

I have an idea Japan will soon be yelling her head off for peace. B-29’s may make her change her mind about fighting to the last man. They are a funny race of people and nothing they might do would surprise me.

Ice cream and cake tonight. I still do not have much of a desire for food, but ice cream and cake is pure ambrosia. We had oranges for breakfast. Perhaps the food situation will pick up over here. My mother tells me she gets five pounds of sugar per person to last her until the first of September. That isn’t very much. I guess I shouldn’t kick on the food because I know you folks are not eating like you would if the war wasn’t on.

May 31: I haven’t written for a couple of days so I’ll dash off a little note. Back home this is the evening of Memorial Day and I’ll bet dad’s grave looks pretty nice all covered with flowers.

Editor’s Note:  The bottom half of this page was censored. The letter picks up mid sentence. address. Keep on using the old one until I tell you differently. Yesterday I was before a board of doctors and they marked me down as battle fatigue and I expect to get into a non-combat unit, but will not know for sure for a couple of days. My eyes, ears, lungs, kidneys, stomach, etc. are all in good condition.

I am gong to draw partial pay to last me until I am paid in full. Being broke isn’t so good.

Funny, but I may not like a non-combat outfit. It will be some let down.

I just met a boy fresh from Ft. Riley and he said Eddie is still there.

Editor’s Note: Written in red pencil and dated Oct. 5, 1957. From this time on I did not have to do anything unless I wanted to. They asked me first if I would like to do it.


Letters To My Mother From WWII: April 1945

Battle Manila signman01s

Editor’s Note:  Within a month (Feb 4-March 4, 1945) Americans had crossed Luzon’s Central Plain, taken Clarke Field and were approaching Manila. The highest priority were the POW’s and internees at Santo Tomas. Yamashita at this time evacuated Manila for defenses prepared in the mountains. He left troops in Manila to take a toll on and tie down the advancing Americans. The Japanese troops left in Manila turned on the defenseless civilian population. They seemed to have decided that if they were going to die they would take as many Filipinos with them as possible. The Japanese targeted and killed an estimated 100,000 Filippino citizens in an outpouring of mindless violence which has become known as the Rape of Manila. The city had to be taken block by block n vicious hand-to-hand combat. Manila is said to be the most heavily devastated Allied city net to Warsaw and Stalingrad.

April 1: Easter Sunday! This morning I walked down to the beach to a sunrise service the Filipinos were having. It was beautiful. While they were having the service the fishermen came down and prepared their boats and nets for the day’s catch.  It was the most impressive scene I ever saw. The beach, the men going out in their boats, and in the background were the mountains raising out of the mists. You could almost see him there on the beach calling out, “Follow me and be fishermen of men.”

Just in case you have not received the other letters I will tell you I am in the hospital for scalp wounds I received the 28th of March. I feel pretty good, but I have headaches and I am pretty nervous. During the day my nerves are all right, but when it gets dark I get jittery. It’s hard for me when I hear a gun go off. I guess it’s got me down. I don’t know how I’ll make it when I go back, but I’ll make it some way. If I can manage to stay away for a couple of weeks I may feel a little more sure of myself.

I suppose your folks will drive to Muskegon after church today. I hope dad gets some good pictures of Edith. She must be some Miss by now and I have an idea I’ll see a real change in her.

The Maple sap must be starting to run. I hope we can have some hard Maples on our place. They are an ideal shade tree and it’s nice to have a taste of syrup in the spring.

Sometimes I wonder when I will come home. This war can’t last forever and it’s going to be a mighty happy day when I get off the boat in Frisco.

April 3:  I didn’t write yesterday. My headaches didn’t seem to let up so they put me in a plane and sent me back here. It was a nice ride, but didn’t last over ten minutes. I felt like crying all day yesterday. It’s from the shock, I guess.

I saw an eight month old American baby boy this morning. I was surprised to see how large he was and with Edith five months older she must be a pretty big girl. I have an idea I will be surprised to see my daughter. The war is moving so fast that perhaps I will be home by Christmas. I have an idea the war in Europe will be over when you read this letter.

We sure were in a beautiful spot when I got wounded. There were coffee trees all over the place. When ripe coffee looks a lot like cherries. I recognize most of the vegetation here, but it took me a long time to make out what bread fruit was.

I have a lot of magazines to read. I read for a while this morning. I have a lot of catching up to do on my reading.

April 4:  I managed to buy some air mail envelops this morning. I spent my last dollar. I have a lot of money loaned out and a month’s pay coming.

Last night I met a couple. He was with Pan American Airways, before the war and was living in the Philippines when the Japs came. Both he and his girlfriend were put in prison camp. They were married a week and will soon be on the way to the states. We all went to the movies last night and he spent the morning over here talking with me. She is going to write to you when she gets to the states.

I didn’t sleep very well last night. I fight too many battles in my sleep. There is too much noise around here at night. That may sound funny to you, but you must remember the front lines can be quiet at night and you never hear anyone talking.

They are fixing my lower plate while I am here. They were too loose.

I haven’t written to mom for several days. I wrote her after I was wounded, but paper has been so scarce. I can get plenty of it now. I am going to lie down and try to sleep. It’s important that I rest a lot.

April 5:  I have had my breakfast, shaved, taken a shower, and it still lacks a little of being eight. I feel tops this morning. I slept like a baby last night and didn’t dream.

I spent several hours last night talking with an American that has lived in the Philippines for forty-five years. He has a large cattle ranch on one of the southern islands. After talking with him and a few others I wonder about our giving these islands independence. They lack unity.

All the little girls come to this ward to play. We can’t get the big girls to come. It’s nice to have a bunch of American kids around. Most of them are too small to remember America and some of them have never been there.

I am anxious to hear the news. I have an idea the month of April is going to bring big things. This war could end any time. The main thing is, will the Japs give up or fight to the end? I guess we are pouring it on pretty heavy and we will have to see how much they will take. I am always dreaming of the day I can come home.

April 6:  I feel pretty clean and fresh this morning. They have nice showers here and I enjoy my morning shower. I used to enjoy taking a bath in some of those swift streams we had in Leyte.

For the past few days I have been watching an old fellow that is in another ward. He was an old man, pot-bellied, and long white hair that came down to his shoulders. I made up my mind he was either awful dumb or else very smart. Yesterday I had a chance to talk with him and he sure is a smart man. For the last thirty years he has been a lawyer in Manilla and from him I learned more about the situation over here than I had been able to find out before. Like every one else he spent the last three years in prison, but while he was there he read “The Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire,” and that kept his mind busy. I am to see him again today.

I didn’t get much sleep last night, but it’s cool and I should be able to sleep today. I get my teeth back today. They are bound to bother me for a few days because they will be re-lined.

April 7:  I feel very well this morning. My head ache last night was short and mild and I slept like a log. I have my teeth back now and they hurt in one or two places.  That is to be expected. I am going to have an x-ray of my stomach. After all the stomach trouble I have had I thought it might be smart to check up. I will have to go without my breakfast the morning they x-ray my stomach and I hate that.

We had a movie last night. I can’t remember the name of the picture, but it was rotten. There were some fellows in front of me that made the show funny enough for me. Whenever one of the actors would go into a strange room they would yell “Watch out for the booby traps.”

Last night I talked with a mining engineer. He was from the Cripple Creek gold fields in Colorado, but has been over here for eight years. There is lots of gold in these islands. He also explained to me why the lumber market is so bad. These islands have some of the best timber in the world, but it’s hard to market it with profit. There is not a true stand of any one kind of tree.

My last letter from you was dated March 12th. I don’t know when I’ll be going back to my troop. It will not be for a few days. Before I came in I heard we were all going home this summer. Of curse such stories are in constant circulation over here and I can’t put any faith in them. I would be happy if they would just pull us out of combat for a few months. The Cavalry has sure had its share of fighting and we have not had a lot of soft spots picked for us.

How long has it been since you were on a horse. I am sorry you have not been able to ride as much lately. As soon as we have our own place I will try to get a horse for you. I would like to get some sort of combination horse, one that you could drive, ride, and jump a little. To be a good rider you should have a chance to drive a little. That helps you get the feel of the horse’s mouth.

April 8: It has been exactly 469 days since I have seen you. I left Washington 67 weeks ago last night. I was lonesome and I took the time to figure it up.

Guess I’ll be going back some time this week. In fact, all I am waiting for is the x-ray. I am anxious to get my mail because I’ll have a lot of letters from you. It sure is a hard job to write a letter. Some of the fellows only write home once a week. I try to write every day even if there isn’t much to tell you.

Last night they had a softball game and after that we all went to the Red Cross tent for cokes. We get lots of cokes over here. Of course, they are made with ice water because we lack carbonated water.

I hear your name mentioned plenty often around here. They call the Filipinos “Flips.”

There is a fellow over here that looks exactly like P. Ray. The next time I see him I am going to ask his name. Could be some member of your father’s family.

The Red Cross gave me a pipe yesterday. It isn’t a very good one, but I was glad to get it and it will help out with the cigarette shortage. I have written very few letters here. I spend most of my time reading. I will partly catch up on that.

The laundry just came and I am going to try to get a clean pair of pajamas. Yes, I have to wear them. You might be interested in knowing I no longer lay down. I lie down.


Hospital Worship Service Flyer Included in April 8 Letter

April 9:  I get my x-ray taken at eight, consequently, I have to wait until afterwards for breakfast. To me, that is the big meal of the day. If my stomach is ok, and I sure hope it is, I will be leaving here in a day or two. My outfit is back in the hills and it will take me a week to find them. I may not even join the kitchen. Editor’s Note: He is referring to the mobile Field Kitchen.

I have a hunch that when the snows come to Michigan  again the Japs will have given up. I have talked with others over here and some of them share my view. I sure hope so. I would like to get home in time for Christmas.

Honestly, it’s going to seem good to get back to W&B. At least it will be good for a while. I always had a hard job there and I suppose the work will be hard on me for a few weeks. It will sure be a help to have something like that to come home to.

I couldn’t tell you before, but James got wounded too. By this time he must be back from the hospital because it was just shrapnel in the shoulder.

April 12:  This is the first letter I have written in two days. My x-ray turned out ok, so I am on my way back to the troop. I left the hospital a couple of days ago, but it may be a few days before I get back.

It sure is hot! Along about three in the afternoon it gets so darned hot that a man could almost melt. It’s cool in the evening and a fellow can sleep.

I met a fellow yesterday who was from West Branch Michigan. My uncle, Jay Ellison, used to be a barber there. We had a lot of fun talking about fishing, hunting, and Michigan winters.

The Red Cross gave me a pipe and I am breaking it in. What a job. I have a good supply of cigarettes and pipe tobacco. While I was in the hospital I traded candy bars to the Chaplin for cigarettes. I am also taking back six plugs of chewing tobacco for a fellow in the troop.

I have spent the morning reading the Book of Mathew. This afternoon I shall read Mark.

Friday the 13th:  It’s pretty hot today, but I have just cooled off with a bath and I’ll write before I get hot again. It’s  hard to think of anything to write about. The censors here would cut my letters pretty much. Our troop officers will let us say darned near anything.

I am going to ask our doctor for a transfer into some non-combat outfit. I am afraid my nerves will not stand much more. I would like to get away from the whole thing.

April 14:  There isn’t much news over here. I was sorry to hear about Roosevelt. He most certainly picked a bad time to die.

April 16, V-Mail:  This will have to be short. I got back as far as our kitchen yesterday. This morning I am going on up where the boys are. Found a bunch of letters from you waiting for me here. There were only six from you, but I had about thirty letters here all told. I’ll write to you just as soon as I have time, which may be before dark today.

April 16: I told you I might write before dark. The letter will be a race between me and the sun. In a way it seemed good to get back up here with the boys. When I say up I mean exactly that because I am on top of a high hill.

I left the states in March and not February. So I simply made a mistake when I put the date on the letter. Sorry.

I am not too much of a carpenter and I am going to be too busy with other things to have much spare time. Nevertheless, we can fix up some of the furniture for a starter. We will make out all right, but Flip, we may not be able to put six thousand into building alone. I can’t tell for sure and we will have to decide when the time comes.

How is our little night owl? Why shouldn’t she enjoy staying awake at night to talk to you? Her pop used to enjoy doing the same thing. Guess pop would enjoy doing it some more.

I received a nice letter from your mother. She wrote it on my birthday. Yes, I am thirty-one years old. I feel like a two-year old colt.

I will finish this in the morning. The sun won this race.

Editor’s Note: The following letter dated April 18, 1945 and addressed to Miss Edith Louise Ellison.  I’ll write to you today instead of writing to your mother. You can let her read it, that is if you want to. It’s a pretty warm day. I have spent the whole day in my foxhole. I have a little shade here and I have been reading letters and trying to get caught up on some ones I owe. Yes, I am at the front, but it’s a pretty quiet front and I might add it’s pretty safe.

Talk about cold. It sure can get cool here during the night. I am on top of a hill and , of course, that makes it that much cooler.

What time do you get up? Seven? That would be eight pm over here and it’s just dark by then. I spend about three hours out of the night pulling guard while my buddies sleep and then they pull guard while I sleep. Guess you are quite a talker at night (Editor’s Note: Maggie, stop laughing!) and I wish I had you here to entertain me at night. Your mother tells me you have a habit of staying awake during the night to talk. What’s the matter? Can’t you talk enough during the day? You can talk to me when I come home, but you better let your mother get some sleep.

Guess it’s just as well for you to stay with your mommie. I wouldn’t be giving you very good care. I have not washed my own face for three days, so you would suffer for a bath. Water is something you never miss until you get someplace where you can’t get it.

I just took time out to make a cup of coffee. They sent us some coffee grounds and we boiled it in a mess kit. We are eating C Rations just now, but they are pretty good and we have not had too many of them, at least not enough to be sick of them.

April 20:  I am back in the hospital again. My headaches kept on and I have lost too much weight. In plain words I just can’t go on any more. When I returned from the hospital the last time the Squadron Doctor I shouldn’t go up where the troop was, but I felt as though the boys would think I was gold bricking so I went up. I couldn’t eat or sleep and at night my imagination would run wild. It’s a hell of a feeling to sit in your foxhole and see Japs when you know there are no Japs there. I have a feeling I will never see combat again. Guess I have reached the point where I can no longer take it. Flip, don’t think your husband is a quitter. I have been through plenty of hell, but I can never do it again.

So Meyers will be home soon. You will like him. Now if you talk nice he might take you to the movies and I sure wish he would. Tell him that his troop is no longer the same, and he was lucky to miss all of this. He will have a lot to tell you. Of course, we were not always together, but his troop is in the same squadron so he will be able to give you a fair idea of where I was and what I was doing.

Yesterday I received rolls of film from dad. That will mean more pictures. I will have these developed in town because the army is too slow with their work. You will have a lot of pictures of me if I ever get them back. Your dad always writes his return address and my address on a slip which he puts inside the package. So many packages are lost because people do not do that.

So you think I have the wrong slant on the WACS. Perhaps I have. More power to them if they can make a lark out of it. I don’t like them and I don’t suppose I ever will.Yank nurse

American Army Nurse


American Pilots

We have a swell troop commander now. He came over with the division as a Sgt. and has worked his way up the ranks. My platoon officer (he censors my mail, but not this one) used to be my platoon Sgt. If I had wanted it I could have been a Sgt.  Nay. Nay!  A Sgt on the line is a tough job. I want to finish out the war as a Pfc. or even a Pvt and when it’s over I want to be able to come home

April 21:  I couldn’t get to sleep last night until they gave me a pill. My head feels pretty good this morning, but my legs have ached a lot. If I could get a few months of real rest and food I would be alright again. I will never gain any weight on this GI food because I can’t eat it. I have decided P. Ray’s son-in-law has to start looking out for himself and he can do a pretty good job of it.

What are your plans for the summer? I wish I could help you make them and then help share them too. This will be the last summer you will have to spend without me. It wouldn’t surprise me if I got home this summer. It’s a long chance, but well worth thinking about. A trip to Lexington would be pretty nice during September.

Thank’s for sending me a clipping of Edith Louise Ellison’s birthday. It seemed very nice to see my daughter’s name in print. It makes her seem a little more real. Strange as it may sound I still have to stretch my imagination when I think of her. I hope to see her before she is two, because she must be in the cute stage right now.

I got pretty tired this morning so I wasn’t able to finish this letter. It’s nearly dark now. Back there you are just getting up. It makes you seem so far away.

They took my blood count today and I have better than four million RBC which is good enough blood for anyone.

April 22: I am not exactly in the mood for letter writing. I have spent most of the day reading a couple Thoroughbred Records and an old Time Magazine. I sure get a great deal of enjoyment out of the Thoroughbred Records that manage to reach me now and then.

I feel pretty fair as long as I stay on my bed. The only time I leave it is to go to meals and the latrine. I do not eat very much, but I get fruit juice and vitamin pills. Yesterday they had bread pudding and that tasted real good. Flip, do you get tired of my aches and pain? I wouldn’t bother you with them, but you say you worry if I do not tell you.

The ward boy is a good Jo. He is interested in horses and spends a lot of time talking to me. I have been where they have nurses, but I prefer a GI to a nurse. Nurses are all right, but they make me miss you all the more. With you for a nurse I would get well fast.

Regardless of how small our house is it will be larger than a foxhole and that’s exactly the way I feel about it. After six months of combat I feel as though any sort of home would be nice. However, you will have to watch me for the first six months, because I’ll be wanting to shave, cook, and everything else in my helmet.

April 23:  It’s a small world. I find my doctor over here to be the same one who gave me my examination when I went to work for W&B. I sure was surprised. I am now on a soup diet. I asked for it because my stomach seems to revolt against solid food.

Our daughter should get on a horse this summer. If I was there she would. I could let her ride on the saddle in front of me or else ride bareback and let her ride behind me. I can hardly wait to teach her to ride.

I told you once about a horse in Lansing we would breed to when we bought a mare. His name is Stormscud. He had six colts last year and one of them won which isn’t bad when you consider the mares he was bred to. One of these days I am going to write his owner and find out about the other five colts. Perhaps they were not even trained.  You and I are going to be in the market for a brood mare as soon as we go to Lexington. We may look at a few while we are there.

I hear from Eddie every now and then even if it is in a very roundabout way. He never writes, but we have had several replacements come in that took basic in his troop. He is a Sgt. and the same old guy. I hope he is in Lexington when we go down.

News is scarce.  Once a man gets away from his troop he is lost. I would like to be with them, but I have decided to stay away until I am well. A man has to be in tip-top condition to take this. It’s foolish to try and fight when you feel so downright lowdown and miserable.

It’s time for soup.

April 25:   Did Edith ever get the bonds I bought for her? I bought them while I was on the boat coming from the Admiralties. It was on that trip I got to know Meyers. He can tell you how we used to go to church at night, sleep out on the deck, and how I would raid the kitchen at night for coffee. If I knew his address I would write and tell him to take you out to dinner or something. As it is, you will have to depend on your own charm.

I will have a lot of stories to tell when I come home. I am afraid you will not find me the silent kind who will brood and never tell anything about what I saw. Without a doubt, you and the kids will get tired of hearing me hash over the war.

I have received two letters from Aunt Jo and never have answered them. I should write and tell dad I received the film. I owe a lot of letters, but it’s sort of hard to write. Sometimes I think it would help if I wrote my letters in story form. I tried that on you last fall and put the address on as Detroit instead of Muskegon Heights. The blamed thing came back.

Ask Meyers if he remembers Chaplin McKnight. Editor’s note: The Chaplin’s name was originally censored. Dad wrote the name in red pencil at a later date.  I know he does because both of us liked him so well. One night the Japs were throwing rockets and mortars on us and Chaplin McKnight got out of his foxhole to help a kid that was wounded and a mortar shell hit him. Only a couple of weeks ago he preached a sermon saying that because he was a Chaplin he was not immune to bullets, but his strength was in the fact that wherever he went his Lord was with him. I always liked that guy and I miss him.

April 26:  Would you like to know what has been troubling your husband? I have Yellow Jaundice and have an idea I have had it just about all winter. Yesterday my urine turned black and my eyeballs turned to a nice yellow color and the doctor was quick in telling me what it was. I had a short plane ride and now I am back where I will get good care and most important the proper food. The only drawback is I will not be able to get my mail. I will write to you every day and try to think of something to tell you.

I get plenty of fruit juice here. With jaundice you lose all interest in food, but I go for ice-cold fruit juice and eggnog. There is a shower close by and I will be able to enjoy that. I may not be able to do as much reading as I would like because my eyes will not stand too much of a strain right now. My eyes are the one part of my body I have always taken care of.

There is a fellow here out of the (censored) Cavalry. I told him I just came from over seas and he has been busy telling me all about what happened. I even have an MP giving me the low-down.

They just brought me some ice-cold tomato juice. It sure was good even though my stomach hurts now. Pain in my stomach no longer worries me because I know what the pain is and when it will end.

I’ll bet the days are pretty nice back there. It would seem good to feel spring in the air and to ear the sound of a woman’s voice. I would even enjoy helping you clean house. I used to help Helen and I am pretty handy cleaning wallpaper. I will some day have to prove these words. Guess I hadn’t better talk too much.

April 27:  One of the fellows here had a few air mail stamps and shared them with me. I have been having to write and send them “Free” so I suppose this will beat a lot of my other letters to you.  Editor’s Note: This letter of April 27 was postmarked May 1, whereas,  the  April 26th letter was postmarked May 4.  In case it does I will give you a few facts about where I am and what I am doing. I am in the hospital and have Yellow Jaundice. I guess I have had it all winter and it must be the seat of all my other troubles, My eyes are a nice golden-yellow.

It is very hot here during the afternoon. The mornings are cool, but you know how hot a tent can get late in the afternoon. We have the sides rolled up and that gives us good ventilation. The days go by fast. I am only supposed to get up for chow and to go to the latrine, nevertheless, sometimes in the late evening I walk down to the Chaplin’s office and have a “bull” with some of the fellows who hang around there. There are a couple of fellows from the troop here, but they are in different wards and I never get to see them.

We have a nurse in the ward. She is an onry looking cuss, but has a heart of gold. She has plenty of work to keep her busy.

Trout fishing in Bellaire will start tonight at midnight. I can remember how Steve and I used to look forward to the opening of trout season. We would get up long before daylight, eat a breakfast of bread and milk and be down to Shanty Creek by sun-up. We never caught many fish, but it was a day just as important as Christmas or the 4th of July. Neither Steve or John seem to care for fishing now. It’s not that way with me. I do not care much for trout fishing , but give me a boat and Lake Bellaire and I’ll show you fish.

April 28:  I saw A Tree Grows In Brooklyn last night. It was a pretty good picture and as late a picture as I have seen. We see a lot of pictures that are old and then we see the same ones over and over. I was thinking last night when I came home I would love to take you to the Fox or some place nice and see a movie. I am going to appreciate a lot of things that I have never appreciated before.

Doc tells me I will be here for several weeks. I may write to the troop and have them forward my mail. They will do it if I ask them to. I hate to think of going two months without mail from my sweetheart.

Now that I have time to spare I may try to draw plans for out house. I don’t know much about it and expect you to have the big “say so,” but I will give you an idea of a house as I would like it.

Did John come to see you? He said he was going to sometime this winter, but I know John pretty well. He would be glad to come, but around people he does not know he is quiet.

April 30:  I’ll write now and after it’s dark and cool I’ll walk out and mail it. I feel a lot better, but I still have a yellow look and I take it plenty easy.

I ran into a friend of mine this morning and he was going back to the troop, so I sent a note to the mail clerk and told him to send all my mail down here. It may be a week before I get it, but it will give me something to look forward to.

You don’t know how to can chicken do you? Please don’t learn how. I get my share over here. It’s pretty good, but I am tired of it. I’ll bet you think I kick a lot on the food. Darling, that’s the only thing I have to kick about.

Saturday would be Derby Day only I guess there will be no Kentucky Derby and I am sorry. No matter where I am my thoughts always turn to Kentucky the first Saturday in May. Perhaps we can go down some spring.

I am in bed 13, would you call that lucky? At least it’s as cool a place as there is in the tent.

I guess it’s all over with in Europe; all but the shouting. It will soon end over here. As soon as it’s over I’ll start hot-footing it home to you and Edith.

1945 Kentucky Derby Winner Hoop Jr. Winning time 2:07. Jockey Eddie Arcaro.

1945 Derby



Letters To My Mother From WWII: March 1945

Main Hospital In Manila

main hospital

Hospital Ward


March 4:  Editor’s Note:  Manila is officially liberated on March 4th. However, the city is devastated by bombing and the Manila massacre, in which about 100,000 people were killed.

March 7:  I hope this reaches you before the wire saying I was wounded on March 6th. I had five artillery shells drop close to me and I got hit in the right arm just above the elbow. As soon as they take an x-ray and they will get the shrapnel out. Yes, it hurts. However, I have the use of the arm as long as I don’t try to bend it. That gives me an oak leaf cluster and four more points toward rotation……a hard way to get points. I was lucky to get in a hole when I did. The kid next to me didn’t make it. I suppose he never knew what hit him.

I broke the stem out of my pipe and had to make another. It’s a crude looking one. Cigarettes are scarce. I have got one package in five days. I doubt whether the boys got any today. The front is no place to be out of cigarettes.

This is all the paper I have and my arm will not let me write too much.

March 8:  I have a mighty sore finger today. I got a hunk of shrapnel in it and never knew. I remember at the time my finger felt numb.

I have written a lot of letters today. My buddy James is in here now. He got it this morning. I wrote to his wife and mother for him. His hand is banged up a bit.

The Filipinos have a little stand outside the gates and last night I went out to buy a few boiled eggs.They wanted twenty-five cents for one egg. Guess you know what I told them to do with their eggs.

I slept good last night. Before I went to bed my arm pained pretty bad so they gave me a sleeping pill and I dropped off as soon as I finished my prayers. It’s good to sleep all night without having to pull guard. It’s good to sleep and to know that the Japs are not going to turn a rocket on you.

They are not going to take the shrapnel out of my arm. I suppose that in ten years from now it will start to work out. I wish they would take it out and I would be finished with it once and for all.

You have had such a long hard winter that I suppose you will have an early spring. Even now the days must be a little longer and perhaps a little warmer.

This Jap ink is no good. You don’t dare fill your pen with it and even after it is dry the darned stuff will rub off and make a mess.

Did your mother come for Edith’s birthday? I sure would have enjoyed the cake. This is sort of birthday for me. I left the states exactly a year ago. I had no idea at the time what would be in store for me. I only hope that I am home again next year at this time.

Editor’s Note: The following are two V-Mail letters addressed to Rev. and Mrs P.Ray Norton 

March 8:  Wounded again! This time it was shrapnel from artillery and I got it in the right arm. I heard it coming and tried to get in a hole, but it hit before I could get down. I was very lucky. The fellow next to me never knew what hit him. The shelling lasted for some time and I was scared. I didn’t dare move from the position I was in. I could see my right sleeve all covered with blood and I couldn’t feel my arm. I thought for a while that perhaps I didn’t have one. They have not taken the shrapnel out. My arm is very sore and pains, but I can use it as long as I don’t try to lift it up. I also got nicked on my left hand, but it wasn’t much.

March 9: I suppose you folks are anxious to hear how I am coming along. Just fine! They are not going to take the shrapnel out as it would be more operation than it’s worth. I find that I have a small piece working out of my finger and it hurts like a boil. The hole in my arm is about as big around as a dime.  I had a General stop by my bed this afternoon and ask me how I was doing. As a usual thing I pray enough and in times of trouble I feel that the Lord will watch out for me and so it’s not a habit of mine to pray much while under fire. The other day was so terrible that long before it ended I was praying. No more than five shells hit where I was, but I’ll bet five hundred missed by no more than twenty feet. I never want to go through that again.

March 9:  The shrapnel is working its way out of my finger. It’s worse than having a tooth come through. I still can’t bend my arm without a great deal of pain. The shrapnel in my arm can’t be so very large. it made a hole about the size of a lead pencil.

Remember the boy with the boots and spurs who rode home with you last fall? I guess he is in the Division now/ I am questioning every one I see in the hopes I can find him. It would be fun to talk to someone who had talked to you. Can you remember his name?

The letter I wrote on March 5th was returned to me. The fellow who censored it was sore at me and he took that way to show it. I am going to send it again and I hope it gets through this time. The only thing wrong with it is that I used both sides of the paper. paper is so scarce that they should overlook that.  Editor’s Note: This letter was written on two sheets of V-Mail and then folded and put into a regular envelope. I guess he couldn’t find regular paper.

March 10: I managed to wash out my jacket this morning. It was sure dirty and now if I can get my trousers washed I will start to feel a little cleaner.

I saw one of the fellows from the troop yesterday. If he comes again today he is going to bring me my mail. I sure would like to hear from you. I am anxious to get some pictures of Edith taken while she is standing up or trying to walk. By now she must be walking all over the house.

It is hard for me to write with my arm like this. They tell me to use it all I can though it hurts. I hope the shrapnel comes out before it heals up. I want to get it over with once and for all.

I had a General stop by my bed yesterday and ask me how I was feeling. He went through the whole ward and asked us if we had plenty of writing paper and if there was anything he could do for us. I had a notion to tell him he could send me home.

I had a sweet dream last night. I was either buying fishing tackle or else fishing all night long. Even if it was only a dream I enjoyed it. I can hardly wait until I can take you fishing. You will love it, I hope. If not you can stay home while I fish.

I hope it’s not winter when I come home. Lexington wouldn’t be so nice in the winter time. Of course we could still have fun because we would be together, but the country wouldn’t look so nice. The way I feel right now I would like to take a month’s vacation before starting to work. I will not be able to even though it would be fun.

I have been spending a little money. They sell bananas here and several other things in the line of candy. I want to send a few dollars to you whenever I can get a money order.  I guess I have two month’s back pay coming. Of course I draw very little now that you get twenty-five.

My eyes are heavy. I didn’t get much sleep last night and I am starting to notice it.

March 12:  It’s impossible to write with Jap ink without getting it all over everything. One of these days I’ll get a bottle of good American ink. At last I have my films all packed and ready to mail. The pictures should be back within a couple of weeks. I only hope that a part of them are good because that picture I sent was so bad. I look pretty chipper when I am caught up on my sleep. I am waiting for them to come and dress my arm. It feels good today and it’s starting to itch which should be a good sign. I will be joining my troop one of these days.

We had a good dinner today, chicken pie, spinach, fresh potatoes (the first in months), fresh pineapple, bread and jam, and ice-cold cake. That was a good dinner. They feed good, but I never eat much. I eat a big breakfast and that’s the only meal I enjoy. Perhaps I munch too much between meals.

The news from Europe sounds pretty good. I guess the Germans are having their hands full with the Russians and Yanks coming at them from every side.  The German people are having a chance to see how destructive war is when fought on their own soil.  Before the war ends Tokio will learn the same thing. I am anxious to get back and pick up my mail. I am not happy when I don’t hear from you. Of course, it always seems swell when I get several letters from you at one time.

How is your school work going? You will be in a good position to get a good job if you do decide to work for a while. That’s  not a hint that I want you to work. I am satisfied the way things are now.

I am bound to be home one of these days. I don’t expect to come before the end of the war. Nevertheless, I do not expect this war to last forever. I am anxious to see a force land on Japan. To my way of thinking that would bring them out of China. A war in Japan would be pretty bad because you wouldn’t be able to give the civilians a break. They would shoot you in the back.   I have seen all I want to see and I am ready to turn things over to the Marines. We rode a few miles in some beat up trucks and I see where the papers call us “mechanized.” Enough war talk!

I washed my clothes and took a bath this morning. First bath I had since I came in. In fact, it’s the first bath I had since I was in the hospital a couple of weeks ago. I was filthy!

March 13:  I am waiting for the doctor to come and look at my arm. I am going to try to get out today. My troop is resting now and I might as well be with the outfit. I can have the medic in my troop dress it and it will come along alright.

Ever since I have been in the Philippines I have wondered why they raised such a small banana. I found out the reason. They export them to China and the people there do not have much money and could not afford to pay for large ones. Glad I got that worry off my mind.

Next I want to figure out why they don’t raise cows over here. I think it’s due to the feed. They tell me a cow will not do well on this grass. I think they can raise feed here. Even in times of peace Manila hasn’t had a dairy. They use powdered milk.

It sure was cold last night. I thought I would freeze to death about five this morning. I had to get another blanket. In my dreams I fought the Japs all night long and your dad was with me. I have seen enough of that without dreaming about it.

We had fried eggs for breakfast and apples too. I will start gaining weight if they feed me like that. I will need to gain about thirty pounds.

March 14, V-Mail:  I just received your letter of March 1st and how you couldn’t make out about the hospital. Evidently you had not received my other letters telling you I was in the hospital. I was hospitalized twice last month for my stomach and dysentery (which I still have) and once this month for shrapnel in the arm. I know exactly how you must have felt. I am sorry.

March 14:  There were eight letters waiting for me when I got back. Chauncey’s Christmas box was here as well as one from my cousin in Detroit. All told I got three fruit cakes and two boxes of candy. All of it was good. I wrote to Chauncey (Editor’s Note: My mother’s brother) last night and thanked him for the box. I told him I was not interested in showing dogs. However, I did offer to let him go in with me on breeding a few. If he wants to show a few he can, but I don’t know anything about that end of it.

Tomorrow I have a pass and I’ll spend the day in the city. You know what city, but I can’t say the name. We got paid this afternoon and I’ll have money enough to buy you a gift providing I can find something nice enough for you.

I like the idea of you staying with Chauncey. The extra money would come in handy. I know of another race track between Detroit and Lansing. I could train there and the land wouldn’t be so high. In fact if we wanted to go there and build on a small-scale we could do it without going too far into debt. I have been thinking about it pretty strong. Even though I like Northville I hate to start out and be behind the eight ball. We will have plenty of time to decide between now and when we build. This is 1945 and in 1962 we are going to have a daughter ready for college and we want to be ready to send her. Editor’s Note: Turns out it was 1961 when I left home for college.

March 16:  I was in town yesterday and I am sending you a souvenir.  I think you will like them. I was very lucky too because I found a pen exactly like the one I lost and I bought it. I only had to pay $12.50 which was only a couple more dollars than it would have cost new. I ate everything they had and a lot of food like we used to get at the Chinaman’s. It was good but I ate too much. I weighed myself yesterday and I am darn near back to normal, 150 lbs. Whenever I weigh 150 I don’t worry, but when I drop down to 130 it’s time to worry. At the rate Edith is going she will have a full mouth. That expression, “Full Mouth,” seems turned around when I use it in regards to Edith’s teeth. In the equine  world it is right. I was going to buy a dress for Edith yesterday but I couldn’t figure out what size she would take.  You will notice that I am not using paragraphs, it’s a waste of paper and paper is as scarce as cigarettes. I am afraid that the  quartermasters are trading out cigarettes to the Filipinos. If we are lucky we get a package a day. Yes Flip, the cigar deal was black market. However, in that part of the world money would not have a great deal of value.

March 17:  What a beautiful morning this is. There is a cool breeze blowing and I have been reading, writing, eating bananas, and taking naps. Clair T stopped by for a while. He wants me to visit him tomorrow, but it’s too much effort. Clair T and I went to see a buddy of ours yesterday and found that he got killed early this month. The three of us used to be together at Fort Ord, New Guinea, and the Admiralty Islands. I never mentioned him because he was more Clair T’s friend than mine. I suppose Edith can do a pretty good job of walking by this time. I am darned near going to have a grown daughter by the time I get home. She is very apt to be afraid of me. Most of the fellows in the tent are sleeping. They were in town yesterday and I guess they had a big day. By golly, they deserve  to have a good time. They certainly earned one. It’s almost time for dinner and I am not the least bit hungry. I eat too many bananas. I thrive on them and I am terribly tired of G.I. chow. I have a bag full of books and I have been doing a lot of reading. When I say bag I mean just that. I have a weather proof bag and every time I find a book or magazine I save it until I have time to read it. Some of them I brought from Leyte.  I will have to stop writing now because I have run out of paper.

March 18:  Your letters of February 27th and March 5th came today. Mail seems very scarce.  As a usual thing we get lots of it while we are resting. Not so this time.  I went to church this morning and after church the Regiment had a memorial service for the fellows who were killed. Our Regimental Commander gave a short talk and then Taps were blown. I had tears in my eyes.

I wonder if you understand what I mean when I talk about Brigades, Regiments and such? The 1st Calvary Division is made up of two Brigades that are called 1st and 2nd. In the 1st Brigade there are the 5th and 12th Regiments and the 2nd Brigade is made up of the 7th and 8th Regiments. The Regiments are broken up into two Squadrons, the 1st and the 2nd. The Squadrons are broken up into Troops. In other words, E Troop is in the 2nd Squadron, 7th Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Calvary and the 1st Calvary is a part of the 6th Army.

We had a taste of ice cream for dinner. What wouldn’t I give for a gallon of it. I know of a place in Lexington were we can get home-made ice cream. The people were old when I was there, but perhaps they are still in business. I only hope we do not have to go to Kentucky in the winter. Guess we will be glad to go any time.

I am wondering how much the Kentucky breeders will cut down on their stock now that they have stopped racing. It would be an ideal time to buy a young mare. I know several Bull Dog mares that could be bought at a reasonable price. Editor’s Note: I have no idea what a Bull Dog mare is. Could find nothing on Google.

You missed something when you couldn’t go to Steve’s place. Whenever Steve, John, and Wanda (Editor’s Note: Dad’s siblings) get together things are bound to happen. Wish I could have been there too.

We are supposed to draw a little beer this evening. One day we got ice-cold beer right on the line. I was in my foxhole drinking cold beer. That was something.

I am reading a biography of George Washington Carver. It is good. Trouble is I go to sleep when I start to read.

March 19:  One of these days I am going to make a drawing for you of how I would like our house. The sewing room could be fixed up so that it could be used as a spare bedroom. I have a lot of ideas.

You should be here and see the fruit I have on my bunk. I have been eating a lot of it. I have bought some fruit from the P.X. We are eating pretty good. We had fresh eggs for breakfast and steak for dinner as well as having it last night too. Oh Well, we will soon be eating field rations.

Laura Marie told me that she might not teach next year. She has an idea that she wants to get into the service. Foolish Girl! It makes me sore when they send girls over seas. I saw a couple in town the other day. They are having a lark. They should have been here a few weeks ago and they would have seen first hand what war is like.

Filippino Women

Filipino Women’s Guerrilla Corps Training, 1941


Lyudmilla Pavlichenko, Russian sniper who  killed a confirmed 309 Germans

jewish resistance fighters

Jewish Resistance Fighters: Warsaw Ghetto, 1943

March 20:  Yesterday we had a little formation and they pinned a few Purple Hearts on us. After it was over they put us in groups of ten and took our picture. I am not sure whether I will be able to get one of the pictures, but if I can I’ll send you one. I sent you the Purple Heart this morning. I kept the small ribbon I wear. The metal one is for civilian life and the extra ribbon in the box will come in handy when I come home. The one I have will be pretty dirty by that time.

I had a chance to go into the city today. There isn’t a great deal down there and every thing is so high. The best part of the town has been destroyed. I need the rest and I’ll stick around here. I have 105 bananas on my bunk and shouldn’t starve.

The rain season is drawing close. I hope we are all through fighting by then. I don’t go for all that rain and mud.

No mail from you. I did get two Christmas Cards and I received a V-Mail from your dad. Seems funny to get Christmas Cards in March. Dad said he was sending more film.

I think I have ring worm on the back of my neck. I have been lucky about not having any until now. My luck has changed I guess.

March 23:  Your birthday card reached me on my birthday. I’ll bet you couldn’t do that again in a lifetime. I hope I can spend the next one with you.

I expect the pictures back any day now. Both Blanche and your father are sending me film and I’ll be able to get them developed much faster after this. I carried that other film in my pack for so long and I was always afraid something would happen to it. I am going to try to get colored pictures of the flowers over here. They are beautiful. If I had some way of doing it I would press a few flowers and send them to Mrs Mosher.

Flip, the more I think of it the more I am convinced that Bellaire would be a good place for us. The first year after the war and perhaps the second building material is going to be sky-high. I’ll come back and we can make a trip up there and pick out a place and buy it. Land isn’t high and I don’t want too much of it because a lot of the soil isn’t good. I think it would be best to buy five or six lots right in Bellaire. As soon as we had them bought we could start to landscape the place and make plans for our home. In the meantime I could go back to W & B to work. As soon as the price of lumber went down we could build and if you want we could build a stone house. There are lots of stones up there. I do want a stone fireplace. A brick fireplace never seems right to me. My idea of a fireplace is a stone one with a Dutch Oven. We could keep a cow, a couple of pigs, about 500 chickens, bees, dogs, and what not. We could start out pretty free of debt. In fact I doubt whether or not we would have to borrow above $2000. I can get on the GI Bill of Rights. We could buy a trotter and have just as much fun, if not more, by keeping him at home and racing him at places close by Traverse City. If he was good he would have the chance to go elsewhere. The whole thing depends on you. I am anxious to hear what you say about it.

Editor’s Note: W & B; I think he means Whitman and Barnes Mfg. Co. that made tools. I do remember he worked there and had to leave because they put him in a shop with lots of windows.  At that time there was no sunscreen and he had Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.


Every thing over here is fine. I have a good foxhole and it’s dry. Can’t ask for more than that. I sure would like to be home, but I guess the war will be over when I come home. Lots of the boys have been here longer than I.

Remember our poem? Didn’t it go something like this?  First of all I love my God and next he who died on the cross. Had a trotting horse, good one too! Sure loved him like most men do.  It seems as though I left something out. Perhaps I’ll remember it when I come home.

March 24, V-Mail: Every once in a while I take to reading plays. I believe I enjoy them more than I do novels. I have just finished “No Time for Comedy” and “Margin For Error.” The latter is good, but the very last line is a scream all of its own. It is cool this afternoon, but last night was downright cold. When I went on guard about five I could hardly keep from shivering. I am afraid that one of these days it will start to rain.Well, how is that daughter of ours making out? I bet Grandmaggie would like to see her. I sure like my new pen. I got it reasonable because the fellows tell me they cost $12.50 in the States. That is exactly what I paid for it. You have a pretty name, Florence Norton. I always liked the sound of it. I liked to girl too, so I married her.

March 29:  Back in the hospital again. This time with a wound in the head. This is the way it happened. I sneaked up behind a Jap bunker (foxhole) and another fellow crawled around to the entrance and tossed a grenade into it. The grenade must have hit a case of TNT because we sure blew the hell out of things. I guess it blew me ten feet off the ground and it made a cut on the top of my head. All this happened yesterday and I feel fine today. I say fine…..I do have a headache, but I am lucky to have a head to ache. They had to cut all the hair off my head and I sure am a funny looking duck. I needed a haircut.

Flip, every now and then something happens in combat that has a funny side to it. The other day a bunch of us got fired on and we made it out only to find one man was left behind. We could see him and he was right in front of a Jap bunker. He was lying on his back, rifle at his feet and his face turned to the sky. We figured either he was dead or bad hit and I was the guy they sent back to drag him down. I made a wild run and got behind a tree about two feet from him. Just as I was going to grab him he said, “Don’t touch me. I am playing dead.” In spite of everything I had to laugh. My hat is off to anyone who can lie in front of a machine gun and play dead.

March 30. V-Mail: Yesterday I wrote the details, but in case this letter gets there first, I am in the hospital with a scalp wound. It’s a beautiful day and if it wasn’t for the flies I would take a nap. I didn’t sleep last night. I guess I have the jitters. I am out of air-mail envelopes again and have two sheets of paper left, so I have to use V-Mail. Once the campaign ends we will have plenty of paper. Say, do you like Muskegon? Mom sent me one of Jim’s letters and by what he said you must have told him you didn’t like it. Flip, if you don’t like it there tell me. I can’t do much about it, but I would like to know.. There are a lot of goats around here. In fact, there are a lot of goats all over these islands and a lot of them are brown and white. I had never seen a brown one before.

The following is a V-Mail letter addressed to Rev. and Mrs P Ray Norton and dated March 30, 1945.

I am back in the hospital again. This time it is a cut scalp I received on the 28th. I sneaked up behind a Jap bunker and tossed in a grenade. It must have lit in a case of TNT, because I blew the top of the hill off. I was blown several feet off the ground. I say “I” all the time, but there were three of us. Now if I was a Marine I would be able to come home because I have been wounded three times. I very much doubt whether my troop commander would give me a transfer out of the rifle platoon. I need some kind of a transfer, because a man can only take so much of this. I’ll end up a nervous wreck.


Letters To My Mother From WWII: February 1945


Editor’s Note: On February 1, 1945 the 1st Cavalry goes through enemy lines and then on to Manila. The 7th Cavalry is the lead unit. They reach Manila on February 3, 1945 and liberate 4000 civilian prisoners, British and American men and women,  from Internment Camp Santo Tomas. By the time they were liberated many of the internees were near death from lack of food. The internment camp had been in operation since January 1942 and is located in one of the buildings of the University of Santo Tomas.

When dad talks about combat is these next letters he is talking about the Battle of Manila which began approximately February 3, 1945 and lasted to March 4, 1945. There is a great deal of information online about the Internment Camp Santo Tomas and in his letter dated 2/9/1945 dad references a talk with a former prisoner. The fighting for the city became urban warfare and the Japanese acts of brutality toward civilians, including rape, beheading, mutilation, and burning of Filipinos locked in their houses, became known as the Manila Massacre. If you google Battle of Manila WWII you will find detailed information. The battle ended three years of Japanese military occupation in the Philippines.

Feb 8. Combat Zone:   I have not heard from you since the middle of last month. We haven’t had a mail call since then. My letters to you have been few and far between. I guess I have written one letter since the twenty-fifth of last month. I have been in the field with no time to write.

I have been in the hospital now for the last few days. They brought me in with a temperature of 104. It’s my stomach and I am mighty glad to be where something will be done for it. I have no idea how long I will be here, but my address is the same as always. I suppose you want to know exactly how I feel. I feel pretty good and I am able to get up and walk around any time I please. I have plenty to read and the rest is doing me worlds of good. My last days in the field were tough because I didn’t feel up to it. I was bound to keep on going and I did until I took a 24 hour ride on a tank and when I got off, well they brought me here.

By the time this reaches you the papers will be telling where we are, if they haven’t told already. It’s a pretty nice place. It’s easy to imagine this as being a part of America.

Editor’s Note: Written in red pencil and dated 10-3-1957: “The next time they took my temperature it was normal and they sent me back.”

Feb 9. Combat Zone: This morning I talked with an American prisoner of war that had just been released after spending three years in a Jap prison. What stories he had to tell. He was lucky to get through it all. I happened to have a five dollar bill in my pocket and I gave it to him. He was so tickled I thought he was going to cry. He will soon be in the states and he said he was gong to buy five dollars worth of malted milks and peanut butter.

We hear the Russians are close to Berlin and we hope the war over there will soon end. That will mean we can finish our job over here that much sooner.

It’s time for me to say good-night. I hate to write too much because the fellows around here have too much to do without censoring a lot of mail.

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a letter dated 2-11-1945 and written to Rev. and Mrs. P. Ray Norton.

If you have been reading the papers you must know where we are. It has been a pretty hot spot. What beautiful country this is and it’s so much like America. Even the people here speak English so much better and we get to see American girls now and then. We have recaptured a lot of our boys and girls who have been prisoners here since the fall of Bataan. They were sure glad to see us and call us the “Yanks.” It gives a soldier a happy sort of feeling to talk with them.

Feb 11. Combat Zone: Yesterday they flew me back out of the combat zone. It was a nice plane ride and I enjoyed seeing the country from the air. I expect I will go back in a couple of days. There is no rest for the wicked. Editor’s Note: He is being hospitalized for chronic dysentery.

Last night I dreamed about …….censored word and cut out of the page. Nice dreams I must say, but too darned realistic. Any kind of dream is an escape from this life.

I still have my camera with me. Not only that but I have all the film and I am anxious to get it developed. We are fighting for a city now and it’s large enough to have camera shops in it so I’ll be able to get them developed

I suppose you wonder why I have changed over from printing. I feel that every so often a man should change some part of his life to keep it from becoming too dull. Does that make sense to you? For five years I have been printing everything and now I start out another five years, this one in longhand.

There is going to be a movie tonight and all the patients that can walk plan on going. I have not seen a movie since September.

I talked with an American woman this afternoon. She is the first American woman I have seen since last March. Indiana is her home state and she has been here for eight years. Her husband was a doctor.

It might be of interest to you to know that the girls around here are beautiful. They have nice clothes and look pretty much like the American girls. Don’t worry darling because there is only one girl in this world as far as I am concerned.

I have put on a little weight. I will soon be back to normal. Of course a fellow can expect to be a little lighter over here.

I sure slept sound last night. I have been sleeping where shells are bursting and even though they didn’t waken me they broke up my rest. They shelled the hospital a couple of times but without luck on their part. They did come too close for comfort. Back here it is so quiet that I feel like I am living in the country (I am).

I have often told you how well I liked our chaplain. He got it. He was such a fine fellow and was a real friend to all us boys.

It’s nearly dark and I am going to the movies. I wish you were here to go with me. As Archie the cockroach said, “Time time, said old king Tut, is something I ain’t got anything but.”

Feb 13. Combat Zone:  I haven’t very much time, but if I write this now it will go out tomorrow. You will be anxious to learn that I am back with my troop. They caught hell while I was away.

I received several letters today. Three from you. One was a Christmas Card from Laura Marie. She sent me a snapshot of herself.

The hospital business didn’t settle anything. I still have dysentery. Guess it will go away in time. Sure hope so.

Someone shot a Jap about thirty yards from here and no one buried him. He sure has a ripe smell.

Don’t worry about me Flip. Even though I may hate to go back to W&B I guess I can take it for a year or two. After this life it will be like heaven. I wish I could figure out a way to make a living in Northern Michigan. I can’t think of anything up there I would enjoy doing.

Feb 14. Combat Zone:  I spent a very good night and it looks like this is to be a day of rest. I have cleaned my rifle and later on I will shave and take a bath.

I  am sending you a check I received as a Christmas gift. Spend it on yourself because it’s your gift for Valentine’s Day. You shouldn’t have any trouble cashing it. I would like to send you a money order, but I will not be able to get one for some time. I need more money here that I used to spend. There are a few things to buy here. I am sending you some more invasion money. I leave it to your imagination in regards to the country they planned on spending it in. The poor nips will never get that far.

There isn’t a great deal to write about. This is a beautiful place and things have been anything but dull around here. I sure hope it ends soon. I have not heard news from Germany for the last two weeks.

Yes Flip, I guess I am an outdoor man. At least I have spent much of my life outside. Once we get a stable of our own it will be fun because both of us can be doing work we enjoy. We will never be rich, but we will be happy and we will do the things we want to do. It will be fun to just have each other.

I had a good drink of brandy yesterday. It made me remember Joe’s Cafe. Brandy, rum, and scotch whiskey seem to be plentiful around here.

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a letter written to Rev. and Mrs P.Ray Norton also written on Valentine’s Day.

Dad, how in the world do you talk people into giving you checks for twenty-five thousand dollars? Editor’s Note: The money was for building a new church, Strathmore Methodist Church, I think. For those of the family who do not know, grandpa Norton very good at fund raising.

Thanks for your offer of a birthday gift. My family was very poor and being as how I was born in the spring, when farmers do not have much cash,  I have grown up without birthday gifts. However, if you want to send me anything at all I would enjoy a few of Guest’s poems. Cut a few out of the Detroit Free Press.  Editor’s Note: Bud Guest was a WJR radio talk show host with a daily morning program “The Sunny Side Of The Street.”  

bud guest

“Don’t Quit” by Bud Guest

I have just returned from spending a week in the hospital. I have been having a lot of stomach trouble. It’s nothing that a good apple pie and a quart of ice cream wouldn’t cure. While I was gone the nips made it pretty hot for my troop. We have seen our share of combat and we deserve a rest. I doubt whether or not we will get one until it’s over. Someone has to do the job and by golly the Cavalry has a pretty fair idea of how it should be done.

There sure has been a lot of suffering around here. I have seen kids that were starving to death. It’s not easy to look at and there should be a law against kids gong hungry. Not only the food question, but the poor kids get their share of wounds. You have no idea what it is like. Our chaplain got killed. He was a swell fellow and got it while trying to reach a wounded soldier.

While we were coming through the country on our way here I sure had my share of fried chicken, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. The people were very good to us.

As I write this letter I can hear artillery shells screaming overhead. They make quite a whistle as they pass through the air. Sometimes the nips use their artillery on us and that’s when we hug the ground. If you have a hole to get in you are safe from anything but a direct hit.

Feb 17. Combat Zone, V-Mail:  We are still fighting. My hair is thick now compared to what it was. I am badly in need of a hair cut.  There isn’t much I can tell you. We have them on the run, but it’s slow work. Sometimes at night they shell us with artillery. It isn’t so bad as it was.

Feb 18. Combat Zone, V-Mail: It is hot this morning. I mean it is blistering hot! They tell us that our weather is coming during the months of April and May. The rains and planting season will come in June. I am on a hill and below me is a field of tomatoes. It’s not exactly safe to go down there.

Well Flip, the stomach trouble is over. Not exactly over, but last night I found out what the trouble was. Worms!  I think they are Pin Worms.As soon as I get out of here I will be able to see the doctor and get rid of the blamed things.

Editor’s Note: Written in red pencil and not dated: “This letter was written on a bluff overlooking the Pasig River, Luzon.”

Pasig River: 17 miles extending from Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay


Feb 20. Combat Zone:  The other night I got hit with a piece of shrapnel from a grenade. One of our men threw a grenade and even though I ducked as low as possible the detonation hit me in the back. It didn’t even break the skin, but it sure hurt.

We have spent the last few days on top of a small hill that overlooks a river with a village on the opposite bank. When we came here the town was filled with Japs and Filipinos. The Japs were dressed in civilian clothing, some of them were wearing dresses. We sent word to the Filipinos to leave town and the Japs wouldn’t let them go. We threw in a couple of shells and still nothing happened. We waited a few days and then we gave them the business. The Filipinos went one way, the Japs another and a big part of the town went up in smoke. We have an American Flag up there now, but there are still a few Japs in the town. I spent most of the day watching the show with a pair of field glasses. They have a rocket gun that they have used on us. It makes the most unearthly noise and when the shell hits, well it is far worse than artillery. I’ll be glad when we get it knocked out.

I imagine I’ll soon go back to the hospital to get rid of these worms. I haven’t told the doctor about them, but I will first chance I get.

Thanks for sending me the Washington Merry-Go-Round. Send it more often. It will help me keep up with the world.  Editor’s Note: This is a syndicated column started in 1932 and still running today on-line. This is the column that broke the story of General Patton and the soldier he slapped in 1943 and denounced the witch-hunt agenda of Senator McCarthy.

I am reading Canby’s biography of Walt Whitman. I always wanted to read “Leaves of Grass” and this will help me to understand it.

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter written to Rev. and Mrs P. Ray Norton dated 2-25-1945.

I am back in the hospital again. This time I am sure they will find out just what my trouble is and fix me up. I feel good, but I am not strong and I have lost too much weight.

In the ward next to me is a boy by the name of Agne Gustafsson from Sweden. He was in the Merchant Marines when the Japs came and so he fled to Bataan. With the fall of Bataan he was taken prisoner along with the American soldiers and has spent the last three years in prison. He will soon be on his way to the States and he is anxious to get there. He plans to make a trip to Michigan to visit the parents of some of the kids that were with him and I gave him your address and told him you were a mighty good cook. I am sure you will enjoy meeting him and he will tell you all about what happened over here.

The Japs gave us a good shelling the night before I came in. Shortly after dark they started to shell us with artillery and when that was over they opened up with mortar and machine guns. I mean it was some party. I fairly hugged the bottom of my ditch. I was in a ditch behind a high stone wall. The artillery missed the stone wall by inches. A couple of shells hit close enough to throw dirt and rocks on me. Aside from that I came through okay.

There are any number of Americans in this hospital. There are old men, young girls, babies, and women. All of them seem to be suffering from lack of food. They are a happy bunch.


Letters To My Mother From WWII: January 6-31, 1945

YANK US 1944 12 08

Editor’s Note: The letters are now stamped indicating he is no longer writing from a combat zone.

Jan 6:  I sure am glad that I didn’t get into the medics. I had a job of being litter bearer one afternoon and it wasn’t fun. I had to go through a place that the Japs had covered with machine guns. I would rather fight because at least you can take cover. I used to think that the war would end as soon as the Japs were sure they were licked. I don’t know. After seeing them fight I have an idea they will hang on to the last.

Banzi does not mean three cheers for Japan, as I thought. It means”May the Emperor live a thousand years.” I hope he does and that he spends the last nine hundred years suffering with the itch.

Jan 7:  Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a letter written to the Rev. & Mrs P. Ray Norton, my maternal grandparents.

When I first hit this island and had that shell go off so close I lost my nerve. For awhile I thought it would be impossible to go on. I got over that while I was in the hills. Of course a Jap can still make me hug the ground, but I do not have that deadly fear that I suffered with at first.

Back in the hills we had to depend on air drops or pack trains for food and the pack trains couldn’t always make it on time. To make matters worse a Jap got in my pack one night and took my rations. Water was a problem at times. I went nearly three days without water. They had two canteens of water at the aid station, but it was for wounded men only. Our wounded had to go out by pack train and it was a long trip. One consolation was that the Japs were having it worse than we were.

Did I tell you about the church letter? We were trying to take a little hill and it was tough going. For three days we had shelled and tried to take it and three different nights we fell back with our job unfinished. The third night I came back very tired, thirsty, and down in the mouth. We had our one and only mail call in twenty-four days that night. I knew I would have a letter from Florence. They gave me three letters, one from the Trinity Church one from your church, and another from friends in California. I was mighty glad for the baseball news at the end of the letter.

Jan 7:  This is Sunday morning, but I do not intend to go to church. My stomach still feels upset and I am going to stay here and keep quiet.

I can tell you one thing right now. We are not going to be able to build a house as you have planned it. It would cost too much money and put us too far in debt. Our house will be a nice house and we will build it with the idea of adding on when we can afford it. As soon as this war ends there will be a big boom and I will make as much and spend as little as I can for the first two years. Perhaps even longer than that, because for a year or two building material will be high. I like a stone house when the stones are faced. When we get to Lexington I’ll show you a stone house that will take your eye.

Whenever you read something in the paper about the 1st Cavalry cut it out and send it to me. My mother does that. We are always tickled to read what they say about it in the papers. The truth of it is I know very little about what is going on. I have not read any official news since early December.

We had some real chicken fights yesterday. Everyone was there from the band to the Regimental Commander. E troop won with every chicken they fought. One boy won 1800 pesos. I didn’t bet.



I figured it up last night and I went 76 days without taking off my clothes except to clean them.

Your Christmas box JUST came and it was perfect. I am thrilled to death over the camera. I loaded up and have taken one picture of Clair T and I. In a little while I am going to take  a picture of James and his good fighting cock. I want to take lots of pictures of me and the men I am with.

The picture of Edith is perfect. What a fat little girl.  Editor’s Note:  SIGH! It seems that some things really do never change.

Jan 8:  I have just finished reading Martha Walker’s novel “Winter Wheat.” I enjoy a story like that where the characters seem so real. You and I will have a lot to read when I come home. I enjoy reading plays and it would be fun to read some of them together. Did you ever read Green Pastures, In Abraham’s Bosom, or Journey’s End? All of them are favorites of mine. There are so many things we can read and so many things we can do and if we are going to build we will have to spend several evenings with ourselves.

My stomach is lots better. I actually enjoyed my food today. I am plenty thin and need a lot of meat and beans. With four fingers I can reach around my thigh.

I left you a year ago tonight. I don’t dare think about it too much. I am not worried about when I come home. All I want is to just be able to come home when it’s over. One of the kids that I took basic with got it over here. We came over on the same boat. Several of the guys who came over on that boat will not go back. One of them was married and had a baby. You and I must never kick as long as I have my health.

Sweetheart, it’s nearly time for me to listen to Oliver Norton say good night to his girl back home.

Editor’s Note: Written in red pencil and dated 10-3-57 is the following:   Oliver Norton was my wife’s great-uncle and served in the Civil War. He was the first person to blow Taps on the bugle.

Jan 9:   I can’t seem to think of anything to tell you tonight. I guess this wasn’t a very interesting day. The troop moved to a new bivouac area and I spent the day working. We have a real nice place now with stone walks and all the tents in a line. It is very pretty. I’ll get a picture of it tomorrow.

Jan 10:  Our model troop area is finished and has been inspected by our Regimental  Commander. He said it was a work of art. After the inspection they read us letters from Gen. Cunningham, Gen. Mudge, Col. Finagan, and Col. Kirk. The messages were praise of the second squadron and E troop for the way they fought the Japs.

I hope we have a good dinner tonight. My stomach is empty. I have had a yen to eat a coconut cake for the past two days. Ordinarily I do not care for baked goods (I mean cake), but after going a year without it, well you can imagine how good it will taste.When I get back I am going to spent a hundred dollars on food the first week.

Editor’s Note: Mom told me this story about the Coconut Cake. It seems grandma Norton was told about dad’s yen for a coconut cake and when he got back to the states she made him one. It turned out that the cake was a horrible failure, and somewhat hard. Those of us who knew her knew she couldn’t bake worth a lick. But dad ate the cake with a smile on his face. Then after when he was alone with mom he told her that it was the worst cake he had ever eaten.

I never did read what Yank had to say about our landing. I would like to read that article. They exaggerate, all newspaper men do, and it’s fun to compare notes. I’ll tell you the truth about the landing…it was easy. I hate to think about the future. I am afraid that we will find it tough fighting in Formosa. Of course we may not go there, but it is between us and Tokyo and someone will have to go there. It will be too big a place to bypass.

Jan 11:  I have spent part of the morning taking pictures. I sure hope some of them turn out good. I will send the colored film home for you to develop and all the pictures that are not of me please send back. Not being used to the camera I expect the pictures will not be so very good, but if you can keep on sending film I’ll get some good ones someday.

I sure slept good last night. Scott knew what he was writing about when he wrote “Soldier rest! Thy warfare o’er. Dream of battle fields no more.” I am enjoying my food and my stomach trouble has gone. I had an idea it was just the result of being over tired.

I have lost my suntan. I had to wear a jacket this campaign and didn’t get much sun on my back. We didn’t have too much sun because it rained most of the time.

I have heard that all sports in the states have been stopped. Is that true? Editor’s Note: The 1944 Summer Olympics to be held in London England were cancelled because of the war.   If it is the breeders of Kentucky will sure suffer a blow. If it will help win the war I am in favor of it. As far as racing in Detroit is concerned, I think they will get that straightened out with the building of a new track. It matters little because we may race in Chicago. All of that will depend on our horse.

Jan 13: I received a nice letter from Mr. Moore who is employment manager at W & B. He wants to know what my post war plans are. I would be foolish to tell him the truth. More than anything else I want to get away from W & B someday. I hope you and I can buy a small farm within forty miles of Lexington. That is strictly a post war dream.

Troubles, troubles, now I have ringworm on my feet. We have lots of that over here. It’s my first time to get it. The foot powder that everyone sent me for Christmas is going to come in good now. I got 5 boxes of foot powder for Christmas. It makes the ideal gift. Did I tell you that Grandmaggie sent a shoe shining outfit. A putty knife would have been the thing, because I could use that to scrape mud off my shoes.

If you send more film I’ll take that camera into combat with me whenever I go again. What pictures I could get. Once, while we were in the hills, a bunch of Japs walked right into our bivouac area. After the smoke cleared away I counted nearly thirty of them that we killed. I had to go down and guard against any more coming and from where I sat that morning I could reach out and touch 7 different Japs. What a picture that would make.

P.S. I hope you get the rope I wanted.

Editor’s Note: Written in red pencil and dated 10-5-57, code for “I am going to Manila.”

Jan 14:  I have spent the day reading Mary O’Hara’s book “Thunderhead,” a sequel to “My Friend Flika.” It sure is a nice story to read. As a usual thing I don’t care too much for horse stories, but this woman knows her horses and can write about them.

They had some good chicken fights this afternoon. I saw one or two. I am pretty good at picking the winners even if I don’t bet on them. When we start P. Ray in his first race we will risk a little bet. I think it would be an ideal name for a colt.

When we get to Lexington here are a few of the horses I am anxious to see. At Calumet I want to see the old mares “Some Pomp” and “Nellie Flag” and by that time “Twilight Tear” will be there and perhaps “Best Blood.” At the Faraway we will see “Man O’War” and Mr. Jeffords good two-year old colt “Pivot” if he is retired by then. I could go down the line and list any number, but I am most anxious to see the mares at Calumet.



Man O’War and legendary groom Will Harbut

The soap you put in my Christmas box came in good shape. A lot of fellows who got soap in their boxes as well as food had the food ruined by having it taste like soap.

Jan 19: As you will notice, it has been five or six days since I have written to you. The rest was too good to last.

I have met a fellow from Boyne City. He is in the Navy. He went to school with my cousin. In fact, I know this fellow’s cousin. His cousin married Versa Brown, an old flame of mine back in 1929. Last night I went down to his room and he had a picture there of Versa and her family of five children.

I am writing this letter under the worst of conditions. For a seat I have a box so high that my feet are hanging. There is a steady stream of fellows going by and the light is bad.

Something has been sticking in my mind all day. I sometimes read articles about the soldier’s return from overseas combat and how the people treat him.  Most of the folks seem to think that we come back full of horror and resentment. In fact most of them seem to think we will spend all our spare time looking into space and recalling how some buddy was blown into small chunks. I wonder where they get that idea that we are a bunch of softies that can’t face life. I have an idea that most of the soldiers that return will bore their friends stiff with their stories about combat. Flip, I have an idea you will get tired of it before I am home a year.  Editor’s Note:  I remember mom telling me that she didn’t like it when dad told war stories because  he would then have nightmares and difficulty sleeping for a couple of days.

I had both pie and ice cream for dinner yesterday, chocolate cake today. If they feed me like that all the time I would soon be fat. A few days ago I was too busy to eat dinner or supper and about ten at night I found or stole a gallon of cherries. They were sour and I didn’t have sugar for them, but they were good.

I have been having trouble with my lower teeth. I take them out in my sleep and have to look for them in the morning. It is a hell of a note to get up in the morning and have to hunt for your teeth.

I received a Christmas box from Uncle Sam. Editor’s Note: NO….not that Uncle Sam. He sent me some Maple leaves along with other things. They were a dark red and sure did a lot for my moral. It seemed as if he had sent a little part of Northern Michigan.  I wrapped them up and carry them with Edith’s picture.

P.S. Another fellow and I play a game with poems. One of us will give the last few words of some poem and the other has to fill in the first part.  For example, I might say…..”Not a drop to drink.”

Editor’s Note: written in red pencil and dated 10-5-57, Not a drop to drink is code for “We are on the high seas.”

Jan 20:  I sure have been thinking a lot of you these last few days. Last night I got to thinking how lucky I was to have you for a wife. I just can’t figure it out. As a usual thing I try not to think about you too much because it makes me blue. However, I have let my memories carry me away these past few days. I wonder what you are cooking today. It would be fun to be there and grab a few hot cookies. I was always pretty good on the grab, wasn’t I?  Right now I am remembering a pitcher of lemonade you threw on me. Can you remember that? It was out at your house.

Well do I remember three months ago this morning. It was then we landed on Leyte.

We are having a good deal of rain. For the past three days it has been cloudy most of the time. It is much cooler that way. I long to see snow and ice. Guess they have snow-covered mountains in Japan, so perhaps the day will come when I will see snow.

Jan 22. Combat Zone:  Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a letter written to Rev. and Mrs P. Ray Norton.  Now I know you wonder what I am doing. Sorry, but I can’t tell you. I am not fighting just now and it’s a darned good thing. I lost twenty pounds in the last campaign and a good strong wind would blow me away.

My mother cuts out and sends to me anything she reads about the Cavalry over here. What a line of dope the papers hand out to you folks. One clipping told of our being counter attacked by the Japs at one certain spot which I dare not name. I was there. My troop was the first to get there and the last to leave and although we looked high and low we never saw a Jap. Another thing that tickles me is when they say  we bitterly lashed out at the enemy. We creep, we crawl, we plod through mud and everything else, but we don’t lash out.

Actually some of the things that happen here are down right funny. For example, a fellow in our troop had a mortar shell light too close one night and a hunk of shrapnel went into his back. As in the case of most wounds he didn’t feel it for a while and when he did investigate he found his fanny covered with blood.  One of the boys in his foxhole put a bandage on it and it wasn’t until daylight that they found out their bandage wasn’t within a foot of his wound.

Jan 23. Combat Zone:  I only weigh 137 lbs now. I have hopes of gaining it back before we have to do more fighting.

The Russians sure are moving since they crossed the Vistula river. Perhaps the war over there will end this spring. We will still have a job over here, but we sure as hell can do it.

I have been thinking about E. Stanley Jones. Why didn’t he stay in India? I hate these people who try to do so much for some race of people and then when things get hot they put their tail between their legs and run for home. India needs men like E. Stanley Jones, but she needs them over there. I can hear you starting to sputter.

At last I have found out how to spell dysentery.  Editor’s Note: Thanks to auto-correct dysentery has been correctly spelled throughout this blog.   We call it “GI’s” which is much simpler and far more expressive. I suppose I could improve my spelling 100% if I put my mind to it. Some day I am going to be like Fred Allen and spell all words exactly as they sound.

We had a swell dinner: Roast beef, mashed potatoes, peas, soup, cherry pie, ice cream, raisin bread, and hot coffee. Wish the army could feed us like that. A man could sell me a gallon of ice cream and name his own price up to fifty dollars. I love it, but I sure as hell don’t get much of it.

I am still sour on the Red Cross. The morning we landed here the Red Cross had a field day. That morning, when we went to ships mess for breakfast, a Red Cross man was stationed at the door and he gave every man a stick of gum. He had a sour expression on his face and I didn’t hear him say Good Luck to a single man. At a time like that I would rather have someone wish me Good Luck than have them give me a gum factory.

Jan 24. Combat Zone:  Last night Fineout and I made some coffee. It was what we call deer hunting coffee and it sure was good. He made it plenty strong. There was a time when I didn’t like strong coffee, but after drinking army coffee for a year or so I have decided I like it strong once in a while.

My stomach hurts this morning. I have been having a lot of trouble with it. More than I have told you about. I would like to get in a hospital, but it seems impossible. I haven’t been able  to see a doctor much less a hospital. If it keeps on I doubt whether or not I could stand any more traipsing through the mountains. Don’t worry, your husband will be able to take care of himself even if he has to resort to skullduggery.

Jan 25. Combat Zone:  This sure has been a beautiful day. It has been so cool outside and I took a nap this morning and another one this afternoon. I had to stay up last night until after two this morning, so you see I needed a nap.

We are still eating good; soup, cake, pie, and all that. I have some K rations in my pack to remind me that it will not always be like this. Oh Florence, do you want to send me something that I can use? I love tea and we never get it in our field rations. We only get one hot drink in our rations and that is coffee for breakfast. I have often thought how easy is would be to make tea. I tried it a few times, but with only one canteen cup you can’t do it as the leaves never settle. If you could send me some tea bolls it would be the real thing. I could have tea. Black tea is preferred.

tea boll

Jan 26. Combat Zone:  It’s pretty close to payday again. Flip, do you suppose we will be able to save anything once we get our debts paid? I have no idea how much it costs you to get along, but it seems as though we should be able to save a little and we will sure be able to use it.

I will soon have one year of overseas service. By September I will be eligible for rotation. Right now that has very little meaning. So far I think E Troop has sent one man home on rotation. Should the roar in Europe end by next September my chances for coming home might be pretty good. At least it’s something to dream about. I feel as though I shouldn’t kick as long as I get home sometime.

Did you send me that Greek History last summer? It seems as though you told me you mailed it. I never did get it. I have been reading “The Outline of History” for the past few days.

I sometimes wonder if I write to you about the things you want to hear. I do my best, but Florence you must remember the conditions under which I write. If I could tell you where I am and just what I was doing it would be interesting. NO! I have to write about where I have been. Your letters are always so interesting to me that sometimes I think I fall down on the job.

Editor’s Note: Written in red pencil, not as a P.S. and not dated; “Landed at Lingayen Gulf the following day.”

Jan 30. Combat Zone, V-Mail:  Even though I hate to use this type of letter it is the only thing I have or can get a hold of now. I have moved. I can’t tell you where I am, but if you read the papers you will know by the time this reaches you. I spent most of the day with a Filipino fellow who reminded me of Uncle Sam and he cooked about like the Chinaman in Detroit. He sure is a good fellow and it seemed good to get food like we used to eat. This country is beautiful and under conditions other than this I sure would enjoy myself.

Editor’s Note: Written in red pencil, not as a P.S. and not dated; “On the island of Luzon.”

Jan 31. Combat Zone, V-Mail:  This is a beautiful morning and I have been helping the mess Sgt. by his request. I had big plans for today, but he changed them. The wind keeps blowing this paper making it hard to write. We are having very little rain. I am glad too, because for the past two nights my bed consists of a pile of rice straw. I am feeling fine and starting to gain weight.

Editor’s Note: Written in red pencil, not as a P.S., and not dated; “We are moving towards Manila.”



Letters To My Mother From WWII: January 1-5, 1945


Foothills of Central Mountain Range, Breakneck Ridge, Patrolled by 1st Cavalry December 1944.

Jan 3. Combat Zone:  This is the first letter I have written since the 9th of December. I came in last night from the mountains and this morning I had part of my Christmas. There were 30 some letters here as well as boxes from mom, your folks, Gorhams and Steiners. I spent Christmas day walking. I was out of cigarettes, lost my fountain pen and had one can of bully beef for my dinner.

Just now I am very tired. My stomach is upset and I have had dysentery for the past two weeks. I will get some rest now and will soon be in shape. As I look back on the last month it all seems like a dream. Within the next few days I will try to write about it. There was only once when I thought I wouldn’t make it. We had taken a little town and my platoon had moved out on a small wooded hill to watch a trail. We didn’t plan on spending the night there so we didn’t dig holes. Just as it was all most dark we saw what we thought were American soldiers moving down over the hill. There were so many of them that we didn’t dream they were Japs. In fact we yelled and told them to hold their fire as we were Americans. About that time they opened up on us with a machine gun and it was hell to pay. As soon as it was dark they moved right in with us and started yelling “Banzi” ( three cheers for Japan). We didn’t dare shoot and give our position away. We didn’t hardly dare to breath. One of them was so close to me that I had to take out my lower plate so he wouldn’t hear them chatter. We had to leave that hill about ten that night and I’ll never know how we got out of there with our wounded, but we did. Meyers was sick in the hospital and I was glad he was. It was no place for a kid.

We had mail call once. I sure wanted to hear from you, but I didn’t. You better send Maggie a wire because I may not be able to write to her for a day or two.

Jan 4. Combat Zone:  Clair T dropped by last night. I hadn’t seen him since the third of October. He came through the whole thing without seeing a Jap or having one fire at him. LUCKY BOY!

I went on sick call this morning. My stomach is all upset and I have dysentery. Eat K rations for 4 weeks and your stomach will go to hell. They gave me some pills and I feel better now.

In the last year I have noticed a big change in you. You used to write and say you were going to try and bake a pie or you were going to try and make cookies. Now you write and just tell me you made them. I guess my wife can bake as well as the next one.

I am going to write a little about a charge the Japs pulled on us. My foxhole was on a hill or rather a slope and in front of me it was more or less like a park with the grassy slope and coconut palms. At the bottom of the slope was a creek and beyond that the woods. It was a beautiful night with a full moon and I was dreaming of you with open eyes when a Jap walked from behind my hole and stood next to the tree right out in front. My buddy shot him and he fell about 15 feet in front of us and started to moan. Later on he crawled away and I didn’t kill him because I didn’t want to give away my position. All this happened before nine and the rest of the night was spent listening to Japs. They followed the creek bed down and all though you couldn’t see them you could hear them talking. Now and then two or three would walk right out in the open. One of them walked right to a tent on my right (we put a tent over the hole we dig) and held his rifle at port arms while he looked in. It was the last look he had in this world. We knew they were going to charge and we knew that we couldn’t stop them if they did. When at last they did charge our machine guns were on our right and the Japs would not have a chance. Just before daylight they were ready. One fellow blew a horn and they all started to scream as loud as they could and ran straight into the machine gun fire. My God, but you should have heard them scream! I will not tell you how many dead we counted the next morning, but they didn’t kill one of our men.

I hope I get a bunch of letters from you this afternoon. I am anxious to hear all about Edith’s first Christmas and about the good time you must have had in Virginia.

Jan 5. Combat Zone:  I have just finished re-reading all the letters I received from you and have thrown them all away. No place to keep them around here. I was up five or six times last night with dysentery. This morning I threw up and now I feel better. Rations, constant strain on your nerves, loss of sleep etc. sure raised hell with my stomach.

There is a fellow in the troop who used to spend his summers in Bellaire. There are lots of new faces in the troop now. I am glad my face is still in it.

Don’t tell Mrs Meyers, but Gerald isn’t having very good luck with his Christmas boxes. The food is all spoiled. People shouldn’t even try to send food over here because it just can’t stand the trip. I am still waiting for your box. It would be late.