Monday, July 30, 2012

Letter from Bob, July 1942

Dear Rosie -
You'll never guess where I am! Someplace I hadn't in my wildest imagination expected to see - Port Moresby, New Guinea!

I don't know what the papers back home are printing, and of course there's only so much the censors will let me say. I can't tell you a lot about the military situation except to say that we and our fellow Aussie pilots are doing our damnedest to keep the Japs out of Australia. My C.O. says it's all right to tell you that they've landed in a place called Buna on the north coast of this island, and that they've got their sights set on us here on the south coast. If they make it it could be curtains for Australia as it's only a short flight for their bombers across the Torres Strait to Queensland.

But standing between them and us are the Owen Stanley Mountains. Did you know that there are peaks taller than Mount Rainier? 16,000 feet and covered with glaciers, even though we're nearly on the equator! I try to imagine all that ice while I'm soaked with sweat and slapping mosquitoes down here in the jungle.

But we and the Aussies are going to be an even tougher barrier to the armies of the Rising Sun. Our P-38's are already pretty well-seasoned from dogfighting Zeroes when we were based in Australia. We've got just about the longest range of any fighter (can't tell you exactly because it's a military secret, but trust me, we can stay in the air long enough to get pretty tired!), but it still feels good to be bringing the fight closer to the enemy. And we're finding it pretty good sport once we get into a scrap. We can't turn as tight as some, but with guns mounted in the nose instead of on the wings our fellows are proving deadly accurate shooters. A couple of guys in my squadron have already chalked up kills, though I'm still waiting for my first official victory.

I can't say that any of us think much of Port Moresby itself. It's a depressing jumble of rusting shacks shimmering in constant, nearly unbearable heat and humidity. A couple of the fellas haven't been as careful as they should about their malaria pills and have already come down with the fever and shakes.

I've thrown in a couple of photos; you can see it's no paradise. Guys have been joking that they've been cheated out of the beach bars and hula girls they were promised when they enlisted!

Well, even if we had hula girls I'd trade the lot of them away to see your face, if only for a moment.

I got your letter about your mom and I'm so sorry. Folks talk like the war is the source of all our troubles, but it seems life's "civilian" miseries don't stop just because we're fighting. But keep being as brave as I know you are, and think, as I do, of the time when we'll be together again.

All my love, Bob.

No comments: