Monday, May 27, 2013

Letter From Joe, Late May 1943

Dearest Betty. I'm sorry to say I don't know what day it is here any more. One freezing, foggy, blowing hour just seems to run into another, and it feels like we've been here a hundred years instead of just a couple of weeks.

It's an awful slog fighting the Japs. They're clinging to this miserable speck of rock as though their lives depend on it, which I suppose they do since the Japs don't believe in retreat or surrender. The Army Air Force keeps dropping leaflets on them (I've enclosed one for you). They tell me they read as follows:

"The kiri leaf falls. Its fall is the omen of the inevitable downfall of militarism. With the fall of one kiri leaf comes sadness and bad luck. Before spring comes again the raining bombs of America, just like the kiri leaves fluttering to the ground, will bring sad fate and misfortune."

A lot of silly words wasted on a lot of paper if you ask me, but I'm only a private and not a general, so what do I know?

Actually I do know one thing the Japs understand, which is a grenade. Since I last wrote to you we fought our way out of the aptly-named Massacre Valley and up onto the high ground. The Japs were dug in on the valley walls, but we got a lucky break. The artillery gunners behind us fire smoke-screen rounds. The Japs thought it was poison gas, and scrambled for their gas masks. That gave us time to lob grenades into their positions and do a little bayonet work.

A photographer got the enclosed picture of some of my buddies in action:

This is pretty much what it's like all over the island. We've been in shallow trenches like this one at times:

But we've also got tents, and hot food and fuel. Heck, the Army's even trying to boost our morale by taking us to the movies, if you can believe that! Here's our "limousine" from the front to the movie tent:

Betty, I've got to admit that Hedy Lamarr is almost as beautiful as you!

Well, that's it for now. We've got just a few remnants of the Japs bottled up around Chickagoff Harbor. Our sergeant says we'll likely be going at them to finish them off in a day or two, so with any luck this will be my last letter from this frozen lump of dirt.

Give my best to Rosie, tell her I see lots of P-38s like her lounging, coconut-juice drinking husband Bob flies in that tropical paradise of New Guinea (she knows I'm joking).

See you soon. All my love,


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