Monday, May 13, 2013

Letter from Joe, May 1943

Dear Betty

Just a quick note to tell you we've arrived at Attu Island. I thought when we were building the Alaska Highway last year that I'd seen the most Godforsaken country in the world, but the Army's determined to prove me wrong. After we're done here the only worse place they could send me is Hades.

Actually Hades might be a bit of an improvement; at least I wouldn't be shivering as I write this the way I am now. The Army got it wrong about how cold it is here. Most of us are still wearing the uniforms we had when we left California, which are feeling pretty flimsy when it's blowing forty miles an hour and sleeting.

We came ashore at a place called Massacre Bay. A lovely name for an equally lovely place. So far the landing's been a perfect example of what the fellows call FUBAR, since everything in the Army must have an acronym. It means "Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition." We have maps that only go a thousand yards inland, and only a few photos of the interior of the island since reconnaissance planes can't exactly take pictures through the eternal fog here.

At least the Japs are leaving us alone for the time being. They're hiding up in the hills like the cowards they are. And a good thing, too, since we all were supposed to be ashore today and the boats are still unloading.

I've stuck a few photos in here for you. I don't know if the censors will let them through, but what use any Axis spies would have for pictures of scruffy soldiers on muddy rocks and snow is beyond me.

Don't worry a bit about me. When the cold and the scenery get me down I just pretend we're having one of our picnics on Mount Rainier when a summer squall come through. I imagine your face under that silly knit hat of yours, and the basket of huckleberries you always pick.

Well, I've got to go as there's a lot of work to do. They say we'll lick the Japs here in just a few days, so with any luck this letter will barely beat me to Seattle.

All my love,


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