Sunday, May 19, 2013

Letter from Joe, Mid-May 1943

This is a horrible place.

Betty, I don't know how to sugarcoat things since I don't have a lot of fancy words like the college boys, so I'm not going to try. You'll just have to hear it like it is, but I know you can take it.

We were pinned down in the Massacre Valley for days after we landed. We only got a little way inland before the Japs started shooting us from the hills. We had beach artillery that fired back, but the ships in the bay couldn't do anything for us because it was too foggy. I spent the most miserable night of my life lying in a freezing, muddy streambank trying to stay out of the machine-gunners' sights. Some fellas a few hundred yards away tried to keep warm by setting fire to the stocks of their rifles, the only thing they had that would burn. They were dead by morning. I heard one of the officers say the Japs have fur-lined boots and uniforms and plenty of kerosene. All I can say is, I hope they'll all stay nice and warm in the hell we'll send them to.

We slowly made our way up the valley, a few yards at a time, holding on to each other's cartridge belts. We're supposed to be linking up with another unit that landed in the northern part of the island, but it's been unbelievably slow. A buddy told me he heard that when that Northern Force got to a camp the Japs had abandoned, our fighter pilots didn't realize they were our boys, and killed a bunch of them by bombing and strafing. He said he also heard the Japs killed their own wounded by injecting them with morphine and throwing grenades into their medical tent.

Thankfully we've got what you might call a camp set up now. We've got a little stove, but the mud floor's pretty nasty. It's been tough getting supplies in because the vehicles keep getting bogged down in the mud and the muskeg, but it seems like we're secure for the time being.

Don't you worry about me. I got those socks and sweaters you knit me and they sure feel good. I'm putting all my mind to staying safe and winning this thing. I've got to go now, but I promise I'll write again as soon as I can.

Love, Joe

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