01 May, 2011

01 May, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
1 May, 1944        1100

Dearest darling Wilma –

Here it is May already and before we know it the summer will come and go. I wonder what it holds for me, but whatever it is, I can’t wait for it to start and get over with. I don’t see how they can wait much longer, and yet I bet Charlie some time ago that nothing would happen before May 15th. Of course the bet was tremendous – 2/6 (50 cents).

Well last night, darling, I got some mail again, and it was all nice. In addition to the Salem News Letter and April 17th issue of Time, I got two letters from you, dear, dated April 21st and 22nd, a swell letter from Florence, one form Shirley F. offering her apologies for not writing earlier and also offering her congratulations, and finally a letter form Lawrence. Shirley’s letter was very friendly. She did mention Stan, saying I should know by now that she was no longer going out with him. She said only “it was just one of those things” to offer as an explanation.

Lawrence’s letter was very nice. He said that despite his usual aversion towards women, he found he liked you very much for your frankness, directness and sincerity – all of which have apparently disarmed him. Don’t tell him, dear, that I told you that. He also went on to tell me how much he liked your folks and he finished by telling me how fortunate I was to have become engaged to a girl like you – with the prospect of having such swell in-laws. Really, darling, for Lawrence – it was quite a letter, because usually he is quite impersonal, and all the time I was going with you last summer, he had very little to say. Having passed his super-critical survey, sweetheart – is really something, because he finds very little good to say about women or people in general. I shall have to write him a letter today in appreciation.


Of course, dear, I love to read such things, because I believe them too – and what made me like you and love you was your complete lack of an affected attitude – something which I just can’t tolerate in a large percentage of Jewish girls. Anyway I love you for that and for a hundred other things, darling, and with all that, I have many other of your qualities that I don’t even know yet – to look forward to.

Florence, by the way, writes a very friendly letter and I’m sure she’ll be very easy to know. It was nice of her to write me again so soon.

Yesterday was a very quiet day here. I didn’t go down to the Dispensary at all. The afternoon was quite warm. We played Volley Ball (the officers beat the enlisted men) and then some ping-pong – both out on the spacious lawn at the side of the Castle. In the evening I just sat around and listened to the radio. Then of course – your letters came and the rest of the evening was very pleasant. That’s about all for now, dear, except to remind you how much I love and miss you – as if you didn’t already know. But I don’t want you to forget it for one second, dear. Send my best love to the folks.

All my love forever, darling
Greg


* TIDBIT *

about The British Empire and its Dominions
and the First Prime Ministers' Conference

Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on 1 May, 1944
(L-R): Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King (Canada), General Jan Smuts
(South Africa), Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill (United Kingdom),
Rt. Hons. Peter Fraser (New Zealand), John Curtin (Australia).

The first British Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference was held May 1–16, 1944 in order to coordinate the war effort across the British Empire. In attendance at the May, 1944 conference were British prime minister Winston Churchill, Australian prime minister John Curtin, New Zealand prime minister Peter Fraser, Canadian prime minister Mackenzie King and General Jan Smuts, prime minister of South Africa. Representatives of the government of India and the prime minister of Southern Rhodesia also attended some of the meetings. No report was issued but a declaration made at the end of the meeting reaffirmed the determination of the countries of the Commonwealth to support the Moscow Declaration, and agreement was reached regarding their respective roles in the overall Allied war effort, with all needful exertions to achieve victory and an enduring peace.

Attempts had been made at previous times during the war to arrange a general meeting of prime ministers but it was not until May of 1944 that this was found to be practicable. A conference of delegates of the UK, Australia and New Zealand was convened at Wellington by the New Zealand government in August of 1939 to consider a number of defense and other questions of common concern relating to the Pacific. Shortly after the outbreak of war, the UK government invited the governments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa to send a cabinet minister to London to confer with UK ministers and with each other, with the object of coordinating to the best advantage the contribution which each could make to the common task. These discussions took place in November of 1939. Meanwhile, individual prime ministers and other ministers visited the UK from time to time and conferred with UK ministers. In addition, the prime minister of the UK attended the Quebec Conference in 1943. Oversea prime ministers and some other ministers who were visiting the UK attended meetings of the UK War Cabinet and from 1941 onwards Australia was permanently represented at its meetings.

From the Historical Atlas of the British Empire comes these excerpts about The British Empire's Dominions in World War II:
A Dominion refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, within the British Empire and British Commonwealth, from 1907. They have included (at varying times) Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, Union of South Africa, and the Irish Free State. Southern Rhodesia and Malta were special cases in the British Empire. Although they were never dominions, they were treated as dominions in many respects. After 1948, the term ‘Dominion’ was briefly used to denote independent nations that retained the British monarch as head of state. The term was phased out in the 1950's.

Empire troops from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, India and other colonies served loyally in the Boer War (1899 – 1902) and in the First World War (1914-1918). In the Boer War and in the First World War, the Dominions were automatically at war when Britain went to war. However, after the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, the Dominions could choose to serve or to remain out of Britain’s wars.
Self-Governing Dominions after 1931
The self-governing Dominions came loyally to Britain's side immediately when war broke out. However, Ireland, which had declared itself a de facto republic in 1937, remained neutral. India, not yet fully self-governing, was automatically at war when Britain went to war, much to the anger of Indian nationalists who were demanding independence. Many Indians fought loyally with the British and others helped the Japanese.

WWII Poster Showing Imperial Unity

At the start of the war, many thought the empire was finished. But the dominions had other ideas. The Australian Prime Minister, Robert Menzies announced, "We are in this most holy war with you; everything that we have of manpower or treasure or skill or determination is pledged to work and fight for you and with you until victory is attained ... One King, one Flag, One Cause." Australia declared war on the same day as Britain – September 3, 1939. The Australians raised more than half million men and women; 27,000 of them were killed.

WWII Australian Poster Supporting British Empire Effort
The New Zealand Prime Minister Michael Savage, asked the governor general for a formal declaration of war before proclaiming 'Where she goes, we go, where she stands, we stand'. New Zealand declared war on the same day as Britain – September 3, 1939. Two divisions of New Zealanders were in the Pacific and the Middle East.

The Canadian parliament took one week to debate and approve the declaration of war, which was issued for Canada on September 10, 1939. The Canadians contributed nearly 500,000 and their first contingents arrived in Britain by December 1939.
WWII Canadian Posters Supporting British Empire Effort
A bitterly divided South African parliament declared war on the same day as Britain – September 3, 1939. The South Africans, who at first stayed in their own continent, later fought through Italy. Tens of thousands of colonials went through aircrew training - much of it in Canada. Of the more than 30,000 merchant sailors who perished during the Battle of the Atlantic, 5,000 were from the colonies.

Elsewhere in Africa, as many as 200,000 became miners, carriers and laborers to harvest the natural resources needed to manufacture weapons and feed those who would use them. Ghana produced industrial diamonds and manganese for guns. Nigeria produced timber, palm oil, groundnuts, rubber and tin. Sierra Leone raised war funds for Britain "in grateful recognition of the great benefits which Sierra Leone has received during the past 135 years under the British flag." The ruler of Benin gave £10 a month out of his salary.

On September 3rd, 1939 in India, then Viceroy Lord Linlithgow declared war without consulting any of the major political or cultural figures. They were treated just as they had been at the start of the First World War. The India Congress Party, led by Mohandas K. Gandhi and Jawarhal Nehru, controlled the provincial legislatures. Rather than support the war, the Congress Party pulled their deputies out of the legislatures. Indian units gave good service in North Africa; but the Indian public, with only the Nazis to fight, did not initially mobilize to support the war.

By 1941, the men of the Royal Armies of the Dominions – Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Indians, South Africans, Rhodesians, West Indians, West Africans and East Africans all were fighting together as part of the British Eighth Army under the command of General Montgomery. Likewise, in addition to the Royal Navy of Great Britain, 6 Dominion Royal Navies - Australian, Canadian, Indian, New Zealand, East African and the South African Naval Forces - were serving together, united though untied. Lastly, in addition to the Royal Air Force of Great Britain, The Royal Air Forces of Australia, Canada, India, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Southern Rhodesia and South Africa had thousands of men learning to use their wings in Canada. Even though they flew British flags, the Dominions had begun to use their own markings on their ships and fighter planes after 1940.

In 1941, India went from colonial combatant to potential battlefield when the Japanese attacked the Western powers. India then became the scene of political upheaval. Gandhi and Nehru tied Indian participation in the war to Indian independence. Rioting and strikes led to the outlawing of the Congress Party in August 1942.

Gandhi's political rival, Chandra Bose, went to Berlin and then Tokyo to raise an Indian National Army out of exiles and POWs captured in Singapore. Many POWs claimed they were coerced into joining. Bose raised 7,000 and joined the Japanese when they invaded India in March 1944. In Kohima-Imphal, the British and Indian units waged a running battle with the Japanese and Indian Nationalists, who were poorly supplied and far from their base of operations. By August 1944 the invasion was repelled.

Bose and the Axis powers had assumed that there was widespread contempt for England in India. In fact, Indians would support both England and the war effort. 2,000,000 Indians served in the Army, and 24,000 were killed. Major infrastructure was built to support both the Indian Army and the Allied Armies. By war's end, most of the Indian Army's officers were Indian. Sadly, with food shortages after the fall of Burma, some 1,500,000 Indians died of starvation during the war.

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