16 May, 2011

16 May, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 654 % Postmaster, N.Y.
May 16, 1944      1120

My dearest sweetheart –

I’m back at the Castle again after a moderate morning’s work. Everything is going along smoothly, dear, although I haven’t heard from you in a couple of days. But as you wrote, with the mail coming through so swiftly in recent weeks, we’re bound to strike a snag now and then. The other night I got to thinking of the first couple of weeks after our arrival here – with the cold and the fog and no mail. Gosh those were blue days, sweetheart, and I must have sounded awfully discouraging in my letters. Then we ran into another long delay around Christmas time – that was rather hard to take. Other than that, though, considering the distance, it hasn’t been too bad at all. Again, darling, I must caution you not to be worried if you don’t hear from me every day or for awhile. There’s bound to be delays for one reason or another – and when there are – remember that if I’m not writing, I’m nevertheless thinking of you just as hard – and in those instances – probably harder.

Yesterday was quiet and restful again and we had a movie for the Officers up here at the Castle. It stank – but was side-edited by various remarks from the audience, as you can well imagine. The picture was ‘Alaskan Highway’ with Richard Arlen as the “hero”. We got our money’s worth in fun, anyway.

Tomorrow or the day after, I’ve planned to give a lecture on various subjects to the Battalion as a whole – so I’ll have to prepare it today I guess. Other than that – there’s nothing much on my social calendar, darling, although it is rumored we have may have another brawl this Saturday night – if we can get some liquor. I’ll let you know.


Hello – darling –

Just got back from lunch and the only piece of news is that our new APO number is 654. Apparently it has no special significance – and from what was said by the adjutant – we should have had it some time ago, and not 578. Anyway – it’s easy to remember – and you can start using it right away.

In re-reading one of your letters of several days ago. I had to laugh again at Jeannette’s calling you at 0300. That sure was a whacky thing to do – and yet – you’ve warned me. I suppose you can’t blame her though – after such a long time. Is he getting a chance to come home? You amused me when you said you thought it was a call for the doctor, and that you had been dreaming of such things. Boy, it will be no dream when it actually happens, darling, I can assure you. Certain it is that you’ll have to get used to some plain and fancy swearing. I’m afraid I’ve gotten a little rusty (not in the swearing!)

Well – sweetheart – I’d better get back to the Dispensary and do a little work. I hope all is well at home, darling, and that you’re taking good care of yourself for me. My love to the folks, dear – and

My sincerest love is yours for always


about Alaska Highway

From IMDb comes this plot summary:
Pop Ormsby wins the contract from the Army Engineer Corps for the construction of the Alaska Highway connecting Alaska to Canada. The elder of his two sons, Woody Ormseby, decides he had rather fight with bullets than bulldozers but is assigned by the Army to work on the project. Woody and his younger brother Steve are both rivals for the affection of Ann Caswell, the daughter of Road Engineer Blair Caswell.
Wikipedia gives more detailed information:
The movie begins with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Alaska at the time was weakly defended. Canada had already built the northwest staging route; a series of airfields spread across northwestern Canada. The decision is made to build a highway to Alaska.

The workers are divided into three starting camps, Fort Nelson BC., Skagway Alaska, and Valdez Alaska. The workers from Fort Nelson BC begin building a highway north. The workers in Skagway are transported by the White Pass and Yukon Route railway to Whitehorse. From Whitehorse they begin building a road north and south. The workers in Valdez Alaska move to a point inland and begin building a road towards Fairbanks and Whitehorse. The movie goes on to show some amazing footage of bulldozers building the highway. The black troops arrive and all work hard building the highway.

The highway is opened to traffic. The truck drivers find that the road is better to drive than expected. However, Some of the highway is not correctly built and becomes impassable in rain. Flooded rivers wash away some bridges and they have to be rebuilt. Some of the highway is not properly drained and ice builds up on the road. Trucks sink into the mud and are frozen into the mud. Some grades are too steep and accidents happen. Civilian contractors are hired to improve the highway. New bridges are built and telephone lines are added to the route.

Skagway is given a new life by all the troops stationed there. The port is expanded. The White Pass and Yukon Route railway is leased by the army. Supplies flow from Skagway to Whitehorse. One train engineer is given the soldiers medal for risking his life to save his train.
Places mentioned: A=Valdez, AK; B=Whitehorse,
Yukon; C=Fort Nelson, BC;
D=Fairbanks, AK; E=Skagway
Haines, AK is about 1 hour SE of Skagway
The decision is made to build a highway from Haines, near Skagway to connect to the Alaska highway. The Indians living in remote Alaska are now connected with the rest of the world by the highways. The airports are upgraded, planes and supplies flow to Russia.The peace river bridge is dedicated. Politicos and Army brass from the US and Canada make speeches. The highway contractors finish their rebuilding of the highway. This allows supplies to flow into Alaska.

The film ends with scenes of massive convoys of trucks headed north into Alaska. "Now we can press home the attack. This is the road through the brooding wilderness. This is the wedge that has pried open the last great frontier of America. The key which has unlocked the treasure chest of Alaska and the Canadian northwest."
The Alaska Highway (also known as the Alcan Highway) has come a long way from the treacherous military supply route it once was. Today, nearly all of the two-lane highway is paved with asphalt and serves as a site for pleasurable road trips. It begins in Dawson Creek, British Columbia and comes to an end in Delta Junction, Alaska, though Fairbanks, Alaska is the destination for most traveling the highway. Those continuing on to Fairbanks do so by traveling 98 miles north on the Richardson highway.

The total length of the Alaska Highway is 1,390, with the highest summit reaching 4,250 feet. According to Out West Newspaper, travelers should allow seven to 10 days to travel the length of the highway.

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