30 June, 2012

30 June 1945

438thAAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
30 June, 1945      0945

My darling fiancée –

As I remember it, on this date the fiscal year ends – whatever that is. I’ve never been sure exactly. But I do know it had something to do with straightening out accounts, balancing books, etc. And so I’m asking you to kindly settle up on the several thousand kisses you’ve owed me so long. Now – how about it? It’s going to be a heck of a mess, really. When I get back, I’m entitled to countless kisses in my own right and you in yours. Just the day to day quota is going to take up a good deal of time – then how am I going to make up the back pay? What a wonderful dilemma!

Well, darling, I heard from you yesterday in a letter written on the 19th of June – which isn’t bad at all. The fact is though – there are a whole pile of letters outstanding from early June and some from May, too. I really enjoyed hearing from you again and from a recent date. I can understand your feeling about writing – but you’re wrong about the morale angle. My morale – although definitely affected by the war of course – depended more so on you, what you had to say, how you were taking the war, how often I heard from you, etc. It still does, sweetheart, because that’s the most important thing in my life right now – and more so than ever, do I have time to think about it now; more so is it aggravating not to be able to be with you now that the war is over, and more so do I want to get to know you in person. Your letters, sweetheart, are still the only substitute – although I agree maybe there’s not as much to say now. Anyway – you’ve been in it a long time now, darling. Maybe you ought to skip a day here and there or regularly. You know I’ll understand.

It was a very uninteresting and unexciting day here yesterday, and I’m afraid that there are going to be all too many just like that in the future. I didn’t do a damned thing all day – and that always annoyed me. I did start to read a rather interesting book though – and I finished it before the night was over. “Earth and High Heaven” – by Gwethalyn Graham. You may have read it or heard about it; it deals with the problem of a boy, Jewish and a girl – Protestant – and their love. It interested me particularly because I once had such a problem myself. Incidentally – the book didn’t or the author didn’t have a satisfactory solution – as I saw it.

I called Dave Ennis yesterday p.m. and he’s coming over to eat with us this evening and hang around. It was refreshing talking with him the other day. The fact is I’ve had so little opportunity for a long time to talk with another doctor about anything. The conversation at our place gets pretty monotonous at times – although it’s worse in other outfits that I know about. Anyway, as long as I’m going to be here any length of time, I may as well get out of the shell of my own set-up.

I must go now, sweetheart. Today is payday and I’d like to get it over with this morning if I can. I’ll be with you again tomorrow. How about a midnite dance – on the night before the 4th. You would? Swell! I guess I mean next year – damn it !!!! Well I’ll be with you in spirit anyway, and by gum – I’ll love you almost as hard as if I were with you, dear – Be well, love to the folks – and
All my deepest love is yours,


about Earth and High Heaven

To read the full text, click here.

Earth and High Heaven is a 1944 novel by Gwethalyn Graham. It was the first Canadian novel to reach number one on The New York Times bestseller list and stayed on the list for 37 weeks, selling 125,000 copies in the United States that year. Earth and High Heaven won the 1944 Governor General's Award for fiction, and the 1945 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. It was also the ninth best-selling book of 1945 in the United States.

Producer Samuel Goldwyn bought the movie rights to Earth and High Heaven for $100,000 - intending for Katharine Hepburn to play Erica Drake. He initially hired Ring Lardner Jr. to adapt the screenplay. Goldwyn was, however, dissatisfied with the results, telling Lardner that he "betrayed [him] by writing too much like a Jew". Goldwyn subsequently hired a succession of other writers to develop the script, and remained dissatisfied with the final product. After Elia Kazan released the similarly themed Gentleman's Agreement in 1947, Goldwyn abandoned Earth and High Heaven rather than risk having it labeled by critics as a copy of Kazan's film.

Here is a review by Claire (The Captive Reader) on Wordpress:
Taking place in Montreal over the summer of 1942, Earth and High Heaven details the relationship of Erica Drake, a twenty-eight year old editor of the newspaper’s women’s section, and Marc Reiser, a thirty-three year old lawyer. Meeting at a party at the Drake’s house, there is immediate interest on both sides but Erica is from an established Anglo family while Marc is Jewish, distinctions which certainly mattered in 1940s Montreal. The novel is the story of how their relationship progresses in the face of their families’ objections and their own prejudices.

Erica’s family immediately discourages her interest in Marc, even before the two make contact again after their first meeting (admittedly, this takes them a while as both are very conscious of the issues confronting them). The Drakes’ protests, while not the violent or hate-filled rants polluting Germany at the time, are of a more common, insidious form of racism, the kind found among those who consider themselves tolerant, well-educated and liberal. There is a concern about the lack of shared culture and beliefs, of different values and aims, and the knowledge that, if married, the pair would not fit easily into either of the social spheres from which they came:
‘I don’t want my daughter to go through life neither flesh, fowl, nor good red herring, living in a kind of no man’s land where half the people you know ill never accept him, and half the people he knows will never accept you.  I don’t want a son-in-law who’ll be an embarrassment to our friends, a son-in-law who can’t be put up at my club and who can’t go with us to places where we’ve gone all our lives. I don’t want a son-in-law whom I’ll have to apologize for, and explain, and have to hear insulted indirectly unless I can remember to warn people off first.’
The Grants’ arguments have nothing to do with Marc himself – they refuse to meet him – but with the exile he represents for Erica, the stigma that an alliance with him would attach to her. Marriage, both sets of parents say, is difficult enough without bringing in these kinds of stresses, stresses which Erica and Marc can do nothing to alleviate. As Mr Reiser tells Marc,
‘You think you could compromise and somehow you’d manage, but sooner or later you’d find out that you can go just so far and no farther. You’d get sick of compromising, and so would she, and some day you’d wake up and realize that it wasn’t a question of compromising on little things any more, but of compromising yourself. And you couldn’t do it, neither of you could do it. Nobody can do it.’
Erica’s own racism colors her views, even after she has fallen in love with Marc. To her, Marc is simply Marc. He is an entirely unique and fascinating person who happens to be Jewish. But she still seems to think of him as the exception. Her racism is unconscious, which she realizes when listening to Marc describing his brother David and finds herself waiting to hear some sort of defining Jewish characteristic in his description, surprised by her surprise that David sounds just like any Gentile:
Evidently it was not going to be anything like as easy as she had thought; you could not rid yourself of layer upon layer of prejudice and preconceived ideas all in one moment and by one overwhelming effort of will. During the past three weeks she had become conscious of her own reactions, but that was as far as she had got. The reactions themselves remained to be dealt with.

She had counted too much on the fact that her prejudices were relatively mild and her preconceived ideas largely unstated…
Erica is a much more forceful presence in the novel than Marc.  Marc is rather resigned, beaten down by the world and himself. And yet he is still interesting and quietly competent and forceful, despite this rather melancholy description of him:
There was a lurking bewilderment in his eyes, as though, in spite of all his common sense and most of his experience of living, he still expected things to turn out better than they usually did.

Above all, when that smile went out like a light, his appalling vulnerability became evident, and you began to realize how much strain and effort had gone into the negative and fundamentally uncreative task of sheer resistance – resistance against the general conspiracy among the great majority of people he met to drive him back into himself, to dam up so many of his natural outlets, to tell him what he was and finally, to force him to abide by the definition.
I found Erica incredibly sympathetic and appealing. At twenty-eight, she has a successful career and is generally respected and admired. But she has no particular interest in working, despite having a talent for it, only having started at the newspaper after her fiancé died when she was twenty-one. What she wants most is a family of her own, though her life seems to have been remarkably romance free prior to the arrival of Marc. But most importantly, she has an incredibly close bond with her father, Charles. They are confidantes and best friends, as well as father and daughter. She brings out the best in him and, we see as the novel progresses, the worst. The violence of Charles’ reaction to Marc has more to do with his terror of losing the person he loves most than with any deeply held anti-Semitic beliefs. The fight scenes between him and Erica are harshly realistic and almost unspeakably cruel – no holds are barred and they each know just where to strike to make it hurt the most.

Graham’s dialogue among Erica’s coworkers was equally well-written, though significantly lighter and quite humourous, reading like something straight out of a screwball comedy. These moments of levity blended well with the otherwise serious tone of the book, since even in the office serious topics are never far off, with the war never far from peoples’ minds. It is always fascinating to read books written and published during the war that deal with issues related to it and Graham touches on almost anything you can think of. Anti-Semitism, clearly, is the main issue discussed, with Marc’s insistence that racism in North American has gotten significantly worse over the past decade, that even as people were ignoring Hitler’s militaristic aims they were listening and sympathizing with his racial slurs.  But there is also much said about French-Canadians and their attitudes towards the war and in Miriam, Erica’s younger, divorced sister just arrived in Montreal after years in London, we see the effect of witnessing the war up close and the way the first-hand knowledge of death has made her pursue physical passion at the expense of emotional love and intimacy.

While Graham’s views regarding marriage and religion may no longer be controversial, her determination to expose Canadian anti-Semitism, and her willingness to suggest connections between Canadian attitudes and the Nazi regime at a time when the true horrors of the Holocaust were starting to be uncovered, remains remarkable.

29 June, 2012

29 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
29 June, 1945      1040
My dearest sweetheart –

It’s a rather cool, dull day today, but it has been fairly busy here this morning so far, and I haven’t minded too much. I haven’t heard from you since we hit this place, but mail started to trickle in yesterday. Once it gets going, we’ll get really good service and I should start hearing from you regularly again. I did get one letter yesterday – a V-Mail from Verna Fine – written 19 June. She’s still expecting us down – to spend part of our “honeymoon” – (what a lovely word!) and she said she hoped she wasn’t assuming too much. She wasn’t, as far as I’m concerned, darling – although I don’t suppose we’d be spending it there. It’s such a nice subject to think about though.

I had a fairly busy day yesterday. In the p.m. I had to take blood tests on our civilian help – just to make sure they didn’t have Syphilis. That’s always a good precaution when you’re in France. The rate is high. I went up to the General Hospital near here to see if they’d do the tests and while there I thought I’d walk over to the O.P.D. to meet the MC in charge – because I send all my hospital patients through him and it’s better if I know him. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in and saw a fellow I hadn’t seen in six years. He was a resident at the Beverly Hospital when I was an intern there – and I hadn’t run across him since. He lives in Rochester, N.Y., name – Dave Ennis, and a pretty nice guy. We had a swell chat, reminiscing, and talking about a good many mutual friends. He knew the whereabouts of some, and I of others. His outfit has been in France ever since they hit the continent. It was really nice running into him. I’m going to have him over for dinner some night and he asked me to come up and do the same at his place.

The evening was quiet – as usual and we sat around listening to the radio and gabbing. I have a really comfortable room, plenty of space, good lighting etc – and since we have to stay for an indeterminate length of time, I’m going to try and make it as livable as possible. I managed to dig up a large rug, and I’ve got a couple of small tables, bed lamps, and 4 chairs. It’s not bad. Of course – there are no curtains, dear, but what the heck – this is summertime – and I can do without them. Non? Oui! And now I’m forgetting my German again and trying to pick up my French. I’ve forgotten a lot of it but it comes back easily – although I never did know French as well as I know German. Incidentally – quite a few people here speak German – this being Lorraine and bordering on the Alsace-Lorraine district that was under German domination from about 1870 until the last war.

Yup – when I finally arrive, sweetheart, I’ll put in a call to you immediately – as you suggested. I’ll probably give the operator your number and that of my home and take whichever comes first and then make the second call. Whichever it is – I’ll tell them (my folks) or you not to call the other because I want it to be a surprise – in either case. All American money had to be turned in in England. I kept one American dollar bill – so I’d have something with which to make a call. That was looking ahead a bit – but some day it may pay off. They’ll probably exchange our money before then, though. And, darling, I’ll tell you I love you, all night – just wait and see. I’ll like nothing better. Boy – I can hardly wait for that experience. Gee – I hardly remember what your voice sounds like – dammit, it’s a shame to say it – but it’s true. And then to be able to see you, hold your hand, kiss you – well, I don’t know sweetheart – maybe I’ll be the one who collapses. Just the thought of it is so very very stimulating!! Am I ever going to love you!!

And now, again, darling, I’ll say “so long”. Be with you again tomorrow. Until then, dear, hold my love, love to the folks – and don’t forget,

I’m yours – for always

28 June, 2012

28 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
28 June, 1945      1000
Dearest darling Wilma –

I’m sorry I had to rush away yesterday, but I was busy and I just had to get some things done – and on schedule. I did. It involved going down to Metz (about 40 miles from here) and setting up a sort of sub-aidstation – with the dental officers in charge. Metz, by the way, is hardly beat up at all. I was surprised, remembering the description of the bloody battle for Metz. But apparently it involved the Forts – and very little more.

Here at Nancy we’re becoming pretty well organized. Our men have taken to their M.P. duties quite well, and so far, there’s little trouble. There are a couple of airborne divisions here in town and they sure know how to act up – officers as well as men.

Last night about five of us started out to go to the movies and instead we went to the Red Cross Club for officers. It was quiet – no drinks except coke and coffee, so we didn’t stay long. In the same square we found the Lorraine Officers’ Club. They have a bar and drinks must be without a profit because Cognac, for instance, was only 10 francs. Civilian prices are 50 fr. The also have a dance floor and apparently run dances every so often. We managed to wander all over town. It closes up tight at 2300 – so we went home. I guess if we ever feel like tying one on, we’ll have to do it at home.

Well, darling, your story of the “beetle bug” and its landing on a spot where it had no business landing – only proves one thing: you need a man around you to take care of details like that – and others – and I’m that guy! Well – I used to hate bugs etc – and I still do; living in a foxhole at night teaches you to overcome the feeling of revulsion because you just can’t do a thing about it. Boy – a year ago this time – we were really in a fog. We were still up in the peninsula, everything was new including the war – and they were really trying days. If there are any letters of mine that I would like to review – it will be those of the early days in Normandy.

It’s too bad I didn’t know Phil was interested in a reflex camera before this. Many of the boys when we were in Germany managed to “liberate” a good many of that type. They’d hold onto them until they were broke and then sell them at a reasonable price. I never bought one because I had a fair camera and was getting decent enough pictures. Back here in France you don’t see any and of course – they’re impossible to buy. But I’ll be on the lookout for one. I would have to bring it home. They can’t be mailed.

You really make my mouth water, darling, when you write about the Cape. By the way, do you like the water, and do you swim, dear? I can’t remember your ever telling me about it – or my asking. And Stan and Betty will be able to make it? Do you mean to visit Verna and Irv? I thought when they parted – it wasn’t on the best of terms, or am I old-fashioned? I would like nothing better than to come home and be able to do the same thing, sweetheart, although I rather feel I’d like to be alone with you most of the time. I’ve got to get to know you in person, too, dear – and that will be the only way. But right now I haven’t the slightest idea whatsoever – when I’ll be coming home. I know only that I’m not on the way to the Pacific – and I will get home to see you and I hope – to marry you, too. Because I love you, darling, more than anything else in the world and that’s all I care about. It sure would be swell to know that once I go back – I would stay. Perhaps I will. Meanwhile, dear, try to hold out a little longer – just as I’m doing. It’s bound to come sometime and I know it will all have been worthwhile. So long for now, darling, and love to the folks. Regards from Pete, by the way, and you have
All my sincerest love


about The Battle of Luzon

The capital of the Philippines, Manilla, is on the island of Luzon

From the U.S. Army Center of Military History: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: Luzon as found on the web page of The Stamford Historical Society
The Battle of Luzon was fought on the island of Luzon in the northern Philippines and pitted the Allied forces under General Douglas MacArthur against a large Japanese force under Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita, noted for his capture of Malaya and Singapore. Because of the vital nature of the Philippines as a key route to sources of rubber and oil as well as the proximity of the islands to Japan, the Japanese High Command had reinforced the islands with a total of 430,000 troops distributed across the islands, 260,000 of which were on Luzon. The destruction of much of the Japanese carrier fleet earlier in June 1944 at the battle of the Philippine Sea and the subsequent loss of the remaining surface fleet in October at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, with the additional destruction of Japanese air power, left the defense of the Philippines in the hands of ground based forces.

As Leyte Island was still too distant for efficient preparations against Luzon, MacArthur made the decision to seize Mindoro, an island half the size of New Jersey and lightly defended by the Japanese. Mindoro was invaded by the U.S. forces on 15 December 1944. Despite kamikaze attacks, the landings were otherwise unopposed as there were only 1000 Japanese troops on the island. Airfields were seized by the end of that first day and preparations began for the taking of Luzon.

On 9 January 1945 General Krueger’s 6th Army landed at Lingayen Gulf with 175,000 men. The 8th Army commanded by General Robert L. Eichelberger landed at Subic Bay on 29 January and at Batangas on 31 January. Ultimately ten U.S. divisions and five independent regiments would see action on Luzon, making it the largest campaign of the Pacific War, involving more troops than the U.S. had used in North Africa, Italy or southern France. These attacks trapped the Japanese defenders in a giant pincer movement, but they put up bitter resistance at the battles for Manila, Balete Pass and the Cagayan Valley. Yamashita’s forces, despite their large number, were under-supplied with artillery, armor and other equipment, forcing him to fight a delaying action against the Americans with no real hope of victory. As such, Yamashita withdrew to mountainous zones, where the terrain afforded him some degree of protection and advantage.
But the mountains did not provide the desired protection. In the video below, troops of the 11th Airborne Division coordinate air and artillery attacks before moving up Hill 2380 in Luzon, April 1945. This film was shot "live" with sound, unlike the majority of WW2 combat films, which were usually shot silent and had sound effects added later.

The Stamford Historical Society continues:
On 28 June 1945 MacArthur's headquarters announced the end of all organized Japanese resistance in the Philippines. Pockets of enemy resistance continued for many months thereafter. American POWs were freed at Santo Tomas, Cabanatuan, Los Banos and Baguio. On 15 August General Yamashita surrendered with 50,500 troops.

Yamashita following his surrender

Japanese casualties were about 230,000. The American forces suffered 10,380 killed and 36,550 wounded. There were also 93,400 non-combat casualties including 260 deaths, most from disease.

27 June, 2012

27 June 1945


438th AAA AW BN
APO 339 % Postmaster, N.Y.
27 June, 1945      1115
Hello Sweetheart !

Yes! Yes! another V-mail – but I really haven’t abused them. I got a late start today – meeting, conferences (I sound like you) and right after lunch I have to go down to Metz and look the set-up over there to see that all is going along well.

The Colonel and I played Bridge at the neighbor’s house last nite. I played with the Mrs. and we lost. They play a mixture of auction and contract and they keep score the old way. But the bidding is pretty much the same – and since it is, I now put in a bid for your hand, sweetheart! Think it over! Incidentally – clubs – are trefle, diamonds – cameau, hearts – couers, and spades – piques. Anyway you look at it, though – I love you dearly and want to marry you – and as far as I’m concerned – that’s 7 no trumps (sans attut), doubled, redoubled and vulnerable – and made! All for now darling – love to the folks – and
All my love is yours –


about To Bomb or Not to Bomb

Ralph A. Bard
Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Feb. 1941-June 1944
Under Secretary of the Navy, June 1945-June 1945

From a page written by Doug Long about Ralph Bard comes this:
Ralph A. Bard was a member of the Interim Committee, the small, secret government advisory group on the atomic bomb and nuclear energy. The Interim Committee's purpose was
to study and report on the whole problem of temporary war controls and later publicity, and to survey and make recommendations on the post war research, development and controls, as well as legislation necessary to effectuate them.
On June 1, 1945, the Interim Committee had recommended to President Truman
that the bomb should be used against Japan as soon as possible; that it should be used on a war plant surrounded by workers' homes; and that it be used without prior warning.
But Bard continued to think about whether there was a better way to win the war against Japan. And on June 27, 1945, he wrote a memo for Secrtary of War Henry Stimson that contained the results of his thinking. For the rest of his life, Bard insisted that this approach would have been better than using atomic bombs on the people of Japan.

The following is the complete text of Bard's 6/27/45 memo. A few notes of explanation: "S-1 bomb" means atomic bomb. The "three-power conference" refers to the Potsdam Conference between the leaders of the Great Britain, Russia, and the U.S., scheduled to begin on 7/16/45. "Russia's position" refers to the likelihood of Russia soon declaring war on Japan. "Assurances... with regard to the Emperor" referred to telling Japan that they could keep their Emperor, whom they believed to be a god.

by: Ralph A. Bard, Undersecretary of the Navy
to: Secretary of War Stimson
June 27, 1945

Ever since I have been in touch with this program I have had a feeling that before the bomb is actually used against Japan that Japan should have some preliminary warning for say two or three days in advance of use. The position of the United States as a great humanitarian nation and the fair play attitude of our people generally is responsible in the main for this feeling.

During recent weeks I have also had the feeling very definitely that the Japanese government may be searching for some opportunity which they could use as a medium of surrender. Following the three-power conference [Potsdam Conference emissaries from this country could contact representatives from Japan somewhere on the China Coast and make representations with regard to Russia's position and at the same time give them some information regarding the proposed use of atomic power, together with whatever assurances the President might care to make with regard to the Emperor of Japan and the treatment of the Japanese nation following unconditional surrender. It seems quite possible to me that this presents the opportunity which the Japanese are looking for.

I don't see that we have anything in particular to lose in following such a program. The stakes are so tremendous that it is my opinion very real consideration should be given to some plan of this kind. I do not believe under present circumstances existing that there is anyone in this country whose evaluation of the chances of the success of such a program is worth a great deal. The only way to find out is to try it out.


27 June 1945

26 June, 2012

26 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
26 June, 1945      1045
Nancy, France

My dearest sweetheart –

Well, I didn’t write you yesterday and as usual – the reason was because we were on the road. I doubt if any outfit in the Army has moved as often as this one. At any rate, dear, we left Reims, traveled 130 miles east and here we are. I hated heading back in the general direction of Germany again – but directions don’t mean much. When the time comes to go – I’ll go swiftly – from any corner of France.

The set-up for the officers is swell. We have a large private home and the dental officer and I share a tremendous room, with closets, shelves, large windows which open outwards, and roller type sun shades. By the way – I’ve never mentioned the new dental officer. We got him – the last days in Leipzig; he’s Jewish and from Brooklyn – but he seems to be of a much nicer type than our previous dentist with the same combination. He’s married, and about the same age as I.

Well – to go on – the house has a front porch, and rear and side patios, back lawn etc; there are 3 bathrooms and a couple of other washrooms besides. But get this, darling – we’re running our own officers’ mess for the 15 of us and we have two full time French cooks and two waiters. We also have outside help to do our room – in the persons of German prisoners. Incidentally – German prisoners are being used all over France. The master race doesn’t look too proud, either.

So here we are, dear, and for how long – I don’t know. No one here at Hq knows. Our Colonel is Provost-Marshall of the City and our boys are the M.P.’s – that’s Baker and Charlie batteries. Able and Dog are doing the same at Metz. Nancy has a population of 125,000 and is quite modern because it was badly beat up in the last war. There’s practically no damage from this one. It has been called “the little Paris” – but so far, I don’t know why. Last night we spent in fixing up our room and it looks fairly nice considering everything. I managed to find a rug, couple of small tables etc.

The Colonel and I were talking – out front - and a neighbor came over to say “hello.” He asked us over – he has a beautiful home – and we met his wife. They have a couple of kids – 8 and 10 yrs old and we spent a nice hour or so. We found they played Bridge and they asked us over tonite to play. It’s next door.

The latest letter I have from you, sweetheart, is dated 15 June and which I received before we left Reims. That’s not bad, either. And you discussed marriage, etc. – in it. I’ve been waiting for you to mention the subject. I’m pleased with what you had to say, too, dear. I haven’t wanted to pin you down or anything like that. But I didn’t know exactly how you felt, for instance, about my coming home and having to leave. I wanted to know if you’d marry me – all other factors being O.K. I realize we’ve been apart a long time, darling, and that there’ll be a few things we’ll want to see about – to see how things shape up – etc. But if all things do seem to be all right – I feel we ought to marry, regardless of my next assignment. I gather, dear, that you feel the same – and it makes me very happy to know that – because it’s the one thing in the world I’ve been thinking about since the war was over. And I honestly believe everything will work out all right, too, because first of all and most important – we love each other and we’ve got a lot of good time behind us – I mean testing time – and we’ve proved we can take it. Families, problems, details – I’m sure will seem easier once I get back – and so, sweetheart, here’s to an early return and us.

And now I’ve got to go and take care of many details – water supply and whether it’s potable, V.D. rate, prostitution – etc. etc. Be well darling, and patient a little longer. We’ll make it up. So long, dear and love to the folks.

All my sincerest love –

25 June, 2012

25 June 1945

No letter today. Just this:

Here are some photos Greg took while in Reims

Reims - Bill Bowman, Bruce Silvus and George Thiessen - June 1945

Reims - Joan of Arc - June 1945

Reims - June 1945

Reims - June 1945

Reims - School where Armistice was signed - June 1945

Reims - War Room where Armistice was signed - June 1945

Reims - Interior of Reims Cathedral - June 1945

Reims Cathedral - June 1945

Reims Cathedral - June 1945

Reims from Cathedral - June 1945

Reims from the Cathedral - June 1945

And one missed from Leipzig in May of 1945!


24 June, 2012

24 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
24 June, 1945      0900
My dearest sweetheart –

Well – mail finally came through yesterday and I got 3 letters from you, darling – as of 4, 8, 13 June – the one of the 8th being V-mail. I also heard from Lawrence – on the coast and from Eleanor. It was wonderful to feel in touch again with you and home – and yet your letters left me a bit sad. Darling – I know my asking you about marriage and talking more of the future must have indicated to you I was coming home shortly. But – as you write – I never said definitely that I was coming home – and that’s what you should be going by. My freedom in talking about us and the future was because the war was over, the dangers considerably less and I now felt and feel that if I ask you to marry me – the chances are immeasurably better that I’ll be able to get home to get married.

By now, of course, you’ve received more of my letters and you know our job and all the uncertainty that is associated with it. As I wrote the other day – about the only thing that seems reasonably certain – right now anyway, is that I probably won’t go to the Pacific.

So you can see why I’m sad, sweetheart – because I can see the set-back you’ll receive when you realize that I’m not on my way home yet. I blame it all on the newspapers and radio – and the same unhappiness and disappointment is being registered a thousand-fold. There isn’t an officer or enlisted man in this outfit that received mail yesterday that didn’t experience the same sadness I did. Most of the girls had left or were getting ready to leave their jobs; one of my own men in the medics told me his wife had just had her hair waxed, bought a new dress and wouldn’t leave the house for fear she’d miss the telephone call. That’s terrible, dear – and all because people were told the First Army was coming home. Hell – none of the First Army that did the fighting is home yet. The 1st Division is in Czechoslovakia, the 4th and 9th are occupational troops – as is the 3rd Armored – and those divisions are or were the backbone of the First Army – from D-Day on. The only troops getting home right now are the greenest – and it’s understandable, too. But – now there’s not a damned thing to do about it but wait.

I don’t know how you’ll take all this, darling, after having keyed up your hopes – but I know you’ll understand that we have nothing to say about it. As a matter of fact I can be thankful I haven’t been snatched up by a ‘hot’ outfit on its way to the CBI via Marseilles. There are MC’s who have had that happen to them.

Meanwhile, dear, we’re moving to Nancy tomorrow. We’ve already got back word from the advance party that finding quarters has been quite a problem – which means – they’ll probably be poor. But as MP’s in town we ought to get first crack at anything that becomes vacant. I’m not worrying much about it.

Last nite – Saturday – full moon and all – we went to the Opera in town – seven of us, including the Colonel, the Chaplain and the S-2, S-3, and a couple of line officers. The company put on Pagliacci and Covalleni’s Rusticana. It was Class B – but the music was good and a welcome relief from the movies. The opera house here is small but attractive.

And that’s all for now, sweetheart. I love you terribly and that’s why I’m hurt when I think that I’ve had to disappoint you about my return home. I’m doing the best I can to contain myself over my own disappointment.

So long for awhile, dear; love to the folks and
All my everlasting love


about the Opera of Reims

Opera of Reims

This information has come largely from the Google translation of The Opera at Reims website.

In 1866, following a public competition, the architect Alphonse Gosset, of Reims, won first prize for the construction of a new theater. The "Grand Théâtre" in Reims was opened in 1873. In September of 1914, when the World War I bombing began, the theater's dome and large chandelier collapsed. Fire completed the destruction and by the end of the war, only the facade remained standing.

Facade of the Opera of Reims after WWI

Facade of the Opera of Reims today

Opera of Reims facade detail

After World War I architects François Maille and Louis Sollier reconstructed the opera house, completing the work in 1931. While respected the work of Alphonse Gosset by retaining the facade he built, but behind it they totally restructured the interior in the Art Deco style. The performance hall is typical of Italian theaters, with horseshoe seating.

Opera of Reims horseshoe seating

Paintings by Rousseau-Decelle representing "The theatre arts being born of the feast of Bacchus" adorn the ceiling of the theatre. There are four decorative scenes: Bacchus and his Train, The Dionysian Spring, The Dionysian Fall and The Origins of the Theater.The architect's sister, Marcelle Sollier, created the bas reliefs in the double stairwell of the main staircase, in the same style as those of Antoine Bourdelle in Paris. Edgar Brandt executed the ironwork in the wells of the small staircases and the 7.5 meter diameter "shield" chandelier in the theater. The glasswork of the chandelier was completed by Jacques Simon in 1929.

Opera of Reims chandelier and ceiling art

An acoustic device is hidden in the relief patterns that run all around the room. This recurring motif, engraved on the back of wooden armchairs, has become part of the place.

Opera of Reims acoustic panels

The four degree slope of the seating area echoes the four degree slope of the pit, aiding the visibility of spectators as well as improving acoustics. A rehearsal room equipped with a large platform with the same 4 degree slope of is in the attic that forms the dome over the light shield.

Opera of Reims four degree slope

In 1997, after the closure of the Chanzy fire station, which adjoins the Grand Théâtre, the latter was closed for safety reasons and became the subject of a restoration campaign. Architects Henri Dumont, Bertrand Nivelle and Guignard were in charge of operations. The interior decor was modified slightly while retaining its original style. In 2010, the building was renamed Opera of Reims. The theater continues to be the city's largest and most important theater and opera venue.

23 June, 2012

23 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
23 June, 1945      0935
My darling Wilma –

Although there’s very little in the way of news to write you, it’s always a pleasure to sit down and tell you I love you more and more each day. Without that love, darling, I can assure you that my daily existence would be very very dull. So I lean on it for comfort and stimulation of my mind – and it’s a wonderful medicine. Unlike medicine, however, there’s no danger of an overdose – so I find myself having a little of it – every hour, on the hour; in addition – I sneak in a little on the half hours, quarter hours – and I’ve noticed recently that the same was taking place on the minutes of an hour. In other words, sweetheart, I’m thinking of you and loving you constantly and I think my case will be permanent – but only when I get that overwhelming dose – saturated love in the person of you.

We are starting to make preparation for our move Monday, and as usual – it requires a lot of details. But I believe everything is pretty nearly ready for us to leave at 0800 – in convoy, and we’re scheduled to arrive in Nancy at about 1600 hours.

I can’t remember whether or not I wrote that I managed to visit the Champagne caves of one of the Companies here in town. Reims, of course, is the champagne center of the world. I visited the Pommery Co. The process of making the stuff is done in caves because it’s so cool and the temperature is kept constant. These caves happen to be in the remains of old chalk mines dug by the Romans in the 2nd and 3rd century and they’re 100 ft. deep. It was very interesting. I’ll tell you about it some time in the future, but I know a lot more about champagne then I did before.

The Pommery Champagne Co. - Reims - June 1945

and now (below)

Champagne vat holding 17,000 gallons
exhibited at World's Fair St. Louis 1900
June 1945

and now (below)

I bought a bottle at the place for 130 fr. I’d love to send some home – but it’s strictly taboo. I’ve been thinking I’d like to save a few bottles to take home in my trunk and have a good binge the day I arrive. But we probably won’t get our footlockers for some time after we arrive – and the space involved is considerable.

We had some excitement last night and I missed out on some sleep. I was called to see a fellow about 0100 – who had a questionable broken shoulder. He said he had fallen into a hole near here. The MP’s in town came looking for him and 3 others about an hour later. It seems one of the 4 had become involved in a brawl with some Negroes – and a Negro was shot. They arrested all 4 of them. We learned this a.m. that the negro died and so – the question of murder comes up. All 4 of the soldiers are definitely no good and they deserve what’s coming to them. They’ve been chronic trouble makers. Of course – the great majority of the battalion sees red when they see a negro. Most of our boys come from Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and So. Ohio and they just plain hate Negroes. What irritates them especially (and a good many Northerners too) is to see a negro with a white girl. There’s plenty of that going on here, too. One of our boys saw a white WAC out with a Negro and kissing him. But it’s not new for our boys to get in trouble when things are easy for them. They always do better when they live in mud, under poor conditions, ducking artillery shells etc. It’s been that way ever since I've known them. And it’s the same way for our Venereal rate which has soared since the war was over. I’ve been here long enough, though, to stop worrying about things. I take them all as they come along. There’s not enough money in the Army to aggravate myself anymore.

And anyway – all I’m concerned about is you and home and when I’m going to see you. Nothing else matters now, sweetheart. I must see you, love you and marry you - and until then I won’t be relaxed, I won’t be living, I won’t be happy.

So long for now, darling – love to the folks – and
All my everlasting love


about Pommery Champagne

Madame Louise Pommery built the Domaine Pommery Estate ten years after taking over her late husband's champagne business. She was responsible for creating brut (dry) champagne in 1874. Before that time, champagne was a very sweet drink, generally consumed with dessert. Brut is also lighter and fruitier than the original.

Madame Louise Pommery built the Vranken Pommery estate in 1868 to represent modernity and extravagance. A patron of the arts, she commissioned murals of people making and drinking Champagne, and had them carved into the chalk cellars of her wine estate. At Vranken Pommery, the artwork found throughout the caves is just as much on display as the racks of champagne bottles lining the walls and filling the storage rooms. Upon descending the 116 steps into the cellar, visitors will instantly become aware of the atypical surroundings of the Pommery caves.

Steps to cellar

In upholding Madame Pommery’s reputation as a great supporter of the arts, the cellars house a permanent collection of contemporary art in addition to serving as an unusual gallery space for temporary exhibitions of the same genre. Neon colored lighting cuts through the dimly lit cellars, highlighting a stark contrast between the modernity of the house and its rich and historic champagne producing traditions.

Photo by Jacqueline Dauriac

In all, there are about 18 kilometers of underground caves that keep the Champagne at the perfect temperature for the year it spends in the bottle before being recorked and sent to market. The caves are named after cities, and the longest one (a full kilometer) is called "Montreal."It was given that name by Madame Pommery more than 100 years ago. She had never visited Montreal, but she liked the name.

There are more than 21 million bottles of champagne stored in the caves of the Vranken Pommery cellars, with the oldest going back to the late 19th Century. Some are rarely touched. As Greg said, These bottles are stored 100 feet (30 meters) underground at a temperature of 50F (10C).

22 June, 2012

22 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
22 June, 1945      0900

My dearest sweetheart –

How I love you and miss you these days and nights! You’ll never really know, darling, until I can come home and tell you and show you. You can’t possibly conceive it from merely reading words. And feeling like that – here I have to sit in France – waiting, waiting – and yet thankful I’m not heading for Marseilles as so many other near here are. A trip to Marseilles, dear, means the C.B.I. without the States first. I don’t know what I’d do or you either, sweetheart – if I had only that to look forward to. I’d feel like going AWOL – I know. So the one comforting thought I have is that I will be coming home. When – I don’t know. We read in the Stars and Stripes that it will take most of a year to get all the men re-deployed. There’s no reason to believe we’ll be the last to go – because this job of being M.P.’s is just one to fill a temporary shortage. When our time comes – regardless of the job – we’ll go. Furthermore, I could be separated from the outfit at any time and come home with another.

There were 12 letters for the whole battalion yesterday – but that’s a sign the APO is straightened out and that any day now our mail will start to flow. One of the 12 letters was for me, dear – from Lawrence. I feel sad every time I hear from him. It was written en route to the Coast – at Ogden, Utah. He seemed to be enjoying the trip. But I still think he did wrong and that he was very inconsiderate of his family. I wrote him last night – and of course I didn’t tell him how I felt. I merely wished him luck.

Meanwhile – here – we know definitely that we’ll move to Nancy on Monday, the 25th. Hq, Baker and Charlie Batteries will be in Nancy, and Able and Dog go to Metz. That means I’ll be seeing Pete again. It’ll be nice having at least half of the officers together again. Nancy is supposed to be a rather nice city – of about 100,000. I hope there are some tennis courts there – as it seems that will be the only outlet for any energy I have and the only way of keeping in shape. All these cities, including Reims, are very crowded and congested – but I hope we manage to get reasonably good quarters.

Reims to Nancy, France

I should stop writing right now, darling, since I have several things to take care of here today – but I just feel like sitting here and writing all day. Say – I was glad to hear that Les White is coming along all right and that the doctors give him good hope of having a good arm. That’s swell. Have you seen him at all? Does he wear his arm in a sling?

Yes – it was thoughtful of Mary to send Lawrence a medal. I hope he got it, for her sake. You know, dear, I still have the one she sent me.

Sweetheart – they’ve just come for me. I’ve got to run down to the hospital and find out about a fellow I sent in last night. He had an acute abdomen and I want to find out whether or not they operated.

And so for a little while, dear, so long. Maybe today I’ll hear from you. There’s quite a few letters missing from the latter part of May and early June. I’ll take them all!! I want to read that you love me, darling. I like to read that as much as I love to tell you –

Love to the folks, sweetheart, and

All my sincerest, deepest love –

21 June, 2012

21 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
21 June, 1945      0830
Reims, France

Wilma, darling –

The first day of summer – and it’s hot here. I wonder what kind of summer you’re having back home. I wonder how you are, your folks, my folks, Ruth, Lawrence – hell, I feel lost and out of contact, just at a time when I need contact. But we’re just going to have to wait for our mail and there’s not a damn thing we could do about it. But last night – there was. Our lockers – trunks – were picked up at Soissons and delivered to us. I had practically emptied mine when we turned them in – but I found 3 sets of khaki trousers, and a whole stack of letters from you, darling, written when I was in England. I read quite a bunch of them and really enjoyed it. But they don’t quite take the place of up to date letters. You’ve been loving me a long time now, sweetheart, without getting material love back – and I know it must be tough and discouraging. But I’m giving all the love and devotion I can while I’m away from you, dear, and I hope that helps some.

The foot lockers, by the way, were pretty well scuffed about and beat up – but I think mine will be able to make the trip home. I now have the task of transferring everything in my duffle bag – to the trunk – the point being that when we move home we’ll probably be allowed the same as when we came – a locker, val-a-pac, and bedding roll. I’d like to know that everything is ready. I’ll try to send home everything in excess.

Today is the second day of the outfit’s course in M.P. work. It runs until Sunday (this is Thursday) and presumably we take off for Nancy on Monday or Tuesday next. We’ll have the same APO number. We may know a bit more about what the set-up will be by this evening. The Colonel and our S-3 went to Nancy today to see what it’s about.

I’ve just re-read your letter of 5 June – the last letter I received from you at Leipzig. You were a bit upset at what I had written about going to London or the Riviera. I apparently had left the wrong impression, darling, about the time being deducted from our Leave in the States. It isn’t. It all seems like a long time since we had those Leaves available. We probably won’t hear anymore about it now that we’re service troops – and I’m not very interested anyway. But a Leave here has no connection whatsoever with a Leave at home. That’s definite.

As for the implication that the giving of furloughs and Leaves means being here a long time – there’s no connection at all. The fact is they’ve got a bunch of troops here and they’ve just got to keep them busy.

Yes – a week at the Cape with the Fines would be nice – but it seems a bit unattainable – from here, sweetheart. But an MP officer who was here yesterday – said all this training etc – didn’t mean we would necessarily have to stay long. When our time came – we’d go – regardless of our assignment. Where I’d fit with it, I don’t know – but each day makes me feel more positive I won’t have to go the Pacific – and that sweetheart – is all-important to both of us.

I’ll have to close now, sweetheart. Although I run sick-call early these days and before I write you, there’s always a couple of guys who show up late. There’s a couple of ‘em waiting for me now. Gee, darling, I do hope I hear from you soon. Send my love to the folks and remember, dear, that I love you dearly and that I’ll always be –

Yours alone


about The Civilian Impact of The Battle of Okinawa

Location of Okinawa in Relation to Japan's mainland

From Wikipedia comes this:
On Okinawa, the last remnants of Japanese resistance in the 82-day battle fell on 21 June 1945. The battle resulted in the highest number of casualties in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Japan lost over 100,000 soldiers, who were either killed, captured or committed suicide, and the Allies suffered more than 65,000 casualties of all kinds. Simultaneously, tens of thousands of local civilians were killed, wounded, or committed suicide.

At some battles, such as at Battle of Iwo Jima, there had been no civilians involved, but Okinawa had a large indigenous civilian population and, according to various estimates, somewhere between one tenth and one third of them died during the battle. Okinawan civilian losses in the campaign were estimated to be between 42,000 and 150,000 dead (more than 100,000 according to Okinawa Prefecture. The U.S. Army figures for the campaign showed a total figure of 142,058 civilian casualties, including those who were pressed into service by the Japanese Imperial Army.

During the battle, U.S. soldiers found it difficult to distinguish civilians from soldiers. It became routine for U.S. soldiers to shoot at Okinawan houses, as one infantryman wrote,
There was some return fire from a few of the houses, but the others were probably occupied by civilians – and we didn't care. It was a terrible thing not to distinguish between the enemy and women and children. Americans always had great compassion, especially for children. Now we fired indiscriminately.

In its history of the war, the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum presents Okinawa as being caught in the fighting between America and Japan. During the 1945 battle, the Japanese Army showed indifference to Okinawa's defense and safety, and the Japanese soldiers used civilians as human shields against the Americans. Japanese military confiscated food from the Okinawans and executed those who hid it, leading to a mass starvation among the population, and forced civilians out of their shelters. Japanese soldiers also killed about 1,000 Okinawans who spoke in a different local dialect in order to suppress spying. The museum writes
some were blown apart by shells, some finding themselves in a hopeless situation were driven to suicide, some died of starvation, some succumbed to malaria, while others fell victim to the retreating Japanese troops.

With the impending victory of American troops, civilians often committed mass suicide, urged on by the Japanese soldiers who told locals that victorious American soldiers would go on a rampage of killing and raping. Ryukyu Shimpo, one of the two major Okinawan newspapers, wrote in 2007: "There are many Okinawans who have testified that the Japanese Army directed them to commit suicide. There are also people who have testified that they were handed grenades by Japanese soldiers" to blow themselves up. Some of the civilians, having been induced by Japanese propaganda to believe that U.S. soldiers were barbarians who committed horrible atrocities, killed their families and themselves to avoid capture. Some of them threw themselves and their family members from the cliffs where the Peace Museum now resides.

However, despite being told by the Japanese military that they would suffer rape, torture and murder at the hands of the Americans, Okinawans "were often surprised at the comparatively humane treatment they received from the American enemy." According to Islands of Discontent: Okinawan Responses to Japanese and American Power by Mark Selden, the Americans "did not pursue a policy of torture, rape, and murder of civilians as Japanese military officials had warned." Military Intelligence combat translator Teruto Tsubota — a U.S. Marine born in Hawaii — convinced hundreds of civilians not to kill themselves and thus saved their lives.

Civilians and historians report that soldiers on both sides had raped Okinawan civilians during the battle. Rape by Japanese troops "became common" in June, after it became clear that the Japanese Army had been defeated. The New York Times reported in 2000 that in the village of Katsuyama, civilians formed a vigilante group to ambush and kill a group of black American soldiers whom they claimed frequently raped the local girls there. Marine Corps officials in Okinawa and Washington have stated that they "knew of no rapes by American servicemen in Okinawa at the end of the war, and their records do not list war crimes committed by Marines in Okinawa". Journalist George Feifer, however, writes that rape in Okinawa was "another dirty secret of the campaign" in which "American military chronicles ignore [the] crimes." Few Okinawans revealed their pregnancies, as
stress and bad diet ... rendered most Okinawan women infertile. Many who did become pregnant managed to abort before their husbands and fathers returned. A smaller number of newborn infants fathered by Americans were suffocated.
In the aftermath of the battle, ninety percent of the buildings on the island were destroyed, and the tropical landscape was turned into "a vast field of mud, lead, decay and maggots". The military value of Okinawa "exceeded all hope." Okinawa provided a fleet anchorage, troop staging areas, and airfields in close proximity to Japan. The U.S. cleared the surrounding waters of mines in Operation Zebra, occupied Okinawa, and set up the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands, a form of military government, after the battle.

Significant U.S. forces remain garrisoned there, and Kadena remains the largest U.S. air base in Asia. In all, 14 U.S. bases cover 90 square miles (233 square kilometres), occupying 18% of the main island. According to a 2007 Okinawa Times poll, 85% of Okinawans opposed the presence of the U.S. military, due to noise pollution from military drills, the risk of aircraft accidents, environmental degradation, and extra crowding from the number of personnel there. In another poll conducted in May 2010, 43% of the population wanted the complete closure of the U.S. bases, 42% wanted reduction and 11% wanted the maintenance of the status quo.

U.S. military bases in Okinawa

Some military historians believe that the Okinawa campaign led directly to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as a means of avoiding the planned ground invasion of the Japanese mainland. Victor Davis Hanson explains his view in Ripples of Battle:
...because the Japanese on Okinawa... were so fierce in their defense (even when cut off, and without supplies), and because casualties were so appalling, many American strategists looked for an alternative means to subdue mainland Japan, other than a direct invasion. This means presented itself, with the advent of atomic bombs, which worked admirably in convincing the Japanese to sue for peace [unconditionally], without American casualties. Ironically, the American conventional fire-bombing of major Japanese cities (which had been going on for months before Okinawa) was far more effective at killing civilians than the atomic bombs and, had the Americans simply continued, or expanded this, the Japanese would likely have surrendered anyway.
In 1995, the Okinawa government erected a memorial named "Cornerstone of Peace" in Mabuni, the site of the last fighting in southeastern Okinawa. The memorial lists all the known names of those who died in the battle, civilian and military, Japanese and foreign. As of June 2008, it contains 240,734 names.
Cornerstone of Peace Memorial in Okinawa

20 June, 2012

20 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
20 June, 1945      0900
Reims, France

Dearest darling Wilma –

It’s another fine sunny day here – and France is supposed to have lots of them. But I’d gladly take New England’s uncertain weather if I could have all that goes with New England. But I’d better not start getting blue again. Yesterday was a low day for me and I’m trying to feel better today. Of course – the fact that our mail situation is all fouled up – doesn’t help one bit. The mail orderly implied we might not get anything for a couple of weeks. I sure hope he’s wrong.

I can see already that things are going to be pretty tough for us – or me now. Oh – the life will be easier and the food better – and all that – but with the war over and no real incentive – time is really going to drag. I’ll just have to keep telling myself that despite our continued separation – I’m – we’re still better off than if I were on my way to the Pacific. Perhaps I’m fooling myself; maybe I’ll have to go anyway. No one has the slightest idea over here. I’m just trying to do it by common sense. There must be enough MC’s in the States and enough over here with little time in service to cover the needs of the Pacific.

I don’t know what you’re thinking about all this, sweetheart, – but I can imagine that “impatient” is putting it mildly. I can understand it – what with the build-up given you by the radio and press. It must have been an awful let-down and everyone in this outfit – at any rate – feels very badly about the reaction of his family – because all reacted in the same way. I read yesterday that the 86th Division had arrived in New York and received a tremendous reception. It makes a guy kind of mad. They were over only about 7 or 8 months and they didn’t even go into action until after the Rhine crossing when there was little close fighting to do and the Germans were always falling back. And an outfit like that gets the reception – while one like the First Division, which is still in Czechoslovakia by the way, sweats it out. By the time they get back, people will be a little fed up with returning troops – and they really fought the war – with outfits like the 4th, 9th, 3rd Armored and a good many others. At any rate – the 86th will go right to the Pacific – and they can have it.

Another thing that makes us kind of mad is to see how much better rations the troops back here get. You read in the Stars and Stripes that everything goes to the combat troops and you believe it. But it isn’t true. We’re seeing for ourselves. And to top off everything we find that the troops in Reims were awarded the Campaign star – Battle of the Rhineland! We couldn’t believe it. It means that they got a star and 5 points for being here and we got the same. The only difference is – we had to sweat out the mud and the incoming artillery, and they didn’t.

Well, darling, this is a sort of “bitchy” type of letter – but the views I’ve expressed are pretty typical. Everybody here is all dressed up, clean and smart and they walk around as if they just got thru winning the war. Our Colonel says it was the same after the last war. The rear areas really had a time for themselves.

Last nite, dear, still in our combat clothes – because we have no facilities for getting dressed up – a few of us went down town. There was a U.S.O. show – with Grace Moore and Nino Mantini – in person. We got in at the tail end and heard a couple of numbers – well done. We then found an officer’s club where they had cokes and we had a couple – and then we came back to our bivouac area – sat around and went to bed. Today – the battalion starts its 5 day M.P. school – which ends Sunday next. How soon after that we’ll move to Nancy – I don’t know – but I believe soon after.

Meanwhile I’m just aching to hear from you, darling, and to see how you’ve reacted to all this. I’ve been worked up to a pitch these last several weeks and I know you have too. All I know is that I love you no matter where I am or what the situation is. You must remember that always, sweetheart. And someday, somehow – I’ll be coming back and telling you and showing you what I mean.

So long until tomorrow dear. Love to the folks.

All my everlasting love


USO Performers Grace Moore and Nino Martini

Grace Moore (1898 - 1947)

Mary Willie ‘Grace’ Moore, the internationally famous star of the Metropolitan Opera, Broadway, motion pictures, radio and recordings, was born 5 December 1898, in the community of Slabtown (now considered part of Del Rio) near Newport, Tennessee. Her family moved to Jellico, Tennessee when she was a young girl. She attended Jellico High School where she was captain of the girls basketball team in 19l6.

Grace Moore's first Broadway appearance was in 1920 in the musical Hitchy-Koo, by Jerome Kern. In 1922 and 1923 she appeared in the second and third of Irving Berlin's series of four Music Box Revues. In the 1923 edition she and John Steel introduced Berlin's song "What'll I Do". When Moore sang "An Orange Grove in California," orange blossom perfume was wafted through the theater.

After training in France, Moore made her operatic debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on 7 February 1928, singing the role of Mimì in Giacomo Puccini's La bohème. She debuted at the Opera-Comique in Paris on 29 September 1928 in the same role, which she also performed in a royal command performance at Covent Garden in London on 6 June 1935.

In the 1930s and 1940s she gave concert performances throughout the United States and Europe, performing a repertoire of operatic selections and other songs in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and English. During World War II she was active in the USO, entertaining American troops abroad. Moore was at one point chosen by Florenz Ziegfeld of Ziegfeld Follies as one of the ten mostbeautiful women in the world. In 1935 she was nominated for an Academy Award for her motion picture, "One Night of Love".

Grace Moore was a "rebel" of her time. She broke many rules of convention and sometimes even shocked the small town she grew up in. She left her mark on the world, and such a mark it was that Elvis is said to have named his beloved Graceland after her. She was widely criticized in December 1938 when, in Cannes, she curtsied to Wallis, The Duchess of Windsor (who was not royalty, and therefore not entitled to a curtsy). Upon her return to the United States , Moore defended her curtsy, saying:
She would have been a royal duchess long ago if she had not been an American. After all, she gave happiness and the courage of his convictions to one man, which is more than most women can do. She deserves a curtsy for that alone.

On 26 January 1947, Moore died tragically in an airplane crash in Copenhagen Airport, at the height of her career. She boarded a KLM DC3 to fly to Stockholm. The aircraft taxied out to the runway and was cleared to takeoff. The aircraft rotated and climbed to an altitude of about 150 feet. The aircraft stalled, crashed to the ground and exploded. On the evening before her death, Grace Moore had sung to a packed audience of more than 4000 people in a concert which ended in a standingovation and countless encores. Among the other plane crash victims was Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden, who was at the time second in line to the Swedish throne and who was the father of the present King of Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustaf.

Moore's life story was made into a movie, So This is Love, in 1953, in which Kathryn Grayson portrayed the "Tennessee Nightingale", as Grace was called.

Here is a YouTube recording of Grace Moore singing Vissi d'arte
live at the New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1946:

Nino Martini (1905 - 1976)

Nino Martini was an Italian operatic tenor and actor. He began his career as an opera singer in Italy before moving to the United States to pursue an acting career in films. He appeared in several Hollywood movies during the 1930s and 1940s while simultaneously working as a leading tenor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.Martini possessed a warm lyric tenor voice that had a wide range and considerable amount of coloratura facility.

In 1925 he made his professional opera debut in Milan. Shortly thereafter he toured Europe as a concert artist appearing in many of the continent's major music centers. While in Paris he was discovered by the film producer Jesse Louis Lasky who engaged him for several Italian language speaking roles in short films.

In 1929, under the influence of Lasky, Martini immigrated to the United States to pursue a film career. His first appearance was in the all-star revue film Paramount on Parade (1930). Further forays into film were postponed, however, as Martini decided to continue to pursue an opera career. He made his U.S. opera debut in 1931 in Philadelphia. This was followed by several broadcasts of opera for radio. In 1933 Martini joined the roster at the Metropolitan Opera, making his debut on 28 December. He appeared in several more productions at the Met over the next thirteen years. His last performance at the Met was as Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) on 20 April 1946.

While performing at the Met, Martini occasionally returned to Hollywood to appear in films, mostly appearing in pictures directed by Lasky. His film credits include Here's to Romance (1935), Music for Madame (1937), and The Gay Desperado (1936). The latter film featured Ida Lupino as his co-star. His last film appearance was in One Night With You in 1948.

In the late 1940s and 1950s Martini continued to perform as a singer mostly on the radio. He eventually returned to Italy where he lived in Verona until his death in 1976.