31 July, 2012

31 July 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
31 July, 1945      0915
My dearest darling Wilma –

I probably won’t get very far with this letter at the present sitting, dear – but far enough to tell you I love you deeply – and more and more each day, if that is possible. I’m missing you these evenings something terribly – it makes no difference what sort of diversion I end up with. I find that my mind keeps wandering back to you, darling, and it’s so aggravating just to end it right there. I want so much to be with you and love you – it hurts. And for no particular reason last night, I became extremely annoyed with myself because I couldn’t remember how you sounded when you laughed. The Lord knows I can’t remember a good many other things – but for some reason or other – that bothered me more than anything else. But I’m not so really low down in spirits and morale as I may sound, sweetheart. The fact is – I do have you, whether near or far, dear – and you’re going to be so wonderful to come home to when I do.

This morning we’re having a formal parade at which time we’ll be decorated – about 35 of us, I guess – altogether. It’s a lot of hooey, dear, and I don’t like it – but it’s five points and therefore tolerable. At the moment, the sky is very gray and it looks as if it may start pouring any second – but the parade goes on, regardless. I’ll let you know later how things went.

Last night about seven of us went to the movies – I. Lupino in “Pillar to Post”. It was a bit on the silly side, but gay nevertheless and appreciated by anyone in the Army. We went at 1900 and left at 2100. We returned and played a couple of rubbers of Bridge. I went to bed at 2315. And now, sweetheart – it’s 0950 and I’ve got to go out and join the formation which takes off at 1000. See you later, dear –

1 August, 1945

Good morning, darling –

I’m sorry – but the rest of the day yesterday just went whizzing by and I didn’t get a chance to sit down and write again. The parade etc. ran off well enough. It was held in Stanislaus Square and there was quite a crowd of civilians. An Army band will attract anyone – even me. The whole thing took about an hour, I guess.

I’m enclosing the citation, dear, which sounds fancy but which in effect means only that I didn’t get into any trouble and that I was around from day to day. Incidentally – you’ll notice it was issued by the XXIst Corps. The reason is that although it was submitted to the 7th Corps, the latter moved out of Leipzig and the 21st took over the unfinished administrative business etc. You can see, too, dear – by the enclosed copy of the General Orders – that the 21st Corps was in 7th Army and so were we for a while – which means that starting with the Third Army early in Normandy – we ended up in the First, Ninth and 7th. There weren’t any more. But the 438th has always managed to get a crack at anything and everything. And I’ll still take the First Army and 7th Corps. Oh by the way, darling – 7th Corps finally published a history of the Corps – rather well done and I’ve got a copy. It was done in Leipzig but our copies just reached us. I’m sending it out to you.

Mission Accomplished Cover
Mission Accomplished Title Page

You’ll find it interesting. Hell – with all the maps, books, digest etc. that I’m sending you – I won’t be able to tell you a thing about the war, sweetheart. I’ll start to say something about Aachen – or the Hürtgen Forest or some such thing and you’ll say, “I know – you had the support of the 4th Infantry and the 3rd Armored and after an artillery barrage of two hours, the 4th Cavalry took off etc. etc.” Oh well – I’ll give you some word pictures. And I can always change the subject and tell you I love you – and take time out to show you. That’ll confuse you – and everything will be fine.

I’ve got to run along now and see a couple of sick prisoners – American, darling – so excuse me. Remember – darling – 31 July or 1 August – my love for you does not change – it’s constant, true and sincere.

Love to the folks, dear – and
My love is yours for always


about the Massacre in Ústí

Ústí nad Labem

Ústí nad Labem (Aussig an der Elbe in German) is a city of the Czech Republic, in the Ústí nad Labem Region. The city is the 7th-most populous in the country. Ústí is situated in a mountainous district at the merge of the Bílina and the Elbe (Labe) Rivers, and, besides being an active river port, is an important railway junction. Ústí was a center of early German National Socialism and was made up of a large German-speaking population. Because Hitler and his army had conquered Czechoslovakia, many Czechs wanted to take revenge after the defeat of Germany in WWII. While some returning Nazis were targeted, the vast majority were innnocent Germans. Most of the comments below come from an article by Zuzana Šmídová on the web site of Radio Prague, while some come from other sources.

On Tuesday, 31 July 1945, a munitions dump exploded in Usti nad Labem, a largely ethnic German town in northern Bohemia. The death toll was 26 or 27 people (7 of them Czechs), and dozens were injured. Months of propaganda had spread the fear that underground bands of German terrorists operated unchecked throughout the country, sabotaging its reconstruction. Rumor quickly spread that German partisans were responsible. In response, crowds of Czechs turned on the Germans remaining in the town.

A massacre of ethnic Germans, who had to wear white armbands after the war and so were easy to identify, began in four places in the city. They were beaten and bayonetted, shot or drowned in a fire pond. On the Ústí (Elbe) bridge, a German, Georg Schörghuber, shouted something provocative and was thrown into the river by the crowd, and shot by soldiers when he was trying to swim out. Soon other people, including a woman with a baby and pram, were thrown into the water and later shot at. In the train station and through the streets the pogrom spread. Before it was over, around eighty German-speaking townspeople were dead. Some say hundreds were murdered.

The perpetrators were the "Revolutionary Guards" (a post-war paramilitary group), Czech and Soviet soldiers, and a group of unknown Czechs who had recently arrived from elsewhere. Local Czechs, including the mayor, Josef Vondra, tried to help the victims. Finally, a state of emergency and a curfew were declared, and by 18:25, streets had been cleared by the army. Like many controversial events in post-war Czechoslovakia, contemporary propaganda blamed the incident on the Germans. But according to extensive research by historian Vladimir Kaiser, it was the chief investigator of the explosion - a military officer named Bedrich Pokorny - who laid the explosives, as a pretext for revenge.

For many years the event was shrouded in silence in Czechoslovakia. On the other side of the border, however, some historians began calling the massacre the "Sudeten Lidice", estimating the number of dead at over two thousand.

[Lidice, a village in the Czech Republic, had been completely destroyed by German forces on orders from Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler in reprisal for the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich in the late spring of 1942. On 10 June 1942, all 173 men over 16 years of age from the village were murdered. Several hundred women and over 100 children were deported to concentration camps; a few children considered racially suitable for "Germanization" were handed over to SS families and the rest were sent to the Chełmno extermination camp where they were gassed to death. After the war ended, only 153 women and 17 children returned.]

After 1990 Czech historians started investigating the Ústí event themselves, tracking down Czech and German witnesses. Today, according to Vladimir Kaiser, it is clear that the explosion and the massacre were both planned well in advance. The explosion, he said, was only a signal for the massacre, which took place literally seconds afterwards in several different locations simultaneously. The historians have also uncovered facts suggesting that both the explosion and the massacre were planned by officials from the Czechoslovak ministries of interior and national defense.

Sixty years later, on 31 July 2005, the mayor of Ústí unveiled a memorial plaque on the bridge with the text "In the memory of victims of violence on 31 July 1945". At that time, the issue of the Sudeten Germans was still a thorny one causing tension between the Czech Republic and Germany. Prague had so far refused to repeal the 1945 Benes decrees ordering the expulsion of 2.5 million Germans from Czechoslovakia, despite calls for it to do so as a mark of respect and admission of responsibility. The decrees had stripped Germans of their property and expelled them for their support for Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland area in the run-up to World War II. Some 25,000 to 30,000 people died during the expulsions.

In spite of the sensitivity of the subject and the opposition to the memorial, the ceremony went ahead. Unveiling the bronze plaque, Ústí mayor Petr Gandalovic emphasized that the victims had been innocent people killed after the end of the war.

30 July, 2012

30 July 1945


438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
30 July, 1945

My dearest and only Sweetheart –

Before I go any farther – let me tell you that you are my heart alone and I love you as I’ve never loved anyone before, darling. And if that isn’t clear, dear – it means that I think of you night and day and my thoughts and plans concern only you!

You asked me in a recent letter from Portland about the Bronze Star. I’ll send you the citation, sweetheart. The actual ceremony is tomorrow – and a whole raft of us in the battalion are getting them. I’ll probably send the Medal to my mother, dear – if you don’t mind. I think that’s the customary thing to do. She’ll give it to us later – O.K.?

Rumors, rumors – but no facts yet. Things are popping all around us and outfits are being cut up, broken up, replaced etc. We’ll get it too – and I think – soon – but for the present – nix.

But how did I change the subject? Darling I love you and you me – and after all – that’s what matters most. Love to the folks.

And all my everlasting love,


about Starving Men in Minnesota

Samuel Legg, Conscientious Objector
lost 35 pounds in 5 months

The following article, titled "Men Starve in Minnesota", was published in LIFE magazine, Volume 19, Number 5, published on 30 July, 1945.
In a 40-room laboratory housed in the football stadium at the University of Minnesota, 34 young men are being systematically starved. They are conscientious objectors from all over the U.S. who volunteered as "guinea pigs" in a scientific study of starvation. Its immediate object is to find out the best way to rehabilitate the hunger-wasted millions of Europe.

Last February the men were launched on a frugal diet of two meals a day consisting mainly of bread, potatoes and turnips, which approximates the protein-deficient food rations of Europe. Average daily value of the meals is 1,600 calories as compared with the 3,300 calories required by these men prior to the diet. Moreover, the volunteers must do work every day which requires the expenditure of 3,300 calories. Result is that they have lost about 22% of their weight, their average pulse rate has dropped to 35, their hearts have shrunk and their blood volume is down 10%.

Dr. Ancel Keys, Project Director,
measures chest of James Plaugher, volunteer

Mentally the men feel a general lethargy, having little interest in conversation or sex. They complain of feeling "old." They report an inability to keep warm, average body temperature being 95.8 degrees F.

Coordination efficiency was also tested

The single most consuming thought uppermost in their minds, day and night, is food. They love to plan meals, spend hours with lavishly illustrated cookbooks and have guilty nightmares in which they dream of feasting on huge meals.

Never allowed to leave the laboratory alone, men use a "buddy" system when they go to town in search of gum, which helps them forget hunger. On one excursion one of the men passed a bakery which wafted delicious odors of cakes and pies out to the street through its exhaust fan. Unable to withstand these rich temptations, he rushed in, bought a dozen doughnuts, and handed them out to kinds in the street. They ate them gratefully as he watched with obvious relish.

Now in the diet's sixth and last month, the volunteers soon will be given a three-month rehabilitation diet. They will be divided into four groups and each group will be given different supplementary foods to determine which foods have the best effect in restoring wasted flesh and energy. Many of the men wish to go to stricken areas to add their firsthand knowledge to the problem. So far, legal and diplomatic obstacles have thwarted previous attempts to get abroad.

29 July, 2012

29 July 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
29 July, 1945      1000
Wilma, darling –

Right now I am already chez moi having been down to the Dispensary and cleaned up sick-call. Yes – this is Sunday again and we’re supposed to relax even more today than during the rest of the week. This is a nice place in which to relax but as usual – something comes along to disturb things. We were told yesterday we’d have to vacate soon and return the house to the French – as part of an overall policy of returning private homes etc. back to the French government. That would mean we’d have to move to the Kaserne (barracks) ["Kaserne" is the German word for “barracks”] where our C.P., batteries, aid station etc. are. They are old stone buildings, large, heavy, gray and cold. It will be nothing like this – but what the hell – we’ve had a little of everything so far and we’ll be able to stand that. At any rate – we’ll be right in the center of town.

Caserne Thiry, Nancy France - Post Card

Yesterday was quiet. Right after lunch we thought we’d play a little Bridge. We started at 1300 and finished in time for chow at 1800. There’s nothing doing on a Saturday afternoon anyway – and it helped kill some more time for us.

Gee, darling, the mail situation is just plain rotten and I’ll be darned if I see why now. We’re permanently located, the war’s over and there are plenty of ships coming this way. We haven’t had any mail for 3 or 4 days now and there’s no excuse for it that I can see from here.

It’s so odd, sweetheart. I know you so well and haven’t had the pleasure of having my arm get sore from sitting next to you in a movie when they’re showing a chiller-diller. I’ll love that, I assure you, dear. And in addition to that – there’s always “kneesies!” This business of becoming faint when you see blood is something else again – but I guess you’ll get over that. And anyway – there’s not much need of your having to see very much of it. And yes – sweetheart – I still want to marry you!!

Say, by the way, dear – how is Old Orchard Beach? Is the Pier still functioning and the crowd just as mixed? I never liked the place either – but I’ve spent part of a day there on half-a-dozen occasions. A long time ago I knew a girl whose family used to go there and I went up to visit her from time to time. There are a dozen other places along the Maine Coast that are far better. Kennebunkport is one of them. We’ll be able to visit up there, too, because a very good friend of mine practiced there before he joined the Navy and presumably he’ll go back because he was doing very well. He has a swell wife and I know you’ll like them – Ken and Mary Cuneo.

Well – here it is Sunday morning and I haven’t told you I loved you dearly, miss you terribly, think of you constantly – or anything. What a heck of a fiancé I turned out to be. But I do, darling – I do all of those things and words just aren’t going to show you enough – how I feel. I’ll have to be near you, kiss you with my arms tightly around you – and then finally all these words of the past will take on a subjective as well as objective meaning. Until then, though, I’ll go on telling you how much I love and want you, darling, and that’s more than I want anything else in the world.

All for now, sweetheart. Be well. My best love to the folks – and

All my love is yours for always


about The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis

U.S.S. Indianapolis on 10 July 1945

The world's first operational atomic bomb was delivered by the Indianapolis, (CA-35) to the island of Tinian on 26 July 1945. The Indianapolis then reported to CINCPAC (Commander-In-Chief, Pacific) Headquarters at Guam for further orders. She was directed to join the battleship USS Idaho (BB-42) at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to prepare for the invasion of Japan. The Indianapolis, which was not equipped with sonar or hydrophones and which was not provided with a destroyer escort, departed Guam on a course of 262 degrees making about 17 knots.

At 23:00 on 29 July 1945 Japanese submarine I-58 surfaced 250 miles north of Palau and headed south. Shortly afterwards the navigation officer Lt. Tanaka spotted the Indianapolis (CA-35). I-58 submerged and prepared to attack with Type 95 torpedoes. After maneuvering into position, at 23:26 the submarine fired a spread of six torpedoes at 2-second intervals. The ship was hit by two torpedoes out of the six fired. The first blew away the bow, the second struck near midship on the starboard side adjacent to a fuel tank and a powder magazine. The resulting explosion split the ship to the keel, knocking out all electric power. Within minutes she went down rapidly by the bow, rolling to starboard.

Twelve minutes later, Indianapolis rolled completely over, then her stern rose into the air, and down she plunged. About 300 of the 1,196 men on board died in the sinking. The rest of the crew, 880 men, with few lifeboats and many without lifejackets, floated in the water awaiting rescue. They waited and waited and waited. Battered by a savage sea, they struggled to survive, fighting off hyperthermia, sharks, physical and mental exhaustion, and, finally, hallucinatory dementia. By the time their rescue – which was purely accidental – occurred, all but 321 men had lost their lives; 4 more would die in military hospitals shortly thereafter.

Failure to Learn of the Sinking

The positions of all vessels of which the headquarters was concerned were plotted on plotting boards kept at the Headquarters of Commander Marianas on Guam and of the Commander Philippine Sea Frontier on Leyte. However, for ships as large as the Indianapolis, it was assumed that they would reach their destinations on time, unless reported otherwise. Therefore, their positions were based on predictions, and not on reports. On 31 July, when she should have arrived at Leyte, Indianapolis was removed from the board in the headquarters of Commander Marianas. She was also recorded as having arrived at Leyte by the headquarters of Commander Philippine Sea Frontier. Lieutenant Stuart B. Gibson, the Operations Officer under the Port Director, Tacloban, was the officer responsible for tracking the movements of Indianapolis. The non-arrival of that vessel on schedule was known at once to Lieutenant Gibson who failed to investigate the matter and made no immediate report of the fact to his superiors.

The Indianapolis sent distress calls before sinking. Three stations received the signals; however, none acted upon the call. One commander was drunk, another had ordered his men not to disturb him and a third thought it was a Japanese prank. (For a long time the Navy denied that a distress call had been sent. The receipt of the call came to light only after the release of declassified records.)

It wasn't until shortly after 11:00 A.M. of the fourth day that the survivors were accidentally discovered by Lt. (jg) Wilbur C. Gwinn, piloting his PV-1 Ventura Bomber on routine anti-submarine patrol. Lieutenant Gwinn had lost the weight from his navigational antenna trailing behind the plane. While crawling back through the fuselage of his plane to repair the thrashing antenna, Gwinn happened to glance down at the sea and noticed a long oil slick. Back in the cockpit, Gwinn dropped down to investigate and spotted men floating in the sea. Radioing his base at Peleiu, he alerted, "many men in the water". A PBY (seaplane) under the command of LT. R. Adrian Marks was dispatched to lend assistance and report. Enroute to the scene, Marks overflew the destroyer USS Cecil Doyle (DD-368), and alerted her captain, of the emergency. The captain of the Doyle, on his own authority, decided to divert to the scene.

Arriving hours ahead of the Doyle, Marks' crew began dropping rubber rafts and supplies. While so engaged, they observed men being attacked by sharks. Disregarding standing orders not to land at sea, Marks landed and began taxiing to pick up the stragglers and lone swimmers who were at greatest risk of shark attack. Learning the men were the crew of the Indianapolis, he radioed the news, requesting immediate assistance. The Doyle responded she was enroute.

As complete darkness fell, Marks waited for help to arrive, all the while continuing to seek out and pull nearly dead men from the water. When the plane's fuselage was full, survivors were tied to the wing with parachute cord. Marks and his crew rescued 56 men that day. The Cecil Doyle was the first vessel on the scene. Homing on Marks' PBY in total darkness, the Doyle halted to avoid killing or further injuring survivors, and began taking Marks' survivors aboard.

Disregarding the safety of his own vessel, the Doyle's captain pointed his largest searchlight into the night sky to serve as a beacon for other rescue vessels. This beacon was the first indication to most survivors, that their prayers had been answered. Help had at last arrived.

The Navy Finds a Scapegoat

Immediately prior to the attack, the seas had been moderate, the visibility fluctuating but poor in general, and Indianapolis had been steaming at 17 kn (20 mph; 31 km/h). Captain Charles B. McVay III, who had commanded Indianapolis since November 1944, survived the sinking, and was with those rescued days later. In November 1945, he was court-martialed and convicted of "hazarding his ship by failing to zigzag."

Rear Admiral Charles Butler McVay III

Several things about the court-martial were controversial. There was evidence that the Navy itself had placed the ship in harm's way, in that McVay's orders were to "zigzag at his discretion, weather permitting." Poor visibility would call zigzagging off. Further, Mochitsura Hashimoto, commander of I-58, testified that zigzagging would have made no difference. In addition,

Captain McVay was not told that shortly before his departure from Guam a Japanese submarine within range of his path had sunk a destroyer escort, the USS Underhill. Further, over 350 Navy warships had been lost in combat during World War II, but none of their captains had been court-martialed.

In 1946, at the behest of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz who had become Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary Forrestal remitted McVay's sentence and restored him to duty. McVay served out his time in the New Orleans Naval District and retired in 1949 with the rank of Rear Admiral. While many of Indianapolis's survivors said McVay was not to blame for the sinking, the families of some of the men who died did ("Merry Christmas! Our family's holiday would be a lot merrier if you hadn't killed my son." - read one piece of hate mail). The guilt that was placed on his shoulders mounted until he committed suicide in 1968, using his Navy-issue revolver. McVay was discovered with a toy sailor in one hand on his front lawn.

In October 2000, the United States Congress passed a resolution that Captain McVay's record should state that "he is exonerated for the loss of Indianapolis." President Bill Clinton signed the resolution. The resolution noted that although several hundred ships of the U.S. Navy were lost in combat in World War II, McVay was the only captain to be court-martialed for the sinking of his ship. In July 2001, the Secretary of the Navy ordered McVay's record cleared of all wrongdoing.

Click here to read one survivor's story.

28 July, 2012

28 July 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
28 July, 1945      0920
My dearest sweetheart –

Just think – on this day I’ve been a Captain exactly two and one-half years. Had I been in the right outfit, I’d have been a Major a long time ago. That’s just another one of the “breaks” in the Army, although taking all into consideration, I have no complaints.

Every day now – rumors spring up all around us and I’ve decided, dear, to keep you posted on them from here on. Then – anything that does happen, won’t come as a complete surprise. First of all – and not in the line of a rumor – I’m amazed at the amount of doctors and nurses who are being pulled out of fairly old hospital units – to be shipped home and then to the CBI; and officers with fairly high scores too. It helps accentuate the importance of my staying right here with the 438th as long as possible – although, of course, all points are still being figured as of 12 May. Now the story is that when a Cat. IV outfit is ready to go home – they weed out all officers under 85 points and what happens to them – is right now in the field of conjecture, darling. One thing likely – if the points are low is that they join an outfit in Cat. II, go home for 30 days – and then go to the Pacific; the other possibility is that such an officer would join the Occupation Forces until such time as the point system would be readjusted and then undoubtedly – having had almost enough points before – he’d be among the first to go home.

Well – those are the things being discussed around here these days, dear. In other words – the consensus of opinion in my own battalion is that when they start getting this outfit ready for home, I’d be detached and attached to something else. I’ll hate that, because I’d like nothing better than to sail home with these boys – but transfers and changes are a dime-a-dozen these days and the individual does not count. No matter how you look at it – the important thing is to stay out of an outfit headed for the Pacific – not because of the fear of combat, but because, once there – it’s a heluva long trip and wait – back. And every outfit leaving here now means one more in the Pacific – and that much less need of me.

Enough of that, darling. Let’s see – did I tell you I saw “Without Love” the other night? Seems to me you mentioned seeing it some time ago. It was an easy picture to sit through and I enjoyed it. Of late – with little work to do – we’ve been getting into the habit of playing a little Bridge after lunch and supper and we find it very relaxing. We usually play one or two rubbers at a sitting, but it’s enough to keep you from getting rusty. Right now I’m almost willing to say that about the most important thing I’ve gotten out of the war has been a little knowledge of Bridge. What a laugh! And how I can, I don’t know. But don’t forget, darling, the war did bring you to me – and it was really worth fighting for for that reason. But what comes after the war is what we’re waiting for, and you know, sweetheart, I kind of think we’re going to find that wonderful!

I’ll close now, dear – reminding you yet again that I love you and only you more than anything else in the world. Love to the folks.

All my everlasting love,


about the B-25 and the Empire State Building

This story appeared in The New York Times's web site About.com's 20th Century History.
On the foggy morning of Saturday, 28 July 1945, Lt. Colonel William Smith was piloting a U.S. Army B-25 bomber through New York City. He was on his way to Newark Airport to pick up his commanding officer, but for some reason he showed up over LaGuardia Airport and asked for a weather report. Because of the poor visibility, the LaGuardia tower wanted to him to land, but Smith requested and received permission from the military to continue on to Newark. The last transmission from the LaGuardia tower to the plane was a foreboding warning: "From where I'm sitting, I can't see the top of the Empire State Building."

Avoiding Skyscrapers
Confronted with dense fog, Smith dropped the bomber low to regain visibility, where he found himself in the middle of Manhattan, surrounded by skyscrapers. At first, the bomber was headed directly for the New York Central Building but at the last minute, Smith was able to bank west and miss it. Unfortunately, this put him in line for another skyscraper. Smith managed to miss several skyscrapers until he was headed for the Empire State Building. At the last minute, Smith tried to get the bomber to climb and twist away, but it was too late.

The Crash
At 9:49 a.m., the ten-ton, B-25 bomber smashed into the north side of the Empire State Building. The majority of the plane hit the 79th floor, creating a hole in the building eighteen feet wide and twenty feet high. The plane's high-octane fuel exploded, hurtling flames down the side of the building and inside through hallways and stairwells all the way down to the 75th floor.

[Note: The above and subsequent pictures are in a gallery on the web site of the Las Vegas Sun].
[CLICK to enlarge.]

World War II had caused many to shift to a six-day work week; thus there were many people at work in the Empire State Building that Saturday. The plane crashed into the offices of the War Relief Services of the National Catholic Welfare Conference. Catherine O'Connor described the crash:
The plane exploded within the building. There were five or six seconds - I was tottering on my feet trying to keep my balance - and three-quarters of the office was instantaneously consumed in this sheet of flame. One man was standing inside the flame. I could see him. It was a co-worker, Joe Fountain. His whole body was on fire. I kept calling to him, "Come on, Joe; come on, Joe." He walked out of it.
Joe Fountain died several days later. Eleven of the office workers were burned to death, some still sitting at their desks, others while trying to run from the flames.

One of the engines and part of the landing gear hurtled across the 79th floor, through wall partitions and two fire walls, and out the south wall's windows to fall onto a twelve-story building across 33rd Street. The other engine flew into an elevator shaft and landed on an elevator car. The car began to plummet, slowed somewhat by emergency safety devices. Miraculously, when help arrived at the remains of the elevator car in the basement, the two women inside the car were still alive.
Bomber wheel in elevator shaft
Some debris from the crash fell to the streets below, sending pedestrians scurrying for cover, but most fell onto the buildings setbacks at the fifth floor. Still, a bulk of the wreckage remained stuck in the side of the building. After the flames were extinguished and the remains of the victims removed, the rest of the wreckage was removed through the building.

Wreckage in Building
Debris on 34th Street

The plane crash killed 14 people (11 office workers and the three crewmen) plus injured 26 others. Though the integrity of the Empire State Building was not affected, the cost of the damage done by the crash was $1 million.

27 July, 2012

27 July 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
27 July, 1945      0900

My dearest sweetheart –

The big news here – as well as at home I imagine – is Churchill’s defeat and the demand of a Japanese surrender. The latter, with the implication that there have been official feelers, has really electrified our imaginations. Atlee’s victory over Churchill just about completes the European picture of a marked turn to the Left and as far as I can see, leaves America all alone as a somewhat middle-of-the- course Nation.

Yesterday, darling, I didn’t feel very well and I wrote you a V-mail. I don’t remember even what I wrote but I hope you couldn’t gather from it that I felt ill. Gosh. You’ll begin to think I’m a sissy! That makes the second time in six months that I’ve had a bad day – and it seemed like the same thing, too – something like ptomaine. In this case – I’m fairly certain of the source. The colonel and I were invited to dinner at Mme. Knecht’s. It was a dinner party for Mme. Pellet and Mme Francois was there also – as was Dave Ennis. We met these people originally – thru Dave and they’ve been very friendly. We arrived at 1800 and had some “apertifs” until 2000 and then we had the usual two hour French dinner of 10-12 courses. I think, dear, I’ve told you about it already – each item is served separately as a course, potatoes – meat – vegetables etc. Anyway – one of the courses must have got me – because I was ill all night. But I do heal quickly, darling, and I’m fit as a fiddle right now.

And what’s more – I got two letters from you yesterday, dear, postmarked 17 and 19 July. The first letter was written at home and you were making preparations to leave for Portland. And you had met a Dr. Goldberg over at your house. I knew him – all right – from school and he always seemed like a pretty decent fellow, but I’ll be darned if I can remember his being down to my office in Salem – although it’s possible because I was on the main street and quite a few people would drop in by pure chance. I know I never had him down for a consultation.

So you found the maps interesting, dear? They’ll be more so when I can unfold them and, referring to my “diary”, show you each one of our Command Posts across the continent. The “diary”, by the way, dear, is strictly a log of our travels and has practically no personal references; but it will probably be interesting to you. As I wrote you – I discontinued it a few weeks ago. The German Atlas is well done – and I’ll probably “dis-assemble” it and make a road map of Germany out of it. It turned out to be extremely helpful. And I will look at those maps, darling. It was an interesting and at time hazardous life we led and I won’t forget it easily. And about that candlestick – I didn’t even know that Sgt. Stillman had sent it, although he had reminded me of it for a long time. It had been kicking around in my trailer ever since our “visit” with the Rothschilds. I had never been able to complete the pair and saw no point in sending the one. I agree – it’s ornate – but as they used to say in the old country “on him it looked good”; it really looked nice in the place it came from.

It is wonderful, darling, how we often think and write the same things at approximately the same time. I’m a firm believer in the significance of the phenomenon – for to me it means that we’re constantly thinking of each other – and at about the same time – and along like lines; which proves to me that despite our separation, we’ve become very very close. And that’s what I want, sweetheart. It is just another proof, in my mind, that we love each other with a force capable of transcending mere distance.

The scrapbook – as you call it – is really a book of snapshots, I guess – dear – some good and others not so good, but I’m glad you’re keeping it and taking some pains with it, too. And I won’t tear it up.

About the Bronze Star, dear, all I wrote the folks – was that I had received it and nothing more. The official presentation – along with some other officers – is to be made next Monday, I believe, at a more or less formal parade. That’s customary in the Army. I haven’t seen the official citation myself. I’ll send you a copy when I get it. Usually, it’s a lot of hooey.

And now I must stop, sweetheart and do a little work. I love you, darling, more than you’ll ever know until I finally see you and show you. Until then, dear, interpret the written word to the utmost, because that’s certainly what I mean –

Love to the folks – and
My deepest love is yours –


about Atlee's Victory Over Churchill

Violet and Clement Atlee

The 1945 general election was the first to be held in over ten years due to the war, and the Labour landslide (they won 393 seats and 47.7% of the vote) surprised even Clement Atlee.

On the first day of the new parliament, Labour members sang the socialist anthem the Red Flag. They held power until 1951, by which time the government had overseen the nationalization of key industries and the creation of the National Health Service.

The following was printed in The Guardian (UK) on 27 July 1945.
Britain's revulsion against Tory rule

From our political correspondent

So Mr. Churchill has not been able to save the Tory party from defeat! It has fallen as low as that. One of the half-dozen greatest leaders in war that we have produced, while at the summit of his achievement and prestige, could not induce the British people to give the Tories another lease of power. Such is their disrepute. Where, then, would they have been without him? They would have been annihilated. It would have been the debacle of 1906 over again, only worse. Most things were obscure about the election, but not this. The mass of the people palpably did not want the Tories back, but what was incalculable was whether their hostility to the Tories was stronger than their disinclination to part with Mr. Churchill.

Most people at the beginning of the election started from the assumption that the bulk of the electors were moved by a desire to keep Mr. Churchill. In the circumstances and within a few weeks of victory, what more natural assumption? Multitudes, it was felt, would cast a vote for the Tories-often a very reluctant vote-simply in order to keep Mr. Churchill at the helm. To-day's result is a drastic refutation of all such calculations.

It is almost an intimidating object lesson for Governments. The country has preferred to do without Mr. Churchill rather than have him at the price of having the Tories, too. Such an exercise of independent judgment has rarely been witnessed in a democracy, and it has been reached in the teeth of one of the most fierce and unscrupulous campaigns ever waged by the Tory party and its press, or a section of it.

Of course to-day's landslide cannot be interpreted only in terms of a negative hostility to the Tories. That is but the obverse side of the medal. The reverse is a positive shift of opinion to the Left. The Tory party is not merely condemned for its past; it is rejected because it has no message for the times.

Great Britain, like the Continent, is clearly straining after a new order. Looking back over the contest one sees now that the Tory machine more than suspected that a swing to the Left was in progress (though not to the extent disclosed to-day) and the Gestapo and savings scares and the Laski melodrama were the panicky counters to it.

Labour had been increasingly convinced that the Leftward swing was on, and in these last days, when it has been proclaiming victory, it did it with a conviction that contrasted with the uncertainty of like prophecies by the Tory Central Office. One quoted on Monday the prediction of an influential Labour man that it would be 1929 over again.

On Monday that seemed an absurd prediction, but the Labour leader who made it - he is one of the first half-dozen - was in deadly earnest. He is proved to have been a rank pessimist. The swing is probably a much vaguer movement than some Labour Left-wingers would like to think. That it is a vote for any rigorous application of Socialism is certainly not true. What is more likely is that it is prompted first by a widespread desire to give Labour a chance, as the only available alternative to the Tories, by presenting it with power as well as office; this for the first time.

Equally, it could be interpreted as a vote for bold action on reconstruction, demobilization, housing, town planning, and fuel, coupled with a willingness to accept innovating State action and planning where it can be shown to be indispensable to a successful attack on these problems. How little has the country's pulse been disturbed by Mr. Churchill's lurid variations on the Socialist theme! How little it has worried over the antique controversy Socialism versus Private Enterprise! How far Mr. Churchill ruined himself as Toryism's saviour will long be debated.

One thing admits of no doubt. He did himself probably irreparable damage by his first and last broadcast. He certainly damaged the Tory cause. Most people can testify to near-Tory acquaintances and political adherents of the "National" cause who wavered, fell away from Mr. Churchill, and voted against him in consequence of his personal handling of the election.

The Labour Government can now take up the heavy burden of office in conditions that could hardly be bettered. Its majority is not merely decisive; it is overwhelming, and it sees the Liberals virtually wiped out - the Liberals whom it has charged with responsibility for all its failures in the 1923 and 1929 Parliaments. Even its leader has gone down in defeat. It is a grim day for Liberals. Recovery, even partial, has not come, and the candid Liberal must ask whether it can ever come now.

Both the Tories and Labour, but more especially Labour, have held to the belief that the Liberal party could be eliminated in one more election under the present electoral system. Have they been proved right? But even if they had, the elimination of organised Liberalism is not the elimination of Liberalism.

Mr. Churchill lost no time in tendering his resignation to the King. It was what you would expect. He would have only one wish, to make way as expeditiously as possible for Mr. Attlee so that he could begin at once the task of forming his Government, a task, as Mr. Churchill knows better than anyone else, all the more urgent because the Potsdam Conference is waiting on the new British delegation.

26 July, 2012

26 July 1945


438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
26 July, 1945      1020

My darling Wilma –

There’s a lot of confusion here this morning – and noise. One of my T3 Sergeants is leaving the outfit to become a civilian. He’s 41 years old. I’m really going to miss him too because his character and efficiency have been superior. He’s been with me for 3 years and it will take two men to take his place. Incidentally, dear, he’s the fellow who has been packing things for me ever since we came overseas and you must admit, sweetheart, he’s done a pretty good job. I’ve given several people your telephone number and you’ve never heard from them – but you will from Sgt. [Edmund J.] Stillman because he keeps his word.

Boy – how odd a feeling to see one going thru the first stages of becoming a civilian. Our tongues are hanging out and just the thought of it makes me giddy, darling. But damn it to hell – that day will come for me, too – for us – and life is really worth waiting for when I think of that. All for now – love to the folks –

All my everlasting love


about The Potsdam Declaration

On 26 July 1945, United States President Harry S Truman, Chairman of the Nationalist Government of China Chiang Kai-shek, and United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill issued a declaration which outlined the terms of surrender for the Empire of Japan as agreed upon at the Potsdam Conference. Here is that declaration:

The Potsdam Declaration
[Note: Brackets indicate text that was not part of the declaration]

An ultimatum demanding the immediate unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Japan:

26 July 45

(1) WE -- THE PRESIDENT of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war. [Note: Stalin was not included because Russia had not yet declared war on Japan.]

(2) The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.

(3) The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry, and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.

(4) The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.

(5) Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

(6) There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

(7) Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan’s war‑making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.

(8) The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out, and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, and such minor islands as we determine.

(9) The Japanese military forces after being completely disarmed shall be permitted to return to their homes, with the opportunity of leading peaceful and productive lives.

(10) We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.

(11) Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and allow of the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those industries which would enable her to rearm for war. To this end access to, and distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.

(12) The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.

(13) We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.

25 July, 2012

25 July 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
25 July, 1945      0900
My dearest darling Wilma –

It is now two years and a day that I know you – and I’m sorry dear that on the 24th – I didn’t even get the opportunity to write and tell you how I feel. I was busy all day – had to go to Dijon with one of the officers to investigate a case. It was a long hot day and I was tired when the day was over. But not so tired that I couldn’t think hard and reminisce about the past.

The 24th two years ago came on a Saturday and I had come in from Edwards. I probably told you before the evening was over – that actually I was quite blue, discouraged and lonely before the evening started. I was – and for several reasons. But before it was time to say “Good night” I had had such a wonderful time and had felt quite gay. You’ve asked me about that ability to transform my moods. All I need is the proper stimulus – and darling – you were it. I didn’t say exactly when I would see you again – but on the way home I wondered why I hadn’t asked you about the next day. But I called you and saw you and had a swell time. And when I headed back to Camp Sunday evening – it was with a head full of thoughts of seeing you again and as often as I could. Because I knew, sweetheart – that I was going to like you tremendously – and heck, where can one put the dividing line between that and love?

My whole outlook on life had changed. I sometimes still wonder if you know or knew how complicated and involved it had been before I knew you, dear. Anyway – from that week-end on – I was racing against time and I realized it not long after. I can only say for both of us that we didn’t buck it and we saw each other as often as we possibly could have under the conditions that existed. And it turned out to be just enough to bring us together ultimately.

It’s two years, darling, and despite the dimming of an individual feature here or there – the overall picture is as clear as yesterday. The girl I loved in August, September, October and November of 1943 is the same girl I love today – only infinitely more lovable and dear to me. What matter if I can’t quite conjure a vision of how you look exactly! The fact is you are you, sweetheart, the same girl who has been so constant, patient and understanding – and the girl I’m coming back to – to marry and make happy, if I possibly can.

I didn’t write yesterday, dear, but I did think. And every thought was clear and satisfying. And I thanked God for allowing me to meet, know and love you and for saving you for me. And I’ll go on thanking Him – always. We’re going to have a lot to celebrate, darling, once we get started on life. We must never forget to commemorate the day I met you.

And I’ll stop now, sweetheart, and do a little Dispensary work. I hope all is well at home – Love to the folks – and remember, darling – you have and will always have

All my deepest and sincerest love –


about The Order to Drop the Atomic Bomb
on Japan

TO: General Carl Spaatz
FROM: General Thomas T. Handy

Here is the order given to General Carl Spaatz on 25 July 1945:
TO: General Carl Spaatz
    Commanding General
    United States Army Strategic Air Forces

1. The 509 Composite Group, 20th Air Force will deliver its first special bomb as soon as weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 on one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata and Nagasaki. To carry military and civilian scientific personnel from the War Department to observe and record the effects of the explosion of the bomb, additional aircraft will accompany the airplane carrying the bomb. The observing planes will stay several miles distant from the point of impact of the bomb.

2. Additional bombs will be delivered on the above targets as soon as made ready by the project staff. Further instructions will be issued concerning targets other than those listed above.

3. Discussion of any and all information concerning the use of the weapon against Japan is reserved to the Secretary of War and the President of the United States. No communiques on the subject or releases of information will be issued by Commanders in the field without specific prior authority. Any news stories will be sent to the War Department for specific clearance.

4. The foregoing directive is issued to you by direction and with the approval of the Secretary of War and of the Chief of Staff, USA. It is desired that you personally deliver one copy of this directive to General MacArthur and one copy to Admiral Nimitz for their information.


General, G.S.C.
Acting Chief of Staff

copy for General Groves

Truman wrote the following entry into his diary on 25 July 1945. It is typed below for easier reading.

Here is the diary entry typed out for easier reading, with the parts pertaining to the bomb highlighted in yellow:

We met at 11 A.M. today. That is Stalin, Churchill and the U.S. President. But I had a most important session with Lord Montbatton and General Marshall before that. We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark.

Anyway we "think" we have found the way to cause a disintegration of the atom. An experiment in the New Mexico desert was startling - to put it mildly. Thirteen pounds of the explosive caused the complete disintegration of a steel tower 60 feet high, created a crater 6 feet deep and 1,200 feet in diameter, knocked over a steel tower 1/2 mile away and knocked men down 10,000 yards away. The explosion was visible for more than 200 miles and audible for 40 miles and more.

This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital or the new.

He and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one and we will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I'm sure they will not do that, but we will have given them the chance. It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler's crowd or Stalin's did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful...

At 10:15 I had Gen. Marshall come in and discuss with me the tactical and political situation. He is a level headed man - so is Montbatton.

At the Conference Poland and the Bolshiviki land grant came up. Russia helped herself to a slice of Poland and gave Poland a nice slice of Germany taking also a good slice of West Prussia for herself. Poland has moved in up to the Oder and the west Vilseck, taking Stettin and Silesia as a fact accomplished. My position is that according to commitments made at Yalta by my predecessor Germany was to be divided into four occupation zones, one each for Britain, Russia and France an the U.S. If Russia chooses to allow Poland to occupy a part of her zone, I'm agreeable but title to territory cannot and will not be settled here. For the fourth time, I restated my position and explained that territorial sessions had to be made by treaty and ratified by the Senate.

We discussed reparations and movement of populations from East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Italy and elsewhere. Churchill said Maisky had so defined war booty as to include the German fleet and Merchant Marine. It was a bomb shell and sort of paralyzed the Ruskies, but it has a lot of merit.

24 July, 2012

24 July 1945

No letter today. Just this:

Here is a full edition of the 438 AAA AW Bn's newspaper, dated 26 July 1945 but shown today because there was no letter today. The last two images are from these pages, but blown up for easier reading...

23 July, 2012

23 July 1945


438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
23 July, 1945      1110
Dearest darling Wilma –

I’ve started this letter on 3 different occasions this morning. I ought to be able to finish it this time. It’s just one of those days in which everything and everyone is buzzing about.

Truth to tell, sweetheart, I’ve been missing you terribly – and the big moon of the last few nights hasn’t helped one bit. Gosh. I love you dear – and I’m getting tired of just telling you. I want to see you, tell you, love you – actually. Oh – it’ll come some day, darling, and when it does – boy, oh boy – we’ll be there!

A quiet, uneventful day yesterday. We played Bridge almost all afternoon. (I lost 115 francs – but we had some swell rubbers) – and after that I played tennis with a couple of Frenchmen – and lost again, but it was good experience. Today – the weekly routine.

All for now, dear – love to the folks – and
All my love is yours.


about "Miscellany"

From TIME magazine's section called "Miscellany", published 23 July 1945, Volume XLVI, Number 4:
Where's the Fire? In Albuquerque, N.M., a cab driver bucked a one-way street, crashed a red light, illegally double-parked, collected his fare and a multiple traffic ticket from his passenger, Plainclothesman Bill Bellamy.

Hit & Miss. On Okinawa, a Jap sniper took careful aim, shot Private Kenneth W. Cunningham right through the heart—or where his heart should have been. Private Cunningham, whose heart is on the wrong side, survived.

Breathers. In Bennington, Vt., impatient Murder Defendant Harold Frotten broke out of jail, left a note explaining: "I'm tired of waiting for that damn trial so went out for a little fresh air." In San Francisco,Charles Jones and Clarence Jacobsen, recaptured after a jail break, explained that they were short of cigarettes.

The Way It Is. In St. Louis, Carl Roessler of the American Hotel Association made it official: the odds against getting a steak dinner in a Midwest hotel or restaurant, said he, are 400-to-1.

Fortune. In Pretoria, South Africa, a fortuneteller promised that "tomorrow" would be a G.I.'s lucky day. Next day the lucky soldier: missed connections back to camp, trudged eight miles, scalded his foot, dislocated an arm, cut his leg. But he got a promotion, received a gift of 500 cigarettes, won $40 in a lottery.

Woman's Place. In Ellensburg, Wash., the Daily Record ran a want ad, "Girl or woman for general housework," under Farm Machinery.

Infield Out. In Kansas City, Mo., Joe Infield got his head wedged in the bars of his bed. His wife, his mother-in-law, ten neighbors, two cops, a hacksaw, a chisel, and a hammer finally freed him.

Love in Wartime. In Havana, Ill., the Rev. James L. Dial took pity on a point-short couple he had just married, lent them three pounds of sugar for their wedding cake. In Rochester, N.Y., a ration board heard from an applicant, "I'm getting married, so I need a new pair of work shoes," considerately marked his request "Urgent.

Good Riddance. In Raleigh, N.C., the state board of education sold a piece of swamp land called Purgatory, hoped to dispose next of neighboring Hell.

White Magic. In New Guinea, a Quartermaster Corps corporal got no cooperation from natives until his false teeth accidentally popped out. Thenceforth, reported the Army, he "was looked upon with respect and awe, and his orders were obeyed with alacrity."

22 July, 2012

22 July 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
22 July, 1945      1030
My dearest sweetheart –

It’s Sunday morning and three of us are sitting around the table in our living room writing letters. I’ve already been down to the Dispensary and seen several patients. It’s starting out to be another very hot day. Yesterday was a piperoo and although I had planned to play tennis, I cancelled my plans and just sat around. Boy – I’d have given a lot to have been able to take a dip in the ocean somewhere.

In the evening I decided to stay in and read. I started Somerset Maugham’s “Razor’s Edge” and it’s shaping up as an excellent story. Have you read it, dear? Well I read about 100 pages and then a couple of the fellows dropped in and suggested a walk down town. So we did and visited at the Red Cross. This club by the way is one of the finest I’ve seen since leaving the States and I’ve seen a good many of them. It occupies a lovely building in Place Stanislaus which is reputedly one of the loveliest squares in all Europe. The building was the site of the Art Museum in town and is really comfortable. They have a string ensemble which plays p.m.’s and evenings. You can get cokes with ice or coffee and donuts.

Stanislaus Square, Nancy, France - July 1945
and City Hall today (below)

This afternoon I may play tennis and there’s supposed to be a good movie in town tonight and we may go. There’s been no mail for a couple of days now – but when it comes – it’s quite recent. We’re being told daily not to write Airmail for a while because it’s going by ship and will not be flown. I don’t know how it’s affecting my mail to you, dear, but I’ll make sure you hear from me fairly recently by writing a few V-mails. They definitely are continuing to be flown.

I was sorry to read about Granny B. and hope she continues to improve. Hypertension is such a darned thing to control. After weeks of rest and getting the pressure down – one bit of aggravation or excitement is enough to make it go sky high. I guess a whole lot of people are waiting for our wedding, darling, and there’s nothing I’d like more than to be able to accommodate them. Starting with Barbara and running thru to you Grandmothers – I guess we run the whole gamut of ages, friends and relatives.

And I’m so glad to read that my sister Ruth is doing better. Frankly I was pretty worried. I’m still not sure what she had – but anything around that part of the anatomy is serious, malignant or benign. I haven’t received Lawrence’s new APO yet – and that’s another thing I’m sweating out. I’d rather see him go to Hawaii than to the Philippines – because the latter spot is an advanced replacement and staging area. Well – I can only hope.

Now, darling, I’m becoming confused by the interruptions and noise that’s passing into this room. The boys are drifting back from down town – waiting for lunch. I sure wish you could join me, darling. I’ll stop now for today, dear. Remember – I love you, dearly, sweetheart – and I always will. Love to the folks.
All my sincerest love,


about Scientists Needed

Andrew Russell (Drew) Pearson (1897-1969) was one of the most successful newspaper and radio journalists of his day. His syndicated Washington Merry-Go-Round column was published between 1932 and 1969. American University Library Special Collections Unit holds the typescript copies for the column that the syndicate sent to Pearson's office at the same time the typescripts were distributed to newspapers around the country.

The following is part of a transcript that was released on 22 July 1945 by The Bell Syndicate, Inc.



Washington – What may prove to be one of the most important pieces of legislation in this Congress was quietly introduced in the Senate this week by progressive Warren Magnuson, Democrat, of Washington State. It was a bill to set up a sort of scientist ROTC, or Reserve Corps for Scientists. They would be trained for civilian life, but could be called back to serve their country in time of war. Behind Magnuson's proposal is the tremendous part science played in this war and the fact that scientifically, we were woefully unprepared. Had it not been for the hurriedly organized group of patriotic scientists gathered together under Dr. Vannevar Bush, the country would have been much worse off than it is.

What most people don't realize is that if the war had not ended when it did, German science was ready to give us some severe if not disastrous set-backs. New Nazi weapons might have been able to blow England out of the water. While the Nazi buzz-bomb and the V-2 rocket did ample damage, the Germans had even more dreadful weapons in the works. Allied troops discovered, half concealed underground, a series of giant artillery guns capable of firing over 100 miles.

In the last war, Big Bertha which the Germans fired on Paris did not do much damage because it became overheated and had to be re-bored. But the new German long-range guns fired smaller projectiles, did not heat up so fast, and were arranged in rows, so that taken together they could dump several hundred tons an hour on London – and keep it up day and night. These big guns were ready to go into action when the Allies found them.


In addition, the Nazis had been making more and more progress with their long-range rockets, and there was no doubt that they planned to bomb Boston and New York, given more time. Military observers believe that it was partly the hope that these weapons would be developed in time to disrupt the U.S.A. that kept the Nazis fighting so long.

British experts who have examined the new German weapons more carefully than Americans say that without any doubt the time is not far off when rockets can reach the moon; when they can be built capable of carrying a man and provisions inside. Some military men have already begun studying rocket bases hidden in Alaska, Siberia and Canada which could fire at the great metropolitan cities of New York, London, Berlin, and Moscow.

Another German weapon which the Allies found almost completed inside Germany was a high-speed torpedo boat capable of making around 150 miles an hour. The Nazis planned to man them with one suicide helmsman, load them with explosives, and ram them against battleships. The British say they would have been more deadly than the Jap suicide planes.

All of this convinces scientists that talk of universal conscription and big ground armies is just as out of date as old-fashioned cavalry. The war of tomorrow – if the United Nations is not able to stop it – will be a war of science.


Unfortunately, college men have been set back in scientific studies during the last three years, while in the Army. But Senator Magnuson proposed that the Federal Government now establish educational funds to subsidize special studies for men who later would form a scientific reserve corps in case of war.

Note - as a member then of the House Naval Affairs Committee, Magnuson recalls that in 1938 the House appropriated $15,000,000 for the Navy to use for scientific research, including anti-submarine devices. The bill actually passed the House, but when it reached the Senate, the admirals testified that this scientific research was unnecessary. They didn't like the fact that it was to be civilian scientists rather than Annapolis men. As a result, the $15,000,000 was killed by the Senate and when we first entered the war, U.S. shipping was crucified by submarines.

21 July, 2012

21 July 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
21 July, 1945      0900
My dearest darling Wilma –

Gee this month is rolling right along and a good many fellows who have arrived home are digging into their 30 days. As much as I’d love to be home now – I know darn well how much I would dread having to leave again for more overseas duty. And it wouldn’t be the fear of combat, either, because I went through enough of that to realize it’s all in the breaks. But once home – with you and the folks – and no doubt married – well I know I’d want to go AWOL.

With all my inquiries etc. I still can’t figure out my own disposition. It seems as if when a Cat. IV outfit finally gets ready to be redeployed – everyone with less than 85 points gets separated from the outfit. That would include me – with 82. Where I would go – I don’t know; I may even be all wet in regards to that dope. I hope I am, for somehow or other I’d like to come back to the States with this outfit. Anyway – each day I remain here is good. It means more troops ahead of me are getting home and then leaving for the Pacific and the more that get there – the better I like it. Meanwhile they keep sending more occupational troops into Germany. Well with Germany being filled up – and also the Pacific – there’s only one place for me to go, darling, and that’s home!

I received a letter of June 26 and one from 13 July from you yesterday, dear. One contained a sketch by Cyn and you asked me if I see any likeness. Honestly, sweetheart, I don’t know because it’s so darned difficult for me to visualize you after all this time. It’s a keen sketch, though.

There was also an item about Irv Feldman that kind of made me angry – although it’s none of my business and I don’t know the guy. But frankly, dear, the taking of a Leave – without getting it recorded – is about as cheap a trick as is possible in the Army or Navy. He sure would be in line for a heluva lot of trouble. As much as I’d love to be able to visit a wife and baby of mine, I could never get myself to do anything like that. Anyway – I’ve got a lot of leave time due me now – and even after I get my 30 days – the government will owe me a lot of time – because accrued leave is figured on the basis of 2 ½ days per month. My last leave (7 days) was in March ’44 – and even before that – I hadn’t used up what was coming to me. You never really catch up on it though, but I believe they pay you when you’re discharged for the time coming to you.

I was sorry to read about Sylvia B. and the trouble, present and anticipated, in her adjusting to her new life. When Florence wrote me – she often went into detail about Sylvia and the trouble she had with her – Now without a mother – Phil really has a problem and the kid’s in a tough age to be changed so much.

Well I’ve just been interrupted by a couple of fellows who dropped in to see me. The sketch of you by Cyn was lying on the desk where I’m writing now, and they wanted to know who it was. One of the fellows thought it looked like Barbara Stanwyck – so of course I told them it was an exact likeness of you – only that you were prettier – which of course you are!

And now it’s past 1000 and at 1015 I’ve got to sit on a Section Eight Board, as medical member. It won’t be a difficult one because I’ve already had the fellow seen by a psychiatrist and he’s been classified as a Constitutional Psychopath.

And so for another day, sweetheart, I’ll say ‘so long’ and remind you again, as I’m always trying to do – that I love you as keenly and sincerely as I know how. I miss you terribly these evenings, particularly, but I can wait it out – knowing that you are doing the same. So be well, dear, take care of yourself – and send my love to the folks.

All my deepest love for now.


about Soldier Art

On 21 July 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote this:

One of the very interesting things to come out of the war has been the discovery of new artistic talent in various forms among soldiers and sailors, regardless of where they may be.

It is not very surprising to find that men who have had the ability to express themselves before in writing or as artists continue to do so even under the pressure of war conditions, for all art expression is a release from strain. Also, the artistic temperament usually is an emotional one which responds to every incident of life. Therefore, one can well understand that a man who was a writer or artist before he entered the service scribbles or paints or sculpts no matter where he is or what he is obliged to do.

The remarkable thing that has happened is that many new artists have emerged and have shown a degree of competence which one would hardly have expected.
* * *

Early this month, in Washington, D. C., a soldiers' art exhibition was sponsored jointly by the National Gallery and the Special Services Division of the Army Service Forces. Eight soldiers were awarded prizes of $100 war bonds. These winners were the best of 9,000 final entries chosen at other exhibitions held under Army sponsorship. The work was done in off-duty time, under the Army's program of promoting arts and crafts as a leisure-time activity.

This special exhibition will be open through September 4th. It contains paintings in different mediums, mural designs, sculpture, drawings, prints and photographs.

"GI's in Paris",  oil painting by Floyd Davis, a winning entry

"Bob Hope Entertaining Troops Somewhere in England", by Floyd Davis

Though I have been unable to visit the exhibition, I have greatly enjoyed looking through the little book in which many of the winning productions are reproduced. It is called "Soldier Art" and is published in the Fighting Forces Series. I think it is a record of which we will be proud in the future, for it will show that, even in the midst of war, we fostered a great civilizing activity.

* * *

It is interesting that I have been sent some clippings of some rather severe editorials in several Southern newspapers on the subject of a speech made by an important gentleman in Congress criticizing our Negro troops. There does not seem to be complete agreement with this gentleman's point of view. I have also seen some letters from officers in charge of Negro troops overseas who are greatly affronted. So perhaps, if this gentleman in Congress takes the trouble to read the papers, he may realize that he was intemperate in his remarks.

E. R.