31 August, 2012

31 August 1945


438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
31 August, 1945

My dearest fiancée –

This will really be a shortie because I’m already almost late for General Court which meets today – dammit. I was all set to go down to Lake Gérardmer to stay overnight and get out of at least one morning of sick-call. I’m getting so darned bored and irritated with the latter – it’s alarming. There’s only one thing I want sweetheart, and that is to go home to you and love you, love you and love you. I’m champing at the bit, I’m tugging at the tether – and oh yes – I’m impatient, too. Excuse me for now, darling, I’ve really got to go. Love to all –

All my love for always


about Truman's Communication with Atlee
and his Concern for Resettlement
of Jewish Refugees

The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum has published the Public Papers of Harry S. Truman which contain most of President Truman's public messages, statements, speeches, and news conference remarks. The letter below, found on the museum website, tells Britain's Prime Minister about the Harrison Report. Click here to see his Executive Order Abolishing the War Information Office, also published on this date.
31 August 1945

My dear Mr. Prime Minister:

Because of the natural interest of this Government in the present condition and future fate of those displaced persons in Germany who may prove to be stateless or non-repatriable, we recently sent Mr. Earl G. Harrison to inquire into the situation.

Mr. Harrison was formerly the United States Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, and is now the Representative of this Government on the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees. The United Kingdom and the United States, as you know, have taken an active interest in the work of this Committee.

Instructions were given to Mr. Harrison to inquire particularly into the problems and needs of the Jewish refugees among the displaced persons.

Mr. Harrison visited not only the American zone in Germany, but spent some time also in the British zone where he was extended every courtesy by the 21st Army Headquarters.

I have now received his report*. In view of our conversations at Potsdam I am sure that you will find certain portions of the report interesting. I am, therefore, sending you a copy.

I should like to call your attention to the conclusions and recommendations appearing on page 8 and the following pages--especially the references to Palestine. It appears that the available certificates for immigration to Palestine will be exhausted in the near future. It is suggested that the granting of an additional one hundred thousand of such certificates would contribute greatly to a sound solution for the future of Jews still in Germany and Austria, and for other Jewish refugees who do not wish to remain where they are or who for understandable reasons do not desire to return to their countries of origin.

On the basis of this and other information which has come to me I concur in the belief that no other single matter is so important for those who have known the horrors of concentration camps for over a decade as is the future of immigration possibilities into Palestine. The number of such persons who wish immigration to Palestine or who would qualify for admission there is, unfortunately, no longer as large as it was before the Nazis began their extermination program. As I said to you in Potsdam, the American people, as a whole, firmly believe that immigration into Palestine should not be closed and that a reasonable number of Europe's persecuted Jews should, in accordance with their wishes, be permitted to resettle there.

I know you are in agreement on the proposition that future peace in Europe depends in large measure upon our finding sound solutions of problems confronting the displaced and formerly persecuted groups of people. No claim is more meritorious than that of the groups who for so many years have known persecution and enslavement.

The main solution appears to lie in the quick evacuation of as many as possible of the non-repatriable Jews, who wish it, to Palestine. If it is to be effective, such action should not be long delayed.

Very sincerely yours,

*The Harrison Report was discussed in a *TIDBIT* on 13 August 1945.

30 August, 2012

30 August 1945

438th AAA AW BN

APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
30 August, 1945
Dearest darling Wilma –

A cloudy cool day again and rather welcome at that, after the rather warm spell we’ve had this week. It was even too hot to play tennis – so some of us just sat around and talked. In the evening we went down to the Officer’s Club – but there wasn’t much doing down there and we got back early. Today I’ve already been notified that our General Court meets at 1000 tomorrow morning and that screws up my plans. I believe I told you about a “rest” camp that battalion has on a lake about 75 miles from here. It’s supposed to be very pretty and I had planned to go tomorrow and stay over until Saturday. Now – that’s out and I’m disappointed, dear. Frankly – I’ve reached that periodic stage when sick-call drives me crazy and I find myself barking at the fellows and I’m very impatient with everyone. It isn’t much work, but it’s seven mornings of every week and I have to see everyone of them that comes in. I’d like a couple of days off but I guess I’ll just have to wait for another opportunity.

Well I received a letter from you yesterday – written 21 August. You had returned from the Cape and found some letters from me. I was particularly pleased to see that my letters are now reaching you in pretty good time. That’s good – because there’s no doubt about how much difference it makes. I get the biggest thrill out of reading a letter of yours actually written in the same week that I’m reading it. It makes me most acutely aware of your closeness to me, and when you write that you love me – I can almost hear you saying it. What an imagination! Well – it does make a difference – just the same!

Say, sweetheart, you wrote me one day that you had had “at least six good drinks” and you didn’t even feel light-headed. What gives? Who’s going to have to cut down on the alcohol, anyway? I’m only kidding, of course – but you know – being able to toss off a couple of drinks without becoming giddy is almost a social prerequisite these days. I wonder what it’s going to be like to be able to go where I want to and when I want to. Three years plus in the Army almost stunts the imagination – along those lines and honestly – it’s difficult to think back. Each soldier will get the same thrill and I suppose the thrill will be even greater for the E.M.

I’m enclosing some sheet music today, dear. I first heard this song in Germany. We were in a home that had a Victrola and we played one record called “Komm Zurüch”. I thought it was a German song. But when we got to France, we found that it was originally a French song “J’attendrai” – a tremendous hit in 1939 when the French were getting ready for war. It’s simple – but play it and see if you don’t get to like it and find yourself humming it. It’s sentimental and I never could hear it or hear it now without thinking of your waiting for me. I’m so happy that you did and still are, sweetheart. It’s such a satisfying thought; it stimulates me, it makes me love you more and more and soon darling, you won’t have to wait. I’ll be there right with you and then – for always.

All for now, dear – love to the folks –
All my deepest love –


about "J'attendrai"

"J'attendrai" (French for "I Will Wait") is a French popular song recorded by Rina Ketty in 1938. It is a translation of the Italian song "Tornerai" (Italian for "You Will Return") composed by Dino Olivieri (music) and Nino Rastelli (lyrics) in 1933, inspired from the Humming Chorus of Puccini's Opera "Madame Butterfly". The French lyrics were written by Louis Potérat. The song was also recorded in German under the title "Komm zurück", in Czech as "Věřím vám", in Swedish as "Blott för dig" and in Polish as "Czekam cię".

Achieving great popularity in its day, the song has since come to be seen as emblematic of the start of World War II.

J'Attendrai sung by Jean Sablon in a 1939 recording
followed by the French Lyrics and an English Translation

French Lyrics

Le jour et la nuit, j'attendrai toujours
Ton retour
Car l'oiseau qui s'enfuit vient chercher l'oubli
Dans son nid
Le temps passe et court
En battant tristement
Dans mon coeur plus doux
Et pourtant, j'attendrai
Ton retour

Reviens bien vite
Les jours sont froids
Et sans limite
Les nuits sans toi
Quand on se quitte
On oubli tout
Mais revenir est si doux
Si ma tristesse peut t'émouvoir
Avec ivresse
Reviens un soir
Et dans mes bras
Tout s'oublira

j'attendrai toujours
Ton retour
Car l'oiseau qui s'enfuit vient chercher l'oubli
Dans son nid
Le temps passe et court
En battant tristement
Dans mon coeur plus lourd
Et pourtant, j'attendrai
Ton retour
(Imperfect) Translation of French Lyrics
I shall wait
Day and night
I shall wait forever for
Your return
I shall wait
Because the bird that flies away comes back to find lost memories
in it's nest
Time passes and runs,
my softer heart beating sadly
And yet, I shall await
Your return

Return well quickly, the days are cold
And the nights without you are unending
When one is left, one forgets all
But to return is so soft

If my sadness can intoxicate you,
return one evening
And in my arms
Everything shall be forgotten.

(I shall wait
Day and night)
I shall wait forever for
Your return
(I shall wait)
Because the bird that flies away comes
back to find lost memories
in it's nest
Time passes and runs,
my heavier heart beating sadly
And yet, I shall await
Your return

I shall wait
Day and night
I shall wait for
your return
I shall wait
Because the bird that flees comes
back to find lost memories
in it's nest
Time passes and runs,  
beating sadly
In my heart so heavy
And yet, I shall await
your return

29 August, 2012

29 August 1945

438th AAA AW BN

APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
29 August, 1945

My dearest sweetheart –

We’re having a spell of what is like our Indian Summer and it’s very pleasant. But oh how the time hangs heavy these days and nights. No matter how we try to avoid it – the subject of the trip home comes to the front. I use the word ‘avoid’ in the wrong sense perhaps. But we just end up by becoming very aggravated and impatient. The officers with the very high points want to get going. Fellows with about as many points as I are anxious for them to get going, too, for when they do – we get to the top of the list – presumably – and we go home next. If the plans for getting a million men home in the next 3 months is going to work, there will have to be a tremendous speed up around here – for at present, there’s no one moving at all.

I got a letter from my folks yesterday and it was a pleasure to read their reaction to VJ night. It made me happy to realize they could stop their acute anxiety over Lawrence. They’re impatient, too, for my return home, dear; I never realized how much – because on the whole – Dad A has shown more restraint in his letters than I thought he was capable of. Anyway – he said he got ‘partly drunk’ on VJ nite – whatever partly drunk means. And even my mother took a few, he wrote – and that is really something.

Hello dear –

I started this at 0930 and didn’t get very far before being interrupted. Rather than take a chance of letting that happen again, I want to tell you right now, sweetheart, that I love you very very much and I don’t want you to forget that for a moment! It’s so darned difficult to express myself – the way I feel – in writing. One would think that after almost 22 months of practice – I’d be accomplished in the art of describing my emotions in relation to you, darling. But it becomes increasingly difficult, probably because my feelings in all that time have far surpassed my ability to write expressively. No matter how you look at it, though, I love you dearly – and darling you’ll just have to take those words for their full meaning.

News, again, from here is nil; not even a poor rumor has developed in the past 48 hours. So we go on playing Bridge, seeing the movies and playing Tennis. Night before last we went to the French movies. It was good – “La Vie Boheme” – but straight drama, without the music. It was well done – and my opinion of French movies at the moment – is high.

I’ve been appointed a member of a General Court Martial Board that meets in this town in the next few days. The cases are usually interesting – but it ties up a whole day – for days at a time. There’s no way of getting out of it, however – so I’ll have to take it.

I hope to hear from you today, sweetheart. I still don’t know whether that trip to Canada developed – or not. For now, dear – so long, love to the folks – and

All my sweetest love –

Orders for Greg to Participate in a Court Martial
CLICK to enlarge


about the Liberation of Gregory "Pappy" Boyington

Gregory "Pappy" Boyington
4 December 1912 - 11 January 1988

Gregory “Pappy” Boyington was born on 4 December 1912 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He grew up in Tacoma, Washington and graduated from the University of Washington in 1934 with a degree in aeronautical engineering. Following his graduation he took a job with Boeing, working as a draftsman and engineer. He began his military career in college as a member of the ROTC Program and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Reserves. In 1936, he accepted an appointment as an aviation cadet in the Marine Corps Reserves, assigned to the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida. The next year he was designated a Naval Aviator and stationed at Quantico, Virginia.

Boyington resigned his commission in the Marine Corps in August of 1941 to accept a position with the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO). CAMCO was a civilian organization that contracted to staff a Special Air Unit to defend China and the Burma Road. The unit later became known as the American Volunteer Group (AVG), the famed Flying Tigers of China. During his time with the “Tigers” he became a flight leader where he frequently clashed with ranking commanders.

In 1942, Boyington returned to the Marine Corps and became the Executive Officer of VMF-121 operating from Guadalcanal and later became commanding officer of Marine Fighter Squadron 214, which became known as “The Black Sheep Squadron.” At the age of 31, he was more than 10 years older than most of his men, so they first nicknamed him “Gramps,” which later became “Pappy.” During the squadron’s first tour of combat “Pappy” shot down 14 enemy fighters, and by the end of the year the number climbed to 25. Between his tour in China and Burma and later action in the South Pacific, Boyington shot down 28 planes - a World War II record for a Marine pilot. But the day of his 28th kill, 3 January 1944, was also the day he was shot down by a Japanese Zero fighter and was picked up by a Japanese Submarine. He spent the rest of the war as a Prisoner of War.

The following is an excerpt from Boyington's autobiographical novel, Baa Baa Black Sheep, describing his final combat mission.

It was before dawn on 3 January 1944, on Bougainville.

I was having baked beans for breakfast at the edge of the airstrip the Seabees had built, after the Marines had taken a small chunk of land on the beach. As I ate the beans, I glanced over at row after row of white crosses, too far away and too dark to read the names. But I didn't have to, I knew that each cross marked the final resting place of some Marine who had gone as far as he was able in this mortal world of ours.

Before taking off everything seemed to be wrong that morning. My plane wasn't ready and I had to switch to another. At last minute the ground crew got my original plane in order and I scampered back into that. I was to lead a fighter sweep over Rabaul, meaning two hundred miles over enemy waters and territory again. We coasted over at about twenty thousand feet to Rabaul. A few hazy cloud banks were hanging around-not much different from a lot of other days. The fellow flying my wing was Captain George Ashmun, New York City. He had told me before the mission: "You go ahead and shoot all you want, Gramps. All I'll do is keep them off your tail." This boy was another who wanted me to beat that record, and was offering to stick his neck way out in the bargain.

I spotted a few planes coming through the loosely scattered clouds and signaled to the pilots in back of me: "Go down and get to work." George and I dove first. I poured a long burst into the first enemy plane that approached, and a fraction of a second later saw the Nip pilot catapult out and the plane itself break out into fire. George screamed out over the radio: "Gramps, you got a flamer!"

Then he and I went down lower into the fight after the rest of the enemy planes. We figured that the whole pack of our planes was going to follow us down, but the clouds must have obscured their view. Anyway, George and I were not paying too much attention, just figuring that the rest of the boys would be with us in a few seconds, as was usually the case. Finding approximately ten enemy planes, George and I commenced firing. What we saw coming from above we thought were our own planes - but they were not. We were being jumped by about twenty planes. George and I scissored in the conventional thatch weave way, protecting each others blank spots, the rear ends of our fighters. In doing this I saw George shoot a burst into a plane and it turned away from us plunging downward, all on fire. A second later I did the same thing to another plane. But it was then that I saw George's plane start to throw smoke, and down he went in a half glide. I sensed something was horribly wrong with him. I screamed at him: "For God's sake, George, dive!"

Our planes could dive away from practically anything the Nips had out there at the time, except perhaps a Tony. But apparently George had never heard me or could do nothing about it if he had. He just kept going down in a half glide. Time and time again I screamed at him: "For God's sake, George, dive strait down!" But he didn't even flutter an aileron in answer to me.

I climbed in behind the Nip planes that were plugging at him on the way down to the water. There were so many of them I wasn't even bothering to use my electric gun sight consciously, but continued to seesaw back and forth on my rudder pedals, trying to spray them all in general, trying to get them off George to give him a chance to bail out or dive - or do something at least. But the same thing that was happening to him was now happening to me. I could feel the impact of enemy fire against my armor plate, behind my back, like hail on a tin roof. I could see the enemy shots progressing along my wing tips, making patterns.

George's plane burst into flames and a moment later crashed into the water. At that point there was nothing left for me to do. I had done everything I could. I decided to get the hell away from the Nips. I threw everything in the cockpit all the way forward - this means full speed ahead - and nosed my plane over to pick up extra speed until I was forced by water to level off. I had gone practically a half a mile at a speed of about four hundred knots, when all of a sudden my main gas tank went up in flames in front of my very eyes. The sensation was much the same as opening the door of a furnace and sticking one's head into the thing.

Though I was about a hundred feet off the water, I didn't have a chance of trying to gain altitude. I was fully aware that if I tried to gain altitude for a bail-out I would be fried in a few more seconds.

On 29 August 1945, Boyington was liberated from the Omori Prison Camp and eventually returned to the United States. For some reason, the Japanese did not want Boyington's whereabouts known to the Allies, so they never reported his capture. The Marines listed him as missing in action, but many thought he died in the crash. Through a fellow POW, he was able to send a code word to his mother that he was still alive. But for the rest of America, when his camp was liberated the Medal of Honor winner seemed to come back from the dead. On 12 September 1945 he was reunited with 21 former members of “The Black Sheep Squadron.” After returning to the United State Lieutenant Colonel Gregory “Pappy” Boyington was awarded the Medal of Honor, and on 4 October1945 he received the Navy Cross from the Commandant of the Marine Corps. “Pappy” Boyington retired from the Marines in 1947.

Pappy's alcohol addiction plagued him throughout his life. As leader of the "Black Sheep Squadron", Boyington was a flamboyant commander, a darling of war reporters and a heavy drinker. According to one memoir, he would get raging drunk and try to wrestle other pilots - who were usually 10 or more years his junior. His addiction, he once wrote, was "no doubt the most damning thing in my character." In his post-war years Boyington went through a series of lurid, broken marriages and bounced from one job to another: beer salesman, stock salesman, jewelry salesman, wrestling referee. Liquor was always present. According to his son, Alcoholics Anonymous helped, but he never completely licked his addiction.

Today, many people are familiar with “Pappy” Boyington only because of the 1970’s TV Show “The Black Sheep Squadron,” which was very loosely based on Boyinton’s memoir. Robert Conrad portrayed Boyington on the TV Show. However,Boyington was often critical of the TV show, reminding interviewers and audiences that the TV show was fiction and “Hogwash.”

Boyington reportedly visited the National Air and Space Museum’s Gaber Preservation Center while a F4U Corsair similar to the one he flew was being restored. He autographed the aircraft with a marker in one of the wheel wells. Today that Corsair is on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s, Stephen D. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport. Sharp eyed visitors may be able to see the autograph as the plane hangs from the rafters. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington died in Fresno, California on 11 January 1988 from complications of cancer. He is resting in Section 7 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Here is a newsreel about "Pappy" which includes his arrival after his liberation and a few words about his ordeal.

28 August, 2012

28 August 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
28 August, 1945
My darling fiancée –

When in the world am I going to be able to say ‘wife’? I know one thing. I’ll surely appreciate it when I can. I don’t suppose I’ve ever really been very effusive about my love for you, darling – I mean compared to the way some fellows tell their sweethearts, but honestly, darling, I love you with all the depth and sincerity I know how. I’ve done the best I’ve been able to in its expression by mail. I’m certain I can express it more adequately when I’m once again with you, dear. Then again – maybe I won’t be capable of saying the right words. Well – I can always rely on actions – and sweetheart – if it’s consistency, devotion, attention and admiration that you want – why I think you’ll be happy.

I’ve often wondered, just as perhaps you have, about the fact that we didn’t know each other for very long before we left – that there was so much we didn’t know about each other’s habits, that maybe we wouldn’t click when we were together again. Those are natural reflections for thinking people – and I couldn’t help thinking about such things, – nor you. Your mention of Zelda and her unhappiness, the lack of something substantial to keep them together – brought all this to mind. I don’t know the sources of their trouble – incompatibility, insincerity, unfaithful – whatever it was – they apparently didn’t have a bond strong enough to keep them from separating. I don’t pretend to believe that our marriage will be the most perfect one ever – that would be too much to hope for and if you think you’re going to have that type and don’t quite reach it – the disappointment will offset all the beautiful things you do have. But darling – I think we’re going to be very very happy and I think we’re going to be very successful in our marriage. How many couples know each other or knew each other as little as we did and yet managed to keep their tenuous bond and strengthen it into a strong chain? Not many, I’ll venture to say. To start from so little and end up with a tie that finds me thinking of everything only in terms of you, dear, that finds me translating every deed into terms of how you’d like it or respond to it – well, I just know we’ve got something to lean on darling – and I’m happy. Just let me get back and I’ll tell you about it.

I received two letters from you yesterday – comparatively old – but I enjoyed them. One gave your reactions on VJ day and a description of the crowds etc in Boston. I’d have loved to have been there. You know by now that we just didn’t get the same lift back here. But we’ll go all through that again when I get back – and really now – each day does bring us closer and closer together. Frankly –– I can hardly wait.

And now I’ve got to ‘knock off’ as they say here and do a bit of work. We’re just marking time here waiting for something to break. No new rumors today, darling – but I’ll keep you posted.

All for now – dear – love to the folks – and
All my everlasting love –


about Jackie Robinson and the Baseball Color Barrier

Jackie Robinson, soldier

Jackie Robinson gained national recognition in 1941 when he became the first athlete in the history of UCLA to earn a letter in four different sports in the same year (football, basketball, track and baseball). Drafted into the Army, he was discharged in 1945 and joined the Kansas City Monarchs of the American Negro League. While playing in Chicago with the team, Jackie was approached by a White scout, Clyde Sukeforth, who told him that Brooklyn Dodger general manager Branch Rickey would like to meet with him.

Jackie with the Kansas City Monarchs

Jackie arrived in Brooklyn, New York on 28 August 1945, for a very important meeting in Branch Rickey's office.

Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey (in 1950)

When Robinson traveled to New York City for the meeting he was unaware that he was going to be asked to become the first Black player in major league baseball. The decision to open up "America's favorite pastime" to African-Americans was in no small part due to the contribution they had made to the country's war effort. Happy Chandler, the newly installed Baseball Commissioner, was quoted as saying that: "if they (African-Americans) can fight and die on Okinawa, Guadalcanal (and) in the South Pacific, they can play ball in America." Branch Rickey agreed, but everyone knew that the first Black to break through the color barrier would not only have to be talented enough to play in the majors but strong enough to withstand with dignity the inevitable racial taunts that would be hurled his way. Jackie Robinson was their man. Jackie believed that black people should be treated fairly. He also knew that he would be judged for how he behaved when faced with confrontation. If he lost control of his behavior, he could possibly hurt the chances of other players wishing to join the majors.

The meeting in Rickey's office lasted about three hours. Rickey grilled the 26 year old Robinson on his resolve and challenged him with racist scenarios that he may have to confront on and off the field. Satisfied with his response, Rickey assigned Robinson to the Montreal Royals - a Dodger farm team - for the 1946 season.

Jackie playing with the Montreal Royals

Robinson was moved up to the Dodgers at the beginning of the 1947 season.

Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers

From an article called "Jackie Robinson Breaks Baseball's Color Barrier, 1945," on the web site of EyeWitness to History, comes this account of that meeting.
The account begins as Jackie enters Branch Rickey's office. The Dodger boss sits in a leather swivel chair behind a mammoth walnut desk. After some small talk, Rickey lights up a cigar and gets down to the heart of the interview:
'Are you under contract to the Kansas City Monarchs?'

'No, sir,' Robinson replied quickly. 'We don't have contracts.'

'Do you have any agreements - written or oral - about how long you will play for them?'

'No, sir, none at all. I just work from payday to payday.'

Rickey nodded and his bushy brows mashed into a scowl. He toyed with the ever-present cigar, seeking the right words, 'Do you know why you were brought here?'

'Not exactly. I heard something about a colored team at Ebbets Field. That it?'

'No . . . that isn't it.' Rickey studied the dark face, the half-open mouth, the widened and worried eyes. Then he said, 'You were brought here, Jackie, to play for the Brooklyn organization. Perhaps on Montreal to start with -'

'Me? Play for Montreal?' the player gasped.

Rickey nodded. 'If you can make it, yes. Later on - also if you can make it - you'll have a chance with the Brooklyn Dodgers.' Robinson could only nod at this point.

'I want to win pennants and we need ballplayers!' Rickey whacked the desk. He sketched the efforts and the scope of his two-year search for players of promise.'Do you think you can do it? Make good in organized baseball?'

Robinson shifted to relieve his mounting tension.

'If . . . if I got the chance,' he stammered.

'There's more here than just playing, Jackie,' Rickey warned. 'I wish it meant only hits, runs and errors - things you can see in a box score. . . .'

'Can you do it? Can you do it?' Rickey asked over and over.

Shifting nervously, Robinson looked from Rickey to Sukeforth as they talked of his arms and legs and swing and courage. Did he have the guts to play the game no matter what happened? Rickey pointed out the enormity of the responsibility for all concerned: owners of the club, Rickey, Robinson and all baseball. The opposition would shout insults, come in spikes first, throw at his head.

'Mr. Rickey,' Robinson said, 'they've been throwing at my head for a long time.'

Rickey's voice rose. 'Suppose I'm a player. . . in the heat of an important ball game.' He drew back as if to charge at Robinson. 'Suppose I collide with you at second base. When I get up, I yell, 'You dirty, black son of a -' 'He finished the castigation and added calmly, 'What do you do?'

Robinson blinked. He licked his lips and swallowed.

'Mr. Rickey,' he murmured, 'do you want a ballplayer who's afraid to fight back?'

'I want a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back!' Rickey exclaimed almost savagely. He paced across the floor and returned with finger pointing. 'You've got to do this job with base hits and stolen bases and fielding ground balls, Jackie. Nothing else!'

He moved behind his big desk again and faced the cornered Robinson. He posed as a cynical clerk in a southern hotel who not only refused him a room, but cursed him as he did so. What would Robinson do? He posed as a prejudiced sportswriter, ordered to turn in a twisted story, full of bias and racial animosity. How would Robinson answer the sportswriter? He ordered the player from imaginary dining rooms. He jostled him in imaginary hotel lobbies, railroad stations. What would Robinson do?

'Now I'm playing against you in a World Series!" Rickey stormed and removed his jacket for greater freedom. Robinson's hands clenched, trembled from the rising tension. "I'm a hotheaded player. I want to win that game, so I go into you spikes first, but you don't give ground. You stand there and you jab the ball into my ribs and the umpire yells, 'Out!' I flare up - all I see is your face-that black face right on top of me -'

Rickey's bespectacled face, glistening with sweat, was inches from Robinson's at this point. He yelled into the motionless mask, 'So I haul off and punch you right in the cheek!'

An oversized fist swung through the air and barely missed Robinson's face. He blinked, but his head didn't move.

'What do you do?' Rickey roared.

'Mr. Rickey,' he whispered, 'I've got two cheeks. That it?'
Jackie led the Dodgers to six National titles and one World Series Championship and was named the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1949.

within a

Robinson's older brother, Matthew Robinson, inspired Jackie to pursue his talent and love for athletics. Matthew won a silver medal in the 200-meter dash — just behind Jesse Owens — at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

27 August, 2012

27 August 1945


438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
27 August, 1945
Good Morning, darling!

I love you, dear – and this morning, with bananas and cream! Just to clarify that a bit – we had bananas at breakfast – the first in about two years. And you know, sweetheart, they tasted about the same as they used to.

Well – it was almost like old times last night. I got into bed at 2230 and fell promptly asleep. But – the phone rang at 0030, 0200 and 0400. I was mad – although I can remember when I wouldn’t mind the call – as long as I didn’t have to go out. I didn’t have to last night.

Today, I’ve got to do a lot of inspecting of kitchens – etc. I tell you, darling, I’m just going to inspect you all the time. Oh Boy!! All for now, dear. Love to the family and

All my deepest and sincerest love


about Shifting Military Manpower

From TIME magazine, Volume XLVI, Number 9 published on 27 August 1945 (cover shown above) comes this article called "Peace Shock" in the section on National Affairs.
Off the Canal Zone the voice on the bullhorn of the transport General Harry Taylor blared: "Now hear this! Watch the shadow of the ship." Then the Taylor's skipper, Captain Leonard B. Jaudon, added: "As it turns toward New York."

More than 3,000 soldiers let out a cheer that shook the ship from bow to stern. They had been diverted from the Pacific.

The soldiers on the Taylor and about 20 other transports bound from Europe to the Pacific were almost unique in their joy. For both Army & Navy redeployment had become an uneasy nightmare. Among the 7,000,000 soldiers and sailors straining to get home, many were unhappy, angry, disgruntled.

Sailors . . .
Navy men griped because their point-discharge system, announced last week, allowed no credit for combat or overseas service. The system: one-half point for each year of age, another half point for each month of service, ten points for a dependent (but none for additional dependents). Points required for discharge: enlisted men 44, officers 49, enlisted women 29, women officers 35. About 307,000 became eligible for dis charge; 20,000 more could get out who had won certain awards (Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Legion of Merit, Silver Star, D.F.C.).

Marines' discharge was set at 85 points on the Army system.

. . . and Soldiers Too.
Soldiers of the 86th ("Blackhawk") Infantry Division, waiting at Pittsburg, Calif., to be redeployed to the Pacific after 28 days of combat in Europe, sent telegrams to editors: "The Regular Army wishes to send additional divisions rather than individuals so that they can keep control over large organizations . . . for the retention of their temporary wartime high ranks. . . ." The battle-seasoned 95th Infantry Division, reassembling for Pacific deployment at Camp Shelby, Miss., sent petitions to newspapers and Congressmen: "Why should we serve on two fronts when there are many who never served on one?"

The Slow Wheels.
The War Department said the 86th had already been screened twice, the 95th once, to avoid sending highpoint men overseas. The Navy Department's stock answer to protests was that its policy was being "clarified," that 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 men would be discharged within 18 months.

Peace had hit the services like another Pearl Harbor. But, as War Secretary Stimson pointed out, there were "2,250,000 trained Japanese soldiers in the home islands alone, and an equal number" in other Pacific and Asiatic territory. The U.S. must disarm these men, and ships that nose into Japanese islands must be combat-loaded.

Regardless of current snafu and individual injustices, it was possible last week to see the shadow of the postwar Army & Navy:
  • European forces, now 2,780,000 strong, will shrink to 400,000. How many men will be required to police the Japanese islands, nobody knew; some guessed 1,500,000.
  • The Army planned to discharge 5,000,000 men within a year. The Navy process would probably be slower, but the 327,000 currently eligible will be out within four months and separation centers eventually will handle 16,000 a day.
  • The Navy will ask for a postwar complement of 50,000 officers, 500,000 men, plus 100,000 Marines. Meantime, the Navy works frantically on plans to berth its excess ships somewhere. No size can yet be correctly guessed for the Army, but it was announced last week that draftees who want to re-enlist after furloughs will be allowed to retain their ratings, given bonuses up to $150.
  • WAC and WAVE recruiting had stopped, but WAC enlistments were still being accepted.
  • President Truman announced that the draft would continue, but only for men under 26, and at a rate of 50,000 a month instead of 80,000.

26 August, 2012

26 August 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
26 August, 1945      1700
My dearest sweetheart –

This is an unusual time of the day for me to be writing you, dear, even for a Sunday, but I waited particularly. I’m now in the office of the Nancy Command Area and I’m duty officer from now until 0830 tomorrow. I have to stay in this office, sleep here, answer the phone and any problems that arise and finally, check the guard post at least twice tonight. Actually, there’s very little to do and it ought to be a nice quiet evening. We’re supposed to pull this duty about once every three weeks. After I write this, I’m going to eat at the consolidated mess in the next building. Then I’ll write my folks and I still have several letters I should answer; maybe I’ll catch up on that. I have the latest Time magazine and I’m still reading the “Boston Adventure”.

I haven’t yet heard from you darling – anything more definite about the trip to Canada – other than what I heard several days ago – that it was on the 30th and you hoped to go. If you went – you won’t be reading this of course – until you get back. I sure hope you did go, sweetheart, because I think it will do you a world of good. But I hope you take or took it easy on those Montreal boys. I happen to know they’re a pretty smooth bunch of fellows. Damn it – it’s damned hard to buck competition from way over here – but wait and see, darling. I’ll make up for it – and what’s more important – I’m not afraid of the competition – chiefly because I know you, dear.

Well the officers in our outfit with 85 or over – are taking all rumors as gospel and they’re packing up and sending stuff home. So have I for that matter. I sent another box of excess clothing home – including my summer suit. I never did get to wear it overseas. I’m going to have another box ready so that whenever I do move out – I’ll send another batch of stuff home. The reason for all this, dear, is because once we start moving – we’ll never again have the facilities, transportation and space we’ve had up to now and the less you have to lug around – the less you’ll lose. I’ve still got shaving soap, toothpaste and soap that I brought overseas with me. The supply system turned out to be much better than anyone ever dreamed.

I’m going to have to stop about now, sweetheart. My C.Q. has just come back from chow and I’ve got to go over now. There’s only one more thing I want to tell you before I leave, and that is that I love you more and more each day, dear, with more conviction, with more assurance, with more fervor – and with the wonderful realization that soon we’ll be together again. I feel wonderful, darling! All for now – love to the folks – and

All my eternal love is yours –


about the 25th Anniversary of Women Voting

Eleanor Roosevelt, in one of her "My Day" columns mentioned that 26 August 1945 was
. . . the 25th anniversary of the day on which Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby announced, for President Woodrow Wilson, that the 19th amendment to the Constitution of the United States was now the law of the land. This amendment is sometimes called the "Susan B. Anthony" amendment, because she was one of the pioneer workers for women's suffrage, and for 37 consecutive years presented her bill to Congress. The final bill passed in 1920 was identical with the one which she first presented in 1868.
From The New York Times company's About.com's education section on women's history comes this article called "August 26, 1920 - The Day the Suffrage Battle Was Won."
Votes for women were first seriously proposed in the United States in July, 1848, at the Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. One woman who attended that convention was Charlotte Woodward. She was nineteen at the time. In 1920, when women finally won the vote throughout the nation, Charlotte Woodward was the only participant in the 1848 Convention who was still alive to be able to vote, though she was apparently too ill to actually cast a ballot.

Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Some battles for woman suffrage were won state-by-state by the early 20th century. Alice Paul and the National Women's Party began using more radical tactics to work for a federal suffrage amendment to the Constitution: picketing the White House, staging large suffrage marches and demonstrations, going to jail. Thousands of ordinary women took part in these -- a family legend is that my grandmother was one of a number of women who chained themselves to a courthouse door in Minneapolis during this period.

In 1913, Paul led a march of eight thousand participants on President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration day. (Half a million spectators watched; two hundred were injured in the violence that broke out.) During Wilson's second inaugural in 1917, Paul led a march around the White House. Opposed by a well-organized and well-funded anti-suffrage movement which argued that most women really didn't want the vote, and they were probably not qualified to exercise it anyway, women also used humor as a tactic. In 1915, writer Alice Duer Miller wrote,
Why We Don't Want Men to Vote
  • Because man's place is in the army.
  • Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
  • Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them.
  • Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms, and drums.
  • Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them unfit for government.
During World War I, women took up jobs in factories to support the war, as well as taking more active roles in the war than in previous wars. After the war, even the more restrained National American Woman Suffrage Association, headed by Carrie Chapman Catt, took many opportunities to remind the President, and the Congress, that women's war work should be rewarded with recognition of their political equality. Wilson responded by beginning to support woman suffrage. In a speech on September 18, 1918, he said,
We have made partners of the women in this war. Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of right?
Less than a year later, the House of Representatives passed, in a 304 to 90 vote, a proposed Amendment to the Constitution:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any States on Account of sex.

The Congress shall have the power by appropriate legislation to enforce the provisions of this article.
On June 4, 1919, the United States Senate also endorsed the Amendment, voting 56 to 25, and sending the amendment to the states. Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan were the first states to pass the law; Georgia and Alabama rushed to pass rejections. The anti-suffrage forces, which included both men and women, were well-organized, and passage of the amendment was not easy.

When thirty-five of the necessary thirty-six states had ratified the amendment, the battle came to Nashville, Tennessee. Anti-suffrage and pro-suffrage forces from around the nation descended on the town. And on August 18, 1920, the final vote was scheduled. One young legislator, 24 year old Harry Burn, had voted with the anti-suffrage forces to that time. But his mother had urged that he vote for the amendment and for suffrage. When he saw that the vote was very close, and with his anti-suffrage vote would be tied 48 to 48, he decided to vote as his mother had urged him: “Hurrah and vote for suffrage. Don’t keep them in doubt. Be a good boy and vote for ratification.”

And so on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th and deciding state to ratify.

Alice Paul toasting Tennessee's Ratification of the 19th Amendment
Her motto: "Deeds, not words"

That the anti-suffrage forces used parliamentary maneuvers to delay the ratification, trying to convert some of the pro-suffrage votes to their side. But eventually their tactics failed, and the governor sent the required notification of the ratification to Washington, D.C.

And so on August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution became law, and women could vote in the fall elections, including in the Presidential election.
And the suffragettes celebrated their long and well-fought battle.

25 August, 2012

25 August 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
25 August, 1945

Dearest darling Wilma –

It seems like ages since I wrote you last and actually it was only the day before yesterday. I just couldn’t get a chance yesterday and the reason was that I was entertaining Frank Morse. I believe I had written you, dear, that he was coming down and he brought another fellow – an old friend from the Beverly Hospital whom I may have mentioned before – a Harold Gregory – yes, dear, that’s his name and he was the intern who replaced me.

Well – they arrived, rain and all, Thursday p.m. about 1400 and I was tickled – because I had been finding the time boring. We talked and talked and drank and reminisced. Frank reminded me of the days at Camp Edwards when he was on detached service and I used to take his wife out. It seems like ages ago. In the evening we went down town, visited the Officers’ Club, came back about 2300 and talked until 0200. Yesterday, Friday, the weather was clear and I showed them all over town; we took pictures, visited the R.C. and generally loafed around. The same was true of the evening and then this a.m. I sent them back with my jeep. I can’t tell you how thoroughly enjoyable it was and I think both Frank and Harold enjoyed their stay. They’re both fed up with the hospital routine.

Now – to keep you up to date with things, sweetheart – I wrote the other day of a new division of troops into A, B, C, and D. Well that is now official policy for the E.T.O. and things are beginning to hum. Our outfit – like many others has been told to submit all names – officers and men with points 85 or over – and the story seems to be that they will leave us by 15 September to join other troops with the same score and together make another battalion. That will leave us with about 10 officers but still with the bulk of E.M’s. The next move presumably will be to submit the names of the 75-84 group – and darling – that’s where I fit! Every report – regardless of the source – insists that all this is going to take place very soon – and I’m very willing to be shown.

I almost forgot to tell you that day before yesterday I got two letters from you, dear, written at the Fine’s – and one of the letters came in six days. It’s such an odd sensation – reading something that you wrote only six days before. Gosh – if that proximity causes such a reaction – what will being with you be like? It’s wonderful to think about. I, too, was pleased to hear that Stan was happy, adjusted and settled down to a peaceful married life. There was a time I would have felt even better about it – but somehow the taste Stan left in my mouth after I left the States – still lingers and I guess I’ll never really forget it.

You mention Irv studying the violin. It’s amazing how a musician can pick up another instrument so easily – and I can believe that he is playing the violin well. One thing I never did know, though, concerns Verna’s like for things musical. Somehow she strikes me as being cold to it and yet that can’t be so now – even if it were so before. I’m so glad to know that she and Irv are so well adjusted – particularly when I’m sure they weren’t so at the start. But they’re both very intelligent and one way or another – they must have figured things out.

You know, sweetheart – I don’t think we’ll have any trouble along those lines at all. I just feel that we were meant to click together and with our love as a good background – we can’t miss. That’s the crux of the whole thing – as I see it – the fact that we do love each other so, darling. It’s wonderful – and I’ll show you what I mean when I come home.

So long for now, sweetheart – and love to the folks.

All my everlasting love and devotion –


about John Birch

John Morrison Birch was born to Baptist missionaries in Landour, a hill station in the Himalayas in northern India. In 1920, when he was two, the family returned to the United States. He and his five younger siblings were reared in New Jersey and Georgia, in the Fundamental Baptist tradition. He graduated from Georgia Baptist–affiliated Mercer University in 1939 magna cum laude. While at Mercer, he decided to become a missionary and enrolled in J. Frank Norris' Fundamental Baptist Bible Institute, Fort Worth, Texas. After completing a two-year curriculum in a single year, he sailed for China, sent by the World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship. Arriving in Shanghai in 1940, he began intensive study of Mandarin Chinese.

After six months of training, he was assigned to Hangzhou, outside the area occupied by the Japanese fighting in the Second Sino-Japanese War. However, the attack on Pearl Harbor ended that; and the Japanese sent a force to Hangzhou to arrest him. He and other Christian missionaries fled inland to eastern China. Cut off from the outside world, he began trying to establish new missions in Zhejiang province.

In April 1942, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle and his crew crash-landed in China after the Tokyo raid. They had flown from the aircraft carrier, USS Hornet(CV-8), bombed Tokyo, then flown on to the Chinese mainland as planned. After bailing out, they were rescued by sympathetic Chinese and smuggled by river into Zhejiang province. When Birch was told of the downed fliers, he went to meet them.

Colonel James Doolittle, said, "The boys and I just delivered a little present to Tojo, and we are having a bit of trouble getting home." John Birch personally worked to see that the crews of the twelve bombers reached safety. He did the job so well that General Doolittle recommended he be given a medal. Hearing of his bravery and abilities, General Claire Chennault of the Flying Tigers asked him to join them. Although John wanted to be a chaplain with the Army, General Chennault told him that, if he would gather intelligence during the week, he could preach on Sundays. So John became a Second Lieutenant in the China Air Task Force of the American Army.

For the next two months, John traveled more than 1,000 miles through the war-torn country, gathering information and preaching most Sundays. At the same time, he was preparing an intelligence network manned by his Chinese friends. Also, one of the most important and dangerous parts of the mission was finding the caches of munitions and gasoline that had previously been hidden and constructing emergency airstrips.

As time passed, John Birch agreed with "Big Tiger" when the general said, "Some of the 'gentlemen' in Washington have written off China. They seem to forget that the Generalissimo [Chiang Kai-shek] has kept a million Jap soldiers tied down here, a million who would otherwise be in the Pacific fighting American boys." He also found that the few supplies to China were usually taken by General Stillwell so that he could, sometime in the future, avenge his past defeat in Burma. The U.S. commander, General "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell, had, in the beginning of his tour of duty in China, used the best of Chiang Kai-shek's troops and matériel to fight the Japanese in Burma. He lost everything and had to walk out. He spent the rest of his time in China planning revenge. Most of the supplies were not given to Chennault or Chiang Kai-shek for the defense of China against the Japanese. So John Birch continued building his intelligence network on foot and developing even closer ties to the Chinese people.

In 1944, General Patrick Hurley, as directed by President Roosevelt, arrived in China, as the U.S. Ambassador, to clear up the mess. He fired Stillwell and brought in General Albert Wedemeyer, who was able and fair. General Wedemeyer immediately formed a warm rapport with the Chinese and sent Stillwell's pro-Communist advisors packing. Things started to change in China. The Flying Tigers controlled the area from the Great Wall to Indo-China. No ships moved along the coast or on the Yangtze without coming under fire. As the Japanese were retreating, John Birch said,
The Commies are dodging around now so that when peace comes they'll be able to kill their brothers who are loyal to the Generalissimo. I keep telling people this, but sometimes I feel like a sparrow twittering in a tree at a tornado forming in the distance.
Once peace was won, the Russians and the Chinese Communists moved rapidly to make quick gains. Russian troops rolled across Manchuria, meeting little opposition and capturing huge quantities of weaponry that they would later turn over to their Chinese comrades. The Chinese Communists were already moving to exploit the inevitable chaos and confusion by accepting the Japanese surrender wherever they could be first on the ground.

Ten days after the end of the war, on 25 August 1945, a party of twelve men (four Americans, six Chinese, and two Koreans) were on an official Army mission to Suchow when they were stopped by a group of Chinese Communists. Two men (one American and one Chinese) were taken away behind some buildings where they were shot. The shots were heard by the rest of their party. The Chinese man taken away, Lieutenant Tung, lived (minus a leg and an eye) to tell what happened. He related that the American, Captain Birch, said before his death, "It doesn't make much difference what happens to me, but it is of utmost importance that my country learn now whether these people are friend or foe."

The evidence at his autopsy showed that, after he was shot in the leg, his arms and legs were tied behind his back. He was made to kneel as he was shot in the back of the head — Chinese execution style — and his face was violently disfigured by bayonets and knives. The murder of Captain John Birch was covered up. No reporter mentioned it, and neither did the State Department or the War Department.

In the 1950s, Robert Welch would create a right-wing, anticommunist organization called the John Birch Society (JBS). For Welch, Birch was "the first casualty in the Third World War between Communists and the ever-shrinking Free World." It was said that the State Department had not wanted the American people to learn that Mao's Chinese were Communists, not agrarian reformers. Welch saw "collectivism" as the main threat to western civilization, and liberals as secret communist traitors who provide the cover for the gradual process of collectivism, with the ultimate goal of replacing the nations of western civilization with one-world socialist government. "There are many stages of welfarism, socialism, and collectivism in general," he wrote, "but communism is the ultimate state of them all, and they all lead inevitably in that direction."

The JBS was established in Indianapolis on December 9, 1958 by a group of 12 "patriotic and public-spirited" men led by Robert Welch, Jr., a retired candy manufacturer from Belmont, Massachusetts. A transcript of Welch's two-day presentation at the founding meeting was published as The Blue Book of the John Birch Society and became a cornerstone of its beliefs, with each new JBS member receiving a copy. JBS's objective was to fight communism using communism's own techniques -- organization of front groups, infiltration of other groups and letter-writing campaigns." According to Welch," writes Political Research Associates in its analysis of the Birchers,
both the US and Soviet governments are controlled by the same furtive conspiratorial cabal of internationalists, greedy bankers, and corrupt politicians known as "the insiders". If left unexposed, the traitors inside the US government would betray the country's sovereignty to the United Nations for a collectivist new world order managed by a 'one-world socialist government.' The Birch Society incorporated many themes from pre-WWII rightist groups opposed to the New Deal, and had its base in the business nationalist sector...
In recent years the John Birch Society (JBS) has played a major -- and acknowledged -- role in the United States right-wing "Tea Party", which is better known for being funded by the likes of the Koch Brothers. The Koch Brothers, who deny they're JBS members, are themselves sons of a JBS founder, Fred Koch. "We've been helping train the Tea Party for some time, teaching it how to organize and avoid some of the mistakes we made," says Bill Hahn, a JBS spokesman.

On its web site, the JBS distinguishes itself from the Tea Party in this way:
The John Birch Society is not a politcal organization but rather educational. JBS President John F. McManus has spoken at various Tea Party rallies as well as at meetings of many other conservative organizations. The John Birch Society has been around for far longer, warning and educating regarding many of the same problems that Tea Party activists are now focused on. For over 50 years, since 1958, The John Birch Society has distributed an estimated total of well over 250 million pieces of literature ranging from warning about increased government spending, taxes, centrally planned inflation, the centralization of power in the government, and the gradual appeasement toward Communism to other topics heralding the virtues of sound money, withdrawing from the United Nations, and a foreign policy of non-interventionism.

24 August, 2012

24 August 1945

No letter today. Just this:

Here are a few more pictures taken in Nancy...

Greg (left) with Lieutenant Colonel William A. McWilliams
and Chaplain Joseph A. Turgeon

The Staff at Officers' Quarters in Nancy

Greg in Nancy

Greg in Place de la Carriere, Nancy


about Midori Naka

Midori Naka

Midori (Japanese for "green") Naka was born in the Nihonbashi district of Chūō, Tokyo in Japan, the third of four daughters of a military officer. She graduated from Osaka Jogakuin College, before joining the Asakusa samurai drama group in 1928. In 1931, she entered the newly-formed Tsukiji Little Theater and distinguished herself as an actress of the Shingeki style, especially for her performances as the title character in the production of Lady of the Camellias.

In the mid-1930s, she helped her sisters run a coffee shop in the Asakusa district in Tokyo. In 1940, the Tsukiji troupe was shut down by the police. She joined the Kuraku-za (Pain and Pleasure) theater company in 1942. Tokyo air raids made activity difficult, and the troupe disbanded in January 1945. In March of 1945, the Asakusa district was badly damaged in the firebombing of Tokyo. Also that month, Naka became lead actress in the Sakura-tai (Japanese for "Cherry Blossom Unit"), a newly-formed mobile theater group organized by actor Sadao Maruyama.

Together with the Sakura-tai troupe, Naka moved to Hiroshima on 7 June 1945, intending to spend the season there. The nine members of the troupe rented a house that was located about 2,130 feet (650 meters) from "ground zero" of the atomic bombing of 6 August 1945. They shared this house with members of another theater troupe of six members, the Sangoza.

Naka and sixteen of her colleagues were at the house in Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, when an atomic bomb detonated over the city. Thirteen of the seventeen actors were killed instantly. Naka survived, along with Sadao Maruyama, Keiko Sonoi and Shozo Takayama. Naka later described her experience:
When it happened, I was in the kitchen, since it was my turn to make breakfast for the company that morning. I was wearing a light housecoat, colored red and white and had a scarf tied about my head. When a sudden white light filled the room, my first reaction was that the hot water boiler must have exploded. I immediately lost consciousness. When I came to, I was in darkness and I gradually became aware that I was pinned beneath the ruins of the house. When I tried to work my way free, I realized that apart from my small panties, I was entirely naked. I ran my hand over my face and back: I was uninjured! Only my hands and legs were slightly scratched. I ran just as I was to the river, where everything was in flames. I jumped into the water and floated downstream. After a few hundred yards, some soldiers fished me out.
A few days later, thanks to her status as a famous actress, Naka was able to find a seat on one of the rare trains that were then travelling to the capital. On August 16, Naka entered the hospital of Tokyo University where she was examined by some of the best doctors in the country, including Dr. Matsuo Tsuzuki, arguably the foremost radiation expert in Japan at the time. In the hospital, she was given repeated blood transfusions by the doctors in an attempt to save her life. At the beginning of her hospitalization, her body temperature was 37.8°C (100.0°F) and her pulse 80. In the following days, her hair began to fall out and her white blood cell count sank from the normal count of 8,000 to 300-400 (other sources indicate 500 to 600 white blood cells), much to the surprise of the doctors. Her red blood cell count was at the 3 million level (against a normal count of 4.2 to 5.4 million).

By August 21, her body temperature and pulse had risen to 41°C (105.8°F) and 158 respectively. On August 23, twelve to thirteen purple patches appeared upon her body. The same day, Naka maintained she felt better. However, she died the following day, on 24 August 1945. She was the last surviving member of Sakura-tai; all three other survivors had already perished by then, also due to radiation poisoning.

Midori Naka was the first person in the world whose death was officially certified to be a result of "atomic bomb disease" (radiation poisoning). Journalist Robert Jungk argues that the publicity surrounding the illness of Midori Naka, owing to her status as a public figure, was instrumental in catapulting the so-called "radiation sickness" to the public eye. Until Naka's story came forward, there was confusion and obscurity surrounding the mysterious "new sickness" from which many of the atomic bombing survivors were suffering. Jungk argues that, thanks to the prominence of Naka and her personal story, proper investigation and examination of the radiation poisoning phenomenon commenced, potentially saving the lives of many of the people exposed to radiation during the bombings.

On 11 September 1945, the results of 37 autopsies of bomb victims conducted by the scientific team of Kyoto University were confiscated by the US Army General Thomas Farrell. The confiscated material removed to the United States included the remains of Naka. Her remains were carefully studied and were returned to Japan in 1972, in a set of glass preserving jars. They are now exhibited in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

Midori Naka's preserved remains

23 August, 2012

23 August 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
23 August, 1945
My dearest sweetheart –

Remember the one about raining cats and dogs and stepping on a poodle? Well it’s one of those days today – thoroughly cold and miserable; the kind of day I’d love to have you here with me in a quiet room, the radio playing softly and no one to disturb us. Gee – when that time does come – it will be wonderful. Just think how much talking we have to do to catch up on each other; the questions I want to ask, and you too; the details still missing to complete our knowledge of each other. Counting the long time out for each episode of a little close lovin’ – well – it seems as if it’ll take years, but I don’t suppose it will.

I’m a little off the track – but nicely so. The fact is that this is a real old lousy New England day and only a New Englander knows what I mean. And Frank Morse was supposed to come down to Nancy today; it’s pretty rough for driving, though, and it’s a little over 100 miles.

It started raining last night and we decided to stay in. I don’t remember whether I’ve told you or not – but I have access to a clarinet – thru Special Service and I’ve been practicing up the past week. Last night the fellow in our outfit who plays the piano – and I – had a little fun playing some old songs. He’s much too good for me, played for years with a jazz orchestra; but he’s tolerant and slows down for me. Anyway, squeak or no squeak, darling, we have a lot of fun and last night we covered all the old songs from the “Sheik of Araby” all the way to “Lullaby of Broadway”. And after that – we played 3 rubbers of Bridge. It was a nice quiet evening at home. I got into bed at 2300 and slept well.

Let’s see – I’ve got to keep you up to date on the rumors, sweetheart. Here they are, not in order of importance – but as I think of them: 1) All Category IV outfits will be home no later than October. 2) There’s no such thing as a Category IV classification. There will be a new classification of A, B, C, D. Everyone with 85 or over = A, 75-84 = B, 60-74 = C and 1-59 = D. There will be a readjustment so that an outfit will be made up of 100% of one class. (This battalion has 70% of its men in the 75-84 group – so we’d end up as a B group and since there are only a few left now in the 85+ class, we’d go home soon. 3) As far as possible, medical detachments are being left intact and will go home with their outfits, and 4) there’s been no decision as yet as to how outfits will go home. There you are, dear; take your pick. I’ll tell you the way I’ve got it figured out. There were – at VE day – about 3½ million soldiers here. Since V.E. day – ie. in 3½ mos. – one million have gone home – leaving 2½ million. About ½ million remain as occupation troops, leaving 2 million. They expect to send another one million home in the next 3½ months. Now I don’t see why our outfit doesn’t fit into the upper half of that last two million. If it does – the 438th – if it remains intact – ought to be home by late November or December – or is this all wishful thinking on my part. I assure you, darling, that I have nothing at all specific to go by – all above is purely hypothetical.

Well – so much for that. The point is that I love you dearly, sweetheart, and I find myself – all day, every day – thinking of the time when I get home to you. Waiting is terrible these days – but I keep working on different possibilities in my mind. The above is just one example. But it’s coming, darling, – and closer all the time. This is surely the last lap and then – happiness.

I’ll close now, dear. Love to the folks – regards from Pete – and you have –

All my deepest and everlasting love –


about More from Hump EXPRESS

The following three articles were published in Hump EXPRESS (Volume 1, Number 32), published by the India China Division, Air Transport Command on 23 August 1945.
Ghost Ship Gets Signals from 1333, Lands Elsewhere

1333 BU, Chabua, Assam
- A plane was returning from China one night recently when this field was closed in by heavy fog. The pilot called the tower.

"Request landing instructions - ship is affirmative!"

The tower operator scanned the skies with his field glasses. "Landing northeast, blink your landing lights, please."

"They're blinking!" came the voice from the plane.

"We can't see you!"

"We're on final approach. Give us a green light!"

Again the tower operator searched the skies and saw nothing. He was trying to contact the plane when he heard the mystifying report from its pilot, "Where do I park her?"

The tower operator was frantic. "We didn't see you pass the tower."

"I'm on the steel mat in front of you!"

If this were some pilot's prank. it was time to become indignant. "No plane has passed the tower and none is parked on the steel mat!"

At another base several miles away, another tower operator was trying desperately to contact a strange plane which approached its runway without landing instructions and parked in front of the tower on the steel mat.

Navy Trick Fools Japs
Third and Fifth Fleets Are Same; Only Admirals Different

Washington (ANS)
- Now that the shooting is over, it can be revealed that the U.S. Third and Fifth Fleets were, for all practical purposes, the same, changing numbers as two admirals alternated in command.

When Adm. William F. Halsey bossed the fleet, it was the Third and when Adm. Raymond Spruance and his staff took over, it became the Fifth.

The two-name system was devised to keep the Japs worrying over the location of the Fifth Fleet when the Third Fleet was in action and vice-versa.

A fast carrier task force was the central striking element of the fleet and here again the Navy pulled a double. In Halsey's Third Fleet it was Vice Adm. John McCain's Task Force 38 and when Spruance commanded, it was Task Force 58 under Vice Adm. Marc A. Mitscher.

And finally, kudos to the Air Transport Command.
Made Hump Famous, Says Commanding General of China
Hump Cargo Credited With China's Survival By General

Hq., Calcutta
- "The United Nations are proud of the contribution made by the Air Transport Command to the final defeat of Japan," stated Lt. Gen. A. C. Wedemeyer, commanding general, China Theater, in a wire to Lt. Gen. Harold L. George, CG, ATC, and Brig. Gen. Tunner.

"Among your congratulations and praise, none will be more heartfelt and sincere than those which I tender you on behalf of all the Chinese and Americans in China," Gen. Wedemeyer continued.

"Upon their cargoes (ICD planes) China as a nation survived for three years when there was no other contact with the world. Your fliers made the Hump the most famous mountain range in the universe. Over these lofty and jagged ridges ATC lifted the gasoline, arms, bullets, bombs and other materials that made it possible for China to carry on the fight. A salute to your pilots, to your flying crews and to your ground personnel."

Along the same theme, Gen. George credited the personnel of ATC with an "accomplishment that has brought a new meaning to air power and a new era to aviation. This achievement belongs to everyone in this command," the general added.

Said Gen. H. H. Arnold:

"At this moment of final victory I extend congratulations to your command (ATC) for the far-reaching contributions you have made in bridging the endless miles separating our forces throughout the world. Your untiring effort and unselfish devotion to duty have been essential factors in the final collapse of our enemy."