20 August, 2012

20 August 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
20 August, 1945      0930

My dearest sweetheart –

Well we all read the Stars and Stripes closely, listen to AFN news on the hour, every hour, listen to the story of ‘this’ officer here or ‘that’ officer there – and what does it all add up to ? A few high point officers and enlisted men are going home. We lose yet another officer this morning – 111 points and we’re starting to feel the pinch. Including the Colonel, that makes 4 officers. Personally, I’m sure of one thing only and that is that I won’t have to go to the Pacific. Of course – a few weeks ago that positiveness would have been quite comforting – and it only goes to show that all things are relative. Anyway, darling, we can certainly feel with more reason that I’ll be home in some months and even if I’m not discharged immediately, I’ll at least stay in the U.S. If you want my honest-to-goodness guess – I’d say sometime in the middle of the winter. I have nothing at all with which to base my guess except that winter is midway between now and next summer – when all troops will have been returned, and somehow I feel I ought to be in that middle group.

Yesterday it rained most of the afternoon and evening. We played Bridge in the p.m. finally ending at 6400 to 6000 – roughly and since we play 5 francs per 100 fr, you can see, dear – that I won 20 francs. Our matches of late have always been that close. It makes for keener competition and rather careful bidding. The evening went quietly and I had a good night’s rest. There’s a new movie in town tonight and we’ll probably go – something with G. Rogers, L. Turner – and the “Waldorf”.

I reacted the same way you did in reference to Nat Stone and his “success”. It just gripes me, that’s all. And when we get back – people will make no consideration whatsoever as to who gave service and who didn’t. And the fellow who sat back and cleaned up – is just that much ahead. We have a few such birds in Salem and they’ve become tremendously rich in the past 3 years. But what the hell, I certainly wouldn’t have been completely happy had I stayed out of things. I’ll make up for the lost time, darling. I’ve got lots of energy, I’ll have you to help me – and I still have friends in Salem. Frankly I’ve about given up the idea of surgery. I’ll always be able to do minor surgery and simple practice work – and I’ll have to be content with that. I’ve talked with a few fellows in hospitals and also with Frank Morse when I saw him last. It would take me between two and three years of interning and residency to qualify as a Class A surgeon and I just don’t feel I want you or myself to give up that much time. Furthermore it would be impractical from an economic standpoint. It isn’t that I’ve lost any of my original drive and zeal by being in the Army, sweetheart; it‘s just that I’ve already lost 3 yrs and with some more months to go. That time is irretrievable. But so long as you have confidence in me – I’m satisfied. I feel pretty certain I’ll do all right. After all – I did have two years of it and that background is worth something.

Pretty serious this morning, aren’t I, dear? Well, I can be that way, too, and practical. But most of all right now – I’m interested in getting home to you and marrying you. The rest, I think, will follow along nicely – and I know we can be happy and successful in life, together. That, after all, is what we want, sweetheart.

I’ll say ‘so long’ for now, dear. My love to the folks, say ‘hello’ to Gr. B. and Mary.

All my love is yours for always –


about War Production and Reconversion
Facts and Figures

Cover of TIME magazine - 20 August 1945

In the 20 August 1945 publication of TIME, (Volume XLVI, Number 8), the following article, "PRODUCTION - The Winner" was written:
Marshal Stalin's famed Teheran toast to U.S. industry—"Without American production the United Nations could never have won the war"—was never more appropriate. The war was ending, and the record was in.

In the five years since the fall of France, U.S. industry and labor had turned out:
  • 299,000 combat planes (96,000 last year);
  • 3,600,000 trucks;
  • 100,000 tanks;
  • 87,620 warships (including landing craft), 5,200 merchant vessels;
  • 44 billion rounds of ammunition;
  • 434 million tons of steel;
  • 36 billion yards of cotton textiles for war.

Despite this, U.S. home-fronters had remained the best housed, best clothed and best fed people in the world. But U.S. basic resources had suffered what might be an irreparable drain. Said an anxious Mead Committee report fortnight ago: war has left the U.S. with only enough oil for twelve years (at present production rates), enough iron ore for eight years, a seriously depleted timber supply.
RECONVERSION: Facts & Figures
Reconversion from military to civilian production had been an issue as early as 1944. However, the actual process of reconversion only began in earnest in early 1945, accelerating through V-E Day and V-J Day.

After World War II, the government released 12 million Americans into the job market while simultaneously slashing government spending. Yet in a dramatic refutation of Keynesian economic theory, the market absorbed the workers and unemployment never rose over four percent. This was in part due to industry's ability to reconvert its military production into domestic production.

In the 20 August 1945 publication of TIME, (Volume XLVI, Number 8), the following article, "RECONVERSION - Facts & Figures" was written:
This week 30,000 telegrams tersely canceling the bulk of Army war contracts were ready to be sent to U.S. industry.

With one swoop the Army would wipe out:
  • More than 95% of its orders for carbon and alloy steels, copper, aluminum, artillery, tanks, guns, railroad rolling stock, telephone, radio and telegraph equipment.
  • More than 75% of its orders for cotton and wool textiles, leather, lumber, shoes.
  • More than two-thirds of its orders for tires.

That would make reconversion a fact, not just an overworked word. Total industrial production, now humming along at the rate of over $130 billion a year, could be pushed down almost one-third.

Industry was ready for the cancellations. It had discarded the notion that a tapering-off in war orders would cushion the reconversion shock.

How quickly industry could regain its equilibrium depended upon how quickly it could:
  1. clear its plants and set up peacetime assembly lines;
  2. obtain a steady supply of raw materials;
  3. get a firm pricing policy from OPA.

The reconversion outlook for some representative U.S. companies:

GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER CO. Output of tires and plastics for civilians can begin immediately. Estimated postwar employment: 30% greater than the prewar peak of 28,561, but only 30% of their 1942 wartime employment peak.

BENDIX AVIATION CORP. Sales-smart Bendix was busy during the war lining up a nationwide distribution organization while its factories were spouting $2.8 billion of war goods. Soon these distributors will have something to sell. Bendix plants making auto parts will be in mass production by late fall. New type AM and FM radio sets can roll off the assembly lines immediately.

GENERAL MOTORS CORP. G.M.'s problem is typical of all auto manufacturers. It needs new machine tools, must rid its plants of heavy war machinery. G.M. must also accumulate a huge supply of raw materials (steel, textiles, etc.) in a fiercely competitive market. Once these problems are licked, G.M. has high hopes for the future. Its ultimate employment goal: 400K factory workers (1939 high: 201,000); 200K distributors (1939 total: 150K).

WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORP. Cancellation of its $400 million backlog of war orders will free Westinghouse for a quick changeover to refrigerators, electric irons, and other appliances for civilians. Two new postwar products: a deep-freeze unit for home use, a dishwashing machine to sell for less than $100.

E. I. DU PONT DE NEMOURS & Co. Nylon and Nylon yarn for stockings, Neoprene synthetic rubber, most chemical products and plastic materials can be switched to civilian use as soon as the cancellation telegrams reach Wilmington.

ALUMINUM COMPANY OF AMERICA. War orders will be sorely missed. Alcoa has delivered $2.2 billion of aluminum and magnesium since war began, still has a backlog of war orders totaling $200 million. But orders on hand from civilian industries amount to a mere $26 million—equal to two weeks' present aluminum production.

OWENS-ILLINOIS GLASS Co. Anticipating a boom in the marketing of glass-packaged foods, medicines and beverages, Owens-Illinois will keep all of its workers, rehire its 5,325 employes now in uniform. Two new plants to produce glass containers will be built after the war.

PULLMAN-STANDARD CAR MANUFACTURING Co. From the car-hungry railroads Pullman-Standard has orders for $78 million worth of rolling stock. But full production of superdeluxe streamlined coaches and sleepers cannot get under way until Pullman-Standard finds several thousand more workers for its shops.

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