March 6, 1944

Monday

Dearest,
The hours and days go by and find me lonelier for you by the minute. You’ve such a hold on me that I spend much time each day, watching your picture and reviewing our lives together. An extremely nice occupation and the nicest relaxation that I know of.

Still it rains. Everyday for the past five. It’s nice when it rains but washing the muddied up clothing is no fun at all. Takes too much of my valuable time. Ha!

Russell, Seehorn, Fincham and Tolhurst are flying a bombing mission to Rua Dika1 this morning. I’m temporarily grounded because of an ingrown hair2 on my bottom. Impossible to sit down which is tough when one considers that we do a good deal of that around here in attending classes and flying as much as we do.

I’ve a feeling we’re going to be an “H”3 combat crew. A lot of them are coming in this area and someone has to fly them. In my estimation, it’s a beautiful ship. Lt. Fincham is trying to get one assigned to him so we can get our 78 hours in that much faster. This in addition to our scheduled flights on “C’s” and “D’s”.

A question has long been in my mind regarding the whereabouts of the U.S. Navy. It’s down here all right as the newspapers have been telling you all for the past couple of weeks. This area is almost a Navy show, strictly speaking. They even have the steaks for chow, where we are tickled to get canned Willie.4

Honey, remind me to make A.T.C.5 flyers out of our male children. Those fellows certainly have a good job, and I don’t mind complimenting them. They’ve really done a wonderful job of carrying the mail out here, figuratively speaking.

It’s about time to go to the infirmary and get some more hot water bottles on the seat of my pants. Ha! The laugh is certainly on me these days. An infected hair can certainly curtail one’s movement believe me.

Went to the picture show, Girl Crazy6 last night. It starred Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland and was a laugh riot throughout. We ought to get more films like that, but something we haven’t had for a long time is a good human picture, wherein the people are all human and the story subject material is also human!

Wrote Jimmy Castles, Dad and Mom, and Bobby V-mail letters yesterday, in addition to the daily letter to you, doll baby.

The orderly room banana tree has finally been raped. A lot of fellows, including my engineer, had their eyes on it. Seehorn was going to get a stalk last night. He was disgusted to find, on arrival there, that someone had beat him to it. He was so woebegone that I got a kick out of it! There are a million laughs around here. But they’re unusable in stories as too much sex is involved. Damn it! That’s no good when a fellow is looking for material to write books after the war. How about that, Bonnie!

People are making money hand over fist out here. Especially the barber and the doubtful ingeniousness of the cook who gets picture of bombers and naked women and sells them at the end of the dishwashing line.

Jiminy, but it’s quiet around here today. I’ve a feeling or foreboding that we’ll soon be off to the front, which will be Treasury or Los Negros Islands where Mac’s boys are mopping up the Japanese. That is Fifth or Seventh Air Force territory, though, I believe (Los Negros). Still rumored that we’ll go to China when and if Rabaul is ever taken, which I expect soon. Can’t be sure that we’ll land on Rabaul, however as we outflanked it by taking Los Negros. May become a place such as Bougainville Island which still has some 20,000 Jap troops which U.S. policy calls for starvation of. It seems to me that we’re angling for thousands of Jap prisoners so we can force better Japanese treatment of their war prisoners, which are our men! Don’t know though as I think we’re trying to get the war over as quickly as possible so we can deal with the instigators of Japanese brutality toward own men.

The world is going to be a much better place in which to live, ere this war and its after effects are very old. We veterans, I think, intend to keep it at peace from now on. I don’t believe war is an inevitable travesty. There must be some way of outlawing it. Believe the whole answer lies in international cooperation. The League of Nations was a good idea, but minus the necessary teeth to be any good. I believe this whole terrible war could have been prevented had we girded our loins, so to speak, and outlawed Japan as we would a common criminal when she first marched into China. But, no we couldn’t do that. Now, as we pay through the nose, I wonder how many statesmen are terribly sorry. This whole thing seems to indicate that President Wilson was right! But, we couldn’t be concerned with lasting peace at the time. Peace and victory, no doubt was too new in our minds! The time to make the governing principles of the new world and put them in effect is right now, when the horror of war is indeed a reality. Not afterwards when the people are satisfied to have won the war, and let it stop there!

Well Honey, I’m through theorizing for today so will close saying, I love you, Wynne

Notes & Commentary:

1 Rua Dika is an isolated rocky island that was used for bombing practice. Aircraft returning from missions often dumped their unused bombs there. See http://www.geographic.org/geographic_names/name.php?uni=-2207893&fid=751&c=solomon_islands.

2 ingrown hair. The extent of disability described by Wayne suggests that his “ingrown hair” had developed into a boil. Common treatment for boils, before the advent of antibiotics, was the application of hot packs. See http://www.medicinenet.com/boils/page2.htm#what_causes_boils_to_form. Wayne suffers from similar attacks while in the South Pacific.

3 “H”, B-25H. The B-25H carried a 75 mm cannon as well as eight forward firing .50 cal. machine guns, making it well suited for ground attack missions. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGjGJHrQxy8. Although this video covers actions by a Seventh Air Force B-25, it accurately depicts the conditions described by Wayne in his journal.

4”canned Willie”, corned beef. See Fisher, John C. and Carol Fisher. Food in the American Military, A History. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2011.

5 A.T.C., Air Transport Command. See http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/VII/AAF-VII-1.html.

6Girl Crazy was released in December 1943 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It starred Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and June Allyson. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035942/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl.

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6 Responses to March 6, 1944

  1. Daniel Heidt says:

    Allen, you are doing an extraordinary job in editing and commenting on these letters.  What a valuable fine.  You should really put it all together with your notes and research and print this journal. Dan

    ________________________________

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    • a gray says:

      Thank you for your kind comments. While Wayne often addresses his entries to his wife, it is only his way of saying “Dear Diary”. The peaceful albeit boring life he is enjoying on Guadalcanal will soon change as he and the others are transferred forward into the war zone.

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  2. Jacki Gray says:

    I knew Wayne as my father-in-law; he had such a sweet spirit. I can tell by his journal it was very hard on him to be in the war. He hardly spoke of it when I knew him. I only understood what he went through after I read the journal. Jacki Gray

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lloyd Marken says:

    Is he saying what I think he’s saying about other men and the bananas?

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    • a gray says:

      The passage you cite is the strangest in the entire journal. The word “rape” typically carries a sexual connotation; however, “rape” is also a synonym, albeit rarely used, for “plunder”. In today’s world where everything is sexualized, I doubt the average reader would recognize that. Magazines, especially The Reader’s Digest, used to carry articles on improving one’s vocabulary. I don’t know that he was, but Wayne might have been a fan of such magazine features. We may have caught him showing off here. In any event, Stanley Seehorn didn’t get the bananas. Wayne was from Colorado and Stanley from Sp0kane, Washington. I am sure they were fascinated with the banana plant.

      Liked by 1 person

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