March 10, 1944

Friday

Dearest:
Time passes as quickly as ever. Believe me at this rate, it won’t be long before we come walking in on you! That can’t come a bit too soon, believe me.

Today went by pretty fast, considering that we spent most of it in our sacks. “Back the attack in the sack,” Seehorn’s theme, seems more prevalent each day.

It rained off and on all day long, as it has for over a week now! This mud is becoming something of a trial. It’s already ankle deep. Expect to be swimming to the mess hall before long if it keeps up. At least it makes for coolness, which helps a great deal.

Received two letters from you, one from Mary Elizabeth and one from my mother. Mail call is no longer a thing to go to in hope and return to your tent with dull eyes, shoulders sagging and a disgusted mien. All this, thanks to you, doll baby. You can’t know how much your letters mean to me. Feel terribly sorry for the boys who haven’t received any mail as yet. Believe me, it’s tough on them.

We didn’t fly at all today and had no classes. Spent most of the time writing letters to you, my mother and Dad and reading a Digest, an American and a Redbook magazine.1 Those stories seem silly compared to the lives we’re living. Seehorn isn’t much affected. He sleeps every minute of the day and night he can. He’s laying over there now. Russell is sore this a.m. Read in a magazine civic pride in the depths of Arkansas wasn’t what it should be. He emphatically says it is! Guess that’s for posterity.

Lt. Tolhurst spent part of the evening with us; and we had an old-fashioned gab session. He’s so small that everyone calls him “Junior” or “Shorty”.2

The boys got beer and Cokes yesterday. Russ now has a full case saved up.

Major Barlow3 went up above yesterday to either the Russells or Stirling. Guess he’s going to get a squadron of Hs to call his very own. Asked the General if he could have the seven crews that are here from Columbia, and if he could furnish the rest of the squadron from Columbia, S.C. where he was C.O. of the 376th Squadron.4 That would be nice, making for more ratings and having an outfit one knows well. We were all quite surprised to have him pop in a few days ago.

Evidently Momote Airfield5 on Los Negros is now ours. This a.m.’s news said we were about to begin a knockout punch against New Ireland, the main air base of which is Kavieng.6 Some screwy names in this area to say the least. Eniwetok in the Marshalls was bombed by the Nips yesterday. A dismounted Calvary outfit took Momate. Japanese radio said the Nips were attacking on Bougainville.7 Hope so. After they use up the supplies they have they’ll be a pushover, because the Navy hasn’t let them and won’t allow them to obtain anymore!

Things are coming our way more each day. The Guadalcanal vets are in Burma now in a drive on the Japs. Lost 7 men to 600 Japs killed yesterday. Quite a bunch of sluggers if you ask me. 14th Air Force was commended by Chiang Kai-shek, yesterday. Chennault is the grand old man of the Air Corps in anyone’s estimation.8 His tactics are widely used. Hooray for Chennault.

Well, darling, heard my first radio program from the States last night, “The News from Hollywood”.9 No Picture show was scheduled. It rained as usual. I really thought of you and after the netting was down, turned on my flashlight and looked long intently and with love, at your picture.

Goodnight, “doll baby”.

Notes & Commentary:

1 “. . . reading a Digest, an American and a Redbook magazine”.

Digest, Reader’s Digest.

The American Magazine, a monthly periodical carrying human-interest stories, articles on social issues, and fiction was published from 1904 until 1956.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_American_Magazine.

Redbook, now a women’s magazine, in the 1940s was still a general interest magazine publishing articles and fiction of interest to both men and women.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redbook.

2 Harland R. Tolhurst (1921-1970) enlisted in the Air Corps on 17 September 1942 at Buffalo, New York. Like others, his term of enlistment was for “. . . duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.” He had completed four years of high school and was single without dependents. He weighed 115 pounds and was 5’ 3” tall. See National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Harland R. Tolhurst.

3 Major James Barlow arrived on Guadalcanal with a detachment of 75 mm cannon-equipped B-25s and their crews. He would go on to lead many missions, including 26 over Rabaul. He graduated with a degree in Philosophy from the University of Santa Clara and played left halfback on their football team. Twice, he played in the Sugar Bowl. See United States Army Air Forces, The Crusaders: a history of the 42nd Bombardment Group (M). (Baton Rouge, La.: Army & Navy Pictorial Publishers, 1946). World War Regimental Histories. Book 113. pp. 71 and 85. : digital image (http://digicom.bpl.lib.me.us/ww_reg_his/113 : PDF download 17 February 2014).

4 The 376th Squadron operated at Columbia Army Air Force in Columbia, South Carolina. It was a Replacement Training Unit for B-25 pilots and aircrews prior to their overseas deployment to combat units. It was disbanded in May 1944. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/376th_Troop_Carrier_Squadron.

5 Momote Airfield was located on the east side of Los Negros, and after its capture, it was quickly repaired. See http://www.pacificwrecks.com/airfields/png/momote/1944/03-5-44/aerial-momote.html#axzz2vRjwlAA2.

6 Kavieng Airfield, constructed by Australia prior to World War II, is located on the northwestern tip of New Ireland. See http://www.pacificwrecks.com/provinces/png_kavieng.html.

7 On Bougainville, 78 men of Company G, 182nd Infantry Regiment on Hill 260, an outpost near Torokina Airstrip, were under fierce attack by about 1,300 Japanese troops. See http://ww2today.com/10-march-1944-bougainville-the-desperate-battle-for-hill-260.

8 See http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/clchenna.htm.

9 This reference, “. . . heard my first radio program from the States last night,” may refer to a work-up broadcast by AES-Guadalcanal, part of the Mosquito Network, which broadcast a test signal on March 2, 1944 as part of the work up to regularly scheduled programming which began on March 22. See http://www.radioheritage.net/Story138.asp.

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