Lonely Easter Sunday. Missed all you folks and really was lonesome for you, Bonnie. The services were awfully nice, and I could feel that God was present. They were held in our open air theater, and it was a beautiful day. The jungle was curtained in stillness and in peace. All our little world seemed ready for revelations; but there was nothing but a peaceful quietness.
The islands can be romantic and awesome at times. But when women are not present and you’re not thinking about a particular one, the loneliness is depressing. South Pacific nights are famous for their romantic possibilities, but when an army is present, all glamour is seemingly stopped.
Read the condensed short stories of Guy de Maupassant1 and they were quite interesting. He writes of the lower proclivities of life but in an intellectual tone, which seems to carry an aura of cleanliness. Quite interesting to be sure.
Have received many inspirations down here for stories of different class and size and I hope to be able to write many of them during and after war passes us by. Something seems to hold me back, and I can’t quite fasten my mind to it for long enough periods of time. I’ll set it firmly on an idea one of these days and really produce. A curious lethargy develops down here and one finds it hard to garner ambition. No wonder natives live so lazily and lackadaisically. Can see exactly what they have to put up with! Slow suns the heavens, dark nights wherein quietness prevails all things. Hot heat inexorably pressing down, numbing the brain and the desires of intellectual life, but causing the beat of sex in the blood. Hot natures consumed with steaming passions. Wet bodies on the beach, indolent people relaxing with hot blood spurting through feverish bodies. Yes this the jungle, wild, primitive but draining the unknown quality of a man forth into the sunshine in its beauty or in ugliness.
Received three more letters from you, baby, and one from Mom. How wonderful it is to leave mail call loaded with love’s missives. All kinds of love and devotion for my greedy eyes and mind to absorb in love’s osmosis.
The days to by and my thoughts cover not only Easter Sunday, but Monday and Tuesday as well. Lt. Fincham went on a mission and sweated out a landing. A bomb hung by one hook in the wing rack of the plane and the nose wheel gave no indication of being locked. They made it however.
Saw a show entitled A Yank on the Burma Road2 last night. Didn’t enjoy it much as my thoughts persisted in remaining 9,000 miles away. When I allow myself to think overly of the sweetness and light at home, it seems I fail to notice much of that going around about me.
Major Barlow will probably change his “milk run” tune after today. The boys ran into a slug of flak today, and the major’s ship was hit twice. Guess the boys did a lot of damage. It seems there are only two more targets to hit at Rabaul. It’s a general opinion that not a building stands in Rabaul, one time vacation city of New Zealanders and Australians.3 Fires were left burning by our ships and men today. This area is well in its way to being a dead issue. Rumors surround us in regard to an impending move. We shall see one of these fine days.
Well, I’ve written Tom and Bob letters today, and I must write you as well, dearest, so that will be all for the time being, except to say that the news this morning was more bombs dropped on Truk Island. They are rapidly attempting its knockout.
Notes & Commentary
1 During World War II, special Armed Services Editions (ASE’s) of books were published and distributed to the troops. In this series, 92 short story collections were published as ASE’s. Books Go To War: The Armed Services Editions in World War 2. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Library, 1996. Exhibition virtual catalog. (http://explore.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/show/booksgotowar/walk : accessed 08 April 2014.) Guy De Maupassant’s Mademoiselle Fifi and Other Stories was one of the Armed Services Editions books. It is likely that this is title that Wayne read. See: http://www.armedserviceseditions.com/.
2 A Yank of the Burma Road was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer February 1942. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035574/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1.
3 On Rabaul, the Japanese moved their facilities underground, and cut off from supplies, they sustained themselves through extensive gardens. By April, 1944, only 122 buildings out of 1,400 remained standing. Rabaul’s five landing strips remained under heavy attack. With its huge stock piles of weapons and ammunition accumulated for an invasion of Australia, Rabaul remained a deadly target throughout the war. “Keep Rabaul Burning” was the motto. “The Bougainville Invasion (Part 4): March 1944 – May 1944.” steeljawscribe.com (http://steeljawscribe.com/2009/11/29/the-bougainville-invasion-part-4-march-1944-%E2%80%93-may-1944 : accessed 23 Feb 2014).
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I wonder if his recent combat experience also put him in romantic mood even if he didn’t quite realise it. Surely emotions would be running high following that excitement and home would feel so far away. Of course he’s always been so sweet about her and the letters had just arrived but I wonder.