August 16, 1944

Wednesday

Allies invaded Southern France near Toulon. Are within 9 miles of closing the escape gap of the 7th German army between Falaise and Caen. Russians captured a fortress city guarding the East Prussian frontier. It appears that the Germans intend to flee France so as to reinforce against the Russians on the Eastern Front. Germans in Greece are being recalled. Attacks on German communications continue, over 3,000 allied bombers striking over German cities. That is the news extent in Europe. In SWPA Halmahera has been neutralized by seven squadrons of B-24s and three of B-25s. Aerial attacks continue.

Was the recipient of another story on Japanese brutality. One of the native workers was chopping wood yesterday. The axe slipped and cut a horrible gash in his big toe. One of the boys took him to the dispensary where his foot was properly taken care of. One of the men there who understand his dialect questioned him. Touching on many subjects this boy was a big, brawny fellow with a look of nubian fierceness about him. He is in the employment of the Dutch Government as a worker and a scout. He spends three months in a rear area and three in a forward area. He works in the rear area and scouts in the active area. They are given one guilder (53¢) by the Dutch every time he brings in a live Jap. He said that when they caught a Jap. They sometimes brought them in alive but more often or not they kill them. They killed because of the memory of Japanese brutality.

It seems that when a native who worked for the Japs was accidentally injured and could not work for a while the Japanese would call all the natives out would proceed to tie the hurt worker to a tree. Taking a knife they’d stab him in the stomach pinning him to the tree. The natives were forced to stand until he was dead. Then the Japs would say “anyone who allows himself to be hurt so they cannot work will get this same treatment.” This brutality speaks for itself.

Mercy is unknown to the Japanese people! You who read these words remember and do not allow your country to fall into false security and therefore become prey to a merciless nation or coalition of nations. Be prepared! Always vigilant! Never asleep! Educate yourselves!

Wrote to my darling wife today. Miss her letters terribly and hope our mail is soon forwarded to us. No news is good news, they say but news from home is a light from heaven.1 We all say that we dare you to challenge that statement.

Went to the picture show last night. Titled “Follow the Boys” with George Raft.2 Afterwards we dropped in the mess hall of the A-20 Group up the hill to listen to the news and partake of a cup of coffee. No news was forthcoming but heard the Gracie Fields Show3 which brought back to my mind an unforgettable incident that came out of the show “Stage Door Canteen”. Gracie then sang “The Lord’s Prayer”.3

So the days pass and my love never falters. Goodnight baby doll! Girl of my dreams!

Notes & Commentary

1 Under the best of circumstances, mail from the U.S. usually took two weeks to reach Wayne. Having received no mail from his family since before leaving Stirling Island on the morning of August 6, it is likely that Wayne has no knowledge of anything related to his family since mid-July.

His brother, Verne R. Gray, had been transferred from Lincoln Army Air Field, in Lincoln, Nebraska to Alexandria Army Air Field outside of Alexandria, Louisiana. At Lincoln where he had been assigned to the 616th Flying Training Group, he had received B-17 and B-24 aircrew instruction. At Alexandria Army Air Field, Verne was assigned to the 221st Combat Crew Training School where he would receive B-17 combat crew training.

Wayne’s other brother, Robert S. Gray, who enlisted in the U.S. Army on April 15, 1943, ten days before his 20th birthday was stationed in Florida.  Wayne’s youngest brother, Harry Nordman Gray, who had enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17, was completing basic training.

2 Released by Universal Pictures in April 1944, Follow the Boys was musical comedy starring “everyone from Donald O’Connor to the Andrews Sisters to Orson Welles to W.C. Fields to George Raft to Marlene Dietrich, and dozens of other Universal players.” Follow the Boys(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036832/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt : accessed 11 August 2014).

The movies that Wayne reports he is seeing appear to have been released only four months before they are shown to the troops in the field. This is a change from the two, three and four-year-old movies he reporting having seen some months earlier.

3 For a sample of what Wayne and his buddies would have heard, see Gracie Fields Show (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L62m3hmZP9Y : accessed 11 August 2014). Gracie Fields. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gracie_Fields : accessed 11 August 2014).

3 Gracie Fields sang the “Lord’s Prayer” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Inry2Mx9qRo) in the Stage Door Canteen. Stage Door Canteen was released by United Artists in 1943. Another musical entertainment, its plot summary is as follows:

“Dakota,” a young soldier on a pass in New York City, visits the famed Stage Door Canteen, where famous stars of the theatre and films appear and host a recreational center for servicemen during the war. Dakota meets a pretty young hostess, Eileen, and they enjoy the many entertainers and a growing romance.

Stage Door Canteen. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036384/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt : accessed 11 August 2014). The full movie is avaialable at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiQnDyAO9rg.

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5 Responses to August 16, 1944

  1. It’s hard to read some of these and hit the “like” button, I hope you understand. But I am reading.

    Like

  2. Mans inhumanity to man never fails to astound me. In every theatre of war brutality has been vicious and unnecessary. I guess that’s the human being for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mustang.Koji says:

    I first wish to say dad was G-2 US 8th Army during the Occupation so no question of loyalty… but one aspect I would like to interject is that yes, the hard-core IJA officers were brutal. But they were also brutal to their own non-coms; they were largely farmers and city boys drafted into the war very much like it was here. These farmers and city boys were not by nature brutal as general belief was. Think of them as our own grocery clerks or farm boys drafted into service.

    However, when confronted by combat, young boys – on both sides – do horrible things to survive. I know through Old Man Jack and because my dad’s youngest brother – who got stuck in Japan although born in Seattle – was conscripted into the IJA and was KIA on Leyte. In his farewell letter to my grandmother, he clearly cautioned his brother-in-law that when he gets drafted to do exactly as he was ordered by the officers or he would be beaten.

    Like

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