The time is surely slipping by. It seems only yesterday, I last wrote in this book. Haven’t had much time for thinking what with work details, church, writing letters and a dozen other things.
We did a building job on the showers. Extended them in readiness for the influx of the rest of our crews. There are surely a lot of us now, 1,200 men in the group. We’re all eating out of one mess hall and the lines are a block long. It’s tough, but that’s the war, I reckon.
Our crews came in last night and it was nice to see a change of faces at this joint.1 The same old faces get tiresome after a time. There are very few faces, I’ve any desire to look upon long and often. Someday soon, hope gaze upon those again.
For the first time in my life, I took communion yesterday. Chaplain Miller presided. It was quite an experience and affected me deeply. Am going down to be baptized tomorrow afternoon.2 Am not certain whether baptism has been conferred on me before. Religion is taking a deepening hold on me, and many of the old thoughts are disappearing. Good riddance to a good deal of bad rubbish.
Tonight, Bonnie, marks another anniversary for us. Number 11 to be exact; and very happy these months have been.3
Never to be forgotten are the words most applicable to our marriage, darling. Whatever happens I’ve always been true to you. If combat death should come to me, please don’t feel as though the world has ended. It will still go on, darling. Just remember the hours we’ve had together; and know in your heart that if dead I’ve fought for the things we’ve had and wanted in our future. Be happy that I could make the sacrifice for millions of men, women and children who’ve known the oppressors heel and lived through hell. For their lives have truly been the worst that could befall mankind. Life is sometimes a troubled stream, but its also a moving one that can know a precious tranquility. That is the one I want for you to know my sweetheart. My desire is that you and I may have all the happy future years that we have planned upon. If now, darling, I’m very happy for what we’ve had.
Our armies are on the German borders as are the Russians. A new offensive has begun in Italy. Hope that Jimmie, my brother in law, is making out OK.4 Eleven miles from German border, five miles into Belgium at Dourtuai. It seems the war is beginning to shape up.
Hope the numerologists are right in their prediction of a September victory. Am afraid they’re off a month or so. However, the Chinese front is beginning to pop, especially the provinces where the US seems to be dickering with the Communists for air base rights there.5
That’s about the size of it for tonight so will sign off for the time being.
Notes & Commentary
1 The flight crews are bringing in their aircraft to the airfields at Hollandia where the aircrews have been “parked” since early August. The ground crews of the 42nd Bombardment Group have been at Sansapor preparing the airfield and base.
The aircraft of the 42nd Bombardment Group arrived at Hollandia by squadron on the following dates:
75th Bombardment Squadron, 1 September 1944
390th Bombardment Squadron, 1 September 1944
70th Bombardment Squadron, 2 September 1944
69th Bombardment Squadron, 3 September 1944
100th Bombardment Squadron, 4 September 1944
The squadrons, as they arrived, began flying missions from the Hollandia base.
Report of 42nd Bombardment Group (M) Combat Activity during the period from August 31, 1944 – September 14, 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 24 September 1944, microfilm B0131, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 1950.
2 Although Wayne did not describe the baptismal ceremony in his journal, the following photographs show event. Not many have been baptized in a New Guinea stream. .
3 They were married at the home Bonnie’s parents. For nearly seven of the eleven months they have been married, Wayne has been away.
4 James Fred Castles, Jr., Wayne’s brother-in-law, an Infantry officer serving in Italy.
5 He is referring to air bases from which to launch B-29 raids against Japan.
You have an amazing piece of history right there with your family’s photos and info – it’s great to read. Wish I had time to comment more often.
Again, your uncle’s writing talent shines through in describing this homeward thoughts to his wife, patriotism and the possibility of meeting a sudden and violent death on behalf of others. The baptism story and photos are a real treasure for your family.
A personal and interesting piece. I wonder how many turned to religion as a way of dealing with what they were witnessing, maybe even to give them hope.
My grandfather often spoke of going on “church parade” in his diary but I am not sure if that was a requirement for his battalion – in his later years he never spoke of church or religion. I think some took comfort in it. Others thought they had been forsaken.
Thank you, I did find the picture you mentioned. So special. Wayne and Stanley must have been great friends. I am glad that they had that companionship in those awful times.
My father in law was stationed in New Georgia USN hospital No 11 and then on to Hollandia USN hospital No 17 between 1944 and 1946. His name was Henry C. Taylor and he was a barber. I have some photos he took while there. Would love to get the family of the men in the photos a copy of them
Are the men in the photographs identified and do any of their names match names of men discussed in Wayne’s Journal?