September 16, 1944


Ho hum! Yes, indeed. This is Saturday.

We are supposed to leave for Sansapor, New Guinea on the 19th. Was the 17th. Is changed now. Wonder how the invasion of Moratai and Palau will affect our outfit’s move. Would just as soon bypass Typhusland and settle in the Spice Islands. There is no place like home, however. May it be soon.

Absolutely nothing of import happened today. Ate three meals, shaved, read a mystery story. The two most important things, however, were getting my Bible lessons, reading several chapters of John and Acts and going swimming.

We have a beautiful swimming hole and are trying to get some pictures of it. No luck thus far. We have hopes though. To get to the swimming hole, we traverse a bit of jungle. The stream is like one at home. The water is crystal clear and cold. The boys built a dame across it. Result, a pool about chest deep and forty feet long. Any time of day one can see naked fellows lying on the big rocks in the streambed cultivating a tan. There are merry laughs from the splashing fellows and clouds in the water from freshly applied soap. The trees form a solid background of varied green, from deep green to a light sea green, integrated with yellow splashes. The streambed is steep and many three foot waterfalls add their foaming splash to the maze of New Guinea colors. We don’t hope to have freshwater swimming much longer and are appreciative of the chance.

New Guinea nights are beautiful.1 From the doorway of my tent can be seen the star studded sky as far as the eye can reach until one’s gaze runs into the mountains, which can be seen as an etching against the sky. They consist of a much darker hue than the sky enough that they stand out as a sore thumb, being a bit three dimensional in appearance.

Another accomplishment was cutting down of cigarettes from two packages to six cigarettes. May quit, but haven’t decided whether or not to do so. We shall see.

Now to spend the rest of the evening composing letters, as I’m certain I must be a bit behind even though we have quite a time getting our mail. When we move up, that situation should clear up. The only reason we’re anxious to go, outside of doing our part to end the war as quickly as is humanly possible.

My love is yours, Bonnie. Adios, doll baby.

Notes & Commentary

1 The Hollandia that Wayne experienced was very much different from today.

Jayapura was, as said, known as now as Hollandia prior to the enforced integration of West Papua into Indonesia on 1 May 1963. Hollandia was occupied by the Japanese in April 1942. It was the site of several airstrips, the Hollandia, Sentani and Cyclops Aerodromes.
Before the war the place was called Hollandia. . . . By 1940 Holandia had about 300 inhabitants. This was just “the outer-end of the Dutch East-Indian Empire”.

After the successful invasion in April 1944 the Americans immediately saw the good use they could make of the two natural harbours, Tanah Merah Bay and the port of Jayapura (Hollandia Haven). The area became the basic Base for the attack on the Philippines and then the attack on Japan. The rest of Indonesia was left under the control of, respectively, the Japanese Army (West Indonesia) and the Japanese Navy (East Indonesia). Jayapura, stretching from the Humboldt Bay till Denpapre on Tanah Merah Bay, came to have some 170,000 inhabitants. Maybe never in history in such a short time such a large city has been created out of nothing. There were seven cinemas.

After the American occupation, the base was a huge staging area for later operations, including the invasion of Luzon in the Philippines. The following Black units operated at Hollandia after American occupation:. 207th Antiaircraft Artillery AW, 572nd Quartermaster Railhead, 593rd Port Co, 458th Aviation Squadron, 415th Army Band, and 741st Antiaircraft Artillery Gun.

Tugu MacArthur, at the military base at Ifar Gunung. It is situated on the highest point of elevation, this was MacArthur’s HQ and bunker. He used it from the middle of 1944 until the invasion of the Philippines. It offers a commanding view over the area. Good picnic spot with a nice view.

At Ipenburg. Jayapura Guide 2003. ( : accessed 15 September 2014). pp 1-2 & 8.

In his journal entry of August 8, 1944 (, Wayne wrote “Another little item making the rounds is that MacArthur is having a $75,000 a home built here, is bringing a dozen WACs to care for the place, and is also bringing his wife out here.” As he did frequently during his stay at Hollandia, he also commented about what a beautiful country it was.

Another writer, Lt. Cmdr. Morris D. Coppersmith, also commented on the area’s beauty and MacArthur’s quarters:

You have heard me rave before of the beauty that envelopes Hollandia. . . .

Queen’s Highway led to the headquarters of Admiral Kinkaid and General Douglas MacArthur. . . . .

The magnificence of the structures themselves have been tremendously exaggerated. Scuttlebutt pictured MacArthur’s mansion as pretentious and worth at least eighty thousand dollars. That rumor is absolutely false. His place could be built even now for less than five thousand dollars. Admiral Kinkaid’s Quonset huts are of even lesser value. However, the scenery that surrounds them is priceless. The Army General’s quarters, in my opinion, is the superior of the two. You should see the view. It would be like standing atop the Empire State Building in New York, except that your view would not be clouded by superficial structures and the handiwork of labor. For many miles, you can see about. On the one hand lies Humboldt Bay. On another can be seen the irregular contour lines of Lake Sentani. In still another direction, your eyes envisage jungle growth, valleys, mountains, streams, and the careless, casual lines of mud-surfaced roads that run every which way.

Lt. Cmdr. Morris D. Coppersmith and Galia Berry, ed. When Victory is Ours: Letters Home from the South Pacific 1943-1945, September 27, 1944. ( : accessed 15 September 2014).

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3 Responses to September 16, 1944

  1. gpcox says:

    In my father’s letter from New Guinea about having a day off, he also describes the country as beautiful and the water so clear you could see the coral on the bottom. These letters of yours are fantastic, I wish I had more.


    • a gray says:

      Wayne’s Journal often reads like a letter, especially with his typical closing. The Journal is special because he writes of events, e.g., plane crashes, that might not have cleared censorship. He is quite pleased with Hollandia, but from his comments, he dreads his unit’s coming movement to Sansapor. It marks a return to combat, but it is also an unhealthy, disease-ridden location. Meanwhile, he continues to enjoy the beauty of the Hollandia area.


  2. suchled says:

    It’s not just the amazing picture he he paints it’s also that he seems like such a really decent bloke.

    Liked by 1 person

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