DAD’S WWII LETTERS: Chapter 20, Burma, Another Year, Another Birthday

Jan 4, 1945

I received your letters of Dec. 10th and 17th today.  It’s the first time I’ve received any mail in a week besides a package from Dorothy that came three days ago.  I don’t see why you haven’t been hearing from me.  I’ve been writing all the time and I usually get your letters OK outside of maybe they don’t come one week, but the next I get both of them.  I certainly hope that you’ve heard by this time.  I’m glad that you got my Christmas card anyway.

You must be having real winter weather.  Dorothy said that she was having a time getting to school in the drifts.  Harvey had been driving her.

So Mrs. Senior outlived Lila.  I thought sure that Lila would be left alone.  I guess the old Senior place [later called the Hick’s house] looks mighty lonesome now, with no one there.  I’m glad to hear that Myrtle Rigsbey is improving.  She must have had quite a time of it.

I got a letter from Evelyn Getz here awhile back and she said that Wendell was headed overseas, but she hadn’t heard where yet.  She was awfully anxious to hear.  If he happens to land in the thick of things, she’ll wish she didn’t know then.

Esther Parker is getting to be quite the career woman.  The picture of here in the clipping doesn’t look much like her.  Those printed pictures don’t always turn out so good though.  Maybe she’ll capture herself some big shot in the army.

I got the Christmas boxes OK.  I got the one the Farm Bureau sent me.  I’ve been using the pipe you sent me and in Dorothy’s package there was some tobacco so the two go together.  Surely the letters I have written you will get there eventually.  They may have ben held up for some reason.  I’m nursing a cold now, but it’s improving, otherwise OK.

Editor’s note:  Apparently, there was frustration on the home front about regular mail from overseas.

Jan. 13, 1945

I wonder how you folks are tonight?  I’ll bet you are sitting close to the fire toasting your toes.  It’s nothing like that here, although, a fire does feel good in the evenings and early mornings.  I have a little fire going now in one little stove.

I hope that by now you’ve heard from me.  Your last letter said that you hadn’t heard for three weeks.  I guess the mail just got held up somewhere along the line.  If these letters don’t get through, I’ll have to try V-mail as it seems to always get there.

Christmas is over and New Years is over and here we are about the middle of January already.  Time seems to go pretty fast.

I spend my leisure time writing letters, reading and going to movies.  I don’t find much time that I don’t know what to do with.  I heard from Gene Parker about a week ago.  I answered his letter a few nights ago.  He is prompt in answering.  I get his letters in three days.  I guess he’s glad to hear from someone from home.  I know that I am and sure wish it were possible to see him.  He’s doing about the same kind of work that I am.

My last letter from Dorothy was Dec 29 and she said that it was cold and slippery out, then.  I’m glad that it was during her vacation, so she wouldn’t have to drive over the slick roads.  She said that she’d gotten another new tire for her car, which makes three, now.  She needs one more to make a complete new set.  She’ll have to get it before school is out, as the ration board probably won’t let her have one, otherwise.

Editor’s note:  Worn tires, slick country roads, a dangerous combination.

I’m wondering what I’m going to do for gas when I get home?  I’ll want to do a little getting around when I get home, as it’s been so long.  I guess a person can always manage as long as there’s any tractor gas, if you know what I mean.  I’d sure like to get home in time to help a little bit in corn planting.  A person never knows for sure, though.  In ’42, I got to help sow beans and that’s the last time I got to do anything like that.

From the news broadcast, it sounds like some of these younger farm boys that so far have been deferred, are gong to have to change from overalls to uniforms.  Well, I can’t see that it’ll hurt them to do some of it, too, rather than let us older ones do it all.  That’s going to hit kind of hard around home, I’m afraid, as there are several boys below thirty.  Let’s see, there’s Burns, Leach, Woods, Chism, and probably several more that I can’t think of at the present.  Families sure aren’t keeping them out.

Editor’s note:  Dad frequently compared his situation to boys at home that had escaped conscription.  Was it just his bad luck and their good fortune?

Well, I’ll close for tonight, I guess, as I want to write to Dorothy yet, before bedtime.  It seems like bedtime is here before one knows it.  I hope you are well.

I received your letters of Dec. 25th and Jan. 1st.  From what you said, you did have a white Christmas and also a white New Year’s Day.  I’m glad that you finally got my letters before Christmas.  I got two of my Boxes before Christmas and two more shortly afterward.  Charles Clements didn’t have to go back overseas, then, after his furlough.  I heard somewhere that Ammie Zimmerman died last fall.

I was wondering what Clarence Dowland is doing now?  I wonder who Bill [Rigsbey] will get on his place, now that Floyd’s gone?

Finis [Wade] is eligible for a pension, isn’t he?  Along with the work he gets, he should be able to get along.

It seems that the war is starting to take its toll from Chesterfield.

The 14 states and regions of Burma
The 14 states and regions of Burma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bud Scott (Russell) must be around here somewhere.  If I knew his address, I could probably find out his whereabouts.  He could probably be close around and I’d never know it.  Yes, It’s much nicer here than any place we’ve been located yet in this theatre.  We have a bigger and nicer camp with more conveniences.  It seem that the food is getting better.  We have more fresh meat now.  I’m not worried about the Japs.

Kallals seem to be having quite a time.

Your hens are doing good for this time of the year.  Eggs around here were so scarce that some of the fellows were paying 30 cents an egg for them.  They’ve dropped now to about $2.14 a dozen or 7 rupees in native money.  Lots of fellows buy them so they can have fresh eggs to eat.  I satisfy myself to eat the army grub, as I feel it’s too much to pay for extras.

Everything is going on as usual over here.  Camp life is getting more like garrison every day, in spite of the fact that we’re in a foreign country at war, and there’s plenty of work to do.  So long for now.

Jan. 30, 1945

I went a little over time in answering your letter this time because I was on the move again.  I’m still in Burma, though.  I’ve seen quite a little of Burma now, and I like it much better than India.  It seems that the country is more beautiful.  There is plenty of jungle in Burma, but I’ve seen more open country here, than in India.  I guess it just happened that I was in those parts.

I hate this moving, because there’s so much hard work to it, and then a person is always unsettled.  That’s the army for you, though.

Well, the one month of the new year is almost gone.  The Germans seem to be coming out on a limb right now.  I sure hope it’s over before long.  Maybe then, I’ll have more of a chance of staying home next time.  After 3 1/2 years, this is getting old.  Whoever said a year wouldn’t be long was altogether wrong.  It’s been the longest year I ever spent.

It looks like you’ve been having plenty of winter this time.  Dorothy said it has been the toughest she’s had to get back and forth to school.  I guess it is better for the cattle when it stays cold as it doesn’t get muddy.  I sure hope you do good on the cattle this year as it’ll be the last time you’ll be able to feed as large a bunch.

I guess it was the right thing to do to sell the horses if they were eating their heads off.  Is the team of old white mules all you have in the horse line now?  Whatever happened to old Joe.

Well, I’m still figuring on coming home this summer.  I don’t know yet whether it’ll be on schedule or a month or so later.  I think I’ll still make it, though before winter starts again.  I sure hope so.

Its getting chilly here as we haven’t any stoves and I guess I’ll have to go to bed to keep warm.  I have a light rigged up so I can read in bed.  That’s a good deal.

I hope you are all well.  I’m fine, considering this climate for 24 months.

Feb. 3, 1945

I received your birthday card on a very appropriate day–on my birthday.  All the celebrating I did was to go on guard that night.  That’s my fourth birthday now, in the service.

Dorothy has some snap shots of me that were taken during the summer.  I sent her the negatives and thought she would give you a print from them.  Not having a camera or film myself, I couldn’t get many pictures.  If I’d had them I sure could have gotten lots of interesting pictures from over here.

I’m glad that you don’t have to do much more than chores this winter.  It should be sort of a change and rest not to have to worry about the other place.

It looks like Pete Burns has stalled off now until he’s above the age bracket where the army doesn’t need him.  I think that’s a dirty trick, since his brother has to go and has a family.  Some people, though don’t have any conscience when it comes to saving their own skin.

Our morale has gone up recently as several of the boys from around here that came over at the same time have gone home and others are leaving shortly.  So, if everything worked out like it looks like it’s going to, I’ll get home in the spring.  That makes me feel more hopeful as I was beginning to feel sort of doubtful about it.  I had known some to be over here as long as thirty months.going my way, bing crosby

We are being entertained tonight by music from our amplified phonograph.  We have a handy radio man who rigged it up.  A record sounds like it’s coming from the radio.  It helps cheer up the lonesome evenings over here.

As I sit here and smoke my pipe, I can just see the two of you sitting in the living room reading.  It’s funny after being away from home awhile, a person can visualize those old familiar scenes just like it was only yesterday.  I think I’m going to be a home loving body from now on.  I’ll have to close for this time.

Feb. 11, 1945

Here it is the 11th already.  Seems like the time sure flies now, that I’m so busy.  I have this afternoon off, it being Sunday, and I get the afternoon off one time and the morning the next.  We even sometimes have to work at night if necessity calls for it.  So a half day off is quite welcome.

I received your letter of the 21st of January this week.  I’m surprised to hear that Uncle Elbert [Clements] is working in Hawaii.  I’m glad he likes it.  Maybe he’ll get a new lease on life now.  Lots of the fellows that have been in Hawaii have liked it.  It sure must be nicer than the country over here.

It seems hard to realize that Harold Clements is old enough to be out of high school.  He and some other kid is the same age.  I can’t remember who it is, unless it’s Val Adam Jr.

It certainly be fine, if I could get located in the States, but I haven’t much hopes of it until after the war with Germany is finished.  The present system has been to give the boys a 21 day furlough at home and then ship them to another theater.  It’s beginning to look like I’m just going to be an old army man.  If I’d started out when I was eighteen, I’d have some time in by now.  It wouldn’t have been so hard to take either, then.  I sure don’t intend to stay in any longer than necessary.  Even at that, it’s going to be kind of late to get a fresh start in life, especially if I have to pile up two more years overseas after this.  I sure hope that I get to a better theater than this has been.  Another two years, like the last two, would about drive a person nuts.

You have the wrong slant on an only child being held in the States for the duration.  That is in the event that one or more sons have been killed in action and in order to spare the last son; he’s either left in the States or sent to a theater where there’s no action.

Well, we got our weekly roundup this afternoon, so I guess I’ll sign off and read the news in it.

Hope you are all well.

P. S.  I’m sending some Chinese folding money.

Chinese Gold Unit Note (Front)Chinese money

Feb 18, 1945

Here it is Sunday morning and my morning off.  Next Sunday I’ll have the afternoon off and Russell Scott is supposed to come pay me a visit then.  I guess I didn’t tell you that the other day, I got a letter from Carl Getz and he gave me Russell’s address.  From the address I know of an outfit of that number.  The first person I saw from that outfit, I inquired if there was a Scott there, and he said, sure, he knew him.  He said he’d bring him down the first opportunity.  One morning a couple of days later, Russell walks in and we shake hands.  I was so busy, that we had to talk in between times, except finding a date for him to come down next Sunday afternoon when I’m off.  It seems he had something to interfere with his coming this morning.

It seems good to see someone from around home after all this time.  Of course, he looks like another GI, but he’s still someone I knew before I knew the army.  I sure wish I could see Gene Parker before coming home.  There’s not much chance of doing that, though, unless I could happen to make a trip into China and he’d happen to be at the right place at the right time.

It’s sure cool here in the barracks here this morning.  the sun outside is nice and warm.  This is about the coldest place I ever slept in, I believe.  It’s so big and there’s nothing but mosquito net around sounds [?] and the damp air comes right in.  I use all my blankets, sleep with my pants, socks and heavy undershirt on to keep warm.  During the day after the sun gets up a person starts peeling off, and if he’s right out in the sun, he peels right off to the skin.  The temperature doesn’t get low enough to freeze (in fact I haven’t seen any freezing weather since I left home), but the air is so damp when the sun is not shining.  I much prefer actual cold weather.  A person can wear enough clothes to keep warm then.

It seems the Nixon family, including the in-laws (some of them), have managed to escape the realities of war.  Maybe it’s all right to keep out of it, if you’re smart enough, but it’ll never look right to me.  In some ways, I wish I would start out fresh in some new community, as I’ll always be more or less of an outsider.  There seems to be plenty around home that have avoided being called and there’ll always be friction between the ex-servicemen and the others.

It sounds like your hens are doing all right regardless of the cold weather.  I’d sure like to have some of those fresh eggs to eat.

About my pictures, I was quite a bit thinner then than now, because it was hot weather and I always lose weight then.  Of course, the fellow standing next to me is a 200 pounder, and is a little bit larger than I.  That fellow is Fred Bratton, the fellow that Dorothy and I went to see the Sunday after we were married.  We’ve been together now for three years and he’s about the closest buddy I guess I’ve ever had.

We’ve been through a lot together.  I get Christmas and letters from his folks.  You couldn’t find any nicer people.

You are mistaken about the mustache being gone.  I still have it and have shaved it off only once in over three years, and that was when on maneuvers, and then I let it grow right back out.  Anymore it seems as much a part of me as an eyebrow.  I’d feel naked without it.  the Jap flag was a borrowed one.  The rifle is a Jap one, that Fred acquired.

Fred Bratton & Clyde with captured Japanese battle flag and Rifle (2)Fred Bratton [left] and Dad with Japanese rifle & flag

I think I’ll go to church after a while.  It’s quite a little ride from here.  It’s held in a stone chapel that was spared from the war except for one end, a few window glasses, and the roof.  the roof has been covered over with tarp.  Another church not so far from it was pretty well shot up.  There isn’t much left of the rest of the town, as it was really blown up.

Editor’s note:  The previous paragraph was Dad’s first mention of war destruction.

Well. I’ll have to close for now.  I hope you are well.

Feb 24, 1945

I received your letter of Feb. 4th a couple of days ago.  I did pretty good this week on letters.  In all, I heard from Dorothy, Gene Parker, Viola Bigelow, and Helen Barnett.

Helen wrote a V-letter, and didn’t say much, except she said that Carla was a big girl now, and was two years old in November which makes a person realize how time flies.  Viola was in California in December during Christmas with Vincent.  She said it didn’t seem like Xmas as she went swimming at Long Beach.  I spent a couple of Christmases in California myself, so I know how it is.  Vincent is at Pearl Harbor now.

Gene said that he had talked to a fellow that had heard of my outfit.  I’m expecting to see Russell Scott tomorrow afternoon as he talked like he’d come to see me then.

I guess that’s about the first of my letters that was opened by the army examiner as I never heard about it.  I’ve only received one so far that was opened in the same way and that was almost two years ago.  It was one of Dorothy’s letters.  They spot check then and very seldom get the same person’s mail.

How old is Uncle Pres’s baby girl, now?  I’m sure getting behind the times.  I’m sorry to hear that Uncle Pres is selling off his cows.  If he doesn’t have feed for them thought it’s about all he can do I guess.  I wonder what kind of job he’s figuring on getting in St. Louis?  He’s getting sort of old for a job like that.  He’s sure had a tough time of trying to keep things together and raise a family.  It looks like I might be in the same boat as I’m getting such a late start.

Myrtle Rigsbey is sure having a tough time of it.

I didn’t know the Ida Lockyer was sick.  Edgar [local grocery store proprietor] must be having a tough time of it trying to run the store himself.  Everyone has their troubles, I guess.

Grandpa Adam [Great-Grandfather] must be getting pretty well up in his eighties by now.  This winter has been a tough one for old people as it’s been so cold.

Well , that’s about all I have to say this time, I guess.  I’m pretty busy nowadays.  Hope you are surviving the cold weather OK.

Advertisements

Author: warturoadam77p

65 year old married retired communications worker with three grown children, transplanted from the Midwest to the sunny Gulf Coast.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s