May 7, ’45
" 8, ’ "
Your letters post-marked April 23 beat those of the 16th and 17th by about a week, the latter having arrived to-day with others from Nance (even earlier), Jack (earlier still, Apr. 9), Sabine (over apologetic as usual) and Bradley) in good form and now teaching about everything at his old school, now called “The Mesa,” located at Carpenteria—the old location?). A goodly haul that!
So Ham and family finally “decided on” Bermuda rather than Botwood (Newfoundland—I had to look it up) . Well, that certainly is a lucky break, a mighty fine piece of news indeed! Will they be there two years? Seems to me that if given the chance, they might make it indefinitely, which would make it difficult to see them often though it would provide a wonderful excuse to visit Bermuda. A trip there next winter would be a fine idea for you two anyway, and I’d be only too delighted to buy the tickets.
Poor old Henry seems to have fallen to a poorer lot in the way of islands, assuming it’s Iwo, though finally making corporal must ease things a fraction. Looking at the brighter side of the picture Iwo might not be too grim. Admittedly it’s very isolated, at least so far as U.S. “territory” is concerned, but it is far from barren, having, in fact, both sugar cane fields and extensive woods over much of the area, and these could hardly be totally destroyed even as the scene of the bitterest fighting. There is of course considerable variety in topography, though the little volcano, the highest point, is actually only a few hundred feet high. The climate might be pretty fair, and could hardly be either very cold or very hot (at least not all year). The swimming should be good, and the opportunities for shell collecting, fish observing (especially through under water goggles, glass-bottomed boxes, etc.) should be equally good. If there’s anything left of the civilian population, probably all Jap, there might even be fresh vegetables, which wouldn’t be poisoned once the people became educated to the fact that they are to be treated kindly. These people are also supposed to have fished, which might easily mean good fishing for sport as well as for fresh fish.
Of course it might not be Iwo. Perhaps it will be Okinawa, which of course is much bigger even than Guam and very likely more interesting than the latter or Iwo. We were around Okinawa before and immediately after the invasion, which meant that I saw much of the island if not the actual invasion landings. It’s very long and narrow and irregular in shape, but it’s only rugged here and there and nowhere extremely so. A high proportion of the southern section is cultivated, whereas the northern parts are much wilder and woodier. There are quite a few smaller islands around, some being of some importance, others mere reefs, a few of the later circular with light green water within them in contrast to the bluer water outside. Having visited Amamio [probably Amami Oshima] on occasion and passed close to the northern islands of the chain when attacking southern Kyushu, we’ve seen practically all of the Nansei Shoto or Ryukyus or Luchus (most Jap islands and island groups seem to have more than one name) except those few south of Miyako. It’s a picturesque group, especially towards the north, where there are volcanoes (probably mostly if not all dead), varying from wee to one higher than Washington, rising right out of the ocean.
I got sidetracked above and intended to bring all that up later, but it doesn’t matter. Right now we are enjoying short shore trips every other day (taking turns) to the little recreation islet visited before. Ward and I have been collecting shells, mostly live specimens this time, so I think we should hunt up a few score ants. We’ve also been observing fish whenever we can borrow a face plate (even better than goggles), and the number of different kinds of brightly-colored, oddly-marked species swimming around (darting and dodging when you try to catch them) is really astonishing. For not even having goggles out here I’ve kicked myself a hundred times since first swimming at Guam. The coral reefs are of course the best hunting grounds for fish and most shells.
Your trip must have been great fun, Ma, and I commend your not breaking it off to go to the funeral. It was nice that each of you and Nance too were able to visit Great Neck even if separately. Washington must have been enjoyable too what with seeing so many friends, cherry blossoms, etc. If Nance goes up to lt. colonel, more power to her. Still being a comparatively junior lieutenant I don’t expect to go any higher unless the war lasts longer than most people think it will, so I hope I don’t make lt. comdr! Tweed jacket, gray flannels, etc. are what I’m interested in.
I’m glad that everything’s going pretty smoothly in Gardiner, though it will be a lot more difficult without Aunt going down there so often. Your walk to Oaklands and back, Pa, sounds quite encouraging.
I had not heard about Russ Keller, Ma, whom you did mention in two letters. I was a little annoyed when starting to tell the Skipper (Ware) I found out he had known for weeks, but the main thing is that it is too darn bad to lose such a swell guy.
The canned heat and other things finally arrived the other day, and I’m sorry to say the candied fruit and chocolate were pretty well moulded. The raisins are in good shape, however, and delicious.
Jack may be a bright lad and all that, but for your information and his when an air group is ready for action and has reached its turn for same, it relieves whatever air group needs to be relieved. What ship a group is on then is a matter of chance once that ship loses its first air group, which may have had the same number as the ship if the two started off together.
Not much space for mentioning V-E, but strange as it seems, the announcement, significant as it is, seemed like just another announcement.