War Years

Part 3, Spring 1945

March 27, l945 Phil to Family

My dears;

What a momentous day. 32 years old today and I don't feel a day over 31 (or maybe I mean 41) And besides I got roses from my husband by devious and roundabout means.

March is really being a delightful month this year. We have had only two or three days of rain and it has been warm enough for the children to be out with only a light jacket. The tulips are 7 or 8 inches high, all the trees look a lovely pale green, and the grass is just about ready to be cut. All of the old pessimists merely look sad and say that when the cold does come it will really do a lot of damage. I prefer to believe that we are going to have a spring unparalleled in 75 years to equal the divine Fall we had.

Bill took some of the dandiest pictures of us a week or two ago. I am sending one of the boys to everyone, although it is not terribly flattering, but looks like them and gives you some idea of how they have grown. He also took a simply marvelous shot of me reading to the boys, which he enlarged to an 11x14 size. Unfortunately I do not have enough copies to send you all one, so I shall send one to the sage of Akron, and ask him to pass it on.

My girl scout troop is causing me sleepless nights. These girls are renowned in the school, the church, and the community as impossible brats, and they really are. The worst ones are from our nicest families, and I cannot say just what it is that they do that is so terrible, but they are unbelievably noisy, you cannot get their attention for two minutes at a time, and they will accept no responsibility at all. Their parents moan and tear their hair, the school moans and tears its hair, and even the church is about to cast them into outer darkness. These kids hit 13 at a perfectly terrible period in time and history. Usually kids that age look to the older boys and girls to emulate, but in this case the older ones are all embroiled in a war which will probably be over before their turn comes, and life must look pretty uncharted to them. Furthermore all of the usual leaders are not here --- there are no men teachers under the doddering age left around, and most of the up and coming women ones are doing something more vital and exciting. It is like being caught in a tornado to tangle with 24 of them on Mond4y evening. Oh well, as Mrs. Duthie, the mother of one of them said this morning, "They are all leaders." I'll say they are, and all of them leading in different directions.

At the moment it has become very windy and Boggen's roof is all blowing off, and is she mad. Also her front door was banged around,and all of the glass is broken.

Love to all,


P.S. Just to relieve your minds, that government check finally came through, 15 days late. Nobody knows why. Also, son Thomas insists that it is "rice keem." He will repeat "ice Crrrream" after you with howls of laughter insisting that "no, it's not --- it's rice keem."

Wednesday, 28 March, 1945 Charles to Phil


Finally some mail, not recent, but mail. Since I feel miserable most of the time because I'm not with you, I am not too embarrassed about telling you about my diversions now and then. I played 9 holes of golf yesterday (Isn't war hell?). Four of us went to a country club up in the mountains, and such wonderful scenery you never saw. The course is set in a valley, green mountains rising up on either side, heavy clouds hanging on the tops of the tallest mountains, the blue sea lying off in the distance. It was so beautiful it reminded me of a cheap painting. We saw bamboo trees, banyan trees, and many other kinds of flora with which I am not familiar. This is an eternal Garden of Eden when you get away from the commercial areas. In the mountains almost everywhere you see spots of quiet idyllic beauty. As for the golf -- well, it was the first game I had played since Los Angeles, and the hiatus did not improve my game,

Mr. Spoeri and I are going to school for a day to brush up on a few fine points. During school W . S. and I wandered around during an intermission and came upon a room where cokes were being sold from a refrigerator We bought some, and while we were drinking them a Lt. Commander came and got one, mumbling that all the students were buying all the cokes, and that they should bring their own. He went on to tell us that coke was hard to get, that they were limited in the amount they could buy. "Once," he said, "we were without any cokes for two days." Well, I guess it depends on your perspective. There are no doubt many men who haven't heard from home in 3 months, and some who will never again hear from home. Some who have drunk their last coke,

There are Waves here now. Saw any number of them today, looking as if they had always been here. But you needn't worry about me -- once you drink champagne you don't want gin, I always say. What do you always say?

To you, my love,


March 31, 1945 Phyllis to Charles


With your roses still adorning the mantlepiece I now also have a lovely corsage of roses and white carnations which will keep long after the roses are gone. I could weep because you will not get this letter telling you how happy I am about it all for months and months.

The boys colored Easter eggs today, and in about one minute I am going to fix up their Easter baskets and hide them. Then I am going to set up the buttons on Tom's new Easter pants. They are going to look very snazzy in Sunday School tomorrow, and I think I will take them along tochurch.

If I do not get at those Easter baskets the boys will think that the Easter Bunny failed them, and that cannot be. But I must tell you something sad. Bucky has known that there is no Easter Bunny for some time now, but tonight he was having a wonderful time talking about the Easter Bunny hiding the baskets, and would the Easter Bunny come to see whether he was asleep or not. We were having a grand time as he brushed his teeth. But just as he was getting into bed he said, "Is there really a Santa Claus, Mommy?" I fumbled and hedged around, but he was having none of it, and he repeated in a deadly serious way,. "But is there a Santa Claus?" I tried to explain about its being the love in people's hearts, and so there was really a Santa Claus, even if he weren't an old man in a red coat, but we were both almost weeping. He clung to me and said, "Well, is there aNorth Pole?" As to that I could reassure him, and he seemed more content as he went to sleep. Isn't it awful to have a smart kiddie? It is a terrible temptation not to tell him the truth. But he wasn't asking questions about how Santa got down the chimney --- he was deadly serious, and I had to be deadly serious also.

On which sad not:e I leave you.

All my love,


April 1, 1945 - Phil to Charles


Today Bill took colored slides of all of us, so that in a few months you should have a pretty good idea of how we all looked on Easter Sunday, and perfectly beautiful it was too, I assure you. Bucky wore his new sports jacket and his navy blue shorts with knee length navy blue sock and a blue beret. Tom wore his new grey and red checked suit, yellow sock and a blue beret. I wore my new brown and white dress, my old brown hat with a new white ribbon, my seal-skin cape, and the loveliest corsage of red roses you ever saw --- and sorry I was that you were not here to see them, you old duck, you. It was a gorgeous morning, the boys didn't have to wear coats over their new finery, and I only wore the cape to have some thing to support the red roses. The boys went to Sunday School, and then all of us went to church. It went better than might have been expected.

Everyone is waiting hourly for news that the fighting in Europe is over, and why it isn't is a mystery to everyone but the nuts who are still keeping things going in Germany. Which reminds me, nobody mentions the Italian fighting. Are they still going as strong as ever down there? And why? Why don't they withdraw some of those troops to protect their western front -- or their eastern one? Evidently, as in the days of Horatius, one man with a supply of rocks. can hold off an army in those hills. Which brings us back to the question of why we kept pushing along there anyhow. Why didn't we just sit down on the plains somewhere north of Anzio and just wait for the Western invasion --- it would have made the 'Mediterranean safe, and the fighting has never gotten much of anywhere, at the cost of an awful lot of lives and a lot of discomfort for many poor guys. I suppose there was some idea back of it all which Eisenhower has forgotten to mention to me.o

I have been fiddling with the radio in hopes that I would get some news of the war, but no soap. I have been wanting to wrap up a mystery in the New Yorker I am sending you this week, and now my problem is to decide which mysteries you sent me after you had already read them so that I do not send them right back to you. We will never be able to move into an apartment after this. I have barrels of stuff in the attic, and nothing will induce me to part with a button. When we next move we will have several moving vans full of old empty boxes and bottles I am saving. Furthermore I have no yen to move at all. I like being able to at least think that I know where Buck will be going to school next year. I guess I am ready to acquire some moss.

Love to you, my dear, and thank you for the Easter flowers, and how I wish I could see you.

Love ,


Friday. April 6, 1945 Charles to Phil


Just as I was starting a letter yesterday, word came in that we should be prepared for some trick maneuvers during the night, so those of us concerned had to cram it down in a hurry. It developed that we did not have those particular maneuvers, but we had everything else.

I went on at 7:45 last night. At MO we had general quarters, and all hell broke loose. Men were running around the bridge with fire hoses. There were 10 extra people In the wheelhouse working on radio drills. In the meantime the column of ships was going through turns and speed changes. It was dark as pitch and we could hardly see the ship ahead. I was completely exhausted, and the total confusion left me limp.Mr. Spoeri took the deck for GQ, and when it was over I asked him to stand by for a while. I wanted to lie down and cry, or kick my heels. We were out of position, and the Captain was screeching orders, and I could do nothing but just stand there like a limp rag. Finally after an hour or so I started to regain my senses and relieved Mr. Spoeri. We had several course changes after that. On the last one the Captain came out and told me to handle it, so with my fingers crossed I guessed at the right moment to start turning, guessed at the amount of rudder to use, and miraculously came out in position. The Captain said "Very good" and went to bed. If he only knew. After that we came up very close twice, but by the time I was relieved after midnight I was on station and it was holding.

This is learning the hard way. In the peacetime Navy they wouldn't let an officer on the bridge until he had had a year's experience. It took several years for an officer to qualify to stand top watches, and here I am trying to do it with a month's sea duty. It isn't right. Hell, I have never made a turn in the daytime, and I am expected to make them at night when I can't see a thing. It is a terrible feeling of responsibility, especially when you have had no experience. Of course this whole week has been training, and the night-time manoeuvers are supposed to be training for OODs. So there is the consolation that this is as bad as it is likely to get.

I checked on the allotment, and it appears that the change-over won't happen until May 1, so I shall send you a money-order as soon as we get paid. There is no reason why the Merchandise Bank did not receive the check as usual. If the Alnav doesn't come through soon I'll be a dead duck because you will get yours, even if I don't get anything.

All my love,


April 5, 1945 Phyllis to Family

My Dears:

Oh, our beautiful leaves and flowers and buds -- it is so cold tonight we are trembling for fear everything will freeze up. It has been so windy today that more of Boggen's roof was torn off, and one of my storm windows blew right off.

I would like to report a phenomenon. I wrote a letter on March 25, posted it on March 26, and my husband received it out in the Pacific on March 29. This would be absolutely great except for the fact that that letter was the only mail he has received this month. After dumping their wounded he has been sightseeing among the pineapple groves and the sugarcane, hunting shells amongst the coral sands, playing golf in scenery to take your breath away, and eating Chinese food that makes me drool --- war is hell. Now they will be going out again soon.

My Uncle Charley philosophizes about my little scout hellers, and decides that they are the result of recent child psychology. I think he is wrong. There are just some kids who have to go through a lot of super energy and hell raising. We have a holy terror in the neighborhood. His mother and I are pretty good friends, and I know he drives her to drink. His father has been out of town this week, and today he sent home a clipping he found. It is a cartoon. A picture of a weary old hound dog watching a brash young pup going right up to an ornery old Tom cat who is just poised to claw his eyes out. This old hound is saying with resignation to a disturbed looking dog beside him ----"Yes, I told him, but there's always one in every litter that has to find out the hard way."

Charles, in one of your letters you assure me that my letters are not censored so I will say that your little code is not altogether an unmitigated success. You get so cagey about some of your numbers that Houdini himself could not figure them out. Usually I can find one set, and then I run along that line until I find something likely, and then see whether I can work out the other coordinate backwards, from the map to your letter, instead of vice versa. occasionally, as in the case of my thinking you were already in Hawaii on the way here, instead of much farther east on your way to Hawaii you forgot that if you are going to hide your numbers by talking about one beer and one trip to shore -- I am going to think that a couple of cokes might also be part of the code --- which is what happened in that case. And the difference was that between two whole parallels. In one paragraph you were so tricky that the combined brains of the Golloways, the Alexanders and myself could not find any number at all. Still, I have followed you pretty well.

Went to Social Union today. This having your children taken care of is nifty. Two weeks from today five of us have to feed 75, and I am chairman of the group. I don't know just what we will feed them, but since half of the 5 are children under 5 years of age it has 'to be fairly bland and unexciting. Probably a maccaroni dish of some kind. And the only possible salad is a gelatin fruit salad, so it really isn't much of a menu to plan. We had a good egg and asparagus mess today, but the kids didn't care much for it.

Love to you all,


Monday, April 9, 1945 Charles to Phil

By the time I seal this I hope to be a jg. The AlnaV came in last night and I had my physical this morning. Now all it takes is for the doctors to make out their report and for the Captain to sign the document. I have hated the appellation, "Ensign." In fact I have always felt cheated when I did not get a jg to start with as you know. The whole personnel policy of the Navy stinks so far as officers are concerned. It might be all right to increase rank by seniority if it weren't for the fact that the Navy makes so much of rank.

I censored a letter today in which there was a story of some guy who, the writer said, was "having a bit of trouble at home,"" It seems that this guy was going with 2 girls, and one night he got drunk and married the wrong one. So the girl he didn't marry has a baby by him, whereupon he decided to get a divorce and marry her. That was swell, but in the meantime his wife got pregnant and she won't give him a divorce. Now what would Rr. Anthony have to say about that?

We are having our troubles on the ship. We had to send 30 men and 8 officers to a gunnery school, and a number of others to some other schools, but at the same time we have food and ammunition to be brought aboard. The exec tries to get them from our division, but ours are either ashore or standing watches. I can't get them to see that it is unfair to have our men work all day and stand watches all night. More than half the officers are ashore, and those that remain aboard have to stand watches every other day. But then we hear stories of life on other APAs, and we are glad we are on the Granville. On one ship officers have to get up at 6 and can't go to their rooms at any time during the day. When the Captain finds that an officers is behind in his work he confines said officer to his room, thus making him get farther behind. It is pretty hard to cope with stupidity combined with stripes on the sleeve. Thank heaven we have a Captain and an exec who are human.

I have just been told that the medical officer left the ship without signing our promotions, so they will have to wait until tomorrow.

At any event they will become effective on April 1.

I love you,

Charles -

Sunday, April 15, 1945 Charles to Phil

Today we had a memorial service for President Roosevelt, advertised as a non-denominational service, all hands ordered to attend. I am sending a copy of the program. In the first place It was dull and stupid. In the second place it was not non-denominational at all insofar as it was strictly Christian. The tragedy of It was that it was such a wonderful opportunity to inspire a ship-full of homesick sailors and inspire them with a restatement of what we are fighting for. I know, from censoring mail, that everyone on the ship felt the president's death very deeply, and I think we were all looking forward to a tingling spine and a warm emotion. We went away feeling that we had been ordered to attend and had complied. Tonight at the movie there was a newsreel showing the President addressing Congress on the Yalta Conference, and I was moved beyond words. By the sheer force of personality he held those 531 men enraptured, It seemed that those who were there in the palm of his hand realized that the faith of the American people had not been vainly placed. Believe me, I was really touched. Never again, in our time, will we see another such man.

I have just read "So Big" by Edna Ferber. As with most other books that have a world-wide reputation I enjoyed it. Have you read it?" Vanity Fair"is another one I want to read soon.

Wee are taking troops aboard, and that means movement, but don't get alarmed or have forebodings.

With all my love,


April 19, 1945 Phyllis to Family

Dear Ones;

Yesterday I was chairman of a group of five who fed 80 women and children at Social Union at a total cost of $13.950 which included even the cost of the sugar used in preparation. We pooled the total cost of course, and had plenty to take home. Everyone said it was one of the best meals they have served so far. Our biggest trouble was with the coffee since none of us knew how to make that much, and you would be surprised at how long it takes to boil water enough to cook macaroni for 80. And then there were the dishes. But on the whole we had a good time.

To complicate matters a little it was the morning Buck was due over at Lutheran School for his physical exam preparatory to going to school next year. So I took him over and gave them the Information needed and then left him with a neighbor who had to take her little girl over too. She brought him back to the church when they were through. Boggen kept Tommy until lunch time when she brought him over and left him. They were both divine at lunch when I couldn't be with them and parked them at a table near some friends. Now I am through with the cooking job for the next 6 months and can relax and eat someone else's food. On the whole, I think that the job of the 4 gals whose turn it was to take care of 40 pre-school children each time is worse than the cooking.

Uncle Bill Golloway took some perfectly beautiful colored pictures of us at Easter. They just came today, and I was torn between having pictures made for Charles and buying one of those little viewers and sending him the whole batch. Bill thinks that the result of the latter, what with sending and sea air and dampness would be to ruin the transparencies. So I will have a couple of the best ones made and he can see the rest when he comes home. We are all so good-looking we should be in Hollywood, but the secret is that he has a super camera and exposure meters for use with colored film, and he got everything just right.

Our weather has remained nice enough so that our fruit trees have all bloomed and the petals are now falling. Our lettuce, radishes, beets, carrots and peas are all up. The tulips have all bloomed, and the lilacs are all in bloom. We are anxiously debating whether or not to put in our corn and melons so soon. The bathroom upstairs is at last in, although not yet decorated --- just in time for the Golloways to leave. I am listening to the March of Time, and I just wish someone would break in with a super-flash announcing that the war in Europe is over.

They have just re-enacted the death of Ernie Pyle, that was a real tragedy.

Love to all of you --- and by the way, Charles is now a Lt. j.g. so if you are sending him your effusions, Charlie, you can give him his nice new title.



April 21, 1945 Phyllis to Charles


Got a letter from you today asking if I was mad on or about April 7. I haven't been mad at any time, and I regret to say that I can't remember what I was writing about on April 7. I have been thinking to myself that really we have all stayed pretty cheerful and level-headed through this rather difficult time, but I suppose that underneath we are both a little upset and uneasy and that it shows even If we don't think it does

You recommend TC Mits --- Lovey. I have had the clipping of the reviews of it since they came out 2 years ago, and I have been talking about getting it ever since. I really do want to read it, and am glad you enjoyed it. I'll get it when I can.

I am sure I have answered any questions you have asked me. Usually I don't comment on your letters because, although they are awfully interesting and I read them 3 or 4 times, they are about day to day happenings, and I feel that by the time I get them and answer them you will hardly remember what you wrote and will have to figure out what I am talking about. I feel as if I know your drunken roommates and their water fights, but would you really be interested to hear that 3 weeks later?

Oh, well, I don't think I'm doing too well today. Clinic yesterday was fascinating and educational in that Dr. Goldstein wants to operate on an obese patient who should lose lots of weight right away, so he ordered 5 grains of thyroid daily. The poor Intern nearly had a fit and took it upon himself to make it 4, and the social worker had a further fit and said endocrinology would have to pass on any such goings on. Goldstein just laughed. Drs. are creatures of whims it would seem. Then last night was Girl Scout camp night and I hiked to the Junior High School to watch some 300 brats carry on madly giving humorous skits.

I don't mean to be nasty. I love you. I just miss you terribly and life does seem awfully unsettled and futile. Gad's teeth, this isn't living.

I got the boys two live turtles yesterday. Some fun.

Will go mail this. Forgive a dumb letter --



Tuesday 24 April 1945 Charles to Phyllis


We didn't have any Monday this week. Do you know that I haven't missed writing to you daily for weeks and weeks? We will anchor at about noon tomorrow, and of course everyone is hoping we get mail.

The heat has become unbearable. Whenever I come inside I feel that I must take off my clothes, and that adds to the wear and tear on the clothes. Today the sun was almost directly overhead --- 89 degrees altitude to be exact. It is hot in the middle of the night standing on the bridge with the wind in your face. I always said I liked hot weather so I might as well eat it.

They now permit us to say that we were In Ulithi and Guam our previous trip. Ulithi is just an atoll used for an anchorage. are a few natives around, and we used to watch them in their sail-canoes. We were there for about 10 days, just sitting waiting for orders. We were all set to go to Iwo Jima to take out casualties, but at the last minute we were sent to Guam to pick them up after some other ships had brought them from Iwo to Guam. We were at Guam only overnight, just long enough to take the marines aboard, so we didn't see much of the place. A lot of the scars of battle were still in evidence, including sunken and burned ships. On the beach we could see areas that had been pulverized by bombardment and bombing. Guam is a large mountainous island, very pretty from a distance. Close in it is a steady procession of trucks. I have never seen such activity. We were taking troops aboard 5 minutes after the gangway was lowered.

We heard a broadcast tonight that the Russians were occupying of Berlin. From reports it looks as if the allies are rushing all over Germany without opposition. I can't figure out why they are still fighting so desperately in Italy.

I find that I stand my watches with my fingers crossed. The watch bill is being revised, but I am being left on as night OOD, so I guess I haven't been a complete flop. Being Ass't Navigator I have a big advantage over others, if only that I have a better acquaintance with the instruments on the bridge. I still haven't "qualified" as an OOD. My classification, along with almost every else's is (D)L, meaning deck, limited. When the Captain thinks I am qualified to stand OOD watches the L will be removed from the classification. There are only 3 officers standing watches on the ship who have qualified, and they all had experience on other ships.

I am dripping wet and smell like an old gymnasium, so I should repair to the showers.

With all my love,


May 2, 1945 Charles to Phyllis

[This letter, which was mailed as a unit on May 9, covered 7 days, and reached Des Plaines on May 15, after which I receivedc nothing else for over two weeks.]

Dearest Sweetheart,

Now we are underway again. This is going to be more of a chronicle than a letter, because where we are going there won't be a post-office, and these letters I write for the next couple of weeks won't be mailed until we return to a more peaceful place. We are going to the land where the Jumblies live, To the lakes, and the Terrible Zone, and the hills of the Chankley Bore. In fact, we are going into the battle zone, and I wouldn't tell you this except that when I mail this letter it will all be over, and I will be safe again.

Ryan is spending hours working on a design for his post-war home. He has been working on it for 3 days now, and the price keeps going UP.

I haven' t been weighed since the time we both were weighed in San Diego. We have only bathroom scales on the ship and they are so unreliable that no one uses them. I'm sure I weigh more than your sylphlike 132, but not much more. I expect the quality of our meals will pick up when we get rid of these troops. The food has been rather unappetizing lately, and it has been too hot to eat.

Tell Buck that I thank him for writing that interesting letter to me.

Since GQ comes around at 5 AM tomorrow morning, I shall now get some sleep.

All my love,


Thursday 3 May -


We had a little excitement tonight, what with the excorts dropping depth charges, mysterious radio messages, strange objects sighted in the water. Tonight I have the mid-watch, and it will be a stinkeroo. Besides all the excitement we zig-zag all night, the forecast is for rain, and at 2 AM we turn the clocks back a full hour, giving me a 5 hour watch.Fifteen minutes after I get off watch we go to GQ and another day starts. On top of all this my cold is now in my sinus, and it is uncomfortable. I don't expect to get much sleep in the next week.

A good hard rain that would cool off the ship would be a blessing. It is unbearably hot, and when you walk out on deck the steel deck burns your feet. It is almost impossible to sleep until you get so tired you don't mind the heat.

This ship has been known as the USO Granville for so long that it doesn't seem possible we can actually be in a danger area. No one is particularly excited about It. Everyone wants to get where we are going and get the hell out of there but quick. Me too.

Much love,


Saturday, May 5

Yesterday was more or less uneventful -- just one submarine scare that petered out. I was pretty uncomfortable all day long, if you want to hear about that. I was so tired, and It was so hot I couldn't sleep. The food was bad, and my cold was worse. So at 8 PM I went to bed and fell sound asleep. At 2 AM they sounded the general alarm and we went to general quarters, but it turned out to be a false alarm. It was the first unscheduled GQ we have had. Dawn GQ came at 4:35 AM, and that starts the day. It is raining and it has miraculously turnedbool. Such a wonderful feeling to be cool after being hot for so long.

We are due to arrive tomorrow morning, and then the work starts. As soon as we finish our job we will presumably go back, I hope, unless we are held there for evacuating casualties, or something. I guess we will be entitled to wear a star for this business.

I must say that everyone is remarkably calm so far. Ryan is sitting here cutting out blocks to represent chairs for his paper house. Smith and Oole are asleep. From all outward appearances we might just as well be steaming around San Diego.

7:15 PM. In 45 minutes I go on watch. We are now pretty close, so we are expecting anything. Tomorrow will be a busy busy day. We are a lovely target right now, but by tomorrow noon we will be just another ship. I don't see why we have been unmolested this far. Every time I go on watch I do so with trepidation. So many things can and do go wrong, and you can't trust anybody. The worst bugaboo is the possibility of a ship making the wrong turn so that we turn into each other. It only takes one guy to say "right rudder", when he should have said "left rudder." Tonight there is that feeling of electricity in the air, and people get excited.

Probably we won't have much sleep for a couple of days, and everyone will be exhausted. But the show must go on.

The Army moves through the ship like a horde of locusts. They drink all the coffee, smoke all the cigarettes, eat all the candy, occupy all the seats. Yet I can't complain about it the way everyone else seems to, because I think of their foxholes for the next few months, the K rations they will eat, the bombings they will get. It has become almost cold today, and this morning the rain came down in sheets. A foxhole would be swell in that kind of weather. Besides, this ship was built for service and not for comfort, and there is no place for them to go except where we want to go too. My idea is that we should start thinking one war and not an Army vs a Navy war a British war. That may seem obvious to you, but you would be aghast at the petty points of view expressed by the officers on this ship. It is particularly true of the peacetime Navy men, who are used to a life of luxury and indolence.

And even though I am somewhat excited about going up to the lion's jaw, I still think mostly of you, and how wonderful everything will be when we are together again. I know you will be with me when the bombs start falling tomorrow and the suicide planes start coming in. Since you will be there, nothing will happen to me.

Sunday, 6 May

I suppose by now you are itching to know where I am. Sorry I can't tell you. By the time I am permitted to tell it will be old stuff. (Just as I wrote that we had an alarm and went to general quarters. Turned out to be nothing.) We haven't been here long enough to get bombed, but from the reports we get I know that things are hot here. As we came in this morning we could see them bombarding the beach, and had two GQs in the space of an hour. We had hoped we would get unloaded today, but as usual in the Navy things are fouled up, and in spite of a lot of windmill fighting we accomplished nothing at all today. The Captain succeeded in getting everyone completely fagged out over nothing, to face a night of continuous alarms and of work tomorrow.

The Commander of Naval Activities here is none other than Commander Zitzewitz! I saw his name on an information bulletin and presume it is EKZ. Unfortunately I won't get ashore to see him.

And another GQ as I wrote that. We could see flashes from the bombs in the distance. So far they haven't molested us.

I have the mid-watch tonight, and will be at GQ the rest of the night, so I'm going to get some rest,

Monday, May 7 --

10:00 AM. We still haven't been under direct air attack. Last night I went on watch at midnight and at 2 AM we called all hands to General Quarters when enemy planes were reported coming in. We remained at GQ until after 4 AM. All of the Jap, planes went for targets about 15 miles from us. We could see some flashes through the smoke screen, but most of our information came over the radio. In the middle of the furor someone started singing a dirty song, a parody on "Put Your Arms Around Me". It may have been a recording played by the Japs, but it sounded just like a drunken American in one of his less attractive phases. By the time we secured from GQ it was time for Mr. Spoeri to take over my watch, so I went to bed and luckily was able to sleep until 7:30. We just had another air raid alert that lasted for an hour.

Apparently most of the raids are at night, so everyone is grabbing every possible moment for sleeping in the daytime. As yet we have no orders to start unloading, and until we do there is still time available for sleep. Incidentally, I have slept in my clothes for the last 2 days and nights, and will continue to do so until we leave this area. Taking a shower is as risky as trying to beat a train to a crossing, but so far I have not been caught naked when the alarm sounded.

Word just came over the speakers that in a short time the ship will get underway. We aren't going very far, but it means that at least we will be at the place where we are to unload. I hope they don't stall us there any longer. It would be nice to get the hell away from here tomorrow morning. Now I must go to the bridge and see that everything is right for getting underway.

May 8 -- Here we are closer to the scene of battle. As a matter of fact we can see the battlefield with our naked eye, and with binoculars we can see the shells explode and the bombs fall. The Japs are dug in, and our ship-born artillery is trying to blast them out. Except for occasional air raids we have complete control of the situation. The ships are unmolested and our planes bomb at will. We hear Tokyo Rose every day, and the claims she makes are ludicrous. We were here the night the Japs claimed they sank half of our fleet and caused a general withdrawal. They sank us too, by the way --- at least they claimed they sank a convoy whose description we fit exactly. Apparently they saw us come in, so they said they sank us. I assure you we are still afloat.

It has rained all day and the Jap planes are grounded. They can stay grounded until we get out of here too.

We just got news of the German surrender. It doesn't seem possible that things have changed in such a short time from almost victory for the Germans to complete defeat for them. The Germans conceived war on a grand scale, but the trouble was it wasn't grand enough. I don't think the Germans can say, as they did after the last war, that they could have won if they had tried harder and hadn't given up. They wrung every last drop of energy and material out of their country, and they failed only because we had more potential power. I hope they rot for the next century,

We may get some mail off the ship in a half hour, so I better try to get this censored.

We haven't made any progress yet on unloading so it is a little boring sitting around here, in spite of the fireworks. Everyone expected to be under heavy and constant air attacks and resolved to use every spare moment for sleeping. Consequently everyone has had more sleep today than they have had in a long time.

Sometimes I feel awfully far away from you and the boys. Life on shipboard is so different from anything else that it is hard to keep in touch with reality. Ask me if I'm homesick and I'll reply "Hell, yes."

Now if I am to have a chance to get this off I must get it censored right away.

All my love, Chas.

Thursday 10 May, 1945 C to P


These are trying days. Yesterday I was on the bridge all day while we were unloading. By the time I got relieved, the Jap planes started coming in at about 8 PM. We had about 5 raids last night, the last one lasting from 1:57 AM until 4:40 AM. They bombed the airfield nearby, and we got lit up by the star shells, but no bombs were dropped in our direction. I don't know how I managed to stay awake during it all.. The raids weren't large ones. The largest ones were only 5 planes. After it was all over and the last plane had gone away, it was time for me to go on watch until 8 AM. Consequently I slept almost all day today because tonight will probably be like last night.

5ince writing the above we have been at GQ twice, and it is only 9 PM. It is silly really, and the only reason we go to GQ is because it is Navy tradition to do that whenever enemy planes are in the area. We just expose everybody to danger without being able to do any good. The men were up all night and have been working all day unloading. I don't know how long they can keep this up.

Fri -- I got nowhere fast on that letter We were at GQ almost all night, the final one lasting from 1 until 5:30 AM. A lot of planes came down, few got in, none dropped bombs on us. A few fell on the airport nearby, or in that general direction. I don't know whether or not they hit anything. Our ships pounded the shore all night --- it was something fearful to behold. The tracers looked like huge, luminous tennis balls being hit into the air. Our fighter protection is first-rate, successfully keeping the Japs at their distance and shooting a lot down. Very few of ours are lost.

We hear all the reports as the action is going on on the bridge, so thisisn't just propaganda. There were 20 raids last night, one after another. It gets very tiresome. This morning we heard Radio Tokyo tell how they had sunk 4 of our battleships last night, and how all our ships are fleeing the area. I suppose the Japanese government believes that if they tell a large enough lie long enough, pretty soon they will begin to believe it themselves.

I am writing this in the wardroom, and a few feet away a corpsman is setting up an X-ray machine. We have some casualties aboard, horribly wounded. They are fresh casualties, right from the battlefield. They are a bitter bunch of boys too. Get your leg blown to hell, and what do you care about democracy. Do you remember an article in the Reader's Digest some years ago called "Sudden Death," by John Furnas? I remember one phrase particularly "You're dying, and you hate yourself for it." I think these boys hate themselves and everybody connected with the mess,

Now they are bringing them in on-stretchers and taking pictures of their shrapnel souveniers. Last night the medical officer did 2 amputations.

We got some mail today, but none for me. Ryan got 2. The Exec. got a big fat one, which turned out to be sent the day his wife decided to stuff an envelope with 2 crossword puzzles and a picture of a dress she bought. No letter! I never dreamed they would have mail service here already before the island is secured. I hope to get some too before we leave, but I hope we leave soon.

Today we saw a dead Jap floating in the water near the ship. He was an aviator, and the boys who investigated in a boat recovered a Jap flag from his body.

All of the smaller craft, such as LCIs, beg us every day for fresh provisions. So do the troops ashore connected with our unloading. They haven't had meat for weeks, and rarely have anything hot. No water, no rest, just mud, work and bombs.

All my love,


May 11, 1945 Phyllis to Charles

Dearest --

Clinic day. Buck and Boggen also came down-town to buy my Mother's Day present. We all had lunch together in Fields. Saw another Fashion show, which Buck just eats up. He wants to know whether he's going to see the pretty ladies, and when they come in he is interested in the price of the dresses and what they're for. Furthermore, he remembers them well enough to talk about them at supper. "Remember that dandy yellow dress?" he says, "You ought to have one 'like that." He had very definite ideas about what I should get for Mothers Day. #1 was a watch, no less, he told Boggen all about it. The impracticability of this was made clear to him, so then he was all for getting me a red pocket book. I don't know what they finally got, but he picked it out. Boggen savs the sales girl was simply smitten with him ---- and he's a grade A secret keeper. I'll never find out what it is until Mother's Day.

My clinic was very interesting today. Would that I were doing that stuff myself. You may know a dirty story about a gal with extra breasts, but I saw one today. I hate to tell you, but it's not very exciting. There's a perfect extra nipple, just below the normal breast, but it is more like a male nipple than a female one, although it will erect upon being squeezed, and has a few hairs around it. More commonly unilateral than on both sides. This gal just had one extra one. Aren't you glad you know me when I can give you all of this information? Free too.

You know they plan to read men out of the army on some sort of a point system*? Brother, you come way down on the list. 85 is the minimum score. 1 point for each month in combat (or overseas, I guess), 12 points for each child under 12, 5 points for each combat star -- more points for distinguished service crosses, purple hearts, etc. All you need is 7 children and you're automatically Old Maid and Out of the Game.

Good night, Schmaltz.


May 15, 1945 Phyllis to Charles

[ Mother Bentley has come to visit for a week.]

Listen, Chum ---

Just got your super number dated May 2-8, inclusive, which shall be preserved for posterity. But did you have to leave us suspended in the middle of Tokyo harbor, or wherever it was, bombs dropping to the right and to the left, in a moment the troops are to be unloaded, and here comes cross-eyed Tojo in his suicide plane. Is that torpedo carrying the Granville's number? Don't miss our next installment -- will our Harry survive? Continued next week. It's mellerdrammer in the raw, but I could do with a letter tomorrow morning saying you had gotten out,and all in one piece. Oh, well, I guess I'll just assume that (a) you are OK. or I'd have already received a telegram, or (b) they Just haven't had time to pick up the pieces and count the missing and I'll hear any day now.

I don't really feel that flippant about it, but there doesn't seem to be much else to be said yet. It's too late to do any praying -- I'm afraid prayers aren't retroactive. I'm hoping though, and so is your mother, who also arrived today. It was a wonderful letter, but the next one will be even more wonderful --- even if it's only an empty envelope, so long as you were capable of mailing it. And, may I Jay, that although it worries me, I would much rather have this letter than just not have known what you had been doing --- just in case anything did happen. In that awful dream I wrote you about, one of the most horrible feelings was that I had heard you were missing and I was rushing madly around trying to find someone, or someplace where I could find out something --- anything about what you had been doing, or thinking when it all happened. I am afraid I am dripping tears as I think about it. Oh God -------

Tommy seems to be getting a temperature -- I hope it doesn't turn into anything much. You mother thinks he is like you. She doesn't think he looks like you, but he's built like you -- "an awfully chunky shrimp" to be exact, His ears and head and legs are just like yours. And he talks like Staton in a very high pitched little voice. She says you did too. The other day he was going to kiss me at the table and I had been eating toast and had a few crumbs around my mouth, He peered at me and said, "Is doose germs?" She laughed and laughed and said that it is practically a family by-word now, but you used to peer at a plate and pick out an infinitesimal crumb of something and point at it and say, "Is dat dirt?" (Same high pitched. horrified voice.) I hope you are loving this.

Your father hasn't been awfully well lately. Charlotte and Bill now have 200 chickens. Marion and Bill are buster than beavers, and Herb is now selling tobacco. She says Brud was supposed to have met your ship in Hawaii, looking for you, and Rip is stationed there permanently.

Your Mother says she told you, but I said I was sure you hadn't seen them or you'd have mentioned it. So next time you hit Hawaii, you can look for them. -

If I don't go to bed I'll be fit to be tied in the morning.

I love you dearly, and I hope I get that second installment soon,



Saturday, May 19 Phyllis to Charles

Dear Sweetie-Face,

Had letter from the Auers today saying that they were on their way home and hoped to see me. They are expecting in October. Jeff goes for a five week course in Washington, D. C. and from there to the Pacific as an Ed. services officer. Claren Jones got the same deal. They send you their love.

Tommy wasn't well today, and while I was working in the kitchen I heard him singing a little song in his bed. This is the way it went,

   When  are ooo tummin' home
      Daddy, Daddy?
   When are ooo tummin' home
      Daddy, Daddy? ---

When de war is over -- ALL over
Dat's fine -- Dat's nice!

(Then a spoken line)

    De war is over!!!
   When are o0o tummin' home
      Daddy, Daddy?


I have been reading various little articles about how vou should keep up your appearances for the return of your man. All I have to say is that my arms and hands will look like King Kong's. Today I shovelled coal, as usual, and barked my knuckles cleaning out the ashes. I then washed all the clothes accumulated during your mother's visit, wringing them all out by hand --- nicely calculated to spread the hands and enlarge the biceps. This afternoon I mowed the whole lawn. A fine lady-like little creature I'll be when you get home. I am just trusting that you will be glad to see me anyhow.

Can I think of any news your mother left me. Frederik now makes $80. per week and they have all but $1,000 paid off on their house. Charlotte and Bill are making fancy sums and spending all of it. No one is pregnant. She still can't understand your having missed Brud and Rip.

I love you dearly,

May 22, 1945 Phil to Family

Dear Folks,

Since it was a little chilly today and I balked at the idea of starting the furnace again, I built me a little fire in my fireplace, and it is as cozy as can be in here. Firelight flickering on the walls. and all that sort of thing. When I built it this afternoon, I thought to myself that maybe the English were smart and thrifty to stick to their open fireplaces. They are cheerful things, and since England does not have our severe weather, probably they take off enough chill to make a room comfortable without the labor of stoking a furnace. Besides, I said to myself, it must be a saving in coal. You use much less this way, said I. But by 9 this evening I have changed my mind. Cheery, yes, Takes the chill off the room, yes, but saving in coal it is not. You put on less at a time, but to keep the thing going must take as much as a furnace over the period of a day, with a dickens of a lot less efficient use of the heat. This heats up one room, and With the same amount of coal in a furnace you could heat a whole house. It is prettier, though. Gives an illusion of more heat too. If you had only two or three tons of coal available during a winter you couldn't keep the house warm anyhow, and it might be cozier to be cold while looking at a cheerful blaze that while glaring at a cold radiator.

While Mother B. was here we had a long letter from Charles written in the middle of a battle in a harbor somewhere. He left us while still there, and although I have had several letters since, he is still sitting there. I gather that they have had several grade A bombings during that time, and now they are taking on casualties. The letters should make good reading for him some ten years from now, because I think he is too sleepy and tired most of the time to remember much of what went on. Also, they are interesting because life between bombings is evidently so work-a-day, giving exams to quartermasters, for instance. (What for, I would like to know --- I mean, what was the exam about?) Some guy is planning his post war house, trying to work a shower in between alarms. Some fun. I only hope that in a day or so I hear he has left the place.

Lois has now followed Bill to Philadelphia. She is in a rooming house somewhere, and is evidently making out all right. She has been impressed by that screwy city hall with the two streets through it. By the way, Lis, there is a pretty good small art museum up Broad Street, not far from City Hall, and isn't the Widener Museum there too? Anyway she has a lot of time on her hands since Bill is busy a good part of the time. I wish I could think of someone I know in Philadelphia, but I can't. If you get to New York, call Helen Brown Curtis, who will be glad to see you.

Mother B. left us enough cooked apricots to last us a month under ordinary usage, so tonight I made a bowl of apricot whip out of some of them. Delicious too.

Our cat is getting big and fat, as am I. I think I shall have to go on a diet, only I have to eat up all the things the kids leave on their plates, don't I? So it goes.

Love to you all, and it was a lot of fun seeing everybody.

Come again soon. Love,


May 30, 1945 Phyllis to Charles


This was quite a day. Memorial Day, and of course we had to go to the parade. Not much of a parade, as parades go, but great excitement on the part of the small fry. We walked up with the McCoys, and then trailed after the parade to Memorial Park where we had to stand through the speeches to hear the guns fired. our mailman's dog was in the parade, complete with a legion blanket, 'since she is an honorably discharged veteran. So is his son, but so far as I know everyone from the mailman to the home town newspaper was much more excited about the dog.

After that we worked in the garden all afternoon, and refereed the goings-on on our new swing set, which we got from Boggen. I took a picture of it, which I shall send to you if it doesn't developer that you are coming home before it would reach you.

Those stinking, lousy, disgusting French are creating a disturbance in the Levant at this point. They have been bombing Damascus, and Aleppo, and landing troops, and generally cutting up. A time like this they have to pick yet. It is raging and seething on every radio program, and has done a lot of upsetting of the applecart in San Francisco. None of the implements for arbitrating such a dispute has been set up yet, and since no one wants to go out and slap France down just now (which, of course, they are counting on) here is a nice new Abyssinia incident (or Manchuria, if you like) to set an example for how to get away with things in the future -- and to pave a way for a nice new war in the future. And France, of all people -- gah!

We are hearing considerably more about the Pacific war now that the European war is safely settled. You know, our first reports about Okinawa were most cheery -- practically a walkover one would have thought. That was the reason why when I was trying to guess where you were I didn't guess Okinawa because it seemed incredible that you were meeting such opposition as you described. From what we had heard I would have gathered that there was a vast amount of that Island where you could have landed as though you were at a picnic. Now, however, within the past week the papers have been gradually releasing more and more news of the kind of opposition the Japs have been putting up, and today the radio says that Forrestal is about to reveal something of the naval losses at Okinawa.

So it goes, The main trouble is that you get it firmly fixed in your mind that all is well, and it is awfully hard to realize that it is not. So don't be surprised if when you get into a bar somewhere some civilian hints that it must have been all moonlight and roses in Okinawa. That was what he read for weeks straight in every newspaper.

I am going to wash my hair tonight. If you only knew how I wish you were home for good --- and how tired I am of this damned war.