Thursday, April 21, 2016

40) A rainy night at the movies--Sept. 23, 1944

APO 920 = Base H, Biak, Dutch New Guinea- Schouten Islands
Mokmer Airstrip

Sept. 23. 44

Well I sure did make a bad move tonite. I went down the road about 2 1/2 miles to see a movie instead of waiting till it came to our show. Everything was alright until about the middle of the first reel when it started to rain and thunder & lightening. Boy did I get drenched. The movie was “Double Endemnity” with Fred McMurray & Barbara Stanwyck. It was very good even in the rain.

Darling I didn’t get anymore letters from you today but I guess they will get here tomorrow. I got two letters from the folks yesterday and they sure do say nice things about you and Ann. Pop sure likes to kid and make wise cracks with Ann. Are she & your Mom still in Florida?

My morale sure goes up when ever I look at that swell picture you sent. Please send me more. I don’t get to hear many new songs but I heard one today that sure is the best I’ve heard in a long time, “People Will Say We’re in Love” from the show “Oklahoma”. Maybe it isn’t so new but I’ve never heard it before.

Honey did you ever finish reading “Gone With The Wind?” Some times I think I would like to read it again. Guess I wouldn’t have the patience to finish it.

Boy is it raining outside. I have got it fixed so the rain can’t blow in but it sure seems like it will beat a hole in the tent any minute. Guess it will last though. I hope!

Darling what have you been doing with yourself? You tell me about going to Bowman Field or Fort Knox to dances. Don’t you go to other dances or don’t you ever date civilian boys? Wish I could be there to take you out to dinner and a show or dancing. Then sit in front of our own fire place and just be in each others arms and tell each other the 1000 and 1 things we both have to say. Please don’t think I am silly but I worry about the things we will do and how we will act when I get back. Somehow I just know that every thing will be as I have planned and we will be wonderfully happy together.

Guess I will close this before the lights go out, as I have to make my bed.

Please remember that where ever I am and what ever I am doing at anytime, my deepest thoughts and my deepest love are both centered on you.

Goodnite and pleasant dreams (or do you still dream).
Give my best regards to Ann and your Mom.

Yours till we can be one,

  1. Double Indemnity trailer: click here
  2. Biak Rainfall---average is about 8 inches in September, average yearly rainfall is over 100 inches.  Jack is probably hopeful that the rain will last because it likely cooled things off a bit and because fresh water was so scarce, rainwater had to be collected to meet the needs of the soldiers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

39) A trip to Australia with good food and fresh milk!--Sept. 20, 1944

APO 920 = Base H, Biak, Dutch New Guinea- Schouten Islands
Mokmer Airstrip

Sept. 20 (1944)
Betty dearest,

Well here is the explanation for my not writing to any of you all back there for the last 10 days.

I have been down in Australia on Temporary Duty. I won’t be able to tell you much except that I flew down and I had a really swell time. The food and fresh milk really helped out after eating what they have here for so long. Darling I hope I didn’t cause you any worry about me. It was almost impossible to write while I was away from the Sqdn.

I had three wonderful letters waiting for me when I got back. They were the kind of letters that really make me realize just what I want to come back to. The days are really much shorter and the whole thing seems to move so fast when I get your letters like that. Honey I don’t want you to worry about me because I am really quite safe and my health is good.

The best thing that has happened to me in ages was receiving that swell picture of the girl I live for and dream of all the time. Gosh! You don’t know how much that picture means to me. I really did think that was an evening dress you had on till I read you letter. You sure look more beautiful every time I get a new picture. Maybe I will be able to see that smile in the flesh some time soon. Things will be so different when I can reach out and touch your cheeks instead of sitting here and staring at the picture and wishing I could speak to you. Well there isn’t any use thinking about coming home for several more months. There are so many fellows over here who have more time overseas than I do.

I got about four of the small papers you sent. I really did enjoy reading all the home town news. Where did you get that crazy stationary?

The party sounds like it must have been fun. Need I say “wish I were there.” I probably wouldn’t know how to act at a civilized party. You will have to teach me when I get back. What a swell way to learn anything. I mean with you as my teacher. Don’t mind me I just love the gal that's all. Isn’t that enough.

Say why don’t you get those same boys to take some more pictures of you so you can send them to me. Tell them they would really be doing something to help a certain soldiers morale.

Darling, the three letters I received were dated Aug. 22, 26 & Sept. 1.

Well that’s about all I can think of tonite except to say that Darling I will write as often as I possibly can and some in between times to.

I love you with all my heart. Goodnite and pleasant dreams.

Yours always,

Perhaps this is the photo Betty sent him.  It was taken around this time.

Friday, April 15, 2016

38) Dreaming of a future with Betty - Sept. 7, 1944

APO 920 = Base H, Biak, Dutch New Guinea- Schouten Islands
Mokmer Airstrip

Sept. 7th 44

Well I just came home from the show. The picture was “Bermuda Mystery” with Preston Foster & Ann Rutherford . Right now they are tuned in on the Hit Parade. Just played “I’ll Be Seeing You” & “It’s Love, Love, Love.” Number 1 is “Long Ago & Far Away” wish they had Bing singing instead of “Swoonatra”. He spoils the song. Sure do enjoy listening to this music. Hope your not a Sinatra fan.?

Darling I got the delicious little fruit cake also the box of candy. Sure did surprise me to get something like that. Those little cakes sure are a clever idea. We got CocoCola tonite and did I enjoy it. We get a pint for 10 cents. We have a machine for the Group. This is the second time we have had it. Remember the “cokes” we used to fix in your kitchen when ever I came over? Wish I could live it all over from that & just skip some of the things I’ve done over here. But maybe if I hadn’t gone away I wouldn’t have realized just how much you meant to me. I am glad in a way because being over here has made up my mind about lots of things and molded lots of my thoughts & plans into the most wonderful, shall we say dream of the future. A dream that I will some how get back there to make a reality. Won’t you add your plans to make it a super wonderful dream!!!?

They have some program on now that has only Western songs. Maybe they will stumble on a good one.

I got some good books today. “Botany Bay” by Chas. Nordhoff & James Norman Hall. “Wellington” a biography by Philip Guedalla. “The Travels of Marco Polo” by Manuel Komroff, “Deserts On The March” by Paul B. Sears, “The Pacific Ocean” by Felix Riesenberg, “Payment Deferred” by C. S. Forester, “” the novel by Arnold Bennett that was made into the movie “Holy Matrimony” with Gracie Fields & Monty Wolley. Last but not least “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte. So you see darling I have enough reading matter to last me quite a while. I find that reading seems to take my mind off of this place & these things & people & while I am reading it is all lost in a cloud.

Something of the same effect can be accomplished by continually thinking about you and how I want things to be for us after I can get back & settle down-- US--I would have to change my plans to do it alone or without you.

How much you mean to me and how much I want you to be always happy & lovingly sweet as you are can’t be expressed properly in a letter. Not with my sentence structure the way it is at any rate.

Darling I will simply have to write more tomorrow nite. I need to sleep right now. Goodnite & pleasant dreams.

Yours as you are constantly being told,

They are playing the song from “Oklahoma”, “People will say we’re in Love”. Really like that song.

I hope to get a big bunch of letters from you tomorrow. The two packages were all I got today.

My best to your Mom & Ann. How does Ann like school this year? 
Tell me about your school.

They just closed the program with “Shoo! Shoo! Baby”

  1. Coca-Cola in WW II---When the United States entered the War, Coca-Cola president, Robert Woodruff declared that every man in uniform would be able to get a bottle of Coca-Cola for 5 cents, wherever he was and whatever it cost the Company. The company set up bottling plants as close to combat areas as possible in both Europe and the Pacific. It did more that just boost the moral of the troops; it gave many locals the first taste of Coca-Cola and poised the company for post war business worldwide.  We'll have to guess what might have been in the "cokes" Jack mentions that they fixed in Betty's kitchen.  Remember she lived in her grandmother's house when Jack knew her before he enlisted.  A jigger of Kentucky Bourbon perhaps??
  2. Armed Services Editions---By the end of 1942 the Armed Services saw a need for an efficient system of distributing reading material to the troops. What was needed were books that were cheap to produce, easy for a GI to carry, and appealed to a broad audience.  The library section of the morale branch of the U.S. War Department came up with a type of book that could be produced cheaply and printed quickly. The paperback books were oblong shaped and were called, Armed Services Editions. Most were bound on the short side of the test block.  The Armed Services Editions printed all of the books that Jack lists in this letter.  It is a fair assumption that the books he mentions reading are Armed Services Editions.  These books were not intended for sale but were distributed for free to troops overseas and in veterans’ hospitals. -Click here for more information       
  3. Your Hit Parade---Popular hit song show that ran for about 25 years -- Click these links to hear the songs Jack mentions in this letter.  I'll Be Seeing You          It's Love-Love-Love       Long Ago and Far Away      People Will Say We're In Love      Shoo Shoo Baby

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

37) No!--A letter from Libby won't change his mind about Betty--Sept. 3, 1944

APO 920 = Base H, Biak, Dutch New Guinea
Mokmer Airstrip

Sept. 3rd, (1944)

I was right I did get a bunch of letters today. Sort of had a hunch I would when I said so in the last letter. You sure do get some stationary. Where in the world did you get that stuff. I sure did get a laugh out of it. In fact I showed it to some of the fellows I work with and we are still laughing at it. (They are playing records and I will write the names down as they play them). “This is A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening”

Glad you had such a nice visit with the folks. Ann & Pop sure must have a time kidding each other. I bet they really have a lot of fun. Honey I really wanted to remember your birthday but you know how it is. I won’t let it happen next time.

From the way you underlined the part about the rain there, I gather that it hasn’t rained in quite a while. Your little cousin sounds like a real cute kid. Maybe he takes after his God-Mother. Could be!

About those dreams you said you’d seen me in. Where can I get a shot of that stuff that makes you see things like that. Sounds wonderful. Tell me more.

Just played “Is you is, or is you ain’t my baby”

I really do think that my folks think about as much of you as I do. Their letters are full of nice things about you. They don’t need to build you up as far as sweetness is concerned. Darling as the days go by I chalk off my time over here. The days mean just one thing to me and that is every one brings us closer together. I am looking forward to that day with all my heart. I feel that at the end of the day I can really count another notch towards that goal that fills almost all of my thoughts to “Getting Home”.

I know that it will take me quite a long time to tell you all of the things that are in the back of my mind to tell you when we are together again.

I just finished reading a good book, “The Ringed Horizon” by Edmund Gilliand. Right now I am reading C.S. Forrester’s “Flying Colors”. It is about Capt. Horatio Hornblower. The movie we saw the night before last was pretty good or maybe I told you about it. “Follow the Boys.”

The four letters I received today were dated August 12th, 15th, 18th, 19th.

You mentioned in one of your letters that maybe letters from Libby would change my mind. No! definitely No! I didn’t make up my mind from any thing you said in your letters it was something much deeper than that. Understand what I mean?? I hope you do. Some how the same feeling lets me know that you are most sincere in your answers to my questions. Please don’t ever change from the same sweet girl that I want to be back there waiting for me.

They have stopped playing the record machine for a while.

We had a rain storm here and the rain came “straight” (horizontal with the ground). We just curled up on our blankets and sweated it out.

Are you sure sister Ann didn’t have anything to do with that funny stationary? Sounds like something about her speed. I’d like to see the others.

Did your mother and Ann ever leave on that trip yet?

Well the camp is beginning to quiet down now and the lights will be out shortly. I think I will take a couple of long looks at that little, little, little, little, too SMALL picture of my very best gal. (This is a hint to send a larger photo)

Then I will go to sleep and hope to meet you sometime in one of those dreams you write about. Could be! I hope, I hope, I hope.

Anyway lots of love and kisses. Till next time I torture the pen.


My regards to your Mother and throw a wise crack at Ann for me
You can write on both sides of the paper if you want to.


  1. Betty's Birthday---On August 14, 1944 Betty turned 18.
  2. The Ringed Horizon--- World War II novel pitting a Nazi U-boat captain against the captain of the racing schooner "The Wild Rose.  Published 1943.
  3. Flying Colours---In the series that follows Horatio Hornblower, this story begins with Hornblower a prisoner of the French and soon to stand trial in Paris for piracy. Published 1938
  4. "A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening"---Written by: Harold Adamson & Jimmy McHugh.  Listen to it here: Link to performance by Kenny Baker
  5. "Is you is, or is you ain’t my baby"--- by Louis Jordan and Billy Austin.  Listen to the recording here: Link to recording

Thursday, April 7, 2016

36) Advising Betty's cousins not to enlist-- Aug. 27, 1944

APO 920 = Base H, Biak, Dutch New Guinea
Mokmer Airstrip, Biak- Schouten Islands

Somewhere in the Netherlands East Indies
27 August 1944


I received your letters of Aug. 5th & 10th the day before yesterday and I started to write last evening but the lights went out after about 4 lines. I decided to get a new start this afternoon.

Honey, I’m glad you really did take your time about believing what I wrote. I know from that that you really must understand how a person’s heart can react to such things. I thought you wouldn’t believe me at first. That’s why I kept thinking about it and making sure I meant those things before I said them. I really was glad and relieved to read those wonderful words you wrote in your letter of the 10th. In fact I am still walking on that cloud. Please keep on being just like you are. Somehow I can’t see how any change could come to you that would make any difference in the way I feel now.

I got a letter from Mom & Pop telling what a nice time they had had at your house the other evening. I’ll bet that was quite a session. What did Ann do that made Pop think she was so cute? Don’t tell me I know. “Like her sister she is always cute.” All kidding aside Ann sure did make a bit hit with Pop. Glad you all get along so well.

It is raining here now and we are listening to recorded music from “Frisco.” The static is pretty bad at times but they do have news often so we keep turned to it. The programs they have at night are really good. “Command Performance” and “G.I. Jive”. “Melody Roundup” & once in a while we listen to Tokyo Radio. They have really good recorded American music and lots of it. And of course they tell about how they are winning the war. We listen to the music then turn it off when they start that silly talk.

I haven’t finished the picture frame yet but it won’t be long now. I had a hard time getting some of the stuff. I am sure you will like it.

Just how I will mail it to you I don’t know yet. I guess a wooden box would be best. I don’t know what it is you want to send me but I will request some nuts like Pop sent. Or you can send any little surprise you want to. Honey I would be glad to get any sort of package as long as you sent it. However cookies aren’t very good. I never saw any come through in very good condition yet.

I am glad Billy & Bob are doing a lot of flying. Tell them I said not to get into the army unless they absolutely have to. Kids their age won’t be criticized for staying out of this thing. When the European thing is over people will not worry so much about why this fellow & that fellow isn’t in the army. I don’t see any need for their joining up at this point. If there wasn’t a definite end within sight it would be quite different. Tell them to calm down and think it over.

Well that will have to be all for this time.
I love you with all my heart,

My best regards to Ann & your Mother

  1. Betty's letters--- How I wish I had the Aug. 10th letter that Jack references here!  It had him "walking on a cloud."  But I have no August 1944 letters from Betty.  The next one from her is dated Sept. 11th, 1944.  We'll just have to guess that she said some things that gave him hope that they could have a serious relationship when he returns.
  2. Command Performance ---widely considered the best of all the original Armed Forces Radio Service programs. The first Command Performance was recorded 1 March 1942 and was broadcast overseas via shortwave by 11 stations one week later.  During the War each program began "Command Performance USA ... coming to you this week and every week until it's over, over there." The theme song was George M. Cohan's "Over There." Command performance attracted a host of well-known Hollywood stars. Link to August 1944 recording of Command Performance featuring Judy Garland
  3. G.I. Jive---this was a 15 minute radio music program transmitted by the AFRS six days a week.  Click here to access recordings of G.I. Jive
  4. Melody Roundup---this was a country music/variety show.  Local radio stations would send copies of their live programs to the AFRS who would edit them into a 15 minute program and broadcast them.  Link to a Melody Roundup broadcast
  5. Tokyo Radio---the Japanese broadcast several shows like "Zero Hour" to the Allied Forces in the South Pacific during WWII.  They contained music and war news and commentary.  The most famous host was dubbed "Tokyo Rose" by the servicemen.  Click here for info on Iva Toguri, one of the Tokyo Rose personas    and  Click here to Listen to an August 1944 broadcast from Tokyo Radio
  6. Bob Hope Show on Biak---"Radio and screen comedian Bob Hope, with Jerry Colona and Frances Langford plus others, presented a very fine show at the 7th Service Group. The performance was in the afternoon in view of the restriction forbidding assembly of Air Corps personnel at night for entertainment purposes. Despite the terrific sun the presentation was greatly enjoyed by all." ( Ken Clark’s Unit History posted on **But, we will see in an upcoming letter that Jack did not attend this show because he didn't want to sit in the hot sun for hours-- even to see "all of Hollywood at once"  Here is a link to a recording of one of Bob Hope's August 1944 shows in the South Pacific: Bob Hope Special August 12, 1944
  7. 9th FS Unit History- August 1944---"Several red alerts were caused during the month by the activity of enemy planes. One evening a speedy Jap fighter made a run on Mokmer strip and dropped a few bombs, causing minor damage. The plane was caught in the searchlights, but our anti-aircraft fire was far behind it. As a gesture of defiance or contempt the enemy plane turned on its running lights after completing its bombing run!"  "Seven enemy aircraft raided nearby Owi Island one night and the squadron was treated to an awe-inspiring anti-aircraft barrage from the other island. After the bombing which set afire some planes on the ground, one of our P-61 night fighters attacked an enemy bomber. From the beach in our camp area we saw the tracers from the night-fighter followed by a sheet of flame on the horizon when the enemy plane exploded in the sea. A thunderous cheer echoed along the entire Biak shoreline! An alarm of sorts occurred one other time in the wee hours of the morning when anti-aircraft guns of a Liberty ship anchored just off shore opened up on an unidentified aircraft. No bombs were dropped and no damage was suffered by either plane or ship, which was just as well because the plane was one of ours."   (Ken Clark’s Unit History posted on
Again--many thanks to Ken Clark and others for their extensive information on posted on

35) The Nights Are The Best- Aug. 22, 1944

APO 920 = Base H, Biak, Dutch New Guinea
Mokmer Airstrip, Biak- Schouten Islands, Dutch New Guinea

Somewhere in the Vast Pacific Southwest
Aug. 22nd (1944)

My Darling Betty,

This is another try at writing down all the thousands of things that I think of during the day. I say to myself, “I’ll write Betty this or that.” When nite comes then I can’t seem to think of the things I wanted to tell you about. The nights are the best time of all over here. The nights give me a feeling of security and peacefulness that can’t last in the daytime. At night I can sit and dream & wonder about the things of both the past & future. Thoughts & plans for the future are the things that seem to preoccupy my mind on such evenings as these. I believe that my words are not adequate to fully and truly state my thoughts concerning our future. I hope that you can see the future through my thoughts rather than through my words. Sometimes it is easy to overlook the necessity of communication to make these same careful, tender thoughts as real to others as they are to myself. It is easy for me to sit and say to myself “If she were near I could simply talk to her and tell her of these careful plans and thoughts.” Then I look back at these crude inadequate words on a piece of paper. “How?” I say to myself “Can she have the required trust and faith in my love, with only these simple letters to hold us together?”

Yet, there are other things strong, silent and ever present that can deepen that love and hold it forever in perfect trust. Darling believe in me and try to feel these things I speak of. Someday I will be able to hold your hand in mine and explain as best I can the series of events and the train of dreams & thoughts that have brought about this deep love I now speak of.

Your letter of the 27th of July is one that I will never forget. The first time you ever said anything like that. I somehow feel the deep sincerity with which you wrote those beautiful things. Please feel free to write me any thing that you many have doubts about. I hope you can see perhaps a little more clearly just how I feel. Please! Please! Darling have faith in me. It means every thing to me.

We are living a very comfortable life here right now resting up so to speak. We are doing pretty well on the food here of late. We are getting fresh meat once in a while. They now have the Group’s ice cream machine in operation and tonite at supper we got our first in several months.

I got some pictures back from the sensor yesterday and will enclose some of them in this letter. Please exchange them with Mom & Pop as I am sending them a different set.

Well darling, that’s about all for this time. Keep your wonderful letters coming and stay away from the “wolves” Ha! Ha! I promise to stay away from the girls.

Your most sincere lover,


“Honey” Enclosed find fourteen (14) Photographs.

Jack's Photographs---It is hard to tell which of the few photographs I have belong with which letters.  I've included some here with Jack's captions.  I do not know the location or dates of any of these photos.

"On Guard"--Jack is on the right.  This is probably a "slit trench."

"One of the boys with a Nip silk flag. Notice how they write all over them."

"Ed, Pop, Bob"

"These are all the boys I work with.  The tall fellow on the extreme left has gone home."       Jack is the man in the front right.