Saturday, April 2, 2016

29) Betty is #1 on Jack's "list."

APO 920 = Base H, Biak, Dutch New Guinea

July 8th (1944)
Dearest, (I mean that now)

Your wonderful letters have really kept my morale up to 100% here lately. We didn’t have such a wonderful time of it there for a while. But everything is OK and running smoothly. We have been pretty busy for the last 2 months and, it sure has been hard to write to anybody. We didn’t get any mail there for 2 months. I received letters from you, wonderful letters that didn’t give me hell for not writing like some I’ve gotten from other people. The dates were. April 22, 25, 29, May 6, 15, 20, 26, 29 June 2, 5, 10, 18, 22. That is really some stack of mail to try to answer.

I sure do realize just what the score is with Libby and am acting accordingly. I can see after being over here this long just who thinks about me and you might as well know now that you rate No. 1 on my list. Sometimes it takes a lot to make a fellow realize the mistakes he has made. Over here there are certain times when there isn’t anything to do but lay and think and pray yes pray was the word I used. I was never a very religious individual and probably never will become so. But there are things over here that make a fellow feel way down inside that regardless of what people say that everybody who has been and seen and experienced these things, which I can’t describe, is a firm believer and will always be.

Your letters are so sweet and interesting to read. I sure would like to have been able to use the graduation invitation I got. Maybe we can be together by next summer at this time. What’s the matter with me dreaming those things. But it would be nice just the same.

Believe me it sure was great to get a picture of you at last. I keep seeing you in other pictures all the time but I can’t show the fellows those pictures that are in my mind after all those are the pictures that will last the longest won’t they! Remember those very very happy days. Wish I had really known then how much you cared for me. Why couldn’t it have been. Maybe this way is better because we have it all ahead of us to look forward to. If it means anything to you I am making plans for the future and lots of them.

Funny how it takes all the distance and things to make me realize that you do really care an awful lot. Seems like a crude way of falling in love. I fell once before and didn’t realize that it was real. But now I can hardly wait to prove that I know now that we are the ones for each other. Please honey don’t think that just because you are out of school now and a big girl that you have to get married. Wait, there will be plenty of time. And I know you are too level headed to let some fellow you don’t really love sweep you off your feet. Think this advise over. I am sincere in every bit of what I’ve said. This isn’t just spontaneous writing to fill up paper. It has all been carefully planed and thought out more than once.

Thanks for the card I actually didn’t remember my own birthday. I received and opened the card on the 23rd and didn’t realize for a minute that my birthday had come and gone. I was really busy and I don’t mean maybe. Sounds like you must have been pretty busy yourself what with all the teas and etc.

I see you ran out of the stationary with the pink roses on it.

Your grandfathers graduation present sounds swell.

I just finished reading “The Uninvited”. I really liked it.

Glad you and my Dad have such nice talks. He really likes to hear from you. Drop around and see him any time you need anything.

Good night darling and please keep up the wonderful letters as usual.

Yours now and always,

Keep up that cooking you have been telling me about. I will be very hungry when I get back.  Am sending you a piece of Netherlands East Indies Money. We get paid in it now. Also some Jap Postcards.

  1. This letter represents a change in Jack.   I suspect that the difficult last couple of months and the living conditions in the South Pacific have taken a toll on him.  He's turned 20 and the end of the war is not in sight.  His letters from here on out are less upbeat and start to be more focused on his return home.  I am also impressed by reading the dates of Betty's letters, realizing that she was writing to him every few days.  
  2. Betty's High School Graduation---On June 8, 1944 at Louisville's Memorial Auditorium, Betty was one of 219 girls that made up the largest graduating class in the history of J. M. Atherton High School for Girls.  The graduates wore white gowns and carried red roses, with blue ribbons.  The graduation speaker, Rev. J. Wilson Hunter, told the graduates not to rest on their laurels, but to set their goals higher.  He said that their high school diplomas gave them entrance to college, business houses and great opportunities.  "These are challenging and hard times", he said, "but they are great times."
  3. The Uninvited--- mystery by , about a brother and sister who buy a haunted house in Cornwall.
  4. 9th FS Unit History-July 1944 (Ken Clark’s Unit History posted on
"The month commenced uneventfully with all the officers and men industriously engaged in fixing up their living quarters. Slowly but surely the camp took on an orderly appearance."

"A brief description of Biak would possibly be in order at this time. It is the larger of 2 main islands comprising the Schouten Group. The other island, Soepiori, separated by a narrow channel, lies to the northwest. A number of islets lie off the coasts of Soepiori, but are of no military importance. Off the southeast coast of Biak are the Padaido Isles of which Owi Island is occupied by us, with 2 large air force installations in the progress of being completed. The eastern one-third of Biak island where our Group is encamped, and where all three airfields (Mokmer, Sordio and Boeroke) are situated, is drained entirely by filtration to underground streams. "

"Since rivers are non-existent, water presents more of a problem to the squadron than in the past. At low tide, water seeps out of the coral along the shore, and the usual method of bathing is to await low tide and use a bomb crater for a tub. One can also find a depression in which a helmet can be dipped, and by pouring water over one's body, a bath may be had. The water is brackish but cool enough to be refreshing; it contains, among other things a goodly number of coral snakes!"

"Nothing of interest happened during the first few days except several red alerts at night, especially during the early hours of the morning, but none materialized into raids. The artillery was blasting away continuously at Japs who were ensconced in caves on the steep cliffs overlooking our encampment. It was a common habit to sit at the open-air mess hall and watch shell bursts a short distance away; meanwhile counting mentally the seconds that elapsed between the flash of the burst and the sound of the explosion. On the 5th the Japs were considered neutralized and our artillery show ceased."

"During the month the infantry boys came around faithfully, offering fabulous bargains in souvenirs to squadron personnel. With each souvenir came a hair-raising story of how it was obtained, and the prices paid were in distinct ratio to the fertility of the seller's imagination. Gin, at $60 a bottle, was a common barter medium, and the "snow jobs" grew heavy as the liquor flowed more free!"

"On every side was evidence of the late Jap occupancy. Before such areas were declared out of bounds, intelligence personnel and some of the officers made a survey of the perimeter. A Jap warehouse yielded a large number of clamp-style Jap ice skates, much baseball equipment, and some cases of Jap BEER! Many cans of the latter vanished into the tents of the 9th before the commanding general put the place off limits and surrounded it with MP's."

"The blackout that had been enforced from the time of our arrival was lifted July 3rd, and we had our first movie, which was not cut off by enemy raids.
On the 6th in the early hours of the morning, a Jap plane made a run on the strip and dropped a few bombs, causing no harm. Inasmuch as our camp is lined up with the length of the strip, it was unanimously desired that the enemy not over-shoot! In the evening the movie was interrupted 3 times by red alerts, and on one alert a plane appeared and was greeted by an impressive if not effective anti-aircraft barrage. Later in the evening Owi Island was bombed, putting the radio station temporarily out of commission.  An amphibious and paratrooper landing was made at Kamiri strip on Noemfoor Island (about 90 miles west of Biak, halfway to the New Guinea mainland) on 2 July, and 5 days later Namber strip there was captured. Kornasonren strip located there was also taken, giving the allies possession of the entire island."

"The month ended with a fine searchlight and anti-aircraft display when Jap bombers came over our area. No bombs fell in our vicinity, but Owi island was hit causing a large fire, which could be seen plainly from our camp.
During the month many things were accomplished toward making our camp as civilized as possible. A screened mess hall was built, and after much difficulty a portable building was obtained and erection began on a combination alert and Intelligence-Operations hut. It is felt that all reasonable expectations had been fulfilled in the line of progress, and all awaited the coming."

Again--many thanks to Ken Clark and others for their extensive information on posted on

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