My Darling Margaret,
Another month has started. It may be spring back where you are but it is summer here as usual. We are supposed to be coming into the dry season now but you would never think so. We had a rain the other day that just wouldn't wait. It was terrific.
I got your wire the other day and if I could lay my hands on you just now I would be tempted to warm your fanny good for you. In the first place the enemy is still sinking boats and if you expect to get mail regularily [sic] you expect too much. Another thing - you know that I do not approve of worry of any kind and that serenity of mind is the ideal state. When you can get it through your had that there is a war going on and that my being over here is just one of those things that have gotta be maby you will sleep better. Of course it is very flattering to me to think that someone is worried about me but I would rather not have it that way. I received your letter with the enclosures and it was right educative. You folks must be having kind of a slim time of it. I don't reckon that it is so terrible at that though. Sometimes I think that I would like to try it.
Some guy that just came over from the 'States a short time ago was telling us how tough it was for soldiers over there. Not enough good stuff to eat and how this was so much better and all that eyewash. He got the razberry from the troops for sure. This eternal heat is making the boys war weary more than anything else I think. There is a vast difference in the effect that various types of climate have on the working man. It has always been my own obervation that the warm climates are just fine for sitting around in the shade lapping up those tall cool ones but for almost any other way of passing the time the temperate zones are best.
There is a snapshot in this letter or there will be when it starts anyway. It came out pretty good for just an ordinary snap inside. It was very hot that day too. I seem to have been in hot spots ever since that cold day in January when I departed the 'States. Fifteen months yesterday it was. There is a lot of talk about serving eighteen months overseas and then going back to the 'States. I judge it is just talk an I personally don't think that we will see the home country for another year from now at least. I hope I am wrong. What gets me is that I am quite sure that I will not sooner be home than I will want to be on my way again. Until this thing is settled I suspect that I would want to be around and about. My first pictures that I took with my camera are not back yet. It should be any day now. I can't wait. This has gotta cease.
All my love Howard
He wrote on May 12, 1943:
Still getting by. No change for the nonce. Things in general seem to be rocking along pretty well. I guess [? unclear] that this covers the home front fairly well. Spring is in the air my love but it is not noticeable here. There seem to be only two seasons in this part of the country, the wet and the dry. The dry season is supposed to start along about now and I reckon it will.
Your last letter came a couple of days ago. It was dated 14 April. It was the one with the [unclear] in it about [unclear]. Just the way I feel. There has been a lot of wind blowing the last few days. I can get along without that in very good shape. I don't know whether it is just me or not but those little things like wind do not make for peaceful living.
I have lost my boy Herman. Since he has gone I have been doing the office work by myself. Fortunately there is not much of it and it doesn't put too much of a strain on me. It is too much trouble to break a man in but things being what they are I really should. I would like to have a pound note for every boy that I have tried to show a little about this end of the Army. It would probably amount to enough to pay the expenses of two people for several days at the Tampa Terrace hotel.
The war now seems to be pretty favorable to the allies these days. Maby it will stay so. One nice thing about it though is that the press and radio minimize the bad things. This may not be truthful and all that but it helps keep up the morale of the troops.
Did I mention that I got a letter from Katherine the other day. It was not very long and almost all of it was of Bobbie. I am so glad that she is happy with the child. She should make a wonderful mother for any one. She said that they were thinking of getting a little girl too. Those kids should do all right. A call just came in that one of the boys has just gotten in from the mainland from leave. All the boys that go down there report a very nice time. It seems the Army and the Red Cross in conjunction are running a kind of a rest camp at a little town on the mainland. It seems to be doing all right. I wouldn't mind a little vacation myself. This damned country is getting me down. This is not a very nice admission but I think it is so. I have not been very well pleased with my lot over here for a good long time but things are getting magnified now. Oh well, I guess if some of these other boys can take it I can too. Maby I should go and see the Chaplin [sic]. He could at least give me a couply of sympathy checks. I have to go and feed my face now so adios my love
The Tampa Terrace in the early 1940's (it was demolished in the 1960's):
I don't know who Katherine was. He wrote about her in April, too.
He wrote again on May 15, 1943:
I received you [sic] picture and I must say that it was a long time getting here. It was very lovely indeed. I also have three letters from you that came in the last day or two, 21, 22 and 23 of April. You are doing VERY well as a correspondent. The US postal system seems to have found out where I live again and I am not doing so badly. This is another warm day. It seems to me that this is all I have been observing about the weather for many days.
Things have been kind of quiet here lately but I expect that they will liven up some before long. More trouble with this machine. The Allies seem to have the situation well in hand in N. Africa. This is an important [unclear] but it is only the beginning. Maby they will have time to do something for this theater now. We seem to be pretty busy these days but my own work is not too extreme. There are beautiful moonlight nights and they are not conductive [?] to sound sleep. There are often disturbances of one kind and another.
I haven't gotten any good pictures back yet. As soon as I do you will get some of them. I think or rather hope that I have found out my mistakes. The boys in this outfit are picture happy for sure. A good many of them have cameras and they take pictures with great abandon. This new service that the Government has set up is a great help to the photographer. I suspect that they will start charging a little for it before long but that is all very well too.
I started to write this letter yesterday but I did not seem to get it finished. This is another Sunday and another work day. We try to give the boys a little time off, usually on Sunday to wash their clothes and stuff but it has come to the place where they ain't got even Sunday off. This is truly a hell of a note and I feel quite strongly that there is nothing quite so good for morale as a little time off once in a while when you know that no one can call on you for work. This being Sunday I will take a little time off and have me a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. (10.00AM). Right at the present time I am standing in pretty good at the kitchen and this is a very desirable situation indeed. I have always had some trouble with kitchen crews ever since I came into the Army but this is one kitchen where I seem to get along all right. This having coffee and pie at 10 AM is an example of soldiering the hard way. They tell me that the fighting has to be pretty tough before the Australians forego their tea in the morning. Almost always someone will come along with a cup of the stuff. I would think that this would have a very beneficial effect. The guys might begin to think that thinks [things] were not so tough after all.
Furloughs have been started again in addition to this rest camp business that has been going on for some time. My name will not come up for some time but I sure need a change. This country is pretty hard on the troops. There is a vast difference in the appearance of these men between what they looked like on the boat coming over and what they look like now. This guy is no exception. Never again will I look like a kid in my 'teens. When you see that sign that says, "The Army makes Men", it doesn't say what it makes them, but I know it makes them look older. I miss you so. Love
Howard's last letter to Margaret in May 1943 is dated May 23, postmarked June 6, and received by her on June 10.
Another Sunday and I'll try to get the date right. As per usual it is quite warm today. I have three of your letters here including the one with the inclosures. That girl who wrote that piece about shopping has anice kind of style. She certainly had one hell of a time anyway. I have the one too where you mention the films. I really need them on acc't that I am just about out. The first three rolls that I took did not amount to much. The description of the camera that you read was doubtless true but it is far from automatic. There are several adjustments on it and they all need to be right. Someday I will learn how to operate it properly I feel sure.
You should develope [sic] quite a business from what you say. How do you suppose it would feel to be a wealthy business woman. All right I bet. Things in my own department seem to rock along much the same. We have been up here for a good while now and it is about time for a change. Of course it may develope [sic] that we are just fighting a sort of a holding movement and we may stay just as we are for a lot of days. You say you wonder where I am in New Guinea. You you get yourself an up to date war map of this country and you will see that the Allied powers hold very little of this island compared to it's [sic] total area. That will narrow it down to a comparatively small sector where I could possibly be. This is a pretty tough land, honey and I find that a lot of guys find it very difficult to be happy in the service here.
Something happened the other day that helped to restore my faith in human nature a little. About a year ago one of our boys lot his wallet thousands of miles from here. The other day he got it back, intact except for one picture. There was no money in it to start with but there were a number of papers and several snap shots. Of course I reckon that of all the thousands of soldiers that might have found it first the one honest guy out of a good many did.
I went to a show the other night called "Tales of Manhattan". Perhaps you saw it. It was a series of short scenes all tied around a tail coat. A lot of good performers were it in and I feel that it was the best show that I have seen since I came to this country. Maby I was in a particularily receptive mood though. I went to a show last night but got rained out. It was "Yankee Doodle Dandy", a very good show I hear. We do get free cigarettes here in the forward areas along with a list of other items such as tooth paste, shaving cream, candy, razor blades and so on. This is a service of the Government that is much appreciated by me believe me. The Gov't is not doing so bad by the boys in the war. I understand that the troops back a little further do not get all this gratis stuff which is as it should be I guess.
They are starting to get a few items up here for resale to the troops. Cookies and chocolate and one thing and another. I happened to see a price list of things the other day and I noticed one item in particular, panties no less, for the nurses I suppose. When the Army exchanges start to stock stuff like that it is time to call a halt and reconsider the whole proposition.
This has got to be all for now.
All my love
This is the title sequence from Tales of Manhattan: