Thursday, November 26, 2015

June 1944

May 1944

April 1944

Howard wrote from McCloskey General Hospital on April 14, 1944:

My Darling Margaret:
     I have bummed the use of a typewriter from Mrs. Red who is the ward officer's secretary and perhaps you will be able to read this letter more easily than the last. I have several letters from you, the last one to-day. I am supposed to go to San Antonio to-morrow and I will certainly get there by the 16th at leat. They tell me here that I will probably be pushed around there for a couple of weeks at the bst. I will try to arrange it a little differently but who can tell. What is the last possible date that I should meet you assuming that we will be to-gether for 4 or 5 days. About the 22nd I reckoned.

     What I had in mind was calling Miss what's her name, (I have her address &) immediatly [sic] I find when I am leaving*, have her call you and make us some reservations. When I arrive I could give her another buzz and when I found out where to go I would go there and find you waiting for me. That would be VERY nice I think. Of course I don't know how long it will take you to make arrangements or how long it would take you to gt there or any thing else for sure. One think [sic] I am certain of, I don't want any one else around so that I will have to make lame excuses to get away or else be down right rude. I guess maby you feel like wise. Can you make your arrangements on the spur of the moment or will it take some time? As soon as I get to S.A. I am going to bite them for a week off to go to Chi and see you and then come back for disposition. Maby that will work. I know it will if I happen to talk to the right man. If I find I can't get out until about the 25th or so I will get to Chi about the 5th or 6th.

     I shall break down and tell you how come I was watching those two girls that day. There are three kinds of females here. (a) workers, (b) constant visitors, (c) strangers. The strangers are by far the least in number, in fact there are only two or 3 in this section each day and they are always looking at or for the signs that are numberous here. The other two kinds know where they are going and proceed thereto with out delay. Simple isn't it? I guess I have the loose ends caught up any way. You speak of that 'weak kneed' feeling having gone away. That is very good and I can say the same but I can also add that the desire is here stronger than ever.  All my love

* also when I will arrive

March 1944

Howard wrote Margaret on March 23, 1944.  I have no letters from him from December until March.

McCloskey General Hospital
Temple, Texas

My Darling,

     I got your letter today and I will answer it at once. There are a couple of questions that you did not answer. Honey child you perhaps fail to understand first how important these little items are to me just now. I am really a short timer here maby. You see I may get out of here any day and I may be here for quite a while but I've got to assume that I will be out any day. In order that not an hour will be lost when I do get away I want to be all set. Now I realize that it will be kind of tough going from your end but I am counting on you. Just rest your mind about a vacation next winter. If I'm still in the Army. I'll get off about whenever I want to and if I'm not I'll be there anyhow. Don't talk about work to me my love. I have been overseas for 25 months and in hospital for three months or so - remember? If I get discharged my vacation will be for many, many days maby a year even. See if you can manage some place other than Chicago. It is too large and we can't stay in the hotel room all the time. Whenever it can be managed tho. Honest to God having the though of you in my arms drives me mad. What a [ ] or [ ] is quite amusing (?). Now tell me, can I reach you by phone in case I want to find you right quickly - how are you fixed for fund? scratched out: if we are not close enough together to discuss money then ] we should be close enough to-gether now to discuss money by now. If I get a month's furlough I am ready and willing to spend any part of five hundred fish. Money has no value at a time like this. Now altho' it is of no importance to me I would like to know how the domestic situation is. Can I call without your being sent to bed? from the American Red Cross. Wonderful things beds?

I have no further reports on my condition but I am being test for everything almost. If nothing expect to be discharged though. Put your mind on your work my love and help me get organized. You seem to imply that a spring vacation looks favorable but implications are not sufficient - in this case.  never forget my love that I have an idea however faint of whar you are up against.

                                                      All my love ALL ways,


I don't have any stamps.

In the next letter postmarked March 29, 1944, Howard enclosed a small photo with two pictures.  On the back it says Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Vic. The initials "F.R. are on the the right side.The picture on the left is of a person perhaps in uniform outside a building, the picture on the right is of a car in the foreground perhaps next to a street.

McCloskey General Hospital
temple, Texas

My darling Margaret,

I got a lot of mail from [scratched out: people] overseas yesterday. I expect that this will clean up my back correspondence, at least I trust so. It is becoming more and more established each day that I will be discharged. This makes me feel badly but I guess I'll live. If and when I get out I will [scratched out: be able] give Major Riggs a call and we will be able to spend a little time together. Of course I will be able to come thru Chicago.  Make your plans accordingly to stay for a few days anyhow. If I get discharged right quick I'll go home for a few days but that won't happen. I rather think they will keep me around for a few weeks probably. Take from one your old letters that you are an almost perfect 36. You shouldn't tell me those things. You speak of our love or attraction for each other. I'll guarantee you that you are the only little chick that ever satisfied me completely. Great stuff. Try to fix it so that you can stay at least a week.
     A little matter for your information -- you have no doubt read in the papers that a good many cases being returned are neuropsychopathic or psychoneurosis cases. In a lot of cases these guys have to be locked up for a while. A soldier could be locked up and still be writing home all the time that he is ok. It would be embarrassing to both parties if  company would come under those circumstances. I am not one of those but it could be you know. What I want to impress on you is to never never visit a hospital without an invitation. The visiting hours here are 2-4 and 6-8. I'll be glad to receive your pal when she comes on her inspection program for that's what it is). She's liable to be surprised because this whole wing of the hospital I am in is composed of psycho wards. It seems that under the army medical system any normal case is automatically a case neuropsychosis. I don't know when I'll see you but I can't wait.

                                                                                            Love much,


February 1944

January 1944

December 1943

Howard wrote Margaret a letter dated December 12, 1943

S/sgt Mccormick 14003792

My darling Margaret,

   It has been some days since I wrote to you. Your beautiful cheeses arrived safely. Pretty potent they were too. Things are much the same. They have taken a little different turn of late but not much. (I have no typewriter available so  you will have to decypher [sic] this as best you can. Your pictures came and they were lovely. this writing by hand is real work for me. I'll bet I haven't written much but my initials for nearly three years. My Christmas presents are arriving regularly. I got a box of very potent cigars the other day from Reba (one [ ]). I'll smoke them if it kills me. This is just too much.

November 1943

October 1943

September 1943

Monday, November 16, 2015

Brisbane, August 1943

Howard wrote on August 9:

My Darling

     Status unchanged. I have gotten three or four of your letters with my new company number on them. The postal system is vastly improved over what it was a year ago. This meets with my approval.
     The days are getting a little longer and warmer now, thank the Lord. It was really rugged at first. I've been here long enough now so that all that was once backward is now right. Even the people walk on the left side of the street here. I supposed that when I get home it will take me just about as long to get oriented as it did here. One of the boys got a letter from some guy who went home. He wrote that he felt like a foreigner back there. The people drove on the wrong side of the raod and most of all the money was no good. I can understand that because altho' a pound is worth about $3.25 here we spend them like dollars.
     Another one of our boys got himself a wife yesterday. Marriage here is now commonplace. In fact the next generation is coming along.
                                                                           All my Love,


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Brisbane, July 1943

Howard returned to Australia in mid-1943.  He was within APO 923, which was Brisbane.

My Darling Margaret,

     I'm afraid that it has been too long since I have written you but I have been moving around the country a good bit of late and I wanted to have a permanent address to give you when I did write. Even now I do not think that this one will be permanent.  I hope to make one more move.
     I guess that I told you that I am back on the mainland. After the last year or so this is rally a country club existence. I even get Cocoa [sic] Colas frequently. Ice cream too. The movies here are later than those we saw before but I can put up with that I guess. This is a pretty nice company I am in now altho' all companies seem to be more or less alike.
     As soon as I came here I got me a furlough and I went where I wanted to this time and had me a time for sure. I will tell you all about it when I see you. This place I went to had more civilians than soldiers and you can guess that this alone was worth the price of admission. I got me some film for my camera while I was away and Ruth sent me a roll of Kodachrome too so I have some for now at least. There are some restrictions on taking pictures here so I can't get too many that I feel are suitable.
     I have gotten some mail since I shifted bases and no doubt I will be getting more - I hope. I can't think of any burning questions that you asked me that I can answer right now. All I can think of right now is how much I miss you. I got a wire from you too. They have a very nice custom in this company and that is that someone that is going where it is available gets a box or two of fruit most every day. It is paid for out of the company fund and I think it is one of the nicest things that I have run across for many a long day. Some day when I get some time that I think that I can spare I will tell you about the theater situation in this country. Right now I will just say that I need you more than somewhat and wouldn't it be just dandy - - - - -
                                                                              Lots of love


He wrote on July 26,

Dearest Margaret,

     I have several letters and a [ ] from you. You are doing much better in the correspondence section than I am. I don't know. I seem to have lost interest in writing to everyone except you. Some of my correspondents are doubtless wondering what kind of flowers they have over here, but I'll get back in the groove after awhile. This will have to be just a note and I will say that I am as well as ever in spite of the chow here. Food comes and goes and right now it is on the debit side of the ledger. One thing in the army that an enlisted man can raise hell about and get away with is the condition of the mess. The officers do not seem to know about it or they would do something about it.
     Maby I'll break down and tell them. Oh well! some times things are bad and then all of a suddent they get worse. Actually I am enjoying myself here a good bit. The work is not to the word escapes me, hard will do, and we lead a kind of country club life. I seem to have quit drinking. I don't know why because elbow bending is one form of exercise that I have always approved of.

                                                                                          Lots of love,

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New Guinea, June 1943

Jun 5, 1943

My Darling:

     My correspondence has overcome me. A lot of little short notes now and then I will start over again when I get more time. Your last was 10 May and I got that three part letter you wrote before that. I am still quite well and my duties are not too onerous. You are having a bad time with the film proposition but keep trying. That brother of yours seems to be a pretty good bet.
     Things have not changed a whole lot around here and we are still doing our bit in the same way as ever. I hope that the seeds get here before too long. I feel the need of a little gardening to keep my mind off one thing and another. I will try to get a more complete letter off to  you without too much delay so if I want to get the others 29 written I had better stop.

                                                                     All my love,

Later in the month, he was moved to the 1912th Q.M. Co., APO 923, which was Brisbane.

My Darling Margaret,

     I have been moving around some of late and am now in the 1912th Q.M. Co. APO 923.  I did not write for some time on this account but will perhaps catch up. I have gotten quite a lot of mail from you since I last wrote to you including the letter with the clippings in it. This address will probably catch me for a while but I expect I will go a little further before I stop. I am out of typewriters just now so if you can read this you are seeing all right. I would like to tell you of my [  ] but [  ]. Suffice it to say that [ ].

                                                    All my love, Howard

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Port Moresby, May 1943

Howard wrote to Margaret on May 1, 1943:

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):

Source: Florida Memory,

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:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Port Moresby, April 1943

Howard wrote to Margaret on April 7, 1943.  She did not receive the letter until May 25:

My Darling,

     You'll probably get a lot of mail from me at one time so just relax and take it easy.  I got a short note from you just today, also a letter from Katherine. She seems to think that Bobbie or is it bobby is O.K. Nothing like the patter of little feet around the house I guess. I see in the papers where the OPM is going to let the manufacturers make baby carriages, so I guess there s a good bit of pattering about. All those [unclear] young men that are getting bumped off will take a lot of replacing, although there is one school of thought that claims that wars are primarily to reduce the surplus population. I wouldn't know about that. I do know that a lot of those boys that I see around here are the cream of any crop. A fine body of troops - some of them.
     Today has been a pretty damp day. It is a real relief to get one of them come in a while in place of the usual hot ones. I thought I smelled spring in the air but it couldn't be. I guess I remain about the same. I got me a new pair of G.I. Specks this morning and they are not too bad. I wore them for a couple of hours and got me a nice headache out of it. All new specks do that though.
     I have not been to a movie the last few days and I must see about that. This business of sitting around camp is not good for the inner man. It gives for introspection. After being in the sticks as long as we have, a very little of that thinking stuff goes a long way. I can't understand how the time seems to go so fast. We are not particularly busy and even if we were the days would not go any faster than they do. Here it is Thursday, or Friday rather and it seems only yesterday that it was Sunday. I suppose that this is a very fortunate state of affairs. Although we keep getting older all the time, the war is bound to be that much nearer a close. That'll be the DAY for sure. I suppose I will be in some God forsaken outpost when that day comes and it will be about six months before a ship calls to pick me up. There is some talk  about eighteen months overseas and you go home but I reckon it is just talk. It would be all right I guess but I would just as leave go to China or somewhere first. That is right now I would. On hot days I want to go home and get away from it all for a while. We live so comfortably here in the bush that I doubt if I could stand it indoors where you have to keep all your brass polished and stand inspections and all that stuff.  After living in a tent for over a year barracks would seem kind of stuffy too. The rain has stopped so I will go and shave. You can't watch me this time anyhow. Them were the days.

                                                                         All my Love


There actually is a smell of spring in Port Moresby for a few days in the transition from the wet to the dry season.  I don't know who Katherine was.  The OPM was the Office of Production Management, and was replaced by the War Production Board in January 1942.

He wrote to her again on April 9, 1943:

My Darling Margaret:
     Several days have passed since I have gotten a letter from you. For that matter it is a few days since I have written. With me things seem to be O.K. Much the same as usual. I latched on to a pipe and I am having the very devil of a time keeping it lit. I think it will be nice if I can start smoking a pipe for I have gotten into the habit of smoking cigarettes, the vile things and I can hardly talk a lot of the time.
     This is just another nice hot day. There seem to be plenty of them. My long awaited camera finally got here the other day and I suppose that I will take a lot of pictures now. It is a honey for sure, an Argus color candid camera. There are more gad[g]ets on it than there are are one of Rube Goldberg[']s inventions. Some of the boys in a nearby photo section tell me that I can't miss with it though. I got a pound of coffee at about the same time and if you can believe what you hear about the scarcity if [of] this item back  home this must have represented a real sacrifice on someone[']s part. The coffee situation is not nearly so critical here as it once was. We have plenty now.
     The war news seems to be pretty favorable to the Allies just now. Mr. Rommel appears to be having a kind of tough time in Africa just now. Maby this is all propaganda. I suppose that with you things are unchanged too. The day will come my love when virtue will have it's [sic] own reward.
     I ran across a little poem the other day that I will send to you thus reversing the usual process. It tells more plainly than I how things are at times. This will have to be in the nature of a note on acc't that for now I cannot think of anything to day.

                                                                         ALL my love


Considering that Howard was hunting and pecking  on a World War II era typewriting, the layout of the poem is amazing.


When your sucking at your pencil
And you don't know what to say,
And you wish the dear old censor
Had never seen the light of day,
There's always one small item left,
You know it's safe to tell,
And it doesn't take much writing-
"Dear Mum, I'm feeling well.

The tucker may be awful
And the water pretty crock,
You might still be feeling mournful
Since the boat left 'Frisco's dock;
You may have been before the Captain
For being A.W.O.L.,
But take your pen and write it down,
"Dear Mum I'm safe and well."

You hear the cry of sirens
And the bombers of the Japs,
You make a bee line for the trenches
And hold on to your caps;
You may live with snakes and lizards
And their everlasting smell,
But still you can write the same old line-
"Dear Mum I'm safe and well."

You've seen the Zero fighter
Come screaming overhead,
And we know it isn't pleasant
To be dodging chunks of lead,
But when your sitting in your trenches
'Midst the hail of shot and shell,
You'll still have time to send this line-
"Dear Mum, I'm feeling well."

Your gray haired Mother's standing
Beside your dear old Dad,
She's waiting for the mailman
For news of her soldier lad,
A smile lights up her care worn face
With a beauty no words can tell,
As she reads your old familiar line-
"Dear Mum, I'm safe and well."

                          Betty F. Keith

The Argus candid camera debuted in 1936.  Pictures of various models can be found here, although none of them are labeled "candid."  The camera below was available between 1936-1945 and may be the model Howard had:

Source: EBTH.

The poem appears to be Australian in origin and is attributed to different people.  This version is typical:


Howard's next letter is dated April 11, 1943:

My Darling,
     Another nice enough day for writing letters has rolled around. It is another Sunday but as such it does not mean much to me. Just another day of duty. I had figured on going out this afternoon and taking some pictures but it is pretty cloudy. Maby it will clear up soon. I am more tickled about the camera each day. I can't wait to see how some of the pictures come out. I am going to take a couple of rolls right quick and see and then maby I can tell better. Incidentally maby you have heard but the postal laws in reference to overseas shipments have been relaxed a little. It is no longer necessary to get permission to send little items that do not weigh over eight ounces. Could you manage to get me a couple of rolls of film occasionally and send them to me. I guess from what the folks say at home they must be just a little difficult to get. The size I am using is 35 mm film and there are a number of different kinds of them. My first choice is Super II and after that it does not matter much. There seem to be a lot of tricks to this picture taking but fortunately there are a lot of boys in the Army who know whereof they speak when it comes to pictures and cameras. The government is developing film for [unclear] soldiers now so I should be able to get one of the more innocuous pictures home.
     I got a letter from home today and it told of planting a few seeds in the ground with the hope that I might be home to help with the harvest. That is very unlikely indeed to say the least. I have been away from home just long enough to begin to love this foreign service. Especially New Guinea. A beautiful spot anyway you take it. There are not very many blonds or brunette here though. I guess there are a few nurses around the hospitals but that is one place I don't spend much time. Perhaps it is just as well. Some of the boys have gone to a native village this afternoon and although all the females have been evacuated to the interior I suppose that they will get a few pictures or something at least. I can tell them one thing for sure, they will get a bad smell in their nose that will not leave for many a day. These native people may not smell bad but they certainly smell different.  Me [?] boy was out there the other day and he got a couple of pictures of cannibals or so they said. I rather imagine that they were just ordinary natives dressed up for the tourist trade.
     The situation here just now is not too bad but on the other hand it is not too good either. I have not gotten a letter from you for some time but I suspect that things will change before long. It has gotten to the place where if a guy doesn't get any mail from his true love for a while, he can automatically assume that she has lot interest and perhaps found another. One of the boys here says that when some of these pilots were going to school back in the 'States they must not have been paying attention. This is all for now, you have all my love

Howard's next letter, dated April 23, 1943, suggests that he has been in a "forward area" for some time. That could be Port Moresby, or it could be Milne Bay.

My Darling Margaret:

     Two letters from you, 21 and 26 Mar., both the same day. Things in general remain peaceful on the New Guinea front. You seem to be keeping busy which is good I think. You want to save up a lot of dough so that when mine gives out after I get home we will have carfare home.
     There are a lot of rumors about us going home one of these days but they are only someones [sic] wishful thinking I suspect. I'll have a year and a half in very shortly. It surely can't go on forever but look at the war of the roses. Of course things are a little different now and war is a little more expensive than it was in those days. from what I read in the press and hear over the radio it won't be long before you have a manpower board over there that really functions. It will give a lot of people a chance to see a lot of the country at the tax payers (God bless 'em) expense. They have the same system or practically so in Australia now and a lot of people work just where the Government tells them to. If it will help the war effort let them get busy right away says I.
     I have a couple of rolls of film away now to get developed and I guess that if I live right I will get them back in due time. You will get your fair share of them if they are any good. I have a lot that are of objects that might have some military signifigance [sic] but there are a liberal amount of non-military pictures. A guy offered to trade me out of my camera the other day. He offered me an Agfa 616 for mine with thirty pounds to boot. that would be a very advantageous trade if I had two cameras or did not want it or something.
     We have a Victory garden planted now. It has only radishes in it yet on acc't that this is the only kind of seeds that we have yet. You might put a small packet of some kind of seeds in your next letter. Carrots or lettuce or something. I want to have a few seeds stored up so that the next time that we move I can plant a garden right away. We have been in this place about as long as we customarily stay anyplace but maby this will be an exception to the ordinary and we will stay here from nwo on. We are what might be called in the forward area now and maby we will not go any further until the allies have some gains to consolidate. I don't mind consolidating gains but when it comes to retiring to a more strategic position that is not so good.
     I will enclose a little bit of Australian coinage in this letter. It will be a threepence or six pence if I can find one. Small coinage is rather scarce here. It just seems to get away some how. I am money made these days for I sure want to have a certain sum when I get home. We might need it. I am trying to teach my boy Herman how to play chess. I can't say whether he will stick to it or not. Regardless of what I tell him, chess is a game that is not learned overnight. I have to close now.

                                                                           All my love,


Howard sent a telegram, date stamped April 25, 1943, Easter Sunday, perhaps for Margaret's birthday on April 30:





                            HOWARD E MCCORMICK

He wrote a letter on Easter Sunday, too:

My Darling Margaret,

     Today is Easter Sunday.  I'm afraid that any celebrations of an appropriate nature that may be held on this day will have a hollow kind of sound. Nothing special seems to be planned for the troops over here for this day and as far as I can see it is just another day of duty. It is even hard to remember what the observation of Easter is supposed to mean. Ah well, there will come a day. I got to thinking about that little catholic church in San Antonio, Fla. I took Miss Hazel over there one Easter and it so happened that one of her friends was getting wed after the main service. It was very impressive to say the least.
     I have a couple of letters here from you. One of them mentions a Capt Gooding in some QM outfit here. I have not happened to run across him and I will doubtless not strain myself hunting him up. I find that for myself at least if I confine myself to strictly business when I am dealing with Officers I am much better off. If you get to passing a quip or two with officers you run into the old business of people in general being able to give it out but not take it. On top of this you run into the rank proposition. I did run across a young Captain in the medical section the other day that had a very nice command of the english language. He managed to get off some pretty good ones in just the short time I was talking to him. These guys are all to [sic] rare though.
     I ordered me a new pair of glasses the other day and I am supposed to get them in about a week or so. The ones that I have are my old civilian glasses and they may get broken at any time of course. Things are pretty quiet here just now but I guess that they are humming on some of the other fronts. Maby the Army is getting into high gear now. I surely hope so on acc't that I am ready to move again but I do not crave to go any way but foreward [sic] or home. I suspect that the people at home are getting war minded by now. I understand that the government is trying to raise some astronomical amount of money for the further prosecution of the war. I have not heard of late how the people are responding. Prices must be out of all reason just now. Maby if the government passed a 100% excess profits tax like they have in england the price ceiling would come down a little. Being a very amature [sic] economist indeed I would not know. Speaking of ribbons we are entitled to wear several but they are not available. We will doubtless get them on our return to our native land. Service ribbons will be a tuppence a dozen after this war if I can read the signs correctly. An enormous amount of troops are bound to go overseas when and if we invade Europe. With what figures are available now we are not doing so badly. I have no idea how many soldiers there are over seas now but it must be a very large amount. This has got to be all.

                                                                            All my love


Monday, October 12, 2015

Port Moresby, March 1943

At the beginning of March, Australian and American troops destroyed most of a Japanese convoy that was carrying troops to Lae.

Source: Source: Scanned from Reports of General MacArthur (1994 facsimile printing), Vol 2. Plate #51

Howard sent Margaret a telegram and three letters in March 1943.  The telegram is dated March 15, 1943.  One letter is undated, postmarked March 24,  and penciled received on March 29, 1943. The second letter dated March 15, has an illegible postmark, and penciled received March 31, 1943. The third letter, a V-mail, is dated March 31.  I'm putting the undated letter first, since she received it first:

My Darling Margaret,
     This letter writing business is getting entirely out of hand. I find that I am writing too much of the government's time for jobs like this that really do not further the war effort. Of course it is our duty to help the civilian morale as much as possible. I suppose that my littlest honey has returned from that wonderful state by this time. I surely hope that you did all right in every department that you were interest in. From the reports that you send me I should judge that you and Ruth got around some and saw a number of interesting things of one kind and another.
     I keep getting some of your December mail mixed up with the February stuff. I got a Christmas card just yesterday. This is all very cheering and beneficial to the morale of the troops, especially when some damn fools asks me did I have a nice Christmas. I do not know whether or not I commented on that clipping about that tank soldier or not. It was very good I thought. A nice piece of writing it was. I am still in the same place and doing the same things more or less. We have just been having a pretty hard rain storm. It served to demonstrate to me exactly how erosion takes place. This morning I had the grounds in front of the orderly room nicely raked and smoothed out. Now since the rain it is no longer smooth and nice. It is in foul condition. All kinds of gullys [sic] and things Since it got wet, this V mail form is sticking somewhat and making things very difficult. Mabe you will notice it when you get the letter. I have not seen anything in the papers lately that makes me very unhappy. The press at home must be smartining (is that a word) up or else there is nothing to report. For a long while there were constant references in the papers as to how well the soldiers at home were doing. This kind of thing was not very beneficial to the troops over here at least. It has kind of slowed down somewhat. I may have mentioned an article in one of the recent Reader's Digests about one of the repair units in this Army. Not too bad but not too good either. It was not too factual. This will be more or less of just a note to tell you that I am still thinking of you (a good bit these days). Take it away my love

                                                                          All my love,





                                        CARE HAZEL DROWDEN ADAMS INC INDPLS



                                   HOWARD E MCCORMICK


                                                                                                         16 Mar / 43

My Darling Margaret,

     Another Sunday has rolled around and we are being favored with G.I. Jive over the wireless. Good too. Today has been a very nice day, not too hot and of course not too cold. I have a number of letters from you. I got them all at the same time however, a day or so ago. One of them was your four part V mail. It surprised me a good bit that it all came at once. The postal service is sure on the ball some times. You speak of me having a camera. I have a camera coming, it is not here yet. There are some things here that need pictures taken of.
     This has been another fast week. The days sure do go. There seems to be a lot of news these days but nothing very startling. I suppose that things will continue to go by fits and starts. Just since I started writing this letter it has started to shower. This will be a nice night to sleep. There will come a day.
     Things are going very well here just now, that is for me at least. The company seems to be operating fairly smoothly, and although we have plenty of work I do not have too much to do. This is an ideal position for me for as you know too much pressure gives me a headache. I have developed enough outside interests so that all my time is very full. I am certainly soldiering the hard way this week, for it is only temporary as I well know. There is nothing much that I can think of that I would want sent. Our wants are very simple here and it is kind of interesting to see what all you can improvise, although to tell the truth improvising is about all that I have been doing since I came to this land.
     There is a little newspaper printed around here for the service men and it is put out by the Australians I guess. Anyhow I have never seen anything even remotely humorous in it until today. I will enclose the clipping. It looks to me as if they must have an American on the staff. This little sheet used to be fascinating reading but it is not any more. I have come to distrust it on acc't that there is too much good news in it and there are some things reported in it of which I have first hand knowledge.
     I have been getting around a good bit of late and some of the things you wouldn't believe. For instance I saw a native running a little while ago. This is enough to make one look around the nearest tree for a Jap or something. Again I must say a good word for the Engineers. They are doing a marvelous job. If they do not get a lot of credits and decorations out of this war something is surely wrong. I am not at liberty to tell you the type of work that they are doing but take my word for it they are on the team.
     I have been spending part of my spare time making an ash tray. It has as a base a cut down shell case of a pretty large calibre. It is just a little over three inches in diameter and I have it fixed up so that it is utilitarian as well as handsom [sic]. A lot of people are looking at it with a look of avariciousness in their eyes. I guess I will put it away and just hope that I get it home.
     I guess that I will be able to find a picture to send to you this time too. I have not been able to increase my collection any of late but that is just another project that takes a little time. There are so many of these projects that I can hardly take care of them all. The time element you know. Getting these little things that are not strictly part of a soldier's duty take a surprising lot of time. Of course there is morale to thing [sic] of. When a soldier makes something of which he is just a little proud he is ipso facto a better soldier. To let sentiment creep into this letter a little I will say that I have missed you a surprisingly large amount this pst [sic] good while. There will come a day, and it will be THE day. All my love


Text of Clipping:


     Here and there in the garden of civilisation, the flower of politeness bobs a brave head up among the weeds of crudeness and rudeness.
     Reminiscent of the those faraway days of gentility and antimacassars, before the refinements were trampled to death beneath the pounding hoofs of the steed of progress was this recent advertisement in a Sydney morning paper's "Positions Vacant" column:--

     "Wanted, girls for milk bar, must be over 45."

     Not a girl over 45 in Sydney wouldn't feel the glow of youthful exhilaration flow over faded cheeks at the reflection that the flaxen-haired, wise-eyed flappers haven't got a mortgage on the territory behind the chromide counters of the milk bars. Another ad-writer, alas, gave unmistakable signs of a corruptive influence of latter-day industrial needs. He wanted an assistant in a delicatessen shop. So, cognizant that it is dog eat dog in this modern struggle for survival, he devised the following advertisement:

     "Wanted, for sandwiches, women over 45."

     He overlooked the obvious fact that even the best dentures have their breaking point. Women much under 45 would be easier on the teeth.

I do not know why the text of this letter, dated March 31, 1943, is X'd out.

My Darling:

     I have some letters from you, the latest 13 Mar. It came regular air mail I reckon. I have a couple of v mails from you the 4th. One of those letters was not addressed by you. It looks more like my own writing than yours. I guess that the mail people will not photograph the ones with clippings in them. My letters do not have the dates on them because each time because I forget it [check].
     The Red Cross sponsored none other than the great Joe E. Brown here recently. I went to see him and it was wonderful. I suppose that he is operating under the auspices of the USO or something. Any how he was about the first bona fide actor to reach this part of the country. In my own way I will try to describe this act that he put on. As you doubtless know Mr. Brown is one of the truly great comedians of our or anybody elses [sic] time. From the minute he made his first appearance upon the stage he had the audience literally rolling in the aisles. His facial expressions were beyond expression and the way he put across his jokes was excellent. I find it hard to find enough adjectives to describe his act. He turned the mood of the audience on and off as a water tap, one moment hilarity and the next pathos. His act was neither too long or too short, it was just exactly the right length. Such perfect timing. If I had to describe him I would have to say "another Chaplin". Perhaps you have the general idea by now. In other words his performance left something to be desired.
     There was a swing band from some army unit there that was pretty good and they had a big [unclear] singing with them and he really had a nice voice, so the evening was not entirely wasted. Some volunteer soldier got up and sang the Strip Polka with no variations however. That is a song that lends itself admirably to variations.
     The gum on this paper is sticking again. It makes it very difficult any way you take it. Since I have disposed of Mr. Brown et al I will take time to tell you that I am alive and well. There is no change here to speak of. From the news I read in our papers things things are kind of quiet all over this week. The radio has not been running for the last two or three days on account of no power. My requisitions for power bring no results so I will have to [unclear] to other [unclear]. This I think I can do, one way or another. I have almost finished Shirer's book "Berlin Diary". Quite interesting it is too. If the Germans were in the condition he describes in '41 they really ought to be a little worse off now. Of course one that that we do not too often realize is that while our own might is growing those other nations are not just standing still. I have heard that song about the lights are lit all over etc. That would be ok I guess. Is the middle west blacked out yet? I don't suppose so. This letter has to close. Your proposition is accepted. All my love


Because of the work that Joe E. Brown did as a performer entertaining troops during World War II, often at his own expense, he was one of only two civilians awarded the Bronze Star.  The text below the picture reads: Film actor Joe E. Brown autographs a 1,000-pound bomb, ‘“To Tojo from Joe,’” and says, There, boys, is the address with U.S. forces somewhere in New Guinea on April 15, 1943. Now go and deliver it.” He is with the crew of the heavy B-24 bomber which is named “Yanks from Hell.’” (AP Photo)

Source: Flashbak.

A recording by the Andrews Sisters of Strip Polka, with lyrics, is on YouTube.

"Berlin Diary" can be found here.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Port Moresby, February 1943

It is not surprising that there was some interruption of correspondence as the United States began what became a two and one-half year battle for control of New Guinea and other parts of the Pacific.

On February 5, 1943 (postmarked February 20), Howard had experienced almost a month of the wet season in Port Moresby:

My Darling Margaret,

     One of my few letters these days to you. Things seem to be rocking along the same as usual. I am still in New Guinea, and a hell of a place it is. The day that I leave here can not come too soon. It is a relief in a way to get away from the endless dust of the place I came from and see some green grass for a change but none of it is too good. I surely hope that you are O.K. in all respects. I did get a couple of letters from you at last. they came a couple of days ago but they were quite old, November. It is very hot here. Right this moment I mean.
     We have fairly good reception on our radio now. Just how long it will last I cannot say. It is now about five PM her and we are listening to Glen Miller via record from London. We get radio Tokio, American and Germany too. This all helps to pass the time but I cannot seem to forget that I am in this damn country. Enough of that. Censorship has gotten so rigid that there is really not much to talk about. These [unclear] telegrams are in effect here now and I expect to confine my correspondence to them largely. About all that I can say is that I am alive and well. I miss you so much oney child, There will come a day however.

                                                                                     All my love


The following day he sent a postal telegraph:

WD.CA192     C.FC134     LE34F (ELEVEN) WIRELESS
     AMIBFO VIA MACKAY                                                                   FEB 6 PM 3 35

                :HOWARD E MCCORMICK

He wrote in a letter postmarked February 27, 1943:

My Darling Margaret,

     I finally hit the jack-pot. I got 6 letters from you, the latest dated January 13, the rest scattered through December. You seem to be doing all right from the tone of your letters. I sure hope that you have been to Florida by now. In my own department things seem to be rocking along well. No trouble at all. We have a nice little camp here and everybody seems to like it as well as could be expected. I still say that this is a sort of a minor kind of hell hole. It is a sort of tough proposition any way you take it. A fellow can take a shower six times a day and still be quite sticky. Oh she's a rugged theater. One nice thing about it is in our favor. Every day that we spend here is one more day that we don't have to spend overseas.
   From the tone of your letters I would say that civilian morale is pretty high. Maby the folks back in the 'States are beginning to realize that there is a war going on. Those poor old USO boys, I feel very badly about them. Why in the hell does the government not send a few of them over here and let us be the USO gents for a while. This is a subject that seems to be constantly on my mind. I cannot truthfully say that I have an obsession about going home but it would be nice for a while any way. I would really like to get home and see you. It seems to me that we could find a little unfinished business that needs attending to. Since the ban is on civilians sending packages to members of the armed forces overseas you won't need to worry about what to send me. One of my sisters is sending me a camera that is supposed to be here by now so you won't have to send me that. I really will be able to use it -I hope. I want to have a nice collection of pictures when I get home - and from the looks of things I will have to show them to someone else's grandchildren. From the papers I see over here I guess everybody is in the Army. Good on 'em as the Aussies say.
     One of my sisters sent me a box of coffee once in a while, but since it is rationed I guess I had better start sending some to her. Whenever you see a moon these days you might say a few prayers for me. Pray for rain. This is the first job I have had in the Army where I can consistently write my letters during duty hours. It's all right. I have looked through your letters and do not seem to find anything that requires an answer so I'll be seeing you some day I hope. We are supposed to be home by Christmas but what Christmas I do not know.

                                                    All my love

His last letter in February 1943 is dated February 27:

My Darling Margaret,

     I have in hand a couple of letters from you, 27 Dec and the other one 1 Jan/43. The one of Dec had a clipping in it that was a pretty good piece of writing, or so it seemed to me. I am so [glad?] that you got to Miami this winter. From what I read in the papers I guess that [there are?] a lot of soldiers in that place. Those pictures of them living in those [unclear] hotels seem kind of incongruous viewed from this angle. They will pay through the nose for those palmy days when they get over seas somewhere. I just hope that I get a few of those Miami boys in my outfit. Maby they will be able to forget about it. We have Ted Weems on the radio just now. How nice it is to have a good radio you will probably never fully appreciate. We just got a mess of news from the 'States, all good of course. If you believe half of what you hear, we are practically home. That would be just to [sic] bad, I don' think that I could stand it. Honey child, if your letters are any indication of the real state of affairs you spend to [sic] much time in idle thinking, I might call it. After all my love I am a pretty poor risk and it is pretty likely that I might get bumped off. To spare your own feelings I would advise you to take it easy.
     You mention the troops in the outfit. You may rest assured that almost everything that we talk about it is someway connected with the Army, therefore taboo for correspondence purposes. Censorship regulations have gotten pretty rigid. They leave us almost nothing to talk about, in letters. Actually everything we do has something to do with some phase of Army life. I will be able to tell you about all those funny little things some of these days probably. If you get right down to it I suspect that the poor old civilians will get very tired of the tales that the soldiers tell. You would not appreciate the callous feeling that war engenders in people that are rather close to it too. If something happens to someone that you know about a typical remark would be "More insurance for some lucky person". The subject would then probably be dropped. This is a very sad state of affairs of course but this is no place for sentiment as on [sic] can readily see. The old excuse of I forgot to duck is no good over here.
     A note about myself and I will call it a day and go to bed and get me a little spine drill. All soldiers need a good bit of this sort of thing. I am surprisingly well. I continue on my same old way, and things are not too rugged. As ever my dear you have all my love,


Ted Weems was a bandleader from the 1920's until after World War II ended.  He and his orchestra enlisted in the U.S. Merchant Marine and became the official Merchant Marine Band.

Source:  Wikipedia,; Left: The Palm Beach Post, 30 November 1942; Right: The Miami Herald, 19 (?) November 1942.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Port Moresby, January 1943

In mid-January Howard sent Christmas and New Year greetings:



                              KENTLAND IND


                               HOARD [SIC] MCCORMICK

                                                                   821A JAN 14

Howard was transferred to New Guinea in January 1943. Major fighting along the Kokoda trail between the Japanese and the Australian and American troops had consumed much of the second half of 1942. At the beginning of 1943, Japan still intended to invade Port Moresby from Lae. Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, using intercepted information, prevented Japan from building up its forces at Lae, thereby successfully forcing Japan on the defensive. The first half of 1943 saw a stalemate between the opposing forces. Neither Japan nor the United States were able to bring sufficient resources to bear to change the dynamic. The war of attrition continued throughout 1943. (Edward J. Drea, New Guinea: The U.S. Army Campaign of World War II 5).

His first letter from New Guinea, undated and postmarked January 26, 1943, uses APO 929 (Port Moresby). Flights took off at all hours and planes were in constant need of repair, so there would have been much noise.

Dear Margaret,

     As you will see my address is changed.  I am no longer in Australia, thank God, and am now in New Guinea. It sounds exotic does it not? It is pretty nice here, the food is good and although it is kind of noisy here it is not so bad. Time is very limited so I'll write more later. I feel fine. All my love,

Port Moresby has two seasons: monsoon and dry. Howard arrived in the wet season when it rains about every other day, with an accumulation of about 6 inches on average in February. Plants and vines grow quickly in the wet season and mosquitoes are plentiful.

His next letter, dated January 19, 1943, and postmarked February 4, has more detail and indicates that he was already in New Guinea by the 19th. 

My Darling Margaret,
     The time when I have a little more time has come this date. New Guinea is a lovely country, except that it is too dark, too wet, and too [unclear]. The food is pretty good here although that is but a different [unclear], you might [unclear] that you step and to go any where you are going either up [unclear]. I got all, the ones that you mentioned and I suppose that something happened to the ships that were carrying the letters of acknowledgement. I [unclear] remain in good health and I suppose that this is something to be thankful for at that. It has been almost a year now since I left the 'States and [unclear] it does not seem that long. I presume that you are doing much the same as ever. You should be nice and cool as I write this letter. Boy oh boy how the rain is coming down now. It is nice and wet rain too. The mosquitoes here are rather bad [unclear].
     The boat ride up here was rather stuffy. I find Army transports that way. When I get home I think that I will take a cruise somewhere on a peace time liner just so I will have plenty of room and plenty to eat on a ship for once. This damn typewriter seems to stutter more than somewhat. I guess it is just the nature of the thing. As far as I can recollect it has always done it, even when it was quite small. Being in this part of the world is enough to make anything stutter. I am the first sergeant of this part of the company now and we seem to be getting along well. As long as we do and do not have too much static I will be very well pleased. I have gotten no mail from anyone for a good while. This is because of the movement I suppose. Some day things will change I suppose and I will have thousands of letters, a good many from you I hope. This letter has about run out. Some days you can write without any trouble and some days -- I guess you know what I mean. After I get a little better acquainted with the customs of the country I'll write more.  All my love