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.


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