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This is Quite the Place Now

Posted by on March 12, 2017

May 28, 1945. We have a V-mail from Dad to his family back home in Albany. Also, in a departure from the usual, we have a letter that Dad wrote to his brother Stanley. A far as his note home, he mentions that he is “getting hot meals and they taste pretty good.” He also asks that his folks send him “about three more t-shirts” and “some of that Mexsanna (sic) heat powder”.

Vintage 1940’s era Mexsana Heat Powder

He continues writing that he just got paid and that he is “making arrangements to have dad receive 80 dollars by government check.” Apparently being stationed on Guam will be good for his saving s account as he is sending almost all of his money home explaining, “There’s no place to spend it.”

He writes that he is “getting accustomed to this place” and that it “is certainly an unusual place to spend May but maybe one of these days we may find ourselves at peace and return home to live like we want to.” He also mentions that he gets to Mass “practically every day when I’m not busy.”

Before wrapping up the V-mail he notes that “Vincent and Stanley should be going home soon unless they are sent to the Pacific.”

As far as Dad’s letter to Stanley, he writes that he received Stanley’s letters of May 5th and 9th, specifically the “letter…describing your VE Day at the ETO, the most interesting part being your trip over Belgium and Germany. I will send that letter home so I can have it for future reference. It was a very interesting account of a deceased battle. Maybe I may get a chance like that over here but such chances appear very slim, and yet you can’t tell.”

He goes on to muse, “At times, Stanley, I envy your experiences over there in England and who knows, maybe I could have been there if I got overseas earlier than I did. However, our being in different theaters of war will give us something to compare and have more to talk about tour folks at home… Of course, I may be optimistic about all of this but I certainly am hoping to come home someday.”

Dad goes on to write about life on Guam. “Well, the place where I am at is getting better every day. We have outdoor showers with sufficient water and we have outdoor movies. Since yesterday they put up an outdoor public address system over which we get the news from Armed Forces Radio. Today they had recordings of Viennese Waltzes and other classical pieces. We have hot meals and they aren’t bad. Yes sir, this is quite the place now. The tent areas have been landscaped by use of some of the manpower around here and things are improving by the day. ”

By way of illustrating how far things have come, Dad relates what the first few days were like. “The first Sunday here was pitiful. There wasn’t anything but boxes to say Mass on and we stood under the small tent in a huddle, no chairs but the bare ground. Last Sunday it was built up a bit. The tent has been expanded to accommodate an average crowd, and some means for sitting have been provided. The altar has a tabernacle on it and looked pretty good. …We’ve got electric lights now and a radio in the supply tent over which we get some entertainment.”

Dad makes a few comments about one of the personal services that is available to the men on the field. “We even got a tent where we have a barber shop. We have a couple of fellows from our squadron who cut hair. They’re covered by rules and regulations too. …Since getting a haircut on the boat, I didn’t get any more until that same barber caught me here. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to go without a haircut for about two months or maybe until Christmas if he doesn’t catch me again.  …You don’t suppose we’re turning native since we don’t have women like we had back in the States in front of whom you figured that a haircut would make you halfways handsome. We ain’t allowed beards. A moustache is allowed if it’s within reason.”

Before wrapping up his letter to his brother, Dad offers some advice in case Stanley finds himself reassigned to the Pacific Theater. “If you ever do come over here, bring a lot of T-shirts and socks and some kind of foot powder. A hunting knife may come in hand, but a pocket knife will be just as good. Seems as though that’s about all from me here at the Three Thirsty First Bomb. Gp.”

“Jungle Barber” sketch from the 331st Bombardment Group From Activation Until V-J Day booklet which was provided to all members of the Group.

That wraps thing up for May of 1945. If you are a long time reader, you may have become accustomed to the month end posts including a rundown of group missions. To be clear, although there were no bombing missions flown by the 401st Bomb Group (Stanley’s Group in England) a history of the group mentions that for about a week after VE Day the B-17s belonging to the 401st had their interiors stripped down to accommodate as many as 30 passenger per plane and were used to fly Allied POWs out of prison camps deep in Germany and Austria to bases in France for processing and homeward transport. The 331st Bomb Group on Guam was just arriving and getting settled in and did not fly any missions in the month of May 1945.

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