World War II Letters: Almost Home, But Starving in the Meantime

I think if Dad had been able to swim back to the United States, he would have given it a shot.  He and the other soldiers in his unit were very tired on the island of Guam and truly ready to get back to civilian life.  Rations kept them alive, and Dad said that at times they weren’t bad at all.  He acquired a taste for hard tack and cheese that he kept the rest of his life.  It was a favorite snack that went back to his days in the army. In this letter he complained about the shrinking quality and quantity of the food they were given on Guam.

Evidently, his sister Violet wasn’t writing often enough to suit him, and he makes a joke about it in this letter.  Any little tidbit of news from home provided a connection that was like a life-line for soldiers waiting to be shipped back to the USA.

Oct. 5, 1945

Dear Mom & Dad, & Vi,

     It gives me great pleasure in writing this letter, telling you that I am practically on my way home.  I’m so darned happy I can hardly write.  Please don’t send anymore packages, because I may not be here to receive them.  We are supposed to be alerted on November 15th for shipment to the states.  The way we found it out was that a major and another man from the personnel office told us.  They said they have seen it in black and white.  It hasn’t come out on orders yet, so it is just in the making.  I only hope that these orders to come out aren’t changed this time.  Anyway, please don’t send me any X-mas packages.  If I’m not home for X-mas, I’ll be home shortly afterward.

     I haven’t written to Eddie lately, because I had hoped he was on his way home.  If they leave him over here, they should be shot.  He has served honorably on that ship in action for nine months, and when that ship leaves for the states, the full crew should be on her.  Sometimes I can’t understand the damned service.  The next time they want this boy, they are going to have to find him, and I’m not kidding.  Eddie has been through an awful lot over here, and he should be the member of the McKee’s crew that’s on duty on her in New york on Navy Day.  He should be entitled to go home before any of us.  He’s been through more in one month than we were in our twelve months in Europe.  I’m still hoping to hear that he is on his way home by now.

     Well, how is everyone there at home?  Ask Jesse if he broke his fountain pen, will you?  Did you find another place.  They must be as scarce as hens’ teeth.

     I just wrote to Bonnie and told her the news.  Maybe I won’t need those battle stars now.  The way it is supposed to work, all men in the 90th Service Group, who have 45 points or more up to V-J Day are supposed to go home.  (That gets me.)  Have you seen or talked to my honey lately?  I sure hope she is getting along alright.  Has she ever gone to the doctor yet?  She doesn’t seem to want to answer that!

     Boy, they are starving us to death over here now.  For instance, I didn’t get up for chow this morning, and this noon I had one salmon patty, one spoonful (one helping) of rice, and two pieces of jelly bread and a cup of coffee.  The salmon I had to throw away, because it tasted spoiled.  The rice I couldn’t eat without fixing it up some way, so I put sugar on it, so what I had for dinner was a helping of sugared rice, two pieces of jelly bread, and a cup of coffee.  I’m just waiting to see what we have for supper.  I’ll know in another half hour.  This has been going on for a week now.  Maybe it’s just that they don’t want us to get too big for our clothes, aye what? Well, I’ll close for now.  Write soon.  Be careful.  God bless and watch over you.

Your loving son,


For Vi…………………your loving brudder

For Vi…………………No remarks

For Vi………………….Write me a letter.

For Mom & Dad…….Make Vi write!!!

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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