Prelude: This letter was written on July 23, 1944 by a Lt. G.H. Morrison who was stationed somewhere in New Guinea to Esther and Frank Fairfield of Hornell, NY. Esther and Frank are the parents of Miss Francis Fairfield whom I’ve posted several letters that were written to her from Bob Flannery.
Dear Esther and Frank: Somewhere in New Guinea
23 July, 1944
Boy, was I glad to hear from you. It was a very pleasant surprise. It’s good to hear from people from home, who are your friends, and who, you know won’t let you down in this crisis. I say that, Esther, because, you see, Lucile has let me down. I had a letter from her recently in which she gave me the “brush-off” as we call it in the Army. Of course, I’m not the only one, but I did not hardly expect it of her. Just a silly girl who couldn’t take it, and had to have her fun. It was pretty tough to take, and really staggered me, but— if that is the way she feels, it is the only thing to do. She gave as a reason that I was too old, and that she knew she was going to do it before I left for the Army. Now, I know why she was so anxious for me to stay in. You see, I could have gotten out, but am damn glad I didn’t now. I wouldn’t miss the finish of these “yellow bellies” for anything. At least I have one distinction—- I’ll bet I’m the first one in Hornell, to be kicked out of house and home.
This is a pretty rugged life down here, Esther, but I seem to be holding up a little better than average, even though I am so damned old. The heat, dust and mud and the everlasting insects are the worsts. The bugs are bugs as we know them in Hornell—-they are twice or three times as large, and when they hit you, it feels like a P-38.
So, Frank, you are still the fisherman? You should be down here, as we make it very simple. Just pull the pin in a hand grenade and lob it in. Saves a lot of time and they taste damned good, after bully-beef. (Don’t mind the mistakes, as I am working on a bottle of rum, I bought off a ship for ten pounds ($32.28). I have to do something to drown my troubles. Wish I had a case.
So, they finally got Tony. He should make good, as they need mechanics badly. Maybe he will come over, or rather down in this Theater. Let me know from time to time what his APO is and if it is here in New Guinea, I will know where and will look him up. I have seen several of Hornellians, Eddie Shearer’s boy, Joe’s brother-in-law, Geo DeGroat, Rowley Gams, and others.
I have been working like the devil lately. I suppose ‘Cile has told you I am doing the same thing I did in Hornell, only of course on a larger scale, and I mean larger, definitely! I don’t think anyone can imagine what we get rid of here in one day. All I can say is that it would supply Hornell for a period of five years.
Well, Esther and Frank, I don’t know what will become of my business, but if I still have it when this mess is over, I will probably see you at the same old stand. If I don’t have anything left, but a suit of clothes, maybe I will be back anyway, asking for a job.
Everything tonight, is covered with a fine volcanic dust. I don’t know where it is coming from, but I hope it is Tokio. How do you like the looks of the war news? We have landed on Guam, according to the latest reports, and our little newspaper, “Guniea Gold”. Did ‘Cile ever show it to you? It certainly is a complete little paper. The Russians are going great guns, and they are doing all right in Europe. Who knows, maybe this will be over, before we suspect. Anything can happen in Europe. I remember the last war. It ended overnight and no one suspected it. Golly, I must be getting old, this is my second one. Maybe ‘Cile is right, after all. More power to the 4-F or the DDD, (Damned Draft Dodger). I was planning on a victorious home-coming after victory, but I suppose it will be a very quiet entrance, with my tail between by legs. Of course, there is a possibility I can’t overlook—- We are still in contact with the Japs, and I may never come home at all. That would certainly simplify matters, wouldn’t it?
Give my best to Maxine, all the Andersons, and anyone else you can think of. Damn—- this $32.28 dollar rum is surely working. We mix it with grapefruit juice and believe it or not, ice. The Japs were good enough to leave some of the plants still standing when they took off. You see there were some very nice little villages here, before they landed.
I have plenty to tell you, if I ever see you again, but I can’t in a letter. I don’t know whether ‘Cile told you or not, probably not, as she must be pretty busy with her social and business life, but I was down south for about five weeks doing some special work. I didn’t see much of Australia, but what I did see, looked pretty good. Might even be a good place to spend the rest of my life in. They are about 25 years behind in all things, and an opportunity to make some money is there. I did get a lot of Australian beer. It’s pretty good, but about twice as strong as ours and doesn’t taste as good. We are to be issued good old American beer here on the 1st of August. One case of “stubbies” per month. I could drink that at one setting at the Big Elms. Wish I was there to bring you some more nice cool drinks in this hot weather you are having. You know of course, this is our winter, and it was real cool in the mainland. Of course, here it never gets cool. Too near the Equator.
Well folks, guess I have bored you long enough, and I still have to write to Dooly, So good night for now, and God bless you all. I’ll be seein’ you—-I Hope.
Well, this was quite the lengthy letter. Geo is emerged in WWII in the South Pacific and Rum seems to be his medicine of choice. Letters from soldiers involved in WWII are always interesting because the writers have to try to tell what is going on with them without revealing what is going on with the war. “Loose lips, sink ships” was the motto of the day and as we read this letter from Geo, we can almost hear the stress hidden behind the comedic remarks of his letter. I’m guessing alcohol dulled the pain of his everyday terrors. Letters like this should make us remember that WWII was fought on the backs of everyday men and women who just wanted to be home.