Getting close to shore & Letter VI
Just as Smitty expected, their destination was quickly coming up over the horizon. The fleeting glimpse of solid land, Milne Bay, New Guinea was only a short stopover for water (such a disappointment) and they continued their cruise north. The 11th came upon the humming waterfront of ships manipulating to unload troops, supplies and equipment in Oro Bay. They witnessed a paradoxal view of organized chaos. Down the rope ladders they went to the beach taxis, DUKWs (2 ton amphibious vehicles commonly called “ducks”) and onward to the awaiting shoreline. At latitude 8*52’60S and longitude 148*30’0E would be the first step for many a G.I. on foreign soil. On the beach, the heat seemed to slam into the troopers and their uniforms became soaked within minutes, but they proceeded on to the Buna-Dobodura area to make their new base camp.
As written in the Australian newspaper, The Canberra Times, 1944: “New Guinea was a country out of the Stone Age that was whizzed through the centuries. A country that had previously known only natives, grass huts and raw nature has been blitzed from all angles with every piece of equipment known to modern engineering and warfare … the skies are as busy as a beehive with bombers and fighters and transports.”
The 11th had entered the jungles amidst torrential rains, mud and heat. On their first day, the meals were prepared in Australian chuck wagons and the idea of fresh food would be a distant memory from the past. From here on out, everything would be canned, dehydrated or cured. Having come from the fishing town of Broad Channel, Smitty was accustom to eating seafood and was even teased in boot camp for liking the creamed chipped beef on toast (more commonly known as -“shit-on-a-shingle”), but those days were long gone. I remember him saying more than once, “It wasn’t that the powdered eggs tasted bad — they just didn’t have a taste.”
Although General Swing had contracted malaria and was hospitalized when his men sipped out of the U.S., he boarded a plane for Brisbane, Australia to attend a meeting with Gen. MacArthur. Swing was briefed on the immediate plans for his command and was reminded that the 11th A/B was considered a “secret weapon.” Swing managed to be in Dobodura in time to meet his men as they disembarked.
Letter VI Land Ho! On the port side
Dear Mom, Well, land is in sight so I’ll just hold off this letter awhile until I can find out for sure if this is what we have all been waiting for or just another island…. Yep and yes siree this is finally it and from what I have seen up to now it is going to prove not only an interesting place, but picturesque as well. Don’t know yet if we can say where we are, so I won’t attempt it.
Everyone is standing along the railings with glasses while those less fortunate are straining their eyes trying to get a glimpse of our new and strange surroundings. It is all very exciting and thrilling and must say one gets sort of feeling down deep that is hard to explain. It might be that the sight of this long awaited place has sub-consciously awaked us to the fact that we are one heck of a long way from home.
Now that we are here in a port with a chance of possibly getting this letter mailed, I’ll close this letter and mail it as I know how anxious you must be about me and would like to hear from me as soon as possible. I promise you though that I will continue to write my letters like this and would like you to save them all so that when I get back I will have something to read back on and maybe remember.
I did finally get around to
part of this was censored so don’t worry any on that account. I know how you worry about things like that so thought it best that you know. the next two lines were also censored That is just about all there is for now, so with regards to all and hoping this letter is the answer to your nightly prayers, I’ll close with all my love and millions of hugs and kisses.
Your son, Everett
PERSONAL NOTE – If any photo image is too small to see, click on that image to enlarge. In future letters you will see the dry humor my father had. I can’t wait to get to those.
Posted on October 19, 2012, in Letters home, SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged 11th airborne, Broad Channel, Gen. Swing, History, New Guinea, Oro Bay, Pacific War, paratroopers, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.