Smitty’s Letter XIV – “On the Move Again”

 

Letter XIV                                    “On the Move” (again)                        undated due to censorship

Dear Mom,  We have been at sea now for three days heading toward someplace the Land and the great white father in Washington only knows.

As I sit here writing this, I just can’t help but feel like a very small insignificant part of something so vast that the mind can’t in any way begin to comprehend what it is all about.  Here I am on a ship heading out to something, someplace, and it was all planned probably months ago, miles and miles away from anywheres near here.  Suddenly it all takes form.  Transports and other ships stream into the harbor and just as quickly and quietly we are made loose and moving out.  It all happens so fast and so smoothly that you can’t help but admire it all.

Of course, as serious as it all is, the army just can’t help but be the cause of many amusing incidents.  When we first landed in New Guinea we got lost looking for our camp and coming down to the boats, the trucks again got lost and so we had to travel up and down the beach until finally, instead of us finding the boats — the boats found us.  Climbing up the gangplank with our packs and duffel bags always provide an amusing incident or two, but at the time seem pretty damn dangerous.

On board ship, we are once again packed in like sardines down in the hold.  Once shown our bunk, we proceed at once to get rid of our equipment and dash up on deck to pick out some spot where we can spend the night,  It isn’t long after this that the details are handed out — and so — what could have been a very pleasant voyage soon turns out to be anything else but.  I was lucky in that I was handed a detail that only worked for an hour each day, but the poor guys that hit the broom detail were at it all day long.  All we could hear, all day long, over the speaker system was: “Army broom detail, moping and brooms, clean sweep down forward aft, all decks.”  They kept it up all the time until soon one of the fellas made up a little ditty about it and sang it every time we saw a broom coming down the deck.

The food was excellent and really worth talking about.  On the first trip coming over from the states, we dreaded the thought of eating, but on this ship, it was more than a welcome thought.  Generally, when you go to a movie there are news reel pictures of convoys of ships and the men aboard.  They always try to show you a few playing cards or joking and say that this is how the boys relieve the tension they are under.  Well, I don’t know about the seriousness of the situation was anything like what the news reels portray.

Of course, it was a strange sight to see the boys at night line up at the side scanning the sky and distant horizon.  This was generally though at night and early dawn.  What we expected to see, I don’t know and what our reaction would be, if we did see something — I hesitate to predict.  It won’t be long after this letter is written that we will land or at least sight our destination, so wishing  to be wide-awake when we do, I’ll close this letter now and hit the hay hoping I sleep an uninterrupted sleep.

Till next time, “Good night and pleasant dreams.”                          Love, Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – For those of you who will be in the Fredricksburg, Texas area…..

http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joan Abery – Darley Dale, ENG; RAF, WWII

Emil Adams – brn: Slovakia/US; US Navy, WWII, CBI, Annapolis graduate

David Altop – Salt Lake City, UT; USMC, WWII, PTO, radio operator

George E. Bria (101) – brn: Rome, ITAL/Waterbury, CT; AP war correspondent, ETO

Otis ‘Roger’ Humphrey – Montpelier, IN; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Johnson – Wichita, KA; US Navy, WWII

Lucien Legault – Windsor, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

John Mumford – St. Petersburg, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 318/325/15th Air Force, KIA

Marion “Flee” Pettygrove – CA; USMC Women’s Corps, WWII

James Summitt – Des Moines, IA; US Navy, WWII, radioman

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 27, 2017, in Letters home, SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 94 Comments.

  1. Great enjoyable letter from Smitty gp, the calm before the storm I think, one can only wonder what was going through the minds of these young guys, lining up at the rails at dusk and dawn.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoy these letters from your father, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. He created quite the picture with his words, didn’t he? I can just see the guys on broom detail cursing under their breath at being called to work again during the day or night

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Between fighting and mayhem: tedium. But I’d guess that was better than fighting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I always enjoy reading his letters. He makes interesting observations with a whiff of dry humor.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I never liked sleeping in bunks that close together ‘cos the guy underneath would always stick his knee in my back like the guy in your photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Every single time I read the letters I realize it is the best source of real history and people stories in particular circumstances. It is the best reading of all.

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    • I thank you for reading them, Alexander!! An up-close-and-personal outlook, IMO, is always the best. We all see things differently, so there are millions of ways to see what truly happened. Thanks for stopping by!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • In one of Shakespeare book long time ago I read very interesting thought. I do not remember exact sentences but the idea is – you have to gather many opinions but keep your own. This is why to know about something in particular good to read the thoughts and opinions of people who has experienced these things. Have a nice day!

        Like

        • I think it was Confucius who said, “He who only listens to himself, never learns anything.” I believe it should be that you listen to everyone and then make your own opinion. Right?

          Liked by 1 person

  8. GP, When I check in with you, I always say at first that I picked a good day to check in with GP! That’s because each & every one of your posts is captivating. And “Smitty’s Letter XIV – ‘On the Move Again” is no exception! Checking your previous post I can imagine where you are talking your readers! Smitty’s letter particularly hits me because from Vietnam 1970 I wrote a letter to my Mom & Dad every single day there without exception. I still have those letters presented to me upon my return home. –I know….a book….with photos too! Anyway, you brought me here for a visit thanks to your kind heart looking in on my latest post fixing up my old house! Thanks for the “Like”! May all be well with you. OK here. Had a 2 hour hernia relapse surgery 3 weeks ago from one done in 2003. Coming along, just slower this time around. But we are both still at this website thing. I see your first date is Sept 2012!!! I started the same, Jan 2012!!!! Not too many people last as long as we have at this! Carry on, Soldier! Spec 4 Phil Fontana

    Liked by 1 person

    • Phil, it was great to hear from you. Yes, all too often I get to stop in to see what you’re up to, but time constraints make commenting nearly impossible. Smitty is becoming more popular than one person can handle some days. I saw what you’ve been up to and commend you for your hard work. I am also (finally) doing some re-no on my place (which also cuts down my computer time), but nothing as complex as your projects! I hope you’ll take things easier after having a second operation – it takes us old folks longer to heal these days. But I see it hasn’t put a damper on your spirits, and for that I’m very happy.
      Take care [and I’ll be looking for that book of yous!!] GP Cox

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I know the schools don’t teach very much about the Pacific; I’ve even known people who felt that only Marines fought in the Pacific and only the Army went to Europe – no mention or very little about Alaska or the CBI, [we don’t hear much about Africa or the Middle East from back then either].. No wonder history keeps repeating itself – no one knows about it except for the battles that made the news and carried big headlines.
      I appreciate you visiting here and taking the time to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Got it thanks, have copied it but super busy just now so will write it up in interview format in a few days when I have time to do it properly! Thanks so much, really appreciate it.

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  10. The letter says so much of their daily life on the ship… hard to imagine how these young men went through. Thank you for the post.

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  11. Reblogged this on KCJones and commented:
    FASCINATING!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I really appreciate your sharing the personal details. I also appreciate Smitty’s sense of humor and note for details. They do look like they are packed in pretty tight in that photo. I can’t imagine getting on board without knowing where you’re heading.

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  13. What an up close and personal glimpse into the thoughts of those in action.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tom & Audrey, He will never talk to his mother about combat itself, but by reading between the lines you get the emotions behind the letter. I’m very glad you find these posts interesting.
      GP

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it was the between the lines that we found so moving. We could just imagine the feelings he must of had as he wrote his letters. It was war time and each minute his life was at risk. So powerful. Our fighting men and women are true heroes.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m happy to hear you say that. I wish the schools would teach more about this generation. They were not only taught by experience, but capable of enduring so much. We still have people like them, but so few and far between. I happened to learn that one college has a support room for Millennials stocked with lollipops and teddy bears!!!!

          Liked by 1 person

          • You gotta be kidding…. lollipops and teddy bears. We have been here in PA the past several days following the Susquehanna River and all the history of the region. One plaque we came across paid tribute to one of the prime builders of many of the areas covered bridges. It noted he left in the middle of building the bridge to fight in the civil war which broke out to fight for the cause of freedom. He was wounded 3 times and never quit. When the war was over he returned to the area and picked back up his trade and finished the bridge he had started. Now this, to us, is a man of character. He fought for freedom and never let his physical injuries (or his emotional injuries) stop him from returning to finish his service to the community.

            Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank-you for sharing your father’s letters.
    I like reading first person accounts of the war.
    I lost a uncle in 1944. I wish my grandparents would have saved his letters

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would have been wonderful to have all the letters saved, I agree. It makes me wonder if people of today save the emails and texts? So sorry your uncle didn’t come home.

      Like

  15. If our dear Smitty was a blogger, he’d have millions of followers! He certainly knew how to turn a phrase–a very observant young man he was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • After he retired, he became the editor of the local Elks and VFW paper to keep busy and I always got a kick out his articles! You are so right, Lady G, he would enjoy doing it too!!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Wonderful Letter. Thanks GP

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Just shows again how letter writing is a lost art. ~~dru~~

    Liked by 1 person

    • AGREED!! A friend of mine had their computer go wacky – so I’ve been trying to keep up by snail-mail. Although I’ve always written letters, I can see how rusty I’ve gotten with the onset of email!

      Like

  18. There are so many details I would like to comment on. But the comment section is somewhat like crammed sleeping quarters on the US transport ships. I believe the uncertainty about the soldiers’ destination was according to your dad’s letter the worst to take. The top brass was most likely aware of the problem, but decided to keep all plans secret for security reasons.A very touching letter, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Peter. I believe back then, security was vital to success, just as it is vital today – despite the ideals of Wiki-leaks. The Pacific units had to beg Washington for everything they got, so hearing Dad say they had good food, was a plus; their sleeping quarters was understandable. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment, Peter – always a pleasure.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Now I know for sure I’d have got on well with Smitty.
    His observations and thoughts on the the scope of operations; the references to scanning the sea/horizon, dawn and sunset especially—periscope watch. The more eyes open the better.

    I think his references to the portrayed seriousness of the situation being the tendency of newsreels and Hollywood especially to over-dramatise: for a while back there you simply couldn’t have a submarine movie without some guy going nuts, grabbing a huge spanner and galloping off to the conning tower hatch yelling “Lemmeoutahere!”.

    Likewise newsreels always had the guys playing craps or cards, or staring nostalgically into space as they tried to write in the ‘privacy’ of their bunk.

    Sleeping on the upper-deck? Been there, done that … those stars don’t half swirl sometimes, and tropical showers come out of nowhere …

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure you would have gotten along with Smitty. He could make friends easily, while all the time aware of any given situation. He told me about those that ‘lost it’ right before combat and those that thought they felt ‘this was the day they would die’. One thing he always told me [and I’m certain you’ve heard this before], if anyone said they weren’t afraid – they were either a liar or totally off their rocker!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Your dad’s tone here is more serious and conveys more anxiety than I’ve felt in any of his earlier letters. It made me feel his dread for what was coming next.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. A wonderful letter from an ordinary man, who is more than a little overwhelmed by the whirlwind of history that is blowing around him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dad was 8-10 years older than most of the other troopers, in fact only 2 officers were older than he was, so maybe that explains his slightly different outlook to the war than most. I must say throughout his life, he did keep his eyes and mind wide open to everything around him. I’m thriled you found his letter interesting, John. I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

      Like

  22. Thanks, GP, for another fine Smitty letter. His words brings the situation to life for me more than any newsreel or Hollywood movie ever did.

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  23. I guess his humour helped to get him through

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  24. Very interesting to read how he saw himself as a tiny part of something so vast. That’s a good way to deal with the tension, I expect. Regard yourself as an insignificant cog in a large wheel, and you might just make it through.
    And he did.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Like

    • Yes he did and I’m so glad you can see how dad felt at the time. He did make it through and as far as I could tell, no major emotional reciprocations.
      I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read here today, Pete. All my best wishes to you also.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. What joy to receive this letter.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Your stories are so interesting. Always captivated 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I love the letters to home GP, my favorite posts here! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thanks for this. The photo of the stack of bunks brought back memories of a night years ago that I spent on the USS Yorktown in Charleston for a Boy Scout outing with my son. Although I enjoyed it–for that one night–I could not see being restricted to that small space all the way across the Pacific. Claustrophobic is the word that comes to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. “Well, I don’t know about the seriousness of the situation was anything like what the news reels portray.” It reminded me of a film that I watched called The Wipers Times. It is based on the real story of a trench magazine started by a handful of British soldiers during WWI.

    Like

    • I’m afraid i don’t quite understand. What situation do you think was not serious?

      Like

      • Erm I quoted that line from the letter because it reminded me of the movie. The point I am trying to make is that the movie and the line from the letter both underline the chasm that often exist between what is portrayed in the media and what actually takes place on the field.

        Like

        • Please – always and I mean always – second guess what Hollywood portrays as fact. They are going for box-office money and what they feel will draw in the biggest crowds. [or getting funding from the gov’t to make the movie]. Some people still believe the classic movie “Bridge Over the River Kwai” as factual. That bridge was built and way too many men died creating that supply line, but always read the actual history before believing in movies.

          Like

          • I completely agree with you there. I usually do read up as much material as I get access to before believing in what is portrayed in Hollywood or any other film industry. The Wipers Times was a BBC production and with what I read up they did a fair job of it. My intention was not to belittle the writer of the letter in any way. Your message to me is exactly what I was trying to point out. About the gap between reality and screen portrayals. Cheers.

            Liked by 1 person

  30. Another gem of a letter told by a son with the heart of a poet. Mom must have cherished all the details! Thanks so much for sharing and also for finding the photos that help to illuminate the words! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Wieder ein guter Beitrag ja das waren Zeiten ich wünsche dir auch eine gute Woche liebe Grüße und Umarmung Gislinde

    Liked by 1 person

  32. The letter is delightful, as always, but what really caught my attention was the note about the museum in Fredericksburg. I visited the original on Main Street many years ago, and it was impressive enough then. Somehow I’ve missed knowing that such an expansion was taking place. I’m sometimes in the neighborhood, and will put it on my list of places to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. What fine work you do here, GP! It is always a pleasure to read your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Thank you very much for includes Smitty’s letter on your list.

    Like

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