Letter VI – Land Ho! On the Port Side

Dobodura, New Guinea

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 Airborne Division 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, this would become the first step for many a G.I. on foreign soil.  Once they actually hit 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.

July 1944. Sherfy, Johnson, Madam Queen, Roberts, Bachor, Wichmann, Amos, Andy, Hester, Baby Rastus”. By this time, Port Moresby was a secure back area of the Pacific theater.

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, commander of the 11th A/B, had contracted malaria and was hospitalized when his men shipped 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”, they would be in reserve for the New Guinea action though.  Swing managed to be in Dobodura in time to meet his men as they disembarked.

Dobodura, New Guinea

 

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   so don’t worry any on that account.  I know how you worry about things like that so thought it best that you know.    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

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eldred ‘Mickey’ Alexander – Center, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO, 10th Armored Division

Stephen W. Babjar (100) – Albany, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, machinist’s mate, PT-27/Ron 1

Malcom J. Barber – All 3 brothers – New London, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Leroy K.  Barber    –   All 3 brothers were firemen, USS Oklahoma

Randolph H.  Barber – All 3 brother were KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Raymond C. Blanton – Richmond, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt., Co. C/1/60/9th Infantry Division, KIA (Hüftgen Forest, GER)

Robert Douglas – Lynn, MA; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

Forrest T. Frost (101) – Sanger, CA; US navy, WWII, PTO, Chief Engineer, USS YOG-76

Sam Lombardo – (101) – brn: ITL; US Army, WWII, ETO,  /  Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Donald Rowley (101) – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 41192, WWII

Diana Seamans – New London, NH; US Navy WAVES, WWII, communications/code breaker

William B. Wagner – Dixon, IL; US Army, 505/11th Airborne Division

Jack K. Wood – Wichita Falls, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., Distinguished Service Cross, 344/98/9th Air Force, B-24 navigator, KIA (Ploiest, ROM)

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About GP

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

Posted on June 21, 2021, in First-hand Accounts, SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 125 Comments.

  1. “…hoping this letter is the answer to your nightly prayers.” I’m certain it was! I can imagine his mother jumping before the postman could even ring…twice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The cartoons were funny! I noticed in the Roll Call the 3 Brothers, so sad. Also the B24 Navigator who won the Dist. Service Cross and was in the raid on Ploesti if I understood the notes right, and the Infantryman, the 10th Armored Div. man, and Diana Seamans, WAVES, communications/code breaker (WWII). Stories all. Heroes all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Is chipped beef mince? Or is it like a stew? Or is it something else?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing these wonderful letters of your fathers

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Liebe Grüsse aus den Bergen
    und ein schönes Wochenende
    Sarah

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a strange place New Guinea must have seemed to the troops, but even stranger for the island locals to find themselves in an incomprehensible war. These letters are so interesting and it is a wonder they arrived safely.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In the series I did of war in art, there is one painting showing natives watching a bomber go over. It puts the difference in perspective.

      Like

  7. The description of New Guinea from the Canberra Times article was interesting! I do enjoy your father’s letters. His positive nature is inspirational.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. GP, I wanted you to see this if you have not already. A Video from 2008 with the late Sgt. Don Malarkey, who was part of Easy Company, 101st, 506 PIR. Pretty Cool Story.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for your like of my post, “Revelation 5:1-14 – The Book in Heaven – 96 A.D. ;” I appreciate your graciousness.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for your like of my post, “Tribulation Prophecies And Doctrine 11 – The Meaning Of Weeks 3,” you are very kind.

    Like

  11. Believe it or not, I have a jar of dried beef in my pantry right now. I don’t eat it often, but when I was a kid my mother would make creamed chipped beef (occasionally with chopped hard-boiled eggs added) and it was a favorite. It still is, although now I soak the beef for a bit to reduce that salt content.

    There’s something about a landfall, and your dad certainly described that indescribable feeling well. It was interesting to read that even Gen. Swing fell victim to malaria, if not surprising. Did your dad ever have the disease? I never had a bad case, but even light cases were unpleasant.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dad said he had come down with a mild case of malaria. I witnessed one relapse, and you’re right, it sure didn’t look like any fun.
      I always knew you and dad would have gotten along – here’s to the chipped beef on toast! 🍸🍸

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I like creamed chipped beef on toast, too. When my daughter-in-law started working at the church school she had learned in the Air Force that it was called SOS so when the kids asked what was for lunch that’s what she told them. She thought maybe it was like a gastric distress signal or something and didn’t know what it meant until the principal told her. Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast ever since, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thanks for sharing these letters. I have my mother’s and father’s correspondence from the time. Most were too “lovey-dovey” to share. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Can’t even imagine how those boys would have felt stepping onto foreign soil for the first time and knowing that war was waging all around. While he talked to his mom about ordinary things, I imagine it was difficult. But he got his message across to her so she wouldn’t worry like all moms do. Love these letters!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I never asked you, when did you first read your dad’s letters? Did he show them to you when you were young? Apologies if you have already told me this, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Way to go General Swing, hanging in there even though he had malaria. So this is the letter where Smitty asks his mom to keep all his letters. Something tells me she would have done that anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. What a precious gift to have those beautiful letters. And, such a great son to keep writing to his momma so she wouldn’t worry so much. But, I’m sure she worried constantly. That’s what mommas do. The written word is a legacy of love. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Considering how awful that place sounds, your dad put a very positive outlook on it!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. What a wonderful son! His mother and father must have been so very proud of him. And pleased too, to read that phrase “when I get back”.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Great letter and I like the photo with the topless locals. That must have been a culture shock for the troops and the locals. John

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I love the Mairzy Doats cartoon! Totally unexpected!!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Thanks for your like of my post, ” The Coming Kingdom 3;’ you are very kind.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Your dad left you a precious gift in these letters, GP. Thanks for sharing them.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. So after all the boredom of day after day at sea they are thrown off into rain and mud and presented with dried egg…. I can imagine the language!
    Re cargo cults mnetioned above, on one island they worshipped Prince Philip!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can see that, Prince Philip presents a grand picture.
      I can only imagine the language too. Dad must have gotten it out of his system, as he rarely ever cursed (that I heard).

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Look up Cargo Cults. After the war all the goods plowing in ceased, and in parts of New Guinea natives held rites, and even built mock up planes to encourage the return of the “cargo”.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Is that where the idea for the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy” came from?
      There are some areas of the Pacific that do actually still receive air drops to this day.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Love the letter and the pictures!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Love the letters home from our soldiers. Great humor as usual.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. I’m sure your Dad had a lot of surprises coming up!

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Your dad knew how much his mother worried about him. His love and deep affection shine through all his letters. They are a treasure for you to have, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. I am very touched by the letter to “MOM! Thank you:)

    Liked by 2 people

  31. More evidence that war seems a sequence of stretches of boredom interspersed with sudden, often terrifying, excitement.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Imagine the uncertainty of getting so far away from home and only getting dried or canned food while the uniforms got soaking wet at once. I like your father’s dry sense of humour: “It wasn’t that the powdered eggs tasted bad — they just didn’t have a taste.”

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Great letter, GP. I love the cartoons and would love to hear the rest of the joke. Wonder if my Dad wrote letters home during WWII. Would love to have read them. Stay cool this summer.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. I’m so glad she did save these letters. Thanks for sharing them with us GP. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 3 people

  35. And how smart he was to ask her to save his letters so that now seven decades later we all have a view into history and his story.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. I really appreciate reading these letters. Especially since my dad was also in. New Guinea. I love Smitty’s attitude. Thank you so much for sharing these letters.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Those three brothers lost at Pearl Harbor. Lump in throat. Serving on the same ship. The five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, were also serving together when they were all lost nearly a year later. Not until then did they change the rule about brothers serving together.

    Liked by 5 people

  38. I can imagine the connection to your dad when reading his letters. He writes in such a familiar way, it’s almost like hearing him talk.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. The weather condition on the island seems insufferable, such an ordeal on its own.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Wat een waardevolle brieven die ons echt doen aanvoelen hoe het leven daar was. I can’t imagine I will eat Dryed eggs

    Liked by 2 people

    • haha, de eieren in poedervorm waren de beste manier om te voorkomen dat de ochtend “traktatie” bederft in de tropische hitte. Eerlijk gezegd zie ik ze ook niet hebben!

      Liked by 1 person

  41. Instead of writing letters, would they text now?

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Your father really has a very positive view of things here. The letter reads even better than a letter from the vacation spot. The joke with the flag language is just priceless. Thank you for sharing, GP! Have a beautiful week! Michael xx

    Liked by 3 people

  43. Pierre Lagacé

    These letters are so precious…

    Liked by 2 people

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