Smitty’s Letter XIV “On The Move (again)”

LSTs unload at Leyte

By mid-November, Gen. Krueger’s 4 divisions held only a small fraction of Leyte and Yamashita’s reinforcements were still landing.  The weather was grounding aircraft on both sides.

18 November, the 11th Airborne joined in on the King II Operation.  The 2nd battalion of the 187th Regiment went aboard the USS Calvert to land on Bito Beach.  Being as Smitty was part of Gen. Swing’s staff in HQ Company, I do not know if he went aboard this ship.

Berthing

 

Letter XIV                                                                             “On The Move (again)”

 

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

####################################################################################################

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

####################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Lucius E. Agee – Nashville, TN; US Navy, WWII, aviation radioman, USS BonHomme Richard

Dick Barlow – Manchester, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO, motorcycle dispatch rider

OUR FLAG
Courtesy of: Dan Antion

Duane E. Dewey – Grand Rapids, MI; USMCR, Korea, Cpl., Medal of Honor

Gabriel J. Eggus – NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-39 pilot # 0-669878, 100/71st Recon Group, KIA (Wewak, NG)

Edwin A. Jacoby – brn: GER/ Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO  /  Korea, Sgt.

Sam Kendrick – Wexford, IRE; US Army, WWII, ETO

David L. Long – Milwaukee, WI; US Army, tank commander, 1/72/2nd Infantry Division

Alan E. Petersen – Brownton, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 345/98/9th Air Force, B-24 bombardier, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

Joseph M. Robertson – Paragould, AR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 2797547, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Pete Turk – Scammon, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3422928, USS California, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Murray Weiss – Kellogg, ID; US Air Force

########################################################################################################################################################################################################

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 October 17, 2021, in First-hand Accounts, Letters home, SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 80 Comments.

  1. Catching up here again, GP. I enjoy reading these letters from your father. He was a very intelligent, thoughtful man, and his letters speak volumes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just love when you share your dad’s letters. It seems a little voyeuristic to be reading them, but I agree with some above who said that it helped them understand their own dad a little better. My last conversation with my father he directed back to his time in Korea. He had never spoken about it before…EVER! It was the night before a huge/dangerous operation. I think he brought it up because it was the only other time in his life that he was afraid. Unfortunately, he did not survive the surgery. But I felt privileged that he shared those last moments with me. Thank you so much for sharing the way you do. Many Sweet Blessings ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I thoroughly enjoy these letters!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great story! I look forward to Smitty’s adventures, even if it’s just mopping up! 🧹 💖 🧹

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. That was an incredible war and they were one h*ll of a generation to get through it. BUT – Gen. Eichenberger’s statement after Leyte…
      “If there is another war, I recommend that the military and the correspondents and everyone else concerned, drop the phrase “mopping-up” from their vocabularies. It is NOT a good enough phrase to die for.”

      Like

  5. Smitty was a fabulous writer… and did all this on the fly with a pencil. Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s an old Swedish proverb that goes, “The new broom sweeps clean, but the old broom knows the corners.” I expect by the time these fellows got done, their brooms knew every inch of the ship!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It seems a little ‘unfair’ that some had to work all day whilst others only an hour or so. I guess for some it wasn’t such a pleasant trip!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    I always enjoy Smitty’s letters.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I bet many shared the feelings Smitty expressed in the second paragraph. Nobody knew what tomorrow would bring. At least the food was good on this ship.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. There are a lot of insights into the average solider’s mind in this letter. (That’s how it struck me.)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Had to smile that their journey had been planned to something, someplace, and planned by someone that was miles away from there. Someone sitting in an office doesn’t always know exactly what move should be made. I’m just not sure how you could have a night of uninterrupted sleep under those circumstances.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dad learned in the service how to catnap (some people call it power nap) and times when a deep sleep was more than recommended. (But don’t ask how he did it – no clue!!)

      Like

  12. Smitty sure made for a good guy to have around, always finding humor even when things were not going well.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Great letter. You really do feel what he must have been seeing and feeling. He was truly a gifted writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. That is a lovely letter home to Mom. I can just imagine her spending a couple of hours trying to work out where he was, using an enormous map of the Pacific. He carries out perfectly the duty of every son, namely to inform at great length, but not to frighten Mom, in this case because everything is so vast and so well worked out that it can’t possibly go wrong.
    By the way, don’t worry about those glitches. I cannot imagine for a second that it was anything to do with you!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It’s pretty great reading Smitty’s letters. They really tell a whole new side of the story.

    Busy work. It must be as old as time. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I have to love Smitty’s enduring love of the absurd and his ability to capture it succinctly and with a twinkle in his eye. Seeing your cartoon about “Sweepers Man Your Brooms” reminds me of one time I was having dinner in the wardroom when my husband had the duty. We were standing on the Quarterdeck, waiting for sunset and the American flag to be lowered. While we were standing there, a voice came over the 1-MC. “Sweepers, sweepers Man Your Brooms. Wet garbage over the side. The roach coach makes an approach.” (The roach coach was the NEX food truck that was approaching the ship at that time.) Needless to say, the addition of the wet garbage (which was probably illegal to throw into the harbor while portside) and the roach coach comments were not appropriate and probably got the commentator in hack.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Reblogged this on T. W. Dittmer and commented:
    I am always in awe of the bravery and fortitude of the armed forces during WWII, and these letters home from Everett Smith amaze me. I had to share this.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Thank you for sharing the letters and stories, GP. My dad was in the Navy, but he shared little of his experience. Through your posts, I have a much better understanding. Thank you very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think Dad would have discussed much with me if I hadn’t found this scrapbook and began asking questions. I have been very happy to hear from a few readers that these letters have helped them understand their father or grandfather.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I love how your father found the right words and humorously described rather harsh circumstances and events. I think it helped him to maintain his mental state and it was easier for his mother to bear the separation.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Die warme brieven van je vader zijn van grote waarde voor u en vroeger voor je moeder. Het zijn schatten die je altijd aan de warme man die je vader was zullen herinneren en door de tijd onbetaalbare herinneringen worden.Op het leven aan boord heb ik in de andere post al geantwoord want had deze 2 posten te samen gelezen

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This letter gives me a glimpse of what life would be like at sea if Matt was deployed overseas.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Hey, GP, it’s a blog on WordPress – glitches happen.

    Thanks again for sharing Smitty’s letters. They add an angle of understanding I never had. Trying to imagine what they imagined. It must have been so different getting back on a ship after having been on land or in battle. To get up and do it again had to be, well, I don’t know, but this helps me understand.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. My, these letters are such treasures.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I imagine uninterrupted sleep was a precious rarity for them.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. It always strikes me how he reassures the family that everyday life is sometimes boring, often amusing, but never dangerous. He manages to impart the emotions of the troops as they travel to an unknown fate, never mentioning fear or trepidation. These letters are a blueprint for any soldier with a worried family back home.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 7 people

  26. Reblogged this on Pacific Paratrooper and commented:

    I am very sorry for the glitches.

    Like

  27. Loved the sweeper story. My dad told the story that when the Lexington was hit by a kamikaze, shortly thereafter an announcement came over the loudspeaker. “Attention all sweepers. Clean sweep-down fore, and aft.”

    Liked by 6 people

  1. Pingback: Smitty’s Letter XIV “On The Move (again)” – Nelsapy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: