Smitty’s Letter XV “Land”

Native outrigger canoes meet up with a Coast Guard transport.

[Please do not be offended by certain remarks, remember that these letters were written 77 years ago when people lived in another time and another world].

As the ships drew closer to Leyte, the American soldiers already on shore were being hampered by logistical problems which caused a severe delay in capturing the island.  When the 11th A/B division arrived on Bito Beach, General Hodge was finally able to move General Arnold’s 7th division and their plans started to come together.

Leyte activity map | enlarge for detail

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Letter XV                                         Landing                        Somewhere in the Philippines

Dear Mom,

We landed here in the Philippines yesterday morn, but before leaving the ship, the Japs treated us with their honorable (?) presence in the form of bombing planes.  Shore batteries kept hammering at them in the gloom of a misty a.m. and the tracer’s bullets reaching up to the planes made a very pretty but gruesome sight.   The way those tracer shells can pick out the planes you would think that they had a score to settle and just can’t wait to even it.

We landed finally on the beach, being taken to it in those much touted and not highly praised enough landing boats.  How boats can ground themselves  on land the way they do and still get off again unscratched is really a marvel.  Those boys who handle them also deserve a lot of credit and, as Winchell would say, “A great big orchid is due.”

The natives here were real friendly and helpful in a dozen different ways.  They ran up to the landing boats as soon as the bow of the boat sunk its bottom into the beach and helped us carry off our burdensome equipment.  It reminded me of Penn or Grand Central Stations with porters running helter-skelter all over the place.  The only thing missing to make the picture complete were the tell-tale red caps on their heads.

It wasn’t long after landing that we were organized into work groups and sent off to our chores.  Work kept on until we were hours into the night despite the fact that again, Jap planes came over.  I am happy to report that they will not be able to do so again, that is – not the same ones.

During the day we were handed K-rations for our dinner and after the excellent food we had aboard ship, they sure tasted like hell.  Just before dark last night, we were allowed a few moments to ourselves and at once set to work getting our tents erected.  Here again, the native men came in handy helping us to either put up the tents or dig our slit trenches.  Of course they don’t do any of this work for nothing, but for items such as undershirts, trousers, soap or most anything in the line of clothing.

I will write more about the people in a later chapter.  After all, you can’t do well to write about them on so short an acquaintance.  Right now we are busy setting up a camp decent enough to live in.  Having a few minutes to spare in between tents.  I thought I’d write this down before it completely slipped my unrententive and feeble brain.  There goes the whistle calling us back to work now, so until the next ten minute rest period, I’ll close with loads of love and car loads of kisses,

Love, Everett

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard R. Belden – Warren County, NY, US Army, Korea, Cpl. # 12107317, HQ Co/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Roger Butts – Portsmouth, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Cook 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Gen. Colin Powell

Elvagine “Gene” Ertzberger – Rainier, WA; Civilian, WWII, shipyard welder

Lorenz D. Haselhofer – Watsonville, CA; US Navy, USS Hancock

Sonny Karcher – Enid, OK; US Army, Cold War

Fred M. Montanari – Westmoreland County, PA; US Air Force, pilot

Larry E. Murphy – E. St. Louis, IL; US Air Force & US Army, Cmdr. Sgt. Major (Ret. 36 y.)

Steven L. Nolin – New Brockton, AL; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 188/11th Airborne Division

Henry G. Piper Sr. – Englewood, NJ; US Army, WWII, APO (Alaska)

Colin Powell – NYC, NY; US Army, Vietnam / General (Ret. 35 y.), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Sec. of State

Edward Souza – New Bedford, MA; US Air Force

James Wallace – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt., B-24 waist gunner, POW (escaped)

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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 October 25, 2021, in First-hand Accounts, Letters home, SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 142 Comments.

  1. Your father’s letters are very descriptive, and I almost feel like I am there. He was a good writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As mentioned before, Smitty sure can write… God bless them all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! I just love your dad’s letters. They’re beautifully written, and how he was able to do that under the circumstances is mind boggling. They truly paint a vivid picture of everyday life. Thank you for posting these, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love how he signed off his letters to his beloved Mum,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Each other was very important to the other. Do you think kids today feel that way?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yes, my brothers and I call my parents regularly every week, me every day hehe, and I always sent handwritten postcards, cards and letters but maybe with boys not letters so much they prefer text and FaceTime.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You have a strong family bond, and believe me, you will be grateful for that throughout your life!!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Absolutely, in fact I got told off by my Mum yesterday for agreeing to learn Mac the Knife in a week for a little concert on Friday with everything else I’ve got on, then because she knew I was busy she wrote all the lyrics out for me with picture triggers to help me learn the many words today whilst I’m waiting for George to start his concert. Looks like I’m going be listening to the song all the way home in the car 🚗 and on every journey this week.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I remember when that song became a hit. Bobby Darin was singing, my family and I were down here in FL on vacation. That song played constantly – wow, that brought back great memories!! Thanks for your story, Charlotte. It’s always such a pleasure talking to you.

              Like

  5. I sent you a pic of the vehicle and I have lots more pics but I gotta find them in my gallery.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for your like of my post on Revelation 8. You are very kind to follow my site, and to continue to LIKE my posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So Happy to read the letters your father sent to his mother. anyone. We must see them in the time 77 yers ago and understood that in that time they are real and having no intention to hurt anyone.
    I’mback of hospital and feel good.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Simply superb.😊🙏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have a few new pics to email you from the base… in gunnery.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello, I loved it and your blog, thanks for sharing this. Please visit my blog and support it if you like it ❤ new here!

    Like

  11. History documented as it’s happening. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sorry, i am once again late, GP! This letter sounds a little bit sarcastic, in parts.;-) Gosh, with this welcome procedure i would have went back immediately. Thanks for sharing, GP! Enjoy a nice Friday! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    • No need to apologize, Michael. I’ve noticed you have been all over the internet – keeps you busy, eh?! I try to get to as many as I can.
      I appreciate all you do!!

      Like

  13. I don’t see anything offensive in this post. If it is about the Japs, that was the term used during that period. When I was in NY, Jap also meant Jewish American Princess, and most of my Jewish friends at that time knew it and never got offended. Anyhow, another excellent letter from Smitty downplaying the difficulty during their landing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Jewish girls I knew in school were actually proud of that title.
      Thank you for reading the letter, Rose!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, they do. Both my boys used to go out with Jewish girls and they are proud of that title. One thing I have to tell you which was funny. On my 50th birthday, the two girls came to my party and my brothers brought a suckling pig, the whole big and it was in the middle of the dining table. They could not look at it and one of them said she was going to throw up. hahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I like reading the letters to Mom.

    Like

  15. I have so many joke-clippings of my grandmother’s that I cannot share or I’d be deluged with many opinions. Definitely a different time but I don’t mean that in a bad way. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi G- enjoyed the letter – and I did not read anything offensive (or did I miss it) – but you are right – 77 years ago is a while back and times have changed – also enjoyed some of the comments related to that
    hope you are having a nice autumn 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. The term ‘Japs’ is what people got offended about. I thought about changing it, but I promised these letters would be verbatim, so I left it.
      We’ve gone down from 2-5 degrees. That changes day to day, so I’m still waiting for autumn or more preferably – Winter!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I get it!!
        And I have a quick story about that term –
        My father was a kind fellow and in navy near end of Korean War – not sue of all his story (it was not stellar but he served and gave) anyhow – parents divorced and in middle school I had the best times visiting my dad – playing cards and drinking tea!
        Later – when I started college in the SUNY school system – and so fast forward a few years and My dad was saying something about the JAPS – I jokingly asked, “do you mean Jewish American Princesses?” Because in a of New York colleges there are Jewish girls noted as japs – and they were awesome and I okayed one semester of club sport lacrosse and learned more about the term – there are also books on the subject –
        Anyhow – my dad was still deeply hurt over losing distant friends in pearl
        Harbor – he was going when it happened but the trauma stayed with him – kind of like 911 has remained with many folks. And G, I really found this out when I bought a used Japanese made car! My father was like “why’d you buy a rice burner” or something like that – “and why not American made?”
        And sadly at the time the American made cars were junk-a-lunk – well most were and the dependability of Honda’s and Toyota’s were outstanding – I hope that is not waning now –
        Anyhow – my dada and I talked about the peace between the countries and the amends that were made – and he hit that – but he still used the term Japs – and for all of life pearl harbor was a scary and sobering event to remember –
        And may we all forgive and make amends and have peace
        And maybe we all today stop using derogatory terms that shame – label and improperly refer to folks – or limit their potential and steal their dignity – yes – even in psychology we do not call people by their disorder – for example – they are not schizophrenic – they are a person with symptoms of schizophrenia – and he is not that depressed soul – he is a person with symptoms of depression
        And in the workplace we know that word ls can be “violent” and so we train HR and supervisors and workers to grow and modify language for health and wellness
        And with that said – you are 100% correct to leave the letters verbatim – and the warning or little note at the start was classy and a perfect lead in.
        By leaving the words verbatim is to respect the documents and to give purity of the times and what life was like. And only with purity of text can we maintain what it was really like – from food kits – to locals helping unload and set up – and to the verbiage that was used in thought and aloud – and Smitty’s precious letters are an important keepsake for us now and will continue to have value in he future!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Enjoyed the great way he described his landing and the help given by the natives. Not surprising they wanted something in return for their labors.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The best way to deal with anyone offended by the language in this letter is to ignore them. Language is a living thing, and it should be allowed to grow, change, and decline on its own — not according to someone’s demand. In any event, it’s a great letter. I thought his observation about the tracers was interesting. He mentioned their beauty as well as their gruesomeness, and that reminded me of the kind of response storms evoke. Even in the midst of war or bad weather, there are things to appreciate.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Letters home are the best view and are heartwarming to read Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I think his letters were very mild, compared to some attitudes during WW2. I remember my dad discussing the various merits, or otherwise, of Indian troops he trained as if he was talking about different breeds of dog. I really believe most people knew no better at that time, so we have to take it all in historical context.
    The cartoons are very good today, GP.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. “my unrententive and feeble brain”: the understatement of all times.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Smitty was a pretty cool customer to write a letter without revealing the anxiety he probably was feeling at the time. Thanks for the General Powell farewell salute. I met him briefly after a speech about 25 years ago. He was a great general and a great American.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I am still wrapping my head around the loss of General Powell. He was such a fine person who was a true patriot and public servant. We will miss him and so will the world.

    Thanks for your great post. The personal letters really bring things home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tim. While suffering from Parkinson’s disease and multiple myeloma, perhaps the General was spared great pain.
      I appreciate you stopping in, Tim.

      Like

  24. You are kind to share the letters and make mention always when you post which is so kind of you. Bless you my friend. Love ❤️ Joni

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Super letter, GP. A great treasure. Thank you, also for including Gen Powell in your farewell salute. The progressives are eating his memory alive over the Iraq WMD situation. To me, he was a great American and patriot and they should keep their Marxist noses out of history.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Another lovely letter, he always sounds upbeat.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Good grief !! a soldiers lot. Can you imagine the chaos of setting up camp in the dark while being attacked by enemy planes. At least he didn’t say it was raining. Then off to bed. All in a days work for your average dogface.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Your dad was certainly a prolific writer . His mother surely appreciated that .

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I remember George MacDonald Frazer moaning about U.S. rations in ‘Quartered Safe Out Here’!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Another one of Everett’s splendid letters. I particularly enjoyed the very subtle way that he told the story of what happened to the Jap planes. He has a lovely style, very easy to read, and it’s no wonder that Mom kept all his letters. Thanks for sharing this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I love the metaphor of the redcaps running around Grand Central and Penn Station!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. No need to apologize for words and expressions being used at another time, GP! The ‘politically correct’ people have no right to criticize your dad’s personal and historical record.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I enjoy the letters, as a slice of real life from another time. Thanks for sharing them, GP.
    The Navy/technology comic made me snort. Reminds me of an early job I had as a receptionist. They kept hiring people for the position above me — and having me train them…(shakes head). (When the engineers eventually got up in arms about all that, I finally overheard management’s reason — “She doesn’t look the part.” So I told them to give me a clothing allowance to go with my minimum wage job, and I would certainly look the part. But I digress.. .) So they hired one young woman, who called down the hall, begging for my help. When I got to her desk she said, “I’m typing and typing, but nothing comes onto the screen!”
    I glanced at the computer. Flipped the switch. “It works better if you turn it on,” I said and walked away. Whenever I’m feeling stupid, remembering that moment reminds me that at least there’s someone even worse.
    Thanks for all the chuckles. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Great letter from Smitty, GP. I love the cartoons. On my husband’s first ship, the XO was cerebral but had no common sense. When the ship docked in a new port, he picked up the telephone to make a phone call. It didn’t have the dial tone. This exemplary officer asked, “Why is the phone doing this (which was no sound), why isn’t it going brrr? (his approximation of a ring tone.). Some sailor had to tell him, “The phone is not connected yet, Sir.”

    Liked by 1 person

  35. There’s a lot of work involved in setting up and maintaining a base of operations. Smitty downplayed the hazards involved, I imagine for the sake of his mom. Great story, well told.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I always appreciate your posts, GP. I haven’t served, but many in my family have or are. These letters bring readers into that world powerfully. Thank you. BTW, yesterday I discovered a site you might like: https://operationtotw.org Vets helping vets. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thank you very much for your wonderful comment. Please shake the hand of your veteran relatives for me with my thanks!
      I appreciate you thinking of me with that website, I signed up for the newsletter.

      Like

  37. A fail to see how anyone could be offended by this restrained language

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Ya that military humor ” This isn’t turned on” – so contemporary.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. I’m sure these letters were appreciated very much by Smitty’s parents. The fact that he kept term light and as upbeat as possible, even when talking about hard issue, must have helped them realize he was OK. I think he must have been worried about them worrying about him. Thanks again for sharing them.

    Liked by 4 people

  40. Anyone can chose to be offended by anything. Great post, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  41. There was just the right amount of sarcasm in this letter.

    Liked by 3 people

  42. Language is a minefield these days. If you go back and read novels set at that time, they can be cringeworthy but as you say, you have to consider when they were written.

    Liked by 4 people

  1. Pingback: Smitty’s Letter XV “Land” – Nelsapy

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