Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Umnak Island, 20 September 1944

My darling…

We had a nice letter from Lynn today. He is still in England and although now a major seems as disgusted with the military life as ever. He wants to get back to Steilacoom and the girl he has never seen. When he wrote, September 6, he still had two missions to go to complete his operational tour and said that nobody seemed interested in letting him take his final two flights and then head for home. Here are some of the better quotes:

I wish to hell you had never mentioned your stay in Mexico. [Murray and Rosa lived in the Tarascan town of Patzcuaro on a Pulitzer traveling scholarship in 1943.] The dream of a place like that stayed with me for a good six weeks. No help to my morale at all. I think I’ll head to a place like that after the war. But on the whole, I don’t have any too definite plans for after this show.

…I see where they had added an amendment to the GI Bill of Rights whereby a guy over 25 like me can grab a year of schooling at about $75 per month and that has certain attractions to me. I had a hell of a good time in school and that might be a good way to spend a year. It certainly would do me no harm and a year isn’t much. …

Unfortunately, I can’t give you much hot poop from here about the war. It seems strange but we probably know less about it than do the people at home. Some of our news is naturally a bit more authentic but all of the official stuff is a couple of days behind the newspapers and radio. We get over there occasionally, but it’s pretty difficult to see much from five miles up. Which is where I’d rather be, incidentally. Right now I’m snooping about to see how many silver stars I have to steal and wear to get over to Paris. A weekend there would not be hard to take. But the Mps seem to be travelling right behind the infantry so it’s probably out of bounds anyhow. A hell of a war.

…This looks like about it for tonight Murray. I hope you do better than I have done in answering this. But with those long nights setting in up there it should be easy for you. Though what you do in your off time during days beats me, too.  …

As I said, a very nice letter. And that news that the GI Bill has been amended to give an extra year of school to us ancients doesn’t sound bad. Maybe we will be able to make it to the University of Guadalajara yet. I will have to look into it. …

I’ve been meaning to mention the last Grafton column [Samuel Grafton was a columnist for the New York Post] that you sent me—the one about a semi-permanent armistice with Germany as a substitute for a peace. It seems to me that the idea is the perfect example of his “verbal” approach to problems. The reason that Germany was allowed to rearm after the last war was not that we called our settlement with her “peace” instead of “armistice.” It was that everyone was too tired to want to stop her. And after this war everyone will be tired again, too, whether the settlement is called peace or armistice.
Grafton says that if we call it an armistice, then the military commanders will be able to take action any time Germany makes a false move. After the last war when Germany made a false move (stopped paying reparations to France) the French military commanders were perfectly able to move. They did move. They occupied the Ruhr. And all they did was foul things up even worse than they were, and the coal the French got from the Ruhr was not equal in value to the pay of the poorly paid army of occupation.

Grafton wants to settle it all by calling the settlement by a different name. But the important thing is what sort of a peace is made, not what it is called. Further, the concentration of worry about what to do to keep Germany weak seems a bit out of place. Germany in this war has taken the sort of beating that bled France into a Maginot Line psychosis in the last war (pardon the mixed metaphor, Nunny, you don’t get bled into a psychosis.) Unlike the last war much of this one had been fought with German cities as targets. Germany has suffered terrific manpower losses and undoubtedly will suffer more in the next few weeks. She will have foreign armies all over her soil. If she thinks about another war after this one, it is going to be not in terms of conquest but in terms of defense. How to keep the Russians and the Poles and the Hungarians and all the rest of them away. The problem is not how the victorious Allies are to keep the losers weak but how they are to keep on good terms with each other. If they do not fall out—especially if Russia and America do not fall out—there won’t be another world war, not for a long long time. Germany could never get strong enough to take them both on at once. But if they fall out, then it is to the interest of one or the other to let Germany get a little stronger, just as Britain helped Germany get a little stronger last time in order to have a European power to counterbalance France. And then there could be a bigger blow up than this one. 

The problems are great. I doubt that there is enough unselfishness in the world to solve them. But under any circumstances, they are bigger than semantics.

Up here we have our own little problems. At least, Jack has. It looks like he is going to get the doublecross again on his furlough. If he gets another bad deal on it I’m really afraid for him. He was talking so irrationally about it that he might flip his lid and get shipped home in a jacket that laces u the back. 

Jack has been trying to get a furlough ever since coming in the army. He was all set for one in December 1941, but Pearl Harbor popped. He was supposed to get another before being shipped north but Fairbanks needed an operator in a hurry. After more than a year in Fairbanks he was ordered out to the islands and again there was too much of a hurry for him to be given his furlough. According to the ACS regulations he was supposed to be able to add his Fairbanks time to his time out here and get a furlough after about five months in isolation. The rule is right in the book. But the boy who was CO here then refused to go by the rule. He made up his own for the station and he said that the longest time in isolation was what counted. 

Now Jack has put in more than a year here. When he put in his application for the furlough it somehow got lost for a while and went in at the same time as Greenleaf’s. Greenleaf has been here a couple of weeks less than Jack. Now it looks as though Greenleaf will get out first and, replacements being as hard to get as they are, that may mean several extra weeks for Jack. So he has got it coming and going. Everytime he goes to get our, the rules are changed. 

Now Greenleaf is, next to Jack, my best friend up here. I hope he gets out as fast as he can. He has some business to attend to in Kodiak and is anxious to get there. He is, in fact, so anxious that he is willing to pay some of the guys here to fill his shift by overtime work until his relief arrives. But the thing that bothers me about the whole arrangement is that the guys who are getting the breaks on the deal are the ones who have sort of fouled things up from time to time. It is scarcely an incentive to get in there and pitch when Eagon gets a greenlight to get out of here when he is drunk half the time and goofing off the rest. Tim hasn’t done a real day’s work since I’ve been here, but he is going to get out. Greenleaf went on a tear the other day and cracked up a car and, for a time, had a possible court martial hanging over his head. But exceptions are to be made to the rule to get him out. And Martin, who is sarcastic and unpopular but who really pitches in there on the circuit, gets the go-by.

Bad deal.

Well, darling, enough of the gripe session. I suppose it comes in part from my typhoid shot fever and the start of a cold which I think I now have licked. But the whole thing rather irritated me.
I love you, my weird little watermelon,

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