In honor of Memorial Day: A love letter from the war

From time to time I have printed here one of the 500+ letters my father wrote to my mother during World War II. (I also have 100 that survived from her to him). I’ve been transcribing them for the past several months. They are a fascinating story of the war, life in the 40s, young love and separation, dreams, and relationship and personality patterns I saw in my parents and continue to see in my life with my mother now.

They knew each other for a year before his service began, before they were separated for a year while he was in training to be a weather forecaster with the army air corps. They married, then, and had six weeks together before he went overseas for two and half years.

This letter was written on October 1, the war had been over for months, but he didn’t have enough “points” to go home. Soon after this letter, he had high hopes that he would be home for Christmas of 1945. As it turned out, he wasn’t sent home until April. Mail was delayed for days or weeks, and then sat in a station miles away until someone went to pick it up. Jay, whom he speaks of in this letter, spent several weeks after he left Germany in England, waiting to sail. It was a crazy time.

October 1, 1945

My darling —

Honey, my world has dropped out from under me so completely in the past few days that it’s left me in too much of a daze to even write to my wife. And I’ve certainly done hardly anything else, either. And I’m still in a daze with no prospect of snapping out of it immediately.

I just wanna go home, my dear. Last week Len got a chance to go to school at an English university in Bristol for eight weeks. I hated the thought of his leaving, but it was too good an opportunity to miss. And before he got away, Jay got his call to go home. He didn’t waste any time getting out of here, I can tell you. So bingo, the two guys I’ve been with for a year are gone. And now everyone in the transport group with over 75 points are going home this week. That includes all the ground officers we know and have been with for the past year, as well as all the old pilots.

Since I’ve been overseas, I know of nothing that’s hit me quite so hard. Oh jeepers, I want to get home so badly. Never has the longing plagued me so. I sit down and take stock of the situation. I’ve got a good, responsible job. I’m well paid. Have a good place to eat and sleep and live. And the work would or could be interesting if I’d only let myself believe it. Ok, there are some inconveniences – I get sick of shaving in cold water, I’m tired of sleeping on an army cot (especially alone), but those things are so insignificant. I try to tell myself I should be satisfied when all along I know what the trouble is. I want to get back home to you. I love you so and miss you so. And there is nothing in the whole world that could possibly compensate for being without you. So more than likely I’ll go right on feeling miserable and unhappy until the day that phone rings and tells me to pack my bags. Perhaps not. Maybe I’ll get rational again and accept my plight with patience.

We got in two new officers and an EM [enlisted man) to take their places (five forecasters now – right back where we started), but it’s a lot of work to break them in, and for a while I’ll have to do a lot of things Len and Jay did. Well – so it goes. It never rains but it pours. And what a time to pour!

The two new officers have 74 and 77 points, so no doubt I’ll watch them come and go too. Oh, unhappy me! It’s terrible to feel sorry for yourself, isn’t it?

A lot of the fellows going home have less time overseas than I do, which doesn’t help matters much. They got their points on battle stars, while we in the weather station worked right along beside them! Bitter, too – that’s me.

Well, that’s why I haven’t written and I shouldn’t be writing tonight. But I don’t know how long it would be till the next letter if I waited till I felt better. By that time you’d probably think I was dead or on my way home.

Last night at the officers’ club they held “concert night” with a German string orchestra furnishing the music. They had a piano, bass fiddle, cello, and four violins. They played semi-classical music and the music reminded me of nothing so much as the Longines Symphonettes, and that brought back a lot of pleasant memories, but which failed to improve my mood much. It was a much more profitable evening than most of them are, though.

The past few nights have been plenty chilly. Heat in our rooms really feels good and the fire in the fireplace in the club looks so cheerful. But something’s lacking again. If it isn’t you, it’s at least good congenial friends.

It has been three years (yesterday) since I raised my right arm and said I swore allegiance to Uncle Sam, or something like that, which means I get a 5% increase in pay. Boy, but wouldn’t I trade that quick for the opportunity to wear civilian clothes!

Well, this has been sort of a tale of woe, of homesickness, of discouragement. There ought to be something in a lighter vein. No doubt there is, but I can’t think of it with my present distorted outlook. I love you though, but that’s pretty serious business. We’ll have a lot fun even so, I betcha. I can see everything being fun, or at least pleasant. It couldn’t be anything else when I’m going to do them either with you, or at least return to you after the day’s work is finished. Well, I can look forward to it, but the trouble is all in the unit of time. I swear there must be a lot more than seven days in a week and 30 in a month.

Be patient, sweetheart. I have been, I think, till the past few days, then the bottom dropped out. I’ll get over it, though. Good night darling.

Sincerely
, George

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My father, Jay, Len

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4 thoughts on “In honor of Memorial Day: A love letter from the war

    • I was kind of lost for a while after I finished transcribing the letters. It was like my father was here again while I read them, then he left all over again. I do still have the ones he wrote to his parents though. This winter I’ll transcribe them. Another book idea.

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