Saturday, April 10, 2010

Maj. Gillham tells of his jeep trip on his day off

Here is a quick note written by Maj. Gillham after traveling about the countryside in his jeep on his day off.

22 Jan 1946

Dearest Love,

I haven't been by the office today so I don't know whether I got a letter or not.

I got the jeep this morning.  It had beautiful pea green seat covers, which they have gotten the Japs to make especially for jeeps.  It rained all last night, but today was a fine day.  It was cool and fresh, but I wore long underwear and was very comfortable.  I got a Capt. Lehman who works for me and we toured the countryside making all the back roads and not knowing exactly where we were half the time.

About noon we went by the headquarters of the 1st Cavalry Div., which is about 25 miles out of Tokyo.  That is where Geo. Bull is stationed, so we went by to see him, and he had us for dinner.  They are located at an old Japanese military school or camp.  It is somewhat better than the 4th Replacement Depot, but nothing to brag about.  However, they have fixed it up pretty nice.  The ceiling of the officers' club is all festooned with silk from parachutes and they have a bar which is open at noon.  They had built the bar from airplane aluminum and done a swell job.  I have also seen a number of excellent cabs built on jeeps from the same material.  The G.I. is certainly ingenious, especially when it come to looking after his own comfort.

Lehman lives at the Peers Club, so when we got back I went there and had dinner with him.  It was built as a sort of town club for the members of the House of Lords when the diet is in session.  It was modeled after the English and is very "heavy" and elegant.

I am nice and physically tired tonight.  I feel relaxed and like I will sleep very well.

So, good night, sweetheart -- I love you.



The First Cavalry Division is one of the most storied divisions of the U.S. Army.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the fall of Manila, the "First Cav" was one of the divisions that amassed in Australia and was led by Gen. MacArthur up through Indonesia and eventually won back the Philippines.  The division figured heavily in MacArthur's plans for a ground invasion of Japan, but these were never implemented due to the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The First Cav was the first division to arrive in Japan after the surrender on Sept. 2, 1945.  The installation Maj. Gillham visits in this letter was known as Camp Drake, which had once been a Japanese troop facility.  It was First Cav headquarters and was located near the town of Asaka in the Saitama Prefecture, about 25 miles northwest of Tokyo.  It remained a U.S. Army installation until 1998, when it was given back to the Japanese.

The shoulder insignia patch of the First Cavalry Division

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