Monday, January 18, 2010

New orders: Assigned to Tokyo

Six days after landing at Yokohama, Maj. Gillham finally gets his new orders.

Zama, Japan
3 Nov 1945

Dearest Darling,

Got my orders today to go to the GHQ-AFPAC in Tokyo, but I don't know yet what my job will be or when we will go in, but it should be in a few days.  Most of the men I know are going to Korea; in fact, only 68 of the 256 are going to Tokyo.  Chun was very disappointed that he didn't get to go to Tokyo.  The Tokyo set up looks pretty good to me now, living out here in the mud, but you never can tell how things will work out.

We have no mail yet, but some men on another APO# are getting letters mailed in the US as late as 24 Oct.

I haven't been anywhere today because I was expecting to have to move.  I think the hotel in town is full and they must be having to make other billeting arrangements.

Last night another officer and I walked out and down the road about a mile.  We hailed a passing Jap and traded him two candy bars for some charcoal.  He said he was Korean -- they were very poor people.

We built a charcoal fire in a formaldehyde burner that the Japs left here.  It makes an ideal charcoal bucket, and breaks the chill in this room.

My new APO is #500 but that is not a complete address, so wait until I can give it all to you.

Lots of love,



The GHQ-AFPAC stands for General Headquarters, (U.S.) Armed Forces of the Pacific, which had its base in Tokyo after the war.  The offices were in a group of buildings along the east bank of the Imperial Moat, across from the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo.

The APO stood for the Army Post Office, which was a self-contained unit within the Army responsible for the delivery of all Army mail.  Each APO division had a specific identifying number, usually three to five digits in length, which acted as pre-Zipcode postal codes.  Prior to 1980, each branch of the service was responsible for its own mail delivery.  Thereafter, the Department of Defense created the umbrella Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA) which followed the USPS model and was assigned its own set of Zipcodes.

The situation in Korea at this time was much more volatile than that in Japan, owing to the fact that two months earlier at the Potsdam Conference the Allies had decided unilaterally to divide Korea along the 38th Parallel.  While the country was ostensibly under the control of a U.S.-Soviet alliance, the northern section was an "area of responsibility" of the Soviets.  This made it one of the buffer zones promised the Soviets in return for their aid in defeating the Japanese in WWII.

During the war, Korea was under the control of Japan, which used Korea's resources and manpower in its war effort.  Over 700,000 Koreans were transported to Japan for this reason.  In the above letter, Maj. Gillham writes of an encounter with a Korean, who was most likely in Japan as a result of the war.  In the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, over 25% of all victims were Korean.

Cold War-era map showing relationship
between Korean peninsula and Japan