Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Seven letters arrive in Tokyo

Letters from home are now arriving with increased frequency in Japan, and Maj. Gillham writes this rather long letter responding to all the new correspondence he's received.  This letter came to me with no envelope, so the enclosures he mentions are no longer extant.

29 Mar 1946

Dearest Darling,

Today I hit the jackpot.  I got seven letters from you and two others.  I suffered from shock for about two hours.  Seriously, it really gave me all the symptoms of real shock, as though I had witnessed a terrible accident or something of the sort.  I guess it was just too much for my heart to get all that mail at once after so long.  The secondary reaction is now setting in and I feel wonderful.  Two of the letters were new, dated 19 and 20 Mar.  The others were old ones filling gaps in previous correspondence.  They were all very sweet and I was glad to get every one of them.

I am glad you have joined the Ft. McPherson Officers Club and hope you get some good out of it.  It makes a handy place to duck into when you go to the commissary.  The commissary privileges must be quite valuable now from what you say.  You had better get all you can out of the army while the getting is good.

Your letter telling of receiving the telephone call was one of those that came today.  I am glad you enjoyed it.  So did I.  It was rather strategically timed, right in the middle of the mail breakdown, and helped keep me from worrying about you for some time, even though I got no mail.  I knew you were O.K. up to that date.  I may be able to call again before I leave.  I think they are lifting the "emergency" restriction.

When you get through taking movies of the spring color it might be a good idea to take the camera to a reliable camera shop and see if they can fix the governor so it won't slow down in cold weather.  That has ruined a lot of pictures for us.  I am anxious to see those good shots at Robles.

I find that I, too, take quite an interest in Chicago now that I am far away from it.  We get an overseas edition of the Chicago Tribune here once in a while and I read it with great interest.  It was a great experience to have behind us.

I am glad you got to talk to Col. Unger.  It was nice of him to call you up.

I am proud that Emily is doing so well in arithmetic.  If she catches on at this stage, she won't have any more trouble with it.  It all depends on understanding what you are doing.  It is also an excellent idea to learn some beautiful poems at that age.  They stay with you throughout life -- much better than things that are memorized later.  It sounds like she has a wise teacher -- a rare jewel.  The children do have some nice "coins" to remember, don't they?

You certainly must have a busy day, from the sample schedule you sent me.  There are many cultural advantages around Atlanta and you are smart to have the children take them in while you are there.  Have fun but don't overdo yourself.

You wrote me a good joke, so I'll have to tell you one (Arnold should be near to hear you laugh):

A Mrs. O'Brien had four sons.  The first three were great fighters and later went to Notre Dame and became great football heroes.  But the fourth son was good for nothing and a disgrace to the family.  Several times at confession the priest asked her if this last boy was really an O'Brien, but she always insisted that he was.  Finally one day she was taken ill and was on her death bed.  The priest was called in for a last confession.  He questioned her again about the fourth son.  She replied, "He is an O'Brien all right, but the other three are McGillicuttys."

I don't think I wrote the article on silk that you sent.  I don't handle the regular press quotes from our reports.  We just got out last report back from "upstairs."  I had personally written the chapter on the general economic picture for the month.  I had worked it over carefully, and not one word was altered by all the colonels and generals, including MacArthur, who read it.  Other sections didn't fare so well.  The old man himself is a pretty close and exacting editor and apparently reads every word.  I am enclosing a clipping giving his statement on approving Homma's execution, which I believe he wrote himself.  I think it is a good composition.  What do you think?

Thanks for the little violet.  It brought a beautiful message of love and spring and new hope.  I wish we could get together in our dreams, if not in reality.  I'll meet you halfway over the Pacific next Tuesday night at 1 A.M. at the international date line.

I hope Tom Lemly gets all right.

I enjoyed reading the letter written from Macon.  We will have to get bare-footed in the sand at the first opportunity.  And I'll spank you if you don't watch out.

I don't have an obe for my kimono yet and I am trying to get one for you, too.  They are hard to locate.  I have seen a couple that I thought would e nice with your kimono, but they were just too expensive.  I will get them before I leave though.  My kimono is plain black, lined with purple.  Its only ornamentation is three family crests, about one inch in diameter and woven into the silk in white.

When I get home I can wear summer clothes for some time and that will help.  If  you have a chance you might get me a few shirts 16-1/2 by 33 or 34.  And if you see any good material for a fall suit go ahead and get it and I can have a suit made this summer.  I find that in a scarce market you have to look way ahead and get things when you can.

It seems a shame that you all don't have any butter.  We have had an ample supply ever since I got here.  I was taking it for granted.  I am now conducting a self-imposed diet.  I keep the little Scripps Hospital book in my pocket at all times and make a record of the calories I eat.  I feel much better when I don't overeat.  It is hard to do for they give us about 3500 calories a day and in addition we have candy, nuts, cakes, beer and whiskey.  I am holding to about 1500 per day now.

I am glad you have a new treatment for Mont's impetigo.  I hope it is effective.  If you had had to give her Emily's old treatment I think I could have heard it over here.

I would like to see you in your new shoes and hat.  That would be all that would be necessary as far as I am concerned.  Did you get the brocade handbag containing the green silk that I sent some time ago?  Also, did you get the big book on the Nikko temples?

I have just read 11 letters from you dating from 25 Feb to 20 Mar.  I think most of my missing mail is in now.  It was fun to put them in the right order and read them as things really happened.  They tell a better story that way.

The pictures are some I took last weekend.  I didn't get one of Mr. Haiyoshi, the opera singer, but Mr. Wilson is going to give me one of his.  This was Jap film and is a little grey, but you can get the idea.

I love you more than I can tell you, my little sweetheart.  You are always in my thoughts and I long for you constantly.  I don't think I could ever get used to doing without you.  Spring is about to break out here and I am going to want you more than ever.  Time is passing and we will be together before long.

Loads of love,



Masaharu Homma was a general in the Japanese army during the war in the Pacific and played a key role in the capture and occupation of the Philippines in the early part of the war.  He is most famous for being the mastermind of the notorious Bataan Death March, in which over 10,000 Allied prisoners were killed during their transfer from the Bataan Peninsula to prison camps in 1942.  Although he retired before the end of the war, he was extradited to the Philippines in 1946 and tried before an Allied war tribunal.  He was found guilty of war atrocities and was ordered by Gen. MacArthur to be executed by firing squad on April 3, 1946, six days after today's letter was written.

General Homma