Saturday, December 31, 2011

Maj. Gillham gets his orders to return home

Today Maj. Gillham arrives from his trip to Kyushu and finds some very surprising news.  It seems he can hardly get his thoughts straight, and he writes a particularly short letter, most probably just to get the news on paper and send it out.

27 Apr 46

Dearest Lovely,

Just returned this morning from my trip. I got to Nara and Kyoto and most everywhere. It was a wonderful trip. I will tell or write you about it soon.

Things are happening so fast now that I can't keep up with them. When I returned I had orders to go to the replacement depot and head home.

The doctor that wants to send me to the hospital is also going home and I can't get in touch with him. I don't know just how it will work out, but I should be showing up during the latter half of May.

Several letters from you, Emily and Mother 'Cile were here. I think your idea about the Abbott Cottage is a fine one. It will give us a chance to get out breath and get acquainted again. I will try to keep you informed and will send cable when I know anything definite.

Enclosed is a money order for $75.

I am certainly excited at the prospect of heading home soon.

Walton Sugg came by to see me while I was away.

I am glad Emily is O.K.

Love to all,


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Frances reminisces about Monty's birth

This is another letter with no date on it, so I have placed it in order by its postmark, which is April 26, 1946.  Monty's eighth birthday is coming up on April 28th, and Frances recalls the day she was born. 

Dearest, My Beloved,

The days until your return will pass far too slowly for me. The date you were to become surplus has come and gone. I haven't heard from you since then. The last letter I received was the one you wrote when you had to return to Tokyo and take the train instead of the plane. So I don't expect to get a letter about that for a week or so yet. I'm just so anxious to hear that the time passes slowly for me. I am interested to hear what the doctor is able to do for you in regards to your terminal hospitalization.

I understand that Lawson will close June 30. You may get home in time to there, though. They have a big amputee ward there. I'm glad you aren't going there for that!

Bryant and Carl came home yesterday to find Margaret in the bed with the measles. They are the old bad kind where you have to watch the eyes and after effects. Bryant is delighted with the pearls. I think they are lovely, too. They have a rainbow lustre to them.

Eight years ago today you and Dr. Russell were going thru sleepless days and nights waiting for Monty to make her appearance. Do you remember? Or have the years helped you forget? I surely hope they have. Those days I still recall with anguish. Monty is worth it. She is growing into a sweet, helpful daughter and I wouldn't trade her for six other people's children. She is wonderful with Martha. She dresses her, feeds her and takes her out to play.

I am going to take Monty and several of the friends roller skating tomorrow to celebrate her birthday. We can't have a party here because Margaret is here with the measles and because the house and yard here are just too small for Monty and her active friends.

The girls have a holiday today because we are now south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Monty and Emily took the Japanese primer to school to show their friends. Monty's teacher was most interested in it and the Momo Taro fan Monty had. She asked me to let her read the story and show the faces to her class. Emily and I plan to use the faces at the scout meeting, too.

All my love to you,


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Maj. Gillham is on his way back to Tokyo

This is a quick letter that was written while Maj. Gillham was waiting to catch a train at the Kokura station on his way back to Tokyo.

Kokura, Japan
25 Apr 46

Dearest Darling,

I got to make the flight all the way around Kyushu, but I am grounded here now and waiting for a train. I have never seen such rain. The flights we made were in bad weather and appeared rather dangerous to me. I enjoyed it very much, but I am glad to be back on the ground again.

Sam Wrightson turned up in Nagasaki after I wrote you from there. We had a fine reunion. The Marines have been swell to us here.

Am going to Osaka tonight and hope to see Nara and Kyoto tomorrow.

Am well and love you. Train is almost due.



Kokura is the last train station on Kyushu on the line leading back to Honshu, the largest Japanese island.  It is located in the city of Kitakyushu and lies on the Straits of Shimonoseki, which separates the two islands.  The city was the primary target of the "Fat Boy" plutonium bomb to be dropped on August 9, 1945, but cloud cover made it necessary for the pilot to bomb the secondary target, Nagasaki.  Kokura was also the secondary target for the "Little Boy" uranium bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima three days earlier.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Frances tells of her trip to Memphis

This is a very long letter in which Frances tells of her Easter weekend trip to Memphis with Monty and Emily.  They went up to see Maj. Gillham's mother, Effie Tucker Gillham, who is now 74 and living in a private home for the elderly.  They stayed at a cousin's house in Whitehaven, now a southern suburb of Memphis near the Mississippi border, and also visited Kerrville, the boyhood home of Maj. Gillham, about 20 miles north of Memphis on U.S. 51.  I will update this introduction as soon as more information about the various cousins and friends become available. 

April 23, 1946

Dearest, My Love,

There is so much to write to you. First I will tell you of our trip to Memphis. Then I will thank you for the lovely things you sent.

Suddenly Tuesday morning I decided we'd go to Memphis over Easter weekend. We left Thursday morning about 10:00 AM, as the children had Thur., Fri. and Monday holiday. All of us were well at once!

We drove to Florence, Ala., and spent the night there. The next morning we drove on into Memphis and arrived there at noon. I had not written to Elizabeth as she had said she might go out of town at Easter. However, I called her up as soon as I reached Memphis. Mary was here and asked us to come out anyway. Eliz., Joe and girls went to Hot Springs on a fishing trip, so the children and I stayed out there with Mary.

Grandmother is better than I expected. Addie is very fond of your mother and calls her Effie all the time. Grandmother doesn't like to do anything without Addie. She calls Addie "on general principles" all the time.

Addie feeds her, insists that she use the bed pan regularly, kids her and loves her. She buys her ice cream whenever she goes out.

They have cut Grandmother's hair because she is in bed all the time. Whenever they put her in a chair, she cries until they put her back in bed. She very seldom wears her teeth and never bothers with her glasses any more. Her appetite is enormous. She eats everything they bring her and never complains. She is about the only patient who has a regular BM without a laxative.

Mrs. Richardson and Addie both said that Grandmother was the best patient they had. She was uncomplaining. They said you could tell that she had been a good Christian lady because she wasn't mean and she never used profane words.

The first day Grandmother didn't recognize any of us. Emily, Monty and I told her who we were. She repeated everything we said but showed no sign of recognition. Her head was turned toward us, but her eyes weren't focused on us. We took her some ice cream and she was more interested in that than the children. I took Martha up to her and told her that she was "William's baby." She just repeated what I said and didn't notice Martha.

The next day she recognized the girls and told everyone that Martha was William Gillham's baby. She said she thought the baby was cute and then laughed her old natural laugh.

The only thing she does is to sit up by herself. When she did that we all told her that she was smart. Her face brightened up and she laughed again. When Emily told her that she loved her, Grandmother brightened up again. Emily said she was glad we'd gone back the second time to see her for now she had a nice thought of Grandmother laughing happily.

When I talked to her I told her that you sent your love to her. She had one of her clearer moments and seemed like herself again, because she replied, "Is that all he sent me?"

The first day we went there we didn't see many of the other ladies. However, the second time we went, we saw all of them. They had heard that Effie's grandchildren were coming back and they all wanted to see the children. Emily said that all the ones on the porch took on over Martha and one of them wanted to keep Monty. Children were a rare sight to them.

Addie gave me all of Grandmother's things because they were floating all over the house and Grandmother doesn't need anything except gowns. I brought the tablecloth she was making for Emily, the radio, clothes, satchel, etc., away. Grandmother had previously given Addie her lovely black purse and Addie likes it. I left the walking sticks for others at the house, gave Addie the red quilted robe, gave Mary some hats and dresses and brought the rest of the clothes to Mother Ki.

The only thing I didn't get was Grandmother's watch. Addie said Mrs. Richardson took it and sold it. Mrs. Richardson claimed it had been stolen or misplaced. I told Mrs. R. that if she found it, I wanted it for Monty. However, I don't feel like making an issue of it, since they are certainly lovely to Grandmother and we couldn't find a nicer place for her to stay. The place is clean and orderly and they serve nice meals.

The heart attack she had recently was over in a short while. The doctor came and checked her. He gave her some medicine and a shot, but she isn't taking any digitalis.

Addie is looking forward to the present you are promising to bring her back from Japan.

I drove out to Kerrville and saw Mrs. Wright and Cora. I met Mr. Gardner, who rents the two rooms. He has bought some screen wire and will put it on the two porches for $11.00, a month's rent for him. He is a carpenter and works at the Navy Base. When he paints the wooden strips he is going to paint his windows and door trim, too.

Lev is renting Miss Kate's place and pasturing his mule in our lot. The pasture fence in falling down and the roof of the old house is leaking. I am going to write Lev and get him to patch the roof and maybe patch the fence, too.

I went up to see Alf Mason to settle for the recent windstorm damage to the roof. He sent me to his farmed out insurance man and I signed a waiver on their estimate of the damage.

They estimated $7.50 for materials and labor for patching, as only one roll is needed.

Just as I was leaving Kerrville, Cora told me Anthony wanted to see me. I had a dinner engagement with Cousin Emmie and couldn't see him. I will write him and find out what he wanted.

Cora has a wristwatch and a new set of teeth. She is working at the Navy Base and looks fine. She had on the stockings you sent her.

Ben Bateman is back and will start to school in June at Tennessee. He is terribly broken up about Henry Fielding. However, he enjoyed the children and me and talked more than I've ever heard him. For Easter he bought Cousin Emmie a little black cocker spaniel. After keeping the pup for several days, the vet told Ben he had eczema and rickets. So Ben has started in to nurse it back to health. I think it will help Ben, too.

Cousin Ruth and Nancy had us over for lunch. Nancy's boy Skipper is darling, well trained and quiet.

George and Rosemary are back in Memphis now. He is working for a wholesale grocery concern, Caradine and -- something. They drove out to Whitehaven to see us. Their little boy, Butch, looks like a Jew, is lively and bright. He is nearly the age of Nancy's child.

Williford is back with his former company, but is in Fort Worth. Grace hasn't gone out as he doesn't have a place for her to live.

Nadine and Rogers, Allen and Jane were all in Memphis and came out to see us at Whitehaven. Allen is trying to start a practice in Memphis, but can't find an office. He is considering going back to the Sanatorium. Their two children are nice.

I finally went by Manhattan Bank and told them for the five hundredth time that I wanted the bank statements of Mother's account. They had been going to Mrs. Richardson and everyone was opening them.

I stopped by a minute at the telephone company. I saw Mitchell, who is office manager. Flournoy has an office on the seventh floor. Bratchey and Humphries are still there. I didn't have time to see them.

When I returned Monday night, April 22, I found the roses you ordered. They arrived on April 19 while I was away. You were such a darling to send them to me. I surely appreciate them more than you know. To think you remembered the day we met and wanted to send me a token of your love pleased me beyond measure. Mother said that they were beautiful and they added so much to the house at Easter time.

The box for everyone arrived this morning and everyone is very happy. I am simply delighted with the white flower silk you sent me. It is the loveliest piece I've ever seen! I like the powder box very much as well as the Hiroshima vase and table cloth. The girls were charmed with the dolls, fans and paper dolls. They had a quiet undisputed settlement of the fans and dolls and all were happy.

Mother Ki seemed delighted with the tea set. She said over and over that you sent her the one thing she could use and that she wanted. We used the tea set at dinner tonight, but we had more than 3-1/2 swallows to a cup. Besides the tea was hot to hold and hot to drink. How do the Japs manage?

Mother has wanted a table cloth. She selected the green one. I took the yellow one. We are saving the white one for Bryant when she comes tomorrow with Carl.

Elizabeth surely appreciated the scarf.

I like the books you sent, especially the primer. The Japanese attempts at learning English are interesting, too.

Darling, your letter concerning your promotion came today. I appreciate your telling me about it. I had decided that I wouldn't question you about it even before your letter arrived. As far as I am concerned it has been a closed book already. I know how competent you are. All the men and officers you have been associated with realize you are a superior officer. If the army is so bungling and stupid that it lets one week and miles of red tape stand in the way of promoting one of its finest officers, I think it is high time you asked for a discharge.

I am glad you have had this experience of living in a strange country and learning of its culture and tradition. I know you have received more knowledge and benefit from your sojourn in Japan than nine tenths of the Americans there have. However, I am more than delighted to realize that you are planning to return to us again soon.

Most of Lawson General handles amputees, but I surely hope they will let you come out there for your hospitalization. It would be so nice to have you there. Please, please talk them into it. I'd just die of loneliness if they put you in hospital in Tokyo.

I love you very much, darling. It is such a pleasant thought to think of your return. I love to consider that each day brings me nearer to the day you will be back.

All the love I have is for you, lovely.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Maj. Gillham arrives safely in Nagasaki

Maj. Gillham finally makes it to Kyushu, and the weather is also cooperating.  He visits the hot springs resort of Beppu as well as the devastated city of Nagasaki.  This is one of the rare occasions where Maj. Gillham failed to write the date or place on his letter, and we can only go by the postmark, which is April 23, 1946.

Dearest Darling,

Got to Fukuoka OK and had a very interesting stay. Visited a Japanese Power plant there. Left by train as the weather was still foul, and went to Beppu. Had a Japanese dinner with the Power Co. officials at Fukuoka. The president of the company there gave me a furoshiki (large square scarf) which is very pretty.

Beppu is the nicest place I have seen in Japan. It was not damaged and is a very charming city. The Marines are currently occupying Kyushu, but there are very few in Beppu. We were quartered in a lovely Japanese hotel overlooking the bay. The Marines at Beppu have had sense enough not to try to change Japan overnight. When they take a Japanese hotel for a billet they are continuing to operate it in the Japanese manner. You remove your shoes upon entering, sleep on the floor in a futon, etc. When that method is followed, it doesn't upset the Japs' routine and everything is deluxe. The power officials there gave us a party with all the trimmings. I learned a couple of new games that I think are good. In the afternoon they took us on a tour of the many hot springs in the area. Also, we visited the home of a prosperous farmer and had tea. It was all very interesting indeed. Now I feel that I have seen a fairly good cross section of Japan.

The weather for the last two days has been beautiful. We were able to get a plane out of Oita, near Beppu, for Omura today. From Omura we came to Nagasaki in a little two-seater cab. They had to make two trips to bring us over. It was a most interesting flight. We landed on a strip that the Sea Bees have built right in the middle of the devastated area. Due to the hills, the damaged area is not as extensive as at Hiroshima, but the area that was hit is certainly laid waste.

We are staying at the field officers' billet here. A very nice Japanese house. Only about six Marines living here. I will write more detail later. I love you darling.



A furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth, which originally was used to wrap clothing while one was at a bath.  Now it can be used for anything, and is often used to wrap presents.

Beppu is a major tourist destination on the island of Kyushu, mainly popular for its hot springs (known in Japanese as onsen).  The town was settled relatively recently, in 1924, so it was barely 20 years old when Maj. Gillham visited it.  The city is famous for its nine "hells," or hot springs.  Below is a photo of one of them, known as the "Sea Hell."

Nagasaki, also on the island of Kyushu, was bombed by the Allied Forces three days after the destruction of Hiroshima, on August 9, 1945.  Unlike the uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima, this bomb was plutonium, and the amount of damage to the city was minimized because of the vicinity of the mountains, as Maj. Gillham mentions in his letter.  Still, nearly 75,000 people were killed upon the impact of the bomb, and most of the Mitsubishi armament plants were destroyed (which had built the weaponry used to bomb Pearl Harbor).  Below is a photo of the destruction, showing the mountains.

Below is a map of Kyushu, showing the various prefectures and cities, including Beppu (in Oita Prefecture), Fukuoka, and Nagasaki.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A postcard from Frances from her Memphis trip

As we will find out later in greater detail, Frances decides to take the family up to Memphis for Easter.  This postcard is the only extant communication that she sent on the trip.  She picked a very appropriate postcard, featuring a photo of a hydraulic dam.  Maj. Gillham, a Georgia Tech grad, loved anything to do with engineering.

Florence, Ala.
Apr 22, 1946

We've been to Memphis to see Grandmother.  She is fine and her set up couldn't be nicer.  Addie is fine to her and is expecting a present from Japan!

I'm writing a letter tonight with details.

All four of us have gotten our traveling legs on and miss you terribly.



Friday, December 23, 2011

Major Gillham makes it safely to Osaka

 Today Maj. Gillham continues his attempt to get to Kyushu to meet with officials of the Japanese power company. 

18 Apr 46

Dearest Darling,

We weren't able to fly yesterday because of the rain, so we came as far as Osaka last night by train.  This morning we weren't able to fly from here because of gusty winds up to 65 MPH.  So we have spent the day bumming around Osaka.  Saw Atwood and had supper with him.  We have been making our headquarters at the New Osaka Hotel where he is billeted.  They gave us a room for the day and fed us excellent meals.  It is a fine hotel.  We are leaving by train again tonight and will try to make Kyushu by tomorrow sometime.

Loads of love,


Thursday, December 22, 2011

An unexpected delay on the way to Kyushu

A quick letter today that Maj. Gillham writes after he is unable to fly to Kyushu.

17 Apr 1946

Dearest Lovely,

This morning we drove out to Tachikawa, the air base about 30 miles out of town. After a month of pretty weather, spent mostly in the office, this morning it has turned off about like when I went to Hiroshima. All plane flights were cancelled and we returned to Tokyo and will go on the train tonight. If it clears off tomorrow morning we will get the plane at Osaka; if not we will continue by rail.

When we returned we went by the Red Cross Officers Club and then played "go." I think I am better at "go" than billiards. Do you remember the difficulty we had clearing the pool table at Gulfport one time? I haven't improved much since, and billiards is a much more difficult game.

The Red Cross Club is a nice spacious place over near the Diet Bldg. It must have always been some sort of elite club. There is a ballroom, verandas, lounges, game room, etc.

I didn't realize I was going to have the opportunity to write this letter. It gives me another chance to tell you that I love you and am longing to return to your side. It is wonderful to have a deep, understanding and lasting love like ours.




Tachikawa Airfield was completed in 1922 and was the first Japanese airfield to offer scheduled commercial service.  In 1937, a Kamikaze-type plane became the first to fly non-stop from Japan to London.  After the war, the decimated airfield was refurbished by the Allies and used primarily as a troop transport field.  Today it is still a military field, operated by the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

For a change of pace, we read a letter from Bryant Holsenbeck Moore, Frances' sister, whose husband, Carl, a Marine, has returned to his base at Camp Lejeune, NC.  Bryant has gone up to be with him, and she writes this letter from there.  Their daughter, Margaret (nicknamed Goober), had lived at 992 Washita while Bryant was there and was staying there with her Aunt Frances when this letter was written.

April 17, 1946

Dear Bill,

Frances writes that you have sent some more lovely things -- among those being a kimono for Goober and a string of pearls for me.

Really, Bill, I have never known anyone to be as generous and thoughtful as you.  I blush to think that I never wrote you at Christmas, thanking you for your remembrances in your box for Margaret and me.

Then that attractive lunch box, idol and owl you sent Margaret for her birthday pleased her to no end.  She proudly tool her treasures to school to display to her teacher and friends.  I suppose you know she appropriated a pair of "clogs" you sent.

And the pajamas yous sent me are such a heavenly blue color.

I am anxiously looking forward to the pearls and to seeing the kimono you sent Margaret.

We have thoroughly enjoyed all of the thing you have been sending.  Also, at times, when Frances wants us to read them, parts of your highly interesting letters.  Those you wrote from Hiroshima were particularly interesting and historical.  You seem to have the knack for sensing and for seeing the interesting and historical.  I couldn't help getting a feeling of desolation from the letters and pictures of Hiroshima.

Carl has been back almost three weeks -- here a Lejeune almost two weeks.  He brought the outfit back and has practically gotten rid of everyone in it.  This particular outfit is to be kept active, but for the time being only on paper.  Carl hopes for a relief this week.  Then we go on leave for a month and then maybe back here for duty.  If we are here this summer, and if you are still gone, we are hoping Frances and the children will come to see us.  If you should return, of course, we want you to come.  Maybe we could arrange for the children to stay with us while you and Frances take a trip.

Azeeta called me the other day -- my former maid.  She wanted to know if we wanted her to work for us!!  Here we sit with a maid available and no house in which to use her!

By the grapevine via Azeeta concerning gossip and news about Carl and his colored troops -- his men said, "He doesn't talk much, but when he does, he spellbinds you -- like Mrs. Roosevelt."  "He is the Great White Father."  "If all the C.O.'s were like Col. Moore, we would re-enlist."  (There is a scarcity of Negro Marines shipping out.)  Well, that's the gossip and I have had loads of fun kidding Carl about it all.

We made a trip to Washington the other day.  I went by and paid my respects to Mrs. Markin, the congresswoman Frances and I wrote concerning mail overseas.

Bill, I am sorry you and Carl had to be separated from your families, but because of it Frances and I have really gained a rich understanding of each other which I highly treasure.  And Margaret has gotten to know her nice cousins.

Also, I like a friend of yours, met thru Frances -- Mr. K.W.

Thanks ever so much for all of the lovely things you have been sending us.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Frances finds the perfect place for a getaway

The first part of today's letter was written on a piece of stationery Frances was given at a barbecue dinner she attended with Pop and Mother Cile.  The venue was a cottage called Coral Gables that the owner rents out, and Frances got the idea that this would be a good place for Maj. Gillham and her to visit after his return.  Below, following the letter, are scans of the stationery, front and back.  The other part of the letter was written on the back of a humorous piece of advertising handed out by the same man (he also owned a car dealership in town).  This, too has been scanned, below.

A note on the scans:  The new, "improved" blog editor program now makes it more difficult for the reader to enlarge photos shown on a blog.  For Windows users, you will have to right click on the photo and select "Open Link in New Window."  Once the picture appears in the new window, you can click on it to have it enlarged.

April 17, 1946

Dearest Lovely,

Tonight Father took Mother and me to a barbecue supper given by a club he is in. One of the members, Mr. Abbott, had the crowd at his weekend place. On the back is a map to show you where it is.

The nicest thing about the cottage is that he rents it to couples who get married, for a honeymoon. He also lets returned veterans go out. My idea is that we take it for a week when you get back. It is in a pine grove in the kind of woods we used to prowl around in.

The road, Heards Ferry Road, leads to the river. We could go down it in a scow again. As it has two bed rooms we could take Monty and Emily and leave Martha with Mother -- or if you prefer we could go out by ourselves.

It would be far less expensive than Bermuda and far more to your liking, I'm sure. As soon as I know when to expect you, I'll go down to see Mr. Abbott and make arrangements.

It's a place where you could rest and recreate, and it wouldn't be much traveling for you -- about sixteen miles from our house.

I can hardly wait to take you out there. I know it's just the kind of place for you, darling. So, tell Uncle Sam and MacArthur to hurry up and let you come home!

This letter and stationery were souvenirs given each guest tonight. I thought I would write on it so that you could enjoy the little jokes.

He has all kinds of little things tacked over the house. The bedroom for Esquire is full of Varga Girls, etc. In the bathroom are jokes that Arnold would appreciate.

I am anxious to see your movies. You always could figure a way to do the seemingly impossible. I bet you all had quite a fine time taking them, too. I hope the day was pretty. The last time I took some with Lucile Taylor was about three weeks ago. I still have half a roll to take. Two rolls have come back developed, and I think they are good.

Your interesting pictures came of you taking your shoes off on the steps. It is darling of you. It is such a natural one and you have on your nicest smile!

Have you seen Marshall again? I couldn't figure whether it was Con A or H from his writing. I guessed wrong, it was H.

All my love,





Humorous handout

Monday, December 19, 2011

A box of swords and a trip to Kyushu

Maj. Gillham is about to embark on his last trip before leaving Japan for good. My mother (Monty) remembers well the pigeon funeral mentioned in this letter, as well as receiving the boxes of swords. The ancient sword is still in the family.

16 Apr 46

Dearest Love,

Just received yours of 9 Apr telling of the pigeon funeral. I had a good laugh over it. I know Monty enjoyed being chief mourner.

If Mother Ki was worried over that turtle she should have seen some of the varmints they used to bring in at Robles.

I am glad to hear that you are past the crisis and are feeling fine again. Are you keeping a record of dates? It should be convenient to have a history of several months compiled.

I am leaving in the morning by plane for Kyushu. It promises to be an interesting trip. Several of the Japanese Power officials are going to meet us and show us around.

Today I mailed a box of swords and other items. I have another similar box I will send when I return. The short sword is nothing exceptional, but the blade in the plain case was presented to a Japanese Major General commanding the 13th Division and is a fine piece of steel, though not old. I also have a blade that is 470 years old. I also sent a package containing five volumes of the reports I have been working on here. These are the non-confidential copies.

Enclosed is a picture which shows a good example of a Japanese sign in English. Note the hyphenation.

I am certainly glad you are all well again and hope you will stay that way now that spring is here.

All promotions to Lt. Col. have now been suspended throughout the army. However, this does not affect the ones given on terminal leave.

It is certainly fine that the time for me to return to my darling is drawing near. It may take some time yet, but at least I am beginning to move in that direction.

Lots of love,


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stressful times on the homefront

Today we hear from Frances again, and it seems Maj. Gillham's absence is starting to wear on her.  She vents a bit in the first paragraph, but then settles into the news-from-home routine. 

April 15, 1946


Since you have been away, we have not fussed in out letters to each other. I haven't written you for the last two days because I know my letters would have started a nice hot argument. I wrote you one and tore it up. It was full of things that would have made you mad as hops.

I've been feeling queerly the last few days -- I don't have that safe, secure feeling any more. I feel like I'd want to do something foolish and wicked. You could cure my troubles in a very short time, but this business of substituting gets me mixed up. I am feeling better today so I want to write you quickly.

Yesterday Emily joined the church along with about thirty other children. Mother 'Cile, Monty and I felt that Emily was the best dressed and most serious one of the group. She wore her blue coat suit, new shoes, white gloves and brown hat. She took her pledge with grave solemnity.

Yesterday afternoon I took the three big girls to a tulip show at the Auditorium. Afterwards we went out to the High Museum of Art. While I was there, I inquired if they'd like to exhibit my brass collection. They seemed interested.

Margaret's kimono and Bryant's pearls arrived Saturday. They are simply beautiful. You are a darling, darling dear to be so sweet and thoughtful. Bryant will write you when she returns.

If you could get Mother a table cloth, she would be thrilled to pieces.

Don't worry about the Bermuda trip. It was just one of those brainstorms I have once in a while. I know you will be tired of traveling by the time you get back. Besides, it will be more expensive than we'll feel like putting out for at that time.

I understand that McDowell and Barlow and Bonner are the sales echelon here in Ga.

The children get holidays Thurs., Friday and Monday for Easter holidays, and Elizabeth can't have us there for she is going away.

I am at Fort Mc with Emily today. She had a recurrence of her Chicago difficulty and I am going to get her checked up and find out the source of the infection. We had lunch at the officers' club and Emily was much delighted with the club. She thought it was quite an elegant place.

I can hardly wait for your return. It will be divine to have you back again, to live with, argue with and have fun with again.


Friday, December 16, 2011

A trip to the foot of Mt. Fuji

On the last day before his trip to the south of Japan, Maj. Gillham takes a drive with a colleague and some friends out into the mountains. The scene he paints is reminiscent of a photo I use for my wallpaper on my laptop, and I include it at the end of this post. The whereabouts of the three photos he mentions at the very end are unknown.

15 Apr 46

Dearest Love,

Yours of 8 Apr came today. The mail has certainly improved. That is only a week. However, that long spell with no mail seemed to take something out of me that I am afraid I won't get back until I see you in person again.

I enjoyed your letter very much and was glad you got the things you mentioned. I was beginning to worry about some of those items. It seems that I mailed them ages ago. I was amused at your reaction to the records. I thought they would jar you. You finally get used to it at a 3 or 4 hour performance.

The sweet shrub still contained some of its characteristic odor and brought back many happy memories. I was disappointed that you apparently hadn't gotten the roses I tried to send you on 6 Apr. I cabled the bank at Charlottesville to wire them to you and charge my bank account. Thought a small town bank like that would do me a favor, but something must have gotten fouled up somewhere along the line. Anyway, roses or no, I love you and I am glad I met you 16 years ago. You have meant the world to me ever since.

I was interested in your ideas of using the servants' quarters at the old house for a place to live. I am sure we could make out in such a place and have lots of fun doing it. I hope that before many more years you won't have to put up with a make-shift arrangement, but can have a real home of your own.

Since I am going to Kyushu day after tomorrow, my mail may be a little irregular for a few days.

Yesterday Wilson and I made a big loop back through the mountains. We went right up to the foot of Fuji and then over many mountain roads. I took Hiyoshi's sister, the one in the Chinese robe in the picture I sent you. Wilson took a Japanese school teacher. Hiyoshi San (the girl that went with me) is a doctor of a medicine and is the company doctor at the large factory here. We had a sedan and Dick and I took turns driving. It was the first time I had had my hands on the wheel of anything but a jeep since I left the states. It certainly felt natural to pilot a good responsive automobile over precipitous mountain roads again. The cherry blossoms in the mountains were at the height of their glory. At one mountain village they were having a cherry festival and everyone was decked out in their most colorful kimonos. It was a very pleasant trip.

Enclosed are a few extra pictures that I hadn't sent before.

Lots of love,



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Maj. Gillham misses a promotion

Maj. Gillham writes this letter two days before leaving on a trip to Kyushu, the southernmost of the four major islands of Japan. He tells the story of his rejected promotion application and the army red tape that caused it. He mentions that, despite the rejection, he was promoted to Lt. Colonel upon leaving the army -- this was the rank I remember him having when I knew him as a child.

13 Apr 46

Dearest darling,

Didn't work today -- just sort of took it easy and rested up. Tomorrow I plan to take a drive out into the country. Wednesday we will leave on the trip to Kyushu and will return about a week later. Soon after my return I expect to be on my way home one way or another.

After making several tests, the doctor here decided there is an infection in my system somewhere causing rheumatism. He ruled out bursitis. He wanted to put me in the hospital for further checks, but when I told him I was going home soon anyhow, he said maybe he could send me to Lawson General in Atlanta instead of to 42nd General in Tokyo. I am going ahead and make the trip to Kyushu and see him again when I return.

Went to the show tonight with Bull to the Ernie Pyle theatre. They had a hillbilly band in addition to the picture.

I purposely haven't written you anything about the promotion situation since I got here, because I didn't want to bore you with it. However, I guess I should tell the story once so you will be informed, and then we can forget it as far as I am concerned. Well, I came closer to it this time than ever before. I was put in a Lt. Col.'s job as soon as I got here. One of the regulations is that you must hold the job for three months before a recommendation for promotion can be submitted. At that time this theatre was authorized to make the promotions and it was generally just a few days from recommendation to consummation. I landed in Japan on 29 Oct., but spent several days at the replacement depot while they were processing me, so that I didn't report to GHQ until 7 Nov. Exactly three months later on 7 Feb., my recommendation was submitted. But in the meantime on 1 Feb., a new War Dept. regulation came out saying that all field grade promotions must be submitted to the War Dept. in Washington, D.C. That indicated a delay, but it was still possible. Then, while they were processing my papers they made up a new rule to the effect that any officer considered for promotion would have to be staying in the army at least four months from the date of the recommendation. Of course, this was an ex-post-facto rule, and did not exist at the time my recommendation went in or at the time that I indicated the date to which I would remain in the army. It so happened I had indicated 15 May and according to this new rule I would have had to stay until 7 June, or three weeks longer. The papers kicked around for over a month and then were returned for the above reasons. My C.O. has offered to put my name in again, but it would mean staying four more months and it's not worth it now. Besides, they would change the rules again before the papers could go through. So I told him to forget it and instead to release me as soon as possible. He is releasing me as of 22 Apr., so whether I come to the hospital or not I will be leaving soon. They are reducing officers now instead of promoting them.

To help rub it in, the WACs who came on the same boat with me were sent directly to Tokyo from the ship without going thru the replacement depot. That enabled them to get under the wire and most of them were promoted, many to field grades. In addition, the navy worked under a different rule and many of my friends have made two jumps since leaving the states.

It boils down to the fact that I got here a week too late and planned to leave three weeks too soon. Also, if I had left the states two weeks later, yours and the childrens' expenses to Atlanta would have been paid.

Under present regulations I will be made a Lt. Col. when I start on terminal leave, as a sort of consolation prize. However, even that is dependant upon passing a physical examination, and this arthritis may throw it out.

I don't intend to worry about it or to bring it up again, but I knew you must be wondering what the situation was.

The trip to Japan has been interesting in many ways, and in many ways it has been beneficial to me. If you keep your ears open around here you pick up many interesting scraps of knowledge. Geo. Bull, who has studied Russian, was recently telling me about how the Greek alphabet happened to be introduced into Russia instead of the Roman.

My boss, Col. Unger, left today for temporary duty in the states. He was to fly in Gen. MacArthur's personal plane, so he should make a quick trip. He promised to call you up when he got near Atlanta. He will go to Washington and return here in about 45 days. They are doing that for a good many of the older regulars who have been out here for several years and will probably have to stay a couple of more. Since they can't bring their families here I think that it is the least they can do for them. It looks like bringing families here has fallen thru. I am glad I am not counting on bringing you all here. The reason is that there is just no housing. You have no idea what a vast waste of burned rubble most of the cities are.

I sent about four packages and a money order for $100 recently. This is just a verification remark.

Another thing which I want to verify (although it really isn't necessary) is positively that I love you very, very much. The memory of you and the hope of seeing you again is what keeps me going.



P.S. I haven't received the vitamin pills, but I don't expect them yet. So far I have received the two packages you sent from Calif.


Lawson General Hospital was a V.A. hospital in Chamblee, GA, which is now a part of the city of Atlanta. It was built during World War I on the spot of the old Camp Gordon and was used to treat wounded, especially amputee cases flown in from the fronts. It was closed in 1946.

Postcard of Lawson General Hospital, ca. 1945

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Frances readies Maj. Gillham's civilian clothes

Now that Maj. Gillham's return is imminent, Frances is starting to pull out his civilian clothes in preparation.

April 11, 1946

Dearest Angel Peach Pie,

How are you tonight? I'd love to slip into bed beside you and snuggle up to your back and feel the familiar feel of your knit pajamas.

I get along very well during the day when I am busy keeping Martha dry, the clothes washed, the meals cooked or the children taxied around. It is at this time of night when I am free to think of you, my sweet, that I miss you the most.

Today I went into the trunk and pulled out your four civilian suits and took them to the cleaners. They were put away clean, but I figured after five years they could stand a little more. Also, the two Palm Beach suits were terribly stained. I wanted to see if cleaning could remove any more. Besides the green and tan Palm Beach suits, you have a black double-breasted suit and a grey tweed with two pair of baggy tweed pants. When you get home you won't need the baggy tweeds -- I won't let you get out of the house in them!

I found you a white shirt 16-3 today. It is fun getting ready for your return. Looking over your clothes and buying you some is a great pleasure.

Had you thought of getting discharge, coming home and going back into the service? Anything you do will be fine with us. You have a chance now to think aloud about your possibilities and I can't interfere and urge you to do every one of them.

I have not been able to go up to see Grandmother. Do you think I should go on now or wait until you return? I have the money still in travelers checks ready to go. Whenever I go, whether with you or without, I think I should get the silver and few valuables she has in the house.

Another thing I was considering was it might be wise for her to deed the property to you. There is a high inheritance tax on property, etc., now. Gee, when I write it out, it seems so mercenary, but I was wondering if it wouldn't be a wise thing to do.

I have been interested in the change of currency and the elections in Japan. I believe you have a smart idea in giving the women a chance for suffrage and freedom. That will change Japanese customs and traditions quicker than anything.

If I thought there'd be a chance of using it, I believe I'd make me an evening dress to match the lovely, lovely brocaded evening bag you sent me. I think it is such a nice color, too.

I am interested in the obi your friend gave you. What did you present him with? What color is the obi? Be sure to learn how to manipulate all the gadgets to put it on with. Do you have to put your obi on the same way?

Do you think it would be worth while to get some floor mats? I think it would be nice to use them in our bedroom when and if we get a house. We might practice removing our shoes at the door into the bedroom at least.

This house is certainly cluttered up. I am surely going to do some house cleaning or rather furniture removing, before you come. After living in Japan, this house would oppress you with its furniture.

Bryant and Carl are going to Washington before coming home. He has to report up there.

Darling I love you dearly.


P.S. Learned that Hal Haskell & family are in Columbus, Ohio, at air base there. Been back from Panama 1 year.


A Palm Beach suit was a popular style in the 1940s, generally made of a light cloth or linen material for summer weather. The color was generally light cream or pastel, and the jacket had no lining.

An ad for Palm Beach suits from the 1940s

In 1946, the U.S. Occupation Forces introduced the modern yen, to be used by the general populace, but also introduced a "B yen" to be used solely by the occupying troops. Not until 1949 was the yen finally stabilized and fixed at 360 to the dollar.

An obi is a sash that is used to tie a kimono. Frances refers to "gadgets" used to tie an obi and asks if Maj. Gillham would tie his the same way. The answer is no: a woman's obi is wider and much more complicated to tie than a man's, which has a width of no more than five inches. A woman's obi calls for several additional sashes and ties to properly secure it on the kimono. Compare the two videos below.

Tying a man's obi to a kimono

Tying a woman's obi, with the help of three other women

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Maj. Gillham's eldest daughter, Emily, wrote him a letter and mailed it off herself. She is 10 years old and in the fourth grade at the Highland School on North Avenue. After she signed her letter, she wrote EHG (her middle name is Helen).

992 Washita Ave.
Atlanta, Ga.
April 10, 1946

Dear Daddy,

I think the spring is a beautiful time of the year, don't you? Here in Atlanta the dogwood are so pretty that the city has special buses for people to look at it in. Atlanta also has some beautiful azalea gardens.

Now how about Japan? Are the cherry blossoms in bloom?

Martha is growing very fast. She tries to do everything we do. Today I was trying on some dresses I got out of the trunk, singing all the time. When I looked around, Martha was trying to put on my skirt while singing.

Do come home soon.

Much, much love,

Emily (EHG)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Maj. Gillham writes a letter from work

Today our letter from Maj. Gillham was written at work, in the Dai Ichi Building, where he had just finished his sixth and final summation.  I own copies of the first five summations (the non-confidential versions) which, as you will find out later, he sent back to Atlanta before leaving Tokyo. 

9 Apr 46

Dearest Darling Love,

I am duty officer tonight, so I am writing at the office. I have to stay here until 9 P.M.  As I wrote you yesterday we have just finished our 6th Summation and it was quite a relief to get out from under it.  I don't think they will get much work out of me for the rest of the time I am here, for I expect to be gone before it's time to work on another.  Of course, you can never tell until you are actually out of the army.

At noon I got a car and we went out to Bull's for lunch as planned, and then went around to look at some cherry blossoms.  The principle place we went was not quite in its prime yet, but some varieties are at their peak already and we saw many interesting things.  We took some color movies and also still shots. I have gotten a light meter which I hope will improve our photography when I return.  It was the first time Linzel had been out of Tokyo, so naturally she was very interested.  Wilson and a girl that works in his section also went with us.

A few nights ago I went out and had dinner with Maj. Daugherty, who works here with me.  He lives at the former Philippine Embassy and it is a beautiful place.  I could have moved there several months ago, but it is not nearly so convenient in many ways as the Dai Ichi.  I suppose that if you had your own assigned jeep it would be O.K.

I got a letter from Cora today thanking me for those things I sent.

How is our car doing?

I know Bryant is glad to see Carl. I hope they can be together for a while now.

The officers here who are staying on are now getting all excited, making arrangements to bring their families over.  They generally had to sign up to stay over here two more years.  It would have been interesting for you all, but with my own job situation, and with Martha as young as she is, I couldn't see it.  The country is badly beaten up and many facilities are lacking.  Things like typhus, smallpox, typhoid and even cholera are liable to break out any place and are already epidemic in some.  You would have made a much better pioneer than many who will come, but I think we will do better in the U.S., come boom or depression.

I am afraid my girls will all be so big when I get back that I will scarcely know them.  After I wrote you last, I ran into the enclosed article in Time about travel in and around the U.S.  When I get home I would like to rest and recreate for a few weeks somewhere, and then settle down and go to work before all my terminal leave is gone so that some of it can be used for profit.

Lots of love,



The term "terminal leave," for those unfamiliar with army jargon, sounds a bit foreboding, but it simply refers to leave that is taken after release from the service.  That is, any accrued leave is given after all the paperwork is completed and, even though out of the service at that point, the soldier still draws pay until the leave is over.  A good civilian analogy would be severance pay -- the concept is different but the end result is the same.