Prologue...

Arthur Abraham Hersh was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey on 26 Nov 1915 to Isaac and Yetta Unger Hershkowitz. Isaac and Yetta were orthodox Jews who had emigrated from Iasi, Romania to Brooklyn in 1902. Arthur had a twin brother William (my grandfather) and older siblings Ruth, David and Simon. 

Arthur, a kind and compassionate man, with creative and artistic talents, was inducted into the Army in March 1942 at the age of 26 and spent his military service with the Fighting 77th Infantry Division in the Pacific Theater.

The 77th consisted mostly of draftees from New York City, and trained at Camp Upton, NY. They were assembled in less than forty days and endured intensive training for a year before their deployment to the South Pacific. Known as the "oldest" Infantry unit in the Army, it was activated for service in World War II on 25 Mar 1942 and sent overseas on 24 Mar 1944.

The troops were commanded by Major General Robert L. Eichelberger from March to June 1942, Major General Roscoe B. Woodruff from June 1942 to May 1943 and finally Major General Andrew Bruce from May 1943 and for the remainder of the war.   They were inactivated March 1946.

The 77th received 16 unit citations and fought in the Western Pacific (15 Jun 1944  - 2 Sep 1945), Leyte Gulf (17 Oct 1944 - 1 Jul 1945), Southern Philippines (27 Feb 1945 - 4 Jul 1945) and Ryukyus Islands (26 Mar 1945 - 2 Jul 1945).

Of the hundreds of letters Arthur wrote home, only forty-four survive, along with a few souvenirs he sent home from the war. My grandparents kept the letters in a box in a safe place since 1945. When I was younger I'd read the letters occasionally but in the past few years I read them more thoroughly and with my knowledge of history and some research I was able to conclude where he was at the time he wrote the letters, when those types of details were censored from letters. 

Arthur was especially close to his twin brother Bill, who also served in the Army, as well as his sister-in-law, my grandmother May. Arthur and May often corresponded throughout the time he was away and her letters were a great source of comfort to him. To him, May was more a sister than a sister-in-law.

Some letters are short, others a little longer. Sometimes he had much to say, other times not. Soldiers were constantly on the move and took whatever opportunity they could to steal a few moments here and there to write, often times under the worst of conditions---conditions that most of us could never even imagine.

Everything in the letters is verbatim, no words have been added or omitted. I've added a bit of historical account of what was going on in the Pacific during the time frame in his letters to help give some perspective. That information is in italics before the text of the letter. I've scanned the letters, postcards and drawings he referenced in the letters and will post them.

Transcribing and publishing these letters is about paying tribute not just to Arthur, but to all the men and women who served. Over 70 years later, we are still indebted to their sacrifices. May they never be forgotten.

Jess Clackum, September 2010

#1: 5 May 1943, Desert Training Center, Mojave Desert

Officers listen to reviews of a maneuver held five miles from Needles, California at the
Desert Training Center in September 1942. (Photo: General Patton Memorial Museum)
The 77th spent more than a year in rigorous training at the Desert Training Center in the Mojave Desert and in the jungles of Hawaii to prepare for combat in the Pacific. While 20 divisions trained in the desert, none of them fought in a desert campaign. Five of the divisions, including the 77th fought in the Pacific.


Dearest May,

Got your ever so welcome letter and was indeed glad to hear from you.

Oh! Yes - my brother Dave wrote me a nice letter about you. He claims that my mother would be happy with you and Bill. She has thought it over and decided that your marriage before you met Bill was a bad mistake and that you should have met Bill long before that. So you see sis - everything does turn out well.

Tell me, did you get to visit my mom yet? If not, it wouldn't be a bad idea the first chance you get while in New York. So as far as mom is concerned, she can love you just as her own.

The weather here has become cooler of late and it's a pleasure, especially in this blamed desert. This morning our beloved General gave us a farewell to the States speech. He gathered our entire division in the foothills of the Palomas Mts where he spoke from a steep ledge on the Mtn.  Behind him were the colors and flag flying, quite a beautiful background.

Yes dear, we're going on our last furloughs soon before we leave for overseas. An Army transport will be available to us then. At present, we're turning in all our G.I. equipment before we leave the States we'll get altogether new equipment. I'm looking forward to seeing you when I get back East which will be sometime in June or perhaps before. I shall let you know when. Let's hear good news - eh kid. My best to Joan and yourself.

Always,

Arthur



#2: 27 Jul 1943, Desert Training Center, Mojave Desert

Desert Training Center

In late June 1943, the Allies advanced to the Solomon Islands. On 6 July, the US battled the Japanese in the Battle of Kuala Gulf in the Solomons. Days later, the Japanese went on to win a tactical victory at the Battle of Kolombangara. On 24 July, the US B-24 Liberators from the 42nd Squadron of the US Army Air Force en route from Midway Island bombed the Japanese garrison on Wake Island.



Dear May -

Once again I write hoping you'll forgive my long silence, but we've been on extensive maneuvers in the Mojave Desert in California and they took up all of our time, I wasn't even able to write to anyone else.

We arrived back here in this Base Camp several days ago, and I'm sure glad to be back, we need a long, long rest. We're pooped out with exhaustion.

I sincerely hope you and Joan are well, I've thought a lot about you and have wondered many times how could I get a letter to you, but there was no way. These past maneuvers were really the worst I've been in yet. The humidity was up to 158 [degrees] in the shade, we'd hike for miles across the hot sands of the Desert, with only one canteen of water. It was hell, believe me by midday the water would no longer be cool. It would be hot from being out in the sun, with parched throats, you can well imagine how we felt when we'd reach for our canteens, we'd be drinking water that had become hot. As for food, well we saw very little of it, there were times we'd eat only once a day, I'm so happy I have gone from such ungodly country.

Now we are back in camp where we are getting an ideal rest, however its dreadfully hot here too. Please let me hear from you as I never for a minute intended to call our correspondence to a halt. Let's hear from you real soon. My love to Joan. Regards to Bill.

Your loving Brother,

Arthur



#3: 1943, Desert Training Center, Mojave Desert

Dear May -

Got your ever so welcome letter today, and you've no idea how glad I was to hear from you. We have been so taken up with desert maneuvers these past few months, I wasn't able to write as often as I would have liked.

Incidentally, I'm terribly sorry to say that I couldn't come east and won't be able to for some time to come. You see, furloughs were canceled and we were only allowed 5 days in either Los Angeles or Phoenix. Having been in Phoenix quite a lot, I thought it a good idea to go to the coast, since I was only 231 miles from Los Angeles.

I arrived at 6 pm and registered at the Biltmore Hotel and then started my 5 days of fun and frolicking. While drinking at the Bar, I ran across a friend who knew a lad who was coming up in pictures. He said he liked me to go up to his home in Beverly Hills where there was to be a party. This started my few days quite appropriately, we had a lot of fun and met several highlighted people you may have seen on the screen such celebrities as Mary Brian, Katherine Cornell, Frances Drake, Ralph Bellamy, Buddy Westmore (the make-up man) and scores of others, I didn't stay too long because there were so many people there whom i didn't know and I felt a little strange. Some of the other lads who came with us left too and we went over to the beautiful hillside home of one of their friends, Frank Hurst, he's a scenario writer under contract to M.G.M. He has a home that I've never before in my life had seen, such grandeur, and even an indoor swimming pool which was adjoining his extensive tropical gardens. He insisted we stay overnight, and we did, since he was quite the sociable and likeable fellow. Imagine me sleeping in a great room on a bed covered with expensive covers, the Head board was of Blue nailed satin and the furnishings were of white birch wood. More beautiful than I can describe May.

We left to have dinner at Bill Sheridan's Rendezvous, a Supper Club in N. Los Angeles. Yes, dear I spent an ideal 5 days there. Here I am back again to this desert post. And quite blue. Believe me I would have rather come home. I haven't seen the folks and you all in such a long time, I've missed you all so very much. But I can't do a thing about it, but carry out orders to a "T".

Am well liked here and do a good job of soldiering. In all I get along swell. How's Bill? Why doesn't he write. Send me his address I'd like to write to him, , I would have if only I had his address. I sure miss him very much.

That Joan must be turning out to be a beautiful young lady. Give her my best. How are you feeling May, I do hope you are well, because I do remember you weren't well. Do you like your job at Westinghouse?

Did you ever get to see my Mother & Dad? I hope so. Someday I hope we all can have an ideal family re-union. My sister in law Anne asked about you in one of her letters to me. She wondered how Bill and you were. It was awfully thoughtful of her.

Well May, we leave again on an eight day maneuver, Sunday. It might wind up our stay here on the Desert. I hope so anyway, we are ready for a staging area.

When you get a chance May, write, I shall be extremely happy to hear from you. My best to Joan and Bill. Take care of yourself.

Your Devoted Brother,

Arthur



#4: 1943, Desert Training Center, Mojave Desert

Dear Sis -

Got your letter today and I was indeed glad to hear from you, and Bill. Things are about the same here. We just got back after completing an eight day Corps test. It was one of significance since the completion was made with flying colors, our entire Division made excellent, and I'm glad, now we can actually feel proud of the fact that our readiness for combat is approaching, we expect to get another test from Corps. It's called the ("Air Ground Test") after that Division tests us on our complete phases of training.

I saw in one newspaper that those [illegible] who desires to transfer to the Mountain troops this would require us to go to a cold climate and participate in extensive training in skiing. This is only an idea May, I don't think I'm too anxious to make the change since the change would only involve more and more of training and besides my C.O. has to recommend me, and believe me he certainly is a hard man to convince.

Glad you are all well and I was looking forward to Joan's picture when it comes through. Incidentally, I am sending her a wooden, gay painted leaded waist belt made by the Indians out near Phoenix. I have to get a box to pack it in and when I do, I'll send it to her. And when I get a chance I'll send you a picture of me. At present I have none except one or two that aren't doing me justice. No kidding perhaps I'm not camera material.

Incidentally, I met a grand girl out in Beverly Hills, we hit it pretty high for the time I spent on furlough in California. We're pretty fond of each other and we have been corresponding a lot, and she and I are intending to seal the pact, by declaring ourselves as one someday. I firmly know and believe that I've found the one happiness that will make me want to look forward to a permanent love, and I truly love her very much. At present she is a receptionist under contract to Paramount Pictures and she works in the office on Wilshire Boulevard. I may as well enclose a picture of her, send it back to me will you May dear? When I get a few better ones of her, I'll send one to you, if you like. Her name is "Mary Brockel".

Well May, I've run out of things to write about, so I'll close hoping to hear from you when you get the chance. My best regards to Bill. Tell him for me that I'd like to hear more about him and what he is doing. And has he been home to Mother as yet?

My love to Joan.

Your loving brother

Arthur





#5: 1943, Desert Training Center, Mojave Desert

Hello Bill -

I always liked to hear from you, but I guess you couldn't keep track of me and I must admit we've been on the move around the country a bit.

We completed the XV corps Tests last week, with big success, this put us into the AGF Class (Army Ground Forces) at present we are still under DTC [Desert Training Center]. According to the caption for the Bulletin Board, our Commander General Bruce has us slated definitely for overseas combat. I'm hoping it'll take me to Italian soil, I'd sooner take care of the German situation than the Jap. You can't trust these sneaky eyed Bastards.

At least we have a fair chance with the Huns, and besides they're a cinch. Funny thing, I'm not afraid of combat. We have excellent organization here, so why worry. They've got us up to perfection. Next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we have to undergo an "Air Ground Test" which we'll wind up our stay in the Desert. From here it is my contention that we're going to a Port of Embarkation. It's high time, we've been in the country for about 19 months, so how much longer could we remain here? I'm ready and everyone else is, so let's go to it 77th!

Oh! Well time will tell. Bill, let's hear from you. I enjoy hearing from you.

Your brother

Arthur

P.S. Drop Mother & Dad a line. They worry.


#6: 1943, Desert Training Center, Mojave Desert

Dear Sis -

Got your letter and was glad to hear from you, you've no idea how I enjoy reading it. Somehow your letters are so real, so free of all petty subterfuge, artificiality, or insincerity, no kidding. You're a swell sister, and I'm proud to call you sis! I've always wanted to feel I could confide in my sister and I know I can in you.

Incidentally May, I just remembered I answered your last letter and I answered and I enclosed a snap of Mary. Oh! Well no reason I shouldn't write again before I receive your answer is there? I actually enjoy writing to you, but I feel dreadfully bad since I can't send a photo of myself. The reason for it, I haven't a camera and second, I couldn't get around to having it taken.

I hope you can forgive me for this. In the near future I'll do my darndest to get one. I understand we're to leave here soon for a Port of Embarkation. No kidding, we get so many rumors, it's a shame we have to contend with them. The latest rumor is we'll go to Indiantown Gap, Penn. If it only could stand true this would mean I could get to see you. But at present as a rumor, we haven't a leg to stand on as to its legitimacy. The weather here is unbearably hot, it would be indeed a pleasure to leave this hot desert.

Well May, hoping to hear from you. Regards to Bill and love to Joan.

Your loving brother

Arthur

#7: 26 May 1944, Hawaii

The 77th landed in Hawaii in March 1944 and trained in amphibious and jungle warfare. Elements began departing Hawaii in July in preparation for the assault on Guam. 


Dearest Mae:

I realize it is a very long time I last wrote to you. But since then, I've been so darn busy, one part of the country or another, and I definitely never forgot for one moment you were my darling sister. It's just that I was so regularly occupied, I didn't write to anyone but my brother and besides, I lost your address.

I am now overseas stationed on a beautiful Island in the South Pacific so it will be a very long time before I see the beautiful homeland of USA. To some people, this place may appear a paradise but to me it's a hellhole. Perhaps it's because I'm oceans apart from those I love and our white civilization.

Believe me, Mae dear, I shall write you as often as I can, but if you don't get a letter from me in a week or more it's only because the mail route of delivery isn't too fast. I shall write again tomorrow.

Love to Joan and my best to Bill. Tell him to write.

Your loving brother

Arthur

#8: 27 May 1944, Hawaii

Dearest Mae:

Wrote your letter yesterday in response to your ever so welcome one and I hope I can make this note more interesting.

Things out here is quite boring, don't get much of a chance to do anything but train. I hope soon to be able to complete my purpose in the Army.

Only a few moments ago I had a very grievous and uncanny conversation with my first sergeant. He certainly is looking out for himself. Oh! Well at least I rate with officers in this Battalion, so he's just another pebble on the beach. I have still my self respect, but if I lost it. I feel sorry for him, I'd probably tell him off. So you can see how blue I am today, just a sad sack.

Regards and love to Joan.

Your Brother

Arthur

#9: 11 Jun 1944, Hawaii

Just a week earlier on the evening of 6 June, the 77th landed on Guam. There were no landing vehicles to transport the troops from the seacraft to the beach line, so the troops had to disembark and wade hundreds of yards to the beach.


Dearest Sis Mae:

I received your first letter several weeks back and I answered you pronto, and today I received your second in which you wrote a few words for Mother. I was indeed glad to hear from you and especially that you were visiting mom, I sincerely hope everything is fine. Why not? After all, a fine mother and you are a fine girls, so there's no reason you two shouldn't hit it right. I have often wanted to write you in the past, but either I traveled the country too darn much to do much writing or I wasn't sure of your address. And I have written Bill in the past and his last few letters always come back to me. I often wondered why? Honest I'm disappointed in him. Perhaps I shouldn't be too hasty, but after all, I always wanted to keep in close contact with you both, then a complete silence and no mail from Bill and then no mail from me.

Well - from now on I shall write you as often as I can even if I might be kept busy. Anyway, believe me when I say my thought are always with you and of the Dearest. I expect to go to Honolulu soon and I will definitely make it my business to send both you Dear and Joan something appropriate of this beautiful Island. Mom sent me Bill's address but I'm not sure of its accuracy. Is he in the MP outfit now? Yes - when I was in Virginia I got home sometimes but just to see how mom & dad were, my friends are all in service now so I really had a terrible time in New York, and I do miss them all especially Jeane, Eddie, Connie (she is in the Spars now - almost three months).

Someday, after this war is over, I hope to see them all but I know that some of them will not be the same. I myself sometimes find my nerves going to pieces. Perhaps someday we'll have a real reunion and believe me, I'm looking forward to the not too long victory. Would like to hear from Bill, and I shall write to you always, my fondest regards to Joan and my love to you.

Your loving brother

Arthur

Wish I could write to Anne but I haven't her address and I did get the blades from Mother. Thanks a million Honey---A.

#10: 26 Jun 1944, Hawaii

On 15 June, the US forces invaded Saipan, whose airfields were within striking distance of the Japanese islands. The US and Japanese fought what would later be designated as one of the biggest carrier battles of the war. Japan lost three aircraft carriers and over three hundred planes. On land, US Marines fought a vicious enemy. When the battle ended in July, only one thousand of the more than thirty-thousand Japanese soldiers were still alive. Hundreds of civilians on the island committed suicide fearing being captured by the Americans.


Dearest Sis May:

Received your nice letter today in which you put your new address, so I am sitting at this moment under a fascinating overhanging Palm tree, which gives much of inspiration to letter writing. I'd like to have your picture.

I just got back from a day at the Beach where I rented a surf board, for the first time I found it lots of fun rolling along thru the huge breakers of the beautiful cool blue waters of the Pacific.

Glad to hear that Bill called, I bet you were happy to hear his voice. I always receive mail from Mother and she always mentions that you had a nice visit with her, I'm glad.  Forgive me for this short letter but I'm in a hurry to go on duty at Headquarters tonight.

My love to Joan & regards to Bill. Oh! yes I got a letter from him.

Your loving brother

Arthur

#11: 11 Aug 1944, Guam

Soldiers in the 77th Infantry. Guam, August 1944 (Photo credit: US Army Archives)

The Second Battle of Guam was fought 21 July to 10 August. The Japanese inflicted heavy casualties on the American forces as they approached the beaches. The 77th had no amphibious vehicles so they had to wade ashore resulting in massive casualties but by nightfall they had established.  US supply ships could not get close and there no amphibious vehicles to ferry supplies. On 25 July, the two beachheads would join and capture the Orote airfield and Apra harbor. The US forces exhausted the Japanese who were quickly ran out of supplies. The Japanese line collapsed on 4 August and the Americans took the island. The Japanese lost nearly 20,000 and the US nearly 2,000. 

After securing Guam, the 77th moved north to Mount Tenjo and joined with the 3rd Marine division. US Marines captured Tinian Island with a loss of 389 troops versus 9,000 for the Japanese. 



Guam

8/11/44

Dearest May:

Today I received your ever so welcome letter and enclosed I found the good likeness pictures you took of yourselves up in the Poconos. I enjoyed seeing you both its been so long since I last did so and thanks a million for them! Its the best present a fellow could get. Hope you had a swell vacation up there. I'd give anything to have been able to be there with you both.

May-you mentioned you saw me in a newsreel at a movie. Its very peculiar because I do remember taking a native child out of the road upon request of a high ranking officer. I hadn't realized anything would come of it. Honest I'm stupified just think this newsreel will be shown practically all over the world. Well, It can now be said that I made headlines not realizing what was going to materialize.

Bill looks good, sure hope the day will come when we three can have a re-union. I bet you had a nice visit with mom & dad. How are they, I hope they are well, sure hope the diabetes doesn't come back to her.

May, I know that I can depend on you Dear, I wish you'd send Mom a Christmas present which I would have liked so much to send her. Next month, wherever I'll be, I'm going to send you money and knowing your excellent taste for things, I know that she will be happy when she'll receive it from you, for me. Its impossible for me now while I'll be here in the Pacific to get anything, so sending you the dough to make the purchase is the only thing I can do.

You wouldn't mind, would you Dear? I'll also send you the money to give Joan a present for me. I wish I could have sent her something from Hawaii while I was there but it was too late. Before I knew it, we left for combat almost suddenly.

The weather here is at its peak of humidity, and its terrific. Did you know that Si's wife Anne had a miscarriage. I was surprised when Si wrote me today about it in his letter. I didn't even know that she was pregnant.

I haven't a picture of myself here in the Jungles of Guam resting for awhile, and picture taking is taboo, especially due to censorship. Hope Joan gets over her cold. Poor dear she's always getting sick, what bad luck she has.

I wrote to Bill yesterday and I'm looking forward to hearing from him. When you write to him May, give him my very best regards.

Its close to midnight, and I can hardly keep my eyes open, see what I mean? Isn't this handwriting terrible? A perfect job in scribbling. Please forgive me for it. I shall write you again day after tomorrow. Give Joan my love, and to Mom and Dad. Take care of yourselves. My best to you both.

Your Devoted Brother

Arthur.

If you send me a fruitcake, it will take an awful long time to get it so I don't know what to tell you. Thanks anyway.

Love - Arthur, Brother

#12: 22 Aug 1944, Guam

Men of Company B, 305th RCT, moving out from high ground on Guam.
(Photo: US Army Center of Military History)


Dearest May -

Have received all of your nice letters and would have wished I could have answered them. But unfortunately we've been on the high seas, finally landed on the Island of Guam. Strictly combat now that the campaign is nearly over and we've practically secured this Island after days of nerve wracking battle. I'm alive and feeling fine. [Censored] when [Censored] or have [Censored] I certainly was lucky to be alive and well after the campaign.  These Japs are dirty fighters and certainly deserve no better than death. These filthy pigs. I wish I could be coming home soon but it may be a long time. Now that we've liberated Guam, I hope we get rest for awhile. Did you read about is in the papers yet?

Love to Joan & yourself & Bill.  Tell him about me will you.

Your Brother

Arthur

#13: 23 Aug 1944, Guam


U.S. Marines Captain Paul S. O'Neal (USMC) and Captain Milton F. Thompson plant the American flag on
Guam just after the Marines and Army assault troops landed. (Photo credit: U.S. Army Archives)

In Guam-

Dearest May -

Received all of your letters and most welcomed them but after I left Hawaii I couldn't write. You see dear we were on the high seas bound for combat then came the day of Invasion and we landed on Guam.

Days of fighting continued and in spite of the fact we were tired we didn't have time to write, and then my nerves were bad you can well understand what I mean.

This was combat for my first time and I've seen so much of hell and blood, I thought of constant survival, and the Good Lord was kind to me, I was left safe and sound without even a scratch. Now the Island is secure and its all over (this campaign is anyway).

Here we are now in encampment resting up now and we certainly need it. And I intend to write to now as after as before.

Well May - now you can say that your brother Arthur has been in combat. When I come home someday I hope to anyway, I'll have lots to tell you. Mom writes me and tells me she is worried because she hasn't heard from me in a month, so you see, I couldn't write to anyone. 

Glad to hear that you and Bill had a nice time in the Poconos. You two certainly deserved a reunion. When you get the chance May, will you write to Mom for me and assure her that I am quite alright and that I don't want her to worry. 

By the way May - haven't you heard yet over the Radio the news about us taking Guam. Hasn't it been in the papers?

We've had newspaper correspondents with us during the campaign. Now we're to get a rest and then perhaps get in on another combat mission.

I miss you all terribly much. Honest I do. Give Bill my best also Joan.  

Take care of yourself. I could go for a fruitcake May - so long as its packed good and dry and impact so dear, if its a request you want for getting me something, try to send me this, will you?

A million thanks

Love - Arthur

#14: 6 Sep 1944, Guam

Major General Andrew Bruce, Commander of the 77th Infantry Division.
(Photo credit: U.S. Army Archives)


Guam

Sept. 6, 1944

Dear Sis' May:

I received your keen letter today and I'm indeed glad to hear from you and I'm sure you understand more fully now the specific reasons for the long delay in my abrupted silence. 

Everything here has gone over to the peaceful side.  We are encamped here on the slope of a hill, which is muddy most of the time due to the overabundance of rain. Once the land is dry, its pretty nice, but then the clouds seem to burst and bales of rain seem to fall out of everywhere. 

We're sleeping in tends or grass shacks which we put up constructed in native fashion of grass roof and bamboo walls, usually the hut is built around four feed off the ground, due to the heavy rains. Let me draw a rough sketch of what I mean. I hope my artistry isn't too immature.


I'm glad to hear that you write to Mother, I know that she worries about you and all of us. Hearing from you, must make her awfully happy, I know. I wrote to Bill couple days ago. I shall write you again tomorrow. I'm now in a mad rush for chow. 

My love to Joan & Bill also to Mom

Your Brother - 

Arthur


#15: 7 Sep 1944, Guam

The Marines and Coast Guard on the beaches of Guam. (Photo credit: WWII Archives)


Dearest Sis May:

I awoke this morning with one big ambition, and that was to rush off a letter to you. Peculiar how I was dozing off and my first thought upon awaking was I must try to make up for the past, when I wasn't able to try and write while we were battling is out here. Well Dear, got the card from the Poconos telling me of what a nice reunion you two kids had, and I was happy to hear it you both deserved the vacation. Did you take Joanie with you?

The mosquitoes and flies are like Dive Bombers here during the day its the mosquitoes, the night it's the huge annoying flies. Lucky thing for me, I sleep in a mosquito Bar (netting). Well May Dear, I definitely will write you often and often. My best to Joan & everyone alas to Bill, glad to see he's back at a decent camp. My very best to you and to not worry.

Your loving Brother -

Arthur

#16: 27 Sep 1944, Guam

This combat photo, taken during the Battle of Peleliu, depicts a U.S. Marine
who weeps after killing a Japanese soldier. (Photo: U.S. Naval Institute)
Operation Stalemate II also known as The Battle of Peleliu and the Battle of Angaru were fought September to November 1944 on what is now the island of Palau. The battle was over a small but critical airstrip. It was part of a much larger Pacific campaign known as Operation Forager.  


My Dear Sis May:

Despite today being such an awfully hot day, I had to sit down under this cool shaded Palm Coconut tree to drop you a few lines, to tell you that I am well and that I received all of your letters of present date manage to answer all of them, I wish I could do better for those days, I couldn't keep up with my correspondence.

Now that Bill is to be transferred to the Air Base in Long Island, it would be a break for him, and I know that Mom would be happy to see him. If he does go to L. I. it would be a pretty good idea if you came out to Mom's weekends or perhaps anything and stay at the house. Mom would only be too glad. Give Joan my love. My very best to you and Bill.

Your loving Brother

Arthur

#17: 30 Sep 1944, Guam

       U.S. Marine chats with scouting dog. Guam, August 1944.
 (Photo: WWII Archives)

Dearest Sis May:

Received your letter of Friday, Sept 1st and as before always glad to hear from you.

Did I tell you before that Mother and Aunt Sadie sent me packages since I left Hawaii, seven in total  and I have not yet received any of them. Thanks a million May dear for sending me out a package, yes I know the postal authorities won't allow too much of weight to go out to us here in the Pacific, I suppose its because it goes air mail. however thanks for your kind thoughts in sending the fruitcake, I'll probably get it later. And believe me we miss good cake we don't see any of it now. Here in these blamed Jungles. Mom wrote me and told me that she heard from you. She seemed so happy when she mentioned your name. I know she feels you are the best thing  that came along. She did mention that you are the one to make Bill an ideal husband and that she thought you were very sweet when you visited with her.

Your pictures taken up in the Poconos were swell, everyone thought that Bill was my twin. We can't be beat for likeness, I guess.

Give Joan my love, & my very best to you my dear and mother and dad.

Love, Your Devoted Brother

Arthur

#18: 9 Oct 1944, Guam


On 7 September 1944,  Admiral William F. Halsey's Third Fleet struck Yap, the Palaus, Mindanao and the central Philippines. Air strikes continued in October against Japanese airfields on Okinawa, Formosa, and Luzon. It was estimated that more than 500 enemy aircraft in the Philippines and a similar number elsewhere, were destroyed. The success of the air campaign meant that a major landing on Mindanao was no longer necessary and that available shipping and logistical strength could now be concentrated on Leyte. MacArthur and Nimitz were instructed to cancel other intermediate operations and accelerate the planning of the invasion of Leyte which was to take place on 20 October.  



Dearest Sis May:

Have answered your last letter and I couldn't wait for your answer and so I decided that I should write again and let you know that I take this liberty of a few moments to let you know that am well and that I am yearning to write to you as often as I can.

The weather here is at its worst and certainly wish I was home to enjoy the cool climate of New York, aren't I right? Have written to Bill and as yet I haven't received any answer as yet, except for a letter on he telling me of his transfer to Westhampton Beach which is a good break for him.

Yesterday I received a nice package from Mother in which I found an ideal bottle of expensive Lentheric for after shaving, a Schrafft box of fruit cake and a large assortment of candy and I was so surprised in its arrival since it was mailed to me when i was in Hawaii and I almost gave it up for lost but it got to me after all. So now I am sure to get all of the packages that have been mailed to me for a long time including the lovely package you mailed to me a few weeks ago and when it arrives I am sure it will make my heart jolly, and I know it will because good things to eat is scarce here.

Well Dearest May I don't know what else to write so give my love to Joan and sincerest wishes to Bill, I sure miss him very much in the meantime I'll probably write to you tomorrow so in the meantime take care of yourself and remember that I am thinking of you all of the time.

Regards to mother and dad for me.

Your loving Brother

Arthur

#19: 12 Oct 1944, Guam


In early October, in preparation for the invasion of the Philippines, Admiral Chester Nimitz ordered Admiral William Halsey to strike Japanese airfields at Taiwan, China and Ryukyu Islands, Japan. 

On 10 October, American aircraft struck Okinawa, Yaeyama, and Miyako Islands, Japan. Okinawan city of Naha was heavily damaged; many of the 548 deaths occurred in Naha, as many of the 698 wounded. 11,451 buildings were destroyed, which included a great number of civilian residences.

On 12 October, a cloudy, rainy day, 90 Japanese aircraft attacked Admiral Halsey's carriers off Taiwan however it was considered a failure as 54 aircraft failed to return without causing significant damage. The Japanese Imperial General Headquarters exaggerated reports, claiming 100 American aircraft were shot down during the attack.



Dearest Sis May:

Today I received your ever so lovely written letter and as always before I am indeed glad to hear from you. I hope you all are fine. About myself well I'm fine as can be expected. Yet my thoughts are constantly of home and the pleasant things and people I left behind. It's been raining here in bucketfuls for the last couple of days and seeing the sky as deadly cloudy as is, I can readily see we're in for a long rain.

About the Xmas gift you'd like to send me, it's awfully thoughtful of you and if you've sent it already, I suppose its too late to name it and after all I'm sure that anything you sent me would be of keen selection on your part. I've never forgotten the smartness of your selection of clothes. In my opinion, you have been one of the few women who knew how to dress smartly and have such good taste.  I just finished writing to Bill. Mother sent me more keen scent smelling Lentheric after shaving and it made me happy.

Till my next letter, Love to Joan.

Your devoted

Arthur

#20: 16 Oct 1944, Guam


During this time, the Japanese Imperial HQ continued to increase in its reports, the numbers of American carriers, battleships, cruisers and destroyers that they'd sunk during their counter strikes against the US 3rd Fleet east of Taiwan. Admiral Halsey was amused. He noted to Admiral Nimitz,  "[a]ll Third Fleet ships recently reported sunk by Radio Tokyo have been salvaged and are retiring at high speed toward the Japanese Fleet" which Nimitz promptly converted into an effective public relations piece. Japanese leaders however, continued to believe their own lies with the Emperor spreading congratulations for a defeat which never happened.


Dearest Sis May:

Received your letter and I was indeed glad to hear from you again.  You say you've seen something nice for Mother on Xmas, in the way of Bathrobe and slippers. Well - I don't know how much money is involved, but I'm enclosing a money order of fifteen dollars, it may not be enough, so please let me know, so that I can send you another money order. This really being kind and thoughtful of you to take care of Christmas for me.

Everything is about the same here. Mornings are ideal here, cool and sweet smelling, but just about 10 AM it gets beastly sultry. Stays this way till 5:30 PM when the climate tends to cool again. Ocean breezes, you know.

About yourself, dear, you most certainly are brave and courageous while Bill is away. I only hope and I feel confident he in right time will come home to you, those he loves and he can and will make up for the crucial time he had to be away from you all. Glad to hear you are well. From Joan's picture, she looks like a grown girl now. I got a letter from Si and he told me the reason Mother hadn't written was because she was ill and I understand she still isn't well. This is probably the reason mom hasn't been able to write. It worries me when I hear about her ill health. I want her to know that I'm thinking of her all of the time, but unfortunately here I am miles, miles from home, I can only pray she get well. Give her my love would you May dear?

It's drastic enough to have to go thru hell here and elsewhere to have to think of how Mother is ailing, I would so much like to be home to help, if I can. Well May God Grant her best of health in the future. You must forgive her lingering reply to your letter. She isn't well. And I'm sure Mom will write as soon as she can, I know this for a fact because whenever Dave comes over to see how she is, he drops me a few lines. So do not worry. You will get a letter yet. Also, never give it a thought, because from what mom wrote me, she thinks the world of you, you even made Bill a good husband and so long as you both are happy, she feels her happiness complete. But of course, there is her worry of me, when I come home, I too will perpetuate her happiness. Have been corresponding  with an attractive intelligent and nice girl from the Bronx. She is secretary to the Whitcomb Real Estate people. We're looking forward to when I come home so that we two will tie the knot.

This of course will come in the future. I'll want you to know her, you two would become such good friends and if and when she says "Yes" you're going to be our "Maid of Honor". This privilege is rightfully yours, because, you rate your tops with me. I wrote to Pearl about you and she is looking forward to the complete reunion of the four of us. Wouldn't that be ideal.

For the time being May, Dear, I have the tedious job of this war on my hands, so till it's over I'm looking forward to the bright future. I shall write you shortly again. Let me know how much more money is needed for the purchase of the gift, so that I can send you another money order. Give Joanie my love and very best to Bill. Take Care of yourself.

Your Loving Brother

Arthur

#21: 22 Oct 1944, Guam

General MacArthur lands on Leyte. (Photo: National Archives)

"Leyte was to be the anvil against which I hoped to hammer the Japanese into submission in the central Philippines - the springboard from which I could proceed to the conquest of Luzon, for the final assault against Japan itself." ---Douglas MacArthur. 

The Allies landed on the east side of Leyte Island on 20 Oct 1944, they faced an army of 20,000 Japanese soldiers.  The US Sixth Army numbering 175,000, landed on the northeastern coast of Leyte under the command of General Walter Krueger, transported by the 7th Fleet. On 21 October, forces reached Leyte's capital city Tacloban, cheered on by civilians. While the Japanese were already well-situated in the capital city, the US 8th Cavalry secured the high ground. 

Because of the conditions there, the mission was as much humanitarian as combat. Residents of the city of Tacloban were desperate for food and shelter. American soldiers offered what little they had and forces opened up Japanese warehouses to distribute whatever they could.


Dearest Sis May:

Received your ever so welcome letter and was glad to hear from you. I do believe Bill will get his discharge from the Service just as Si may get on account of ulcers.

'Tis a pity that I have to be so healthy; to have to endure the filthy hardships and agonies of war. I've seen so much of destruction in the past. It will lie in my memory as the blackest experience of my life. The Infantry is no picnic, dear, because you get no privileges of comforts or conveniences and although living conditions aren't what I'd call drastic, but, men do age fast in this outfit.  Forgive me if I appear to be bitching, but I'm not really, it's just that conditions existing here amongst Infantry troops are terrible, especially where rest is concerned while this may be called a rest it really isn't at the end of day I feel even too tired sometimes to go to a movie.

May, dear, I'm enclosing a money order to mail in a letter to you. If it isn't enough, let me know and I shall send you another money order. I have no idea how much I'd have to send especially for a bathrobe and slippers.

Love Brother

Arthur

#22: 24 Oct 1944, Guam

Smoke rises from an explosion on the USS Princeton, 24 October 1944, shortly after being hit by a Japanese bomb while operating off the Philippines. Photographed from USS South Dakota (BB-57).  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

The 77th was en route to Leyte. The Battle of Leyte Gulf took place 23-26 Oct 1944 would be the largest naval battle of World War II. 


Oct 24, 1944

Dearest Sis May-

Received your letter today and was really sorry to hear that you are with a cold, or I should say the Grippe. I do hope you get over it and take care of yourself. I am fine, except that I'm getting to miss you all more, everyday. Mom wrote and told me that Grandma is ill, so this is keeping her so busy, however, so long as I know, she's well, I'm hoping that Grandma gets over what ever is ailing her, she is getting  up in the years, and I feel so sorry for her, having to suffer. I always say so long as I live to the ripe age of 60 I'm satisfied to leave this world for the other.

In the meantime, here I am in this disgusting jungle of an Island, no wonder the natives appear so wacky. Probably its the tremendous heat here practically all the year around. I'm hoping I get out of here in the near future. And a quick joint home, although critics believe that the war in the Pacific won't be over till Christmas of next year. This is a horrible thought, I can't think of remaining in the Pacific for that length of time.

May dear, I sent you a money order of a $15.00 money order towards the purchase of the Xmas gift for mom, I had no idea what amount of money would be involved, however, I intend to mail you out another money order, of whatever you feel will be necessary for the purchase of the robe and slippers. You recently mentioned and I knew that you're going to use such good taste in the selection if you ask Bill sometime, I always remembered you as being meticulous and very smartly clad and one of the best dressed women I've ever seen. Especially where clothes and the selection is concerned. I'm sincerely hoping Bill gets to go home, it's the place for him, beside his adorable little family, you and Joanie.

I don't know what else to write, I'm sleepy and it's almost 1:30 A.M. so be well and take care of yourself.

Best regards to Bill and love to Joan from her Uncle Arthur.

Your Devoted Brother,

Arthur


 
WWII in Colour-The Battle of Leyte Gulf and the Liberation of the Philippines

#23: 28 Oct 1944, Guam

U.S. Navy Fleet, Leyte. October 1944. (Photo: WWII Archives)

From 23-26 October, the Japanese utilized nearly all of their major naval ships in the Battle of Leyte Gulf but were overcome by the US 3rd and 7th fleets. The Japanese Navy was decimated and ineffective thereafter. Leyte Gulf was the first battle where US forces would see the dreaded "kamikaze" fighters. The death toll of Leyte Gulf was staggering: 65,000 Japanese died and more than 15,000 Americans were killed or wounded.


Oct. 28, 1944

Dear Sis May:

Today, Sunday is such an ideal day to write, so here's to what I hope won't be too boring. Honest, there are times I write, with no nose for news, except to say that I'm thinking of you and wish I was back home, so that I may see you all once in awhile. 

Life here in the Pacific is dreadfully hum-drum, there are times I think of this Army Career compared to a term at Leavenworth, for more severe, one is made to forget the grand free feeling that once dwelled within us. At least I can speak for the Infantry. I have met some swell fellows in service, but I'd be darned if I can go any higher than that. As you know me, I'm easily liked and never had difficulty in creating new friendships, however, once I get out of this Army of persecution, I doubt whether I'd want to remember anything about it. 

We truly fought for that sought after democratic survival, and this is all. And once I do get home, I'm going to be another civilian, glad to discard the regalia of the service and I'll happy to don the civilian clothes I look best in. Don't you agree?

May, dear someday when I do get home, I shall tell you why I feel this way. Perhaps I can say this, previously to coming into the Army I was accustomed  to acquainting myself with the fair lot of people, then came my induction. I was happy, yes - but in time finding out why I was here and finally the plunge into combat. The days were bitter and horrid, yet certain people make it their sadistic desire to create a feeling of discontent, morose, and sullen attitudes and I hardly blame the men. 

God truly knows and will recognize the toil and the good and in all righteousness, we all shall get what we deserved, And I ask no more than a quick victory and the no longer necessity to put up with a lot of nonsense from certain military minds. 

Best regards, Love to Joan & Bill,

Your loving Brother

Arthur


#24: 27 Nov 1944, Enroute to Leyte

US Navy Fleet, Leyte, 1944. (Photo: WWII Archives)
The 77th Division remained on Guam until 3 November 1944, when they sailed for the Philippines in preparation for the attack on Leyte. They landed on the east coast of Leyte on 23 November 1944. The 77th was attached to XXIV Corps, Sixth Army. 



Dearest Sis May:

You haven't heard from me in the past because I am no longer in Guam. At this moment I am writing this breezy letter from the Hurricane deck on board this ship, on the high seas, and there is a wonderful breeze today.

Please forgive me if I fail to mention my whereabouts and such, but due to strict censorship, I can't tell much, except to say that I am fine, and miss you all very much.

I received your letter today which was a Godsend. Incidentally I'm not allowed to date this letter. I do not know where I'll be for Christmas and I certainly hope it won't be an unhappy one. However my thoughts will be constantly of you and please Dear, do pray for me as you have been doing. It helps. I so often wonder when I'll be heading home and it seems like years. I feel I'm getting older with time and I'm none too happy. I shall write as soon as I can.

Love, Your Loving Brother

Arthur

#25: 3 Dec 1944, Leyte


M10 Wolverine & M4 Sherman of 77th Infantry Division. Leyte, 1944 (Photo: WWII Archives)

"Leyte was to be the anvil against which I hoped to hammer the Japanese into submission in the central Philippines - the springboard from which I could proceed to the conquest of Luzon, for the final assault against Japan itself." --General Douglas MacArthur.


Dec 3rd, 1944

Dearest May:

After not being able to write because your movement here in the Philippines. I hope to be able to write more often at least in the next few days. I shall try to write every day to make up for the long silence.

We have evening air activity here, but luckily no strafing, once in a while a bombing. But we most generally get all the Jap planes that are in the skies.  I'm glad you're getting mother such a swell Xmas gift. I shall send you more cash to make up the difference in purchase. I know that she will like it. Incidentally, I'm glad mom bought that home in Flatbush, she'll be lots happier in the change for the better. Got a letter today from Bill, certainly glad to hear from him. Hoping you're fine. Give Joan my love.

Best to all. Your brother

Arthur

Thanks for your nice birthday card!

#26: 4 Dec 1944, Leyte

Heavy machine guns cover soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division crossing the
Antilao River at Ormoc, December 1944. (Photo: WWII Archives).


Dear Brother Bill,

After such a long silence from me, finally we landed in the Philippines and no sooner we dug foxholes, I was handed thirty two letters, one from you, and four from May. I was really glad to hear from you once again.

Now here we are in the real theatre of war of the Pacific. We get nightly enemy air raids. Jap planes very unsuccessfully try to come down to strafe and bomb, but thanks to our wonderful planes, they stay up at high elevation and we really give them heavy barrage of fire, they never get away, we've shot down every plane that appeared in the skies, bouquets to the "Radar". It does a good job in plane detecting. I hear from May quite often and I try to write to her as often as I can. I'm glad she received a money order of $15.00 for mom's Xmas gift, I didn't know how much it would cost, so I'm soon enclosing another money order to make up the difference.

I sure was hoping to hear that you received your discharge - so I am disappointed I hope to hell you don't come out to the Pacific. It's a helluva place, full of disease and morale goes down lots, recreation is limited, and after awhile the black peoples of the Pacific appear actually white. But we don't bother with them, most of them have Jungle Rot and other diseases even the women look sloppy and worn. Well so long as we don't have to stay here for good, I'm glad. I'd hate to have to stay here after this war and so far from home.

Let's hear from you when you get the chance. I was surprised to hear about Mom buying a new home in Flatbush, I know she'll be lots happier there. Good luck and my best to May.

Your Devoted Brother

Arthur

#27: 10 Dec 1944, Leyte

On 7 December, the XXIV Corps received welcome reinforcements with the amphibious landing of the 77th Infantry Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce, just south of Ormoc City. The 77th's 305th, 306th, and 307th Infantry Regiments came ashore unopposed though naval ships were subjected to kamikaze attacks, resulting in the loss of the US Destroys Mahan and Ward.  The Japanese were quickly squeezed between the two forces and the strongest opposition to the 77th was a small force of about 1,740 soldiers, sailors, and paratroops at Camp Downes, a prewar Philippine constabulary post. Supported by the 305th and 902d Field Artillery Battalions, General Bruce's troops pushed through and beyond Camp Downes to enter Ormoc City on 10 December, just three days after landing.  


#28: 26 Dec 1944, Leyte

Palompon after the allied bombings, December 1944.
On 25 December, the last connecting road between the enemy and their chief remaining port of entry for reinforcements was severed when the 77th Infantry Division seized Palompon. By the end of the day, General MacArthur had controlled all major supply and communication routes of the enemy and declared Leyte secure.  On 26 December 1944, he transferred control of both Leyte and Samar to the 8th Army. In the north, US forces defeated disorganized Japanese troops. The 1st Calvary troops reached the Coast days later and the 24th Division cleared the last enemies from northwestern Leyte. Though MacArthur insisted the remaining job was to clean up a few stragglers, Eichelberger's 8th Army killed more than 27,000 Japanese on Leyte between December and May 1945. 


Dec 26, 1944

Dearest Sis May:

Please forgive me if you have not heard from me for so long. We have been busy fighting here on Leyte Island in the Philippines. We have more to contend with in this campaign than in Guam. Here we experience Jap bombing, but our great planes always chase them or destroy them at the scene of combat.

I'm fine so far and I know that I shall come out alright. I shall try to write you dear as often as I can, in the past few weeks it's been difficult. No May, I haven't received a package and the first chance I get I shall send you the balance to the expense of Mother's Xmas gift. Have written to Bill couple weeks ago when I landed in Leyte. I know you have received mail from me by now. Take care of yourself, Love to Joan.

Your Devoted Brother

Arthur

#29: 8 Jan 1945, Leyte

American soldiers on patrol in Leyte, January 1945. (Photo: 182nd Infantry)

On 6 January 1945, Allied forces participated in the Invasion of Lingayen Gulf, an amphibious operation led by Admiral Jesse Oldendorf. US and Royal Australian Navy ships bombarded Japanese positions along the coast of Lingayen for three days straight. On 9 January, the US Army, under the command of General Walter Krueger landed on the coast of Lingayen Gulf and within days, had captured the coastal towns and penetraded five miles inland along a 20-mile stretch of beachhead. The Allied forces suffered heavy losses due do kamikaze attacks, losing 24 ships with another 67 heavily damaged.


Dear Bill, May, and Joanie,

Today I received your v-mail telling me of Bill's good luck in civilian life once again and I'm very happy for you both. This-I'm sure will make everything simply great. As for myself, I guess you've seen the newsreels and heard the radio broadcasts telling of our victory here in the Philippines. After my second campaign, I'm very fortunate indeed to so well and without a scratch. I'm a lucky guy I guess.

I've just been transferred to Hdq Co. The Colonel of my Battalion thought it a good idea so do I. You see, I'm constantly with him during campaigns, he likes my work and he's tops. Can't be beat. So here I am practically in truth a break for me, so on one of these messages. I'm putting down my new complete Co. address.

Forgive the usage of this message blank. It's the only thing available. I shall write you again shortly. Good luck. Love to Joanie.

Your devoted brother

Arthur

P.F.C. Arthur Hersh
32231160
1st Bn, Hdq Co. 305th Inf
APO 77 c/o PM
San Francisco, Cal

#30: 15 Jan 1945, Leyte

Battle of Bessang Pass
Bessang Pass was a stronghold of Japanese Imperial Forces led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita. Five infantry regiments and a field artillery battalion of approximately 20,000 Filipino men led by five American officers and commanded by Colonel Russell Volckman. This unit, known as the US Army Forces of the Philippines - Northern Luzon/USAFP-NL), fought bravely in Cervantes for six days, suffering over 3,300 casualties and 900 deaths. Their fight led to the entrapment of Yamashita's forces which ultimately resulted in his surrender in the fall of that year. 


Dear Bill, May, and Joanie,

Received your ever so welcome letter today and so while I have a few moments free, I must answer  you.

I felt it too bad that Mother had to return the bathrobe. I know she liked it, but I guess it must have been too small. Oh! Well, perhaps she can get something else for the money. I do know you went to a lot of trouble getting the appropriate gift. Thanks a million, you're a grand sister and brother. I guess you do know about myself and this Philippines affair.

Yes it was very rough, but I'm happy to say that after my second campaign, I'm well without a scratch. I shall write again shortly. Love to Joanie.

Your Devoted Brother

Arthur

#31: 25 Jan 1945, Leyte

Allied troops in Luzon. (Photo: WWII Archives)
As the Battle of Luzon raged on, the 8th Army, led by General Eichelberger and consisting of ten U.S. divisions and five independent regiments, landed at Subica Bay and Batangas between 29 and 31 January, 1945. It would be the largest campaign of the Pacific with more forces than the campaigns in Africa, Italy and Southern France.


Dear Bill and May,

Another letter for today and I hope you've grown accustomed to being a civilian once again Bill!

Gosh! I really envy you, it's been so long since I've seen a restaurant or good Bar. Now you have all those things at reach. Oh! Well--I suppose someone has to do the infantry fighting in this Pacific. I truly hope it'll be over this year. I'm fed up with this primitive existence. I never know when my number is up and so far, I've had several narrow escapes from those maniacal Japs. So far so good. Thank dad for wanting to send me a trench knife. I could use it but it may take a long time to get to me. I haven't received any packages yet.

As to how I met Pearl, well all I can say is we both met and knew it had to be. I've never been sorry.

Love to Joanie and the folks

Your brother

Arthur

#32: 2 Feb 1945, Leyte


M4 Sherman Tanks Fight the Japanese At Subic Bay, Philippines February 1945 (Photo: WWII Archives)

On 3 February, the Battle of Manila would commence. It was a major battle of the 1944-45 Philippine campaign with an alliance of American and Filipino forces. The battle would last one month and result in a complete devastation of the city as well as the deaths of over 100,000 civilians. It was the worst urban fighting in the Pacific theatre. The Battle of Manila put an end to the three-year Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

Dear May & Bill,

These past few weeks I've been busy covering a lot of ground. The papers state that the Island is secure. Hardly think so, especially with we having to mop up here and there.

Bill asked me if I was a Rifleman, no Bill I am in with the Communications of this Battalion, which takes me into the front lines at all times. I'm equipped with a carbine for protection and believe me I've escaped death quite a few times. When I return home I shall show you all sorts of Jap souvenirs I've gone after and gotten.

May dear, a few moments ago I received your Christmas package. The most ideal gift and the best I've received.  so far for the holiday. Believe me, May, your packages have always been the best of choice.

Everything I found in them were delicious and now the toilet articles are just what I needed, it's darn hard to get them here in this God forsaken primitive country. Thanks a thousand times for your kindness I appreciate it from the very depths of my heart.

Gosh I'm looking forward with so much enthusiasm to our re-union when I return home I've so much to say to you May and Bill. I can hardly wait. A rarity happened to me couple of hours ago. Here in our improvised chapel, two Filipino sisters were here, one used to be a nightclub singer in one of the Cabarets in Manila before the war. Since then she and her family were chased over the Mountains here they are finally, in rags, and so very shabby. She showed me photographs taken during her success in Manila. She looked beautiful. All gowned up in sequins and fine jewelry. But all that was beautiful vanished when the Japs came. She still is a beautiful creature. I felt if there was a way I could get some unneeded clothes from the States I'd like them sent to her. So I gave her my Army address and told her to write me if and when she had a definite address so I'd write to people in the states to send it to her.

I'm doing this only for having the inclination to help someone who has fallen into the wayside. I'm sure you can understand how I feel about those that are down trodden. Surely these people haven't known the poverty for ages. A pal of mine here knows of this intention and he believes I'm becoming too God fearing. Perhaps he's right. Life here in the Pacific at times seems so short, why not know a little fullness?

Well May & Bill, thanks again for your keen Xmas gift it was alright. Best of love to Joan. My very best to you both. I shall write shortly again.

Best of luck

Your Devoted Brother

Arthur

#33: 19 Feb 1945, Leyte


The 1st Cavalry fighting in the streets of Manila (Photo: WWII Archives)
One of the most significant battles in the Philippine campaign of 1944-45 was the Battle of Manila which took place 3 February to 3 March 1945. American and Filipino Armies joined forces against the Japanese in a bloody battle which ended with complete devastation of Manila and the deaths of over 100,000 civilians. It was the most horrific urban fighting in the Pacific campaign. The Japanese were forced out after three years of military occupation in the Philippines. It was the key to General MacArthur's campaign to reconquer the islands.


Dear May & Bill,

Hope you are receiving my mail. I received your last letter several days ago and always as before I was indeed glad to hear from you.

The weather here isn't too bad now especially nites. The cold air of the Pacific blows right up into the Beach, causing such ideal cool nights, but days are still very hot. Received your packages, thanks lots. It arrived quite in tact and the fruitcake was delicious.

How long do you reckon the war will last? Sometimes I keep wondering. Believe me I count the days I'm away from you all. Hope Bill found it easy to become a civilian once again. I think I won't find it hard, since I've got my heart set on it.

Take care of yourselves. Love to Joanie!

Your Devoted Brother

Arthur

#34: 25 Feb 1945, Leyte

Dear May and Bill-

Received your letter today and I was indeed glad to hear from you as always before.

I'm glad you were able to get a car. I had thought it a big problem getting those rarities, perhaps you got a real buy, well I'm glad for your sake and I hope you both get a lot of pleasure out of it. This is one thing I'd like to get once I get out of the service.

Yes May, Pearl and I hope to tie the knot as soon as I can get home and as I mentioned before May, I expect you to be Maid of Honor, since Pearl's family would like her to have a real large affair (wedding) and I guess I'm for it too although the large cost of one is so unnecessary don't you agree May dear?

Hope you received all of my letters in which I mentioned thanks for all of your packages, you sent me. Even me with much needed toilet articles, I really needed it. Thanks a million. I shall write soon again. Best of luck. I think of you at all times. Love to Joanie. Best to you.

Your Devoted Brother

Arthur

#35: 19 Apr 1945, Ie Shima

In late March 1945, the 77th ID made 15 landings and secured Kerama Retto and Keise Shima in preparation for the assault on Okinawa. In the first fifteen days of April while at sea, the Division suffered many casualties from Japanese enemy suicide attacks as they headed for their assault landing at Ie Shima. They landed on Ie Shima on 16 Apr 1945 and captured the airfield which enabled them to continue the air assault on Okinawa and the Japanese mainland. The 77th also engaged in a bloody battle for "Government House Hill" and "Bloody Ridge". 

On 18 April, just a day before Arthur's letter, famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle who was embedded with his regiment on Ie Shima, was killed when the jeep he was riding in with Lt. Col Joseph B. Coolidge, commanding officer of the 305th, came under heavy sniper fire. 


In The Pacific

Dear May & Bill,

I hope you both are well, I am fine. Its happened again kids - we left the Philippines and have already gone through combat again, our third campaign.

I sure wish I was allowed to tell you where I am. If I could, you'd be ever surprised. Anyway, soon the news is to be broadcast over the radio, the newspapers have gotten it but aren't permitted to put our invasions in print till a certain day. Watch for it. Ruth tells me you have quite a snappy car. I'm glad and I know life for you is ever so better now. Sure wish I was able to come back soon. I miss that wonderful white civilization. If you don't hear from me for awhile, try to understand and bear with me. Fighting keeps me quite busy. Love to Joan for me.

Your Devoted Brother - Arthur

#36: 20 Apr 1945, Ie Shima


The attack on Bloody Ridge on 20 April was marked by severe fighting. Infantrymen of the
307th infantry, 77th ID moving toward government House Hill.  (Photo: WWII Archives)

Dear May, Bill & Joanie

Received Bill's letter the other day and I was indeed glad to hear from you all again. Of course the letter was dated February 10th. A little late, I guess, however it was good hearing from you again.

In a way I was glad to hear that you chose to reside in N.J. instead of going out to California. It may appear selfish of me when I say if I ever get home, it will be nice to see you in N.J. And if you had been living in the Pacific Coast it might have been a little different.

However, all I desire is to finish off the dreadful business of warfare and return home to you soon in the near future. Regards and love to Joan.

Your Devoted Brother,

Arthur

#37: 27 Apr 1945, Ie Shima

Hello Joan,

I have wanted to drop you a few lines long ago, however you were in my thoughts a lot. How do you like this Jap postcard? Best regards to dad and mom.



Sincerely,

Uncle Arthur

#38: 28 Apr 1945, Okinawa

The Battle of Okinawa took place April through June 1945. Okinawa, located in the Ryukyu Islands, south of Japan was the site of the the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater. The Battle of Okinawa was the largest sea-land-air battle in US history and the last major battle of World War II.  

 
Dear Bill and May -

Received your letter of the April 11th and glad to hear from you again. Did you like the souvenirs I sent home? I have a nice souvenir for you Bill. I have a Japanese box flashlight in a canvas case. I know you'll like it. How about a Jap pen? Let me know and I'll send them to you as soon as authorities permit.

I'm feeling fine after my third major operation. And thankful to God, that I am able to enjoy God's sunshine again.

Okinawa my dear brother is in the Ryukyus Islands which lie between Formosa and Japan proper. See your local Rand McNally map for further information. As for Japanese money, it is not worthless since I go through hell to get it and at times getting it is quite dangerous. So you can readily see, when doughboys get souvenirs, it isn't simply like picking up a morning paper. I'll send it to you soon.

Best to May and Joan.

Your brother

Arthur

#39: 11 May 1945, Okinawa

The 305th moving inland at Zamami Island. (Photo: WWII Archives)


In March 1945, the 77th Infantry Division landed in the Keramas where they met little opposition. The 1st Battalion of the 305th infantry easily secured Zamami Island, which Arthur mentions in his letter below. 

Also, it was on 11 May 1945 that the United States Government established the Point System to determine the time of return of enlisted military personnel to the States. 


Dear Bill and May

Forgive me if you haven't heard from me in the past few weeks. We were kept quite busy fighting on Zamami, where we established a Naval base for the Okinawa operation and then went on towards Okinawa when we invaded the Island of Ie Shima off the Coast of Okinawa. It was the worst fighting I've seen yet. We had to contend with as many land mines and booby traps and so I'm nearly grateful to God for having come thru successfully again, with not even a scratch.

I shall write you from time to time so do not worry. We're kept so busy so far we've three campaigns of major operation and five missions I take to our credit. Love to Joanie. Regards and good luck. I'm thinking of you all.

Your devoted Brother

Arthur

#40: 17 May 1945, Okinawa

Demolition crew watches explosive charges detonate and destroy a Japanese cave, May 1945.
(Photo: WWII Archives)
Allied Forces celebrated Victory in Europe (VE) Day nine days earlier on 8 May 1945. 


Dear May & Bill -

Please excuse this message on blank stationery but here I sit amidst the ruins somewhere on the Island. Have a few moments of rest so no time like the present to get a few words in to you. Have received all of your letters and am always glad to hear from you. I'm doing fine and no Jap has got me yet.

I'm pretty careful because I'm looking forward with great anticipation to getting back to good ole USA. There's nowhere like it. Fighting still in full swing here, we've gotten the Japs where we want them, they know their doom is near. The campaign isn't over yet, so I'll be more careful yet. Hope you like your new job and have you gotten your house yet?

Am enclosing some Jap genuine currency. I got off a Jap the other day. Am sure you've never seen it before. It may be a little smelly but then they are all that way. You've no idea how happy I am to receive mail from all of you. Incidentally, my girl Pearl writes she's looking forward to meeting you both. After all you will be her sister and brother in law. I hope when you open up house, you'll get her address from mom's and write her down, unless you think it better to wait till I get home someday.

Have you heard about the point system leading to discharge? Well it's 85 points and I've only 72 perhaps in a few months I'll get the other points.

Aside from fighting, life here is very dull and near morbid. Say, have you ever tried the new "C" rations, they're damn good. Hope you all are fine, give May my very best. Tell her that soon as I get out of this turmoil I'll drop her a personal letter.

Good luck to you both and best to Joanie.

Your devoted brother

Arthur

#41: 24 May 1945, Okinawa

US Marine Private John Drugan and his war dog, Okinawa, Japan, May 1945 (Photo: WWII Archives)

The 10th Army reaches the capital of Okinawa and there is still heavy fighting on the island. Over 125 Japanese planes are shot down. US troops capture the airbase on Mindanao while the B-29 bombers commit the hardest assault on Japan to date with over 3,500 tons of bombs.

On 25 May 1945, the day after this letter was written, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff approved Operation Olympic, the invasion of Japan, scheduled for 1 November.


Dear Bill and May:

Just a few lines to let you know that I am fine and thinking of you, despite the fact that we are kept rapidly busy on the fighting front. I know that you don't hear from me as often as before, but our progress here in the Pacific keeps us pretty much tied down to these wartime obligations.

Pearl wrote me and told me that she's looking forward with great enthusiasm to meeting you both, I hope when you get established in your new home, you'll invite her out, I'm sure she'd be happy to visit with you.  May, why don't you drop her a line, here's her address:

Miss Pearl Greenbaum
2074 Mohegan Ave
Bronx, 60 New York

Good luck and let's hear from you real soon.

As ever,

Arthur