January through October 1944 Letters Transcribed ✅

It’s not as many letters as the post title suggests, with January, July, and September each having only one letter. October is a full month of letters, though, as are the next two months of the year.

October ends with Walt in a plane on his way to Sydney, Australia with his friends Charles Garner and J. J. Dubost, and a few others, for some rest and relaxation. Walt says they plan to eat until their sides bulge. Garner describes this remembrance of the trip in his letter written after Walt’s death:

We went to Sidney together on leave & got gloriously drunk & I ate a 1/2 gallon of whipped cream while so tight I couldn’t hold the container. Pitt was forever trying out some kind of new drink & would try & sell us on the idea. Sometimes he succeeded but by the time we got to liking his particular kind he would switch to a new one. This went on & on.

And then a day or two after Thanksgiving, 1944 J. J. got hit and lost a hand. Dec. 4, 1944, some few days later, I lost an ear.

 

April 1943 Pics

Photos with dates written on the back are few in the stash I have, but here are a few from that mystery year 1943. Remember that Walt’s little spiral notebook/diary ended in March 1943 with both Walt and Ruth arriving in Oklahoma City at Cimarron Field. These photos are dated 25 April, so they were probably still there when these were taken.

First, there are these three of Ruth walking toward the camera. Something is obscuring the upper left corner—Walt’s finger or the bill of his cap, maybe.

Then there are a couple of Walt.

Then they get someone to take a few of the both of them, trying to decide who should stand on the left and who the right.

Nice hat.

Some Guys and Their Dolls, June 1943

Found these photos of Walt and his friends in one pic and their partners in the other, dated 13 June 1943. This would have been prior to the timeline set out by Walt’s friend Garner in the previous post that begins in September 1943. So, I don’t know where they are.

Never Say Never

In between transcribing the letters from 1944-45, now that I have that ton of 1942 letters behind me, I look around the site and make little changes that need to be done to keep all pages on the site up to date. I see that I’ve declared in some places that I have no plans to transcribe some letters from friends, but I’ve changed my mind about that. I just won’t do it until all of Walt’s and Ruth’s letters are done.

One of those is the long letter from Charles Garner. I started rereading it, and he actually gives a little timeline about Walt’s training and location in 1943. For example:

Pitt & I first met in September, 1943 at Dale Malory Field, Tallahassee, Fla. I was just newly married & if I remember correctly, you & he had not been married too long.

We went from Tallahassee to Thomasville, Ga. & from there back to Tallahassee. It was not until this second trip to Tallahassee that I became close to Pitt. There—Pitt, I , Rule, Conny Fagerland, DuBost, Franklin, & Marty—separated ourselves into one group & drew cards against other groups to see if we could go overseas. There were six groups of seven apiece & all wanted to go. But—we won or lost—as the case may be & were sent to Meridian, Miss. There the seven of us became as one. We drank, cussed, fussed, fought, gambled, flew & studied as one. Call it “Esprit De Corps” or by any other name, but whatever it was, we seven had it. And, we enjoyed ourselves. We were all young then, both in age & experience. Those of us left are now young in age. I have a picture of us taken at Meridian which I look at every so often & recall the times we had. This picture fairly glows with youth & eagerness.

. . . .

From Meridian we went to Savannah, Ga.

. . . .

From Savannah we seven went to Camp Stoneman, Calif.

. . . .

From Stoneman, we seven went to Hamilton Field at San Francisco & there Rule, Marty & Fagerland left ahead of us & went to a different Sqdn.

There’s more; it’s a long letter, and I will quote from it again before it is all transcribed, but these excerpts help fill in where Walt went for stateside flight training in 1943. From Ruth herself, I remember hearing something about Florida and California, but stories were not really a part of our lives; she kept most of it to herself. I lived in Georgia from 1997-99, but never heard Ruth say anything about her or Walt having been there. But she did leave the letters.

Missing Letters in 1944? Why not?

There are only 37 letters for all of 1944, with a big gap in the middle of the year, and as I’ve said before, no letters for 1943. Thirty-seven doesn’t seem like very many for a whole year, even considering that it was wartime, for someone who had previously written almost every day and sometimes twice a day.

In the first letter for 1944, written on 23 January, Walt apologizes for not having time to write recently (suggesting I am missing letters), and also states that he has been wherever he is for 7 months, which would go back to the summer of 1943. He also talks about “making ‘First'”—first Lieutenant?—adding that he’s “been in since the 1st of Nov.” You might recall that the little diary in a recent post ended in March 1943, when he and Ruth left for Cimarron Field in Oklahoma, but I don’t know what happened after that up to the first letter in 1944.

Maybe I’ll find something else that suggests where he did his flight training and where and when he was deployed overseas, but I may just have to guess when Ruth had to return to Youngstown. Still, if she returned any time in 1943, why are there no letters? And why the big gap in the middle of 1944? I don’t think I’ll be able to answer these questions.

When I think about it, though, it’s a wonder that the hundreds of letters I have made it this far.