April 1945 Letters Transcribed ✅

The nine letters from April 1945 see Christmas gifts from home finally reaching the Philippines on the 15th, just as the rainy season is about to begin. Walt reaches 300+ combat hours, and wonders if he should stick out waiting for a promotion to Captain or come home—he makes it sound like it’s his choice. Even though he hasn’t received his promotion yet, he receives the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross following his being shot down in January.

I’ve posted a photo of Walt’s Air Medal before, along with the Purple Heart, but I don’t have his Distinguished Flying Cross. It has gone missing somewhere over the years. I have replicas of all the medals, given out by some organization very late in Ruth’s life, but she refused to attend that ceremony for her own reasons, so I’m not going to show the replica of the DFC.

March 1945 Letters Transcribed ✅

The March 1945 letters are finished. During March, Walt reveals that he has 270 combat hours in and that he expects to have as many as 400 by the time his tour is finished. He has been made the C Flight Leader and hopes to be a Captain soon. On the 23rd, he sends some interesting photos of the homemade squadron bar, where he obviously spends a good amount of time.

It’s been almost a year since he’s seen Ruth, but he’s hoping the time will go fast until he can return home.

I never mentioned it when it started happening, because I guess I thought it was a fluke, but I wonder why Walt quit numbering his pages. It had been such a habit throughout 1942 that I thought it would never end. Is it easier for me to center the text for a page number or to write the bracketed unnumbered page? I go back and forth on that question.

January 1945 and February 1945 Letters Transcribed ✅

There aren’t many letters in these first two months of 1945, but they contain a lot of interesting information. In January, Walt is shot down and spends a few days in a raft before being rescued. He goes on a 10 day leave to Sydney in February, which eats up most of the month. He learns of his promotion to 1st Lt. while he is on leave.

Something to Look for in 1945

As I’m beginning to transcribe Walt’s letters from 1945, here’s something for readers to keep an eye out for.

Charles Garner talks about a few incidents that he and his friends experienced in his letter to Ruth after Walt’s death, and he’s writing 7-8 years after the fact, so he can be forgiven for any mis-remembering. In a recent post, I quoted him, but stopped short of what he says happened to Walt in January 1945. Here’s the entire passage from p. 4:

And then a day or two after Thanksgiving, 1944 J. J. got hit & lost a hand. Dec. 4, 1944, some few days later, I lost an ear. Around Jan 5, 1945 Frank went west—& Pitt spent a couple of days on a raft. Pitt was the only one physically able to return to flying. He did so & flew close to 200 missions.

Garner makes it sound like Franklin’s death and Walt’s time in a raft happened together, but maybe not. Ruth told me quite a few times that Walt was shot down in WWII and spent five days in a raft before being rescued. The five days seems to jive with Garner’s recollection of “a couple of days on a raft.”

There is a big gap in the letters in January between the 9th and the 24th. In fact, Walt mentions in the letter of the 9th that Franklin has been killed in a runway accident the day before. Then the letters resume on the 24th but with no mention of his having been shot down in the interval. So, Garner’s date of the 5th was a little off, but close.

Then there is this telegram sent to Walt’s parent’s address instead of to Ruth’s address:

It says Walt has been missing in action since January 10th, but the time stamp is dated February 7th. We know Walt resumed writing in late January, so he is not still missing at the time of the telegram, but the initial date may be correct. Would family notification really have been so slow?

So, keep alert for  any small references to such an incident—if indeed he is allowed to mention it in a letter.

Oh, and I guess that would have been the end of the Ruth-Less plane.