Sunday, August 9, 2009

Letter 102- June 16, 1944

June 16, 1944
(Chicago Illinois)

Dear Mother and Dad,

I have a few hours here in Chicago so I thought it would be a good opportunity to write you [to] let you know that everything is O.K. So far the train ride has been awful. We’ve had seats all the way but it’s very crowded and the cars are so damned hot and filthy that it’s disgusting. We had a holdup at Omaha due to the floods and our train was 7 hours late into Chicago. We missed our connection with the Erie but we found that another train leaves tonight about 9:30 so we would have taken that one anyway.

Just after we heard about the new bombing of Tokyo I got a look at one of these new B-29’s. They’re really tremendous.
That’s about all.



  1. The raids that Bill mentions were staged from China with the new bomber that, in June '44, was still not quite ready for prime time. USAAF chief Hap Arnold wanted the bomber operational by March '44 and many of the final fixes were yet to be installed. As a consequence the availability rate for the plane was much lower than desired. Still, the B-29 was the most modern bomber of the war.

    Staging the B-29s in China had it's own troubles too. First of all, the planes were at the end of a 15,000 (plus or minus) supply chain around the world to India, across that primitive land, over The Hump, then out to the forward fields. Every drop of gas, every bomb, and every can of chow had to go that route. Once the U.S. took Saipan and Tinian, the B-29s flew out of there with much greater results.

  2. I wonder where Bill was when he "got a look at one of those new B-29's."

    I note that the bombing of Tokyo (actually Yawata, Kyoto) that Bill refers to occurred on June 15, 1944-the day before this letter was written. This was the first bombing raid on Japan since the Doolittle Raid of 1942. Bill must have seen the B-29 somewhere along the way from Camp Crowder and Chicago.

  3. Boeing built B-29s in Omaha and Wichita in addition to Renton, Washington. Barack Obama's grandmother worked in the Wichita plant. The Enola Gay was built in Omaha. The Superfortress was just about the biggest plane in the war and would be impressive to see.

    I wonder if Bill made a call home between letters 101 and 102. He makes no mention of his destination which is certainly my curiosity. Or the letter might not have made it through or it didn't survive in the collection.

  4. My guess is that there are some letters missing. There is a three week gap in the letters and Bill was a very regular writer. The envelopes in my collection are clearly marked 101 and 102 in my grandmother's hand so it is a mystery.

    The mystery of Bill's destination will be solved with Letter 103, which I am just about to post.

  5. That your grandmother numbered the envelopes suggests that some letters might not have gotten through. I have read news articles where mail sacks from the 1940s were discovered 50 years later. The Postal Service went about trying to deliver the letters that they could. One can only imagine the efficiency of the postal system for the overseas troops.


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