June 7, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

7 June 1945

My Dearest Darling Sweetheart:

Patch from the 98th division.

Well, another day is just about gone now. The rosy tinted clouds are bidding us farewell until sunrise. And in short, how good it will be to see dawn again. This has been the best day we have had since May 20th, that is I mean as far as weather is concerned. It wasn’t quite as bad as yesterday but it was worse than any of us care to experience. At least I was able to dry out, and from the looks of things I’ll be dry for awhile tonight. Just a few minutes ago I was handed three letters. They were all from men in the 98th, I was disappointed when I found there wasn’t a letter from you. These letters were very good from my old outfit and I appreciate them remembering me as they do. Well Darling, it is about dark and I must close for now. God bless you, My Lover.

Yours alone in Christ’s love,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

June 6, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

6 June 1945

Lover Darling:

Soldiers move a wounded comrade. Okinawa 1945.

It is almost dark Darling and I must get a note off to you. I love you more than ever, and in spite of all that has happened, I have thought of you. Darling, after a day of living under fire in such conditions I hardly know what to say or think. All I can say is this, I’m alive and escaped any kind of injury. I do have a few skinned places from coral and rock cuts. On one occasion we had to rescue three wounded men. It took us quite a while because of enemy snipers. The only way we are able to do it was the fact that our machine guns covered us with machine gun fire and we drug the men back on ponchos. We also had to use smoke grenades to conceal our movement because of the number of snipers. A knee (Japanese) mortar landed about 10 feet from us and only one of the four of us got a small fragment in the leg. There were many other things but it would take too long to tell you now. I’m all right so don’t worry. By the way, I got to see Paul Wells for about five minutes. He gave me two pictures which he took early in the campaign: he has lost the negatives so I hope these reach you safely. You can have some more made if you want to, but of course it will cost you extra. Good night My Lover-God bless you My Lover in all things.

Yours always in Christ’s love,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

June 5, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

5 June 1945

My Beloved Darling:

In brief, this has been another miserable day of rain and mud. It wouldn’t be so bad if we could manage to keep dry. But the way it is we are constantly wet and covered with mud. The nights always seem so very long because being wet and covered with mud it is hard to rest well. And then we have the added menace of enemy snipers and infiltration. Even though we have had a moon it has done us very little good because of the solid overcast. We rounded up a lot of civilians early this morning. And by 8 o’clock the companies and our battalion were ready to push out. We moved forward and settled in our new overnight post by 4:30 this afternoon. We met only a few scattered snipers and enemy soldiers. We think they will try to make one more organized stand before we can completely capture the island of Okinawa. Road conditions and supply routes are getting so bad from so much rain that they brought our rations to us by plane and dropped them to us with parachute. We only had a few casualties today and none very serious. It is really hard to get men back under such weather conditions.

Map of the battle of Okinawa. June 4-11, 1945.

I would certainly like to have some of your back mail. It would help I know when you have to go through things like this we are going through now. If we could just get 10 good days I’m sure we could finish this thing. Every day since we came back into the fighting it has poured rain. Well Dear, it is about dark and I will try to write more to you tomorrow morning if possible.

 6 June 1945

It is just getting light now, and I have a few minutes before we jump off so I’m going to try to finish this letter. Under conditions like these it is harder to write a decent letter. At least it is breaking a little clear in the east. Here’s hoping we have a little sunshine for awhile today. It will be a great surprise if we do not have some rain by evening. In spite of everything, I did sleep pretty well last night and I feel good this morning.

I’m going to answer and make a few comments on your letter of May 8th. Yes, I have heard Dr. Stinson tell the story of how he helped to take care of the hungry German children and how they acted when the Germans invaded Norway. Knowing Turnbull as I do, I’m glad you have had the privilege of having him in New Testament for awhile. He is certainly is a fine Christian man. Dr. Mantey, Turnbull and I had a very good time when we returned from the State Convention when it was held at Mattoon, Illinois. Dr. McDonald was also with us. I don’t believe you ever met Dr. McDonald. I don’t mean Dr. A.M. McDonald, Superintendent of Chicago.  It is certainly good to have fellowship with such men.

Well Dear, it is about time to pull out so I must close. God bless you Lover in all things.

Yours alone in Christ’s love,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. You see from the last part of this letter that I didn’t get to finish this before it started to rain.

June 4, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

4 June 1945

My Beloved Darling:

After dark last night I received three letters, yours of May 24th and one from the Chief and Paul Vogel. It was certainly good to have your letter, I only wish you knew how much they mean to me. I certainly miss all those back letters which I haven’t received. It helps to take the sting out of our separation when I can know what you are doing from day to day. I enjoyed the Chief’s letter very much. I know it isn’t easy for the Chief to write, but I love him and even a little note helps out. I answered Paul’s letter this morning and enclosed it in my letter to you which I mailed this morning.

Okinawan civilians after the battle, taken by Lieutenant Reinhart T. Kowallis’s

We have certainly had another miserable day, rain all day and I’m soaking wet now. I am wet almost up to my hips and it is rather cool tonight. I always feel pretty good until my feet get soaked. If you saw me now, you would think me a disgrace. I poured the water and mud out of my shoes a little while ago and I’m going to chance taking my shoes off to let my feet dry a little. If we should have any trouble during the night I can get my shoes on in a hurry. In spite of the miserable weather, I helped get civilians back to safety. Darling, my heart just aches for these people. Many of them have been in caves or holes in the ground almost 3 months. With so much rain and bad weather the caves have partially filled with water and the conditions under which they have been living is beyond the mind’s ability to realize. I do hope this thing is soon over so that people, as well as the soldiers, can protect themselves from the elements. I never will forget one pretty young woman who was soon to give birth to a baby. Dear, after seeing and going through some of these things I would be able to enjoy living almost anywhere with you as long as it is the Lord’s will. In one group of civilians I helped bring back there was a Spanish couple with their three children. They came from Spain to visit his mother and father who lived here and were unable to get back. Since then his parents have passed away. They seemed very glad to see U.S. soldiers after all they have gone through. Our Naval, air and artillery fire has been an almost unbearable ordeal. Honestly, I don’t see how these people have undergone such a menacing warfare. When the man saw me the first thing he did was point to the cross on my helmet said, “Jesu Christos.” He said he was glad there was a Chaplain with the men and said he and his family were also Christians.

I’ve thought of you a lot of times today in spite of the miserable weather and I could not help but thank the Lord for such a wonderful Christian wife as you are. I only wish you knew how much you mean to me and how lonesome I am for you.

Well my Darling, it is so dark I must close for now. God bless you and the folks in all things.

Yours now and forever in the love of

Christ Jesus our Lord,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

June 3, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

3 June 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

This has really been a long tiresome day, we have had rain as well as making a great advance. I’m very glad for that; we didn’t have hardly any enemy opposition. Which of course means we had very few casualties. I managed to sandwich in two services during the day. It is very difficult to do anything when you are on the move under weather conditions like these.

Okinawan civilian and a Marine. May 1945.

This afternoon I helped with some civilians. My heart certainly aches for them, they have been living in caves and crevices for so long that they look very tired and dirty. A lot things I’ve read speak of them as dirty and untidy. But if we had been living in caves in constant fear of the enemy, as well as artillery, mortar and small arms fire, we too might be dirty and a bit untidy. It is very easy to make statements but it is another question when other things are taken into consideration.

I know I’ve walked at least 12 miles in this mud to get to various units. As a result I’m quite tired. However, I’m glad because I have managed to keep my feet dry so far today. It always helps a lot to have your feet dry. If things continue as they did for us today, we ought to be able to finish this campaign in the near future. Mud and so much rain certainly hold back our advances. Well Dear, I will close because darkness is closing in. God bless you and the folks in all things. 

Yours now and forever in the love of Christ Jesus.

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. Enclosed find four letters, two from Paul, Connie and Louise.

June 2, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

2 June 1945

Sarah, My Dearest Darling:

Well, another day is about past and I’m really tired and weary after climbing and walking so much. I spent almost the entire day visiting among the various companies. I had hoped for mail today but due to weather and road conditions none came in. And from all they tell me, we have very little opportunity getting any now until Monday evening. It started raining again this afternoon. So it means more trying times and aching muscles. Well, be that as it may, as long as we can come through with less casualties I’m willing to put up with almost any kind of weather.

Nisei interpreter calls on natives to come out of cave, Okinawa, 1945.

There is very little of interest except that I helped get some natives out of the caves. I will not go into details now but someday I will tell you about it. I’ll tell you about one touching scene as we were moving them. That sweet little girl of about five I’ll never be able to forget.

Well, in that I have a few minutes, I’m going to start answering some more of your letters starting with yours of May 7th. I certainly wish your back letters would start catching up with me. For I am very lonesome to hear and know what you have been doing. Nothing in all this world can take the place of your precious and helpful letters. It certainly means everything to have a wonderful Christian wife as you are.

I was glad you had such a nice visit with Paul Allen’s wife. I know she must have been very happy to see him so soon. Paul hadn’t expected to be home until August or September. Men in the Navy certainly have an advantage over men in the Army. They always have a  decent place to sleep, good food (fresh), and a definite period overseas and then return to the Mainland. Paul was certainly fortunate to get 18 days leave. What Paul said about fleas is true but I’m sure things could be even worse. It has been most uncomfortable at times, but I don’t want you to worry about me. I’m willing to go through a lot if I can just return to you, Darling.

I was interested in Mr. Kraft’s statement about Mayor Kelly calling him to pray and have NSBC, “for their prayers reach heaven.” I’m inclined to believe that is indicative of the church mentioned in Revelation, “neither cold nor hot.” NSBC will continue to mark time until they rid themselves of the glory which is self proclaimed.

Well Darling, it is about dark so I will have to close for tonight. God bless you My Lover in all things.

Yours alone because we are one in Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

June 1, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

1 June 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

Yesterday they ordered us to hold fast so it looks like we may have a few days rest. That doesn’t mean we are out of the front lines, it just means we are to hold our present lines and not try and advance against the enemy. I have been very busy since early this morning but it is a treat to not be constantly under the threat of enemy fire. I spent all morning going around to the various companies seeing how the men were. I spent most of the afternoon visiting with other men as well as taking care of some problems several soldiers asked me about.

Picture of Sarah back home in Chicago. 1945.

I wrote a v-mail letter to Captain Mason, and also one to Jack and Bertha before starting this letter to you. I’m still pretty tired and weary but I believe I have enough time to answer some of your back questions in letters which I haven’t had the time to answer.

I’m certainly sorry Warren doesn’t write more often, being in the rear areas as he is I cannot understand why he doesn’t take the time to write. When I see him I will certainly say something, but as it is up here I don’t know whenever I’ll have a chance to go back and see him. I was just lucky to see him the last time. I was back to our Division Cemetery on business, that’s how I happened to run into him. It has been hard for us here the last two weeks but whenever it was humanly possible I scribbled a note off to you. And I believe every man could if you really wanted to, so often men fritter their time away. I like to make every moment count and I hope we can together make all our time count for our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know NSBC will feel greatly the loss of Maurice and Edith, but I think it will be much better for them. I was rather surprised to hear that he was going to teach at Berkley though. However, I imagine he will make a good teacher.

You must have had a very nice time at Zelma Narrington’s. From what you said in your letter, her little apartment must be very nice. I was interested to hear about Lennie’s idea about testimonies. Lennie definitely needs prayer. He has certainly changed the last few years. He has been influenced greatly by his associations. To be absolutely frank, I think he is a bit conceited and unless he changes he is going to have trouble in the future. I agree with your attitude entirely about testimonies. Constantly I hear men talking about knowing Colonel or General so-and-so. Or some publicized person. And then to think there are those who frown on telling what the Lord means to us through His fellowship. From my observation, I found a person who takes that attitude is only indirectly confessing his own lack of communion and fellowship with Lord. Of course there are some who are continually repeating the same thing and that does become tiresome. However, that is indicative of spiritual stagnation or lack of growth in grace. From all you have told me from time to time, I would say that the young people of NSBC need something besides so many parties and get-togethers. I’ve been following the Guide ever since coming overseas and the spiritual good wouldn’t fit fill a thimble. Of course, it should have the news about the various young people but they should also include things which would encourage an earnest desire to know and have fellowship with Christ. It is obvious that they lack a great cause; that is in reaching others for Christ. Whatever I read about a rally, a meeting, a special Sunday or planning committee, I find the emphasis, “Make this the largest in NSBC’s history,” “let us keep NSBC in the lead,” or “the most in attendance.” Such things are as indicative of spiritual malnutrition as a body which has been deprived of food. They have such a splendid opportunity and seem to be missing the mark. And from what I have been able to glean from time to time, it seems to me the pastor is partially responsible for that situation. It always seems to me he stops just short of the mark.

2 June 1945 Morning Early

Darling, I wanted to finish this last night but a soldier came to see me about something and by the time he left it was so dark I couldn’t see to write. It is overcast with a few fast-moving clouds, but in all probability it will clear up for a while. Last night I saw the stars for the first time in over two weeks. The heavens were really beautiful last night.

There are so many things I would like to talk with you about, but it is entirely unsatisfactory to talk about it by letter. Dear, it has always meant so much to me to be able to talk to you about things near to our hearts. One of the things I miss the most is the good talks we used to have. I only hope we’ll be able to spend at least one week together alone so we can talk things over and seek the Lord’s leading in our future work for Him.

Well, My Dear, I shall close for now. God bless you and the folks in all things.

Yours for all the ages in Christ our life

And love,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

Enclosed in this letter find Captain Mason’s last letter.

May 31, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

31 May 1945

My Beloved Darling:

Well, one of the men just handed me three letters, one was yours of May 23rd and the other two were from Jack and Bertha. The mail has certainly been messed up since we came back up here to the front. I’m missing a whole lot of your back letters but I suppose they will catch up eventually. Your letter of April 3rd is still missing. I’m almost sure it must be lost for good now.

Willis finally all cleaned up! May 1945.

We were ordered to hold fast today so I got a jeep and went back to the rear to see our men in the hospital. I wrote six different letters for injured men and then took enough time to take a good bath from head to foot. At the hospital the supply man gave me a complete new outfit including everything but my steel helmet. My feet had been wet for eight days and they have certainly been skinned and bruised from all I have been helping the men to do in carrying back the wounded. My feet feel much better tonight because they are dry and the shoes are new. The sun shone a good share of the day and it was a treat after so many days of downpour.

I spent most of my time taking care of more letters of condolence until time to get a snack to eat. Before I started this letter to you I wrote a letter to my father and enclosed one each of the pictures Major Wilhelm gave me.

By the way, it’s clouding up again so I suppose we will have more rain. Darling, your letter was certainly a wonderful lift to me. Also enclosed in that letter was the picture Kentucky gave you. In spite of the hectic night we had last night, I didn’t feel too tired today. About midnight we received an emergency call to get a wounded man. In the downpour and the blackness of the night it took us four hours and five minutes to safely get him back here. You can easily see we had very little rest last night. We were also soaked completely.

Dear, it is getting very dark so I’ll have to close for tonight. Bless you My Lover.

Just yours forever in Christ’s love,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

May 30, 1945

Okinawa Shima – Ryukyu Islands

30 May 1945

My Beloved Darling:

It will soon be dark but I have just returned from carrying a man back from under enemy fire. When we go up to get men that way, we use four men to carry the litter. And even then the rough terrain with so much mud is almost enough to exhaust the men completely. To get this one man we had to be so careful to not be observed by the enemy that we fell down and at least a half a dozen times.

10th Army soldiers carrying a wounded native of Okinawa. 1945.

We had five men to carry away from the front today and we are so tired we can hardly move; it wouldn’t be so bad if we could roll up in our poncho and foxhole for the night and know that we wouldn’t be called out in the blackness of night to rescue another wounded. Some of our litter bearers were injured today but I thank the Lord I wasn’t hit. Thank you Darling for your abiding and comforting prayer. Someday I will tell you about a harrowing experience I had late this afternoon. Just after writing to you this morning about the pictures I managed to take enough time to shave. I had not been able to shave for 10 days. I also managed to get some fresh water to wash my teeth. By fresh I mean pure. I have been using dental floss right along through because it is not hard to carry in your pocket.

Many things have happened and I’m again weary. We didn’t see the sun again today and it rained intermittently. I had hoped they might bring some mail up here to the front for us today but no such luck.

God bless you My Lover and give the folks my love.

Yours alone in Christ love,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

Thursday Morning

31 May 1945

Dearest Darling:

Very little sleep last night because we had another man very seriously injured during the night. It took us over four hours to get him from that rugged hill. By the time we got an ambulance it was beginning to break day. I love you, Dear.

God bless you and the folks.

Yours alone in Christ’s love,

Willis

P.S. Enclosed you will find more pictures.

May 30, 1945

Wednesday Morning

May 30th 

Dear Lover:

Willis leading communion for a small group.

Just a little while ago Major Wilhelm gave me six pictures of each of the enclosed large pictures in this letter. They were taken at the last service I had for them before coming to the 184th Infantry. I’ll try and send it the others as soon as the fighting is over or at least when we are relieved from front line duty. There are also three little pictures which Chaplain Holt gave me. Major Wilhelm is certainly a fine man and would do anything for me. We had these pictures taken by the engineer’s official photographer.

God bless you My Lover,

Just yours forever in the love of Christ Jesus,

Willis

Colossians 3:3