Highlights from December 1943

For those of you that joined us late or are just here to catch up – here are the highlights from December, 1943. Tomorrow Willis will report back to his assignment in Long Beach and the letters will resume.

December 2, 1943

Posters on the West Coast. December 1943.

Embroiled in the midst of a terrible war, fear had gripped the United States and was manifesting itself in the attitudes people had toward people of Japanese heritage.  Willis clearly expresses how he feels about this the December letter after he’d written a detailed account of the most important days of his life.  Here’s an excerpt:

I’m so sorry to hear about the response to gifts for the Japanese. I can understand, for I see it and hear it from morning till night. A lot of cars, homes, and store windows carry a large sticker which says in large red letters, “No Japs in California after the war is over.” And to think we are supposed to be fighting for freedom for all people. I’m continually hearing terrible talk concerning the Japanese, and when I get a chance, I ask the persons some questions about the final outcome of such thoughts and ideals.

For the rest of the post: http://achaplainatwar.org/december-2-1943/

December 20, 1943

Willis in full marching gear for maneuvers. 1943

While they were not in combat, the men that Willis served certainly had challenging conditions to deal with.  The rains and mud and monotony of conditions was a strain on the mens’ morale.  This is just a precursor for the trials he will face while in the South Pacific. Here is an excerpt:

It has been raining most of the day and at present is really pouring. I noticed in this morning’s paper that they are beginning to worry about the possibility of a flood. As I told you in yesterday’s letter our filed positions are terrible, mud shoe top deep and the dugouts flooding. Miserable living to say the least. And what even makes it harder is the fact that the men just sit hoping something will happen. The trying living conditions wouldn’t be so bad if the men could feel they are doing something. As you can see it is a real problem to keep the men’s morale good. 

For the rest of the post: http://achaplainatwar.org/december-20-1943/

December 26, 1943

Willis makes it abundantly clear the many problems that drinking has caused the men.  He recounts a troubling incident from Christmas Eve when a man from Headquarters got drunk, took a jeep, hit a man and then threatened to shoot others.  What a way to spend the holidays.  Here is an excerpt:

Willis with the two Mexican men that he developed a friendship with.

A man from headquarters Christmas Eve had been drinking and took a jeep out of our motor pool, sped past the guard without being identified and while driving around in this condition ran into a sailor, injuring him fatally. He managed to get back to headquarters. Took his rifle and was threatening to kill himself or anyone who tried to get near enough to take it away from him. He was still drinking some from a bottle he had in his pocket.

Here is the rest of the letter: http://achaplainatwar.org/december-26-1943/


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