Based on the letters of Earl Philip Reinhalter (1922-1953). Edited by his son, Earl Philip Reinhalter (1950-).

Brisbane, Australia    

* The date written on the message says simply “June 1943,” but it was probably written on the 4th or 5th of June. In a later letter (June 4, 1945) he says that he arrived in Brisbane on June 4, 1943. He begins by saying it’s his first letter in “almost a month,” the previous letter being May 6th. And his June 7 letter refers to this one.

June 1943
Hello Ma:
      Well, this is about the first letter in almost a month. Since the previous letter, I have traveled many thousands of miles by boat and am at long last overseas. I am now temporarily somewhere in Australia. [He arrived in Brisbane on June 4, 1943. - Ed.] The trip itself became rather tiresome after the first week. Can you imagine living on a rolling boat for over two weeks? We wore our life belts at all times, except when sleeping and then kept them within arm's reach. We had to wash in salt water and for this special soap was necessary. The boat was very crowded and the bunks were four high, one above another. When we crossed the International Date Line, a day was skipped. That week had only six days. The Pacific Ocean at times became very rough and some of the boys, especially during the first few days, became seasick. I didn't though. The boys of the Navy on one occasion fired two guns. It made quite a racket and rocked the whole boat. At several times, there were causes for excitement, but what happened I am not allowed to say. [In his letter of January 2, 1944, he allowed that while crossing the Pacific, "an enemy torpedo missed us by about 25 feet." - Ed.] It was plenty hot when we crossed the Equator and I slept on deck a few of those nights. Well, it's winter here in Australia, but winter here is mild. Tell Yvonne that I hope that she has a happy birthday [June 9 - Ed.]. Well, that's about all that I have room for in this first letter; so, until later -

Editor's note: From comments in Squadron Pulse newsletters published during the postwar occupation of Japan, it appears that the ship that ferried the troops across the ocean was a steamer called the Mormacsea. One soldier's description of the crossing, possibly on this very same trip, was recounted in a 2005 article by Jim Doyle.


The Kindle book includes the letters; all 23 issues of the unit’s wartime newsletter “The Squadron Pulse,” which was originally edited by Leonard Stringfield; all 12 issues of the “Pennant Parade” newsletter that Stringfield published while sailing home after the war; complete text of the U.S. government booklet “Pocket Guide to Australia,” which soldiers heading Down Under were given to read; more than 200 photos; pre-war and postwar family history; and over 700 explanatory endnotes.


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