Dec. 29, 1944
Have received Christmas cards from you and Daddy, Kitty, and two from Yvonne - one being, I believe, made in school. It had a picture of a candle on the front and was drawn in crayon. Also, received some seeds. Also, two letters from you dated Dec. 4th and Nov. 19th. Read Yvonne's school papers - and Baltimore Sun. Thanks. Also, a little letter from Yvonne. No, I cannot send her a pet kangaroo for Christmas. In one of your letters, you said that you had not heard from me in about five or six weeks. Well, I guess that now you know the reason why. [There was a 25-day gap after his October 23rd letter from New Guinea. That’s when the Allies were beginning their drive into the Philippines. By November 17th, he was there himself. - Ed.] The letter containing the seeds was addressed to my new Philippine A.P.O. The story of the B-26 was interesting reading. I guess that George Harmening was glad to get home. Probably he will have to return to overseas duty, being that it was only a 30-day furlough.
Well, I guess that you would be interested in how I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, I and several other boys went to a movies which was being shown to the Filipino kids. The Catholic priest at the nearby church requested to the U.S. Army officials that they should have some kind of celebration. So, we had a show especially for them. One reel, which lasted about half an hour, was all about the Philippine invasion. Most of it was restricted Army film showing all kinds of action. Some of the nearby towns were mentioned. The kids and other Filipino civilians really liked that - especially when a couple of Japanese soldiers were shot. Of course, needless to say, some of the people here are pro-Japanese. But they are by far in the minority. At dusk, just before the picture show began, one of our bombers flew low and dropped some leaflets. Enclosed, you will find one. Besides the Army combat film, there were pictures with the singing of Christmas carols by a Westminster choir, Marian Anderson, and under the direction of Leopold Stokowski. Several comedies then followed. The only thing that spoiled the night is that the Jap planes paid us a visit and the main picture never was shown completely through. Well, all in all, the show was a success as far as the Filipinos were concerned. It was, I believe, the first Christmas celebration that they had had since the Japs occupied the islands.
Christmas Day, we ate turkey and other unusual such foods. I had a whole drumstick and white meat - in fact, all that I could eat. We had off Christmas afternoon and some of us walked around the nearby town. On one occasion, we stopped long enough to watch them butcher a cow. I guess that they had fresh cow meat for dinner, where we had had turkey. Later on, one of the Filipino churches let out and we stopped to watch the civilians walking by. They all wore their best. Some of the girls' dresses had been made out of discarded American parachutes. The silk is good for dresses. Now and then a grey-haired civilian would stop, shake our hands, and say "Merry Christmas." It was probably the only English words which they knew. Anyway, they were all smiles. I guess that the preacher had discussed the American soldiers in his sermon that day of Christmas. Little kids continued to give the hand victory salute (Winston Churchill, I think, originated it). Well, so much for that.
There is not much doing here of which is important enough of which to write about. I just finished chasing a three-foot snake out of the tent. They are beginning to get worse than mosquitoes. Less than 20 feet from my tent is a swamp. Yesterday, we went to catch a small snake about 18 inches long. As we approached it, a frog hopped out of its mouth and took off at high speed. The snake crawled away into the grass and bamboo trees before we could catch it. Evidently, the snake was just beginning to have a meal of the frog. Well, pretty soon we expect to have our darkroom set up and I can begin sending pictures home showing the Philippine side of Army life.
Well, this about finishes up my letters to you of the 1944 series. I haven't received any packages since I left New Guinea. Anyway, I am in no hurry, so it doesn't really matter much. So, until 1945 -
P.S. I received ten cans of beer for Christmas.