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Saturday, May 31, 2014

September 29, 1944

                                                                                    Fri, Sept 29th

Dear Arnold,

     Although this typewriter is broken, in that the lines do not
space correctly, I am not going to delay this letter any longer.
There is nothing new here in the way of big items, however, a few
little things have happened.  By now you must have received at least
one or if I remember correctly it should be two.  I am glad that
you like your set up so well.  I see by your address that you have
moved.  How do you like your new lodgings?  We take some hikes here
too, in fact one every week.  They aren't nearly as interesting as
yours, all we see are jungled lined roads.  The one good hike they
went on I missed because of work.  They hiked up a jungle trail to
a river.  There were remains of the Japs along the trail, bones,
clothes, and shoes.  Lt Gassner picked up one of the shoes to
examine it and the foot bones still in it.  One of the other Officers
from Ritchie, who is in another division went on a three day hike
up to one of the trail blocks.  He said the terrain was extremely
rough, up and down, dense jungle, and dangerous swamps.   Coming back
he said they kept meeting natives boys who are used as carriers.
All the English they knew was "hello Joe."  As my friend
neared the perimeter and the end of his journey, he met one last
native.  He decided to beat him to the punch by greeting him first.
As the native approached within talking distance, my friend smiled,
and said "hello JOE."  The native smiled back and answered, "how
do you do sir."

     You are probably wondering what I meant in the first part of
the above paragraph by receiving one or two, one or two what?  I
meant one or at least two of my letters by now.  I might explain at
this time that although  the spacing is broken on the typewriter, all
those typographical errors are not due to a broken typewriter, al-
though I wish I could say they were.  Now that I have cleared up
these points, I shall proceed.  Today we were presented with a
baby bat.  We had a bit of trouble with him at first.  We put him
a small can that some peanuts had come in, and he got some of the
salt that was left on his tail.  He because very agitated and we
finally fixed him up by giving him a bath.  We then decided to adopt
him as our mascot, and after a lengthy discussion, decided that
the way we would feed him was to tie a string around his neck and
have one of the enlisted men swing him around so he could catch
insects on the fly.  Imagine being told to take a bat out for an
airing!  Another per we have is a little tree frog.  Every night
just after we turn out the light and crawl in our sacks, he beings
to bark.  Yes, I said bark!  These frogs sound just like a little
fox terrier with a lusty voice.  Gas ( Lt Gassner) clapped his
hands and shouted "Shut up."  This startled the frog and he did
as he had been bidden, but only for a short time.  Soon he regained
his confidence, and first gave little short bark.  Nothing hap-
pended, so after a few minutes he gave a couple of more experimental
barks.  He waited a few seconds and then opened up.  He has become
very impertinent, and now will not shut up not matter how hard we
threaten, curse, or shout orders at him.  My other tent mate took
a flash light and tried to find him last night, but the little

[page 2]
devil hid, and soon as Bach stopped searching for him, he started
up again.  We took the philosophy that it was just another jungle
noise among the manny Jungle noises, and went to sleep.  It is
amazing what noise one of these small creatures make.   They are
only about the size of a baby toad, but the first night you hear
one you think some kind of jungle wild dog is barking not far
from your tent.

     It has almost been confirmed that I am not going to stay with
this outfit, Lt Gassner outranks me by a number of months.  Some
of my fellow classmates ended up in Army Headqtrs, and some we
haven't heard from might well be in Theater Hdqs [arrow] such is fate.  We now be-
lievethat a mistake was made in our shipment, and we went to the
wrong place.  This sure is a hell of a time to find out.

                                                                                   [arrow] censored by LJNevis
     I guess Dad wrote you that he asked xxxxxxxxx [crossed out] a friend. If he
knew where APO 37 was?  And Since this fellow had just come back
From the South Pacific, as he had been wounded.  The fellow replied,
"Do I know where APO37 is, Hell I was in it."If you don't know
where I am ask Dad to tell you.  The reason I didn't mention this
fellows name is that it might be against security regulations to
tell anyone where it [circled, arrow] APO37 is.  The censor might take his name down and
turn him in.  In fact the censor is probably having a hemmorage now
reading this, if he does.  However I don't think he can cut it
out, let me know if he does.

     I said let me know if the censor cut out any of the above para-
graph out.  Well this is about all the prittle-prattle I have
to tell you.  Write soon.

                                            [signed] Leonard

Friday, May 30, 2014

September 17, 1944

Notes: I suppose Fort McDowell was the one on Angel Island. Secret Command by Edward Sutherland starred Pat O'Brien and Carole Landis. Halmahera Island is the largest of the Moluccas, now part of Indonesia; the Japanese had a naval base there in the war. Moratai Island is also part of the Halmahera group; the Japanese had airfields there; the Battle of Moratai lasted from when Uncle Len is writing in September 1944 to the end of the war in August 1945. In Palau, the Battle of Peleliu (codename "Operation Stalemate II") took place from mid September to the end of November 1944. T/O might mean "table of organization and equipment", OCS is Officer Candidate School, and OP is probably observation post. This letter is typed on a typewriter.

                                                          Sunday, Sept 17, 1944
                                                          Sun 17th 

Dear Arnold,

     Well here it is another week gone by, thank goodness.
Life has stabilized it self down to a steady routine here,
except for a few little moments of excitement now and then.
Yesterday they killed a centipede a least six inches long in
the tent next to ours.  It was one of the ugliest creatures
I have ever seen.  They have a very wicked pair of fangs or
pincers which excrete poison.  When a man is bitten by one they
give him a strong done of morphine, and even then it does'nt
always relieve him of a great deal of agony.  Last night Lt
Gassner (the officer I work with) and I were playing cards,
when suddenly he stopped and said look down there.  Not two
feet away was a snake about four feet long, for a second we
sat motionless, the simultaneously we removed out presence form
the tent.  We cut his head off with a machete, and damn if that
body did'nt know that the head was gone, and it wiggled under/a
box.  It had a broad flat head, but we believe that it was not
poisonous, however we did'nt know until after we killed him.
These little incidents happen daily, the other day I felt some-
thing on my neck so I flicked it off casually and then found it
was a spider about two or three inches across.

     I have a 35mm Kodak camera that was issued to me, and the
other day I shot some pictures.  They turned out pretty good.
I got some fair shots of the natives we have around here al-
though they are a little small in the photo.  They are shy and
afraid of having their picture taken, and you have to surprise
them.  The hardest thing to get is paper to print them on, I
am going to find out if I can send the negatives home and have
them printed there, if so, I will ask mother to send you some
of the prints, especially the ones of the jungle, our tent, and
me with my butch haircut.

     Pardon me I have just returned from a show, SECRET COMMAND.
I saw this at McDowell, I never dreamed I'd see it out here again.
Friday morning we went up and observed the 155 medium artillery
firing on the sides of a volcano about three and a half miles
away.  Their fire is quite deadly, they adjust quickly and lay
down a neat pattern.  The volcano was a real live one with steam
rising out of the top and fissures in its sides. Through the
glasses you could plainly see the lava flow.  We had to go up
a trail to the top of the hill that was the OP.  The trails
around here are really rugged.  They claimed you could still
smell that peculair odor the Japs leave, but I could'nt notice
it. However, beside the trail lay an upturned helmet with a
bullet hole right through the center, a grime reminder of other
days.  I am getting it fixed up so I can go on a patrol up

[page 2]
the coast to a certain mission in enemy territory.  As soon
as we get a report of some more Japs in the vicinity, they
will probably send out another patrol.  I want to go along,
just once, to see what the interior looks like.  This is patrol
takes a couple of days or so.

     I am afraid I won't stay with this outfit, when they push
off on the next campaign.  There are two teams here although
the T/O only calls for one.  The other officer outranks me
by several months, plus the fact that it looks like eventually
I might lose one or both of my men to OCS.  I would like to
stay with them and see one operation at close quarters, however
it might be a better deal to stay behind, because the team that
stays may even be sent down to Australia and reassigned to
higher headquarters.  Gassner is married and says he does 'nt
partciularly care to see any landings.

     From all reports the war in Europe is moving along well.
A report this evening said they had penetrated the Seigfred line
in four places, and patrols are only 28 miles from Cologne.
You have undoubtly heard that we have hit the Halmaheras at
Moratai Is. and also Palau.  We had been looking forward to
this event for some time down here.  When the war is over in
Europe and we can really move down here in full force, it is
going to be beautiful to watch the slaughter of those little
yellow bastards.  If we can meet their armies on some open
terrain suitable for mechanized tactics, we should be able
to hand them a hell of a pasting.

     How is fall coming in the eastern states? I imagine it
is quite pretty.  Well write me when you can get a chance.

                                [signed] Leonard

Thursday, May 29, 2014

September 8, 1944

"Looey" is probably lieutenant here. Uncle Leonard still recounted the regularity of the rain on Bougainville some fifty years later when talking about his experiences to me in the early 1990s. He said you could set your watch to it as it came daily at 3:00 pm, then in a week or two would shift to 3:30pm, and after a while shift another half hour later.

[typed, page 1]

                                                                                  Sept 8, 1944

Dear Arnold,

     How is the new second looey, enjoying same, it least you give
that impression in yourtwo letters of the 28th.  By the way the
V-mail arrived neck and neck with the airmail.  The longest five
months I have ever spent were in OCS.  I know just about how you
feel, for it isn't only getting a commission, but its getting out
of that damn candifate or cadet training. At first I felt slightly
uncomfortable and conspicous, especially when I was by myself, but
that soon wears off, and things settle down to a grind again, however
a slightly higher standard of grind.  I am glad you got in such a
nice setup, keep it up.  I don't know why I was in such a hurry
to get overseas, but take it from me this is not the way to see
the world.  The only glamour and heros are at home, there ain't
any such creatures out here.  It is all sweat, scare, mud, blood,
and work.  There is nothing like the states, stay there as long
as you can, because if you rush out here you will find your mighty
convictions have all been in vain, and it is too late to go back.
So work hard and stick to your job, you will be sent out here soon
enough.  However don't work too hard, try to get a little fun in
now and then to store up some good memories, they come in handy
out here.

     The sense of humor of the men out here give you an idea of
their attitude.  If  movie soldier says, "I want to go over there
and get those yellow monkeys, give them hell, or anyother cinema
patriotic remark he is hooted and laughed off the screen. They
walked out of Danny Kaye's UP IN ARMS.  They only crack a smile
at some of the best jokes of the radio comedians, then again some
little insignificant thing will knock them out.  However they still
have a sense of humor as shown in some of their signs.  The one over
the dispensary reads, " Montgomery's Clinic Specialist in the skin
and its contents.  Our mess hall, semi-tent structure, is titled
               Tearoom.  The other day I saw a truck named Lack-a-
nookie, and so it goes.

     We had an earthquake here the other night, however it was not
very severe.  Since there is an active volcano near at hand I suppose
it had something to do with it.  Earthquakes are not rare occurences
here.  The rain is even more frequent, in fact it is daily, and
generally comes in on a time schedule.  This afternoon we really
caught a deluge, but then it cools things off.  The biggest bother
here are the many insects.  I always seem to be able to pick up
at least several new bites every day, spiders, mosquitos, ants,
and a few unidentified things inflict a more or less constant
and equal proporation of bites.

[page 2]

     I have'nt run into anybody I knew at home, although there
is probably someone near at hand, however I don't get around much
anymore.  Send me Stadt's and Kennedy's APO and if they are on the
island which I doubt, I will look them up.  Well lieutenant keep
on the ball, and write soon again and don't omit any of the
luxuries, I can dream can't I.

                               [signed] Leonard

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

August 23, 1944


                                                                       Aug 23, 1944

Dear Arnold,
     Received your letter yesterday along with the first mail
I've had since I left.  Congratulations! It sure was great to
hear that you had received your commission, and that you were
assigned to Harvard.  It was a long hard struggle but I think
you will find it is worth it. How do you like it Lieutenant!
I was still at Ritchie on the 14th but was probably out when
you called on the phone, we did'nt leave until th e next day.
I bet you really surprised the folks by dropping in on them.
Four days at home after all time you were away was really a
short vivit, I know becuase that was all the time I had.
However I think you will agree it was worth it. Flying is
the only way to travel.

     I am now on an other island in the SouthPacific. I was
on Guadacanal for a short time.  thingsare'nt too tough here,
in fact I was a little agreeably surprised at the way they
have things fixed up around here.  Very civilized.  My assign-
ment is a little screwed up but I think it will work out in
the long run, but I don't know how far I will have to run?
We are treated very nice, and it look slike this is a good

     It is going to take us a little while to get straightened
around and set up.  I don't know how long I will be here,
probably not over several months. It looks like the work
may be rather interesting, I only hope we can do what we
came out here to do.  We are camped in an areawhich is near
the center ofa rather large perimeter. Roughly the perimeter
extends from the beach some six or eight mile inland and is
more or less the same dimension in width.  Most of this area
was drained and clear of the water and dense jungle growth.
They have done an excellent job of fixing the place up and
it is quite liveable.  Please don't hesitate to describe your
pleasant surroundings, it makes me think of better days.
Of course there are a few Japs somewhere around the outside,
bu they keep their distance and are not bothersome. In fact
they don't even blackout here, and have'nt done it for quite
some time.

     I am sure sorry I did'nt get up to see you before I left,
but it was just impossible. Tell Ed hello next time you see
him and tell I would be glad to hear from him. And don't
hesitate to write yourself soon and often.I think I'd better
close until later, the bugs have about taken over the place.
They are busy flying around trying to read what I'm trying to
type, and I don't like to work with somebody or things looking
over my shoulder. Lets hit the ball lieutenant and go to MIT.
                                 from your loving brother
                             [signed] Leonard

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

August 19, 1944

In this V-Mail letter, we see Leonard is the censor. (I don't know what the '18' is at the bottom of the v-mail.)
Print the complete address in plain letters in the panel below, and your return address in the space provided on the right. Use typewriter, dark ink, or dark pencil. Faint or small writing is not suitable for photographing.

          TO LT Arnold H. Nevis              FROM  Lt. L J Nevis
                Unit 3510                                        APO 45751
                TS-Yale Univ.                                  c/o Postmaster
                 New Haven, Conn.                         San Francisco, Calif.

[CENSOR'S STAMP]     SEE INSTRUCTION NO. 2         (Sender's complete address above)

Dear Arnold                                         19 Aug 44
     Please forgive me if you are now a Lieut. and if so congratulations
of the highest order. Well I am now on an island, somewhere in the
Pacific. The weather is hot and humid, it reminds me of North Carolina
in July. It really knows how to rain here, it feels like you were
under Boulder Dam and the bottom fell out. I can hardly wait for the
rainy season to start.
     The more I see around here the more I wonder why I tried so hard
to go overseas. Of course I am disappointed that I did'nt get to go the
other way, but I guess things are not to hot over there either. So
don't get rash and attempt to jump on a boat. You'll see what it is
like soon enough. Besides the more training you get the better off
your men and you will be.
     Write and let me know what you are doing now, and just becaus e
you don't receive an answer, don't let it stop youfrom writing another
letter. I don't know when I will be able to mail another letter.
     I have'nt received any mail since I left, and if I keep moving
about I don't know when it will catch up with me. You might include
news of Flavell, Fischer, and some of the other fellows from home.
And say hello to them if you see any of them.


      ADDRESS AT TOP?                                 V-MAIL                       ADDRESS AT TOP?

July 21, 1944

[July 21, 1944, page 1]

                             July 21
Dear Folks,
     I am now somewhere
in California (thats all I can
say). The trip out here was
uneventful, execpt for the filthy
condition of the car. We came
out "Tourist" in an old pullman
car. They finally got the air
conditioning working the day before
we reached Calif., at least
we were cool crossing the desert
of Nevada.
     I have been into San
Francisco a couple of times,
its rather an expensive place
these days. The weather up
in this area has been rather

[page 2]
cool. However I like it here.
     I have been censoring mail
all morning, it gets quite boring
after a while, everybody says about
the same thing. There isn't much
that I can write about.
Except that I am fine and
everything is going well.
     You now send air mail
to me for 6¢. Please drop
me a line, I don't know
how long I'll be around this
area, I don't think it will long.
If I get any time off 3-4 days
I come home. However this
is very doubtful.
             Love to all

June 23, 1944

Note: VOCO means "Verbal Orders of Commanding Officer"

[June 23, 1944, page 1]

              UNITED STATES ARMY
              CAMP RITCHIE
                             23 June
Dear Arnold,
     I have just received a six
day leave. Eighteen hours after
finishing the course I was alerted.
I am due back the 29th. I
am trying to fly home, I have
a priority which will take me
through, however, it is raining
here and the weather has been
bad all week so I don't know
if I will be able to make it.
If not I'll come up to see you
sunday night. I don't know
how much time I'll have
when I get back from leave.
If I fly home, I'll try to
get a 24 hour VOCO sometime

[page 2]

soon after I return and go up and
see you some night. I'll say hello
to the folks love

June 20, 1943

[June 20, 1943, page 1]

(A A)
                             June 20, 1943
Dear Arnold
     So you're in the army now!
Well it isn't too bad, although
I think it will take you about
four to six weeks to get use to
it. I imagine you will get a deal
similar to the one the UCLA
ER.C. boys got, thirteen weeks of
basic training and then O.C.S.
     Army life isn't too bad,
fairly good food, clothes, nothing
to worry about, $48.40 a month for
spending money (they deduct $150 for
lanudry), a bunch of fellows to
horse around with, and the work
isn't too hard. You do have to get
use to somebody thinking for you
and telling you what to do all
the time, lack of women and
homey things, tough sgts who have
only a mouth and no brains, and

[page 2]
lack of contact with the outside
     Don't buck or try too hard, try
to do your bucking so that although
you don't work any longer or harsher
your stuff always looks just a
little bit better than average.
Watch yourself during obstacle
courses, calesthenics, and heavy
work that you don't injure or hurt
yourself, I've seen a lot of fellows
break an arm or leg or hurt themselves
lifting. The result is that you get
hospitalized and set back a couple
of months. However always do you
part and don't ask to be let out of
something or go on sick call unless
it is really necessary. If you are
asked to drill or take charge of
a group of men, do just that,
don't be superficious but do "sound
off" and don't let anybody get

[page 3]
away with anything.
     You'll meet all kinds of
fellows from the guy that can't
read or write and doesn't take a
bath but once a year to the
fellow that can speak several
languages and has only the best
tastes and manners, yet both
are just G. I., Joes. Well I've got
some personal stuff I have to
buck so I guess I'd better
close. The best advice I can think
of is what an old soldier gave to
me. "Keep your mouth shut and
you bowels open." and you'll do
                  Your brother

Monday, May 26, 2014

June 14, 1944

I don't know why there is a year's gap here and I suspect that some of the 1944 dates are wrong.


[June 14, 1944]

          CAMP RITCHIE
                             June 14, 1944
Dear Arnold,
     I am sorry I can't make
it this week end, I will still
be in this special class. I am
sorry I didn't write you yesterday
when I received you letter, but I
had a rough test this morning (3 hrs).
This is the toughest course I have ever or
ever want to take. We figured the other
that it is about equivalent to an 8 unit course
in three weeks (24 units at tech), the amount of
memory work is almost unbelievable. I finish
the 21st of May, six more days of this hell
in class and one day off to study. So
I hope we can get together soon after the
21st write and set the date.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 29, 1943

[May 29, 1943, page 1]

              UNITED STATES ARMY
              CAMP RITCHIE
                                          May 29 1943
Dear Arnold,
     I am sorry I was unable
to write you sooner about getting
together in New York, as my future (for a short period)
at that time was undecided. I have
been assigned to a new class that
will last three weeks. We started today
and will finish June 18 or 19th. The
first class (this is the second) graduated
only 50% of the original officers. It
is supposed to be the toughest course in
camp. However it is supposed to be a hot
deal and may have wonderful opportunities.
I am sorry I can't tell you much about it in
this letter, but it is very confidential.
We are not allowed to remove the text
from the classroom, and our notes must
be kept in locked footlockers.

[page 2]
     However, I think I will be around
at least a couple of weeks after I finish
(if I finish) and I hope we can get together
then. I will be glad to meet you in Stamford
or Greenwich, just say the word.
     Last weekend May 20-21 I met Flavell in New
York, and we had a swell visit together.
He has a nice set up at harvard, and
with quarters and subsistence allowances
plsu $5 per diem, he is making over $360 per
month. Some guys are just lucky, although
he did work hard for it. Why don't you
see if you can get on the same set-up.
Well keep you chin up and keep on
the ball. Write soon