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Monday, June 9, 2014

December 21, 1944

This letter is a retelling of the previous letter but with the details of the Japanese counteroffensive. S-2 refers to military intelligence, as in collecting data on enemy movement and battlefield deployments. Knee mortar is likely a 30 ounce grenade launched from a grenade launcher called a leg mortar. G-2 refers to Army intelligence but it is unclear what a ghoal is. The Lodger is a 1944 horror movie, based on Jack the Ripper and starring Merle Oberon, George Sanders and Laird Cregar. 
                                                                       21st Dec

Dear Arnold,

     I just received your letter of 30 Nov today.  I have
received others since, and I don't know what the mix up
was.  Incidentally your letter and some clippings sent to
the 37th Div on the election, is the first mail I have receiv-
ed in over two weeks.  I hope I get some later mail before

     You mention the snow and the white barreness.  It is
beautiful in a bleak, cold white way, it will give you a
real White Christmas.  I'll never forget one day at Ritchie
when we had to go out on a map problem.  There was about
eight inches of snow on the ground, a sharp bitter wind was
blowing, bringing the temperature down below zero.  I would
take off a glove write a few figures or a few lines of a
sketch and then put it on before my hand froze.  We had on
hoods and masks with only our noses and eyes sticking out,
I thought my nose would freeze and fall outff.  It is hard
to imagine when spring comes that something so beautiful
and green could be so bleak and cold.

     Now it can be told!  At 1838 on the evening of the
6th of Dec, during a customary air raid, about twenty one
or more planes suddenly came roaring over at about 800 ft.
The strange thing was that they were Jap transports.  They
held their formation beautifully, and flew on without a break
or falter through a sky filled with flak.  Then to our rear
and right flank paratroopers came pouring out the doors.  In
less than thirty seconds they were on the ground and the
planes had disappeared in the distance.  Imagine the excite-
ment and confusion.  I will never forget that night.  Only a
few of themen had bothered to dig foxholes, but you should
have seen the scramble for shovels.  We dug them around and
in our G-2 tent.  Three of us were working together on one,
and it is quite an experience to dig one in pitch darkness.
Before we could finish the fireworks started.  Bullets were
wanging around everywhere, mostly our own.  Two men were shot
ten feet from me in the tent by our own fire.  This firing
kept up all night, and it rough spending the night in a
little foxhole with two other men.  There were no Japs
shot right in our immediate area, however the trigger happy
bastards were able to get some of our men, and would quite
a few more.  The next day or I should say that morning I
was assigned as acting S-2 or a mixed regiment formed to
protect a nearby airstrip.

     Once again history repeated itself, but this time there
were actually some Japs around.  The Japs threw over a few

[page 2]
mortar shells not far where I was holed up in a fortress of
stacked steel airstrip matting.  They were not knee mortar
shells, but 60mms, and Bub it is an unpleasant feeling to
hear them exploding around you.  For the few they/shot over
we dumped back a hundred fold so they finally decided it did'nt
pay and quit.  The main shooting was across the strip from
where I was situated, but the men around us did'nt let that
phase them.  I guess they thought it was the fourth of July
or something.  Every time out own troops would have somthing
to shoot at across the strip, the boys on my side would hear
the firing and would open up in any direction just for the
hell of it.  They shot one of their own men about fifty feet
from where I was.  These GIs are good shots and consequently
they usually kill what they hit.  About 0130 the Colonel sent
me out to find out why they were throwing grenades, and I'll
be damned if they did'nt almost get me.  About every ten or
fifteen minutes they would decide they needed some extra pro-
tection so some joker would toss a hand frenade out in front of
his hole.  The next morning they knocked off some snipers
nearby, but at that time I only had a .45 and they were out
of my range.  Shortly afterwards I drew a carbine.

     I have been out on four special patrols now, but I have'nt
gotten any more Japs since the first one - patrol.  In fact I
just came in from one tonight.  We went up to where one of
the transports crashed, to get some equipment.  The plane was
up on a cliff and the bodies were two undred feet below
in and on the banks of a river.  While we were up on the
cliff some of the men below got two Japs, but all I could
do was listen to the firing, I could'nt even see what was
happening.  I don't mind so much searching freshly killed
Japs, but when they get a week or two old, the odor gets
pretty bad.  I am fast becoming the official G-2 Ghoal.
I thought I was getting hardened until I heard about some
of the GIs digging the gold fillings out of the teeth of
rotting Japs.

     Well tonight we had a show, the first one I've seen for
a long time.  It was THE LODGER, fair for out here.  The sun
has come out a little in the last few days, I ate down at
another ourfit tonight and walked away with the wrinkles (not many now)
taken out of my stomach for a change, the action is going
along swell here, in fact things are almost looking up a
little.  Inclosed you will find a Jap major's insignia taken
off one of the deceased at the plane.  Write soon.

                                        [signed] Leonard

P.S. Thanks for the wings, but I have'nt received them yet.

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