I should have much to write about this time for the censorship regulations have [been] cut down and now I can tell you some of the many things I have wanted to. As you guessed I am in Saipan on the Mariane Islands, about 3200 miles from Hawaii and I don’t know how far from the house. [illegible] which is the capitol and most heavily populated of the Mariane group. Looks much like the islands of the Hawaiian group. The island is about fifteen miles long with a mountain of 1500 feet in the center, and which was the most fought for point in the battle. Three miles to the south is Tinian which is still swarming with Japs [the rest of this sentence was blacked out by the censor]. The boat ride from Oahu was a long one and a hot one. Each day as we progressed nearer the objective the Chaplain gave a short talk about the islands, the makeup of the naval forces, the enemy strength, the battle plan and so forth. We didn’t know where we were going on leaving Oahu and when we were told it was Saipan I think we were all pretty surprised. I was myself for I thought we wouldn’t take such a big hop quite yet. On our boat were mostly Marines [the rest of this sentence was blacked out by the censor]. Aside from a few submarine alerts and unidentified aircraft warnings the voyage was quite routine. I remember the night before D-Day when we first caught a look at the island. It was about three o’clock in the morning and we could stand on deck and see the battleships, cruisers and destroyers bombarding the island with their big shells. About a half hour later we had breakfast and it was a big one. Ration and a half for each man including steak, potatoes and the rest of it—more like a Sunday dinner. About this time H Hour was coming around and although the artillery doesn’t go in as assault troops, I really said a prayer for the Marines who hit the beach first. The Chaplain also had the boat quiet for a minute and said a few words. From our position on the boat we could watch the battle although we were quite a ways out and could only guess as to how we were making out. A few hours later rumors began to fly—we were going right along, then we were taking a beating and all versions were having their round. Almost every evening on the boat the Japs would send over a few planes and that began my first war experience I guess you’d call it. On the boat you go below and sit in the hot holds listening to the announcer give the location and speed of the enemy planes over the loud speaker and hope to hell they will miss you. One night I remember I was sweating more than usual, our own pom-poms and anti-aircraft started a barrage and I thought if they ever hit us we would go straight to the bottom. The first day after D-Day some of troops were ashore. I wasn’t among them and secretly I wasn’t disappointed. The scenes of battle were everywhere, the effect of the naval shells, the Japs own mortar fire on our troops and many bodies lying around, in all positions and all stages of decomposition. Sights that you hope you will never see again. Along the beach, in and out of the water, were wrecked tanks, alligator debris and a thousand things necessary to the campaign. The smell was terrible and the dust from tanks and vehicles was so thick you could hardly breathe. Well the first thing for the night was dig a foxhole and that first one I built was a stinker. I thought it was all right but when our artillery began to fire the thing almost caved in and the sand was all over me. I couldn’t hardly get out of the thing for fear of being shot and I wasn’t feeling too brave anyway. About the second day after I landed Dick came into camp looking dirty and disheveled. I knew he must be having it pretty tough in his outfit and I was pretty worried, but he had a big grin and I felt better. He had a lot to tell me, he gets up close to them and sees the Japs firsthand. He said he killed two Japs the day before and he had a nice flag taken from one of them. Well a little after dinner he had to leave, and that was about ten days before the battle was over and I felt anxious again, and kept hoping the thing would be over in a few days. Can you imagine Dick doing what he is doing? Every evening without fail the Japs would send over a plane to drop flares and keep a line on the situation, and who came to be known as “Bedcheck Charlie”. Later two began to appear and he was called “Bedpan Charlie”. One night they were circling over and dropped a few bombs, and I was laying in the foxhole hoping he wouldn’t get any closer when we opened up with our anti-aircraft and in a few minutes he was hit squarely and caught fire immediately. He dove to the ground and set off a mighty explosion. When he was hit you could hear the dogfaces for a mile or two around. All gave a big cheer. The guys that knocked him down were big favorites after that. About an hour later they bagged another Jap plane and he made a big flame too. Our jeeps have a radio that can get Frisco and at six o’clock we would listen to the news especially anxious to hear what they had to say about Saipan and hoping you were listening too. But when it came time for the GI programs, an air raid would sound and we would hit for the foxhole. Radio Tokyo is easy to get also and of course we always heard their version too. The reports would be exactly opposite and their reports of casualties about four times what we thought they should be. Tokyo also has a night program called the Zero Hour and dedicated to the American soldiers in the south Pacific. The nerve of the guys. Tokyo Rose speaks perfect English and tries your patience by recalling for you how nice it would be to be home and that sort of stuff. But the music is pretty fair and we don’t mind listening. Well the battle went on and I hadn’t seen Dick for about eight or nine days and I was hoping he would show up. He was in the front lines about five or six miles from our positions and it wasn’t too easy for us to get together, but he showed up with a lot of souvenirs and more dope. Said he killed two more one of them a Jap officer, and from him he got his bayonet, a pretty good one. About this time we were pushing the Japs back over the mountain and getting them cornered in the northern point, and Dick thought it would be over in a day or two so I thought easier about him. In our battery we have a shower and that felt damn good to Dick who hadn’t cleaned up for sometime. Our rations were mostly K-rations, single boxes one for each meal and pretty good. We had plenty of them and nobody lacked enough to eat. Cigarettes and toilet supplies are also issued gratis. On the fourth we celebrated by eating a first meal from the kitchen. By this time Aslito airfield was well in our hands and many of our Thunderbolts were already based there, and they looked mighty good. During the night the Japs from Tinian would send over a little artillery fire but it did not damage [anything] and I believe we knocked them out in short order. The report of the Jap navy being around didn’t make me feel better although I was sure we could stop them. Jap opposition from the boats in the sea was practically nothing as far as Saipan itself is concerned. The Jap soldiers were interned in stockades or wire enclosed areas and separated. I wanted to see them so one day we took a walk down and had a look. There are about forty thousand civilians on the island I believe and there were plenty of them crowded in the wire. The women had nothing on above the waist and they had no modesty at all. They were dirty, thin, bewildered and there was more small children than I ever saw. The Koreans were separated from the Japs. Later we saw the two Jap prisoner soldiers. I get a hell of a hatred when I see them, and I wish they were all dead. About 85 percent of the population is Jap with the balance, Koreans and Chimorros, who are a half Filipino and [half] Spanish. Later things began to quiet down and the battle was coming to an end. At this time the Japs got saked up and made their last ditch stand and were successful for a while. Dick was in on that and told me that he was caught on the beach by the Japs and had to be taken off on an alligator. He has had some close shaves and told me of times he thought sure they would get him, but he just laughs about it. He killed a Jap officer with a grenade and then shot the hell out of him to be sure. He looks very good, and now that the campaign is over we’ll have it easy at least for a little while. He was down yesterday and the day before and it’s mighty swell to have him around.
Well the campaign for Saipan is over and now the island is humming with repair work and defensive installations, but each night we can see flares on the mountain where the Marines are rounding up small pockets of snipers or civilians. Many Jap trucks have been put to use and one of them is a water wagon and that has helped to hold the dust down. One Jap truck was caught in our area, a repair truck and pretty well equipped. Some of the dark boys fixed it up and used the motor for a pump. The Japs had plenty of bikes and you can see them everywhere, many wrecked ones but many in use. Most of the civilian cars are Fords and in Headquarters the boys got a 1940 model in good shape. They have it running in good order now.
It looks like the Japs kept the other nationalities in pretty much servitude from the stories they tell and the looks of their homes. All of the houses I have seen are grass and tree limbs but everyone has a reinforced concrete cellar and stocked with Jap array supplies. In Charan Kanoa the buildings are thick concrete. Apparently the Japs were making every house a strong point.
Well the biggest part is over now, and twice in the last week have seen a movie—old ones but they looked good. And we even have a little time for a bridge game. Doesn’t seem to add up does it? We are pretty close to the Jap homeland and are set for big things now—from now on it will be the clue chips.
I have written quite a bit (probably the censor is using every profane word in his vocabulary on me) but I know you will be interested and perhaps there are many other things you wonder about. Dick and I are fine and not the least bit worried. The main topic is when will we get home. The rumor is that President Roosevelt made a statement that a surprise was in store for the Saipan soldiers. Have you heard it?
The mail has been coming in good but we haven’t received any papers or packages since leaving Oahu but I can understand that. I am anxious to take those dozen back Free Presses and get together with Dick about that. I think I had best stop now—this has been quite a job.