46: Victors, Drunk On Their Spoils.

Rest Camp in the Pacific
February 27, 1944

Dear girls,

Just a short one before it gets dark again. And this will have to go slow freight, as the regimental post office is sold out of Air Mail stamps–20,000 of them, and all the ones of other denominations. The boys are really pouring out the letters to home–which is great–I approve of all the family affection involved, except that it keeps me from writing my family. I have to censor the damn things. It’s an hour or two out of each day, and we don’t have much spare time before dark. As soon as twilight falls, though, the movies go on–they are incredibly old and bad, but no matter–there are women in them. Reminds me of Tris’s war diary–every other entry ended with “went to the movy [sic] with Phil.” And the most popular daytime entry was “climbed the chateau hill with Phil, talked, and ate chocolate.” Well, we don’t climb anything higher than our sacks to do it–but we do a lot of talking, and consume chocolate by the carton.

Wednesday

We had our first liberty yesterday. It wasn’t very long–7 in the morning to 10 at night, but it certainly felt good to get away from the routine–even if only for a little time. We went to the biggest town here, which can at least boast of two small but clean hotels.[1] Four of us took a room, for the sole purpose of taking our first hot shower since we left the States–and it was worth every penny of it. We found a wonderful little drinking spot–summery tables around an open sunny patio–warm, dripping with tropical flowers. If only there’d been some pretty native girls there to further brighten the scene. But as usual, we arrived here after other service outfits, and now when the Marines start for town, the local fathers lock up their daughters and drive their female goats up into the hills.

Bought some presents for you, but we can’t send anything out of here yet. Especially these presents.

I wish I could describe this place to you–there is a lot to tell–the scenery here is fabulous–breathtaking in its beauty–strange and exotic plants and people, but perhaps the censorship regulations may be relaxed soon.

Of course we drank like fish in the few drinking hours that we had, and as a result I don’t feel exactly in top form today. We went roller-skating, and I performed much more brilliantly than I ever did sober. It wasn’t our first beer binge since leaving the States, though–the day that we secured the island, some of the boys in the platoon located Jap beer and sake. I only had comparatively little, but I was terribly tired, had only had a half a canteen of water and one “D” ration chocolate bar in 36 hours, and soon was very quickly and quietly looped. Helped clean up the last few snipers with a bun on–a funny story for the grandchildren, and historically quite correct–the victors drunk on their spoils, and pillaging if there had been anything left to pillage. Except that I didn’t feel like any part of the grand stream of history, at any time. My feelings were all intensely personal, as I remember.

Life here is not bad at all–they call it a rest camp, and strangely enough they almost mean it. We didn’t do anything the first week except get squared away, and now we have a light training schedule–with the emphasis on athletics and recreation. Our tents are pretty comfortably set up, and our Officer’s Wine Mess just went into operation. We have a good bit of time to ourselves, to write or read or walk around the place. Or to censor mail, dammit. The climate is very comfortable, except for a lot of rain, but we’re almost at the end of the season, they say.

Mother, I should have thought of this sooner, but would you save the various clippings and notices on the action? I’d like to see them some day. And thanks a million for the picture of Nan, Gretch. More pictures, of yourselves, anything. The ones I have are so well thumbed you can hardly see them.

Love,
Phil

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FOOTNOTES:
[1] Either the port town of Kahului, or nearby Haiku.

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