WWII Letters from the Men & Women In Service


Parsons, Cpl. John W., letters dated July 25 & July 26, 1943

Cpl. J. Parsons Writes From New Guinea

Cpl. John W. Parsons, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Parsons, who has written many interesting letters from Australia that have reached many readers through the Beacon’s news pages, has now arrived in New Guinea and he continues to write home many of the interesting things about the new country he is now stationed in.

John has acquired a dog while in Australia and the dog went along to New Guinea with him. Beacon readers hope that the new dog “Peanuts” will in part fill the role that his dog, “Oy” filled while he was in civilian life. “Oy” went to the “happy hunting grounds” while John was in Australia.

The following letters will give a picture of the territory that several local men, including Kenneth Daniels and Wayne Frank, are seeing. Kenneth and Wayne have been in the thick of it at New Guinea for many months.


July 25th.
Dear Folks:

Things are moving a little faster now and although I may not write to you very often I should have plenty to say. Believe it or now, I still have the pup “Peanuts” due to a barracks bag I put him in.

You should see the place we are now located in. There are more cocoanut trees here than oaks back in Iowa. There are also many ferns, banana trees and poinsettas (sic). We eat a lot of cocoanuts but will probably tire of them before long. So far the bananas are a little too green to eat.

There are some Fuzzy Wuzzies here that work around and they are quite the characters. They have good teeth, but they are as black as their faces. They seem to be spoiled and want tokens of appreciation for everything they do.

Every time the slightest cloud comes over it rains and the mud is plenty deep wherever you go. I wear the same clothes when outside for they are always wet and dirty, and keep the dry ones for night while in the tent. I went swimming in the ocean tonite and it really felt good. Then I washed up in a river nearby and am ready to enjoy the evening.

The pup went swimming with me and takes to water like a duck. He doesn’t know what I think of it all, but acts plenty excited although I don’t imagine he enjoys the mud.

I heard from Jack Salyards a while back, he now has his wings. I have already lost the address in the present shuffle. I didn’t get to see Harper Seemann although I was only a few hundred yards from him at one time. You can probably see where I had no control in being able to go see him. At the same time he didn’t know I was around so couldn’t try to see me. I still may make it some day though.

I had some experiences with some Mohammednns (sic) from India. Their habits were entirely disgusting and their country is on my no list. Five or six of them would eat out of one bowl and would paw over the food with their hands like a bunch of monkeys. At the same time right beside them would be butchering a smelly goat and another one would be taking a bath. Incidentally they bathe with their clothes on by lifting up their robes and washing under them. They weren’t bashful about praying and would carry around a mat, kneeling on it at any convenient place. Then a ceremony of motions and mumbling would take place for about five minuets. Sometimes they would stand up, straighten their robes, take a deep breath and go to it again.

Our present entertainment is a graphaphone we’ve been hanging on to. Our main worry is the lack of needles but if we can find a file may be able to sharpen them up.

I dreamed last night I went to a basketball game and Carlyle was playing. He was really throwing in the baskets. Come to think of it I wouldn’t mind hearing from him just once. My latest mail is dated the 17th of June.

I’m still in the same section I have always been in and wouldn’t trade it for any other. Don’t start getting ideas in your head for I’m really quite safe and well. I’d like to hear from all the home folks, but can’t guarantee I’ll be able to write them.

I’ve still two years to go, so in the meantime.

All my love,


July 26th.
Dear Folks:

I received a letter from Mom dated the 24th of June so thought I should drop you a note.

I’ve a picture of Peanuts and so I thought I’d sent it along even though it looks so darned funny. Peanuts was just a month old then, but is now about five months old. Take notice of that lovely hair. It is now completely short again and plan on keeping it that way.

About these Fuzzy Wuzzies which we laugh at so often. I saw one today trodding along in the mud with one bare foot and a big G. I. shoe on the other. He was really proud of that “one.”

We had quite an experience the other night. At night the jungles are very eerie and ones imagination often runs amuk (sic). Anyway one of the fellows in my tent awoke two of us about three o’clock in the morning and there was a Fuzzy stealing some stuff out of our barracks bags in the tent. We got up but nothing was around so we went back to bed. About ten minutes later we were awakened again and this fellow said there were two Fuzzies in the tent again in the barracks bags. By that time I knew it couldn’t be so for they would leave when we started talking, but he insisted they were still there. Two of the boys picked up knives and started looking for the vandals while slopping in the mud. I was a little scared at first but that soon changed. To settle the situation they found it was Peanuts climbing on the bags looking for a place to sleep. The imaginator is certainly taking a razing now.

Last night a cocoanut fell out of a tree and lit on our tent. It made me jump about six feet out of my bed. Some of those trees get a hundred feet high – a long fall.

That deal about you going out to Gilbert’s Park for supper sounds great to me. It sounds so quiet and peaceful and that potato salad would go over great.

We have been working every day like bees, we get half day off each week. I think – we haven’t had one yet. Between cocoanuts and mud there is no end of them.

I’ve got to stop. The owner of the pencil wasn’t tow rite a letter and it’s ten o’clock. So, All my love,

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, August 19, 1943, Page 8 [Dickinson County]


Pehler, Max F., letter dated March 1, 1943

Max Pehler Using Part of Wrecked German Plane In Home Made African Studio
He Finished His Own Pictures and Stuffs Self With Oranges

Max Pehler, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Pehler of this city, writes the following interesting letter to The Globe-Post for publication:

March 1, 1943
Somewhere in North Africa
Dear Friends,
Your letter postmarked Jan. 26, received and very much appreciated. I’m certainly glad to hear that all of you are well and happy so keep up the good spirits until we can all get together and have some of the good times that we used to have.

News hasn’t changed much here, although I can mention that we are having wonderful weather although we did have a great deal of rain. In regard to the letter for The Globe-Post, well, I will try and give you some of the dope.

In the first place I believe that people have the wrong impression of North Africa. I found it to be quite a modern country with cities that equal some of our American cities. Don’t get me wrong when I say that they equal American cities—by this I mean the structure and beauty. I’ll take the States any day in preference. One thing that I have found here and that is the people (French) are very friendly and cordial to the dog-faces. I have made the acquaintance of a French family and it seems that they go out of their way to accommodate the American soldier.

One thing that I find quite amusing and that is the native (Arab) who certainly profited by the American arrival. It isn’t anything to see an Arab dressed in some sort of G. I. costume. Next we come to shoe-shine boys—they really take the cake. For instance: This is their sales talk when they approach an American. “Hello, Johnny! Shoe shine, comrade! Very good, comrade! Very good shoe shine, Johnny!” and so on.

One thing that I have really gotten a lot of and that is the oranges which they grow over here. It’s a very beautiful sight to see the large orange groves. There are other things that I would like to talk about but they are out as the censorship rules are very strict but after all it’s OK as letters could be of assistance to the enemy.

One thing I do miss over here and that is the good old Globe-Post. I do receive a few copies every now and then from the folks but it isn’t like getting it fresh from the press. Right & Early—that’s a darn good expression and it really lives up to the word.

News seems to be given out so will sign off for this trip but will be expecting a letter from you in the near future. By the way there is one thing that I wanted to tell you, and that is the darkroom which a buddy of mine and myself have built. It’s very original but does the trick. For our safe-light we used a landing light of a certain foreign plane. I think you know the one I mean. The printer being constructed of a metal coffee container (of course we boxed it in.) The glass on the top of the box is a window pane which we polished down with rubbing compound. To top it off when it came time to cut glass we didn’t have a cutter to do it with so I thought of my good old days in the Poeckes Paint Co. and remembered that a diamond would do the trick. We really have a nice place set up and feel very proud of it.

It’s getting about bed-time so will cut this one short but hope you will write soon. Please send me those pictures which I asked about in my previous letter and any other ones which might be of interest. Best of luck to all of you.
Your friend, Maxie

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, LeMars, Iowa, March 15, 1943 [Plymouth County]


Petrow, Pvt. John "Jack" Plink (Link to letters written home to The Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Hamilton County--published in a series starting in March 1941)



Potts, Pvt. Ray R., letter dated August 11, 1944

Writing from New Guinea under date of Aug. 11, Pvt. Ray R. Potts tells how much they appreciated the Jack Benny show there. His letter follows:

Dear George: It is time for my boring reports from New Guinea once more. They would be much more interesting if I could only tell more about the increased activity in this area. This island war, as you well know, is one of supply as we are in an excellent position to observe the different movements. We expect a good deal from the airborne troops in the future.

Applications have arrived so now can apply for ballots. There is a lively interest in the election, naturally, and most of the fellows seem to favor Roosevelt. At least I am enjoying some good arguments.

The Jack Benny show, including Carole Landis, Martha Tilton, Sonny Adler and June Brummer, played here two weeks ago. Over 20,000 men attended and some of them waited at the Bowl for at least 10 hours to be certain of close seats. It supplied us all with a glimpse of the outside world once more and how we appreciate it!

Our mail service has improved somewhat and one of my tent mates received a letter from the States in 7 days. That record should stand a long time over here.—As ever, Ray.

Source: Rock Valley Bee, August 25, 1944 [Sioux County]


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