Wednesday, October 1, 2014

12. 'Everyone over here is talking about that new high explosive bomb we are using on Japan'

Luzon in the Philippines. The national capital, Manila, is the harbor in the southwest. Baguio,
the summer capital to which my father once drove, is about halfway up the island on the west side.
In Manila in June 1945, Lt. Charles M. Pride was assigned as motor pool officer for Allied Forces Pacific, the army headed by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Before the war, among other jobs, he had been a car salesman at a Connecticut Ford-Mercury dealership called Automotive Twins. The army had trained him in tank maintenance. The motor pool job was another stop in his lifelong love affair with cars. He had charge of 300 sedans and trucks used by MacArthur and his staff.

Mushroom clouds over Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki.
Dad wrote the four letters transcribed below to his wife and daughter. They reveal a good deal about him and his experience. He was proud of his work even as frequent thefts and accidents depleted his vehicle fleet. He loved his shiny jeep. Antimalarial drugs turned his skin yellow. (In the end they did not protect him from malaria.) The heat and humidity made him sweat profusely.He was lonely and wanted to come home. And he could see the end of the war in the Pacific approaching.

On the last point, these letters show Dad’s unalloyed joy over the development and use of the atomic bomb. The first was dropped over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. A second, larger bomb destroyed most of Nagasaki three days later.


                                                                                   July 16, 1945
Darling Bern & Bonnie,

Well honey I missed a couple of days. A general had to go to Baguio (summer capital of the Philippines) so I drove him in a staff car. I wanted to get away for awhile. I also wanted to see Baguio. It was really shot up. The weather was cooler and more pleasant. I enjoyed seeing the different kinds of villages. The general was a pretty good Joe. We got along o.k. We drank a case of beer on the trip and also had some good chow, as you can imagine, along the way. I sure do love you.

I am happy. My mail finally caught up with me here. The first letter was from the 6th. Not too bad. So you think I hurt my chances of going home. Don’t worry, I investigated everything before I moved and it’s the same chance here exactly. The only thing is that it will be a few months before they get the ball really rolling. Besides that, Col. Solomon has already gone home on points, so there. You’re crazy for ever thinking I want to stay here even for a moment. I want my mommy and how!!

Gen. MacArthur (right foreground) on his way to the Philippines in October
 1944 To MacArthur's right  is Sergio Osmeña, president of the Philippines. 
Bonnie sure sounds cute. She looks awful cute in that little pinafore. She’s about the cutest little gal in the whole world. I hope and pray it wont be too much longer before I get to see my little girl. I hope she likes me like I’m going to love her. I’ll never be able to leave her alone. (You too – and how!)

Things were in an uproar when I came back. They just can’t get along without me (ahem) – no fooling, though when I’m away the brass really try to pull their rank. I put them in their place when I’m here. They like it too. They have to – I love you darling.

Also got 2 letters from your mom & Pop. I’ll bet they’ll really miss Bonnie when I get back. She is all they talk about and I don’t blame them. She really is something to talk about – Hope you weren’t worried about me missing those few days. I’m sorry mommy.

That’s all!
                                                        I love you and miss you
                                                       With all my heart
                                                       Bonnie too


                                                                            July 24, 1945
Darling Bern & Bonnie,

Here’s your Pappy again, all alone and lonely and very much in love with you. Got a nice letter today from my very best gal postmarked the 14th. That’s not bad service I’ll state. Sorry to hear the mailman’s been crossing you up. I’m doing pretty good –

Guess I will send my mother $50.00 tomorrow for the convention. Hope she takes it and enjoys herself. Hope Marcelle didn’t have too much trouble taking care of Bonnie while you went to the wedding. I’d like to take care of Bonnie, but most of all I want to take care of you, and how!!
If you ever hear of anyone being here in Manila that we know let me know and I’ll look em up. I hope Henry Mayer makes it over here. He was always decent to me. I love you.

I’d like to get to see Dodie [Mom’s brother Joe, a naval officer who oversaw repair of damaged ships during the war]. Send me his complete address and his whereabouts. Maybe he can get to see me. I am very easy to find. Just ask for the AFPAC [Allied Forces, Pacific] motor officer, and there I am. I know I’d sure like to see him.

It’s been a very hot scorcher. I suppose you’re feeling the heat there about now. I feel sorry for our poor little darling. If she sweats like her poppy, it’s no fun. I guess all of hr bad faults come from her daddy, right???

That’s almost it for tonite –
I love you and miss you.
Kisses – Bonnie too
                                                                                      Your own


                                                                                       August 7, 1945

Darling Bern & Bonnie,

Hello again darling. I’m still “a little on the lonely side.” How about you darling? I’m still tired too. These damned accidents and stolen vehicles get me down, and there sure are plenty of both.

A man surveys A-bomb damage at Hiroshima. (AP)
Everyone over here is talking about that new high explosive bomb we are using on Japan. I am glad we discovered it first. It must cause horrible devastation. I guess this war really is on its last leg. I sure hope so and I know you do too. All we want is each other right darling? And how –

I guess I’ll try to get a little sun. I am really bleaching out to a nice bright yellow. I look like a Jap I guess. I’ve been putting off getting a haircut for awhile. Guess I’d better get it today, or a violin. I don’t know why I am so lazy, do you?

It’s another scorcher today. It sure does get hot and poppy sure does feel it. I should get thin sweating the way I do but I still weigh 175 which isn’t too bad.

Hope I get some mail again today. It sure chases my loneliness away at least for awhile – nothing new – except my love for you that goes on and on and on.

Goodnight darling – I love you
Bonnie too


                                                                                           August 8, 1945

Darling Bern & Bonnie,

Boo hoo, no mail again. It really comes in spurts. No, I never got that last bottle. It wasn’t with the gun. Maybe it’ll come soon. I don’t care too much. I do like to treat my friends (?) to a good drink now and then. You’re the only real friend I can count on and I love you very dearly.

It’s been raining like mad again tonight but after a last furious downpour it has stopped. It didn’t cool things off much either. It’s hotter than hell again. I sure will enjoy a real winter in Conn. I’ll probably have to stay in bed to keep warm.

The news is really wonderful. I guess the Japs will either have to give up or be blown off the face of the earth. Optimism is really riding high here. Everyone is looking for the war to be over very shortly, which would be perfectly OK with me. How about you? Gee I love you.

You ought to see the jeep I drive. The chinks wax it every day. It is a beaut. It has G.N.2. Motor Officer across the front, claxon air horns, a real windshield wiper and various other improvements. I’d sure like to take it home. Maybe I will, and it won’t be long now, I know it –

Gee darling what a day that will be. I’ll never never let you go. Bonnie either. I love you both with all my heart and soul. Bonnie too. Kisses from your very own


Next: A ticket home.

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