Army of Occupation WWII Letter Lt. Nov, 1945

This letter was written by a Lieutenant who was in the 8th Army, as part of the Occupation of Japan, WWII, November 7, 1945. From the letter…..

Dear Mother and Daddy,

   We didn’t make Tokyo today because our transportation fell through, but we will probably leave tomorrow.
   I spent most of yesterday afternoon and today just wandering around looking. As you can guess, I’m all eyes and ears, with my head rotating around and around on my shoulders, getting a big kick out of everything. I went down into what used to be the business and shopping district. It is really a mess, as is the rest of the town, except for the area in which we live. I probably gave you the wrong impression the other day when I said the dock area wasn’t very heavily damaged and it isn’t , but brother that is the only place. You can’t appreciate or realize the consequences of such utter destruction until you actually see it, at least I couldn’t. In the whole downtown area there is only about one building left just a shell. Everything is at a stand still as far as business goes. There is nothing to sell, and if there was, there is no place to sell it. About all the people do is wander around. The army is fixing up the sewage system and wire system, also clearing up some of the debris here and there. The Japs do all the common labor, while the Americans supervise. After living through such bombing, I don’t see how the Japanese people can believe anything other than the fact that they were defeated. Like I said yesterday, Yokohama was a very modern city as far as it’s buildings go. They were all new, and modernistic in design. There were no sky scrappers, with most of the buildings being only 3 stories high. Like everything else in Japan, including the people, Yokohama was an earnest, but a cheap and poor attempt of copying our architecture. The buildings, which are left, and the parts of those damages, but still standing, are nice looking, but are an engineering sham. They are made of concrete reinforced with a wire nit a little thicker than fencing wire. The concrete walls vary from ¾ to 1 ½ inches thick, and that is all there is. I can’t imagine how the things stood up even in peacetime. No wonder there were no skyscraper, the little rats couldn’t afford it. The concrete walls are finished on the outside with a coat of stucco ingeniously put on so it looks like granite building stones, etc. that is absolutely how the place is made, because I measured the walls myself. That isn’t for just one building, but for all. You can appreciate what that type of structure meant when you figure that we didn’t drop any block busters on the cities, yet they are flat. All of the bombs were very light compared to the 12 and 16 ton ones that were dropped on Germany. The foreign countries and corporation buildings are different, and are very nice.
   The British consulate is about the most elaborate. We have the next best, which is a little larger than the British. Ours is a pure white stucco colonial building, built in 1931 which looks very neat and trim compared to the surrounding ones. The Mil. Gov’t office is in the German consulate, which, compared to the British and ours, isn’t so hot. The 8th Army Hq. is in the customs Bldg. which is very large, and one of the nicer Jap buildings.
   There is absolutely no private transportation. There are a few street cars, and the sorry trains. The people walk or ride bicycles. Each carries a little bundle in which he carries his dinner, for there is no place to eat and he can’t walk all the way to his home. Oh yes, they eat rice, and use chop sticks. There were some eating in the park this morning. They don’t use the sticks as deftly as point would have you believe, and it seems to be more of a process of holding the plate to the mouth and raking the food in. They are all very dirty and unkempt. They seem to be very smart, and I must admit, understand and speak English much better than I could ever hope to speak Japanese. Pretty nearly all of them from the knee high kids on up can say hello, good morning, goodbye, thank you, OK, etc., using them properly.
   Well, enough of that for today. I hope you all are interested in all the muddle of stuff I write, for as you can tell, it is all very interesting to me, and I wouldn’t have missed this trip for the world.
   This army has really gotten set up fast. I sure wish I had known the conditions here and that I was coming here, for I could have saved bringing a lot of things. For instance, I brought enough soap, shaving cream, tooth paste, razor blades, etc. to last me for a year. Besides that I brought a lot of extra clothes, etc. that I didn’t intend to use anytime soon. Over here the army has good Pxs and clothing stores where you can get anything you want. Besides that they give all officers one wool uniform, field jacket, gloves, sweater, and short jacket which most officers wear in place of the blouse. Boy I really look sharp in it, just like the head waiter.
   I brought some stamps in the Jap post office today. I walked in and motioned to the clerk that I wanted 4 of everything he had. I got them too, a whole hand full for only 2/3 of a dollar. I thought someday I or somebody else might like them for a collection.
   Don’t be surprised someday if you get a cablegram. The Japs will send them for you for 2/3 of a dollar. Of course they are code type, and will probably be all backwards and mixed up when you get it.
   I am enclosing 1 yen I thought you might like to have. It is equal to 1/15 of a dollar, or 6.666 cents. It isn’t army made, but the real thing. Got it in change at the Yokohama post office, real Jap stuff. Oh yes, as the denomination goes up, so the size increases,  a 200 yen note is about half the size of this sheet of paper, much larger than our paper currency. 200 yen really isn’t much, only $13.33, so you can imagine the wad of paper you have to carry. There are no metal coins to speak of, and everything below a yen is still paper.
   I hope you all are fine. I am doing fine, the food is good, and I generally manage to look out for myself. Tell Pal there are very few dogs, but those that are still left, look like the universal variety of dog, and don’t bark in Japanese.   
This is the Yen Note mentioned in this letter.

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