Edward J. Thomas - World War II

Sat. Jan 1 Detroit is leading the nation in war production for 1943. 14 Billion dollars of war contracts were awarded, which was about 10 percent of the funds allotted for the war. Over 600,000 people are working in factories in the Detroit area that are producing
war products.

Dear Mom & Harry,               Aleutians              Sunday, Jan. 2, 1944 

I’m lying on my upstairs bunk, writing and listening to the radio with the wind howling in the ventilator above me like wolves in a girl’s shower room. It is Sunday evening, the second day of 1944.
Tomorrow is my day off, so I’ll finish this letter then.The radio play on now, I believe “The Lux Hour”. It’s hard to tell because advertising part of it is not broadcasted. The name of the play is “Heaven Can Wait”. If you have heard it let me know so I know how long it takes to have programs rebroadcast here.

Just a few minutes ago, I finished reading a Sunday Detroit News, dated Oct. 31. I still have a bundle of about 15 papers I haven’t read. That’s why I just want the Sunday paper.


My first Christmas away from home is history. Outside the gifts everyone sent, the best one received was two off-days in succession, with Christmas and Sunday. It’s the longest vacation since landing on this island. Here’s what I did.

            In Eddie’s words

“The morning of the day before Christmas seemed to be the beginning of Christmas for me. I was, of course, working then in the office, but there was a radio there and I heard President Roosevelt's speech reminding me that it was already Christmas Eve for you. This speech was not a rebroadcast but a direct pick-up by the local station here. It was quite strange to have walked through the darkness of morning into the office on the 24th of December and hear the President saying  it was Christmas Eve for him. After you went to bed and slept for several hours, I was beginning to celebrate Christmas Eve. Our Red Cross gifts arrived about 8:00 PM. When I opened mine up I found one of those apron shaving kits with a tooth brush and case, a tube of Barbasol, a bar of toilet soap and container, a hair brush, comb, and styptic pencil. This kit just about replaces the one I lost in Alabama. Also I received a small box containing some shoe laces, envelopes, a notebook, pencils, a fruit bar, and two packages of candy which I could call good if I had eaten them with laxative pills. I still have the fruit bar and will eat that whenever I'll get tired of feeling too healthy. At 9:00, with the help of my parka, goggles and flashlight, I battled the elements to get to the theater to see “Johnie Comes Lately". After the show I remained in the theater for the Catholic midnight mass just to see what it would be like. The movie screen was raised out of sight and a portable organ and alter [altar] were set up on the stage. Three priests conducted the mass and a large group of men sang behind the alter. The organ music together with the singing didn’t amount to the same thing you would hear in any of the big city churches because the organ wasn't much better than a piano accordion and the singers weren't any too confident of their abilities. The organ was played by a man who sleeps in a bunk next to mine. He has a very good ear for music and even plays over the radio here on this island. Coincidentally, I am hearing him over the radio right now. It was about 2:00 in the morning before I retired. I awoke at 11:30 Christmas morning and went to the mess hall for a turkey dinner. Two packages of cigarettes were given to each man as he stood waiting in line. This dinner was about the same as Thanksgiving’s with the exception that we had the chance to admire two scrawny Christmas trees at one end of the mess hall, crape ribbons and bells hanging from the ceiling, and a tall lighted candle on each table. After the dinner was over I was fortunate enough to have the chance to do some skating. I had had a pair reserved for myself and had done some skating Christmas Eve in a high wind. I was more of an ice boat than a skater because it wasn't necessary for me to move my legs; all I had to do was stretch my arms out and scoot along he ice with the wind. On Christmas day, after dinner, I went out skating again and took some photographs which I may be able to have developed some time in the distant future. It is very hard to find good developers who are willing to work. Money doesn’t seem to be much of an inducement here. The small lake I skated on is the same one that was partly shown in some of the photographs I have already sent you. In the photographs that I may mail in the future, you will see the same lake as it appears in winter.”

[end of direct quote]


I most acknowledge receipt of some of the packages and letters I received immediately after sending out my previous letters to you. I received a package with four rolls of film, gum, some very precious cold tablets and a large can of peanuts. Very tasty. Sorry you had to give up your gum which is so very scarce in the states. Just before your gum arrived I purchased a carton at the PX. They received a shipment and I lost no time buying not knowing I would have enough to keep a herd of cattle chewing happily the remainder of their natural time. Another example of this was after receiving a can of peanuts from you, and then a couple of days later the PX started selling, so I stocked up in my locker. Then I received another package of 12 cans of peanuts. I though this was form you, but it turns out to be from Stanley. One day I have nothing of what I want and the next day I am swimming in it.

Reader’s Digest started coming here slowly, then the PX began selling so I’ll buy a copy then later get the same issue plus other GIs would discard their copies.

I was very pleased to receive your fine letters of Dec. 6 and Dec. 15. I also enjoyed reading Izzy & Macs letter of Dec. 8. Let them know I’m doing my best to answer them.

I noticed you saw “This Land Is Mine” and “Dixie”. I have seen “Dixie” about a month ago, but don’t know what is detaining “This Land Is Mine”. One movie which I saw here which beats all I have seen on the island is “Claudia” If you haven’t seen it, be sure to. It’s even better than “Holy Matrimony”. Others I have seen which are very good, are “True to Life” and “A Kingdom For A Cook”.

From what you say about the storm windows, it appears that all the time we didn’t have them we were missing something important. If the storm windows make it easier to keep room warm during a windy day the improvement is worth more than the money paid for it.

Apparently Harry, Mac, & I are having a race to see who can raise to see who can raise the most beef. Mac is well in the lead with 180 lbs. I am a poor second with Harry right at my heels at 166 lbs.

You might think I had a great Thanksgiving Dinner, appetizing but far from tasting like the ones I had at home. I managed to save up another $80 and am sending a money order. You may put it in my account or use it as you see fit.

Your fast becoming Aleutian native now thinks it’s about time to say.

So Long, Eddie

Eddie in a rowboat on an Aleutian lake

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