George I. “Buddy” Harris
Selected letters written home by pilot George I. “Buddy” Harris, KIA on 6 April 1943, provided by his niece Keri Crawford
Lt. G.I. Harris
May 18, 1942
Dear Mom –
Really busy – went to Boston – ordered to Windsor Locks, Comm – for transition on heavy pursuit ships – I’ll be here until next Monday or Tuesday – then I’ll be permanently stationed in the 66th pursuit squadron at Quonset Point, R.I. This is about 15 miles south of Providence – and 10 miles north of Newport. Quonset Point is a naval air station but they requested pursuits for protection, so here we come – our squadron insignia I an eagle with a cigar in a fighting stance with boxing gloves on. Some bad news – I’m grounded until an ear infection clears up – it hurts like hell when he’s piddling with it – Keep well and happy
Love to all
p.s. This is really of utmost importance
Look around the house and see if you can find a slip of paper 2-1/2” x 10”
This is my immunization paper. If I don’t locate it soon, they’re going to give me all the shots again.
May 25, 1942
Dear Mom –
Haven’t heard from you – a little doubtful whether you have been receiving my letters – Still at Windsor Hocks – but expect to leave daily for my permanent base – I’ve got the P40’s under control – and they’re really OK – but a little slow for actual combat.
I have opened a joint account in the National Bank of Fort Sam Houston – At present I don’t want you to draw against it – Let me know of your needs & I’ll send you a check – let me know specifically in each case the amount you want.
In case you decide not to go to New York – perhaps you’d like to take Jack to some lake in some nearby southern state – at any rate – plan to take some sort of vacation this summer.
Things still up in the air. Let me know what you want to know & I’ll do my best.
Love to all
Hillsgrove Airport, R.I.
Dearest Mom –
Received your last letter – those rubber plugs you mentioned for Jack’s ears aren’t satisfactory and are only a source of irritation. I guess you can let him go to the pool, but caution him to keep his head above the water.
The 66th has moved to parts unknown. I am now in the 86th fighter – Thought I’d move out when the 66th moved, but they kept all the new pilots here.
Weather today is fairly chilly – but prefer it to hot weather – the nites are still a bit chilly – one or two blankets.
Car batteries don’t last long in Fla. Due to the heat.
Well another pay day in a few days – having a lot of fun.
Love to all.
Dear Mom –
Received your last letter – also cards. Aunt Mona sent a heavy gold ring with my initials and wings on it. Lucille sent a leather stationary kit. Dad – a leather kit containing nail file – scissors etc. also sox – ties and handkerchiefs.
We have been flying pretty heavily – four to six hours a day – Weather at present rather warm but nights still chilly. Really swell here – the field is laid out so landing accidents are almost impossible. Here’s something I should have told you before – a friend of mine crashed – Barney & I were close by & pulled him from his plane – which was burning – Both Barney & I are going to get citations & the soldiers medal for bravery – Things like this hang for a long time – but eventually will get it. It’s really a beautiful medal.
Well honey keep well & happy.
(Note: “Barney” is fellow 86th FS pilot Barney E. Turner)
Sept 2, 1942
Dear Mom –
Received your last two letters – they had a split up in squadrons – ½ of the pilots are leaving shortly – I’m in that group, but I don’t think it will be until another 2 months before we leave.
Enclosed find M.O. for $75.00. Will this cover your traveling needs? You haven’t as yet told me the exact sum you’ll need. More money is available.
I guess I could economize – but later on, when I’m situated in a place where money is useless. I’d probably regret it. So I’m having all the fun I can get.
Barney is back in the squadron – he is still suffering from the burns – but it unnecessary for him to remain at the hospital. Really glad to have him back – he is in the same squadron as I am & going to leave with us.
Well, gal, be good & have a good time.
Dear Mom, Jack, Lucille, A. Mona, Ted & D.D.C. IIII
After quite an eventful crossing via many clippers & transports – I have finally tucked my wings for perhaps a month – after leaving Miami 4:00 a.m. by P.A. clipper – we flew for 7-1/2 hours – stopping at Trinidad (Por Au Prince) next stop Belim (9 hours) next – motel 13-1/2 hours – next – Fishermans Lake (Africa) (Montravin) – & so to Accra, West Africa (15 hours).
Natal, So. America, is one of the more impressive cities – Portuguese – a little Spanish are the chief dialects. I found much to my surprise due to the Latin I received in high school I could understand them if they spoke slowly. I rented a German motorcycle for 2 hours cost 10.00 mail Reis – equate to $.25 American. So I saw a good bit of Natal.
Just arrived at Accra – seems to be too much of a native town – dirty 7 stinking – Send me a photo of T.D. IIII when he gets a little older. Love to all.
Been in Accra a week now – haven’t as yet flown again. The beach here is one of the best – you rent a surf board for 3 pence (.5¢) one spend the day riding fast waves.
No white women here – except for a few English nurses. Nothing here worth buying so will wait until Cairo till I buy my trophies.
This afternoon – I’m going to rent a motorcycle – go into the jungle – herds of elephants etc. are supposed to be close by. Too bad I haven’t a camera. Could catch some wonderful snap shots.
Each room has a houseboy who shines your shoes – cleans room, makes bed & takes care of the laundry.
Well family – bee good.
March 4, 1943
Dear Mom, Jack
Haven’t written in quite a while – nor has any mail reached me. Sorry about the 500 cigs. Our supply here in adequate. If you haven’t disposed of them yet, do so for they’ll get stale. Hope you received all checks & M.O. OK Will send you another $200.00 next month. At present, I am not in touch with an H.P.O.
Incidentally, this stationary was bought in Tripoli – cheap Italian stuff. Weather here has been delightful – cool but perfect for flying. My flight is coming along gradually. We should prove worth in combat.
Every night we are entertained by fireworks. Huge anti-aircraft guns show us their stuff – it looks like huge old golf balls lazily ascending in the night – to burst into violent white flame. They knock down a bomber or two each night.
It is delightful (again that word) here – green grass – trees – all well civilized.
I have an excellent crew chief. He is extremely proud that he should be able to have my plane – flight commanders are a bit of the stuff here. Hope you and Jack are well – enjoy life, Mom – take advantage of it.
March 11, 1943
Dear Mom –
Received quite a few letters from you – also several strayed. Enclosed find $100.00 M.O. Deposit same to the account. I would appreciate an idea of how much is in the bank. You never have mentioned receiving a treasury check for $144.50. I sent this check to you around Jan 10 – Let me know please if you have received this so I can start proceedings. In one of your letters you suggested I give Lucille some advice concerning her husbands probably entrance into the Army. I do not think it is my position to interfere with their personal problems. I believe, however, that Ted is really concerned with the fact that he might be drafted in the Army as a private – and knowing Ted as I do nothing less than a commission would satisfy him. I have some bad news. I will not get a Captancy – after the North Africa Campaign is over they plan to promote all the pilots that participated in the campaign. Since we entered it – to the ranks that we should hold in the squadron. In other words, although I am doing a Captain’s job and have been for the past 3 months – and will continue to do so in the future, it will be a considerable while before I get recognition of that fact. It seems unfair and all the squadron commanders are bitching.
By the time you receive this I’ll be fighting again for my life in one of the biggest battles of the war and by the time I receive your answer it will be all over and victory, I hope, for our side.
Knowing the circumstances as I do, I can only tender my congratulations upon your final decision and action concerning M. Where are you living, and incidentally where is M. living?
Be careful of what you spend. If I return I plan on buying a small business with my savings – if I find future flying unsatisfactory or if I’m disabled and unable to fly.
Sorry to hear that you’ve been ill. Take care of yourself and spare no expense in keeping Jack and yourself healthy and happy.
The boys built a portable shower with a rather complicated pressure arrangement so I had a nice hot shower yesterday. I now have another boy in my flight – making 8 in all. He’s a West Pointer with more flying time than I’ve got – a good fellow. I have willed all personal belongings to the pilots in the squadron. I have sent all my money home. I have .80¢ left.
Write soon – all my love
March 18, 1943
Dear Mom & Jack,
Received quite a few of your letters. First opportunity to write. Hope you received the M.O. I recently sent you ($100.00). I imagine I can send you one just like it every month.
We have moved again. You’d appreciate the type of gypsy nomad life we lead. It’s been nearly 6 months now – all spent in tents. It’s quite pleasant with occasional rough spots.
The topographical construction of the country is similar to that of the Red Land district. Olive orchards are abundant. Weather is slowly getting warmer. Really our weather here and that of Miami is practically alike.
The Woys here speak a mixture of Arabic & French – no English. Eggs are their chief commodity – cost a shilling (.20¢) apiece. They are my greatest luxury – I usually get 6 or more a day.
We have been in operations for a week. At night (we are so close to the lines) you can see the flashes from the heavier guns and the explosions never cease. Ju 88 fly over the field continually. Haven’t been bombed as yet.
One of the boys in a different squadron knocked down a Mc104, I saw them but they never came down.
Hope everything is going well – with your campaign – and you are happy – you know we have more money in the bank now than our side of the Harris clan ever had before. I am going to get a regular com – and in order to cinch it – single officers without dependents are favored so will refrain before I make out a dependency allotment.
Keep well & happy
April 1, 1943
Dear Mom –
Received another 2 letters of yours – In most of your letters, Jack seems to be always in the midst of an illness. He must be missing a lot of schooling. I know that you’re seeing he has proper medical attention, but , since he always seems to be in the midst of a chronic ailment, perhaps a change of doctors, or a complete physical check-up should be in order. Since there aren’t any restrictions now, on your location, perhaps a change of scenery, with Jack’s health in mind would be in order. A city is hardly the place for Jack.
Another of Lu & Ted’s packages arrived – making a total of three – Mostly food. An ironic fact. We can quite a good bit of “Spam” to eat. So much in fact we call it “Libyian Chicken” – One of the items in the package – was of course a can of “Spam”.
I mentioned before our tent is dug in with the approachment of warmer days – its appreciable coolness is noticed.
Did you ever visit Dan E. Mayer’s mother? I think a call is in order, seeing we’re both from Miami and he is in my flight.
I am well – not gaining any weight – have a few more gray hairs but really quote satisfied with present circumstances.
Well be good – all my love