April 15-30, 1945. Get Ready
Ang wrote his final letter from overseas on April 15th, 1945. He tells her to "Get ready" because he's heading her way. Of course, this is the Army, so that means he's on his way as soon as the Army decides he's on his way. Meanwhile, in this letter, he finally tells Betty a little about his activities in Italy as part of the advance group who went over to help set up their new location. Betty doesn’t make note of receiving this letter, but on the 27th she notes that two of her letters were returned so she assumes Ang is on his way. My guess is that Ang's letter arrives after Ang. Bud Roehm (the friend Ang visited in North Africa in April ’44, see "April 19-30, 1944. Finding Bud in North Africa") visits and is still there in May when Ang arrives. Bud was probably on leave. His official separation from service date was in October 1945.
Betty’s Great Grandmother Elizabeth Harrington died on April 15, 1945 (see the 5-generation picture in the post from 8/2/2016, "Five Generations: A Moment in Time.") It is sometimes confusing because Betty refers to her Grandmother Anna Henderson and her Great-Grandmother Elizabeth Harrington as "Gram". The funeral took place in Chicago and then she is taken to St. Louis for burial. Elizabeth Harrington purchased plots at the Catholic Calvary Cemetery in 1929 when many of them lived in St. Louis.
Betty goes to St. Louis for the burial and while there, she visits her father and his wife. She mentions also some of the St. Louis relatives. She doesn’t mention her grandmother Anna Henderson, but surely she went to St. Louis for her mother’s burial. Or, maybe not.
On the last day of April 1945, Betty doesn’t know it but Ang has arrived in Miami on April 30.
April 15. To late Mass. Up to Pegs. Gram Harrington has passed on. Stayed there all P.M. Down to Adams and movies later. Rainy and cold. Late.
[Letter. Postmark 4-17]
Get ready, my sweet, because I sure am heading your way in a hurry. I’ve finally given up the battle—enough is enough. I should be reaching you a few days after this does—I hope! There really is no reason why I shouldn’t. At least this is a sure thing—nothing can change this time.
Perhaps you’ve wondered the lack of the “Corsica”—its because we’ve moved. I couldn’t say anything until the move was completed. Its also the reason for my lack of writing. I was busier than I’ve ever been in my life.
First I had charge of the movement of baggage—what a job. I almost went out of my mind keeping track of everything. When I finally got that over here—we (the advance party) had to set up the outfit—get buildings—billet the men—clean out the places—etc. etc.
When that was finished we had to start on the Officers club. I must say, I’m rather proud of what we made out of it—and I really get a kick out of it—I guess it’s the artist in me. We took one of the nicer buildings, and made an officers club that any outfit can be proud of.
We had the walls painted in various pastel colors—really pretty. We requisitioned quite a bit of furniture—fixed up the kitchen –and we have a first class club and mess. Table cloths—dishes—four men to a table—experienced Eytie waiters—and we have some really good Italian chefs coming to work. Its really a rest camp—better than some I’ve been too.
The only reason I’m writing about the club—is because I’m too damn excited to write about coming home. I’m really in a dither—so please excuse the short letter.
I love you darling—Love, Ang.
God, I’m really coming home—what more can I say.
From the 340th Bomb Group Diary for April 15, 1945:
"Here at Rimini airfield and in the theaters of operations all over the world American soldiers stood at attention during memorial services for the late President Roosevelt. Chaplain Cooper on the field here intoned a brief prayer after which officers and men presented arms during the playing of the National Anthem and Taps. Some 1200 members of the group and a few Britishers and Poles participated in the ceremonies. The service ended as our planes returned from Fifth Army front and close support assignments."
April 16. Up early and straightened up. Bud called—good to hear from him. Downtown—then to Gram’s funeral parlor in evening.
April 17. To kids and they went to Funeral Mass. Then to station and to St. L. To Stacks [?] in evening. Dinner at J__’s [?]. Bed late. Laid awake.
April 18. Up early and to Funeral Home. Just simple service—then to cemetery. Bob H. here. Took Kay to depot. Snack and bed late.
April 19. Up late and read nearly all day. Fixed Bob’s brunch. Called Dad—they picked me up and to dinner. Called Chi but no news.
[I'm including this entry from the 340th Bomb Group diary of April 19, 1945. It notes the death of the famous Ernie Pyle, but is also interesting because of the description of the return to more formal military life. They now had access to better facilities for cleaning themselves and their uniforms, however many of these guys had been overseas for a long time -- like my father. They rarely had to wear their dress uniforms on Corsica. And many uniforms no longer fit properly. I know they enjoyed the better facilities, but in Itally they'll be required to "dress like soldiers" and act like them too!
"American MP's have made their appearance in this sector and no doubt will have our men stepping a little closer to the line in matters of dress and conduct. Wing has cracked down on the military appearance and military courtesy items, so now we are supposed to dress like soldiers after duty hours and not scandalize the British Eighth army troops stationed hereabouts... Ernie Pyle, beloved war correspondent who came to be identified with the tired, fearful, lonesome, brave American G.I.'s he “covered” for his news syndicate, has been killed by the Japanese on Okinawa, it is announced. G.I.'s all over the world will mourn his loss, for they understood him and he them."
April 20. Up early and to G & D’s. [Gladsia & Dad's] Began to feel a bit sickish so laid down in P.M. Downtown with Bob and Martha dinner and a show. Bed 12:00
April 21. Up early and to depot. Bob came along. Had a nice trip. Letter from Ang that Capt is still working. Downtown with Jen and to bed late.
April 22. To late Mass—very late dinner. Bud came in in afternoon. Sure good to see him. To movies with kids. Late as usual.
April 23. Up very late—Jen home from work all day. Went downtown but didn’t buy anything. To movies in evening. Late.
April 25. Isabelle called—met her at dentists and spent the day with her. Rained in evening. Folks out again. No mail. Bed 12:00
April 26. Rainy and dreary. Uncle George K. buried today. Very depressing. To Peg’s for awhile—then to movies. Late as usual. [I'm not sure who Uncle George K is but can assume he is a relative of Ang's because I'm not aware of any Georges in Betty's family.]
April 27. Ang is coming home. Got two letters back today. Downtown and met Jen—bot lamps. To kids with Ang’s present for Donny. Late.
April 28. Up late. Ironed and then to Peg’s. Joe left for Md today. There for dinner and then home. Straightened room. To bed sort of early.
April 29. Coolish today. To 11:00 Mass. Late dinner—then downtown to movie. Home early—had a bath then wrote a couple letters. Late.
April 30. Up late—and did laundry. Did some more on room. To store and cleaners. To library in evening. Wrote letters.
[Ang's "Information for Public Relations" indicates that he returned to the U.S. on 4/30/1945. Also, there's a note in Ang's files, in his handwriting: "4/25/45 Italy to USA, arrived 4/30/45. Miami." I assume he flew with some group coming back to the States. I think it would take longer by ship. One more thing I never asked him.]
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Joni Adams Sesma, daughter of Angelo and Elizabeth Adams. Ang served on Corsica with the 57th Bomb Wing, 340th Bomb Group, 486th Bomb Squadron. April 1944-April 1945.