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.]
We don’t know much about Ang’s activities between his March 28th and his April 8th & 13th letters, but we find out later that he’s moved with the Group over to Italy. His Form 5 lists a 4 hour flight, with 3 landings. We can probably assume this was when he moved over to Rimini - although he may have gone with Captain Pray on the 2nd. Another mystery. Maybe he was involved with moving people and supplies back and forth which might explain the 3 landings. Mostly he talks about the possible timing of his return and about whether to wait for a captaincy. He also talks about Tom Cahill’s mother and mentions the death of President Roosevelt. We know a little bit about the move to Italy from the bomb group and squadron diaries of the 340th BG and 486th BS, and Ang talks about it in his later April letters. I’ll insert some of the quotes from the diaries at the appropriate dates.
Meanwhile, Betty packs up, meets up with her friend and co-worker Marian, and takes the train to Chicago. Once there, she’s busy visiting family, especially her Grandmother and Great Grandmother. She notes that she’s had no letters from Ang — and marks one year since he left.. She is busy cleaning and painting the “upstairs” at her in-laws which is where Ang and Betty will live after Ang’s return.
Sunday April 1. Cloudy & dreary—wouldn’t you know it. Late Mass. Packed in P.M. Mother out in evening. Odd jobs & to bed by 12:00.
April 2. Downtown & did some shopping. Stopped at store. Had Marian for dinner & evening. Leaving Wednesday. Late to bed
From the 486th Bomb Squadron diary for April 2, 1945:
Capt. Pray and a few others took off for our new base at Rimini today. Everyone is anxious to see the place. Have heard it was formerly the best seaside resort in Italy. Most of the men are anxious to get over there for some of those close support missions, however.
April 3. Packed—picked up ticket. Lunch with Marian. Went to store. Just a light dinner. Girls from Club over. Nice present. Late.
April 4. Up about 8:00. Bathed and packed. Picked Marian up. Quite a nice train. Nice people. Am glad to be on my way. Bed early.
Form 5. April 4, ____ flight as navigator, B-25D, 4:00h
April 5. Up early. Had a sort of restless night. Read and looked all day. Had to wait a while for dinner. Bed 10:00.
April 6. Up early but had a wonderful nights rest. Peg met me and to Grams. Down to Adams’ for dinner. Bed late. One Year!
April 7. Up about 10:30 and to Grams in P.M. Helped Peg around house. Had dinner out—stopped at G’s. Bed late.
From the 486th Bomb Squadron diary for April 7, 1945:
No mission today. The combat crews took off for the new base at Rimini. The weather has been cloudy since early this morning.
April 8. To late Mass with kids. To Kays for supper—quite a hectic trip. Awfully warm. Uncle Aaron drove me home.
From the 486th Bomb Squadron diary for April 8th, 1945:
The usual confusion that accompanies a move was in evidence today but things are gradually being straightened out. Some baggage has been misplaced causing some slight confusion. Those men lacking mess kits have been scrounging all over for something to eat out of.
[Letter. Postmark 4/11. No dateline on this letter, but surely it was from Italy. Not sure why it was "examined" except that being in a new location probably meant more censorship than on Corsica during the latter part of their stay there. It seems that it didn't reach Betty until the 21st, per her diary.]
I know I haven’t written for several days—but, again, its one of those things I’ll tell you about later.
To get to the main subject—namely my coming home. My orders are back—so I can start any time I’m ready—but (there always is a but—isn’t there!) there may be a delay in my leaving.
I don’t know why things like this happen to me—but they sure do. Two hours after my orders got back—this fellow who has been trying to leave the outfit so there would be an opening for me, came up and told me that the deal had finally come through and he was leaving for the states. All he was waiting for was the Generals permission and off he would go.
Then—up came the Executive Officer—“Adams—Staub[?] is going home—I’m going to cancel your orders!” By that time my head was going in circles—and I was ready to chew nails.
Ah well—to cut a long story short—this is the deal. I didn’t let him cancel my orders—I’m holding tight until I’m absolutely sure. If Staub actually leaves and I get the job—then he can cancel the orders.
They promised that if he does go home—I get the job of Squadron Navigator—get my Captaincy—and be on my way home within two months—and will not be required to fly any missions. Under those circumstances, I’m going to accept—if and when.
At any rate, I will know for sure within a week. By that time—Staubs’ orders should be back—approved or rejected. I’ll let you know as soon as possible.
I suppose that this news will make you a little disgusted with me—and I can’t say I blame you. However, I do have several good reasons for wanting to be a Captain—besides the desire for the rank and the money. One reason I’ve already given you—a better deal in the States. And the second is a much better chance of staying in the States.
We have heard from several Bombardiers and Navigators who have gone back about five or six months ago—and it seems that most of them are on their way back or getting ready to come back—and I have no desire for a second tour against the Japs. I think, as a Captain, I would be set in the States for the duration plus.
I hope I’m making sense. At any rate, I promise not to screw anything up—within seven days I’ll have the job and be sweating out a Captaincy—or I’ll be on my way home. At least this time I won’t be sweating our both of them—its one or the other—and I’ve already got the orders in my hands—so if they start giving me the run-around I can wave my hand at them on my way home. That’s it darling—at any rate, I promise not to fly anymore missions—so there is no need for worry.
Come to think of it, the odds are on my coming home—so don’t make any other plans for awhile. There are several “ifs” in this deal (as usual). If the General approves Staubs orders—and then approves the cancellation of my orders—if –if—if—if--.
I do love you darling—and there is no if about that—Love, Ang
April 9. Did my laundry and cleaned up and then downtown. Met Bert Armstrong for dinner and a show. Home late.
April 10. No word from Ang. To bank—Grams—then to Isabelles. Stayed for dinner. She drove me home.
April 11. Did some more work in house. Kids here for dinner—painted upstairs later on. Rained—darn! Bed late.
April 12. Cooler today. Cleared upstairs room & in evening painted it. met Jen & shopped. To Grams in P.M. Rained again. Bed late. [note in pencil — “FDR DIED” — not sure when she wrote this.]
April 13. Didn’t get up til late today. Downtown shopping and came home with Jen. Worked some more after dinner—then to movie. Bed 1:00
[Letter. Postmark 4-14]
4/13/45 [No dateline]
Again, it’s a long time since I’ve written to you—and again I’m sorry. I don’t know what is the matter with me lately—I just don’t seem to be able to write anything when I’m at such loose ends. I guess its just the dislike of saying that nothing is new—and I still don’t know where I stand. Oh well, pretty soon—I hope!
We just got the news about the Presidents death—and it sure knocked the poop out of everyone. I guess its just destined that nothing will ever be perfect. Just when our armies are going to town—the president dies. The idea of Truman as president scares us all to death. I certainly hope he turns out much better than most people expect him too—he certainly can’t be any worse.
By the way, I wanted to say something about your letter regarding Tom’s mother. I guess she certainly must be a wonderful woman—taking things the way she did. I really would like to write to her—but I’ll be darned if I know what to say. I wasn’t on the mission when it happened—and I can’t say anything first hand. But I did talk to everyone on it—and the conclusion was that he didn’t have a chance. Now, how can I tell her that. Besides there is so much I can’t tell in a letter. I think I’ll wait until I hit the states before I write anything.
I think you’d better start writing to me regular again. I’m still not too sure about the Captaincy deal—but I’ll probably be around for a month or so in any case. I suppose some of my statements (such as the above) drive you crazy—but you’ll just have to take my word for it that I have very good reasons for most of the things I do—and let me explain when I get home. O.K? Believe me darling—I wouldn’t stay a minute longer over here than I have to—if it wasn’t best for the both of us. I’m not trying to make a mystery out of my actions—I’m just trying to work the best deal for us while we are in the army—and perhaps after the war.
I love you darling—very, very much—Love-Ang
April 14 Up late—but worked hard again—moving furniture and such. Had hair done. Read papers and to bed. Nothing from Ang.
From the 486th Bomb Squadron diary for April 13, 1945:
We were awakened this morning with the tragic news of President Roosevelt's death. Only after they had heard it from the radio would many of the men believe the news. The deep interest that most of the men take in the war and the plans for peace was reflected in the little knots of discussion that took place all day wherever a few men chanced to come together. British and Canadian soldiers expressed their sorrow to several of our men. This is a sad day.
From the 340th Bomb Group diary for April 13, 1945:
President Roosevelt is dead. News of the sudden and most untimely death of the chief executive and
commander in chief at Warm Springs, Ga., yesterday came to most of us today as we went in to
breakfast. It has made little impression yet, as is often the case with the sudden deaths of great men or
the announcement of a momentous event. But tomorrow or the day after, when we have read the news
accounts of his achievements and the radio broadcasts describing how the nation mourned him, we
shall more sensitively feel the impact... The prefabricated buildings for operations and S-2, briefing
room, and the combination of ground liaison office, public relations and statistical offices, are under
construction or almost completed... There was a stand-down today because of bad weather.
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.