Ang and Betty were somewhat settled in to their situations at the end of April 1944. Betty, in Chicago, continued visiting friends and relatives. She found a job at F&G Life where she had worked before and would again when she got to L.A. Meanwhile, Ang logs 3 flights and then none after April 21. Then he starts looking for his best friend from Chicago, Bud Roehm. It seems unbelievable to me, and apparently to him as well, but he does find Bud and spends several days visiting him. Bud has been overseas since August of 1942, so this visit is good medicine for both of them. I will attempt to tell Bud’s story in a later post, but for now, I will let Ang’s letters to Betty tell the remarkable story of Ang and Bud in North Africa.
Wednesday. April 19. Downtown and had lunch with F&G girls. Glad to see them all again. Al called about dinnertime with news of Is!
Form 5. A-19, Administrative flight as navigator, B25-J, 3:50h
April 20. Rainy and dark again. To Grams all day and read. Also washed head. To Adams early. Wrote letters in evening. Late.
Form 5. A-20, Administrative flight as navigator, B25-J, 6:50h
4-20-44 In Africa
Well, how do you like getting your first “V” mail from your husband. Does it thrill you—or do you, as I do, feel that “its about time”.
I wish your mail would catch up with me. Its not that I’ve got the blues or anything like that—but it will be nice to get a letter from home. Its going to seem like the good? old days again. It will probably go on like that for a couple of months—then I’ll send you a cable and tell you to catch the first freighter over. We’ll set up house keeping in a pup tent—and live happily ever after. It seems silly, but the way you’ve been chasing after me around the country for the last year—I never know where I’m liable to find you.
I love you darling. Love, Ang
April 21. Downtown to see about a job - got a prospect. Shopped for shoes but no luck. Letter from Ang.
Form 5. A-21, Administrative flight as navigator, B25-J, 4:15h
April 22. Rainy again today. Job fell through. Jen and I downtown shopping and to movie. Out in evening with Columbia fellow.
April 23. Dark all day but warmer. Napped all day - late dinner. To Geo Corson’s in evening. Bed late again.
4-23-44 In Africa
I almost got to see Bud—But only almost. I’m only a few miles from him. That is, every one knows that his company is near here—but no one knows just where. I’ve been running all over the country side trying to find him—but haven’t had any luck as yet. I haven’t given up hope—but we have to leave pretty soon, and I don’t guess there is much chance. Oh well, that’s luck for you. So near and yet so far.
Please don’t mind this jumbled letter—the chase has got me a little excited. I certainly would like to see him again. Its been a mighty long time.
I hope you got home without any trouble. Please write and let me know how you are making out—financially and so forth.
I love you darling. Love, Ang
April 24. Drizzled again. Got a job - yip! Ran into Eddie Shapiro. Saw Mr. Shaw. Spent PM with Is. To Gram’s for dinner. Ironed & bathed.
April 25. Started work today - and really worked. Exhausted in evening. Wrote long letter to Ang and called Betty Hillis. Bed 11:00
[4/25/44-passed by examiner-on Air Mail stationary]
I owe you a nice long letter—so here goes. I haven’t got the hang of writing censored letters yet—so I imagine by the time the censor gets done with them, they look like confetti (if that’s the way its spelled). Knowing your tremendous curiosity—I imagine you are going crazy wondering what he cut out.
Its pretty hard to try and figure out what I can and can’t write. However, I remember Bud wrote and told us about his visit to the city of Algiers—if he can do, I guess I can too. We spent two days in the city—and it was really interesting—Casbash (I guess that’s the way its spelled) and all. I’ve never seen such a mixture of peoples, and near people in my life—Americans—British—French—Italians—Greeks—Arabs—Moslems—and God knows what else. Its really a very modern city in the center—but you have to walk but a very few blocks to see people living as they were hundreds of years ago. You know—long, flowing, filthy rags hanging on them—veils on the women and all the rest that goes with it. You’ve never seen filth such as they live in—I don’t think they ever wash their children—or themselves for that matter.
And now to get down to the subject of the French—the French women in particular. If anyone ever talks to me about French styles—I’m going to laugh in their face. A few of the women dress very nicely—but most of them—oh my God! At any rate—I don’t think there is an American girl—even Muriel Melvin—that can’t put them all to shame. As one of the fellows so nicely put it—all you can say for them is that they are very, very broad minded—much, much to broad for him—and us! I’ve never seen anything like it. Every sister is a business—every little brother is a business manager (I believe the profesional name is pimp)—and every doorway is a business shop. Boy, I guess our trouble is that we haven’t been out of the states long enough to appreciate that kind of stuff. Phew—I’m still blushing! We were in a mens washroom—doing as men will do—when one of the little doors at the end opened—and out walks a little French number. Without so much as a fliker of an eye—she strolled across the room—opened the door and walked out. I guess you couldn’t blame her though—there was a long line at the Ladies Room. As one of the fellows said—they sure are broad minded.
Don’t mind me though—It may sound like I’m bellyaching already—but I’m really not. I’m like a hick turned loose in New York. I’m been in so many places the last three weeks—and there are so many things to see in each of them—that I haven’t had time to really get lonesome or homesick. However, there are some American things that I miss like the devil already. Oh well, the war can’t last more than ten more years—what have I got to complain about.
I’ve given up hunting for Bud—my feet and the drivers gave out. However, I’ll ry again tomorrow if I get a chance.
I guess that’s about all my darling. All my love, sweets—and I sure am storing up a lot of it for you.
Give my love to everyone. I love you. Love, Ang
My, my—I sure throw that word around, don’t I?
4-25-44 North Africa
Dear Wife and Barlo:
Well it has happened..we have met each other. This is Bud that is writing now…Just after I had knocked myself out writing a letter to you. I hadn’t finished it for more than two hours when in walked Ang..Boy was I glad to see him. It seems he looked for me for two days before he found me. The funny part of it was I wasn’t more than 15 miles from [him] the whole time..I’ll let Ang write a few lines now….
Phew—I finally found him.
This is Bud again..Just to set your mind at ease, he looks like a million dollars, no foolin..I think he found a home here, of course our little place by the sea agrees with him no end. He had a nice meal last night, and a good nights sleep…(I had to sleep on the floor to accommodate him) but I loved it..ha ha..with a little luck we might see each other now and then..
This is me again. I sure am glad Buddy loves me and was glad to see me—that floor sure looked hard!
Hello again, we just had our picture taken..in about 29 months you should get a copy of it…Don't worry I won’t depend on Ang. I’ll mail it my self. Well Honey or should I say honey’s this is all for now. Ang of course will write himself later. All our Love, Bud.
April 26. Really like the job - not much - just routine. Did some telephoning and wrote letters.
[4-29-44—passed by examiner]
I found him—Bud, I mean. After searching for three days I finally got on his trail. I found his camp—and wouldn’t you know it—he was on a three day pass, his first in two years. I just about gave in then for good. However, as soon as the first-seargent found out who I was—he got a car and drove me out there. We pulled into the driveway—and when Bud came out—the first-seargent told him an officer wanted to see him. I got out and walked around the truck—man, I think I shocked 10 years out of Buddy’s life. He just stood there and gasped—and his eyes got bigger than his feet.
Gosh, I was so happy to see him—I didn’t know what to do—neither did he. This is silly, but we finally threw our arms around each other and danced around the lawn. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see anyone in my life. He was so happy to see someone from home—he almost went nuts.
The funny part was that he just finished writing a letter to us—and had just come down from upstairs where he’d been showing the landlady our pictures and telling her about me. The landlady came running down—more about that later—I’ll tell you in the next letter what a wonderful deal they have. Anyway, I was treated like a visiting king. I’ve got to rush now honey—I’ll give all details tomorrow. I just wanted you to know that I found him.
I love you—Love, Ang
April 27. Job is almost routine now. With Jen & [?] to see movie. Bot brown shoes. Bed at usual time.
Everything seems to be breaking my way. Thru circumstances, which you can probably guess, I’ve been able to stick around longer than expected. This is the 4th day I’ve spent with Bud—which certainly is a break. The poor kid really did need to see one of us from the States—he was really down in the dumps. I guess I was like a visit to the States for him—he’s as pleased as a baby with a new toy. Not that I’m not happy to see him—he’s a sight for sore eyes. Its just like the good old days—only a different place.
As soon as I get a little more time—I’ll tell you everything we have done together. Excuse the “V” mail—but I guess you can’t begrudge Buddy my time—can you?
I love you darling—Love, Ang
April 28. Worked about the same. Sick and that made it worse. To Gram's for dinner and evening. Home and bed by 11:00
April 29 (Saturday). Worked all day today. To confession and on to Adams. Wrote letters and gabbed. To bed rather late.
[letter, 5-1-44—passed by examiner]
Well, here come all the details about Bud. There are enough to fill a book—so I’ll probably have to send it in chapters. By the way, I’m still with him—and God willing—will be for several more days.
As I’ve said before, he really looks good—has put on about 15 pounds of muscle—and looks better than I have ever seen him look before. He ought to kill the girls that have given him the go-bye when he gets back to the states.
He is still a buck seargent—but seems very satisfied with it—or at least with his job. If anybody tells you that the army does not put its men in the jobs best fitted for them—you can tell them they are crazy—and cite Bud as an example. He is now Special Service N.C.O.—which means he does what he always has done before he came in the Army—and so perfectly. He has charge of entertainment and amusement in his company. He selects the movies that are to be shown—and runs them off four nights a week. He’s really good in the projection room. He arranges the dances and parties and digs up dates for the men in his company—and also hires the orchestra. Can you imagine anything more natural for Bud?
He has the company area looking like a summer resort—Badminton & Tennis courts—Horse shoe stakes—everything but a swimming pool—and he says that’s next. He has loudspeakers all over—which blare forth popular music all day long. He even has a record of Gerry & Jane, who (listen to this) sing a song which Jane wrote & composed. How do you like that? Its not bad, either—in fact, its pretty good! I guess surprises never cease—do they?
All in all—if he had a set up like this in the states—I think he would be the happiest man in the U.S. Army. There is something about being on foreign soil that gets him down—as it would anybody that hadn’t had a leave at home in over 2 ½ years. Poor kid, he really gets the blues sometimes. I sure am glad I got to see him for awhile—it really was good for him. His tent mate says that he hasn’t seen him looking so happy and well in over a year. I guess war is really hell—especially after the first year.
Getting back to info about him. As I told you before—I found him at a little place they had rented. Its just one room—but they have it fixed up beautifully. Those boys are geniuses—they can fix or repair anything. They built themselves four bunks—and all kinds of gadgets—such as bed lamps—indirect lighting and so forth. It really is nice.
Its right on the beach—and they have, practically—a private beach. To top it all off, there is a Wac camp a little way from there—so I guess they always have a few bathing beauties around.
Their landlady is a wonderful cook—and does very well by them—and me too! Ah yes, the landlady—I must tell you about her. She married an American soldier in the last war—but I guess he went back to the states after a few years. At any rate—deserted or not—she is crazy about Americans, and does she take care of the boys! I’m telling you—her cooking can’t be beat. To add to all that—she has a cute little French maid that all the boys are after. Paradise—eh what? And for all that, she will only accept four hundred francs (eighty bucks) a month—and that’s to pay the maid for cleaning up. You can guess who found that set-up—yep, Bud!
And now a little about the boys that are in it with him. See if you don’t agree that our Buddy is the greatest little organizer that ever lived. First there is Jack—the first seargent—he gets all their passes for them when they want to go out there. The second member is the transportation N.C.O.—he arranges the transportation. And last but not (definitely not) least—the mess sergeant. Guess what he contributes. Boy, what a life—and what a man our Buddy is!
Bud just called—and said he got a letter from you. He got a big kick out of the part where you told him I was on my way somewheres overseas. boy, it killed him—as he said—if you only knew! Life is sure full of surprises!
I sure wish I was there to see your face when you find out that I found him.
I guess that’s about all for now darling--
I love you very much—Love, Ang
Well, still with Bud—although I didn’t see him today. He has to work sometimes, even if I don’t. I will see him tomorrow though.
I saw Bing Crosby in “Going My Way”—and its one picture you don’t want to miss. Its really good. He plays the part of a Catholic priest—imagine!
I’ve sort of just been laying around today—and its put my mind in kind of a stupor—can’t seem to think of anything to write about. However, Adams is always trying—so here goes! All I can think of is that I love you—I love you—I love you—I love you—I love you—I love you—I love you—and I’m beginning to miss you like the devil. See what a day of rest does!
Hello Hon: (Again)
Just in case, (Gosh the censor sure is going to think this is silly) my other letter of this date doesn’t convince you--
I love you very, very much!
All my love (and all my apologies for this letter) Ang
April 30. Rainy in AM but cleared up. To Aunt Kays for afternoon and stayed the night. Talked and talked. Bed very late.
Betty and Ang were each "en route" during the middle of April 1944. Betty returned to Chicago by train. (She remarks it was a "nice trip." I know the train went through DC because she talked about it when she visited me here in Maryland. I believe the trip took all night and it may have been a "nice" trip, but I can't imagine it was "pleasant.") She has many people to catch up with in Chicago, and seems to spend every day visiting with people or shopping with her sister-in-law Jen. Much of this visiting takes place at the home of Betty's Great-Grandmother, "Gram" Harrington.
Meanwhile, Ang and his crew fly to Africa, via South America. He’s frustrated about what he can tell her that won’t get cut by the censors, but does a pretty good job describing what he has seen so far. His flights are designated as “A” for Administrative on the Individual Flight Record. He talks about crossing the equator and the Amazon which makes me wish I'd asked him what it was like to cross the ocean by air, compared to crossing by ship with his father when they came to the U.S. from Greece in 1926.
In his scrapbook, Ang makes note of his “Natal” boots on a photo of him in Africa. He also mentions them later in an October letter. Their crew was among the many that flew to Africa from the Natal airfield in Brazil. I’ve seen mention of these boots on many WWII sites. Most of the time, the person mentioning them says they wished they had purchased several pair. Too bad they didn’t have a way to have other crews buy more as they came through Natal! Imagine if they’d had the internet!
I’m guessing the long 8 hour flight on the 17th must be the flight across the Atlantic.
April 16. To Mass and dinner at Grams. To Adams with K. & boys. Had snack and then to Baffes[?]. Nice evening - bed late.
April 17. Up early - did some laundry then to station for bags. To show in evening. Bed about 12:30. Tired.
Form 5. A-17, Administrative flight as navigator, B25-J, 8:00h
April 18. To Gram’s all day. Wrote Mom and Ang long letters. Then for dinner and home by 9:30. People here so bed late again.
Form 5. A-18, Administrative flight as navigator, B25-J, 5:00h
In April 1944, Ang received his orders for overseas from Columbia SC to Hunter Field, Georgia (April 2 order); and then to Morrison Field, Florida (April 8 orders). Finally, they flew from Morrison Field Florida to overseas (April 11 orders) via Brazil.
Ang left Columbia on the 6th and Betty stayed to finish packing. After a few days, she traveled back to Chicago and took a job. It sounds so simple and if we didn’t have the records, letters and diary, we might think it was that simple.
There are two Individual Flight Records (Form 5) for April. One Form 5 lists 3rd Army, Hunter Field Georgia as the station, and only has a flight on the 8th for 3:10 hours in a B25-J. See the April 8th orders from Hunter Field. The second Form 5, lists the 12th Air Force, 57th Wing, 340th Group, 486 Squadron, with Alesan L/G, Corsica as the station. The first flight on the page is dated Mar 31; a 3 hour flight in a B25-H. This is followed by 15 flights between April 1 and April 21.
In any case, we know Ang left Columbia and then showed up in Africa! From his letters, we know that for Ang and his crew, the route overseas to the Mediterranean Theater was via South America to Africa. From Betty’s diary, we know that far as she knew, Ang left South Carolina on April 6. She wouldn’t know where he ended up for weeks.
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.