The Big Reveal (Roscoe)

Postcard of Noumea, New Caledonia

Postcard of Noumea, New Caledonia

The big secret has been revealed. Where was Roscoe exactly? The Navy finally allowed the men in New Caledonia to give their specific addresses to loved ones at home. Since the beginning of September 1942, Roscoe was stationed at the U.S. Naval Advance Base in Nouméa, New Caledonia. For the first time, Roscoe used his specific address on the return envelope as well as including it inside the letter for all to use. I can’t imagine it was much of a security breach at this point. The Japanese surely knew there was an American base on New Caledonia. Roscoe had provided many clues for the family at home. The islanders spoke French. They had a distinctive red hair color. He included references to a certain National Geographic Magazine article about New Caledonia from July 1942. And of course, he gave his location to Gladys in code, right from the very beginning. The above postcard was mixed in with the letters. There is no writing on the back so it was most likely sent as a visual reference for Gladys and the boys, tucked into one of the letters.

In one of many internet searches of New Caledonia and the surrounding region, I came across a 1943 United States Army handbook for military troops serving in New Caledonia. I love the section in the back for speaking French and the basic phrase book.  Pocket Guide to New Caledonia

Note from Roscoe with change of address

Note from Roscoe with change of address

I am not exactly sure which letter the following slip of paper belonged to originally. I found it with the letter Roscoe wrote on November 19th. However, the context did not make sense. On the 19th, Roscoe was already correctly addressing his envelopes with the new address. The last letter in which Roscoe used the White Poppy format was November 16th. Based on today’s letter, it is apparent that he had already sent the new address at least once. I am therefore deducing that this paper probably belonged with a letter prior to the 17th. If Gladys received a group of letters in a bunch, it is likely that this slip may have ended up in the wrong envelope.

Letter transcription:

Nov. 17, 1942

Dear Mother,

Just a little time between chow and work. It being 5:45 P.M. and the weather cloudy. Needless to say I want you to write me when the check and money orders get there. It might have been foolish to send them when mail is heavy but maybe it won’t be so heavy they there by the time those arrive. We didn’t receive any mail again today. Seems like at first when we came – but maybe that new address will help. That is the third one now so all in all we should fare better. Just in case you didn’t get it

Receiving Station
U.S. Naval Advance Base
Noumea, New Caledonia

There is no doubt now about our location but I suppose you had a pretty definite idea where

[page 2] it was. If you see anybody who cares to write tell them of the new address and I’ll write to some of them also.

We are still pretty busy but it runs in streaks like it used to at home. Out of our original bunch there is very near half at other locations even my old friend Lentz. That makes ones address very uncertain but the mail will always be sent on, so use that new address and in case I leave it will be alright.

I haven’t seen Dr. Ash in so long, guess he is still where he was but I haven’t had time to go swimming so miss our meetings. Swimming was OK at first but anymore the new is worn off so I don’t care so much anymore and along with being busy I don’t care.

Had some sardines yesterday – some fellow go [got] some and with crackers and

[page 3] a little beer we had a fine mid afternoon snack. Of course I wasn’t very hungry when evening chow came along but the meat was corned beef and the cook didn’t use any spoon he just threw all the pepper in he had so I didn’t care for much. We had lamb again today. That seems to show up often and I don’t care so much for it but it’s better than canned meats.

It’s time to think before long about that state gross income tax for the whole year and if there is any questions see Lamb or Agnes Molter and also about the federal. Guess you have done that or will before long. David should come in for his share of tax reduction.

Well, I’ll have to confess there isn’t much in this but there just isn’t much to write.

So Solong
Love Daddy

©2013 copyright owned and written by Deborah Sweeney

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