Taildragger Tales

Mamie Porritt finds Shangri-La

[Mamie Hall and James Charlesworth Porritt were married in Shanghai in 1927 and lived there until 1939, when he went home to England to find work. Mamie meanwhile became a secretary for Intercontinent, Bill Pawley's personal holding company. Her letters to "Jim Prim" in Bradford, West Yorkshire, happily survived the war and came into the possession of a family friend in Statesboro, Georgia. They were transcribed by Tracy Minter, who shared them with me. Mamie was 39 when she wrote her first letter from Loiwing; Jim was was eight years older. -- Daniel Ford]

Loiwing, Dec. 4, 1939 -- Except for malaria, Loiwing is another name for Shangra La. It is simply marvelous country and the climate right now must undoubtedly be the best in the world. It is cold enough for two blankets at night and delightfully warm during the day. The sky is the bluest blue you can imagine and the clouds the whitest white. It is completely surrounded by mountains and the approach is exactly like [the movie] Shangri La.... But best of all -- there is a missionary doctor [Gordon Seagrave] who has lived here for 30 years ... at a place called Namkham about five miles away, where he has a hospital. And they have arranged with him to come over three times a week to look after us. He is certainly an answer to prayer. Everybody likes him and has confidence in him, so I think perhaps the health situation will improve. When it does this is going to be heaven on earth -- until the Japs come over, then of course it's going to be hell.

There is only one word for [the CAMCO manager] Chuck Hunter. He is a hero. You wouldn't believe it possible that he could have come into this place less than a year ago and accomplish what he has. All roads had to be built, everything had to be brought in by trucks, and all labor imported. And believe it or not, they are now turning out airplanes. You couldn't believe it if you didn't see it. There are nine families here and four bachelors. About 2,500 Chinese workmen and they are all housed very well. Electric lights, running water and many more creature comforts. The Club House where I am living is going to be beautiful when it is finished. It sits on a high hill overlooking the valley and is well arranged. As soon as it is finished and the furniture in it there will be nothing more to ask for in the way of beauty and comfort....

I am hoping my baggage will arrive this week. I am reduced to wearing stockings with runs in them. Can you imagine that! But if everybody sends me stockings that have promised me them I shall be swimming in them soon. I have lived in one suitcase since I left Rangoon November second. The clothes situation is far form satisfactory naturally, but I seem to manage somehow or other. All the wives have kindly offered to lend me whatever I need. They know what it is, for they all had to live in grass shacks for months on end.... [The comptroller] Doc Walsh is almost a total wreck physically and mentally and he may be going soon. He has had the responsibility of dealing with the Chinese Government and that as you can imagine is a number one job. Chuck Hunter is pivot around which everything revolves. He has had malaria five times and any number of other things and continues to carry on doing the work of five men and never getting upset or ruffled. The other boys are all good at their job and have worked with him in a way to gladden anybody's heart.

[late December 1939] -- My Rangoon baggage arrived on Tuesday afternoon and I took Wednesday afternoon off from office to unpack. That is one time I enjoyed unpacking. The cedar chest with my winter coats, furs, etc., has not yet arrived and won't be here for some time, but in spite of being the world's most irresponsible person, Wallace [Pawley] got everything there was in Rangoon except these two cases, my dressing case, which is in the H & S vault, and my tennis racquet. He says it is coming, but I rather imagine he left it at some club in Rangoon and I shan't see it again. Doc Walsh is in Rangoon now, so I am not worried about the trunk containing the files and my cedar chest. He will see that I get them. And I have eventually got the receipt for the dressing case out of Wallace. And as long as it stays in the bank's vault, at least it is safe. Two of the trunks that came up contain your stuff. I think perhaps I shall be wearing it before I leave here. I am not going to unpack the big case of silver. I rather imagine it will be scratched and bent by the time we see it again. Two trips over these roads would bend and scratch cast iron, much less fragile silver vases.

Saturday, the 23rd, we are giving a luncheon at the Club House for the Governor General of Burma. So we are all busy with that at present. Saturday night Betty and Andy Sargeant are having a Christmas party. Sunday morning I am going to Namkham to service at the church there. Dr. Seagrave, the missionary doctor there has invited Bill Stoker and Al Anderson to come over and stay for breakfast later, and they have asked me to go along. Dr. Seagrave comes over three times a week to our hospital and we all adore him. He is certainly one of the world's unsung heroes and almost restores one's faith in missionaries. Christmas night we are having a buffet dinner and dance at the Club House. We have to start to work on the 26th. It will be my most unusual Christmas. No shopping at all. But of course I am not grieving over that, for I always hated the job. Christmas Day from 11 to 2 we are invited to Gertrude and Chuck Hunter's for eggnog, and that will be our nearest approach to anything like our usual Christmas celebrations. I am giving my self a saddle for Christmas. It is being made in Kunming and will cost CNC$150 -- about US$10 -- and as soon as it comes I think I'll buy me a nag.... I have to get up early and I work late, so I won't have an opportunity to ride except on Sunday. I might add I also work Saturday afternoon. But it's my own doing. I wanted to come and I have no one to blame but myself. But I am much happier here than I have ever been in Hongkong and perhaps it is better here where everybody knows me than being in Rangoon. If only I can keep well, I know I shall like it.

Now Comes Theodora

My living at the Club House seems to be working out all right. Wallace Pawley [the youngest of the brothers, and evidently in charge at Loiwing] has arrived and he and I had words about the way he handled my baggage--he didn't know a thing about it and after I had burned up the wires with a couple of cables he found he had it all but two cases in his own packing cases. Then one night he made a filthy remark in my presence and Al Anderson and Jack Sheridan didn't half tell him where he got off. They told him that the boys not only invited me to live there but wanted me and if he couldn't behave like a gentleman he could get out. Pretty strong words to tell the boss's brother. However, I know him of old and we manage to get along all right, and he is kindness itself usually, but heaven help you if he has to do anything pertaining to work or a job of any kind. Right now he is starting a poultry farm. Wonder how he and the chickens will get along. He will probably forget to feed them.

All the other boys are swell -- even if you don't like that word. Al Anderson is one of the nicest kids I ever met, quiet and shy and unassuming and hard working. Bill Stoker is grand when Mary's away (which she is), Jack Sheridan is a sketch. He is Doc's assistant and I work with him. Doc is in Rangoon now and the other day I asked Jack if I could have the afternoon off and he said yes -- where are you going I'll go with you. Walter Sobol you remember. He brought us in from Mokanshan that time. [Sebie] Smith is a bit of a lad but a great boy and Roger Reynolds, one of the finest test pilots in the world, renews my faith in the human race. Of course, I've always thought the world and all of both Chuck and Doc. Doc is not well and is worried about everything, including his family, but he is still kind and good to me.

Jan. 7, 1940 -- Loiwing is still lovely. The sunshine is like liquid gold and why I can't get rid of this cough I am sure I don't know. Doctor Seagrave has been a darling in looking after me, but he knows how to pick out horrible medicine and that's no joke. Personally I think a good dose of castor oil would have been better than all the high powered muck he poured into me....

We've been having lots of visitors to this place. Our last one was Sir Stafford Cripps. He and his party spent the night here last Monday. I didn't get to meet them as I was in bed, but they had their dinner from one of our tablecloths. The Governor General of Burma came up on Dec. 23rd, and there seems hardly a day that we don't have to put up a company dinner. It really is a treat to have no one but the family for a meal.

Doc and Chuck have certainly looked after me well. I don't know what I've ever done to deserve so much attention. I know one thing. Doc likes to tell me his troubles and he takes my advice about a lot of things. We sat out in the sun for two hours before lunch today talking over stuff and things. He has just told me that he is going to arrange for my salary to be paid in gold at the highest rate I was getting before exchange broke. He says it will be fixed up and he will talk to Bill [Pawley] about it when he has done it. Is that a pal or is that a pal! So don't worry too much about the old finances. I should be able to save something here. I can't spend any money except my mess bill and that can't be too high, although we certainly live well....

Jan. 15, 1940 -- Things in the factory are moving along all right. Of course there are troubles and tribulations but that is to be expected, I suppose. It is marvelous what has been accomplished. Walter Winchell talked about us in his New York broadcast on January 6th, a great deal about Chuck as Winchell deals mostly in personalities. Time magazine had an article about us sometime during the latter part of October or early November.

18 Feb 1940 -- I am feeling very well now and am able to work hard all day without being tired. As a matter of fact I think I feel better than at any time since I've been here. But I am keeping my fingers crossed, the mosquitoes are still with us. My room is screened and I sleep under a net and the room is flitted constantly. I don't know that there is any more I can do. The malaria mosquitoes only bite after six o'clock. I have ordered a pair of soft leather boots from Rangoon. They come up to my knees and as soon as I get home from office I intend wearing them, even if I am dressed up in my best evening dress....

Went to a party Tuesday night at Bill Stokers and had a very good time. Doc said it was all right if I went if I didn't stay too late. Came home at one though some of the crowd made a night of it and got in at 6 A. M. After the dancing and supper they got into a poker game and that screwball Wallace was betting a hundred rupees a time. This after Bill coughed up, the latest rumor says, US $10,000 to keep him out of jail in Rangoon because of gambling debts. I played bridge with him last night and took him into camp. I knew if I bided my time I could take his number....

We are test flying planes now. It is very thrilling watching them being built and then flown. Whenever I have time I go out into the shop and watch them building on the Hawks. Next we build Vultees and some C.W. 21's. They are the babies we need, for they can take off and be up in one minute. Roger Reynolds, chief test pilot, is a whiz. I believe he could fly anything that had wings. He is a grand person along with it too. Drinks very little and looks after his health like nobody's business. He is recognized as one of the first eight test pilots in America, and I imagine that means the world, because certainly in aviation America is tops. We understand that England and France have bought about 3,000 Wright engines recently. [The Hawk III was a Curtiss-designed biplane fighter-bomber, the backbone of the Chinese Air Force in the 1930s. The Vultee V-11 was a slow, single-engine attack plane, and the CW-21 was a fast interceptor developed from a Curtiss sportplane. -- DF]

Cowboy: interpreter, warlord, one more casualty

March 2, 1940 -- Factory construction is going along very well. We hope to finish this lot of planes by April 15th, and then the big contract begins. Right now sidewalks are being built, the runway has been crowned and drained and roads are being graveled, all in preparation for the rainy season. All the houses are being screened and although work seems to move slowly, it is really surprising the improvements that have been made in the three months that I have been here. The Americans all seem to be getting restless, and want to take vacations or resign or do something crazy. Right now when it is so necessary that things move fast they are all asking for their two weeks' vacation. Al and Bill Stoker left Saturday morning at 5 o'clock, intending to drive to Rangoon in two days. No one thinks they will do it, but Al says its only a breeze. April 4, 1940 -- Mr. Pawley arrives next Monday. He seems to be bringing a thundering herd with him. A new engineer by the name of McCarthy [later spelled McCarty] is coming. I remember meeting him in Shanghai in 1936. He is the man that built the Pacific and Atlantic Clippers. He must have plenty on the ball. Mr. Mathews is coming. He is the accountant form the New York office and I had lunch with him when I was in New York last year. George Arnold is coming out... A metallurgist is also in the party. One new man arrived Monday who has the high sounding title of "production engineer". Dr. [George] Sellett is also coming....

Monday Morning. Things happen fast around this place. Saturday night a cable came in saying Mr. Pawley was bringing Olga Smith and Phyllis Steagals with him and to furnish a house for the three of us [women]. Like a bolt out of the blue it came as I had just got my room all nicely fixed up. Walter [Sobol] and all the boys jumped to early Sunday morning and with Betty's and Gertrude's help we moved me down to Murph's house.... Chuck says he has got a feeling he is going to be fired before the day is over. It will be a sad day for Bill Pawley and Central Aircraft if that happens. Bill is bringing out George Arnold and all the men despise the sight of him.... It is a shame, these boys have come out here and roughed it for over a year and got things going and now Bill brings out a lot of super executives to ride over them. If it were not for his money, his own brothers wouldn't stick to him. Instead of binding these heroes to him forever, he goes ahead and throws vinegar on them. He will probably give them all a check and then consider that he has been magnanimous. But they are all waiting for him. If he makes one squawk he is going to be without the men who really do the work. Aviation industry in America is thriving to such an extent now that they could all walk into good jobs back home. And if he makes one dirty crack at me, he is going to bring in another secretary.... I suppose Dr. Sellett will be the one to pour oil on the troubled waters. But as much as I think of him I hope he doesn't stick around long.

April 18, 1940 -- Tuesday Mr. Pawley, Ed Pawley, Dr. Sellett and Prof Dickinson left. It broke our heart to see Prof Dickinson leave but he has promised to come back as soon as he can see to things in Chengtu. Dr. Sellett was very cordial and affable and Ed was all right this time. Mr. [Bill] Pawley has apparently grown richer and more prosperous and somehow or other he doesn't seem as he did in the old Shanghai days. I think perhaps I remind him of those days and he rather resents it, although he was quite nice, was much concerned that I had been so ill and how I liked it here. I still haven't got my salary fixed.... Doc is leaving in three weeks to be away six months. I doubt if he comes back.... Chuck is general manager while Doc is away and I am to do his [Chuck Hunter's] work. Of course I like that.... McCarty, the famous engineer, is very nice, has a charming manner and is very friendly. I don't know how Bill ever got him away from Martin. He was their chief engineer. No one can understand it. He perhaps wanted the experience in a foreign country.

May 10 1940 -- Wallace is very subdued since Mr. Pawley's arrival. Apparently Bill is venting his spleen on the poor boy. I rather imagine the night that Bill leaves Wallace is going to get howling drunk -- and I don't much blame him. Of course, I suppose Bill is thinking about that US $10,000 he had to cough up to keep him out of jail in Rangoon.

May 18, 1940 -- Today at lunch we had quite a lot of excitement The CNAC plane came in unexpectedly and was over the field before we knew anything about it. A Hawk III was in the middle of the runway and there was great excitement amongst the lot of us for fear the pilot would come down and not see it. Fortunately just before he landed some coolies on the runway had enough sense to taxi it over to one side. We brought the passengers up to the Club House for sandwiches and drinks and they were all exclaiming over the Club House and the beauty of Loiwing....

I won't mention the war. I am too worried about you all to even form any idea. There seems to be little left to hope for. After all England has been a great power for 300 years and there is no reason to expect, in the light of history, why she should not decline, but oh what a sad sad case of what might have been. The Chinese are giving the noble Japs a run for their money. Last night's radio said the Chinese are in striking distance of Hankow. I suppose now that Germany is walking away with things, our noble allies, the Japs and Wops will come in on her side, exactly as they did the last time on our side. If and when it is over and England should survive I wish the statemen who write the peace terms would remember that charity begins at home, and that hands across the sea is a beautiful little bit of sentiment, but it won't work with gangsters and outlaws and cut-throats.

May 25, 1940 -- Another week gone by. It must have been an anxious one for you all. You are ever in my thought these days. Do take good care and try to get all the food you can laid by. Methinks you are going to need it before this war is over. We only have the radio news and much of the time the interference is so bad we miss the vital part. It is a case of hope for the best. When will this crazy world settle down. Not in our life time, I very much fear me.

Mr. Pawley has been in Rangoon this week and we have had things a little easier, although I've earned my corn all right. Matty [Mathews?], Chuck and Doc manage to keep me on my toes most of the time. When Mr. Pawley is here my most difficult task is sending and receiving cables. Thank heavens we don't have to code them, or I should be crazy. Keeping track of receipts and replies is a full time job....

Mr. Pawley is due back today. He is driving the station wagon from Lashio and he is going to have some idea of what things out here are like. It is 150 miles and usually takes 6 to 7 hours to make the trip. With the heavy rains it will probably take him all day and I know he will be a grand humor when he reaches here tonight. Chuck and Doc are thoroughly delighted that he is going to get a taste of what they went through during the rains last year. I am going to have some definite news for you about my salary by the time I write you next week....

the Glen Edwards diaries

June 1, 1940 -- Mr. Pawley has gone back to Chungking and we are hoping for a peaceful week. He is leaving for the States soon. He has several big deals on and goodness knows what will be the outcome. He got a wire late Wednesday asking him to go to Lashio as the CNAC plane had a sick engine. He rode all night and got to Lashio at 5:30. There were six of our people on the plane and he persuaded Royal Leonard to fly the plane on to Loiwing, although it had been pouring rain for a week and the runway was a lake. Chuck and Doc were scared for it to be done and after we left the office we said well we stopped that plan all right. Went up to the Club House and were sitting having a beer when we heard a plane, looked out and there was the DC-2. We all jumped into the car and went rushing down. Royal made a perfect three-point landing and we breathed a sigh. I went rushing over and saw Charles and threw my arms around his neck and he said Mamie I am so glad to see you I could kiss you, but before he could do it I spied Millie and we both got excited and started jumping up and down and I broke the frame of my glasses. However, Sebie Smith, of the instrument department, fixed them for me yesterday.

[The "big deals" probably included the first hint of the American Volunteer Group. In January, Intercontinent vice-president Bruce Leighton had urged the U.S. Navy to help set up a guerrilla air force "consisting of fifty dive-bombers, fifty twin-engine bombers, fifty pursuits, and ten transports." In June, not long after Pawley's visits to Chongqing, Chiang Kai-shek would send his brother-in-law T.V. Soong to Washington to seek U.S. military aid, and in October Claire Chennault would be sent to join him.]

Mr. Pawley was all a dither to get going to Chungking and after pulling the plane in and working on it all night we waked up yesterday with one of the hardest rains we've yet had. But he ws determined to go. Royal taxied a little distance and bang went his left wheel into the mud. They had to get the tractor to pull him out. He turned he round and went down the field very low and slow and I was sure he was going into the ditch. It looked as though he had inches to spare when he finally got his wheels up. Some of the boys say they saw where he left and he had 700 feet more, but I still don't believe it.

June 8, 1940 -- The news now is so disheartening that I scarcely know what to say, so will only tell you that I am hoping you are going to be safe and all right. Our radios have all been filled with static the past few days and nothing has been clear enough for us to make heads or tails from it. We did hear that Paris had been bombed and the outskirts of London. Goodness know what will have happened by the time you read this letter. I suppose all we can do is hope for the best....

Mr. Pawley will be back for a short visit next week and then back to the States. Doc I think now will be leaving from Hongkong on the 26th. Mr. Pawley let him down on his 19th sailing. When he goes, I think the coming and going will about be over. We've certainly had our share of visiting firemen these past three months. The rains have started now and there won't be any [visitors] until next Autumn. We can do with some peace and quiet. I will have a busy time if all the girls leave, although I think I can manage all right and I honestly believe it will be better. Olga didn't fit into the picture at all. Phyllis is so emotionally unstable that I don't think she could weather much of a storm, and Millie might go off the deep end with all the male company and no Charles in the offing. As for Mamie, she likes it here, and, except from being separated from you she would be perfectly contented. And I honestly think most the gang would hate to see me leave.

June 18, 1940 -- This has been a most heartbreaking week. I am all right and things are going well, but I have thought of you constantly and have spent every conscious moment hoping and praying that you are safe and that somehow or other a miracle will occur and that England yet may be saved. My heart stopped absolutely last night when we heard on the radio that France had given the order to cease fire. I couldn't believe it, and was relieved this morning to know that there is still a faint hope that they may continue.

We had an exciting day here today. Mr. Pawley flew in yesterday in the new Vultee transport which, apparently is not equipped with a high enough powered engine. They left Kunming and were 3 1/2 hours in the air completely lost. Eventually, through more good luck than anything else, they found Paoshan and came down. At that time they had 12 gallons of gas left and you know it doesn't take long for an airplane to eat 12 gallons of gasoline. They refueled and came on in here where they spent last night and were supposed to take off this morning at 9. They were working on the ship with some Chinese test pilots were testing some Hawks and just about the time they were ready to warm up, the Chinese test pilot flew down right over the field dropping a note saying his landing gear was stuck and he couldn't let his wheel down. Three or four times he came in to land and they waved him up. He was so near the ground I am sure I could have touched him. But each time the old engine pulled up. Finally he dropped his belly tank and we knew he would come in for a belly landing. But they continued to wave him up. And then Roger Reynolds our foreign test pilot took off in another plane and got close enough to him to hold out a wrench and show him how to work a certain gadget with his hand which would help release the landing gear. By that time all of us on the ground were all set to watch a beautiful crash, or what's more see him lose his head and bail out which would have been fatal at the height he was holding. However, when Roger showed him the wrench he waved his hands as much as to say no good, and Roger says all right I'll go back down and get out of your way. In a few minutes he came over the field with his wheels down but we certainly had an anxious hour.

Then about an hour later Mr. Pawley took off in the Vultee and, although I didn't see the take-off, Doc was telling me that he left the runway with only 200 feet to spare and he just skimmed the roof of the Club House. Doc and the Hunter children are leaving in the Vultee Thursday to connect with a CNAC at Kunming and then on into Hongkong where they take the Clipper next Wednesday. So many people have told Gertrude that the ship is no good that she is almost in hysterics about the children going in it. Chuck told Doc and me tonight he was in for a tough two months.

June 26, 1940 -- Well, Jim, never a dull moment in Loiwing. Last night they found bubonic plague infested rates in the workmen's barracks and today everybody is running around in circles. All the workmen walked out of the factory. It's like a dead city. There are about three of us at office. Matty and Chuck are all excited and nervous and don't know whether they are coming or going. My, my, how we need Doc. He would be as excited as they are but no one would ever know it. They are digging trenches around the workmen's barracks preparatory to burning them down about 5 o'clock this afternoon. Everybody is being injected but it will be ten days before we know what the outcome will be. They are going to fly serum in to take care of everyone. This place would give anybody the willies -- the way they react to epidemics, rumors, fears, etc. It makes me sick. Take your shot and forget about it. If it gets you -- you can't do anything about it anyway. Why the factory has to close down I don't know. It's the worst thing they could do to let the Chinese congregate and talk about it.

[The women went down to Maymyo in Burma for three weeks to wait out the plague. -- DF]

The Lady and the Tigers

July 26, 1940 -- The factory is back at work but with the closing of the Burma Road goodness only knows how long we will be able to do anything. We can't even bring in gasoline.... I had a grand three weeks' rest in Maymyo and every one says I am looking fit. Got all my clothes in order and now have nothing to worry about in that direction. Got two new evening dresses, a black and white silk print, blue linen, two woollen dresses that I got in Bradford, a pair of flannel slacks, two play suits, a blue knitted sweater and coat -- like my brown slacks -- that I wear with the gray flannels, two or three blouses, and all my underwear repaired. What I need now is an amah to press all of it.

August 5, 1940 -- Gertrude Hunter has been quite sick. She had a slight operation and doesn't seem able to get over it very quickly. Chuck is running around like a chicken with its head off and has aged about ten years in the eight months I have been down here. All the old boys still despise the sight of George Arnold and everything seems shot to hell to me. I've never known the spirit of the boys to be at such a low state. In the place of the old spirit of comradeship, they seem totally uninterested in the place. Of course I think they are afraid Doc won't come back. If Mr. Pawley knows what is good for the money he has sunk in here he will get Doc back as fast as he can. I know I shall certainly be much happier when he gets back. Matty is all right but he has never tackled anything like this and knows absolutely nothing about the Chinese and tries to handle them like he would an American factory.

Aug. 5 1940 -- Well, I've just about reached a settlement re my salary and goodness I am glad to have it over. I am not so particularly steamed up about it, but it's not too bad. I am to have my salary from October to July in Hongkong dollars at the prevailing rate of exchange for each of those months. From July 1st I am on flat US $175 per month -- but, in addition, I get my expenses, and that includes all the time I am here. Expenses to include everything, laundry, tips, cigaretts, beer, etc. So I suppose I can't complain. I haven't many outstanding bills and when the final payment is made to me I should have a little cash in hand. I will send you a draft as soon as I get my check. And I want you to buy some new suits, etc. There isn't much here for me to spend my money on. I'll probably have to refund the amount I spent for clothes in Maymyo and I should think for poker bridge etc $25 a month will do -- although at present I am far ahead of the game at both bridge and poker. So I should be able to save $150 a month, if everything works out right. Now I am feeling much better about things in general and I suppose I'll have to start being cheerful about all this hard work I am putting out.

Aug. 19, 1940 -- Things around this place are in a continual state of upheaval. I some times wonder if we will ever settle down again to peaceful living. There are dozens of visitors here now, government auditors, Dr. Sellett, Ed Pawley and goodness knows who all. They get under your feet and in your hair. Matty is running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to get the annual audit finished and ship out a couple of spare auditors. Then he has to take over the Government auditors. I scarcely ever see him and in the meantime his desk looks like a cyclone had struck it. I suppose I could get busy and answer some of his mail, but with the situation as it is I should probably make more mistakes than anything else, and I don't feel inclined in that direction.

Sept. 24, 1940 -- Saturday night Ailene Felio had a party -- buffet dinner -- and afterwards dancing at the Club. We didn't have our usual late Saturday night, but I stayed in bed until about 10:30 Sunday. There were some visitors in the camp so I had to get up to be polite. After lunch Matty and I drove to Namkham to buy some gasoline. It certainly is "precious liquid fuel" now that the British won't allow any to come into China....

Now that the Japanese have got Indo China, we may all be going soon. I don't know whether they will bomb us out or just walk in and take us over. We are all sitting on a volcano to see what happens. I think Hitler must have given up the idea of barging into England. I was very pleased to hear the other day that America is turning over the [B-17] Flying Fortresses to England -- all she has -- because those babies are just what their name implies. Our armament man has flown in them and he says they can really go to town.

October 28 1940 -- Well, darling, the long expected day arrived Saturday. Just after lunch with no warning at all the Japanese came in with 35 planes and dropped 150 bombs. And what a mess. So far we have found 38 dead, 120 workmen's houses destroyed and considerable damage to the plant. I was in the bathroom at the time and rushed out just in time to get the last car. Ed Pawley jumped out of the grunt seat to give me his place and as the bombers were right above us at the time he swung onto the side and Matty gave the car the gun. Turning the corner Ed fell off. Another man jumped off to look after him and yelled to Matty to keep going, which Matty did. As I looked back I saw him rolled over in a ditch and just at that moment the bombs started falling. We rushed over across the bridge to Burma but on the way several cars in front of us had stopped and the people had run into the grass and ditches, so we had to do the same. It didn't take the little devils long to do their dirty work and we were soon back in the car and long gone. After reaching the Club House Matty turned immediately round to come back. We had already seen the flames from the 100 houses and knew there had been big loss of life. Soon as Matty left Andy Sargeant decided he would come back and I jumped in the car with him and we rushed to the hospital. You know how I hate the Japs -- well since that afternoon in the hospital it has doubled. I don't know the first thing about hospital work but I learned a good deal quick....

It is beyond my comprehension how anyone can be cruel enough to cause such human suffering as I witnessed on Saturday. I can't write you about the details. I'll have to wait and tell you -- there are too many and too harrowing. But if I never see another Jap it will be too soon. I wish America would do something about it. One girl in camp had a portable radio and heard the broadcast from Hanoi which said Loiwing had been completely wiped out and that the aircraft plant was jointly owned by Chinese and British. Naturally they would say that. They dared not say it was American owned. We are hoping to high heaven that the State Department will just add it on to the score against Japan. But I don't know. If America waits much longer it will be too late, I fear me.

Flying Tigers

Nov. 18 1940 -- I hardly know where to begin to tell you all the news. At right this minute I am sitting in a garage where we have set up an office. Chuck, Matty three Chinese and I in a one-car garage and we are trying to work. We have moved out of the Club House and I am living in a grass shack in Manwing. Its really lots of fun right now but I know I'll freeze in another few weeks. We have a communal sitting room and dining room and then Murph, Walter Sobol, Al Anderson, Matty and I each have a little grass shack of our own. Matty is leaving the 15th of December and Doc Walsh is due back about the 5th of December. I didn't think Doc would come back especially after being bombed out of Loiwing. I haven't heard what the eventual decision will be about the factory. Dr. Sellett is still in India....

The eventual count after the bombing was 40 dead, of whom five were Shan coolies, and 60 injured. Many of them are still in Dr. Seagrave's hospital as we had to dismantle our hospital. One bomb fell only fifty feet from it. We have had two or three air raid alarms since the big day but so far they have not been back. We have a much better network now and except for one big gap Doc and Chuck think we will get at least a half hour's warning. We certainly had a close call on October 26th and I don't think any of us would care to repeat the performance. How it happened none of us were hurt is simply staggering to the imagination. Andy Sargeant -- who knows a lot about these things -- says they missed it by three seconds. Had they pulled the bombs three seconds later the entire factory, hospital, runway and Club House were right in the line of flight. As it was, they (the bombs) fell in the workmen's huts, the staffmen's houses, two or three factory buildings, and just missed the hospital. The Club House was next in line and a dud fell back of it. And I stopped to brush my teeth. Can you beat it. Of course, I never for a moment dreamed that we wouldn't have a few minutes warning....

What of yourself, Jimmie darling? Thirteen years ago tomorrow we were in Shanghai and being married. What a life we have led since that day ...and this seems to be the climax. I know I am weary of this existence and feel that you must be even more so. The years are taking their toll all too rapidly and I can't see any end to it all.

Jan 7 1941 -- Well, a New Year and I wonder what it will bring to us. I am not too enthusiastic at the moment and I suppose another long year of waiting for better times. We are carrying on but what a struggle. In the early mornings there is a trace of ice and believe me it is cold climbing out of bed and dressing in a grass shack and then coming to work in one. We have now dug a hole in the ground and have charcoal burning but with all the sides propped up it is almost useless -- except I can warm my fingers when they get too cold to type any more. Doc and I and some of the boys are planning on moving back to the dormitory but Chuck has put his foot down and I suppose we will have to carry on as we have been for the past two months and a half. I am keeping quite well though....

New Year's eve we had a party at the Club House since it wasn't moonlight and had our usual dancing and singing. Dr. Sellett was here at the time and he seemed to quite enjoy it. He had got back from the Indian trip the day before. That was the trip I was supposed to take with him and which he told me would last about ten days. Actually it lasted two months. New Year's day was full of conferences although most of us went to a cocktail party at the Giles and I later had dinner over at the other bachelor mess. Thursday I didn't come down in the morning but did work in the afternoon. That night we all had dinner with Gertrude and Chuck. Dr. Sellett left at 4 o'clock Thursday morning and had Al to drive him to Maymo for an interview with the Governor. They came back to Lashio Friday morning and he caught CNAC there about 3, arriving here at 3:30. After an hour's conference here, while the CNAC pilot was biting his fingernails, he left for Chungking. I wont see him again for some time as he is leaving for America as soon as he makes a trip to Shanghai. He came back from India looking better than I have ever seen him and the first night he slept in the grass shack he got a terrible cold. When Al got him to Maymyo he had to go directly to the doctor before he could see the Governor and immediately to hospital for the night after the interview. Apparently his India trip was successful -- as is usual with him. There is a distinct possibility that I may be transferred to India. If so, I shall be in Bangalore which I am told has the finest climate in India.

Doc isn't settling down too well. He hates the conditions under which we have to work and live. Being a fiend for work, it is difficult for him to knock off at 5 -- which we are compelled to do -- and he hates coming down early. Says there is no use as it is too cold to work. He suffers from the cold more than any of us I think.

[In February, Mamie went with Dr. Sellett to Bangalore, probably in connection with establishing the government-owned Hindustan Aircraft factory as a backup to the Loiwing plant. "Mac" McCarty and some other Americans were already there. -- DF]

March 3, 1941 -- Life in Loiwing is about as usual. A good many of the personnel have left. Gertrude and Chuck [Hunter] are leaving for America on the next Clipper and there will be only two women left in camp when she goes. I have no idea what my final assignment is going to be but I hope I can stay here. I have been happier here than anywhere in China except, of course, Shanghai.

Dr. Sellett arrived yesterday from India and will be here for a few days. I suppose I'll get plenty of work when he eventually gets down to it. He had a conference until 2 AM this morning and has yet hasn't put in an appearance. However, I am feeling fit again and have had four games of golf since I got back.... The weather now is beautiful. My little grass shack is cozy and warm at night with a charcoal fire in the big iron pot. It isn't cold enough for a fire in the morning. When I got back, Matty had had it all cleaned, everything tuned out, and put back in good order. All my clothes aired and packed away in my camphor chest, lots of nice flowers in both my sitting room and bedroom, and a bottle of John Haig dimple on my desk. It made me think of the times when I used to come home from vacations and you always had the house so nice.

The Only War We've Got

March 11, 1941 -- We were all glad to hear last night on the radio that the Lease and Lend bill had gone through safely. I wonder what Hitler thinks of that.

May 28, 1941 -- We have moved back to the Club House and are about settled in again. My but its grand to have a bathroom again. With the rains and insects the grass shacks became unbearable. There are eleven of us at present but several are leaving this week so we will only be a small family. We have quite a lot of visitors from time to time, who bring us news of the outside world.... At the moment, we are saying goodby to Matty. Every one hates like hell to see him go. He has been a good friend to all of us. I, especially, am going to miss him for he has been more than kind and considerate of my welfare. Al Anderson is going at the same time. He is going to America for two months at the factory and then back to India. We shall also miss him. He is a nice kid. Right now he is growing a mustache that makes him look like nothing on earth.

June 4, 1941 -- We have had a busy time the past week. Mr. E. P. Pawley, General Chow Chih-jou and a mission of American flying officers have been down on a visit. They only intended staying one day but Royal Leonard, the pilot, got sick and they stayed two days. We certainly had a busy time, believe me. We had not got really settled into the Club House and trying to do all that entertaining was no mean feat. They left yesterday about 12:30 and we were able to breathe again.

Matty leaves tomorrow night. My, how I am going to miss him. He has been a father and mother and boss all rolled into one person. I don't think I ever knew anyone who was so completely sympathetic with the troubles of others. I hope he comes back. I don't know that I will be very busy when he goes but I will have a certain amount of responsibility. Al Anderson left for home Monday. He is going back to the factory for a few months and then going to India. We are going to miss him also.... There will soon be only three or four of us left. However Chuck comes back on the same plane that Matty leaves. Gertrude isn't coming back with him. When she got home the doctor said it was only a severe case of nerves. There is only one woman left other than myself and that is Mrs. Vivian Giles. I haven't heard anything further about my future and am just sitting patiently for any news that might break. Understand Mr. Pawley will be coming out soon.

July 30, 1941 -- Chuck still isn't back. He is down [in Rangoon] looking after the planes and pilots that America is sending to China. I hope they get busy soon. Our gang grows continually smaller. An occasional batch of visitors drop in on us. And that is about the extent of our excitement.... We have been free of air raids since returning to the Club House. Have only had one and it wasn't serious. The Japs may get busy now before the American planes and pilots get in operation, but I rather imagine they have some other fish to fry at the moment. I'll take my hat off to the Russians. They seem to be giving Germany a language she can understand in very unabridged editions. And with the RAF giving her what for on the other side, there is no doubt she has waked up to the fact that she has a war on her hands.

August 11, 1941 -- Chuck has been up for a week. He has been made a Colonel in the U.S. Army and is in charge of the ground crew of Americans coming out here to fly for China. Incidentally we are supposed to get 1,500 pilots and 1,500 planes, with a ground crew of about 3,000. So big things are happening soon. Colonel Chennault is in charge of the mission. Chuck is returning to Rangoon Sunday, a Beechcraft is coming up for him and I am going down with him, if all goes well. Dr. Seagrave says I simply must wear long dresses with long sleeves, in addition to my leather boots, in the evening [against mosquitoes].

All the gang are going along all right. We are getting pretty tired of waiting for things to happen but Chuck assures us that another two months and we won't know the place. We will likely get another visit from the little yellow bellies but I am going to get a pair of field glasses and stand out to watch the fight. We'll have plenty of fast American pilots and plenty of fast American planes and it won't be any walkover this time. They will probably never get here anyway. I am just longing for America to declare war on Japan and Russia to come in from Vladivostok at the same time and flatten the heavenly kingdom to hell and gone.

August 16, 1941 -- I hope if there is a war between the States and Japan it won't be fought in Shanghai. I am almost tempted to have our furniture shipped to the States but right at the moment freight is so exorbitant that it would cost a fortune to ship it. The storage rates are not very high when translated into U.S. Dollars so perhaps its best to wait and see. My silver and linen are still in the Bhamo godown, and my papers are in an iron safe in the Bhamo godown. They should be safe enough.

Sept. 11, 1941 -- I've just come to office and find a cable from Mr. Pawley telling me I am to be transferred to Rangoon and I don't like it at all. I would much rather be here with Doc and Chuck. And I prefer living here to Rangoon. What a life I lead! I've got a damn good mind to go to America, I am so fed up. What burns me up is that Mr. Pawley told me I could stay here and then he gets back to Rangoon and decided I must go there. His brother Ed is down there and nobody likes him. I can see some rows in the offing because I am not going to pay any attention to him. Rangoon climate is not nearly as good as Loiwing and we are just coming into our good weather here. In addition I've bought all my clothes for Loiwing and I won't need them in Rangoon.

I suppose I'll have to live in the Strand Hotel and that will be a nice howdy do -- there isn't any place else. I suppose I'll have to take my medicine though. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Doc doesn't leave when I do. He is fed up with Mr. Pawley and this is about the last straw. I hope he does. They can't run this place without Doc and Mr. Pawley knows it. I haven't said anything to Doc about it yet. He just handed me the telegram and has gone out but I am going to tell him how I feel about it when he comes in. I haven't told Chuck either. Chuck is back here to stay now simply because he couldn't get on with Ed.

The High Country

Sept. 24, 1941 -- Mr. Pawley is coming back Friday and I am going to have a chin wag with him. He told me when he was here last time I could go anywhere I wanted to where he had an office and I told him I preferred to stay in Loiwing and then when he gets back to Rangoon he cables me to go there. I know exactly what's happened. The office there is in a mess. He had also sent Sien there and now he is sending me. That brother of his isn't any heavyweight when he weighs his gray matter and in addition is as lazy as Wallace -- if that were possible. He is also sending out [Eugene] his third brother, whom I understand from Woody, the CNAC pilot, who knows him well, that he is the dumbest of the lot.... Chuck says he has had his stomach full of the "Pawley boys" and I am just about to reach the same conclusion. Chuck couldn't get along with Ed at all and you know anybody who couldn't manage to get along with Chuck must not be up to much.

Rangoon, Oct 13, 1941 -- I left Loiwing Wednesday morning by car and spent Wednesday night in Bhamo. I left there very early Thursday morning on an Irrawaddy Flotilla boat and had an entire day to myself as there were no other passengers. Reached Katha at 7 and the train was waiting. Got nicely settled and after about 2 hours had to make another change at Novbo. I had wired for a bed roll but none was available so I had to use my tweed coat for one. Reached Mandalay about 10:30 and spent the day there with Mr & Mrs John Kennedy who were formerly in Bhamo. Left Mandalay at six PM and reached here about 8:30 next morning. It was not nearly as bad a trip as I had expected. How ever as I didn't sleep very much on the train the two nights I enjoyed a little snooze yesterday afternoon. Got downstairs about 5 o'clock and ran into [Billy] Macdonald the pilot who loaned me the sox going to HongKong. Had a drink with him and went to see Greta Garbo in Minotchka, which I very much liked. Cam home and went to bed early. This morning I woke at 6, and started reading Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. Didn't put it down until 1:30 as it completely absorbed my interest. I am going to another picture this P. M. and have another good night's rest and be ready for the "Pawley boys" tomorrow.

Rangoon, October 21, 1941 -- Well, here I've been a week and it hasn't been too bad. The job I am doing at present doesn't require any brain work at all and its easy on my eyes. The office is quite pleasant and I am not worrying too much about work. Murph Gerrold blew into town last Monday for a week's stay and of course I enjoyed see him. We went to the picture show every night. Made no difference whether they were good or bad. We got a front seat and had a hilarious time. He left yesterday morning and I felt quite lonely. However, last night Dr. Gentry, American surgeon with the Volunteer Group, took me to the pictures and afterwards a nice long ride and a drink at a rather disreputable cafi. It was the only place open. We saw quite a good show, though. Today he is driving back to Toungoo and asked me to go up for a day or two. As I am doing work connected with that now, they said they thought it would be a good idea if I went up for a look-see. We are leaving in about half an hour. Dr. Gentry, Skip Adair and a young pilot that Dr. Gentry brought down for attention at the hospital here. It's a six-hour drive. I'll stay there tonight and tomorrow and come back by train tomorrow night. The group will be moving out of Toungoo soon and I am glad for a chance to see it before it breaks up.

[Later] We left here about 11 o'clock, had lunch at Pegu and arrived at Toungoo about 5.... Met [Jo Stewart and Emma Foster] two very nice American girls who are nurses and stayed with them in the mat shed hospital. They had picture shows that night so I attended with the boy who had been to school at Teachers College. Next day I was taken all around the place. Saw two emergency landings from the radio control tower. Had sandwiches and tea with the pilots in the ready room at 9:30. They start flying at 6 [AM]. In the afternoon we rode up into the mountains to a swimming pool and spent a very nice time. Came back for a beer at the station in Toungoo and then a nice evening on the hospital verandah talking to Dr. Gentry and some of the pilots. Returned to Rangoon on Thursday morning and walked into the dining room for lunch about 2 to find a crowd of Loiwing people had come in on the Lockheed. So Thursday night Andy Sargeant took us to a grand Chinese chow. Best one I've had in a long time....

Saturday a gang of the pilots blew in from Toungoo and I went to the races with them in the afternoon. Jack Nevin, who put in our refrigerating plant at Loiwing, took me to a 6:30 show and dinner afterwards at the Savoy. After a little spin I called it a day and went to bed. Jack had given me six new copies of Life Magazine and I spent Sunday morning reading them with much interest.... I had Sunday lunch with the gang from Toungoo and afterwards we went to some of the jewel shops. The boys were buying sapphires, star rubies, etc. Last night I had dinner with them and we sat talking in the lounge for some time.

I am staying at the Strand Hotel which is quite close to the office. Although it isn't up to much it's the best in Rangoon and that is where all of our gang hangs out. I haven't been drinking anything stronger than an occasional gin and bitters since I've been here....

Al Anderson is arriving in Rangoon somewhere around the first of November with another group of [AVG] pilots and mechanics. It will be good seeing Al again and in addition he is bring me some things from Matty.... I don't have much to do with Ed Pawley -- he is in charge of the office -- but apparently as a face saving they tell me I am in charge of the "department". That makes me laugh. Mrs. Ed Pawley is very nice. Mr. Bill Pawley blows in and out occasionally but I don't see much of him....

Tales of the Flying Tigers

Rangoon, Nov. 4, 1941 -- Friday night I had dinner and bridge with Mr. and Mrs. Ed Pawley, Saturday afternoon I went to the races with Andy and his "blonde Burmese", as the Toungoo boys call the Anglo-Burmans, and Dr [Lewis] Richards, second flight surgeon at Toungoo. It was crazy racing but I managed to come home with twenty chips to the good. Got back in time to go to a 6:30 show with Jack Nevin and dinner afterwards at the Savoy.... I am enclosing a cutting [about the AVG?] which I think will interest you. My particular job is looking after this personnel. At the end of the month when the payroll has to be made up, I am very busy but the rest of time there isn't so very much to do. As the new lots come in I have to make up personnel records, etc. There is a new boy [Kennedy] from the New York office who helps me and we manage to get things done without too much difficulty. I don't have to bother with anything else in the office and don't have very much contact with Ed Pawley, other than an occasional question.

Rangoon, Nov. 28, 1941 -- Rangoon is crowded with Americans now. There are all sorts of missions and commissions coming through here. The U. S. flag on trucks and cars is seen all over the place. The Volunteer group that I work with is increasing rapidly and there is certainly no indication but that they are out here to talk turkey.

[Rangoon, Dec. 9, 1941] -- You know I had always planned a celebration on the day America declared war on Japan. I've been waiting ten years for that and somehow or other I didn't feel a bit like it yesterday. I had had a very good time over the weekend. Doc stayed down from Tuesday until Monday. Saturday we went to the races. It was a gala affair as the Governor attended and presented a cup. In the evening we attended a War Donation ball at the hotel and Sunday we stayed pretty busy. Of course Doc had already left for the airport when I heard the news about the war and we couldn't even have a drink together. However, after the excitement died down Mr. Pearson, Standard Oil manager for Burma, asked me to go to a 6:30 picture show, -- said there wasn't a thing we could do about the Loiwing bombing -- and after the show we went for dinner to the Savoy. We celebrated with a bottle of wine and some fried chicken livers!

Dec. 10th. We are still without news from Loiwing and we heard they had bombed it again yesterday. So far we have had no bombing in Rangoon. I am now almost afraid to get the news from Loiwing. Perhaps, after all, it was a blessing that I was down here. I smile when I remember how I cursed when I was told to come down. I went to a picture show with Mrs. Pawley at 6:30 and then back to the hotel for dinner. As we walked in the lobby the first person we saw was the American Consul and he asked us what we were doing there. We explained that it was just a little food we were after and then we would beat it. Mrs. Pawley had done the best she could but we had to sleep on the floor. Even so I slept all right. We will have to have our lunches and dinner at the hotel for the next few days.

Dec. 11th. Last night's news brought the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse. That is a sad blow to the British Navy as both of them had just arrived out here. I still think we can hold them but it's going to take some doing owing to the way they started it. I am anxiously awaiting confirmation of the bombing of Japan. That's another little incident I've been long awaiting. I hope they made a good job of it and that is only the beginning, as I feel sure it is. If the Japs get Singapore, it will make it very difficult for us, but they haven't got it yet.

I notice the above two paragraphs are slightly wonky. So much excitement going on I can neither think straight nor type correctly. But don't worry about me. We keep a car ready for a quick get away all the time and the house where I am staying is as safe as any here. We won't have to go to the hotel much longer for dinner. And perhaps it will all be over by the time this reaches you. I haven't given Christmas another thought and as for going to Loiwing I very much fear that pleasure flying in Burma won't be a very safe pastime about that time. But we will look forward to a more settled and peaceful one next year.

[Mamie spent Christmas at Loiwing, missing the Dec. 23/25 raids on Rangoon. If she wrote more letters from Rangoon, they haven't survived. She probably left Rangoon when Bill Pawley closed the CAMCO office at the end of December. -- DF]

Loiwing, March 12, 1942 -- Life runs along smoothly, except that we have air raid alarms about every day and that causes a disruption of work. I always leave the area on the first alarm. It is a wearying job but it is better than being caught short, as I was the time they actually did bomb us. And if I waste a lot of time, it will have to be charged up to the war. There isn't much news to tell you. The AVG are still going strong. God bless them! They are a grand crowd of boys. It is unbelievable some of the things they have done. I'll have to tell you about them some day. What surprises me about the boys themselves is that in addition to being good pilots they are all so well educated and have such an unbelievable love for good music, and by that I mean symphonies and operas. We have a very good selection of classical records and as soon as any of them come in, off goes the jazz and on goes the symphonies and operas. It has done my heart good to see it. I wrote you about Dave Harris and what good friend we have become. He is General Chennault's aide and has been stationed here for some time, and if I have ever met a grander kid I don't know where it was. To have been brought up the way he undoubtedly has and to be as clean living and to be able to get so much enjoyment out of simple things proves to me that America has, by no means, gone to pot. The other day General Chennault radioed him to fly an old broken down ship to Kunming. You know this is lousy flying country around here and there was a question of whether or not the ship could make it. When somebody asked him what he though about it he said he didn't care much, for then he could kiss Mamie when he left and got back. I might add he is 23 years old. I nearly cried when one of the boys told me about it.

Not many of the old gang is left. Only Andy Sargeant, Murph [Gerrold], and Bill Stoker. Chuck has gone to India for a trip. Doc [Walsh] is still here but he has gone sour, for some reason or other. I am afraid too he is leading a very lonely life. He seems embittered about everything. Seems to take most of his meals in his room and when he does come out he isn't fit to be spoken to. I realize these are abnormal times and so does everyone else, but I am surprised that Doc can't take it any better.... Murph has just come back from a buying trip to Mandalay. I asked him to do some shopping for me and he brought back everything I asked him for.... He said the shop keeper got a shock when right after buying 75,000 Rupees worth of rice he asked for six boxes of Kotex.

Flying Tigers

Loiwing, March 16th [1942] -- The intervening four days have been more than hectic. Dr. Sellett and Mr. Pawley blew in for a couple of days, their last visit before leaving for the States. The usual rush and upheaval followed. They were supposed to leave Saturday afternoon by plane but actually didn't get away until Sunday morning. I had a heart to heart talk with Mr. P. which rather cleared the air. It wasn't all sweetness and light by any means but in his usually bland way I suppose he outtalked me. Be that as it may, I feel better about things and he assured me that he did also. It looks very much as if he were about to pull out of China soon. All contracts are up the end of September and as that isn't far away and the rainy season is right on us, he said he was going to take us out gradually and some of us as soon as he could make arrangements. He suggested I go to India or possible America and said that he would try to get me into some kind of job that suited me....

Cigarette situation is pretty bad right now. I managed to get a few [British] Players the other day. Dave has asked for his share of American cigarettes to be sent down here and I hope to goodness they come. Otherwise, we are going to be out of luck. I have just about stopped drinking any whisky at all. There is a fair supply at the Club but I seem to have lost my taste for it. There is a little beer left. At one time we had American beer, but all we have now is UB -- you remember the Shanghai beer. It isn't nearly so good as the other but it can be drunk. So far we haven't had any lack of food supplies, but that is due to foresight only and I don't know how long it will be before we will have to begin to ration our supplies. We had a grand whipped cream cake last night and I wished you might have had some of it.

We have just heard on the radio and through some AVG boys that came in that a CNAC plane crashed four miles from Kunming, killing 8 Americans and 5 British. One of the British was General Dennys. When I went back to Rangoon after Christmas up here we took him down with us in the Lockheed. He was a most charming man and one of the best British officials out here, so every one said. When we got to Toungoo we had a picnic lunch and in Mr. Pawley's usual manner, it was the last word. I will always remember how much General Dennys enjoyed it. Andy Sargeant heard on the radio, although I have not heard it, that F. B. Lynch was one of the passengers. If it is true, its another tragic end to another old China hand. Scottie [Emile Scott] was flying the plane and he and the co-pilot were both killed. The plane turned on its back and burned up. We are anxiously awaiting news of the complete passenger list. Mr. Lynch's death will be a sad blow to Dr. Kung. He and his wife were with us on our trip to India last January.

Loiwing, March 30 1942 -- I think I shall be leaving in a week or two, if it is still possible to get to India. Mr. Pawley is trying to arrange a passage for me from Bombay. I dread the long trip but it seems the only thing to do. There isn't much to do here and about six people to do the little that there is. In addition, this spot is going to be the scene of some big fighting in the very near future. We are due for it any day now. In fact [Chuck Older] one of our boys shot down a Japanese observation plane yesterday. He was about ten miles from the field when he was shot. That means the bombers are not far behind. We are taking no chances on being caught. The minute the siren goes, we are long gone and hard to find. I don't fool around any more brushing my teeth. We are rather expecting an early morning raid, so I get up at dawn every morning and get dressed....

I manage to have quite a lot of fun with the AVG boys. They are a grand lot and I wouldn't have missed knowing them for anything. It breaks my heart though when one of them is killed. We lost [Jack Newkirk] one of our finest squadron leaders Tuesday. I had played bridge with him the night before, and several times in Rangoon before the war started I had been to the races with him. I want to go to see his family when I get back to the States.... He was a grand boy and I some times wonder if everything in Burma is worth his life. Dave, as liaison officer, is working like a Trojan and I don't see much of him these days. He routs me out of bed at the crack of dawn every morning and tells me to get going. And I don't waste much time. Yesterday afternoon Doc and I visited the enlisted men's quarters and had a lot of fun. We are going over to have dinner with them one night. Believe it or not, but they have grand chow, their mess sergeant is a Georgia boy and he takes his job seriously. In addition to knowing how it should be done he doesn't mind doing it. The result is good, as you might expect. Their menu last night was corned beef hash, green peas, scalloped potatoes, cole slaw, fresh and canned fruit salad. I could live a long time on that variety. He told us he was going to make fresh country sausage to serve with hot cakes. In the same breath Doc and I asked when he intended having them. We would be over for breakfast....

The RAF have a few men here now and last night the padre came over and held an Easter service for us. We enjoyed it, as it is the first we have had for over a year. We also had a wedding on Thursday. One of the AVG pilots married a girl he head met in Rangoon [Fred Hodges and Helen Anderson]. Doc Walsh and the RAF padre officiated. Afterwards we had a buffet supper and were all singing around the piano when we got an air raid alarm. Out we had to dash and make for cover. We are trying not to take any chances at all. I hope they don't slip in during moonlight. That will be bad because the warning net might spring a leak. One thing in our favor is that this valley is difficult to find this time of the year because of heavy mists. Even experienced navigators who have been here some times get lost. In another week or two the rains will break. I am hoping and praying that will slow down the Japanese army and give us time to get going. I think we will also see some action around the Land of the Rising Sun during this month or possibly next. At least rumor has it that we shall.

[The USAAF would have been horrified to know that the April 15 Doolittle Raid was known and discussed in China weeks in advance.]

Prices here are almost unbelievable and I imagine they will get worse before they are better. There is no such thing as controlled prices, although they did make a feeble attempt at one time in Burma. A tin of Player cigarettes was costing Ten Rupees in Lashio. The Rupee is still worth about US0.30. I am completely out of cigarettes and can't get any. I have to depend on Dave's generosity and I hate to do that, for if I leave I will be able to get some and he won't. I suppose it will do me good to be without them for a while but I certainly do miss not having my own.

I now have my few possessions here split into four different groups. My dressing case with papers, etc. I keep locked in the back of one of the cars. One suitcase is over at Manwing, a village about 5 miles from here. One small case is at [the] office and the remaining lot at the Club House. I hope to salvage something if and when we are bombed. I've long since ceased to care about possessions but I will at least need a dress to wear.... The other night Marion Davidson, the housekeeper from the Club, and I were invited to dinner at the RAF officers mess. After dinner some Colonel or other blew in and we were introduced to him. The first thing he said was How nice it is to see ladies in dresses, for so long I have only seen them in trousers. I might add I was wearing my old gold lame dress that I bought in 1937, or was it 1936? I wore it one night not long ago and all the boys said it looked nice and I wondered that afternoon what to wear and on e of the boys spoke up and said wear the gold dress Mamie....

Incident at Muc Wa

[April 9] Yesterday we got the alarm at 9:30. We had the all clear about 11. We rushed up lunch and just as we were finishing we got the alarm again. It wasn't long before the fun began. I was in a trench on the Burma side but could hear everything, although with field glasses couldn't see anything. When the smoke cleared, our AVG boys had shot down a confirmed ten and probable two more out of 15. I went out to the field with Doc afterwards and saw for myself what a plane looks like when it dives into the ground. I was really surprised for there is such a little left. Small bits of wreckage around the spot, a big hole where the engine dove in, a small fire of something smoldering and that was all there was. I asked for the whereabouts of the pilot and one of the boys pointed to the hole. There was absolutely no trace of him. Fortunately all of our boys got down safely. Some of the planes had a few shots in them but none seriously damaged and nobody even had a scratch. When we all got back to the Club House, Colonel C. T. Chien, the Chinese Government representative, sent over a case of beer and 500 cigarettes. Then we started hashing over the events of the day. Some brass hats blew in a little later and after a good dinner we had a picture show, Bette Davis in The Old Maid....

Dave gave me a package of Chesterfields this morning and I feel like a millionaire. I am trying to make them last as long as possible, but living under the threat of Japanese bombs every minute isn't conducive to hoarding anything. Our food is still all right. We don't know for how long. We had spring chicken with potatoes, tomato salad and fresh papaya.

[Mamie wrote two versions of this letter, the second intended for wider distribution, in which she said that a carton of Chesterfields sold for US $75 in Loiwing. That's about $1,500 in today's currency. Her salary at the time was $175 a month, or $3,500 today.]

I wonder if you hear any radio news of the AVG. I imagine you do. We heard today about the raid on us but it wasn't accurate. I saw a home paper the other day with a good deal about them. Also, March of Time had a program about them recently, which you may have heard. One bright spot, or rather two, according to one US paper, are the AVG and McArthur's effort to hold the Philippines.

[April 11] Yesterday was the 10th [her birthday] and what a day. I was lying peacefully in bed when I heard some one yell Japanese planes overhead. I threw a coat over my head and went out of the Club House in nothing flat. Joe Fuster and I saw the Japs against the morning sunrise and say what you please they were a beautiful sight. They made six passes over the field and hit nine of our ships but they can all be repaired and none of our personnel were injured. We considered it a good day. At 11 we got another alarm but nothing came of it. At 2 we got another and went rushing over to our grass shack. In about 30 minutes things began to pop and did they pop! We saw several dogfights right over our head and when the smoke had cleared we had shot down eight out of 13. And whats more we had no losses. Contrary to what the radio might say. I know for I kissed all the boys when they got back. And none of ours were lost. When we sat down to dinner, there was a beautiful birthday cake that Feng had made for me and afterwards we had a picture show. General Chennault was here and he said Mamie I know if those Japs knew it was your birthday they would have dropped flowers! I said General, I doubt it! He said "Yes, I do too, Mamie!"

We got a good nights rest up until a certain hour. I heard Dave's alarm clock go about 4:30 and then I didn't hear Dave get up, so after a few minutes I went in his room and told him his alarm had gone and to get up. He jumped up got dressed and went down the hill to the pilots' mess for breakfast. He stopped on the way back to tell me that none of the pilots had heard their alarm clock and had I not waked up it would have been too bad. Ad it was he waked them up and they were up patrolling by five. We had a jing bao [alarm] at 10 but nothing came of it and I am now back at office trying to do some work. But my birthday 1942 occasioned two real fights and one false one. That's enough for a while anyway....

Yesterday morning when the Japs were overhead before we knew Joe and I found a ditch we never knew existed and I went in by the force of specific gravity alone. Neither Joe nor I knew it was there but when duty called we found it. I think perhaps I'll get a goodnight's sleep and be ready for [the Japanese] tomorrow. They are re-organizing today and will be over. But that is a game two can play. We are also reorganizing. And when old Andy Sargeant starts repairing ships, they get repaired -- if he has to kill a few people doing so. If only they don't slip in on us between 12 PM and 5 AM we will be ready for them and ugh ugh we are getting more ready with every passing sixty minutes. With fifty Flying Fortresses [sic!] and these AVG boys to fly them we are going to make those Japs sorry they ever left home. We had to take six months of severe losses, which we have done, but every dog has his day and our dog is coming up. My only hope is that we don't have to take too much punishment the next month. After that it's duck soup. The old General has his fighting clothes on and he doesn't show any signs of wanting to take them off. He was really mad when they got Jack Newkirk....

I'll cable you as soon as I hear anything from Mr. Pawley. I am not stopping in India. It would mean another evacuation at an early date with God only knowing what might happen in the meantime. Until I have a definite passage out of India I'll play along with the AVG. I hope and pray, with General Chennault's help, to get on a Bomber Command [airplane] going back to the States. If I am lucky enough to do so, I won't make a chirp until the war is over.

Take care of yourself Jimmie darling, I am thinking of you and loving you always. My chin chins to all the folks,


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