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Mamie Porritt: down to Rangoon

[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.]

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.

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.

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.

continued in part 5