Tuesday noon 19 Dec. 1944
Somewhere on the Atlantic
The time finally came so here I am on board ship bound for port, a place even 選知 not sure of. We left last week and hope to be in port by Christmas Day although I知 sure we値l be there sooner. I can稚 tell you much about the ship but I wish it were possible for me to describe it and give you the name. The food here is tops, really, but we池e served only two meals a day; I eat at the first "sitting" for officers - there are four "sittings" - at 7:30a.m. to 5:00 p.m. That makes nine hours from the time I finish breakfast till I sit down to a dinner - and, needles to say, there is a candy bar or two or some cookies consumed between times.
I have a stateroom which I share with fourteen other officers - the room is about ten feet by twelve (if that large) and contains five triple-decker bunks and two very small closets. We do have a small toilet with the usual built-ins but it, too, it terribly small. Salt water only runs in the faucets, of which the tub is the sole proud owner. A steward, assigned to about eight such staterooms, supplies us with two three-gallon buckets of warm, fresh water, twice daily for shaving and washing. There are certain fresh-water posts where each man can draw water for drinking. We have to keep our canteens fill of water or nearly so, just in case we have to abandon ship. Every day we have an Emergency Muster (Boat Drill) - we just finished one - at about 11:00 o団lock, just at the right time to break into a morning nap. About all there is to do is eat and sleep, although a few of us have details. I知 a Blackout Officer - one of two for the entire ship. We each have four other officers, and a detail of enlisted men to do the work. The enlisted men are divided into two sections, one to close and open windows on the Promenade Deck at the proper times, the second as a point detail to "touch up" any port-holes or windows reported not completely blacked out I知 responsible for the port (left) side of the ship while the other officer takes the starboard side. I知 classed as an M.P. so I can go on the open decks after blackout has begun, a good privilege because only members of the guard, few in number, can do that. My four officers check each port-hole on the various decks twice each evening before midnight to be sure no one is trying to show a light, or carelessly doing so. Just last night we found three port-holes open, two on the open decks, and every evening we have to re-paint at least a dozen portholes so I guess we are necessary after all.
A little about our food now. This morning we had an egg, bacon, cereal, bread and butter, preserves and coffee (with cream already mixed in it, darn it!) Last night we "enjoyed" roast lamb, baked and boiled potato, carrots, green beans, fruit, coffee (with the irritable cream) and ice cream with chocolate syrup. Very good, don稚 you think? Tonight we are to have beef ribs for the meat course. Of course every meal we get a choice of good meat, or fish (Halibut or Flounder) but I知 not a fish eater - Dorothy would go fish-wild here.
At the present I知 in the Officer痴 Lounge - an extremely crowded room, with people thicker than sardines in a can. There are only about half enough tables and chairs here, so officers are sitting all over the floor in groups playing cards of sidling up to the nurses - or both. We have quite a few nurses (officers) going over, and I know why they are - they could never land a man in the states under ordinary competition. Some of them, the majority, are anything but good looking, or acting, and the remainder are two old to do anything about it.
So far we致e had smooth sailing and the weather has been fine except for the two rainy days we had. The rocking of the ship reminds me of a train, only in slow motion. I could add that it is very inducing to sleep, which I do 50% of the time, along with reading pocket books.
When we arrived at the pier ready to embark, it was about seven p.m. We were met by Red Cross workers handing each man a candy bar and all the coffee and donuts he could eat and drink. Believe me it really tasted good since we ate an early evening mess. Then just the other day we were handed a small bag of articles from the Red Cross - sewing kit, playing cards, soap, shoe shine cloth, mints, razor blades, and one or two other small articles. It was quite a surprise and a very pleasant one.
Well, I値l close for now, but I値l write more later. Keep writing and I値l try to answer each of your letter.