“You Mustn’t Let It Bother You Too Much”

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On November 23, 1943, a 24-Year-Old pilot named George Rarey, attached to the 379th Fighter Squadron, boarded the Queen Elizabeth and set sail for Britain. Rarey (he hated his first name and never used it) left behind his wife—Betty Lou, who was five months pregnant—and a most unusual background for a fighter pilot. When he was drafted in 1942, he’d been living in Manhattan’s raffish Greenwich Village, practicing the local trade of artist—specifically, cartoonist. He’d never had a driver’s license and was astonished to discover that the Army thought he’d make a good flier.

As it turned out, the Army was right. But he kept his pen and pad with him and recorded every aspect of his service not only in spirited drawings—brisk and seemingly casual, yet full of eloquent specifics—but also in letters to his wife. Here is what he drew, and what he told her, beginning shortly after his arrival in England.

December 9, 1943

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . The day is putting its flaps down for its final approach and the boys are busying themselves with various tasks near a soldier’s heart. Bill is sewing on a button and bragging about a cold shower he once took. Houghton is in the sack reading a purple mystery novel. Putnam sharpens a hunting knife while Larsen’s heavy regular breathing indicates that he is in the arms of Morpheus (purely platonic, you may be sure). A variety of subjects are being aired, the air being pale blue with the mild expletives that are necessary in hitching the articles and prepositions together in an airman’s banter.

Our foot lockers arrived and we had a fine time unpacking them—almost like Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, those pretty packages have me baffled. I get a kick out of them. You wrapped them for me. In those little boxes is Christmas, real and wonderful. They have all the magic of carols, trees, and the whole works. Thanks, pal, and as this may reach you by the 25th, Merry Christmas!

Betty Lou, I think my spelling is getting worse, probably an indication of the mental confusion that accompanies the life of a celibate. I sho’ miss you, kid. Things are still about the same—lots of ground school and no airplanes. Sure will be good to feel that old prop pulling you along again. I didn’t realize how much I could miss flying....

Love,Rarey

December 14, 1943

Dear Betty Lou,

Just a line between classes—mailed a letter to you this morning containing the current news. Betty Lou, will you send me about three cans of Simoniz wax polish? An airplane that has been waxed is somewhat faster than an unwaxed one. ... I’m still sweating out that first letter—seems like years since I’ve seen you. I can still see your face as we met at the end of the day—beautiful, happy, full of interest and love....

Your little old man,Rarey

December 17, 1943

Dear Betty Lou,

. . . We’ve got an officers’ club started. We’ve a pretty nice room adjoining the mess hall and are stocking it with various commodities. Beer and ale are available any evening from 5:00 till 11:00, and we are accumulating a beautiful supply of scotch, rum, and gin for a Christmas fracas. It’s nice to have a place where you can have a few flagons of stout with the fellas without riding ten miles in a crowded G.I. truck.

There was a movie on the field last night but it was so crowded that we couldn’t get in. Came on back to the shack. The Major was here, and we had a long and pleasant bull session. The Deacon is opening a large Hershey bar, and we are quite excited, our imported stock having been depleted for some time. If some time you tossed a few odds and ends into an old shoebox and sent them along, the troops would receive them with their hearts. We miss cheese and Betty Lou, ripe olives and Betty Lou, crackers of any kind and old Betty Lou—any kind of Betty Lou. I really miss you, you rascal. The food here is adequate and at times almost tempting but there is only one Betty Lou in the world—I’m sunk—I’m actually starved for you, pumpkin. Old Doc Finn is in the same boat, and we often get together and exchange low moans. He is a wonderful guy and the spark of the outfit....

I love you, my darling,Rarey

 

December 20, 1943

Dearest Betty Lou,

Another day of nothing in particular—lordy, but we’d like to have some airplanes! We’re learning a lot but we miss the flying quite a bit. Today was typical—here it is.

As far as breakfast was concerned, we were in the weeds because we grabbed an extra 30 minutes of sacktime. Our first class was at 09:00 o’clock. They are informal affairs, these classes. Lectures by experienced men in our Air Force as well as the R.A.F. Interesting. At 12:00 we knocked off for lunch which consisted of a sort of hash, potatoes, and I forget what else. After about an hour of loafing around the fire in the lounge, back to the old schoolroom. Class was interrupted when a Mosquito night fighter gave us a good buzz job. That’s a beautiful aircraft. We got quite a thrill out of it. I’m beginning to feel like a ground-pounder. School was out at 4:00. Threw on a blouse and then to dinner after two bottles of very good ale in the lounge....

Love,Rarey

December 24, 1943

11:00 P.M.

My darling Betty Lou,

It is Christmas Eve and now most particularly I wish we were together. We’ll make the next one, Betty Lou. I can’t say that there is any news to report —just about the same. The gang is off to town. ... I wanted to stay here anyway—I wanted to think about my good wife and my family. I wanted to sit and dream all by myself without any interruptions. Think of it, Betty Lou, next Christmas the three of us will be together. I can see that little rascal’s eyes when that lighted Christmas tree comes into his wandering gaze. Oh, happy!

This evening I painted a large 9th Air Force insignia for the Officers’ Club. There weren’t many materials to work with but I think it came out all right. Hundreds of B-17's went over today—this is no small organization.

In forty-five minutes it will be midnight and Christmas, at which time I shall open those beautiful packages....

Back from the Doc’s hut—Christmas greetings were exchanged over a cup of hot coffee laced with powdered milk. I shall now unveil my Christmas presents. . . . The things are fine, Betty Lou, I’m pleased as punch. The books are treasures—I glanced through “One Man’s Meat” [by E. B. White]—and it looks wonderful. How do you know just the right things—but then if you don’t, ‘oo does? The pretty copy of “Alice in Wonderland"—I love that thing. The Reader will content me hour upon hour—and the little poker set—that’s practical. We’ve used everything for poker chips from rounds of 45 cal. ammunition to shotgun shells—now we’re fat! The wallet I like —you must send me some pictures of yourself to fill the little pockets....

Rarey

December 27, 1943

My darling Betty Lou,

. . . So the heir is getting the wanderlust, hey? ‘Swonderful. Do hope you don’t have any trouble getting a hospital reservation or whatever it is—youth will be served. Keep me posted, pal.

Dispensing porch talk via pencil and paper over 4,000 miles of land, sea, and whatnot has its limitations. We’ve had some obstacles before, Betty Lou, but this is the supreme test. Remember the beautiful hours on your back steps and the little 15th Street studio. That place wasn’t big enough to hold my happiness—even with the big window open. I’ve loved you there and in a thousand other places made wonderful by you. And, Betty Lou, I love you here. I love you more than ever before. Two lives happily intermingled, impatient with the barrier of great distances, impatient with this tremendous war, anxious to be finished with it so that we can do the things we were meant to do. I want to live with you, Betty Lou, with you and our child. I want to give you everything I can—I want to live with you and love you for the next forty-three thousand years. . . .

Rarey

 

January 6, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . Today went as most days go—we spent most of the time down at the line. We have a nice ready room and an adjoining kitchen where coffee and sandwiches can be had in the afternoon and before flights.

The smallness of this island can really be realized from an airplane. It is pretty from the air—small checkerboards of farm land dotted with patches of forest. It’s good for all of us to be flying again.

Love,Rarey

 

February 5, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . Oh, Betty Lou, I also received the box. The Simoniz wax is fine —should give me about 10 or 15 miles per hour. When I really need that extra speed and shove the old blossom through the gate, I’ll think of you. Also, the candy and the tobacco will come in handy. We have a weekly ration of 7 packs of cigarettes or 4 packages of pipe tobacco which seems adequate. And the wonderful book! J. Thurber was never better—I’ve been howling with delight ever since I opened it....

Did I ever mention the new boy in our squadron. His name is Ray Fuchs—pronounced Foosh—he’s a fine guy—was in the original Eagle Squadron [Americans flying for Britain], then he transferred to the A.A.F. and was in the 4th Group for quite a while. He has seen a great deal of action and is a welcome addition to the outfit. We live in the same hut—the boy has a lot of sense and has one of the coolest, most intelligent views of the war I’ve heard. He is nicknamed “The Tired Eagle” and has been over here for more than two years....

Cheers,Rarey

February 14, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . We returned from a show over France the other day to find that our field was socked in, so Gerry Majors and I landed at a B-17 base nearby. As the weather didn’t lift, we spent the night there. Those lanky old boys in the B-17's treated us like kings. They claimed that the most beautiful sight in the world is those little Thunderbolts hovering around them. They dragged us to the Officers’ Club and presented the fatted jug to the prodigal sons. We had a wonderful time and so successful were their efforts in making us feel at home that by 9:30 they carried me off to my sack in a beautifully drunken condition. They put a pitcher of ice water and a pack of cigarettes on a table near my bed, and after tucking me in, they said their good nights, wagging their heads and shaking my hand. They are fine fellows. One, a war-weary veteran of 30 odd missions, left, saying, “May the Lord watch over us when we are absent one from another” —not sentimentality or sarcasm—just a bomber pilot’s appreciation of a fighter escort....

Love,Rarey

February 17, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . The weather was bad today so I dashed off a mural in the bar. A raunchy little pilot in his sack dreaming of a boy and a girl whipping down the Great White Way pleasurebent. It’s a subject that is somehow very familiar to me, and the girl though blond looks surprisingly like Betty Lou—purely subconscious....

I love ya!Rarey

 

February 22, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . I’ve made a momentous decision—I’m going to take a bath tonight! I have some clean sheets and pajamas, the laundry having just been returned, and I can’t bear to dirty ‘em up with my old sloppy body. This bathing is quite a ritual and takes place once a week—like the Sabbath. We have a big washroom with long concrete sinks in it. The English name for a washroom is the Ablution (weird these cousins of ours). Flavin and I have devised the following method of bathing: The place is provided with small iron tubs like footbaths—well, you stand in one of them, being careful not to lose your balance—and placing the other one in the sink, you sort of soap up, then douse tub after tub over your head to remove the soap—after which you emerge clean as the driven snow and just about as cold. It’s really wonderful. Oh, for a long white sparkling tub, a tall Scotch, and Betty Lou to scrub my back. Such is the stuff that dreams are made of. Good night, my darling.

All my love,Rarey

February 25, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou, . . . You are even more in my thoughts than usual—is it time for the expectant father to get panicky? I haven’t been checked out in this business. Maybe I’m premature but, pal, I get weak as hell when I think of the time approaching. I’m there with you, darling, every minute. It’s probably a good thing I’m not there in person because I’d be an awful bother. I want to be so worthy of this whole business, and there seems so damn little I can do....

Love,Rarey

March 5, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . We were released from operations for the day, so I spent it painting insignias on airplanes. It went well and sort of gives personality to an otherwise pretty cold collection of machinery. I think it means quite a bit to the pilots, and the crews that keep the planes in shape get a kick out of them, too. And I enjoy doing it, a good thing all around.

We had fried chicken tonight and it was pretty special—nothing like the miracle that your mother can bring about with a bird and some odds and ends but above par for the Army—sort of seemed like Sunday all day....

Your old roommate,Rarey

March 9, 1944

Darling Betty Lou,

. . . I still don’t know who is sending those New Yorkers but I certainly enjoy them. I like to race through “Goings on About Town” and imagine what we’d do if we were going out on the town. Now during the week of January 29, 1944, we would have started early some evening and had cocktails at any one of a dozen quiet little pubs we know of—maybe dinner at Bonet’s or maybe the Waldorf. We could see “The Scoundrel” at the Little Carnegie—or we could see a play—then some fat hot dogs at Nedick’s and maybe revival shopping down 42nd Street where with luck we could see Jean Gabin in one of those moody and violent French things. Or we could say to hell with it and surrounding ourselves with cigarettes, choice morsels from the nearby deli, and a jug, make love until the sun came up—and then make more love....

Love,Rarey

 

March 13, 1944

Dear Betty Lou,

. . .The flight set-up has been changed a bit. In the States there were four flights but here they are only three. Each flight has two sections of four. In our flight, which is D, Ray is the flight commander, and I am his assistant and leader of the second section. I like the arrangement very much. Fuchs is a prince—his wide experience and ability make ours easily the strongest flight in the outfit, and I am learning things from him that normally I would have to pick up through experience and trial and error. This has a very real advantage because errors in this business can be costly. It also divides the responsibility, and you know why the Lord gave us agility. All in all, a fine set-up. Bill has A flight and Doc has C flight.

The stuff we’ve done would probably make pretty dull reading in “Battle Aces” or “True Adventures” but taking these slow joes in and out through come what may is a good job for the money. You only have to see one of those big beauties go down, and you’re a confirmed escort pilot from then out....

Love,Rarey

March 16, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . So now your time is your own. That’s fine, Betty Lou. I know that you will miss the gals you worked with at Lend-Lease, the lunches, the good chats —that’s all fine, and you must keep in touch with them. As you say, after the baby arrives, you will be quite busy—until then just take it easy, catch up on that morning sleep.

Let’s not have any more nonsense about this finance thing—you shouldn’t thank me for anything. I have nothing that isn’t completely yours. You’re the secretary and treasurer of the firm of Rarey, Rarey & Rarey, a job that you have performed splendidly—I salute you!...

Until soon,Rarey

March 22, 1944

Darling Betty Lou,

Betty Lou, this happiness is nigh unbearable. Got back from a mission at 4:00 this afternoon and came up to the hut for a quick shave before chow. What did I see [but] the Deacon waving at me as I walked up the road to the shack? A small yellow envelope! I thought it was a little early but I quit breathing completely until the wonderful news unfolded. A son! All of the boys in the squadron went wild. I had saved my tobacco ration for the last two weeks and had obtained a box of good American cigars. Old Doc Finn trotted out two quarts of Black and White from his medicine chest, and we all toasted the fine new son and his beautiful mother.

I think I’ve had just about the easiest time of it that any father ever had. I was just getting down to the really serious part of the floorpacing when—whamie!—I find that old Betty Lou has done the whole thing without the unnecessary moaning and hollering from the old man. And they say that woman is the weaker of the sexes—phooey—you’re terrific! Golly, I’m anxious to know all of the details. I figure Damon was born on the 19th. I wonder what he weighs and all about him. Tell him that he has the proudest, happiest, luckiest pop in the whole world.

Betty Lou, if this letter makes no sense, forget it. I’m sort of delirious. Today everything is special. This iron hut looks like a castle, the low hanging overcast outside is the most beautiful hue of blue I’ve ever seen. I’m a father. I have a son! My darling wife has had a fine boy and I’m a king. Betty Lou, I hope it wasn’t too bad—I’m glad it’s over—thank you, Betty Lou, thank you, thank you. This is really living. . . .What a ridiculous and worthless thing a war is in the light of such a wonderful event....

Love,Rarey

 

April 2, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . I’m forced to take a rather sophisticated view of the political and economical future of the world but if we can get this business of Fascism knocked off and get the world into some semblance of order and keep it there for a time, Damon and his contemporaries will take over and make something really good out of it. We’re learning, but a great many mistakes will be made before a really good world order will evolve. If we can clear the air for Damon and his generation, we’re fat. And that is the last word I have on geo-politics—I’m getting positively stuffy. . . .

Love, love, love!!!!Rarey

 

April 5, 1944

Good evening, darling,

. . . I’ve been sending in my Wheaties boxtops and am sending the Air Medal to you and Damon. I have three clusters on it and tho’ it doesn’t mean much, it’s sure purty.

All my love,Rarey

April 14, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

...The two G.I. words you have in question are easily explained. “Nissen” as in Nissen hut is merely the name of some misled, well meaning individual who invented them. A Nissen is sort of a shelter (at best), sort of like an empty tomato can half buried in the mud with a door and two windows at either end. They accommodate 8 officers or 16 enlisted men. We live in them and scream about them but they are pretty cosy little deals at that. E.T.O. means merely European Theatre of Operations embracing England, Africa, and Italy, and wherever warfare is carried out over Europe—which is practically everywhere. Next question? Seriously, Betty Lou, I hate for you to miss all this—you were so much a part of the day to day doings of the old Air Force in the States that I know you miss being in on the funny little things that happen. Oh, what a fat war it would be if you were here. I’ll try to keep you posted on it, darling, and when I see you again, I’ll go into greater detail....

Rarey

April 24, 1944

Dear Betty Lou,

Hi, my Rosetta stone, my plasma, my peanut butter sandwich with lettuce and 39 tomato, my darling—my Betty Lou. We flew over seven combat hours today and topped it off with one of our extra special knock down drag out ruff and tuff volley ball games. It was fine—ten men on the net all at once lashing around like mad. We don’t even keep score any more—there are no boundary lines and no rules. This game makes ice hockey look like a checker game between two old ladies with broken hips. There is a fraternity among these flyboys that defies description. These boys are unique, casual, easygoing, magnificent! Good boys....

Love,Rarey

 

May 5, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

Artie Shaw is playing something or other over the P.A. system, and it really sounds fine. Just had a bath out of a tin hat, a shave, and a brushing of the teeth. “Dusk in these fierce pajamas!” I feel fine and am as happy as is possible with my main interest in life several thousand miles away, sort of a negative happiness....

Betty Lou, I didn’t write about Gee—well—I don’t know why. It was just one of those things. We were shooting up trains in France—they were loaded with tanks and armored cars, and there was quite a bit of flak. A hunk of the damned stuff hit Gee’s ship, and it just didn’t get him back. He tried to hit the silk but didn’t make it. That’s all. You mustn’t think too much about such things—our losses here aren’t much heavier than they were when we were in training in the States. I’m awfully sorry for Audrey and will write to her if you think I should but I don’t think it would help. It’s up to you—I’ll do as you say.

I painted my insignia on my plane today, and it looks fine. My old kite has the most hours and best record of any in the Group—what an airplane!

I got a fine letter from you today, lassie. I’m wondering if you received the flowers. I wired them through the P.X. in London and they were pretty sure they would get there. Say, maybe I’ve screwed them up—is it the first Sunday or the second Sunday in May that is Mother’s Day? I’ll have to look it up. What a dope!

We’ve a warning order in and it looks like an early mission so I reckon I’ll press the sack for a few hours....

Love,Rarey

May 11th (I think)

Darling Betty Lou—

. . . Let’s see what odd bits of news I have—oh, yes—we were told this morning that a It. colonel from wing was on his way to make a sanitary inspection of our quarters. Well, the groundpounders’ tent is at the head of the row and the old boy was amazed at the neat, orderly arrangement of things. Next he poked his head into our tent (it looked like the 15th Street studio on a Sunday morning) and snorted, “Ha! This is more like it. This looks like a pilot’s tent!” Seems he was an old [airman] back in the first war—he seemed pleased that flyboys were still true to the stripe....

All my love,Rarey

May 19, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou—

The pictures! The wonderful pictures! ... I’ve had them only about 8 hours and they are famous throughout the group—please don’t think that I bore these guys —they’re fascinated! Damon always gets a good laugh, a chuckle, and a “Rarey, you lucky bastard!” You, Betty Lou, get a long low whistle and I get another “Rarey, you lucky bastard!” You know, Betty Lou, you may consider yourself a mere prop in those photographs but I am of another opinion—that fine head of yours! That wonderful Betty Lou that I love to the very raw ends of my nerves! You’re the pulse of the machine that makes our great happiness. I love ya! You know the one of you and Damon”you in that fine bemused profile and old Damon yawning his old head off. Well, it is now mounted in a frame of Plexiglas from a wrecked airplane on my instrument panel—right between the gyro horizon and the altimeter—among the three or four most consulted instruments in the whole airplane....

Love,His Royal Highness of Roo

 

May 22, 1944

Darling Betty Lou,

I didn’t write you on your birthday, Betty Lou. We had a very late, long mission and after the critique was over, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I’ll tell you though, Betty Lou—on the long pull through Germany out over Holland across the black North Sea and finally over England, I was with you there—celebrating your birthday with your wonderful family....

Love, love, love,Rarey Happy birthday, darling.

May 23, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . One of the guys snapped my picture at the airplane the other day. “Damon’s Demon” is no ordinary aircraft I’ll have you know. I’ve run nearly 40 missions in the old clunker and it hasn’t even breathed hard. It knows the way home from any point in Europe just as well as I do—fine kite!...

The same,Rarey

May 31, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

You know, Betty Lou, in a few days we will have been married two years. We pooled our lives in that beautiful little town in Florida surrounded by fine friends and up to our eyebrows in love. That was a beautiful ceremony but in a way it was merely a confirmation of a marriage that had taken part a long time before. We were married in the general vicinity of N.W. Washington, a close lying suburb of heaven. I don’t know an exact date—it was sort of gradual like the unfolding of a beautiful flower that blooms only once and once opened grows more beautiful with each succeeding day. And now that little rosebud of a Damon is growing on the same bush. Hey, if I could work a couple of bees into this thing, maybe I could explain to Damon the mystery of man’s most sacred privilege—ho! But, Betty Lou, I’m serious. I even kind of feel like I’m in a church or something. Thanks for these wonderful years you have given me. A boy and a girl in love! My wife, my bride, my sweetheart—you will always be these things to me. I’m afraid you are going to have a raunchy tweedcoated old rascal smelling slightly of strong pipe tobacco and scotch whiskey around your backsteps until hell freezes over. I love you, lil gal! When we get together for that third anniversary, I’ll show you what I have in my heart—nothin’ but

Love,Rarey

June 3, 1944

Dear Betty Lou,

I’m writing this from London. Just returned to the hotel after a day’s debauch at the cinemas —saw “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” “Lady in the Dark,” and “Gone with the Wind.” Wotta day—oh my back! I enjoyed it though—pure escapism. The boys are out on the town but here I have a small jug of scotch the doc gave me—flak medicine. Day after tomorrow I think I’ll auger up to Scotland by myself. I’ve almost forgotten how nice it is to be alone. I have some empty sketchbooks and some watercolor crying for media. I wish you were here....

. . . Heroism is a drug on the market and a hollow word meaning nothing, but you women who stand and wait are the guys who should get the ribbons—the Betty Lous and the Damons are the backbone of any offensive. When I see the flak bursting around my flight, I glance at the picture of you holding the yawning Damon—it’s there just by the altimeter—and I laugh and kick my old kite around until we have gotten the hell out of that place. If it weren’t for you two, I know it would be rough, but believe me, Betty Lou, you two make the difference—it isn’t rough—it’s okay, really okay. You two must know that—my dependence on you is complete—there is no substitute—not even a smoke between acts. I remain constant not because of any moral code I may have fashioned—it’s just convenient to me, that’s all. You are the Leaf, the Stone and all the unfound doors there are —you’re where the blue begins—you’re Betty Lou....

Rarey

 

June 7, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

Good evening, my darling. This’ll be a quick one because I must grab some sacktime. My seven day leave has been interrupted by the little clambake now in session. I didn’t mind because we have all been looking forward to this affair with a feeling bordering on impatience....

Old Rarey

June 9, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

We’re sitting an alert down here at the line, and it’s a fine time to write a letter. We’ve been a bit pressed for sleep lately, and I’m afraid my letter writing has fallen off somewhat....

Betty Lou, I know how you must feel about old Hugh. I can’t quite believe it myself. Doc Finn has already written Janie, and I will write her, too—I’m afraid I can’t offer much hope. We were pretty low—busting an airdrome—we think he caught some 20 m.m.—think he went in—that’s all I know. It’s a dirty business. I know these things are rougher on you gals than they are on us but you mustn’t let it bother you too much. Fatalism isn’t the answer but it’s as good as any other I know of. Try not to worry, old gal, that’s a big order but that’s the way I want it....

All my love,Rarey

June 16, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

Evenin’, lassie. We had a fine time yesterday—took a ride across the countryside. One of the guys is in charge of transportation so he managed to get a staff car for the day. The weather was beautiful so we put the top down and had a very fat time. The country around here is beautiful. We stopped at one little country inn that is sort of a shrine to Charles Dickens—seems he had many a tall and frosty there, and his Pickwick Papers were written there among others. The walls are covered (in the manner of the German American Club on 3rd Avenue) with photographs of Dickens and many originals of the illustrations for his books. It’s called the Leather Bottle and is loaded with huge blackened oak beams, pewter mugs, and such truck. It was mighty interesting. On the way back home we stopped at a British Officers’ garrison. They see very few American officers and welcomed us with open bottles of scotch. Really nice guys—P.G. Wodehouse characters with a fine, calm, dry humor and genuine enthusiasm. We had a delightful evening all in all and returned completely relaxed and at peace with the world or part of the world I should say.

That’s good news about the B-29's going over Japan—looks as if the old war is getting under way at last....

Love,Rarey

 

June 21, 1944

Dearest Betty Lou,

. . . I suppose you’ve read of the pilotless aircraft Germany has developed. It’s an amazing thing aeronautically speaking but is proving rather ineffective as a weapon. We get quite a kick out of them. They are referred to as “The Doodlebug” or “The Sears Roebuck job.” And Tom Liston dubbed them “those non-union aircraft.”...

Here’s a piece of news that may interest you. Old Pete and I are now captains. They came through yesterday, and we’re pretty happy about it. First lieutenant is a comfortable rank, and I hacked it for a year, a month, and a day but these old double bars feel pretty good....

Love,Rarey

June 26,1944

Dear Betty Lou,

Just got a V-mail and an air mail from you. They were fine. I wasn’t in Scotland when the invasion broke as you thought. I was in London. Was having a mild but interesting time—seeing shows and the town in general. I had a ticket to the International Ballet for the night of June 6th. I still have it. C’est la guerre.

That anniversary letter was mighty sweet. We are a lucky pair, darling. We’ll never be behind the door when the happiness is passed out.

There wasn’t a great deal of activity today due to weather. That was good. We slept late and loafed around. We got some new pilots today and had a flap session with them. They’re a fairly good looking lot of boys but not up to the standard of the last batch we got— they’re working out fine. These new guys were in class 43K—makes me feel like kind of an old joker.

Betty Lou, would you enclose the Sunday episode of “Terry and the Pirates” in one of your letters? We see the daily strips in the Stars and Stripes but the Sundays—no soap. Thanks. Old Terry finally made 2nd It.—good show.

Lord, Betty Lou, it seems like an eternity since I’ve seen you—since last November in that fine little world of ours. I hated to leave it. I don’t care for this war —I want you and Damon and the life of our own choosing. I want to worry about the bills—ho! ho!—and mow the lawn and make kites and stuff for the Damon and his friends. I want to see you and kiss you every day of my life—I want to beef about your silly hats and tell you how lovely you are. I’ve got all these things to do and time’s awastin'—I ain’t getting any younger neither! So let’s get the war over—okay? “Until that happy day you know darned well, I can’t give you anything but love letters, baby.” Silly, isn’t it? You just keep that old light in your eyes and the one in the window and we’ll be fat. Ah, I love you, my sweet Betty Lou.

Love,Rarey