Friday, August 28, 2015

Letter from Jack Cunningham WWII

Below is a transcribed letter (just as it was printed) dated November 27,1942 from Jack Cunningham published in a newspaper, then clipped and pasted in a scrapbook that the Museum has in its collection.  (Jack Cunningham was the stepfather of  LCHS member Butch Cunningham of Bridgeport, He had never seen this letter before we asked about the Cunningham connection.) 

November 27, 1942

Dearest Mother and Dad:
            Well Thanksgiving dinner is over and what a swell dinner we had.  Enclosed find a menu of what we had (full turkey dinner.)  Now wasn’t that a fine meal for the desert?
            Mother, I hope you get this letter, but the censor may cut out a lot of it.
            On July 15 we left Ft. Dix, New Jersey.  We walked three miles to a train.  We had on full pack, with rifles and leggings, and O.D. uniform and it was plenty hot.  We got into New York soon after five o’clock.  Then we got on a small ferry boat, which we left at six o’clock then at nine o’clock we boarded the “S.S. Louis Pasteur.”  At the next pier from where we got on we saw the “Normandy” laying on her side in dock where she burned.  We stayed in port all night, and at eight o’clock the next morning we pulled out.  There were 5478 soldiers and a crew of 500 on board.  We were not allowed on deck until we were out several hours, but I peeped through a porthole and saw the “Statue of Liberty.”
            We were issued life savers, which we wore at all times during the trip.  We followed close to the American shore past Suba (Cuba?) nearly to South America.  Then we cut across to Freetown, Africa.  A destroyer stayed within eyesight for the first four days around South America, and a navy plane was overhead us most of the time.  We were the only ship, which at that time was the third fastest and 5th largest.  It was a luxury liner, converted into a troop ship.  It was built by the French and was taken over by the British.  Two days out from New York the destroyer sank one submarine and the navy plane destroyed two.  We stopped in Freetown, Africa to take on oil and water, but we weren’t allowed to get off ship.
            We then, 14 days later, arrived in Durbou, S. Africa.  Here we got 2 day passes, but had to be on ship at night.  Durbau is a large and beautiful city.  I really rode the “rickasher” pulled by the natives.  It was not unusual there to see the women natives walking around with practically no clothes on.
            We left Durbou and sailed due east for 1400 miles and then north, entered the Red Sea, got off at Suez, Egypt Sunday August 16, at seven o’clock at night This trip took 11 days. We stayed at Lima camp for six days, then got on a troop train and went to Royah, Syria.  Took 3 nights and 3 days on the train, 800 miles.  I nearly starved to death on the boat and train.  On the boat they fed us goat and sheep meat. Dad, get rid of those damn sheep at home. 
            Rajah is around 61 miles from Damascus and 70 miles from Beyirut.
I went both places.  Also saw a ruined city at Baalbek. Also the cedars of Lebanon, Friday October 3, we left Rajah, Syria for places we didn’t know where.  Travelled four days.  Came close to Jerusalem (edge of town) and several others places of interest. Came by truck convoy.  Crossed the Suez Canal again near Port, Said, we went through Cairo and I am now between Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt 120 miles of Cairo and 20 miles from Alexandria, but may be moved soon and by the time you get this may be in Tobruuk.
            I bought a camera in Damascus, gave 14 Syrian pounds or near $7 of our money.
            Must close.  You send this letter to Daily if you get it, and please make mention in your next letter of my letter of November 27.  Hope you get this
                                                                        Love from (y)our son Jack
From Editor of Newspaper 1942:  Thanks, Jack, it’s a grand letter, one of the best we received, please accept our best wishes and “hello” from your Sumner friends.
            Jack’s brother, Lt. Daily Cunningham, U.S. Naval Reserve, and wife, Zula Fyffe Cunningham, left Saturday for San Diego California.  He will be assigned to duty on an aircraft carrier and at present, chances are slight that the boys will run across each other in their travels. 
            Jack is with the Army Air Force.