By George E. Crow
Dear Clark and Anna,
My name is George Crow, the son of an Ex-CBI veteran. We have something in common other than being the sons of Ex-CBI vets. Your Dad and mine died in July, 2006, and both from bladder cancer. Ironic, and I have often thought if there were many more Ex-CBI people who had the same problem. Anyway, while reading the February issue, I found myself very affected by the announcement that the last issues will be coming off the press shortly. I guess we all knew this would happen, but I did not expect it this fast. You see, it seems that when I read the magazines, I found that just for a little while, I seemed to be able to reminisce with my Dad again his remembrances of his time in India, and the war. I know, I doubt that you have many sons and daughters of Ex-CBI folks that keep their subscription going after their father or mother has "gone home", and I am probably one of the "odd ones" that have chosen to do this. You won't keep the publication alive with only people like me. So enclosed you will find my subscription renewal for as long as the magazine lasts. Count it as a gift, or payment towards your costs and expenses for the last several issues. If I can do more, please tell me and I will try.
For the last issue I thought of suggesting that you call it the last "Going Home Issue", since so many of the veterans are passing along and it is about time, I guess, that the War come to an end. To help in this I am enclosing a letter given to me by my mother (who is still alive and doing quite well) that was my father's last letter home to Pete (my Mom's nickname) and Georgie (that's me when I was 2 ½ years old). It describes his feelings when he found out that he was finally getting to go home and his thoughts on the ship as he traveled over a period of a week or so. The letter was written over several days while he traveled from Calcutta to Port Said, where he could mail the letter. I have seen in the publication where Vets talked about going home, but no stories on how it felt while they were traveling.
I hope that you life is great in the future and thanks again, from me, for keeping this alive (and for me, my Dad's most cherished memories alive) for as long as you have.
Good luck and thanks again,
George E. Crow
The attached letter was sent home during October/November 1945 by 1st Sgt. George F. Crow, Company "B", 748th Railway Operating Battalion, Tinsukia, Assam, India. George F. Crow lived in Park Hills KY when he returned home. He shortly thereafter moved to Erlanger, KY where he lived until 1977. At that time he retired after 40 years working for the Cincinnati Union Terminal Co., Cincinnati OH. They moved to Clearwater FL, where he lived until his death in July of 2006.
USS General M.B. Stewart
Somewhere in the Bengal Bay
Dear Pete & Georgie:
When I last wrote you I thought that that was going to be the last letter until I got back home. The other day we were told that we could write and the letters would be mailed at Port Said. When we got there, from there it would take five days for the mail to reach the States. So you should get this letter before I get to New York.
Will tell you what happened since the last time I wrote you. We left Tinsukia the 17th of October and arrived in Calcutta the 19th. From the 19th until the 25th we were at Camp Hialeah in the center of Calcutta. Went to town twice while I was there. After we got to Camp we found out that everything was turned around. Between our wonderful officers and the changes that took place, the biggest part of the 748th was left behind. The only ones in our outfit that got on were the men thirty-five years of age and the ones that had sixty points or more. Out of 144 men in my company, 37 got on this boat. All the officers in "B" Company were put in the casual group and were supposed to stay behind with the men we left there, but they got themselves on some way and they all got to go. It was one of the worst raw deals I have even seen pulled off. None of the fellows have a thing to do with any of the officers. All the officers that used to be in charge of "B" Company are now out of it. Captain Clyde doesn't have a thing to say anymore. Among the ones left behind were Krepp and Burton. Thomson is on the boat with me. It just doesn't seem right, Kid, not when there are Indians, Chinese, and other civilians on this ship. They are supposed to leave around the first part of November. Hope they do but I have my doubts.
We laid in the Hooghly River the full day of the 26th and never pulled away from the docks until the morning of the 27th. We traveled through the Bay of Bengal and arrived in Colombo, Ceylon about 4 p.m. on the 30th. Ceylon is a small island at the end of India. It is 1250 miles from Calcutta and 8580 miles from New York. The Harbor is full of ships of all kinds. We had to stop here for fresh water and fuel. The battleships Tennessee and California with eight destroyers are in the harbor. One British aircraft carrier, Collossus, is also here.
This boat is all steel and is around 524 feet long. It still has its guns on it and painted a dark gray. I am in the #2 hold, five floors down. Can hear the water slush against the side I am down so far. No port holes in it at all. It's a Navy Troop ship.
One good thing, Honey, we are getting three meals a day and I am eating all I can get hold of. Seems like I am always hungry since I got on this boat. The food is better than I ever had over here in India. Most everyone is pulling details on this boat. Me, I am keeping out of everything that I don't have to do. This is going to be a pleasure cruise if I can make it one. So far, so good. We have movies every night at 7:15 on deck. The other night we had two old ones, "It Happened One Night" and "The Petrified Forest". Last night we had "The Fallen Sparrow". The ship's orchestra plays every evening on the top deck before it gets dark.
All officers below the rank of Captain eat and sleep the same as the enlisted men. They don't like it any too well either. There are quite a few nurses and Red Cross girls on this boat too.
This afternoon at four o'clock we left Columbo after a delay of twenty-four hours. We are now on our way across the Indian Ocean and should get to the Red Sea in about nine days. Today the sea is so smooth and a deep blue that it looks like a clear blue mirror. Thousands of little flying fish jump out of the water and sail a good hundred feet away from the ship. Since we are only six degrees north of the equator, the sun is plenty hot. When we get to the Atlantic and close to New York I guess I will freeze my *** off. Don't pay much attention to this writing, Honey, since I am sitting on the deck and trying to write with the boat rolling back and forth.
Still on our way Honey, sea just as smooth as glass and the sun as hot as ever. Played five-hundred rummy all morning. Just had a life boat drill and we made it in three minutes, fifty-one seconds. We will have another tomorrow. It is now 2:45 p.m. and just as soon as I finish this page I am going to take a salt water shower. This letter has to be mailed before the seventh so I will write a little each day to you. Before I close I want to tell you that I got two letters from you the day before we pulled out of the harbor at Calcutta. One was written the ninth, the other the eighth. Hope you got my last money order. Keep your eye on the paper where they list the name of the ships coming into New York and look for this one. We should get into N.Y. by the 26th of this month. Will call you as soon as I can and let you know where I am. The name of the ship is at the head of this letter.
Not too much to write about today Honey. Still taking it easy as I possibly can. The days are going fairly fast, but not fast enough. Since I am now on the way home to you and Georgie, the time does drag along and can't seem to wait until the night is over. Want to be with you both so bad it hurts. So far as possible I try to keep occupied so I won't think too much of home. The hardest time is at night when I am leaning against the railing or sitting on deck. Don't know, but every time I look at the stars or see the white spray from the ship and everything is quiet, my thoughts always turn to you. Always say to myself that you would like this and how I would like for you to be by my side and enjoy the certain feeling only the sea can give you at night. There is something strange but yet very beautiful about it. On a clear night the stars look so close it seems like you could reach up and pluck any one you wanted out of the heavens. Here on the sea you can see a sunset that you can't see anyplace else in the world. If this could be painted just as it is, it would be a masterpiece. Maybe someday I will be able to show you what I mean. Some and most of the fellows say they never want to see an ocean or a ship again. Only wish that you could be with me under different conditions and enjoy it with me. Still want you with me in whatever I do. Still have that lost feeling when you're not with me, Honey. It has always been only you and it will always be that way. That covers mostly everything for today Honey. Will see you tomorrow.
Got up at six this morning Honey, washed, shaved and had breakfast. After breakfast Sherman and I worked on our reports and got them made up until the 10th. After that I sat out on deck in the sun for a few hours. Had our daily I & E program at ten and lasted until 10:30. I & E means Information and Education. It deals with the GI and what to expect when one gets home. What the Government will do for us. It is now 11:30 a.m. and time for lunch, so I will stop until later on. Not much else to tell today. Seeing "Street of Chance" tonight.
November 4 & 5
This morning about 8:30 we came alongside the Island of Socotra in the Gulf of Aden. The island looked awfully bare and looked to be nothing but mountains. It took us five hours to travel from one end to the other. Supposed to be 70 miles long. In another day or so we should be into the Red Sea. After that the Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic, then New York. When I finish this trip I will have traveled around the world and crossed the equator two times. While I am writing this part of this letter I am eating a chocolate almond bar. Bought a box of 24 at the PX here on the ship. Cost us ninety cents a box. Got another box ordered. Good to eat between meals. All I am doing so far is eat, sleep, and taking it easy. Going to see if I can pick up a few pounds that I lost in this Army. Weighed 174 lbs. when we were in Calcutta. Seems like I am always hungry on this ship. Found out today that we will be able to send a telegram telling of our safe arrival home a few days before we get to New York. After you get this letter you can tell Mom about me being on my way home. Not going to write to anyone else. This letter will be mailed at Port Said and should reach you around the 20th of this month. By that time we should be in the Atlantic Ocean. Will call you just as soon as I can when I reach the States. Got your phone number inside my watch band, HI 6151, OK? Will finish this letter tomorrow and then mail it.
Well Honey, here we are in the Red Sea and it is plenty hot. It will take us three days to get through it. After that, the Suez Canal. Saw three ships today and plenty of fish. Have to mail this letter tomorrow morning so I will stop at the end of this page. It won't be very much longer now until I will be able to hold you and show you how much I have missed you. It has been a long time, but soon it will be behind us and we can look for a wonderful life together. Don't worry about a thing for I am feeling better now than I have for the past two years. Tell Georgie his daddy will be with him soon. So for awhile longer Honey, I will say goodnight in writing. Love you always and always want to be with just you. India is far behind; thank God for that. So good night and I love you always. Always yours, Bud.