National Geographic : 1944 Jan
At Ease in the South Seas of miles by plane and ship, and where a leave will carry you across 20 degrees of latitude from the unexplored areas of the jungle to such impressive cities as Melbourne and Sydney. "Leave!" That is a golden word through out the Army, but never more reverently phrased than in the South Pacific. The rare privilege of leave is first accorded those who have distinguished themselves in combat, though all troops are ordered to rest areas after rigorous service. In Sydney, generally regarded as a "good leave town," you see the Red Cross and the Army joining forces to provide rest homes where worn pilots can sleep till noon, then lunch from menus so lavish that to quote them would make "chops water" back home. This in surroundings and service as clean, quiet, and relaxing as provided tired millionaires by resort hotels before the war. In Sydney, too, you may sit one night as I was privileged to do with a man who 48 hours before had been slugging it out with the Japs from the deck of a warship in Kula Gulf 2,000 miles distant.* Daily Flights of "Leave Planes" "Leave planes" make this possible. Daily flights from combat zones bring out the bat tle-weary and return refreshed replacements. Ride such a ship both ways, and you are struck to find that the conversation does not turn on combat or the drudgery of field life. On the way "down" the men want first a bath; second a bed, and then to go out on the town-any town. On the way "up" the chat ter is of the times they had, the things they failed to do, and of the prospects of another leave someday. No hint of fear, no com plaints, rather the atmosphere of a New Haven train after the Christmas holidays. When Johnny comes marching home from the Pacific, airplanes are going to be very much on his mind. Much of his work in these tropic areas has been in winning and building air fields, and planes continue to play an important part in his day-to-day life. Most mail moves through these theaters by plane. These men write by the ton! One day's accumulation of mail from a typical garrison can fill a cargo plane (page 92). The space-saving value of V-mail was graphically illustrated to me one day when the pilot of a C-47 loaded with regular letters held out a small cloth sack loosely filled with reels of V-mail and said, "There are probably more * See "Sydney Faces the War Front Down Under," by Howell Walker, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, March, 1943. U. S. Navy, Ofcial Purple Heart Ribbon Decorates a Wounded Samoan Cook A member of the Fita-Fita guard established in Samoa by the Navy in 1900, this man wears his cook's rating on his lava-lava. Wounded by shellfire from a Japanese submarine early in 1942, he pins his deco ration conventionally above the left breast.