STRAIGHT LINE, CHINESE GI FINDS, NOT SHORTEST DISTANCE BETWEEN POINTS

By Sgt. Ken Abbott

YANK Field Correspondent

CENTRAL AFRICA—Every time Sgt. Wing Lee, former grocery clerk from San Francisco, Calif., writes to his wife, the letter travels an estimated 35,000 miles and takes 55 or 60 days to reach her—at a cost of six cents. When she writes back, her letter requires the same distance but costs $14 (Chinese) in postage.



chinese

A WWII GI writing a letter.

Wing is a naturalized American serving here with the U.S. Army, while his wife is living with her parents somewhere in Unoccupied China. Wing’s brother, who lives in San Francisco, acts as the clearing house for their letters.

The Chinese-American GI speaks English but writes to his missus in Chinese. Since neither the local censor nor the base censor is able to read the language, they buck the letter to Washington, D.C.

From Washington the letter goes air mail to San Francisco, where Wing’s brother encloses the letter with one of his own in an envelope addressed to Mrs. Wing. Back it goes across the United States to Florida, to South America, across the Atlantic to Africa, thence to India and finally into China. In the final stages, the letter travels by oxcart and river barge until it finally reaches Mrs. Wing.

Sweating out 110 days for news from his wife sometimes has its humorous side for the GI. Mrs. Wing wrote that she was sending a Christmas package from China. When it finally arrived, the sergeant found that it contained a carton of cigarettes that had cost $9 (Chinese). Wing works in the camp PX here and sells American cigarettes for 50 cents a carton.



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