Previously I wrote about my great uncle Dee Douglas, who served in the European theater against the Germans, and his lost love Rosemary of Manchester, England (https://ramblingmuser.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/to-r-h-in-manchester-with-love-from-georgia/). Another tale that must be told is that of his brother Paul, who died in the reinvasion of the Philippines during MacArthur’s 1944-45 campaign to free those islands from Japanese tyranny and oppression.
Everyone living has troubles and worries and pains and griefs, if not when they are younger, then certainly by the time they are a little older. Perhaps this a reminder to myself that as painful as life can be at times, there is much greater grief and pain. This is certainly not to say that today’s heartbreak is not actual heartbreak or that today’s tears are not genuine tears. But the death of a 25 year old boy is something that his family never ever forgets, even though neither I nor my mother ever even met him.
I have several primary source letters to transcribe regarding this, as well as photographs of Paul’s personal effects inherited by my mother, so if you will check back over the next few days, I will add them here. For starters, here is the letter written to Paul’s parents after his death on January 17, 1945 by his company sergeant.
Co. A. 103rd Inf.
March 5, 1945
Dear Mr, Mrs. Douglas,
It has been a custom for us in this unit that when a comrade passes away to write to his folks and pass the information we have about his death.
At the time your son was killed, I was his Platoon Sgt. having lost my platoon leader a week before. So seeing that I was the one in his charge and was there when it happened, I will write down every thing that happen on that bad day of Jan. 17th.
I was given orders to from a line across a river and protect the rear of the companys while they were crossing the river. We were just getting into position when we were fired upon by a group of Japs. We all ran into our position and as Paul was running to his a Jap was hid a short distance from where Paul was going – the Jap being well hid in bamboo patches was not seen by any of us or by Paul.
The Jap fired and his shot entered your son’s right side under the shoulder and came out on his left side – killing him instantly. A few of us made a run where Paul layed but was fired on. We made three attempts and finally reached him while the rest of the boys gave us supporting rifle fire. Two of his comrades really put themselves in danger to reach him. That’s how a good your son Paul was to all of us.
I and many in our company have known your son for a long time. And I must say, Paul had always been a very good soldier, never gave any of us any sort of trouble and whenever anything turned up, Paul would be willing to help.
We will all miss him as you do too. No doubt it was a bad shock to both of you but I’m sure that his death was not one of suffering. And his fine conduct as a soldier no doubt brought him to God. At our first service for our fallen comrades I and all remembered him in our prayers and also you and Mrs. Douglas.
In closing, I am wishing you and all the very best of luck and health. May God bless you all. And if Paul’s personal effect doesn’t reach you within the next month or so, please write me and I will see to it that they are mailed to you.
May God be with you,
2nd LT. ROLAND A. LECLAIR
CO. A. 103rd INF. A.P.O. 43
c/o P.M.S.F. CALIF.
You will notice that I’m in a different company now, being promoted to 2nd LT. I was transferred to this unit, but I still miss my former CO. F.