WW II War Letters

Robert Grobbel, Cox., USN (1926-2000)

Letter written on 21 Sep 1945 from aboard the USS LST-847, while moored to the Old Ning Po Wharf in Shanghai, China


                          Sept. 21, 1945

Shanghai, China

Dear Dad & Mom,                          

This is our third day now in Shanghai City. We were the second L.S.T. to ever enter Shanghai. Well there is so much to say that it is a little hard to explain, hard to remember everything that has happened in these last four days. It has been the most excitement that I have ever seen. This is really some place. When we came into Shanghai, there was 100,000 Japs running around here, hungry as old hell. The Chinese won't feed them.

When we came down the river, there was quite a few Jap boats out here, but they had the US flag over their rising sun. They just looked at us, wondering what we were going to do to them. They sure was scared of us. But the Chinese people were running up and down the banks of the river howling their lungs out at us. With a big sign saying "Welcome 7th Fleet of U.S. Navy". They were shooting off firecrackers, having a wonderful time. They were coming out in their bum boats and hooking on the stern of the ship to get a ride downtown.

After, we tied up to the dock at the US Navy operating base in Shanghai, where the Japs had their Navy Headquarters since 1941. There must have been 100 bum boats come along side to sell us whiskey and Chinese flags. They had big smiles on their faces. These people over here are really happy that the US is here now. We are unloading the trucks off of our main deck right now. We are using a Jap crane with 6 Japs operating it. Every time we look at them, they put on a big smile, I guess they figure we are going to kill them.

Last night, 40 Japs came up to the L.S.T. right astern of us. They have been without food for over a week and the Chinese will not give them anything to eat. But today the Navy took much of the Japs out of Shanghai because last night over 200 of them got killed by the Communist Army of China. That is one bad thing the matter in here. There are 3 different Chinese Armies here in Shanghai and they are having a civil war right here in town.

Last night I had my first liberty in 6 months and we went all through Shanghai in rickshaws. We saw a street fight between the National Army of China and the Communist Army of China. Most of the people here are behind Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's troops, which is the National Army of China. We never see anyone get killed because we never stay around long after the fighting starts.

At one time last night, we must have had over 400 Chinese with us. They are so happy to see us they just stand and look at you every minute they can. They follow you every place you go. We went into a high class place and they had some German Jews there in the band so they played Anchors Aweigh for us. We spent over 1,000,000 dollars for whiskey there, that is in Chinese money, but 20 dollars in US money. You can get anything here for little money, but every day prices are going up because the sailors have quite a bit of money and they give anything for souvenirs.

This is one place that is just like in the movies. There are lots of White Russians and German Jews here. The Japs did not bomb Shanghai too badly though they did wreck all of our Navy equipment. We have to wear Whites on liberty, which we get every 4 days and starts at 1400 until 2400. Shanghai is a really modern town, it has as many tall buildings as Detroit, but not quite as high.

They are giving the US Navy and English Navy a Victory Ball here Sunday night. Boy, the Limey Navy has lots of nerve. They tried their darndest to get in here first to put on a big show. But they are so darn slow in every thing they do that even us L.S.T. beat them in. Most of the buildings have English flags over them.

Even though we are in a good liberty port, this crew is still far from being a good crew. Most of the fellows bought whiskey from the bum boats yesterday and quite a few of the fellows got damn drunk. Most of them were married men and single fellows who have over 44 points. But they will not let them go home. Well, some of them got pretty well out of hand. They talked about killing the Captain or jumping ship. See Dad, most of these fellows have been in the Navy for 3 or 4 years and have two or three kids back home. One of the reasons they have it in for the Captain is what happened when we were in Okinawa, which is the best place in the Pacific to get home from, because more ships are leaving for the States there than any other place. Well Dad, we were there for three days and the Captain would not allow any man off the ship because if a guy who has 44 points gets ashore, all he has to do is report to the Naval Personnel Office and he is automatically released from our ship without the consent of the Captain. That is why he would not let them ashore. That is only one of the dirty tricks he has pulled on the men aboard here. That is why I would like to get transferred to another ship or station.

Sept. 22, 1945

Sorry that I never got finished with the letter last night. Well Dad, we got very good news tonight. The Captain is going home. He got his order about 2 hours ago. He is leaving by plane tomorrow at 0800 for Okinawa. Boy that sure is a break for us guys.

Well, our ship is unloaded now. We are still at the same place we were last night. Well today it was pretty warm out. But ever since we've been here it has rained every day, most of the time in the afternoon.

This morning a fellow Sailor on a ship (LST) right astern of us died. He died from wood alcohol in bad whiskey he got from the bumboats.

This afternoon we were cleaning up the main deck and we have lots of lumber on it from where we had the gasoline stores. Well we piled it up and at about 1500 we started to throw it over the side. There must have been 10 bum boats there when we started. But when we finished there was at least 50 of them. A couple of them got knocked out when we threw the lumber over. They would not get away from the sides of the ship so we could throw it. So we broke out the fire hose, but they just laughed. That's how dumb these Chinese are who live in these junks.

Well, everything went along swell till the last 2 by 4. I threw it and it went under the water and came out and hit a little girl in the head but never hurt her much because she got right up and helped pull it in. But the trouble was that about 10 different boats all wanted that same piece and they started to fight over it (boy what a fight). The men would hit the women and children in the face and all over the body and the women would hit them back with their oars. They also had some very sharp boat hooks which they [used to] split open two men and three women's heads with. Do not think they will die but it sure was a bloody battle.

They live like animals, these people who live on these bumboats. They come up to the ship in the morning and eat the food we throw over into the water. They wash it off in the river water. These are the lowest people in China. But whatever they have to sell, they are very high with it. One US dollar makes 17,000 dollars in China money.

We had a movie tonight and we had 23 Chinese Army troops aboard. It was the first US movie some of them ever saw. They can not understand us but they laugh whenever we do. They will not eat our food. The Chinese Army Order.

Mail came in today but Ididn't get anything. It will be another week before it will come again. Most of the fleet moved out today. We have more English ships in here now (more trouble).

How is every thing going back in the States? We do not get any more news since we got here. Are the Detroit Tigers still on top? Is Uncle John home yet? Where are Bob, Vince and Alt at now? Will try to send some pictures home of Shanghai life. I think things will be better now that the captain is going. Well tomorrow is Sunday and we are going to church tomorrow at the Hospital ship here.

Your Son,
Bob


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