This letter from Chaplain John Eastwood was written 31 August 1944.
Dear Mrs. Watson:
First of all let me assure you of my sympathy and concern. May it be of some comfort to you to know that there are others who care. With you we shall hope that it will soon be reported that Thad is safe.
His fourth mission was to a target someplace in Czechoslovakia. There is very little known about the details of Thad’s misfortune as he went down during a period of considerable action. After making a successful bomb run over the target, rallying, and heading for home our group was attacked by enemy fighters. it was during this time that yoru son’s plane was lost. Just what happened I am not able to tell you for I don’t know, although one of the returning crew members reports seeing a hoel in the side of the ship caused by enemy machine gun fire. Those who returned were so busy protecting their own ships at the time that their recollections of details is rather hazy.
I know how anxious you will be. There is nothing I would rather do than tell you your son is alive and safe, but we do not know. All we can do is wait and hope and pray.
During these days of anxious waiting may you find comfort and strength in the promises of God. Let us remember that whether we live, or whether we die we are the Lord’s. He knows best so may we have the grace to leave everything in His hands.
Thad’s personal belongings have been gathered up and will be sent to you if he doesn’t return to this base within a reasonable period of time.
Enclosed is a list of the names and addresses of others who had loved ones on the plane with Thad that day. I truly believe that you will all receive a blessing if you take time to write them a letter.
May God bless you Mrs. Watson.
While the letter was addressed to Mrs. Watson concerning her son, the envelope in which it was given to me was addressed to my grandmother, whose husband was missing. Perhaps the chaplain made a mistake, or perhaps this letter was sent to Daddy Thad’s mother (my great-grandmother) and somehow ended up in Nanny’s possession.
The envelope, in any case, was sent first to Highlands, NC, where my grandmother usually resided, and then forwarded to her at her father’s home in Rabun Gap, Rabun Co., GA. Both sides of the envelope bear evidence that the chaplain’s letter was opened by an Army examiner before leaving the base.
This letter and envelope answered several questions I had about my grandfather, giving his military ID number (34891399) and his top-level unit, the 464 Bomb Group. It also explained how Nanny came to have pictures of Daddy Thad’s fellow crew members. The chaplain had forwarded addresses of this crew’s next of kin with this letter.
Three other items were enclosed in this envelope: one of my grandfather’s meal tickets; a newspaper clipping stating that he had been reported MIA; and a newspaper clipping reporting the death of Sgt. Clarence E. Fisher. These items will be shared on another day.