How does it feel to be routed from bed by a blizzard of high explosive bombs?
Private First Class Peter P. Brunda describes it in an interesting letter from Hickam Field, Hawaii, where he was located during the Japanese attack on the islands last December 7.
P.F.C. Brunda is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Brunda of 125 Phillips Street. His letter, censored in spots, is as follows:
23rd Material Squadron, Hickham Field, T.H.
The situation here in the islands is pretty well in hand now. But let me tell you it was pretty hot for a while on December 7, 1941. I was in bed at the time the excitement started, but it didn't take me long to get into action. The first thing I remember is seeing a screen from the window above my bunk go flying over my head into the aisle between the bunks. I jumped out of bed to find out what happened and found my answer when I looked outsidea huge bomb crater near the wing of our barracks. Later I noticed four or five other shell holes around our barracks.
Then I looked up and saw a Japanese plane come diving on the barracks, machine guns chattering furiously. I ducked down behind the concrete wall of the barracks and when things quieted down a bit I got out of there as fast as my feet could carry me.
Another fellow and I teamed up, grabbing ourselves some clothes and going to the supply room where we outfitted ourselves with gunbelts, rifles, gas masks and tin hats. Most of the fellows were operating in groups and were giving a pretty good account of themselves. There were batteries of riflemen in different parts of the barracks just about all the time and every plane would dive over our section of the barracks he didn't get away unscathed.
During a lull in the attack another fellow and I went outside to the street below the hangar line. There we took in the situation. There was smoke belching forth from over five or six different parts of the fieldwhere bombs had set buildings on fire. Over at Pearl Harbor, which is located right next to the field, there was so much smoke pouring into the air it was just about impossible to see the harbor.
Just then some more planes came back over and we dived for cover. I crouched against the base of the barracks on the street side and prayed that no bombs would find me there. It was no use firing at the planes with a rifle as they were all too high. There were six or seven of them flying diagonally across the field at a height of about 10,000 feet. Then hell broke loose as bombs started bursting all around us. Some of them hit the (Censored)…all these buildings were in a straight line.
I turned around on my back and looked up, and didn't see any more planes so I got up, brushing off dirt and little pieces of rock which had sprayed all around me. I looked around and saw a sergeant who was wounded by shrapnel. I asked him if I could help, but he said it wasn"t much and that he could wait for the ambulance to come around. I cleaned his wound with water from my canteen and gauze from my first-aid packet, and stayed with him until I was able to hail an ambulance.
Then it was that I saw the (Censored) across the street from me had been blown apart. There have been pictures of it in the papers and magazines. I went back into the barracks and found out that our first sergeant and other fellows had been killed and some others wounded. Our C.O. came by rounding up some of the men from the outfit to try to set up a headquarters for the organization.
There are rooms which have been blacked out and which contain plenty of reading material and short wave radio sets. There is one station that broadcasts from Tokyo every evening around 7 o"clock and they put on a lot of high-pressure propaganda. It consists mostly of stories about the victories gained by the "crack" Japanese troops in the Philippines and Singapore.
Things are running smoothly now and everyone is just waiting for the chance to get back at the Japanese. About the only things that the war is tough on around here right now is the whales. Every day some ambitious bombardier takes a whale for a submarine and lets go with a bombthen looks down in surprise as he sees entrails and pieces of whale bone come floating to the surface instead of oil from a submarine.
Thanks for listening.
P.F.C. Peter P. Brunda