Letter from Katherine Fite to Mr. and Mrs. Emerson Fite, August 19, 1945. K. Lincoln Papers, War Crimes File. (Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum & Library)
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August 19.Dearest Mother and Daddy,
I knew the time would me when I had nothing really exciting to write about and I have to disappoint you. However today's wanderings were far from uninteresting. I visited the Tower of London with some of the officers - conducted tours for the military, as it is still closed. Then we took a bus on towards the East End where the devastation is pretty bad. Went as far as the entrance to the East India Co. docks, tho we didn't see the waterfront.
Somehow I had expected London slums to be crowded, five or six story buildings. What we saw were drab little houses two stories at most. Certainly they get more space and air than in N.Y. But they're still dark little holes - and blocks and blocks of houses either uninhabitable or totally gone. Fire has destroyed them, the weeds have grown over them and the rubble has been cleared away. So it presents a somewhat different superficial picture from the recently bombed cities of Germany. But it's still devastation on a large scale. We walked down through the Limehouse section - the Chinatown of London. We would be accosted by children (English and pretty spindly looking) shouting "gum,chum?" to which, if one is empty handed, one replies, "sorry, chum, no gum". One urchin wanted American coins - he turned down a dime - he had that. Then Col. Bernays produced a Washington token which another urchin identified as an American token.
Yesterday we played hooky at the end of the afternoon and wandered around St. Paul's - and into a pub and watched a game of coin pushing and poked into the Temple Inns where a nice Englishman showed us around. The Inner Temple was smashed and some of the old residences in the Middle Temple. They say Gray's Inn is gone. Lincoln's Inn is untouched. St. Clement's Church is just a husk - the interior all gone. Its funny how many churches were hit. I don't know why we say the English are cold and reserved. Yes - I suppose the upper middle classes are - but the men and women in the streets are so courteous and eager to answer your questions. They are invariably friendly and courteous. I've gotten so I like their cockney - it's quite musical.
Earlier in the week - Wednesday - the first official V-J Day - Col. Hodgson, our representative on the War Crimes Commission, took me to a committee meeting and a meeting of the Commission itself. We had a hard time getting through the crowds out to see the King and Queen and the opening of Parliament. This was a two day holiday for V - J Day here - tho we kept on working. The crowds milled around the streets and sang a lot and the weather was lovely, except for rain in the morning when Parliament opened. I don't understand what the queen does about her costume in an open carriage.
No mail for days. The APO took three days off to celebrate. I suspect it will be another couple of days before they get it all sorted. Your letter via the State Dept hasn't come yet!! The one by airmail written the same day arrived a long time ago. So don't try it again.
I am still worried about clothes. I wore a heavy dress and winter coat today. If we were staying here for long I would get you to send me some more, as I feel pretty shabby. But we may go to Nuremberg in another two or three weeks - in which case I may buy some uniforms and keep warm. Went to the Abbey to church again today. There were long queues waiting to get in. The King and Queen went to a Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul's this P.M. but we didn't try to see them.
I remain in remarkably good health - not even a cold. And I get plenty of food. I love you all and think of you constantly. I am eager to see the house.
All my love
Your mail averages 6 days.