Bob Conner's Code Map and Letters


Wartime censorship often prevented servicemen from revealing their whereabouts in letters. So Bob and Lib had agreed on a Code. Bob would begin a letter "Dear Elizabeth" (which he never called her). Then he would start one sentence with a couple of letters scratched out. The first letters of the following words would spell out his location. Now he offers a second system which he will also use. The map he refers to is at the end of this page.  The encoded letters follow. Code references will be in bold underlined type. Ed.

Code 1: "xxSuzy and Mary are returning."
Code 2: "At 1:53 am (latitude: 10, longitude: 53, am: east). . . in Myrtle Beach (South Carolina)"

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August 23, 1943 Monday evening

Dear Lib,

Have a 12-hour liberty tonight which I am spending on Oxnard. Have been browsing through some shops when I ran across these small world maps. (Portion with code is at bottom of page.  Or view entire color map.  Scroll down the left border of the map to see the "hours" and then along the bottom, just above the clocks for the "minutes".  Alas, the Russell and Green Islands do not appear on this map. ed.)  They gave me an idea for a new code by which you can locate Island X. I will still start off the letter "Dear Elizabeth" as we decided before.  Elsewhere in the letter I will mention the time and something about North or South Carolina.  The time may be in another paragraph from the mention of the state but I will make sure they both appear only once in the letter.  Because there is east and west longitude and north and south latitude you will notice my notations on the map for keeping that straight.  For example Port Hueneme would be, "Well, it is now exactly 3:40 pm. and I have got to get on to some other work. Sure wish I was in North Carolina now."  High Point would be 3:25 pm.

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October 23, 1943 Saturday (Just crossed the Equator

Dear Elizabeth

It is now 1:55 - have finished noon chow and am in the mood to do a little letter writing. Have had another one of our salt water showers and feel as though I had just finished another swim at Myrtle Beach. Would rather have taken the swim at the beach or, should I say, be in a position to have done so. 

We are still chugging along on this pond and gazing at maps and wondering where we are. We are not such good navigators but still have a fair idea of what the score is. 

Writing letters is really a problem since there is so little that we can say in them. Why we canít mention a few of them I donít know, because these letters will probably be reaching their destinations long after we have reached ours. 

Have really been consuming the books on this trip. Really donít know how many I have read. 

Some of the fellows are beginning to get tired of the trip but I have really been enjoying it. Would like to have a good hot fresh water bath though. 

Had quite a celebration aboard ship yesterday. (Neptunus Rex: transformation from Pollywog to Shellback. ed.) Went through quite a metamorphosis. Donít believe I will be able to tell you about it till later either. 

It makes me mad that now that I have a great deal of time in which I could write, I can say so little hence not much use to write. 

(The following V-Mail is significant for the Code, but also for its censorship.  The Perida, with the 93rd Seabees aboard was waiting outside the overcrowded Noumea Harbor when a tremendous series of explosions occurred onshore.  They were censored from the letter, but are recorded in Bob's Diary, and in the text and photo history of the 93rd's cruise book, Pacific Duty.  (The incident was still censored several years after the war, but no one had told the Seabees.)  

David Friederich was aboard the Cassiopeia which was in port but escaped the worst of the blast.  His and other accounts of the explosion on his website aided survivors who were still being denied claims in recent years, because their November 1, 1943 injuries were falsely recorded as illnesses.)  

November 1, 1943 (Noumea, New Caledonia)

Dear Elizabeth -

Land almost within reach and that is all the good it is doing us. We put into a (censored) Pacific Port this morning but I understand we shall shove off for other points after a few days here. The place seems to be nothing but mountains and I doubt if we will get any closer to them than the front end of this ship. (2 1/2 lines censored)

It is 2:55 and if it were not for guard duty I know I would not be up this hour of morning. Saw a nice sandy beach this morning that reminded me of some of those we have visited in South Carolina. I am almost stuck for something to say - that is, something that I can say. I guess one of these days I will get used to censoring myself. We are expecting to get some mail tomorrow and am I looking forward to that. Guess that is all for now.

November 15, 1943 Monday (Banika) 

Dear Elizabeth

I have certainly been picking some ungodly hours to be writing you lately. Right now I have to do so when I get the opportunity. Unloading operations are rather slack tonight for some reason or another. So now at 1:53 am I sit myself down to scratch off a few lines in the spotlight of an idle crane. A whole flock of trucks will no doubt come up now. A very pretty moon tonight through the coconut palms. ĎTíwould be much prettier though, through the pines at Myrtle Beach

January 12, 1944 (Russel Islands)

Dear Elizabeth

I donít know which would be worse - standing on the bus to Durham or driving the Zepplin. 

Ō Ran upon some snails eating leaves. (R-u-s-s-e-l)  Or donít they eat stuff like that? If they donít they sure looked like they were. 

March 4, 1944

Dear Elizabeth -

Noticed some pictures in Life today of Jeeps and trucks mired in the mud in Italy. The captain gave the mud as an excuse for the slowness of the war over there. If they call it mud over there, I wonder what they would call this stuff we wallow around in here. It is fully 3 times as deep and the war seems to be coming along pretty good, too. Someone who was not supposed to be in the dump just got stuck. When we asked them what they were doing out there, they answered, "fishing." We let them sit there in the jeep in the mud for about 15 minutes before we would call for someone to pull them out. I doubt if they will do any more fishing there. They would not get out of the jeep because the mud was about knee deep.

Ō Nearly identified some snails at noon. (N-i-s-s-a-n) They were a few that I picked up the other evening. When the fellow looked at them they were not what he thought they were. As soon as I have a chance to do some boiling I will get them out of their shells. Will try to save the operculum this time. Some are quite small, though.

July 11, 1944 Tuesday evening 

Dear Elizabeth

Had to put in a little extra work tonight. I guess since it is 1:50 am, I put in more than just a little. Feel a bit weary but will write you anyway since I feel in the mood. Have had a feeling today that I would like to be at Myrtle Beach. That probably sounds funny coming from me. Wish I could let you in on some of the scuttlebutt that is making the rounds these days. But I guess that would be impossible. 

December 20, 1944 Wednesday noon (Samar, The Philippines)

Dear Elizabeth

This is really a hot day. Everyone is complaining so I know it is not just me. Most of the fellows are keeping the fronts of their tents down which makes them very hot. They claim when a storm comes, it really comes. We are going to gamble though for the sake of coolness. A nice breeze blows every now and then but that still does not seem to be enough.

Ō Suzy and Mary are returning. (S-a-m-a-r)  They are the two girls who do our laundry for us. What their names are I do not know. 

Southwest section of Code Map, containing Bob's notations Entire world map in color