Serving in the Pacific

Working at General McArthur's headquarters

Shaver
Well I was in the headquarters, I was assigned to the headquarters and they had me getting letters to... at first they said General McArthur. People would ask about their sons. They hadn't heard from them in a long time and ask where he was and we would know. We would send out letters and find out where he was and notify the writers. We would give the information exactly where he was stationed if it was possible.
Interviewer
Did you ever see General McArthur?
Shaver
Yes I did. I saw him, you know, going in and out of the office. The day that they had a memorial service for President Roosevelt, he was there and I saw him. 
Interviewer
Was he a big man, a small man?
Shaver
Yeah, a big man. 
Interviewer
What was his reputation? Did the troops like him?
Shaver
Well, everybody, well he had a lot of criticism. Sometimes they said nobody liked him, but people were all for him at his headquarters.
Interviewer
Why didn't they like him?
Shaver
Well he was arrogant, that's what they said (laughter). 
Interviewer
Stuck up, huh?
Shaver
Yeah. And he was old Army, you know, his family was Army. But I was pretty low down on the totem pole. I didn't have much to do with him, whether I liked him or didn't like him. 
Interviewer
Were you promoted to PFCPFC stands for Private First Class, a rank above Private and below Corporal in the army. by this time?
Shaver
I can't remember exactly what year...
Interviewer
You were probably making a ton of money, what, maybe $50 a month? How were living conditions? Where did you live?
Shaver
In BrisbaneBrisbane, Australia. Australia was one of the Allied nations., we lived in a park and had stationary tents. Then I moved up to New GuineaNew Guinea is located north of Australia., we had just regular tents. In the Philippines, we lived in a schoolhouse set up to ... and then when I went to Manila, we were at the university there. But the buildings were not, you know, in too good a shape.
Interviewer
Tell me, as a woman in the military service back in those years, what were the regulations about your behavior? Could you, for example, go out with an officeran officer was a soldier with a rank of Lieutenant or higher.? Could you date an officer?
Shaver
No, you're not supposed to. You were supposed to be strictly with enlisted men.
Interviewer
But you could date an enlisted person?
Shaver
Yes. It was against the regulations, but you know things happen.
Interviewer
(laughter) Did you have to wear a uniform 24 hours a day or could you put on civilian clothes?
Shaver
No, you're supposed to wear a uniform.

The Philippines

Interviewer
So you started off with McArthur in Australia, went with him to New Guinea, went with him to the Philippines.
Shaver
Yes, that's right.
Interviewer
Okay, tell me how was life in the Philippines?
Shaver
Well it was tropical. We worked in the mornings and we took a couple of hours off in the afternoon and then we worked, then we'd go back to work after the evening meal. 
Interviewer
Why, was it so hot?
Shaver
Yes, that's right and it rained just about every day.
Interviewer
Oh, did it?
Shaver
Yes. 
Interviewer
Were you living under canvas? In a tent?
Shaver
We lived in the town hall in LeyteLeyte is a province in the Philippines..
Interviewer
Dormitory?
Shaver
No, it was a college, I think.
Interviewer
Did you have much to do with the Filipino nationals?
Shaver
Well yes, they were around all the time because they were always waiting for our food scraps. It was really, really bad. There was so much...people just wandering around that didn't have any place to go because the city was getting destroyed.
Interviewer
You never saw any Japanese, did you?
Shaver
The only time I really saw Japanese is down in New Guinea. Two of them showed up at the mess hall. All kinds of different people and nobody paid much attention (laughter).
Interviewer
(Laughter) You mean there were Japanese soldiers? And they walked into your mess hall?
Shaver
Yeah, that's right.
Interviewer
And they got fed?
Shaver
Yeah. When the war was over, by the time the bomb had been dropped, when the Japanese people came to set up to surrender on the ship Missouri, but they did come to headquarters where I was and I did see that group of Japanese soldiers come into the headquarters.
Interviewer
What an exciting life you've had. Well did you stay on Leyte or did you move to another island?
Shaver
Well Manila is on LuzonThe Philippines is a series of Islands south of mainland China. Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines..
Interviewer
So you moved up to Luzon and again you were assigned to the McArthur headquarters?
Shaver
Yes.
Interviewer
What kind of work did you do there?
Shaver
I worked in the adjutant general's department and that's when I answered those letters from civilians about where their friends, people who wrote into McArthur to find out about their sons and then we answered them. Well of course it was a form letter we sent out to where they were and everything.
Interviewer
So there would be a family, am I correct, there'd be a family in the United States, they had not heard from their son for a long while. They were concerned. They would write to McArthur's headquarters, is that right? And then the letter would go to you.
Shaver
Yeah, you know, it would be assigned to me or a lot of other people that were working in the office.
Interviewer
How would you find the soldier or whoever who hadn't written?
Shaver
Well we had, that's where the records were, the personnel records, McArthur's headquarters. Of course they weren't always there. They moved around and you had to check where they were last or whatever. 
Interviewer
Well so the military records could be found in your office. You would find the name of the unit of the soldier. Would you write to the soldier and tell him to shape up or what would you do?
Shaver
Yes, we would write to the...well all military correspondence goes down through ranks and so it was sent to his commanding officer and we told him to write home to his family and to continue to write and then we'd notify the family of exactly where he was stationed at that time if we could find him. We usually did, but there were some that we did not locate all the time. 
Interviewer
You know, that's such an important job. I mean it's not dropping bombs or shooting rifles, but it's an important job.
Shaver
Yes it is. It's part of the process that needs to be done.