Those of us who work with archival collections come into contact with unique handwriting nearly every day. Although we can normally decipher the script (predominantly English in our collection), from WWII, there are times when we have to poll colleagues and guess at what is written. Does it say —? There were times when handwriting played a more central role in communication. In writing to prisoners of war, especially in the Pacific, where letters would be read by both American and Japanese censors, writers received special instruction. Most importantly, the letters were to be short (no more than 25 words) and were to be typed or block printed. Letters that did not comply with these rules, were returned.
We have examples of these failed attempts at communication from a collection of material related to the imprisonment by the Japanese of USMC Sgt. Edward A. Padbury. POWs in Japan were allowed very little, if any, correspondence with their loved ones. Mail was regularly delayed by nearly a year. General Jonathan Wainwright’s wife, Adele, reportedly sent him 300 letters over the three-plus years of his imprisonment. He received a total of six.
Catherine Faye, Edward Padbury’s sister, had some unsuccessful efforts to write to her brother. The first letter was returned on two accounts. It was longer than 25 words and written in cursive. The second letter was block printed, but also too long. We do not have any correspondence from Sgt. Padbury, but we do know that he survived the war and was liberated from Shinjoku POW Camp in the Tokyo Bay area.
Most of the time Roxy didn’t mind traveling alone. She could take care of herself generally. On the road she was usually wary, able to avoid ambush due to her unique contacts. however, most of the time those ambushes in larger numbers didn’t usually happen in the outskirts of a town. Dark alleys might have a jump happening by a small group but Roxy didn’t expect to have a pack of twelve or so men grabbing her.
The winter equinox was approaching and the bard had arranged to meet her lover here for what few free days Effron had. Squeaking in shock, Roxy’s arms were quickly pinned behind her back by a ruffian, another holding a knife at her throat, and the others moving forward to look through the pack she had been carrying, the clear leader sauntering up to her.
A smirk on his face, he reached out to her. “Let’s see what treasures you have hidden on you, girly.” Roxy’s skin crawled as his hands ran across her body lingering a bit too long for her comfort. She considered kicking him but the slightest movement had the knife at her throat pressing closer, a thin line of blood trickling down her throat.
“We didn’t expect such a rich prize so late in the season.” The leader, a large man in black mismatched armor with tangled blonde hair, commented as he dug through the belt pouch he had fished from beneath her tunic. “You’re a bit scrawny but I bet there’s a good price to be had. You’re pretty enough at least.” He smirked wider. “Maybe I ought to try you out before we find a buyer. I should know what I’m selling.”
Roxy’s eyes widened then blazed. She wasn’t a piece of merchandise to be used, sold and then cast aside. She would never be a thing. She had spent most of her adult life fighting against that while traveling on her own. She struggled to get free, spitting in the lead bandit’s face. Scowling the man backhanded her, leaving her dazed from the force of the blow, the knife at her throat drawing a deeper cut to drip down her neck to soak into her cloak.
Small flickers of flame darted through her curls as she hung limply in the bandit’s arms, the snow around her feet melting into muddy puddles.
“Tie her up. Let’s get off this road.” The leader’s voice barked, prompting the one holding Roxy to heft her over his shoulder Blood dripped to the ground with the movement, the sprite remaining limp. She refused to give in. Only half conscious she drew in the strength that burned inside her, thinking only to burn the man holding her enough for him to drop her.
The secret side of me, I never let you see I keep it caged but I can’t control it
Her drawn blood and the unsteady control over her abilities combined with the dazed state of her mind and the fear of what might happen to her loosed every leash she had on the fire within. It blazed up in a circle around the bandits, leaping into the sky. The woman was dumped on the ground with a startled oath from the one carrying her. With a grunt she rolled to her feet, swaying.
So stay away from me, the beast is ugly I feel the rage and I just can’t hold it
The fire blazed anew, ignoring natural laws to melt the piled snow. The town beyond rattled from the furious explosion. Fury spent, the fire died, leaving those within range dead and the sprite slumped in the blackened muddy crater.