Boston, Ma. May 14, 1946. pp. on letterhead of "Naval Department / Office of the Chief of Naval Operations." Accompanied by the mailing envelope. Quarto. Fine. In a half morocco and cloth folding box, leather labels. Item #WRCAM42205
An engaging and informative letter, in which Richard Byrd describes some of his World War II experiences with the Navy, discusses the possibility of a motion picture being made about his life and adventures, and mentions his plans for a return to the South Pole. It is clear from the tone of the letter that Byrd and Polan Banks shared a warm friendship. Byrd's letter is on Navy Department stationery, but he wrote it while he was in Boston. During World War II, Captain Polan Banks served as chief of the War Department's stage and screen section. After the war Banks completed a novel, entitled CARRIAGE ENTRANCE, a melodrama set among the Creole aristocracy of New Orleans. The book was published by Putnam in 1947 and made into the film, MY FORBIDDEN PAST, in 1951. In this letter Byrd compliments Banks on the completion of the novel, asks about its forthcoming publication, and requests that Banks send him a copy. Byrd moves on to discuss his aversion to public acclaim, despite his fame as a polar explorer: "As you have noted, I am still keeping out of the limelight. Perhaps I am making a mistake. My friends tell me so. I have refused publicity on the medal recently awarded me for my work at the front. The Department set three dates for the presentation to me but I postponed it. Perhaps I will reconsider, since apparently a number of people think that I have departed the earth to explore another world. Congress voted a medal for our last expedition, and on account of my men I may allow some publicity when it is presented." Byrd then brings up the subject of a biographical movie based on his life, which Banks had proposed before, and discusses his experiences in the Pacific at the close of the war, including "the Okinawa campaign (it was the hottest of the war), the Kamakazes [sic], the daily attacks on the Japanese mainland from the carriers, the signing of the Peace Terms on the Missouri, getting ashore with the first amphibious forces, inspecting the atomic bomb damage, strategic bombing, etc., etc." Byrd closes by stating that "I am still determined to go back to the South Pole next November and will get working on that proposition as soon as I get a few weeks letup." Richard Byrd would indeed soon return to the Antarctic, in command of the Navy's "Operation Highjump" in late 1946 and into 1947.