||Melvin Keith Davis was born December 31, 1920 in Poy Sippi, WI, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Davis. The family moved to Neenah, WI and later to Oshkosh where Melvin graduated from Oshkosh High School in 1938. He attended Oshkosh State Teachers College. While in college he began taking flying lessons with Steve Wittman. He enlisted as an aviation cadet in October of 1940. He trained as a P-40 fighter pilot. He married Miriam Lorraine in August 1942 in Boston. He flew in the North African Campaign and was reported missing in action on March 21, 1942. He was officially declared dead in June 1944.
||Winnebago County Historical Commission
|Dates of Accumulation
||Letter from 1st Lieutenant Melvin Keith Davis, 85th "Flying Skulls" Fighter Squadron, 79th Fighter Group, to Emily and Frank E. Coffers.
Feb. 24, 1943
Dear Em and Family,
At the time I am writing this letter I am sitting in the (my) tent on my bunk smoking a cigarette on the Libyan Desert, somewhere in Trepaletania [Tripoli] The desert really is the Sahara Desert. Since I have hit Africa I have seen quite a bit of it. Mostly desert. I have flown by P-40 from the Gold Coast to where I am at the present time. This trip and my time spent on the desert has been packed full of experience and thrills. It's really not a bad life. As Officers we have the best of everything that can be had on the Desert, so do the enlisted men that are in the Air Corps.
I have seen several cities in Africa, from where the Negroes are to where the Egyptians are. The two most famous and largest cities I have seen are Cairo and Alexandria. Cairo was the most interesting but as far as people and places to go for the most enjoyment, Alexandria is the best for my money. Speaking of money, in cities such as Cairo or Alexandria a pound, which is worth four U.S. dollars goes about as far as 1 dollar goes in the States. Things really are quite expensive. The hotels are fairly modern but nothing like the ones we have in the States. Cairo may be famous but I wouldn't recommend anyone in the States to ever leave it, except of course, unless they were interested in places, such as this.
I have my own P-40 assigned to me and I have had painted on the sides of the nose in the front a picture of "The Flying Skull" which is our squadron insignia. I'm also going to have my ship named after my wife, "Miriam Darlin'". I think it's very appropriate.
I almost lost my plane a few days ago. I took it up for a test hop after a terrific sand storm and the motor cut out a few times on the take off and about three times in the air. I certainly was busy for awhile putting the wheels down and landing it. I can say without any doubt that this was my shortest flight. The whole flight lasted about three minutes. At the present time it is in perfect running condition, including the machine guns. Some fun, huh?
There really isn't much I can talk about because there isn't anything to say. We have plenty of liquor, plenty of good food and plenty of sleep. I believe I have gained about ten pounds since I left the states. Maybe this type of life does me good or maybe it's the climate.
So Frank still driving for the Bus Company. Is June still working in Chicago? How is Chub and his wife, Dorothy, making out? How are the snowstorms? In general how is everything?
Since I've been over here I have thought quite a bit about the good times I used to have at your house. You and everyone in the family are considered one of my best friends. When I was home in Oshkosh, I used to spend most of my time there and I hope to see all of you again, not in the too distant future.
P.S. Say hello to "Kitty" and the rest of the family and how is Bobby doing & Ruth and her family.
||World War II
||8: Communication Artifact
||Oshkosh Public Museum
||Davis, Melvin Keith
||World War II
United States Army Air Force
North African Campaign
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009